Tuesday, October 25, 2011

...i'll tell you how the sun rose

Morning has broken
photo of a Marina Bay dawn from Bill's iPhone

"In times of prayer we can be helped by others who have tried to put words on what is going on. Take the prayers of the Bengali Hindu poet mystic, Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941). His little collection, Gitanjali, Song Offerings to the Creator, has inspired many people and his songs have become Christian hymns in India. He celebrates the immense creating love of God: ‘You have made me endless, Lord, such is your pleasure. This frail vessel you empty out again and again, and fill it ever with fresh life. Your infinite gifts come to me only on these very small hands of mine. Ages pass, and still you pour, and still there is room to fill’. Elsewhere he prays: 
" 'Give me the strength, Lord, lightly to bear my joys and sorrows. Give me the strength to make my love fruitful in service. Give me the strength never to disown the poor or bend my knees before insolent might’. One song in particular could stay with us in our prayer, celebrating the mysterious and endless coming of God into our empty hearts: 
" 'Have you not heard his silent steps? He comes, comes, ever comes. Every moment and every age, every day and every night, he comes, comes, ever comes. In the fragrant days of sunny April through the forest path he comes, comes, ever comes. In sorrow after sorrow it is his steps that press upon my heart, and it is the golden touch of his feet that makes my joy to shine’."  

from Sacred Space an online gem from the Irish Jesuits...(the web address below is a link)
I love my Irish Jesuits.  Words so rich, no cheap grace or easy answers...just an invitation to the imitation of Christ.  I start my day with their online guided meditation.  I could do worse.
In addition to the reflection, the site offers meditation guides throughout the daily post. Note the first screen, for example, "Presence", with the corresponding "Guide" tab ("Awareness of the Presence of God", "Body Exercise", "Breathing Exercise", "Listening Exercise", "God’s Grandeur").  Each of these elements is critical to the full experience; all together, they create a sacred space. My sixty year old back has rebelled against a lifetime of abuse...sitting curled upside down in my grandmother’s overstuffed rocker reading Nancy Drew, toting babies on one hip while vacuuming, standing side-bent with all my weight on one leg.  I’ll stop here but, trust me, the list of abuses is long. I practice this discipline and feel renewed in myriad ways. 
The guide for the second screen, "Freedom", offers a prayer based on the spiritual practices of St. Ignatius:
Lord, I so wish to prepare well for this time. 
I so want to make all of me ready and attentive and available to you. 
Please help me to clarify and purify my intentions. 
I have so many contradictory desires. 
I get preoccupied with things that don't really matter or last. 
I know that if I give you my heart, whatever I do will follow my new heart. 
In all that I am today, all that I try to do, all my encounters, reflections...
even the frustrations and failings and especially in this time of prayer... 
in all of this may I place my life in your hands. 
Lord, I am yours. 
Make of me what you will. 

"Make of me what you will": not a passive wish list for some personal cosmic butler but a recognition of my petty, small, unbridled will. I walk with all who have gone before, as well as my constant companions, into an unknown future through accidental intersections.  May I not pull against the love for and from others with selfish attempts to control. 
The third screen, "Consciousness", offers a guide that I find life-changing:  "What Is a Review of Consciousness?", "How to Do a Review of Consciousness", "Prayer". This step removes some of my self-imposed obstacles that block grace...a “get out your own way, Celeste” moment.   
Thank you for your constant, gentle invitation to let you into my life.

Forgive me for the times I have refused that invitation and closed myself off from you.
Help me in the day to come
to recognize your presence in my life
to open myself to you
to let you work in me to your greater glory. Amen  
(Prayer from Sacred Space)
The fourth screen, "The Word of God", offers not only a guide but a "Need Inspiration?" prompt. I need inspiration. Just as I need to visit the wisdom of the ages, not as a checklist or for fire insurance. I will never be good enough to deserve grace from the good God, from anyone. The journey of Christ, juxtaposed against the culture of his day and the ages...here lies my own. Donald Miller writes in a recent blog:  
"...our drive to define God with a mathematical theology has become a false God rather  than an arrow that points to the real God. Theology can become an idol, but it is more useful as guardrails on a road to the true God. Theology is very important, but it is not God, and knowing facts about God is not the same as knowing God." (read his blog here)
Relational, he says. The journey is relational. The journey is a verb. Actually a bunch of them: love, forgive, listen, respect, empathize, make amends, stand fast but move with the Lord of the Dance. To name a few. 
Two more screens follow these and I will write about them in another blog. I share these and an invitation to avail other online resources that I will introduce later. They expand my limited horizons.  But if you’re looking for that checklist, you’ve come to the wrong blog. 

Thank you, Donald, for the words that follow (read his blog here) ...
Life cannot be understood flat on a page. 
 It has to be lived. 
 a person has to get out of his head, 
 has to fall in love, 
 has to memorize poems, 
 has to jump off bridges into rivers, 
 has to stand in an empty desert and whisper sonnets under his breath:
I’ll tell you how the sun rose:
A ribbon at a time . . .
from a poem by Emily Dickinson (full text in comment below)
my photo ... a walk through the woods beside the Cahaba River; Birmingham, AL

Have you not heard his silent steps? He comes, comes, ever comes. 
Every moment and every age, every day and every night, he comes, comes, ever comes. 
In the fragrant days of sunny April through the forest path he comes, comes, ever comes. 
In sorrow after sorrow it is his steps that press upon my heart, 
and it is the golden touch of his feet that makes my joy to shine.
Chorus, Indian Hymn

Saturday, October 22, 2011

...pass the hollandaise, please

I love the changing seasons. Just call me Princess WinterSpringSummerFall. Winter here means Tahoe and snow. Spring is delightful but, back home in Georgia or Alabama, the whole blooming season can be measured in days. Or hours. And many of those are spent in a bathtub until the tornado sirens quit blaring. Such storms do occur in November but not with the same ferocity or frequency. 
In the deep-fryer South, summer starts sometime in May and hangs around for a long time. Temperatures in the nineties (or greater) with humidity in the high triple digits leave me limp. Well, not my hair. One trip outside and its volume triples. Copious helpings of sweet tea, homemade ice cream, and chilled watermelon eaten under large shade trees helps. Truly civilized summer days are meant to be spent by - and in - a lake or the ocean (flip-flop therapy, Marsha and Samille) with beach music and a cold drink. Our San Francisco bay summers call for turtlenecks, perhaps a fleece vest as well. The mornings are too cold to drink coffee on the porch or boat deck. Mid-day is rarely above the sixties. 
Autumn is a second spring 
when every leaf is a flower.
Albert Camus
Autumn here is another story. October is more moderate with sunshine, perfect temperatures around the clock, and, yes, changing foliage. Fall has had a hold on me for as long as I can recall. The first clear, crisp day and I’m off and running. A Saturday morning when I was eight remains vivid.  The cold had snapped for the first time. I wore a white turtleneck, corduroy pants (emerald green), and brand new bobbie socks, luxuriating in their one-time-only unwashed softness. My saddle oxfords lay on the floor beside the sofa. I curled up with the latest Trixie Belden book as I waited to go shopping. Exponential happiness. Later, at the house on Knox Street, neighborhood friends came over after school to build pine straw forts and jump on piles of leaves. (“But, Mother, I thought that’s why you put them there.” Although spoken with a straight face and no sass, the explanation never worked.)
As a child, fall meant boiled peanuts, homemade cane syrup, my grandmother’s fresh sausage, spice cake, caramel cake, Lane cake, and date nut cake. Dessert runs in my family. The farm kitchen had a big work table in the middle. When the weather was too cold or wet to play outside, Granny and I would make popcorn balls and taffy. We’d giggle as we buttered our hands to shape and pull the sticky, gooey delights. Sometimes we made candles, pouring melted wax into used milk cartons. My job was to hold the wick in the middle. Poppa would peel and cut sugar cane into small pieces for me to chew. If you’ve never done this, don’t scoff.
I’m just a turtleneck kind of girl, I guess. The first crisp Saturday is as magic as ever. This morning, the coffeemaker arose and performed his French Roast magic. In the background, George Winston’s “Thanksgiving” played. This song is another autumn tradition, one that reminds me of my dear minister and friend, Joe Elmore. That’s another story...for Advent. Suffice it to say, I save “Thanksgiving” for a day such as this and play it until January 1. 
Evidently, my appetite hits its stride this time of the year, too, because food appears to be a central theme in the blog lately. This morning called for a brunch. I’ve been looking for an excuse to make hot curried fruit. Today seemed as good a time as any. I love this with breakfast casseroles or baked ham. Spoon the left-overs over a slice of pumpkin pound cake and top with creme anglaise. My sweet genes are kicking in again.

The morning's inspiration comes from a favorite week-end spot in Berkeley, The Saturn Cafe. This vegetarian restaurant appears to have been decorated by Judy Jetson.
We order the same two things every time: banana nut pancakes and Heavenly Benedict, their version of the famous egg dish: english muffin, sliced avocado and tomato, poached egg, and hollandaise sauce. I decided to cook Berkeley Benedict today. I changed the name because I made a slight change to the recipe. The southern in me whispered, “There’s really good ham in the fridge.” Always a good addition to a party. 

Summertime and the livin’ is easy... 

But the first brunch of autumn served on the back porch was a leisurely, lovely time. 

Now I think I may bake. Perhaps a pumpkin pound cake. I hate to waste the rest of the curried fruit. 

Wishing y'all a wonderful week-end.

Hot Curried Fruit
1 stick butter, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 lemon, juiced (I use Meyer lemons...more juice)
1 can pineapple chunks
1 can apricot halves
1 can sliced peaches
20 maraschino cherries
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
Note: You can use fresh fruit. Just as you can raise the hens before you make an omelet a la Martha Stewart. But I opted for canned fruit and drank an extra cup of coffee.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Stir melted butter, brown sugar, curry powder and lemon juice in a small bowl.
Arrange the pineapple, apricot halves and peaches in a large baking dish. Sprinkle with nuts and arrange cherries on top. Pour the butter mixture over fruit and bake in preheated oven for an hour, basting as needed.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

...all things bright and beautiful

I never met a color I didn't like.
 Dale Chihuly

or food
 Celeste Bracewell

My early attraction to beautiful old stained glass windows suggests that I have no Puritan genes.  But I could be related to Mr. Chihuly. Or to Robert Fulghum who wrote this: “Maybe we should develop a Crayola bomb as our next secret weapon. A happiness weapon. A beauty bomb. And every time a crisis developed, we would launch one. It would explode high in the air - explode softly - and send thousands, millions, of little parachutes into the air. Floating down to earth - boxes of Crayolas. And we wouldn’t go cheap, either.  Not little boxes of eight but boxes of sixty-four, with the sharpener built right in. With silver and gold and copper, magenta and peach and lime, amber and umber and all the rest. And people would smile and get a little funny look on their faces and cover the world with imagination.” 

For more Christmases than I can count, the deluxe pack of sixty-four with the built-in sharpener topped my list. When I finally opened that magical box, the experience exceeded my expectations. I was forty-seven and bought the Crayolas myself...along with a coloring book.
I am equally attracted to grocery stores and farmers’ markets. Recipes and visions of family and friends gathered around the table waft through my mind. The cheese section conjures dreams of foreign countries and al fresco dining. Our last trip to the Berkeley Bowl (a market, not the stadium) didn’t disappoint. From the piles of colorful gourds stacked outside the entry to the exotic vegetables and fruits in the back, the place was filled with rich colors, incredible patterns, quirky textures. I stood in awe of the long row of artichokes that ranged from jumbo to extra-extra small. Now, as I type this, one of the fractal beauties is simmering on my stove. I will go to bed satiated: one of the lucky ones. 
My children say that I don’t eat. I dine. The food may be fast but I’m not. I believe that meals are best served with a loved one, with friends, with good stories and soft jazz. Part of my raising: a pot roast for new parents, a casserole for the bereaved, a plate of cookies for the new neighbor: communion served on a pretty plate with cloth napkins. 
I will read anything Barbara Kingsolver writes: The Bean Trees, Pigs  in Heaven, The Poisonwood Bible...all fiction, all fabulous. But her non-fiction book - Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life - is today’s recommendation. She addresses, among other things, the modern dilemma of two-income families and food preparation: 
"‘Cooking without remuneration’ and ‘slaving over a hot stove’ are activities separated mostly by a frame of mind. The distinction is crucial. Career women in many countries still routinely apply passion to their cooking, heading straight from work to the market to search out the freshest ingredients, feeding their loved ones with aplomb. Full-time homemaking may not be an option for those of us delivered without trust funds into the modern era. But approaching mealtimes as a creative opportunity, rather than a chore, is an option. Required participation from spouse and kids is an element of the equation. An obsession with spotless collars, ironing, and kitchen floors you can eat off of---not so much. We've earned the right to forget about stupefying household busywork. But kitchens where food is cooked and eaten, those were really a good idea. We threw that baby out with the bathwater. It may be advisable to grab her by her slippery foot and haul her back in here before it's too late. Households that have lost the soul of cooking from their routines may not know what they are missing: the song of a stir-fry sizzle, the small talk of clinking measuring spoons, the yeasty scent of rising dough, the painting of flavors onto a pizza before it slides into the oven.”
I learned to shop at Mercer's Supermarket in Dublin, Georgia. When I turned nine, my mother would give me a list, with instructions to ride my blue Schwinn down the alley, not along the busy street. I knew, after following my grandmother around the kitchen garden, how to choose vegetables. But the meat counter was new territory. The butcher was nicknamed Grumpy but Mother frequently reminded me, "That's Mr. Grumpy to you, young lady." 

He would look over the glass case and asked, "Now, what can I get for you?" After a deep breath to calm my nerves, I quoted my mother verbatim. "Mr. Grumpy, I'd like a fryer with short, plump thighs." I had never seen him smile before, so the sudden burst of laughter caught me completely off-guard. But he obligingly held up a couple of chickens and we agreed upon the more suitable bird. With thighs just like mine. 

I remember another thing about that day. Eleanor Roosevelt's funeral. Mr. Grumpy had a radio tuned to the service. And I heard Adlai Stevenson deliver part of his eulogy while I waited. Of Mrs. Roosevelt, he said, "She would rather light a candle than curse the darkness." Even at nine, I was taken by this phrase. What a wonderful way to be remembered. As I left the store, I pulled on my knit cap and balanced the groceries in my two wire bike baskets. Now dusk, a single star twinkled overhead. I rode home thinking of the meal to come, with Mrs. Roosevelt's light shining down on me. 

The smell of a cake baking or a sauce simmering can carry me to long-forgotten moment. Much like a painting of the coast transports me to Alabama's eastern shore where I read under the oaks as my children fished from the pier. The way a recording "Rainy Night in Georgia" by Brook Benton takes me to my freshman dorm. I come from a long line of kitchen artists whose masterpieces linger on the tip of my tongue. The recipes have been transferred to computer but  a few of the old handwritten cards have survived. Stained with drops of vanilla extract and thumbprints, they are my treasures.

The only real stumbling block is fear of failure.
In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude.

― Julia Child

Sunday, October 9, 2011

...a matter of style

Well, not everything.  Shoes, for instance.
And only after the really important stuff.
But hats rank pretty high.

Yesterday I posted this photo on Facebook ("sittin' on the rock of the bay").  Bill and I went to the shore to watch the Blue Angels, here for Fleet Week. 

My friend, Mary, commented, "Great shoes, but not for rock walking."

My response: "I concur. But the benches were taken. These are my sassy shoes."

After I wrote this, I remembered a moment twenty years ago. A meeting that changed my shoe-tude. 

“Alice, I defer to you,” the woman opposite me said. Everyone deferred to Alice. The Doyenne. She-Whose-Opinion-Must-Be-Given. The Sage. I quaked in my boots/flats/sandals/pumps whenever she spoke to me.
The woman prompted the aging but still razor-sharp participant. “Alice, I’m sorry.  I must not have spoken clearly.” 
Alice responded, “Oh, no, I apologize. I wasn’t paying attention.” (Quick, think, Celeste. Should you dial 911? Is this some neurological event, the dandy phrase the ER doctor used about my mother...translation: “I don’t know jack about what just happened.”)
Alice looked first into my eyes before looking down at my feet. Oh, my Lord. The woman was giving me the once-over. Then she spoke. “I missed everything you said. I'm afraid I was looking at Celeste’s shoes. I really like those.”
Bells chimed. Bluebirds of happiness circled my head. The Head Crone had spoken. She - Alice the Meaningful - was distracted by a pair of leather flats, the last ones in my size at the best shoe sale of the year.  My friend, Marsha, would not have batted an eyelash. She reigns over Shoe-dom. Even has a framed print over her closet door that reads "One shoe can change your life. Sincerely, Cinderella".

Most of my clothing is still back east. A pox on the airline with its two bag rule. For now, I have a pair black flats, an older pair of the same black flats, a pair of black patent flats, black suede booties.  A pair of Merrills and one New Balance. The afore-mentioned sassy shoes (for my non-black moments). And sandals. Alas, Dr. Bill has banned my cute thong sandals. Weep, Marsha, weep. I can wear them to lunches or early suppers that require a quick walk from the parking lot. Otherwise, these fabulous little gems have retired quietly to my closet. Alas, this is the price one pays to restore one’s back. Some would question such an extreme measure. I know several women who would resort to doomed-to-fail surgeries before giving up two pairs of Talbot’s leather flip-flops and really, really cute black and bronze Brazilian beauties.
God willing and the creek don’t rise, I will be re-united with my bronze and pewter flats, my cowboy and rain boots, and my two remaining pairs of heels (see back reference above) after Christmas. And a good time will be had by all. Including my hats.

I have two small pictures that caught my fancy a few years ago. I'll tell you about the engraving of a lady climbing into a thirties coupe, - a rear view (hers), how appropriate - with the caption, “Ready for a Road Trip”) in another blog. Today I'm thinking of the other, by the same artist, which shows a lady in the roaring twenties’ fabulous fashion. A large feather sits on top of her head and strands of pearls loop round and round her neck. The caption: “Know first who you are then adorn yourself accordingly.” Bits of my credo can be found here: first things first...art is not optional...color outside the lines.
My granddaughter...raise them up right

M y mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style. Maya Angelou

Art is core to every culture.  The implements and garments of ancient cultures are not only functional but ornate. Among my treasures from personal history are crocheted bits from my Dad’s mother who died years before I was born. A hand-painted china teacup and saucer that belonged to an elderly neighbor. Tatting from my maternal grandmother. These women lived on small dirt farms in south Georgia. They survived much, including the Great Depression. And they found a way to incorporate personal expressions of beauty in their homes. Wearers of hats, all of them. It’s in the genes...

... and in my memories:  Daddy and Papa's summer Panama hats, winter Stetsons. My aunt's beautiful Sunday hats. Memories of bright summer afternoons in a lawn chair with a good book, a beach hat, and a pair of flip-flops for trips across the sand-spurred lawn. The starched lace, straw hats, and patent leather shoes of childhood Easters. My partners-in-hat-crime shown above.

...and, at least one will be found in a future blog

But first, Samille, look for "Lady Marmalade and Blue Roses" 
coming soon!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

...grace and a tune

Ships at rest in Kinsale Harbor.
Float. Confluence of wind and current: sail.
Wait. Fusion of Spirit and discernment: move.
Then, only then.

...a few things I want to share 
mostly for me, because I keep forgetting this stuff.
but first, hear from the gentleman in this video.

Tom Kimmel, singing "Ships" at Highlands House in Denver, CO
An early morning FB post brought to mind a much-loved song, "Ships", written by Michael Lillie and Tom Kimmel. A second visit in as many days. I thought of it yesterday when I read Steve Jobs’ commencement address to the Class of 2005 at Stanford University.  I have marinated in it since dawn. So, ramble with me, please, through "Cece’s Bulleted List of Random Thoughts".
  1. Know that you are loved. And know that you can’t earn this shower of blessing and humility. I wish you could see yourselves through the eyes of those who know and love you. Haven’t gotten it all right? Well, then, welcome to the club. In response to a comment a few months ago, I labeled myself “the author of all my consequences”. I am grateful that I can take responsibility for my mistakes without being defeated by them. Mr. Einstein said, “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” Equally important is a quote from John Luther Long: “Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make all yourself.” Case in point.  This quote is frequently attributed to both Eleanor Roosevelt and Grouch Marx. I always double-check the source before publishing. In doing so, I discovered the origin. John Luther. Wait, though. This attribution left out one word. The man’s last name. Long. John Luther Long. An American lawyer who penned a short story, “Madame Butterfly” (yep, the basis of the opera)...based on the letters from his sister, a missionary in Japan. I read more. This gentleman who died in 1927 was described in his obituary - in his own words - as a "sentimentalist, a feminist, and proud of it.” A few mistakes by others and now I’m a scooch smarter. As a recovering alcoholic friend headed to a speaker meeting said, “I’m going to listen to someone make my slip for me.” As for Mr. Long...or is it John Luther after all? The quote, thankfully, predates John Luther Adams and John Luther, the British actor. Doesn't really matter. Nothing is original with any of us. All any of us can do is give credit as best we can...and be grateful for the gift.
  2. Know yourself. And know that learning this is the work of a lifetime. I love Mr. Kimmel’s spoken words BEFORE he sings “Ships”.  A grace-filled moment. He says in conclusion, “This is not work...this is just fun.” Like him, like the runner/missionary in “Chariots of Fire”, when I do what I am created to do, when I develop the gifts received, I feel God’s pleasure. When I do otherwise, I do not. When I accepted that I am wired a certain way and quit trying to be all things to all people, I was, overall, less trying. Sadly, I learned this only after being a pain in the rear all too many times. 
  3. An oldie but a goodie.  How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice. Practice. Practice. “They” don’t call it work for nothing. I daresay before Tom Kimmel sat and played this song, long before he wrote it, he practiced chords. Endlessly. At university, in art class, I practiced drawing straight lines. Without a ruler. An early assignment: bring fifty drawings of an egg to class the next day. Just an egg. The eye has to be trained just as the fingers of a musician do. Writers listen to conversations, paint word pictures of what they see and fill countless journals. Photographers shoot. And shoot. And shoot. Discipline may not sound appetizing but, without it, the dish served later will suffer. Daily bread, daily efforts produce what grandiose thinking can't. Trust me on this one. Have stumbled here myself. 
  4. Play well with others. Mr. Kimmel credits other musicians in his introduction. Introvert or extrovert, you do not make a productive journey alone. I listened to an interview with Steve Jobs last night in which he cited The Beatles...the genius of the music when they brought their differences to the table. They did good work alone but never to the level of their shared creativity.  Take responsibility for your actions and DO NOT BLAME. Victimhood doesn’t feed the soul and makes for a lousy companion.
  5. Say thank you. How gracious Mr. Kimmel's words and demeanor to his audience. Wow! Years ago, a friend invited me to go to hear Roger Williams in concert at Samford University in Birmingham, AL. I really wanted a night out. But Roger Williams was not at the top of the list. This changed as I learned the value of moving beyond first impressions that night. Wright Auditorium is large with spacious rows that allow one to pass easily through the seats. While waiting for the music, I realized someone was walking slowly down our row, speaking to people. Didn't want to crane my neck so imagine my surprise when Mr. Williams paused in front of me to shake my hand and thank me for coming. He shook every hand in that auditorium before going on stage to play. And when he played...well, trust me, there was much more to this man's talent than "Autumn Leaves." Later, when I was going through a rough patch, a wise friend told me to go the gratitude list one better. She said to write a thank-you note every day. Not to the obvious suspects. She actually wanted me to think about my life, about the people who have made a difference, often without knowing this. Then she added this. “Mail it or email it if you know how to reach them. If you don’t, put it in a folder. The anonymity will humble you. Either way, this is guaranteed to out-do a pity party.” She was right. A few people who received notes probably couldn’t remember who I was. And some may have wondered what took so long. I sent one to a fifth-grade Sunday School teacher, "Miss Camilla" Curry. I told her that I often think of her, those lessons, and her hats. [I’m a hat person. Hope that the deeper words sunk in as well.] Weeks later, I received a reply. Her handwriting was shaky with age. The back flap bore her embosser’s seal. This crooked, faint mark suggested hands weakened by time. I loved her gesture, born not of pretense but of humility, a whisper of grace that said, “I choose to send you my finest greetings”. She thanked me for my note, ending with, “All these years, I never knew I made a difference to anyone. Thank you for letting me know that God was able to use me.” I wish I had written Mrs. Tanzine, too, before her death...too many unspoken “thank-you’s.” Pour out the best perfume, bring out the good dishes. We all need an anointing. I’ve unpacked too many boxes from the dear departed only to discover beautiful things carefully wrapped and never used. Encounter the Christ in all who sit at your table, rest under your roof, pass you on the street. A Methodist minister friend shared memories of a visit to the Mother House in Calcutta before Mother Teresa’s death. He said that when the sisters opened the door to anyone, they called out, “Look, the Christ is here!” I may have mangled the exact quote (refer to No. 1) but the essence remains vivid in my heart.
  6. Think before you speak. I love this singer's uplifting words. Careless words are disrespectful. Today I responded to a post flippantly. Totally avoidable had I taken a few minutes to think and give an intelligent response. Abusive words strike the soul. Spend time with an angry person and have a very long evening. Ever had a good conversation with someone who shoots from the lip? Let me think. I’m trying to recall one. Nope. Not a single one. Feelings are temporary. They are indicators of where I am at a given moment. I try to acknowledge them but  I don't invite them in to spend the afternoon. (Not an original thought, attributable only to the ubiquitous Anonymous.)  Whether toxic or lovely, emotions can seduce as easily as they can destroy. Give them control and you will choose an all-too-often permanent answer to a temporary problem. Joyce Landorf wrote a little book called Balcony People many years ago. She divides people into two camps: Balcony People and Basement People. The Balconies pull us up. The Basements drag us down. Aim high and help yourself and others.
  7. No excuses.  It is never too late to become what you might have been. These words are often attributed to George Eliot but wait! More coming soon to a blog near you. Don't have a college degree?  Neither did Steve Jobs. Teacher didn't believe in you? Einstein was told he'd never amount to anything. Your [fill-in-the-blank here: mother, father, sister, brother, third cousin twice removed] totally misunderstood you. So what makes you special? I've worked for people who could multiply their National Merit or SAT scores by two and not match mine. Notice, I worked for THEM, not the other way around. Refer to No. 4 above. Find a mentor. Work. Get quiet and listen. Do the things you don't want to do...even the work you love has chores attached. Be grateful for small opportunities.
Back to the music: after the opening, he sings. 
Oh, how I love this melody. The words. His voice.

All is quiet on the water
and the wind across the sand whispers through our quarters 
that the morning’s close at hand. 
Our love’s in perfect order as we fold our sails in sleep 
but the moon is falling starboard and we have promises to keep. 
We rest here while we can but we hear the ocean calling in our dreams. 
And we know by the morning the wind will fill our sails to test the seams. 
A calm is on the water and part of us would linger by the shore. 
For ships are safe in harbor but that’s not what ships are for. 
So we head for open water. 
Set a course for distant land. 
Out here there are no borders. 
And the truth is in the chance. 
We fill our sails with purpose. 
Find direction in the stars. 
Pray the dark and deep won’t hurt us. 
And sail with open arms.

Sail, my lovelies. 
Know your True North and chart your course. 
Look at me and learn from my mistakes. You will make your own. 
Accept this with humility and light the way for others.
Live so that others can heal and understand "Because He first loved me." 
Listen. To those who have gone before. To the heavens. To your heart.
And the question in No. 7: so what makes you special? 
You are loved. 
KNOW that you are loved. 
The Alpha and Omega. 
You are loved. 
Pass it on.

I like the song so much, I want to listen again. Thanks for the visit.

words & music Tom Kimmel & Michael Lille
©1994 Marada Music/Drala Music (admin. by Criterion Music Corp.)/Global Music (admin. by Chrysalis Music)(ASCAP)
Visit Tom's website:
And buy a cd! I don't even know the man...just like to support the arts!!!
With money when possible.