Sands

by Hazel Ward Adcock

Scientists tell of singing sands

What songs?

What songs sing the singing sands?

I went to a desert place

To learn the song of the singing sands

These offspring of rocks

Forever lost, wanderers of the winds

Flowing obliterating tracks

In high wind fury

Blowing into newly-sculptured dunes

Burning at noon time

Shivering, quaking in moonlight;

Calm burning days

Of diamond shimmer and mirage

Bright water waving, lapping

Glimmering fading forever

As we approach.

At last I heard the song

Its grand song

Song of the only truth or certainty

The grand song of time and change.

Never lost, never the same.’

Kindly offered by Martha Zinger, Hazel Ward Adcock’s daughter.

Happy Thanksgiving

Dear God, make me grateful for all that this life offers – the good and the difficult. You made me and you sustain me, offering love in all times and places. Teach my heart to love, my spirit to dance, and my mind to understand. Amen.

[I’ve Got Plenty To Be Thankful For, Bing Crosby, Holiday Inn (sound track), recorded 1942, Sunbeam Records]

Business, not as usual: default quarantine

An indirect brush with Coronavirus changed all the plans I had for the days leading up to Thanksgiving. No one at home was sick, but someone who tested positive had interacted with my husband. Social distance and masks were both used, but quarantine-by-default was still the result. We adjusted our plans and expectations and began to figure out how to get our work done in isolation.

The first thing that surfaced for me: not everything I had on my to-do list really needed to be done before the end of quarantine. I prefer getting everything done well in advance, but that’s not the same as things needing to be done within my original time frame.

The second thing: the worst that would happen would be delay, not cancellation, in delivering Advent materials. The world would not stop spinning, and Advent would arrive.

The third thing: any inconvenience I might experience does not compare to the suffering of those who are sick. To suppose otherwise is at best ignorant, at worst callous.

Quarantine is a hard thing, but it offered me a better view of what is and is not important. Thanks be to God for that.

Driving Home: Scotland Bridge Road

Yesterday, I drove past the house I called home forty-nine years ago. It’s a ranch, medium size, nestled in the trees. It sits at the middle of Scotland bridge road, halfway between where the river meets tidewaters and an old community church. Although you can’t see it from the road, there’s a lovely path through the woods, babbling brook included. Only a couple of miles from the Atlantic, you can smell the salty sea on most days.

It’s a typical Maine house, with nothing to distinguish it from dozens of others in York. When I turned onto Scotland Bridge road, I wasn’t even sure I’d recognize it. There are a few more houses on the road, and the ones I remember don’t all look the same. New paint colors and a few additions have added a layer of unfamiliarity to many of them. But it was still a home and a road in a town that I called mine.

Watching maple leaves drift groundward at the place I now call home, I see that my memories are that house on Scotland Bridge Road. They’ve changed over time and distance, with new layers added that weren’t really there when I was living among them. But the heart is the same: my soul recognizes the place I once called home.

 

 

Enough, and more than enough

I will try this day to live a simple, sincere, and serene life, repelling promptly every thought of discontent, anxiety, discouragement, impurity, and self-seeking.

“It shouldn’t be this hard.” Life may be holy and unique, but it ain’t easy. How can anyone keep from being discouraged at the world’s mess?

When my talent and resources aren’t enough to give help where it’s desperately needed,  and when others who could help don’t, I do my best to remember this:

It’s up to me to do my part, not everyone else’s.

I cannot know what good will come, but I can trust that God will draw good out of every situation. 

No one is beyond redemption.

There are miracles.

This life is enough, and more than enough.

A Morning Resolve:

I will try this day to live a simple, sincere, and serene life, repelling promptly every thought of discontent, anxiety, discouragement, impurity, and self-seeking; cultivating cheerfulness, magnanimity, charity, and the habit of holy silence; exercising economy in expenditure, generosity in giving, carefulness in conversation, diligence in appointed service, fidelity to every trust, and a childlike faith in God.

In particular I will try to be faithful in those habits of prayer, work, study, physical exercise, eating, and sleep, which I believe the Holy Spirit has shown me to be right.

And as I cannot in my own strength do this, nor even with a hope of success attempt it, I look to thee, O Lord God my Father, in Jesus my Savior, and ask for the gift of the Holy Spirit.

A Morning Resolve, Forward Day by Day, inside front cover; Cincinnati, Ohio: Forward Movement. www.ForwardMovement.org.

Welcome 2020!

In a few hours, 2019 will bow out and hold open the door for 2020. I’ll be toasting in the New Year with friends – an almost every year gathering for the seventeen years I’ve lived in Wareham. When the festivities end and my husband and I are back home, I’ll take a few minutes to thank God for the year just past; then, I’ll begin 2020 by writing about blessings – the happy ones, sad ones, hard and easy ones. I hope you share a few of your own along the way – conversation is so much more fun than monologue…

 

For the Beauty and Bounty

For the beauty and the bounty of this place I call home, Lord, I thank you. May I live in gratitude for  your creation, and be a good caretaker of my own little part of it.

 Common Sage in my front yard.

 Rosemary

[Liz Story, Simple Gifts, The Carols of Christmas: A Windham Hill Collection; Windham Hill Records, 2003]

A View From Below

[Photo by Jared Fredrickson, 2019]

I pass under this tree half a dozen times a week, on my way to the library, grocery store, or out for a daily walk. I’ve admired its leaves as I’ve walked toward it, and I’ve appreciated its shade in the summer. But I don’t know that I’ve looked up from beneath it. Until my son walked with me, showing me how to take pictures with my new smart phone. It was when Jared raised his camera to take this picture that I looked up and saw how blue the sky looked against the golden leaves. How could I have passed under these branches so many times, blind to their graceful stretching?

A bird’s-eye view can be amazing, and I love seeing things from above. But if this picture is any indication, a groundhog’s-eye view offers its own beauty.

Today, I am thankful for my view from below.

[Photo by Jared Fredrickson, 2019]

Incalculable

The effect of one good-hearted person is incalculable.

 Oscar Arias Sanchez

[Nobel Peace Prize winner, former president of Costa Rica who worked for peace and justice throughout South America]

It doesn’t take millions of dollars or an Ivy League education to change the world. Those things can be helpful, sure enough, but true change is accomplished because it is rooted in the compassionate heart of an individual or group. It’s not really that surprising, if I give it some thought.

The catch: the good-hearted person may never see the change he or she effected. Isn’t that a wonderful truth? The good done remains a mystery to the one who began the whole thing.

It brings to mind another saying: there’s no end to the good you can accomplish – as long as you don’t mind who gets the credit…

May I be thankful enough for what I have and who I am to be unconcerned with receiving credit for the good I might do…

I’ve got plenty…

How could anybody ask for more?

It’s a line from Irving Berlin’s song, delivered in Holiday Inn by Bing Crosby. In the scene, he’s sitting down to a beautiful Thanksgiving dinner alone. A record cheerily plays Bing singing about all the things he’s thankful for while the live Bing sits alone, feeling sorry for himself. He talks back to his recorded self, listing life’s faults and shortcomings. Unlike the line in the song, there’s plenty more he’d like to ask for.

This being a Hollywood musical, everything works out splendidly for everyone involved, and the movie ends with amazing singing and dancing.

Most of us know life isn’t an Irving Berlin musical. We don’t get the girl (or boy, depending), our career plans go awry, and there’s rarely world class singing and dancing to celebrate at the end of each calendar year. Even for the people whose lives work out that way, everything gained doesn’t guarantee joy and fulfillment – no one and nothing can provide another’s happiness and contentment. There will be arguments and bad days.

Bing’s character may be wrong in the everyday sense: a laundry list of positives without the inevitable negatives is naive at best and misleading at worst. But he’s right in the much larger sense. When we know that our lives are held by God, that we are God’s beloved children, we don’t bet our joy and happiness on our current circumstances. We are enough because God delights in us. We may ask for more worldly goods, but there’s nothing more our spirits need to live holy lives. We can be happy, not because what we have is always enough, but because we are always enough. We are always loved. And so, with Bing, we can sing: how could anybody ask for more?

[Irving Berlin, Holiday Inn soundtrack, recorded in 1942, released by Sunbeam records, 1979 & 2004]