Silence, Solitude, and Aging: A Winter Revery

This is the season

of silence and endurance,

deep freeze of the soul.

Standing in winter landscape.

Standing in winter landscape.

I have been writing

haiku with photos, praying

one pearl at a time.

The mountains with cloud pillow base.

The mountains with cloud pillow base.

As I gaze outside,

I read John O’Donohue’s

Walking in Wonder

The idea of

my clay connected to my

sister, the mountain!

Mountain sister.

Mountain sister.

Reminded me of

poet Gerard Manley Hopkins.

“God’s Grandeur” brooding.

I shared that poem

with three new friends on their podcast

all about silence.

 

Carl McColman, Cassidy Hall, and Kevin Johnson. Hosts of the podcast Encountering Silence.

Carl McColman, Cassidy Hall, and Kevin Johnson. Hosts of the podcast Encountering Silence. Greenwich Village, December 2017.  Photo by Fran McColman

Then Mary Pipher

inspired me to pick up oars

and row my boat home.

I’m sitting by fire

warm in winter, clay humming,

slowing down, down, down.

 

What are you doing

with your wild, precious, Mary

Oliver winter?

Shirley Showalter

31 Comments

  1. Saloma Furlong on February 6, 2019 at 5:10 pm

    Shirley, these are beautiful reveries. And the photos are just so beautiful. Did you know that the view you have from your home (and Vi’s) is one of the inspirations that brought me to the area? Mountains have always been a source of soul-food for me. I love the idea of Sister Mountain. Thank you for sharing these beautiful thoughts.

    • Shirley Showalter on February 6, 2019 at 5:22 pm

      Lovely to have you as a first responder, Saloma, and also as a neighbor! We have been called by the same Sister Mountain. When you have time, you will enjoy the links to the Encountering Silence podcast: http://encounteringsilence.com/shirley-hershey-showalter-simplicity-and-silence-part-one-episode-50/ I was interviewed about BLUSH and the themes of simplicity, silence, and plainness — things about which you know as much as I do!

      Thanks for stopping by. Hope your first winter in Virginia has been a blessed one.

  2. Diane on February 6, 2019 at 5:20 pm

    I love it!

    • Shirley Showalter on February 6, 2019 at 5:31 pm

      Glad you let me know, Diane. Hope your winter is wild and precious.

  3. Laurie Buchanan on February 6, 2019 at 8:29 pm

    Shirley — I find this post to be nourishing soul food as I sit in my rocker—smiling—across our small living room from Len asleep in his chair with Luna asleep in his arms. We have the grandparenting privilege of watching her Mon-Fri from 3:30-8:30 pm. My cup runneth over this wild and precious winter.

    • Shirley Showalter on February 6, 2019 at 9:15 pm

      Now that is the very definition of wild and precious, Laurie. I know from experience. Enjoy to the hilt!

  4. Carrie Ann Lahain on February 6, 2019 at 9:47 pm

    Thanks, Shirley. So incredibly inspiring. Especially as tax season gears up and I am nervous about this very last task of handling my Mom’s estate. Also now have the urge to the copy of WALKING IN WONDER sitting on my bookshelf.

    • Shirley Showalter on February 7, 2019 at 8:22 am

      Carrie, you have a huge (physical and emotional) task almost complete. May you feel relieved of the responsibility soon, and may John O’Donohue’s spirit come to comfort, refresh, and enfold you.

  5. Ruth Naylor on February 6, 2019 at 10:33 pm

    Wonderful economy of words to encompass such beauty.

    • Shirley Showalter on February 7, 2019 at 8:24 am

      Thank you, Ruth. You know.

  6. June on February 7, 2019 at 12:36 am

    I am in the West. British Columbia to be more precise. How am I enjoying my Mary Oliver Winter. We are experiencing a cold snap, -20 Celsius. But with this cold snap has brought the most amazing blue, clear skies. The light dances across the sky. And with this cold I have been the witness of the bay of the Shuswap Lake freezing over. There is just a small area in the bay that has not frozen over. As yet the water into the arm of the lake is open, as the waters there are deep.

    • Shirley Showalter on February 7, 2019 at 8:29 am

      I love that you are reading this in actual cold, June, in another beautiful place. The weather here moved from 7 degrees at its coldest, to nearly 70 degrees this week. Faux spring that both delights and warns us of currents in motion that are moving beyond our control. Yes to the blue skies in a cold season! And I love this last sentence: “As yet the water into the arm of the lake is open, as the waters there are deep.”

    • Linda Hoye on February 7, 2019 at 10:24 am

      June, we are neighbours! I agree, the sunshine makes it bearable, but I’m hoping the cold snap starts to break today.

      • Shirley Showalter on February 7, 2019 at 5:17 pm

        🙂

  7. Sherrey Meyer on February 7, 2019 at 1:50 am

    What a unique post, Shirley! The images, your haiku, and the Mary Oliver reference make it a perfect way to end my evening. How am I spending my Mary Oliver winter day? Preparing myself for surgery in four weeks. After spending three years from the date of my 2016 fall, I have the answer to continuing pain and a surgeon prepared to tackle the mess my spine has gotten in. Four weeks from today, Ash Wednesday, will be the beginning of the road to less pain. I’m spending a lot of my time pondering the gifts God is blessing us with as we face another hurdle in our lives together. Give thanks for blessing me with Bob.

    • Shirley Showalter on February 7, 2019 at 8:32 am

      Sherrey, I am putting a reminder into my calendar for Ash Wednesday. Prayers for you and Bob and your surgeon. So glad these words and images have soothed your soul. Hope your body will be soothed soon also.

  8. Melodie on February 7, 2019 at 6:50 am

    I hope I can adopt Mary Pipher’s subtitle (or the one the publisher came up with, we know how these things work, right?): Navigating Life’s Currents and Flourishing as We Age. for the “best is yet to be” part of my life. Retirement is very close now and doing lots of navigating. 🙂

    • Shirley Showalter on February 7, 2019 at 8:35 am

      Melodie, you are well equipped to make this transition, with so many loved ones and a beautiful landscape all around. Want to have coffee and talk about jubilación? Just say the word.

      • Melodie Davis on February 7, 2019 at 4:36 pm

        I may decide to take you up on that … once I finish here! Thank you!

        • Shirley Showalter on February 7, 2019 at 5:17 pm

          🙂

  9. Marian Beaman on February 7, 2019 at 10:16 am

    Your poetry is deeply spiritual, full of gratitude and awe, one definition for worship.

    I gaze at the lake and tall pines as I sip morning coffee. The busier I become, the longer I linger, strange but true. And I’m rowing north if that’s the direction of book publication. Sometimes when I take breaks, I find solace in reading Julia Cameron’s Finding Water, the Art of Perseverance. 🙂

    A few months ago I noticed your experiment with haiku on Facebook; now it appears to have become a practice and another way to celebrate jubilacion. Thank you for giving me another quiet moment today, Shirley.

    • Shirley Showalter on February 7, 2019 at 11:30 am

      You will have more solitude and less rowing after the book is out and you have finished touring, Marian. But all of it is good. Blessings in the days ahead. I love the collage on your blog yesterday. You might enjoy subscribing to the Encountering Silence podcast to give you 30-40 minute breaks. I really enjoy these, and not just because they interviewed me!

      Yes, haiku and jubilación make great companions. Just like you and your water. And you and Cliff. 🙂

  10. Linda Hoye on February 7, 2019 at 10:28 am

    Shirley, I enjoyed the quiet cadence of this post. That, and the gift of being introduced to new pilgrims and being reminded of familiar ones. Such richness!

    I’m slowly working my way back into “real” life after our vacation. Enjoying afternoons with books and blankets and scribbling in my notebook. February is becoming a slice of what January usually is.

    • Shirley Showalter on February 7, 2019 at 11:34 am

      Thank you, Linda. I think you named one of my favorite gifts of haiku. Cadence.

      You have the artist’s awareness of how the world is put together. So glad you had a vacation in a warm place. I have the conviction that winter should be real, but short. That’s why I live in Virginia. 🙂

      Now you can plunge into genuine Canadian winter but take a month off the end date.

  11. Shirley Showalter on February 7, 2019 at 12:00 pm

    From my friend Shirley Yoder, a beautiful haiku:

    I wake to this day,
    like soft petals unfolding,
    my heart pumping red.

  12. Roselle Kovitz on February 7, 2019 at 6:02 pm

    Just the beauty and beautiful reminder I needed, Shirley. The weaving together of your lovely poetry, images, and John O’Donohue, of course, are exquisite. Mary Pipher reminds me, too, of my time in Nebraska. Thank you!

    • Shirley on February 7, 2019 at 10:15 pm

      Thank you, Roselle. So glad to know we have connected spiritually again. I think you would love the Encountering Silence podcast.

      • Roselle Kovitz on February 8, 2019 at 1:15 pm

        Thank you for the recommendation–the title alone pulls me in.

  13. Audrey B Denecke on February 8, 2019 at 8:20 pm

    So far this winter has reminded me to be grateful. Record below zero temperatures, snow, ice laden trees and surfaces, as well as periodic power outages have stirred within me a spirit of gratitude for shelter, heat, and warm food. I have prayed that all will find shelter and all they need to survive this. I’ve shared information on warming centers. I’ve accepted the offer, if power outages would come again, of a dear niece living nearby to join them if all goes dark here.
    I’ve also been invigorated by an hour or so on some days of shoveling snow and ice. The activity also broke open a creative thought to support my memoir progress.
    And, I’ve turned to writing and reading in this quiet time all around me.
    I worried about the trees in recent days so heavily laden with ice, one willow tree across the street had it’s limbs bent forward as if to ask for mercy. And, mercy was given when rain rather than more icy sleet arrived.
    It appears more rather than less words flow for me during this time. I do look forward to reading Mary Pipher’s book soon.
    Thank you Shirley for your reflective offering which comforts me after the storms.
    Be warm and safe.

  14. Shirley Showalter on February 9, 2019 at 3:04 pm

    Oh Audrey, Midwest friend and survivor of the polar vortex. I am so glad you have made it through and also think of those unfortunate people who stepped outdoors at the wrong time and place and without adequate protection. We take shelter for granted so often. I join you in gratitude today.

    So glad to hear that you were able to write and even able to break through to new and creative thought on behalf of your memoir!

    Spring is coming!

    • Shirley Showalter on February 9, 2019 at 3:05 pm

      Oh Audrey, Midwest friend and survivor of the polar vortex. I am so glad you have made it through and also think of those unfortunate people who stepped outdoors at the wrong time and place and without adequate protection. We take shelter for granted so often. I join you in gratitude today.

      So glad to hear that you were able to write and even able to break through to new and creative thought on behalf of your memoir!

      Spring is coming!

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