Monday, December 31, 2012

Wishes for a HAPPY NEW YEAR


happy new year

With hope into the new year,

Energy and experiences
So that with

Daring courage,
Awareness will enlighten and inform
Your path. Happy 2013!

new year's intentions
may i walk into this day with a
sense of expectation,
           of awareness,
           of excitement & awe.

may i carry with me the gifts of
         hope & peace & blessing,
         to welcome each person I meet
         with the sense of greeting a
         fellow-traveler with whom I
         will share the journey for
         a short while.

may i surround and fill each word
i speak with love & acceptance,
         aware at every moment that
         I am part of creating peace
         or disharmony in this world. happy new year, one & all!

2013...a new year

The first day of
whatever remains-
what lies ahead
is the fog-shrouded

    tentative steps
    daring stride?

i hold the light of
hope and courage
to light my way,
determined to
live fully, to
freely live-
and love
with head held high
and shoulders back,
i boldly walk
into the dark,

a song of joy
emerging from my
smiling lips,
as with overflowing heart
i welcome
the New Year

Dear ones, far and near, I wish you a Happy New Year. May 2013 be filled with both hope and joy, with both creativity and peace. May you recognize in each day the opportunity to re-shape and re-make this world we inhabit, aware of our connectedness with one another and with all created things. And may you be blessed to be a blessing. Love, Linda

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Here's to Friendship...

Amazing just how lovely it is to reconnect with an old and dear friend. It happened on Friday when Bonnie, aided and abetted by my son and daughter-in-law, surprised me as I prepared to lunch at one of my favorite Charlotte restaurants. Suddenly there she was, standing in front of my table saying, "May I join you for lunch?", her dear face wreathed in smiles- and then we were hugging and laughing, our words tumbling over one another in our eagerness to catch up with one another's lives. Wonderful hardly begins to describe it, the feeling of making contact yet again with this dear friend who has shared so much of my life, and I hers.

Our friendship dates back to our days in Florida in the early 1980s, when our families were part of a very special Lutheran church which became extended family for all of us. Since we both had teenagers, getting involved with youth ministry seemed a natural, cementing the bond which had begun to form form between us. When their family relocated to Charlotte, the loss was profound for me but, in one of life's lovely surprises, we moved there a year later and Bonnie and I reconnected easily as her family became my family once again.
Many years have passed. Our teenagers now have teens of their own. Time together happens far too rarely, but when it does, the re-connection is immediate and deep as two aging friends cherish the bonds which keep us held firmly in one another's heart. Bonnie, I love you.

Monday, December 17, 2012

In Memoriam...for the People of Newtown, CT

In Memoriam…

Heart to heart
In anguish reaches
Helpless hands clasp
Firm in prayer and
Yet stretch out to
Take another’s trembling
Hand in solidarity and love
Never more alike, never
More united than when
We stand in shock and grief
Bewildered by those things
For which there is no answer
Surrounded only by questions
For which no solution will
Be found in this life
Tears running down my cheeks
Blend with those on yours-
And hers and his and theirs
Forming a river of mourning-
Yet even in the midst of all this
Grief, we are borne along
On this current of sorrow
Shared, compassion’s life raft
Bearing us along together…
Today, tomorrow, to eternity
And so, in love, we remember…

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Baking Remembrances...

Reminiscence, remembrance…these are words of the heart as well as the mind. Words which resonate deep within, in those places where we store all of the most precious pieces of our lives, in that treasure chest from which we can retrieve them again and again, fingering them with our feelings and re-living the sights, sounds, smells as scene after scene becomes real and alive once more.

Such were my thoughts this past weekend as I stood in my one-person kitchen, baking Christmas cookies. Now, I know almost everyone bakes some special cookies at this time of year, but in my family, Christmas baking has always been taken to its extremity, with days and days and days devoted to the preparation of these once-a-year treats.

I don’t recall how much my great-grandmother baked, though she was in my life until I was nineteen, but since my mother and I lived with my mom-mom and pop-pop for the first four years of my life during World War II, I can see and feel and smell the kitchen of their small row-house for the weeks leading to Christmas, as this little blond girl, wearing an apron tied high under my arms and standing on a stool, watched as Mom-mom, her own bib-apron ever-present on her ample frame, mixed batch after batch of holiday goodies. The entire house was redolent with the scents of butter and sugar and yeast, cinnamon and chocolate, adding to the absolute joy I experienced at being able to lick the remaining batter from bowl after bowl. And Mom-mom produced dozens and dozens of melt-in-your-mouth treats for family and friends to enjoy during the weeks leading to the celebration of the Holy Birth. It was truly a magical time for me, a time marked both with the warmth of the kitchen and the warming love of my grandmother.

Then there was Mom, who took the whole holiday baking endeavor to dizzying heights, elevating the baking of dozens of cookies to the baking of hundreds- no, thousands of cookies- often twenty or so varieties- which were lovingly shaped and rolled, cut and baked, and then stored in cans in the basement, to be doled out carefully to our immediate family since their primary purpose was to present them as gifts to business associates of Dad, friends, and extended family on the day of Christmas Eve. Mom would carefully fill platters with the holiday delicacies, cover them with colorful cellophane wrap (does this even exist any more?), and then Dad and one or more of us girls would load up the car and begin the deliveries. I can recall feeling like Santa’s helper as we went to house after house, always warmly welcomed by people eagerly awaiting the arrival of these delectable treats from year to year.

And of course, during all of those tantalizing weeks until Christmas Eve (the time our family traditionally celebrated together) when Mom would prepare a heaping tray of cookies for the family and we could officially share in the fruits of our labors (yes, we four girls helped with the baking as soon as we were old enough), there were numerous forays to the basement to surreptitiously open a can here and there to “sample” some of the cookies. After all, who could wait for weeks to taste those wonderful, melt-in-the-mouth delicacies which came from Mother’s kitchen? Interestingly, over the years, the cookies became smaller and smaller, more and more delicate, as Mom perfected her technique. Her holiday trays were a delight to behold, though I highly doubt that many of the recipients took too long admiring the sight but moved quickly to sampling the wares.

Early on in my adult life, I, too, joined in the family tradition of holiday baking in the extreme, usually baking at least a dozen varieties and often as many as fifteen or sixteen, making sure I baked the favorites of each member of my family, as well as trying at least one new recipe each year. Some of those quickly joined the “favorites” list, while others fell by the wayside in the “don’t bother” pile. And somewhere along the line, the tradition of baking accompanied by the strains of Christmas music playing on the stereo/CD player became as essential part of the routine for me. Especially wonderful were the years when my growing-up children helped, all of us forming an assembly line in the kitchen to make certain labor-intensive must-have varieties.

So far this year, I have made 5 kinds of cookies- about forty-six dozen- with another four or five to follow next week. This will be a “light” year for me, since we are all trying to cut back on our holiday eating. But I can’t disappoint any of the grandchildren, can’t stand the thought of hearing, “Grandma Linny, why didn’t you make …….. this year?” And so I continue baking, my own kitchen filled with the sounds and smells and feel of the delightfully loving task of baking Christmas cookies. I revel in the memories unearthed, in the gift of love I am both giving and receiving…memory, reminiscence, at its best. Merry Christmas, one and all!

Friday, December 7, 2012

In Whose Image?

The supreme religious challenge is to see God's image in the one who is not in our image.  -Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

 in whose image?
Imagine...the Hebrew Bible commands us-
in more than thirty places- to love and
welcome the stranger, for each and all of us
have been a stranger...somewhere, at some time...
and in the stranger, we can see the face of God,
welcome angels unaware.

 But far too often- if honesty prevails-
the only god we can see is the one made
in our image...the one who looks like us
and acts the way we think God should...
and if God is indeed only the way I see
divinity, the way you see holiness, then we
can- with smug & self-righteous justification-
deny the image of God in those unlike us,
in our enemies.

Easier by far to "worship" God than
to love our neighbor (let alone our enemy!...
to see the person right in front us as
the unique, beautiful Child of God
she stand in awe of the unsolved
mystery of his see them not
just as characters in my own story
but as people in their own
holy places wherein dwells the Spirit of God.

 Simpler, far, to hallow the Wholly Holy
than to recognize...admit...acknowledge
that every encounter with every person
is holy...that every encounter with every
person takes place on holy ground- and
in deep humility, take off our shoes in wonder & awe.