Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Four Years

As I write, it will be four years ago tomorrow that our beloved Grandmother died.

I love these two photos. The first was, obviously, taken before the date of her death had been inscribed. I like the way it implies eternal life. A beginning point, but no end to this life. Only the end of a certain way of living.

The second photo is from her kitchen cabinet, where she kept her Bible and the Power for Today booklet, always rubber-banded together. I think it was to keep the pages of the Bible from being bent, though I never asked her.

Grandmother was a rare woman. I suppose lots of people say that about their grandmothers. But other people say it about mine, so I know it isn't only my bias, though that would be enough for me. She was beautiful, intelligent, down-to-earth, hospitable. She was a traveler, a lover of music, a loyal friend, an incredible cook, a lover of birds and gardening. She was a survivor and one who helped others through hard times.

She . . . . Well, I think over the next few blogs I’ll write about Grandmother, so those of you who never knew her can get to know her a little bit.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Light and Shadow

Shadow of blowing leaves,
Though only a part,
Motion in a stagnant room.

I wrote those lines in college, during a class I had come to hate. The way the professor taught, it drained the life and joy out of the subject we were studying (a subject I loved.) It was fall. I was not only bored but becoming depressed, and sitting there in that lifeless room was the last place I wanted to be.

I noticed the shadows on the wall of leaves blowing outside and found them more lifelike than anything in the room, even though they (the shadows) weren’t really anything, just part of the play of light outside where the real tree was. I desperately wanted to be out there with the tree and the wind and the fresh air.

The significance of that moment still surprises me. I’ve never forgotten those few words I wrote in the margin of my notebook, never forgotten the room we were in, the professor, the subject, who my classmates were.

It was the semester I plunged into the worst depression I ever experienced, lasting months and months and changing my life in profound ways. On that day, those simple shadows of leaves represented life to me.

And so today, with rain pouring down since before we woke up, cloudy skies and a dark house, I like this photo that I took a couple of months ago of a graceful golden gingko branch on a tree down the street, with its shadow playing on the wall of the house.

I think how our glimpses of God are essentially like shadows. We couldn’t bear to see His radiance, so we see little parts of Him as He makes them known. Our ways of loving are like shadows compared to the light of His love. Our kindness is nothing like His.

Even this earth in all its natural beauty is only a hint of the glorious new heaven and new earth on the other side of the window of time.

And isn’t it amazing how these shadows, though only parts of His goodness and glory, bring life into the rooms of our hearts. They get us through the stagnant moments and increase our longing for the real world.

May clouds and shadows always make us yearn for light and reality.


Thursday, January 04, 2007

Eleven Pumpkins Sitting

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love sent to me . . . .
Actually, I bought these pumpkins before Thanksgiving, but I loved them and then loved the photo I took of them. And since there are eleven, today seems like a good day to share them with you.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, I met a man who goes by the name King, because that is what they call him in the chopper group he rides with. Yes, he drives a black Harley. And he knew half the people walking in the park. "That woman is a psychiatrist . . . . Let's go that way, I need to give something to my friend whose brother just died . . . . That man in the Melrose jacket, he used to be a basketball star, couldn't you tell?" King also recently has discovered a love of growing vegetables in a friend's gardening. Never stereotype a Harley driver.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, our doggies had to stay inside all day because of the rain. They dealt with my parents' lunch visit, two piano students, and a perfect stranger who came for a meeting. And they behaved wonderfully the whole time. Never assume that your puppy will not eventually calm down and learn to behave.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, our house is cleaner than it has been in a long time, and I'm hoping I can keep it cleaner in the future. Never forget how nice it is once the work is done.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my muscles are sore from working out, something else I hope to do more of in the future. Never forget the advice I heard recently from a chiropractor: you can have pain now because of your discipline, or you deal with worse pain later due to your lack of discipline.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, I think of the "Eleven" piece from Sesame Street so many years ago, with the woman singing in her funny soprano about so many things. (And I just found it on YouTube! What fun!) I had forgotten about the worms yawning. And who knows, we may hear worms yawning all the time and just not recognize the sound . . . .

So, here's to lovely pumpkins, friendly neighborhood bikers, good health, discipline, and yawning worms.

Merry Christmas for one more day.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year!

Yes, daffodils are already coming up in our front yard.

They must be as confused as we have been by the alternating cold and warm weather of the past couple of months. But they take on a special, if unseasonable, significance poking their heads up from the soil on New Year's Day.

Whether or not you follow the tradition of making New Year's resolutions, can you escape the sense of newness that comes with this day? The putting up of new calendars, the getting used to writing 2007 instead of 2006, the reminder that at least in some things, we really can start over, we really can make changes, we can live differently from the way we have?

I can't. The newness and hope somehow change the air I breathe on this day.

We took our dogs for a walk yesterday, and from the time we left our front door to the time we returned, the temperature must have dropped about ten degrees. At least it does feel like January today, waking up to 30-something degrees rather than the 70's of the past week. I welcome the brisk air, clear sunshine, and the opportunity to dress as if it is winter (well, okay, more like fall). This, too, fits with the day, the New Year, the freshness of new beginnings.

When we returned from our walk yesterday, our kitchen floor was flooded. It took a few hours to mop up, clean up, go to Home Depot, clear the clog that caused it all. Not what we had planned for New Year's Eve.

On Christmas Day, we walked into our dining room to find a circle of fire in the middle of our dining room table. They don't put "do not leave burning candle unattended" on every candle for no reason. We lost a tablecloth and a beloved glass plate in the process, but water put the flames out easily, for which we were very thankful.

So, with both fire and flood behind us, we figure 2007 can only bring better things. But even if it brings more fire and flood, we know we can handle it!

And some day--some day--the Creator and Sustainer of the daffodils will make all things new. That's the calendar page I most look forward to turning. And at the top on my list of resolutions is to live in anticipation of that day.

Happy New Year!