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Where I Stand

My summer poem project has given me a lot of joy… and it’s far from over. As I mentioned yesterday, I’m working on Summer Shorts, a project that combines my love of photography with my desire for poetry to be part of everyday life. Summer Shorts is writing a short poem a day, every day of summer (June 21 to September 21) based on the photo I take from the Capture Your 365 photo challenge.

I actually don’t write every day, but do take a photo every day. On days when I have extra time, I catch up, though often I find these poems practically write themselves during my walk, as words and lines come to me. I always carry a notebook, so I perch myself on a railing or park bench and capture those flighty thoughts mid-walk. Because I’ve promised myself these poems will be short, it’s not intimidating. Who can’t write 3 to 6 lines a day?

Most of the photo challenges are different each day. But a few keep recurring every month. One such is “Where I Stand.” Here’s my “Where I Stand” photo and poem for July 21st. (It happens to be the longest poem in the collection so far… a few over my required 6 lines.)

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#CY365 photo for July 21, 2017 –  “Where I Stand” (Photo © 2017 by V. Nesdoly)

Where I Stand

pat a dog,
photo the fog

pick a bloom,
pixel a room

chat with a friend
ponder the bend

follow my nose
to smell a rose

stop for a hare
hopping who knows where

admire the herd
find the lyric bird

be lured to tarry
and munch on a berry

my motto for a summer walk:
“Always be prepared to stop!”

© 2017 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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poetryfridayThis post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by our very talented troubadour Donna at Mainely Write.

 

 
24 Comments

Posted by on August 4, 2017 in Nature, Poetry Friday

 

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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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Mindfulness

UPDATE:

I am totally blown away! Poetry Friday friend and children’s author extraordinaire Tabatha Yeatts has been doing poem / song matchups. Today she matched “Mindfulness,” below with some absolutely gorgeous music!

Have a listen as you read … and then pop up here again to enjoy the beautiful scenes that accompany this plainsong chant.

She’s also paired more poems and songs… so much poetic goodness HERE!

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Today the Spiritual Journey Thursday word is MINDFULNESS. It is my one little word.

When I was thinking about choosing a word for this year, the picture of our greet-each-other time in church on Sundays came to mind. People have different ways of handling this brief but regular part of our Sunday morning gathering.

I like it when the person I’m greeting or who’s greeting me looks at me and, even for a second or two, gives me their full attention. Too often that’s not the way it happens though. Too often the eyes of the person I’m greeting are looking away to the next person—or wherever.  I’m afraid that I’m sometimes that inattentive greeter too. The word “mindfulness” came to mind as the opposite of the inattention I dislike in others but especially in myself.

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.

Along with choosing my word for the year, I chose a Bible verse to supplement it. My year’s verse for 2016 is Isaiah 26:3. I’m memorizing it in the Amplified version. (I’ve substituted the pronoun “her” for “him”):

“You will guard her and keep her in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because she commits herself to You, leans on You and hopes confidently in You.” Isaiah 26:3 AMP

The poem below elaborates mindfulness a bit more and how I’m focusing on it this year.

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Image: Unsplash / pixabay.com

MINDFULNESS

I have brightened the walls
and enhanced the lighting
in the rooms of my mind
in order to see clearly
the thoughts that come and go.

I have put up surveillance cameras
in each room and at the door.
At the end of the day
I replay the scenes
to better understand the role
of my thoughts in the day’s happenings.

When doubt, fear, criticism, self-pity
pride and their negative relatives
manage to slip in (and they do)
I freshen the atmosphere
with balms of faith, hope, and love.
They cannot stand the fragrance
and quickly leave.

I am working on using
my single-purpose cubicles
(where no media is allowed)
for reading, listening, praying.

I welcome spies
from the land of dreams
and the outposts of intuition
inspiration and second-thought,
for they bring important insights
to my battle against inattention.

© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

Now I’m so looking forward to reading what other Thursday journeyers will say about “mindfulness”!

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Join us each week at Spiritual Journey Thursday

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

 

 

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A Chistmas Prayer

 

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“Bring the Christmas life into our lives…” (Photo © 2015 by V. Nesdoly)

A Christmas Prayer

Bring the Christmas life into our lives.
Don’t let the hustle-hurry steal our joy
the cashier lineups, traffic jams annoy.
Flood us with peace till Christmas day arrives.

Help us to hear the words of Christmas songs
and let them calm us in the busy throngs.
When beggars hold out hands, help us be wise
to see the poor as Jesus in disguise.

At Christmas feast when some dear ones are missed
help us remember, realize through tears
the treasure they have been to us for years
and through them we continue to be blessed.

Welcome, stunned shepherd and wise man who gives.
Welcome the wonder of a silent night.
Christ child who comes with hope and love and light
please bring Your Christmas life into our lives.

© 2015 by Violet Nesdoly

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I wrote this poem two years ago, as the grace prayer for our poetry society’s Christmas potluck. It has a mentor poem—Wendy Cope’s “The Christmas Life” which, I’m sure you’ll agree, is stunning in its beauty and simplicity.

Poetry Friday LogoThis post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by Buffy Silverman at Buffy’s Blog.

 
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Posted by on December 4, 2015 in Christmas, Poetry Friday, Religious

 

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