There’s Hope For Sure

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Red Mountain Park 2/22/20

 

In the middle of a very rainy winter, when it seems like spring will never come, I welcome the sunshine. I head to Red Mountain Park and am never disappointed. There, amidst the lifeless flora, I can always find some green. Sometimes a flower, even though IMG_7054considered a weed, peeps out below my feet to remind me that spring will come.

I find the abandoned railroad tracks where trees have grown up in the middle.

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When my mind is burdened with thoughts and decisions that need to be made, I can find a calm. Though I return home with those decisions still unmade, the burden seems less. I not only have the assurance of spring, but the assurance that my future is in God’s hands, just like spring.

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See, you can only live one day at a time
Only drive one hot rod at a time
Only say one word at a time
And only think one thought at a time
And every soul is alone when the day becomes night
And there in the dark if you can try to see the light
In the most pitch black shape of the loneliest shadow
Well then you ought to sleep well
‘Cause there’s hope for sure

High Steppin’/The Avett Brothers

 

 

Magic or Meaning?

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Last year was hard. This year seems harder. “Celebrating” without extended family isn’t  easy. Some are gone, some just don’t come around. I read articles that say this:

“Maybe in that year, or in a string of years, it feels like Christmas just doesn’t work for you. Maybe while everyone else is enjoying the season and dancing to jingle bells it all rings hollow to you. ”  -from When Christmas Loses Its Cheer 

or this:

“What makes it the most wonderful time of the year is also what makes it the most brutal time of the year. My own family has not been immune to this phenomenon.” from Christmas Is For Those Who Hate It Most  

I read these articles and find a glimpse of hope. My mind and heart begin to connect a bit more. All I know but have set aside in sorrow comes back to me.

“I’m not going to put it up anymore,” Mom told me as she sent me home with her two-foot tree after Christmas in 2017. We hadn’t put up a tree since we moved to Birmingham, so I thought it would be perfect. I didn’t realize how her words rang so true; less than two months later she was gone. She wouldn’t ever put up a Christmas tree again.

Today I thought, ‘What would mom do?’ So, I climbed up to the attic and got the little tree. And the wreath. And my decorating is done. I’ve made cookies and wrapped presents for a little girl I may never meet and mailed  a few gifts to my kids. Now I have my tree and wreath. But I have so much more. I just need to be reminded of it every now and then.

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 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. – Luke 2:10-11

Avetts in October #10: Sadness

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In anticipation of The Avett Brothers concert on October 25th, I am writing a series of blog posts connecting some of their lyrics to words of some of my favorite authors.

 

It seemed so unfair: that time should render both sadness and happiness into a source of pain.  –  from A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

 

He’d smile at them across that distance, and the smile was sad and hard, and it meant estrangement, even when he was with them. – from Home by Marilynne Robinson

 

I never know quite how to describe the music of the Avetts. True Sadness seems an odd album title, but actually it’s pretty perfect. It was the first TAB album we purchased. I didn’t know it had been nominated for Best Americana Album. It’s also referred to as folk and alternative country. It’s all that and more. It’s hope.

 

‘Cause I still wake up shaken by dreams

And I hate to say it but the way it seems

Is that no one is fine

Take the time to peel a few layers and you will find

True sadness

 

 

 

Avetts in October #9: Morning Song #2

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“…while the morning was still hesitating between dawn and daylight…” from A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle

I recently realized I’ve written quite a few poems about morning and dawn, about that time when everything begins to awaken for the day. It’s a sweet time that I don’t enjoy enough.

Morning Song gives a nod to this time and the hope it holds.

 

Cause even though I know there’s hope in

Every morning song

I have to find that melody alone

 

 

 

Psalm 10

….there are seasons in a believer’s life – and sometimes the seasons change suddenly…Faith is perplexed and yet goes on pleading. The psalmist does not use God’s baffling him as an excuse for disengaging with God but as an incentive to press on with him. from – The Way of the Righteous in the Muck of Life by Dale Ralph Davis

I don’t know just what season I’m in right now. It’s like the rainy season – sprinkled with showers of doubt; covered in clouds of despair. But sometimes, the clouds will break up and the sun will shine through and I am reminded that God is still there, always there, even when I doubt.

The Psalm begins this way in verses one and two:

Why do You stand afar off, O Lord  Why do You hide in times of trouble?

The wicked in his pride persecutes the poor; let them be caught in the plots which

they have devised.

Why? I’m always wondering why. I find myself too full of questions and doubt. But, the psalmist sees that God is good in verse fourteen:

But You have seen, for You observe trouble and grief, To repay it by Your hand.

The helpless commits himself to You; You are the helper of the fatherless.

And again in verses 17-18:

Lord, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will prepare their heart;

You will cause Your ear to hear, To do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,

That the man of the earth may oppress no more.

My prayer for myself is that God would change my whys into words of trust. That I would

trust in Him to shelter me in the days of darkness and give me joy in the rays of His grace.

Wedged In

“We begin to identify with Winnie the Pooh who is ‘wedged in with great tightness’.” G. T.

Loneliness

Somewhere between longing
And belonging
I find myself alone
Listening for the phone
But I wait
I wait
In the silent rooms

Somewhere between home
And a strange land
I stand
and listen for a breath
A word or a laugh
But there are no echos
Only my footsteps down the hall

Somewhere between what was
And what will be
I dream of a past
That didn’t last
I try to live contentedly
In the now
Some way, somehow

Cathy – Part One

Those friends from middle school are unique. They are the ones you grow up with and make memories with that last forever. I’ve drifted away from most of those, but about six years ago I reunited with Cathy and we became closer than ever. It’s like we fell right back into that kinship that all the years had not erased. We began to hang out a few times a month – it might have been a concert, listening to an author speak, going to a class, poking through a bookstore, or whatever we could find to do. A few years ago we even went to several funerals together. In March I had to go to one alone. Hers.

I don’t even know where to begin to think about Cathy. She was the kind of person who made you feel she was truly interested in you and your well-being.

A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother. – Proverbs 18:24

Cathy truly stuck close to me, like the sister I never had. I could talk to her about anything. I don’t think I’ll ever have another friend like her. I thank God for the time he gave us.

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. – Psalm 116:15

In Eudora Welty’s Delta Wedding, Aunt Ellen was described as “…seeming exactly strong enough for what was needed for her life.”

This is so much like Cathy. She had a quiet strength that took her to the end with hope and grace. For the two years we corresponded via snail mail and texts, she never grumbled. Rarely would she mention a hardship, but when she did it was more like she was just telling me about it, not complaining. She would talk about the future, the adventures we would have. When I went home to Jacksonville and took her out, she never let on how long it took her to get ready; how she had to wait for some of the drugs to get out of her system before she could function.

We would go out to eat and she would eat like a bird, then have the rest packed up to take home. But, we would sit at the restaurant for several hours just talking.

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“Books were there… when I found a friend who loved books as much as I did and we could read together or spend an afternoon running our fingers over the spines.” -Mandy Shunnarah, from I Don’t Do It For You: A Reader’s Manifesto via her blog, Off The Beaten Shelf

This was us – we could spend hours rambling around bookstores like Chamblin’s Uptown in downtown Jacksonville. I will always miss my book buddy.

God’s Love & DNA

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“…there is an absolute disjunction between our Father’s love and our deserving.” – from Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

I came across this quote I’d written down while reading Gilead and it was the word disjunction that caught my eye. I’ll explain about why later. Disjunction means a lack of correspondence or consistency.

There certainly is no connection between God’s loving us and us deserving His love. I speak for myself, but I know it is true for us all. What in the world can we do to deserve God’s love above anyone else? Or at all?  There are no works we can do to merit His favor.  There is a multitude of works we can do, though, to show our love for Him.

Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share,

I Timothy 6:18

So, back to the reason this word jumped out at me. In my latest long-term substitute gig, I’ve been teaching 7th grade science. We are learning genetics and just yesterday we talked about nondisjunction. As an English teacher at heart, this word threw me because it seems to begin with two negatives.  Even though my math skills are poor, I know two negatives make a positive, so now I’m confused.

Nondisjunction occurs in the process of meiosis when homologous chromosomes fail to separate properly during cell division. So, to back up, junction is the process of joining. So, that would seem to mean that disjunction would be a splitting apart. Which makes sense; it’s a lack of connection. So, it seems like NONdisjunction would be a lack of splitting apart. But, no, it is actually a lack of splitting apart correctly. NOW I get it! I feel much better.

Back once more to the original quote –  I am trying to put these thoughts all together. God’s love does not come to us because we deserve it. We could not apply the word nondisjunction to this situation, because there is NO correct nor incorrect lack of splitting apart of these two ideas – God’s love and our deserving. These two will never correlate.

One thing I do know is that as I learn the intricacies of DNA, I am more awed than ever at the way God created us. And more overwhelmed at the fact that He loves me.

 

A Wilderness

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That is how life goes – we send our children into the wilderness. Some of them on the day they are born, it seems, for all the help we can give them. Some of them seem to be a kind of wilderness unto themselves.” From Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

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I’ve read this over several times, but don’t really know what I can add. The sentiments expressed just really got to me.

My hope is in the LORD.

He turns a wilderness into pools of water, And dry land into water springs. – →Psalm 107:35

 

I Peter 1:13-15

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Gird up the loins of your mind
Be sober, and you will find
A hope that goes to the end
And a grace that will not bend

This grace in Christ revealed
it shall never be repealed
As obedient children, put away
Ignorant lusts of former days

As the Holy One has called to you
Be also holy in all you do