Waiting

Waiting

Are you ready for Karak tea?
My husband’s gift to pour–
Friday mornings, quietly free
This chai, my drink du jour

On this Advent winter Morning
Emmanuel–God with us
Gift of Ransom from our mourning
Rescued from pain and pus

Rejoice, rejoice–God with us, here
In this place, in becoming–
Sipping sweet, spicy, milky Tea
Pause and smile. He’s coming.

The Isolation Journals with Suleika Jaouad Prompt #120 by Cat Miles.

Write about a beloved drink—about how you make it, a memory associated with it, or the way it connects you to others or yourself.

I combined this with another prompt about using Emily Dickinson’s techniques. I attempted #1, writing about a mundane subject with a bigger idea, and #2, using common meter and rhyme. It was also easy to throw in techniques #3, capitalized nouns, and #4, use of dashes. I think I’ll keep practicing! Especially on #2.

December Ethical ELA

Saturday, 12 December
A Gift with Jennifer Guyor-Jowett
This found poem is a collection of first lines by Emily Dickinson.

So much of Heaven has gone from earth
Faith is the Pierless Bridge
When I count the seeds
I had no time to Hate

You taught me waiting with myself
The way Hope builds his House
By such and such an offering
We pray–to Heaven

I see thee clearer for the Grave
The feet of people walking home
Trudging to Eden–looking backward
Heaven–is what I cannot reach!

There is a Word
As subtle as tomorrow–
Oh, what a grace is this–
That Love is all there is

Who has not found the Heaven below
I shall keep singing

Sunday, 13 December
Find Your Compass with Jennifer Guyor-Jowett

Political Journey

Spirit of ’76 Grad and first time voter–
With a month to spare, I was
Eligible to vote in my first presidential election
I registered as an independent

Jimmy Carter earned my vote
That was an easy choice even for
a teen who cared more about getting a date with
Rick than about politics
But I did notice Watergate and a pardon,
Gerald Ford didn’t stand a chance, I thought

I continued through the years as an independent–
always looking at the two candidates
voting at times for Republicans,
other times for Democrats

When Obama was running in 2008, though–
Yes, we can! Hope! I was enthralled.
I went out and changed my 30-year independent
status to Democrat, so I could caucus for
Obama in Iowa.

After the caucus, I went straight back
to being Independent.
I always thought there was strength in
independence,
I was proud to be discerning, diplomatic Denise
I saw both sides. I was a good listener
and autonomous thinker.
Presidential elections are personal,
aren’t they? I didn’t want the party to decide.
I wanted to decide for myself.

When trump came down the garish escalator
in 2015 and spoke of Mexicans the way he did,
I couldn’t believe he didn’t get ostracized and
chased away from the process.
Republicans ate it up
and he ate up their souls
Somewhere during that primary season,
I became a
Democrat for good.

Monday
Found in Translation by Glenda Funk

Translating the Bible

The Holy Bible,
MAGA Version, 2020,
Adulterated–
A Bible chock-full of capsized values for:

  • The power-hungry court packers
  • Those in fear of losing white power
  • Those who have ‘Merica confused with the Kingdom of God
  • Those whose guns are heavier than their God
  • Those who demand religious exemptions for loving and serving others

Despite that word adulterated–this version
has nothing to do with adults
but is babyish and petty at best
At its worst it exists to
usurp divine authority in order to
promote white supremacy

The MAGA version follows
in a long line of
bastardized translations–

  • Slavery version, 1850
  • Anti-science version, 1925
  • Jim Crow version, 1950
  • Moral Majority version, 1979 (Actually a de facto fight for the Revised Jim Crow version, but conveniently touted as anti-abortion in order to protect themselves from impropriety)
  • Tea Party version, 2010

My own personalized
contaminated translation
often needs to be
plucked out as well
Purged and replaced with
The real Word of God
Breath of Heaven
Word made flesh
Lived among us
Killed by false translations of his day
Died to love us
Love

Tuesday
Mapping Our Voices by Glenda Funk

Mapping Her Goodbyes

Her first move, she was just over one year old. She had no idea on that drive from Iowa to Michigan that her dad had added an extra three-hours to the all-night journey when he followed the road signs to Council Bluffs instead of Dubuque after dinner in Des Moines. She slept peacefully through it all in the car seat. When she woke up, the box of tissue entertained her throughout the early morning traffic in Chicago. She tossed each Kleenex whimsically throughout the backseat for an early snowfall while Dad took his turn sleeping on the camping mattress in the back of the pickup.

Four years later we did it again. Busy selling our winter gear at the thousand-dollar yard sale, we prepared to leave Michigan for Phoenix. She looked up and saw her big yellow school bus neglectfully leaving her behind. Marcus later told her he was afraid she was sick. “Mom, there goes the bus!” We raced into the house and got ready, driving to afternoon kindergarten. I stood outside Mrs. Bigler’s classroom and cried like a baby as I explained why we were late. This experienced kindergarten teacher tried to cheer the young mother, “Don’t worry. It’s only October. She will forget about us and just have memories of her new class.” What? That offered no comfort.

A few days later, she and I were sitting in the bathroom. She sobbing and me trying to find a quiet place to console her where we wouldn’t wake the household of new friends who were accommodating us until our house was ready. At home, on this Saturday morning, the sun was shining and the pancakes would have been on the griddle, but in this new time zone, it was an unearthly hour for crying. She wrote me a note with a blue crayon, “Keep Marcus.” I joined her in sobbing.

And then we moved again. This time after she finished her freshman year in high school of all indefensible decisions. My husband tells people she never forgave us for that move. But she did, at least outwardly, formally. We took her from Arizona back to Iowa, the town of her birth. The girl, who later became her best high school friend, at one time was a baby she had seen-not-seen at the doctor’s office when both of their mom’s held each other’s hands as they waited their turn to have their two-month-olds inoculated. Fifteen years after the shots, she did fine in her new high school. She joined cross country, drama, speech, quiz bowl, debate. She took AP classes and had some great experiences. At least I try to convince myself she did.

Before too long it was time for college. She packed her bags and hardly looked back. Sailing club on Lake Michigan, knitting club, including late night practice sessions and chats in dorm rooms with new lifelong friends, service and volunteer work, excellent success in classes. I asked her that Christmas, “How are you doing it? You are rocking your first year of college!” My firstborn’s answer stung but didn’t surprise. “I left home three years ago.”

Wednesday
Before Picture with Chris Baron

Before the Fireworks

No social distance to my lament
Seemed like a superspreader event

“There’s no COVID!” we labored to feign
Red and white! We celebrate Bahrain!

Flags, hats, sparkles for National Day
Couldn’t get out of everyone’s way

Then the show began, grateful we gazed
We left our fears–fleetingly unfazed

“Sugar Cubes”

Today’s Slice of Life at TwoWritingTeachers.org

“Sugar cubes,” I read. “Hmmm…we’ve never been sugar cube people.”

“I’ve got nothing. We never bought sugar cubes growing up,” my husband chimed in.

*    *    *    *    *    *    *

Some months ago for The Isolation Journals prompt, Jenny Boully gave a list of words of which we were to choose 5. I did so and wrote about them here. But I also took all the words (plus more) and wrote each on a slip of paper. They sit on my dining room table and each day at dinner my husband and I choose one and talk about it.

I’m surprised at all the stories that come up from these slips. I’ve known my husband more than 40 years, and I always learn something new about him. And he about me, I suspect.

Today it was sugar cubes. After our initial hesitation, we remembered.

We never bought sugar cubes either, but my Aunt Josephine always had them. Whenever we visited her on the farm, I was so excited to hold a sugar cube ever so gently on my flat palm, being sure to not curl up my fingers so Rony didn’t bite them. She gently plucked off her treat with her tickling nimble velvet lips.

My husband shared about his friend in high school who took a few drops of LSD with his sugar cubes.

That reminded me of standing in long lines at my local school to get vaccinated. I would have been happy to stand in line forever if it meant not getting a shot. When it finally was our turn we were full of fear and trepidation. While I “ouched” and complained about the smallpox vaccine that came through multiple jabs to my upper arm, I was delighted that I also got to ingest the polio vaccine in a glorious sugar cube. It was like getting a sucker at the dentist for being good.

Every day we discuss multiple stories from that one noun on our story slips. We’ve talked about wagons and watermelon, caterpillars and canoes, Ferris wheels and firewood and so much more.

Some future story starters for us…

Biting Heads

Today’s Slice of Life at TwoWritingTeachers.org

I’ve officially retired from my teaching position. This year I am doing some volunteer work at my same school in reading intervention. Some days I miss the everyday joys of teaching fulltime, but most of the time during this pandemic, I’m just thankful I don’t have to walk through all the crazy 2020 is throwing at teachers. Like this week the teachers prepare for their first student-led presentations on Zoom starting tomorrow, plus a visit from the BQA, the Ministry of Education’s quality assurance assessment. Both are adding to the already stressful nature of teaching in-person and virtually–in four different class groups. Some of my colleagues are teaching two grade levels–eight groups, four classes a day, with over a hundred children total.

So, today I am thankful that beside the Coronavirus stress we all carry, I only have mild stressors in my life this year. Like yesterday it was forgetting to get the grocery list from one of the people without a job we were going to serve through the outreach team. When I realized I had neglected to call her two days before, I made a quick call–no answer. So I made initial contact with a text. I copied and pasted and sent her a previous message I had written earlier in the week, but I forgot to edit it, so I sent the wrong name in the salutation. OK. That blunder was embarrassing and causing me momentary stress as I was trying to delete it before she saw it, and also make contact with her to get her list before my team went shopping in a less than an hour.

Enter my husband for lunch. He went to the kitchen sink and saw the morning breakfast dishes filling the dish tub. Next to that was the previous day’s dishes piled high in the dish drainer, puzzled together precariously.

He took a deep breath and sighed as he started to put the dishes away. Again he breathed–maybe yoga breathing–trying to compose himself and not say anything. But after a few deep breaths and sighs, I exploded.

I responded. “What is wrong with you? Stop breathing. Do you want me to do them? Just stop showing me how angry you are with your self-righteous deep breathing.”

He, “I just have a short time for lunch today.”

“OK, stop putting the dishes away. I said I would do it. I will. Can’t you fix your lunch with dishes in the drainer? How many times do you have to shout at me with your breathing. It’s obvious you think I should have done the dishes, oh high and mighty one. What is wrong with you? Why don’t you act like Jesus? Would Jesus put the dishes away? Or would he just fix his lunch while smiling and greeting me pleasantly? Blah, blah, blah.”

I thought of the quote about getting bumped and having what’s inside spill out–it could have been love and grace, but in my case this day, it was anger and sarcasm.

Fortunately, at this time in my life those outbursts are rare. I couldn’t help but think about the stressors in my life just a year ago, even before the pandemic. Teaching school is a never-ending flow of creativity and learning, sweet relationships and assisting young people in growing as learners. Yet, there is an everyday barrage of extra administrative requirements that don’t seem to help children, as well as unfulfilled hopes and unmet expectations, daily to-do lists never completed. I know over my years of stressed-out teaching there have been many outbursts like this directed at my husband, but also at others. I am not very sanctified when I get bumped, which I think is a true test of my character.

Before my husband went back to his office, I apologized for biting his head off. He, of course, accepted and offered his own, as well. I am so thankful we do not stay angry at each other.

Poem of Gratitude

Today’s Slice of Life at TwoWritingTeachers.org – Say YES to writing with #TWTBlog and #SOLSC

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday;this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any—lifted from the no
of all nothing—human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

~e. e. cummings

November has been a month for me to consciously say “thank you”. I think I shouldn’t wait for American Thanksgiving month to be thankful. (That has been one of my takeaways this month.) It is good to practice gratitude for a lifetime. As Meister Eckhart said centuries ago, “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.” Here is my gratefulness prayer today inspired by e.e. cummings and 1 Corinthians 2:9.

Thank You

I thank you God for most this amazing day–
for the dancing tingling cooling ocean of breeze
and the great green born of
gossamer petrichor and dusty dreams.

Limitless and welcome breath of God,
thank you for swelling my sails
to bear me
through the storm
safely to the other side
of the Bay of Blight.

For the mellifluous music of the ages
Singing softly from the
treetops of joy: It is the birth
day of olive branches
and of keys and of openness and hope.

My eyes have not seen
My ears have not heard
My mind has not thought of
All the delicious dazzling dulcet days you
have prepared for those who love You.
I do love you and I thank you.

Prompt 118 for The Isolation Journals by Suleika Jaouad.

Write a poem of gratitude. Write from your deepest senses. Write of the “great happening illimitably earth” and all its strange wonders (including me, including you). Write with the ears of your ears awake, and the eyes of your eyes open.

Mentor texts:
e. e. cummings “i thank You God for most this amazing

1 Corinthians 2:9: “That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.'”