12.31.2009

To A New Year

A year ago, this was my post.  I was recovering from a Christmas Eve surgery that turned out well.  Well?  Our collective sighs of relief filled the valleys in which we walked.

It's fitting every year, once you are old enough to actually think back on your life, to think back on your life. These days, I am thinking back to why I started this blog and whether it still applies.  I am not sure who my audience is.  I had some notions in my head that aren't coming to be.  And yet.  I have met some amazing women who I am proud to call Friend.

As I look to the future, but think back on my life, I remember these words:

We in thought will join your throng,
Ye that pipe and ye that play,
Ye that through your hearts to-day
Feel the gladness of the May!
What though the radiance which was once so bright
Be now for ever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind



And here, in its entirety, by William Wordsworth (1770–1850)

Ode
Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood



THERE was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth, and every common sight,
To me did seem
Apparell'd in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.
It is not now as it hath been of yore;—
Turn wheresoe'er I may,
By night or day,
The things which I have seen I now can see no more.


The rainbow comes and goes,
And lovely is the rose;
The moon doth with delight
Look round her when the heavens are bare;
Waters on a starry night
Are beautiful and fair;
The sunshine is a glorious birth;
But yet I know, where'er I go,
That there hath pass'd away a glory from the earth.


Now, while the birds thus sing a joyous song,
And while the young lambs bound
As to the tabor's sound,
To me alone there
came a thought of grief:
A timely utterance gave that thought relief,
And I again am strong:
The cataracts blow their trumpets from the steep;
No more shall grief of
mine the season wrong;
I hear the echoes through
the mountains throng,
The winds come to me from the fields of sleep,
And all the earth is gay;
Land and sea Give themselves up to jollity,
And with the heart of May
Doth every beast keep holiday;—
Thou Child of Joy,
Shout round me, let me hear thy shouts,
thou happy Shepherd-boy!


Ye blessèd creatures, I have heard the call
Ye to each other make; I see
The heavens laugh with you in your jubilee;
My heart is at your festival,
My head hath its coronal,
The fulness of your bliss, I feel—I feel it all.
O evil day! if I were sullen
While Earth herself is adorning,
This sweet May-morning,
And the children are culling




On every side,
In a thousand valleys far and wide,
Fresh flowers; while the sun shines warm,
And the babe leaps up on his mother's arm:—
I hear, I hear, with joy I hear!
—But there's a tree, of many, one,
A single field which I have look'd upon,
Both of them speak of something that is gone:
The pansy at my feet




Doth the same tale repeat:
Whither is fled the visionary gleam?
Where is it now, the glory and the dream?


Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life's
Star, Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
Shades of the prison-house begin to close
Upon the growing Boy,
But he beholds the light, and whence it flows,
He sees it in his joy;
The Youth, who daily farther from the east




Must travel, still is Nature's priest,
And by the vision splendid
Is on his way attended;
At length the Man perceives it die away,
And fade into the light of common day.


Earth fills her lap with pleasures of her own;
Yearnings she hath in her own natural kind,
And, even with something of a mother's mind,
And no unworthy aim,
The homely nurse doth all she can
To make her foster-child, her Inmate Man,
Forget the glories he hath known,
And that imperial palace whence he came.


Behold the Child among his new-born blisses,
A six years' darling of a pigmy size!
See, where 'mid work of his own hand he lies,
Fretted by sallies of his mother's kisses,
With light upon him from his father's eyes!
See, at his feet, some little plan or chart,
Some fragment from his dream of human life,
Shaped by himself with newly-learnèd art;
A wedding or a festival,
A mourning or a funeral;
And this hath now his heart,
And unto this he frames his song:
Then will he fit his tongue
To dialogues of business, love, or strife;
But it will not be long
Ere this be thrown aside,
And with new joy and pride
The little actor cons another part;
Filling from time to time his 'humorous stage'
With all the Persons, down to palsied Age,
That Life brings with her in her equipage;
As if his whole vocation




Were endless imitation.


Thou, whose exterior semblance doth belie
Thy soul's immensity;
Thou best philosopher, who yet dost keep
Thy heritage, thou eye among the blind,
That, deaf and silent,
read'st the eternal deep,
Haunted for ever by the eternal mind,—
Mighty prophet! Seer blest!
On whom those truths do rest,
Which we are toiling
all our lives to find,
In darkness lost, the darkness of the grave;
Thou, over whom thy Immortality
Broods like the Day, a master o'er a slave,
A presence which is not to be put by;
To whom the grave
Is but a lonely bed without the sense or sight
Of day or the warm light,
A place of thought where we in waiting lie;
Thou little Child, yet glorious in the might
Of heaven-born freedom on thy being's height,
Why with such earnest pains dost thou provoke
The years to bring the inevitable yoke,
Thus blindly with thy blessedness at strife?
Full soon thy soul shall
have her earthly freight,
And custom lie upon thee with a weight,
Heavy as frost, and deep almost as life!




O joy! that in our embers



Is something that doth live,
That nature yet remembers
What was so fugitive!
The thought of our past years in me doth breed
Perpetual benediction: not indeed
For that which is most worthy to be blest—
Delight and liberty, the simple creed
Of childhood, whether busy or at rest,
With new-fledged hope still fluttering in his breast:—
Not for these I raise
The song of thanks and praise;
But for those obstinate questionings
Of sense and outward things,
Fallings from us, vanishings;
Blank misgivings of a Creature
Moving about in worlds not realized,
High instincts before which our mortal Nature
Did tremble like a guilty thing surprised:
But for those first affections,
Those shadowy recollections,
Which, be they what they may,
Are yet the fountain-light of all our day,
Are yet a master-light of all our seeing;
Uphold us, cherish, and have power to make
Our noisy years seem moments in the being
Of the eternal Silence: truths that wake,
To perish never:
Which neither listlessness, nor mad endeavour,
Nor Man nor Boy,
Nor all that is at enmity with joy,
Can utterly abolish or destroy!
Hence in a season of calm weather
Though inland far we be,
Our souls have sight of that immortal sea
Which brought us hither,
Can in a moment travel thither,
And see the children sport upon the shore,
And hear the mighty waters rolling evermore.


Then sing, ye birds,
sing, sing a joyous song!
And let the young lambs bound
As to the tabor's sound!
We in thought will join your throng,
Ye that pipe and ye that play,
Ye that through your hearts to-day
Feel the gladness of the May!
What though the radiance which was once so bright
Be now for ever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass,







of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind;
In the primal sympathy
Which having been must ever be;
In the soothing thoughts that spring
Out of human suffering;
In the faith that looks through death,
In years that bring the philosophic mind.


And O ye Fountains, Meadows, Hills, and Groves,
Forebode not any severing of our loves!
Yet in my heart of hearts I feel your might;
I only have relinquish'd one delight
To live beneath your more habitual sway.
I love the brooks which down their channels fret,
Even more than when I tripp'd lightly as they;
The innocent brightness of a new-born Day
Is lovely yet;
The clouds that gather round the setting sun
Do take a sober colouring from an eye
That hath kept watch o'er man's mortality;
Another race hath been, and other palms are won.
Thanks to the human heart by which we live,
Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,
To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears




*

Starving Artist

 /
Boo is the creative type.  Loves music.  Draws like a fiend.  A free thinker.  A slob.

But I digress.

He got a Christmas card from an uncle.  It was one of those musical things.  Open it up, and it tinkles a Christmas hymn.  A big check falls out and floats to the floor.  He told me to keep the check and ran off with the singing card.
/

12.30.2009

Why the Bad Feelings?

I was speaking with a young friend recently who came upon some commentary about the bad relations between Korea and Japan.  He wondered what it was about. 


Japan forcibly occupied, colonized Korea for 35 years.  Did Nazi-type concentration camp experiments on Koreans.  Kidnapped young women and made them prostitutes for their soldiers.  Japan's attitude toward Koreans is pretty much like the Nazi view of Jews.


They've officially "apologized."  But they're not really sorry.  You ever notice that people who aren't really sorry "apologize," or are "regretful?"

And they certainly don't act sorry: here's a little glimpse.

12.28.2009

Draining

/
December 28, my mother would have been 77.  I had been so clogged harmed scalded mauled and stirred that it is only now, that I say:

 















I miss you.



/

12.22.2009

Lanta

is where I'll be.  I have a lot of posts brewing in my head but it'll have to be on "warm" until I get back.  Have a wonderful break everyone!


Praise God from Whom All blessings flow!
The lamb of God!
The Son of man come to save us!
Hallelujah!

12.20.2009

My Grace

But He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.
~2 Corinthians 12:9

12.19.2009

Proselytize

I don't know why I have to be so defensive when I talk about this.  Well, I know why.  Because if everyone that doesn't see it my way sees the way I see things, I'm afraid I'll be judged as a religious maniac, judgmental and hateful.  Closed-minded.  Stupid and unwilling to look out at the world. I don't really understand.  This post is really about what is age-appropriate, but it's impossible not to address what is Appropriate and Right.

Actually, none of those things are true.  If you knew me.  If you knew me.  Cuz I do understand. 

I just braved the snowstorm to take my 7-year old son and his 9-year old friend to see a local production of a play.  The play is billed as "recommended ages 4 to adult."  So this play.  One too many scenes of the cast end faced to the audience shakin it.  A lascivious female character  making like Marilyn.  A tomcat and a shecat flicking their tongues at each other.  A gender crunching queen careening and cavorting about.  There were some cute puns.  Puns, I love. Puns, I can do.  I can't do the sexual innuendos that were riddled through the play.

This is considered appropriate for all ages.

Don't give me the "they have to learn some time" thing.  Some time. Not at 7 and 9.  I am busy building a firm foundation.  A firm foundation of love and order and certainty and a world that is safe.  You can't build a healthy child whose mind says things are always akilter.  Because when they find the world IS akilter?  the foundation may crack.  Does a 7- and 9-year old need to know about all the things in this world?  or do we, as parents, have the right and responsibility to judge when the times are right?  I know people who don't see it that way.  They want to "normalize" everything for their children.  Sex.  Divorce.  Abuse.  A building's foundation shouldn't be filled with hail and mud and rodents because that's what the building will face.  No. You interlace the foundation with rods of steel so it will be as sturdy and sure as possible to withstand the storms and rats.

And clearly, this play had an attitude of normalizing certain aspects of society.  Part of the attitude is that being sexualized and homosexual is "normal."  And did you notice?  I'm as offended by the sexualization no matter what "brand."

I have spent my life.  I have spent MY LIFE.  Incalculable hours, energy being open-minded.  I went to a liberal, elitist East-coast college.  Further beyond, I read, explored, saw.  SAW.  I am not what you'd ever consider squeamish.  Spiders and worms?  Yes.  Alternative lifestyles and world views?  No.  I've spent too much energy making fun of people who blush at nudes in the museum.  Or picketed Mapplethorpe.  I've thought about many difficult issues and how they relate to my Christian world-view.  And I'm not afraid to do a face-to-face.  At a bar.  A den of inequity.

Now as I close in on 50, I think I'm allowed to have some ideas about what I believe.  I've had and have friends who are homosexual.  I understand the biology of it.  I don't believe it's a right way to behave.  Behave.  I didn't say be.  You can be, doesn't mean you have to behave.  I don't think it's a Right.  And don't even compare it to Civil Rights.  Don't even go there.  Racism is about someone standing there, not having done a thing and being negatively attributed.  Yea, negated, even.

Does that make everything I do correct and righteous?  No.
Am I threatened by it?  No.
Do I think it threatens my marriage?  No.
Do I think a homosexual is going to corrupt my son?  No.
I'm not that frail and neither is my marriage.  I just don't believe in living that out.

And I have a right to believe that.  It's America.  The United States.


Hey, you, you local production of an award-winning play, you may think normalizing sexuality and homosexuality is Good.  I don't.  So stop trying to convert me.  I hate it when people tell me what I should think.

12.16.2009

A Long Time

I'll never stop loving you.

From my little boy.  It took a long time to get here.  Along the painful journey to love, I have learned so much.  Healed so much.  Through the pain of this child, God healed me.

If he hadn't been sent away, he wouldn't have suffered.  If the sending country had a better social service system.  If they weren't sexist.  If they weren't biased.  If.  If.  If.  Some even think the whole idea of adoption is evil.  So many evils in the world.  What we do with them?  There are some that insist that I believe certain things, fight for certain rights, join certain organizations.  Maybe I will.  Someday.

Today?  I am still reveling in a little boy, laying in bed, blanket tossled and twisted around his legs, his arms around his oma,who can say,

I'll never stop loving you.

12.07.2009

Armor All

The world is a sad, scary place.

In the weeks before Thanksgiving, I was inundated with the sadnesses of people I love: a mental ill child, families struggling with finances, a pastor overburdened with hurting people, a young woman who lost her husband, and then two weeks later lost her mother.  My aching body.  A large lump on my back.  A friend's dying father. 

I spend much too much time on here.  I stare at this:



The map inspires me.  I'm the kind of person that reads National Geographics cover to cover.  And Smithsonian.  It takes me places. The map makes me wonder where I can wander.  Like David running from Saul.  Bora Bora.  Come with me . . .


 Halfway between Baja and Australia.



 
...a part of French Polynesia.


 







But alas, Satan dwells there, too. I would only be like David running to the Philistines.  And I remember that I must armor myself against the evils of the world.

And I remember, I have only the Lord: He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.  And thank Him I don't have to pay $900 a night.

12.06.2009

Everything You Always Wanted To Know About How We Celebrate Christmas **

** but didn't care enough to ask

For the actual FUNNY, original version, go visit Missy!


1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? Oh Egg Nog.  I take little sips of it, roll it around my tongue, squish it through my teeth, then feel it gliiiiide down my throat while my eyes roll in the back of my head.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? Who's he?

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? The little white kind.  On the tree.  But lately?  I've wanted to put up those big fat multi-color ones that can set your house on fire.  No lights on the house.  Noooooooooooooooo.

4. Do you hang mistletoe? No. No frou frou.

5. When do you put your decorations up? Never. See #4. Unless you make me.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish? Anything that someone else makes.

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child? My mom and brother sitting there changing all the big fat multi-color light bulbs and replacing with all blue.  We were the only classy-looking house of our neighborhood in 1970.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? I was already too old by the time I came to the U.S.  And my parents would never have gone for anything like that

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? No.  Umm . . . why?

10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree? Whatever inspires me at the thrift stores.  Last year and this year I'm doing red and pink.  Yeah that's right.  I know you think that clashes.  It depends how it's done.

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it? Love.  Love love.  Want to take the Boo Kidlet skiing this year.  Yeah!

12. Can you ice skate?  I can remain semi-vertical without holding onto the sides.  Is that a yes?

13. Do you remember your favorite gift?  Money.  Cash.  Mullah.  Donn.

14. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you? Shamelessly stealing from Missy: "Oh, I guess if I were really pressed, I would have to say THE BIRTH OF JESUS CHRIST

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert? see #6

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? Not really having one.  I like that Christmas isn't about tradition for us.  I know that can be all warm and fuzzy and I don't blame anyone else.  It's just that I like to try to remember only what He was annointed to be.

17. What tops your tree? A cocoa-skinned, dark-haired beauty of an angel.

18. Which do you prefer giving or Receiving? Giving. My tastes are too quirky to pin.

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song? Hands down: "Mary Did You Know" by Kathy Mattea.

20. Candy Canes: Yuck or Yum? Tonsil-stabbers.

21 Favorite Christmas Show? Hate em all.  Hate sappy.

22. Saddest Christmas Song? See #19.

12.04.2009

If

If I could, I'd sing. I'd stand on that stage, belt out a song.  Without a frizzled nerve.  If I could sing like this:


Heart


or this: (Sorry for the visuals. This is the only one of this song I could embed.)

Kathy Mattea

or this:

Linda Ronstadt

If I could sing, that is.

My Name is Asher Lev

I am having trouble sleeping.  I see figures in my dream.  Large, looming figures that invade my privacy.

I am reading My Name is Asher Lev, by Chaim Potok.  It amazes me, pleases me and tortures me all at once.  How can one man say so much in so few pages?  How can so much tension be revealed in ordinary words?  indicate such caring in just the pouring of orange juice?

And.  And it tortures me because it immerses me in issues and questions I have about humanity.  Empathy.  Clarity.  Incisiveness.  Blindness.  Mutability.

I think it is a fabulous book, but perhaps because I am fascinated by different cultures and have a vested interest in art.  It is about a Hasiddic boy, Asher Lev, growing up in a Hassidic community in Brooklyn.  His parents are pious and committed to important work.  The father travels.  The mother worries.  He is compelled to travel, to do this work.  He is sullen and unfulfilled when he must stay home.  The mother too, ends up getting involved with his work.  It seems to me, they work and neglect their son.

It becomes evident pretty early on that Asher Lev is an art prodigy.  The visual arts are not appreciated or condoned  in his community.  Most of all, it is not appreciated or condoned by his father.  His father has advanced degrees in political science, but he cannot understand the concepts of art that his teenage son is trying to explain to him.  He also will not accept this, what he believes is from the Dark Side.  It threatens everything he knows about life, a life consumed by tradition and the dicatates of the Rebbe, their leader.

Asher's mentor talks about the aesthetically blind and includes Asher's father.  I understand that some people just cannot understand.  I can see in my son the inability to comprehend some things, not just moral complexity beyond his years, but even something age-appropriate due to his innate make-up.  It gives me an over-view of what it might be like.  I certainly don't understand certain things.  The stock market for example.  In the most rudimentary way, yes.  But start talking about trading loans, breaking packages apart and selling them off based on risks and it's all Monopoly to me.  Which I don't like to play, by the way.  So.  I understand that some people can't understand.

Then there are those that won't understand.  Asher's father falls into both camps.  He shows that despite his intellectual prowess, he is incapable of understanding things like - expressing feelings and emotions with color, form and line.  Expressing tension and progression.  The interplay of the 2-dimensional canvas with the 3-dimensional world with the multi-dimensional mind.  But Asher's father is also unwilling to accept Asher's gift or even see the positive aspects - that his son is talented and happy.  Even such a man driven by his desire to travel, at the expense of his wife, at the expense of his only child, will not accept the compulsion his son has to draw draw draw.  It threatens everything he knows.  To him, art is wrong.  And God of Abraham!  Nudity is wrong.  Not just wrong.  Wicked.  He holds on to this despite the Rebbe's approval of Asher's gift.

I'm not saying a father should abandon his moral structure for his child's peculiarities.  In fact, that is abhorrent to me.  I remember some people I knew who were extremely conservative politically, socially and religiously.  They found a religion that fit their world order.  Until their daughter got divorced.  She was an attorney, he was a draftsman.  There was no cheating on either side.  All of a sudden, this same religion became to themclosed-minded, insensitive and judgmental because it would not condone the daughter's divorce.  It never would have.  It had very clear, strict guidelines for divorce.  Hello!?  Needless to say, they left that congregation.

I wonder though, in both fathers' cases, if the forces of the world and not Heaven were influencing them.  Is it cowardice that keeps them from incisively reviewing the situation and finding a place of reason in their world order?  Is it impossible to see any light?  He will not accept Asher's gift, a substantial gift, even though the Rebbe approves.  So it seems, it has nothing to do with his religion and all to do with his box.  The proverbial round peg.  And perhaps his own dream of travelling with his son. Doing this important work together.

Cannot or will not.
Impassive.  Indifferent.  Callous.
A compulsive man could not, would not empathize with a compulsive son.


Is it any wonder we do not have peace in the world?

12.02.2009

Pat Me

I don't do frou-frou.  No lace.  Nothing scratchy.  Nothing fluffy.  I hate cashmere.  Yes, Clinton.  Yes Stacey.  I. Hate. Cashmere.  When I was looking for a wedding dress, I gave the clerks minor pulmonary infarctions because
1.  my wedding date was less than one year away
and
2.  I didn't want ANY lace.  Of any kind.

So we're doing 2nd grade homework.  You know, the stuff I've been struggling with so much?  There was a vocabulary word and Boo looked up at me and said,

What's "lace?"

I'm a goooooood mama!

Different Gifts

I've been so worried about Boo.  He's not doing well in 2nd grade.  Despite the fact that I believe teacher is unnecessarily difficult, I am still concerned about his abilities.  Well, Boo has an adorable little classmate named Z.  We are friends with her parents and have socialized on occasion.  Z's mother sent me a note and mentioned this at the end:

"Oh, btw, Z told me last night that "all the girls in my class want to marry (Boo.)"
Awwww...what a little loverboy. Girls, stay away, he's ours!"

I'll take it!