by Marianne Peel
for Allegra, on her Baptism
I wish you wisdom deep, like ancient rivers, fluid and flowing longer than time itself rooted in movement the wisdom that reaches deep into the earth, like growing trees, like the fingers of the Creator God in the soil of our lives. I wish you understanding, the compassion that transforms you from acquaintance to friend a sincerity of spirit that shines through your eyes, knowing you can empathize, feel with, those you know with a genuine tenderness. I wish you good judgement fine-tuned like a violin or a cello, a discerning ear to know right paths difficult paths, sometimes, knowing your free will is a gift from God to be handled with gentleness. I wish you courage to choose overgrown paths, paths not commonly taken. Like Robert Frost and Henry David Thoreau, I hope your choosing the lesser taken road gives you a life filled with adventure, a life that makes all the difference. I wish you knowledge, more than the miniscule facts memorized for a test Something deeper, more permanent. The knowledge of connecting to the noble minds of the world and the wisdom that emerges from living well and full. that grass roots, homespun knowledge, the knowing, like Gandhi, that taking time to spin your own cotton can change the face of the universe for all eternity. I wish you love, whether you are reading a book wiggling your toes in the sand on a beach or soaring up and down roller coaster tracks. I wish you that peace within knowing you are loved and loveable and capable of moving lives with the love you have to give. I wish you reverence for God echoed in a thousand times thankfulness as you move through your life, your days. The same thankfulness of the people of Guatemala as they sing thanks praises to their God, seeking and seeing joy, even in the heart of despair. I wish you and awesome knowing that your life, day and night, will be devoted to ferreting out the divine within. I wish you the mind of Jesus, the gentle spirit of a person unafraid to speak her mind and reveal her heart. A person who embraced even the seemingly unembraceable and transformed lives with his touch, his words, his light. I wish you eyes that are willing to bear sorrows and burdens but are also soft enough to comfort a hurting friend. I wish you hands that reach out more often than in, that aren’t afraid to touch and to hold securely. To know, as the Nigerian proverb says, that we must embrace true friends with both hands. I wish you feet that are bold and daring, unafraid to risk. Stepping forward with conviction, knowing that this life is truly a journey, not a destination. I wish you the blessed assurance that gentle spirits walk with you always and that the mind of Jesus is yours, simply for the asking…
A middle/high school English teacher for 32 years, Marianne Peel now nurtures her own creativity. She spent three summers teaching in China; received Fulbright Awards to Nepal and Turkey. Marianne’s poetry appears in Muddy River Review, Jelly Bucket, Comstock Review, among others. Her debut collection, No Distance Between Us, was published by Shadelandhouse Modern Press in 2021.