Hooray for the Pumpkin Sky!

November 24, 2011

For the beauty of the earth,
For the glory of the skies;
For the love which from our birth,
Over and around us lies;
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This, our hymn of grateful praise…

For the joy of human love,
Brother, sister, parent, child;
Friends on Earth and friends above,
For all gentle thoughts and mild;
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This, our hymn of grateful praise.

  –Folliott S. Pierpoint, For the Beauty of the Earth

Over the river, and through the wood-
now Grandmother’s cap I spy!
Hurrah for the fun! Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!

  –Lydia Maria Child, Over the River and Through the Woods

It is early on a Thanksgiving when one can sleep in.

Even bag boys at Kroger and checkout clerks get a break today, for most stories are closed.

The sun rises over the creek and through the woods. Silhouettes of pine and poplar stand tall and straight, their trunks black against the pumpkin backdrop.

I suppose the sky could be the color of cantelope this morning, or salmon, but pumpkin is what I see.

I love Thanksgiving!

I love the concept and the pratice.

It is such a simple thing, really, to gather together with people you love and enjoy the  feast.

I believe heaven is like Thanksgiving.

Loved ones–everyone–gathers at the table. Food is shared.

The sky is seen from another angle, the upside of the clouds, where the earth is green and brown. Where love lies over us like a quilt.

I just hope our loved ones, who have gone before us, can see the beauty of the earth today and know how much we miss them.

Can touch us around the table with the joy of human love–brother, sister, parent, child. Can spy grandmothers and granchildren, nieces and uncles–the great family of man and of our Lord.

Can enjoy the flavor of the feast and join in our praise.

Hooray for the fun, is the pudding done?

Hooray for the pumpkin sky!


November 22, 2011

Nothing’s quite as pretty as Mary in the morning
When through the sleepy haze I see her lying there
Soft as the rain that falls on summerflowers
Warm as the sunlight shining on her golden hair.

    –Rashkow and Cymbal, Mary in the Morning

Nothing is quite as frightening as intimacy.

I’m not certain where Rashkow and Cymbal got their image for the song Mary in the Morning, but it wasn’t from a real woman.

A real woman wakes with hair a mess, morning breath, a nightgown twisted around the middle.

She wakes to face another day alright, but with eyes red from dryness, or a throat sore from snoring, or aches from the day before.

I am scared this morning about intimacy.

A family knows, a spouse knows, others do not.

Perhaps Jesus wants this more than anything.

Our morning breath, our weakness and vulnerability, our night sweats, a new day’s fears.

You better watch out

You better not cry

You better not pout

I’m telling you why,

Santa Claus is comin’ to town.

  — Fred Coots and Haven Gillespie

Yesterday, I think I saw Santa.

I’m not kidding.

He came to my cafe and ordered a peppermint latte.

He asked me if I liked Christmas. He was whistling a carol.

He was tall and broad, and though he didn’t have a belly that shook when he laughed like a bowl full of jelly, I’m sure he can work on it.

He had white hair and a white beard, and his eyes twinkled. No, they laughed.

He acted so interested in me as a person, as he leaned over the counter and listened. Somehow, I told him I was raised Baptist, was a UMC minister for 23 years, and became Catholic. He said, “Now, there’s a story.”

When he left, he said, “Merry Christmas.”

I’m not certain why he was in Barnes and Noble, unless it was to check out what the children like for their “surprises”. We have Legos and plushy stuffed animals, a toy train, all sorts of story books, science and craft projects, puzzles and board games. It’s a children’s wonderland.

It’s an adult wonderland as well.

In our store, you can travel to France with Fodor, discuss philosophy with Plato, and learn how to cook like Julia Childs.

You can cross the Mississippi with Lewis and Clarke and stand on a hill with Balboa, overlooking the Pacific.

You can discover inventions and learn how to knit. You can change careers and write poetry and paint with watercolors.

You can be anything and go anywhere.

No wonder, I saw Santa. Anything is possible in Barnes and Noble.

So, you better watch out..Santa Claus will be comin’ back to town soon.

Merry Christmas!

Crows and Muted Leaves

November 14, 2011

The land lies fallow.

Farmers have turned the fields.

Cotton bolls plowed under become carded and washed by winter winds and rain. They will be spun into soil for next year’s crops. An occasional white puff catches on an old stalk, missed by the tractor, a wisp of another season.

Crows beckon to a lost longing, a yearning for what isn’t; their caws nostalgic for something missed, not sure of what it is.

Corn adorns yards and kitchen tables, maroon and golden kernels too hard to eat. Their season is finished too.

Now, the trees are muted. Leaves once brilliant and yellow, ovals of purple and scarlet stars, have all turned brown or tan or a burnt orange. They are maybe more beautiful in their quietness.

There is a time for brilliance, blackbirds rising dramatically with the wind.

And there is a time for muted colors and the lonely call of the crow.

Last night, I danced around a fire.

It wasn’t a Wiccan gathering, but instead a group of friends who enjoyed an evening of dance and drumming in the cool fall air with a full moon overhead and a wood fire to warm us. Four of them are massage therapists, two teach yoga. There were a lot of loving healers present.

The group is named AIM–authentic, intuitive movenment. My new friend, Kristie, invited me to come. She and I connected over the Barnes and Noble counter, over Patti Smith’s book Just Kids, horses, and the therapeutic gift of animals and drumming.. It was a synchronistic-God thing.

The drummers were men, five of them, young with various beards and gentle ways. They gifted the women with the rhythm of a collective soul and strong hands beating taunt skin on drums between their knees.

One guy reached into a canvas bag throughout the evening to select one percussion instrument after another: the kind you played in children’s church choir– bells, wooden sticks, cymbal, rattle..the only thing missing was a triangle.

And the women? Well we talked and danced and laughed. sometimes all at the same time. It was very informal and very community-oriented.

At one point, Kristie mentioned that one of the guys wanted to know if the women preferred them to turn around with their backs to us so we would feel freer to move in an authentic, intuitive way. Kristie stated that she knew them all and not one was a “creeper”, her word.

I said, “All men are fundamentally creepers.” She looked surprised until I explained my meaning: “Men just love looking at women, I don’t care how liberated and cool they are.” Her response was, “Well, don’t you?” And of course, I do.

Then, our discussion morphed into one of my favorite lifelong pursuits–understanding our differences, the old, ancient and rich, gender thing.

My new young friend put her slender arms out in a large circle in front of her, smiled in the most comfortable way, and said, “Our job is to hold space for the other –the male–and they do the same for us.”

“Oh,” I said with a nod. “I’m not sure I’ve ever done that well.”

Lord, as I learn to move in a more authentic and intuitive loving dance, help me to hold space for the other. And Lord, is it too much to ask the other to hold space for me?

Behind my house are two little boxes.

Both are filled with topsoil.

Both have given me joy.

One box contains herbs–rosemary, oregano, mint–still alive.  Only the basil’s leaves have become black.

The other box contains the remains of a miniature kitchen garden of peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, and eggplant.

I picked the last green tomatoes two weeks ago. They are waiting to be fried.

The vines, once vigorous and lush, stand stiff as woody stems, still tied to their support. The red fruit is over. It is a different season.

The kitchen bed is a metaphor for my life. It is dried like rustling flowers in an arrangement at a craft fair.  The combination of slanted light and the first frost has left its mark.

Soon, stakes will be pulled up. The once-white strips of sheets, which held up real weight and produce, edible nutrients, will be thrown away. The bed will remain bare throughout the winter…and flat.

I am not familiar with flat. I don’t know what to do.

What does one do with lost passion? Where does it go? Does it shrivel up on cue with the first frost and turn into a woody stem?

Does it die on the vine when the light goes slant?

Can it be recreated, regenerated, like the arm of a starfish?

I don’t know.

I just know it–I–am flat.