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  • Elaine Fletcher Chapman

Sabbath #152

My heart is heavy  today for my daughter and her partner. Together, as a team they took care of Marta’s mother who died last week in a hospital in Hungary. They both did hard labor, one holding space for the other. One in one country, the other in another. Their resources depleted. They are in need. And I can’t help thinking about my husband’s daughter, estranged from her father for six years now. I type the word estranged but the word shunned is a better fit. She shunned him in the way the Amish shun ones who leave the church. Two years ago he asked her about a path to reconciliation. She has not replied or acted. He stopped asking. Another kind of dying. So many deaths this week. Four in our small rural community. Also, PS Hoffman and now Maxine Kumin.  Her book, Always Beginning: Essays on a Life in Poetry (Copper Canyon Press,2000)  starts with Rilke: If the angel deigns to come, it will be because you have convinced him, not by tears, but by your humble resolve to be always beginning: to a beginner. Maxine was always beginning. She begins this book with a June Journal Entry. A  student of Thoreau’s question,  What shall I learn of beans or beans of me? She writes of beans: Forty years later, slave to my garden, I have grown intimate with beans. They are my stars, my best producers, my most versatile charmers.” Her vocation, poetry. Her advocation, gardening. Her book, Connecting the Dots is dedicated to Jane Kenyon. Jane gone some years ago. Yesterday I received a text from a client: Doctors give mom only 48 hours. I’m staying by her bed.

We know that life is fleeting. Time with loved ones limited. That beginner’s mind is best thinking. What draws one daughter and not another, one son and not another? I like to think that we are all doing the best we can at our level of consciousness. But perhaps that is too generous. In Kumin’s poem, Address to Angels, she writes: Who knows how much or little / anyone suffers?…Where are the angels?

#Rilke #Angels #grief #MaxineKumin #CopperCanyonPress #Loss

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