Farewell, 2011

You wrote yourself indelibly on our lives, oh quickly fading year.  You tried us, and tested us, and made us stronger.  Against the backdrop of your seasons, we loved and laughed, said our hellos and goodbyes, poured new learning into our hearts and minds, gathered fresh bundles of wisdom and grew our souls.

And although there were times of darkness and heartache, although we mourned and were afraid, in the end, we found ourselves braver and truer somehow, more determined, surer of ourselves and of our meaning.  Even in the darkness, you wrote poems on our hearts and filled them new understanding and compassion.

You brought us gifts of beauty and unfolded pathways of hope.  Your hours opened to us new wonders and discoveries that thrilled our minds and let us see the depths of our potential.   You brought us moments of triumph that let our spirits soar.

Now, as you take our yesterdays to the temple of times past, take with you, too, this deep red rose as a token of our heartfelt thanks for all the gifts you gave, for all the love you taught us, for all the joy.

Farewell, 2011.  Farewell.

Even in Darkness

Tree at Dusk.

Even when the world is windless and drained of color, your beauty takes my breath away.

I know you give no thought to it, to the way you stand apart from the crowd, to the simplicity and balance of your life.

You think of yourself as ordinary, passing from season to season, doing what’s before you to be done.

And yet you do it all so well, with such harmony and grace.

I know that you would laugh to hear me say so, but you hold more beauty than my words could ever say.

And even in the darkness, you take my breath away.

A Little Winter Lullaby

Fallen Leaves with Snow.

The sun’s birthday is behind us;
the New Year’s yet to come.
Take a little winter nap,
and dream sweet dreams, my son.

Ahead are grand adventures,
bright sun and sparkling snow.
But all things move in cycles,
and now’s the time for slow.

Let your breath flow softly;
close your lovely eyes.
Let your sweet dreams sail like clouds
across the winter skies.

Wrap yourself in comfort,
be warm and filled with peace.
You are safe and cared for;
my watching shall not cease.

Sleep like fallen leaves
on the bosom of the earth.
Then wake refreshed and rested,
and greet the hours with mirth.

The Long Ascent

Sunset Over Winter FieldTo suppose is one thing.  To do is another.   We must imagine first, of course, and wonder.  What lies beyond the horizon?  Within the heart?  Beyond the stars?

But only by venturing past the known do we find the true treasures: the certain proof, the cellular experience, the dazzling new what if’s.

To be sure, it’s not a journey for the faint of heart.   It’s full of the unexpected.  Dead ends, scraped knees, and broken theories show up all along the way.  Nothing stays put, and each door opens to yet another infinite world.

Still, there’s no avoiding it.  The best you can do is pull on your boots, polish up your sense of adventure and shout to the skies, “Bring it on!”

This is our long ascent, the journey from wonder to wonder, forever enlarging us, forever expanding our perception and joy.

Don’t be afraid.  In the end you’ll see that you were safe all along, that the scares and disappointments were only there to stretch and deepen you.  And along the way, oh, what beauty!

The Golden Song

Winter Oaks

Worlds come and go.  Nations, cultures, civilizations rise and fall.  We who live within them look at the impermanence with great alarm, as if it mattered, as if it had something to do with who we are.

We, whose bodies also rise and fall, prefer to believe it could be otherwise, that the stage on which we play is impervious to time’s destruction.

Time.  That’s the clue.  Move outside it into the vastness of eternity and all the rules change.   Every note that the golden song has ever sung or will sing goes on forever.

And you are a note in its endless symphony, and I am, and all that possesses a fragment of its goodness and beauty and truth shall forever remain and expand and become more golden.

Be the Love: A Happiness Tale

Winter Floral BouquetWhen the florist placed the little chrysanthemum into the bouquet and began wrapping red gossamer ribbon and sparkling tinsel around her, she could hardly believe her good fortune.

Never had she dreamed she would end up in such a beautiful bouquet.  It was like being in flower heaven.

She settled in with the roses, pine cones and greenery, and held her breath, wondering what would come next.

“Where are we going?  What is this for?  What should I do?” she whispered to the red rose beside her.

“Ours is a special mission,” the rose said.  “We were chosen as symbols of the love of the Great Yes and intended to express its beauty and joy. “

“Of course that is the purpose of everything that the Great Yes brings into being.  But we, dear child, are being sent to sing the song in celebration of the way that love touches human hearts.”

The little chrysanthemum was still for a moment as she absorbed the meaning of this honor.  “How can I do that?” she asked the rose.

“Just be yourself, child.  All of us are made from love.  Immerse yourself in its power and beauty; know that it shapes your every petal, and then let it flow from you in gladness.   Just be who you are.  Just be the love.”

Visions of Sugarplums

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Oh, the fantasies that fill the air this magical, wondrous night!  The wee ones can hardly go to sleep, and the grown-ups push sleep away as they finish casting their spells.

Visions of sugarplums dance on the wind, and reindeer fly the skies.  And legends come alive.  Oh yes, legends become alive and true.

And hearts are filled with hope and with dreams, and souls are filled with light.  And even those on whom sorrow falls feel the love beneath all their longing.

And all our dreams rise: may our best hopes come true.  May there be peace and happy endings.

And high above, the twinkling stars shine, and the Great Yes bows down to enfold us.

We Own Everything: A True Happiness Tale

Poinsettia

(Today, my friends, I’m pleased to share a holiday story that first appeared here two years ago.  Enjoy!)

“It was Christmas,” Jen told me, “and my son was six.  Like most six-year-olds, he was really excited about the coming holiday.

“The problem was that I was flat broke.  It was all I could do to put food on the table.  But I wanted to do something to make Nate’s Christmas special.

“One day, just as the shopping season was in full swing, I got a crazy idea.  ‘Nate,’ I said to my son, ‘Would you like to play a Christmas game?’  Of course he was eager to play.

“’Well, it’s a secret,’ I whispered, putting my fingers to my lips and looking around as if to see if anyone was listening.  ‘Here’s the deal.  You and I own absolutely everything in the world.  Everything!  It’s all ours!

“‘But, see, there’s so much of it that we don’t have anywhere to keep it.  So we made stores and we put the stuff there, and we let people come and buy it and take it to their homes to enjoy.  Cool, huh?’

“’Really?’ Nate said, all big-eyed. ‘Everything?’

“’Yes,’ I told him.  ‘Absolutely everything.  Would you like to go visit our stuff and see how much of it there really is?’

“’Sure!’ he said.  And off we went.  Nobody paid any attention to two more shoppers pawing through the merchandise.

“We started at the local dime store and looked at the cowboy hats and goldfish and parakeets and clay.  Then we went to the toy store, and Nate was in heaven, sitting on bikes, pulling games from the shelves, trying on a baseball glove.  He carefully lifted a big red fire truck from one of the shelves.  “Boy, I hope somebody takes this home,” he said.  “It would sad if it just sat here in the store.”

“We went to the sporting goods store and he tried on ice skates and lay on a big toboggan. We looked at kayaks and fishing rods and tents and canoes.

“’It’s a good thing we have these stores!’ Nate said.  ‘We sure own an awful lot of stuff!’

“I got into the game, too,” laughed Jen.  I tried on dresses and rings and dabbed on samples of perfume as we toured a big department store.  We sat on soft sofas and watched the display TVs.

“We must have spent five hours, just going from store to store, laughing and pretending that the whole world was ours.

“We were exhausted when we got home, and as happy as if we really did own everything. We had supper and some cocoa, and after his bath, I read Nate a story and tucked him into bed.  As I bent to give him a good-night kiss, he flung his arms around me and squeezed me tight.  ‘We really had fun today, didn’t we!’ he said.

“’We sure did, buddy,’ I answered.  ‘Have a good sleep and sweet dreams.’

“’Mom?’ he said, looking me right in the eyes, ‘I really love you.’

“’I love you, too, Nate,’ I said.  And as I turned off the light, I knew our secret was really true.  Everything that mattered in the world was ours.”

Make Merry, Oh Children

IvyMake Merry, Oh Children of the Earth, and lift your glasses high.   The King has come!  The King has come!  And His glory paints the sky.

We, the ivy, sing now our songs of delight in eternal life.  We bid you sing along with us, to play your drums and fife.

Oh, sing of friendship and fortune, of peace spread over the earth.  Sing in jubilation for the Sky God’s wondrous birth.

Bring on your feasts and light your lights, and let your hearts rejoice.  The Sun behind the sun is here!  Lend happiness your voice.

Make this day a festival!  Be led by joy and mirth!  The King has come, and is pouring his love over all who dwell on earth.