so much is in bud

so-much-is-in-bud

Beginnings

“From too much love of living,
Hope and desire set free,
Even the weariest river
Winds somewhere to the sea -“

But we have only begun
To love the earth.

We have only begun
To imagine the fullness of life.

How could we tire of hope?
– so much is in bud.

How can desire fail?
– we have only begun

to imagine justice and mercy,
only begun to envision

how it might be
to live as siblings with beast and flower,
not as oppressors.

Surely our river cannot
already be hastening
into the sea of nonbeing?

Surely it cannot
drag, in the silt,
all that is innocent?

Not yet, not yet-
there is too much broken
that must be mended,

too much hurt that we have done to each other
that cannot yet be forgiven.

We have only begun to know
the power that is in us if we would join
our solitudes in the communion of struggle.

So much is unfolding that must
complete its gesture,

so much is in bud.

~Denise Levertov, (1923 – 1997)

the ground on which realists stand

the ground on which realists stand

But hope has an astonishing resilience and strength.
Its very persistence in our hearts
indicates that it is not a tonic for wishful thinkers
but the ground on which realists stand.

~Kathleen Norris

a pattern of my own choosing

0192_a pattern of my own choosing

While rummaging around in the old hand-painted storage chest that houses my collection of fabric, embroidery floss, and pattern books, I unearthed a piece of unfinished embroidery I began designing years ago. I imagine I set the project aside to work on making a gift for someone else – a Christmas ornament, perhaps. Life got busier, days dissolved into years, and I forgot all about this half-finished patchwork until I unrolled it and held it again in my hands. I was surprised by the prettiness of the intricate patterns I devoted my time to years ago. I thought to myself, it’s funny how the process of creating a work of art –whether it’s stitched or composed or painted or sculpted or written– can be so much like life: when you’re deep in the middle, you can get so close to it, become so accustomed to its contours, or so annoyed by distractions, or dejected by your mistakes, that you can’t see it clearly anymore; you can forget how beautiful it is.

The embroidery I used to create this piece is called blackwork. Blackwork, which was at its zenith in the days of Henry VIII, was worked with black silk thread on white linen to create patterns that mimicked lace. Only the wealthy could afford to wear costly laces at that time, so those who desired the look of lace and were deft with a needle worked to transform strips of linen into lacy, expensive-looking collars, cuffs, and sleeves. Here’s a photo to illustrate how blackwork looked in its heyday:

0192_wiki image of blackwork

[Photo credit: Wikipedia]

Although the patterns in blackwork appear complex, they’re actually easy to stitch. Each design is created by outlining a shape with a running stitch, then by sewing one simple, straight stitch after another to form a pattern.

I run my finger over my own tiny stitches and meditate on this unfinished piece of blackwork. The flight of years, the joys, sorrows, sunlight, and shadows through which I’ve passed have made me view this piece differently now than I did when I began it. These stitches have moved from something merely decorative towards something more metaphorical.

I examine the varied patterns. Some are delicate and spare, others are heavy and intense; some step forward with warmth and presence, others are cool and recede. How very like people these patterned squares are; each one is unique, and beautiful, and connected to the others around it. What a diverse, yet harmonious, gathering this is…

You might care to guess which square is my favorite.

I’ll tell you: it’s the unfinished one.

0192_a pattern of my own choosing, closeup

Why? Because it holds possibilities. It’s not too late to go back and begin again with a brand new color, or even an entirely different pattern. Just as in life, it’s not too late to change, and that’s what I find appealing.

However, I’m content with the color and pattern I’ve chosen, so now, all I must do is take up my needle again. It’s been a long time, but I know how to do this, of course I do! Just as in life, I can move forward at any time with a pattern of my own choosing.

How do I begin? It’s simple, really: day by day, moment to moment, breath by breath, stitch by stitch.

Just look at this beautiful work of art I’m creating.

******

(This is the second in a 5-day Photo/Story Challenge series. I was nominated to this challenge by Kristine, a wonderful writer and friend who blogs regularly at candidkay.)

It woke me early

0146_it woke me early

It woke me early
and drew me outdoors.
A chickadee called,
a robin answered.
Fingers of wind traced
silken curlicues on the morning air,
and as I stood looking down
where the first tender shoots of crocuses
reached
from darkness toward light,
I felt it again –
Spring, returning to my heart.

~Amy

You must believe in spring

0141_you must believe in spring

When angry voices drown
the music of the spheres,
and children face a world
that’s far beyond their years,

above the darkest sky
the full horizons lie
with all the reasons
why you must believe in spring.

You must believe in love
and trust it’s on its way,
just as the sleeping rose
awaits the kiss of May.

So, in a world of snow,
of things that come and go,
where what you think you know
you can’t be certain of,
you must believe in spring,
and love.

From You Must Believe in Spring, by Jacques Demy and Michel Legrand