Even at the end of a long road, even when I have reached a landmark I am always still hesitant about celebrating. This may be to do with my history of having celebrations sabotaged in some way. But I reckon it is more that I am always looking for the three R’s. For resolution, for reconciliation, for redemption. I find these somewhat elusive. But I lean in towards them nonetheless.
Just recently the three R’s came to me unexpectedly. On a week when I was just trying to get through, in a year when we had not had a sunny May and I had driven to and fro from work in the rain. I popped on my favourite podcast. On Being produce one called Poetry Unbound by Padraig O’Tuama. He read a poem by Li -Young Lee called ‘From Blossoms’. I absolutely cannot read it more beautifully than him so I link to the piece here.
I listened to this on repeat all week. Then at the end, when my work was done, I gathered what steps I had taken for myself, for others and for the earth towards resolution, reconciliation and redemption (and go on then, a little celebration too) and acted. I acted towards myself, I took seriously the biblical words, ‘may your gentleness be evident to all’ – including myself. It was (finally) a sunny May day and I walked myself round the corner to our local line of shops. One had just opened selling Afro Caribbean goods. It was my best bet for fresh peaches. As I walked up I saw the lights on but the sign on the door saying ‘closed’. The opening hours are printed stating it should be open and in the window a single punnet of peaches. I peered in and knocked at the window. The owner jumped up and let me in, he had forgotten to turn the sign. His wife will be cross with him he said. We chatted, I bought the peaches in the window. I took them home, all ripe and beautiful and sat on the grass, next to budding tree and daisies. Eating what was now my peach and listened again to the poem ‘From Blossoms’. It took my breath away. Again. As I played it to myself, this time with a peach of my own. My way today of ‘turning toward signs painted Peaches’.
Resolution, reconciliation and redemption are when we ‘find nectar at the roadside’
Words of such meaning they seep through my skin into my very bones.
‘to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days…’
And the reminder that no matter what our losses are, no matter how much our job means we have to live alongside death of one kind or another. Li-Young Lee reminds us that from blossom comes this promise;
‘There are days we live, as if death were nowhere in the background’
Because the world also grows blossoms and also grows peaches and there are out there some moments of joy to elevate us, for the time it takes to eat a peach, and perhaps…beyond.