Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year 2010

Dear Blogging Friends - thank you for reading, for all your kind words and support throughout the year. I am grateful for each one of you. There are so many of you that I feel I know personally even though we have never met. I truly wish you all a wonderful new year full of the blessings that you desire most.

Monday, December 28, 2009

December Lament

It's the funeral march towards the end of the year,
just a number, just a month, with joy to the world

and a slithering trail of regrets gaining on me
like a holiday rattlesnake about to strike, sending poison

to the veiny, icy backs of my hands. Visions relentlessly
knock at the frosted windowpane in my mind

not of fairies and plums, but that first wet snowflake
on the windshield, that sudden chord of a song,

a broken ornament, children who are no longer children,
what the year was not and someone who is not here.

Silent snow falls on my winter sorrows, until I look up
from my lament and see God in your eyes.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas 2009

Break forth O beauteous heavenly light
and usher in the morning.
Ye shepherds shrink not with afright
but hear the angels warnings.
This child now weak in infancy
our confidence and joy shall be.
The power of satan breaking.
our peace eternal making.

Johann Rist

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Mary's Treasure

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph and the baby who was lying in the manger. when they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what they had been told about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
Luke 2:16-19

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Free tickets, great seats. Three hours of supreme light show. Screaming guitars, obligatory drum solo. Incredible rock arrangements of classical music. Laser lights, lots of fire. Unnecessary dancing girls. Long-haired men in long black coats. Long-haired girls in much less. Fog machine. Moving platforms. Fireworks. Rock version of CAROL OF THE BELLS - priceless.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

In the Bleak Midwinter

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan.
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone.
Snow had fallen , snow on snow, snow on snow.
In the bleak midwinter long ago.

Our God, heaven cannot hold him, nor earth sustain.
Heaven and earth flee away when he comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed.
The Lord God almighty, Jesus Christ.

Angels and archangels may have gathered there.
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air.
But his mother Mary, in her maiden bliss
worshiped the beloved with a kiss.

What can I give Him poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd I would give a lamb.
If I were a wise man I would do my part.
Yet, what can I give him?
Give my heart.

Christina Rossetti

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I heard the bells on Christmas day
their old familiar carols play,
and wild and sweet the words repeat
of peace on earth, good will to men.

And thought how, as the day had come,
the belfries of all Christendom
had rolled along the unbroken song
of peace on earth , good will to men.

Till ringing, singing on its way
the world revolved from night to day,
a voice, a chime, a chant sublime
of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head
There is no peace on earth," I said.
"For hate is strong and mocks the song
of peace on earth, good will to men."

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep
"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
the wrong shall fail, the right prevail
with peace on earth, good will to men."

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Every Valley

My choir sang these words this morning and they brought tears to my eyes as I pondered what they really mean. From the poetic and prophetic book of Isaiah.

Every valley shall be exalted
and every mountain and hill made low,
and the rough ground shall become level
and the rough places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord will be revealed
and all mankind will see it,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Quotes on Human Nature

Every one is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.
Mark Twain

The sorrow which has no vent in tears may make other organs weep.
Henry Maudsley (psychiatrist 1835-1918)

Man can be the most affectionate and altruistic of creatures, yet he is potentially more vicious than any other. He is the only one who can be persuaded to hate millions of his own kind whom he has never seen and to kill as many as he can lay his hands on in the name of his tribe or his God.
Benjamin Spock 1903-1998)

Art by Bruce Holwerda

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Looking for a Good Book?

Recently I read two excellent books and I wanted to share them with you.
The first one, Olive Kitteridge, I read this summer. I chose it for my book club pick this month and enjoyed reading it a second time, which is rare for me. It is a Pulitzer Prize winning book by Elizabeth Strout. Olive is a character in a book of 13 linked stories, or a "novel in stories". Sometimes she is the main character in the story and sometimes she is on the periphery or only mentioned. The setting is a small town in Maine and we come to know many of the residents through Olive. She is a woman that you may love or hate, or both at times. She can be abrasive and bossy, but also capable and helpful in a crisis. To me, Olive is someone we have all known and had to deal with. I also love the portrait of her long marriage to kind-hearted Henry and the poignant moments of loss and growing older.

The second book is The Help by Kathryn Stockett. The setting for this book is 1962 Mississippi at the cusp of the civil rights movement. The main character, Skeeter, is a woman ahead of her time. Her education gives her the desire to be more than a member of the women's Junior League, as all her friends are. She graduates from college after a childhood of only knowing black women as "the help", in her home and all the homes of privilege around her.When the black woman who raised her is wrongly accused of stealing and coldly fired, she rebels. As her eyes are opened to the reality of these women's lives, she is appalled and begins to write a book about them. She interviews them secretly at a high risk for all involved since their jobs as maids are the only ones available to them in that era. The book introduces you to a wonderful cast of female characters and amazes you when you realize this way of life was only one generation ago.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Elephant in the Dark

A coexist poem by Rumi

Some Hindus have an elephant to show.
No one here has ever seen an elephant.
They bring it at night to a darkened room.

On by one, we go in the dark and come out
saying how we experience the animal.

One of us happens to touch the trunk,
"A water-pipe kind of creature."

Another, the ear. "A very strong, always moving
back and forth fan animal."

Another, the leg. "I find it still,
like a column on a temple."

Another touches the curved back.
"A leathery throne."

Another, the cleverest, feels the tusk.
"A rounded sword made of porcelain."
He's proud of his description.

Each of us touches one place
and understands the whole that way.

The palm and the fingers feeling in the dark are
how the senses explore the reality of the elephant.

If each of us held a candle there,
and if we went in together,
we could see it.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Critter Stories

I never tire of looking out at the birds at my feeders.For the past couple months a red-bellied woodpecker has visited it every day. He's a beautiful bird and I'm not sure why he's called red-bellied, but I enjoy his presence at the feeder.

I've also had a recent little miracle at my house. Since I love birds so much I always have one as a pet. I've had friendly and trainable parakeets and one nasty one that lived for 11 long years. I prefer the songs of canaries and my first one lived for over 10 years. When he died my kids surprised me with Sunny. He sang gloriously for years and then stopped. I assumed it was from old age. We think he's about 9 now and this past month he decided to start singing again after several silent years! It started out with little twitterings and now he's getting a little bolder in his songs. I can't get over it.

Then the other day I saw a red fox cross the street on my way to work. It was a residential area, but also wooded. I never saw a fox until a few years ago. They are very pretty animals and come by their sly reputation honestly. It was cool to see one.

I've had other animal encounters over the years. At one sort of decrepit house I lived in long ago a black bird made it's way into the kitchen through the siding. I panicked because I had little children in the house. Finally I opened the door and he flew out. That same house had raccoons pull back the shingles and crawl into the attic!

In another house my kids and I came home to see raccoon paw prints in the fire place. If it weren't for the glass doors we would have been sharing our food with them I'm sure. I wrote about a rat encounter in a poem. See HERE.

It seems every community in America is overrun with deer. I love them, but our city "culls" them every year, so I don't see as many as I used to. I have seen coyotes twice in my backyard. Once when my dog, Stella was running away from one. Did you know that coyotes make a horrific sound in the middle of the night while mating? A fun fact. I have also seen mink in my neighborhood, which I never had seen in my life. My last critter thought is the day I looked out my back window and saw Stella, a little 30 lb. doggie, frolicking UNDER a bucking buck! I screamed and she came, avoiding being trampled to death. Even beautiful deer can get testy.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Where It Lived

It turns out
we've had it all wrong:
searching for our cravings
in what was not there,

looking for truth
in our small entitlements
like recalcitrant children
anchored in the past,

clinging to a hungry vision
with our spirits on a stretcher
we have casually paged off
the days like a magazine

shredding the beautiful
admiring the awful.

But now we know:
in every silent day,
every glance not averted,
in every shuddering embrace,

in the poverty of sleepless nights
and red-eyed mornings
this is where the love lived
stayed, thrived, survived.