How the Blind Can Lead the Blind

All is night, and all is right with my world. In this winter darkness, I know exactly where I am.

For a long while, I was buried under snow of a different kind, under a winter of loss and uncertainty. In this cold season, the northland is like a desert wasteland. Those times come to a person’s inner world too.

Now is another greening. Not a spring — my springs are all past, and now my summers stretch out before me. Though it lacks the tizzy of new awakenings, this is no sensible time of life. It’s one where romance prevails and rainstorms come and go. A time of warmth, vitality, and changeable winds. A time to sail away from known shores.

Now is a time to embrace the friends who can bring such a thaw to pass. Love is a very great power indeed.

Outside the south-facing window, the starshine hides behind a blanket of thick cloud; snow buntings rise and twirl as night travellers along the roads disrupt their rest. They catch the headlights of passing cars and rise like sparks into the freezing air. They fly into emptiness and are gone beyond sight.

Like thoughts, like dreams, they fly away. Like the places I’ve wandered in my heart and mind, and like this place where I write to you tonight.

It all whirls past, faster and faster with every turn. Life spins out of our hands and meets its end, a thread run off the bobbin. Set a match to it, and it’s just a spark, no fire. And then it’s gone. Before I know it, my place in the world will burn out.

But love is a very great power indeed. It sees sparrows and snow buntings fall, though the darkness is lit by not one star. Love knows when a dream dies, and it weeps when time turns to char and ash. Love feels the weight of the burdens we carry, small or large, forced upon our shoulders or self-inflicted by our choices.

It’s possible to die of broken wings.

Yet there are hands that heal. Hands that have been broken themselves. That’s how they know the wounding. That’s how, in this winter darkness, I am not lost. Because hands of like nature were stretched out to me in the acceptable time.

I am hidden in the comfort of my room, and the south-facing window is a blank, the colour of slate. The antique lamp in the corner glows golden. After I turn it off, I will feel my way to bed and lay me down by sheer force of familiarity.

And in the peace and warmth, where love prevails, I will think of how the blind can lead the blind — by reaching out to touch.

After Leaving, There Is Life

To leave is a profound thing. Every part of life has some leaving–each day includes a trail of unfinished tasks, uncaptured moments. There are finite seconds in each moment.

Eye contact missed between loved ones as mundane duties take over. Words unspoken. Time spent and gone forever, just staying afloat in the maelstrom of doing what must be done.

Sometimes, it helps to leave behind what must be done.

So we did. After the writing conference, I didn’t fly home to Canada. I flew to Denver, and there I met my husband and kids. We travelled the American southwest for the next three weeks.

Sometimes, it hurts to leave behind what must be done, and find that it isn’t really that much of a “must” after all. What has the time been spent for? When one comes back, then what does one do with all that’s unfinished?

I don’t know. I do know that I began to feel cherished by my husband again while we were away. Dry places in our conjoined spiritual life found some water. With the younglings ever-present, it’s not easy to find time, even with everything else out of the way. We found some.

After leaving, there is life. And now that we’ve returned, I wonder what we should leave behind a little more, instead of an unfinished list of the things that glue our lives together.

My Southern Realm

There is something about the Bay area, south of Houston, that will always be with me. I rarely visit a place twice in my travels, but I’d come back to this one again and again.

It’s the heat — the first hint of fall down here is the warmth of full summer up north. It’s laid-back, bluesy tunes on the radio and a drawled greeting from our Good Sir Knight. The sight of fields of scrubland and pasture intermingling with urban sprawl, out the window of a truck whose incongruous snow tires hum on the roads. It’s the glimmer of the bay, bright blue and going on to forever and ever, amen.

It’s the warm, calm atmosphere created by our Good Sir Knight’s gracious lady. The feel of being at home. And the deafening sound of the Great Dane and her minions when we pull into the driveway. (The Dane, whose proper name is Rebecca of Schooleybrook Farm, is affectionately and colloquially known to me as The Horse, or lately, Coconuts.)

And it’s a little blue flower on a low-growing bush — something that can only be a houseplant in Canada — that’s reflected on my windowsill far away north.

We sit up late, talk theology, watch a movie, talk about perfect storytelling. I fit in here. I even have a number: Among the family of four, I’m assigned 3.5. There’s a hilarious running joke to it that doesn’t fit on this page.

I am spoiled in all manner of small but deep ways. An alternate route through the downtown just to see the skyscrapers at night. My choice of places to sleep and family to visit with. A morning swim in a warm pool with a waterfall and palm fronds hanging down from the huge tree overhead. And time. I am given so much time.

It’s the feel of everything good and gentle and honourable. I have to move on, now, but it hurts a little to leave. You never know if or when I’ll be back. You just never know. But it has made its way into my heart as only my northland ever has.

This is my southern realm, forever and ever, amen.