Garrison Keillor shares this wonderfully earthy poem with us this morning. How could it be lovelier?
Letter To My Unborn Child
Someday you will want to know
and I might not be here,
this is how you were made.
It was a soft night
near the back of June,
clear, for a change, no rain.
Old women were out
gathering healing herbs,
fennel, dog rose and rhu.
Bonfires burned on all seven hills,
drunken young men
leapt through the flames.
Down in the bogs
the foxfire glowed,
will o' the wisps edged the meadows.
In our bed my wife laughed out loud
at the loving pleasure
of being a woman.
Like any man, I suppose,
I was proud,
and we fell to our sleep both smiling.
You were created
of passion and magic,
in Scotland, on Mid-Summer's Eve.
Here in the North,
that augers you special,
your mother and I believe.
"Letter To My Unborn Child" by Young Dawkins, from The Lilac Thief. © Sargent Press, 2009. Reprinted with permission
Yesterday I was out in our little backyard trying to learn how to make short videos on my camera (to use on my blog). I was shooting tomato plants, flowers, odd patches of uninteresting gravel and unrelated leaves - and all the while mumbling little comments that meant nothing, unless trying to learn something new is meaningful in itself.
Anyway I wound up the session with the realization that I would never be a Clint Eastwood or a Mike Nichols and headed inside to put it on the computer and see if I could edit it into something coherent, if not significant. I wrestled it onto my laptop and sat back to enjoy my masterpiece.
As the video unfolded I liked a few things, hated a few others and wondered at the skill of those who did a good job of such matters. Gradually, however, I became aware of something the camera picked up that I had not been aware of at all. A happy little bird was singing clearly, invisibly an beautifully throughout the entire film. It was a lovely moment.
I had never even heard a note. Therein lies a message.
Grace is the theologian's name for it.
Here's a blessing to start your week and sustain the grace you know.
There are heavy matters at hand.
For one, word comes that Butterball turkeys has a 24/7 phone service, available to all, that helps folks solve their problems and emergencies in preparing Thanksgiving meals. A noble and worthy project. (1-800-288-8372)
One fellow (he had to be from Wisconsin, though I don't know that for sure) called in last Thanksgiving in a mild panic. He had neglected taking the turkey out of the freezer to defrost for a few days in the refrigerator, which his wife (I have no doubt) had asked him to do - and when Thanksgiving came around he was confronted with a frozen block of turkey ice. He decided to reduce the scope of the problem by reducing the turkey's size, took the bird out to his workbench in the garage and proceeded to do so with his chain-saw. The thing that concerned him and prompted the call was his wife's question as to whether the oil from the saw would ruin the flavor of the turkey.
Then yesterday I began the re-read of The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje, one of my favorite novels. On page 8, the nurse is reading to the horribly burned patient:
I thought about this. for some time, actually. Then I got up and disturbed our snoozing Spaniel, lifted him up and carried him over to my chair. Then I carefully smelled the skin at the base of his paw.
Ontdaatje was dead-right. It is indeed a lovely, provocative bouquet that points beyond itself.
And I was thankful.
Saturday evening we were early to church, as always, waiting for church to begin when a badly crippled gentleman walked past us. He was using a highly unusual cane that looked much loved and well-used. We greeted him though we had never seen him before.
I asked him how he was doing. He responded: "Very well, thank you!" Then there was a pause. "I had a stroke Monday," he said, "but it is going nicely. There is so much to be thankful for." His eyes twinkled as he stretched his hand forward and shook my hand with a firm grip. Then he walked on. We were touched in unusual ways.
Shortly thereafter, during the service, we were surprised to see him mount the lectern and read the scriptures of the day. He read with a strong, intelligent voice. And, believe me, we listened with unusual intensity. Something was happening here.
I don't know who he was, apart from his name on the bulletin. But it was one of those moments that seem plucked from the pages of Charles Dickens.
"God bless us every one."
Why is it I keep thinking of 3 guys in one thought-shot?
Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, and Barack Obama.
Race? Youth? Brilliance?
These 3 guys emerged in our generation, seemingly from nowhere, lit the sky with a new kind of greatness and simply excelled against overwhelming odds.
And they kept right on winning.
I shake my head in wonder and admiration.
I've been engrossed in carving walking sticks and canes lately. Since I am fully ambulatory, folks look at me strangely and sometimes ask what I'm doing that for.
One answer is that I find a tradition and a discipline so rich that I can't not do them. There is a strange dignity to a hand-made quarter-stick.