Sunday Evening Reflection with Mary Jo Malo

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Tonight, as I look out into my city that is embracing the night, I feel a sense of solidarity that comes from the lights that shine in the darkness.  In a time of uncertainty, we continue to meet challenges together, as a community.

 In the darkness, there is light.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once wrote that  “One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words.”

I have taken Johann up on his thoughts for my Sunday Evening Reflection. I feel the call of poetry and found the words have come from my dear blogger friend, Mary Jo Malo, from her blog, “This Shining Wound, Original Poetry by Mary Jo Malo.”

Mary Jo has graciously allowed me to recite her poem, “Sleight.” As I read her words, I feel that I am there in the woods with her, walking by the edge of the lake.  It is a marvelous song of winter and spring negotiating the terms of transition.  Her last lines conjure up profound memories of seasons that have come before.

I invite you to read along with me as we walk with Mary Jo Malo

 

Sleight by Mary Jo Malo, Poet from Rebecca Budd aka Clanmother on Vimeo.

Sleight by Mary Jo Malo (pronounced Maylo)

Spring can be so
winter encumbered
I learn to walk again
layered in a long-sleeved tee
and hoodie sweatshirt
and bulky jacket
and thermals
and jeans
But the sun is hot
and will no doubt
spot and freckle
my hands and face
The old woman
I never saw myself
becoming

Far into the woods
tracing my familiar path
around the little lake
worried frogs launch
from their spawning shore
stir up muck and lurk undercover
Minnows dart beneath
woolly floating leaves
survivors of last Autumn
then frenzy back
into clear warm water
when I pass
They pull up short
out in the deep cold
murky center of the pond
where bigger fish await
to feed off their mistaken
direction

A giant carp slowly
trolls the shallow water
surrounding the island
roiling up mud and
purling water along its shiny back
Game fish lie in wait
and jump
to snap up bugs
I rarely see them hit
but hear the splash and
watch concentric circles
left behind
calmly disappear

I nearly submerge a memory
one you often asked me to remember
that pale yellow sundress
with little blue roses
and twenty tiny buttons down the front
You plucked a wild violet
from behind my ear
as if you could
keep me fooled

Sunday Evening Reflection: Who has seen the wind?

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The wind and trees have a special relationship. Together, they create exquisite music that comes with fluttering leaves and waving branches. The fresh air that trees bestow on this earth brings a sense of well-being.  A recent Instagram post by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization stated that “studies show that trees boost happiness and reduce stress levels.”

Trees are the vital source of fruits, medicines, oxygen.  They decrease the greenhouse effect and prevent soil erosion, which in turn prevents water pollution.  Under the shade of trees, wildlife find protection.

Tonight, I am celebrating trees with poetry by Christina Georgina Rossetti.  Embracing the dance of the wind and trees.

Who has seen the wind?

Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you.
But when the leaves hang trembling,
The wind is passing through.

Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I.
But when the trees bow down their heads,
The wind is passing by.

Christina Georgina Rossetti

 

 

Sunday Evening Reflection with Christina Rossetti

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“Tread softly! All the earth is holy ground.”

 Christina Rossetti

Every Christmas, I listen to poignant Christmas carol, In the Bleak Mid-Winter, which embraces the poetry of Christina Rossetti.  She entitled her poem, “A Christmas Carol.”

Christina weaves the story of the humble birth in a stable into a call to action to “do our part.”  In a few short lines of poetry, she brings together an eclectic gathering to witness this unforgettable event. Ox, ass and camel, angels, cherubim and seraphim watch over the baby.  And yet, it is the human touch of a mother’s kiss that gives the greatest sense of reverence.

Christina’s gift for poetry was encouraged by the works of those that came before.  She repaid this legacy by inspiring others who came after.   She influenced the writings of Virginia Woolf, Gerard Hopkins, Philip Larkin and Elizabeth Jennings.

Join me for a Sunday Evening Reflection with Christina Rossetti.

In The Bleak Midwinter by Christina Rossetti from Rebecca Budd aka Clanmother on Vimeo.

Sunday Reflection: The Best is Yet to Be…

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Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, the last of life, for which the first was made. Our times are in his hand who saith, ‘A whole I planned, youth shows but half; Trust God: See all, nor be afraid!”

Robert Browning

The Best is Yet to Be…

A Global Voice

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Pathway

This year, marks the 100th anniversary of Pauline Johnson’s passing.  She died on March 7, 1913 of breast cancer, three days short of her 52nd birthday. In the end, she called Vancouver home. Her last wish was to be buried in her beloved Stanley Park.  The city of Vancouver granted her request with the proviso that she be cremated. Pauline Johnson’s ashes were held in an urn encased within a small concrete vault that was gently placed in the ground.  A granite boulder, which boasted a carving of double hearts, the tribal badge of the Mohawk, marked her grave.  Today, what remains is a stone monument, established by the Women’s Club of Vancouver, as a final tribute.

Monument

Pauline Johnson was a global voice that embraced universal themes of tradition, nature and compassion.  These are dialogues that cannot be limited by time, space or culture.   She honoured the customs of the past by preserving and sharing the stories; she paved the way for women and First Nation writers and performers to boldly pursue an artist’s path; most of all, she believed that what she wrote and spoke about was important. A woman of Mohawk and English parentage, living at the turn of a new century spoke for all of humanity.  May we have the courage to do the same.

A Toast

There’s wine in the cup, Vancouver,
And there’s warmth in my heart for you,
While I drink to your health, your youth, and your wealth,
And the things that you yet will do.
In a vintage rare and olden,
With a flavour fine and keen,
Fill the glass to the edge, while I stand up to pledge
My faith to my western queen.  Continue reading

The Controversy

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Legends

Pauline Johnson was famous for her warm personality, affability and charisma. Many believe that her finest character traits were marked by the fondness and loyalty for her friends.   Arguably, these qualities were a compelling force during theatrical performances. Audiences were captivated by her narratives, the use of both European and First Nation attire, and stirred by the emotional nuance of her speaking voice. She was beloved by her contemporaries, yet with her passing, her reputation as a writer and poet experienced a decline. Over the years, Canadian literary critics and historians have argued that Pauline created an idealized image of the First Nation identity that was pleasing and acceptable to her “white” listeners. For that reason, Pauline was not a creditable spokesperson for their culture. She did not speak a First Nation language and spent most of her life within mainstream society.

Pauline has been disparaged by noted Canadian writers and poets such as Earle Birney, Mordecai Richler and Patrick Watson.  Even the famed Margaret Atwood confessed to overlooking Pauline Johnson when she wrote, “Survival: A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature (1972). Instead of being a strength, it seems that Pauline’s multi-cultural heritage did not give her traction in either world.

Critics, in the end, are not infallible.  Pauline Johnson’s works have experienced a rebirth. Her importance as a figure of resistance against racism, gender bias, and human rights is coming full circle.   Pauline dedicated 30 years to her artistic endeavours.  Her contribution to the oral and written literary history of First Nation people is unequaled.  She transcends her time and gives relevance to ours.

The Canoe

The Song My Paddle Sings

West wind, blow from your prairie nest,
Blow from the mountains, blow from the west
The sail is idle, the sailor too ;
O! wind of the west, we wait for you.
Blow, blow! Continue reading