National Day of Joy

When I heard June had a National Day of Joy, my thoughts sprang immediately to summertime fun of childhood.

Endless hours playing outside with friends. 

Favorite sweet treats. 

Tranquil times, lost in nature and a good book.

Music of my own making.

Fancy feet flying to the rhythm of my heart.

Roasting marshmallows at night by the glimmer of fireflies over dimming campfire embers.

But the Comfort Keepers had something more in mind when they created this day in 2019. These dedicated caregivers for seniors encouraged all to experience the simple joys that are present, even in hard times, if we take the time to look. Like a ready smile,

that turns easily into contagious laughter.

The Comfort Keepers urge us to see and love the family that surrounds us every day.

On this National Day of Joy, let’s remember that a simple kindness may mean more than we will ever know.

Marvelous May

During my many years as a student, then continuing throughout my teaching career,
the end of May has always triggered an excitement within me.

Michigan cold is finally being shaken loose. 
Summertime warmth is taking its place.

Memorial Day, especially, marked the countdown to the anticipated freedom from school.

Freedom from routine, homework, tests, and all other mental gymnastics required to prove a year of academic success.

Memorial Day was the holiday that opened the door to glimpse the approach of a much needed vacation.

It was a celebration of the arrival of summer and another school year’s completion.

It was the springboard to dive into summer fun.

It promised time with family and friends in the lazy days of summer.

But Memorial Day is much more than these. 

Memorial Day is a time to remember those from the past, that made the ultimate sacrifice for the freedoms I enjoy today.

A day to remember and be thankful. 

Though I say it to ears that no longer hear.

Thank you.

April Slips Into May

Good bye, April, thanks for all the fun!  

Your raindrops made great puddles.
Perfect for cooling off, running through, and splashing in. 

Even though your rain made for a bad-feather day, I liked it just the same. 

Once you take the plunge, wet is best from head to toe.

Perhaps my swinging life was put on hold,

But inside a book I soared to places new to explore.

Truly, your April showers will bring many May flowers,

And soon I’ll trade my rain umbrella for one in the sun.

February Blew By!

I raced through February on my annual Picture Book Marathon. 
Ran past the groundhog’s forecast of spring. 
Jogged through tales of historic Black Americans.
Lingered long in expressions of love. 
Cheered and clapped as teams blocked and blazed their way to touchdowns.
Skated, skied, twisted and twirled, with U.S. Olympians in Beijing.
Shoveled snow, enjoyed unexpected puddles before they crystalized to ice.
Then with a nod to past presidents’ birthdays I skid to a halt.
Teetering on the edge of February 2022, I pause.

What wonders will March bring?

Batches of paczki?
Emerging crocuses defying the snow?
Shall I trade snowflakes for shamrocks; drifts of snow for bundles of green?
Will lion-like winds lift kites wildly on high?
New life emerges all around.
New possibilities to explore.
Clutching my newest story in hand I wonder…

Good-bye, Fantastic February. 
It’s time to meet Marvelous March!

Welcome 2022

Welcome 2022
Wow! 
Celebrating the holidays mid-January with my family was so delightful but now
January is bowling into February with a striking crash!

Before we plow into the cascading snows or Valentine hearts of the coming month I’d like to recognize, one more time, the season of gift-giving.

It never is the brilliantly wrapped packages, the size or expense, that cheers my heart to trumpeting heights. Like many, it isn’t even the gifts that make the season so special. For as the years march on, it becomes more evident that things in packages are not the items at the top of my wish list.

So as the months of 2022 unfold, I resolve to continue the season of gift giving. Focusing on the most valuable and intangible gifts:

Time, available, unmeasured, unhurried.
A listening ear.
A helping hand.
An understanding smile.
A kind word.
Eyes that seek for good.
A heart eager to forget offenses.
Love, selfless and unrestrained.
Hugs in times of joy or through sorrow’s shadows.
Cheers for attempts.
Thanksgiving for success.
Songs of beauty for the minute and mammoth.

Beneficiaries:
Family, friends, the many we pass each day on streets, in stores, in travels, or neighborhood.

So, may gift-giving abound, to all and in each day of the year!

A Poem for Autumn: Nature’s Ticker-Tape

Fall greetings to all!
This change of season may come with whipping winds and stormy skies.
But take courage in fall’s passing beauty, for with it also comes hope and a bountiful harvest,  
Keep walking.
Brighter days are just ahead. 

NATURE’S TICKER-TAPE

Day has begun, but no sun.
Begin the day’s journey unseeing the way
Shoulders robed with heavy mist of dawn
Sidewalk stretches endlessly
Countless squares of concrete gray.
One unnoticed step in front of the other
Padded rhythm marches out the seconds
Till the red-orange sun peeks above the horizon’s purple mountain cloud
And stretches its white tentacles to the brightening sky
Birds begin the melody and criss-cross before with invisible streamers
They swoop and rise with cheers to treetops
Joining the escalating breeze to shake nature’s confetti from the trees.
Golden, floating, lightly landing on shoulders, face and path, saying well done,
well done
Sun reveals the truth:  not just gray ahead, but golden patches checkering the way
Crunchy carpet, piles of crackly brilliance, in the path and along the wayside
Nature cheers in silent earnest to walk with strong step beneath the
whitecap clouds on the inverted sea
Inhaling the sweet breath of evergreen perfume whispering their applause
Success, success, success, is yours, just walk
You have become part of Nature’s ticker-tape

If you enjoyed reading this poem, you might also like The Dandelion Prayer: Celebrating National Poetry Month.

Christmas Can’t Be Stopped

As Christmas fast approaches, three Christmas Eve stories come to mind.

In 1843 Charles Dickens wrote his classic, A Christmas Carol. Scrooge learns lessons from Marley and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and  Yet to Come. These culminate in a changed life.

O. Henry wrote a short story in 1906 called, “The Gift of the Magi”. A young married couple, deeply in love, but poor, seek a gift to give to each other. Between them they have two treasures, her beautiful long hair and his watch, a family heirloom. Through their selfless love, each sacrifices their treasure to buy a gift for the other. She, selling her hair to buy a chain for his watch. He, selling his watch to buy beautiful combs for her hair. 

Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas, written in 1957, recounts the escapades of the Grinch as he tries to stop Christmas from coming to the Whos down in Who-ville. As the Grinch waited to hear the “BOO-HOO” he was shocked.

“Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small,
Was singing! Without any presents at all!”
“He HADN’T stopped Christmas from coming!
IT CAME!”

“Mankind is my business.” Marley told Scrooge. 
Christmas is about gifts given in love. 
It is, as Grinch said, “Maybe Christmas…perhaps… means a little bit more!” 

Christmas can’t be stopped. 
I am thankful for the greatest gift given on the very first Christmas. 
A gift of love for all mankind.
I will try to do as Scrooge pledged to, “…honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”

Lessons of the Jigsaw Puzzle

“I’m missing a piece!” My plaintive cry resounds through the empty kitchen. 

You’d think a brand new puzzle would not have a missing piece! But somehow it has happened, and I will have to write the company to tell them of the mishap in their production.

I certainly didn’t lose the piece! The puzzle rests undisturbed on the kitchen table, just like the other 36 puzzles I completed during virus lock down. 

And, I know this piece is missing, because only green palm trees, brown tree trunks, and blue sky pieces are left.

My missing piece belongs next to the octopus. It is the color of sand. I’ve touched each piece I have left and there is no plain, sandy-colored piece!

I imagined a beautiful puzzle, now going to be incomplete.

What a shame, I lamented to myself!

All anyone will be able to look at is that one blank spot.

It will never be beautiful.

It will never be perfect, I thought.

The missing piece was the last lesson this jigsaw puzzle had for me. 

But we argued from the beginning.

“I can’t do this! It’s too hard!” I had whined when frame pieces wouldn’t connect, and every piece looked the same.

I’d stab around, listlessly poking pieces at each other, until, “Hey, what do you know? That fit!”

Jigsaw lesson #1:

Don’t give up.              

                         Philipians 4:13        

I can do all things through Christ.

The piece with the cluster of coconuts fit snugly in the center of a palm tree. It looked good. Its color and shape said I was right. But then the remaining pieces, did not connect, no matter how hard I tried to cram them together.

“Faulty puzzle,” I moaned to myself.

The puzzle and I were at a stand-off.

This forced me to reexamine my choice.

Hmm, just maybe…

I removed the ‘for sure’ piece and surprise! The piece I thought fit,  ‘for sure’, was wrong. It had to come out before the correct piece could go in, that is, of course, if I wanted the puzzle picture to turn out correctly.

Jigsaw lesson #2: 

I must take the wrong piece out, before the right piece can get in.

In life situations, if I hold onto unforgiveness, love will never get a chance in. 

But if I let go of unforgiveness, there will be room for the truly best piece, love.

I Corinthians  13:8  Love never fails.

Which brings me to my last jigsaw lesson. 

The lesson of the piece I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, was missing. 

I knew it wasn’t there.

I’d looked and looked.

                     And then,     

             I  picked up this piece.

Hmm, this piece couldn’t be the right one. Look at that little cloud. My missing piece is just a plain, sandy-colored piece….

Jigsaw lesson #3:

         You don’t know. Even when you are so sure. You don’t know how something that seems impossible, something you know won’t work out, something that could never be good again, could never be perfect… 

When you put your trust in God.

The “impossible” can happen.

Luke 1:37   For with God nothing will be impossible.