Saturday, December 28, 2013


'Tis the time of the after-Christmas doldrums.  The tree is still up, but the baby who delighted in its lights has gone home.  The gifts are unwrapped; the cookies are eaten.  The mail no longer comes with packages and cards bearing news of friends and family.  The days are still short; winter has just started.  The holiday has come and gone and I blinked and missed much of it.

It's easy for me, during this time of short days, to fall into a listless state.  I dislike getting up before the sun, but my work schedule just doesn't seem to allow for my starting at 9:30.  I also don't care to work past sunset, but they don't seem to want me to leave at 4:15.  (what's with these people?)

I feel ungainly; those cookies didn't go far when I ate them - they seem to have firmly attached themselves to my hips.  I'm not exercising as much - the cold, snow and wind conspire to keep me inside.

All of which makes me extra grateful for days like these past two - the sun has been out, we've had a temporary respite from the cold.  I was able to get out and exercise and breathe deeply of the warm air.  (it doesn't take a lot of days spent below freezing for a temp in the mid-40's to seem heavenly warm...)

As I was out walking today, I was caught anew in the beauty of the leafless trees.  Without their cover of green, I can better see the lines of the branches as they reach for the light.  I can see the scars marking limbs sacrificed to passing storms. 

And if I look closely, I can see tight buds on branch-tips waiting for the sure arrival of spring.  For though it seems far away now in the midst of winter's dark, these doldrums, too, shall pass.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Silent Night

There are a few things in this world that transport me immediately back to a when and where that have long existed only in my dreams.  One of the transport vehicles is the carol, 'Silent Night'.

As soon as the song starts, I am a child again, just into my teen years.

It is Christmas Eve, and we are on our way home from church.  The car is icy cold with the chill of the Minnesota winter's night.  Outside, the snow is brightly lit by the moon.  I am tired, yet happy.  It's been a good Christmas.

We sang the old familiar carols in church, and on the way home, we start singing them again.  Mom is singing soprano; her voice soars.  My oldest brother has learned to sing tenor, my sisters and I sing the alto part, the little kids join in for the parts they know.  To my ears, the music is as heavenly as the chorus that first welcomed the Christ child.

Though the car is cold, I am warm. 
I am warmed by my coat and hat and mittens. 
I am warmed by the bodies of my sisters and brothers; we are tightly packed into the back of the car. 
I am warmed by my full stomach. 
I am warmed by the thoughts of presents waiting to be opened when we get home.

The trip to the past always leaves me with a glint of tears in my eyes; it's been long and too long since I last heard my mother sing.  Yet beneath the tears, I smile - grateful still and again for the gift of music she passed on to me.

Sleep in heavenly peace...

Sunday, December 8, 2013


I always find this time of year, with its cold and dark days to be a trial.  It's been a bit worse since my camper van trip - before that I harbored the illusion that I could run from the darkness, now I know I can't; not and stay in the main part of the U.S.

The news is full of horrible things happening in other people's lives.  From Nature and her storms to the pain people inflict on each other.  Senseless deaths and beatings.  Hungry children and drunken fights.

Somehow, in the midst of this, the death of Nelson Mandela brought a bit of perspective to it all.  Among the many quotes of his in the news this week, this one struck home:

"It always seems impossible until it's done."

He was living proof of the power of light.  He forgave his enemies and worked for reconciliation for all races.  He spent twenty-seven years in prison, and made a good friend of one of his jailors.  He stood for what he believed.

Darkness is incapable of extinguishing light

I needed the reminder.   So often these days it seems that darkness is winning.  Then I hear stories of Malala surviving the shot meant to silence her, of a lady here in town who has begun a mission to pay it forward - to work to spread a message of good.  You hear of people who go out of their way to rescue lost children and pets.  Of those who work for the light anyways, even when it seems like the dark must be winning.

It doesn't seem possible that fighting the darkness can do any good - yet Mr. Mandela accomplished the impossible.  If he could keep spreading light from the confines of his prison, perhaps darkness is not as powerful as it seems.  There is hope.

In a few days time, the season will turn, the days will begin to grow longer and the year's cycle will begin anew.  There is hope.

There is hope.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Can You Hear It?

Can you hear it?
it whispers to me as I lay down in my bed to sleep
I open my eyes for a moment, and am surprised for just an instant to see the walls of my bedroom instead of the confines of the camper van.

Can you hear it?
it beckons, just beyond reach
I tell it of my daily cares, of bills to be paid, work to be done
not today, I tell it.  nor tomorrow, but I will follow you for a while again this summer
it sighs

Can you hear it?
it tempts me with memories of days filled with being and not doing
visions of sunsets, where so clearly, God Is
the memories are bittersweet

Can you hear it?
there are so many beautiful places you haven't yet seen...
so many roads not traveled
come.  follow me. 
come.  follow me.

Can you hear it?
Can you hear the call of the road?