In The Light

“At last I began to realize . . . that I needed some kind of inner peace, or inward retirement, or whatever name it might be called by. . . . I began to realize that prayer was not a formality or an obliga- tion; it was a place which was there all the time and always available. “

Elfrida Vipont Foulds

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I was standing on the village green the other night, eating hot chile chocolate ice cream in the dark, and staring through the front windows of a shop at the woman working inside. She was dusting and rearranging, and sighing, and wondering where all the people were.

I was on the phone with my friend, listening to her cry and cry and worry and be frustrated at her own emotions and wondering why she couldn’t be the strong person, the person others could depend on in moments of crisis, anymore. I listened and tried to tell stories or relate other events to her experience, but mostly, I just listened to her and asked her to try to stay present, to not worry so much, and to take some time off.

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“Yes. There definitely is a certain attraction.”

This morning, I was sitting in the grass of the Masonic Hall, drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes in the early morning, hot summer light. On the sidewalk, two ladies walked past us in running shoes and pastel-colored athletic tops and ball caps: they walked with purpose. I sat in the grass, listening to my friend relate her spring and early summer to me, ruminating on families and relationships. I think we both were wondering how any of us ends up where we are, and how it can be so confusing. I chose to listen, and smell the freshly cut grass, and think about all the small bugs crawling under our thighs in the grass.

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“Don’t get officious. You’re not yourself when you’re officious: that’s the curse of a government job.”

This evening, I sat in my friend’s impermanent abode, a small cottage in Hulls Cove, a perfect summer rental with IKEA furniture and well-styled cutlery, eating curried haddock and rice, and listened to him lament the island, its problems, its inadequacies. He constantly asked me why…and I had no answer for him other than that there is reason that this place was once called Eden.

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“Harold, everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can’t let the world judge you too much.”

I have been writing here for almost two years; two years ago, I was living in the basement of my parent’s house, in a giant tent made of old sheets and scarves and curtains and mosquito nets that I made one day with one of my oldest friends. I spent my days knitting and watching movies and occasionally going outside into the light, only to retreat again into the dark. After awhile, I began to live in a house in a tiny town called Seal Harbor, and then left on a wild adventure, only to come back to the House that Floats in Northeast Harbor.

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“See, some are smaller, some are fatter, some grow to the left, some to the right, some even have lost some petals. All *kinds* of observable differences. You see, Harold, I feel that much of the world’s sorrow comes from people who are *this* [points to a daisy], and allow themselves to be treated as that [points to the field of daisies].”

So….after two years, and what feels like a lifetime of reflection, how does one make the switch from a person who stands, bewildered and gaping at the power of all of it, at the profundity of life here, of the connections to nature and to other people, now change to a person that listens to others who are experiencing something similar? The perspective shifts from one of intense self-focus to one of a listening ear: a person who sits on lawns and decks, who holds the phone close, who feels, finally, able to be the listener instead of the speaker.

Tomorrow is a day of tomato plants and irises, of jewelry-making, of sunshine, of light, of hoping that all who have shared their consternation with me this past week will take the time to look up, look at the clouds, feel the wind, smell the lilacs on the breeze, and hold themselves in the light.

“For me, prayer is more about listening than talking. “

Р Deborah Fisch

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“Oh Harold…that’s wonderful. Go out and love some more.”

It Goes In And Out Like Anything

night walk To be melancholic is to wake up at 5 in the morning to the sound of the street sweeper and notice the entire town bathed in deep, grey fog, and to worry about the cold and the lack of sun, while simultaneously basking in the glory of clouds traveling in and out of your windows as the moments of the early morning pass quickly by.

Also, it is to feel a pain in your heart that makes you leap toward a pond and find the baby frogs peeping on a late summer afternoon, or notice the multitude of colours in viburnum flowers that race toward the sky, pluming from branches of a very tall tree outside a tea house with a newly-built, Japanese-style water garden.

It is a palpable sense of love: one that you hold in your hand as if it were a roasted chestnut on a cold day, keeping it safe inside your hands, warm, suspended in animation, knowing that love is multi-layered, a palimpsest without limit. trees 2 Melancholy is noticing the light of late spring sunsets cast behind maple leaves, transforming them into a glowing mass of golden-green light that shifts in the wind, that shafts of sun pass through, temporarily blinding you in glory as you drive into the sunset instead of away from it.

Melancholy is the feeling of joy and poignancy that comes when the beauty of the natural world is so overwhelming you wish you could just bottle it, pour it into a cup and send it to the ones you love the most just so that they could see it and feel it, too. tool barn Melancholy is cigarettes smoked late in the night, in the morning really, while walking along a path on the shore, gazing out at fogbanks that cover up islands all in a row, breathing out, into the rain and fog, walking home, staring at the lights of houses and boats bobbing in the water, and hearing foghorns and the deep clanging bell noise of the buoys.

Melancholy is unlocking the door: a sideways glance at all of those who enter, wondering who will stay, who will go, who will sit and talk, who will break your chairs or smudge your walls with emotional fingerprints, and whether those smudges are dark and greasy, or golden, gilded and everlasting.

Melancholy is rhubarb and sweet peas, exploding with growth in spring sun, reaching ever upward against gravity, deep green, pungent, earth black, filled with earthworms, and the echoing call of wind chimes hanging in the branches of an apple tree.

Melancholy is sitting on an upholstered sofa that was brought in through the windows in the 1920s, and realizing how many people have sat here, just like you. tool barn 2   Melancholy is an antique vise, a ball peen hammer, a plane that exemplifies craftsmanship and care and engineering and appreciation and art, all at the same time; old locksets that turn with skeleton keys, and the stillness of many pieces of antique steel, all in rows, organized against the entropy of the outside world.

Melancholy are the crows: hopping and flying from here, to there, calling and cackling to all of us as we walk along, under them, noticing all the things that make life so beautiful and dark, so colorful and raw, so lovely, so visceral, and that passes us by so quickly, in the blink of an eye, blinded by the beauty of a sunny day. trees