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Vintage Wisdom I inherited my Aunt Lucille's journals. My mom, her younger sister, thought that I'd enjoy them and find inspiration for my writing. The first of these journals is dated 1927. She filled the pages with the writings of musicians, ancient Chinese poets, anecdotes from magazines and excerpts from fiction. Sprinkled throughout, but hard to find, are Lucille's own thoughts. The ideas she committed to paper, decades ago, meant something to her. They mean something to me now. They connect me to a family member I never knew but they also reveal that when a thing, or a person, or a song or a moment is meaningful, it is also lasting. Each entry we'll explore and ponder and take away truth from a selected quote from my aunt's journals and drink deeply some vintage wisdom.

Friday, April 1, 2011

NaPoMo - April 1 -- She Sings, She Speaks

Happy am I for a song to sing
A small song
Caught upon the wings of the air
To be heard by anyone,
Everyone, or no one but myself.
A soul.
A song
That I thrust into the open air-
Let the air take it and make of it what it will.
       A bit of laughter,
       A streak of tears,
       A dark smudge of fear,
       A weight of regret;
Knotted notes
Set free.
So it's my song. It is me. It is my past, my hopes of what may be.
A passing ditty perhaps:
         pulsing frail, screaming hilarity,
         the soft repose of purging fullness
         that otherwise had it not been released
         possessed the strength to strangle the insides that gave it birth.
Sing! Little bird-
The Wind whispered in my ear
Becoming stormclouds beneath my wings
Shuddering, gathering up
Giving flight
and the expanse of blue to call Home.

** A little poem for NaPoMo. Make of it what you will, but do this one thing for me in exchange for looking at scraps of my soul: sing. Sing and find the free joy He has for you.

Sing your song, little sparrow. Wind carries music where it will-- your song is necessary.

Ann Voskamp and SheSpeaks conference are offering a scholarship,
A Holy Experience, an opportunity to learn the tune to the songs we have to sing.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Berries Left on the Vine

Comedy merges into tragedy and smiles put rainbows in our tears.

Summer's passed her mid-way point.

July has rounded the bend in languished heat into August.

It's dark and I'm crying a little bit.

Something about the pace of my life leaves me just short of reaching my goals, out of breath and a bit bewildered, as if I'm riding a spinning carousel and trying to find something, anything to focus on for more than a second or two.

I don't have lofty goals, really. But some days every single thing I begin is left undone by setting sun.

But that's not really why I'm crying.

I've left raspberries on the vine. Unpicked. Unpickable. They are hanging, clinging, drying remains of the berries they must have been last week, or the week before that.  I was simply too busy to notice.

I set about this evening to pluck whatever juicy berries remained.  Dusk came closing in and I stood in the back corner of my yard, surrounded by nearly wild raspberry canes and weeds four feet tall. And there I cried.

The first few years that I had gardened, we, my oldest daughter (then age 5) checked the raspberries throughout July to see if they were ready.  She insisted on tasting the first red berry, not waiting for it to really ripen.  It wasn't sweet; in fact not-quite-ready-raspberries can be shockingly tart. We had time to watch the berries ripen. Now, my oldest daughter (age 15) is at a concert that she went to after she was done at work, and I'm wondering how fast does time fly, really.

At the speed of light, I believe.
Because it was just a flicker of light ago that she was little girl and we had time to actually be in the garden, tend it, participate in it.
A flicker of light ago I moved to my new house and brought much of my garden with me, including my raspberries.
A flicker of light ago we brought home daughter no.2 from the hospital. That was the spring after 9/11. The spring following a harrowing winter of financial fear, of nearly losing our home, of weeks of dry-walling the basement to make more bedrooms for our growing family.
A flicker of light ago.

A flicker of light ago and the time is flying. My babies are growing, my house isn't new anymore, the raspberries are left to dry on the vine, and all I can do is enjoy my babies, love living in my house and hope I do better in the garden next year.

And I can embrace the truth in the words my aunt penned in her notebook:

Comedy merges into tragedy and smiles put rainbows in our tears.


The whole perspective changes with the shifted position of the eye and depends not on the subject, but on the man who is looking. (Irving Stone)

Sure, my life is busy. But there are worse things to leave undone than unpicked raspberries. Oh, I don't want to miss out on those.

I want to pluck the juicy, beautiful fruit of life and taste it right there in the garden. I want to relish the sweetness of it:
of a life of loving others well;
of giving and receiving;
of learning to take the steps of faith that change me;
of choosing to serve and forgive and forgive some more;
of understanding that I can make mistakes and I can make them right;
of knowing the garden of life is tended by a Gardener that isn't held captive by seasons, and in his garden, the fruit ripens at the right time.

I can remember to shift my position and allow my whole perspective to change, because that doesn't take any time at all -- it just takes a willingness to look at things differently.

Because while my raspberries were over-ripening and withering, I was busy living the life set in front of me to live. So what if it's moving at the speed of light -- light always has a rainbow in it. I just have to look for it.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Fighting When I Should Be Sleeping

It is by fighting the limitations, temptations and failures of the world that we reach our highest possibilities."
                                                                           Helen Keller
                                                                           Recorded by Lucille, December 27, 1930

It's about two in the morning and I am wrestling.

I am immersed in Ethiopia in my head. The house is quiet and the sounds and people and demands of the world as I've known it are all snoring softly in their beds.

The world as I've discovered it, is wide awake.

Ethiopia is eleven hours ahead, so my friends working across the Atlantic are busy tackling the sounds, people and demands of their world. Stephne might rescue a baby this day, or train an Ethiopian social worker. The doctors and staff at Soddo Christian Hospital may remove a tumor or repair an intestine. They will certainly save a life. They face a different sort of health care crisis there. Sam has returned to the children's home from his visit back to the states, his heart full to bursting and tearing as it's affections take root on two continents, for the children he's lived with these past sixth months have taken up residence in his heart.

In my mind I'm in Ethiopia because a few things happened to me when I visited there last November.
          *One, I left a part of my heart there.  How could I not? I met dear friends, hugged countless strangers, ate lamb cooked over a fire with kocho bread, listened to the joy-drenched voices rising from barefoot coffee farmers. I fell in love.
          *Two, I discovered that there was a part of my life I hadn't yet lived, would have entirely missed had I given into the pressing limitations, the perpetual temptations and the whispers of my past that worked as a team to try and talk me into staying put, right here in my cozy house. I would have missed it! I would never have known that I could participate in something that much bigger than my day to day life. I would have missed the opportunity to see the handiwork of a huge God as he faithfully revealed himself in Ethiopia.
          *Three, I realized that my personal "highest possibilities", well, I haven't attained them yet! Not by a long shot! But, I'm thrilled to know in my heart and by my experience that limitations, temptations and failures are lies but the fight is real and the joy is found in beating the lies down just enough to glimpse the higher  things.

There are failures of the world.

There are failures of my life and even of this day.

Sometimes the limitations, even the very small ones, when stacked upon each other like so many bricks, can seem to form a mountain insurmountable. Much like the one made of dirty dishes in my kitchen sink.

They'll wait for tomorrow.

For tonight, I'll keep working on the website ideas for New Covenant Foundation, I'll look at the pictures  and remember that the failures of the world have built a mountain of poverty in places like Ethiopia, and it takes me, and you, and a few other willing folks, to knock it down.