About the image: The delicate flower in this #WordlessWednesday post was photographed by my Love Notes friend, Suzette R. The flower is from her late mother’s garden–an intimate glimpse of a beautiful soul.
“Vetch and Milk Thistle.” Photographer, Art Wolfe.
As I head into the weekend and to Sabbath rest, I am whispering in my spirit the penultimate verse of John Greenleaf Whittier’s poem, “Soma.”
Many recognize the words from the hymn, “Dear Lord and Father of Mankind,” but do not know they come from the longer poem. What they also may not know is that Whittier–seeing it as showy or unnecessarily dramatic–was not a fan of singing in church; he believed that God should be worshipped in silent meditation.
Worshipping God through song is the gift I can always offer [alone and with other worshippers], so I do not agree with Whittier’s stance. However, there is incredible value in quiet contemplation and meditation, so on that point, he gets no argument from me.
May these last two verses from “Soma” usher you into a period of quiet rest, meditation, and contemplation.
from “Soma” John Greenleaf Whittier
Drop thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
Thy beauty of Thy peace.
Breathe through the hearts of our desire
Thy coolness and Thy balm;
Let sense be numb, let flesh retire;
Speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still, small voice of calm!
About the image: The card above came from Karen B, one of my partners for Love Notes 31. The “Vetch and Milk Thistle” scene–from Cappadocia, Turkey–was shot by photographer-conservationist Art Wolfe. A portion of the proceeds of the Pomegranate card supports the Sierra Club’s efforts to preserve and protect our planet.
Today, I’m sharing a poem by the current United States Poet Laureate, Joy Harjo. I first encountered her work via a Native American Literature course in graduate school, and I’ve been enjoying her work since then.
The final prompt for Love Notes 31 [which ended last week] was “Don’t Forget to Remember,” and thinking of no way to respond to the prompt that was neither trite nor lengthy, I found myself drawn to Harjo’s poem, “Remember.”
May it provide a bit soul food for your Tuesday.
Remember Joy Harjo
Remember the sky that you were born under, know each of the star’s stories. Remember the moon, know who she is. Remember the sun’s birth at dawn, that is the strongest point of time. Remember sundown and the giving away to night. Remember your birth, how your mother struggled to give you form and breath. You are evidence of her life, and her mother’s, and hers. Remember your father. He is your life, also. Remember the earth whose skin you are: red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth brown earth, we are earth. Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them, listen to them. They are alive poems. Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the origin of this universe. Remember you are all people and all people are you. Remember you are this universe and this universe is you. Remember all is in motion, is growing, is you. Remember language comes from this. Remember the dance language is, that life is. Remember.
About the image: The postcard above was sent to me by HannahsMommy07 on swap-bot for a “Postcards with a Prompt” swap. I have no information about the artist, but this postcard has been waiting to be shared for almost two years. Eek!
We head into the weekend with English poet Jenny Joseph’s 1961 poem, “Warning,” which illustrates what we’d all [?} like to be–free and unhampered by society’s notions of propriety.
When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit.
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.
I read somewhere that Joseph, who was 29 when she wrote the poem, never wore purple because she felt she looked terrible in purple. Unlike her, I wear lots of purple and I look good in it! 😀
About the image: When I shared the sunflowers a few days ago, I mentioned that my Love Notes friend, Eileen V, had enclosed a special treat. The image above–a well executed copy of a souvenir cover of the poem–was drawn inside the card! Isn’t it fun?
Love Notes 30 ended a couple of weeks ago with the final prompt, “Imagine.” I already miss my weekly notes from Nicole, but I’m grateful I can refer to them when I need a dose of happiness and light.
For the final prompt, 30.3, Nicole left me to imagine all sorts of wonder and magic:
…if unicorns were on parade every day! …the mist from the ocean touching your face as you watch the most beautiful sunrise …if everyone thought Calculus was the most magical language to create in …if the monsters under our beds as kids were really friendly, lovable creatures trying to love us …that high fives, glitter bombs, and smiles were part of our day no matter what …that every person you smile at today has an inner dream incubator that is fueled by your smile …you are the most gifted unicorn on this planet here to create a special kind of magic for humanity…your possibilities are endless
Although my non-mathematical mind resists the idea of Calculus as the language of creativity, I am feeling quite like a unicorn today–magical with endless possibilities.
Love Notes 30.2 offered another timely prompt, and my partner, Nicole delivered well. In response to the prompt, “Believe you can,” she wrote:
Believe you can…
…Create inner peace as a form of success. …Hand off the thing that has been weighing you down. It was never your weight to carry. …Be at peace knowing you made the best decision in that moment. …Be the heroine of your journey. …Live your personal life assignment. It is greater than thoughts that waste your time and bring you down or create doubt.
She wrote it all inside the sweet Carlton card above. Although I received the card a week ago (?), I did not really read it till moments ago after I seized a moment to sit in silence in my office. The delay was well-timed; I needed the words today. Maybe, you need them too…
I thought about taking the Christmas decorations down today, but my not-so-little one convinced me to leave them up a little longer. I figured, if I take them down by Friday, I will still be about three months ahead of my normal schedule. 😀 .
Like my son, I’m having a little difficulty letting the Christmas season go. It took me a while to get in the spirit of things, but I’m not ready for the parts that I love so much to go away–unrushed mornings, Christmas movies, uninterrupted time with the guys, reading and writing, creating and crafting, and hours of contemplation without the nagging “things to do” list over my head.
I’m certainly not ready for the end of [receiving] über cute Christmas postcards from pen friends–like the card above.
My Love Notes pal and literary twin, Bianca, sent the sweet postcard featured. Immediately after retrieving it from the post office box–and before reading the message–I knew who sent it! Who else but Bianca would find in Germany a little girl with my skin color hugging a snowman? She always finds the perfect, most adorable cards that speak to some part of my identity, interests, or character.
The postcard was designed by Tanja Angermeier of Monimari, who creates “sustainable stationery for children’s hearts.” You can find more about Tanja’s work and Monimari by visiting her website. To get a steady diet of Monimari, you can also follow her on Instagram and even purchase some of the items in her Etsy shop.
Thankfully, even after the Christmas decorations have been stored and the last Christmas postcard has been received, we can still make the choice to carry the Christmas spirit with us all year. We can choose to walk with a spirit of love for humankind every single day. After all, that spirit is always in season.
Some of the most exquisite sunflower postcards in my collection were made by Love Noter Lori-Anne C. The intricate details of her paint and ink cards always fascinate me. The card she designed for International Women’s Day 2019 did not disappoint.
“Better the Balance, Better the World.” Art by Lori-Anne C.
I did not miss her message about balance:
If you have the power to make someone happy, do it. The world needs more of that. Know that the “someone” can be you!
I’ve noticed [lately] that women, in particular, must be constantly reminded to take care of themselves. All my life, I’ve watched women put their needs and desires on the back burner while they pretty much served up every part of themselves to everyone else. We extol the virtues of sacrificial mothers and wives as if martyrdom is necessarily their calling, as if any attention to self makes them less selfless–or, worse, selfish.
Some of us are wired for such giving of ourselves, but just in case you have convinced yourself that everyone is entitled to all of you and all of your time, let me be clear: It’s not selfish to put on hold for a moment all the things and all the people vying for every bit of you. It is imperative that you pour some of your time and energy into yourself–to do something that makes you happy, that frees you, that heals you, or makes you giddy.
You can’t help others with only bits and scraps. You have to be balanced and whole–well, healthy–to help others, and you won’t be if you’re only serving others.
So go on. Plan to do something just for you–even if that means doing absolutely nothing.
The world around you is not going to fall apart if you take a little better care of yourself. –S.C. Lourie, Butterflies and Pebbles.
“The Gray Wolf,” Endangered Species. Photo by Tom Brakefield for Impact Photographics. Dedicated to the preservation of nature.
I received the “gray wolf” postcard above for Love Notes 29.1. At first, I was so focused on the message that I did not see the rabbit the wolf is pursuing!
I know this is how things work in the animal kingdom, but this is a poor, defenseless bunny! 😩
The first prompt was, “Don’t be afraid to…,” so Kasey, my partner, shared three bits of advice:
Don’t be afraid to:
Step out of your comfort zone. Oh, the possibilities abound! How will you ever know if you don’t try?
Stop and smell the roses. Life is too short to not make the most out of it.
Take the road less traveled. Who knows? It could be the best one you’ve taken yet!
I’m not sure why Kasey chose this card for the prompt, but I’ve come up with an explanation that satisfies my need to have the bunny survive the ordeal.
Maybe, the little rabbit went out into the world to conquer his fears. He “stepped out of his comfort zone” and took “the road less traveled.” He knew there would be dangers and tests along the path, but he “stopped to smell the roses” anyway. That’s what creatures do when they live outside of fear.
You see? This isn’t the end of the rabbit’s story; this is just one part of the journey. The struggle heightens his awareness and pushes him to develop strategies and tools to avoid such pitfalls in the future.
The little rabbit will have a fuller, deeper life because he faced his fears!
As for the wolf…he found something else to snack on. 😉
From postcard back: The Gray Wolf (canislupis) mates for life and lives in packs of family members and relatives. The strongest male is the leader of the pack and all the members help to care for the young.￼ The pack will work together on a hunt by chasing down its victim or driving it to circle back to the waiting pack￼. They can gallop and bound over short distances at speeds of more than 30 mph, and if they cannot capture their prey, they will abandon the attempt.￼