Always, Mr. Rickman. Always.

IMG_4419The first film I ever saw Alan Rickman in was “Sense and Sensibility” and from the minute he walked into the room he stole my heart. Just the way he looked at Marian, his lips slightly parted and his eyes full of tender awe, made me push Mr. Darcy back into the lake and never look back. I was instantly crushing on him and, truth be told, part of me never stopped. Today I woke up to a CNN alert telling me that he was gone, and I started to cry.

So this one is for you, Mr. Rickman. For making me laugh in that ridiculous rubber headpiece.

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For that time you sucked helium with Jimmy Fallon.

For when you were Colonel Brandon and you stole my heart with a look.

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For when you were Severus Snape and broke my heart with a word.

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For doing what you loved and sharing it with all of us.

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For making good art.

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RIP 1946 – 2016 ❤

 

Among the Graves

I’ve developed a recent fascination with graveyards. As morbid as that sounds, in an odd way they’re utterly beautiful. The air today smells of grass and approaching autumn; cool and sharp with a hint of falling leaves. It’s quiet, a fact simultaneously chilling and comforting. Just the wind in the trees and the twittering of birds as they flit through the stones. Perhaps add to that the occasional click of a tiny plastic pinwheel that someone placed in the ground as decoration. Even passing cars seem softer in this valley of stone and scattered foliage.

But it’s more than just nature setting the scene. It’s sobering to wander through the dirt and dust and ashes of those who passed before you. Each life was unique and beautiful; full of joy, suffering, hope, and heartbreak. Some are new, even the earth above them is freshly turned with grass slowly peeking from the displaced dirt. Some are old, so old that they’ve become practically illegible; a life forgotten and eroded by time. Though I squat down, squint and stare, I cannot even read their names. I know nothing of them, except the little American flag makes me think they were in the Armed Forces.

Some of the gravestones are stunning; elaborately carved, tall, marbled, cut into shapes of angels, hearts, and crosses or engraved with poems and portraits of lost loved ones. There are several granite pinnacles with generations of family members carefully etched into the stone with spaces left blank for upcoming generations to join them there. I try not to step on the metal plates at my feet which mark where each one is laid.

All these stones mark a story, the impact of which cannot be guessed by the greatness of its cairn. All ashes look the same. And the cherub respectfully hovering over an intricate inscription, may be guarding nothing more than a guilty son’s attempt to memorialize his cruel Ebenezer Scrooge of a father, and the flat plate, half covered by grass clippings, could be for a nurse who loved greatly and saved many lives. I stare at the stones, longing to read their stories. I want to touch them, to run my fingers over the smooth and rough of their characters, but all I can feel is stone. I find a tree and sit down. I want to tell them I care. I’ll listen. But they remain silent, so I respectfully join them, lingering with them in that silence, the only breathing member of hundreds, dreaming about their stories, with my own story still to live and still to tell.

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© Rachel Svendsen 2015

Anna

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The day’s fading fast now.
Your dreaming won’t keep.
I take hold of your hand as you’re falling asleep.
Since you can’t wait up for me, you go on upstairs,
And keep the covers warm darling,
I’ll join you there.

When we said I do I knew how it would be.
You’ve been awake twenty years more than me.
So I’ve saved a place for me, beside you in bed,
With a single shared pillow of stone for our head.

My day’s fading fast now,
And dreaming won’t keep.
This will be my last visit before I fall asleep.
I put my lips to cold stone and I kiss you goodnight.
“I’ll be with you soon lover. Until then, sleep tight.”

© Rachel Svendsen 2015

The Ancient Willow

A while back, I wrote up a post entitled What Good is a Roll Without Butter? about my dear brother-in-law Jonathan and how we composed a poem over the course of two days via text message.

Another while back, my husband, brother-in-law, and I were out on a jaunt in the little ol’ white Honda, and composed the following moving sonnet. We alternated lines as we rolled down the highway.

My lines – will be in regular type
Timothy’s lines – will be in bold type
Jonathan’s lines – will be in blue italics

The willow tree lies barren in the glen.
Its leaves have fallen down to grow no more.
Its mournful beauty still forgot by men,
Who wander aimlessly toward beck’ning shore.
What memories it holds and tales could tell,
Of evil and courageous deeds of yore,
Of yonder church when peals its wedding bell,
And cries of men who lie upon death’s door.
Though endless ages used to pass him by,
His time on earth is growing rather short.
For all that carries life must one day die,
And age and time both ruthlessly contort.
So life, an endless circle, rolls along,
And still none heeds the ancient willow’s song.

In case you were wondering…yes my family is amazing!

© Rachel Svendsen 2014

Thanksgiving Carnage: A Sonnet

I see you laying there flat on your back,
Your limbs splayed out against a metal slab.
Unclothed, exposed, cold skin and muscles slack,
Hands poke and pull and nip and tuck and grab.
Your innards are removed and in their place,
Some cruel heart replaces them with fluff.
With brush in hand they paint your pallid face,
I look away and groan, “Please stop! Enough!”
My wife now rolls her eyes and shakes her head.
“This kitchen is not big enough for two!”
I’m sent away to wait alone in bed,
Then later have to watch your corpse be chewed.

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I wish we had not raised you as a pet,
It greys this year’s Thanksgiving with regret…

© Rachel Svendsen 2014

“My Sin” on a Wooden Cross

I’m a front-row-pew kind of Christian. Not that it matters where you sit. The truth is, I can’t read the powerpoint slides when I sit back further than the third row. I opened my vision corrected eyes and lifted my head when the prayer finished. My husband and I slid out of the row towards the centre aisle. Tonight we were doing something a little different for the Lord’s Supper.

In my hand I held a little card. The words “my sin” were written on it. A wooden cross stood just below the platform. I raised my hand. The head of the nail fixed in the cross, slid inside the hole on my card. I made my way back to my seat.

My eyes were already stinging with tears. There I sat. Once Christ’s enemy, now given the gift of nearness through his sacrifice. “My sin” hung on the cross. The only thing keeping me from God, completely covered. I know my heart. I know who I am: my motives, my thoughts, my desires. I know the depth of the sin he’s covered. I couldn’t help but wonder at the awesome beauty of this gift poured out willingly into my frail trembling hands. Someone died for me.

First row, first up, now I watched the others make their way to the cross. This sight was almost more beautiful than the sight of my sin leaving my fingers. A visual reminder of salvation’s scope unfolded before my blurred eyes. I watched others file past: men, women, children, young, old, a woman with a cane, a little girl with a missing front tooth, light skinned and dark, grey haired and blonde, nations, tribes, and tongues. These all came with their own stories, their own sins.

Woe to those who can’t see this beauty: deep, sweet, and endless. Whose sin blinded eyes would sooner cut off their own hand than relinquish the right to self and accept this gift from so loving a master. Can anything be more magnificent in purity or perfect in love?

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Body broken.
Blood shed.
I’m made white by his blood red.
Open my eyes lord.
Help me see,
To give up self and live for thee.

© Rachel Svendsen 2014