A Christmas Request

Mt. Rainier on a clear day with blue sky
Defend the cause
of the children of the needy
while the sun endures and the rain falls.
May peace abound till the moon be no more!
May all nations serve the poor and weak —
precious is their blood all the day!
There be abundance in the land —
people blossom, blessed in
God who does wondrous things.
Amen.

Developed in response to Psalm 72 using a “found poetry” approach. This is an interesting exercise in carving away the excess flourishes into the seed of the message. Read the whole Psalm 72 and ask — what key message do you take away from it this Advent season?

promise

According to James Boyce’s Commentary, Matthew 24:36-44 is ripe for misunderstanding, especially if taken out of context to the whole gospel. He reminds us of the “amazing promises which frame” the book of Matthew, such as “they shall name him Emmanuel, which means God is with us (1:23) and that “He will be with you always, to the end of the age” (28:20).
Much better than the scare tactics of the Rapture, or the arrogance of thinking one can “know” the actual day and time of the coming.
I especially like Mr. Boyce’s question to the reader: “How do you prepare for a promise? Promises by their very nature always come as a surprise . . . Such promises call us to watch . . . for what is already taking place in our midst . . . [and to not] be lulled to sleep in the seeming sameness or disappointing news of the world around us.”
Good advice — especially now.  Watch for the helpers. Be a helper. Small acts lead to great things. What we focus on grows. That’s a hopeful thing to consider.

There be dragons . . .

People hiking on a mountain trail
Once upon a time there was a “we”
because all small children do this: they seek
with probing fingers and ears not yet deafened by the
thunder of outside voices mighty
in their judgments and seen as the Great I Am, as a God
who holds “their” unknown future in
the palm of a stern hand with the
folds and creases plotting a most
dodgy and unlikely
journey to tomorrow, to places
where there yet be dragons that only He
can see ahead. It begs the question: will
we ever trust what life can teach
about the power of “us?”
Only together can meaning be made of His
twisty words and paradoxical ways,
bent by man over a thousand years’ study. So
the solitary “I” we are now must take that
first hesitant step towards a greater “we.”
With hand clasping hand, may
we marvel at the wonder of each other. Let us walk
fearlessly along mountain trails in
pursuit of hope and peace, in the understanding that His
words will lead us along many promised paths.

reflections on balsam fir

There’s nothing I like more than hiking in the autumn; the sound of leaves crunching underfoot, the shift, movement and calls of migrating critters, and the smells. Autumn has its own fascinating, fresh smell — and it’s particularly poignant in the northeast. For years I kept a small pillow filled with balsam fir needles until the smell finally wore away for good. Over the next few months, I realized how much I missed that comforting smell. And then while hiking in the Appalachians, I found its source. With fingers crossed, I checked a local gift store for a new scented pillow, and snagged the last one. Lucky me! And then read the insert on the healing properties of balsam fir, and realized just why I had clung to that scented pillow for so many years. With great delight, I brought the new aromatic pillow home with me and breathe deeply in of its restorative grace.

What’s bacon got to do with it, anyway?

I’m still disgruntled at the 1970’s notion that I should “bring home the bacon, fry it up in the pan” and never let “my man” forget he’s a man.
I didn’t remember quite how disgruntled until I read Jennifer Petriglieri’s article “What I Learned About Equal Partnership By Studying Dual-Income Couples” in The Atlantic (October 13, 2019) which stirred up the ole’ memory banks.

Let me start by reflecting on what was missing from that 1970’s advertising jingle and the picture it painted (along with so many other societal messages) for us GenX girls. Missing activities like setting the table, serving the bacon, scrubbing the frying pan, helping the kiddos with homework, making the cupcakes for the school party, getting them to Little League games and music lessons, bathed and to bed on time. All so hubby could have his cuddle with wifey-poo, who — rather than being exhausted by all these activities — was titillated by them and eager to please.

Balance was clearly a foreign concept at the time.
The message was clear. We could have it all as long as we were willing to do it all. This is not just subtext. I well remember a placard hanging on my grandmother’s kitchen wall about the importance of a woman being a servant to family, a saint in the community, and a whore in bed. I paraphrase — but not by much.

My child’s sense of justice was puzzled by the notion that to be good and worthy, a woman must also be bad. In my rebellious late teens and young twenties, I reveled in the supposed freedom of it. When it came time to raise a family, I resented it. At least as much as women before me seemed to resent my pointing out that the boat was somehow missed in creating equal opportunity for both women and men. 
But, it’s good to have a dream, something to fight for, right? What I hope for upcoming generations is that they can find the support and encouragement to really take the bull by the horms and live into the 50/50 marriage described by Ms. Petriglieri.

In her words, such a marriage is about more than splitting the housework equally. It is a “social revolution that starts at home, with both partners making commitments—and a plan—to challenge society’s endless pulls.”

And if that’s not worth fighing for, I don’t know what is . . . 

a moment in time

I swipe the so-called instant and private message and poof! Gone! 
Rather like those early days when a much younger and smaller you still 
clung to me for comfort. We spent hours – courtesy of the annual pass 
given us for a Christmas present, otherwise we could not have 
afforded it – at the zoo. We would snuggle deep in the stony crevice and
watch jellyfish float up and down, listen to the soothing gurgle of water 
and the tender sounds of harp music. There was peace and comfort 
there – surely worth clinging to, even if just in memory.