a list.

autumn days + late afternoon light + soups made by lanterns glow + hot water bottles in the bed sheets + early morning sun + backyard apple trees + beautiful spotty gums + dusted off guitar strings + pushing pen to paper + needles and thread + setting goals + getting the old bicycle on the road + bottomless cups of tea with ramble by neighbours + having a wild beach all to ourselves + following roo tracks + song of the bell bird + getting letters in the mail + hanging the laundry on the line + stack of wool blankets + dancing in the dark + handmade soda pop + good bones and good souls + another day to enjoy it all…

lost beauties

there’s a little silver caravan that sits at the end of our dirt lane. it’s a rickety tin box with a tarp over the roof. it’s a loaner from good ol’ Sambo, and for the last couple of years it’s rotated between being our bedroom, our kitchen, and our tool shed.
this year, it’s my art studio.
mmmhmmm. lucky me.

it is perched on the edge of the hill that slopes down to the valley, and when the wind blows, the little room rocks and sways. i always keep the door propped open, just in case i need to make a quick escape in a gusty breeze.
the corner window blew out in the winter rains last year. it’s now just a permanent breezeway.

i have a table that hinges to the wall, adorned with pencil scribbles of roof angles, wall measurements, and wiring maps. my chair is a hand-me-down drafting stool from Miss Anne’s shed. there is a clothesline along the wall, cluttered with photos and findings and notes. the ledges are piled with sea urchins, spools of thread, rusty metal, and beach-combed bric-a-brac.

i love it in there.
somedays i sit until the sun has sucked out all of the light, and my strained eyes just can’t see to sew another stitch. even then, sometimes i just linger and sit. and listen. and drift.

the other day i wandered over to open up the caravan doors for the day…let the cool of the morning move in. i saw something move in the corner. i found not one, but two  little butterfly beauties hanging out in my little art home. they found their way in, but somehow couldn’t remember how to get out. or maybe they just liked it there…smile.

i cupped them, one at a time, in my hand, and walked with them outside, and then i opened my hand and waited…delighted, that they didn’t just up and fly away. one in particular seemed quite happy to hang around. she even spread her wings and flaunted her glory for me. i reveled in it.

i love when the days hold tiny surprises.
i’m not sure there’s a better way to have started my day than a visit to a windy tin can art room that fluttered with lost beauties, and a few rare moments of stroking the fine hairs of a butterfly spine while it rested in the sun in the palm of my hand.

goodness + gratitude, indeed.

sometimes breaking is the only way to heal.

last night i sat on the steps of the shack under dark night clouds. only a few stars were poking through.
to the left of me i heard music floating from the neighbours field, a celebration of a song let loose in the world for the first time.
to the right of me i heard crying, the kind of crying that claws and pulls, rather than floats, coming from another neighbours field, a letting loose of a different sort.
i sat still somewhere in the middle of it all.
listening.
bearing witness, i suppose.

sometimes i just need to stand still and pay attention. like a compass, getting my bearings.

my love reminded me that sometimes pain is the only language that will work. in some moments it’s the only vocabulary we have. sometimes we need to cry and wail and yell. sometimes, some things, can’t be said in a gentle whisper. they need to claw and pull their way out. getting free can hurt like a bitch sometimes. sometimes breaking is the only way to heal.

just a few hours before, we pulled in our dirt lane, and looked at our home of concrete and beam, roofs with few walls, light from the sun and water that runs from the rain. we turned to each other and told each other how happy we are. how grateful.
i know that some people can only see what we live without. but every day i reach my hands out and they come back overflowing.
sometimes letting go is the only way to find content.

it’s morning now, almost midday.
there is mist over the valley and rain on its way. i’m about to bake some scones and bottle up some relish. i’m listening to Lightfoot on vinyl in a friend’s borrowed kitchen. the world isn’t so big after all.

sometimes breaking is the only way to heal.
sometimes letting go is the only way to find content.
bearing witness.
pay attention.
how happy.
how grateful.
reaching out, overflowing.
the world isn’t so big after all.

like a compass, getting my bearings.
i’m right here.
steady on my feet.
more okay than i ever could have imagined.
gratitude, like a pulse, moving me through my days.

xo.

count it all.

there’s been scavenging and stitching and sorting and digging and settling and listening and breathing and sitting and watching and eating and savoring and sleeping and plenty of dreaming. there’s been slowness and progress and creation and risk-taking. there’s been laughing birds and dying spiders and skittering lizards and rambling echidnas. there’s been sun and rain and wind and stars. there’s been moments of pause and delight, company of friends and strangers. there’s been a lot of things in only a handful of days, and right now i’m perched on a high hill looking through a wall of windows at nothing but cloud, and i can’t help but count it all as blessings and say thank you.

when your best dog dies

bruce 1

it wasn’t the way i had imagined it
but i suppose it never is.
you lived long, but never got old.
i never saw your beard grow grey,
your whiskers turn wild.
you had that sore leg that gave you trouble sometimes;
you no longer played as hard as you used to.
you slept more.
stayed closer to home.

for a big dog you always loved small spaces.
when you were a puppy you slept underneath the couch
till one day you got big and couldn’t get back out.
famous for sitting on small chairs and end tables,
your strong bones would curl in so tight,
shrunk through sheer determination.

i shouldn’t be surprised that you chose to die
curled up underneath my caravan kitchen table.
the smallest space in your smallest home yet.

you didn’t give much warning, little dog.
or maybe we were just reading the signs wrong.
it wasn’t arthritis or cancer.
it wasn’t a passing car
or other tragedy.

it was a farm field on an overcast Saturday.
it was after your tail wagged and your pal came to play.
it was a tiredness in your wise eyes.
it was your resting bones, your drooping head.
it was with me on the floor beside you.
it was a knowing in my gut.
it was your laboured breath.
it was a few short cries.
it was before the rain came.
it was while the birds sang.
it was your time
…and then something took your breath away.

i believe in good deaths.
i don’t know if i could have chosen a better one for you.

DSCN9828

there are people who will never know or understand
the space that a good dog leaves behind.
good love, like a good life, doesn’t need an explanation.
it speaks for itself.
loud.
clear.

your love, your life, howled, Brucey boy.
your echo will ring for a long long time.

thanks for being the best four-legged this girl coulda hoped for.
i miss your goodness already.

good night littl pal.
xo

IMG_2047

oh my god.

I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

– Mary Oliver (The Summer Day)

……..

when i was a child i was taught how to pray.
before meal times. before bed.
in church, multiple times. sometimes in multiple languages.
at weddings. at funerals. baptisms. dedications.
before long road trips.
in hospitals. car accidents. when facing empty bank accounts. any and all uncertainties.
even, in early years, in school, right after the national anthem.

if practice makes perfect, i should have had this nailed by now.

……..

180

……..

somewhere along the way i just stopped talking.
i got tired of hearing prayers said aloud that felt like rambling monologues or speeches; i stopped believing what i was hearing; i had a hard time feeling like any of it really mattered anyhow.
and when it was my turn to kneel and bow, i found myself exhausted by the sound of my own voice. i didn’t want to listen to me anymore, so why would she?

……..

3

” I love to pray at the beach, staring out at the surf and the pelicans, my prayer at those moments ” Oh my God, oh my God.” I try not to bog down on the “my” or “God” part of this prayer. It is the “Oh” that matters, the expulsion of air from the lungs, that occasional gorgeous shock at what tiny molecules of the whole we are, compared with…one of the most beautiful places in the universe.”
-Anne Lamott (Help, Thanks, Wow)

……..

i just finished reading a book about prayer. Anne Lamott wrote it, which is, quite truthfully, the only reason i read it. i trust her. i believe her. i don’t feel like she cares if i agree with her. she has scars and bruises and doesn’t hide the fact that life has been really fucking hard sometimes. she also throws up her hands and says “thank you” a lot, and i really like that.
Anne says that prayer is really just three words: Help. Thanks. Wow.
Spoken to God, or Buddha, or the Universe, or anything outside of, bigger than, ourselves. To light.


” Light reveals us to ourselves, which is not always so great if you find yourself in a big disgusting mess, possibly of your own creation. But like sunflowers we turn toward light. Light warms, and in most cases it draws us to itself. And in this light, we can see beyond shadow and illusion to something beyond our modest receptors, to what is way beyond us, and deep inside.”

i’m not in the same place that she is. i’m still wrestling with things that she seems to have learned to rest in. but i think i can make sense of her kind of prayer. i think i do it all the time, even if i don’t know who i’m talking to anymore.
i can’t do this alone.
i’m so full of gratitude.
i’m in awe.

i live those three truths every day of my life, on repeat.

……..

32

……..

Praying

It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.”

– Mary Oliver

……..

life has been teaching me a lot about silence. turning down the racket. tuning out the noise. letting go of the clutter that keeps me from hearing and seeing and breathing and daring and being. if anything like a prayer comes out of me these days, it comes out as a whisper. or a standing-still-ness. or a deep breath.
to you, those may not seem like very sacred conversations.
to me, they feel more true than almost anything else i know.

……..

97

……..

all my life i was told to close my eyes to pray. the child me did what i was told. the adult me feels like we all missed the boat. like it sailed right by while we had our heads bowed staring at our eyelids.

when our eyes are closed, we are not looking. we are not seeing.

i want to whisper gratitude while staring wide-eyed at a glacier, or a sunset, or the meadow in early autumn. i want to smile at the food as we bless it. i want to look at every inch of my little nephew Sam, moments after he is born, and be in awe of the miracle that i was just blessed to witness. i want to see and be seen in the eyes of my lover, or my best friend, or my brother, when i confess my feelings of helplessness, my brokenness. i need to see some version of god in their eyes.

why would i look away?

……..

i’m not finished yet.
good lord, i’m just beginning.
but it’s an honest attempt.
and if i believe anything, it’s that that’s enough.

Anne says that saying “Amen” is the same as a quiet, deep breath.
it means truly. truthfully.
there you have it.
so it is.

it’s not an ending.
it’s just a deep exhale.

Amen.

……..

Let no one keep you from your journey

a week later.
after time travel, jet lag, and a flu bug.
feeling like i left home, to come home.
a snow+sick day.
some pictures and a poem.

one

two

three

four

five

DSCN0627

DSCN0644

DSCN0799

DSCN0527

DSCN0860

DSCN0502

(pic courtesy of Christina)

(pic courtesy of Christina)

DSCN0721

DSCN0489

Breaking Surface

Let no one keep you from your journey,
no rabbi or priest, no mother
who wants you to dig for treasures
she misplaced, no father
who won’t let one life be enough,
no lover who measures their worth
by what you might give up,
no voice that tells you in the night
it cannot be done.

Let nothing dissuade you
from seeing what you see
or feeling the winds that make you
want to dance alone
or go where no one
has yet to go.

You are the only explorer,
Your heart, the unreadable compass.
Your soul, the shore of a promise
too great to be ignored.

Mark Nepo

the first, the wildest, the wisest

there is no promise of growing old,
whether it’s alone
or with you.

there are things around the bend,
unexpected outcomes,
tragedies,
a lifetime of unknowns that will write
the end of our stories.

and on this sunny, blue-skied morning
this may read as cloudy thinking;
a gloomy way to begin a day.

but
in the wake of one more sudden ending,
i find myself needing to remember what is true.

there is only promise of right now.
this
very
moment.
this morning.
that bird singing.
this breath.

if i forget this
then i flounder.

but when i remember,
i pause,
and i listen,
and i breathe deeper;
i say thank you
and i love you
and i work harder to be here
right now
in this
very
moment.

because it’s what i know for sure.
and i’m grateful for it.
and bless, aren’t they all over too soon?

57

even in sleep your life will shine.

DSCN9835

after rainstorms
and lego;
after campfires
and wide-eyed wonder;
after fireflies lead me home
and crickets played my lullabye.
after lightening filled skies
after dancing butterflies
after generous friends
and a run of good luck;
after afternoon hugs
and honeybees,
after the water boiled
after i napped,
after two deer
and one wild turkey
and one more sun set,
and after the phone rang
after my belly was full
after the dog covered me with kisses
after we read Shel Silverstein
and we said goodnight
and i closed the door
and turned out the light
even then,
still then,
it wasn’t done yet.

pile it up, let it go

1. farm fields at sunset with four-leggeds and best friends. doesn’t get much better than that.
DSCN9414

2. re-arranging furniture…again.there are always possibilities, even in the smallest space. never ceases to delight me. is there a career in that?

3. listening to some Andrew James O’Brien. yup.

4. how does a small life aquire so many things?

5. the birds are singing in your eyes today

6. Lemon Blueberry Cornmeal muffins still hot from the oven. making this rainy night smell so good.

7. i can’t wait till i get to eat more of this:
DSCN9049

8. i have shelves full of books that i’ve never read. i’ve moved them in boxes from one house to the next. i like the way they look. the way they feel. i like the idea of them. but they’re strangers to me still. stories i’ve never met. just covers or titles or writers i thought i might like or want or read.
enough already, rae.
read them or let them go.

9. love.
DSCN9408

10. this season of newness really is a wonder.

Previous Posts Next Posts

Words + Photos + Credit

Unless otherwise noted, all original photography and text are property of Raechelle Kennedy. If you see or read something here and feel inspired to share it somehow, please be considerate and give the artist (me!) credit, or even better, drop me a note and make sure I don’t mind.
Thank you!

Here + There

Secondhand Sainthood and the gift of losing it all – Topology Magazine, December 2015

Ten Things Made – Topology Magazine, December 2015

Subscribe!