The Weight of Water

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I grew up in a city that was built around a river,that is famous for it’s locks, that was flooded by a creek, and that is perched on the cusp of a wilderness of lakes.

As kids we ran through the sprinkler for hours on the hottest of days and flooded the backyard for a massive ice rink in the dead of winter. We let the water run while we brushed our teeth. We flushed toilets with abandon and showered for as long, and as often, as we pleased.

We knew no limit to what flowed from our many taps. We were water rich. It was weightless and we were drowning (swimming) in it.

…….

I live half of my year in a half-built house in rural Australia with my love. Our home is a quiet, off-grid design that is being made out of storied parts and salvaged supplies, built by our own two hands. For the last 4 years, every drop of water we have required has had to come from the sky. The only tap we have is at the base of a rain tank. Our two tanks are connected to our two roofs by a series of gutters and pipes. Every drop of rain that hits our steel ceiling finds it’s way into our holding tank. One day those tanks will feed into more pipes that will funnel into our finished house. One day there will be taps and sinks, even a bath. But always the water that flows from them will come from those two tanks, those two roofs, that one sky. But for right now, every bit of water we use needs to be carried – from the tank, up the hill, to the kettle, the dish pan, the wash tub. We feel its’ heaviness every time we use it. The weight of our water is teaching us its’ value.

……

My hometown is not far from the shore of great Lake Ontario. Forty minutes of driving can have me standing eye-to-eye with the waters edge. Smokestacks and seagulls and Canadian geese are ever in the periphery, but if I position myself just right then I can look out and see nothing but wet horizon. Those shores have saved me many times on days when the world felt too big, the questions too heavy. The gift of big water is the chance to feel small in its’ presence. I can stand there and look out as far as my eyes can see and still not find the end. It’s the sound of waves lapping, a music that resonates deep in my bones. It’s a body to throw stones at without causing harm. It’s a void to yell into when I need the strength of my own voice more than I need to be listened to. Big water is a humbling force that proves strong enough to carry the weight of whatever I need to unload.

……

It started raining on my caravan roof while I’ve been writing this. Not a heavy rain, just a light spattering that will likely evaporate as soon as it hits this sun-baked ground. It is easy to recognize the sound of rushing waterfalls or crashing waves. The force of water can be deafening. But even tonights’ small, seemingly insignificant rain drops held a weight that was loud enough for me to hear. They played a song on this tin box that made me pause in my tracks, made me listen.

……

Yesterday we drove the 25km from our grassy shack to the big beach to submerge ourselves in the cold waters of the Tasman Sea. We were heat scorched and in need of a bath. Without fail, every time I put my salty skin in the ocean waves, I squeal like an excited child. It is a full-immersion saltwater baptism that leaves me laughing and lighter and grateful to be alive. I am learning to let my limbs ride the waves. I am discovering how to be brave in water that is merciless and wild. I am forgoing composure and handing myself over to the raw pleasure of being washed over and swept along, weightless and reborn.

 

*This essay was originally published in Topology Magazine in April 2016.

the path between two houses

granny + me

 

i’ve been missing that laughing lady a lot lately.

how long has she been gone now? 5 years? 6 years? i stopped counting.

but still some days i wake up longing for her company. sometimes i close my eyes and try to remember every detail i can about her:

like the way she clapped her hands with happiness + the softness of her skin + the way she kept finding new things to talk about so you’d never leave the room + catching her in the bathroom without her teeth in + the book and bible and scrap paper and book of crosswords that always sat beside her in her chair + the kleenex stuffed up her sleeve + her smile + the childlike glimmer that stayed in her eyes + her laugh + the way she always listened and always wanted to know + her love that left no room for doubt…

the more time passes the more i seem to miss her. as though my growing up makes the space she left behind grow too.

memory is a strange animal. grief an even wilder beast.

……

there’s a path between two houses

you used to run it as a child. barefoot, eyes closed, your bones knew the way.

it was a path from home, to home. it was the way that lead to everything you need.

there’s a path between two houses that runs across a piece of land that tells a story so deep and so wide, no passerby or outsider could begin to understand. you were gifted to this place. it has taken up residence in you. this is a truth that can not be severed.

like a winged migration, sometimes the change in season calls us home. sometimes the longing takes over, the ache becomes almost unbearable.

sometimes if we close our eyes, our feet will find their own way home. soles pounding through long grass, past big trees, taking us eyes-closed, wind-through-hair, barrelling down the path toward exactly what we need…and only our bodies will wake from this blessed dream.

our wild, grieving, animal hearts will  keep on running, will keep on moving toward the outstretched arms of our belonging…

underneath it all

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i walked this field today
through thick wet snow
while late afternoon sun licked my face,
and i couldn’t help but smile
knowing that underneath all that winter
there is so much wildness
just waiting
to have its turn at glory.

leavin’ on a jet plane

home

i’ve got these bags packed at the foot of the bed
and all that stands between me and where i’m heading
is a bunch of hours, a whole lot of miles, and half a planet.

perfect.

life is full of journeys.
some smoother than others.
i just keep trying to walk with my head up, eyes open.

stay safe on the road, my friends.
gently, gently, with your bones and heart.

i’ll find you on the far side of it all.

peace and love.
peace and love.

on leaving my apartment for the last time.

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i made a home
when i wasn’t sure that i could.

now, almost two years later,
i’m making a new home
because i’ve learned that i can.

i keep letting things go.
i keep learning the true strength of my bones.

everything i need is here.

car rides and cowboys

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we traveled quite a few miles today
but i barely noticed.
i couldn’t tell you the scenery
or even the weather.
i was caught up in conversation,
the words that flow effortlessly
when i hang out with you.

in the basement of an unlikely church
we sorted through strangers unwanteds,
the piles of one dollar t-shirts and well-worn shoes
overwhelming even a scavenger like me.

after more tea we turned around
and we talked through more miles,
and i came home full of reminders
of what counts in this life,
what loves i hold dear.

there’s nothing more that i needed from this day.
those wheels on the road
taking us somewhere
and then back again;
leaving a trail of our stories
that help guide us home.

This Is My Home

This little movie delights me in ways I can’t explain.

This Is My Home

This Is My Home

……

we laugh until we think we die

i love this.

everything about it.

happy saturday.

zero

the art of neighbouring.

photo by Hamish MacAllister

photo by Hamish MacAllister

( a piece of writing i found from October 2008…it felt like it still had something good in it for me today…)

……

Being a neighbor is an ongoing adventure and learning experience for me. Sometimes my neighbors make me smile. Sometimes they make me want to run away. Sometimes they stretch me in uncomfortable ways. Sometimes they surprise me…with their generosity…with their lack of consideration…with their quirkiness…with their acceptance.

Tonight I came home and I was kind of tired, and kind of hungry, and kind of just wanted to sit on my couch and relax. Then I heard a knock at the door. I got up, and there was Gloria. In her purple coat and wet hair and yellow pants that stopped just above the ankle. Her eyes were big and she was trying to explain to me in spanish and the odd piece of english, how there was no one home at her house and her mom was asleep and she didn’t know where anyone was. I nodded my head. Smiled. And said “do you want to come in?”.
She grinned, threw her arms around me, and said “Yes. Thank You.”
For the next couple of hours she hung out in the living room. At first we tried to talk. We just laughed at ourselves more than anything. We tried using the translation site on the internet, so we could ask each other questions. It didn’t help much. She watched spanish music videos on the internet. And wanted to see me type without looking at the screen – it makes her laugh. I cooked dinner. I could hear her singing along with You Tube from the living room. I showed her how I could pray in spanish. And quizzed her on how to say the different colors in english. I showed her how I could cross my eyes. She showed me how she can make this weird burping frog sound.

Most of the time I don’t have a clue what she is saying.
Most of the time she doesn’t have a clue what I am saying.
We barely know anything about each other.
But she makes me smile.
And she gives great hugs.
And I think she feels safe and at home in my house.
Which means the world to me.

I want to learn how to be a good neighbour.
I want to find ways to connect with the people around me, even if it feels like we speak different languages sometimes.
I want to be more comfortable with differences.
I want to make people smile. and give great hugs.
And have people feel safe and at home when they are with me.

Gloria is good for me.
She knocks at my door and doesn’t give me the chance to turn her away.
She doesn’t understand “can you come back later – I’m tired.”
Which is good. I think.
She is teaching me to forget about myself every once and a while.
She is helping me to remember that when I give of myself and my time and my energy and my space, I will leave full and satisfied.
She shows me what it feels like to be loved – without words or questions or conditions – just loved for being who I am, a crazy english-speaking girl with a nose ring… who is blessed to be worthy of her time and her smiles and her big, 8 year old hugs.

I have a lot to learn about being a good neighbor…but i think I have found myself a really good teacher.

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

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