Saturday, December 31, 2011

It should be snow by now

Last night as I left the library it was raining.  Me?  I am prepared for winter.  And not just winter, but another walking winter.  New winter boots, winter coat and all the winter accessories.  I am actually looking forward to it.  If it ever comes. 

As I leave the library,
As the gray leans to dark,
The rain catches my hair,
I turn my face up.
The woman with the rainbow umbrella
Dry under cover
Smiles at me
As she enters.
I am still on foot.
Almost a new year,
It should be snow by now.
Almost a new year,
I have new boots
In sure and certain hope
Of snow.
But no
It is rain that catches me
As I leave the library.
The woman with the rainbow umbrella
Walks in dry
as I leave
Into the wet.
It should be snow by now
Almost a new year.
I have new boots.

Friday, December 30, 2011


I love the way the prophets regularly re-name the people of Israel, reminders to them that they are loved and cared for and seen, even sought out by God.  I still need regular reminders.

You shall be called:  Sought Out, a City Not Forsaken.
                                                                                Isaiah 62:12

In this season of gray,
No snow even lightening
The landscape,
Jesus lies helpless in the manger.
Shepherds have returned
To their flocks and fields.
Angels have returned
To heaven.
The ox and ass look on
With the unwed parents.
Soon the Wise Men will arrive
With unlikely gifts,
Fit for a Messiah
Hardly useful now.
He will be alive for years.
He will give us a glimpse,
An inkling in the Temple
At twelve
Of what is to come,
Upstart pre-teen but maybe
There is something there.
Still we wait.
It seems
We always wait.

Isaiah still speaks
To our condition.
He calls us: Sought-Out,
In the way of nicknames
We are called
For short.
There is comfort
In nicknames.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Guided by stars

In my living room is a framed Inuit print of an Inuit family on a sled packed with all their belongings, pointing to  a sky filled with stars.  This is the print that hangs over the table we use for the four piece Guatemalan Nativity set..  Years ago my daughter used to hide Baby Jesus in the table drawer before Christmas.  This morning the Nativity, the print, and oh yes, the mirror ball, all seem to be connected somehow.  And important.

In the chair next to the Christmas tree
I write.
Sunlight catches one of the small mirror balls,
Bounces light all over the ceiling
Of the living room.
The Guatemalan Mary and Joseph are in place
On the living room table.
They watch over Baby Jesus
Under an Inuit print,
Guided by Stars.
The print is huge.
It has hung there for years.
This morning the stars hold forth
For Mary and Joseph, Jesus,
The Wise Men on their way,
And me.
The mirror ball on the Christmas tree
Twists and turns
In the sun,
Bounces light.
The stars
Hold steady.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Holy Innocents

I went in to my office today to meet with a friend to plan a funeral.  Life and death have a way of seeking space in the places we have marked out for celebration and rejoicing alone.  In actuality, both come together, all the time.  Remembering the Feast of the Holy Innocents three days after Jesus was born is simply recognizing this.

They ask why we have to remember
Such a thing
At Christmas.
The angels and shepherds;
The wise men on their way;
The Star shining;
The beaming parents
The newborn Prince of Peace
All somehow escaped
The plot.
All slipped out
Another way.
Shepherds back
To their flocks,
Angels back to heaven,
Wise men back to their country
Of wisdom.
Why do we have to remember
Such a thing
When everything turned out fine
In the end?
Why at Christmas?
Why can*t we just hold on
To the good parts?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas shift

We plan Christmas every year, and often either try to keep things the same, or deliberately different.  Life, however, always intrudes, or interferes, or perhaps embraces us, if we embrace it.  No matter how we think to package it, Christmas is different every year because we are different.  Of course this is no secret to Jesus.

Every year
There is a shift.
It comes with Christmas.
Even when we try to celebrate
Exactly the way we did
Last year:
We don*t.
We can*t.
Different things grab
Our attention.
Life intrudes or perhaps
Life embraces us.
We notice different things
Next to the manger.
There is a knowing look
In Baby Jesus* eye.
Life says
Pick me up and look into my eyes.
Feel my weight in your arms.
Do you notice how things are different
This year?

Christmas shifts things
Even when we try to keep them
The same.
In the manger Jesus winks.
What a preposterous thing,
The image of Jesus winking.
There must be something
He knows
That we don*t,
Even as a baby
Lying in the straw.
We are lifted even as we lift Him.
Life*s embrace.
Jesus winks.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Up North

I admit. I admire the guy*s chutzpah in even thinking of this.  Now I wonder if he was the only priest the congregation could get.  I can*t imagine taking Christmas off, even when I don*t have an up-front role.  Among twenty million other things, Christmas offers a barometer of the church family, parents bursting with pride at grown children returning, grieving people held, stray people who never darken the doors any other time of the year, but somehow it*s safe late at night with carols, and tinsel on the floor, and Silent Night, Holy Night.  How can you miss this, I think.  Christmas Up North will never begin to compare.

Years ago I knew a priest who negotiated a contract
With his congregation
For being away
At Christmas.
He celebrated with his family
Up North.
I will not name him.
It does not matter.
I admit at the time
I admired his guts.
Every year since
The memory of him
Makes me sadder and sadder.
Now I wonder if he or his congregation
Ever knew enough
To change
The contract.

The tree is still up.
Of course
We celebrate all twelve days
Here at home.
It is probably too much
To hope for all the tinsel remains
To be left on the floor at church
For twelve days
In front of the altar rail.
Still I do.
That is.
The poinsettias will probably stay
As Christmas placeholders.
Next Sunday Christmas continues.
I will hear
In the beginning was the Word
With the rest of my family.
We will do a Christmas carol reprise.
Better than any Christmas
Up North.

Sunday, December 25, 2011


I am still learning this.  Next year I may have learned it more.  It*s probably another of those things I will  continue to learn. This year because of non-driving thing, I did on-line shopping exclusively.  Hence the boots from England.  The boots that were originally exactly what were asked for.  But not by Christmas morning.  Hmmm.   Probably lots is wrapped up in this.  This Christmas I remember my father for whom Christmas was particularly important.  I remember the bear puppet with the squeaker in his head that he got me when I was in seminary.  It was the perfect gift.  He saw me with another puppet... and he saw me.  Hard to explain, but it was the perfect gift.  Thomas (the bear puppet)(named after Thomas Aquinas) is still a vital part of my puppet collection.

Do not order boots from England
That cannot be returned easily,
Even if they are a good price.
Do not order semi-gloss boots
When shiny boots are obviously
The right thing.
Do not order navy blue
When it will surely morph to hunter green
Two days after the boots are ordered.
Gift certificates are good things.
Remember gift certificates.
Unless it comes with an exact serial number
Do not order it.
Remember gift certificates.
Better yet:
Think of things which match
The person*s eyes
Or complexion,
Things that line up with
His sense of humor,
Her whimsy.
Things that say:
When I saw this I thought of you,
Exactly you,
The way you move
The way you smile
The way you wrote the letter from Santa
In alternating red and green lines,
Noting special appreciation
From Prancer.
Think of things that better say
When I saw this
I thought of you
Exactly you.

Angel chaos

It*s no secret that I love children*s Christmas pageants.  We did not make it to either the 3 or 5 PM services where the children told the story yesterday, where all children were given angel, sheep or shepherd accoutrements at the door.  I appreciated the angel chaos left behind for the more dignified 10:30 service.

At the late service
We walked to the altar rail
For Communion.
We walked through traces
Of angel chaos,
Gold and silver tinsel
Left from earlier services.
Thank goodness
It was left on the floor
For us to see
At the later service.
Glimpses of earlier
Angel chaos.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Wise Men and Herod (redux)

I am grateful for the way children re-write things.  Often there is Truth involved, if we can see it.  One day, I think, Herod will see fit to follow the Star with the Wise Men, and they will all go home together.

Years ago now
The children re-wrote the Christmas story
The way they always do.
No matter the Nativity script,
The re-enactment is always different.
Years ago now the triplets
Played the Wise Men.
Their best friend was Herod.
The best adult stage direction
Did not help.
They all ended up at the manger
Kneeling before Jesus.
They left together.
That year
There was no Other Way.

Every year I watch the children.
I wonder how the script will play out
This year.
Every year I remember Herod
And the Wise Men,
Kneeling before Jesus,
Traveling home together
On the road.
I wonder when
They will do it again.
I wonder when
There will be no Other Way.


We all do different things to get ready for Jesus to be born.

We drove home from the airport yesterday.
All was brown with traces still
Of green.
In the next community over,
White bags line the street.
Evenly spaced,
They wait
For tonight
To be lit.
They wait
To glow with the entrance
Of the Christ Child
Into time and space
Into Green and brown
And snow (if it comes).
They wait for tonight
to announce the birth,
Evenly spaced
On Irving Park Road.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Different order

With our daughter having the full week before Christmas off, we changed things up and visited the Florida relatives before Christmas this year.  Returning home today, the excitement level on the plane was palpable.  This year we learned new things about the Florida folk, precisely (I think) because we entered their life at a different point.  Things were not as orchestrated.  They felt more real.  Us?  Them?  Who knows exactly?  Best of all, we still have Christmas to come.

The flight was filled
With small excited voices.
As we headed home,
They set out North
To find snow,
Christmas cookies,
Probably a grandparent
Or two.
Any snow we had before we left
Is now days gone.
Tomorrow is the tree,
Lessons and carols while we wrap.
A different order to things this year
From last.
Florida, then Christmas.
We return home as others leave.
The cat answers the door;
He does not remember
Another order.
Here are still warm laps
To fill,
A food dish,
A new toy.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Florida living room

I grab space where I can.  This week it is the Florida living room in the morning while everyone is still asleep.  At church it is my office outside of PDO.  It is quiet in the afternoons.  The window and door there open to the outside and inside too.  No swimming pool, no ibis, but the now-lengthening light will be there when I return next week.  Maybe there will even be snow.

It is a different sort of cell,
The Florida living room.
It is mine because everyone sleeps
Until noon.
I can read and write,
Notice the ibis mining the grass
For bugs.
It is silent here.
Everyone sleeps quiet
Or at least they sleep
This Florida living room
Is mine until noon.
There is a door to the inside,
A door to the outside,
A pool outside the screen.
No one swims anymore.
It is kept very clean.
This Florida living room
Is a different sort of cell.
Mine while everyone

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Right now children own the earth

Children have newer eyes.  I think we often need their newer eyes to see new things amidst the old and familiar.  

Right now
Own the earth.
It has nothing to do with presents,
Santa Claus,
How much
How many.
Or with the older ones:
Christmas break.
Right now it is children,
Younger, older.
They light the way,
Notice new life
Along the road.
The otters in the pond
Dip and dive.
The adults are stuck
In old ways of seeing.
On this darkest day,
The first day of Hannakuh,
They say Look:
The world turns again to light.
New life on the road!
This morning I practice seeing.
There is a great white egret
Across the creek
Under the palm trees.
The fifteen year olds shake their heads.
They say,
In the way only fifteen year olds can,
I choose to see
Something different.
I practice
Listening to them.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Las Posadas

With the start of a new ministry at St. Mark*s comes a different way of seeing and experiencing Christmas.

This week I pray
For a star,
And possible doors
To knock upon.
I pray for feet to carry me
Door to door,
The will to continue to ask
For a place to deliver
Whatever I am asked
To deliver.

This week I pray
For open doors;
Extended hearts and hands,
Warm voices of welcome.

This week I pray
A star to light the way,
For mangers to be offered,
Mangers prepared,
Mangers used well.
This week I ask for mangers
And offered,
Used well.
And plenty of Light.

Monday, December 19, 2011

This is Mary*s week

This is Mary*s week, the final days of seeking a place to give birth to Jesus.  She and Joseph spent a lot of time looking for the manger.  Las Posadas is celebrated in the novena before Christmas, including night after night of looking for a place for the Holy Couple to stay, night after night of looking for the manger.  I remember year after year in parish ministry, trying to find where we stored the manger last year.  One year, unbeknownst to me, someone had brought it home for safekeeping (!)... Oy.  This is Mary*s week, no matter where we are, secular or sacred.  It is still Mary*s week.

This is Mary*s week.
We spend her week in Florida.
The people here
Save every packet of soy sauce
From take-out Chinese.
They believe every plastic bag
Can be used again
For something.
They save awake hours at night
To use for sleep
In the morning.
There is no boundary
That belongs to someone else.
Christmas is a time to count
How many
How much
And by the way,
Save the wrapping paper.
Yet still

This is Mary*s week.
The angels sing around the edges
The Star beckons.
Like every year in parish ministry,
I still have to find where the manger
Was stored
Last year,
So the Nativity can happen

This is Mary*s week,
No matter who is on the road with me,
No matter how many doors are shut
In my face,
No matter weather,
Warm or cold.
This is Mary*s week.
I think I know,
I think I remember
Where the manger is.

Sunday, December 18, 2011


It*s amazing who shows up in church.

In the Florida church
My mind wandered through the space
That was offered
By the sermon.
There were giraffes in the stained glass
behind the altar,
Two of them.
The sermon offered a history of the Church
And Mary.
The sermon offered
Perhaps there were others
Who had said no
To God*s offer to bear
His son.
I heard about Mary saying Yes
Really saying Yes.

I looked at the giraffes in the window.
I heard Bill Cosby
As Noah. 
Who are you?
**This is God**
Noah said,

Giraffes in the window,
A small child that echoed Amen
As final punctuation
After every prayer,
Bill Cosby
And us.
The gathered saints.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Real snow

Doesn*t it stink that the day it finally snows, we have to leave?  she says.  Yep.  I love the way snow draws attention to the light, particularly on dark days.  Even at night it*s there, doing its job, catching every last bit of light it can capture, illuminating the possibility of change.  At the beginning of snow time, I could probably write a series of O Antiphons about snow, just as today we begin the O Antiphons for Jesus.  Come, O Wisdom.  Come, O Dayspring from on high.  Today I am glad for snowlight making things a bit brighter.

Finally we have
Real snow.
No slight snow dust,
But enough to cover the ground,
Illuminate the trees.
Snow brings change with it
Or at least it catches the light
And with it,
The possibility
That Light may make a difference.

There will be no snow
Where we go today.
We know that when we return
From that snowless place,
Green with palm trees
Strung with Christmas lights,
There will be probably be snow,
Reflecting the light
When we land.
It will catch the light
In that way that snow does.
We will catch the light again.
The snowlight
Will guide us home.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Mere twigs

I am in a waiting frame of mind.  Sometimes it feels more hopeful than others.  

Years ago my sister Jane took a five year old child to a play of How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  It was one of his favorite books.  The Grinch was very, well, Grinchly.  Pretty soon her small friend began whimpering, so they went out to the lobby.  But Michael, she said, you know how it ends.  
In a small voice he said: It might be different this time.

Even though I know the way the whole Story ends, it is hard for me to remember sometimes.  Sometimes things appear more hopeful than others.  That*s why I need other people to wait with.

The elderberry bush
Is mere twigs In the garden bed.
It joins the leafless trees and bushes.
I know they will return to leaf
In the spring.
They always do.
The elderberry bush
Has only a hope
of return.
I would like to check its roots
For life.
I clip the clematis vine
Back to the ground.
I have seen it return fuller
Every spring.
I throw out the collapsed pumpkins
From the pots in front.
The squirrels have thoroughly mined them
For seeds.
Perhaps there will be a pumpkin vine
When the weather comes warm again.
New this year,
The elderberry bush
Is a complete unknown.
Sticks in the garden bed.
Mere twigs.
I know there is hope underground.
It will not show itself alive,
Potentially come on the scene,
Until spring.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Sent people

I often wonder: How does God do all of this?  Because I know it is God who sends: people out into the wilderness to wait, toes dipped in the Jordan, on the look-out for who and what is next.  I know wilderness and the Jordan can be found everywhere, even in Glen Ellyn, and the accompanying music can be everything from Handel*s Messiah to Jingle Bells to something I have yet to know or imagine.

This is a season
Of people being sent,
Out Into the wilderness (yes),
But also to my office door,
Next to the children
Who sing Jingle Bells,
Part of the Advent repertoire.
This is a season of
Sent people:
Bearers of Word and wisdom,
Carriers of overwhelming hope and light,
People of understanding, new promise.
I am struck dumb, dizzied, blinded
By those who come
Mute and deaf and blind,
Sent people and me
We stand on the banks
Of the Jordan
Our toes in the water,
Listen to another chorus
Of Jingle Bells.
We wait.
We wonder who will join us 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Dark night of the soul

Today is the day we honor St. John of the Cross, the mystic who named the dark night of the soul as part of the spiritual journey.  It does seem fitting that his day comes right before the darkest day, before the world begin turning toward light again.  It is cold and gray and wet (and yes, dark) this morning as I write this.

So close to the darkest day
We see fit to honor
The dark night of the soul
Before the way opens again
To the Light.
It is always darkest
Before the Dawn.
Today it rains.
It seems today is determined to be
As gray and dark as possible.
So close to the darkest day,
Today we pay homage to the dark.
It will allow us to notice
The first glimmer of Light
When it comes.
We wait for
For the leading of the Star
So bright
We can*t help
But follow it Home.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Who are you?

John invited everyone into the wilderness.  Naturally everyone thought he was the One they were waiting for.  Now that I*ve got you here (he said), let me tell you That One is coming.  It*s a promise.  It*s a hope.  He will be like everything you*ve thought He could be, and still more, I tell you.  He will be so much more.

Who are you?
Are you the one with the answer?
Are you the one who will solve
The problems of the world?
Tell me they are wrong.
Tell me I am right.
Tell me you are the Messiah
Who comes to set everything
In the wilderness.

I am not that one.

I am a voice.
I am an ear.
I am an eye.
I am feet and hands
To show the way.
I am the one
To open the curtain for the One
Who will come
As promised,
The One who will show you everything
You never knew
To ask for.
I am the one who lives in hope
That all may see
That One who is coming.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Nine more days

I remember a small boy in a parish I served years ago.  Ben was 3, the same age as my son that year.  As I was putting finishing touches on my Christmas sermon, Ben and his father appeared in my office doorway.  It was almost evening.  Ben wants to show me a particular spot of dark he found (his father explained), it*s somewhere in the building but he doesn*t remember exactly where.  And then they left, down an already darkening hallway, to find that particular piece of dark.  I often think of Ben and his dad, at this time of year, looking for a particular spot of dark, and looking for it together.

We stopped saving daylight later this year.
I am still not accustomed
To regular time.
Perhaps it is not really
Evening finds me craving bedtime
Under the covers
Until I can drink morning coffee
In full light.
People ask if my schedule
Is full.
For accounting purposes,
It isn*t.
The light winds down,
And my schedule
With it.
For accounting purposes:
Nine more days to wind down.
Nine more days to notice
How dark it can get
Before turning
To light.
Before turning
Once again
To Light.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Snow dust

As I write this the first service in Spanish at my home parish should be about over.  It is a new thing.  So new that I do not know what to expect next.  I am now on the edges of planning such things.  New things happen in the midst of the old and change comes to both.  It has Holy Potential, this new thing in the midst of the old.  What did you come out into the wilderness to see? asks John.  I am not sure what to expect next.  

Spots of snow dust remain.
In the sun and blue
The light angles lower.
We hear the second lesson
Of John the Baptist.
He is not worthy
To tie Jesus* shoes.
He opens the way in the wilderness
Maybe people will see their way clear
To find Him
In the wild,
If they cannot venture through
Temple doors.
He is coming.
He comes.
He came.
He will come again,
A light dusting of snow
On his shoulders,
Light angled lower and lower
Even in the sun and blue.
Two weeks of wait,
Then born again
As the sun
Begins its angle higher.
Snow promises heavy
This year.

Here in the North
The snow drifts through Epiphany,
Then out into the wilderness again.

So much begins
In the wilderness.

Now there is snow dust.
Now we wait.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Weak coffee

Sometimes love is not calling attention to weak coffee, but drinking it anyway.

Weak coffee this morning.
I made it pale,
Without limp intention.
I did not employ the careful plans
Of so many scoops
To a cup,
So many cups
To a pot.
In the morning
I do not count.
Truth be told,
Counting has rarely got me
My non-measure eyeball method
Usually works.
This morning
The coffee is weak.
My breakfast companion who counts
Scoops and cups and pots,
My breakfast friend, with care,
Does not note
The pale demeanor
Of the coffee.

Friday, December 9, 2011


Here I was, getting so much accomplished.  Then I got grounded.  I wonder whether we are sometimes grounded so as to get a new perspective on things.  Not driving, being on foot for another winter, I have to go slower, pay closer attention to the things around me.  Sometimes I am quicker to catch on than others.  Sometimes I get the point.  Sometimes I even get the punch line.

It seems that when I have done much
To complicate my life,
Some thing
Some one
Comes along
Grabs my attention
Sit in these complications.
There is little choice
But to sit.

When I have done much,
When I simply can*t do another thing,
I am reminded again.
It seems
When I don*t listen
And then
Don*t listen again:
I am brought to ground
To sit,
Watch the world spin.
I notice again
The sun does not use me
As its center point.
It rises and sets as it always does.
The stars continue in their courses.
They even twinkle,
Offer star giggles,
Like they know the same punch line
I do.


Now I wonder.  This feels Buddhist-y to me.  Or some explanation of The more things change, the more they stay the same.  This is one of those things I knew I needed to write, but just exactly why, I don*t know.  Here it is.

Last night I dreamed I found a bottle
In a cornfield.
It was right where I*d left it
Last year.
Its message was the same.
I was glad to find it again.
I knew somehow,
In the meantime,
It had traveled around the world
Carried by water or wind.
Here it was again.
I knew it had circumnavigated the world,
Brought back so much more
With it
Its message was the same.
Its message,
I tell you,
Is the same.

Thursday, December 8, 2011


There are a number of Advent calendars out there which encourage random acts of kindness.  I admit I do get joy at buying coffee for the stranger behind me at the Starbucks drive-thru window on occasion, and I will continue doing this.  But... there are studies which show us happier at the end of the day when we connect, person to person.  Of course this always begs for me how happiness is measured.  I won*t go there right now, because it is true to my experience.  Yesterday was one of those days with several significant connections.  I was significantly happier at the end of the day, no matter the happiness scale.   The picture here is one that appeared on Facebook, with attribution to Grace Al-Isha.  It too makes me smile.

Studies show
We are happier at the end of the day
If we connect
With someone else.
Buy them a hamburger at McDonalds
Perhaps a cup of coffee.
Sit with them.
Look into their eyes,
Pay attention.

Studies show a check in the mail
Does not affect our level
Of happiness.

Studies show
It has nothing to do with money
At all.
It*s connection.
We were meant to connect
With each other.
It*s the time we spend.
We are all happier
That way.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


David Wilcox is one of my favorite muses.  I love his music, his insights, his particular take on things.  He is not a pastor but he preaches in a voice that reminds me of what I already know, somehow.  It is Advent. This comes through a Facebook link from a friend (Cathleen Falsani), linked to Jim Wallis* blog, linked to a David Wilcox YouTube.  If you are so inclined, I encourage you to listen to the story that precedes the song.  It*s all connected.

Once again I see
It*s all connected.
The winter light,
The office
Next to the children gathered
After the parents have left.
Once again I see
It*s all connected again.
Of course everything
Has always been connected.
I just lose track,
All too often.
All of it
Is connected.
The Holy threads through
All of it.
I lose track
From time to time.
The Holy threads through
It is all connected
Now I see it
Now I don*t.
There it is again

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Almost snow

I really thought I*d find it last night, walking under the streetlights, on a mission to Walgreens for gold chocolate coins.  It did seem imminent.  Snow pending.  There*s something about waiting... all the particulars become pointers to the possibility.  Kinda like Advent.

I walked to the store last night
In the almost snow.
The streets were wet
With possible winter.
The dark had that
Snow smell.
I knew I would find it
Hidden around the corner
Of the next block.
On the edges
Snow waited to come.
I am still
Waiting it out.
Snow has been sighted
In Michigan:
Two fluffy inches.
My vision continues blurred
With the possibility of snow.
I am dizzy with its scent.
It is almost almost here.
Every morning I look out the window
Sniff the air
For coldness.

Monday, December 5, 2011


Sometimes the signs of the season are not obvious, until they are brought to our attention.

I hear the cat chitter,
The special sound he only makes
For birds.

The juncos are back in town.
They always look like there*s a special occasion,
Dark grey suits with white shirts,
No tie.
It is hard to tell that winter waits.
No snow.
Two stray purple clematis blossoms
Have survived the frost.
Meanwhile we mark time
To Christmas.
Two candles on the Advent wreath.

We mark time
With the juncos.
They are dressed for the banquet
At the King*s table,
At the Baby*s christening.
They wait on the lawn
For the vine out front
To return to winter mode.
They wait
For the snow.
They wait for the banquet,
The baby.
They are already dressed.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Some things learned in the grocery store this afternoon

Adventures are what we make them.  I have never seen onions being vacuumed before.

The blackberries were three containers
For the price of one.
Eyebrows raised,
We bought them and will wash them
The onions were in the process
Of being vacuumed.
Is there a special produce vacuum?
Better yet
An onion vacuum?
We didn*t see.
We asked and were told
Loose onion skins
Make the display messy.
There were packs of ping pong balls,
(No paddles)
Next to the soft drinks.
No explanation
But I*m sure I can come up with some sort
Of a connection.
Twenty-five minutes in the store
I practiced seeing what food looks like
In a partial seizure
Eyes wide open.
I read Smart Bran
As Smart Brain,
Openly wondered how a cereal
Could make such a promise.
Come to think of it:
How can a cereal
Be smart?

This wasn*t even
What my mother-in-law would call
A hotsy-snotsy grocery store.

Now we are home.
The blackberries are thoroughly washed.
I consider vacuuming the onions.
The Smart Bran is on top of the refrigerator
With its ambiguous promise.
I remember how much I used to enjoy
Ping pong.

Eyes wide open

It did not seem a mystery to my friends.  Of course it*s better to keep your eyes open, they said.  They reminded me of spinning as a child. One even reminded me of how much worse it got after too much wine if you let yourself close your eyes.  Oh yeah, I thought.  That*s right!  So how come I forgot?  Here*s a good place to cite the value of companions who can help us remember.  I have good company.  How come I so often forget?

I puzzled why I couldn*t close my eyes,
Regain composure,
When I got dizzy and blurry.
Of course you can*t
He said.
She said.
You only make it worse.
I puzzled.

On the way to church this morning
I was reminded about spinning around
As children,
That wonderful dizzy feeling.
When we fell to the ground,
Shut our eyes,
The dizziness increased.
Now I remember:
Something happens when we grow up.
That wonderful dizzy feeling
Loses its wonder;
The stomach does unpleasant
Flip flops.
We no longer relish
The feel of the world turned upside down.
Our adult brains
Seek equilibrium,
At least the ability
To see straight
Without the loss
Of lunch.

Now I work to keep my eyes wide open,
Despite dizziness and blur.
I catch things I missed
When I closed my eyes against it.
I catch things I missed
when I look through the haze.
I catch things I missed
When I remember
To keep my eyes wide open.