memories of christmas future

Dear great-great granddaughter,

I have learned that hugh is seriously ill, and I am struck by how heavy my heart feels at the news. I wonder at that, hadn’t realized the place he holds there. What is it about the potential loss of this tender man that makes my heart break just a little. Ah, perhaps it is because he breaks it open, just a little, from within. With the remembrance of his gentle spirit, his eyes for beauty, his love of mytery, he stirs awake something in me, something in me that remembers why I am also here… to walk gently, to see beauty, to wonder at the mystery, to love.

I hadn’t realized how much my heart was filled by his words, words that resonated with the ones hidden in my heart until they swelled into song. I picture him now, lying on the hillside he spoke of , the one that filled his heart with wonder when he was a young man. I know he is witnessing beauty, wherever he is. It is his way.

I have come to the basement to write this early evening. The house is quiet and I am alone, but I wanted to be with the sound of the electric train circling the track. There is something soothing, almost prayerful about its circling, like rumi round his pole. It reminds me of my father. I wonder about that too. That he is here this night alongside hugh.

I suppose I wish my father had been more like him, had shared with me the secrets of his heart, spoken of the sorrows that made it heavy and the wonders that made it soar. I wish that he had filled me with the knowledge of my belovedness, helped me look for beauty. But that was not his way. Perhaps he didn’t know where to find it or perhaps he simply didn’t know how to share it.

This evening, I have the memory of him with his electric trains, circling the track, bringing some deep satisfaction to his soul, some soothing to his spirit,  and of course much joy to the young ones in his circle. Perhaps it was prayer to him too.

I wonder if I will feel such heaviness when my mother dies. I expect it will surprise me, that particular sorrow, not for the loss, but for what never was and for what was so long broken. For words never spoken. Will I wonder at the mystery of her, wonder who she was, ponder the story hidden deep within about why she was here?

Am I also such a mystery to my own children, in this ever circling path. By the time you are born,great-great granddaughter of mine, I will be in some far away orbit from the center that is your own heart, some distant mother of which you may not be aware. And yet, some piece of the mystery that I am is in you too. How will you know it? Where will you feel it? Will something call you to pause in the quiet, rhythmic clicking of some object in your life, reminding you of something you’d forgotten, as it does to me with this train circling the tracks. Or will it be the way your heart swells along a mountain trail, as hemlock needles soften your step and rhododendron, thick with blossoms, slows it. Will you wonder from what ancestor came this fierce tenderness for the beauty of this place, from whence came this urgency to dwell more deeply in the solitude of forest, why your heart is broken open by a poem?

Will there be, I pray, a mother or a father with whom you dare to speak these things, or will you sit, like me, listening to your heart and wondering why it was a stranger touched it so….


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