Thursday, October 29, 2020

A Choice of Litany - Look Back

The post that follows is probably one of my favorite posts to revisit because I still find hope for myself when I read it.  I hope some who read this blog will also benefit.  Originally posted in December of 2016, the writing had started in October of that year and reflects on photos taken in October.  It makes sense to finally put this piece of writing in the month that best reflects what I was referencing.

I did a little formatting to clean it up and I fixed a couple of word choice issues.  Otherwise, I just nodded my head as I recognized each and every melody I reference in this piece.  They're all still in me.  And - they work together -  sometimes...   When they don't work together, things can get pretty noisy in my head.

I hope you can find a song for yourself that helps you to be the best you can be.

============== Look Back to December 2016 =================

Miriam Webster's Definitions of "litanya resonant or repetitive chant

What is the litany you recite to yourself on a daily basis?  Is it a litany of doubt?  A litany of friendship?  A litany of fear?  A litany of success?

Perhaps the litany you sing or chant to yourself changes from moment to moment.  Maybe you are someone who doesn't recognize that you do this.  Perhaps you don't do this at all?   

"Why do you ask?" says the peanut gallery.

What do YOU see here?

I'll start with this picture from our farm.  We all can make a choice on what we focus on in a picture like this and I'm curious what others might see at first glance.  Do you see the Fall colors in some of the trees in the background?  What about that roll of drip tape next to the fence posts?  The clover in the path in the foreground?  The fence posts themselves?  How about the shells of cucumbers behind those posts?  Maybe you see the dead foxtail grasses or the green of broccoli plants a little further back.  Perhaps you see the blue sky or the brown corn stubble in the field beyond our property.

You see, you can make a choice on what you put your focus on as you look at this picture, as can I.  But, because I live in this world, my choice of what I see at any given time is a reflection of the many litanies that are going on in my head as I walk that field.

Valhalla in October this year - what song is it singing?

There are many moments on the farm where a 'fly on the wall' (or on the bill of my cap) would hear me talking to myself.   

"You can do this.  Keep moving.  You can get this done.  It's ok.  Just keep getting things done and it will be fine." 

In fact, this has been happening frequently over the last few weeks.  When it is clear the weather is finally going to turn, a very long list of things need to get done to prepare for Winter and the white stuff.  Some of these things happen every year.  Some of them are unique to a given season.  And, some of them are simply things that just keep falling off of each daily list until finally... yes finally... we realize that there is no longer a choice.  It has to get done NOW or it will not get done at all.

The daylight hours have grown terribly short.  The weather isn't as friendly for working outside as it was just a week ago.  It would be so much nicer to go indoors and read a book.  But, things need to get done.  So, I chant the litany of determination.  A litany that reminds me that I can accomplish those things that need doing.  A litany of encouragement to myself that these are things that are worth doing and I will be the one who will do them.

"You can do this.  Keep moving.  You can get this done.  It's ok.  Just keep getting things done and it will be fine."
And it works for me.  Even when the wind is blowing, temperatures are just above freezing and there is a light rain hitting me in the face as I do what needs to be done.

But, there are other choices of litany that are echoing in my brain, trying to get my attention.  One of them sounds like this:
"There is too much to do.  There is always too much to do.  You can not catch up.  You can't get it all done.  There is too much.  Why do you even try?  Too much.  Too much... "
And another one says:
"Stop.  Listen to the rain.  Feel the wind.  Observe.  Watch.  Feel.  See.  Be still.  You're moving too much.  You need to listen.  You need to feel.  Stop."
And yet another:
"You messed that up.  Why didn't you do that earlier?  That's not the way that should have been.  That's not right.  You need to fix it.  It's wrong.  It's all wrong..."
And one more (of so many other themes and counter themes, along with all of their variations):
"Oh, look at that, we could do more of that!  And, that looks good, we can do that over here too.  Just a little bit more of this.  A little more of that.  Maybe we should do that as well?  A little more... Just a little more..."
I work very hard to avoid letting the litanies with the overpowering negative vibes take the center stage.   Which is why I often revert to the theme that has the driving rhythm:
"You can do this.  Keep moving.  You can get this done.  It's ok."
And I live for the days when these litanies actually work together to form a song that has balance and meaning for me - and maybe for others I can share it with.


Here is the first picture again.

What do I see here?
"There is too much to do.  There is always too much to do."
I've got to get those fences and poles down.  The drip tape needs to be gathered.  I need to be sure to get that broccoli harvested on time.  It would be best if I cleaned up the cucumber residue and got the foxtail out of there.  How can I get all of this done before the soil freezes?  And that's only one field!

"You can do this.  Keep moving.  You can get this done.  It's ok."
Pulling drip tape isn't hard, it just takes some time and energy.  If you keep moving, the fences will be down before you know it....
"That's not right.  You need to fix it.  It's wrong."
Just a bit more time a few months ago and there wouldn't be so many cucumbers that went bad in the field.  We could have run that field one more time to get those weeds out.  You promised yourself you'd get the cover crops into that rotation this time, so much for that promise.
"Just a little bit more of this.  A little more of that."
This is where we grew those Gold of Bacau romano beans, we certainly could do more of those.  And there are a couple of great opportunities for more flowers in that plot's plan for next year! Why not an annual climbing flower to divide the bean types?  Wouldn't that be neat?
"Observe.  Watch.  Feel.  See.  Be still."
There is a beautiful blue sky with the sun highlighting the colors in the landscape.  The dry grasses make a gentle, relaxing sound in a light breeze.  The four-leaf clovers in the path are calling my name.  The soil is ever so slightly warmer in the top inch as it absorbs the light and it is mellow.  I pick up a fist full of dirt and it crumbles easily in my hand.  I let it filter through my fingers as I listen to the song sparrow tell me about the day as it sits on a fence post.

This last melody wins for a moment in time.  It pushes the others down until they are quiet harmonies and counterpoints.  And it reminds me that I can choose which litanies I will give voice to.  And it reminds me that the whole song just might require that I acknowledge each one of them as the music unfolds.


  1. Beautiful and complex counterpoint to the litanies. Thank you for sharing.

    1. glad you liked it. I still re-read this one when I feel like I'm struggling. Sometimes it actually works. :)


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