Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Hope Continues

I began this Christmas season on the first Sunday of Advent with an appeal to and for Hope. Although I have read Anne Perry’s “A Christmas Secret” over and over, this year I heard the words at the end of the story in a whole different way. It is the late 1800’s and Dominic, the priest, is preaching his Christmas sermon: 

“We are children of God, every one of us, and nearly nineteen hundred years ago He gave us the greatest of the gifts He has, greater even than life. He gave us hope: a way back from every mistake we have made, no matter how small or how large, how ugly or how incredibly stupid, or how shameful. There is no corner of hell secret enough or deep enough for there to be no path back, if we are willing to climb up. It may be hard, and steep, but there is light ahead, and freedom. . . . Do not deny the gift. Accept it for yourself, and for all others. That is what Christmas is: everlasting hope, a way forward to the best in ourselves and all that we can become.” 

I think the country has been incredibly stupid, and now we must make the slow hard climb back to light and freedom. ~ blessings, dear friends, as we continue this journey together

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Day at Our House

We woke to white winter wonderland. No need to dream of a white Christmas in Tahoe this year. We took our time, ate breakfast, opened presents, talked to family and then went snowshoeing.

Just like Christmas Eve, the snow was perfect. Oso ran and played. We walked enjoying the views, the blue sky and the day.

Dean decided Oso needed his picture taken wearing a Santa hat. 
No way, Dad! 

Dean finally held Oso's head and the hat on the head and I took a quick picture.
Off came the hat and Oso shook like he had just come out of the water. 

Candles on the table ready for dinner. 

Lamb chops, green beans with almonds, and my grandmother's corn cakes.
I made them for the first time in years for breakfast. Delicious. I had a little 
batter left over and decided if I made them just a little thicker they would be perfect
for bread or a carb with lunch. I was right. A really good Christmas dinner.

Our Advent wreath with the Christ candle lit. 
Blessings to you and yours on this special day. 

Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Birth of a Baby

I was born in 1943 in the middle of WWII. Sometime when I was in my late teens, my mother and I were going through an old scrapbook of hers and came across some V-mail. I had no idea what it was. They were letters written from the European front that had been reduced to tiny little pieces of paper to save space on the transports back to the states. Some of those letters were written to my parents at the time of my birth.

Those letters spoke of the hope that hearing of my birth had brought those men in the European trenches. Birth brings hope. Birth is Hope. Hope for the future. Hope beyond the muck and mire of the present moment. Hope and the Knowledge that Light does indeed overcome the darkness and Love does and will prevail.

My birth brought hope. Your birth brought hope. Hope arrives anew with every birth in every home, hospital or refuge camp where it occurs. And if ordinary births bring hope then tonight of all nights, we need to celebrate again the Hope ~ and the Light and Love that arrives in our hearts as in that stable long ago. Blessings to you all as you celebrate the arrival of Hope in your lives.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Cancel Christmas?

I read a flippant (I hope) remark on FB the other day: Maybe we should just cancel Christmas this year.  No, my friends. Now is when we need Christmas more than ever. This year perhaps more than any other lately, Madeleine L'Engle's poem needs to resonate in our hearts.

God did not wait till the world was ready,
till . . . nations were at peace.
God came when the Heavens were unsteady,
and prisoners cried out for release.

God did not wait for the perfect time.
God came when the need was deep and great.
God dined with sinners in all their grime,
turned water into wine.

God did not wait till hearts were pure.
In joy God came to a tarnished world of sin and doubt.
To a world like ours, of anguished shame God came,
and God's Light would not go out. 

God came to a world which did not mesh
to heal its tangles, shield its scorn.
In the mystery of the Word made Flesh
the Maker of the stars was born.

We cannot wait till the world is sane
to raise our songs with joyful voice,
for to share our grief, to touch our pain,
God came with Love: Rejoice! Rejoice!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

I Understood

There is a lot of talk again about whether to say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays or whatever. Frankly I don't care. If you wish me your holiday blessing, I will gladly accept it.

Today we went to our favorite Mexican restaurant for lunch. We are still working on the kitchen and it was nice to take a break and go out. We are well known at this restaurant and Maria knows what we usually order and that's all we have to say in answer to her question: The usual. Yes.

I realized today would be the last time we would be there before Christmas and so as we leaving I said, "Maria, Feliz Navidad". She looked at me, smiled and said something back - in Spanish - which I did not understand at all. But all I didn't understand were the actual words. Her meaning and blessing I understood perfectly. They showed in the smile in her eyes and the smile on her face. I left feeling blessed. That's what the greetings we offer each other at this time of year are for: blessings for our lives whether or not we understand all the meanings behind the word. ~ blessings, my friends

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Advent 4, 2016

Advent ~ a time of anticipation and waiting, a celebration of Joy. There are times, and this year is one of those, when I have to remind myself that Joy is not another word for happy. "Joy to the world, the Lord is come." I'm with the poet on this one. Nothing less than the coming of Light and Love, Hope and Peace into the world is worthy of the word and feeling of Joy. 
Whatever holiday we celebrate this time of year, the reason comes from a deep abiding sense of Joy. None of it comes from the gifts or the dinners or the parties. Remember the Grinch? Maybe, just maybe, it's a little bit more. And that more is Joy: the knowledge that we Love and are Loved; that the Light will overcome the darkness; that Hope abides in spite of the situation; that Peace has come even as people flee for their lives in war-torn parts of the world. 
Joy be yours this season, dear friends ~ blessings

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Advent 3

Advent ~ a time of Hope, Peace and yes, Love. Love within our families. But also Love shared with the wider world. Love when you tell a Muslim mother how beautiful her children are and she sighs in relief. Love when you share a dressing recipe with the stranger and the daughter tells you that her mother felt you were safe to ask. (Two stories from friends.) Love when you stand up and say this is not the way it is supposed to be. Love when with every grocery purchase you also purchase a toothbrush and toothpaste and donate them to a women's shelter. (My daughter) Love is being still and quiet and holding. Love is also an active verb, doing and being the world in the way you know is right. ~ blessings, my friends. 

Friday, December 9, 2016

Naive Expectations

About 18 months ago when the kitchen counter tops were all done, Dean started working on a plan to redo the cabinets. He thought long and hard about how he wanted to do them: sand them in place, take them off and to the shop for sanding, how much, what finish. He also knew he/we needed younger help. Neither of us do floor easily any more. Knees are functioning reasonably well but down on them on the floor just does not work. 

Last month our wonderful Brook came back to clean for us again. She is also very good with painting and crafting and has even served at big dinner parties for me. Dean asked if she might help him with the cabinets. Of course. How does next week, say December 6th, work? Perfect. And my immediate response was, "Oh, wow!! I will come home from New England to a fresh new kitchen!" Brook even told me, she had thought she would have an opportunity to clean again even though her regular time isn't for another week. Ha!! 

Here is what I came to:

I admit, it is an organized mess. Every time I asked, "Where is the . . .?", Dean pointed to the correct box. He assures me that we will get the drawers back soon and that will clear the clutter from the middle of the living room floor. That's a good thing because in a week, we are hosting a small holiday business party and I would really like to use my Christmas china and have people enjoy the decorations ~ and yes, have a place to prepare the food! If they can move around without tripping over boxes, I guess it is ok if they can see into the cabinets. 
Having said all of that, I need to rise from my chair and go to work.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Boston Pops

Before I get to the subject matter of this blog, let's get me to Boston first.

Here I am, right off the plane, just through security, and smiling from ear to ear. 
It is always so good to be with family!! It was just Meredith and me this time as David was in Tennessee fighting the fires there and then flying the Chinook to its home base in Billings, Montana. We missed you, David! And Meredith and I started talking as soon as this picture was taken and kept talking until I walked back through security on my way home. It was a great trip!

My last night was blessed with a visit to Symphony Hall and the Boston Pops Christmas concert. This event poster hung outside the Hall.

We had a little table in the house right corner. It was the almost perfect table. We missed seeing the theatrics during The Twelve Days of Christmas, but otherwise it was wonderful. Keith Lockhart, the conductor, was just "right there" and we could see his expressions and watch his style.
Several tables over from us a family had brought their three-year-old daughter. Age is a guess but she looked a lot like our Lettie who is three so I think it is a good guess. We were impressed that they had brought her to a concert and not a children's concert. And then the cellists entered and it became obvious why. Right in their line of sight was grandpa. And he had to be because the man of the couple in the audience looked so much like him. They pointed him out to the little girl, she waved at him, and when the orchestra stood for a bow, he smiled at her the smile that only a grandfather gives a beloved granddaughter. 

A large screen over the stage gave us a variety of Pops' information including when this year's Christmas concert would be broadcast. PBS airs a lot of WGBH shows so expect to enjoy the concert yourself at some point. 

Our table allowed us to order goodies. We had a fruit and cheese plate. Meredith had egg nog and I had hot apple cider. When Hansom first arrived though, I asked it was possible to have a glass of iced water. We had taken a cab from the hotel and the driver was a smoker. I needed water. Hansom understood and we quickly had iced water and then we took our time filling out our menu for the evening. Dinner is available and we had eaten before hand so we just needed a little something to fulfill the ambience. 

We were this close! This is a cellist's score. I love it that you can see the crease where she turns the pages night after night. 
It was a wonderful evening. I would love to go formal to opening night some time. This evening was a mid-week more casual time, and I was glad because of packing clothes and comfort of travel.
Santa came and helped lead us in the traditional sing-a-long at the end of the concert. The 3-year-old granddaughter waved at him too! 
As always, photos are not allowed during the performance and so these are what I have - plus a CD of Boston Pops Christmas music which Meredith bought for me. One special musical time: they segued from Bach's "Break Forth, O Beauteous Heavenly Light" right into Peter Yarrow's "Light One Candle". It was so smoothly done that you hardly realized you had been taken from the 1730s to the 1970s in three musical measures.

The next morning, I made my own segue from EST to PST, from Boston to Dallas to Reno to Tahoe City. The first part was as smooth as the musical segue. From Reno to Tahoe was driven in the snow. Dean made that time as easy as possible too. It was a wonderful Christmas interlude and I am also glad to be home! 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Advent 2

Advent ~ the Hope for Peace. Peace in time of war. Peace in time of turmoil.
Peace in a time when the streets are not safe for some people. 
Peace in time when some people are being shunned. 
Peace when bullies are rampant.
Light the candle of Peace, claiming the promise of Peace and
living in the Light of Love. ~ blessings

Friday, December 2, 2016

Words of Wisdom

My friend Sue Ellen Hall posted these words from Howard Thurman which are so appropriate for our lives today:

“Life Goes On”
During these turbulent times we must remind ourselves repeatedly that life goes on.
This we are apt to forget.
The wisdom of life transcends our wisdoms;
the purpose of life outlasts our purposes;
the process of life cushions our processes.
The mass attack of disillusion and despair,
distilled out of the collapse of hope,
has so invaded our thoughts that what we know to be true and valid seems unreal and ephemeral.
There seems to be little energy left for aught but futility.
This is the great deception.
By it whole peoples have gone down to oblivion
without the will to affirm the great and permanent strength of the clean and the commonplace.
Let us not be deceived.
It is just as important as ever to attend to the little graces
by which the dignity of our lives is maintained and sustained.
Birds still sing;
the stars continue to cast their gentle gleam over the desolation of the battlefields,
and the heart is still inspired by the kind word and the gracious deed.
There is no need to fear evil.
There is every need to understand what it does,
how it operates in the world,
what it draws upon to sustain itself.
We must not shrink from the knowledge of the evilness of evil.
Over and over we must know that the real target of evil is not destruction of the body,
the reduction to rubble of cities;
the real target of evil
is to corrupt the spirit of man and to give his soul the contagion of inner disintegration.
When this happens,
there is nothing left,
the very citadel of man is captured and laid waste.
Therefore the evil in the world around us must not be allowed to move from without to within.
This would be to be overcome by evil.
To drink in the beauty that is within reach,
to clothe one’s life with simple deeds of kindness,
to keep alive a sensitiveness to the movement of the spirit of God
in the quietness of the human heart and in the workings of the human mind—
this is as always the ultimate answer to the great deception.