EPIC Poetry Group: Poet’s Corner — Prayer, Summer Boys, Our Beach House

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Here’s the latest installment of Poet’s Corner, presented by the Edmonds-based EPIC Poetry Group. Three different EPIC Group poets will read their short works at 2 p.m. each day of the Edmonds Arts Festival — June 14, 15, 16. Learn more in our previous story.

Prayer

When I was a child, prayer was to be memorized and approved

Recited in the classroom and in church, a language of devotion

No real understanding of its purpose, addressing a grandfatherly deity, Confident he was watching over me and could see all

These years, prayers for all seasons were accumulated and honored, with meaning only drifting through the words

 

As I grew older, prayer became petitions – for strength, for success in school, to secure the affections of the desired boyfriend, to have patience, a growing recognition of the power embedded in placing trust in an anchoring Lord

Life’s events marched forward; and prayer brought increased attention to faith, reliance on grace to face major challenges – sometimes seemingly answered, sometimes not

Belief in a relationship with a creator for seeking and relying on strength to get through fears, sorrow and disappointments, trusting in outcomes, confused that expectations failed to match

Accepting goals to strive for goodness, seeing day to day values in kindness and grace – seeing humanity itself more connected and responsibility for personal behavior more compelling

 

Now, prayer is a conversation, a candid dialog celebrating gratitude and appreciating a communion with a higher power of notable aliases

Regrettably, faith in religious institutions, once providing structures and paths and guidance falls away. Religious doctrines and rules increasingly seem judgmental, impatient and narrow, intolerant of other beliefs, not what a loving God would want for humanity.

Today, I value fortitude and peace, seeing the whole of Christian faith in the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount, choosing daily conversations to walk through the days

Compassion and empathy have emerged as a foundation for living as growing older relies on faith and courage.   Seeking to be useful each day, finding kindness in others and a realization that death has moved from something to be feared to something to befriend marks these years.

Prayer, it seems to me, is the spoken and unspoken network between humanity and our creator.

Gretchen Murphy

~ ~ ~ ~

Summer Boys 

They arrived in the summer. The first one was born on July 29th

His biological brother arrived the following summer on July 1st

Wonderful gifts for their adoptive family – longed for, loved instantly – illustrating their truth

“Your children will find you wherever you are.”

 

Theirs are the only summer birthdays in the family – transforming our golden season, expanding July celebrations

Most of their summer days since they arrived are spent at the family beach house

Running on the sand when the tide is out

Creating sand castles that become more elegant with each passing year

Collecting sand dollars and shells to line the porch steps – not to mention the fireplace mantle inside the house

And sticks – wonderful and unique one-of-a kind sticks – pile up in the house driveway because they are too good to leave behind

Little army men and resilient plastic pails surface from time to time

Paddle boards skim along an incoming tide – sometimes carrying a boy and a dog

Scooters and then bicycles ferry them along the flat street

 

Summer means long days of sunshine with our summer boys

Sand castles give way to forts on the beach

We play chess and Monopoly and Battleship and Kings-in-the-corner card games

We have picnics on the back deck

Freshly made raspberry jam and scones are devoured

Swim meets, soccer games and the county fair come along

Each year they get new sweatshirts on their birthdays – now sized men’s large – how did that happen?

And we mourn a little as the relentless inches continue upward

Yet, we long for each summer, one that builds on the one before and still delivers timeless joy

                                                                                                Gretchen Murphy

~ ~ ~ ~

Our Beach House

It isn’t really a beach house; rather an “across the street from the beach” house.

The back deck streams square miles of wetlands showcasing calm water and sea birds.

In early years, we sat in the hot tub and tracked red tailed hawks, blue heron and an occasional eagle.

Summer brought friends, invited to stay and gather on the deck for long hours of sleepy sunshine.

 

Inside furnishings are treasured contributions.

The 15 year old couch and recliners came from my niece, Elizabeth.

Maple end tables are from friends of 60 years; and the dining table is a decades old family institution.

Mismatched gently worn sheets and Aunt Marjorie’s bedroom furniture greet visitors upstairs with sweeping window views.

 

As dreamed, this house still provides vacations for family members – three generations now; and still welcomes barbeques on the fourth of July.

Grandchildren collect shells and sand dollars to display on the mantle; and ride paddle boards in shallow waters.

When the tide is out, the dogs fetch and chase with the wind and exhaust themselves.

We walk on the beach, ride bikes, picnic on the deck and play never ending board games; and abide with the spirits of all who have enjoyed this house – built almost 30 years ago.

                                                                                                                         Gretchen Murphy

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Gretchen Murphy is a Washington resident who grew up and raised her family in the Seattle area, teaching for many years at the University of Washington. She retired in 2017.

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