Heavenly Valentines

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Since my mother’s passing a week ago, I’ve reflected on aspects of her life … and mine. As a writer (and a family historian), it’s always been important to me to keep written records and when possible, to match them with images (photos mostly).

This need to retain a written record appears to be a trait I inherited from my forebears – parents, grandparents etc. going back many generations. (Consider Der Stricker for further details.) So, when I get a bit nostalgic, I tend to look at the collection of resources that have come into my possession through the years.

In a previous post, I mentioned my dad spent his working life as an over-the-road trucker. He ended up with hours of dead time on his hands, waiting for a delivery to be loaded or unloaded. Being the contemplative person he was, he wrote poetry. Thanks to his impeccable handwriting, these poems are in pristine condition, many of them penned on motel stationery (wherever he happened to be staying).

The large majority of poems are personal in nature, small rhymed jewels to express his love (most often addressed to his wife, my mom). My dad had been deceased more than a decade in 2004 when I decided it was time to set his handwritten poems into book form. I had copies printed for family members and that’s where the project stayed … until now.

As an added subsection of the Blood Type / Stricker page, I’ve included a flipbook of dad’s poetry. Toward the end (page 50), there’s a poem titled My Heavenly Valentine. It’s written (obviously) to my mother. The final lines present a fitting coda to two lives well-lived … and now reunited in Eternity.

A Peculiar Crossroads

Almost a decade ago, I launched this blog. The nameplate has changed slightly but my general high regard for Flannery O’Connor (from whom the blog name was admittedly plucked) hasn’t diminished. I don’t recall our first meeting (in the pages of a book), but my philosophy as a young writer was partly formed thanks to her insights.

Her book Mystery and Manners set in motion my lifelong interest. I borrowed the book from the library. We were casual acquaintances then. By the due-date, I realized I couldn’t relinquish the book! In those pre-Amazon days, I scrambled to find a hard copy to purchase but found none.

As a last resort, I located a photocopier and proceeded to copy over 200 pages, dime by dime. (The above photo shows that well-worn copy.) I omitted the first chapter (21 pages) which relates O’Connor’s tale “The King of the Birds.” It was an amusing story but not worth the extra buck. Continue reading “A Peculiar Crossroads”

The Road to Ruthe’s

My ninety-one year old mother lives about six hours away. Given her disabilities (she’s nearly blind and doesn’t hear well), she no longer drives – which means in order to spend time with her, I must first travel to her home. On those occasions when my Beloved makes the journey with me, the distance is the same but traveling together makes the trip both sweeter and (seemingly) shorter. Time alone on the road is generally more tedious.

During my last couple trips though, I’ve been accompanied by three young fellows (unbeknownst to my Beloved). These guys couldn’t be more chatty and when we travel together, I’m certain to be entertained as well as challenged to consider the world from a different point of view.

Continue reading “The Road to Ruthe’s”

The Man From Uz

We’ve reached the last verses of the final chapter of The Book of Job. Through poetry and prose, readers have witnessed Job’s catastrophic losses and torments. We’ve also heard from Job’s comforters, offering their point of view on why Job deserved to suffer.

FROM: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Blake
FROM: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Blake

The book is divided into 42 chapters. In October 2014, I first posted about my plan to compose (and post) a sonnet for each chapter. In early posts, I pared my compositions in order to condense each chapter’s narrative into the sonnet format of fourteen lines. Continue reading “The Man From Uz”

Forgiving The Comforters

As The Book of Job opens, the reader occupies a ring-side seat within earshot of a heavenly discussion between the Creator and one of His created beings, the deceiver Satan. This introductory conversation centers on a man whom God describes as “my servant Job.

FROM: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Blake
FROM: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Blake

As the conversation between God and Satan progresses (through the first two chapters of Job), the account is told via prose. Starting in chapter three, however, the events of Job’s life (and suffering) are related through poetry. This epic poem carries us all the way through chapter forty-two, verse six … after which the narrative reverts once again to prose. Continue reading “Forgiving The Comforters”

Job’s Confession

Job’s days eventually came to an end. Chapter 42 in The Book of Job presents a concluding narrative of Job’s latter days in seventeen compact verses.

FROM: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Blake
FROM: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Blake

Seventeen verses … hardly enough to offer the level of detail one might appreciate. We want to believe life is consequential, and I think there’s no argument Job’s life was consequential but seventeen verses seem an inadequate summary.  Continue reading “Job’s Confession”

No One So Fierce

Last week, it was Behemoth. This week, there’s a new image as The Book of Job quickly draws to its close. This image is equally ominous and terrifying.

FROM: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Blake
FROM: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Blake

From Job chapter 40, the image of Behemoth is God’s first object lesson drawn from the natural world. As follow-up to that magnificent image, Job chapter 41 brings us to God’s discussion of a second created beast, Leviathan. Continue reading “No One So Fierce”

Strength To Save

Throughout the preceding thirty-nine chapters of The Book of Job, we have a poignant picture of a great man brought low through misfortune and physical pain.

FROM: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Blake
FROM: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Blake

As I contemplate Job’s story, my focus lands on two significant elements. First, I recognize the historic Job as an Everyman, the quintessential character in an ageless tale of humanity and sin. The second element I see (one that provides crucial context) is the behind-the-scenes heavenly drama which occurs outside our human realm. Continue reading “Strength To Save”

God of Wonders

We desperately need to hear God’s voice, to be reassured He cares about us. If we believe He is silent, our tendency is to conclude He doesn’t care. But when the God of Wonders speaks – really speaks! – there’s an opposite effect. We’re the ones who are awestruck to the point of silence. In that sense, we’re very much like our friend Job.

FROM: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Blake
FROM: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Blake

Looking once again at The Book of Job we’ve entered the final chapters of the book. In Chapter 39, there’s not a peep from Job. He’s been completely silenced as God continues to address his complaint. Continue reading “God of Wonders”

The End of Silence

When God speaks, He offers sublime clarity. Through thirty-seven chapters in The Book of Job, readers witness the multi-faceted drama. Initially, there’s a heavenly conversation taking place between Almighty God and Satan.

FROM: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Blake
FROM: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Blake

There’s also an ongoing earthly conversation between the suffering Job and his three comforters. Add to that the upstart monologue of Elihu as he belatedly chips in his two cents. And throughout the book, there’s Job’s handwringing challenge directed at a seemingly silent, unfeeling Creator. With his multiplicity of complaints, Job has thrown down the gauntlet, daring God to respond! Continue reading “The End of Silence”