Showing posts from September, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Tibetan Cloth


Weekend Snapshot: Stylin' Scarecrows Standing in the Rain

This timelessly lovely couple was standing outside the historic Glebe House in Woodbury, Connecticut, this weekend. They were oblivious to the rain.

Weekend Snapshot

Which is to Say, 'I Love You'

Often we remain silent when we need to speak. Without words, it is hard to love well. It is not always easy to express our love directly in words. But whenever we do, we discover we have offered a blessing that will be long remembered. (Henri J. M. Nouwen, Bread for the Journey, A Daybook of Wisdom and Faith)

One Single Impression: Fleeting

Geese flap their wings in time
With the pulse of autumn.
The setting sun casts itself up one last time,
Stroking the bellies of these quiet,
Distant birds in a fleeting moment.
I feel that touch, too,
And I imagine it as a kind of love.
It is a farewell I have watched a thousand times,
Always confident I will watch it a thousand more.
This time, I watch as I lie on a blanket in grass
Alongside the river where
I have watched these geese feed
On warmer days.
They mark time for me in heaven and on earth.
I feel the pulse of their movement
Throbbing in my own veins
And I say good-bye. I sleep well.
I know I will hear them return.
I will be here. I will not be alone.

One Single Impression

Blog Your Blessings: Silence

This week's blessing is quiet. I thrive in, on, and around quiet.

For every good moment with the low-performing middle-school kids I work with, there are moments of mystery that are as sheer as they are frustating. I wonder what makes a 12-year-old girl so angry all the time that her first thought is to strike out at me when I greet her in the morning. I wonder why some boys of the same age derive pleasure from interrupting my classes by asking to go to the bathroom every 10 minutes. I am dumbfounded by the kids who won't even bring a pencil to my class, and when I give them one, break the point and insist they can't work.

So many ghetto kids know anger as a way of being. There is no source, no reason for it; it simply is, and they live it. They respond to kindness the way they respond to a slap in the head because they-- What? Aren't used to it? Don't trust it? I don't honestly know.

I guess that I am a part of a thing called school that is part of a world they a…

Skywatch Friday: At Home in the Evening


Thursday Thirteen 52: Love in Basic English

This week the words of 1 Corinthians 13 have been doing laps inside my head. I have been well aware of love in my life and the nature of love generally and the profound need to be loving in all things with the (very often) difficult students in my charge. Putting all of this together in a little thing I call my life, I have found my brain chasing around the poetry of 1 Corinthians 13. Being a woman of my times, I googled the text rather than reached for the Revised Standard Version of the Good Book that I call home.

I was delighted when I came across "Bible in Basic English" at because it startled me. The replacement of "patient" with "never tired of waiting" stopped me in my tracks. I like to think I'm patient but I am in no way capable of any kind of waiting. How humbling. Check out love in basic English:

1.Love is never tired of waiting;
2. love is kind;
3. love has no envy;
4. love has no high opinion of itself;
5. love has no pride;
6. l…
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Wordless Wednesday

Weekend Snapshot: All's Fair in South Britain

We strolled about the fair at the South Britain, Connecticut, Congregational Church. This fair is famous for its apple pies and simple, old-fashioned fun.

Weekend Snapshot

One Single Impression: Autumn

Early autumn is a slow undressing,
A dropping gently of the clothes of time
In the soft dark of morning, in the early dark of evening
In the cool air that awakens, enlivens, embraces
And ultimately takes summer in a breath of ecstasy--
A breath it holds until midday, when it lets go
To warm all those naked limbs,
All grace and splendor and reaching,
Reaching unabashed--perhaps even proud--
For the equally naked, equally splendid sky.

One Single Impression

Blog Your Blessings: Finding the Words

You somethin', Miss."
"Yeah? What am I?"
"You just somethin', Miss. Tha's all."

This exchange followed a literacy class in which a group of eighth-grade students read a newspaper article about one of their favorite rap artists. I chose the reading material based on their request. The kids in this rowdy rough-and-ready class actually competed to read aloud.

It worked because they worked hard. At the end of class, they made several requests for lessons based on other artists to their liking. No problem. I'm good with going where they are and working my way up, even if it's a long way up.

And it is. I realized when my student called me "somethin'" that she didn't have the words for what she wanted to say. Whatever she was experiencing about my class went beyond her vocabulary. Was this a good thing or a bad one? Dunno.

A few days later, her friend and the second most obstreperous person in that room stood with me dur…

Skywatch Friday: A Deer Sky


Thursday Thirteen 51: The Nature of My Religion

This week I read this in an article about Bruce Springsteen's music as a means of making sense of the sometimes tangled, often disparate threads of our lives. This is at its foundation, a religious undertaking, a ministry of healing: the very word "religion" after all is from the Latin relgare, which means "to bind together again." It refers to that system of overriding metaphorial and mythological schemes, which binds things together for people--which provides them with a sense of meaning and transcendence.

Rock and roll does that for many of us, Jeffrey B. Symynkyicz writes in "The Healing Ministry of Rock and Roll" in the Autumn 2008 Harvard Divinity Bulletin. Symynkyicz is a Unitarian Universalist minister and author of The Gospel According to Bruce Springsteen. If the book is like the article, it is a worthwhile read.

It left me pondering more about the things that make up my religion than it did about Bruce, though. That would figure with me. Her…

Wordless Wednesday: Hoppiness


Weekend Snapshot: Our Friend Ben

I live most of my life in Waterbury, Connecticut, where Ben Franklin presides over the Silas Bronson Library. I spent a few minutes with him Sunday morning while my daughter was practicing with her choir. In the rain he seemed at once strong and sad.

Weekend Snapshot

One Single Impression: Seeds

Can the mountains know that they are like us?
That, grand as they are, they will grow
Smaller and smaller and smaller still
Until they are soft hills--

Corners gone, rough edges gone,
Steep and dangerous passes gone
Heights that shape the weather

That the grandeur will give way to
Soft spaces, green and cool,
Secret streams, murmuring pools,
Wordless life....

Can we know that we are like the mountains,
That we might grow small enough
To see the mystery unfold before us
And to feel it within us,
Invisible, infinite, earthy, and true--

That we will crumble into life?

One Single Impression

Achieving Destiny

Destiny is no matter of chance. It is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved. (William Jennings Bryan)

Blog Your Blessings: Gee Wiz

"'Gee wiz,' miss? You said, ''Gee wiz'?"

"Yes, Brandon. I said, 'Gee wiz.'"

"I never heard that before, miss."

This was yet another passing exchange with an eighth-grade student who is trying to help me bring my vocabulary up-to-date with today's street English. The child means well, surely. He tells me things like, "Don't say 'chill,' miss; say 'relax.'" And I remember and do.

But "gee wiz" got me. I told him it means "wow." But it didn't matter because it's not today's usage.

Back in the day, "gee wiz" was street English for Jesus, a way of using the name without using the name to express surprise. Now it is an indication of a middle-aged woman's enduring naivete despite her daily contact with children who haven't learned to read and write well and don't much care to because they don't see the point.

My young teacher set me on the way to thi…

Skywatch Friday: Fairly Heaven

This was my view of the sky at the Bethlehem Fair last Friday evening. The peace and quiet of heaven seemed strangely at home over the bright lights of the carnival rides and hustle and bustle of the country fair.

Skywatch Friday

Thursday Thirteen 50: You Are What You Say

I teach literacy at an inner-city middle school where the kids have seen more of what can go wrong in life in their 13 or so years than I have in my 41. Part of my job is to convince these lowest-performing students that reading and writing are the first essential keys to lives of their choosing--that with the right vocabulary they will dream well and live as large as they want if they make the effort.

It's not easy. So often in the halls and in the emptying classrooms I hear conversations full of bravado and other forms of foolishness peppered with every curse word you can imagine as well as a few innovations that would confound the worldliest of sailors.

It occurs to me that the words we use reflect who we are. They reflect our souls. I have been accused from time to time of arguing semantics. To that I say, "Of course." Semantics. The science of language is a study of the soul. It's important to me to get it right and to read text as if every word were placed with l…

Wordless Wednesday: Coffee Dreams


Weekend Snapshot: Carousel Ride

The Bethlehem Fair was a lot of fun for Adella and her friend this year. I am not a fan of amusement rides and don't care much for heights, so it's always a strange, surreal experience to watch my daughter climb into these contraptions and disappear into the sky. She is fearless and knows how to have fun. I am grateful her friends will share the joy and I can watch from good old terra firma.

Weekend Snapshot

One Single Impression: Defenses Down

A flower opens itself
As a woman opens to her lover--
All defenses down,
He said.

Such requisite vulnerability...
Is a ridiculous idea,
I thought,
And I sought to run down
The metaphor:
What lover?
I asked.
The sun that feeds her?
The bee that claims her nectar?
The air that carries away
Every other possibility of new life
From deep within the flower?

Well, yes,
He said.
The earth is her lover.

It takes everything from her,
I said.

And then he whispered:
And she lives forever
For that lover
Who is she,
She doesn't
Know the difference,

Never pushes him away.

And I was quiet.

Blog Your Blessings: Late Summer Sun

This week's blessing: the warmth of the September sun.

I was out for a walk with a friend the other day, and I could feel the warmth of the late summer heat warming my head, my neck, back, my shoulders. It felt like an embrace as I wandered around some lovely gardens and through an empty field and enjoyed the gentle light and the deep, cool shadows of late summer.

I thought how simple and beautiful life can be and so very often is. And I thought how fortunate I am to be able to say that. I have my daughter, my family, my very dear friends, a good job, a modest yet comfortable life...No natural disasters, diseases, no crime or poverty, no big problem of any kind creating a stumbling block for me. Not right now.

Right now I can step out at the end of the day and enjoy the sun because it's there and I choose to be there, too. It's simple, beautiful, good. It's all good. And it's enough.

Blog Your Blessings

Skywatch Friday: Fire and Fusion


Thursday Thirteen 49: Early Morning, Early Evening

Quite early the other morning, I stepped out of bed and into a shaft of light pouring down the hall in a way that very much made me think of the long and slender petals of a flower. Which of course reminded me that it was August 31, the very end of what feels like summer though three weeks of summer remain. How I love early morning at this time of year...

1. ...because it is very quiet
2. and to break the peace of that quiet would be very much like shattering glass. Those of us who are awake are careful not to.
3. The soft light of morning comes to the earth at a gentler angle than ever it did in summer
4. and casts long and beautiful shadows of trees across the hills
5. so that the ridge lines circumscribe the great fires atop the hills
6. and you have to look up to know dawn has come.
7. The cool air breaths mist across the pond and the swamp,
8. and these low-flying clouds wrap themselves around the geese who slumber--
9. like everyone else--that bit longer in the soft down of dreams.
10. …

Wordless Wednesday: Two Takes on One


When You Are Loved...

When you are loved, you can do anything in creation. When you are loved, there's no need at all to understand what's happening, because everything happens within you. (from The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho)