My bracelet came yesterday with my words- this year’s
And the past four years
I love to look down at it!
Okay, so not so very much snow. But a snow day nonetheless. An all day event that I was to attend was cancelled and I took great advantage of a surprise day to do with what I wanted. And what I wanted was to be “snowed in.” And so I was.
I made this:
I read some of this:
I took a nap with a boy who knows how to sleep
I mastered a few piles in my office which felt like it looked about like this:
Listened to some Appalatin
And lots of other things I love to do like talk to my son, hang out on pinterest, get caught up on laundry.
A great gift, this snow day!
One sun rose on us today, kindled over our shores,
peeking over the Smokies, greeting the faces
of the Great Lakes, spreading a simple truth
across the Great Plains, then charging across the Rockies.
One light, waking up rooftops, under each one, a story
told by our silent gestures moving behind windows.
My face, your face, millions of faces in morning’s mirrors,
each one yawning to life, crescendoing into our day:
pencil-yellow school buses, the rhythm of traffic lights,
fruit stands: apples, limes, and oranges arrayed like rainbows
begging our praise. Silver trucks heavy with oil or paper -- bricks or milk, teeming over highways alongside us,
on our way to clean tables, read ledgers, or save lives -- to teach geometry, or ring up groceries as my mother did
for twenty years, so I could write this poem.
All of us as vital as the one light we move through,
the same light on blackboards with lessons for the day:
equations to solve, history to question, or atoms imagined,
the “I have a dream” we keep dreaming,
or the impossible vocabulary of sorrow that won’t explain
the empty desks of twenty children marked absent
today, and forever. Many prayers, but one light
breathing color into stained glass windows,
life into the faces of bronze statues, warmth
onto the steps of our museums and park benches
as mothers watch children slide into the day.
One ground. Our ground, rooting us to every stalk
of corn, every head of wheat sown by sweat
and hands, hands gleaning coal or planting windmills
in deserts and hilltops that keep us warm, hands
digging trenches, routing pipes and cables, hands
as worn as my father’s cutting sugarcane
so my brother and I could have books and shoes.
The dust of farms and deserts, cities and plains
mingled by one wind -- our breath. Breathe. Hear it
through the day’s gorgeous din of honking cabs,
buses launching down avenues, the symphony
of footsteps, guitars, and screeching subways,
the unexpected song bird on your clothes line.
Hear: squeaky playground swings, trains whistling,
or whispers across cafe tables, Hear: the doors we open
for each other all day, saying: hello, shalom,
buon giorno, howdy, namaste, or buenos días
in the language my mother taught me -- in every language
spoken into one wind carrying our lives
without prejudice, as these words break from my lips.
One sky: since the Appalachians and Sierras claimed
their majesty, and the Mississippi and Colorado worked
their way to the sea. Thank the work of our hands:
weaving steel into bridges, finishing one more report
for the boss on time, stitching another wound
or uniform, the first brush stroke on a portrait,
or the last floor on the Freedom Tower
jutting into a sky that yields to our resilience.
One sky, toward which we sometimes lift our eyes
tired from work: some days guessing at the weather
of our lives, some days giving thanks for a love
that loves you back, sometimes praising a mother
who knew how to give, or forgiving a father
who couldn’t give what you wanted.
We head home: through the gloss of rain or weight
of snow, or the plum blush of dusk, but always -- home,
always under one sky, our sky. And always one moon
like a silent drum tapping on every rooftop
and every window, of one country -- all of us --
facing the stars
hope -- a new constellation
waiting for us to map it,
waiting for us to name it -- together
This morning for some reason this great song that has followed me from my childhood through to my adult life came to mind, and I hummed it as I was getting ready for church. When I checked my facebook, I saw that my niece in Ohio had posted some of the lyrics on her status. I got to church and glanced through my bulletin….and it was the first song we would sing! I think I needed to hear this song today!
I never hear it that I don’t think about an important time in the life of my church, and my life. When I began going there, my church had just gone through a very painful time and was in the process of being evicted from the building that that church had worshipped in since the 1800s because they had called a woman to pastor.
In the weeks that led up to our moving out of the building, I think that the thing that sustained us all and kept us from being bitter was a series of shared stories. Each week a different church member would share with us a story of a time when God had sustained them, and as Samuel did in the Old Testament, each raised an Ebenezer stone as sign and symbol of God’s faithfulness thus far. On the day that we marched with joy through the neighborhood to our new building, our basket of Ebenezer stones was carried and held high. We sang,”Come Thou Fount” as we crowded into our new space, and several years later the stones were embedded into the outside wall so that we can touch them as we walk into the church, ever a reminder of God’s faithfulness.
Perhaps I needed a reminder of that faithfulness. Perhaps I needed to ask God to bind my wandering heart to God’s. Perhaps I just needed to let something dear that binds my child faith to my adult faith roll around a bit in my heart. But here, on this Sunday night, I raise my Ebenezer. Thus far, God has helped me.
Today in most Christian churches, I’d bet that you likely heard something about Epiphany. What I doubt any of us heard much about today was Women’s Christmas. Only in the last week have I ever even heard of Women’s Christmas!
Jan Richardson explains it this way:
Originating in Ireland, where it is known as Nollaig na mBan, Women's Christmas began as a day when the women, who often carried the domestic responsibilities all year, took Epiphany as an occasion to enjoy a break and celebrate together at the end of the holidays.
Whether your domestic duties are many or few, Women’s Christmas is a good time to pause and take a break from whatever has kept you busy and hurried in the past weeks or months. As the Christmas season comes to a close, this is an occasion both to celebrate with friends and also to spend time in reflection before diving into the responsibilities of this new year.
Jan has written a beautiful guided reflection for Women’s Christmas that you can do alone or with a group.
Mark your calendars, girls. It’s on next year. Merry Christmas to us all!
This little heater was my Christmas gift to DH who is ALWAYS colder than I am, year round. This enables him to close our room off and make it nice and warm and toasty when he is sleeping during the day. (he works nights) I turn the heat off at night but leave the little faux flame glowing and it makes me feel snug as a bug when I settle in . I sort of wish I had seen Alicia’s little stove in white before I bought this one, but the black suits my childhood phone. (GLendale 4-5569, party line) Anyway, I love this cozy little stove today.
And my room is NOT bright yellow- just the exposure of the picture.
New year, time for a new word. As for my year spent with Memory, I feel like it was a pleasant companion and I am glad for our time spent together in earnest.
My word for this year is Silence. Today, as I have done for two years prior, I once again moved from one year’s list of hopes to another the dream of making a silent retreat at either a monastery close to home or a hermitage at a convent a bit further. I think the monastery is calling to me and I am not sure why I haven’t made that happen. But it is the silence that calls. Not silence so much as in the absence of sound. At the monastery there are the lovely prayers of the hours and the sounds that a place of silence makes. I think the silence I crave is more of a barrier between me and sounds that distract me. And those might not be so much sounds as my own lack of inner quiet. I want to make friends with some sense of emptiness, where words or music or even thoughts come at my invitation. So, silence. Welcome 2013. This poem is a nice welcome into silence.
by May Sarton
The time has come
To stop allowing the clutter
To clutter my mind
Like dirty snow,
Shove it off and find
Clear time, clear water.
Time for a change,
Let silence in like a cat
Who has sat at my door
Neither wild nor strange
Hoping for food from my store
And shivering on the mat.
Let silence in.
She will rarely speak or mew,
She will sleep on my bed
And all I have ever been
Either false or true
Will live again in my head.
For it is now or not
As old age silts the stream,
To shove away the clutter,
To untie every knot,
To take the time to dream,
To come back to still water.