A Christmas Story

  Some years ago on Christmas Eve, by chance, but I believe by design of Providence, I alone visited my dear uncle in the nursing home where he resided for a great number of years after my mother cared for him at least seven years and reluctantly had to place him there. My  husband and I offered to visit him on the way to our home in New Jersey after our traditional Russian Christmas Eve supper with most of my siblings and their families. It was a beautiful tradition and the one time we were always together in the house where we grew up.                                                                                  

My mom & dad went every evening and made sure he ate supper, but they were both exhausted that night. My husband had a cold and stayed in the car. I was his only visitor that day and he was still in bed with unopened presents under his small lighted tree. The holidays are often sad in nursing homes, especially Christmas.  But his face lit up when He saw me and with the help of an aid we had him sit up. I opened the presents for him and he was pleased with each one. I could have cried when he told me the same jokes I’d heard on every visit, but I laughed instead. Before leaving I asked if he would like to be wheeled down to the nurses’ station and he agreed. He said hello to some of those sitting there and the nurses all smiled at him. It was difficult leaving him.

The ride took about an hour and a half through the Poconos and into New Jersey. I shed some tears at first, then felt glad for the time I had with him. Shortly after returning home the phone rang past midnight and my mother told me he had passed on. She felt bad not seeing him that one night she missed visiting her brother. I must tell you at his funeral a few days later a great many tears were shed by those who cared for him over his years in the facility.

During the time of mourning someone said “to die on Christmas meant you would immediately go to heaven” and I believe he did. And God must be  listening to those old jokes forever. My uncle had a gift, a great gift, that no one ever saw him without smiling while he sat in his wheel chair and touched so many lives.

Christmas is the story of a child, the Son of God, being born into the world in a way that it was said not even the angels could have imagined beforehand. Now every Christmas I think of my Uncle Harry and smile for he and his gift are still alive.  

Looking back: Finding Treasures

Advent is a season of hope, beauty, and joyful anticipation, as well as,  lingering sadness and longing for past celebrations to be relived. Very often this desire to bring back the past is impossible. However,  what we are able to recapture is hopefulness. The Bible admonition to …seek and you shall find… can be applied to seeking hope from past events, looking back at sadness yet discovering hope in the midst of  sorrow. 

This was written on Christmas 2014 but was a reminiscence from Christmas 1998.

Lights

Blue lights on the windowsill
White lights on the tree
As if this Holy Holiday is like the rest.
Someone missing, separated
Distant both in miles and mindfulness
Beyond our reach.

Now there upon the branch of birch
Appeared a bird of blue, the color of the sky
Orange breasted, feathered, round and regal
A light, a prayer, a reason to believe
All is possible, all is well
Blue lights on the window sill
White lights on the tree.

 

This poem was written on this date, December 5th, in 2016.

First Snow

The first snow came in silence like a thief
Yet did not take from us but gave
A spectacle of white
The miracle that transforms everything is felt
Through the senses and the heart

Evidence of what lies beyond
The barren dreariness of winter
Beauty we cannot possibly imagine
Except at the sight of the first snow. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blue Birds on Thanksgiving

Bluebirds

Turkey-day, Holiday, day of thanks giving
Missing day, solemn day, day of remembering
Ending day, beginning day, another gone ahead.
A mother not present and a father before
Questions of the mystery of death and beyond.

Now three generations, that would not exist
Had it not been for those two and their love.
We gather together to feast and to mourn
The loss of our parents from whom we were born

Faith tells the story, they now live anew
But we seek the bodies, the persons we knew
We long to see, that we could believe
As we peer out the window two bluebirds fly by
They land on a branch of a tree and we see

The flight of two souls now closer to God
The beauteous blue points to where they reside
Tiny hearts beating in the winged beings
Two souls flitting like sparks or like birds.

Birds of a Feather

On this past Sunday morning I was inspired to write two poems. The first composed in the chilly November air on my modest deck facing east as the sun was just about to rise. The second, written from my warm and cozy computer room as I looked out the window. The first profound, I would venture to say, but the second, on the lighter side. Both having in common my belief that they were signs from the Big Guy in the Sky, a phrase I heard from my cardiologist.

One Solitary Bird Sings

In my distress, I dread to say despair
But yes, it hovers round me like a black vulture
Preparing to devour its prey
Yet, the pilgrim soul I am, still seeking
With one bedraggled wing of hope
I open a door to find some sign outside
And there it is, in the stillness of the autumn air
The lonely song of a solitary bird
One I’ve never heard before
His very own song God knows him by
Like unto the sparrow falling to the ground
Not alone, not unknown Indeed, loved by the the One who knows
Each and every song He gave to the lonely bird and me
One lonely soul amid the music of the choir He conducts
Yet allowing freedom to improvise, unlike the bird I heard today
The song He gave to only us, to me  A sign of love, a gift of God.

                                 Three Wanderers

Oh I, the genius muse I am what gift the Lord has given
That on this first hour of the morn I could write such lines of woe and hope
As I had opened a door, I now pull back the drape and seek a second sign
Alas, one I’ve never seen before there in my peppled drive
Three wandering birds red feathered, topped with redder combs
Chickens lost not far from home
Our neighbors source of breakfast eggs
Oh, wondrous muse, an even better gift of God
A smile – a sign of joy!  How glad that I was born!

The Poet

My love affair with rhyme began in grade school written on slips of paper in the quiet hours of night. Next the verse found space in notebooks through high school and college and my workaday world. When the first journal found its way to my pen is hidden in a remote corner of my memory presently inaccessible.

Today the lovely books are stacked among my treasures in countless places. And with the age of digital files they are quite randomly scattered in doc, pdf, etc. The question is from where did they come? Perhaps the answer can be found in a poem written some years ago that  I will gladly share with you.

The Gift

 Verse comes to the mind of the poet The mystery of some bit of truth Flowing from the mind of Truth itself To an unworthy poet Who has left the mind’s door ajar To receive this gift Tied with the bow called  poetry And given that others might know The joy of untying the knot  To glimpse the Giver.

Pentecost: Excerpt from Daybreak

pp 254-255

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, 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.

The Ascension of Jesus: from Daybreak

“Peter, what happened today?” Simon asked, unable to wait any longer.

“We eleven were in the upper room in Jerusalem south of the Temple where we had observed Passover together. He appeared to us and then brought us here to the mount overlooking the town of Bethany. He told us we would not see Him again until He comes in glory and He would prepare a place for us in the mansions of heaven. Elijah and Moses joined the Messiah, one on each side of Him. A cloud suddenly covered them and they were gone,” Peter said.

“Two beings, arrayed in white garments that shone with an unusual light, appeared at once beside us,” John added. “They asked, ‘why are you staring after Him for He will return as he left‘.”

Peter continued. “He told us to go back to Jerusalem with His Mother and await the Spirit of truth. The Holy Spirit would give us the courage we needed to spread the good news of His teaching ‘to the ends of the earth‘. We are on the way to His Mother and ours, and then to the upper room.”