Today, I’ve had a friend on my mind today. Her daughter died in January of cancer, now she has the same kind of cancer. I wrote two poems today about faith in the dark times. I tried a Lai, inspired by Tricia, our host, who wrote one in celebration of Mary Lee last May. She shared the form details in her post, but I chose to write the b lines with three syllables in each.
The Light in the Dark
When the hoping ends
and our God-faith bends
What is right?
Will the Shepherd tend?
Will the breaks God mend?
Yes, all night
As our pathway wends
Dark our way attends
God is Light
And one based on Mark 4:35-41:
W.W.J.D. What would Jesus do? the bracelet asks.
There were two things Jesus did that night
two thousand years ago in a storm.
He slept peacefully on a pillow, and
after napping, he rebuked the wind.
Unlike his disciples,
who had just one thing to say:
“Teacher, don’t you care…?”
Lord, I want to grab my pillow and join you,
join you in resting and then rebuking.
Help me in my unbelief.
Tricia, at The Miss Rumphius Effect blog is rounding up Poetry Friday posts today. She has shared a beautiful poem about grief by Barbara Crooker, as she is grieving the loss of her own mother. Please visit her post here.
Last month I wrote a Slice of Life about reading, how I had been neglecting it, and I asked for recommendations for my next read. I got some great suggestions, most of which I had not read yet. I went to my public library online, and checked out Goldfinch first, which Fran Haley had suggested.
I loved this sad and suspenseful book that had characters I will never forget. It was really difficult to put the book down, and I would read in bed for too long each evening, until my eyes glazed over or I fell asleep. However, I’m a slow reader, and this book was 750ish pages, so I had to renew it. Then yesterday I had to have a cataract removed from my eye, and I still had about 3 hours left to finish the book. When I got home, while my eye was still patched, I finished reading it. One eye closed under the patch, and the font size enlarged for my other lone eye.
Today I checked out my next book, this one on audio so I can rest my eyes the next few days and do more listening. Thanks to Lakshmi’s idea of listening to classics on audio, I checked out Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky.
It’s Friday, getting later, and time for another LaMiPoFri post today. I just finished creating a slide for a podcast I’m doing tomorrow with Tim Cavey @TeachersonFire, and it reminded me of a post Karen did back in July: “Things You, Karen, Didn’t Put on Your Résumé”
This is my first year not starting out teaching full time. I’m feeling a bit lost, as the children are coming back to school on Sunday. I won’t be there, but I’m still a teacher.
Anyway, I wondered if there were things that I didn’t add to this slide, things I’ve never put on my résumé, that I could write about today. I used Karen’s poem as a mentor text.
Things You, Denise, Didn’t Put on Your Résumé
–that you were an aunt at the age of seven, and you have had a fierce love for all children ever since
–that you traveled from southern California to Alaska and back for six weeks on a few hundred dollars and the hospitality of a lot of friends
–that you love to read maps and have noted that the port wine birthmark over your left eye is shaped like Australia
–that you are a lover of fresh fruits and you never tire of shopping for, squeezing, sniffing, and eating fruits from around the world
–that you are a recovering collector, and you are having modest success at dismantling the lie that more is always better
–that you enjoy reading, writing and listening so much more than speaking
–that you can brew a delicious karak tea, bake exceptional chocolate chip cookies, and juggle leftovers to avoid waste
–that after all these years, you still respond in situations how you think others want you to instead of taking the risk to be honest
–and, of course, that you are beloved, a walking mercy, and you are thankful every day for the gifts given to you
“Welcome to Spiritual Journey Thursday. On the first Thursday of each month we gather to share our insights. This month our focus is on virtues,” from Karen Eastlund at Karen’s Got a Blog!
I’m thinking today about faith expressed in so many different ways, so many different religions. I feel thankful that love is the main virtue. I will keep believing this one fact — that God is love.
“But the fruit of the spirit is LOVE: joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23.
“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” I John 4:16
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love; but the greatest of these is love.” I Corinthians 13:13
I used this verse from the love chapter for a golden shovel poem today.
It’s another day and
the muezzin is calling to prayer now
with his minor chord pensive plea, these
adhan come not one, two, or three–
but five times a day and the faithful remain
tuned to hear, exercising their faith,
praying regularly. Me, I don’t always hear, but I hope
in a big God to hear and
understand the hearts of all in Love,
and the wild and grateful prayers I utter. But
I am surely glad I don’t head up the
prayer collection–the greatest
challenge would be to make sense of
the childish, pious, sad, tender, and voiceless prayers–these
appeals go to the one who knows because God is Love.
Wow, here we are and another summer gone. School started for teachers this week, and I am officially just a volunteer for four more months, when we will leave the country. Though I have spent a few hours at school this week for some meetings, helping with curriculum questions, and searching for books, I am no longer employed. It has been a long and weird transition of leadership due to the pandemic and a whole year of mostly-online learning. Now we are transitioning to mostly in-person learning (knock on wood), and there were some things the new coordinator never saw or needed to do last year. I am glad I was still around to help her sort those out.
Anyway, summer is gone. I looked back at a July post where I wrote many of my goals for the weeks of summer, a summer spent here in Bahrain in the thickness of heat and humidity. Looking back, I can say it was a productive and happy summer. I definitely accomplished a lot on my list, with a few items left to carry over for the fall. However, knowing I didn’t have to return to the full-time grind allowed me to have both a relaxed and fruitful summer.
What does summer know?
Time to bud and blossoms showing
Merrily, merrily, life a-rowing
Calm and meditative glowing
What does summer know?
Wide-eyed wonder, newness flowing
Memory-building ripe for stowing
Almost over — attempt at whoa-ing
After reading the comment by Carol (below), I added this poem to an image I took this summer. In this photo of a common beach scene, fishing boats are anchored, for people are resting safely during the heat of the day. If you look off to the right of this photo, across the Arabian Gulf lies Iran, beyond that…Afghanistan, where many people are not resting safely and peacefully right now. I couldn’t help but read my poem again, noticing the privileged tone and all the missing summer pain of pandemics, hurricanes, and displacement. Praying for those in Afghanistan, Louisiana, and all others who are hurting.
This week I helped plan a surprise Zoom party for my dear friend and ministry partner. One stop I made was for her favorite flowers. I went to a little shop just outside the Hindu temple and purchased a string of jasmine flowers. The shop keeper, Raj, gave me a snip for my hair. (In my thin hair, it didn’t stay very long, but I do keep it nearby enjoying the scent as a work.)
Today we had the surprise Zoom party with friends and her family members, some in India and some here in Bahrain. I wrote my poem for my friend.
Ode to My Friend Vinolia, Who Has Learned to Live Life Well From What the Jasmine Flower Knows
To light up the room with love
And spread gentle perfume of
This gift of God, beautiful and pure,
Strong and full, savoring to cure
This is what the jasmine knows
Comfort of sopping up your tears of prayer
Later the warm caress of hugging your hair
as you hold the gaze of your mum and dad,
adult sons on life’s launching pad,
husband and daughter by your side–
The shepherding Way as your forever guide.
This is what Jasmine knows this year,
as your milestone birthday appears.
Remnants of history
(that blouse for the Sadie Hawkins dance,
the dress that I wore when I interviewed for my first job,
a scrap from the bridesmaids’ dresses my mom made for my wedding,
and hundreds more forgotten memories)
I’ve carried around for forty years,
cut into perfect circles,
each stitched lovingly around the edges
by Aunt Thelma, and now by me,
to make what she called a yo-yo,
now find new purpose.
This whole project is a scrap craft from things I have on hand. My inspiration is this landmark building in Manama–the Bahrain World Trade Center. It always leads people to Manama, the capital city. My Aunt Thelma was the quintessential crafter. She cut hundreds of circles and stitched them into yo-yos. Now, as I near retirement, I have finally got serious about using them to make something. It’s far from finished, but I’m having fun.
Tammi Belko was the host today for Ethical ELA’s Open Write. Her prompt was to create a One Sentence Poem. Since I’ve had this quilt on my mind lately, that became my topic for my poem. (I have no idea if it’s really only one sentence!)
Yesterday’s prompt came from Tammi too. She introduced a new-to-me Sevenling poem. She has students use it to share about a book they have read–as a hook or a character sketch. I thought it has great potential for that. Check out the link for many other examples of poems written in this form. Here is my sevenling about E.B. White’s The Trumpet of the Swan.
Sevenling (He Works Hard)
He works hard to restore his honor,
Paying off his father’s debts, and
Waiting for his true love to respond.
He goes to school and takes on odd jobs—
Camp counselor where he learns to play, night club performer,
And Boston Public Garden entertainer.
Today’s Ethical ELA Quick Write was shared by Jennifer Jowett, called Sunday Drive Tone Poem. I learned so much about tone poems and listened to a lot of great music. Do check out her post and read other poems written inspired by Sunday drive music. For my poem, I listened to some of the Lord of the Rings soundtrack and watched images of the Shire:
The peaceful scenes and tone poem of that soundtrack had my mind going in two opposite directions. Frodo said about leaving the Shire: “I shall know that somewhere there is a firm foothold, even if my feet cannot stand there again.” I used this quote to write a golden shovel.
I am emptied by the news because Fred, Grace, and Henri shall not stop their onslaught, and I know they have siblings waiting that will continue to ravage people and land. Somewhere in Mexico, there are families weeping, imploring,
“Is that grace?” And now Henri is storming New England, and A cry arises from Afghanistan and Haiti and—God help! Is there a Firm thatched roof, blue skies, and cirrus clouds, a Foothold for a symphony of flowers, a launch for delicate butterflies? Even old trees and honeybees find a place to be. If there isn’t an expanse big enough for all, can we at least make my prayer and yours to grow sweet-hope homes? Maybe our feet can walk with the refugees and the broken until we cannot help but find restful room for all to be, to stand and share the waving hills and tender streams. There–to create a home to return to again and again.