Those who know me well know that every December I crank out a document looking back at the year that was. I began it in the early ’80’s and just haven’t gotten out of the habit. It’s an example of what author and humorist David Sedaris says is “an awful lot of work for something no one is ever going to see.” But writers are an odd breed, forging on toward the torch that beckons from within.
To give you a taste of what I am not inflicting on the world (the word count is over 4000), here’s some of the scintillating titles in my list:
- 2015 was the year that… (it’s how I always begin)
- Best Decision of the Year (new job)
- Household renovations
- New routines
- Passages (RIP Mom)
- Music Highlights (not Adele)
- Memorable TV (“Borgen” is amazing)
- Best podcasts (Nomad)
- Birding Highlights (how did that pileated woodpecker find its way to our back lane?)
- Favorite Books
Is your head spinning? I had hopes of boiling this document down to a wise summary and made a brave start this afternoon when my mind recalled a poem I wrote last year. It expresses the debt of gratitude I have for healing.
The poem was inspired by an encounter with a woman close to our house. I was driving home one afternoon when I noticed her on her way to the corner laundromat. In her state of inebriation, she didn’t notice the laundry dropping out of a hole in her black garbage bag. I quickly stopped my car in the middle of the street and began picking up her lost load, returning it to her in the laundromat.
Strange place for a baptism
this corner inner city laundry
but if a baptism is for cleansing
of what ails you,
then this woman surely fits the bill.
Black garbage bag splitting open
clothes strewn all down the street,
and lost in a substance haze
she barely even notices her bag is almost empty.
Hastily I park my car
running to retrieve the lost items,
not knowing that I’d find more than I bargained for.
I return the pile to her
and she barely notices
either that they were gone in the first place,
or the stranger who is helping her hapless wandering.
Some might see this as a kind deed
but no, she is my sister,
blood of my blood.
I’ve been lost, wandering, less than vibrant,
not even aware of the wounds I was trailing,
when more than one of Jesus’ friends
picked up my filthy rags
helped me as I limped towards a baptism
towards a better life.