On a Hill, Overlooking a Strawberry Farm

I stood on that hill overlooking the pond at the strawberry farm; there had been a few small rain drops and a slight threat of rain, so I flippantly stated we were going to go ahead with the ceremony in spite of the threat to those who’d gathered to witness the union between me and my love. The air was sweet, and the breeze light, flowing through the trees with a subtle hush. From behind me the sultry, honest tones of a cello and the yearning, mellow notes from a violin danced in my ear. I looked into the eyes of many of my friends, some of whom I’ve not seen in a while and some far longer. I glanced back to my left and then to my right to see the confident smile in my sons face and my lovely daughter’s who’ve chosen to share in this moment with me, they didn’t have to, but it means the world to me that they came together to celebrate as members of Shira and my wedding party, and waiting proud and graceful, the maid of honor. Then my eyes went to the sky, to the clouds over the fields around us, I thought of how beautiful this day has turned out to be, how proud my father might be of me and how I wished he were alive to be here, to share in this moment.

My palms began to sweat and my mind was awash with thoughts of fantasy and wonder at what the future might bring for my bride and me. As the ring bearers, handsome and proper took their seats and the flower girl made her way up the aisle, meandering and innocently curious what all the fuss was about as she dropped rose petals onto the cool green grass, I noticed a flock of blackbirds take sudden flight from the trees above us.

There was a moment of quiet, short and daunting, and from the guests seated there came a murmuring, then shallow gasps as they all turned around. Abruptly a quiet ringing entered my ear, a new song began to play and then everything was silent but for the guttural and fluid sounds of the beating of my own heart. And there, from behind a grand oak tree stepped out the most wondrous sight, the image of all that is good and decent and strong and magnificent, I was floored, as I watched her step to the back of the seats, I looked at her and nothing else in the world mattered to me in that moment. She stood elegant, poised in her wedding dress, and I just soaked in her image, her lips and her face.

Then, from somewhere deep inside of me a small boy, one whose been hiding for so long, slowly climbed down from his tree, stepped out onto the shoreline along the river and cast upon the cool dark waters his sail boat without care. He stood and watched as the small craft that’d been docked for so long, waiting for him, glided freely on the current, swiftly out of site. When the boy turned and looked at me I knew him, I felt him and as he stepped away, leaving no tracks in the sand I didn’t fall apart, I was no longer afraid, I no longer felt alone. Instead I felt empowered and free.

My heart had stopped but for a minute, I wanted to run to her when the tears began to roll along her cheeks, but she came to me, in the arms of her mother and her father, under a beautiful sky, amongst friends and family, she came to me and took my hand and we looked at each other, we saw each other, we shared in that moment all of our hopes and dreams and embraced a new beginning for each other, for us together. Everything appeared to be perfect, she seemed perfect, but with all of it stripped away, the people, the hill, the sun and the exquisite clothes, the symphony of pomp and circumstance, it was just us, alone and together, with our hearts and souls in each other’s arms. It was altogether, simply and extravagantly beautiful. It was indeed perfect.

 

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Miss Betty

She was beautiful, her white hair appropriately cut, her large, round, gold framed sunglasses reflecting the few clouds hovering above Parker’s Lake in the otherwise clear blue sky. Her thin, pale hand pulling on the pretty little leash attached to her small Bichon mix. She walked in her comfortable shoes towards me along the asphalt path. I had stopped to photograph a turtle sunning itself on a rock just off shore, and when I turned and saw her she smiled a crooked smile and wished me a sunny day. I responded with “me and the turtle wish you the same miss”.

She paused, she didn’t know me; I wore a blue t-shirt exposing my tattoos and faded jeans and cheap, dark sunglasses. Then she turned full round and stepped back towards me only a single step and threw her tired arms in the air and said “who couldn’t enjoy a day like this”. I introduced myself and said “indeed it’s a beautiful day, almost as much as you miss.” She stepped closer this time and stuck her hand out, I grasped her hand gently and gave her my name, she told me I seemed like a nice guy to which I replied…”my fiancée seems to think so” and she slapped her knee and whipped around and said “oh darn it’s always the nice one aint it!” I laughed and she asked about my fiancée.

Leaning against a rock wall along Parker’s Lake under a strong and warm spring sun we chatted about love and politics and travelling, OCD, addiction and recovery. I was already late getting back to work after lunch but I didn’t care, she was sweet and funny and we quickly became friends. She had spoken about a book she was reading called Switching on Your Brain by Caroline Leaf and how it had transformed how she saw things. She said it showed her how to be happier…by choosing to be happy, she has OCD she said and her husband is a recovering alcoholic and she spoke about how sometimes we just need to decide to be happy and that it doesn’t matter what others believe or whether or not they accept us as we are, it’s up to us whether or not we choose to be happy on our own terms.

She patted me on the arm and said that we were meant to meet today, we saw eye to eye on some things and not so on others but we both enjoyed each other’s company for a little while on what had already been a beautiful day, but now had become much more than that for me. When we allow ourselves to remain open to what’s around us we invite opportunities to be rewarded, sure that means we can be hurt too, there’s always an innate risk there when we make ourselves vulnerable, but I’ll take that risk any day! Thank you Miss Betty.

The Darkness Roams

The darkness roams the halls of our minds and beings
Poking here, pushing there, instilling fear where it can
Pushing doubt to the front of our awareness
The darkness calls, it beacons us with lavish lies of comfort and joy
Then pulls us in with dark remembrances that it feeds us over and over again
Let me comfort you it says
Telling the lies of our failures
Telling the lies of our faults
Telling the lies of our unforgivable things
Feel the joy of the suffering that you do so well
Insinuating itself into our everything, blinding our true vision
Reminding us of every little thing done or said wrong
Calling us deeper into our deserved suffering
Laying waste to any hope that we or our actions are redeemable
Opening the pit within showing us where we belong
Calling us deeper and deeper
The darkness grows, reaching out to our every fault
Our suffering is so great and deserved
Play with me, it says
I know you better, it says
I look after you, it says
I show you the truth, it says
But the redeemer walks those paths too
Handing out forgiveness we don’t know how to accept
We have practiced the suffering so long
Handing out the compassion we don’t know how to accept
We have practiced discordance so long
Beckoning to us with gifts of love we don’t know how to accept
We are practiced at darkness, we don’t know ways of light
The redeemer walks within shining lights so the shadows flee
We are practiced at darkness and think we are losing a parts of ourselves
The redeemer drops acceptance on our hurt places
We are practiced at darkness and think the hurt is precious
The redeemer walks with gentle steps of love
We are practiced at darkness and think it odd that our pain can dissipate
The redeemer beacons us with real comfort and joy
The darkness tells us it’s a lie
The redeemer shines brightly and says, follow my way
The darkness tells us we will lose what is ours
The redeemer shines brighter and shows the way
The redeemer brings light to the darkness and we lose ourselves
The redeemer brings light to the darkness and we find ourselves
The redeemer brings light to the darkness and
We become the light

Copyright Don MacLeod

As the Leaves Flutter By

We sat in the wind and watched the leaves flutter by

We spoke of the past, of dreams and loves lost.

Its quiet sitting there in the sun, she in her wheel chair,

me sitting beside her holding her hand.

She told me it wouldn’t be long, that she’d punched her ticket.

She said she wasn’t afraid, she said she had two husbands and a boyfriend she’d buried

waiting for her at the gates.

I told her I loved her and would miss her as I brushed the hair away from her quizzical eyes.

She told me not to fuss and that the next time I come not to bring her Key Lime Pie.

It’s been a year since my grandmother has passed, and on that next visit, that last day, I found myself

brushing aside her hair again.

She never made excuses; she never lied and never looked more beautiful, at peace, at rest.

I miss her today, and when I stand in the fall wind and close my eyes I can feel her all around me, she

will always be there, her voice carried in the breeze, her smile in rays of the sun.

Her love remains, as does mine.