Resolution, reconciliation and redemption. No matter what I know about these 3 R’s on this day, there will be more to say about them tomorrow. As with most matters, this can only be all I know so far, such is the beauty of time and life – that we may change our minds.

What has helped me come to terms with the 3 R’s has been the website/podcast/app ‘On Being’. I commend it wholeheartedly to you. The references of poet Rilke come from the episode ‘What a world you’ve got inside you’, with Joanna Macy and Anita Burrows, hosted by Krista Tippett.


I have spent much of my life seeking resolution. From time to time a matter will resolve. In a ‘this too will pass’ kind of way. But much is left unresolved, so I try and hear Rilke when he says ‘try to have patience with all that is unresolved within your heart and try to love the questions themselves’. Like my friends husband, a fell running addict, devoted member of mountain rescue, who fell 30 metres in April 2020 during a climbing accident. Who spent 8 months with a cage encasing his leg, just an observer of those mountains he loves. But nonetheless alive. He was and is resolutely living with the questions. He takes the approach not of ‘man versus mountain’, but ‘man loves mountain’. As soon as was possible, and for most of us, before what would be advisable, he was up that mountain – cage and all. Not conquering it, but thanking the mountain that held him up and allowed him to climb so high. The earth rising beneath his feet, taking him to where only birds get to soar. My friend reconciled herself too, to months of washing his wounds and bearing housebound grumps, and their young daughters’ care and the financial impact of all this at the start of a pandemic. The future looking different now. She had no choice but to succumb to how this changes that. Rarely does resolution take the form we seek.


Which brings us to reconciliation. It can be hard to reconcile this with that, with a past experience to the hand that is being offered to you. To reconcile, that belief with, this living reality. Reconciliation is capable and robust though in its’ handling of questioning and doubt and can inhabit acres of time.

That said we have to reconcile with what is in front of us right now. For me this means I have to reconcile to living with the tattered tangled mess of past friendships that got lost along the way. And to reconcile that some of the very best people I have known, with whom I spent many many wonderful days now are separated by great distance of one kind or other. How I wish they still were round corner from my home, study or work. We support each other in different ways now. What we were for each other then, we cannot be for each other right now. Instead of mourning I hold out gratitude, deep and endless thanks that against all the odds of two strangers meeting and becoming friends, we got to share some of this life together. They are still my lucky numbers.

And for those relationships which are broken. Maybe Rilke is right, that we are ‘two solitudes that protect, border and greet each other’. Maybe this is as close as we can get – to greet each other at our borders. We do not need to occupy one anothers’ lands. Up until now I have found that most folks, most of the time, when the chips are down, are open to reconciliation. They protect what they need to protect but are ready to come to their border and greet their fellow human.


Back to my friends husband. Oh, for all those actions and words and times we would change. None of us ever meant to fall so fast or so hard. None of us intended to break. Redemption is why perhaps we so often look to a higher power – to do that which is beyond ourselves. To remind us that no matter where we find ourselves, the good earth and our higher power whispers to our souls ‘there is a place for you, with me, here’. And with such a welcome acceptance we can move towards healing. Redemption is an action. Like how I read and write to heal my own soul. Like how 14 months after his accident my friends husband was there by the side of a 999 call to mountain rescue, carrying a fellow fallen human down the mountain to safety. If your soul needs soothing, I offer words. If you are ever stuck on a mountainside he will come for you. Or my friend herself, for she is also a mountaineer rescuer, ready to bring you safely home.

Redemption is an olive branch. Redemption is in recognising the olive branch, is in tracing its contours and wondering how it is possible you have been offered this olive branch at all. It is in seeing the hand which holds it out to you. Redemption is in accepting it rather than turning away. Redemption is carrying it within you as a reminder for those self-doubting and self-loathing moments. Redemption is planting olive branches deep within our souls, allowing them to take root and nourish us from the inside out.

I carry within me two olive branches

one to keep and one to give away

both growing towards the light

that is forgiveness

Image by mac231 from Pixabay

2 thoughts on “Borders and branches

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