I came to the river knowing that the season would be over. Still I brought the picking bucket, just in case. As expected, these bushes are long done. I’d last picked weeks ago, before my birthday.
The ducks are here, quietly going about their paddle. Because I have been focussed on the blackberry banks, I hadn’t noticed right away. It’s as if they're ok with my presence as long as I don’t look at them. I can see subtle shifts to attention as soon as I spot them even though I have simply turned my head and have made no sound. It’s as if they sense me looking.
I had not anticipated that the bees would still be flying in and out of the flowers. They seem bigger, plumper this late in the season.
It’s not actually quiet here, I realize. Airplanes fly overhead, North Road is right there to my left. Despite today being Labour Day there is a lot of traffic going by.
The first day I came down here this year I saw a big, beautiful dragonfly. It’s the only one I’ve seen in all my years of coming here. It felt like a gift and, looking back, a symbol of this moment of shift.
Between that moment and this I realized that I had come to the other side of something. I saw it like a vision. I was standing at the base of a hill, the mouth of a small valley. Having been for two years in a different place, a liminal space, I just stood there, listening, smelling, observing. The scent was a curious blend of dry ground and vegetation. Not unfamiliar, yet I had not been exactly here before. Ahead, not a clear path, but a definite way. What is this place?
Remembering the lesson of wayfinding (thanks Dan Hines) I turned around to see where I’ve come from. Behind me stretched a broad desert. I recognized it as the place I’ve been for the past two years. Liminal space; time between what is and what is next. And stretching across the desert a row of lotus flowers, a lush path of stepping stones.
I thought back to a previous vision I’d had, one of looking out into a barren desert that I needed to cross. Each time I took a step forward a lotus flower would bloom to receive my foot. Lotus are water plants. So this path of watery abundance had walked me across the desert. Here I was now on the other side. With this realization, I knew it was time for me to move forward to a new path, step into a new moment.
I have now given notice that I would be leaving the communications work at the Centre for Christian Studies which has also escorted me across the liminal space. After Paul died, I didn’t know what I would be doing. This position has offered me a creative and supportive place. I never imagined leaving after such a short time, but here I am. Despite being sad to say good-bye to this place I love and a great collegial team, it feels right. I will be done here before winter comes.
I hold such gratitude. While it was shitty to watch my husband suffer and die, today life is again full and abundant. Do I experience loneliness? Yes, at times aching and visceral. And I have deepening and accepting friendships. Times of doubt? Absolutely. But not deep doubt. Deep down I trust the moment, trust the Divine, trust even failures, which teach me what things in me need healing and what actually matters. I have learned things that are important to me, and that are important for me to nurture in myself like compassion, kindness, joy.
The way into the hills is obscured. But I step forward sure in the continuing unfolding.
Here at the river I’ve lost track of time. I usually only come to this place when the blackberries are ripe for picking. But the fruits of this place are still here for me now. Thanks be to God. The longer I sit quietly, the more I notice. Tiny dragonflies, a bead of water on a blade of grass, my own need to be here.
I’m having a hard time leaving, even though I know it’s time to go. Much like the time I’ve spent with CCS, it has nourished me. And I know this place will still be here, just as the connections at CCS won’t be severed, simply shifted. As I gather my things and stand up to leave, amazingly another large dragonfly glides by.
As I step into the river, my body becomes like the water, fluid and languid.
The river has changed again. Of course I have too, my edges also worn by the streams of life. I have to find a new way to enter. I suspect people find that with me too. A spot where the currents aren't too deep and swift. A place to ease in, get your footing first.
I hadn't been thinking about how it smells here. But realized as soon as I arrived how much it is part of the whole experience. I breath deep, filling my soul with the familiar blend of water and plant loam.
In my continued quest to get one good shot of the bees in the flowers I wander over to the bank down aways. And once again God shows me something amazing that I didn't anticipate. Turning my head to look at the flowers I am caught by the spectacular sight of a brilliant dragonfly perched on a stem of grass. Amazing.
The blackberry season has only started and I go home with only a taste of what will emerge over the next few weeks. Every season, year after year, this place fills me.
Thanks be to God.
I found myself grinning as I stepped out of the doorway of the Old Crow Coffee House into the blustery night. As I walked I looked back over the evening, noting each gratitude. The space. The people gathered. The event.
Finn’s friend Andie had organized a clothing swap. A theatrical lighting designer by trade, she is someone who cares deeply about a just world and endeavours to live intentionally to that end. More than clothing, this was a political and community social event.
The coffee shop had offered space for the swap in their back room. Andie welcomed everyone with an acknowledgement to the Qayqayt First Nations on whose unceded territory we were gathering. The good-will entrance fee was to be donated to the Coast Protectors and the legal fund for those arrested for standing against the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion.
Andie had collected clothing, and other goods, for months. People were invited to take as much as they wanted, whether they had brought anything to swap or not. All leftover donations would be taken to Big Brothers with a tax receipt to the high school music program. This was a pre-Christmas invitation to get out of the malls, to “shop” thrift, to re-use and recycle. It was both gathering and anti-consumerist activism.
I think that all parents must have moments of imagining what they want to offer their children. I imagined a renaissance household, a salon around the dinner table bantering into the night on big ideas, political discourse, humour and life. And Finn on the edges, eagerly listening to good natured argument and eventually joining in. He would get to know musicians, politicians, poets and anarchists.
As I walked home I ran through the litany of blessings. My grateful heart gave thanks that in fact my child sits at many tables with artists and activists, people who are engaged, outspoken, funny and creative. But in a glorious twist, these are his friends, people he has exposed me to, not the other way around.
The pre-Christmas time of Advent is seen as a time of awaiting the coming hope. This evening spoke to me of hope fulfilled. Blessed be.
What is resurrection when it’s all fallen down around your ears? When the person who believed you could do anything is gone? When your imagined future peters out, the path dissipating with every footfall until there is just a vast open landscape?
Resurrection is the pause for breath. It is re-seeing the emptiness as liminal space and knowing that what will be is the other side of what is. And it will be life anew, reimagined by the Divine Yes for one who is beloved. Thanks be.
The rain is driving and thick tonight. It’s like walking through a constant bead curtain. Fat drops clatter on the garbage laden sidewalk, piles of peoples’ belongings, and the cars negotiating Hastings street. A man wrapped in a hoodie and plaid shirt sits tucked in a doorway, an attempt, I suppose at keeping out of the deluge. There is no dry place in this weather.
As the traffic light turns red, a woman darts into the street. Luckily the drivers are watching and wait for her to cross. Between the dark, the rain and people, cars move cautiously through this area.
This is the gritty heart of the city. And despite the pouring rain there are a lot of people out here. Some, like us, are headed some place. But many are just out where they always are, meeting with friends, trying to score something, watching what’s going on. For many people down here, the sidewalk is the only place they can gather to share a smoke, a drink or even a conversation with friends. There’s a sense of place here.
The Downtown Eastside is notorious. This is the area that reporters always write about because it’s a poor postal code rife with drugs and all that goes along with that. I know people who are nervous about coming down here or just wouldn’t. This is not my neighbourhood and I don’t exactly feel it’s home turf, but for tonight I am part of it. I’m enjoying the walk, the vitality of it and connections that are here, even the rain. People acknowledge us, some with nods, some with stares. I don’t sense hostility, just interest. Still I stay aware. But I’m a city girl so I always try to be aware of what’s around.
We’re headed to Pat’s Pub in the Patricia Hotel. As we step inside we see friends. My jeans are damp, leather jacket and felted hat dripping, which we laugh about as they come over to hug me. We’re here to celebrate a record release for our friend Tim Chan’s band China Syndrome.
I’m sure the rain kept some people home tonight. Rainy nights are good for curling up with books and cups of tea. But I’m glad to be out. The darkness enfolds me like a quilt and the wet and wind remind me that the world is a living thing and life is all of this, the grit and glory. I don’t want to shut myself away from that because God is out here in the heart of things, in the community that gathers under awnings and doorways, in the music played for the love of it, in sharing a damp hug and a glass with friends. Blessed be.
musings of someone spiritual and oddly religious
Click here to check out Kimiko's Postables