our real work


It may be that when we no longer know what to do,
we have come to our real work
and when we no longer know which way to go,
we have begun our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.
―Wendell Berry

Ross, the father of my children and I divorced 30 years ago. Just before Christmas we drove 10 hours together from Bellingham, Washington to Coos Bay, Oregon to celebrate Christmas with our daughter, son in law and their two children. I drove straight (well turned around a bit) to their close friends’ house for a party. The group asked us how the drive together was. We joked that I knew where the ejection seat button was but didn’t use it and that we talked about moving in together – he added “everyone living together.” We all laughed and the conversation moved on.

When I told Ross that women friends and I are thinking about living in community he advised “don’t forget the men, we have important resources to add.”

Now I’m in Gig Harbor, Washington with dear old friends for New Year’s Day. We saw the movie The Descendants last night. The movie about a woman who is dying, and the  choices her husband must make, takes place in Hawaii. I woke up thinking about my life on a Pacific island, my way back life working for Hospice and about living in community.

All this leads up to sharing a letter I received from the daughter of one of my closest Saipan friends, Trish, who lived in the condo complex where I lived. Not long before she died of an aneurism she wrote the following to her daughters. I share parts of it as a New Year gift to the readers of this blog who join me in thinking about community.

hi honey,
i was looking through my photo album the other night. i read all of my
birthday letters. when i was 47 i wrote that i wanted to have some
friends my age. then i wanted to live in a place where there were people who
came to that place from all over the world…

many times, i wanted to live in a place where I wasn’t odd, you know quirky and different. …I’ve wanted to be an artist and express my creativity. Saipan is like a dream come true for me. I just came back from a cocktail party where half the people were
artists…There are intelligent, spiritual, creative, 40 and 50 and 60 something
age professional people living all around me in the condo complex.

I filled in an eye on the daruma doll in October. My wish was to know how much god loves me. granted i was a little reticent at first about that wish because i thought if anyone knew how much god loved them, they’d explode. but i thought, what the heck. what a way to go. Instead, every day, several times a day, a person, smell, color, sound, place makes me know i’m loved in the fullest of who i am. now i think my middle name should be “lucky” or “happy” instead of “fun.”

… everyone here smiles a lot…and laughs a lot. i feel like i fit in. i can’t remember the last time I felt like i fit in. all my beauty is just another shade of the spectacular
mood of this island.

I just wanted you to know that because for so many years you’ve been the
closest, most loving people in my life. now that you’ve all moved on in
your lives and physically away from me, i have found a community where i
am accepted, and might also be loved. that may be a strong word but it
feels good. …my gratitude journal is overflowing with a very satisfied and full voice.

Can you imagine how different life would be for everyone if they had all that i have? i
love you. mom

Trish exploded on November 2, and died November 14, 2006, knowing how much she was loved. That community we shared is one of my models…   Blessings, Marian


About Marian Methner, B.S., D.Min.

Polydox: accepting that we are many labels, I am mother of 4, mother in law (love) of 4 and grandmother of 5. My life is a collection of bits and starts. I was recently on the road for over a year exploring ideas of living in shared housing. A recent summer course in Permaculture design, solidifed my interest in "social permaculture" or ways we interact not only with our Earthly environment but also with each other. I am back Bellingham, Washington, in a small rental house, owned by my ex husband, talk about shared housing, practicing living in community with family, and friends. My doctoral dissertation A Map to Living Open Heartedly, centers around making art as a way to healing. Paradoxiclly, a recent diagnoses of heart failure (cardiomyopathy) expands this exploration...
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4 Responses to our real work

  1. Aimee says:

    Thanks for your lovely piece, Marian. You were a lynchpin in the idyllic Saipan community for my mother. Thank you for reprinting this letter. I like framing her death in the way that you did. What the heck, what a way to go! Love to you in your search.

    • Ahh Aimee – what more can I say! I am so blessed to still have connection with Kate and you and Sus. Such beautiful babes you have. Someday i will come to Ireland!! Love and Happy New Year! Blessings, Marian

  2. mary corduff says:

    Wow, what a tribute!

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