As I await the advent of our first child, I am becoming familiar with its every movement. On the day of birth, I will indeed recognize our little one, this original creation I am coming to know already.Continue reading
I was awakened when it was yet dark out, a wailing wind luring me from bed to the window. Peering out, I watched rain lashing viciously at Saint Patrick the statue, a resolute sentinel guarding our home against the storm. Back into bed I crawled, safe and warm.Continue reading
After a morning spent watercoloring a few charcoal sketches, I buttoned up my coat and took to the dirt road near our home, which cascades down between cropland and flows between wild apple trees further on. This summer, the fields were seeded with corn. When they were at their height, the paper stalks formed castle walls on either side, green in summer, golden in autumn. Sapling maples fringe the road, bursting sweet berry-red to distract from the now-naked fields. Scattered kernels are the only vestige that a castle ever existed on this island.Continue reading
of sweet you,
hidden in the haven of my womb
your little face,
smucked with raspberry jam
the wilds of berries in August
my earthen heart,
perfect it in muddy hands
this earthen heart
is already moving for you
When the future is a haze, the sky is still candy-blue over me. And in the orchard, where the branches reach to entwine their fingers and the apples smile in the sunlight, ruddy-cheeked, life is solid in my hand, sweet and simple. Continue reading
I am but one among the countless number. I notice pregnant women everywhere now, at the store, walking by, in church—and this is only on Prince Edward Island, a dust mite on the map. Closing my eyes, I picture the telltale swell beneath a vibrant sari, an exposed black belly gleaming beneath the sun, the bump betraying a princess’s secret, or the hidden package of a frightened teenager curled up in a bathroom. Whether by surprise or not, we are all carrying what may seem ordinary, given its universality, but is truly extraordinary: new life.Continue reading
Two little boys, like tin soldiers abandoned on the dusty road, and two little dogs bounding at their feet, one white, one brown. A wheat field to the east, smoldering in the dusk, and swaths of curing canola to the west. Above: blue ripening to rose-gold, in every direction, unhindered by mountain or forest. And a farm, autumn spinning its wreath of trees into a golden crown.
My last glimpse was one I clung to until the last moment. I suppose I feared that in letting go I would lose what I found during my time away from the island—no, not found, but rediscovered. Surrounded by the people who know me and love me best—my mother, father, siblings, and husband—I rediscovered freedom.
I think it is easy to become an island when you live on an island. The world is smaller here, the horizon closer, more mysteries unveiled than not. And yet the sky above is infinite, as it is anywhere else. Discouraged by the boundaries enclosing me, I ceased glancing up to drink of the pure air pouring down from Heaven; my eyes slipped from God’s face. And when you begin to believe there is nothing more to discover outside yourself, your gaze will turn inward, like a wounded rabbit crawling into its warren, where the world is safe and dry but utterly dark.
Big skies. Timidly at first, I poked my head from my hole and peered out. When I saw my family beneath those big skies, delighting in the blue, the breeze, the sunlight washing over them, I realized they were safe, happy—and free. And I could be too. Not strong enough on my own, their love assured me that surrendering my fear would not hurt.
No matter where God places us on this earth—no matter whether my husband, our baby, and I are called to live on an island or not—I know that so long as I look up, I will always find my freedom.
Unexpected little face at the window of my womb. Our muffin, our raspberry, a blue egg in our nest. I had hoped you would come sooner than later but dared not hope too hard—and here you are. Our island child.
I’ve written about you before, dreamed about you. I’ve seen your blue eyes, cradled your body, maybe even heard your name. But there was a time when I would have laughed had I been told you’d come into being among patchwork fields and sleepy villages, on a faraway island set like a ruby in the eastern sea. And yet you could not have been otherwise. Here is where your father came into being, here is where my heart joined to his, and here is where you, a seed gently poked into the russet earth, will unfurl your first leaves.
How I wish you could know what I myself knew as a child: the cabin hidden among evergreens, a refuge overlooking a cool, green lake where the loon cries; or the yellow farmhouse, warm and safe above a cow-studded pasture and a murky creek. You will never taste my Grandma’s saskatoon pancakes or ride in my Grandpa’s tractor—but I know you will make your own memories, sweet and bright, as I did. I pray the pattern of leaves and twigs and berries will be imprinted on your heart as surely as it was on mine.
And I pray your father’s passion for Truth will burn in you like a golden light, defying the darkness. We cannot protect you from every evil, but we can prepare you to face it. No matter how weak we may be, we promise to love you, small one, and by our love may you too come to know and love Love Himself, He who is why we are. You’ll discover beauty and goodness in this world, but remember that such wonder-filled momentsare fleeting hints of what is to come. Yes, never forget that this world is indeed your home, but it is not Home.
Together, with your father and I and whoever else may join our nest, we will grow and we will become what we are created to be: a family, journeying toward reunion with our Family in Heaven.
O world, you do not know how wonderful a family truly is, because you do not know what a family truly is.
Have you ever felt your mother’s fingers comb through your hair, or your father’s arms lift you onto his shoulders? Have you ever walked barefoot through a field with your sisters or raced through the garden with your brothers? I have. I remember grinning with delight to see my parents appear at the schoolroom door to whisk me away, when other children groaned and spurned their parents’ affection. I remember stealing back my wailing brother from an old woman’s arms and soothing him as only I could. And when no other girl in the crowd seemed to understand my heart, I knew my sisters would—I knew that every late-night talk in the moonlit darkness would weave us three tighter, like a braid, and strengthen us for tomorrow, no matter our squabbles of today.
Love is flexible; it is not limited to laughter and embraces and kisses. Changing diapers and folding laundry, serving rather than dictating, biting your tongue rather than lashing out, and even rising up to be bold with the truth when you’d rather avoid confrontation—a family will stretch your heart to fit more than just yourself. No matter that I’ve grown up and moved far, far away from them, today my heart yet carries a mother and father, two sisters, and five brothers. Even when their weaknesses (or mine) threaten to shrivel my heart, they never succeed, because I know what a family is, and I know that if we but cling to the goodness in each other, we will only become greater.
For a family is the forge in which gold emerges.
A rainbow in the sprinkler’s mist, and I am happy.
Our garden is small, planted in an old flowerbed. Not every seed that we meticulously pushed into the soil decided to show its newborn face, but what did is flourishing. My plump little children. I remember hunkering down in Grandma’s garden and crunching away on carrots, rooting for strawberries in the tangled patch, and spilling peas into my mouth. Food was simple but good—and so it always can be. I am particularly enthralled with the cabbages; there is enough to supply us with sauerkraut all year long. Call me an old woman, a baba, and I will grin and nod.
After a dismal winter, the island has been blessed with eager sunshine. I find myself frequently wandering away from my writing to gaze out the window, to sneak out and check on the vegetables, to stroll down the road between furrowed crops. Already, we’ve been to the sea too many times to remember: those vast peach-colored beaches, the dunes crested with swishing grass, and the water—shimmering, creamy on bare legs, bobbing with plum-colored jellyfish. Not long ago, I sat on a sandbar and laughed as the waves came rumbling over me, filling my face with salty bubbles. Driving home, I found myself smiling sleepily, my cheeks pink, my hair curled by the water and wind. I remembered those sun-soaked days at the lake of my childhood: digging pools in the sand, collecting snails, and chasing after multicolored butterflies as big as my hand—and then, as the sun set, running up through the evergreens and across the cool, green lawn to the cabin, my wet towel flapping behind me.
Today, with my beautiful friend, I scavenged for sea glass, lunched on mussels, paddle-boarded in a basin abounding with sea life (I held a blue starfish!), and swam under the silent regard of coastal windmills. Once again, my cheeks are pink, my hair curled, and my heart nearly full (soon my husband will be home, and then it will be overflowing).
I am tempted to cling to these days of consolation, to look beyond the present moment and grimace at the inevitable return of snow and ice. But I figure it’s better to learn now, while I’m young, that seasons are simply a part of life and always will be. Why waste energy fighting them? Furthermore, they are not something to resign myself to, but rather to embrace. After all, without winter (desolation), would summer be so sweet?