Sunday, March 22, 2009


I finished reading Louise Erdrich’s The Beet Queen Friday night, and have been thinking about it ever since. Among so many other things, this is a book about people who give up and people who don’t, and how life is full of so many hard edges and dry places that redemption seems impossible, but comes anyway.

There’s a part in the Sunday Celtic church service I attend, after the spoken Prayers of the People, when those who are so inclined may go to one of several tables and light one or more candles for those in their personal prayers. A great many of us do so. I always light candles for at least four people.

Tonight, while listening to the music and waiting my turn, I can see these four in my heart. My mother is a little girl, perhaps 5, in a studio shot, with the sweetest look of innocence and vulnerability. It is an understatement to say that our relationship was complex. Things said and unsaid around the end of her life form my most painful regrets.

My father is a grownup in his picture—about 22. He is a pilot in the Air Force, and there is a look of confidence and joy on his face that he had never had before; and after the War, never had again, except as memory.

My daughter is asleep, hair spread out on her pillow, humming softly. We laugh and tease about her sleeping hum, but I miss it. She knows more than I do about so many things, but this is the one certain time that she is still my child, my baby, under my watch.

My beloved She is in a familiar pose, reading in the soft glow of a lamp, cat on her lap, dog snoring nearby. She is where I can always find her, and when I get home, I will.

I step forward to light the candles, and the moment is only about that light, and the love.


  1. Sharon, I love those pictures of your parents. And I love your graceful writing here. God bless you and all your beloved ones.

  2. This reminds me of how gentle you were as a child--I knew it then, even though I was just a child too. I can read this blog and know why you were the only friend I wanted to play with! I will love reading your archived pages as well. You really ARE a writer!

  3. Sigh. Just lovely. We are too much alike, sometimes. Same conflicted relationship with my mother (I nearly wept while watching CNN tonight about Michele Obama and her mother). And oh, my, what you said about your daughter. Those are the parts that touch my heart. When I was in seminary at Yale, we had Taize services in which we lit candles like that -- I always loved it.