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.

Continue reading “Transforming the Quotidian”

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”

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”

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.

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.

Continue reading “It Is Well With My Soul”

Christmas Past

Discussion of a Christmas Past may evoke ghostly images from Charles Dickens’s novella A Christmas Carol. Since first publication in 1843, the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge remains an annual favorite. If anyone could dampen the spirit of Christmas, it was the old miser.

“Bah, humbug!” exclaims Ebenezer Scrooge.

But there are no misers in this Christmas Past. Nor does the tale about which I write wrap up as neatly as one miser’s timely transformation. This Christmas Past is for real people.

The central figure is generous, a young mother whose heart overflows with love and good will. Like Scrooge though, she had lost all enthusiasm for celebrating Christmas. Though Scrooge was beset by general grumpiness, this mother had reason for sadness. She’d been crushed by grief after the sudden death of an infant daughter. Christmas 1955 was close at hand and the mother’s precious babe had been in the ground less than six months.

With loss so fresh, how could anyone summon the strength to celebrate the Birth of a child – even the Holy Christ child? For months, she’d been going through the motions. Now, the thought of celebrating Christmas seemed almost beyond reason for her wounded soul. Continue reading “Christmas Past”

Together Again

Some years before my mother died, she made her wishes known about a funeral or memorial service. To each of her children, she gave instructions. I was expected to sing a song or two. In my younger years, this seemed an easy ask.

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

However, as both Mom and I aged, I realized my particular assignment would be an impossible task. Oh, I knew the songs. I’d sung each one many times. From my earliest days, music had animated me. I sang boldly with adult choirs even when very young. When my older brother learned to play the violin, I followed in his footsteps. My dad brought home a Hammond organ and I learned to play; I still own it, though it suffers from neglect, no, involuntary abandonment. Continue reading “Together Again”

She’s So Fine

This morning just before four o’clock, my dear mother opened her eyes in Heaven. The nearest thing to my “other self,” she woke to find Jesus had wrapped His arms around her and welcomed her into His glorious presence.

In this space, I’ve posted more than a couple times with stories and recollections concerning my mom. The picture above was taken last December. We knew at that time her days on earth were winding to a close. Once the lockdowns were put in place at her long-term care facility, visits with her ceased. She died six weeks short of her 94th birthday.

It’s impossible to leaf through my memory to provide a full picture of Marion Ruth West (1926-2020) who fashioned herself (early in life) as Ruthe West and on one occasion, Bobbie Pringle, eventually living most of her adult life as Ruthe Stricker. Just the variations of her name offer a bird’s-eye view into her fun-loving, often-impulsive character! The world is poorer for having lost her, but Heaven is blessed … because she will do her part to keep St. Peter on his toes! Continue reading “She’s So Fine”

Warring With Our Souls

Over the last couple weeks, COVID-19 has all but disappeared from front page news spreads having suddenly been supplanted by protests, rioting and looting. Yes, George Floyd’s murder was a despicable act of first-degree hate. There should be no debate, nor the excuse of possible extenuating circumstances.

Having said that, it is impossible for me to reconcile the understandable grief with senseless acts of barbarism and destruction which have been perpetrated as payback for this man’s death. If you think that’s a cruel or heartless thing to assert, you should probably go follow a different blog. (I’ll be equally direct in the paragraphs below.) Continue reading “Warring With Our Souls”

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”