Consider the Trees . . .

LeafInHandI stand in a cathedral of aspens among grey-green trunks that glisten silvery in the sunlight. A hint of a passing breeze sends down a shower of golden confetti to cover the ground. I walk on a carpet of jewels – gold and garnet, emerald and citrine – that shimmers underfoot.

A single leaf nestles in my outstretched hand. Its red-gold beauty whispers, “Do not fade away. Go out in a blaze of glory.”

* * *

Never mind the lilies of the field. Consider the trees. They don’t fade away into a dirty brown or grey. No, come autumn, they paint the hillsides with amazing hues – yellow, gold, red, orange, even purple. The sight of them gives us thrills. We gasp in awe and amazement, exclaim, “Oh wow! Look at that!” We glory in their beauty. Perhaps they survive the summer just to be able to sport their autumn colours in their last days.

There’s no reason for us to wait for our final days before we show our colours. Why wait to be a grandmother to be a Raging Granny? Or an old woman who wears “purple/ With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me” (per Jenny Joseph)? Take your cue from e. e. cummings who maintained there are two kinds of people: those who are truly alive and those who are merely not-dead.

Neither is there any reason to fade away as we age.  Robert Browning reminds us that “The best is yet to be,/ The last of life, for which the first was made.” Every one of us must know some feisty, so-called “old” person who just will not slow down, who is still opinionated (and doesn’t hesitate to share those opinions), and who can run circles – mentally if not physically – around us so-called younger folk. Who still sports his/her colours with pride and passion.

It’s not easy to strut your colours. It takes courage, chutzpah, perhaps even a bit of egotism. What is really essential is faith in yourself — that who you are and what you do and say will bring colour into someone else’s life. When we show our colours, we give others hope and joy, and perhaps even the courage to show their own colours.

Down with drab. Let’s colour the world. Let’s be truly alive.


#Meditation #OldAge #Contemplation #Autumn #GoldenYears #LessonsFromTrees #MargaretGHanna

In Honour of International Refugee Day

The Refugee’s Rebuke

I will be stronger, so say you,
But you don’t live this nightmare through.

You live in peace and safety there
And know not war, and yet you dare

To say to me, I should not fear?
You’d not say that if you lived here.

I live with grief, I live with strife,
I’ve lived with war throughout my life.

I see the bodies in the street,
Heads and torsos, limbs and feet.

I see the shredded blood-soaked clothing,
I see the hate, I see the loathing.

I hear my children’s night time cries.
They dream that death lives in the skies.

Safety’s secure as shifting sands,
No choice but to escape these lands.

Our homes are bombed, our neighbours dead,
And we survivors live in dread.

We hear the bombs and bullets flying.
We hear the cries of people dying

All in the name of righteousness.
A lie! It’s human spitefulness

Born of envy, fueled by hate,
That drives us to this horrid state.

A bullet’s not the dove of peace.
A bomb will never bring surcease.

“God’s on our side,” our leaders cry.
With that, they try to justify

The bombs and mortars that rain down
On every neighbourhood and town.

Out of that death, what do they gain?
An inch of land? A glorious name?

While those of us who live in tents,
Our lives destroyed, our homeland rent,

We bear the brunt of heinous deeds
Regardless of our race and creed.

So you who sit in easy chairs
And crow about the alms you share,

I say to you, please, hear our voice.
Armageddon’s not our choice.

Like you, we long for days of peace.
Like you, we pray that war will cease.

And like your children – safe, secure –
We want that ours can go to school

And learn that kindness, gentleness
Will out-trump hate, intolerance,

And make this world a better place
For everyone of every race.

(Inspired, in part, by the aphorism, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”)

#InternationalRefugeeDay #Refugees #War #Genocide #Persecution #Poem #MargaretGHanna

Our heads too oft are turned . . .

Our heads too oft are turned by shiny things.
We are deceived to think that what we want
is what we need, but no. ‘Tis all illusion
devised by high-paid shillers to entice.

We measure riches, not in joy and peace,
but things amassed we think will awe our neighbours
And we allow ourselves beguiled to be
by things that fill a space but soon grow old

and leave us just as empty as before.
‘Tis fantasy. The glitz and glamour promised
turns to rust and dross – Fool’s Gold is all –
And fools are we to chase the empty dream.

Though we amass great treasure on this earth
‘Tis friends and family measure our true worth.

(inspired by a painting of two Magpies on their nest)

#Sonnett #Poem #Poetry #Magpies #Illusion #Deception #TrueTreasure #FamilyAndFriends

Happiness is . . .

A friend once defined happiness as the “absence of unhappiness.” How sad, I thought, to define happiness as the absence, rather than the presence, of something.

Another negative definition: I don’t think happiness is that crazy dance you see on television commercials when someone buys a new car or discovers they get free shipping with whatever they bought on-line. That’s some kind of adrenaline-fueled moment that is a fleeting as it is intense, and, once it’s gone, leaves you feeling drained and empty.

The question remains: what is “happiness?” Is it like art – you know it when you feel it? Maybe.

Here is my attempt to understand it.

Happiness entails contentment, which is not the same as complacency. Complacency is a “Yah, whatever” mentality. Contentment is more of an acceptance of who and what you are. Of being able to live with your strengths and your weaknesses. And because of that acceptance – because of your strengths and in spite of your weaknesses – you go out and do the best you can, perhaps even better than you thought you could. Perhaps even discover that there is strength in your weakness, as contradictory as that may sound.

Happiness entails hope. Hope is what keeps us going from day to day. It gives us the courage and strength to keep on trying and striving. It is a realistic hope; you know utopia will never be achieved but, by trying once more, you hope that you can help to make the world a slightly better place for one person, for one place, for one community.

Happiness is outward-looking. It’s that feeling you get when you put a smile on someone else’s face; when you provide a shoulder for someone to cry on; when you lend an ear so a person’s sorrow or frustration; when you “pay forward” a favour. It’s when you empathize with someone else’s situation. When you’ve helped someone through a difficult time. When you rejoice with them about their own happiness.

Happiness entails connection with community, however you define that, be it family, friends or an organization. Ask any volunteer. When you are part of something bigger than yourself, you realize you are not alone, come what may. You are there for other people, and other people are there for you. Because of that, you can face anything.

Now, it’s your turn. How do you define happiness?

#Happiness #Hope #Connection #Contentment #Empathy #MargaretGHanna #Contemplation

On this Christmas Eve . . .

Let us pause for a moment and count our blessings:

We give thanks for having clean water to drink and a surfeit of food to eat (while many in this world have neither).

We give thanks for our health (while many are sick and dying).

We give thanks for all the rights and privileges we enjoy (while many live under the thumb of oppression and persecution).

We give thanks for living in peace and security (while many live in the midst of war, under threat of genocide, or as refugees).

We give thanks for the joy and love of family and friends (while many feel unloved, lonely and hopeless).

We are truly blessed. Let us work in the coming year to extend these blessings to others.

#ChristmasEve #ChristmasBlessings #Prayer #Thanksgiving #Contemplation