A Grain of Sand

Nothing more than a grain of sand

one among a cast of millions

arose and accepted the burdensome

yoke of humanity, the drudgery of life,

the pains, torments, tears, and fears

until love entered his heart.

 

Nothing but a tiny grain of sand

now filled with a woman’s love

beaming broader than the sun,

wider than the Milky Way

standing tall, strong, proud, and fearless

with her vision in his mind.

 

Nothing but a proud grain of sand

knelt by her side, making his

wishes known, the dreams of his soul,

the secrets of his heart,

the projects, plans, ideas, and thoughts

searing his vision.

 

Nothing but an exultant grain of sand

stood with his love at the altar

pledging faithful love, devotion,

a lifetime of togetherness,

trials, tribulation, joys, tears

traveling the path of marriage.

 

Nothing but two grains of sand

forged through the world

casting aside the millions to

focus on the other, the others that

they create, the little ones, children,

loins of our loins and loves of our love,

for now and forever. Amen.

Me Time

Even when I was a little kid I understood the value of time spent alone. Family life, for me, seemed confusing and chaotic. I struggled with my place in the dynamics of everyday life. I knew that I was less-than my older brother who was revered by my mother. When my sister was born, now I was less-than both of my siblings.

I loved being by myself. As a small child, it meant being out on the front porch, standing there, do nothing other than watching whatever transpired in the neighborhood. I didn’t play with dolls, probably because the only ones I had were kept stored in my parent’s closet on a high shelf.

I didn’t read yet and no one read to me. I didn’t go to school until kindergarten-age, and only then because my parents thought I was dumb. Interestingly enough, school reinforced that opinion as I was the most backward kid in the class, even through fifth grade.

The one toy that meant the most to me, that allowed me precious “me time” was my mother’s cookie tin of mismatched buttons. I played with them for hours, day after day. I sorted them by size and color, by shape and by how many holes in the center. Then I’d dump them back in the tin and start all over. I spent hours doing this, day after day, all year long.

In the winter I played on the kitchen floor while my mother napped. I the summer I took them outside and sat on the grass. It’s amazing that I am still not sorting buttons today as I found it both comforting and relaxing.

I have progressed from those early days it terms of what I enjoy doing in my free time. I love shopping. I can spend an hour easily roaming through stores, buying little to nothing. I am a great sale-shopper and almost never buy something that isn’t discounted.

I love looking at styles, brands, colors. I love trying on clothes, especially now that I have lost a significant amount of weight. I love feeling the fabrics and imaging them against my skin. I can tell by that action alone whether or not I would like something.

I love reading. I mostly read contemporary fiction, but I also branch into fantasy, Young Adult, and on rare occasions when a book is recommended by a friend, nonfiction.

What I love about reading is that it takes you into stories, into characters’ lives, into places where you have probably never gone and never will. It allows you to follow in another’s skin, seeing, feeling, tasting all the things that they experience. It’s an out-of-your world journey. I can spend hours reading.

I love exercising, especially swimming. When I am in the water swimming lap after lap, my entire body relaxes into the feet of water streaming over my body. The ritual of traversing the pool, turning, doing it again and again and again is a special time for me. It is something that I do alone. Well, not entirely as there are other swimmers in the pool, but I am unencumbered by family, by needs, by demands. It is just me.

I get the same rush from the elliptical, the stationary bike, the machines. It is me challenging myself to do more, to be stronger, to last longer. And it gives me time to think, if I want, or I can watch whatever TV program is available.

If I didn’t love writing, I wouldn’t have this blog. There is something calming about putting thoughts into the written word. It gives me an opportunity to analyze where I’ve been and where I’m going. It often gives new perspectives into my past which then form my present and future.

At times, when I am writing fiction, it brings me deep into my character’s life. I get to see what she sees, hear what she hears, feel her emotions. Her confusion as she navigates her world. Her delight when something redeeming occurs. Her perceptions of where she fits in her world. Yes, I can alter those dimensions, and often I do, but I also allow her to take charge of my fingers.

Me Time is important to me. It allows me to pause, evaluate, and reorganize myself. It gives me a sense of peace in what can be, at times, a disorderly world. It reinforces who I was, who I am, who I will become.

I cherish those moments.

I also love being with my family and with friends, but those experiences are different. There you fit into a mold, one that sometimes others have crafted for you. You play the mother, wife, friend game, participating in conversations that sometimes move past your realm of experience. This is where Me Time comes in handy, for when things are out of my control, even in a crowd, I can step back and allow my thoughts to roam free.

My trust in Me Time was formulated when I was quite small. It has sustained me ever since. It is a treasure that I hope everyone shares.

Counting Blessings

Every year at this time we stop to give thanks for all the wonderful things in our lives. I have been blessed in so many ways that it would be impossible to list them all.

Every morning when I wake up and every night when I go to bed I am grateful to be alive. Not everyone is so lucky. Many senior citizens die in their sleep. Truthfully, that’s how I would like to pass: to go quietly without suffering. I am thrilled to be alive and thank the Lord for every day He gives me.

My husband is my biggest gift. He is my rock. He is always there to support me in whatever endeavor I take on. He has never held me back, even when it meant nights away at college while he stayed home with the kids. As we have aged together, our love and appreciation has solidified. We are stronger together than we could ever be apart.

I am blessed to have watched my three “kids” grow up to be amazing adults. They are unique in all ways. Each has chosen the path that makes them most comfortable, most happy. They fill me with pride whenever I talk with them or spend time with them or simply think of them. They each chose wonderful people to share their lives with. One a wonderful gift that is! Knowing that they have a special someone to fill their hours and days and weeks.

My faith is solid. It is a constant in my life. It gives me solace when I am weary or worried. I know that the Catholic Church has offered nothing but suffering to survivors, but I believe in the core values of my church. I believe that it will heal. For this I am grateful.

I am lucky to have friends. I don’t see them as often as I would like, but I know they are there. If I needed them, they would come, just as I would go to them. Not everyone is blessed to have good friends. It makes me sad to think of all those who are alone, day after day. I hope that as I age, I don’t become one of them, but one never knows what circumstances lead to loneliness.

I am lucky to have lived in our home for 43 years. I did not have the luxury of living in one place as I grew up. My parents moved quite a bit. Most of the time the moves brought us into bigger and better houses, but not always. We are blessed to live in a good neighborhood, which even though it is changing, is relatively free from crime. I feel safe here, and for that I am grateful.

I have been given a variety of skills that have fulfilled my life over the years. One constant is music. From an early age I was drawn to song. While I sang silently, inside I pictured myself with a microphone belting out the tunes of the day. Now I only sing at church, but it brings me great joy. I hope that I am not too off-tune and that I don’t seriously mess up the words. I am lucky to have my church choir.

Throughout the years I have exercised different skills. For example, as a preschool teacher I led students in song and dance and came up with art and intellectual activities to enrich their lives. Not everyone can do that. It was fun for a while, but as my own kids aged, I grew tired of snotty hands and soggy pants.

As an elementary school teacher I taught eight different subjects, some better than others. I am lousy at science, so I chose those lessons that I understood and “cheated” on those that I didn’t. I hope that my lack of knowledge of how electricity works never damaged a student!

In high school I became an “expert” in working with special needs students. As time passed, I realized that it was a gift I had been given. Every day I gave thanks for being able to help my students access curriculum that they could never have learned on their own.

I have been blessed to have worked with many kids and adults. Each of them gave me something in return. Each of them touched me in a unique way.

My blessings continue. Today I was able to swim, to drive, to walk, to eat, to socialize. To look out the window and see trees and hear birds and dogs barking. To see people talking and feel happy for them.

I hope that my life will continue to be full of things for which to be grateful. I hope that I never become complacent and assume that the blessings will fall my way. For all these things and countless more, I am grateful.

Fascination with Trees

I can’t recall a time when I was not drawn to trees. They amaze me. Day after day they change. Imagine something that grows taller and wider at such incrementally slow pace that it is invisible to the eye.

They also change with the seasons. Some burst into new life when the sun begins to shine in spring. Tiny green buds sprout forth, signaling the wonders that are to come. Those buds become leaves. All kinds of leaves, in all shapes and sizes and colors.

When I was young I collected leaves. I especially loved the ones that fell from maple trees. Such broad leaves! So green in spring and summer, but when fall arrives they morph into shades from red to orange to brown. I loved them all.

I miss maple trees. They grew in the woods behind our house in Ohio, but not here in California. They had the most amazing seed pods! They were shaped like wings and if you tossed them above your head they would twirl down to the ground. I did this over and over, season after season, never growing tired of the display even into my teen years.

Where we lived in Ohio all trees shed their leaves in the fall and remained bare throughout the cold winters. I understood the winter to be a time of rest, a time to store up energy to be ready to burst into action at the first sign of spring.

So it was for me. In the winter I huddled inside where it was warm, venturing outside only when bundled from head to toe. Even then some days my breath froze on my eyebrows and hair, my teeth chattered and I thought my fingers and toes would crack and fall off.

We moved to California after my ninth grade year. The seasons here are not as differentiated as in Ohio. What we call winter is nothing to people who live in the Midwest, North or East, for there it snows and temps can drop well below freezing. Here I think it’s cold if it is below sixty!

Because our seasons are not as sharply delineated, not all trees go through the autumnal changes. Looking out my window right now, I see some leaves in shades of red, but just as many that are still green. We still have flowers in bloom and low-growing bushes covered with leaves.

In time, all but the fir trees will lose their leaves and be bare. It is a good thing, as even our California trees need to rest, to be still in preparation for the wonderful gifts that are to come.

Trees that produce fruit amaze me. They are so generous, so thoughtful, even when their human caretakers are less then vigilant. Day after day apples and pears and oranges and other wonderful things ripen, all for us. Gifts for us!

Some fruits require a little work to get inside. Some don’t. I tend to love fruit that you can bite into and have your mouth filled with sweetness, the juice spilling out of your mouth and onto your chin. Every time I eat an apple I am thankful that I am blessed with having such a marvelous thing to eat.

When I go walking around my neighborhood and see fruit growing on trees, I want to reach up, pull off just one and take a bite. But I don’t. I don’t know how needy the owners are. Perhaps that apple is their only sustenance of the day. Perhaps the orange is their only access to vitamin C. I would not want to steal that reassure from them. So I walk on.

In our neighborhood there are not as many trees as when we first moved in. Some have died. Some have been taken down by their owners. Some removed by the city because their roots were intruding into the pipes. I miss all those trees, the once grand, sprawling trees that hung out over the road creating a marvelous canopy! So beautiful. Now gone.

We often get to drive through forest on our way north and east and south into the mountains. I love to look at the trees, how magically they grow out of rock and cling to the sides of mountain as if they were meant to be there. When the sun shines on them they are a wonderfully deep green.  They sing with life! And when you get up close enough you can take in their rich aroma, like sticking your head in a cedar chest from long ago.

When they are covered with snow it is a picture straight from Christmas cards. I imagine myself riding on a horse-drawn sleigh under their boughs and having dollops of snow fall on my head as I lean back laughing. I have never done this, but I can place myself in the scene.

When I was young I did not wear glasses. Trees were nothing to me then. They leaned over me, frightening me. I thought each and every one would fall on my head, killing me. In fourth grade my teachers demanded that I get glasses. I remember the bus ride home, looking out the window and seeing that the leaning trees no longer leaned! It was a miracle.

These are the reasons that I love trees. Not only do they defy the passing of time, but they stand tall as a reminder of all that they offer us. Beautiful colors and tasty food. I hope that I will never lose my ability to appreciate the wonderful gift that each tree is.

 

Working Together

Sun looked down at her friend the Earth and smiled. All was good. Trees grew straight and tall. Flowers bloomed. Waters ran, following her magnetic pull, east and west, north and south. Earth was warm where her rays fell, cool where they did not. Both friends were satisfied.

For billions of years Sun provided the things that Earth needed, but what did Earth give Sun? Nothing, Sun thought and so she decided to ask Earth for a favor. “Please, my friend, I am lonely. There is none other like me. I am light and fire while you are air and water and warmth. Tell me where I can find my own kind?”

Earth was puzzled. She knew about nutrients needed to grow things, she knew about the benefits of clean water, but nothing about friends for Sun. “I would love to help you,” Earth said, “but I don’t know where to look. Do you have any ideas?”

Despairing over the lack of help, Sun cried. Flames dripped from her eyes, sparks shooting off into the blackness.

“Hey,” Earth said. “Do that again.”

Sun let loose a whole stream of tears which spewed off in countless directions.

“Look now,” Earth said.

Where there once had been complete darkness, now pinpricks of light dotted the surrounding darkness. Most glittered, but some flew through the dark, trailing brilliant streaks of light.

“Those lights, those flames, they are your children,” Earth said. “In time they will grow and multiply. They will become your friends and companions.”

Sun felt better, but there was still an ache in her heart. “That’s great,” she said, “but what do I do for now? My loneliness has not eased.”

“Love me,” Earth said, “and bless me with a gift of life that we both can enjoy.”

Sun considered the many things she could do. In time, an idea came upon her to create living, moving beings that would subsist on the wonders that Earth could offer. She sent tiny sparks to Earth’s surface. Not enough to cause fire, but the right amount to burst into something new: four-legged and two-legged and winged beings.

Earth was thrilled. “Thank you, my friend,” she said. “I feel the tickle of feet and the whoosh of air as the beings cross my lands. I giggle when they eat of my fruit and drink my water. You have given me a marvelous gift.”

Sun was happy for her friend. She loved the sparks of light in the sky, but she was still lonely. “Earth, my friend, I need your help.”

“I wish I could share my gifts with you,” Earth said. “because I have more than enough. I feel your sadness. What can I do to cheer you up?”

Sun had weighed many possibilities and eliminated all but one. “Since I am light and can create light, maybe since you are the world, you can create other worlds?”

“I don’t know. I’ve never tried.”

“Imagine,” Sun said, “a world like you that travels across the sky. It is sometimes in my light, but sometimes in the dark as well. When it’s in light, it would be my companion. When it’s in dark, it could be yours.”

“Let me think about it.”

Time passed. Day after day Sun lit up first one side of Earth, then the other. She was careful not to let things get too hot or too cold. She watched the beings traverse Earth’s lands and waters and air. She marveled as the plants grew fruitful and then rested only to resurge again. She witnessed rain and snow and shimmering days.

But Sun was growing impatient, so she asked Earth, “Have you any ideas?”

“Yes, I do,” Earth said. “I am willing to give something a good try. I will concentrate as hard as I can, imagining a world that floats like I do, but is sometimes in your light and sometimes in the dark. It might not work, but at least we can say that I tried.”

While Sun waited she also thought of a floating world. In her imagination, it was like a human man, with a face that smiled both at her and at Earth. Time passed with no change, but then as Sun spread her light over one side of Earth one day, something changed. There was a pull, like a string.

Sun woke up her friend, saying, “Something is happening.”

“I feel it, too.”

Out of the darkness came a sphere. Slowly, slowly it moved closer and closer to Earth. It came to a stop between Sun and Earth. Earth was pleased. “It worked! I created a world!”

Sun was also pleased. She shone her light on it and saw a face. An old man’s face, just like in her dreams. “What shall we call him?”

“Moon,” Earth said.

“That’s a perfect name.”

“Moon,” Earth called. “Wake up.”

Moon opened his eyes and was pleased with what he saw. Above him shone Sun and below him lay fertile Earth. “I am happy,” he said.

“Will you be our friend?” Sun and Earth asked together.

“Yes, I will,” he said, “as long as you will be mine.”

All was good. Sun had a friend part of the time and Earth had a friend the rest. When Moon was in Sun’s light, he glowed as if lit from inside. When Moon was on the side of Earth, he faded into the sky, but his pull was always there, moving Earth’s waters back and forth, back and forth, caressing Earth and making her very, very happy.

 

 

Transformation

Dryer calls and dishwasher rumbles

Television shouts incessant noise

Old truck outside my window rumbles

Little girls harass those bratty boys

 

Underneath all, streams a golden tune

Music to relax my restless heart

Causes me to shiver, shake, and swoon

God’s simply blessing me with His art

 

I kneel before His glorious face

Feel His hands upon my troubled head

Wonderment cascades into my space

Gently eases a heart that once bled

 

Sounds that created tremendous pain

Now altered through God’s heavenly grace

Transform into a most welcome rain

While rainbows brighten glowering face

 

Nights and days with happiness are filled

Friendships bloom into colorful hues

God’s love now into my life is spilled

So no longer will I sing the blues

Thoughts on a Beautiful Day

Another day awakens

Promising calm winds

Sunny skies

A touch of clouds

That guide me through

The hectic times of my life

 

I stretch, drawing in

Energy to replenish

My weary soul

To revitalize desires

And strengthen interests

A healing, needed balm

 

The day beckons me forth

Greeted by the early

call of morning birds

Filled with bounteous joy

That fills my soul

With unbounded joy

I burst into expectant smile

 

The day is mine to conquer

I shall vanquish foes

Destroy doubts

Eliminate naysayers

While rising to the peak

Of my talent

 

Ah, the dreams of a new day

A day of joyous victory

To fill my sights.

I rejoice.