A Poem for Jerry

You are missed, little brother:   The phone calls at suppertime, the hope  you spoke of with each new treatment,  stories of good nurses and doctors who cared, the tips and gifts you gave to those who poked and prodded, and talked with you during hour after hour of IV drip, the gratitude you shared with me in land line conversations, those years of chemo therapy to treat the BIG C.

I miss your smile and laugh when you told a funny story. About working with the Pasternak’s, and the one about that poor fellow who barked like a dog and actually did. uncontrollably; not laughing at them but with them. The way you rubbed the hump on Mom’s back and told her she needed to have it removed, every time you saw her. The trip from Florida you and your wife made up north to visit all of us, when I thought you had to eat bland food and then you brought (and ate) kielbasa to your dietitian sister.

That was just one year ago.  All those miles, stops in Virginia, here in NJ and in Pennsylvania. On the way back south in Gettysburg (where you had kielbasa). No trace of self pity, always on the move. You were just the same. You never changed from that dark eyed, slight and agile child of nine or ten to the suffering sixty some. You brought sunshine, hugs and kisses. As the cancer grew and spread, so did your heart.

Now as I smile through tears, I miss you…

 

Excerpt from Daybreak: Pentecost

The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the spirit. John3:8

Although the sky was completely clear, a strong wind came from nowhere. The sound of it hurt our ears. We stood still, not able to speak, as did the whole body of people. The sound of rushing air drew others from the surrounding streets like flies drawn to honey, enlarging the assembly of pilgrims in even greater numbers. Soon thousands gathered filling the adjoining streets. This wind was more than a storm brewing. I looked up at the sky. It had turned a deep blue with some shades of indigo. I had never seen anything comparable.

A ripple of voices went through the crowd. The words were indiscernible, but I was sure they reflected the awe I was experiencing. What came next caused us to duck. A number of flames passed above our heads and entered the house straight through the roof. They were shaped like tongues composed of fire. We felt the heat left behind. None of us spoke, and an intense alertness made everything brighter. The dwelling shook for some minutes as this took place. Then all went silent for a time.

We heard movement in the room, and saw the Apostles and Mary coming through the door onto the spacious balcony. Peter stood in the middle with Yeshua’s Mother behind his left shoulder. We recognized the disciples we had met in Bethany on the way from the Ascension of the Messiah. Nathanael was among them to the far right of Peter.

Their faces glowed like those who had stood before a fire. Peter raised his arms to the heavens and began to speak. His voice rose in volume loud enough that the three of us at the periphery of the multitude could hear each word distinctly.

Joy and Peace: Phil. 4:4-9

Sometimes in listening to the world news and hearing of the trials of those nearby as well, we tend to focus on what seems incomprehensible, ugly, and hopeless. I think that’s why my favorite time is early morning when all is usually quiet as it is today. The birds are singing, a cool spring breeze blowing. Life is as it was made to be. I have a daily devotional “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young that I read each morning and also often pray my daily Rosary on the side deck. Everyone has problems including me and they can overwhelm us. The way to hover above all the worldly thoughts is answered in these few versus written over two thousand years ago.

9) “…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious,, if their is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things…”

And then go out and fight the good fight with those things in mind always focusing on that which comes from our Creator. As Archbishop Fulton Sheen has said “Life is worth living”.

The Tree Still Stands

In early March of 1971 our first child was born in a hospital an hour away from our home. On the way home we made a short visit to a family who lived near the hospital. The weather though above freezing in the daytime, still hovered around the low forties and I had dressed our newborn for arctic weather. When my friend Lisa, a veteran mom of two young children, laid our crying baby boy on her sofa. She began unwrapping the layers: warm blanket, lighter blanket, receiving blanket, hat, booties and sweater down to a cozy footed one piece PJ.  His tiny forehead was awash with perspiration. She wrapped him in his receiving blanket and he fell happily asleep. Jim went outside and returned with a rooted one foot high stick, and shoot from his dogwood tree.

Our friends gave us a hearty lunch repackaged the little one minus a few trappings.  We moved on to our second and last stop before home at grandma’s house. Delighted she held him in her arms and gave him a nickname, Butchie. She called my husband that when he was a baby. I remember thinking of her when we had our first grandchild also a boy. It felt as if we had our son back again.  Home at last, my husband placed the stick on the eastern side of the lawn on solidly frozen ground. We were not too optimistic when the ground thawed and we planted it there.

Some forty years later sitting on my deck as the sun rose, I wrote this poem

The Tree Still Stands

It blooms a while in springtime and lifts my soul To contemplate all that’s happened Since the stick was planted in the soil  The babe came first before the barren, rooted wood  They grew together one in earth, the other in love

Some Forty-two years have past The tree has grown and bloomed  Almost destroyed by storms  Trimmed and allowed to live The child, a man, a gift to us withstands the storms of living  His progeny will face the bitter winds of life, yet live  As the dogwood blooms in springtime…                                                                                                                      May 3, 2017

 

 

Easter Morning: Excerpt From Daybreak

Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but He has been raised.       Luke 24: 5-6

Nothing could stop me from going to the tomb. The Lord guided my footsteps. Finally the gate of the garden came into sight. It was appropriate He rested in a garden. That was His Father’s original intention for all His creation, to live in the garden of Eden. There were sounds of earth’s awakening all around. Birds singing, a small brook splashing over rocks, a gentle breeze rustling through the trees.

I saw the place where we hid yesterday and then the tomb. The entrance was open, the specially made stone rolled to one side. There were no guards or mourners. I hesitated but could not resist entering. The slab was empty where a dead man should have been. Only the burial cloth and the costly scent of myrrh and aloe remained. The appealing fragrance filled the tomb. It felt sacred. In one corner on a small ledge, I noticed the face cloth of Yehua folded neatly. The light from the entrance lit up the whole area. He had risen as He said!

Trembling I knelt on the stone floor uttering a prayer of gratitude. The Messiah had come. Born like every man and He died so men might live forever. He conquered death by dying and rising. Who could understand the mind of the Lord?

I left the tomb and walked outside into the light. Everything appeared more intense and vivid. Something made me look down and I saw a patch of tiny white flowers, the kind I’d picked for Sarai the night we met on the roof of my uncle’s home.

I had to tell my dearest relatives: Yeshua had risen! I had to tell everyone.

Holy Thursday: Food for Thought

Today begins the journey of the Passion. Many of us know the story well but it is surprising how many do not, in our increasingly pagan world. Holy Thursday begins the final days of Divinity who became part of humanity. Being human, we can imagine the thoughts, fears and emotions of the Eternal Galilean (a great book by Archbishop Fulton Sheen). Unlike most of the human race, Jesus knew what was about to happen. He wasn’t sick or old. In fact He would ask later that night that this cup would pass from Him… the human part of God’s Son really didn’t want to die and certainly not by crucifixion.

What did He do the day before His death on the cross? He prepared to celebrate the greatest feast day of His earthly family, God’s chosen people, the Jews. He organized the party, first telling two disciples they would meet a man in a certain place in Jerusalem carrying a water jug and tell him their Master wanted to have the Passover Feast at his home. How this man knew he should agree is not mentioned in the Gospels; perhaps an angel came to him or a dream or any number of ways in which we know the desires of our God.

Jesus said He greatly desired to have the Passover meal with his Apostles. As the Jews long ago passed over the Red Sea to freedom, Jesus was about to pass over from this life to eternity. It was a better life there with His Father but He had lived and loved his friends and all of humanity on His earthly journey.  He knew what was ahead — great physical, mental and emotional suffering. At this last supper with His closest friends, He would give then a Gift, food and drink that would sustain them on their journey; the mystery of all mysteries: bread and wine that would become through His Word His own body and blood. Like the Passover He entreated them to continue to have this meal in memory of Him until He returned and to hand down the story of  His Gift to future generations.

During this Last Supper Jesus knew he would be betrayed by one of His closest friends. He knew all present would abandon Him that very night. Yet as they left the upper room Jesus sang on the way to the Garden of Gethsemane at the base of the Mount of Olives. He would be seized by His assassins in a garden. It was in a garden that humanity was destined to die because of disobedience to their Father and in a garden Jesus would accept His death so men and women might defeat death and live forever as the Father intended. We are on our own journey to death and eternal life. We should sing as Jesus did on the way. Life is indeed a choice.

{The account of Jesus Passion, death and resurrection is told in each of the four Gospels.}

Bloom Where You Are

Spring is fast approaching and if you have a gardener’s spirit and are a lover of the soil, plans for your passion are forming in your mind. A single clump of lavender crocus          will delight you in an otherwise barren garden. What inspired me to write this in my blog today was a quote my daughter shared written on a teabag: A garden is a delight to the eye and solace for the soul. from contemporary British poet, Sadi Ranson.

This brought to mind another quote I saw on a wooden sign on my sister-in-law’s wall many years ago as we visited them during a snow storm/ blizzard in upstate NY in a small town in the middle of nowhere. She and her husband had four preschool children and moved there from Madison, NJ for his job. She explained the difficulty of relocating from an area with direct train access to NY City to a town without even a hospital or any medium size city nearby, plus adjusting to raising four young children after a career in nursing. (Her first job was researching the cases of the young women who worked painting the radium dials on watches, control panels of planes, etc  in the 1940’s, as they were later afflicted with horrendous debilitating affects of the radioactivity.)

The sign contained just four words: Bloom where you are. It said a great deal about her situation and also our own when we question our surroundings, our work, people in our lives, our vocation. It sounded biblical and Google gave me two passages. Corinthians 7:17-24 and Jeremiah 29:4-13. I will share with you Cor.7:24 Everyone should continue before God in the state in which he was called. Paul was speaking  t converts to Christianity; that they should maintain their former roles in life.

The second reference from the old testament given by God to Jeremiah was that the Jews exiled in Babylon should build houses, find husbands for their daughters, have children, etc. And God said: After seventy years I will send you back to Israel.

So the moral of the story for us today is: bloom where you are. And delight in your garden!