To Stardust We Shall Return
A poem for those who keep vigil
It’s the season of Homecoming, football games, pumpkins, cool mornings with warm afternoons, and I had an entire newsletter I wanted to write today about my second book, Home By Another Road and some recent synchrony around it, including an e-Book sale. But I’m going to save that for early October. Look for it then!
Today Juli Reinholz, a clergy friend I know from my involvement with the Academy for Spiritual Formation, is in the last hours of her final journey home after living with cancer for five years. She has touched many lives in deep and meaningful ways, including mine, and my heart is with her family keeping vigil (as my dear husband has done for loved ones).
It is a beautiful, difficult gift for our beloved, and ourselves, when we are able to walk with them to the door of the portal we cannot yet cross. I wrote a poem this afternoon for her family, and for anyone who has said, or will say goodbye to a loved one — which, it turns out, is all of us.
Below is the poem, and at the top of this post, where it says “Article Voiceover” you can hear me read it.
To Stardust We Shall Return
For David, Victoria, and Katherine. In memory of Juli.
Every day dear ones gather
at the besides of their beloved
keeping vigil over the hard and holy
habitation of being human, watching
light and life wane from familiar
faces. The dearly beloved muster
the most tender and wistful of smiles
offer the softest of gazes, each glance
woven with every unspoken grace
and blessing that has ever passed
Dearest breaking ones, tuck these sacred
moments in your breast pocket, carried
like a love note to be folded and refolded
read and reread again and again
the message keeping time when you can’t
a metronome for your heart forgetting
how to beat, a divine communique to sustain
you as long and as deep as your need lasts
as long and as deep as forever.
How bittersweet is this season
of leaving, and how small we seem
to shrink while simultaneously
spiraling out into the infinite unseen
wonder beyond our knowing.
For amid our sorrow, smack dab
in the core of our ache, ever-present
in the emptiness that looms vast
before us, God is here, as she always is,
and ever has been, steadily sewing
God’s cosmic quilt. To comfort us
for just a moment, God pierces
the fabric of the firmament with her
pearl needle and her golden thread
to let us glimpse the glimmer greater
than our shimmering sorrow.
Behold now, the whole of us stitched
together, over and under and through
time and space. Ancient and eternal.
Remember we are dust — stardust
animating all that is seen, and unseen
with our first, our last, our every breath.
And to stardust we shall return.
The Milky Way with a great blue heron in the water, taken from my deck on September 15th.
Wishing you the deep peace of night skies, untroubled sleep, and quiet moments.
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