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”

Educated Opinions

Experts. We rely on them. We make life choices based on the advice of experts. Before having a vehicle/appliance/roof/computer repaired, we consult the expert, someone who by reputation has achieved a level of knowledge and expertise worthy of respect. In fact, we so highly value their abilities, we pay them.

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

We crave the wisdom of medical experts. A highly-respected figure who’s both a physician and immunologist, for instance, would logically command attention and even admiration. Or a government official (less an expert but we listen nonetheless) may yield information worthy of consideration.

Unfortunately, mistakes happen. A physician could remove your leg instead of your appendix. Your computer guru could delete 30,000 emails instead of a virus on the hard drive. (It could actually happen!) In the real world, human beings – yes, even experts – can be miserably inept. Continue reading “Educated Opinions”

Art for Art’s Sake

Throughout childhood, my older brother was a role model and I eagerly followed him, learning from his example. He’s two years older and surely, I must have been an annoying shadow at times. When he decided to learn the violin in grade school, I followed suit. If he climbed a tree, I’d be directly behind him. An incident from junior high comes to mind.

image courtesy of Pixabay.com

My brother and his friends (all boys) were hunting rabbits in the barren cornfield near our house. Naturally, they didn’t want a girl tagging along but I begged and bargained:  I agreed to carry any rabbits they managed to snag. (It probably wasn’t the best bargain I’ve ever negotiated!)

I thought it unlikely they’d catch even one rabbit … imagine my chagrin when they bagged two! But I kept my side of the bargain, grasping a pair of rabbit ears with each hand for the trek homeward.

Needless to say, this experience ended my “hunting” inclination. I began emerging from my brother’s shadow to do my own thing. But even today, he acknowledges gratefulness to his younger sister (shadow) for introducing him to one of my classmates – now his wife with whom he recently celebrated 53 years of married life together. Continue reading “Art for Art’s Sake”

Asleep In Jesus

Though it seems nearly a thousand years ago, back in early January (when the world seemed relatively calm) my Beloved bid adieu to his younger brother. This was before Covid-19 had rocked everyone’s world, but the expectation was that my brother-in-law’s days on this planet were ending. He moved out of state to live with his son.

We were privileged in recent years to have him living near us. Initially, he lived in our home, moved out, temporarily moved out of state and eventually returned to the area. An irrepressible individual, his stories never ceased to entertain and his bottomless reservoir of energy made him well-loved by all.

But cancer’s destruction would not be abated, rendering him a wisp of the man he once was. Bidding him adieu entailed numerous phone calls through January and February, until he was too weak to hold a phone. He passed into Eternity on March 4th at the age of 66.

Everyday, my Beloved feels this huge void from the loss of his brother. They talked daily including a regular Bible study time every morning by phone. Saying goodbye was sorrowful, but my Beloved knows the assurance of seeing his sibling again … such a blessed hope! Continue reading “Asleep In Jesus”

He Is Risen!

Resurrection Sunday … Christendom has celebrated this historic event for close to two thousand years. It is the pivotal point of history. After the crucifixion, they laid the dead body of Jesus in a tomb and sealed it with a stone (like the one in this picture).

www.LumoProject.com

Then Sunday came – Resurrection Sunday. But the tomb was empty! Women came to visit the tomb but Jesus wasn’t there! An angel appeared and proclaimed to the women:  “He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.” (Matthew 28:6) Absolutely the best news ever!

Have a wonderful day celebrating the risen Savior!

Hunker-Down Friday

With Covid-19 the prime topic of news lately, reports of suffering and death are constant. We’re hunkered down, wondering when things will return to “normal” (whatever that is).

istockphoto.com

This being Holy Week, I couldn’t help thinking the followers of Jesus were in a similar situation.

The week had started out with so much promise! They accompanied Jesus as He rode into the Holy City on the back of a donkey. Crowds welcomed Him amid great celebration.

No doubt, the disciples were elated! Onlookers showered homage on Jesus, laying their garments on the ground (so the donkey would pass over them). The throngs waved palm branches in celebration of the King!

But by Friday, it was a vastly different story. Events overwhelmed, culminating in a horrific scene … Jesus, the Messiah, hanging on a cross. The disciples must have wondered, how had the week gone so terribly wrong? Continue reading “Hunker-Down Friday”

New Year – New Me?

The year is now 2020, a New Year (as well as a new decade) which frequently signifies the proverbial fresh start. This new beginning presents a chance to modify one’s behavior, an opportunity to “turn over a new leaf” or begin again (by establishing new habits, resolving to eat healthier, exercise more, reduce screen time, etc.). Many of us find we’re captive to at least one bad habit and we’re anxious to exchange that bad habit for a new – and preferable habit, am I right?

In this New Year, there’s also a subtle reference to sight. Think about the common term for visual acuity – 20/20 – which widens the opportunity for reflection. In my view, 2020 is more than a particular year on our calendar; it’s an invitation to embrace the year ahead with clear-eyed thinking … and doing. Continue reading “New Year – New Me?”

Singing for Joy

Wassailing … this traditional English practice of singing Christmas carols from house to house and door to door reflected the Joy of the season as expressed through song. Singers bade the hearers another year of good health. Hearers were equally festive, sharing a cup or two of spiced wine from their wassail bowls.

Lyrics of this old song repeat the words:  “Love and joy come to you and … God bless you and send you a Happy New Year.” From our door to yours, from our house to yours, we greet you with warm wishes for a very Merry Christmas 2019 as well as good health and God’s blessings in 2020.