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WORDS FROM FRIENDS

CALENDAR

Calendar


I measure my weeks
in Fridays
 
one thing happens
every Friday
 
I write an email
to my friend
 
it is about my week
and about her week past
 
what we ate
what we wrote
what we cooked
and what we thought
where we went
though less often now
 
what was easy
and what was hard
what matters
and what doesn't
 
the people in our lives
and not in our lives
 
she writes me
every Friday too
 
I wait for these
for mine and hers
 
I measure my weeks
in Fridays

 
The word calendar was brought to you by Janet Mason, my friend whose path and mine kept crossing in work places where we measured our lives in day planners. And we took lunchtime walks in a very old part of town. We are still good friends.

 

 

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KEPT

KEPT


 
That king known for wisdom
(and some other things)
once wrote,
Go to the ant.
 
When my world grew small
in the summer of our discontent,
some days it was hard to go on.
I went.
 
I bent and watched.
 
One two-tone ant,
Red and black.
 
She pulled and pushed
one round elm seed,
Trying to get over
a tiny
(to me)
lip above a crack
in the walk.
 
She couldn't
with her load.
She tried.
One.
Two.
Three times.
She backed down.
Perhaps to judge
the height of it.
To calculate logistics.
I don't know.
 
She came back
and pushed again.
 
She didn't make it.
She backed down.
Perhaps to rest.
I thought she'd given up.
 
But she kept on.
 
Up and up.
Back and down.
Stop. Start.
She kept on.
 
She kept on.
 
And then
 
She and her seed
crested the ridge.
 
She kept on.
 
 
The word kept was brought to you by Connie Dryfout, a Canadian friend who has been kept in the hand of the Holy Mother and who has kept on.
 
 

 

Comments are always appreciated! If you'd like to see YOUR WORD become a story, poem or reflection, send me one in the comments. Or send it privately, using the "Contact" tab. Or maybe you'd like to offer a guest post. Just let me know!
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QUIET

QUIET

 


My favorite sound of all is this. Quiet.
 
To illustrate: I have owned my present vehicle for a year and four months and have yet to learn how to operate the complicated radio or use the sound system in any way. And I have used my RAV4 for two lengthy and several shorter road trips. One of the ways my daughter is very unlike me is that she almost always has something to listen to while she works, cooks, drives, takes a bath—pretty much for every activity.
 
It can be argued that we don't see with our ears, but I'm certain I see more and better in the quiet than when there is noise going on—whether it's the noise of conversation, music, or a sound book. This is in part because I'm a One Thing At A Time woman. I'm not able to focus well on more than one thing at once. And when I'm driving, I want to take deep note of the sights around me. It's one reason I drive the back roads instead of the interstates as often as I can.
 
When I drafted this piece, we were in the season of colors—crimson, gold, copper, rust, platinum, and still some greens to set off the richness of fall. Next to these are the red barns and the weathered, abandoned outbuildings, which I love even more than the brilliance. I am a woman drawn to the subtler themes. I relish lines as much as colors. Now the golden cornstalks have been razed and the fall plowing begun, so the colors are varied browns––beige, peat, some ochre. But the lines of the hills themselves and the traces left by the columbines and the plows are a work of art. All this I see so much more fully in the quiet.
 
There are different kinds of quiet. When I studied at the Scandinavian Yoga and Meditation School, I spent more than three months in silence, a little over a month, each of three times. But the silence was not complete. Our voices were not to be used to communicate, but we chanted and sang, the teachers and school staff talked to each other and to us students to give us instructions and assign karma yoga. Music might be piped into the dining room during a meal sometimes. Silence in this context is what I would call spiritual practice, though I know my teacher, Swami Janankananda, might or might not identify it as spiritual. Many inner things can happen, transformation can happen, and personal demons may be confronted during that kind of silence. In certain meditations there is utter silence, so if there is a slight rustle of movement, the instructor will say (breaking the silence further), "No moving."
 
But quiet. Maybe it's not quite the same as silence. I want quiet when I'm writing, but I also welcome now and then the woodpecker's hammering, the blue jay's scold, the wind whipping by. But mostly quiet is what I need. A person at the other end of the house can be making no audible sound that reaches my end, and yet I feel the noise of another being, their energy in my space.
 
I feel for my writing friends who are surrounded by the noise of their ever-present children during quarantine. Because what quiet may mean most is peace. And, much as those small beings are cherished, their presence does not, most of the time, bring with it the peace of quiet.


 
The word quiet was brought to you by Jody Keisner, herself a writer and professor with children at home, all trying to survive and thrive during quarantine.

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HÓZHÓ

Representative Debra Haaland

HÓZHÓ
 

 

I whooped and whooped again––online and into the air, so my daughter asked, "What?"
 
"Deb Haaland is going to be nominated Secretary of the Interior!"
 
I had already decided this was the week for the word hózhó, but I had no idea what I would say. Until I read the news about Deb Haaland (Laguna).
 
Here is why I call her nomination hózhó. But first I have to tell you, which I usually save until the end of a WORDS FROM FRIENDS entry, that my Diné (Navajo) friend and former colleague, Kera Armstrong gave me this word. I felt utterly humbled and deeply moved that she would trust me to do any sort of justice to such a significant, core, Diné concept. Me, a bilagáana woman.
 
Hózhó encompasses "a complex wellness philosophy and belief system comprised of principles that guide one's thoughts, actions, behaviors, and speech," according to Michelle Kahn-John, a Diné nurse with a PhD, who has researched the value of traditional Navajo ceremony when integrated with western medical practices. Hózhó expresses such concepts as beauty, balance perfection, harmony, goodness, normality, success, wellbeing, and blessedness.
 
When things are amiss in the Diné world, the desire, the impulse, is to healing, to restoration of balance, to hózhó. Over the past four years, things in the US have been vastly amiss, until we have endured the worst of it in 2020. We have witnessed blatant disregard for life––in the form of encouragement of violent racial injustice and death at the hands of those entrusted to protect and at the hands of ordinary citizens, intentional destruction of the natural world, and so-called leaders turning their backs on death wrought by a raging pandemic. We have longed for hózhó.
 
My joy at the naming of Deb Haaland to head Interior comes with the belief that she is a healer, as much as a Navajo haataałi (singer and healer) is. As she has said, "The land is everything," and she has experience fighting the forces that are bent upon taking from the land whatever they want. She is a warrior woman determined to protect the Earth. Many of those lands are Native lands, and she is a fierce defender of Native rights. She will be an invaluable member of an administration committed to healing the devastation that has battered us. More than that, her appointment represents restorative justice, a righting of generational wrongs to Native people by the very department she will now head.
 
I feel so privileged to have cast a vote to bring Deb Haaland into the House of Representatives in 2018. I pray the Senate will do the right thing and confirm her––an indigenous woman in charge of America's land, water, and Native territories! Hózhónígó. Hózhónígó.
 

The word hózhó was brought to you by Kera Armstrong, who works on the frontline in the healthcare system at UNM Hospital, for which she deserves our intense gratitude. She remains an incredible source of hózhó to everyone she meets.

 

Comments are always appreciated! If you'd like to see YOUR WORD become a story, poem or reflection, send me one in the comments. Or send it privately, using the "Contact" tab. Or maybe you'd like to offer a guest post. Just let me know!

 If you like what you see here, please consider subscribing at 
http://www.annaredsand.com/newsletter.htm 

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