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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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Challenges & a few PINK poems

I love challenges. I find myself eagerly jumping in to writing and art challenges of all kinds. Keeping up with them is another thing though!

This year my one-little-word is FOCUS, I’m trying to put it into practice by actually imposing some focus on my life. One area of focus is to eliminate some of the extras I get myself into that then end up becoming a burden when life gets busy. Snapping a photo a day and then using that photo as a poem prompt was one thing that I thought perhaps could go. So at the end of January I neglected to download the next month’s list of photo challenges I’ve been using.

I didn’t intentionally not download it—it just slipped my mind. As I started on my walk Thursday, February 1st, I reached automatically for the notebook with the photo list that I keep in my camera bag to see what the prompt was for the day, then realized, there was no point. I hadn’t copied it. In fact, I recalled, I was considering not following it any more at all.

Those thoughts brought on the most surprising feelings. I felt sad, bereft, abandoned, even disoriented. Now what would I look for on my walk? I would miss the mental stimulation of connecting an image with the prompt and thinking of what to say about it.

Then I remembered that I had missed a walk several days earlier and hadn’t snapped something for that prompt. I would do that. I immediately felt better.

The first thing I did when I got home was—you guessed it—downloaded the February photo challenge list. Even FOCUS will not rid me of this little lifestyle habit.

For a while I was sharing these photos and poems every day on Facebook, but it felt a bit much. So I have decided to, from time to time, post some of them here on the poetry blog. No promises, though, so there won’t be any to break!

I’m following the photo challenges from Capture Your 365 (#CY365). The February list is HERE.

Here, are a few photos & poems from last week’s prompts, which was a color week featuring PINK:

February 4 – PINK

02-04-18 Pink

Soft intersection
of red and white
Heather confection
Spring delight.

February 8 – SOFT PINK

02-08-18 Soft Pink

Morning sky
sheets tousled, covers half off
still flushed from sleep.

February 10 – SHADES OF …

02-10-18 Shades of Pink-4

The pinks of winter are a little blue
from shivering in north and east wind’s strew.

The pinks of winter are a little green
with dreams of leaves to fill the in-between.

02-10-18 Shades of Pink-5

The pinks of winter are approaching reds
As spring soft-whispers: “Wake, you sleepy-heads.”

All poems & photos © 2018 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

 
2 Comments

Posted by on February 13, 2018 in #CY365 Photo-Poem Series, Nature

 

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Cheerleaders (a poem for Family Day)

Today is Family Day in B.C. In the year since I first posted the poem below, we’ve discovered that our littlest granddaughter’s developmental delays are most likely caused by cerebral palsy. And so a family very precious to us is walking a new-to-them path with lots of challenges—and the sentiments expressed by little A’s grandma in “Cheerleaders” are more heartfelt than ever. Cheer someone in your family on today!

 

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Swans and cygnets, June 2016 – West Vancouver  (Photo © 2017 by V. Nesdoly)

Cheerleaders

Every wee one who is learning
to kick the ball, hit it off the tee
point her toes and do a plié
summersault, the front crawl
sing in a choir, be elf in a play
play guitar, trumpet, violin
shoot baskets, basket weave
weave in and out in a skillful
soccer dribble to the goal
with the goal to make the team,
every child with dyslexia, autism
Down syndrome, whatever syndrome
who isn’t ever going to make the grade
make the team, team up with the cool kids
(because who are we kidding?)
needs a cheerleader
a yell of encouragement
a bull horn, cow bells, sign held high
banner in the sky
face painted green, blue
or whatever colour the jersey
and an after-game trip to Dairy Queen
because she’s queen of the day
and you’re her mom, dad
grandma, grandpa, uncle, auntie
cousin, biggest fan
on the team of the family.

 

© 2017 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

 
4 Comments

Posted by on February 12, 2018 in People, Personal, Re-post

 

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Glory Tour (Spiritual Journey Thursday)

Dec 31 Happy New Year

Last moon of 2017 (photo ©Dec. 31, 2017 by V. Nesdoly)

Welcome to Spiritual Journey (first) Thursday, February edition. Today we’re moodling on the moon.

To tell you the truth, I don’t have much of a relationship with the moon. It’s beautiful, for sure. I do love to see it bulge orange and bountiful over the horizon on a clear evening. I associate moonrises with autumn on the prairie, the thrum of combines and trucks in the background, my dad and uncle taking advantage of every bit of light to gather in the harvest of wheat and oats. But most of the time I feel sorry for the moon staring distant, cold, and lone into the night.

Of course the moon’s prominence, cool beauty, and mystery are impossible to miss. One of my favourite childhood poems was about the moon. You probably know it:

“Slowly silently now the moon
Walks the night in her silver shoon;
This way and that she peers and sees
Silver fruit upon silver trees;”

Read the rest of “Silver” by Walter de la Mare HERE.

It’s not surprising that the moon has been a worship object in many religions (and probably still is). Its waxing, waning, and connection to tides and seasons surely invest it with mysterious power that is only reinforced by the occasional eclipse. I love the poem “Lunar Eclipse (June 1928)” by D. S. Martin (a poem from his chapbook So the Moon Would Not Be Swallowed—a collection of poems inspired by correspondence from his grandparents who were missionaries in China). In it, he describes the reaction of the Chinese people to the lunar eclipse in June of 1928:

LUNAR ECLIPSE (JUNE 1928)
Yencheng, Honan, China

On Sunday
evening as darkness crept in
the people rushed out
with gongs
& pots
& anything to make noise
to scare
the heavenly dog
that slowly
very
slowly
ever so slowly
had
placed its jaws about the moon

Read the rest of D.S. Martin’s poem HERE…

My attitude toward the moon has been influenced by my Christian faith and the Bible, which depicts it as one of God’s creations. I love how Genesis describes its beginnings:

“Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night” – Genesis 1:16 (emphasis added).

My poem today was inspired by Psalm 19 (where the moon isn’t mentioned specifically, but we know it is a part of the created heavens).

“The heavens declare the glory of God
And the firmament shows His handiwork.” – Psalm 19:1

Glory Tour

“God’s glory is on tour in the skies …
unspoken truth is spoken everywhere” – Psalm 19:1,4 The Message

The stars are reciting
galaxies rhyming
the language of eons
in speed-of-light timing.

The Sun’s dialect
of dangerous rays
is inflected with angles
defining our days.

The Moon serenades
tide, lover and season
chanting its charms
with quarterly reason.

The Heavens are dancing
Truth, Beauty and Wisdom.
The tickets are free,
Earth attendees are welcome!

© 2017 by Violet Nesdoly (All Rights Reserved)

(Glory Tour was first published on Laurel Archer’s 2017 Advent blog.)

spiritualjourneyfirst-thursday-copyBe sure to visit our Spiritual Journey First Thursday hostess, Donna at Mainely Write for links to more moon meditations.

 

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