Remain

i thank my God in all my remembrance of you, dear readers,

Formal letters are rapidly fading from usage in our ultra-connected around-the-clock society. The format has drifted first to the succinct email and then to the acronym-rich twitter and now the thumbs-up emoji text. The Victorians, the literacy craving letter-writing crowd of the steamship and world exploration era often concluded their missives with the poignant, “i remain…”

St. Paul gave about two-thirds of the New Testament in the form of letters to the churches that he founded. A consummate world traveling Apostle he traveled the much of the then known-world with the Good News of the risen Lord. His familiar ancient world greeting begins each of his epistles, including the beloved letter to the church at Philippi.

In Philippians 1:21 he begins, ” For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain..But to remain in the flesh is more necessary”

As i pondered today’s theme i was reminded of this passage, which was one of this past week’s epistle readings for some of us. After randomly picking up a book of Emily Bronte’s poems the book fell open to a poem that resonated with me.

The Old Stoic

Riches I hold in light esteem,
And Love I laugh to scorn;
And lust of fame was but a dream,
That vanished with the morn:

And if I pray, the only prayer
That moves my lips for me
Is, “Leave the heart that now I bear,
And give me liberty!”

Yes, as my swift days near their goal:
’Tis all that I implore;
In life and death a chainless soul,
With courage to endure.

My thoughts coalesced around the idea that we are fleeting pilgrims who will not long remain in this world. Rather than fear, this is our hope. Tomorrow will soon be here. i know not what form communication will take in the coming decades. i look forward with hope and anticipation. Technology is exciting, but it is not the keeper of my trust. Our lives are as fleeting as the single blink of a flashing cursor.

i remain…

in Him.

We Are One

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Fruitless searches

Mis-spelled words

Random mis-steps

Falling hard.

Foggy brain

View obscured.

Troubled times

And misspent years.

Coursing passions

Overcome fears.

The mist parts

Softly shaded images

Emerge from shadow.

Hopes restored in

Christ alone.

We are one

In Him

Through Him

Because He Lives

A Triune God

We become

One.

Poetry Is (Not Quite What You Expect)

I sat until the screen-saver appeared

Because I could not allow the words to come near

The broken places buried within.

I fought frantic fear for words that rang true

As the asthmatic gasps, wheezing breaths

Hacking at fear as veins bulge blue.

Facing down fear of being misunderstood;

What origin the voice within that said that I could?

My middle-aged self tilting at windmills

With words to explain how we all come full-circle.

My adolescent dreams come face-to-face

With the reality of my chronically weakened state.

When I was a girl having my last doll-tea

What would I have thought of my grown-up, me?

 

This month I am sharing in the Tweetspeak Poetry book club. The featured selection is Megan Willome’s, The Joy of Poetry, part memoir, part poetry life-line.  The first six chapters begin with her experience of poetry and the battle her mother waged with cancer. She begins at thirteen, the year they both invaded her life.

 

Poetry took over my life a few years earlier. Thankfully, my mother did not develop cancer until I was a young adult. My Mother’s battle with cancer was nearly as swift as Willome’s mother’s was long. The shared suffering of a girl whose mother is dying of cancer, combatting the disease with words is one that helped form both Willome and myself.

 

The Bookshelf #1

This is the first post of the series On The Bookshelf. 

I thought I would start with

a book…

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He ate and drank the precious words,                                                                   His spirit grew robust;                                                                                                   He knew no more that he was poor,                                                                         Nor that his frame was dust.                                                                                         He danced along the dingy days,                                                                                  And this bequest of wings                                                                                           Was but a book. What liberty                                                                                        A loosened spirit brings!

-Emily Dickinson

 

I decided that we would begin the thoughts of what is on my bookshelves with a bit of pocket-poetry. In the days before smart phones made it easy to carry volumes of poetry in your purse or back pocket I bought these little volumes from the Easton Press. I love the compact size and there is nowhere that you cannot use a good poem. They have travelled through many a mundane day with me.

The novel that I am writing has me traveling back in time and across the sea. It is nice to come back and sink into something short, satisfying and soulful like a classic poem. Books are a chance to fly to far-flung kingdoms and experience a life that we would never know if not for the exquisite agony of being trapped in a book.

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I will be here again on Friday for another installment of On the Bookshelf and I will tidy the shelves themselves so that I do not have to photograph the books on the floor. I will also drop a few more hints about the book that is taking form as my imaginations tries to migrate into my computer.

Keep writing and reading!

Silence

On this October Sabbath a restful poem to savor in a bit of quiet.
How blissful is silence

When the world is filled with strife.

Like the simple vista

That best displays a life.

How lovely is sunshine,

On a cloudy day.

Or, when the earth is parched

A welcome bit of rain.

How soothing is music,

Or joyous laughter,

But most restful is

The quiet we’re after.

How relaxing is stillness

We hear from without.

But perfect is silence within

That resolves doubt.

Time and Feathers

“The day is done and the darkness
Falls from the wings of night
As a feather is wafted downward
By an eagle in his flight.”

Thus begins the poem, “The Day is Done” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Since I was a young girl this has been one of my favorite poems.

In this poem Longfellow compares the passage of time to the way a feather falls. Gravity inexorably pulls the feather toward the ground. The feather, however, is aerodynamic and falls slowly as the air passes through it’s buoyant shape.A feather falls slower than most objects, but even a feather will silently, steadily fall.
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Time sometimes falls like a meteor and other times it descends like a feather. Most often in my life, time rockets past me at the speed of light.

Only when I allow myself grace to pause does time slip slowly though my fingers like a feather.
Softly passing time sounds like a dream.

I have lived too much of my life without pausing to notice the day wafting toward night.
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I have chased time. I cannot outrun the passage of months or even years. They slip by before I realize they have half begun.

I may not be able to catch time, but anyone can mark time. We mark the passage of time not on a clock, but by paying attention to the present.

I find the need to chase time because I am distracted by the future and my all-absorbing To Do List. If I were to notice now, and not tell myself that I will make time to be fully present when I finish ___ it is possible that I would be more satisfied with the passage of time.

There is always some “important” work that need attending. I do not remember what most of those things were. What was it that I was so consumed with ten years ago? I could guess, but I cannot tell you the specifics. Indeed, some of it was important. Some of what has consumed my life has not been as important as I thought. I have been distracted by the trivial more than once.

I need to make time to permit time to waft like a feather. This brings us to the crux of the matter. The first word in that sentence is the root of the problem. I. I cannot make time. No creature makes time. God, the Creator made time, we live within time. Hence, the statement, “I need to make time” is a priori wrong. As a human I will never be able to “make” time. Therefore, the time I will make is never. What can I do?

I can schedule time to notice. Scheduling time to be fully present seems incongruous. Unfortunately, it is the best that I can do. I live in 2015. Time is precious I want to make the most of the time that I have. The most effective way that I have found of doing this is to schedule reminders. Funny how we have become so programmed by our fast paced lifestyle that we schedule and set alarms to remind us to fully live. Do any of you, readers, have a favorite method to notice the present?

I will let you know how the scheduling “now time” to slow time works. The day once descended into evening as slow as a feather. It ought to be possible for me to slow down and let time waft a little.

Autumn Roses

20130519-211447.jpgMy last flush of roses are blooming today,

Fragrantly unfolding on this crisp October day.

Autumn’s chill is sharpening the air

And the profusion of roses are as big as they dare.

From semi-double to two-hundred petals

They are gloriously beautiful, but have thorns sharp as nettles.

Their beauty isn’t diminished by their armor for me,

I know that such loveliness must be protected from thieves.

A chilling breeze sweeps down from the north,

Turning leaves on the trees to yellow, crimson and orange.

But, the roses blossom in shades of summer true,

And the last forget-me-nots add their touch of blue.

Are October’s roses more sweetly endowed,

Or is it the season that enamours the crowds?

Are roses more lovely in the autumn breeze

Because soon to follow is winter’s freeze?

On a Cold, Winter’s Day

"By the Fireside " by George Smith 1858

“By the Fireside ” by George Smith 1858

Robert Burns

Robert Burns

A Fireside Read William Mulready, RA 1786-1863

A Fireside Read
William Mulready, RA 1786-1863

 

It is Burns’ Night. That seems like a strange way to introduce this blog post. But it is January 25. Robert Burns was born this night 256 years ago. I forgot about it being Burns’ birthday for most of the day. I had the feeling there was something about January 25th and then I remembered. I usually make a somewhat Scottish meal on this night and then I read some Burns poetry and listen to his music. I am neither of Scottish heritage nor interested in the usual drink I drink tea but I do enjoy his poetry and music. I like poetry and music-period.

I happen to have a pork loin roasting in the oven with apples, that just happens to be what I made for dinner tonight. I think with some mashed potatoes and green beans it will serve the purpose nicely; and of course a good pot of tea and a recording of some Burns tunes. The Burns connection that really challenges me as I have chocolate chip cookies. I made them yesterday and they’re quite nice today and yet I feel like I should make some oatmeal cookies that seems more Scottish. For all those eating haggis and downing a wee dram with his Burns all I can say is to each his own.

We are in the middle of a two-pronged snowstorm? Yesterday we were lavished and thick white snow. This afternoon it rained. Now it is merely gray. But that seems suitably Scottish.

Burns is by no means my favorite poet. That honor belongs to John Keats. But Burns was born on January 25 and that is the perfect time to have some sort of celebration with all the Christmas festivities being done and over and there being nothing in sight but gray clouds. And Burns did write some lovely little pieces. A rosebud by my early walk comes first to my mind, as my Rose Bud is curled up companionably on my lap. Oh yes, that’s why I celebrate Burns night. A cold night outside being counteracted by the aroma of the roast and a soft cat to curl up beside you while you wait on dinner -that is my idea of a good January evening. Add in a little poetry, music and tea and you have a comforting evening of peace.

A Rose-bud by my early walk,
Adown a corn-enclosed bawk,
Sae gently bent its thorny stalk,
All on a dewy morning.

Ere twice the shades o’ dawn are fled,
In a’ its crimson glory spread,
And drooping rich the dewy head,
It scents the early morning.

Within the bush her covert nest
A little linnet fondly prest;
The dew sat chilly on her breast,
Sae early in the morning.
She soon shall see her tender brood,
The pride, the pleasure o’ the wood,
Amang the fresh green leaves bedew’d,
Awake the early morning.

So thou, dear bird, young Jeany fair,
On trembling string or vocal air,
Shall sweetly pay the tender care
That tents thy early morning.
So thou, sweet Rose-bud, young and gay,
Shalt beauteous blaze upon the day,
And bless the parent’s evening ray
That watch’d thy early morning.
 

 

Do Not Try to Be All Things

O sorry soul, serenely rest
Again in peaceful, untroubled breast.
May the weary world no longer inspire
Inner-conflict, strife and troubled mire.
Wend your way, O heavy heart,
Back to center, back to start.
Give the pain and worry to God
And let Him carry the baggage odd,
Heavy and too much for you.
Let Him do what only He can do.
Do Not Try to Be All Things.
You are not an angel equipped with wings.
Do the best that you can do
Then lay it down and know you’re through.
Next go on to something more.
Keep on opening brand-new doors.
Don’t stand still and worry today
Over what you failed at yesterday.
Keep your eyes on what’s ahead.
Never fear the past, or dread
That you aren’t doing all you should.
Only try to do what’s good
And leave all the rest to Christ.
To Him be the glory.
From Him comes the might.

When asked by Moses for His name The Lord answers I AM. He is present tense. He is. He is all things. Why do I try to “be” all things? Why do I unknowingly try to satisfy everyone? Long ago God spoke these words into my heart. More than a decade later I still need to learn the message. Today I affirm again that God. Is. Enough. I am enough because I am His.

Passages Through Pain

Sitting in the dark with Jesus again,
Wondering when Life will begin.
Waiting through another migraine
Hoping it will not start once more.
When will Life finally be restored,
Full of vitality and activity?
Sitting in the dark with just my Lord.
Fighting frustration,
Too caught in thought to be bored.
Wondering the value of my life,
Grief sometimes searing like a knife
Dividing between the marrow and joints.
The Word, a comfort and also a choice.
How can I live most fully for God,
When sometimes my body won’t do what it should?
What is the value of this, little life
That looses bits and pieces amidst the strife?
How do I keep my spirit strong
In the tired waits and the bitter wrongs?
Questions not answers,
Throb with my head,
But I know who waits by my side
Through the long, dark hours,
The one who never leaves me,
In comfort embowers.
My spirit dances
Before my Lord.
Like a child with joy
Simply adored.
Knowing there is a reason
Though I haven’t the key
To unlock the answer
But that’s not for me.
He made me,
He planned this
He understands the pain
He has a purpose,
It will all come right in the end.