A Tale Of Two Churches, A Tale of Two Holidays

A Tale of Two Holidays

It is snowing in places which don’t see much snow. And there is a white out. An indistinguishable cloaking of celebrations. Is it Thanksgiving time, is it Christmas time. They are morphing and blending into a hybrid one. She can see a blur of holiday on the horizon. It is one, no it is two.

Yesterday we bought lights. I said we can hang them but not plug them in. Preparing, but straddling. Doing something, but remaining decidedly present in a Thanksgiving mindset. I am glad we did neither. Because for our home, spiritually and physically, we slowed down for Thanksgiving. We freed up mental space, spiritual room for more of Thanksgiving.

Unless I burrow down and turn off more of the world, I will continue to hear and see early Christmas. And that is okay, because I can look to and dwell on the birth of Christ in the rooms of my heart. And prepare Him room.

But I want a Thanksgiving-tide a season focusing on everything that is. I want a little separation of heart space. To be a thanksgiving family. To be a thanksgiving mother. To focus my energy for a least a few more days on extreme gratitude. So that I can fuel up my heart for the other 364 days, to be a year-round person of thankfulness.

In just a few more days it will be Black Friday. Admittedly I want to hide, run away from all that day represents. I can choose not to participate, yes, always.

Maybe one day the day following Thanksgiving can be re-named “The Day of Residual Thanks”. Where we are so full, not of food and excess, but of gratefulness and gratitude that it spills out. Everywhere. Marking the world, telling other souls of what joy is found in living a life colored grateful. Not black. But the colors of extreme joy. For whatever we have. For just what we have. And just be. A Thanksgiving People, once again.

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A Tale Of Two Churches

She stepped off the front stoop of her little brick
home

Turned right, past the prayer labyrinth
Walked, thirty seconds
in her Alice gait, I am late for a very important date
blown by brisk winds at her back

Turned the knob of the old door, worn and gray
And entered into a sacred salty Sunday
Sanctuary, the church named for a saint

taking her seat beside him, it is now almost their pew
doing that claiming a seat thing that Protestants like to do
Wriggling in close to him to warm her soul, her body
too, touched by the cold
Her seat, worn red velvet, she thinks to herself
Frozen in time, there is nothing in this world she could possibly
Need, she is here
Saying the Nicene Creed
And the Eucharist and the Hymns
Hemmed in by him and extravagantly humble stained-glass
Blinded by beauty, familiar
She is home
Where the baby garbles a sweet uh-oh
And the gray-haired  lady,so regal and tall and very very old
Coughs and clears her aging throat
Where the sermon sings  truth where good news comes giddy
announced to the almost full pews
“we bought a water buffalo.”
Oh she is home.

But  when she stepped off the stoop
She could have turned left, too
Turned the key on the SUV
Turned left then left again on Hightway Seventeen
Driven down the four-lane road
Littered not with trash
But with splattering scenes of the sea
And salt marsh grass
Yes
She could have turned the door
Of the rather new church
Built with the reclaimed
Wood, to look old
Starred at the old rugged cross
While listening to the very new
Songs of praise

She holds a dual-citizenship
Feels a bit bilingual
As her heart lingers
Straddles two sanctuaries
And she wonders
Whose idea was it
After-all
To be forced to make a decision
About church and worship.

She may be a very long while
In this place
Of indecision, spiritual ambidextrious
Raising her hands, no, now leaving them down
Living within the body of Christ
A soul without the physical walls
Of a holy home.
Stretched, yet happy
Halved, yet whole
Wandering, yet not lost
No not at all.

A member of the body
The body of Christ,
Alone.
And she is at peace at last
At home.

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Joining Laura Boggess at Laura Boggess dot com for Playdates At The Wellspring

And Michelle DeRusha at Michelle DeRusha dot com

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Church

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Church

A place for dry bones to shake rattle and roll in the spirit of the Lord
Among a cast of hundreds of women who were strangers
Strangers I tell you until hours before
A foretaste of heaven
Look to your right and to your left
Look with the eyes of your heart
The countenances shine like you have stepped to the other side
This is the Hyatt for goodness sake
This is a hotel, glory be
Sisterhood deep and wide like the mighty Mississippi after the rains
Came for forty days and forty nights
Shoulder to shoulder breaking bread
Singing standing, singing sitting, singing dancing
And there were tears
No shortage of the salty rivers of release
Each drop a celestial star, blinking, twinkling
A milky way of mothers and others.

A room
Small and crowded
Where you listen deep and hard and squint and furrow
Your eyes and brow
Like a net, you cast your soul to catch every single drop of good words
About art on the other side
Of the cross
You meet a woman
A sister
She is waiting in another repository of words to tell her story
And you listen
To why you breathe and make and write and why it matters
And a sister jumps up and ends the talk in prayer
Preach it sister
Preach it
Worship, in a small crowded room
Hearts seeking to make art to His glory
A gathering, communion of saints, prayer
A good word delivered
Focusing on Him
In a downtown Greenville hotel.

And we rush out
Discuss how very late we are
We are late paces from the house
We are at the door
Their dog is lying in wait for church to let out
And her bike with the artful basket
Propped up on the side of this old
Church
We slip in, slither in a pew, the sermon
It is well into the resurrection story
Of life and death
You could hear a pin drop among the sea of graying
I cast my net
Eager for words of living and dying
Shoulder to shoulder, twenty-five years
And a baby cries
And the organ plays
And we speak to the preacher on our way out
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost
As it was, it shall forever be

The dog picks up his people and they go home
Church is out.
And we breathe deep the glory from our time
In church.

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Joining Laura at Laura Boggess dot com

Gazing At The Ordinary Marvelous

Today is Day Poetic 

Have you noticed a little quiet pause. Is it bending or breaking the 31 Days “code of writing to triple up” one post to cover three days in the series. Ah, I have been living and traveling and noticing. And thinking of this place and space while it was quiet. Were you out noticing while it was quiet? Have you even noticed that I was gone?

Today is Day 21 ( and 20 and 19)

wpid-IMG_20130814_185820.jpgGazing at The Ordinary Marvelous

I have wondered through a maze of noticing
Sat on every word unfurled from  preacher’s lips
Not mine, on prayer, unending
Every note, black, ballet dancer up and down
That old red hymnal, still smells like memories of Methodist
Smells a certain way
Doxology dances off the yellow pages, runs rifts
Of remembering ordinary marvelous
Weaves a red thread through the years and days

And I have wandered through a maze of bittersweet
Returning with my fragile heart and mind
I long to change a memory
Bur, for all my trying I can’t rewrite it
Into something better, brighter, sweeter
Babys at the alter, dipped in sacred fonts
Will stir the waters that run deep
Inside a mother’s  broken heart

I have wondered through the winding
Roads that lead me home to Woodland Heights
Where I am met with fond recalling
Early morning, late at night
Bookended by the generations
Stories that go on and on, echoing down the mountain
There are no secrets anymore
Rolling tires crunch  crush the brittle leaves
A slow and gentle breaking
On this road to my returning
I have come back home again, met by autumn’s gold dust shining
She opens wide the door for me.

Everything is ordinary
Marvelous as it should be
Concentric circles of recalling
Spokes that find their way back to the center
Tines which gently poke inside, time and time again
Urge me to recall while listening to the echo of
The winsome valley train

Everything is marvelous
The circles spin like hands clockwise round the rounded clock
Face the moments, ordinary
Savor all the pieces of the past
Colliding with the present
All this noticing
Never seems to stop
For if it did and if it were
If the door to my eyes and memory
Were to close and come to final rest
Death would meet me at the end of marvelous
Where all the ordinary  settles into peacefulness

While time presents herself
At daybreak, new and wondrous once again
I  go forth to gather
All the ordinary marvelous
Where we sing  loud and joyful
A searcher’s song, a hymn of praise
Let Noticing her loud and lively anthem raise.

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(To read all posts in this 31 day series, The Art of Noticing, click here to land on Day One and a listing of all posts) I am joinging The Nester at The Nester dot com for October. Click here to check out some of the other writers/bloggers who are accepting this writing challenge. There are some wonderful writers participating in several cool categories.

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Joining Laura Boggess at Laura Boggess dot com . It is where I go on Mondays for a writer’s Playdate.

A Few Things I Learned In July

Now this is really fun to write. I do hope it is fun to read. You have been warned that extreme randomness fills the lines of this post. I do  love joining Emily P. Freeman over at Chatting At The Sky, her beautiful blog home. I especially enjoy the series “What I Learned…..”. You may want to visit the others who have linked up  at Emily’s with what they learned this month. Some things are serious and educational, others are humorous and reveal a little  of life’s craziness and/or the writer’s personal nuances. You may even learn something new about this writer.

I will say, I may take creative license and include some things I have learned NOT in July but in general and about which I  feel  utterly compelled to share. You can try to figure out which item falls into that category. You may want to get out now. You have been warned. 🙂

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1. I learned not to judge a writer by her writing. Well by that I mean this. I had a lovely meet up with two bloggers this week. Up until this point I only knew them by their blogs and social media. Amazingly they have two legs and two arms each and in this case they are both funny as all get out. I almost said something else but I didn’t. Self editing helps. I met Kendal Privette and Amy L. Sullivan for coffee at the quintessential coffee house, The Dripolator. These two women are the realest deal and both have hearts spun from pure gold. They drove out of their way to meet me. I am grateful. Thank you Kendal for the poetry book. I cherish it.

2. If you are leaving church,  pulling out into traffic from said church’s parking lot OR if you have a sign of the fish on your car, be nice. I am just saying. That may raise the bar on your driving etiquette but people, this is the time to raise the bar on yourself.  It is a good time to defer, slow down, pay it forward and just kill  ’em with kindness. There will be plenty of sweet tea at the after church buffet when you get there.

3. Editing is hard work. Well, proof-reading is hard work. My father and I are editing my mother’s book (twenty chapters long). Let’s just say it is not as easy as it looks. The next time you read a book and you find a typo, try not to be all, “Wow how did this book ever get printed and distributed, I mean with typos and stuff.”  We are proof-reading behind several people, at least one of which was paid to find the errors. To forgive is divine.  And I am convinced the eye reads what it thinks should be there,  we  often miss our own typos even after proof-reading five times or so. And thanks for grace here. I have had my few…..hundred myself.

4. One of the best places to dine out of doors is in my summertime back yard. Run don’t walk to The Grove Park Inn in Asheville. Well don’t run, just call and make  a reservation if you are anywhere near Western North Carolina. And don’t quote me. I just happen to have had a wonderful experience there. Who knows, maybe you will too. The sunset over the valley and the Asheville skyline are beautimous.

5. Walking through life with an aging  mother is filled with intrigue and wonder. I learned this in July and I am learning it in August and hopefully will continue to learn from it for the rest of my life. I will definately be writing more about that and Dementia here.

summer veggies

6. I am obsessed with Instagram and with taking pictures of food, seeing it increasingly as  art. Instagram is like an art gallery of the lives and art of folks I seem to be following– mostly family, friends, bloggers and magazines whose work I love. I am there at @graceappears on Instagram. It seems like a quiet place to be in  a very loud world. And yes, I realize that I contribute to the noise. Should I be following you.

7. Poets are some of the funniest people I know. At least the folks at Tweetspeak Poetry are. I recently participated in their “Take A Poet To Work Day.” Man that really caught on, like all around the globe. We started with flat puppets like flat Stanley. Whoever that is. And the rest is too hard to explain so I recommend you head over there and read the recap. It was a day of wit and whimsy and child’s play. Which takes me to my next point.

8. I am enjoying this summer almost more than I did when I was a child. And I am learning to play again. Though I am not quite there, I am making progress with becoming reacquainted with channeling the inner child. (see Instagram for examples of summer fun.)

summer picture JULY

9. When I make a salad, I am at my easel with paints and brushes and a blank canvas. One of my new favorite “paintings” is a peach salad. Here is the recipe. Fresh greens (I used red leaf which is not always a favorite but it was perfect here.) Fresh Peaches ( I like the peel on) sliced thinly and then cut bigger than bite size. I know I am weird that way. Blue cheese or gorgonzola crumbes. And candied walnut pieces.(I found them in the produce section. And then a vinegar and oil dressing. I added rotisserie chicken. Yummers. A meal.

10. I am thinking of and dreaming of two things. (Well more than that but…..you know what I mean.)  I am going to begin to look for a publisher for a poetry book and I am dreaming of collaborating with another writer or musician on some song lyrics. Let me know if you know anything about either of these so that I don’t spin around in circles endlessly dreaming and scheming. Who knows, maybe by August’s list of “A Few Things I Learned in August” I will be able to report what I now know about dreaming of writing and publishing a poetry book.
trio in nature

11. I am amazed at the quality of my camera phone. #oldschool not an #iphone.  And I am still using and totally  obsessed with Pikmoney. (pikmonkey dot com) I don’t always photo edit, but when I do it is with Pikmonkey. Instagram has it’s own fun filters. But you already knew that.

See you in August. Wait. No. I hope I will see you around here before then. Poetry is popping up all over and almost daily. Sort of like the mushrooms. It is like the summer of mushrooms with all the rain, they are taking over. I digress.