Friday, October 14, 2011

In Every Person A Universe

   Well, that was quite a pause! The first cardinal sin of blogging, lack of posts, has now been committed. I repent and am free to blog again! HOORAY!

 Tonight, my toddler told me 'Mama, I need a nuggle.' People are forever making nouns into verbs and vice versa, but I especially like how 'to snuggle' has become a noun that is needed. So, we crawl into the big bed and 'nuggle'. We face each other, eyes wide open. I know he's tired so I don't pretend to go to sleep. It will be just a few minutes until he's out.

 He traces my eyes, my eyebrows, my lips with his little fingers. I'm not a touchy-feely person but I've learned that children are born touchy. They live for touches, strokes, cuddles and 'nuggles'. I hold perfectly still, letting him explore my face. It's been a long day. Who knows where those fingers have been since his bath. I'd really, really rather not have him rub his palms over my lips. I hold still anyway.

 His eyes drift close. His hand moves to my throat. Now I feel positively claustrophobic and try not to laugh. How odd to have his fingers laying over my jugular vein.

 "Mama, your heart is bumping," he whispers.

 And then he is asleep.

 I watch him for a while, thinking of an Elie Wiesel quote I'd read today. It struck me, as most of his words do.

"We must not see any person as an abstraction. Instead, we must see in every person a universe with its own secrets, with its own treasures, with its own sources of anguish, and with some measure of triumph."

  How many people live their lives as abstraction? And it's more comfortable that way, sometimes. We want to be seen from a distance, with make up, in dim light. All our faults and foibles air brushed away. Marriage and parenting are some of the hardest jobs I've ever had, because there is no distance, no dim light. You are in sharp relief, every personality bump maginified on a daily basis.

 What a gift to be seen and still loved. A long-suffering spouse offers us some refuge, but there are limits, even there. With a child, you are the 'universe'.

 To be seen and loved perfectly is from Above. There are so many verses in the Bible about children and what a gift they are to a family. Some may argue that in Biblical times they needed numerous children to carry the burden of providing food.
   But I believe the true gift is allowing us to experience a particular nature of God.
          To be seen and loved.
              To be forgiven completely.

To be recognized as a universe full of secrets, treasures, anguish and triumphs.


Monday, September 19, 2011

A 2 Z 4 U and Me Meme

All right, folks. I really hate how texting has sped up the loss of our ability to use homonyms correctly (there, their, they're). And I really, really hate all the crazy abbrevations people use in their texting. If I wanted letters in my sentences, I would be an Algebra teacher.
  That said, I was following Patty Wysong's blog and she has a fun excercise called the A 2 Z 4 U and Me . She gives the letter and we write a little bit about it. Since it's only 11:22 PM and I have a few hours before some baby or toddler or older kid wakes up (although nothing is for certain), I thought I'd participate!

 R is our letter...

  Last year I worked with a woman who had the craziest sense of humor. She would make odd sounds or put on an accent or give half a line of movie dialogue. And it just cracked me up. This letter makes me think of the way Lili would whisper, "Rage!" in a crazy, high-pitched voice, with a straight face, usually while getting up to help someone being too needy, or for a task that she'd done a hundred times already.
   It NEVER failed to make me laugh.

  And no matter how much I try to duplicate it, it's just not funny when I try.

  Anyway, that was a side note. Here's what I really wanted to say...

  It's raining.  And I can't help but think of one of my favorite Bible verses, Matthew 5:45.

            "He makes his sun rise on the evil and the good,
                 and sends RAIN on the just and the unjust."

 Last Sunday the Gospel reading was the parable of the vineyard owner who brings in workers, promising them 'a just day's wage'. Some worked from early morning, some came at noon, and some came just an hour before the day was done. He paid them all the same, beginning with the ones who came last. The workers who bore the brunt of the day's labor and the heat were angry and jealous, asking why they did not receive much more that those who had only worked an hour. And the vineyward owner replies that they recevied what was promised and should not be jealous of those who received the same for less work.

  What a beautiful parable that is! Even for those of us who have been Christian our entire adults lives, we delight in the promise that God waits for us ALL with open arms. Whether we come to the harvest in the morning light, at noon,  or at the end of the day, he welcomes and rewards every one who responds to his call. He sends the rain to fall on the just and the unjust, his mercies fall freely to any of us willing to open our hearts to him.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Teens and Books

Editor Roger Sutton: "If you're a teen who is running your reading choices by your parents, grow up. If you're a parent who feels compelled to approve your child's reading, shut up. The books and the kids are all right."

  Hm. My oldest is eleven so technically I shouldn't weigh in on this subject until Februrary of 2013, but I always like sticking my nose where it doesn't belong.

  My kids are constantly holding up some sparkly-covered hardback and asking if it's good. All right, I do read a lot of YA, but it's an enormous genre and I certainly can't keep up with them all. They're probably just lazy and looking for a 10 second review so they don't waste energy lugging the thing home, only to find out it's junk. Usually I have to flip through it, try to remember if I'd seen any reviews on it, then shrug and hand it back with a 'Dunno, check it out and see.'

  What gets a pass? I read 'The Good Earth' by Pearl S. Buck when I was 9. Hey, it's a classic so it's okay, right? I improved my mind, right? Actually no. It was scary and repulsive and I had nightmares. Good literature, but definitely not for a pre-teen. So, if my kid wanted to read it, I would think hard about where they're at, what they would get from it, and then 'approve' or not.

That said, I sure hope they still 'run their reading choices' by me when they're teens. I sure hope I still care enough to peek at this title or that, maybe open a cover and read a few pages, maybe even pull some off the shelves and tell them why I loved that book and they will, too. It doesn't mean they're not grown up. It doesn't mean I'm an overbearing parent. Maybe it means that we like to read together, enjoy the same types of books. And maybe it means there really IS a lot of crap out there.

When they grow up they can read all the slasher true crime books they want.
But not at 15.
Not in my house.
And I don't feel like shutting up about it, Mr. Sutton, thank you very much.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Who needs more books?

I'm stealing this excellent list from Widsith's site ( ) because we all need more books to read, right? I admit, most of these are 'classic' literature, maybe not much new, maybe even some you read in high school, but isn't it handy to have a big LIST? I sure do love lists. :D
  A lot shorter than wading through Eric Burns' excellent 'The Joy of Books', this little post can serve as your guide to classic literature. All right, maybe guide is too strong a word. It's just a bunch of books with a number in front of the title. But feel free to print it out and start reading!

 Here we go! (Like widsith, I've turned my titles green if they've already passed through my hot little hands. Once, twice, or in the case of  Pride and Prejudice ten or so.) Ok, I've looked at this again and it seems they're almost ALL green. Not quite what I meant to do. Some are lighter green. Those I marked... Forgive the novice!

1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien

2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman

5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling

7. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne
8. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell

10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë

12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë

13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks

14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier

15. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame

18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott

20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy

21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell

23. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling

24. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling

25. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien

28. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving

29. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck

30. Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis
Carroll31. The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
32. One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez

33. The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett

34. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens

35. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl

36. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson

38. Persuasion, Jane Austen
39. Dune, Frank Herbert

40. Emma, Jane Austen

41. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery

43. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald

44. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas

45. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh

46. Animal Farm, George Orwell
47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
48. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
49. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian

50. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher

51. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett

52. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck
53. The Stand, Stephen King

54. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy

56. The BFG, Roald Dahl

57. Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome
58. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell

59. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer

61. Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman

62. Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden
63. A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens

65. Mort, Terry Pratchett

66. The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton

67. The Magus, John Fowles
68. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

69. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett

70. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding

71. Perfume, Patrick Süskind

72. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell

73. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett

74. Matilda, Roald Dahl

75. Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding
76. The Secret History, Donna Tartt

77. The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins

78. Ulysses, James Joyce
79. Bleak House, Charles Dickens

80. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson

81. The Twits, Roald Dahl

83. Holes, Louis Sachar
84. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake

85. The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
86. Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson

87. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
88. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons

89. Magician, Raymond E Feist
90. On The Road, Jack Kerouac

91. The Godfather, Mario Puzo

92. The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel

94. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho

95. Katherine, Anya Seton
96. Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer

97. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez

99. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot

100. Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie

*whew* But where is Elizabeth Gaskell, I ask? She shouldn't be ignored!

  Anyway, happy reading to all!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Silent Reading

  If you've ever taught a child to read, you recognize that point of fluency, when it's not a struggle any longer. The child will sit perfectly still, eyes flickering over the page, lips motionless. Not a twitch, not a sigh. Reading silently is what adults do. We don't whisper to ourselves, or mumble, or stop and re-read a line. But sometimes we should.
  One of my favorite poets is Gerard Manley Hopkins and he should never, never be read silently.
(Unless you're on public transportation and would scare the other passengers. Then you may read silently. But slowly.)
 So, try it out. Read it once, to yourself and then out loud. Savor the words, let them rest a bit on your tongue before heading out into the world. I promise you, the poem will live in a way it didn't when you were silent.
 God's Grandeur by Gerard Manley Hopkins

THE WORLD is charged with the grandeur of God.
  It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
  It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;        5
  And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
  And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent;
  There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;        10
And though the last lights off the black West went
  Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
  World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Opening Day

Is it still a blog if no one is there to read it?
 A philosophical question to ponder!