Category Archives: Inspiration

Wee Ones’ Christmas Eve Wishes

In the Christmas world of wee children, some things never change….(Thankfully!) …Children still believe in the limitless possibilities of love, personified by Jolly Old St. Nick, a.k.a. Santa Claus, who shares presents in celebration of the birthday of the Christ Child Who loves us all, at every age and stage of our lives…no matter what!

santa Adventsbeleuchtung3

 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Eve Wishes

Children

hope

reindeer

in the night

sky

take

many presents

and

Santa, too, safely by sleigh, for an unseen shimmy down the chimney.

 

Hope Santa will be good to the grownups, too!

p.s. If you are awaiting the Christ Child’s Birth, or if you are open to receiving greetings in honor of His Birthday celebration next Friday when the Poetry Friday community again shares poetry, please accept this Christmas “card” I found in Wikimedia Commons for you and your family:

chrISTMAS 800px-Blessed_are_the_peacemakers

By ary29 (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons                                                                                                                                                             Note. There are variations of this greeting in Italian, French, Spanish, and German: Scroll to the bottom of the page; Christmas Greetings

Christmas Presence

 

During hospice volunteer training many years ago, each member of the full-time professional county-based hospice team presented one of the training sessions.

Something the chaplain said about the role of the hospice volunteer has stuck with me down through the years:

“When you arrive at the door of a terminally ill client as a hospice volunteer, you don’t just bring the good news, you are the good news.”

At Christmas time, in particular, but all through the rest of year, as well, it seems to me,  as fellow humans beings, the chaplain’s pronouncement is a worthy call to each one of us–hospice volunteer or not.

And so a Haiga challenge for me, each and every day (and for you, too, perchance?) ...

 

Christmas Presence

Cards. Gifts. Reaching out.

Calls. Visits. Listening ear.

…Attending to needs…

Best present ever? Presence.

Be (the) present.

Present-ly.

 Whatever holiday or season you’re celebrating, here’s to giving and being gifted with the blessing of heartfelt presence.

Threefold Advent Preparation

Advent, a nearly four-week season of watchful preparation this liturgical year, began this past Sunday. Without fail, every Advent I think back to one particular reflection I heard more than a dozen years ago. The homilist focused on the word “come,” as it applies to Advent.

That word-focus, in itself, was not surprising or unusual, since among the etymological explanations, the one that rings truest to me, having survived three years of Latin, is this one. The English word Advent comes (no pun intended) from the Latin prefix “ad” (toward) and the Latin verb “venire” (to go or to come), meaning “to go toward” or “to come.”

What was unusual, at least for me, was that the homilist acknowledged and explored the threefold-paradoxical meaning of the word “come” as it applies to the Church’s Liturgical season of Advent.

Come.  During Advent, we prepare for Christ’s birth, for His first coming. We sing and pray “Come, Emmanuel.” For as many years are we are alive on December 25th when the Church celebrates His Birth, He comes to us as a newborn Babe in Bethlehem.

Come. Historically, Christ has already come into the world, and because of that coming, He is constantly available to come into our lives in Word and Sacrament. He stands at the door of our hearts, waiting for us to invite Him, and so in response to His knocking, we offer and request, “Please, Lord, come in.”

This continual present opportunity to experience Christ’s coming into our lives is poignantly depicted in paintings showing the door with no outside knob, the door that can be opened only from the inside. Here is one of those images: Christ knocking at the door via Wikimedia/Sul Art

Come. Lastly, during Advent, as we prepare for Christ’s first coming into this world at Christmas, the Church reminds us that this world is passing away, and that Christ is coming back at a future time, heralding the end of this world and the beginning of a new, fully redeemed world. In that respect, we pray “Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus,” looking ahead to “then” when He comes again for us–both at the end of the world, and at the end of our lives.

At all three “comings,” the one in the past that we relive in the present, the present coming anew each moment of each day, as well as the one that we anticipate in the future, we are called to prepare for Him. That is what the liturgical season of Advent is all about: to “Prepare ye the way of the Lord” (Mark 1:3) Who is already come, Who is always coming to and for us, and Who is coming again.

Honestly, I don’t think I’ve done the homilist justice in my rendition of his explication of Advent as a season of paradoxical comings in three simultaneous, overlapping time periods. We prepare for the birth that has already happened, for a coming that is always new in our lives, and for a coming again that is a second historical coming in the future that draws nearer, and may, in fact, be present.

When I learned about a “reverso poem” last week thanks to Donna Smith’s Poetry Friday offering, I thought that “finally” I might have a format for giving voice to the Advent “coming” paradox.

While I don’t know if I’ve succeeded with either the poetic format or the theological content, here for your consideration is my first reverso poem.

As the homilist admitted, three complementary, but discrete comings are hard to wrap one’s head around. I hope my poetic attempt hasn’t made it harder….

 

Advent Wreath (2)

Photo Credit: Flickr/Alex Harden

 

coming screengrb (2)

 

If you have just under two minutes to spare, you might enjoy this contemporary theatrical interpretation of the Advent preparation theme via this YouTube video: Godspell Revival- Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord

Happy preparation and many blessings for whatever holy days you will be celebrating in the coming days of December.

Not necessarily more brilliant

Poetry Friday Tag

Carol is hosting the round-up at http://carolwscorner.blogspot.com/

Happy Thanksgiving! Wherever and however you celebrated this special day for recalling our blessings, I hope your day was as nourishing to your poet-spirit as it was to your body!

Inasmuch as Thanksgiving might be considered the grande finale of the autumn holidays (at least in areas of the country that have seasonal vegetation), here is the third of the three autumn photo-poems I composed in response to Carol V.’s “Autumn Palette” gallery initiative.

Inasmuch, too, as Thanksgiving is one of our most cherished National family holidays, which conjures up thoughts and images of “home,” the backstory to this photo reminds me of the parallel aphoristic  truth: “The grass always looks greener on the other side of the fence.”

Our family history includes annual Fall foliage forages to places miles away in search of the most breathtaking autumn nature sites. What is so amazing about the scenery in the photo-poem is that it was found in a totally unexpected place…right in our own backyard. A wooded backyard to which no back door opens…A wooded backyard, quite frankly, into which we typically do not enter or look. (Note. I had to invent a back door for the last line of the poem:)

But because some work needed to be done on the side of the house, my husband glanced to the back, and had his breath taken away. Not that the scenery was as spectacular as that photographed on one of the Fall foliage forages miles and miles away to a lakeside state park…No, but this was “our woods” that were ablaze with a variety of colors. And even though we hadn’t planted the trees which so gifted us, still, these trees were “ours,” and like a child who objectively might not be as good looking or as smart as someone else’s child, that child is loved because it’s yours…Ergo:

backyard autumn picmonk

The grass is not necessarily greener, nor the leaves more brilliantly colored, on the other side of the fence….

And when the opposite is true, which objectively it often is, there’s something to be said for appreciating what is ours, even while aspiring for what truly is greener or more brilliant. Will we continue Fall foliage foraging? You bet! Will we remember to look for beauty in our own backyard, also? I certainly hope so!

Thank God we live in a land of options. May we exercise those options with thanks in our heart for all those servicemen and servicewomen who, along with their families, are sacrificing in the service of our freedoms. God bless America!

Twice-Tremendous Trees

Poetry Friday Tag

Tricia is hosting the round-up: http://missrumphiuseffect.blogspot.com/

 

In response to Carol V.’s Autumn Palette poetry-photo invitation, I pondered this photo taken by my husband…

wek autumn photo for post

Now, please don’t peek below…If you were responding to this photo in poem, what words does this image inspire from you? I’d love to know!… As for me…

….Reflecting on the reflection, I reflected on  Narcissus, reflecting that before camera-produced selfies, there were the nature-made selfies, courtesy of water…..and voila! a photo-poem:

cbhanek Autumn Palette number 3

Good thing that the trees are smarter and more humble than Narcissus. I’m glad they don’t get  infatuated with themselves; don’t topple into the water.

Without uprooting or taking leave of  themselves, what a splash of color they add to the water, without subtracting any beauty or diminishing any hue from what reaches above–into the heavens.

In reflecting on that truth, I totally agree with Joyce Kilmer…”I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree…Poems are made by fools like me, but only God can make a tree.” Amen!

Upon further reflection, truly, trees are ten times ten times more than twice-tremendous….

Lily: Living up to Her Name-Acrostic

Poetry_Friday_Button_2-210 REDUCED

Laura P. Salas is hosting the round-up: http://laurasalas.com/blog/

Creating an acrostic for a poetry assignment this week got me remembering another acrostic—one I composed this past April.

A first grader—daughter of a former student of my husband’s—was dying of a rare form of cancer. Besides the connection I felt through my husband, I felt my own connection with the child. As a kindergartner, she had won her school’s poetry contest. (Not that I ever won that distinction, but loving poetry from my youngest years—that would be something we had in common.)

Given the child’s tenacious response to her cancerous plight, the watchword for her fundraising campaign was fittingly based on the words of another poet:

shakes p for lily croopped (2)William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

In response to the heart-wrenching news of the child’s Easter Monday “death” (Her family prefers to think of her release from the pain and infirmity that held her captive—free to be forever joyously alive with God.), I set about to write an acrostic in her honor.

The resultant poem “frightened” me—in an awe-struck way–in that the name-acrostic seemed larger than life—the life of hers that just had passed peacefully into eternity.

How poignantly the poem proclaimed what had been the child’s defining response in the face of adversity…As if her given name, the name she answered to for three months’ short of seven years, held the secret of who she truly was (in contradiction to the apparent namesake-connection with a delicate flower), as well as what was heart-breakingly, and equally inspiringly, to become her legacy in the ongoing fight against childhood cancer…

 lily screen grab (2)

 

“““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““

If you feel inspired to learn more about this purple-loving little Shakespearean protégé, here are some links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lilylarueanderson

https://www.gofundme.com/TeamLilyLaRue

https://www.crowdrise.com/TeamLilyLaRue

Anne Morrow Lindbergh—Acrostic Follow-up

Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Who are you?

Wife of Charles “Lucky Lindy,” hero aviator pioneer, who piloted the first solo flight across the Atlantic. Covered in confetti and accolades. Yes, long before I was born, wifely celebrity status embraced you.

Overshadowed aviatrix in your own right. This achievement of yours evaded my knowledge. Was I the only one who knew not you, too, flew?

Mother of the kidnapped firstborn toddler son, agonizing weeks later found murdered, lifeless body once full of life within your womb, with no private grieving allowed for you, it’s true.

That you went on to bear five more children, this I did not know; more children, who despite their numbers could not replace the one snatched from your heart—from his crib, as peacefully he slept not far from you– nonetheless, I am happy that your arms were able to enfold a handful more–of your very own–newborns, to feel their baby-soft skin pressed against your own maternal skin. How often, I wonder, did your eyes meet theirs with tears and sparkles?

That the single Miss Morrow was a kind of academically-adept debutante-daughter of an American ambassador to Mexico, the last piece of your biographical trilogy I did not know. How lucky of you!

How much your public life was a mixture of classic romance, comedy, and tragedy! Your private life filled with heights of joy and depths of sadness, gave you so much to ponder, so much to write about. That the fruit of your experiences, crystallized as you explored the twin depths of a handful of seashells, as well as your own soul, bore stories that have touched women’s lives for more than half a century.

These are the things I know and not about you. Ah, and there is one new thing, in reminding myself of your life today. Sorrowfully I see—sad irony. For a time before your death at ninety-four, the mind and lips and fingers of the lyricist- journalist-philosopher that was you had been creatively inactive. Silenced.

No matter. Death or not. As long as I ponder the Gift from the Sea, the gift that is yours to me–the wonder of your insights, the depth of your compassion and empathy, no death—nowhere, no how—can take your seaside, soulful woman-to-woman, sister-to-sister, kindred spirit-to-kindred spirit lifetime of knowing myself through knowing you away from me. Forever. You remain my mother, my mentor, my muse—my very own Gift from the Sea.

on being sea-riously gifted

gift no blue errors (2)

Miss Rumphius…anew

Yesterday, I learned about a loving husband who planted four and one-half miles’/ 400 acres’ worth of sunflowers in honor of his deceased wife, whose favorite flower the stately giant flowers had been.

Referring to his wife as the “Sunflower Lady” of the neighborhood, who brought happiness to those she met, the husband credited his wife as the inspiration for the planting of her favorite flowers. He cited how, before her death, she had suggested raising and selling sunflowers to generate money for cancer research and patient care, as a way of paying back the goodness she had received during her multi-year battle against multiple myeloma.

Before even reading the news story, just as soon as I read the headline (Husband Plants Four Mile Stretch of Sunflowers in Tribute to Wife Who Died of Cancer), I immediately thought of the “Lupine Lady,” author Barbara Cooney’s great-aunt, a.k.a. “Miss Rumphius,” who made three promises to her grandfather, including the pledge to make the world a more beautiful place.

Miss Rumphius did that by scattering lupine seeds, near and far, since the purple wildflowers were her favorite, and she wished to share her joy in beholding the flowers with everyone who lived in the neighborhood or visited the vicinity of her beloved house by the sea.

Although every day is a wonderful day to ponder the beautifully written and illustrated Miss Rumphius, as a librarian, I shared Ms. Cooney’s story in honor of Earth Day. Students liked that the main character was a librarian, mostly, I think, because they thought I took special delight in that work role connection with Miss Rumphius.

I liked that the students responded to the story with a multitude of ideas about how they, individually and collectively, could make the world a more beautiful place, including by simply smiling.

In terms of the sunflower planting in the news story, I like that the sunflowers stand tall, in silent testimony that death does not have the final word. Faith, hope, and love do.

If you would like to read the news story, here is the link: Sunflower Tribute

The more I reflect on both stories, the more I wonder if the “Sunflower Lady” knew the “Lupine Lady,” given that both women lived the charge to leave the world a more better place; both using flowers to make a loving statement.

Did the “Sunflower Lady” read Miss Rumphius when she was a child? As a mother, did she read Ms. Cooney’s inspirational story to her own children?

…I don’t know, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the answer to any either or both questions were a resounding Yes!

What do you think?

Bethany Hamilton’s bio inspires

For the past few years, our elementary school has recognized not only Women’s History Month, but Individuals with Disabilities Month each March.

Among the many life stories about individuals with disabilities that student read, one of the titles within the Defining Moments: Overcoming Challenges series was hands-down the students’ favorite.

That title was Bethany Hamilton: Follow Your Dreams!

I suspect students related to that particular biography, in part due to their familiarity with Ms. Hamilton’s life story, from television and film.

But not only for that reason.

Knowing that Ms. Hamilton lost an arm in a shark attack, and yet still continues to surf, unembittered, captured their empathy, as much as their imagination.

Quite simply, they wanted to know more about her.

But not only about her.

Using the interplay of the series title, as well as the title of Ms. Hamilton’s individual biography, students reacted to the biographies of other inspirational individuals honored during the month of March.

“Defining moments,” “overcoming challenges,” and “follow[ing] your dreams” …

In the end, students concluded that everyone has one or more challenges to overcome, and that biographies like Bethany Hamilton’s give others the strength and confidence to face and overcome their own limitations and adversities, past, present, or future, in pursuit of their dreams.

Without a doubt, Ms. Hamilton’s life story–not despite the shark attack, but because of her response to it, made a deeply personal impression—one that will not soon be forgotten by her admiring young readers.