Dancing Through Life

Life is a dance,
Full of joy, sorrow and grace.

Sometimes we feel like doing a reel,
And sometimes we feel like dancing in place.

We never know what music will come,
As we dance through this thing we call life,
But if we keep dancing and give it our all,
We’ll find in the end a beautiful waltz
That ends all our struggles and strife.


Over the past weekend, my family experienced a huge loss as a dear friend of ours who was actually living in our basement, passed away. He went in his sleep, so his dancing here has ceased, but I know he’s dancing in heaven.

We all have ups and downs and turnarounds in our lives. That is, we do if we live very long at all and get involved in the world and with people around us. The ups keep us encouraged and hopeful. The downs remind us that life on this earth isn’t perfect and is only temporary. However, if we keep on keeping on, never ceasing to improve our dance steps/actions and selves, we know in the end, we’ll find peace.

I, myself, believe I have found salvation and peace through Jesus Christ, God’s son. I believe that He was crucified, died, and then rose again so that all who believe in Him might rise again after we die and live eternally too. For some people, that sounds like too fantastic a story, too unbelievable to accept. Some people call it a fable, a myth, a fairy tale. I call it the most beautiful example of love I’ve ever heard of and so…I take the risk. I accept the story and the gift of Jesus. My prayer is that when I pass away, I will keep on dancing, but my partner will be Jesus. I think Chuck is dancing with Jesus right now, happy, free, and completely devoid of pain. That gives me peace and joy. I pray it will give you peace too, knowing there is someone (God) who loves you so much that He let his son die for you.

God bless you all and may your Christmas be merry and bright!

D. Elaine Wood-Lane
December 14, 2016

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Memories Never Forgotten, An Etheree Poem

I saw this idea/suggestion on the dVerse blog yesterday and it completely intrigued me so I thought I’d give it a go. Also, today is my oldest son’s birthday so in light of that, I thought I’d attempt an Etheree style poem about the day he was born.

We
had been
laboring for hours,
you and I, wondering
what in the world was
making things so hard for you
to escape the comfortable home you outgrew.
Contractions strengthened, you kicked, stretched, and nothing changed.
Finally, your little heart, exhausted beyond all endurance, slowed.
Doctors came, pronouncements made, preparations done, and here you came!

© D. Elaine Wood-Lane
5/20/16


An Etheree, based on syllables or words, is a geometric form, ascending from one to ten or inverted from ten to one. You can build as many sequences as you like, reversing the syllable/word count from ten to one (or not). Suggestion and more information can be found at: https://dversepoets.com

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Autumn has arrived in beautiful Colorado as well as the northern hemisphere and it is just gorgeous this year!  Autumn is my favorite season, I must admit.  I love the colors, I love the temperatures cooling down, I love the way the light slants across the sky in a softer manner that seems to make everything look new and different.  When I was a child, I looked forward to the beginning of every new school year and the new clothes and shoes we would buy so I could start off the year all sparkly and new.  I’m even one of those people who, to this day, loves the smell of pencils and erasers and chalk boards, pens and all kinds of paper, and even the crisp newness of notebooks.  Can I make a confession to you?  I still buy school supplies when they’re in the stores, on sale, because they’re less expensive then and I love wandering up and down the aisles with all those lovely school supply aromas.  Autumn is my favorite season hands down!

I grew up in west Texas where we had fall, but it wasn’t the same as fall in places farther north.  We got cooler, but mostly that was when we had our heavy rains and so gray, foggy days seemed to go hand in hand with the new season.  I loved walking home after school and walking into my house to the aroma of soup or stew that Mother was already cooking on the stove.  Those were some of my favorite moments as a child and I miss those moments now.  I LIKED wearing more clothes in the fall and winter months.  I loved sweaters and corduroy pants, long-sleeved dresses and coats, hats, and gloves.  I was born in November and always loved that November’s flower is the chrysanthemum.  I loved the colors that were used to represent fall–pumpkin, sweet potato, maroon, dark green, browns, burnished golds, and darker blues.

Autumn is the season for Halloween and I recall my favorite Halloween costume as a child. I believe I was in the second grade and I decided to dress up as a gypsy.  Mother made me a long, full skirt made of a fall-colored paisley print.  I adored that skirt and wore it all the time, even when it wasn’t Halloween.  I liked going trick or treating, but my favorite part was coming home and all of my friends and I dividing and sharing the spoils of our evening.

My favorite holiday of all is Thanksgiving and not because of the largely mythical stories of the pilgrims and the Indians having a big feast together after the harvest.  I love Thanksgiving because, to me, it represents a time for family to get together for no other reason than to share a good meal and quality time together.  I have grand memories of all the women working in my mother’s kitchen preparing the big feast for the day.  I loved the food too, don’t get me wrong, but I loved even more being in the midst of the women, hearing the latest news about what was happening in the family, the joking around, the camaraderie and the love.  I think I love preparing the Thanksgiving meal now because even though it is harder to gather family together for it, the recipes and preparations remind me of those days when there was a big crowd to prepare and eat the meal.  Making cornbread dressing reminds me of my sister Judy, who was the official dressing maker.  Making pecan and cherry pies reminds me of Mother and her explaining each step to me.  I loved putting the chicken and dressing together into the oven and the aromas that arose as it cooked. (Mother never baked a turkey.  She thought they were too greasy.)

As you can tell, I’m on a nostalgia trip this morning!  🙂  Now, as I’m older, I’m realizing I need to institute some new traditions in our family so someday my grandchildren will have such ardent memories as I do of my childhood Thanksgivings.

Last week, my husband and I took our annual trip into the mountains to see the beautiful trees and leaves around Colorado.  As we did so, I was filled with joy and peace that I just don’t experience throughout the rest of the year.  My husband loves it when it snows.  I love it when it cools and the trees turn into a riot of lovely colors.  I get this almost uncontrollable urge to cook soups and stews, turkeys and dressing.  I even get this weird urge to draw and cut out leaves and pumpkins and turkeys from construction paper and tape them to the  front window.  Instead, I’m crocheting and knitting shawls from autumnal colors.  That works too…  What is your favorite part of autumn?  Were there special rituals and traditions your family participated in?  Let me know in the comments below.  I’d love to know!

Peace and love, today and always,

Elaine

I live in Colorado Springs, Colorado where the average precipitation per year is roughly 11 inches. This year, I’m not certain how many inches we’ve received, but I know we’re well over double that amount if not nearing triple that amount. El nino is definitely affecting our weather pattern to say the least. As a result, plants that usually grow to be maybe 5 feet each year and then bloom beautifully in late August, early September have grown to about, well, I’m not a good judge but at least 7 feet tall! Wild sprouts off of the roots of our elm trees have grown very tall and fast too. Okay, everything has just about burst right out of the stratosphere to tell the truth and our front flowerbeds were literally looking like rainforests! Even our mint plants were about 5 feet long/tall.

So, yesterday we had the biggest storm yet here at my house. At one point we were getting hail and rain from every direction and it was all hitting HARD! My cat tried to use me as a tree to escape the noise. I don’t know where she thought she was going, but apparently my body was her escape route! My dog just froze in the living room floor, not moving throughout the entire storm. It was quite fun! It looked like this in the middle of it all:

Rain storm 8.10.15

We ended up with 2.25″ of rain in about half an hour yesterday when all was said and done. Flash floods were the fear of the day in many areas of town. Thankfully, we live on the top of a hill, so we rarely have flooding problems here at home. This morning, while it was nice and cool, I decided to attack our rainforest and see what kind of good I could do. I worked on it all for about an hour and this is all I accomplished in that amount of time:

I realize it doesn’t look like I’ve accomplished much, but you must realize that before I started, you couldn’t see any of the red sidewalk in these areas and I think I disturbed a new small ecosystem of squirrels, a crazy cat, and many, many spiders and creepy crawlies in my efforts thus far. Our neighbor came over for a few minutes, after which I gave myself time for a midmorning tea break. Now it’s back to the rainforest for more chopping and hewing. Hopefully by the time my husband comes home this afternoon or at least before it starts raining again, I will be finished! I’ll keep you updated.

In the meantime, peace and love, always,

Elaine

What Are Your Hands Doing?

I was reading Guideposts this morning and came across a quote so profound, I felt I had to share it and some other thoughts I have on the matter.  Here is the quote:
“Our hands are really servants of our thoughts, so if you want to understand what you’re thinking, watch what your hands are doing.”   Jewel, singer

  What are our hands treasuring?  What are they doing each day?  I like the idea that our hands reveal our thoughts, and to a greater degree, our hearts.  I wish I could say that all of my days are spent using my hands to help others, to do good works, and to enourage, love, and build others up.  I would be lying if I said that is what I do all the time.  For, my hands are often spent serving and entertaining myself, especially online on my iPad.  I also use my hands for housework, some gardening, knitting/crocheting, petting my animals, and touching people, hopefully in a loving way. I waste a lot of time, though, when my hands could be serving and loving more.

I did a search on my Bible app (via my ever present iPad) for the word “hands” in the New Testament. Do you know what came up over and over again?  Jesus or his disciples laying hands on people to heal them.  Jesus laying his hands on the  little children to bless them. Jesus lifting his hands in prayer to his father in heaven.  In other words, Jesus used his hands for the same things we can use our hands for–laying hands on people, helping them and praying. I’m not suggesting that all of us have the spiritual gift to heal people when we lay hands on them. I am saying that as a people we should be touching others in love and encouragement, more. We don’t do that anymore. Our hands are too full of things to reach out and touch someone. Our hands are even clenched into fists of anger, frustration, and protests so much that reaching out in a friendly manner and touching someone has almost become a taboo activity. Why is that? Have we become a society so filled with fear that we can’t be human?

I like to touch people, especially babies and old people. Now, before you start thinking I’m a pervert, I’m not. These two demographics of people seem reach out their hands to be touched, patted, and/or in a request for help. The interesting thing is, these people seem to inherently know when they see me, a complete stranger, that I’m a person whom they can trust and will touch them with love. I’ve had complete strangers walk up to me in public places, take my hand, and ask for help or just start talking to me. Babies, in public, when I pass by, whether I’ve seen them or not, laugh spontaneously when they see me (yeah, I’m funny looking and make lots of people laugh!) and then reach out their little hands to touch me. I’ve even had babies out in public spontaneously jump into my arms! I can’t explain this phenomenon, but both groups are right. They can trust me. I won’t hurt them. I will do what I can to help them. I actually love it when people reach out to me. It’s always a blessing to me and fills me with peace and joy the entire rest of the day!

So why don’t I reach out and touch more people? Why don’t I use my hands more often to help and serve others and God? Why do I waste so much time? It is easy for me to say, “Well, I have fibromyalgia and have a lot of pain and weakness. I can’t do things like I used to do because I don’t have the physical capacity to do so.”

A couple of years ago, God told me my mission, if I chose to accept it, was to simply “Knit, Pray, Love.”  That’s it. Three words. I started knitting/crocheting prayer shawls. As I would work on the shawl, I would pray for whomever was to receive the shawl and pray that through that shawl, they could feel my love and, more importantly, God’s loving arms around them. Sometimes I knew who I was making the shawl for, but, more often than not, I had no idea who would receive the shawl. Every time I finished one, I learned who it was for and would pass it on to them. I felt a great deal of peace, love, and usefulness in this work, but somehow let it lapse. Oh, I keep buying yarn and getting patterns, but I’m not doing what I was doing, what God asked me to do. I need to do that again. I need to use my hands for good instead of entertaining myself. I need to reach out and touch people in real life too. We all do. We’ve become a society afraid of touching and it is isolating us and creating huge rifts amongst family, friends, ethnic groups, religious groups, and the world in general. I think if there was more handshaking, pats on the back and hugging going on amongst all people, a lot of these tensions would melt away. I think if we used our hands to help and bless one another, no one would be able to take weapons up against one another in haste or hatred. Lives would be spared. All our lives would be blessed. 

What are your hands doing? 

  

Jackson Pollock, Convergence, 1952

I have no wise words to say
on this most usual Thursday.

So far this morning I’ve read
countless poems
by brilliant poets participating
in NaPoWriMo just as I am this month.

I’ve watched a video of a nun
visiting great art of the 20th century
and heard her describe the significance
of Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning,
Mark Rothko, and Andy Warhol.

I’ve read new messages about
my sponsored Compassion children
in Peru and Rwanda and in my heart
compared my life of relative wealth
to their lives of hardship and loss.

All these things are what I love.
Walter de la Mare was the first poet
I learned about and loved.
Then came Robert Frost, Mary Oliver,
William Carlos William, and Billy Collins.
Somewhere along the way,
I decided I wanted to write poetry
that would be read and inspire
others like they inspire me.

I’ve seen Jackson Pollock, Rothko,
and Warhol’s art live and in person
at the Chicago Institute of Art.
Pollock’s painting was so large and
had such depth of expression,
that when I saw it, I sat down in stunned
silence, tears sliding down my face as
the full experience and meaning
touched my soul.

My Compassion children,
Dayana and Niyonkuru,
have my heart even though
I’ve never met them, seen them,
or touched their little faces.
They’re so grateful and loving,
and the letters and pictures
we exchange have connected
us across thousands of miles,
different cultures and experiences.

The common theme this morning,
for me,
is the beauty to be found in life,
in poetry, art, people, and God.

I have no wise words to say
about these things.

You have to open your own eyes,
your own mind, heart, and soul,
to see beauty in everything yourself.

God made so much beauty in
the world for us to appreciate.
Try to find some today, enjoy it,
relish it, breathe it into your soul,
and say, “Thank you,” for the beauty.

Peace and love,

©Elaine Wood-Lane
4/9/15

Money. Simple money.
Figures on a bank app
show we have enough.
Enough to pay our bills,
buy our food, and even,
fortunately, and thank God,
enough to share with others.

Are we rich? No.
Put us on an American class scale
and we’d tilt the scales to
middle middle class.
Not rich.
Not poor.
But somewhere in the middle.
Richer than I ever thought I’d
be on that scale, for sure.

However, money isn’t valuable.
See this rooster?

Henry the Rooster is valuable.
He has been in our family
since I was 3 years old when I
first saw him on the shelf at the
Gold Bond Stamp store.

It was my parents’ 30th anniversary
and my sister, Judy, and I were
looking for a gift for our parents.
She found useful things like
pretty drinking glasses with gold rims.
I found Henry. Henry was meant
for Mother and Daddy to celebrate
their 30 years as wife and husband.
I was sure of it and rather stubbornly
stomped my foot over him
in the Stamp Store.

Judy acquiesced to her stubborn
baby sister and we went home
that day with drinking glasses
and Henry.

My parents made much of him,
said he was just perfect.
He was then placed,
and lived for years, in a place of
honor and safety on top
of our icebox.

I grew up.
My parents grew very old, and
then slipped away to heaven.
Through it all, Henry
remained at his post loyally,
never getting broken,
always there to gaily
remind us of the great love
of two people who married,
had five children,
and stayed together until
death parted them after
66 years of marriage.

If my house caught fire today,
Would I grab jewelry?
Money? Stocks?
Photo albums? Heck no!

No, I would grab,
Henry the Rooster,
and Buddy, my little dog,
the two most valuable
possessions in my whole house.

One reminds me of my past.
One holds me steadfastly
in my present, so that
someday we’ll all be
together in the future:

Henry the now antique Rooster,
Buddy my Chihuahua, Alan my husband,
and me, the richest woman on earth
because all of my valued possessions
remind me of LOVE, the most valuable
thing on earth.

© Elaine Wood-Lane
4/7/15