A splash of poetry


Ripples lick the rocks
As the pines and birch politely applaud
Gulls catching their petits déjeuners
In the waking lake.

Sky’s amethyst shroud cascades
Towards the western shore
And the water’s silky blue
Becomes the pewter and emerald of armour.

The fleeting storm rumbles to the west and north
Dragging a chair across a distant wooden floor
But our only thunder is from a train
Rolling to market behind its mournful whistle.

The winds shift, the shroud – like a chameleon –
Becomes soft pillows of gray and white.
Lake Simcoe’s armour is but a duvet;
The white top-sheets being turned down toward Windigo.

Once here, and with dusk approaching,
The sheets are smoothed, the pillows fluffed
And the sun sinks past the foot of the bed
Leaving colours of peace and wonder.

No sooner are distant pinks orange, and oranges purple,
Then a star pierces the darkening blue
And the trees begin to sigh, knowing the moon’s glow
Over Windigo will keep watch another night.

(July 30, 1993)Windigo is the name of a cottage on Lake Simcoe, north of Toronto, which support groups for people living with HIV/AIDS were graciously loaned, in the late 1980s and early ’90s, as a place of quiet retreat.I was grateful to have been a part of several of these retreats. From one group photo I am the lone survivor, apart from the facilitators who – in the case of my particular group – were not HIV-positive.

The picture was taken on Kempenfelt Bay, to the south and west of Windigo, during a different retreat in the summer of 2005. (One of these days I will get around to scanning actual photos of Windigo!)

Here are excerpts from George MacDonald’s Celtic Daily Prayer, (Walking with grief, p. 225-226).

These words are true to my experience.

Do not hurry
As you walk with grief
It does not help the journey
Walk slowly
Pausing often
Do not hurry
As you walk with grief

Be gentle with the other
Who walks with grief
If it is you
Be gentle with yourself
Swiftly forgive
Walk slowly
Pausing often

Take time, be gentle
as you walk with grief

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