Tuesday, November 30, 2010

C. S. Lewis


Yesterday was the birthday of C. S. Lewis, (1898) the Christian apologist, professor, author and theologian - best known as the author of The Chronicles of Narnia. I remember first being impacted by his book "The Screwtape Letters" as a teenager. It is a series of letters from a demon to his nephew, in which he describes living out a Christian life as a typical human being. I wanted to read all the Narnia Chronicles aloud to my kids, but I think we only made it through the first few. I am not a big fantasy fan, but I love the Christian allegory that Narnia respresents (Aslan is Jesus - in case you're unaware). The recent movies are spectacular and I'm glad they have brought Lewis's work back in the spotlight. Here are a few of my favorite C.S.Lewis quotes:

Miracles are a retelling, in small letters, of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see.

Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave with regret? There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.

What saves a man is to take a step. then another step.

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.

Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.

A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word 'darkness' on the walls of his cell.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

"A Christmas Story" House






Cleveland's Tremont area is home to the house they filmed 1983's "A Christmas Story". Last time I went it was closed and I got exterior shots of the house. This time it was bustling with fans from all over the country. If you have never seen this classic tale of a childhood Christmas, tune in to TBS on Christmas Eve - it runs for 24 hours. You will see Cleveland's Public Square circa 1939 and get a child's viewpoint of Christmas. The house was mostly used to film exteriors and the rest was filmed in Toronto. If you live near Cleveland it is located at 3159 West 11th St.There is also a museum where you can see original clothing worn by the children, the original leg lamp and much more. Here are some photos I took today:

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

If you don't belive in something greater than yourself, you'll never do anything greater than yourself.
(quote from a nun on Oprah)

Give Thanks

When you take a breath, your lungs filling,
your heart pulsing with your life
give thanks
for the daily unending gift.

When you gaze upward at the untouchable sky
give thanks
for it is infinite and awesome
beyond human imagination.

When you look into the eyes of someone you love
and see those eyes looking back at you
give thanks
for only a loving God could create and sustain that love.

When you sit at a table with an abundance
of food for your taking
give thanks
for you are among the privileged on this Earth.

When you look up from your day, your life,
your fears and sorrows
give thanks
and remember God.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Coexist Quotes

Yesterday would have been the 85th birthday of Robert Kennedy. I love the spirit of this quote, but it also reminds us that what we've always needed is still what we need today.

What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness, but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice towards those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Another Reason to Like Betty White


"I don't care who anybody sleeps with. If a couple has been together all that time - and there are gay relationships that are more solid than heterosexual ones - I think it's fine if they want to get married. I don't know how people can get so anti-something. Mind your own business, take care of your affairs, and don't worry about other people so much."

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Coexist XXX


A recent article in our local papers defines coexisting in the best way. St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church members joined the Turkish American Society of Ohio to have dinner together, and at the same time debunk myths about the Muslim and Christian religions, stereotypes that have been built over centuries. It was the first of several planned events, including studies of the Koran and Bible on a regular basis, so they can better understand each other's religions.

The Reverend Joe Kovitch said, "Gathering around a meal is sacred. We've lost the sense of having dinners with our own families because of fast food. Jesus ate with his community. It's very central to Muslim and Christian worlds. When you eat with someone, they cease to be different or to be the enemy. It really worked."

One of the things they already learned is that Christians say a prayer before the meal, while Muslims say a prayer afterwards.

The local paper's editorial stated: It is time to take a cue from the Muslims and Christians who are breaking bread together in Mayfield and rise above the bitterness and hostility that has enveloped our society.. . . Only when people cast aside those blinders of prejudice and bias will this society truly prosper...

Jesus indeed ate even with the most reviled sinners of the community to show his compassion and acceptance, as brothers and sisters, something we often forget when we say - what would Jesus do???

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Northcoast Weather




There is a lot of whining and moaning about the weather in northeast Ohio. True, we do have something called "lake effect" and there is a distinct difference in the weather from the east side to the west side - a distance of only about 20 miles. But I, for one, do no complaining. First, I think the weather keeps life interesting. I love the change of seasons. But, I also don't think it's as bad as its reputation. Case in point: These first two weeks of November have been mostly sunny and in the 50's! It's a fluke you say! Not really. There are a pretty consistent run of "flukes" every year. You never know what you're going to get. It's been 65 on Christmas and it's snowed in the beginning of October on green leaves.

I don't remember, however, so many flowers blooming in November. These photos are from my yard - this week! So there!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Composed - Rosanne Cash


I am a person grounded in reality. By that I mean I don't enjoy fantasy as much as reality (not as in reality shows however!) Of course, I love "The Wizard of Oz," but not "Lord of the Rings" so much. I don't read fantasy or science fiction, but I do love a good memoir or autobiography. If there is an article about a famous person I skip to the parts about their real life, not their accomplishments. I'm just interested in reading about how people live their lives.

I have read some horribly boring biographies and autobiographies filled with disconnected anecdotes and name-dropping. Some have left out any depth of feeling for their experiences which leaves you cold. Others are beautifully written - usually entirely written by the person, not with the help of another writer.

My two favorites so far have been Julie Andrews' "Home" and Jane Fonda's "My Life So Far." But this week I read another favorite - "Composed" by Rosanne Cash. I knew nothing about her, was not a fan, never heard her sing - but I'd heard OF her. I knew she was Johnny Cash's daughter.

I heard her being interviewed on NPR a couple months ago and found her eloquent and intelligent. She made me want to read her writing and I was not disappointed. She had wanted to be a writer early in life and she definitely is a writer - an excellent one. The memoir flowed with such beauty and grace, even if she was describing mistakes or painful emotions it was never pitiful or difficult to read. The beginning of the book has little about her famous father as she tells of her youthful urgency to forge her own life. Only later, when she writes of her parents does all of it fit together. What she writes about her father is truthful and touching, and she even includes the beautiful eulogies she composed for him, her mother and stepmother June Carter. But the memoir is most definitely hers.

Now I am listening to her songs and her passionate lyrics. We are only 6 months apart in age and the years of her marriages and children were happening at much the same time as mine, but beyond that it is just a beautifully written memoir I would recommend to any reality-loving, memoir-loving readers.

Here's a excerpt - I couldn't agree more:
We all need art and music like we need blood and oxygen. The more exploitative, numbing and assaulting popular culture becomes, the more we need the truth of a beautifully phrased song, dredged from a real person's depth of experience, delivered in an honest voice;the more we need the simplicity of paint on canvas, or the arc of a lonely body in the air, or the photographers's unflinching eye. Art, in the larger sense, is the lifeline to which I cling in a confusing, unfair, sometimes dehumanizing world.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Note on "Diana"

Yesterday when I posted the poem "Diana" I did it because I hadn't posted a poem for awhile and this was a recent one. I have no idea why this memory resurfaced. Today it occurred to me that some might find it a bit morbid, but I hope not because it was not intended that way.

Every child faces a moment when they begin to understand the notion of death. It might be the death of a pet or even a bird that has flown into a window. This poem was written about that moment for me as a very young girl. The unfathomable idea that someone was here one day and gone the next. Where did she go? Why did it happen? How did the mother feel? Even at my young age I pondered all those questions.

We also all receive those clever emails about how we all survived the "good old days" of freely playing in our neighborhoods without the worry and fear that children now must be impressed with. Yes, those days were good, but some things have changed for the better. I remember not reinforcing the wearing of bicycle helmets for my children because I never had one! I survived riding no-hands down the street for years! I thought it took all the joy out of bike riding.

But imagine a time when the school bus dropped off a child and just stepped on the gas. Or having no law in place for cars to stop when children are exiting the bus and crossing the street. The time before those blinking red lights and stop signs moving outward to warn us all to slow down. Sometimes I think we've become too cautious in our many fears - but some things are better. Did this little girl, Diana, help change some of those laws? I really don't know. But her story impacted my young mind.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Diana

It was at once curious and horrifying
to know someone my age had died.
I didn't know her, but knew of her.

She lived in my town, almost shared my name,
my age, my church - making the event
my first encounter with death.

The reports lived in my nightmares -
in my sleeping and waking hours:

The school bus stopped at her house.
Her seven year-old legs hopped off the bus,
as the wind blew her papers out of her little hands.

She tried to retrieve them, but the bus
moved forward, her head under the crushing wheels,
her star papers skipping down the street.

Months later I'd sneak into an empty Sunday school
room to stare at the plaque with her name,
with my almost name, and wonder

what her mother saw on the street that day
before automatic stop signs, blinking
red lights and zippered book bags.