A Thought From All the Light We Cannot See

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“Werner thinks of his childhood, the skeins of coal dust suspended in the air on winter mornings…” from All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

For some reason, this stirred a childhood memory of milk. For a very short time when we first moved to Jacksonville, FL, we had our milk delivered by the “milkman”. On our front porch sat a metal crate where we would leave our empty bottles and take delivery of fresh milk. I remember the tops were sealed with thick paper lids. This milk was probably from Skinner’s Dairy, a hometown company that later built numerous drive-thru milk stores across Jacksonville.

In north Florida it didn’t get cold very often, but there were some winter mornings when we were excited to be able to see our breath in the chilly air. There was one winter I’ll always remember as the temperature got down in  the upper teens and our heat went out. Our dad was out of town at the time on one of his many business trips. We bundled up and played outside anyway. The very large ditch – like a creek – behind our house was frozen on the top. Our friend’s little dog, Ginger, skittered across easily. Our dog, Dixie, followed her and went right through to the icy water.

Other fall and winter days were filled with my brothers playing football in the front yard and a few evening fires in our fireplace. In high school it was a time to wear stylish sweaters to school, then go outside for PE in the short gym suits we had to wear. I remember being teased about the chill bumps on my legs – referred to as chicken skin.

After moving to Birmingham in 2014, I was so excited about our first fall and winter. Sweaters and boots and scarves were so much fun! But, then it seemed to last forever and I yearned for the warmth of spring.

Last year, summer far outlasted its welcome. And this year we’ve had our share of hurricanes in the south. Now I long once more for the cool air and some justification for a pumpkin spice latte.

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Step Back in Time

 

Last year I read some wonderful books set during World War II. Besides being drawn in to care for the characters and having to google location images, I learned a bit of history along the way. The following is a brief review on my selections.

 

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All the Light We Cannot See

Set mostly in France, this heart-wrenching story follows two main characters: blind Marie-Laure whose father works for the Museum of Natural History in Paris, and Werner, an orphan recruited into the Nazi army. “Seeing” the war through blind eyes was interesting. Marie Laure’s father made a model of their city so that she could eventually earn her way around unaided. Later, he had to do it all over again in a new town, but this time his model was more than just a way to help his daughter. It also held a secret.
Marie-Laure’s and Werner’s paths eventually crossed, as I hoped they would. But it was a bittersweet timing.

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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

This story was a little more light hearted, yet still contained moments of sadness that can’t be avoided in war. Written in the form of letters between the main character, Juliet Ashton and others who were a part of her life, this one has an element of romance sprinkled in with the courage shown by those who faced wartime with tenacity and tenderness. The “society” was a cover story made up on the fly, but one which led to a community coming together under the bond of reading. This one is a book lover’s delight!

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Suite Francaise

Written in 1939, it was the last work of Irene Nemirosky, who met her untimely death in a concentration camp before she finished this work. It’s almost too full of characters, so it needs to be read carefully. I often found myself backtracking to pick up storylines or remind myself who the characters were. Still, it is an interesting take on a side of war that we don’t often see. It shows what happens to those who aren’t on the front lines, but at home, forced to house the enemy. Yet, sometimes the enemy seems like a friend.

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Once There Was a War

The only non-fiction work on my list, it was easy to read Steinbeck’s collection of his news articles. Sometimes I breezed through the technical military aspects, but I got the jist of them. There is something about his style that makes you feel like he’s sitting across the table telling you about his day.

If you want to brush up on your history and lose yourself in a good book, any of these would make an excellent choice!

 

 

 

 

 

Wait Silently

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To look for community instead of cocktail-party relationships is part of choosing sides in the vast, strange battle. To say, “I’m sorry”; to be silent; to say “I love you,” “I care.” It is these little things that are going to make the difference. For God chooses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, the weak to overthrow the strong.

– The Irrational Season (1977) by Madeleine L’Engle

 

I’ve written about this before, I’m sure; I am writing to myself again. I long for community, real and true. I think I’m settling for cocktail-party relationships via social media. I see the words “I love you”, “I care” “praying” all over facebook, but what does it really mean? Is it so others can see you are so concerned? To do so in person is another kettle of fish all together.

 

It is not easy to say I’m sorry, especially I’m sorry without a but after it. However, it’s often too easy to say I love you  – love ya – as an alternate to see ya later. Said too easily and it looses its meaning. Saying I care may be harder; harder still to show you care in a tangible may.

 

But the hardest may be to be silent. Silent when you want to scream or cry or yell or explain or accuse or complain.

 

My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him. – Psalm 62:5

 

Help me, LORD, to be silent. To show love and care.  To pray.

Scripture floating around

“I felt that so much Scripture floating around might tend to harden some hearts, that Scripture should be treated with reverence and not pasted to any flat surface you could find- at least, that was what I said when Brethren asked why I didn’t carry a ‘The Peace of God Passeth All Understanding’ bookbag to school. “

                                                   – Lake Wobegon Days by Garrison Keillor

 

I see scripture  misplaced/misused all over, but most noticeably on T-shirts, like this one…

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or this one…

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Then there are the comments and catch phrases.

As Matt Redmond pointed out on twitter,  the phrase “a God Thing” is just so wrong.

A few more:

  • Do your Best, and God will do the Rest!
  • How will you spend eternity, Smoking or non smoking?   (this one is just so sad)
  •  WARNING! Exposure to the Son may prevent burning. (ditto)

 

A better idea would be to follow Psalm 119:11 –

 

Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

 

 

 

 

Monday Music #6

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I have a playlist on Amazon that I call Sweet Homes. Not all the songs are about Alabama, though, because I’ve had other homes. And I’m attached to some places that are or have been homes for my loved ones. This one’s for everybody…

 

Feels Like Home

Something in your eyes
Makes me want to lose myself
Makes me want to lose myself
In your heart

Something in your voice
Makes my heart beat fast
Hope this feeling will last
The rest of my life

If you knew
How lonely my life has been
And how low I’ve felt for so long
If you knew
I wanted someone to come along
And change my world
The way you’ve done
It feels like home

Feels like home to me
Feels like I’m on my way back
Where I come from
Feels like home
Feels like home to me
Feels like I’m on my way back
Where I’m from

With your embrace
Down a long dark street
And a sigh of wind in the night
It’s alright
Cause I have you here with me
And I can almost see
The dark feels light

If you knew
How much this moment means to me
And how long I’ve waited for your touch
If you knew
I wanted someone to come along
I never thought I’d love anyone
So much

Feels like home
Feels like home to me
Feels like I’m on my way to where I come from
Feels like home to me
Feels like home to me
Feels like I’m on my way back to where I belong
Feels like I’m on my way back to where I belong

Written by Randy Newman • Copyright © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, Universal Music Publishing Group

Bama Books #2

Big Fish

I chose this book for several reason, the main one being that the students at Pelham High School, where I sub often, were reading it over the summer. I thought it might give me a little conversation starter come fall. I saw the movie, which has a fantastic soundtrack, and in 2015 I saw the play via Red Mountain Theatre. I think I liked the play the best, followed by the soundtrack. The book kinda left me scratching my head.

 

 

I agree with this critic, the movie was better than the book. I think that’s the first time I’ve ever said that.

You can read my first post on Bama Books HERE