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Author Archives: Violet Nesdoly

Special Day (Spiritual Journey Thursday)

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Welcome to Spiritual Journey (first) Thursday, hosted here today. This month we’re exploring the topic “special days.” Following my thoughts, below, is a widget where you can leave the link to your post.

Somebody’s turning seven! (Photo © 2018 by V. Nesdoly)

The look on the face of my four-year-old granddaughter—of excitement, anticipation, I’m-ready-for-the-spotlight—said it all. This was her special day.

It doesn’t take long for kids to realize that not every cake with candles and pile of presents is for them. How quickly they learn to let the special person of the day blow out the candles and, hard as it is, open all the presents.

But today was our little four-year-old’s birthday and the expression on her face, even though seen only on video, showed that she knew it was her turn.

I think it’s a great thing to celebrate each person one day a year. In our family we do that on the anniversary of their birth (birthday). Letting the child choose the food for a special meal, the guests to invite for a party, the party theme and decorations, the destination if the activity is an outing are ways to appreciate and affirm each little and bigger one.

We are all created in the image of God as one-of-a-kind beings. What a privilege and joy it is, then, to acknowledge this by giving each person entrusted to us, especially in the family unit, a day of celebration.

Special Day

Each year we celebrate Valentine’s Day
giving our hearts as a present.
Hearts gifted back make us feel special.

Other days we circle too, as special:
Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas day
occasions we want all to be present.

But there is no other like the one I now present
a different date for each of us to feel special
our cake, candles, make-a-wish Birthday!

The day we celebrate the present of each special self.

© 2018 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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Now it’s your turn! Please leave your link with Mister Linky.

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Vicarious (Spiritual Journey Thursday)

A few weeks ago an acquaintance sent me a newly published book of her poems. They were simple but beautiful in their first-person expression of praise, love, and gratitude to God—a collection of modern psalms. I reacted to that book like I have to other similar ones, asking myself, why don’t I write more overtly spiritual poetry? I ask because writing about spiritual subjects is hard for me to do.

I’m not sure why. It may be because I fear using theological jargon and worn-out phrases, thus slipping into cliché. (It certainly does take thought and attention to relate spiritual experiences and express convictions and emotions with fresh language that avoids being trite, maudlin, or sentimental.) Or I might avoid that kind of writing because many of my convictions don’t fit the politically correct social climate of the day and so the poems come whiny or like a rant.

As I look over the overtly spiritual poetry I have written, I feel that the poems that have come to me the most easily and naturally are the persona poems. In these I’ve tried to get into the head space of a Bible character.

Preparation to write these got me studying characters in the Bible and imagining their thoughts and feelings as they faced specific circumstances. I often fictionalized how that moment was a catalyst to growth in faith or rejection of it.

Several years ago I wrote a collection of these based on Bible women. Here are two from that collection.

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Image: Pixabay

Miriam

(Based on Exodus 15:19-21)

Though I lived under the bright
Egyptian sun these many years
my sky went black the day Moses left.

Even his return with snake-rod
didn’t banish the clouds
hovering on my horizon.

Premonition dampened
my celebration when we crossed
out of Goshen into the wilderness.

Dust of approaching chariots
was my nightmare
entering the day.

But somewhere on that black
step-by-step sea crossing
I walked through fear to faith.

I taught Moses to sing.
Now he gives that gift back to me
Hand me my timbrel!

© 2018 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

 

Orpah

(Based on Ruth 1:1-14)

I am too young
to give in to death
be numbed by Naomi’s
negative breath.

Mighty Yahweh has failed
this family, my man.
Here’s my chance to detach
from this unlucky clan.

So I’ll return to Moab
to make a new start
(despite this strange yearning
deep in my heart).

© 2018 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

If you’re like me and find writing poems about spiritual subjects a challenge, maybe writing persona poems could become a spiritual poetry portal for you too.

spiritualjourneyfirst-thursday-copyThanks to Carol Varsalona, who suggested the subject of Poetry as spiritual practice of the heart, and who is hosting Spiritual Journey First Thursday today at her blog Beyond Literacy Link.

 

 

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Welcome Spring!

Happy first day of spring.

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Crocuses – March 11, 2018 (Photo © 2018 by V. Nesdoly)

Welcome Spring!

A chalked hopscotch
blossoms overnight

that robin
won’t stop singing

whole fields gloat
sunny dandelions

a rainbow of tulips
sprinkles the town

muddy ruts scar the park
which smells of fresh-mowed grass

spring-fevered pickup trucks
race to every corner

air is heavy with spicy
fragrance of sticky leaf buds

I feel a raindrop on one cheek
sun’s warmth on the other

© 2017 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

 
6 Comments

Posted by on March 20, 2018 in Personal

 

Gospel Choir Newbie and other reflections on music (Spiritual Journey Thursday)

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Watoto Children’s Choir in Canada – 2013 (Photo © 2017 by V. Nesdoly)

I cannot remember a time when music wasn’t part of my life. The steel-backed Heintzman that I grew up with— that my mom played with flowing chords and that I attacked at 6 a.m. to practice scales, arpeggios and four-note chords in my Royal Conservatory days—still lives with me.

One of my earliest memories is of Dad, up early to do laundry with Mom. He helped her by pinning the loads of diapers to the clothesline. Between loads, he put on records of rousing gospel music with voices and brass ensembles that drifted into my bedroom.

Singing was an integral part of my Mennonite church and community—rich singing in harmony. From childhood on I sang in choruses and chorales, small groups, and mass choirs. Early in life I learned the pleasure of harmonizing with my alto-range voice, using it cooperatively as part of a many-voiced instrument.

Music is still a huge part of my life. Perhaps it’s no wonder that my Spotify app is a close second behind photos for space used on my iPad. It is also testimony to how music’s delivery has changed—many times over in my lifetime—from records, to 8-tracks, to cassette tapes, to CDs. That Spotify business is evidence of the latest change—one I adopted by necessity.

We listen to music a lot when we travel. So when I discovered, just after we had sealed the deal on a new car in 2016, that it had no CD player, I all but panicked. What would we do for music?

A few days later, through our music savvy son, we discovered the music-sharing behemoth, Spotify and the Bluetooth capability of my iPad and our new Honda. I’ve hardly bought a CD since.

Music is the sound track to many hours of my life, especially those spent in the kitchen. Some of my favourite artists are Matt Maher, Shane and Shane, Audrey Assad, Don Moen, Fenando Ortega, and Andrew Peterson, to begin the naming.

The poem, below, is one I wrote a few years ago, after we joined our church choir which, at the time, was very into singing Black Gospel.

Gospel Choir Newbie

You sing coffee
dark, strong, edgy
your bodies a caffeine choreography
with the Hallelujah beat
and the Praise the Lord bop
and the vamp
and the vamp
and the vamp
Amen!

In me the notes are Sweet Jesus
honey flow over vocal cords
wrap themselves around arms
legs, trunk, hold spellbound
mesmerized, forget
to clap, do those little two-steps
and dips to make
our robes sway
as one.

© 2009 by Violet Nesdoly (first published on VerseWrights)

Now, here’s some Black Gospel that really moves—no out-of-sync forgetting in sight! The Watoto Children’s Choir, is an arm of the Watoto Mission of Uganda.

Beat of Your Love – Watoto Children’s Choir

spiritualjourneyfirst-thursday-copyThis post is linked to Spiritual Journey First Thursday, hosted today by Karen Eastlund at Irene Latham’s blog, Live Your Poem.

Thanks Karen & Irene!

 

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Pine boughs…

 

02-24-18 Prompt Free

Photo © 2018 by V. Nesdoly

Pine boughs
mittened, each finger cuddled
in quilted fleece.

© 2018 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

This morning we awoke to a winter wonderland!

The Capture Your 365 prompt today was “Prompt Free.” How convenient– a perfect invite to capture the snow on a crystalline morning.

 

 

 
4 Comments

Posted by on February 24, 2018 in #CY365 Photo-Poem Series, Nature, senryu

 

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#CY365 Currently reading – Revelation

Last Saturday the #CY365 photo prompt was “Currently Reading.”

Two of the books I’m reading are the Bible book of Revelation along with Discipleship on the Edge by Darrell Johnson—a book about Revelation (which two of our pastors are teaching a class of seniors and others on Tuesday afternoons).

The teaching sessions and the book are fascinating. We’ve learned about apocalyptic literature as a genre. (Revelation is an apocalypse—written large with symbols and hidden meanings in order to encourage the Christian churches of that time with a message disguised by images they, but not necessarily their persecutors, would have understood.)

We’ve been given insights into the meanings of numbers and symbols with special emphasis put on how would the people of John’s time may have understood the book.

A refrain that Johnson keeps repeating throughout is “Things are not as they seem.”

 

02-17-18 Currently reading

Revelation

 

A letter to lamp stands,
a throne room, a crowd
worship continuous
passionate, loud.

Creatures mysterious,
seals that won’t break.
Apocalypse visions
for Church’s sake.

Dragons and angels
that prostrate themselves,
sevens and forties
hundreds and twelves.

Horsemen and plagues
that fill mankind with terror,
signs from the heavens
that change Earth forever.

Martyrdom, bloodshed
pursue the Lamb’s team
but do not despair—
Things are not as they seem. 

© 2018 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

 

(If you’re interested, audio sessions of these classes are online, under the heading “Behind the Curtain: A Study In the Book of Revelation” – bottom of THIS page.)

 
2 Comments

Posted by on February 20, 2018 in #CY365 Photo-Poem Series, Religious

 

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A Hobby

02-13-18 A Hobby

Photo © 2018 by V. Nesdoly

A Hobby

My pencil
has begun to tell
simple stories

© 2018 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

(“A Hobby” was the photo prompt for Feb. 13, from Capture Your 365 [#CY365] February list.)

And the finished piece inspired by the Matt Tommey’s 30-day Art Challenge (of which I’ve done a mere four so far) for day 14: “Create a piece of art using only shades of one color of your choosing.”

It’s based on “I have loved you with an everlasting love” – Jeremiah 31:3.

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Photo © 2018 by V. Nesdoly

 
 

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