In just one week it will be a year since my father died. A YEAR. How can time go on? And how grateful I am that it does!
I miss my father every day -- so often I read or hear or experience something that I want to share with him. But I can't -- at least not the way I did when he was alive. Here's the good news: I've found other ways to keep him in my life. I talk about him whenever I can. I even talk TO him. And you know, I can feel his presence. I can hear his voice if I really, really listen.
DAKOTA: A SPIRITUAL GEOGRAPHY by Kathleen Norris. It was my father who introduced me to the Dakotas. When he moved to Bismarck, North Dakota, that allowed us a few adventures on those buttes and plains.
One of my favorite moments was the time we got caught in a bison stampede at Custer State Park in the Badlands of South Dakota. It was exhilarating! And how wonderful to look over and see the light shining in my father's face?
|Custer State Park, 2009|
Recently, thanks to a mention by Tricia over at The Miss Rumphius Effect, I picked up Kathleen Norris's DAKOTA. Here are some of the passages that spoke to me, and where I continue to find joy:
"Maybe the desert wisdom of the Dakotas can teach us to love anyway, to love what is dying, in the face of death, and not pretend that things are other than they are. The irony and wonder of all this is that it is the desert's grimness, its stillness and isolation, that bring us back to love. Here we discover the paradox of the contemplative life, that the desert of solitude can be the school where we learn to love others."
"Telling a poet not to look for connections is like telling a farmer not to look at the rain gauge after a storm."
|me & Papa, Laura Ingalls Homestead|
DeSmet, SD - 2009
"Benedict, in a section of his Rule entitled “Tools for Good Works,” asks monks to “Day by day remind yourself that you are going to die,” and I would suggest that this is no necessarily a morbid pursuit. Benedict is correct in terming the awareness of death a tool. It can be humbling when we find ourselves at odds with another person, to remember that both of us will die one day, presumably not al one another's hands. If, as Dr. Johnson said, the prospect of being hanged in the morning wonderfully concentrates the mind,” recalling our mortality can be a healthy realism in an age when we spend so much time, energy, and money denying death.
But maybe denying death is something people need to do. One might even look at a medieval cathedral as an expression of that need. Those buildings, however, were also made for celebrating life with music and art, with the play of light and shadow on stone and colored glass. They are beautiful in ways that modern exercise machines and lifestyles leading to that tofu-in-the sky are not."
"Listening to the voice of the sky, I wonder: how do we tell our tales, how can we hope to record them? I'd like to believe that deep in our bones the country people of Dakota, like poets, like monks, are, as Jean Cocteau once said of poetry, 'useless but indispensable.'”
Perhaps joy, too, is like Jean Cocteau's poetry: "useless but indispensable." I think maybe the best things in life are exactly that. xo