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Archive for March 7th, 2009

chip off the old block

I’ve just had the most fantastic experience, though my arms and shoulders may not recover for days. I suspect my hands will tremble until the Ibuprophen kicks in.

After a rather disconcerting morning of self-examination and stabs at compassion, I decided to tackle the iceberg at the end of Stewart Street with a sharp shovel and not a small bit of consternation. Physical exercise in the great outdoors is truly the best cure for an ailing psyche. This particular inconvenience has bothered me all winter; the plow left a jutting swatch of snow at the end of our street that (I discovered today) had hardened into a monolith of sand, salt and very solid ice.

Fine. I set out in the late afternoon with determination, a picture in my massive black wool coat and bottle dark-brown hair. I wore boots with heels, of course, to bely my feminine core. I approached the enemy and surveyed the job. Ten feet long, four feet deep, two and a half feet tall. I estimated a couple of hours. I dug in.

I mean I chipped in. I smacked the edge of the behemoth with the point of the shovel. I marveled at its density, then began chipping away in earnest. After ten minutes, I had chipped away an area about two feet long and six inches deep. I began to understand the strength of my opposition. This was going to take a long time.

As I chipped, I wondered at my waning, middle-aged ability. How long would I be able to keep this up? No matter. I chipped on, passing the shovel from hand to hand with growing frequency and faced my fatigue. I mused at this wonderful metaphor for life… chipping away at the impossible.

I began to learn my trade. I found if I directed my efforts in one area, evenly hitting it with mild force, I could break off a great chunk. I silently celebrated every success. I was making progress, albeit slowly. I chipped on, becoming aware of my breath and the beating of my heart.

About fifteen minutes into my trial, my son showed up with the half moon of a garden edger to join me. As crazy as he thought I was, he wasn’t willing to let me labor alone. We went to war together.

Cars passed. A couple of neighbors dropped by and wisely suggested I direct a crew to come and take this baby out with a machine on Monday. I thanked them and chatted about personal responsibility, hopes, and conviction. They drifted away.

Another ten minutes had past when Jeremy Bartman and Ron Jemmott showed up, on their way back from a day of work with the Air National Guard. Still in uniform, they brandished two more shovels and immediately started in. They had driven by and, ironically, had been discussing how to become involved with the community. They wanted to be part of the solution. Honestly, God is good.

We rapped away at the icy mass and I am proud to say that by the time the rain began to fall with real intention, we had made a significant dent in that obstruction. More importantly, we all discovered the delightful importance of our small gesture. We’re not leaving our fate to others. Tackling this task together left us all inspired and I am deeply in dept for the gift these three young men have given me.

ice-chipping

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“It is only when people begin to shake loose from their preconceptions, from the ideas that have dominated them, that we begin to receive a sense of opening, a sense of vision.”

– Barbara Ward

Hear the words of the dancing God,
the music of whose laughter stirs the winds,
whose voice calls the seasons:
I who am the Lord of the Hunt and the Power of the Light,
sun among the clouds and the secret of the flame
I call upon your bodies to arise and come unto me.
For I am the flesh of the earth and all its beings.
Through me all things must die and with me are reborn.
Let my worship be in the body that sings,
for behold all acts of willing sacrifice are my rituals.
Let there be desire and fear, anger and weakness,
joy and peace, awe and longing within you.
For these too are part of the mysteries found within yourself,
within me, all beginnings have endings,
and all endings have beginnings.

charge of the god – author unknown

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