“Tell Me, What Is It You Plan To Do With Your One Wild and Precious Life?”

 

Today’s title from Mary Oliver’s “The Summer Day.” Today’s image courtesy¬†Old Design Shop.

The last week or so here in the soybean field unfolded fairly uneventfully. November arrived yesterday clad in grey with touches of orange and yellow. The contrast of the leaves and the sky made me gasp a couple of times for the sheer beauty of it as I drove home from the suburb within shouting distance of the big city.

Let me back up. I went to a funeral yesterday. The stepmother and -in-law of two of my close friends took advantage of the veil between the worlds thinning to slip into her next life over the weekend. No preventable disease; no tragic end. Just the sadness that comes when it’s time to let go of a loved one. She was a well-lived 94, and until she became unsteady on her feet a few years ago, she volunteered at the People’s Resource Center in Wheaton, IL (providing food, clothes, and job skills training to residents of the county since sometime in the ’60’s).

As funerals go, it wasn’t bad at all. The pastor had spoken extensively with the family members who arranged it. He used the stories they told to paint a portrait of a woman who lived well, loved her family, and served others. At the points where prayers and blessings were inserted, he acknowledged that not everyone walked his path, and it was OK if you didn’t say the words with the rest of the gathered. The service lasted a scant half an hour. At its conclusion, we made one last walk past the urn containing her ashes. I placed my hand on it, wished her a safe journey.

Afterwards, another of our mutual friends whom I hadn’t seen in a while invited me out for coffee. We invested in an hour of laughs and news, then parted with hugs and a promise of lunch soon.

I picked my way through midday traffic. The quote from Mary Oliver’s “The Summer Day” began running through my mind. So did the question of where have I been relative to my own life the last five years or so.

I know the answer, but out of respect for the privacy of others, I can’t go into it, but I will tell you that it has drained my psyche rather than filling my soul. I thank you for your understanding.

Even in the fading light of the year, ¬†it’s time to get back to my own life, to the things that keep my heart beating: writing, activism when I can, the environment as best I can, and history. And my friends. It’s tough when they live an hour and upwards away. I will just have to make more of an effort, though, for my own good.

So, as the leaves fall in the swirling wind, I begin again.

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