From earth I flow, seaward I go,
Refreshing the world on my way.
My duty done, my guerdon* won,
I rise on celestial ray.
Drink, weary traveler, in the Land,
And on thy journey fare
‘Tis sent by God’s all giving hand.
And stored by human care.
*Guerdon is an archaic word meaning reward or recompense.
I enjoy looking through Flickr photos. I peruse the “Explore” recent photos category as often as I can clicking on all my favorites so I can look at them again in the future. Many of the images are sometimes ho-hum and very predictable, but I usually see something that inspires me greatly. Recently I found a whole series of images “em ha” uploaded as Public Domain items. I’m sharing my favorites here. The wildflower photos are mine, though. (TTQ)
I finished reading “God Set a Watchman” by Harper Lee yesterday afternoon.
I do not think it is impossible to reconcile the two Mockingbird worlds.
This new novel is a “coming home” book. Familiar territory to me, really. I was “born and raised” in a small town in northeastern Indiana. We had 699 people and 1 stoplight. My dad had a barber shop on the main street through town.
My childhood was similar to Scout’s in that we roamed free from early morning ’til the lightning bugs came out. We played barefoot; swam (mostly unattended) in the lake among the lily pads and fish; and created imaginative scenarios for “play” involving whomever was in the back yard that day.
Robert Patton, via Flickr CC Will the Ball Get Her Before She Gets Home
Robert Patton, via Flickr CC Later Summer Sports
We had a cement driveway and a basketball goal (regulation height). We had a playhouse and a yard large enough for kick ball. We had a ranch house that we could play “Ollie Ollie Over” around. My mom would make Kool-Aid and cookies. Grass stains, bug bites, sun burn — no problem. Life was good. Days were long. Fights were rare.
We even had a “haunted house.” It was an abandoned house just a few blocks away from our neighborhood, and we walked by or rode our bikes by it (never alone, though) whenever we were feeling brave enough. The house was not inhabited (alas, no Boo character for us), but the trepidation we felt and the stories we imagined kept us in a state of fear whenever we were near it. That didn’t stop us, though, from finally gathering courage to explore the house (on one very sunny, bright summer day). The mystery was blown. There was nothing there. It was just an old house, mostly empty of everything — except the faint clues and hints about the lives that had been lived within its walls.
Now that I think about it, we did have a kind of Boo Radley character. His name was Slim Miller, and he seemed to live in his car. I don’t know the real story of this poor man’s life, but I imagine it was rough (or possibly a result of mental illness?). He had longish hair, a scraggly beard, and an unkempt appearance (no big surprise since he lived in his car). As far as I know he never did anything illegal and he never said “boo” to me or to any of my friends.
When I turned 18, I went away to college after a summer church youth group trip to Haiti. That trip changed my life. I looked in the mirror at some point during that trip and was surprised to see my white face instead of a dark Haitian one. I could count the number of black people in my home town on one hand, and I believe that moment in the mirror opened my eyes and heart forever.
I attended a large state university for one year and then transferred to a Christian liberal arts college (with an excellent music conservatory). Going home for visits and summers as the college years flew by, brought into focus some of the ways my world views were changing/had changed. Assumptions and beliefs I had never questioned growing up either became stronger and more dearly held or gradually morphed into a larger coherent (to me) framework to include the people, cultures, and experiences of my life — broader and wider than many “back home” might hold with but still centered in Faith and Love.
So, I can relate to Scout trying to make sense of her kin and town folk — Harper Lee’s words ring true.
After reading the new book, I mulled over the troublesome issues trying to understand how to piece these two novels together into one coherent narrative.
Some have thrown up their hands saying, “She never meant for this book to be published” or “She wrote this first, submitted it and then the publisher requested major revisions. Mockingbird is the result.” I don’t buy either of those.
I think it is clear she wrote this as a sequel. However it started out, the version that was published yesterday expects that we have lived through that earlier Maycomb County summer with these characters.
I think it was deemed not publishable for various reasons which might have included fears of inciting violence in the ongoing Civil Rights movement, the fragile state of world politics (Cuban crisis, Vietnam, space race, etc), and (apparently) Harper Lee’s own wishes.
The reconciliation will come in part 2. I’m still working it out.
(Wise words from The Weight of Glory by C. S. Lewis.)
In speaking of this desire for our own far off country, which we find in ourselves even now, I feel a certain shyness. I am almost committing an indecency.
I am trying to rip open the inconsolable secret in each one of you—the secret which hurts so much that you take your revenge on it by calling it names like Nostalgia and Romanticism and Adolescence; the secret also which pierces with such sweetness that when, in very intimate conversation, the mention of it becomes imminent, we grow awkward and affect to laugh at ourselves; the secret we cannot hide and cannot tell, though we desire to do both.
We cannot tell it because it is a desire for something that has never actually appeared in our experience. We cannot hide it because our experience is constantly suggesting it, and we betray ourselves like lovers at the mention of a name.
Our commonest expedient is to call it beauty and behave as if that had settled the matter.
Wordsworth’s expedient was to identify it with certain moments in his own past.
But all this is a cheat.
If Wordsworth had gone back to those moments in the past, he would not have found the thing itself, but only the reminder of it; what he remembered would turn out to be itself a remembering.
The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing.
These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshipers.
For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.
At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the splendors we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumor that it will not always be so. Some day, God willing, we shall get in.
When I attempted a few minutes ago, to describe our spiritual longings, I was omitting one of their most curious characteristics. We usually notice it just as the moment of vision dies away, as the music ends, or as the landscape loses the celestial light… For a few minutes we have had the illusion of belonging to that world.
Now we wake to find that it is no such thing.
We have been mere spectators.
Beauty has smiled, but not to welcome us; her face turned in our direction, but not to see us.
We have not been accepted, welcomed, or taken into the dance.
We may go when we please, we may stay if we can, no one cares.
Now, a scientist may reply that since most of the things we call beautiful are inanimate it is not very surprising that they take no notice of us. That, of course, is true. It is not the physical objects that I am speaking of, but that indescribable Something of which they become for a moment the messengers. And part of the bitterness which mixes with the sweetness of that message is due to the fact that it so seldom seems to be a message intended for us, but rather something we have overheard. By bitterness I mean pain, not resentment.
We should hardly dare to ask that any notice be taken of ourselves. But we pine. The sense that in the universe we are treated as strangers, the longing to be acknowledged, to meet with some response, to bridge some chasm that yawns between us and reality, is part of our inconsolable secret.
Stark shadows on snow. Branches cast graphic shapes: Nature’s modern art
Fragile bunny tracks Trail the length of my sidewalk. Snow too deep for hops?
Anything better than a roomful of girl teens laughing and talking?
(Answer: No! life is good)
Late afternoon sun — Long winter shadows on snow — Golden light shimmers
Ebony sketches As ink on pastel batiks — Twigs, branches, sky glow.
(I wrote this thinking about tree branches silhouetted against the sunset, but this stained glass window captures the look, color, texture, and the feeling so I’m going with the “non-literal” illustration this time.)
1. Matchbox cars. Any parent of a Matchbox loving child can instantly relive the pain of stepping on one of these little babies. Usually this event happens in the dark and/or in the middle of the night. Added bonus points if the car is stepped on so it hits the arch of your foot.
2. Gears. This one should probably be my #1 on the list. I still have a scar from stepping on one of these plastic gears. It wouldn’t have been so bad if the little pointy part had not been sticking up, but it was. I got the bonus points for hitting my arch.
3. Wooden clothespins. We use these for all sorts of things around our house. We close bags of snacks, cereal bags (you know the bags inside of the boxes?), and all sorts of things. We also have a wonderful permanently installed clothesline in the laundry room, so I have ample opportunity to step on these awesome little wonders of engineering. For some reason, I managed to find one that worked its way up two flights of stairs to lie beside my bed so I could step on it when I woke bleary eyed one morning recently.
4. Legos. Again. All parents of Lego loving children have stepped on these at some point. NOT FUN! Not as painful as stepping on the Gears, though. Not by a long shot. (This includes Legos of all kinds — Duplos, too!)
5. Let’s face it, really anything smaller than your foot that is a firm object. This is why I almost always wear slippers in the house. That and the fact that my toes are constantly cold no matter what time of year. (They are cold right now and I have my slippers on!!)
6. Sand burrs and thistles (We also called the sand burrs “stickers” in my area of Indiana). You learned where they were in your yard and avoided them. This was before anyone thought of using weed killer on lawns back when the dinosaurs still roamed the earth.
7. Broken glass. Having spent the majority of my summers barefoot and outdoors as a child, I stepped on glass once in a while. I think the worst time, though, happened indoors so maybe I have this in the wrong category! Let’s add pop can tops (remember when they used to come OFF?) and glass pop bottle lids (with the flat part down of course so the wavy edge digs into your foot when you step on it) in here as well.
8. Stuff that falls off prickly bushes. Okay. Maybe this is an Indiana thing, too. We had a “prickly bush” in our front of our house under the big picture window. If you were running around outside barefoot (which we were usually doing most every day every summer), we had to remember to leave a wide berth around this bush. There were ALWAYS little prickly pokey things in the grass that must have come from that bush because there were nowhere else in the yard. Maybe my parents planted it there on purpose so we wouldn’t play near the window??
I don’t know.
It made me laugh, though, that the person who posted this picture on Flickr (CreativeCommons YAY!) called the photo “Prickly bushes” and said in the caption he remembered them from when he was younger.
9. A still burning cigarette butt someone threw on the ground. This one only happened to me once, but I still vividly remember it. I have no idea why I was “uptown” and barefoot. “Uptown” in my town (of 699 people and one stoplight) meant on the main street near the one and only stoplight. We were going into the Ye Olde Double Dip and Dunk-it to get an ice cream cone. (I still think was a fabulous name for an ice cream shop. They must have sold donuts, too, but I only remember the ice cream. There is a long story about the Ye Olde part of that. A very rich and influential man talked my whole hometown Main St. into transforming itself into King Arthur’s court. The bank was called “The Counting House” and was built to look like a castle. Most of the other Main St. businesses had names like “Princess Parlor” and such. I digress.) Anyway, someone had thrown down a still burning cigarette butt and I stepped on it full weight with my bare foot. PAIN!!! Yikes. Smoking is disgusting anyway, but if people must smoke, they should dispose of the butts in a responsible manner.
10. Sharp rocks as you wade into (inevitably cold) water. I’m thinking here of Lake Superior mostly but also of the beach where we swam in Turkey this summer. The residents had built a little wooden bridge with a rail so everyone could avoid stepping on the underwater rocks. The bridge got you safely out to the sandy part with your tender feet pain free.
I’m sure you have other things you could add to my list. Feel free to share! Venting is good every once in a while.
White chimney smoke hangs
frozen — mid-air hovering
held in blue stillness.
Morning glows behind black branches
holding my breath: iced, entranced.
poem by Jill Hasker
One morning recently — one of those really really cold ones — I walked outside toward the car to take my daughter to school.
I looked up toward the sunrise and stood quietly for a moment to contemplate what I saw.
I should back up a bit. We live in Wisconsin, so during most of the winter students go to school when it is still dark.
The sun was just beginning to peek above the horizon but was still behind the row of houses across the street. The bare branches were silhouetted against the soft colors dawning in the sky.
But the thing that caught my eye was this: the white smoke was hanging in puffy shapes above the chimneys. I looked at the several houses within my field of vision. The small clouds seemed inert, motionless, frozen.
I recently found out about #5lines on Twitter, and since then have been thinking about trying to write some poems in this form. Because I still have this vivid image in my mind several days later, I decided to give the frozen chimney cloud scene a whirl as a 5 line poem.
creative commons image Patrick Nouhailler via Flickr
creative commons image Patrick Nouhailler via Flickr
Christmas Sunrise; image by lorentey via Flickr CC license
Dawn’s early light; image by Jason Jenkins via Flickr CC license
sunrise over Dundee; image via Flickr brockvicky CC license
Patrick Nouhailler, Geneva Dawn; via Flickr CC license
Sunrise over the Columbia River near the Washington-Oregon Border. U.S. National Archives’ Local Identifier: 412-DA-11357; David Falconer
Sunrise on the flats: Key West, Florida. via Flickr CC
Sunrise over Black Mtn. U.S. National Archives’ Local Identifier: 412-DA-14135; Jack Corn via Flickr CC
Steam Rising Form the Frio River at Sunrise on a Cold Day near Leakey Texas, and San Antonio 12/1973
As the waves of perfume, heliotrope, rose,
Float in the garden when no wind blows,
Come to us, go from us, whence no one knows;
So the old tunes float in my mind,
And go from me leaving no trace behind,
Like fragrance borne on the hush of the wind.
But in the instant the airs remain
I know the laughter and the pain
Of times that will not come again.
I try to catch at many a tune
Like petals of light fallen from the moon,
Broken and bright on a dark lagoon,
But they float away — for who can hold
Youth, or perfume or the moon’s gold?
Who knew Sara Teasdale wrote a poem about earworms?
I love this poem just for its inherent beauty, but also because it highlights a common (nearly constant) problem I have: songs stuck in my head.
I nearly ALWAYS have some sort of music running through my mind. I think this is why I don’t often have a radio playing even when I am home alone: I already have a station going in my head!
This week my inner song cycle has been full of choral music because I recently accompanied a high school choir concert. I frequently have a mix of Broadway tunes and classic rock going, too, though. Throw in a few children’s songs (I taught elementary music and children’s choir for several years), a few hymns (church organist and choir director), a few pop tunes (60′ to 80’s era mostly) and random other items from my iPod — and, well, you get the idea.
My least favorite thing to get caught in my head is some operatic aria that I don’t even know the words for (usually in a foreign language to boot). This is a job hazard when I accompany voice students for their lessons and recitals — and it happens frequently.
One day, I was wondering how many people have this constant stream of music in their heads so I recently used my Facebook status to ask what my friends had playing in their heads. It was quite a mix, but not many people replied.
As I looked into this phenomena, I discovered Vicky Williamson — a psychologist who researches and collects earworms. She said, “It’s an interesting everyday phenomenon. It happens to at least 90 percent of people once a week, [they] get a tune stuck in their head.” If you are interested, you may read the whole article here: Why That Song Gets Stuck in Your Head.
http://unhearit.com/ And I quote: “get that damn song out of your head” wait….what? We created this site for those of you that have a song stuck in your head and you can’t get it out no matter what you do. Using the latest in reverse-auditory-melodic-unstickification technology, we’ve been able to allow our users to “unhear” songs by hearing equally catchy songs. So really all we’re doing is making you forget your old song by replacing it with another one… sorry.
http://www.uc.edu/news/kellaris.htm This article is from 2001 but the song titles listed are still toxic: “Warning! The song titles below this line may be hazardous to your sanity:”