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The year of LISTEN (Spiritual Journey Thursday)

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Coloring sheet gifted to me by Irene as part of the Poetry Friday summer poem swap. (I plan to spend a few more hours in quiet contemplation working on this in the days ahead.)

My one-little-word for 2017—LISTEN—has served me well… so well, I’m sad that the year is almost done.

As I went through 2017 it helped me make a habit of listening to others, especially when in conversation. Countless times through this year when the urge to interrupt came over me, I would hear in my mind: “Listen.” That reminder brought relaxation and a certain peacefulness as I continued tuning into what the other person was saying.

I’ve become alert to the wisdom of others about listening. Here’s something I read just a couple of days ago that sums up listening to others better than I could say it:

“Listening is more than being quiet while the other person speaks until you can say what you have to say … Generous listening is powered by curiosity, a virtue we can invite and nurture in ourselves to render it instinctive. It involves a kind of vulnerability—a willingness to be surprised, to let go of assumptions and take in ambiguity. The listener wants to understand the humanity behind the words of the other, and patiently summons one’s own best self and one’s own best words and questions” – Krista Tippett in Becoming Wise (p. 29) quoted by Melissa Moore in Entrusted p. 153.

“Generous listening is a revolutionary act of kindness in a world of screaming and competing voices” – Melissa Moore, Entrusted, p. 153.

I have also practiced listening to God through Bible reading, prayer, paying attention to the lyrics of praise and worship music, tuning in to podcasts, and more. One of the practices I’ve begun this year is Bible journaling. It was such fun to create visual memories in my Bible in response to Bible verses about listening. I’ll leave you with a short slide show of some of my listening signposts.

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sjt-2017-graphicThis post is linked to Spiritual Journey First Thursday, hosted today by our wonderful coordinator and cheerleader Irene Latham at her blog Live Your Poem.

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Gratitude (Spiritual Journey First Thursday)

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Image: Pixabay

A few weeks ago I attended the Global Leadership Summit (by simulcast). One of the speakers was Sheryl Sandberg (COO of Facebook and author of the book Lean In). This gorgeous young woman looked like she had it all, and had it all together. Then she shared the story of her young husband’s sudden death while they were on vacation. He wasn’t even ill.

She was understandably devastated and paralyzed by grief. She told how slowly she worked her way through this tragedy to a new normal. Her therapist, Mark, was a big help, especially when he directed her mournful thoughts away from self-pity to gratitude (e.g. “Yes, your husband is gone, but you still have your children”). He challenged her to recall and write down, at the end of each day, three moments of joy from that day.

This Spiritual Journey Thursday finds me in the unusual spot of seeing my husband through surgery. Every time my mind goes to a negative place concerning this, I am trying to take Mark’s advice to Sheryl, and redirect it toward gratitude… which really isn’t that hard!

1. It’s elective surgery. Now that medical science has figured out how to replace hips, walking with a painful arthritis-degenerated hip is no longer a life sentence. And we’ve been waiting for this appointment for almost a year.

2. It’s publicly funded. We do our share of complaining about our country’s nationalized medical system (inefficiencies, rationing of treatment, long wait times). But when it comes to having to go to the hospital, it’s reassuring that it won’t bankrupt us.

3. General good health. I sat with hubby through his pre-admission interview with the nurse. As he answered question after medical question with “No” (no heart attacks, no strokes, no kidney disease, no diabetes etc.) it struck me how blessed he and I have been with good health.

4. Surgery is local, so no long drives to visit and fetch him home.

5. The hope of pain-free walking again—soon, we hope!

As I think of the days of rehabilitation ahead for him (I know a bit about what’s involved because I broke my hip in 2014 and also had to do the walker / cane / raised toilet seat / bath bench / hard to climb in and out of the car thing) I cling to my life verse for thought hygiene and reassurance:

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God which surpasses al understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” – Philippians 4:6,7 NKJV (emphasis added).

 

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sjt-2017-graphicThis post is linked to Spiritual Journey (first) Thursday, a once-a-month look at life’s spiritual side by a collection of blogging friends who met (mostly) on Poetry Friday. Spiritual Journey (first) Thursday is hosted today by Karen at Irene’s blog Live Your Poem.

 

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Bear Scare

In the vintage Saskatchewan farmhouse where I grew up, a door that looked like every other in the house opened to a stairway to the basement. At the bottom of the stairs was another door to a dark and vacant cell that was once a coal chute. From somewhere I got the idea that that coal chute was inhabited. I scared myself many a time with that thought.

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Image: Pixabay

Bear Scare

 

At the bottom of the stair
in his secret coal chute lair
lives a black and hungry bear.

Fetching eggs or frozen pie
on an errand, do or die
up steep wooden steps I fly.

Feel bear’s breath hot on my back
any moment he’ll attack
when he does, I’ll turn and whack!

At the top the knob I wham
open door and close it. SLAM.
Once again escape bear jam!

© 2017 by Violet Nesdoly (All Rights Reserved)

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Image: Pixabay

 

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poetryfridayThis post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by Brenda Harsham at her blog for all things whimsical—Friendly Fairy Tales.

This poem is also joining other poems about frightful things on the October DMC padlet at Michelle Heidenrich Barnes’ blog Today’s Little Ditty. The topic of the challenge this month, posed by Carrie Clickard, is to write a poem about a person, place, or thing that spooked you as a child. Read Michelle’s interview of Carrie and the original challenge post HERE.

 
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Posted by on October 27, 2017 in Kids, Personal, Poetry Friday

 

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Poetry Friday – Pumpkin Edition

Welcome to Poetry Friday, hosted right here today!

(Someone mentioned they had trouble finding the link to the widget. It’s way down at the bottom of the page, but also HERE for posting links and reading.)

It was exactly a year ago that I hosted the Poetry Camp Edition of Poetry Friday. It’s hard to believe that a whole year has gone by since that fun Poetry Camp day in Bellingham (October 1, 2016). That one-year anniversary, combined with the fact that this is the Thanksgiving weekend in Canada (second Monday of October) gives my hosting Poetry Friday today a meant-to-be feeling.

One of the things my husband and I especially enjoyed about our visit to Bellingham a year ago was walks along the Taylor Avenue Dock with coffee at Woods. There we ordered Cream Cheese Pumpkin Loaves to go with our coffee. Yum! When I got home, I tried to duplicate those tasty mini-loaves but never got them quite so rich and creamy.

That Bellingham memory plus the fact that it’s Thanksgiving in Canada this weekend has brought pumpkins to mind. So today, a little ode to pumpkins for my own Poetry Friday offering.

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Pumpkins (© 2017 by V. Nesdoly)

To Pumpkin

You kept the new world’s
hungry pioneers and pilgrims alive
with your soft sweet flesh
and nutty seeds,
their feet warm with your rind
woven into mats,
their parties and celebrations
fueled by your beer.

But I am not stuck in the past
for you, orange gourd of October,
are still the icon of autumn
visiting our fall menus with spicy milkshakes
fragrant muffins, scones, and pies
infusing grainy loaves with gold
burnishing soups and stews,
ever the magnet of the latté lineup.

We see ourselves
in your well-formed circle
and with cold sharp blades
carve for you vacant eyes,
a triangle nose, a toothy grin
then plant within the fire of life
for one secret night
only to find your precious meat
shattered, your pulp a slurry
on a November sidewalk.

Thank you, large melon
for your stubby steadfastness
through famine to plenty,
your generosity from yellow blossom
to creamy flesh,
your patience with us
as we bake and boil
microwave and sauté
carve and create
you and your orange generation,
most tasty and handsome denizens
of the market’s harvest bin
and the farmer’s freckled patch.

© 2017 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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Posted by on October 5, 2017 in Personal

 

Nourished by music (Spiritual Journey Thursday)

sjt-2017-graphicToday is the first Thursday of September and time for the monthly Spiritual Journey Thursday post. This month we’re hosted by Ramona, who is discussing her one-little-word for 2017 – NOURISH (what a fabulous word!).

One of the first things that comes to mind as soul and spirit nourishment for me is music. Though its delivery has changed over the years (from records, to eight tracks, to  cassette tapes, to CDs to, now, a streaming service), my appetite for and enjoyment of it hasn’t diminished. If anything it has increased.

When I joined Spotify (a music streaming service) a vast array of music was suddenly available to me at a tap of an app. Wow! In browsing around this huge resource, I stumbled on some ready-made playlists of worship music that introduced me to songs and artists I had never heard before. One such was Audrey Assad.

The first song of hers that snagged my attention was “Even Unto Death.” Her beautiful clear voice and the haunting melody begged to be replayed. Then the lyrics of this love song to Jesus captured my heart.

I found the song on YouTube (Audrey’s own channel), sung against the stark but stunning visuals of a snowy landscape. Even more moving, though, is Audrey’s own explanation of her inspiration to write this song—an ISIS video no less!

You can hear the song and Audrey’s explanation of why she wrote it below:

This song, along with others, is now part of my own worship playlist which is growing regularly as I discover more songs that nourish my soul and spirit.

 

 

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New beginnings (SJfT)

I begin lots of things. It’s the continuations that I’m concerned about! Three new beginnings that have become a part of my daily life are captured in the photo and poem below:

A favourite time of day

A Favorite Time of Day

Laptop tucked away
housework keeps till tomorrow.
Now is time to pray

to process joy and sorrow
line-captured while music plays

© 2017 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

My three new 2017 beginnings:

1. Bible Art Journaling
Earlier this spring I discovered Bible art journaling. You could say it was love at first sight.

Doodling, drawing, and lettering in my special journaling Bible has become part of my routine. Several times a week, in the evening when the jobs of the day have been put to bed, I get out my Bible, pens, and supplies, tune in to one of my Spotify play lists (favourites are Audrey Assad , Fernando Ortega, and Andrew Peterson) and meditate / create.

They say that when you work in an area of strength, the activity energizes you. That’s what I find happens when I do this. The day’s fatigue falls away and I am often still going at 10:30 – 11:00—pretty good for someone who wakes up without an alarm just after 5:00 a.m. (though I do often take a daytime nap).

Here’s the project I was working on in the photo (prompted by a Rebekah R. Jones Bible Art Challenge video).

2. Taking a photo a day
My camera has been my walking companion since I got my first digital in 2006. Earlier this year I found a website (Capture Your 365 – #CY365) that provides a daily photo prompt. I’ve been snapping photos challenged by those prompts since mid-May. The photo above was prompted by the July 3rd challenge: “A Favorite Time of Day.”

3. Summer Shorts poems
On the first day of summer this year I met with a local poet friend. Among other things, we discussed summer poem-writing. I told her about American Sentences, and she decided to embark on writing “Summer Sentences.” Her decision encouraged me to work on a summer poem project that seemed like it would fit into my life—writing short poems prompted by the daily photos I take. I call my project “Summer Shorts” and the tanka above is one of those.

There you have it—three activities that I’ve not only begun but continued, and that have added much spiritual richness to my 2017!

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sjt-2017-graphicThis post is linked to Spiritual Journey (first) Thursday, hosted today by Julieanne Harmatz at her blog To Read, To Write, To Be.

 

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Party Hostess

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Party Hostess

Thinking it through and making lists
to cover all the bases.
Imagining each this or that
and putting myself through the paces.
I know I shouldn’t be uptight
I tend to be a perfecter.
I’d have more fun if I cut loose
this fete to faith and prayer.

© 2017 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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This Sunday my husband and I are hosting a big family party. I love being part of this kind of thing as a helper but being in charge is certainly getting me out of my comfort zone. That is our topic this month and a good one for me to muse on this week.

Even thinking about it for this blog post has been helpful. I’ve been intentional about countering every worrisome “what if?” thought with thoughts and prayers of gratitude that this is happening and joy and anticipation as I look forward to getting together with my large extended family. I am trying to follow my own advice…

sjt-2017-graphicVisit Pat at Writer on a Horse to read more “Getting out of your comfort zone” writings.

 

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