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Still mothering me

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A favourite photo of my mother as a young woman.

Still mothering me

Five days ago
would have been your birthday.
It’s been eight years …
But you still visit me often
keep me cool every summer
when I slip on the brown sundress
rescued from your closet
wrap your arms around me
every winter week
it’s the old magenta sweater’s turn.
Sometimes I catch glimpses of you in the mirror
as I hobble about on my cane
recovering from my own broken bone.
Two weeks ago I found
your white velcro-flap runners.
Now, like you, I can always
fasten my own shoes.
I’ve been wearing them
on my outside walks.
The other day taking the last tired steps
of my limping trek home
I’m sure I heard your voice:
“You be careful now.”

© 2017 by Violet Nesdoly (written April 15, 2014 – All rights reserved)

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Prompt – Inspiration

Three years ago (March 2, 2014 to be exact) I took a short tumble on some stairs and broke my hip. That resulted in surgery and a whole lot of new experiences for me. I documented some of them in poems (which I’ll share over the next few days—new experiences are great poem fodder, by the way). This is one written at that time, chosen for today because April 10th was my mother’s birthday.

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VintagePADThis April I’m celebrating National Poetry Month by posting some not-as-yet published poems from my files, along with what inspired them. If the prompt inspires you to write a poem of your own, you’re welcome to share it in comments. Whether you write or not, thanks so much for dropping by!

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Posted by on April 10, 2017 in LIMP sequence, People, Personal

 

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Cheerleaders

The subject of today’s Spiritual Journey first Thursday is CONNECTION. It’s Doraine Bennett’s one-little-word for this year.

I’ve been thinking about connection and connections for several days now and the more I do, the more I realize it’s a big concept.

Many of our tools (like the computer I’m typing on) need a connection to a power source to keep working. Plants need to be connected to nourishment in the ground or water. Craft projects of knit and crochet are a series of yarn connections. And then there’s the vast array of human connections.

We talk of meeting, networking, partying, and fellowshipping. Our connections with people can be as underlings (employee, servant, slave, assistant, aide), equals (contact, associate, ally, kin) or superiors (boss, CEO, leader, head honcho).

Human connection is so important, in fact, that it’s needed  from day one. A  healthy bond between infants and caregivers can be the difference between life and death. Numerous articles on the psychology of early childhood underline the importance of human connection (skin-to-skin as well as eye and voice contact) with infants for them to grow and develop normally. Those early connections become the foundation for all other human connections and contribute as well to a person’s concept of God.

Have you noticed how family members dote on their own? Moms and grandmas carry their brag books and post photos on Facebook. Dads and grandpas cheer on their sons and daughters at ball games, swim meets, concerts and recitals. No one compares to Junior or Missy.  And that’s just how it should be.

Each one of us has our family assignment of little and big ones with whom we connect in a myriad of ways to support, teach, guide, and love.

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My team – December 2016   (Photo© 2016 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)

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sjt-2017-graphicThis post is linked to Spiritual Journey first Thursday, hosted today by Doraine Bennett at Dori Reads.

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Mindfulness at Christmas

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One of the Christmas bells in my mother’s collection (Photo © 2016 by V. Nesdoly)

Thank you to Irene Latham for rallying us to revive our Spiritual Journey Thursday meme, at least this once. We’re invited to reflect on our One Little Word choices for 2017.

My 2017 word was / is MINDFULNESS.

I am aware that there are psychological and, in some faiths, religious overlays to the word which may bring baggage to it that I hadn’t intended. In my February post where I talked about what mindfulness meant to me, I gave it this definition:

Mindfulness, simply defined, is “being present in the moment.” It also has a psychology definition:

“Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience” – Definition from Psychology Today.

Personally I like that second definition except for the bit about not judging. I reserve the right to judge and filter out thoughts that are critical, negative, pessimistic, hateful, etc.

Now, in the middle of December, I am relating mindfulness to Advent, the candles that are lit each week in church, and the qualities each represents. So far we have focused on HOPE, PEACE, and JOY. I suspect next Sunday when we light the fourth candle, we will hear about LOVE.

I want to possess these qualities in abundance and in their purest forms, especially at Christmas. However, the circumstances of my life change and with those changes my emotions fluctuate resulting in the needle of my Hope-, Peace-, and Joy-meters becoming virtual pendulums,

Each Sunday’s sermon has helped me focus on the lasting and unchanging aspects of Hope, Peace, and Joy that play out for us in the events of that first Christmas. Hope doesn’t dim because God took the initiative to reconnect with us, and promises us eternal life beyond this life. Peace is possible because we’ve entrusted Jesus with our lives; Joy is irrepressible because we are invited into relationship with our Creator. I’m sure next Sunday’s talk on Love will deliver something just as enduring.

My challenge to myself, then, is when circumstances change—when I get the flu, or the shortbreads don’t turn out, or the weather switches off all the power and my plans go sideways, or whatever—I remain mindful of the lasting, unchanging verities of the season’s meaning, instead of losing hope, peace, joy, and love at the whim of what’s happening in my daily life.

“I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”—a poem that became the carol—illustrates how this worked for Henry Wadsworth Longfellow who, according to this article, wrote it in the middle of the American Civil War. The carol version leaves out the two stanzas that refer specifically to the war. Here is his poem in its original form.

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Image: Pixabay

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

“I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till, ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!”

I’m going to take ringing bells as my cue to be mindful of the truths that Advent represents that are bigger than my fluctuating day-to-day hope, peace, joy, and love.

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This post is linked to “Spiritual Journey Thursday,” hosted today by Irene Latham. At the link-up you’ll be directed to other bloggers and their Spiritual Journey Thursday posts.

 

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Prayer Breakfast Reflections (NPM ’16-Day 6)

What I experienced on Monday and Tuesday of this week was the perfect preparation to write about Bobbie Ann Taylor‘s one-little-word MERCIFUL.

My husband and I were asked to be part of our church’s delegation to the annual MLA*’s prayer breakfast, hosted at a hotel just steps away from B.C.’s Legislature in Victoria on Tuesday morning.

After the beautiful ferry crossing Monday afternoon, we arrived in Victoria in time for dinner. An MLA friend who attends our church joined us at Milestones. That began a fascinating time of learning as we conversed and he answered questions about how he navigates the tricky water of provincial politics. No novice (he was formerly the mayor of the town in which I live), he explained how has trained himself to ask questions, listen, and then when the time is right, explain his position. He told of interfaith gatherings where he has joined with Muslims, Sikh’s and people of other faiths in initiatives which they all support.

The prayer breakfast saw around 150 people eating breakfast together (18 tables, with one or two MLAs— representatives of both political parties—at each table). It was an eye-opener for me as I glanced across the room and saw, for example, the former leader of the NDP** party in B.C. who raised his hand when the organizer asked who of them had attended the prayer breakfast for each of the ten years it had been happening. I had no idea and realized I have make judgments while I didn’t have a clue!

The man who, those ten years ago, had the brain child to start hanging out with our politicians for the purpose of lending them spiritual support obviously loves them and is loved back. In this time when politics can be a divider of people, this event was a real encouragement to me.

We stopped for lunch on our way home where each one us (five in all) shared the significance of the event personally. My friend Joyce said she had texted the words of the hymn “There’s a Wideness In God’s Mercy” to her husband as a sum-up of her response. I found those old lyrics were also the perfect expression of my feelings.

As my poem for today (Wednesday—poem-a-day for National Poetry Month and my post for Spiritual Journey Thursday), I’m taking the liberty of using some of the lines of that old hymn as I reflect on MERCIFUL.

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Here I am standing in front of the Legislative Assembly. After Tuesday’s breakfast we  observed Question Period from the gallery (Photo by Joyce J.)

Prayer Breakfast Reflections

“There’s a wideness in God’s mercy
Like the wideness of the sea…”
We can live it out when peaceful
we agree to disagree,
when the members, left and right
share croissants, coffee, and tea.

“There’s a kindness in His justice
Which is more than liberty.”
Listen to opponent’s viewpoint
strive to understand and see
common path we walk together
while we guard integrity.

“For the love of God is broader
Than the measure of man’s mind…”
See the needs that make us human
not by party lines defined
while the prayers of fellow travelers
aid us in the daily grind.

“And the heart of the Eternal
Is most wonderfully kind.”
On this servant-leader pathway
that by many is maligned
help us all to pull together
as we seek Your mastermind.

© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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Spiritual Journey Thursday is hosted each week by Holly Mueller at her blog Reading, Teaching, Learning.

*MLA: Member of the Legislative Assembly

** NDP: National Democratic Party – the left-leaning party in Canadian national and provincial politics, roughly equivalent to the Democrats in the U.S.

*** “There’s A Wideness in God’s Mercy” by Frederick Faber (1814-1863)

 

 

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Sonnet to a Potato

A couple of weeks ago, I found inspiration for a couple of poems in response  to the found photo prompts at Laura Shovan’s blog (where the fun continues).  A photo of a “Loaded baked potato” was the prompt for February 14th.  That photo plus the fact it was Valentine’s Day and love sonnets were in the air of my brain inspired “Sonnet to a Potato,” a parody of the classic “How Do I Love Thee?”  by  Elizabeth Barrett Browning. (You can read the original HERE).

PotatoCollage

Collage from photos at pixabay.com

Sonnet to a Potato

(With apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning)

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee boiled, peel-mashed, deep fried as chips
in gravy drowned, sweet, baked, spiced hot with dips.
I laud thee for thy subterranean days,
thy secret growth all hidden from sun’s rays.
Fair starchy flesh, thou’rt comfort to my lips.
They calories they fortify my hips.
Sweet staple nightshade fruit, I give thee praise
for skin of white or yellow, russet, red
for Yukon Gold, Kerr’s pink, purple or blue.
Thou give’s thyself in pancakes, latkes bread
skins, salads, hash browns, scalloped, soup and stew.
Though sometimes called tater or spud instead
to thee, Potato, my taste buds stay true!

© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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Poetry Friday LogoThis post is linked to Poetry Friday, where you’ll find all kinds of delectable poetic fare. PF is hosted today by Elizabeth Steinglass.

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2016 in Light, Objects, Poetry Friday

 

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Delight

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Image: Kerckx /pixabay.com

A week ago, waiting in the doctor’s office, I spent some of the time people-watching. A mother and her 18-month-old caught my eye. The little guy, still in his foot PJs, was full of sauce (he was obviously not the sick one). He kept wriggling from Mom’s lap and wandering off into the nursing station and down the corridor that the nurse used to fetch the patients. The busy nurse gave Mom more than one sharp look as she jumped up to recapture toddler at least a dozen times. But never did that mother lose patience.

At one point the little gaffer toddled across the waiting room (in the opposite direction from the corridor) and I had a full view of Mom’s face. The look on it as she followed the movements of her little man was pure delight. Us onlookers may have felt other emotions as we watched her youngster, so determined to explore his world. But in her eyes he was all cuteness, precociousness, and wonder.

I love Irene Latham‘s word “delight” as a one-little-word choice. It speaks to me of looking for and finding the kind of joy, pleasure, and enchantment in the things around me that that mom saw in her little boy. She could have reacted to his continuous wanderings with annoyance. But instead she reacted with delight. I imagine she saw in her little boy’s actions not an inconvenience to herself but signs of growth, a healthy curiosity, and developing self-confidence. And of course he was hers and she loved him.

There is so much to see that is delightful around us in people, in nature, and in circumstances if we would but open our eyes and choose to view things that way.

Spiritually, I believe God looks down at us, His creatures, with a lot more delight than we realize. A verse I love in this regard is Zephaniah 3:17. It even has motherly overtones:

The Lord your God is with you,
he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love
he will rejoice over you with singing.” (NIV)

Let’s revel in His delight today.

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Join us each week at Spiritual Journey Thursday

This post is linked to Spiritual Journey Thursday, hosted by Holly Mueller at her blog Reading, Teaching, Learning.

 

 

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fingers interlace

Pine tree and forsythia

Photo © 2015 by V. Nesdoly

fingers interlace
forsythia and pine
it must be spring

© 2015 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

 
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Posted by on March 12, 2015 in Haiku, Nature

 

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