reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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knitted and crocheted. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

“the quilts seem silent, a ‘silence like thunder.'” (sue bender – plain and simple)

they are not quilts. they are hand-crocheted, hand-knitted blankets, every one of them with a story. for hours on end, people who loved me sat and crocheted, put time aside and knitted. they chose patterns and stitches and yarn colors. they held the thought of a new baby in their hearts as they generously prepared their gifts. and with great anticipation, they wrapped these beautiful soft blankets in baby shower wrap, probably not truly anticipating that thirty-two years later i’d be holding them in my hands, all teary-like, struggling to decide what to do. do i keep them all? do i place them gently back into a plastic bin in the basement, carefully stored? or do i find a way – ala my sweet momma – for someone else who may need a soft blanket to have one of these?

cleaning out is like that. over and over and over again. the choices – like these blankets – are silent and thunderous. potent.

in the moments of holding these blankets close, i was holding my daughter, just born, wrapped in pastel-variegated-yarn. in the moments of holding these blankets close, i was tucking in my son, a soft white and blue blanket to keep him warm in a cold winter night of his birth. in the moments of holding these blankets close, i was decades removed from my life at the moment. i was holding tender memories, swirling in babyhood times, feeling the rocking chair seasons, wistful.

and i was unclear. unclear about what to do.

so i freshened each one. on the delicate cycle i washed each blanket, carefully checking for any marks or stains. they came out of the dryer perfect, even softer, if that is possible.

and i decided. i decided that they didn’t belong in a bin or in a closet, waiting.

we took them to the hospice facility in our town. a most delightful young woman greeted us there and thanked us. on the phone she had told me that these would be perfect lap blankets or shawls and that they always needed such donations. she asked me to fill out a form so that they could write me a thank-you.

funny, on the contrary, i wanted to thank them. for in the moment i placed the large bag on the chair and i was no longer holding the blankets i knew that i was passing on their nurture.

and i know that every time i might stop and think about knitted and crocheted blankets i will have pieces of times with my newborn babies wrap around me.

“each time i looked at the quilts, my busyness stopped. the fragments of my life became still.” (sue bender)

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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at the door. his angel-cat. [d.r. thursday]

dogdog does not live his life expecting grandeur. he does not look for the secrets of the universe nor does he try to reach the pinnacle of success, whatever that is. his riches are right around him – his shredded toys, his bone, his food and water bowls, his treats, his people and his beloved cat. he lives each day, seemingly, without the emotional chaos we get embedded in; the view from his amber eyes is simple and they reflect back a love of living, of those things he cherishes. he does not try to be anything; he just is. “when you seek to be special, only a few things in life will measure up,” writes sue bender. he does not seek to be special, yet he is magnificently special.

it was very very quiet in the house last week. i played no music. i watched no tv. i barely read the news. together, dogdog and i were almost silent. my dear and wise friend wrote, “sometimes silence allows us to conserve our energy to go on.” together, dogdog and i stepped in our days, the padding footfalls of babycat’s sorely missing from our mix. yet we continued on and the earth spun through the galaxy and the sun and the moon did that which they do, nevertheless.

“i learned to love the journey, not the destination. i learned that this is not a dress rehearsal, and that today is the only guarantee you get,” pens anna quindlen. dogdog’s journey sans destination – for without the same human parameters that make us measure our lives, his is simply a journey without a destination – included babycat. and now, in his quest to find his cat, we can only hope that babycat sits by his side and reassures him, in his gravelly babycat voice, that he’s right there with him. our journeys include the angels all around us; they are right there, quiet and steady.

“get a life in which you notice the smell of salt water pushing itself on a breeze over the dunes, a life in which you stop and watch how a red-tailed hawk circles over a pond and a stand of pines. get a life in which you pay attention to the baby as she scowls with concentration when she tries to pick up a cheerio with her thumb and first finger,” recommends anna.

i’d add, get a life in which you take moments to be very quiet – silent, even – and in which you can see the dim outline of your angel-cat sitting next to your dog at the front door.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

AT THE DOOR ©️ 2017 david robinson & kerri sherwood


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words on a wall. [flawed wednesday]

you hate me framed

tenuous.  we are all walking on the thinnest of threads.  the thinnest threads of life, health, relationship, value.

i don’t know what it would take to graffiti an outdoor stairwell with the stenciled words “you hate me”.  it stopped me as we took a friday night walk – miles around our downtown, across the bridge, through simmons island beach, along the lakefront.  we started down the stairwell to the channel and there it was.

“you hate me”

anonymous.  you hate me.  who’s the you?  who’s the me?  the anonymity factor adds concern for me.  someone, on that thinnest thread, felt tenuousness enough that they stenciled it on the concrete wall.

that it wasn’t “i hate you” and that it was “you hate me” makes it even more distressing.  it makes you wonder which sad and lonely face you passed might have been that of the stenciler.  it thrusts questions about your local community on your heart.  it is a gut punch that foists pondering upon you.  it forces you to search inside, to see if you are emanating that to others.

there are so many reasons right now to disagree with another, so many reasons for anger.  conflicting opinions distort the absolute importance of connectivity, of community, of the healing of love.  people with differing thoughts opine as experts in fields in which they have no actual experience; people proselytize and preach and persuade.  the bandwagons of what-seems-like-the-cool-gangs line up, circling, handing out candy to those who would like to be in the club, aiding them up onto the wagon and then looking away from their individual needs, only paying attention to replenish the candy and keep the furor going.

and so people feel hated.  enough to write it on a wall.

“to reconcile our seeming opposites, to see them as both, not one or the other, is our constant challenge.” (sue bender, plain and simple journal)

i wonder what i would have felt if upon the concrete wall the words “you love me” had been stenciled.

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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“great minds discuss ideas…” [merely-a-thought monday]

eleanor roosevelt

 

i don’t subscribe to ‘inspirational daily’ but somehow this showed up in my email feed on thursday, a particularly good day to read the wise words of eleanor roosevelt.  an activist, the first lady regularly published her musings and views.  her accomplishments as a diplomat were far-reaching; her life story difficult and profoundly inspiring.  and she was wise. her words remind me of sue bender’s words (from ‘plain and simple journal‘) “to reconcile our seeming opposites, to see them as both, not one or the other, is our constant challenge.”

what would either of these wise women say about our current climate, i wonder?

would eleanor roosevelt pine for the fine-tuned, thoughtful, intelligent discussions of her lifetime?  would she abhor the fact-less, jarringly aggressive re-telling of stories, of narrative, all-dressed-up and skewed to one side?  would she shudder to hear of attempts to decimate human rights, to place limits, to undermine?  i can’t imagine that she would consider the display of indecency, of avenging and putrid name-calling ‘great-mindedness’.  i fear she would, instead, point a wagging finger at the players and implore them to be wide awake, to be thinking, to be discussing idea and possibility and wholeheartedly move forward with conscience.

i wonder, does sue bender, in her middle 80s now, feel a sense of deep disappointment in a society that does not attempt to reconcile seeming opposites, does not see them as both, does not cross the aisle but instead builds walls of hateful rhetoric, looks for the worst in each other, advances the ugly?  what would her kind soul say about the divisiveness, poisoning all in its rampant siege, a pandemic reaching unsuspecting venues, its toxic arrows out of the quiver and readied.  how would she parse out the arguments, the lack of concern for the victimized, the harassment of those on the other side than the leadership?

goodness knows, i suspect both of these amazing women, living in different generations, would be saddened by this climate.  they might weep in absolute dismay.   or, they might just whisper into the wind, to whomever might listen, “great minds discuss ideas.  average minds discuss events. small minds discuss people.”

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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the thunder of the silence. [merely-a-thought monday]

TPAC empty seats

“…a silence like thunder…”

“no distinction is made between the sacred and the everyday.”

“our attitude toward the world resonates in the objects around us.  they reveal our intention.”

(from plain and simple, sue bender)

the first day i walked into the tiny lobby at TPAC i wondered why the table holding brochures was light blue.  it matched nothing there and was a statement of a kind of thoughtless we-need-a-small-table-does-anyone-have-one thoughtfulness.  all season long i kept thinking that it should be painted black.  the very last day in the theatre, outside in the chill air, surrounded by golden and crimson leaves, i painted it.  it dried fast and we placed it back in the lobby.  still the same little table doing its job, but its new distinction mattered and it fit in the space.  it did my heart good.

with multiple bags of old mayonnaise and mustard, an old container of kale and a moldy loaf of some kind of unidentifiable home-baked bread, i finished cleaning out the fridge, an appliance i had never opened for an entire season.  clearly, others had, and the accumulation of old-ness was ripe.  i scrubbed it out and stood back to look at how neat and tidy it was.  the whole kitchen area looked neat and tidy, a new keurig replacing an old coffeemaker and broken carafe.  shelves cleaned, toothpicks that had poured out swept up, a welcoming backstage entrance for staff and artists.  moving that space up to sacred-everyday from messy-everyday did my heart good.

the last couple weeks have been nesting weeks at TPAC, moments when d and i have had the space to ourselves.   having now passed through the shoulder season, it’s empty and it’s quiet.  the 250 seats wait for the next event, the off-the-shoulders season, the next new high season.  i can feel its curiosity, its expectation.

we sat in various seats around the theatre, talking about the dreams we had when we first saw it.  getting mired in the muck of being the you-aren’t-from-here-newbies had slowed things down.  it had paused our ownership of the actual space.  eh, who am i kidding?  it brought most of that to a screeching halt.  drama, three board presidents and a reticence to consider change from people hired as change agents (us) brought the gate down before we could even start.

we discovered the word ‘glacial’ and applied it generously to the direction we were going.  we didn’t try to change a space that didn’t feel like ours yet.  we didn’t try to change too many processes.  we stopped trying to change mindsets.

instead, we embraced people.  we listened; we learned.  we set out to weave relationships where they had eroded, where tattered feelings were wrung out, where we were told no relationship could work.  we befriended those we were told would never like us.  we struggled to understand allies who weren’t so much allies.  with deep roots of experience, we led with intention, with the questions of what would be best for this space, what would be best for the artistry on this little island, what would be long-lasting and truly make the making of art – whatever the genre – foremost?

and so, it was in the last days, when it was quiet and empty that we were able to take the time to really listen to the thunder of the silence of that really beautiful space.  we strove to honor the sanctity of this art-making place.  and we intended, with every move of cleaning and straightening and re-arranging and planning and yes, dreaming, all the best things we could.  it did my heart good.

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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when we all do better. [merely-a-thought monday]

we all do better when

blank.  it’s blank.  this book i carry with me.  it’s a journal, but i’ve never ever written in it.  created by sue bender, the plain and simple journal has photographs of amish quilts and the shortest snippets of writings, many gleaned from time that sue spent in an amish community.  i’m not sure why i haven’t written in it; perhaps it is a very-prolonged beaky rule – to save it.  i do know that its pages have both comforted me and made me think.  perhaps my own writing-on-these-pages would distract me or, once the pages are filled with scribble, it will detract from the printed snippets and fall out of i-carry-it-with-me grace.  either way, it’s blank.  and it’s profoundly wise.

“an amish woman told me, ‘making a batch of vegetable soup, it’s not right for the carrot to say i taste better than the peas, or the pea to say i taste better than the cabbage.  it takes all the vegetables to make a good soup.” (sue bender)

+

“to reconcile our seeming opposites, to see them as both, not one or the other, is our constant challenge.” (sue bender)

=

“we all do better when we all do better.” (paul wellstone)

for where is it that we can not glory in another’s success, mourn with another’s failure, weep with another’s grief, dance with another’s bliss?  we share the space.  in community.  not division.

we share the ride – we are all vegetables in the soup – we are not one or the other – and yes, we all do better when we all do better.

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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