Friday, March 14, 2014

Lift Up Your Head and Laugh

“Lift up your head and laugh!”
He spoke as a prophet.
But what did he know those thirty odd years ago?
What did he know of my future?
I was still so young then
With only a taste of raw and broken
And visions of a whole life open before me
Certainly not knowing quite what to expect
But with dreams and plans nonetheless:
Happily ever after with maybe 
A few little bumps along the way…
Why not?  And why not laugh?
Life could be, would be, one grand adventure.

It’s been a rather curious life indeed
This grand adventure of mine.
Now I shake my head and laugh
At myself, at how I clung to so much
That prickled and burned and then gave way.
Yet mysteries and marvels
Came to me when least expected
Laughter mixed with tears and sighs
And more than a few bumps along the way
So much good and so much grief mingled in
So much for dreams and plans!
A worthwhile journey still,
Just not how I thought it would be.

It’s not just me, I know
I watch the world walking by
And I try to understand, wonder
Where it is going: out and about
And home again, home again
A million silent stories walking by
A million mingling stories of mourning and mirth.

I have lived long and learned much
And I find myself speaking to the young ones
With their whole lives open before them
The words of the timeless sage 
Thirty hundred years ago:
“There is a time for everything…
A time to weep and a time to laugh.”
They have seen me weep, and I will weep again.
But for now, I will lift up my head and laugh.
In this poem, I was  thinking back to my college days when I was 20. I was going to a teeny tiny little church then (only a few families and I), and it was the pastor who spoke these "words" (as the charismatics call them) over me and fueled my youthful idealism. :-)  That summer, I flew "up home" for a family reunion, where this picture with my mom was taken.  (I know we look like sisters.  I'm the one on the right.) While I was away, the church suddenly disbanded.  Poof! My life moved on from there with marriage and children and grandchildren, and I'm not sure I ever saw that pastor again, though I know he is around.

Edit to add in June 2019: This morning I sat in a little Episcopal chapel (Church of the Incarnation) as I've done every Sunday for six months. The guest priest (the founding pastor at this church) was preaching on the Holy Spirit for Pentecost, and mentioned the Charismatic renewal of the 1970's. I thought, "Oh yeah, been there done that." And then I turned to the left, and there across the aisle was Billy Mikler (now known as William), the very same pastor who had prayed over me 35 years ago. He is a friend of the visiting priest. We had a lovely chat.

Back to the original post...

The poem, mostly written this past December, had a different ending - a metaphor about fountains bubbling up and down - a little schmaltzy and out of place, if you ask me... This new last stanza, written today, is a reflection of what we have been learning in the middle school history and literature class I teach. We were discussing the problems in 20th century history, and contrasting our two most recent novels, Blue Willow (a sobering yet hopeful story of migrant workers during the Great Depression) and Homer Price (a hilarious and preposterous tale of boyhood written just before America's entry into World War II). "There is a time for both," I told them, quoting a few lines from Ecclesiastes 3. There is a time to think long about the hardness of life and what we should do about it, yet a time to enjoy rejuvenating humor, too. A time to lift up our heads and laugh. (I just did. Our young neighbor came to the door with these mouse shoes on.)

If you like this poem, you might like these with similar themes:

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Weekend Gratitude: Beach Reunion 2014

On Saturday, my husband and I drove over to Melbourne, Florida, with our five younger children for a family reunion.  We were joined by his little sister and her family, his cousin and her family, and his aunt and uncle. We always love to see everyone, which isn’t very often since most of them don't live near us!  Family is precious.  It was a blast to see all the cousins play together out in the waves, sand, and fresh air.  I took about 500 pictures (no joke!), so this is just a small sample.  Enjoy the pictures!   ~~ Virginia

Related posts on reunions and beaches:

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Morning Glory (Not the Flower Kind)

"He makes the clouds 
his chariot and rides on 
the wings of the wind."
Psalm 104:3

So much else to think about,
so much else to do today.
But a heart needs
a little creation inspiration 
to get it going, right?

Still Saturday
The Sunday Community
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