Transforming the Quotidian

More often than not, a child’s first exposure to poetry is through nursery rhymes and Mother Goose. As we observe the final Sunday of National Poetry Month 2024, I wanted to recognize the role of nursery rhymes in providing a literary foundation for readers and poets everywhere.

Nursery rhymes are a rudimentary form of poetry. In general, children love the repetitious quality of simple verses. Twinkle, twinkle little starOne, Two, Buckle My ShoePat-a-Cake, Pat-a-Cake, Baker’s Man. The rhythms delight. The rhymes become fixed in memory. When there are numbers involved, the little ones learn basic counting.

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Despair In Delusion

As we observe the twelfth day of National Poetry Month 2024, I was thinking about how some dates come and go without being judged significant. They’re just days we go about our business and ordinary lives, doing what needs to be done and then climbing into bed at night to do it all over the next day.

Other days are highly memorable … remarkable … seared into our brains for many years to come. An anniversary (of sorts) went by a couple weeks back. Since it was Holy Week, I made a conscientious decision to avoid marking the day, even though a sonnet I had written was intended for post on that day. Continue reading “Despair In Delusion”

Art For the Happy Few

Speaking to a journalist in 1897, humorist Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) stated, “I have even heard on good authority that I was dead.” As I continue the April observance of National Poetry Month 2024, I’ve read similar statements related to poetry.

More than half a lifetime ago (August 1988), Commentary Magazine ran an article “Who Killed Poetry?” Written by Joseph Epstein, the article is still available to read online. Back in that time, Epstein’s commentary is said to have caused quite a stir in literary circles. The essay provoked necessary discussion about poetry’s relevance. Coincidentally, the highly-acclaimed film Dead Poets Society was released in 1989. Epstein’s death of poetry statement was published eight years before National Poetry Month‘s inaugural 1996 celebration. Continue reading “Art For the Happy Few”

Negative Thoughts

During this day, National Poetry Month Day 4. it’s fitting to celebrate the beautiful life of TLS, my deceased sister-in-law, who was born on this day. She died during the #FluFiasco of 2019-20.

Besides my brother (who is two years older than me), I’ve known TLS longer than anyone living today on this planet. We were lifelong friends. I’ve posted about her before (here and here, among other posts). Additionally, I compiled a small book of tributes to honor her memory. Another website (my brother’s) highlights aspects of her life and art.

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The Finished Life

People die. As unpleasant as it is, it’s a fact. Overall, our culture seems mostly inured to this sobering fact. Perhaps it’s explainable (in part) with how movies depict death. If there’s lots of blood splashed across the screen, our brains dismiss it. If the script wanders into sappy sentimentalism when a character dies, we may roll our eyes and chuckle.

Image by TC Perch from Pixabay

But death is real … and none of us escapes its clutches. In solemn contemplation of Holy Week, I’ve reflected on Christ’s sacrifice. The Resurrection may be (for many) a familiar tale, but its substance and straightforward details never cease to amaze. Continue reading “The Finished Life”

Time To Let Go?

New Year’s Day 2024 came and went swiftly, moving us into the freezing winter weeks of January. Belatedly, I bid all a Happy New Year! I expect this will be a year filled with promise as well as trials. May God teach us through both.

Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

Considering it’s an election year, I couldn’t help focus on how quickly things have heated up (metaphorically, anyway). At least one presidential hopeful caught my attention with a description of the US Senate as a “privileged nursing home.” Though others are more cagey with their rhetoric, similar opinions abound. The leaders of our country are old. How old? I did some research.

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The Artist in Real Life

Two birthdays have gone by since my sister-in-law Terri graduated to her heavenly home. Today marks the second anniversary of her passing. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of her, missing her dear and delightful companionship.

Even in her absence, her presence surrounds us. Framed paintings lovingly created by Terri grace the walls of our home. Other decorative touches are visible everywhere: a pair of ornate candelabra, a table centerpiece of dried heather, crocheted tea-cozies for glassware, brightly-colored placemats and lace-edged gingham napkins. She found joy in beautifying our lives in the same way she enhanced the lives of everyone she loved.

The Lifetime Works of a Beautiful Young Girl  (click on image above to view the video)

In the two years since Terri’s home-going, my brother Eric worked on a unique project. He compiled her art works (as much as possible) into one PowerPoint presentation. This was a challenging task because Terri was so generous in sharing her art with … well, just about everyone! For many months, individuals contacted Eric to provide him with copies of paintings Terri had given each person. There were so many, some long forgotten.

Once he’d compiled digital images of Terri’s art, a natural timeline took form. (The image above is one part of the collection.) Given his artistic approach, my brother added specific background music to provide a professional touch. The finished production (more than 300 images) may be viewed by clicking the image above or being re-directed here. The video runs slightly over 30 minutes but I highly recommend it as time well spent.

Terri’s life was a huge canvas where she expressed her artistic vision 24/7. The sonnet I’ve included below expresses my own reflections about Terri’s sudden death. I think it also expresses emotions which are universally felt after a loved one dies.

Before her death, Terri and I often discussed getting some of her art and writing posted to the worldwide web. She launched a blog (two posts, I think) but after that, it languished. More recently, my brother took a look at what she’d begun and decided he’d continue where she left off. He’s learned a great deal about the process, so now he posts most days, offering daily devotions which feature some of his as well as some of Terri’s artwork. Please check it out here and I think you’ll find his commentaries thoughtful and incisive.

We remember Terri today and celebrate our privilege of having known and been loved by her.

Each Day As God’s Gift

On Palm Sunday when we were kids, it was the custom (as we exited the church building after services) for an usher to give each of us a small palm branch to carry home. It was an odd thing, meant (I suppose) to commemorate Jesus entering Jerusalem while riding a donkey. John 12:13 tells us “they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him” and they acknowledged Jesus as “the king of Israel.”

Looking at the palm leaves (the above image is just one example), I’m struck today by their beauty and symmetry. During childhood, I think we used the branches to tickle and torment each other. Today, my usual impulse is one of contemplation. These green fronds hold the last droplets of morning dew and invite peaceful reflection. Continue reading “Each Day As God’s Gift”

It Is Well With My Soul

Eleven days ago, my lifelong friend and sister-in-law entered into her eternal rest. She was so dear to so many … family, friends, colleagues and numerous students who sat under her excellent tutelage and received personalized instruction. Her sudden departure from this world stunned and pressed us to contemplate our own mortality.

Terri and I first met in junior high school and through the years, we forged a bond built on our love of family, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and a firm dedication in creating things based in truth, goodness and beauty. Throughout our lives, she was the artist who also knew and loved literature, while I aspired to be the writer (and lover) of literature who envied her ability to draw and create images without the necessity for words.

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Brokenness

No matter where we live or what our stage in life, all of us have a common problem:  our world is broken. It’s easy to name the multiple ills that seem to overwhelm our 21st century earthbound reality. Just a small list will suffice here – poverty, war, hunger, racism, disease. Yes, there are ample reasons to declare:  life sucks.

Image by enriquelopezgarre from Pixabay

As individuals, we’re also broken. We muddle through life in the midst of our brokenness. Thankfully, the grace of God is available to redeem us from the despair and despond. That is superb Good News! No matter how broken we are, because Christ died for us, we’re not without hope.

No one knows how many people across the world suffer from soul-killing hopelessness that mars their lives, almost from the moment of birth. (I suspect that number is staggering beyond belief.) My high school teacher used the phrase, man’s inhumanity to man, but whether it’s a tyrannical government or a caregiver being abusive and cruel, we know there’s suffering over which we’re unable to exert even the most minimal control. Continue reading “Brokenness”