Afraid of life, she listens to

them tell her how different

she is; she takes it to heart

at first. Watch her try, try

try to be like them but

no matter how hard she tries,

she is not like them.

Somewhere along the equation

she realizes that different than

is not less than;

it is equal to. Sometimes (maybe

mostly) different than, plus

different than equals a sum

far greater.


Up From the River Smiling

A friend once told me she met

her future husband just after

a turbulent river tossed

her out of her small kayak.

My friend, being who she is, showed

up from beneath the icy water

laughing — her bright smile stretched

across her triumphant face.

The man, knowing his own need,

asked, “who is this woman

that came up from dangerous

water smiling?”

He asked to meet her on dry ground.

They loved well and married,

carried out to the sea of life

by that river-smiling moment.

I wonder how I, being who I am,

could meet another who is able

to come up from the river smiling.

I’m familiar with icy water, dangerous

and turbulent; I watch it carefully,

hopeful to someday see the one

who comes up from the river

with a smile on his face.


Listen to me,

Since you are willing to risk all,

Though the earth dissolve,

What have we to fear?

All power on earth can be overcome

By the will of Love,

Which is so soft that it melts

at a touch.

So splendidly beautiful that

the embrace will forever be

rooted far down into the earth.

The Color of Your Heart

(Written for my art students at Howard Street Charter School, 2012)

The color of your heart is deep and wide–

It gathers all around me

And fills my days with laughter rich

And teaches me to be

More colorful myself, spilling all

My deepest hues

(Those I tend to hide inside)

Instead of showing them, like you.

Together we can paint the world to

Create a masterpiece

Of love and harmony and then

Our world can be at peace.

Anarchy of Love

There is disorder:

No one can understand why we are loved

when we are so unlovable.

Love flows unceasing, nonetheless.

It is deeper and wider and more permanent

than anything we can fathom.


A lawlessness of love governs:

where there is unkindness,

there is forgiveness;

free of judgement, love comes down

and surrounds each one of us–

whether we are ready or not.


There is a wildness in this love–a wideness and permanence

that grows around each of us and so softens the brambles of our humanity.


“As you know, I was raised on the Goin’s Farm, north of Jefferson. I never wanted to live anywhere else but Jefferson. Oh! how I liked to go to town!

Trips to Albany usually meant a visit to the doctor or dentist–something to be dreaded–or a trip to the bank. But a trip to Jefferson (other than church on Sunday) meant a stop at the grocery store, hardware store, lumber yard, feed store or library. And if we were lucky, a stop at Gibson’s (we called it Gippy’s). Now this store was dark and the floors creaked–but there were all kinds of neat things to look at and in the back there was an ice chest with Dixie cups and a cooler with Nesbit’s Orange pop. If we were good we got a treat, which we ate or drank while Dad would check pennies for old ones or buy rolls of pennies to check at home. Dad had a coin collection. He would bring home several rolls of pennies and we would check for old or special ones. Then we would put the pennies Dad didn’t want to keep in paper rolls to take back to the store or a bank.

The store was dark and dingy and– I suspect–none too clean, but I remember it as warm in winter and cool in summer and full of interesting things.



Winding the Maypole

“Winding the Maypole, a Jefferson tradition. As a third grader at Jefferson Elementary, winding the Maypole on May Day was a much anticipated event. The girls all wore skirts the same color as their streamer on the pole. The boys wore white shirts with bow ties the color of their streamer. I’m guessing that the boys were not nearly as excited about dancing around the Maypole as the girls were! If the pole was wound correctly, it made a beautiful pattern. I can remember practicing for what seemed like hours trying to get it right. The winding of the Maypole took place on May Day, along with other May Day festivities such as the parade.

“When I was a fifth grader, the teacher asked us girls if anyone in the class had a red skirt. They needed 3 or 4 girls to hold the banner for the parade and they had to have red skirts to match the banner. I REALLY wanted to hold the banner and march so I said that I did have a red skirt, which of course, I didn’t. ¬†However I did get selected and went home and told Mom (Roberta Chambers) that I needed a red skirt TOMORROW! My mother was very gracious and made me a red skirt that night. I’m pretty sure that I didn’t tell her the whole story and the fact that I fibbed about the red skirt! Marching in the parade was a highlight of my 5th grade.

“I attended school in Jefferson from 1st grade through 12th grade. I graduation in 1974. Our family lived in Dever Conner the entire time I was growing up. I have one brother, Rod Chambers, who is Abby’s father. I enjoyed a wonderful family life growing up on a productive, working farm. The work ethics that were instilled in me as I was growing up have been a wonderful benefit to me. I learned to work hard, set my standards high, and reach for my goals. I wanted those same things for my won family, so we settled in a community similar to Dever Conner, just on the other side of the mountains in Central Oregon. We have a small ranch in Powell Butte. I teach school where my sons Jamie and Chad both attended school.

“Abby wanted me to mention that when I was in high school, I painted the big purple and white lion on the gym wall. At that time, the high school was what is now the Middle School.

“This journal is a great project and will become a keepsake for Abby, I’m sure. It was been so interesting reading all of these entries and I have learned a lot.

–Linda (Chambers) Swindle