Solstice After All These Years

Waking up to the news isn’t what gets to so many of us. At a certain point in our lives we expect the tragic, be it international, national, or local. We brace ourselves and more often than not the irony is that heartbreaking news brings out the best in us. We care, usually helplessly, but we care.

However, sneaking up on 2 1/2 years now, we wake up and steel ourselves. So often it’s 45’s words of vengeance or another lie added to his more than 9,500 lies that we hear. Many of us were misled by “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Sigh. Bones can heal. Words can stick, can infect, and the consequences from these words will in all likelihood never heal.

So what does one do? When our daughter was little we, with gritted teeth, taught her that troubles and sorrows are constants. But that joy is also. That even though you are hurt, sad, troubled, never abandon the joy within.

Right now I am listening to Yo Yo Ma. I refuse to abandon Yo Yo Ma. My wife is knitting a blanket for a former student’s newborn. I refuse to abandon my smile. I filled the feeder. I refuse to abandon my delight at the birds’ visits. And when the smart-ass cynic tries to lure me with “And what good did this do?” I will say, “It did no good. It created good. That’s all I have.”

And then this afternoon we will be with friends. We will refuse to abandon friends to the lure of CNN. These are not escapes. These are who we are. These are what we do. These are the good we can create. These joys are lying in wait, within.

Solstice After All These Years

The work days go unnoticed.
It’s always a truck load;
it’s always maybe, or

another hour. Last night
we watched as the possum
crossed the back yard padding

its small path back into
the ineffable chaos
of wood and molder.

This morning there will be
a cup of coffee. There
will be the fierce pull

of the news’ hypnosis.
We will try not to remember.
We will tug ourselves to the novel

we roamed with into the anonymity
of sleep. We will be religious
without faith or doubt.

The trees will be our amen.
The cedar waxwing at the feeder
will take our place at communion,

redeeming seed into flight and song.
Tonight within the moon’s generosity
we will gather the vestments for tomorrow.

–Jack Ridl

First published in Saint Peter and the Goldfinch

Tony Eames from published this interview. His goal with his newsletter is to “learn something new every week.” Wonderful.

Now is the time to order Kathleen Markland’s new book, A Pen, A Brush, A Book, is out and orderable right here. We have been celebrating this homecoming all week, and would like to boast that some of the work in the book was penned and painted right under our own noses. We have bragging rights on this one.


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Visit Reader’s World or Hope-Geneva Bookstore in Holland, The Bookman in Grand Haven, and The Book Nook & Java Shop in Montague to find Jack’s books in West Michigan.

Jack’s page on Amazon.

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Click here for Jack’s entire collection, In Time — poems for the current administration.

Click here to watch Jack’s TedX talk.