That Night

valentines4It was 6:30 in the evening when my father and mother met my beau for the first time.

The parents liked Andre exceedingly, enchanted by his romantic French name: enthralled with his good looks. The feeling was reciprocated at least at first read, but to the close observer, namely me, my boyfriend seemed unusually nervous, and quiet, and thoughtful.

Andre and I had trekked the seventy-some miles southeast; my parents had driven about the same distance northwest, to spend the evening getting acquainted over dinner at Michael’s Restaurant in Rochester, Minnesota, locally famous and storied, renown both for its steaks and for its reputation as a “celebration of life’s special moments” kind of place.

michaelsThe evening began innocently enough with the usual pleasantries, like my dad asking the boyfriend “if he liked to fish” and my mom asking me “how I am”, but soon we got beyond and into the serious talk that happens when ordering food at a fancy restaurant, like my dad saying “he’s sure glad we picked a place that had real meat and potatoes, not one of those funny organic spots that serve fruit salad and sprouts,” and my mother saying, “Now, Lorence, let’s not bring that up,” when dad starts to talk about the particular trials of being a funeral director, like the fact that the Catholics always used incense during the service that made him dizzy.

Andre had only recently brought up this Meet the Parents idea. It made me happy. He was special from the first day we met washing windows at a University of Minnesota fraternity house and the more time I spent with him the more I began to think he might be The One.

In fact, we had recently emerged from one of those messy, uncertain fogs that occur just before a spectacular dawn.

Our dinner progressed nicely thru the expected stages with great food and pleasant exchanges, so when my mother suggested she and I should go powder our noses before dessert arrived, I thought it was a wonderful idea, in particular to see what she thought of my gorgeous friend.

When we returned to our table my father was all smiles. Obviously they got along famously, but was there more? That smile demanded explanation, and my father couldn’t wait to spill the beans. He turned to me and said, “Your friend here has something he wants to ask you.”

The room began to spin around me; voices subdued and ghost-like swirled nearby but not from our table. Our table was quiet. Father was clueless–still beaming. Mother was smiling at my father, too, as if to say, “Oh, Lorence, how good of you to give the boy a little nudge.” All three of us turned to Andre, who was wearing a stunned ‘I can’t believe you said that’ look.

The hot fudge melted more than the ice cream as dinner became a sloppy puddle of dessert. I don’t think my parents even noticed the awkward transition as Andre thanked Dorothy and Lorence for coming to meet us and stood to help me out of my chair, an obvious sign that ‘exit stage right’ couldn’t happen fast enough.man-proposing-marriage-to-woman-illustration-featuring-his-knees-red-heart-as-symbol-love-46179790-1

We said our hasty good-byes to The Parents and as our car doors slammed shut Andre finally exhaled but didn’t speak or look at me.

Lost in thoughts too deep for words both of us remained speechless as Rochester night-lights twinkled, flying by; a blurry multi-colored kaleidoscope; a romantic, silent, expectant peace.

When I was growing up if my dad said “it’s fish or cut bait time” we knew what he meant whether or not he was offshore with one of us kids in his ancient beloved aluminum fishing boat with the Johnson 10 HP Outboard motor or on dry land sans boat but speeding around a slow-moving tractor on a narrow Iowa highway in a brand new loaded V8 four hole Buick.

It was a time to make a significant move.
It was a time to decide Something Big.

All at once the dreamy panorama stilled as Andre put the right signal on and took the last exit before leaving town. He braked hard, maneuvering the car just off the ramp onto the shoulder, to stop and take my hands in his.

When he looked into my eyes and said those magic words, “Will you marry me?” I, without hesitation, said, ’Yes,’ and for me, for us, that moment, that night, changed all things forever.

January 2017 – B. LaTondresse

The Exile

Lonely hours and night.
The minutes fade slowly, silently,
As he waits the appointed time.
And yet, my heart is glad.

One cannot measure happiness
by time spent without.
Within are the hidden treasures
Of secret places
Known only thru pain.

It will not be forever.
When that night
Fades into twilight.
The reds and yellows
Will paint
Our dawn
Across the golden sky.

The Dayspring on High
Will Himself
Ordain our Morning Joy.

Our together
Will be forever
In His Time.

© B LaTondresse
8 February 1977

happy-valentines-day-png-clipart


https://www.google.com/search?q=happy+valentines+day+clipart&rlz=1C5CHFA_enUS730US730&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiGsK3l8o_SAhXL6YMKHWvXCCUQ_AUICCgB&biw=1207&bih=681#imgrc=UDdPnvICdZ6ZNM:

https://www.google.com/search?q=happy+valentines+day+clipart&rlz=1C5CHFA_enUS730US730&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiGsK3l8o_SAhXL6YMKHWvXCCUQ_AUICCgB&biw=1207&bih=681#imgrc=KfjtdcwX3Y3UFM:

https://www.dreamstime.com/stock-illustration-man-proposing-marriage-to-woman-illustration-featuring-his-knees-red-heart-as-symbol-love-image46179790

http://www.themedcitybeat.com/news-blog/2014/11/24/michaels-restaurant-a-fixture-in-downtown-rochester-to-be-demolished

https://www.google.com/search?q=romantic+fight&rlz=1C5CHFA_enUS730US730&espv=2&biw=1207&bih=681&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiH0pjFipDSAhWe0YMKHTjTCxYQ_AUIBigB#tbm=isch&q=cartoon+romantic+fight&imgrc=xqlDXylq3TxwoM:

My Morning Day

roller-coasterRollercoasters.

I’ve never liked them.

I don’t need to buy an opportunity to board a contraption bound for intense right angle jerks, steep climbs, and free falls.

I have quite enough of all three in life as it is, especially lately with too much news and ranting  response analysis about radical upheavals in our nation and throughout our world bombarding me daily on TV and in social media.

Tired. Sad. Fearful.

It’s time for Barbara to take a break.

snoopy-afraidIt’s time to cultivate what I’m going to call the Arts of Silence: Listening. Seeing. Breathing. Touching. Reaching. Loving. Resting.

A while back a little esoteric spiritual group I’m part of called The Wardrobe read and studied and practiced In The Path of Celtic Prayer: An Ancient Way to Everyday Joy.

In these pages the author, Calvin Miller, introduces us to six types of Celtic prayer that can connect us to God more deeply by helping us pray out of the circumstances and uncertainties of our own life. God’s heavenly omnipotence, omnipresence, and sovereignty meet my earthly needs and limitations directly when I link them together in this way.

So I will revisit the Ancient Way.  I will heed the call of the God of Eternal Mornings to “come by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

My Morning Prayermorning-dawn

Oh, God of Eternal Mornings–

See me this morning.

O Father,

Planner of Ancient Days–
See me this day.

O Son of God,
Logos, Breath of Life–
hover Your Word
over the mist
of my foggy mind.

O Divine Wind,
Blow away the clouds

so I can go forth
into this new day
with eternal clarity
ringing in my soul.

O God of Eternal Mornings.
Meet me this morning day.

©January 2017 – Barbara LaTondresse


Miller, Calvin. The Path
of Celtic Prayer: An Ancient Way to Everyday Joy
. Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2007. Print.

 The Holy Bible, Containing the Old and New Testaments. Mark 6:31. New York: T. Nelson & Sons, 1901. Print.

Images courtesy of:

http://markewbie.weebly.com/uploads/4/0/3/9/40396485/2981287.jpg?556

http://www.google.com/search?q=rollercoaster&rlz=1C5CHFA_enUS730US730&espv=2&biw=1207&bih=681&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiUh5WJxvHRAhVF4YMKHdrcB3EQ_AUIBygC#tbm=isch&q=roller+coaster+clipart+free&imgrc=43Fj-_KqhL73nM:

http://www.goodfreephotos.com/albums/united-states/wisconsin/harrington-beach-state-park/wisconsin-harrington-beach-state-park-summoning-the-dawn.jpg

Siberian Bounty

fall-leaves

Russians don’t do Thanksgiving but exPats like the LaTondresses longing for traditional, familiar holiday comforts and treasures must, so we went the extra mile to recreate a traditional Thanksgiving feast in our Akademgorodok home.

akademgorodokthanksgiving

Thanksgiving in Akademgorodok

Improvisation and creativity stood front and center helping us bring the vision to glorious reality as we felt Bounty. In II Corinthians 6:10 the Apostle Paul calls it “having nothing and yet possessing all things.”

First, we had to create the dining room table out of the interior doors and construct saw horses to provide the supports. Then we had to clear the center area of the living room to place the table. Everyone brought chairs. Someone had a tablecloth big enough, and someone else brought candles.

Andre's Siberian Chicken

Andre’s Siberian Chicken

We even had Andre’s newly bought prize of cute, colorful little Siberian chicken with a huge fan of tail feathers pretending to be a turkey for an apt centerpiece.

Andre and I then bravely walked to the local meat market to buy beef and pork. The meat market is a third world delight with the heads of the animals displayed next to the animal parts…all laid out on bloody, dirty wooden slabs.

A gargantuan chopping block resides at the end of the hall surrounded by carcasses. The butcher, front and center, sported a thoroughly stained formerly white outfit and demanded attention as he whacked at a chicken. I would not want to be his enemy.

butcher_by_michelle84-d3ipoomHe reminded us of the executioner in Bartholomew Cubbins. Some lucky person has to haggle with him for the price of the meat; definitely Andre’s job. So Bartholomew Cubbins and Andre did battle and we loaded our blood prizes in bags to carry home.

We had roast beef and roast pork baked together with garlic and onion; mashed potatoes, gravy, turkey legs (from America–the white meat is eaten by USA folks!), stuffing, four kinds of salads. and one year we even had two kinds of green vegetables (beans and peas)–hard to find…and, of course pumpkin pie and cherry pie (made totally from scratch). We couldn’t find pumpkin so one of our creative co-workers, Steve, made the pumpkin pie with carrots. Tasted great!

All of us did the cooking, and we used the ovens in four apartments because each oven has only one rack…and one never knows how much heat it will generate…and it’s impossible use more than two burners and the oven simultaneously or the fuse will blow.

Nevertheless, when we sang, “Great is thy Faithfulness” we meant it. happy-thanksgiving-cliparts-free

Bounty. Indeed.

Barbara LaTondresse
November 2016

https://youtu.be/0k1WhFtVp0o 

Great is Thy Faithfulness – Thomas O. Chisholm – 1923

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee,
Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not,
As Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be.

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above;
Join with all nature in manifold witness,
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today, and bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside.


Images courtesy of:
http://daybreakis.org/news/happy-thanksgiving-november-2015http://www.clipartkid.com/fall-decorations-cliparts/http://www.deviantart.com/art/Butcher-Concept-212830006

 

My Olympic Gold

barbaras-medal

Barbara’s Olympic Gold

I am a winner.

The etched face on my
 better-than-Olympic
gold medal
reads:
FOR HEROIC SURVIVAL
IN SIBERIA
1993

A most thoughtful and loving artisan forged the painstakingly stitched border and the engraved-by-hand text with a red cord carefully attached so that the recipient can wear it as a necklace.

The materials suggest ‘cheap and easy’ but neither is true; this prize comes from a land and a time when even a loaf of bread could be hard to find. Most likely the thread, string, and needle came from a small vendor somewhere in town. And the rare treasure of aluminum foil used to face the medal probably came in a suitcase from the good old U. S. of A.

The Winter of 1993 in our town of Akademgorodok, Russia was particularly harsh.  Temperatures dropped as low as -35°C / -31°F often accompanied by stiff Siberian wind and daily mounds of snow.

winner2-2rdvkr-clipartOur apartment was always toasty, even hot at times, because the Powers-that-Be decreed it so, but though I wore the best Eddie Bauer down coat/hood combo outside, ice cube chill pierced thru layers to freeze my bones as this unseasoned, soft American wife/mother who could barely walk around a block let alone a mile or two braved the elements to fetch the daily loads of groceries or other household needs.

We take for granted here in America the ease with which we can find, transport, store, cook, fix, and furnish the Goods of Life.

The infrastructures that make light work of meals, cleaning, and repairs, simply did not exist in Akademgorodok in 1993.

Imagine no car. No cell phone. No local Target. No Amazon with free doorstep two-day delivery. No take-out from Pizza Luce. And no English.

In fact, this American family did haul such treasures as stick pepperoni and oregano as well as a few precious pounds of Starbuck’s coffee on the eighteen-hour flight from America to Akademgorodok.

Grocery lists were impossible. Shopping was much more like spinning the wheel on Wheel of Fortune than using an iPhone to find scanned items on fully stocked Target aisles.

One particularly lucky day I found canned tomato sauce at one store but had to remember not to load up at the first stop. I could only buy six.

frozen-food-section-edit

Buy It In The Frozen Food Section

Several hardy Siberian lady vendors set-up tables and chairs outside that store selling everything from bananas to frozen fish. We called it our ‘frozen food
market’. Because I had been warned that the fish glowed in the dark from lake radiation spills, I passed on the fish, but bought the bananas.

Next stop, third store, the back door, two blocks the other direction. A dear Russian friend met me there and in clandestine fashion facilitated a trade of two American dollars for gigantic bags of pasta.

Last stop– a fourth store for fresh, warm bread. It took all my willpower not to sit down and eat the whole loaf right there.

super momThe unwieldy load by then weighs the proverbial ton of bricks, a distinct signal to trudge home even though the stuffed pack holds maybe one-third of the needed supplies; nevertheless, skating thru icy, snowy forest paths, and up three flights of stairs, “our hero” drops the goods. More exhausted than any Olympian, she still enjoys watching her family expectantly unpack the ‘mother load’. (Pun intended.)

Even when someone notices there’s no meat in the pack, and points out dejectedly that there’s been no meat since last week, the family soon rallies around what Mother did bring home, keenly aware that a trip to the local meat market, where the heads and feet of animal are lined up by their appropriate carcasses and where the ground beef is not wrapped in neat little cellophane packages, will only happen on a day when the grocery route does not involve trekking to four far-flung stores. So Mother prepares fresh bread and pasta cheese smothered in garlic tomato sauce sans meat and, wonder of wonders, no one complains.

1 Timothy 6:6-11 Amplified Bible says:

6 But godliness actually is a source of great gain when accompanied by contentment [that contentment which comes from a sense of inner confidence based on the sufficiency of God]. 7 For we have brought nothing into the world, so [it is clear that] we cannot take anything out of it, either. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.

Reminds me of an oft-sung piece about ‘winners’ by Stuart Hamblin I learned in Sunday school when I was a child. It was a favorite long before the Flintstones. characters, Pebbles and BamBamm , made it #8 on the record charts in 1955.

Open Up Your Heart (And Let the Sunshine In)

 My mother told me something that everyone should know
It’s all about the devil and I learned to hate him so
She said he causes trouble when you let him in the room
He will never ever leave you if your heart is filled with gloom.”

So let the sunshine in, face it with a grin
Smilers never lose and frowners never win
So let the sunshine in, face with a grin

Open up your heart and let the sunshine in.

When you are unhappy the devil wears a grin
But aw, he starts to running when the rain comes pouring in
I know he’ll be unhappy ’cause I’ll never wear a frown
Maybe if we keep on smiling he’ll get tired of hanging round.

So let the sunshine in, face it with a grin
Smilers never lose and frowners never win
So let the sunshine in, patient with a grin
Open up your heart and let the sunshine in.

If I forget to say my prayers the devil jumps with plea
But all he feels so awful when he sees me on my knees
So if you’re full of trouble and you never seem to win
Just open up your heart and let the sunshine in.

So let the sunshine in, face it with a grin
Smilers never lose and frowners never win
So let the sunshine in, face it with a grin
Open up your heart and let the sunshine in.


Stuart Hamblen. “Open Up Your Heart (And Let the Sunshine In.” Los Angeles. CA: Hamblen Music Company, 1953. Print.

The Amplified Bible. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 2015. Print.

Images courtesy of:

http://www.clipartkid.com/winner-cliparts/

  1. Andre LaTondresse. “Barbara’s Medal” and “Frozen Food Section”. From Russian Photo Collection. Akademgorodok, Russia. 1993.

Creamed Corn and Me

Welcome to Elgin, IAMy hometown town of 600 in Northeast Iowa had much to be proud of what with its bank, library, furniture store, funeral home, grocery store, hardware store, lumber yard, two gas stations, three car dealers, a doctor, a vet, and a lawyer but the crowning glory was the Elgin Canning Factory which put Elgin on the map to Everywhere because one of the products was Delmonte’s Creamed Corn.

Delmonte Creamed CornEvery summer Elgin grew by about 100 Mexican migrant workers who set up shop in the temporary housing provided for them down by the creek near the canning factory. The migrants picked the asparagus fields by hand and also shelled sweet corn and did other really hard labor stuff nobody else wanted to do but more workers were needed to do all jobs necessary. Folks from town often did double-duty during the summer adding another job handling everything from sorting corn, to mixing ingredients, to manning the canning process, to labeling boxes and other shipping stuff.

cans in boxKids home from college or those new high school grads headed to college in the fall were tapped for the grueling job of taking the cans out of huge iron kettles and filling cardboard boxes with 24 cans time after time after time. The iron kettles were strung along a quarter mile waterway. They were filled with hundreds of boiling hot cans of creamed corn which then took a slow ride down the cold water canal to cool them from the canning area thru the entire stretch of the water bath until the waterway turned a corner in that canal and slowed them down as they entered the warehouse to await unpacking after which the empty carts were pushed around another corner as the motorized trolley sped them back up the adjacent quarter mile loop to get more cans.

Elgin Sweet Corn Canning FactoryThe warehouse room was almost a city block long.   The water canal framed the east wall. Long narrow benches came next, positioned parallel to the canal about a yard from it. Next came pallets: half with empty cardboard boxes and the other half with rapidly growing piles of boxes filled with the still lukewarm cans of creamed corn. The rest of the room consisted of piles of palleted boxes of creamed corn waiting to be loaded into semi-trailer trucks for delivery to Delmonte plants for labeling and distribution.

So as my rite of passage into college life, this first job of mine was not only intended to provide gobs of money for school but also to make me keenly aware of the reason I was going there. I got my father’s message loud and clear that a life of hard labor awaits if you don’t set your sights on a college diploma.

My hands became a bruised, battered, taped patchwork worthy of a prize-fighter. My back ached constantly from being hunched over the iron kettles and low benches as we packed cans two-by-two for hours. I got so tired of standing that I would count the minutes out loud with my partner until the next fifteen minute break.

4th-of-July-Bandana-Flag
We tied colorful bandanas around our heads to keep the sweat out of our eyes and kind of wore them like badges of honor to prove that we were tough Iowa kids able to take the humidity and heat in stride. Oh yes, I got the message.

The town fire siren went off each day at 6AM, 12 Noon, and 6PM to signal when to begin work, when to have lunch, and when to end work, so there was no ambiguity over that stuff. I rode my bike to work, home for lunch, back to work, and home for dinner. But my work day didn’t end then.

ear of cornMost of us at the Factory went back for a night shift (because the work was, after all, seasonal) and labored until midnight when the factory whistle blew to set us free. By that time I was almost too exhausted to pedal home but somehow I did, often just falling into bed and to sleep before I cleaned up.

At the end of the proverbial day you could say I learned my lesson well. I went to college. Got my B.A. Got my M.A. and almost my got doctorate.

creamed-corn-vertical-640And, to this day, if I open a can of creamed corn I know why I went to college.

NOTE: My apologies if this memoir isn’t totally historically accurate. As I get older my memories muddle a bit and so if the resultant story doesn’t perfectly match your recollection, by all means feel free to write your own.

Images courtesy of:

http://www.lostdsm.org/other-iowa-towns

http://www.alibaba.com/product-detail/Canned-Food-Factories-Sweet-Corn-Kernels_60235429602.html

http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/creamed_corn

http://www.google.com/search?q=bandanas&espv=2&biw=1141&bih=706&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiAsNqt4OvMAhVp0oMKHYYJAMgQ_AUIBygC#imgrc=jSPEm3yUvnOKXM%3A

http://www.elginiowa.org

 

For Lent – Meditation II – Kiss Winter Good-bye!

For Lent – Meditation II – Kiss Winter Good-bye!
tulip-bud-emerging-pink2
I’ve been inside too long. I open the back door for the first time since last October and step outside. The snow melts. The tulips pop and the grass emerges green. Once again vibrant Spring greets me and I pause to soak it all in.

Gleefully I rip out the tree toppers from my planter boxes and throw them in the garbage.

When I was a child I knew spring was near when the time came in late February for Great-grandfather Fred (we called him ‘Daddy Fred’) to bring us an empty cottage cheese carton repurposed as a pot containing a planted hyacinth bulb.

hyacinthAll you saw at first was the dirt filled carton and an Elgin Furniture Store pencil stuck in the dirt so that when the hyacinth grew it would have something to lean against. I watched that dirt for days until one day a little tip of the plant peeked up through the soil. The hyacinth flower smelled so good! I still associate the musty smell of moist earth mixed with the aromatic fragrance of hyacinth with the start of spring.

The poet in Solomon’s Song says:

For lo, the winter is past,
The rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth;
The time of singing has come.

adventbannermaryNext week we observe Holy Week at our little Anglican church. Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Saturday Easter Vigil, as well as Easter Day on Sunday. We pause to remember and reflect and wonder as the drama surrounding the Passion of Christ unfolds once again, Good Friday ironically does indeed prove to be ‘good’, and we affirm our Resurrection Hope in Christ. Like Peter, we affirm: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.  Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Reminds me of the powerful ‘winter/spring’ metaphor in C.S. Lewis’ Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe. The Witch’s slave the Dwarf holds Edmund hostage and keeps yanking on the rope that binds him. But Lewis writes:

flowers_crocuses-01This didn’t prevent Edmund from seeing. Only five minutes later he noticed a dozen crocuses growing around the foot of an old treegold and purple and white.

In the land that at one time had been always Winter and never Christmas, a spring thaw emerges. The melting snow in Narnia’s springtime suggests personal transformation and the redemption of the whole human race is at hand.

The Apostle John in Revelation envisions our Redemption  this way:

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away.

Hope Springs Eternalbannerbride1

Edmund’s crocuses will emerge
as snow melts in Narnia.
Winter to Spring.
Dark to Light.
Death to Life.
And I, too, will Rise.

Hallelujah! I will Rise!

© Barbara LaTondresse – 18 March 2016 – all rights reserved.

I Will Rise by Chris Tomlin

 

Text References from:

Lewis, Clive Staples. “The Chronicles Of Narnia : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive.” Internet Archive. Internet Archive, n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2016.

John 6:68-69, Song of Solomon 2:11-12 and Revelation 21:4 from The Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Images courtesy of:

http://www.wallpapersonview.com/wallpapers/flowers_crocuses-1700×1200-16963.html

http://www.platedstories.com/2013_08_01_archive.html

http://www.budscape.net/?p=573

Altar images created by Linda Hammer and reshared courtesy of Church of the Cross, 201 9th Avenue North, Hopkins, MN 55343 in  the following source:  LaTondresse, Barbara. “Light a Candle for Hope.” Web log post. http://www.ofthecross.org/light-a-candle-for-hope/. Church of the Cross, 4 Dec. 2014. Web. 19 Feb. 2o16. Copyright © 2016 Church of the Cross.

 

 

 

For Lent – Meditation I – An Inkling, Too

cedar expectant2

If a picture is worth a thousand words then this one is priceless. Our son’s French bulldog, Cedar, expectantly waiting for a cookie perfectly illustrates the Psalmist’s thought in Psalms 123:2 when he says: “As the eyes of servants  look to the hand of their master,as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress,so our eyes look to the Lord our God, until he has mercy upon us.“

And in Psalm 62:4 David says, “My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him alone.”

If you are one of Clive’s Pilgrims, like I am, then the waiting demands that we, like Cedar, look up for our expectations and hope.

I’m not talking about the kind of mundane waiting we do at red lights, or in check-out lines, or in doctor’s offices. I’m talking about waiting for the Dawn after the Crucifixion—the Daybreak when the shadows flee and the darkness will be made light.

The Apostle John puts it this way in Revelations 21:4, “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”

Here is my most recent poem in which I share my thoughts about Waiting. I hope you will find something in it that speaks to you in your time of Waiting.

An Inkling, Too       

adventbannermaryShaft light shards
pierce thru blackness
borne of dim memory
as daybreak —
orange, red, crimson
blends,
bleeds thru grey canvas,
creeps up the horizon;
a complex kaleidoscope:
dispelling yet casting shadows —
emerging dawn
within my foggy mind.

Glimpses of radiant glory,
shooting stars,
fireworks,
mixed with
griefs observed ,
losses internalized.

The shadows linger
even as the sun also rises.

Hints of what might have been
precisely measured
mingle what is
into what is to be.

bannerbride1Foretastes of heaven’s future ecstasy,
shot straight thru
with the silver bullet
of today’s pain.

So, archeologist-like,
I ponder the emerging sun-blaze
as it turns darkness into light
and begin to sift through the sandy dirt
     forms of the bittersweet days of my life
     hoping the Strainers will capture
esoteric meanings among fragments
     of the world beyond my rubble of
     broken bone, wood, glass, metal, leather,
     and clothes bearing dried blood and tears.

Using tweezers to grasp at unfamiliar, microscopic
bits of my moments and my days,
angling them right, left, upside, downside
I leave no blade of grass unturned.

Desperate to read between the lines:
to align the crooked jigsaw puzzle pieces
until they link the incongruous,
unanswerable forms together
with unexpected precision.

Soon I become tired and sick of trying.

Lifting my gaze once more heaven-ward
breathing in the crystal bright morning air
I watch the bits and pieces of my life tangles
rise into a multi-faceted tapestry jewel,
a kaleidoscope of redeemed sandy dirt forms,
reflecting Son-Dawn image rays everywhere.

An Inkling, Too.

by Barbara LaTondresse
©February 2016.  All Rights Reserved.

__________________________________

Sources

Image created by Linda Hamer and reshared courtesy of Church of the Cross, 201 9th Avenue North, Hopkins, MN 55343 in  the following source:  LaTondresse, Barbara. “Light a Candle for Hope.” Web log post. http://www.ofthecross.org/light-a-candle-for-hope/. Church of the Cross, 4 Dec. 2014. Web. 19 Feb. 2o16. Copyright © 2016 Church of the Cross

Psalm 123:2, Psalm 62:5, and Revelations 21:4 quoted from the King James Version (KJV) by Public Domain.

Silent Night’s Torch-lit Song


Tiny torches light
a million diamond flames
as blackness descends
 and a weary world
dozes off to sleep.

In the night
an Angel sings
 for Christ is born. 

The eternal lullaby begins.

And now
 forever
in my heart
I have a torch-lit song.

© Barbara LaTondresse
12 November 1976
All Rights Reserved

silent-night-2010

 


Image courtesy of:

http://www.thebluegrassspecial.com/archive/2010/december10/imagesdec10/silent-night-2010.jpg

 

Merry New Year in Narnia

Narnia___The_Lamppost_by_Scedwards

I used to live in Narnia, Clive Staples Lewis’ magical, mysterious, sometimes frighteningly wonderful land somewhere between the lamppost and the castle of Cair Paravel.

Always winter.
Never Christmas.

My former home, Akademgorodok, Russia, carved out of huge, dense evergreen forests. Numerous well-worn paths wind their way thru these forests intersecting and dividing to form a pedestrian walking network. As we trekked these by-ways to and from everywhere soft blankets of new-fallen snow dusted the lanes and forests daily. The downy flakes reflected diamonds and stars, especially in the moonlight at night. Narnia indeed.

For 80 years prior to our coming, Christmas in Russia was forbidden. There were none of what E.B. White calls “Christmas wrappings” cluttering the true meaning of the holiday either because even though January 6 is Russian Orthodox Christmas on the calendar, the celebration was not allowed.

Festivities centered around New Year’s Day & Eve. So when we came to santaMissingNarnia we could not find tinsel or lights or Christmas displays or Christmas tree lots or a bombardment of ads for Christmas deals. No loudspeakers blaring carols or Nativity scenes or Santa at the mall. That part of life in Narnia was actually a pleasant surprise.

Instead, Akademgorodok’s New Year’s celebration centerpiece, two mammoth snowy sliding hills, emerged in the street near the main shopping district, Targovie Trading Center with the entire street blocked off to traffic as dump trucks hauled massive quantities of snow in and bulldozers then pushed the huge mounds, compacting them into two hills–one bunny hill and one large hill.

Wooden platforms built on the tops of the hills comprised the impressive platforms so the kids could easily step up the hills and slide down using pieces of cardboard, flat plastic, or just their own rear ends as sleds. Some of the older kids go down standing up, kind of like downhill skiing without skis. A tangled mass of gleeful, snow-covered revelers smash into one another as everyone slides down into everyone else creating a crowded traffic jam at the bottom. One by one the blissfully wet sliders stand, run up the steps, and slide down again and again.

Meanwhile a huge evergreen tree emerges nearby with a large metal frame and big pine branches intertwined. A crane hoists more branches and men on tall ladders put them in place. Eight-foot wooden panels painted with winter scenes and Siberian folk characters frame one side of the street. Colorful lights dance across the boulevard all along the way to Targovie and huge speakers hung from light poles and kiosks belt out an incessant stream of tacky, inappropriately loud music including Russian Rock, Elvis, the Beach Boys, and tunes from American movies, like the theme songs from “Love Story” and “Sound of Music”. FarSide incarnate to hear “the hills are alive with the sound of music” in the middle of Siberia sung in English at Christmas.

Kids frolicking in worn out snow pants,
frayed wool mittens and
furry Stormy Kromer hats;
Even the family dog sliding down the hill backwards barking,
Parents and grandparents on the slippery sidelines watching,
Teens at the kiosks buying warm Coke,
Dear friends strolling arm in arm toward Targovie to shop,
An old man hawking “New Year’s” trees
from the back of his green Army truck,
Another selling fresh bread
from a fold-up card table on the street
     (frozen, I’ll bet–both the man and the bread),
Fireworks–random eclectic fireworks–light up the sky.

Norman Rockwell children SleddingNorman Rockwell comes to Siberia.

He doesn’t see Santa but maybe, just maybe, that’s a good thing.

Barbara LaTondresse
December 2015


 

Photo courtesy of:

http://www.art.com/gallery/id–a32/norman-rockwell-posters.htm

http://www.sheepsheadbites.com/2010/12/santa-stolen-have-you-no-shame-mr-grinch/

 

Forever Fall Toward Narnia

 

overlook2

What a glorious October, Minnesota.  Fall majesty on dress-parade.

Yesterday Andre and I meandered thru the St. Croix River Valley and thrilled as Mother Nature unveiled a grand Technicolor panorama for all to admire.

We basked in the glory of hills and vales painted with stunningly vibrant reds, goldens, browns, greens mingled with landscapes of ripened corn stalks standing straight in neat rows next to wind-ruffled grassy slopes, and confetti flowered meadows set against the backdrop of the St Croix River glistening in the golden sun with the backdrop of a majestic clear blue sky above.

Time stands still for one gloriously warm minute before she plunges ahead into the blustery frozen whiteness of winter. I hear her say:

brngbush2Better take a picture before it’s gone.

Sit with me one glorious hour and as you sit, think.

Drink in the dazzling beauties of the falling leaves and as you reflect on the glory and grandeur of the majesty of this radiance, as you drink it in, let it remind you to ponder what’s just ahead, around the corner.

Get ready. It’s a cue.

Put away the summer clothes. Get out the snow blower. Put away the summer clothes. Get out the snow blower. Patch the cracks in the window frames.

Winter is coming. Am I ready?

———————–

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERACOLD CHOICES

when all October stands

hush, morning
every tree beguiles

the leaf imprint
slow dawns
orange, pink, blue
crimson mercy of my soul

yes

Sunshine floods
make the Day dawn less brief than it would be if you had taken that road
toward the east or south

the road not taken

so you can see
the pink, blue red grace and stay with it sit with it
watch it bless

while it sets its feet
in the soul of your saved mind
and makes it
forever
fall
toward Narnia

 © Barbara LaTondresse – 18 October 1999 – all rights reserved