A Posture For The Holidays



So we have arrived once again on the cusp of celebration, when expectations run high and nerves fray at the edges.  In this lovely poem, For The Senses, John O’ Donohue offers us a way through, a way to be for the holidays.

This way demands that we slow down, watch, listen, wait.

May the touch of your skin

Register the beauty
Of the otherness
That surrounds you.

May your listening be attuned
To the deeper silence
Where sound is honed
To bring distance home.


May the fragrance
Of a breathing meadow
Refresh your heart
And remind you you are
A child of the earth.


And when you partake
Of food and drink,
May your taste quicken
To the gift and sweetness
That flows from the earth.


May your inner eye
See through the surfaces
And glean the real presence
Of everything that meets you.


May your soul beautify
The desire of your eyes
That you might glimpse
The infinity that hides
In the simple sights
That seem worn
To your usual eyes.
For the Senses by John O’Donohue in To Bless the Space Between Us
Photo Credit: Rhonda Beck

Community In The Blogosphere


Hearts fractured by death, separation, sickness, adversity.  Hearts seamed and soldered.  Hearts held intact by personal courage and the solidarity of the human spirit.  I experience all of this today as I meander through the WP Reader.  I am deeply moved by the depth of pain and bloggers’ responses to it.  Expectations of joy abound at this season.  Sorrow is often unwelcome, yet, the courageous expression of it bears witness to the heart of humanity.  The willingness to acknowledge our pain and live through it to the other side, is incarnation.

Walking together through our diverse experiences of Christmas has been one of the most profound expressions of community I have had.  I feel supported in my own experience by people whom I don’t really know, because our humanity unites us.  When bloggers share their experience with integrity and conviction, it tells their readers that they are not alone.  Today I breathe in community and release isolation.  I am proud to be on this human journey with you.  Merry Christmas!

Breathing in, I put on peace.
Breathing out, I release anxiety.
Breathing in, I embrace community.
Breathing out, I release isolation.

What’s In the Bag?

]whats in the bag

In February of 1989 magic wafted around the day care center at St. Olaf’s.  It did not, however, start out that way.  At the last minute my helper called in sick, and I was left alone to transition twelve toddlers from nap to play.  I managed somehow to diaper and potty all of them, put their shoes on, and feed them a snack.  I’ve taught secondary school and adults all my life, and without a doubt, this is the hardest job I’ve ever had…and the most fun.

Twelve toddlers, champing at the bit to get outside, ran around screaming at the top of their not so little voices.  The fun had not yet begun.  Salvation appeared at the corner of my eye- a left-over Christmas bag on the counter above their line of vision.  It was shimmering red with teddy bears on it, a toddler’s ecstatic dream.  With no time to let my mind entrap me, I grabbed the bag and shouted with all the delight I did not yet feel, “I wonder what’s in this bag?”  On a dime, they screeched to a halt en masse and twelve contralto voices squealed, “I want to see, I want to see!”  Wiley Witch that I am, I replied in my best teacher’s bribing tone, “You can’t see until you line up at the door!”  They ran to the door, falling over each other’s tiny feet, so excited to receive this wonderful gift.  What gift, I had no idea.  I asked the question a few times, and the children guessed lions, and tigers and bears, oh my, giggles galore gallivanting around the room.  Then brilliance struck.  I pulled a camel out of the bag, picked up Katie with the twinkling azure eyes, put her on it, and told the camel to take her outside to play.  Katie skipped out on the camel while the other children regaled me with a cacophony of delight.  At about child number seven Zack’s mom came in to retrieve him and he burst into tears, “No, Mommy!  I want my camel!”  We had to let him hop on the camel and Mom went out to get him.  What a switch.  Play time that day, with children galloping about on a variety of animals, is forever etched in my memory.  I pull it out whenever I am in need of my own play time.

The children knew the animals weren’t real, and they didn’t care.  They expected nothing, and because of it, their adventure was more real than real, and the element of surprise carried them to another, holier place.

Waiting for the Camels

Waiting for the Camels