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My friend Krissy over at Visionarie Kindness Chronicles posted a poem today about her discovery of poetry and how it seeped into her being, helping her make sense of her life. It’s terrific. My origin story is more predictable: My mother read me poetry from the time I was a baby. I remember her reading “The Highwayman” — “the moon was a ghostly galleon/tossed upon cloudy seas/and the highwayman came riding” — and stopping to say, “Do you hear the horse’s hoofbeats?” She tapped out the rhythm of the poem and I HEARD IT. Nothing was the same after that.

I was in bed when poetry first found me,
pierced my heart ear-first, an elf, a thief,
a waif who having found warm welcome
would never leave me. I started hearing it
everywhere, whispering words I kept
hidden in the trunk of a tree, in a shoebox
with my paper dolls, behind the geraniums,
velvet-leafed, that flanked the house I
fledged in. They grew, took root,
cross-pollinated with prayer until
there wasn’t anyone else I could ever be,
so bound was poetry with my blood.
I wept alliteration, sighed in spondees.
I was a Phantom of Delight; I was
alone and palely loitering. I was
The Lady of Shalott in “My heart
belongs to Daddy” pajamas.
Heroes get powers. I got a pen.
But I learned how to fly with it anyway.
Now only God can see me coming.

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Last week when we had our first choir rehearsal of the season, as usual I sat in the back of the room.  No, the back row isn’t trouble makers. That’s the Soprano section.  Yes, I’m in that too.  I’m in the back row with the tall people.

But in the back, I can see everyone react when we open with our prayer requests.  The energy level in the room was high and then one person after another made their request.  Prayers for the family of a college friend who had died.  Prayers for a mother-in-law who lost her sister.  Cancer. Surgery.  Injuries.

With each request, the energy in the room dropped.  Shoulders sagged.

My hand shot up.  “I’ve got a  prayer of thanksgiving.”  I went on to thank everyone for my many prayer requests over the summer.  Yes, my friend still faces a masectomy BUT they have now found chemo she isn’t allergic to.  My niece hasn’t had another blood clot.  And my brother-in-law is not only walking, he is back at work with the city parks department in a very physical job.

The hard things in life need our attention in prayer but it will also weigh you down.  Be sure to offer up gratitude for the good.  You may have to look for it but it will raise your energy level and your spirit.

Me?  I thank God for helping me find this community, for the women writers at WOW, for my son and husband and the opportunities I have to work from home.  What are you thankful for?

–SueBE

Okay. So you say you want it all? Noted.🗹 

First, you’re going to have to start with “nothing” as a baseline. See, that way, you have a frame of reference. 

Next you’re going to have “some,” to help you learn how to manage “it all” when it arrives. If you don’t learn from this phase, it’s okay. We’ll helpfully let you start over at “nothing” again to get those More Muscles in shape.

Very few ever get to “it all” because even the ones who seem to have “it all” are deeply in debt, sick from their secrets and alone in a crowd. 

The “all” you’re really seeking isn’t a big pile of money, a perfectly-coiffed and curated persona on Instagram and a happily-ever-after with a stranger you met by swiping right on a dating app.

Actually, the ache for “it all” embedded within you is something else. Just as you’ve got a heartbeat, that’s your soulbeat. It’s:

  • Being who you are, no matter what room you walk into.
  • Learning every day that you don’t have all the answers, but that the questions themselves are sometimes the point.
  • Working toward a goal to engage all your faculties and your faith at the same time.
  • Using your own experience to know that people causing pain in your life are in pain themselves and greeting that grief with grace.
  • Getting to know and love yourself just as you would a “soulmate” so that you don’t end up with a “cellmate,” both locked into the self-defeating notion that you’ve failed to complete each other.

Life really is simpler than you make it out to be. 

  • Find your forte. Do that with all your heart. 
  • Find your community. Connect and show you care. 
  • Be yourself. If you meet a partner on the same page, be yourselves together.
  • Do your best. 
  • Take care of yourself. 
  • Be kind. 

Whatever you can’t figure out, turn it over to me in prayer. You may come to realize that in some ways, you already do have “it all.”

Long, long ago there lived a young mother who was just learning to knit.  She could purl and knit and she was trying her hand at her first fitted garment – a pair of gloves.

Suffice it to say, that young mother way me.  But the story doesn’t have a fairy tale ending.  I had just finished the second glove.  It was time to cut the yarn and weave in the end  But I couldn’t bring myself to make that cut.  Something just wasn’t right.

I laid both gloves out on the table.  Something was wrong but I couldn’t see it.  They looked just alike.

What?  Just alike?

Not mirror images?!

Oh, no.

I hadn’t knitted a left glove and a right glove but two right gloves.  Since I didn’t want to pairs of identical gloves, and wasn’t sure I had enough yarn anyway, that left only one solution.  Ribbet.

Ha.  That’s a sad little knitting joke.  When you have to rip about your knitting, or unravel it, you call it frogging.  So I got myself a cup of coffee and started tugging on that yarn.  Row after row of stitches unraveled.

My husband and several friends confessed that they couldn’t have made themselves do this.  “All that time.”

Pfft.  If you knit, you frog.  It doesn’t matter how complicated the pattern or how much time it took.  Small mistakes can often be corrected without frogging but the big ones?  Let her rip!

I’ve love to say that this was the last mistake I ever made but it wouldn’t be true.  All I can do is pray that I’ll have the grace to let each one go as I discover it, even if it was hours and hours in the making.

–SueBE

When someone says, “I owe you an apology,” have they really apologized? It seems to me that until they say the words, “I’m sorry,” it doesn’t count. Owing an apology is like saying, put it on my account!

“That show’s been running for seven seasons and I never miss it,” a commenter online said, and I had to mull that over. Does that mean they like the program? Or perhaps they don’t watch it, and frankly, they don’t miss it either?

“Hey, Ruth! Long time!” It was an old acquaintance I’d run into at the store. “You look exactly the same!” he said, to which I replied, “Thank you!” I assumed it was meant as a compliment, but was it? What if he’d actually meant, “You looked like forty miles of bad road twenty years ago, and dagnabbit, you look exactly the same today! My condolences!”

Maybe we’ll never know what other people are thinking. The best we can do is to be truthful yet tactful, choosing our words carefully. With any luck, we’ll be able to make our point in a kind and thoughtful way. In the words of Dr. Seuss, “Step with care and great tact, and remember that life’s a great balancing act.” 

What if you found out you’d never be able to lose weight as long as you held a grudge in your heart? Say you hatched a plan to exact revenge and succeeded in getting your “pound of flesh,” only here’s the catch: you have to wear it on your person as a saddlebag! I can only imagine how quickly most of us would find a way to be forgiving.

We seem to hold onto grudges as a means of survival, as if being cynical will protect us from being hurt or betrayed ever again. Perhaps your body is listening and thinks you want to keep a wall between you and the possibility of being wounded again, a “blubber buffer,” if you will.

Or maybe God’s getting tired of hearing you complain about that last boyfriend who never bought you flowers, and now he’s gone and married a florist! The injustice! So the maker of all things decides to teach an object lesson. You stop hurting when you stop hating, child. Until you do, I’m going to physically add weight to you until you get the correlation. Zap! You’re zaftig.

Whatever the particulars were, whoever the players were, the only way to release yourself from past pain is to love yourself more than you hate the ones who hurt you.

When you lighten up and let go of that heavy burden, the least that will happen is that you’ll have more time for the blessings in your life. You may not lose weight, but you’ll lose hate. And that’s how you make space for grace.

Each summer our church choir takes about two months off.  Last night was our first rehearsal of the new season.

Our choir director likes to stack the deck, as she puts it.  We are starting the year with three pieces we have sung in the past and something new.  The new one is a fast moving challenge with the feel of a call and response.  Whether it is sung by 12 or 50, it has a big feel.  But have I already pointed out that it is FAST?

Just trying to get the words out that fast is a challenge.  Never mind trying to read them and the notes at the same time.

Fortunately our choir director knows what she’s doing.  We will work on one section at a time, working out mistakes and polishing it until it shines.

Note by note, drip by drip we will move toward an anthem that while complicated is do-able.  All it takes is a good leader and the ability to follow direction much as we follow the directions of Christ.

–SueBE

My town has a community forum on Facebook.  It is a great place to find out about free concerts and other community events.  Unfortunately, it is also where people go to complain, fuss and fume.

On Monday, one of the members put up a joking post.  “So what are you all mad about today?”  Unfortunately, a lot of people didn’t get that he was joking and started responding with all of the little things that had already annoyed them yesterday morning. Soon it had gone from a joke to a community gripe session.

Me?  I try to limit my complaints online.  I post positive, inspirational quotes like the one above.  I post baby animals.  You can see both on my Facebook page. I share news about my friend’s books.  I post about the awesome things my local library does.

I’m not saying that nothing ever annoys me.  Lots of things do, but I don’t want to be that person.  So instead of complaining online, I get up.  I walk.  I weave.  I work on a puzzle.  I play a game with the boy.  And let me tell you, that boy is good at making me laugh. Comedy is definitely one of his gifts.  And last of all, I sleep on it.

If I still feel the need to post, I post.  That’s why most of my unhappy posts tend to be “big ticket items.” Social justice.  Conservation. The environment.  I don’t only see the positive but one of the gifts that God gave me is the ability to let things slide.  Sure, I saw what so-and-so was wearing.  And I too think the school superintendent’s message could have been better worded.

But once I sleep on issues like these and share a good laugh with the boy?  It just isn’t worth commenting on.

–SueBE

 

 

credit: today.com

Let’s say you had a meeting and it was crunch time. Looking over the attendees, you realize there’s a baby sitting in one of the chairs in a suit and tie. Now, that’s something you don’t see every day! 

Look at you. You can’t even hold your own head up, man! You’re drooling, babbling on about nothing, and your contribution at the last meeting was nothing but a big pile of poop. Get ahold of yourself! 

You notice the baby’s round belly under his pocket protector and bib.

You’re letting yourself go around the middle, there, pal. You really should do some crunches!

You wouldn’t expect a baby to know how to crunch numbers. Heck, they can’t even crunch granola yet! And surely a baby’s too young to hit the gym.

Different rules apply to people depending on the situation, and we don’t all develop at the same pace. Some may think that, just because they haven’t had an experience, that experience isn’t valid.

People who call others “snowflake” or “overly sensitive” are actually, let me see if I can find the technical term here in my thesaurus.. Oh yes. Insensitive clods!

Mercy. Let me re-phrase that. 

Such people don’t seem to have been born with a compassion compass, that thing inside that says, I may not understand what you’ve been through, but I can see that you’ve been profoundly affected by it.

Then again, if I label them insensitive clods, I’m the one being insensitive. 

Perhaps a better way to frame it is that they’re newborns in terms of the expression of empathy. Their mercy-muscles haven’t formed fully yet. One day they may be in a new situation and it’ll be crunch time for them. Here’s hoping the people in that room will show them some compassion.

My apologies for not being around our corner of the blog-osphere very much this week.  As the three of us have discussed privately, we are all more than a little distressed by the state of the world and our country.  Every time we turn around, there’s another story of hate, violence and death.

It is so hard not to be discouraged.  I was shuffling through images when I came across this quote on the best way not to feel hopeless by Barrack Obama.  At first glance, I thought it was a little pie-in-the-sky naïve.

Go out and do something good.  You’ll feel better.

But then I realized that it was the same advice my mother and my grandmother would have given me.  Get up off your rear.  Get going. And do something good.

And it really is good advice.  I would only adapt it slightly.

Remember that we live in a broken world.  We, you and I, are broken and far from perfect just like everyone else.

When we pick up our phones and tablets, we have a tendency to link into news.  Even if you try to play a game, you may well be plagued with pop-ups.  Just today I’ve had one about a knifing in Southern California and another about decades-long abuse in the USA Gymnastics club.

When you read a newspaper, even if you read it every page, there is an end.  When you go into the web, there is no end.  Negative story after negative story washes over you.

So put down your phone.  Turn off your tablet.

Do something that doesn’t involve a screen.  Me? I’ve warped my loom and am making a scarf for a friend.  It isn’t anything huge, but it will make her smile.

School is about to start again.  My son and I made plans this morning to get his friends over here on a regular basis.  Screen-free time around our dining room table. This, of course, means that my loom needs to go downstairs.

But that’s okay. I can get offline right now and go clean off a spot on the old kitchen table I keep in the basement.  Putting aside things go sell or otherwise get rid of is also positive in that it declutters my home and the money can go into the church’s community garden.

Small steps.  Moments spent away from your screen.  I’m not saying that the bad things don’t matter.  But I am recommending that we not let them roll over us endlessly.  That level of exposure doesn’t benefit anyone in any way.

Do something small and positive. Small steps can carry you in a more positive direction.

–SueBE

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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