Thursday, August 3, 2017

What the Earth Says

Hello and welcome to Spiritual Journey Thursday! Today we are gathering at Julianne's blog To Read To Write To Be where we are discussing the topic "new beginnings."

This is a great topic -- isn't every day a new beginning? I have gotten through many a difficulty in my life using the "one day at a time" adage. It helps me to not stray too far into my fears for the future or regrets over the past... just be here now. Let each moment be a beginning.

As many of you know, about two years ago I started playing the cello. A new beginning for sure! And what I've discovered through the process of learning and making mistakes and being humble is that living life as a beginner is a wonderful way to be present and open to my life and what the world has to offer. I've been beginning -- and beginning again -- a sort-of memoir/devotional about this -- how to live life as a beginner.

And here's the thing: now I am not a beginner any more at the cello. So I've been trying other new things: I enrolled in a drawing class! We'll see where that takes me.

our lake house... with newly
painted-by-me red door!
Also, Paul and I bought a lake house! It's at a small-ish lake (250 or so acres; 15 miles of shoreline) and a sweet, quiet community less than an hour from our home. We've long talked about a lake house, but always abandoned the idea (too much trouble, the expense, wouldn't we feel like we HAD to go, what about all the other places in the world we want to see?). We've watched many a Lake House Bargain Hunt show over the years. And then, after an early-morning moment on the Gee's Bend ferry, we knew it was time. We needed water in our lives. Relaxation. Seclusion. New adventures.

So, for the first-time ever, I am driving the truck with the boat on the trailer and backing it into the water. (It's harder than it looks!) I am bass fishing with a rod and reel I've never used before. (Fun!) It's a new beginning for us as we are seeing the light after 23 years of parenting and the youngest son this month entering his senior year. Not quite empty nest, but getting there!

It's a new beginning AND a return to something -- a return to US, to a way of life we enjoyed before we were parents.

It's wonderful, is what it is!

And you know what? It feels right and real, like we are in exactly the right place. And that got me thinking about this poem by William Stafford:

In Response to a Question

The earth says have a place, be what that place
requires; hear the sound the birds imply
and see as deep as ridges go behind
each other. (Some people call their scenery flat,
their only picture framed by what they know:
I think around them rise a riches and a loss
too equal for their chart – but absolutely tall.)

The earth says every summer have a ranch
that’s minimum: one tree, one well, a landscape
that proclaims a universe – sermon
of the hills, hallelujah mountain,
highway guided by the way the world is tilted,
reduplication of mirage, flat evening:
a kind of ritual for the wavering.

The earth says where you live wear the kind
of color that your life is (gray shirt for me)
and by listening with the same bowed head that sings
draw all into one song, joining
the sparrow on the lawn, and row that easy
way, the rage without met by the wings
within that guide you anywhere the wind blows.

Listening, I think that’s what the earth says.

William Stafford

The lake house, with Paul, is my new place. And all that place requires is that I be... me. The most open, vulnerable, listening, always-a-beginner me. (I'm also talking more about the lake and August and beginnings  -- with a poem-- over at Smack Dab in the Middle!) xo


  1. Being a beginner is lovely to me--so freeing, because of the lack of expectation! Congrats on your lake home--exciting!

  2. The endless curiosity appeals to me.....enjoy the lake and all there is to learn there.

  3. I'm taking that painting class end of this month Next knitting!

  4. Beautiful. Beautiful. Beautiful. I am so happy for you, Irene. xx

  5. Many, many congrats, Irene, on these new journeys in your life!

  6. Here's to joy in your new lake house place and this new journey. I loved reading about Dana's lake house and now we'll enjoy new adventures form your lake house.

  7. Love your philosophy of being a perpetual beginner. And your lake house season with Paul sounds fabulous! You sound very happy marinating in all the goodness that has lately come your way. It couldn't happen to a nicer person. Now, before I run, I'm going to snag a few of those "listening" lines from that wonderful William Stafford poem you posted.

  8. Lovely post, Irene! I envy you for having a place away from your permanent home in which you can write. Use it well, and often!

  9. You set a beautiful path for yourself. Always looking to become the beginner. Brave and adventurous.

  10. Is "begin" your one little word? That would be very appropriate! Congrats on your lake house. You have such a wonderful spirit xo

  11. Irene, life for you has changed over the past years with your new beginnings philosophy. That is a good thing that seems to brighten your days and brings joy to your readers. I am filled with joy just reading through your new adventure and Stafford's poem. This line is my takeaway quote: "Listening, I think that’s what the earth says." I shall listen a bit more today to hear a message for life. May I thank you again for bringing so much joy to me with your "grandmotherhood" poem and trinkets. I think the quote above is going in my joy journal from you and a lead into a poem.

  12. The lake house sounds just perfect - exactly the place for new beginnings and new adventures.

  13. My husband & I lived on a lake before we moved to Colorado. I know you will find a new way to look at things now, love hearing of this new venture! Stafford is a favorite, seems to often say my feelings in "his" best words. "one tree, one well, a landscape
    that proclaims a universe". Beautiful!

  14. I want to steal this line, "the rage without met by the wings
    within that guide you anywhere the wind blows." William Stafford just knew, didn't he. The lake house, your art classes, your being you all new beginnings that lighten the world.

  15. Here's to living life as a beginner!

  16. Wonderful, Irene. I am blessed to hear my middle child play cello. It's a sound that comes in under the heart and lifts the soul. I hope you enjoy your beginnings. May your path ever wind through green fields and quiet waters.

  17. You are an inspiration, Irene! I'll be first in line for your memoir. Congratulations on your charming lake house. Wishing you and your family much happiness there!

  18. You are never too old to be a beginner - so happy you are getting that lake house! It is wonderful to be empty-nesting. Enjoy all your new beginnings!

  19. My favorite line of William Stafford's poem,
    "the rage without met by the wings
    within that guide you anywhere the wind blows."
    that's the best place to be. And your lake house sounds like a good retreat and good place to be.
    Your August poem reminds me of our forthcoming eclipse, and new beginnings.Thanks for all Irene.


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