Fifty dawned in lonesome mystery: 
if Jesus was my shepherd why did I still want?
How could I shepherd others without following the good shepherd?
Jubilee clues unfolded sometimes 
in Shalem prayer movement classes and walks,
in journal prayers with Nouwen’s book, Inner Voice of Love,
in noon prayer circle and monthly vigil at Festival Center.
But presence was lost in fog of impulse
identifying with or judging family, friends, clients, everyone.
Voice was drowned in multiple, ever-new scripts:
Daylines newsletter mailings, family letters;
Arts for Aging depictions of Grandma Moses, Eleanor Roosevelt, 
Harriet Tubman, Katherine Hepburn; Shakespeare acting class;
Call to Commitment dramatic reading, spiritual autobiography,
poems, prayers, even two sermons preached at Potter’s House.
Pregnant Jean did Calvin’s Oregon Extension;
Rhonda found a coauthor for In Their Own Voices;
Duff moved in with me for six months.
I sketched a word-a-week book for Mom’s 75th Birthday.
Sensing a new call, I started classes at Wesley Seminary.
Disappointed with “Spiritual Singles” events and people
I tried Single Adult Fellowship at McLean Presbyterian 
where Jim Gray caught my attention by showing up
for the time of praying for our children before Bible Study.


Was my life a charade? Who did I want to be?
For whom was I acting in Side Door’s fall show
or in Communion of Saints at Potters House?
Jean was a freshman at Calvin,
Rhonda finishing her Masters at Michigan State,
Christopher his Bachelor’s at Maryland.
Their absence and my parents’ presence was jarring at times.
It was You I addressed in all those journals
Mother/Father God, Brother Jesus, Holy Spirit;
You whose scriptures I wrestled with, pled by,
copied and posted on van and car dashboards.
You led me to the Simple Lifestyle Class,
Kerygma Mission Group, intern membership at PHC.
You showed up each day: I recognized You
in deer sightings, in seniors’ smiles,
in voices or writings, whenever I stopped showing off.
You nurtured my desire for a good man,
a friend, a companion and co-parent.


Family seemed real only in milestone photos:
birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, reunions.
Hien Mai, Gian and Dao shared our home four months,
then Don and Nina till that house was sold—
no more swimming pool and utility maintenance!
Campbells went back to Guinea; 
Jean and I moved to the Silver Spring townhouse.
Diverting romantic urges in dramatic roles, I played 
a cleaning woman at Riverdale Presbyterian’s Side Door,
raccoon at Dayspring, homeless intruder at Potter’s House.
Was ecstatic when my new crush sang at our housewarming.
Wonderful Counselor spoke through Church of the Savior
people and places; Prince of Peace led me in daily
practices of centering, walking, piano-playing.
Dayshare clients became friends; friends became clients.
Trips included Longwood Gardens and Virginia Beach 
with the Vietnamese, Washington NH with old friends.


Lifespring courses wound me up like a top.
I spun from Anti-Racism Team to tennis lessons,
Meals-on-Wheels to apple-picking to flea market sales.
Holy Joy Spirit, I tried to do too much;
lost sight of You except for Dayspring glimpses.
Yet You breathed full-time life into Dayshare 
with group home exercise classes,
one-on-one car or wheelchair-lift van rides
and door-to-door planned routes for group outings
especially with the Vietnamese Seniors.
Thanks for safe driving all over DC, MD and VA,
plus Baltimore, Lancaster PA and even NYC.
Thank You, Abundant Provider, for countless 
hours of help maintaining pool, house, cars and van.
Jesus, how You blessed that last year
with daughters home and deacon son nearby!
God forgive my dozens of whirligig church visits;
thanks for Servant Leadership School,
Compassion Group and caring women friends.


Came to my senses at Dayspring through yoga prayer;
sensed shalom with Ruthie’s last words “It’s so beautiful”
same words my heart sang on each Dayspring visit.
Yet lacked a sense of direction at work
though I was Activity Director at Bedford Court;
at home, though daughters and others thrived there;
at church, though I attended two or more most weeks.
Lacked common sense to slow down and grieve:
kept square-dancing, going to concerts, plays, movies;
all my senseless yearnings centered on one man
who gave me a sensible diagnosis after ten months—
“no chemistry, too judgmental”.
Meanwhile I bought a 15 passenger van
and built the Dayshare Newsletter mailing list.
Renewed friendships at 25 year Calvin College reunion
and grew new ones with Margee Iddings at Rising Phoenix.



Worked six months at Great Oaks as Recreation Therapist
for nine developmentally disabled adults.
Drove Jean to Montrose Christian, friends’ homes, 
the mall, Ted and Le’s; Ruthie to medical appointments.
Found a new church home, worshipping in the round
at Silver Spring Presbyterian, receiving my first starword.
Lived for evenings, weekends, trips, retreats, reunions.
Duped by ISOs, yearning for companionship, dabbled in dating.
Relieved Ruthie could return to her New York apartment,
but—-oh no! Her cancer came back.
By then I was Activities Director at Sylvan Manor,
facing state inspections, resident and family expectations.
Sad I couldn’t attend but so grateful for Rhonda’s Calvin graduation,
first of the fourth generation before Grandma Ribbens died.
Brought Ruthie to her Pocono cottage in August;
Rhonda moved in with Jean and me in September.


795D3181-269A-4BBF-A963-9532C18C795DSingle, but not singleminded;
divorced, needing to reconcile with kids;
dependent on Aunt Ruthie who bought the house
(and full backyard pool where she and Mom hoped to swim).
Jean was back with me finishing 8th grade at WCS;
a basement renter helped with expenses those first months.
Seniors Ministry gave me a thirty-hour week
but with DC Department of Aging providing meals,
Ella as site manager, three potential directors 
and plenty of volunteers, I was job-hunting.
Newly retired, Ruthie was diagnosed with colon cancer;
lived with us after weeks in NYC and DC hospitals.
Newt’s summer repertory (including Duff) blessed 
church and community with one more wonderful show —
Into the Woods — which affirmed my affinity for trees.



Every day new combos of jobs, friends,
family, walks, drives, prayers, meals.
Oh, the places You led me, Spirit!
The ways people encouraged me to lead
in senior center formation at DC CRC,
adult day care at University Fellowship 
and art classes at Sarah’s Circle.
Oh, the dear faces helping me focus
on whatever was true, noble, lovely:
Elizabeth O’Connor in “Journey to Freedom”
(Call) class at Servant Leadership School;
Katherine and Louise at my apartment;
Joe Bailey, Dr. Tom, Clara Chichester,
Mr. Walton and other Daysharers 
gathering around lunch tables at church.
You blessed our comings and goings, Gentle One,
working for our good in all circumstances:
October birthdays 12, 21, and 43 at my apartment;
Thanksgiving with family in Blacksburg;
Duff and Dave’s help moving from hi-rise to Hillwood;
last times at the dome—Mandela’s release on TV;
last time playing piano by the big window;
last paper routes for Jean and me;
first trip to Nancy and Marv’s in New Hampshire.


Family Wellspring, thank you for brother Bill’s 
welcome back at Calvin where Rhonda was a student
and Duff came singing Godspell one more time.

Holy Love, thanks for your language streaming
in journal dialogue over step-stones on Pocono,
New York and Front Royal trips alone or with others.

Shalom Spirit, thank you for amicable separation,
for my first apartment and Masters degree,
for the Collingswood job, for Dayspring and Dayshare.


Reading Elizabeth O’Connor’s Our Many Selves,
feared I had way too many, all competing, none complete.
Shivering Child cried for non-working woodstove.
Artist drew self-portraits; poet wrote haiku.
Dream Log Keeper questioned therapist;
Would-be Nun did last ditch family counseling.
Wife took Florida trip with husband.
C’s Mom idealized church hike.
R’s Mom beamed as she made Profession of Faith.
J’s Mom okayed Friesland trip.
Homemaker battled fleas in carpet, beetles in crawl space.
Niece winterized, cleaned, planted at Pocono house.
Budgeter fumed at tax debt levies and credit card interest.
Seniors’ Minister served as Beulah’s conservator.
Master’s Student led Seniors Summer in Park program.
CRC Member published Banner Voice.