Category Archives: Family

“The Wonderer” (4th stanza: Brain)

dsc01148

This is the fourth of a series of posts in response to the poem “The Wonderer” by Robert William Service.  Read the whole poem by clicking hereThe first stanza is in my first post found here; the second is here and the third is here.

Now, the fourth stanza of the poem “The Wonderer” by Robert Service:

Then oh! but how can I explain
The wondrous wonder of my Brain?
That marvelous machine that brings
All consciousness of wonderings;
That lets me from myself leap out
And watch my body walk about;
It’s hopeless – all my words are vain
To tell the wonder of my Brain.

A few observations about how the brain operates.  There is the “Eureka!” sort of moment; a realization of discovery.  There is the “Wow!” of wonder, of being taken aback at how another is thinking.  There is the pondering, the imagining of what might be.

EUREKA!  As a brand spanking new Computer Programmer in the “real world” in 1987 I was amazed at how my brain worked.  Computer coursework in college had not taught me exactly what I needed to know.  But it had taught me how to think to learn what I did need to know for using particular programming languages in a specific computing environment.  I marveled at how my brain made connections.

WOW!  My oldest nephew was about 4 years old when I pulled out the book God’s Paintbrush by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso.  Upon hearing the title, B responded in a matter-of-fact tone, “It must be really big.”  It took me a moment to realize that God, who is pretty big to a preschooler, would have a really big paintbrush.

IMAGINE.  Ponder.  Contemplate.  Wonder.  About a creative endeavor.  About a career move.  About the words of a poem, the lyrics of a song, the phrases in a text.  About a relationship.  About God.

Holy God … assure us again that ear has not heard, nor eye seen, nor human imagination envisioned, what you have prepared for those you love you.   – From Book of Worship, United Church of Christ.

God has prepared things for those who love God that no eye has seen, or ear has heard, or that haven’t crossed the mind of any human being.  – 1 Corinthians 2:9b CEB

 

Advertisements

“The Wonderer” (2nd stanza)

This is the second of what I imagine to be several posts in response to the poem “The Wonderer” by Robert William Service.  You can read the whole poem hereThe first stanza and my first post is here.

Here’s the second stanza:

Then there’s the wonder of my Eyes,
Where hills and houses, seas and skies,
In waves of light converge and pass,
And print themselves as on a glass.
Line, form and color live in me;
I am the Beauty that I see;
Ah! I could write a book of size
About the wonder of my Eyes.

“The wonder of my Eyes.”  Being able to see.

The wonder of my mind’s eye.  Being able to see more than what is seen by the eye.

Looking.  Really seeing.  Appreciating the work of light, the wonder of how light works, the color and design that light reveals. 

And also imagining something more.  Envisioning something, as yet, unseen.

Look around – with your eyes or your mind’s eye.  What do you see?  Possibility?  Hope?  Beauty?  Love?

I have seven nephews and nieces (below).  Each unique and wonderful, seeing the world through their own eyes.  Each with his or her own particular personality and primary interests.  Each growing and learning and exploring the world.  Each beautiful (though the boys may prefer I say handsome).  Each loved – and loving – beyond measure.

eyes - noaheyes - megeyes - lexieyes - kylieeyes - haydeneyes - bryceeyes - ben

The eyes have it!

Or, in the picture below, his eyes say it.  It’s my favorite selfie with my beloved.  I just see love as he looks at me and, since his cancer diagnosis, I am beyond happy he is still around!

eyes - jmc and tlc

August 2017. Photo: TLClark.

 

“The Wonderer” (1st stanza)

This is the first of what I imagine to be several posts in response to the poem “The Wonderer” by Robert William Service.  You can read the whole poem here.

Here’s the first stanza:

     I wish that I could understand
     The moving marvel of my Hand;
     I watch my fingers turn and twist,
     The supple bending of my wrist,
     The dainty touch of finger-tip,
     The steel intensity of grip;
     A tool of exquisite design,
     With pride I think: “It’s mine! It’s mine!”

Have you considered your hands lately? 

Take a look.  Finger.  Thumb.  Joint.  Palm.  Knuckle.  Notice the colors and the textures.  See the veins carrying blood, keeping you alive.  Are there scars, telling stories of mishaps or something more serious?  Is there jewelry, reminding you of precious vows or a special trip or a favorite person? 

Think about how you use your hands every day.  Marvelous, aren’t they?!!

dsc01171 (2)

Who has held your hand, recently or long ago?  Whose hand have you held?  With love.  In friendship.  To pray.  To teach.  To reassure.  To connect.  To hold up.

“Though we stumble, we shall not fall headlong, for the Lord holds us by the hand.”  – Psalm 37:24 NRSV

“Nevertheless I am continually with you; you hold my right hand.” – Psalm 73:23 NRSV

“…even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast.” – Psalm 139:10 NRSV

May your hands be helpful today, to you and to others.  May they bring joy, offer comfort, spread kindness.  May they be a reminder that you are loved beyond measure.

Making Bread

My mother made bread in my childhood.  From scratch.  Using yeast, water, sugar, shortening, salt and flour.  I suspect it was to save money.

My father has taken up bread making in his retirement.  From scratch.  Apparently his first efforts fell a bit flat.  He’s learned to knead the dough more than he thought was needed.  He’ll tell you all about the science of it if you ask.

Mom says Dad makes bread like his mother did – by feel.  There was a recipe in the beginning.  Some experimentation.  Another recipe.  More experimentation.  Some research.  Now he adds an egg and sour cream.  The dough makes great cinnamon rolls; though it’s a bit unorthodox for dinner rolls.

Bread baking.  For the necessity of feeding the body.  For the joy of feeding the spirit.

DSC00967 (2)

Dad with caramel rolls.  Photo:  TLClark.  12/2018

 

 

Christmas: Home by Another Way

We’re home.  And we came by another way:  Highway 20 instead of Interstates 90 or 80.  As we crossed Iowa, I remembered travelers near the beginning of the Gospel of Matthew.

MagiMagi from the east journeyed to Jerusalem and then to Bethlehem to honor “the newborn king of the Jews.”  There may or may not have been three of them.  They may or may not have ridden camels.  They were not exactly welcomed by King Herod – though Herod pretended otherwise.  When they found the newborn they presented three gifts.  Warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they headed home another way.

Joseph heeded a dream to avoid Herod’s wrath by taking the family to Egypt.  This is the first trip for Joseph and Mary as Matthew tells the story; there is no mention that they had to travel to Bethlehem.  So, I wonder, did they call Bethlehem “home” for awhile?  Eventually Joseph took the family from Egypt to the land of Israel but it didn’t feel safe there so they settled in Nazareth.  In both instances, they made their way to another home.

Life is like that.  Sometimes it is a journey of going from and returning to the same address.  The house itself remains the same.  The travelers themselves may be changed by the trip – what they saw or who they met or an experience they shared.

Other times life is a matter of leaving – even fleeing – what is no longer healthy, life giving, life affirming.  Sometimes you have to move to a new place, begin again, create a new home.  Like it or not, travelers are changed by this kind of journey.

The good news is that no matter where we are or where we go, we are never alone.

Yes, goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the Lord’s house as long as I live.   Psalm 23:6 CEB

Jesus:  “Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.”  Matthew 28:20b CEB

Childhood Home

My childhood home. Photo taken when I went back there to help my parents pack to move.  Though they lived there for more than 45 years, it is no longer home.  Photo: TLClark, May 2017.

Christmas Countdown: Travelers

DSC00956 (2)

“Wind Gusts 40+ MPH” – The wind did blow and there were 40+ mph gusts.  Thankfully the roads were clear and dry!  (And we drive a low-profile vehicle.)   Photo:  TLClark.

We arrived safely at our Christmas destination.  Wind gusts over 40 mph for the last 250 miles were the only unpleasant surprises along our way.  Upon arrival we were greeted with big smiles and open arms, given a room to call our own while we are here, and invited to help ourselves to whatever we wanted.

As we traveled, my mind wandered to other journeys and other people.

First, travelers from the Gospel of Luke, chapter 1 and 2:

  • Zechariah went to serve in the temple.  I’m guessing he left his wife at home.  Since they had no children and were in advanced in years, she may have been alone.
  • Mary “hurried” to visit Elizabeth.  It seems she went by herself.  Walking or riding a beast of burden?  Was it far or dangerous?  Why did she go?  How did she expect to be received?  Elizabeth loudly blurted out a blessing as she greeted Mary with open arms; it was indeed an “extravagant welcome” (as noted this morning by the pastor at Mayflower UCC, Billings).
  • Joseph took Mary to Bethlehem, as ordered by Caesar Augustus.  An uncomfortable journey, I imagine, for Mary and her betrothed.  Often pictured today with a donkey, but there is no such creature mentioned in the text.  When they arrived, there was no space for them in the “inn” – probably not so much a place to rent a room (i.e., not a hotel or a B&B) but rather the guestroom in the family home (perhaps occupied by earlier arriving extended family).  They made do in the space – likely attached to the home – where the animals were kept.  Perhaps they were not quite the outcasts that I have often imagined!
  • Shepherds, after hearing astonishing news from an angel, rushed off to visit the newborn child.
  • Mary and Jesus took the baby Jesus to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord as prescribed in the law of Moses.  They were joyfully greeted by Simeon and then by Anna.

That’s it.  Those are the journeys connected to Jesus’ birth as recorded by Luke.

Next, travelers associated with the birth of Jesus as noted in the Gospel of Matthew:

  • Magi from the east journeyed to Jerusalem and then to Bethlehem to honor “the newborn king of the Jews.”
  • Joseph heeded a dream to avoid Herod’s wrath and so he took the child and his mother to Egypt – a family fleeing for their child’s safety.
  • Eventually, Joseph took the family from Egypt to the land of Israel but it didn’t feel safe so they settled in Nazareth.

Finally, I think of travelers today and the people who will greet them along the way and at the end of the journey.  I think of

  • those traveling with happy, hope-filled anticipation – to share a holiday, to meet a new baby, to gather with loved ones, to connect with friends old and new;
  • those who travel with heavy hearts for a final visit with one in Hospice care or for a memorial service to celebrate the life of one who has died;
  • those fleeing because home is no longer is safe – refugees, immigrants, victims of domestic violence, persons who identify as LGBTQ;
  • those working to help travelers long the way – staff at hotels, gas stations, restaurants, airports and train stations including security personnel, maintenance crews, janitors,  highway patrols, pilots, taxi drivers, conductors, stewards, hosts/hostesses, and so many we take for granted;
  • those welcoming the road-weary with a refreshing beverage, a good meal, a shower or bath, and a safe place to sleep.

May all travelers be protected on their journeys and be extravagantly welcomed at each stop along the way.

DSC00953 (2)

Road construction / maintenance safety equipment along I-90 in Wyoming.  Photo: TLClark.

Christmas Countdown: Family Stories

I tend to think of Jesus’ birth narratives as family stories.  Once you get through the genealogy in Matthew, the tale is told from Joseph’s perspective.  Joseph is visited by an angel.  Joseph has dreams.  Joseph moves the family to Egypt and back.

Luke focuses on the maternal line.  Mary is visited by an angel.  Mary goes to see her relative Elizabeth.  Mary gives birth, wraps the child in swaddling clothes, and lays him in a manger.

Birthdays in my family inevitably lead to stories.  I was born on my father’s second day of student teaching.  When it was time for Mom to head to the hospital for my sister’s birth, I was sent me down the hill to stay with friends of theirs.  When my brother was born, Dad handed out tootsie roll pops to his students.

Grandma Mary and Clan

Family Reunion. December 2008

Looking at this family reunion photo, I remember that we are family by birth, by marriage, by legal adoption, and by informal adoption (a foster child become daughter and sister).  Grandma Mary is the matriarch pictured, but I knew her mother – Great Grandma Grace.  Of those not in the picture, I recall my Aunt Marlene who died too young (alcoholism is insidious) as well as Grandpa Art (life ending heart attack).

The family tree has changed in ten years.  Marriage.  Divorce.  More great-grandchildren.  Grandma Mary thinks she might live to be 100.  In the meantime she never misses a birthday; no matter how you made into the family you get a birthday card and a $20 bill!