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Writing with the Ancestors

October 31, 2021
Both of our Mothers loved cardinals.

Yesterday I took part in a moving retreat Writing with the Ancestors through Abbey of the Arts. Parts of it were difficult as Denise and I continue to process the deaths of our mothers (Shirley and Jeanne) and the death of her dad (Roland) and our dear friend and Denise’s former mother-in-law (Betty). I wrote this piece for our mothers.

We Remember Them

We remember them in the song of the cardinals

We remember them in the bright flash of red

We remember them in the turning of the maple leaf

We remember them as we savor a cup of tea

We remember them when we see a favorite card or board game

We remember them when we set the table with their place settings

We remember them with love

From our pilgrimage to Our Lady of Gethsemani near Bardstown, Kentucky

I wrote this piece about Thomas Merton. While not an ancestor in the genealogical sense, he is very much a spiritual companion for me.

For the Dead – Thomas Merton

I imagine sitting on the front porch of your hermitage

Talking and listening

Embracing moments of silence

Letting the song of the birds touch my heart

I imagine your laughter and the twinkle in your eyes

We both sip a glass of bourbon

Noting that the distillery inspired a photograph

The sun is beginning to fade

Darkness prepares to descend

Yet Sister Moon will guide my way back

I see you smiling in the twilight as you wave farewell

I hear your invitation to visit again

I will

On this All Hallows’ Eve as the veil between this world and the next is thin, I know that I will continue to feel their presence along with the presence of so many others as I continue this journey through All Saints and All Souls days.

2 Comments
  1. What a beautiful remembrance poem for those who you’ve lost recently.

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