Come Up Higher!


“That old law about ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing.” ~ Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The world we live in today is an angry world, not just a little miffed, but seething, boiling-over, raging ANGRY. It is, of course, perfectly natural to feel this way. Facebook, life’s microcosm, has seen many “Me Too” posts recently. For anyone who doesn’t know, this is a movement to bring awareness to the threat of gender-based violence and intimidation faced by the women and girls of the world in general, and to remind us that all around us, every day, there are women who feel unsafe. There is a global epidemic of forced labor and sex trafficking, for adults and children. What else are we faced with socially and personally on a daily basis but domestic violence, rising healthcare costs, greedy corporations, unethical treatment of employees, thieves, liars, cheaters, swindlers, pretenders, violence, hatred, anger, anger, anger!

I was angry as well when I started writing this post. Some things, after all, are just WRONG. However, “Me Too” should be the beginning of a discussion, not just an angry, raised fist.

An old Newsboys song says, “Everybody needs somebody to rely on….are you gonna lend a hand and assist? Everybody needs somebody’s shoulder to cry on…..are you gonna lend a hand, or a fist?” 

The real struggle, after all, is not men against women, black against white, rich against poor, cat people against dog people, left against right, not really. We all have much more in common than we sometimes care to remember. The ultimate puppet master and behind-the-scenes enemy of all of us is evil incarnate, or the devil, Satan, whatever you call him. He is a master manipulator and gold-star pot-stirrer, and we all fall for his games from time to time. For instance, when I’m angry after reading of a family devastated, or a crime committed, I am usually angry with people. This encourages me to have an “us versus them” or even “me versus everybody else” mentality. That kind of thinking is what feeds the mafia, gang warfare, and a Hatfield’s vs. McCoy’s ideology. When both sides are bleeding and wounded, who really wins? When the smoke clears, you may find yourself looking, not at an enemy, but at a mirror instead. We all get hurt, but we do not have to be the ones doing the hurting.

So, me too, I have been hurt by others, AND I have hurt others. The only hands I can control are on the end of my own arms. The words I have come out of my own mouth. SO, I can be angry with “them” or you, but if I look at MYSELF, I can make the changes that the world needs to be a better place, for “them”, you, and me too.

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” ~ Matthew 5:13-20 NIV
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Hot Coffee, and Meningitis


“Man could direct his ways by plain reason, and support his life by tasteless food, but God has given us wit, and flavor, and brightness, and laughter to enliven the days of man’s pilgrimage, and to charm his pained steps over the burning marble” ~ Sydney Smith

Today, my coffee is hot, strong, and soothing. Today, my husband told me there are 3 men out with meningitis at his work. Today, one of my daughters told me she is on the honor roll and getting props from the high school principal. Today, I am almost out of laundry detergent. Today, another daughter has an interview for a new job. Today, I need to write a letter of apology.

Life is a series of good and bad, joy and sadness, pleasure and pain. We all know this. In many ways, life may seem like a spinning roulette wheel. Where will the ball stop? What chance circumstance will come our way next? Better duck, the wheel is still spinning.

But are our lives’ experiences a matter of pure chance, or is there something more? Is there an unseen Hand behind it all, directing our steps, bringing us situations designed to shape our character, and above all else showing us, by and by, that even in the midst of our most dark and confusing seasons that we are LOVED?

“The poor and needy are seeking water when there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst. I the Lord will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. I will open rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water. I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the acacia, the myrtle, and the wild olive; I will set the cypress in the desert, the plane [tree] and the pine [tree] together, That men may see and know and consider and understand together that the hand of the Lord has done this, that the Holy One of Israel has created it.” ~ Isaiah 41:17-20

So, after hearing more and more about our little rural area and the threat of meningitis getting closer and closer to my friends and loved ones, I warned my kids to be careful and not share food or drinks. I read that frankincense essential oil may help, and I decided to clean my house. (Little note for you, my readers, there are many nasty things going around, even without the threat of meningitis. Be safe, be careful, and love your loved ones.) I’m also going to be adding some frankincense oil to my homemade hand soap, just in case. 🙂

A Tough Nut to Crack


“The best thing to give to your enemy is forgiveness; to an opponent, tolerance; to a friend, your heart; to your child, a good example; to a father, deference; to your mother, conduct that will make her proud of you; to yourself, respect; to all men, charity.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

 

It’s so simple. Buying gifts shows people how much much we love and appreciate them, right? Buying just the right gift, on the other hand, is personal, loving, and shows that not only are we generous but intuitive and thoughtful. We spend a lot of time on this particular aspect of the Christmas season. So what if it’s a lot of work?

Only, maybe we weren’t very generous when we schlepped out to the store again for another bottle of sparkling cider and the gluten-free stuffing mix, were we? Maybe we were even less than thoughtful when we shouldered our way through that family who was taking a little more time than we thought necessary and cut in front of the single mom trying to wrangle her kids as well as her meager cart. We weren’t being particularly generous when we dug out the dregs from the back of our cupboard for the canned food drive were we? Yes, I’ve been there too, Scrooging away the entire Christmas season, missing out on the meaning, the memories, and the Message.

We just get so wrapped up in the festivities and the supposed “have to’s”. We want to practice the carols for the choir sing along and the Christmas pageant has to be just right, but we forget to hear the music. We miss the fact that the Christ child came to be more than the centerpiece of our Precious Moments Nativity scene. We forget He came to seek and save that which was lost. (Luke 19:10)

Today I wrote a letter to someone I had offended, and refused to make up with, months and months ago. That’s never pleasant, is it, to admit that maybe you’ve been the Scrooge instead of the Bob Cratchit. Ahem. Now, I don’t know how it will be received; and really, I’m sure there are more of these letters I should be writing, baby steps, right? Of course, it would be alot easier to avoid having to write these difficult letters at all if I could just admit right away when I’m hurt and offended, or hurtful and offensive, and get the relationship dealt with right away. But alas, I seem to be rebellious to the last. Naturally, it all comes down to a problem I have with pride and disobedience. Sigh, at almost 40 years old, no less, that’s the real issue here. How ironic that we should be so stubborn about taking a back seat during the time of year when we are supposedly celebrating the One who had every reason to expect special treatment and permanent cuts in line…..and who served, and toiled, and bled, and died……instead. There are definitely times when what I’m actually celebrating is Jessiemas, instead of Christmas. (What a lame name for a holiday, right?)

Maybe the gift we should focus on most this season is one that is free, yet the most difficult, to give: Christ-likeness.

“And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” ~ John 1:1-14 (King James Version)

Seasoning the Seasons


“Prove yourself brave, truthful, and unselfish, and someday, you will be a real boy.” ~ The Blue Fairy ( IMDB, Disney’s Pinocchio, 1940)

 

It’s a strange thing, an awkward, how-can-it-be thing, when the holidays which are supposed to inspire feelings of benevolence, charity, patience, and generosity inside of us (no matter how we choose to observe them) are often rather commercial spectacles of excess, envy, self-indulgence, and competition. It is a wonderful thing to enjoy the blessings and fruits of hard work and God’s favor, don’t get me wrong; but when the decorations, food, and traditions become overly important, it’s difficult to actually enjoy these holidays. Worst of all, the people we are supposed to be teaching and sharing the deeper meaning of the seasons with get in the way of our dreams of “perfect”, things can get a little bit ugly, and by things I mean me. (Do you do this too?) Ugh. Embarrassing.

Of course it is so so easy to get wrapped up in the wrong things at this time of year (little pre-Christmas pun there). There are holiday specials to watch, and blogs to read (ahem), and recipes to try, and gifts to buy, and crafts to make, and bows to tie, and cinnamon-scented this and that, and Grandma Bobo’s Christmas tree skirt, and carols to sing, and bells to ring (hey I will rhyme most anything), and plays to watch, and Grandpa’s Scotch, and crab dip made from imitation, and Clark W’s Christmas Vacation………….So, it may be a good idea to stop, rewind, and remember why we have these often maddening special times. Maybe should recall the seasonings (or as it is also called, fruit) which make the Holidays truly bright…

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” ~ Galatians 5:22-26

The Wisdom of Going Through


“Why is it that men who can go through severe accidents, air raids, and any other major crisis always seems to think that they are at death’s door when they have a simple head cold?”Shirley Booth

A week or two ago, I came down with a cold. I had achy-breaky fever and chills. I sneezed and felt the tingle of impending sinus infection doom. I was miserable. You know the feeling. It’s funny how we can endure so many things except when our own body or health is challenged. You eventually recover from these little things, with a new appreciation for all the time you spend NOT feeling this way. Sometimes going through is the absolute best thing for us. Like exercise, sometimes we have to push through pain and discomfort in order to be stronger.

I spent years as a single mom who worked and went to school online. (Talk about your “going through”.) It was hard. There were so many times I felt like giving up on my dream of improving my life and the lives of my children. I almost threw in the towel instead of being a good example and showing my children (and the many naysayers) that some things are worth a fight. Instead of this, however, I pushed through and pushed and pushed and eventually earned my AA in Business Administration. After a few more years, and becoming very happily remarried, I was able to return to my studies and earned my Bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design. I have hopes of earning my Master’s and beyond one day. I will NOT reach these goals, on the other hand, if I begin to doubt that I can. My mind dictates the path my life will follow. not everything that happens to us is something we would have chosen, BUT we can learn the lessons we are meant to learn and come out better, stronger, and kinder than we were before the troubles came.

Perhaps my cold could help me to be more motivated to clean my house, eat healthy, drink water, wash my hands (for my sister in nursing school), and get good rest. Perhaps the next time I hear a friend is sick, I will be more compassionate and know how to ease their suffering a bit (temporary though it may be). Perhaps when I hear of people (or their loved ones) suffering chronic or terminal illnesses, my heart will go out to them, instead of a cold should shoulder and judgement, and I will be able to turn my attention toward thankfulness for all the pain I have NEVER had to suffer. It is only reasonable to expect us to learn something. We are reasoning beings, after all, are we not?

Maybe more than our immune systems or personal goals should be made stronger when we endure something unpleasant, tiring, irksome, humiliating, etc. Maybe what should be strengthened is our determination to reach out to others and encourage them as we have been encouraged. Maybe this strange life we all have to live on this strange planet and in these strange bodies with other strange beings is simply getting us ready for the ultimate strange destination of our souls?

“…Then he took hold of the man’s right hand with a firm grip and raised him up. And at once his feet and ankle bones became strong and steady, And leaping forth he stood and began to walk, and he went into the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking about and praising God, And they recognized him as the man who usually sat [begging] for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement (bewilderment, consternation) over what had occurred to him…” Acts 3:1-26 Amplified (selected, read the whole passage here)

Moose Mug Irony and Other Points to Ponder


“Quotation is a serviceable substitute for wit.” ~ Oscar Wilde

Once when I was on vacation in Lake Tahoe, I decided to spend my hard-earned money in the best way possible, by entering a tourist trap gift shop and buying myself a set of four moose mugs. I’m not talking about the clear glass moose mugs like in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. (“Is your house on fire, Clark?” “No, Aunt Bethany, those are the Christmas lights.”) These mugs were tall, mustard yellow and had big moose silhouettes in black, very Lake Tahoe. [insert ironic tone] I had to have them. I just LOVE irony, plus anything that helps me tell a story. 🙂 As it turns out, life is full of ironic twists and turns, worst case scenarios, and don’t-try-this-at-home moments.

When you become a parent, you find out many ironic things about people. I was a perfect parent, once upon a time, in my dreams, before I became a parent. You know the type? Yeah, well I’m sorry. When we have a situation we are usually much more understanding toward others facing the same situation. When we have no idea what we are talking about, we sure have a lot to say, don’t we? Ours is ALWAYS a special circumstance, explanation, convenient reason…….everyone else has NO excuse. I’ve had my share of “special circumstances”. It’s easy to fall back on these as reasons why we can’t. Sooner or later though, we will meet someone with enormous obstacles and serious life challenges, and this person will be more than a survivor. This person will succeed spectacularly and make us feel like whiny schmoes.

There is the irony of the people who walk the red carpet and have more than a lot of people would ever dream of having, but live such dreadfully unhappy lives. Others with maybe not as much in the way of worldly possessions feel rich in friends and family and the simple joys of being alive. Our family has been hit quite hard along with many others during these financial adjustment times. We’ve had to live with friends and family. This week, I am sleeping in my own bed and using my own dresser, which I haven’t been able to do in over a year and a half. We also finally have our own washer and dryer. I am feeling very thankful as I listen to the swishing and tumbling of these machines, look out my own kitchen window, or lay the baby down to nap (safely bolstered with pillows) on my own bed. Household chores might be a source of stress for some, but for those without a home of their own, having their own floor to sweep is indeed a blessing.

The childless long for noses to wipe and diapers to change. Orphans long for parents to tell them what to do and get in their business and care. Those battling cancer see yet another birthday as a celebration of life and not something to dread. Irony, it turns out, is everywhere. With the proper perspective, however, we can all see things in a more positive, if ironic, light.

Echos of Eden


Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf,
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day
Nothing gold can stay.

– Nothing Gold Can Stay, by Robert Frost

When spring rolls around every year, I find myself wanting a garden. Not just any garden will do, either. I want a magnificent Eden, full of the vast array and color spectrum contained in nature. I want plants to look at and plants to eat, preferably all of them beautifully arranged and accessible.  I can definitely relate to Tolkien’s Hobbits when they are described as loving all things that grow. There is just something so satisfying in watching things that you have planted grow from seeds into full maturity as plants or various kinds. My son once grew a single tomato plant from seed that was still growing,  producing and flowering at our 3500 ft elevation when we first started getting frost. (It was a Pompeii tomato, in case you were interested.) Gardening is interesting for all ages. Is it maybe because we began that way?

There are a lot of folksy sayings about when to plant this or that, how to tell if your garden is doing well, when to harvest, etc. Growing food, flowers, or any kind of plant really, just seems to be party of our basic nature. There is such a huge movement toward going green, getting back to nature, organic self-sustaining living, and on and on. At the same time that we are moving away from older ways of doing things and modernizing, it seems many people are realizing the wisdom of looking back to former generations’ wisdom and ways.

It seems to me that if we are realizing the wisdom of doing certain things for ourselves again because it worked well once and still works now, we might want to consider many of the other things that were once standard operating procedure. Things like loyalty, honesty, fairness, justice, and unselfishness might seem outdated or passe, but these values were once just the way things were. It was just the way people behaved. You could count on it like the sun rising in the morning. Perhaps, instead of bemoaning the cruelty and insane selfishness that seems to be the daily diet served up by the evening news, you can be someone who makes a difference for the better. Maybe, if we all lived our lives in parallel to another old-fashioned concept known as the Golden Rule, no matter what the color or preferences or beliefs of the people you encounter everyday whether in person or online (those online avatars represent actual people just like you and me, after all); maybe if we remembered that our ears were made to always be open, but our mouths can actually close from time to time (and should); maybe if we listened to our grandmothers and Thumper’s father “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothin’ at all”; if we all acted the way we say we want everyone else to…..we would all live in a much happier world overall.

The next time you are tempted to think of something as “old-fashioned” and therefore no longer valid, remember that many of the things we are missing in this world were voted out, modernized, or made unpopular a little bit at a time, until we all learned the bittersweet lesson to be careful what we wish for. Sometimes we get it, and it is a good thing, true. Hand-in-hand with getting our way are the consequences of getting our way, however; and all the political filibustering and campaigning and white-washing and spin-doctoring in the world cannot make things different (in reality) than they actually are. Until we reach a day when “the former things are passed away”, we might just take a look backward from time to time at some of the tried-and-true and see what we’ve been missing.

At any rate, I went online and ordered more seed and plant catalogs than I can possibly use this season. We are in our own home at last, only renting, but nonetheless I want to be able to dream my Hobbity dreams and plan and imagine my perfect garden. I always daydream about a space MUCH bigger than the one I am actually able to use. I don’t ever accomplish the things I imagine, but I go on imagining all the same. Maybe a lot of us just need to find a place like Eden inside of our imaginations where we can go and walk when things get a little too modern and impersonal for comfort.

Thus says the Lord God: In the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities I will [also] cause [Israel’s] cities to be inhabited, and the waste places shall be rebuilt. And the desolate land shall be tilled, that which had lain desolate in the sight of all who passed by. And they shall say, This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden, and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are fortified and inhabited. Then the nations that are left round about you shall know that I the Lord have rebuilt the ruined places and replanted that which was desolate. I the Lord have spoken it, and I will do it. – Ezekiel 36:33-36

 

 

Nature’s first green is gold, Her hardest hue to hold. Her early leaf’s a flower; But only so an hour. Then leaf subsides to leaf. So Eden sank to grief, So dawn goes down to day. Nothing gold can stay. – See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/19977#sthash.Wt06AMf6.dpuf

The Sunshine of My Life


You are the sunshine of my life
That’s why I’ll always be around
You are the apple of my eye
Forever you’ll stay in my heart

I feel like this is the beginning
Though I’ve loved you for a million years
And if I thought our love was ending
I’d find myself drowning in my own tears

You are the sunshine of my life
That’s why I’ll always stay around
You are the apple of my eye
Forever you’ll stay in my heart

You must have known that I was lonely
Because you came to my rescue
And I know that this must be Heaven
How could so much love be inside of you?

You are the sunshine of my life, yeah
That’s why I’ll always stay around
You are the apple of my eye
Forever you’ll stay in my soul

You are the sunshine of my life, baby
That’s why I’ll always stay around
Can’t stop living You are the apple of my eye

Stevie Wonder

The things that bring us joy in life are many and varied. What makes one person happy is as unique as that person is themselves. It is February, just after Valentine’s Day, and yet in my neck of the woods (I am surrounded by Plumas National Forest), folks are starting the first of their flower and vegetable seeds indoors, airing out their houses, wearing shirt sleeves while the weather holds, and taking full advantage of the unseasonably warm weather until the next storm hits. (We are expecting snow on Tuesday.) Gardening, listening to birds sing, cooking, puppy breath, the smell of Fall, the faces of my children, the love of my husband…these are some of the things that make my heart sing, and wrap around me like a warm security blanket. My list is unique to me, although many people would say similar things also make them happy. The love of my particular husband named Adam, the faces of my exact children, and the reasons and memories which are the basis for my list of favorite things are even more specific to me. These things inspire and encourage me when I am feeling discouraged or depressed. When I feel like giving up, they help me go on, and on, and on…

Many studies, such as published on the website of the University of Kansas (Happiness = Health), have shown a strong link between health and happiness. It follows that the happier we are throughout our lives, the healthier we will be as well. A positive attitude and well-developed sense of humor cannot stave of any and all effects of living, naturally; but the road we follow can have a lot less bumps and a lot more scenic vistas. It all depends on our method of travel and our point of view. In other words, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12 NIV

We all of us need our “heart song” lists. Life is often hard and full of challenges in all shapes, sizes, and durations. If we do not have things to buoy us up, we will surely sink. Perhaps, therefore, it would be wise to focus on not just a happy place, but happy people, place(s), and things. Carry the loves of your life in your heart. Take them with you wherever you go; and never leave home without them. Better than any credit card you might carry, the joy of your heart will help you up like a kind hand extended. With a happy heart, it is much more likely that we will be able to rise again after crushing disappointment. Happiness comes out of us. It is not dependent on our situations. Therefore we must carry it inside of us. What do you carry inside of you day after day? Is it a burden that drags you down, or a boon to uplift your spirit and the spirits of those around you? The greatest source of joy which I have found is the truth of Christ, and Him crucified. After discovering something so rare and excellent, what reason do I have to stay downcast?

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. – Psalm 42:5

New Every Morning


“That is one good thing about this world. . .there are always sure to be more springs.”

Lucy Maud Montgomery (Canadian writer of Anne of Green Gables 1874-1942)

Just like in the song, there is a time for everything. If you have come to some sort of an acceptance that bad things will, most assuredly, come your way, you need to ALSO realize that good things will also, eventually come your way. Another way to look at it is this: there is always a dawn after a long, dark night, and after every winter comes a spring.

I don’t know what you may be going through, but we all share times of hardship and times of celebration while we walk on this earth. Keep in mind that even though things may seem like it, hard times will not last forever. There is nothing more valuable that I can share with you today. Even I have my struggles. 🙂

“I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”

The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.” ~ Lamentations 3:19-26 

My Favorite Things


Poetry is a projection across silence of cadences arranged to break that silence with definite intentions of echoes, syllables, wave lengths.

Poetry is a journal of a sea animal living on land, wanting to fly the air.

Poetry is a series of explanations of life, fading off into horizons too swift for explanations.

Poetry is a search for syllables to shoot at barriers of the unknown and the unknowable.

Poetry is a theorem of a yellow-silk handkerchief knotted with riddles, sealed in a balloon tied to the tail of a kite flying in a white wind against a blue sky in spring.

Poetry is the silence and speech between a wet struggling root of a flower and a sunlit blossom of that flower.

Poetry is the harnessing of the paradox of earth cradling life and then entombing it.

Poetry is a phantom script telling how rainbows are made and why they go away.

Poetry is the synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits.

Poetry is the opening and closing of a door, leaving those who look through to guess about what is seen during a moment.

(Ten Definitions of Poetry) Carl Sandburg

Most of my favorite things have to do with people. For example, the poem above reminds me of a teacher/friend I had when I was 16. She took me on a day trip on horseback and we had poetry and tea and a memory that will last a lifetime. Now, I know next to nothing about horses. I’m not sure where they keep their withers or their pastern or much else except that you have to remember to clean out their hooves. I do love to see movie scenes where horses run, like Hidalgo or The Man From Snowy River. I don’t have to understand them to appreciate their beauty or the fact that even today they are incredibly valuable and useful animals all over the world. Sometimes we love things without being able to explain why.

I love going to the river to swim and taking along a picnic, preferably in a nice big ice chest. I love camping and going to camp. I love music festivals and county fairs. I love to dig my feet into the sand at the beach, dry or wet. I love yogurt and granola. I love Willow Ware china. I love making people laugh until milk shoots out their noses. I love to listen to birds chirping outside. I love the narrative voices of James Earl Jones, Charleton Heston, and Burt Lancaster. I love pretty much anything Jim Henson, pretty much.

Storytellers have always been special to me, like the school librarian, Mrs. Schramel, when I was in second grade. She read Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and the Peanut Butter Sandwich and many many others to my class. I credit her a great deal for my continued love of books and literature, especially children’s literature. Adult fantasy is so often cruel, tawdry, and scandalous instead of fun, inspiring, and heart-warming. I have enough ick in my real life and past. I don’t need it in my entertainment, thank you.

Recently, I was also reminded of my longtime love of the Anne of Green Gables movies and books. (I even found the soundtrack on YouTube.) All of these things that I enjoy so much are connected in some way with people that have been or are in my life. Of course you can’t always carry all these things around with you like a junk man with an overflowing cart. Things can serve to remind us, but they cannot be an end in themselves.

I think maybe the people featured on the show Hoarders are just getting it backwards. They long to have the memories, but think that they must hold on to all the things as well. Our minds can hold many more relationships and memories than our houses can hold things. What do we want with so many things anyway? That is a lot to take care of all the time! Is it not so much easier to hold onto the people in our lives, and carry them with us in our hearts, where they will never grow old or die? Hoard your memories, my friends, but never your things. There are always more than enough good reasons to give them away.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  Matthew  6 : 19-21