Words & Music
Trudi Lee Richards
Ceremony for Peace
Ceremonia por la paz
Ceremony for Peace
Ceremonia por la Paz
Weird Old Women...
I am a weird old woman, and so are all my older female friends and close relatives - in another era, we would all have been burned at the stake.
In fact, I’m fairly sure that there are more than a few today who wouldn’t object too much to seeing us burn, because we just aren’t safe.
We’re don’t fit the comfortable cartoon - that frumpy, vaguely feminine place-holder without opinions, without dreams, without projects, without future, without fire.
Certainly that’s not the kind of old woman who rips off her clothes at 2am and rushes outside to walk naked under the moon and lie down in the lovely upward yearning grasses….
Photos - left to right - three very weird sisters - Robin, Zanny, and me.
It’s not the kind of old woman who thinks and feels and - in every way but the good old physicality - IS younger than any of the stressed-out adult children around her…
It’s not this kind of old woman, who cares less and less about the lost cause of her looks; or about what others think; or about the feelings of her little i, including its wisps of loneliness and neediness.
No, it’s not this old woman, who mainly cares about doing what she still has to do here, and then about what will come after that, when the sweet liberator dissolves her ties to this world and lifts her into the light of his heart.
Oh yes, she cares about that....
But first she has to finish what she came here to do - which is personal and invisible and not worth talking about, except to give enormous thanks…
A Private Matter
The poet at the pensive age of one year -
Photo possibly by her father, CW Richards, or her grandfather, SF Bush
Like the cat
Photo by Lies Vergauwen on Unsplash
Photo by Sammy Sander on Unsplash
No Teslas for criminals
Almost Perfect Love
to a dear, self-deprecating friend
Photo by Kevin Gent on Unsplash
On the Playful Void - two poems
Don't avoid the void
Reflections in the monolith at Red Bluff Park of Study and Reflection
Justification for playing number games on my phone
To my Guide
Seeing the Sacred in all things
As far as I can see
Dancing with the Wolf
Canticle of Light*
The Importance of Taking Things Seriously
... a DMV fable
The Day of the Great Change
Photo by Joshua J. Cotten on Unsplash.com
Queen of Sheba and Beloved of God
To my friend who has gone
photo by Jackson Hendry, courtesy of Unsplash.com
adventures with the fear of death
a short story in poetic form
I must confess
But of course
(A poem for anyone who worries about losing their marbles)
Poetry, being magic, can transform pretty much anything - even the worst fears...
Granted, it can take a powerful need to produce an effective poem. So, for many years after seeing what dementia did to our mother, I contented myself with just agreeing with my siblings that our mother's case couldn't be hereditary. Other than that, I got pretty good at not thinking about it.
It's only as I continue, at 75, to get older and weirder and more forgetful, that I've finally come to the point where I've been driven to the extremity of writing a poem.
Although it's a pretty good poem, I'm not going so far as to say it will protect me against losing my mind. I'm just saying that it might give me another perspective - one that I hope might help me find a way through that experience, if such should be my lot.
It was my mother herself who gave me the idea for this poem. No one would ever have imagined that she, of all people - for she was a brilliant, outgoing, joyful human being - would fall prey to dementia. But she did, and it caused her and all her loved ones great suffering for many years.
At the same time, however, there were moments during those years when I was sure I saw something else - something wonderful - burning in her eyes.
I remember the first time I saw it. We were in the kitchen, and she was standing beside me while I washed the dishes. She'd said something about helping, and I'd given her a dishtowel - but she had long forgotten what to do with a dishtowel, and was just standing there, far off in her own world...
It was when I turned to look at her, just to make sure she was ok, that I was almost blinded by the light pouring through her eyes.
No wonder she could no longer function in the world - her ego was being incinerated! And in its place, something else was clearly rising from the ashes - the fierce light of a totally unreasonable joy, like a phoenix on wings of fire...
Beyond all boundaries
Sometimes these days
Above: a few of the Luminous Beings who inhabit Red Bluff Park of Study and Reflection in Northern California. (Photo from 10 years ago - left to right: Fernando, Carol, Janet, Charles, Mary - who now accompanies us from another time and space - and Sinthya).
Red Bluff Park
is open to all non-violent visitors for much-needed respite from the spirit-crushing grind of a system that believes in death. For a well-earned break, come mid-morning on the third Saturday of any month and spend a day celebrating Life and Friendship in the company of other luminous humans...
What to be - a writer, an artist, or a musician? That was my childhood dilemma. You had to choose, or become that shameful thing, a dilettante.
I could never choose. So I drew and painted, played music and sang, wrote stories and poetry, and dreamed of growing up to live alone in the woods. At least there, alone in the woods, I would be a writer...
And at last I did choose writing. When I dropped out of college in order to devote myself to finding the love of my life, I abandoned all other artistic and intellectual puruits, and only continued writing.
Over the next several decades, I wrote my way through four husbands and three children, and through the inevitable parting of our ways. Through all of that, words were enough...
...Until, in my seventh decade, I found myself suddenly obsessed with becoming a musician.
I don't know why it took me so long to set out on that quest. Music had always been my secret Holy Grail.
That was because of two people: Mary Helen Richards and J.S. Bach.
Mary Helen was, first and foremost, my mother - as well as the mother of my three younger siblings. She would incidentally also become the infamous and beloved developer of an educational philosophy called Education Through Music, for which others seem to remember her more than for being our mother.... But it must be admitted that she practiced on us, singing and playing with us incessantly from the time we could squeak, which was how music became as natural to all of us as breathing. It was also why, even though I devoted much of my life to writing, music was always the ground I stood on.
But if it was my mother who stood me on that ground, it was Bach who made that ground Holy.
My conversion took place one day when I was 12. I was a strange, lonely child who was happier spending time alone, listening to classical music or wandering in the woods, than with other young people. Accordingly, just to enjoy myself one day, I put on a recording of Bach's Musical Offering and lay down on the floor to listen...
I don't know how long I lay there, letting the music wash over me - I only remember that after a long, timeless interval of simply being suspended in the unfolding purity of the music, I was all at once flooded with an overwhelming joy. Because suddenly, for no reason at all, it was as clear to me as day that all was well. That no matter how bad things might look, Life was Good, and there was nothing to fear.
Fifty years passed. All that time I listened devotedly to Bach, as well as to a multitude of other musics - but it never occurred to me to do more than listen.
Until a few years after the last of my children had left home and my beloved husband of 25 years had died, when a friend gave me an old electronic keyboard. That was when a novel thought surfaced in my head: maybe I could learn to play the piano? .....
I googled "easiest Bach keyboard pieces" and came up with the Prelude in C major. Then and there I sat down and stumblingly began to learn it...
That was the beginning of the end. It didn't take long for me to become disgusted with the cheap keyboard and buy a decent digital one, the kind that actually sounds like a piano. Over the next few months I took up alto recorder, joined a Renaissance vocal group, found a voice teacher, and began to study songwriting and composition...
Today, I still write words - that's just how I deal with living.
But now I'm equally drawn to music - and in a very different way. I think it's because music has a unique power to reach deep, deep inside us - to fuse, almost on a cellular level, with both our grief and our joy, transmuting even the most painful experiences within a new context of joyful meaning...
Joy cries out to be shared. That is why I'm putting together these pages: to share the joy of words and music with you, and perhaps, also, the certainty that Life is Good, indeed, Sublime.
A melody and words that crooned in my ear one morning, echoes from my distant Irish roots...
Recorded at Resound Northwest, Portland, Oregon by Trudi Lee Richards and Daniel Buchanan:
Words & Music...
Experiences are slippery things.
Even the most profound and beautiful of them always vanish instantly into the past, leaving us bereft and stranded - unless we can somehow capture their essence, their deep register. Then we can return and drink from their life-giving waters...
That's why I write poems and stories and music. Like a magic carpet, the arts can carry us into the sacred realms of heart and mind, to the place where we are immortal, and all is eternally well.
and Trudi Lee
all quite some time ago...
my father's love
I was already ten
my father held me
in the old rocking chair
and we rocked
and didn’t say