Patience To Love





Years bring wisdom.  Years bring acceptance.  They bring patience. In turn all of these bring joy.  The form of my joy this summer is a month of family time with my daughter and granddaughter from Berlin, Germany.

Chaos is disorder.  But if you ask me; it’s also the means of great possibility.  My house has been taken over by a three year old.  Sure we pick up the games, toys, play-dough and books.  But when you look around and see these things about in our small little home and our very large garden; you know they represent a great amount of joyful times and memories in-the-making.

Last night we put together a 25 piece puzzle with our granddaughter.  There… in the midst of sorting pieces and fitting them lived great exuberance and delight!

I wonder if God looks at us and says; “Yes, this is the kind of delight I enjoy all of you making out of the messes in life.  Great work, keep it up!”

Anyway, whether God likes the messes or not or what we do with them; I thank Him for the delight that our small home (and large garden) is cram packed and filled with this month.

Our family has healed from some pretty big gaps and discord into a colorful, accepting, loving, peaceful band.  We thank God for this.  We thank him for the tender hearts he continues to accomplish in all of us.

I said to Archie, “If there isn’t enough patience; there probably isn’t enough love.”


To Be of Use- A Memorial for Betty

(At the Memorial for Betty)


For those of you who don’t know me
and for those of you who don’t recognize me; my name is Shelly.

My friendship with Betty began in 1981- 36 years ago when our family moved to Pope Valley in the old Gardner place. We were both young raising up our families.

I have not come here prepared– I was not ready for Betty’s farewell.
How can we fully prepare, for someone we love,
to take leave?

But with as much preparation as we are granted– we continue.

Betty and I shared a love of poetry.
I would like to read a poem by Mary Oliver that Betty might enjoy.

The title is “Mysteries Yes”

Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous to be understood.

How grass can be nourishing

in the mouths of lambs.

How rivers and stones are forever in allegiance

with gravity

while we ourselves

dream of rising.

How two hands touch and the bonds

will never be broken.

How people come, from delight

or the scars of damage,

to the comfort of a poem.

Let me keep company always with those who say

“Look!” and laugh in astonishment,

and bow their heads.

In my reading this poem- I admit- I custom fit it for Betty by omitting a few sentences.
They didn’t fit.  I know Betty would have approved!

Let me read them to you now…


I know Betty worked to close gaps- not keep distance. Betty, as I knew her, always moved directly forward.  She always knew the right path by seeking the right questions.

To me….this is far greater than knowing the answers.

And now a poem that reminds me very much of Betty. The title is

“To Be Of Use” written by Marge Piercy

To Be Of Use

The people I love the best jump into work head first without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.

They seem to become natives of that element, the black sleek heads of seals bouncing like half submerged balls.

I love people who harness themselves,
an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience, who strain in the mud and the muck
to move things forward
who do what has
to be done

I want to be with people who submerge in the task, who go into the fields
to harvest and work in a row
and pass the bags along,

who stand in the line
and haul in their places
who are not parlor generals or field deserters but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in
or the fire be put out.

The work of the world is as common as mud. Botched, it smears the hands,
crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done

has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.

Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vessels that held corn, are put in museums but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person…
for work that is real.

In honor of you Betty……where love will always fill the gap. Thank you, thank you….Everyone.

A Poem by Wendell Berry

The Real Work
It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,

and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.

The mind that is not baffled is not employed.

The impeded stream is the one that sings.

By Wendell Berry

The storm, the ship, the anchor

















Today I was talking to a dear friend, a sister really.  We talked about keeping inner peace. We agree we need to be a ship’s anchor, at times.  When the waters rage and the sea is uneven and the ship rocks; just be the anchor.  Lodge yourself down there where the ground is still under you.  Just let that uneven sea storm and rage.  Keep your eye on the path- even if you are in water.   Keep steady -even in the midst of those near and close to you who might likely sink the ship.  Keep yourself calm and let the armies of God tend the war while you keep peace in your heart; while you make certain the devil doesn’t stowaway and try to pirate the ship and take all the goods.

While She Was Here

Betty became my friend 32 years ago; the minute I met her.  We were both in our early 30’s. We were both living in Pope Valley bringing up a family with children.

Betty was as loyal a friend as they come.

I laugh now at how Betty always said my name: Shelly.

She said my name with an exclamation point at the end of it- or two!!

She said it as though I was to come to attention; Ten-hut Shelly!

“Shelly” was said as though I was sleeping and was being called to awaken- like breakfast had been waiting a long time for me.

Betty’s tent was worn and her time had come.  The last time I saw Betty she said this to me, “Shelly!!…No one ever said we’d get out of this alive.”

Betty…!! You rest in my heart. With faith I trust you have made a camp with Jesus.

Betty had an aggressive cancerous brain tumor.  After her diagnosis she had only some weeks to live here on earth.  Her faith never wavered, not once.  She gave me courage to love each day- no matter what. She left me with a remarkable gift- love.  She left me with a chuckle – “No one ever said we’d get out of this alive!”









We Have Not Come To Take Prisoners

We have not come here to take prisoners

but to surrender ever more deeply

to freedom and joy.


We have not come into this exquisite world

to hold ourselves hostage from love.


Run my dear,

from anything

that may not strengthen

your precious budding wings.


Run like hell my dear,

from anyone likely

to put a sharp knife

into the sacred, tender vision of

your beautiful heart.


We have a duty to befriend

those aspects of obedience

that stand outside of our house

and shout to our reason

“O please…O please,

come out and play.”


For we have not come here to take prisoners

or to confine our wondrous spirits,


But to experience ever and ever more deeply

our divine courage, freedom and