Friday, December 30, 2011

Annunciation - Donne

Annunciation
by John Donne

Salvation to all that will is nigh;
That All, which always is all everywhere,
Which cannot sin, and yet all sins must bear,
Which cannot die, yet cannot choose but die.
Lo, faithful virgin, yields Himself to lie
In prison in thy womb, and though He there
Can take no sin, nor thou give, yet He will wear,
Taken from thence, flesh, which death's force may try.
Ere by the spheres time was created, thou
Wast in His mind, who is thy Son and brother,
Whom thou concievst, conceived; yea, thou art now
Thy Maker's maker, and thy Father's mother;
Thou hast light in dark, and shutst in little room
Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Musical Monday: It Came Upon a Midnight Clear

I never paid much attention to this hymn until last year, but it has since become a favorite.  Many of the public domain recordings include only 3 of the 5 verses, but Sinatra's includes the same 4 that our hymnal does, so I've linked to his familiar version:


It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth,
To touch their harps of gold;
“Peace on the earth, good will to men,
From Heaven’s all gracious King.”
The world in solemn stillness lay,
To hear the angels sing.

Still through the cloven skies they come
With peaceful wings unfurled,
And still their heavenly music floats
O’er all the weary world;
Above its sad and lowly plains,
They bend on hovering wing,
And ever over its Babel sounds
The bless├Ęd angels sing.

Yet with the woes of sin and strife
The world has suffered long;
Beneath the angel strain have rolled
Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not
The love-song which they bring;
O hush the noise, ye men of strife
And hear the angels sing.

And ye, beneath life’s crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow,
Look now! for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing.
O rest beside the weary road,
And hear the angels sing!

For lo! the days are hastening on,
By prophet-bards foretold,
When with the ever circling years
Comes round the age of gold;
When peace shall over all the earth
Its ancient splendors fling,
And the whole world send back the song
Which now the angels sing.

To Those Who Wait

I do believe this little fella could be the most long-awaited gift in the history of civilization.  A slight exaggeration?  Perhaps.  But long-awaited and highly-anticipated nonetheless.  I have coveted this thing for about 8 years now...ever since I used first used one and realized how superior a product it is. 


This little beauty belongs to me now and is EVEN BETTER than I expected...the V-8 Hemi of vacuums.   Yeah...we're talkin' serious power...practically self-propelled.  And it has a BAG for the dirt.  Yep.  No more nasty, messy, modern dust cups to empty.  Just a good old fashioned BAG.

Good things DO come to those who wait. (Well, at least good things that can be purchased with money...)


Disclaimer:  this post is not intended in any way to disparage Steve.  I always talked myself out of getting the vacuum b/c it is hard for me to spend lump sums of money...it's MY fault I never had it before now.

Subconsciously Brilliant

Why is it that my most brilliant and profound thoughts come to me in those ethereal moments when I'm hovering halfway between reality and dreamland?  It's unfortunate, really.  Complex problems, thoughts, philosophies, relationships, and ideas which have occupied and baffled my waking mind, come sharply into view, presenting workable solutions, fresh arguments, clear pathways...and stunning blog posts, I might add.  Yet somehow, all that brilliance, profundity and clarity evaporate upon the assumption of full consciousness, leaving behind only the memory of brilliance and the exhilaration of the experience.  The substance?  Gone forever.  Sigh...

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Christmas Baby

68 years ago, a little girl was born on Christmas morning...the sole present for her 4 unappreciative, and perhaps slightly resentful, older brothers.  Throughout the decades, Little Martha continued to share her special day, not only with her own mother who was also born on December 25th, but also, of course, with the celebration of her Savior's birth. 

This year, Little Martha finally had her turn.  It was simple and short, but nevertheless, it was HER celebration.  Little Martha (in case you don't already know) is my Momma.   Our extended family had decided not to get together for Christmas until December 29th this year, so Daddy secretly invited us all to come by to honor Mother and have birthday cake ON HER BIRTHDAY.  All about her...no Christmas celebration with them that day...just my Momma's birthday.

It was wonderful.  She was entirely surprised and thrilled that all of us showed up, and shocked that Papa had pulled it off without the least suspicion on her part!  Daddy had bought a beautiful birthday cake for her and we celebrated together for about an hour. 

My Momma is one very special lady.  Her life has been complicated, to say the least, but she has received and rested in the grace of Christ to carry her through all kinds of joys and testings.  She is my dearest friend who, in spite of knowing me thoroughly, has listened to me, understood me, suffered long with me, and showered me with grace and love. 

I love you, Momma.  Happy Birthday.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Those Winter Sundays

Those Winter Sundays
by Robert Hayden

Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather, made
banked fires blaze.  No one ever thanked him.

I'd wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he'd call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,

Speaking indifferently to him
who'd driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know of
love's austere and lonely offices?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Blessing or a Curse?

About 12 days ago, a little sprite (whether angelic or demonic is yet to be determined) delivered into my hands 6 heavily-laden garbage bags.  A gift!  Yes.  A gift.  A gift comprised of........oh........I'd say about..... TWENTY FIVE THOUSAND pieces of fabric!!!  

I had to make a choice.  1) Promptly remove said bags to my sewing room where they would be out of my way...and would likely remain unopened and unexplored for 5-6 years.  2) Promptly carry said bags to my car and deliver them to someone else's doorstep to be dealt with by THEM.   3) Promptly dump contents of said bags onto my living room floor to sort through immediately. 

Because it is Christmas time, and wrestling season, I have nothing at all to do, so I wisely chose..........you guessed it!  OPTION #3!!  Which is why, 12 days later, my house still looks like THIS:



We have no Christmas tree.  No Christmas lights.  No Christmas presents.  No figgy pudding.  But all is not lost!  Afterall, WE HAVE FABRIC!!  I must be at least halfway through sorting, organizing and eliminating fabrics I'll never use.  I have cut hundreds of quilt squares for future use.  And, I might add, I have completed my first...and perhaps last...project from this lovely assortment of scraps.  Here it is:


Why is it when I get a hankerin' to sew, I make PINK things?  I'm not exactly a girly girl.  Ah, another of life's great mysteries: tough girl likes pink.  Hmmm.

You'll excuse me now while I go wade through the remaining 11,000 pieces of fabric?  See you when I come up for air in a two weeks...just in time to throw up a tree and celebrate Christmas!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Musical Monday: Forest Mountain Hymnal

Thanks to Alicia Donathan for introducing me to this duo:  Forest Mountain Hymnal



Check out their website and discography here.  The credits from their recent Christmas release read as follows:


Jonathan Alan Moody: vocals, guitar, banjo, charango, autoharp, glockenspiel, recorders, clarinet, jingle bells, clapping, snapping

Rebecca Rose Moody: vocals, autoharp, clapping, snapping

So, yeah...he's slightly talented.  ENJOY!

Welcome Back, Me

In my absence, I feel certain that many of you have been waiting breathlessly at my virtual doorstep, clamoring for that next riveting commentary on my daily routines or demented musings.  As I said, I feel certain of it...and whether or not that certainty is grounded in reality is entirely irrelevant and I'll thank you not to mess with my version of reality.  

My days have been filled with busyness and frantic running to and fro.  Hopefully the causes have been worthy and have resulted in an experience of joy, companionship or beauty for others.  I am still running...but if I don't take a few moments and declutter my mind by dumping some of it's thoughts onto paper, you just might find yourself observing a colossal mental and emotional breakdown.  And trust me, that is not a pretty sight.

Writing is essential to my nature, as is attempting to make people laugh.  Both of these energize me.  The really great thing about the blog is that I don't have to actually make you laugh or hear you say, "Yes, yes.  That is helpful and profound, Lori."  I only have to imagine those things happening, and wah-lah!  Instant energy.  And trust me, I have a very active imagination.

So now that I am energized, I gotta run deliver 60 bags of cookies to the St. Trinity Food Pantry in South City.  

I haven't said a thing, and I feel better already.  Am I easy or what?!  Catch ya later, Y'all. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wordsmith Wednesday

Latin Root: lux, lucis = light

Derivatives: lucerne, lucid, lucidity, elucidate, lucent, translucent, translucence, lucite, lucifigous, lucifigal, lucida, Lucifer, Lucius, Lucy, Lucia 

*NOTE: The following words are NOT derived from this Latin root: 


luxury, luxurious, luxuriant, deluxe (all from the Latin, luxuriare, to have in excess)   


lucre, lucrative (from Latin, lucrum, to gain or profit)


hallucinate, hallucination, hallucinogen (from Latin, hallucinatus, to wander or ramble)


reluctant, reluctance, ineluctable (from Latin, luctari, to struggle)

Greek Root: phos, photos = light

Derivatives: photograph, photographer, photography, aphotic, photocopy,  photophobia, phototropism, photosynthesis, photon, photogenic, photokinesis, phosphorous, phosphorescence, phosphate

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Grati-Tuesday

I give thanks today for my grand nephew, Julian Paul Camp.  His sense of humor, his artistic ability, his imagination, his unique perspective, his loving spirit...all bring much joy into our family.  We are blessed to have him in our lives.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Musical Monday: Nick Lowe

I was introduced to Nick Lowe through Terri Gross on NPR's Fresh Air this last week.  He's one of those gruff old poets that I inevitably fall in love with.  Here are two songs from his new release, "The Old Magic."



Friday, November 25, 2011

Garrison Keillor on Christmas

A rather witty and bitingly sarcastic article from the creator of Prairie Home Companion:

Nonbelievers, please leave Christmas alone

December 16, 2009|By Garrison Keillor

I've just come from Cambridge, that beehive of brilliance, where nerds don't feel self-conscious: There's always someone nerdier nearby. If you are the World's Leading Authority on the mating habits of the jabberwock beetle of the Lesser Jujube Archipelago, you can take comfort in knowing that the pinch-faced drone next to you at Starbucks may be the W.L.A. on 17th-century Huguenot hymnody or a niche of quantum physics that is understood by nobody but himself.

People in Cambridge learn to be wary of brilliance, having seen geniuses in the throes of deep thought step into potholes and disappear. Such as the brilliant economist Lawrence Summers, whose presidency brought Harvard to the verge of disaster. He, against the advice of his lessers, invested Harvard's operating funds in the stock market and lost the bet. In the cold light of day, this was dumber than dirt, like putting the kids' lunch money on Valiant's Fancy to win in the 5th. And now the genius is in the White House, two short flights of stairs above the Oval Office. This does not make Cantabrigians feel better about our nation's economic future.

You can blame Ralph Waldo Emerson for the brazen foolishness of the elite. He preached here at the First Church of Cambridge, a Unitarian outfit (where I discovered that "Silent Night" has been cleverly rewritten to make it more about silence and night and not so much about God), and Emerson tossed off little bon mots that have been leading people astray ever since. "To be great is to be misunderstood," for example. This tiny gem of self-pity has given license to a million arrogant and unlovable people to imagine that their unpopularity somehow was proof of their greatness.

And all his hoo-ha about listening to the voice within and don't follow the path, make your own path and leave a trail and so forth, encouraged people who might've been excellent janitors to become bold and innovative economists who run a wealthy university into the ditch.

Unitarians listen to the Inner Voice and so they have no creed that they all stand up and recite in unison, and that's their perfect right, but it is wrong, wrong, wrong to rewrite "Silent Night." If you don't believe Jesus was God, OK, go write your own damn "Silent Night" and leave ours alone. This is spiritual piracy and cultural elitism, and we Christians have stood for it long enough. And all those lousy holiday songs by Jewish guys that trash up the malls every year, Rudolph and the chestnuts and the rest of that dreck. Did one of our guys write "Grab your loafers, come along if you wanna, and we'll blow that shofar for Rosh Hashanah"? No, we didn't.

Christmas is a Christian holiday - if you're not in the club, then buzz off. Celebrate Yule instead or dance around in druid robes for the solstice. Go light a big log, go wassailing and fa-la-la-ing until you fall down, eat figgy pudding until you puke, but don't mess with the Messiah.

Christmas does not need any improvements. It is a common, ordinary experience that resists brilliant innovation. Just make some gingerbread persons and light three candles and sing softly in dim light about the poor man gathering winter fu-u-el and the radiant beams and the holly and the ivy, and you've got it. Too many people work too hard to make Christmas perfect, find the perfect gifts, get a turkey that reaches 100 percent of potential. Perfection is a goal of brilliant people, and it is unnecessary where Christmas is concerned.

The most wonderful Christmas of my life was 1997, a quiet day with no gifts and no tree, waiting in a New York apartment for my daughter to be born. And the second most wonderful was one in the Norwegian Arctic, where it rained every day and the sun came up around 11 and set around 1, not that you ever actually saw the sun, and the food was abominable, boiled cod and watery potatoes, and the people were cold and resentful, and there was no brilliance whatsoever. And I had the flu. Why was I there? Good question. But every year it gladdens my heart to know that I will not be going to Norway for Christmas. A terrific investment. Mr. Summers should be so smart. For one week of misery, I get an annual joyfulness dividend of at least 25 percent. Merry Christmas, my dears.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Litany of Thanks

Let us give thanks to God our Father for all his gifts so freely bestowed upon us.

For the beauty and wonder of your creation, in earth and sky and sea...

For all that is gracious in the lives of men and women, revealing the Image of Christ...

For our daily food and drink, our homes and families, our friends...

For minds to think, hearts to love, and hands to serve...

For the health and strength to work, and leisure to rest and play...

For the brave and courageous who are patient in suffering and faithful in adversity...

For all valiant seekers of truth, liberty and justice...

For the communion of saints, in all times and places...

We thank you, Lord.

Above all, we give you thanks for the great mercies and promises given to us in Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom be praise and glory with you, O Father, and the Holy Spirit, now and forever.  Amen.

(From the Anglican/Episcopal Book of Common Prayer)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Keeping Up

Having trouble keeping up with the over-achieving Joneses?  Then why not humbly resign yourself to and humorously acknowledge their superiority!


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Grati-Tuesday


I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of The Lord.  The Lord has chastened  and corrected me, but he has not given me over to death.

I will thank you, Lord, for you have heard me and have become my salvation. 

(From Psalm 118, Coverdale Translation)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Musical Monday: Vocal Point

This all-male group from Brigham Young was eliminated from The Sing-Off competition a couple weeks ago, but they were one of my favorites.  Give a listen: (remember, every sound you hear is produced by a human voice...)

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Walk in the Burbs

It never ceases to amaze me that something as routine as a daily ramble in the neighborhood can consistently provide adventure and amusement...with a tad of humiliation thrown in for good measure.

No.  I didn't fall again.  Though I'm not sure I would admit it at this point, if I did.  I refuse to document more than one klutzy moment per calendar year.

Today's amusements included getting unexpectedly barked at from the window a passing pickup...I was deep in thought (of course) and nearly jumped out of my skin!  I know at least a half dozen drivers saw me.  But hey...what am I good for if not to entertain the masses?  

Then there's this house dominated by a raging-maniac of a chiuaua who, from inside the safety of his home, barked like mad while repeatedly going airborne at least 4 feet!  Holy toledo!  That dog is nuts!!  I couldn't help but stop and watch to see if he could keep it up.  He could...and did...until I resumed my walk and disappeared from his sight.

THEN...yeah then...I'm running (well, it was more like hauling, really) my behind up a hill (OK...it was more of a slight incline...but still! Can I just tell my story, please, without worrying about accuracy?!), panting, heaving, working harder than any human being should have to, when suddenly, some cute, young, skinny thing very nonchalantly and effortlessly passes me by.  Hmph.  "I was young once too," I mutter under my breath...but only because I didn't have enough breath to release any real sound!

May I suggest that if your daily life lacks luster, perhaps you too should consider a daily stroll?   You just might find (or provide...) that dose of happy that we all need.

Happy Walking, y'all.

Beauty at Both Ends of the Day

Today's sunrise: (which Blogger insists on rotating!)


Today's sunset:


Apparently, St. Louis has gone and fancied herself some paradise-resort. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wordsmith Wednesday

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This two-letter word in English has more meanings than any other two-letter word: that word is UP.

It is listed in the dictionary as an [adv], [prep], [adj], [n] or [v].

It's easy to understand UP, meaning toward the sky...

or at the top of the list...

but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake UP?

At a meeting, why does a topic come UP?

 

Why do we speak UP?

Why are officers UP for election?

And why is it UP to the secretary to write UP a report?

We call UP our friends,
brighten UP a room,

polish UP the silver,

warm UP the leftovers,

clean UP the kitchen,

lock UP the house and
fix UP the old car.

At other times this little word has real special meaning:


People stir UP trouble,
line UP for tickets,

work UP an appetite,

and think UP excuses.


To be dressed is one thing...
but to be dressed UP is special.


How messed UP is this?

A drain must be opened UP

because it is stopped UP.


We open UP a store in the morning

but we close it UP at night.


We seem to be pretty mixed UP about UP!


To be knowledgeable about its proper uses, look UP the word in the dictionary. In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes UP almost 1/4 of the page and can add UP to about thirty definitions.


If you are UP to it, you might try building UP a list of the many ways UP is used.


It will take UP a lot of your time,
but if you don't give UP, you may
wind UP with a hundred or more.


When it threatens to rain, we say it is
clouding UP.


When the sun comes out, we say it is
clearing UP.


When it rains, the earth soaks it UP.
When it does not rain for awhile, things dry UP.


I could go on & on, but I'll wrap it UP, for now ........my time is UP!


Don't screw UP. Share this with everyone you're hooked UP with in cyberspace..or not...it's UP to you.


Thanks for putting UP with me.  Now I'll shut UP!

NOTE:  Material not original.  Source unknown

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Grati-Tuesday

I give thanks to God today for my oldest son, Grant, who graced us with his presence 18 years ago.

I had no idea where this path of motherhood would take me.  I knew I wanted to walk that path more than anything, but I could not have imagined the joys and sorrows it would bring, nor the ways in which this Little One's existence would expose and change me.  I thought it was my job to form and shape HIM, not the other way around!   I didn't realize just how little I knew about life and the human spirit...

I thank God for this child - yes, Son, you're still a child - for his sense of humor, his forgiving spirit, his strong mind, his repentant heart, his leadership, his compassionate attitude, his service to those in need, his wise choice of friends (at least as far as I know! :-)...

I don't wish to imply that he's perfect...of course, he's not.  But that's another thing I appreciate about him.  He is mature enough to recognize, admit and talk openly about his shortcomings, weaknesses, and sins, both past and present.  That is a huge blessing!!

I must also return thanks to God for His faithfulness to my son, manifested by a recent fireside conversation in which Grant assured me of his absolute trust in Jesus Christ, and his desire to frame his life accordingly.  What more could a mother ask for?

Thank you, Lord, for the birth and life of Grant Ford Shaffer.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Musical Monday: Owl City

I avoid listening to highly-synthesized music.  I don't like it.

I generally look down my nose on musicians whose songs are indistinguishable from one another because they repeat the same chord progressions, intervals, and vocal inflections over and over and over again.

I roll my eyes at cheesy, sappy, and non-sensical lyrics.

Yet somehow, even with all these snobberies in place, I have grown fond of Owl City, whose music is the very embodiment of all those elements I despise.  

I don't - and probably couldn't - live on a steady diet of his music, but I actually do enjoy listening to him.  Perhaps it's the joyful quality of his sound...or the innocence of his lyrics...I don't know.  Here's one of my favorites:

  

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Grati-Tuesday

Perhaps I repeat myself, but that's OK, right?

I return thanks to God for faithful women friends.  In particular, I am thankful for 8 special gal pals with whom I have taken an annual trek for 14 years now.  Each of our lives has changed dramatically through this passage of time.  We have experienced a variety of joys and triumphs, failures and heartaches, and we have rejoiced and mourned together in ways that have created inseparable bonds. 

Don't imagine that we are unusual or that we have sailed smoothly along in flawless relationship for all these years.  The truth is, we have stepped on each other's toes...hurt each other's feelings...been insensitive to one another...dismissed significant events or emotions that we didn't understand...spoken harsh words that we regret.  We are all so very different - a rather varied, and sometimes motley, crew to be sure.  But, we have served one another...cried on each other's shoulders...laughed ourselves silly...repented, apologized, loved and prayed together...and, most importantly, we have FED each other!!  

Seriously.  Though we have diverse personalities, interests and opinions, one of our great bonding rituals is to cook for each other on our trips.  Besides our love for Christ, good food and wine are a common bond, and we delight in the joy we know we've shared when our careful selection,  investment, and preparation elicit genuine appreciation - best expressed in "Mmmmms," "Ooohs," and "Ahhhs" - around the table.   

I need these women in my life and am thankful that God placed them here long ago to shape, encourage, help, rebuke and love me.

Thanks be to God for faithful Christian friendships 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

More of The Civil Wars





How Do I Love Thee?

Elizabeth Barrett Browning's most famous poem (and a favorite of mine, of course) from her Sonnets of The Portuguese:




Sonnet XLIII
by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, --- I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! --- and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

A Somewhat Inconvenient Truth

In Ecclesiastes, Solomon teaches us that much of our striving is as useless as trying to "shepherd the wind."  Here is a favorite passage from Jeff Meyers' commentary on Ecclesiastes, A Table in the Mist:

In spite of life's vaporous nature, God can be trusted.  God and life can be enjoyed despite the fact that life cannot be mastered, leveraged, or even fully comprehended by man.  Solomon uses the word hebel as a description of the enigmatic, mysterious, intractable character of life under the sun for man - even for the Christian man!  Faith recognizes this and, in the face of it, moves forward to claim and enjoy the life and work and happiness that God apportions as gifts to man.

Realizing this can help you deal with life in a  way that honors God.  For example, do not be surprised to find yourself in a frustrating situation from which you cannot escape by means of controlling it.  Not everything can be fixed!  Not everything is a problem to be solved.  Some things must be borne, must be suffered and endured.  Wisdom does not teach us how to master the world.  It does not give us techniques for programming life such that life becomes orderly and predictable. 

In fact, trying to gain a wisdom that will give you control may make you worse off.  It is precisely the task, the work, the endeavor, the toil of mastering life that is  vapor - a chasing after dust devils!  Instead of gaining leverage, you will only add to your frustration.  Solomon carries out a direct frontal assault on the very idea that humanity is able to leverage creation for his own purposes, to wrestle order out of God's inscrutable ways.  Wisdom - real biblical wisdom - is not the art of steering or programming the world according to man's purposes.  Wisdom does not advise man to search for order or to attempt to master life.  Under the sun, one cannot know, one cannot predict, one cannot trace causal connections.  Who knows why things happen?  Often, trying to figure it out is simply chasing after the wind as if we can catch and contain it.  One can only hope and believe.  Rejoice in what God has given you to do and trust in him.  This is the perspective of faith.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Wordsmith Wednesday

assure (v) fr. L ad = to + securus = secure - to make sure of something; to convince; to promise confidently; to make certain; to guarantee

ensure (v) fr. ME en = to make + seur = certain - to make sure or certain; to guarantee; to make safe; to protect

insure (v) fr. ME en = to make + seur = certain - to guarantee against loss

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Grati-Tuesday

Today, I am giving thanks for an elderly lady that has become a regular part of my life, and for the lessons that I am learning from her.  As her mental faculties decrease, it has become increasingly obvious to me that she established habits of thinking and living that continue to guide her thoughts and behavior.  It is second nature for her to give thanks to God for simple things in life...things we normally take for granted.

It might be as simple as thanking him, aloud, that she has not always struggled with pain as she does now.  Or thanking him for the joy she finds in a story from childhood...or for a husband who is good to her...or for a father who read to her.  Because her ability to reason is decreased, it is incredibly clear that these thoughts and words come from a pattern she set long ago...a pattern of giving thanks daily for the simple gifts in life.  I am often rebuked by her attitude and reminded how important it is for me to form those habits of mind and heart now.

I thank God for the older saints he places in our path to teach us wisdom.