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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Kinder Than You Feel

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Today began after a rough night. We finally were approved as foster parents and had our first respite care experience this weekend.  Though we had indicated we wanted 5-12 year olds, this was a four-year old little girl, and I felt my age on numerous occasions over the course of the days she was with us. Last night, a knock at the door woke me at 12am., and I spent the rest of the night being assailed by arms and legs and an occasional head. Not to mention the snoring, and yes a four year old with allergies can snore.

I took a peek at Instagram as I was waiting for my coffee and saw these words from another foster mom:

Always be kinder than you feel.

When I got in my car to head to work, I heard about the shooting in Las Vegas. Then later I heard about Tom Petty. After I got home I saw this charge from  fellow Tweeter Joe Pug: “If you’re a songwriter, the best way to honor Tom Petty’s beautiful life and work is to write a song tonight. Start to finish.” Well, I can’t write the music but I did attempt the words. Thinking about foster care, Las Vegas, and Tom Petty, here are my lyrics waiting for a tune.

 

Kinder Than You Feel

 

Woke up this pre-dawn morning glory

Tired from life, I heard the story

Tired from living

Tired from giving

Always be kinder than you feel

 

Woke up to gray sky before the sun

Tired from living but not undone

Time for forgiving

Time for thanksgiving

Always be kinder than you feel

 

Early morning, it doesn’t make sense

What’s past still feels like present sense

Working my way through

Working past that blue

Always be kinder than you feel

 

Chorus:

Always be kinder than you feel

Kindness is what it takes to heal

Kindness is that one true ideal

You can’t borrow, you can’t steal

 

Dream On

 

“Cancel subscriptions to Southern Living, Veranda and Southern Lady magazines”

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– I Still Dream About You by Fannie Flagg

In Flagg’s book, the main character, Maggie Fortenberry, is making plans to kill herself, but she just can’t leave the world without putting everything in order first, including canceling her magazine subscriptions. I am familiar with all three of these magazines; in fact, Southern Living and Southern Lady are both published right here in Birmingham. In another fact, I worked for Southern Lady for two whole weeks. But, that’s a long story for another day.

The bad thing for me about magazines like these is the desires they stir up. Everything is lovely and perfect… and usually expensive. Granted, there is a lot of good information between the pages, such as gardening tips and recipes. But, then again, I don’t have a green thumb and don’t cook like I used to. Maggie Fortenberry didn’t really garden or cook, either. So, why do we get these magazines?

Sometimes it’s fun to just dream. We think about houses we’d like to live in one day, places we’d like to visit, clothes that are lovely. Others of us get inspired: I could make a table like that; I could paint my room that color; I could visit that town on a budget. There is a lot of potential good if we peruse the pages with a little common sense. Or, we can just cancel those subscriptions altogether.

Charlottesville and Beyond

I don’t watch much news. When I see something on twitter, I look up what’s happening in the world. Is that the best way to be alert? Probably not, but that’s me right now.

So I totally missed the goings-on in Charlottesville. But, facebook to the rescue. After being told what I, as a white woman, should be doing, I had to first read about what was going on. I read up and am appalled and sad. I in no way agree with what these protesters were doing. If I was a person who was in the right place at the right time, I would have been on the side of the counter protesters.

I wasn’t there. I was just returned from a trip visiting relatives in Florida. While there, my mother-in-law had emergency surgery and her life is hanging in the balance. I saw my grandkids off to their first days of pre-k and second grade. These children have friends who are “brown”. They do not seem to notice a difference; they never refer to their friends except by name unless they are asked to describe them.

I read this from a well meaning person I respect: “For all my white friends in different parts of the country, we must continue to chip away at the bedrock of this hatred in every conversation we take part in, and every action we take.” I understand his concern, but why must I do this in every conversation I have?

Michael Eric Dyson wrote this in The New York Times: “Now is the time for every decent white American to prove he or she loves this country by actively speaking out against the scourge this bigotocracy represents.”

I am speaking out now, but not because I love America, though I do like it an awful lot and I’m grateful to be one of its citizens. I’m speaking out because I love Christ. I strive to follow him in all I do including the way I treat everyone on a daily basis. I believe that in the Bible God has given instruction on how to live. Do I follow His instructions every day? No. Do I bend over backwards to consider the needs of others? No, not nearly enough. I do strive toward this end; I am learning more everyday what it means to serve others and to love my enemies.

I may not chip away at this hatred in every spoken conversation. I may be hanging out in a hospital waiting room, meeting my grandchildren’s friends, or hugging students when I substitute teach. An older, Middle English definition of conversation meant behavior or manner of living. This is the conversation with which I hope to chip away at hatred.

But as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation    –   I Peter 1:15

 

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BFFs

Thoughts on the words of J. Gresham Machen – Think for yourself

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J. Gresham Machen lived from 1881-1937. He was a Presbyterian churchman, a New Testament scholar, a Princeton Theological Seminary professor, founder of the Westminster Theological Seminary and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Machen is considered to be the last of the great Princeton theologians. The quotes in this series come from his book, “Christianity and Liberalism”.

“It is usually considered good practice to examine a thing for oneself before echoing the vulgar ridicule of it.”

I’ve learned, and am still learning, the wisdom of this statement. I think this thought can apply to many different situations, not just religion.
Some other example where it might apply:

  • Homeschooling – often people want to put down homeschooling based on traditions. They are so used to the public school system, the way they were raised, that they jump to conclusions. I did this years ago when our friends were the first people I knew who had decided to homeschool. I thought they were nuts. Little did I know.
  • Outward appearance – the old saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover” applies here.
  • Vegetarianism – I am not a vegetarian, but I certainly see the wisdom in it.
  • Alternative medicine – Many of our nation of pill takers don’t question all the prescriptions they are handed. Many people think those who prefer natural methods are wackos. Not so.
  •  Everything you read on social media. Nuff said.

Panic

Today’s PAD prompt was “Panic” . This came to mind as it does quite often.

that night

September, 2000

 

That Night

 

The black darkness as we tumbled

came so swift and sudden until

we were upright

across the road

facing the opposite direction

and she was gone

 

outside the car

screaming my name

before I could even make sense of it

I climbed out the window

to get her in my arms

and my heart restarted

my breath returned

Sound

Today’s PAD prompt was “sound”.  Here’s my sound memory…

 

 

Sweet Notes

The  sound of him singing

“Sweet Caroline”

at the top of his voice

from the shower

brings a smile and warms

my heart

I am amazed

at the change in him

 

who would have

ever thought

he’d be a Neil Diamond fan?

this tall boy-man

who left home to be a soldier

and returned

so thin and worldly-wise

 

yet I still hear

the boy in his voice

and see it in his grin.

 

You can read last year’s Day 6 poem HERE.