In Silence You Sat…

Sometimes we’re at a loss for words and don’t know what to say to the grieving. We want to say the right words to bring comfort. Yet, often the less said the better. The one grieving is struggling to take it all in, finding their attention span is limited. While life around them continues on its merry way, unfairly it seems to the grieving, their immediate world has come to a screeching halt. Unsure of the next step, they often move forward in pain-filled autopilot mode. I well remember…

Though the steps of grief are typically similar, they’re not the same for everyone. A numbness or denial might be followed by a sense of guilt, the “if only” stage as I call it. You might feel anger at the cause of death, or that God did not answer prayers for healing. Perhaps depression sets in as you face life without your loved one. But, one day you realize acceptance and a healing sense of peace have touched your heart.

The only way to truly understand someone’s loss is to mourn and grieve with them. Awash with empathy, love comes alive when your heart awakens to sharing another’s pain, to be there for them and to feel their sorrow. May you know that God has put you there in His place to shelter and hold His beloved as an emissary of His love.

My poem below was written a month before my dad passed in April 2015. Not able to visit him several states away, a lifetime of memories came to mind as his life drew to a close. But, I also recalled the days when our 25-year-old married daughter, Jennifer, passed away in June 2003. Many people shared our grief in tangible ways as they shed tears with ours, shared joys in remembering a life well lived, and simply gave their loving support with kind words, food, and cards. Actually, it was a summer with many family losses, including my mother-in-law six weeks after Jenn.

Ed’s uncle the week before Jenn, … a cousin’s son two weeks later, and two weeks later by my step-sister’s daughter and three of her friends in a fiery crash when hit from behind.

There’s no preparing for your loss. You may realize their illness is terminal and know the end is coming as we knew with my dad and mother-in-law. You can begin to prepare yourself for the loss to come, but you cannot anticipate the depth of your feelings in the actual loss.

On the other hand, you may have no warning as it was with Jenn. Her collapse was so unexpected. Ending life support and saying our final goodbye was not easy. In sharing our grief, friends and family sat with us in the hospital, sharing memories, and writing Scripture on the board in our conference room. Their presence meant much to us, as did that of our neighbor, Mark Stevens, owner of the golf course, formerly my husband’s family farm. Seeing me on my garden bench the day after Jenn died, he sat with me and shared the quiet time just to show how much he cared. Out of respect for our sorrow, he also stopped all construction on the golf course that day.

In the days and weeks to come, emotions were up and down, and we’d often find ourselves deluged in tears. Yet, there was also joy in recalling a life well lived. I found solace in writing about her life and passing, including the growing-up years of all three of our children, recalling the fun and love they shared in an unpublished manuscript, “Watch Them.” Writing was cathartic, a healing release as I came to terms with accepting this loss and change in our family. Her life’s history was written in God’s book long before she was held in my arms at birth. The Lord took something so painful to reveal how His great love allows, and yet overcomes, our earthly sorrows. Like the tremendous sense of peace and comfort that washed over me when reading Psalm 139:13-16 on a beautiful plaque in Rochester International Airport. Likely placed in honor of the unborn, God knew how much those verses would mean to me and our family in the days and years to come.

As a Houghton College grad unafraid to share her faith, two of her Alfred University friends accepted Christ following her death. Because of Jenn’s witness to them of God’s love, they readily testified with Scripture of their faith at Alfred University’s memorial service. Despite their mocking her for not going to bars, Jenn invited them to her home to work on their Master’s psychology projects, sharing her delicious home-cooked meals and desserts. From her love for them, and for how tenderly she worked with troubled children, her friends saw her inner beauty and wanted to know more. God’s love gently shone through in Jenn’s love for them.

Crying so hard I could barely see as I typed, these words poured out of my heart like a cleansing release. “At times I am overwhelmed with thinking that God, our Great God, took the time to give us so many special reminders of His awesome presence in our lives. But, then really, it should not surprise me that He would care so much for each one of us… that we are so loved and so special to Him… that He would know our every need and handle them in such a way that would mean the most to each of us… that He would reveal His tender loving care in such a difficult and painful loss through Scripture, special visions, and through our loving family and friends. God was always here, loving us through our pain.” (“Watch Them…” by Linda A. Roorda, 2004, p.9)

There is something to be said about the bonds of friendship and love which are strengthened during life’s deepest sorrow. In that time of quiet, when the one mourning is simply unable to voice their deepest pain, there’s no need for words. But through your act of love in simply being there, your presence brings peace to the hurting. This poem, then, is a tribute to each of you who supported us, and a tribute to each of you as you support others in their grief.

In Silence You Sat
Linda A. Roorda
In silence you left like a shooting star.
You lived your life full, a blessing to all.
Where once you sat, an image lingers.
Where once your voice spoke, now silence replies.
~
In silence you sat holding my hand close.
You heard my sobs and shared my heart’s cry.
You did not voice your thoughts for my pain
But in this moment your silence spoke well.
~
The warm embrace as hands tightly held
The soul in pain, the heart sinking low,
You wrapped your love like a blanket warm
Around my heart to share my sorrow.
~
Your silence spoke its volumes of love
Your presence gave joy where none could be felt.
Your smile gave light and hope far beyond
A glimmer of life and meaning through pain.
~
As days pass by and the world moves on
Life’s little routines bring normalcy home.
But never forgot is the time you sat
In silence to hold my heart in your hand.
~
With tears for a season was this grief expressed
For you taught us well the lessons of life.
As memories linger from a time held dear
Where grief overwhelmed, God’s peace comforts and sustains.
~~
03/16/15
All rights reserved.
May not be reproduced without permission of author.

Initially published as “When Grief Overwhelms” in the “Faith Nurture” section of The Network, the online resource of the Christian Reformed Church of North America.
~~

Advertisements

I Remember A Dad…

Father’s Day… a time to remember the dads we treasure.  They’ve taught us well in the ways of life.  I remember a lot about my dad.  In fact, it would be fair to say I had put him on a pedestal while growing up.  It seems he could do anything and everything, a jack-of-all-trades.  Though none of us can measure up all the time, there is One who is perfect… who forgives all our failings… our heavenly Father.

There is so much my Dad, Ralph, taught me and my siblings, including about the love of Jesus.   As a small child on the farm, I would say, “Jesus is my best friend!”  But, for a time as a teen, I forgot my childhood friend until my Dad reminded me of those words I used to say as a little girl.  Oops!

I loved playing board games on Sunday afternoons with my Dad, especially Scrabble.  I love the challenge of this game and tend to play aggressively, perhaps because I was in tough competition with my Dad.  Though I won only one game against him over those few years, it was a sweet victory knowing that I’d accomplished the win without his having given me an edge.

He taught me honesty was the right way such that in 8th grade English class I chose to write an essay entitled “Honesty Is The Best Policy”, receiving an A.  Actually, I think I may have gotten writing and art abilities from him.  Although he was an exceptional storyteller, imitating voice and mannerisms of various comedians, I speak best through the written word.  He also had a gift for drawing with his talent for art passed on to me and my son.

As we grew up, we loved hearing Dad tell family stories of his and our childhoods.  He had a gift for telling any story in a humorous way, and how I long to hear them all again.  I’d ask him to write them down for posterity, but he never did.  When he drove truck in the latter 1960s through the 1980s (and later huge tractors for an Iowan farmer in the ‘90s), he’d come home with stories from the road.  He shared radio routines by Bill Cosby and southern Cajun comedians, recalling their stories and imitating accents perfectly!  That was way better entertainment than TV any day!

I recall a few stories of his time in the Army at Fort Greeley, Alaska (1956-1957), a foreign assignment before official statehood.  From 18 months to 2 years, I was too young to remember my six months at Delta Junction with my baby sister.  But, I do remember having heard how he and several buddies found a sunken rowboat.  As it lay not far below the surface of a lake, they pulled it up, cleaned it off, and took it out to fish.  It made for an interesting adventure to say the least – while they each took a turn fishing, the other three worked hard at bailing to keep the boat afloat!  Now that’s dedicated fishermen!

Fort Greeley is also where he learned to drive big rigs.  With someone ill, he was asked to take over in the motor pool one night.  Proving he could handle backing up a trailer perfectly, the commanding officer asked where he’d learned to do that since everyone else struggled.  “Backing up a manure spreader, Sir!” was his dutiful reply.  They kept him in the motor pool, where he got invaluable training for later driving 18-wheelers.

He also was given an unprecedented promotion because he took the time to thoroughly clean an office coffeepot, a skill learned from his Dutch immigrant mother who had taught him all aspects of housekeeping while growing up, like any good Dutch mother.  With a general visiting Fort Greeley, and the coffee-making task handed down to my Dad, he took pains to provide a clean urn for making fresh-brewed coffee… which greatly impressed the general.  When the general asked who made the coffee, the aide who was supposed to have made it “blamed” my Dad.  Instead of the feared reprimand for the typically bad-tasting coffee the office was known for, the general complimented my father on the best cup he’d ever tasted!  Turning to the senior officer, he told him to give my father a promotion!

When we were younger, he always had time for us.  I enjoyed it when he took us fishing.  And, though I could never bring myself to touch those worms (still can’t!), let alone put them on a hook, and never did catch “the big one,” it was the quality time with our Dad that meant the world to us kids.  As a tomboy, I especially enjoyed working outside with my Dad whether it was in the barn learning to care for the animals, in the huge vegetable gardens, or traipsing the fields and woods hunting.  That love just naturally transferred to enjoying the time spent working alongside my husband out in the barn or in the yard, even growing my own gardens.

As we grew older, I still adored my Dad.  In my teens, he listened to us and gave sound advice, but I wasn’t always ready to listen to him.  His careers changed from farming, to driving a grain truck delivering feed to dairy farmers, to carpentry with his Dad, a general contractor in northeast New Jersey, to driving a tank truck “locally” and later OTR (over the road/cross country).  When we lived in Clifton, he drove chemical tankers locally in northeast Jersey, southern New England, and New York City.  What stories he brought home from his experiences!  I got to ride with him only twice and wish it could have been more.

I was never so happy as when we moved back to New York in 1969!  Though I hated city life, I can now look back with fond memories of Clifton.  But, as we settled in to “backyard farming,” he taught me how to raise our mare, War Bugg, a granddaughter of Man O’ War.  I helped him build her corral and box stall in the small barn, along with re-roofing and remodeling the old chicken coop for our flock.  And then came the heavy-duty barn chores of mucking out the pens, learning to groom War Bugg and how to pick up her feet to clean the undersides.  I saw his deep concern when I stepped on a wasp’s nest in the haymow with 11 stings on my leg, and saw his gratefulness for my dousing him with a 5-gallon pail of water when a torch threatened to catch him on fire while trying to burn tent caterpillars.  But, I also learned the hard way that running War Bugg flat out up the road and back could have killed her.  I was scolded hard, yet taught to walk her slowly, allowing her to have only small sips of warm water until she cooled down.

As we grew older, we teens were often in our own world.  Soon enough, I got married and began a new life with my new family, while my siblings and parents scattered themselves around the U.S.  Life changes, and we change with it.  I well remember teasing my Dad as a child when he turned 30 that he was old, and that when he would turn 50 he’d be “way over the hill.”  Well, Dad, guess what?  Your oldest daughter reached that milestone a ways back, too!  Giving him this writing in 2014 before he passed away in 2015, he knew I felt blessed to have him as my Dad.  Sometimes I wish I could go back and recapture the childhood fun of days long ago, but I greatly treasure the memories that linger still.

May you each be blessed with very special memories of your Dad!  Happy Father’s Day!

I Remember A Dad

Linda A. Roorda

I remember a dad who took me fishin’

And remember a dad who hooked my worms,

Who took those hooks from fishy mouths,

And showed me the country way of life.

~

A family of six, two girls and four boys

Fun and trouble we shared as we grew.

From farms and fields to paved avenues,

Walking and biking, exploring we went.

~

I remember a time spent playing games,

A dad who’d not cheat for us to win.

Family and friends and holiday dinners,

Lakes and farms and countryside drives.

~

Weeds were the bane of childhood fun,

So ‘tween the rows we ran and we played.

But as I grew and matured in age,

Weeding was therapy in gardens of mine.

~

I remember a dad who thrived on farming

Livestock and gardens, and teaching me how.

I remember a dad who took me huntin’

Scouting the fields, always alert.

~

I remember a dad who taught us more

For growing up we learn by example.

I remember working alongside my dad

Roofing a barn and building corrals.

~

I remember a dad whose gifts were given

In fairness to meet each child’s desire.

I remember a dad whose wisdom we honor

In memories of caring and love in small ways.

~

I remember a dad who brought us laughter

With Cajun and Cosby stories retold.

For blessed with a gift of retelling tales

Family and childhood events he recalled.

~

I remember a dad whose time was given

To help his children face life’s turmoils.

Time spent together are memories treasured

For things done best put family first.

~

I remember a dad who taught me more

To treasure my faith in Jesus my friend.

In looking to Him as Savior and Lord,

Salvation by Grace, not earned by my deed.

~

As I look back to days long ago,

I remember the dad I knew so well.

For I miss the dad who took me fishin’

And remember the dad who taught me more.

~

All rights reserved.

May not be reproduced without permission of author.

Releasing With Love

In this season of graduations, my thoughts began to contemplate releasing our young with love. As we travel life’s path we all manage to lose a few things… like special trinkets, and perhaps a few friends from another time and another place as life moves on. We even lose our patience a few more times than we care to admit. Though losing something special can be painful, it’s different from giving it away… releasing that treasure on our own is a whole other story, a gift of love.

Letting go of what we hold dear can be difficult, perhaps even bittersweet, yet the release can leave us with a warm glow in our heart. It’s a process that takes time. As Corrie ten Boom, one of my favorite authors, once said, “I have learned to hold all things loosely, so God will not have to pry them out of my hands.” Like a mother hen, we lovingly protect and keep our little ones safe, and try to impart some of our hard-earned wisdom over time before letting them take off on their own. After all, we truly want the best for them!

But, as our little ones grow up, they mature with a wisdom found only by taking some of life’s most difficult steps. Learning to walk, falling down is a frequent occurrence as they learn how to get back up again. Then, as they continue to grow and mature, they also benefit by failing a few times, learning how to pick themselves up to try again. At times, though, I was over protective of my children, a hover-mother, not wanting them to face some of the difficulties I had… not my best parenting idea. I loved my children and wanted to be involved in every aspect of their little lives, especially since I didn’t have that type of close relationship with my own mother.

We all know parenting has its challenges, and every so often I’d say, “It’s hard to raise a mother!” Raising our children was a joint learning venture, especially since they managed to arrive without an individual instruction manual in hand. But, now we have the pleasure of watching our children raise their children, and hearing their stories holds extra special meaning. Like when our daughter, Emily, was trying to put her middle son down for a nap. He had every excuse in the book as he fussed around. Finally, she let him know how frustrated she was getting with him. Patting her arm, 3-year-old Sam gently said, “It’s ok, Mom. You’ll get used to it!” And Em had to tuck her face into his blanket so he wouldn’t see her laughing. There’s more wisdom in those words than little Sam could have ever known! For out of the mouths of babes comes wisdom sweet.

Should we hold too tightly to our children and their childhood, we may not allow them the freedom they need to grow and adjust with life’s changes. They may not become the well-adjusted mature adults they are meant to be. And, if we fail to help them discipline their own actions, they won’t know the rewards of self-control. Each child is a unique individual, a most precious gift from God to be treasured and loved as we guide them in starting their journey of life.

My friend, Mimi, once shared a quote from her stitchery with me – “There are two lasting gifts we can give to our children – one is roots, the other is wings.” How true! May we love our children enough to provide them with the deep roots of a sturdy foundation, laughing and crying alongside them, while giving them wings and freedom to fly out into the great big world on their own. And may we learn the gift of releasing with love… allowing us all to see the beauty deep within their heart.

Releasing With Love
Linda A. Roorda
Along life’s journey we lose a few things
Like fancy trinkets and friends of the heart
Even some time, and patience, too
All that holds meaning through our hands will slip.
~
Losing possessions with meaning attached
Shows how futile to retain our grip
As respected wisdom gives true perspective
That where grace abounds we hold but loosely.
~
When losing our self for a greater good
We follow a path of godly wisdom
And in giving thought to what holds our heart
Is found the key essential to life.
~
For the years of youth build up to the time
When wisdom is gained and freedom earned,
We’ve gently led and helped them to know
It’s time to fly on wings of their own.
~
By clutching firmly life’s fleeting passage
We cannot grasp the beauty within
For in the act of releasing with love
We’ll come to treasure each moment’s sweet gift.
~~
05/19/17
All rights reserved.
May not be reproduced without permission of author.
~~

 

Mary or Martha?

I got to thinking one evening while doing dishes after dinner… am I a Mary or a Martha?  Or perhaps a little of both?  I’ve always been intrigued by the biblical story of Mary and Martha, two sisters, friends of Jesus along with their brother, Lazarus.  Luke 10:38-42 describes Jesus’ visit to their home where Mary joined others and sat at His feet, listening to His teaching.  But, Martha remained in the other room preparing a meal for their guests.  While busying herself with all that went into food preparation, her frustration simmered to a boiling point.

Life gets so busy and hectic sometimes, doesn’t it?  Ever feel like you’re trapped in the kitchen while everyone else is having a great time visiting, talking and laughing?  I’ll admit I have!  Cooking is not my forte`.  I’d much rather be visiting with my guests than in the kitchen.  So, I empathize with Martha.  There’s so much to do for your guests, and you fret and worry as time presses in.  You want everything to be right for them to feel special, loved and appreciated… to give attention to the fine details as you prepare to serve them a delicious meal.

Being the oldest of six, having helped care for four younger brothers during my teen years, plus an every-other-day 8-hour babysitting job of four children all through high school (alternating evenings with my sister), plus other weekend babysitting jobs, plus caring for my horse and flock of chickens and ducks, plus working for a lawyer in the afternoons during my senior year of high school and full-time after graduation, contributing a portion of my income to my parents for room and board while also buying my own clothes, fabric to make clothes, paying for my own school supplies and for a car with its upkeep, I’ve always felt responsible for myself, and everyone and everything else.  Even my husband and kids will tell you that!  To be honest, with Martha being the oldest sibling, perhaps she also carried the weight of responsibility and obligation that Mary may not have felt as strongly.

So, as Martha prepared the meal, in frustration and perhaps with a quick temper, she petulantly asked Jesus, “Don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself?” and then even demanded, “Tell her to help me!”  On one hand, you’d think that was a valid request – after all, they needed to eat, and Martha did need help.  But, on the other hand, I’ve also been appalled at Martha’s nerve for speaking in such a demanding tone to their beloved teacher.  Instead of answering sharply, Jesus gently rebuked her for being concerned with these lesser matters, saying, “Martha, Martha.  You are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

His response to Martha can seem a bit confusing.  As I contemplate His words though, I believe Jesus intended that the meal could wait.  They didn’t need anything fancy – no abundant buffet or big fuss was necessary.  Martha only needed to serve something simple, quick and easy.  I believe He wanted Martha to understand the value of the personal time and teaching He was giving to the guests, and to the sisters in their home.  In essence, He was reminding them of something He’d taught the crowds in His Sermon on the Mount, “Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink… But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow… (Matthew 6:25, 33, 34a NIV)

Priorities mattered then just as much as they do now… in my life… in all our lives.  I need to set aside quiet time to think and reflect, to meditate, to pray and listen to what God is trying to say within my heart… and to give Him the weight of responsibility I feel for everything.  I need not fret and worry.  The Apostle Peter understood how we feel and said it well, “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” (I Peter 5:7 NIV)  When I do, it sure seems to help me handle whatever comes my way.  It also seems to put life into a clearer perspective so that I can better serve others with a heart of joy instead of stress in the little nuisances of life.

Mary or Martha?

Linda A. Roorda

If I were Mary,

Or were I but Martha,

What would I choose

Should a friend come to call?

~

Would I be too busy To welcome my guest,

Or would I gaze attentive

And at His side be still.

~

But a meal must be served!

The depth of discussion

I’m too busy to hear

There’s so much to be done!

~

Lord, can’t you tell Mary

I need her help now!

The preparations are great

A burden for me alone.

~

Martha, my dear child

Can you not understand?

Mary’s gentle spirit

Seeks my Word for her soul.

~

There’s a time and a place

For the busyness of life

With much to be done

For those in need of care.

~

And yet there’s a time

To come away from it all

As you quietly listen

And ponder My Word.

~

A word of wisdom I seek,

To restore my soul.

Lord, show me the path,

My steps to trace Yours.

~

Attentive and still

To quiet the chaos

In the depths of my soul

I need You, dear Lord.

~

Your soft voice I hear

As I sit at your feet

Resting in Your Word

The Way for my life.

~~

09/05/13

All rights reserved. May not be reproduced without permission of author.

Lady Wisdom

Wisdom… that value within our heart and soul which helps guide our steps on this path called life. An entity more precious than gold. Lady Wisdom’s knowledge often comes from experience, by learning and gaining insight the hard way… you know, those mistakes that can either break or make us. She brings a common sense, discernment, shrewdness… an innate understanding of what’s best. But, this sound judgment can be lacking when we become distracted or enticed by what seems so right, yet, in reality, is so wrong when we heed the voice of Folly.

One of my favorite life verses is “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV) As our Pastor Steve put it recently, “Wisdom is knowledge applied God’s way.” Yet, like I’ve said before, I often think I can take the reins and direct my own way… only to realize that I erred, once again, and need to grasp His hand, allowing God to guide me as I learn from His infinite wisdom… because sometimes I feel such a lacking.

With wisdom also comes the ability to discern or judge right from wrong… to think and act appropriately, and to not become enmeshed in Folly’s foibles. As God searches the depth of our heart, His Spirit reaches out to us with a still small voice in our inner being. If we’ve embedded Lady Wisdom’s truth within our heart, we’ll know whose voice to trust and follow.

And, as we humbly follow Lady Wisdom’s righteous ways, a calm and peaceful tranquility will envelope our soul. We’ll know we’ve chosen the right path when we’ve given time and consideration to acting in a way that would receive God’s blessing. I love the book of Proverbs for the depth of wisdom gleaned as we “Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not ignore it. Blessed is the man who listens to me… for whoever finds me finds life… but whoever fails to find me harms himself.” (Proverbs 8:33-36 NIV)

Lady Wisdom… a personification of God’s attributes in the feminine form. She is not meant to take His holy place, but rather to give a human side to God’s omniscience… for “the fear [awe, respect] of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10 NIV)

Lady Wisdom
Linda A. Roorda
Lady wisdom carries high her torch
She lights the way with truth on her side.
Her words bring strength to face life’s trials
With comfort and peace when the winds blow fierce.
~
Listen and heed her still small voice
Words to the soul that lead and protect,
For like a lantern which brightens the way
So is Wisdom in guiding your life.
~
When lured and tempted by desires for more
Do not be swayed by enticements sweet.
For trust is earned with truth and respect
A higher calling than rebellious ways.
~
Seek out the Lord whose hand will uphold
Stand firm on His word within your heart.
Learn at His feet, discerning the right
His knowledge gain with treasured insight.
~
Be wise in judgment, perceiving the darts
Trust in the Lord with all your heart.
Lean not upon your own understanding
But acknowledge Him, the giver of Wisdom.
~~
03/17/17 ~ 05/30/17
All rights reserved.
May not be reproduced without permission of author.
~~

Spring’s Debut

It’s common knowledge that spring is my favorite season!  I love earth’s awakening from those long and dreary winter days… though this past winter seemed like it just didn’t want to release its hold on the cold and snow.  But now, the sun shines brighter, the sky is bluer, and there’s an obvious warmth that’s beginning to penetrate every fiber of every living thing.  There may be a good deal of rain mixed in; but, with that rain, slowly and surely new growth takes shape as tiny leaves, flower buds, and new blades of grass begin to emerge.  The cold blanket of snow has been thrown off, the creeks and rivers flow abundantly along their way, and sparkling gems of color begin to explode.  It’s a seasonal dance featuring the debutant spring dressed in her finest!

Drink in the pleasure of every facet of spring… from the sylvan palette of leaves in multitudinous shades of green, yellow and purple… to blossoms of white, pink, yellow, red, blue and every shade in between… to birds with their various colors and lilting tunes… to skies wrapped in shades of azure with clouds from white to deep gray… to shades of pink, purple, orange and red at sunrise and sunset… to the velvet black night skies of sparkling diamonds… to spring showers bearing fresh aromas as they saturate and nourish the plants and soil… to the tantalizing and aromatic blossoms from lilacs, roses, sweet peas, irises, daffodils, lilies of the valley… and so much more.

“See!  The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth, the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance…”  (Song of Solomon 2:11-13a)  Enjoy creation’s blessing in every sense of sight and sound, taste and smell, for “He has made everything beautiful in its time!”  (Ecclesiastes 3:11a)

Spring’s Debut

Linda A. Roorda

At the dawning of spring’s welcome debut

The earth awakens from wintry slumber

She yawns and stretches, throwing off covers

Changing her gown from white to sylvan green.

~

She welcomes showers of refreshing dew

As fragrant aromas drift on gentle breeze

While life’s renewal and emerging growth

Bring bright adornment for the bleak and barren.

~

Slowly she dons her delicate gown

Until she’s covered in brilliant hues

With sunlight’s rays streaming their warmth

She lifts her face to absorb their glow.

Regaled in finery like delicate silk

She extends a brush to paint her palette

With every shade of the rainbow bright

Her crowning glory like entwining tresses.

~

As we gaze in awe at the transformation

From sleeping beauty to splendor arrayed

Like multi-hued gems that sparkle and shine

Is spring’s debut, prepared for the dance.

~~

03/05/17

All rights reserved.  May not be reproduced without permission of author.

~~

Do You Remember When…

Ever climb a mountain?  I have… well, sort of…!  See, I have a bit of a wild side tucked away that shows itself now ‘n then!

Recently, I read a short story of a 75-year-old man who thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine’s Mt. Katahdin.*  Though he dealt with a few health issues along the way, I was impressed with his successful endeavor.  His story reminded me how much I’ve admired others who have hiked that trail over the years.  I’ve even wished I could have hiked that trail, or climbed mountains, in my younger and stronger days.  Yet, as I said, I did… sort of… and that event may well have sparked my interest, though now only lived out in reading the stories of others.

I remember when… how often haven’t we heard that, or said it ourselves?  Well, I do remember when, back in the spring of ’73, I climbed one of those ever-changing ridges at Chimney Bluffs State Park in Huron, NY, east of Sodus Point along the southern shore of Lake Ontario – ever changing hard-packed sand formations formed by the strong winds blowing off the lake.  Visiting my friend, Kathy, for a spring weekend our senior year of high school, we joined the church’s Youth Group that Sunday afternoon.  The East Palmyra Christian Reformed Church and Christian School had been a big part of life until my family moved to New Jersey when I was in 4th grade.

Now, walking past a section of bluffs, a young man in our group decided to climb a ridge.  Asking if anyone wanted to join him, I found myself the sole volunteer.  Beginning our climb up the narrow ridge, he led as I followed.  Learning where and how to place my feet from him, I found that I totally enjoyed this new challenge!  One had to be sure-footed, like a mountain goat, in several spots or risk a tumble off the ridge’s peak as it narrowed higher up.  Reaching an intersecting upward ridge, he recommended we change positions at the gap.  In fact, thinking about it now, I realize he must have had previous experience to gain the knowledge and skill he appeared to have.

The ridge down was steeper and narrower, and he felt it was best to face forward to see our way as we walked.  He also thought it best if I went first so he could guide me better.  Leading the way, I started down very carefully.  At one point, I slipped, earning a scraped-up leg in reward, but he grabbed my hand to help stabilize me… as I gathered my wits to contemplate the next step.

Admittedly, starting the trek down, and seeing our height above the beach, had left me a bit scared compared to the easier hike up.  I remember thinking, “What did I get myself into?”  Now, not so sure about my sanity in joining this venture, I also knew I had no choice but to continue on.  Slowly and carefully we made our way down, step by step, and then…

Taking the final step at the bottom of the ridge found me grinning from ear to ear!  I did it!  As tall, peaked and narrow as most bluffs are, the first ridge up was easy, while the ridge down was definitely narrower and more difficult.  But, I had challenged myself and those inner fears, succeeding beyond my wildest expectation!  Successfully traversing the steep and narrow ridges, returning safely to the sandy beach and friends below, was an exhilarating experience!  Despite the fears that crept in, I overcame them!  Loving every second of that climb, fears ‘n all, I would gladly do it all over again!

img221Photo by Linda Roorda, 1974.

(This is the up-bound ridge I hiked in 1973, slightly changed a year later. Note its peak near upper right, intersecting with horizontal ridge. Photo taken in 1974 when Ed and I joined our friends Kathy and Hugh, seen above, as we hiked along the lake shore.)

You know, there’s something to be said about pursuing a dream, and, with God’s help and steady determination, reaching the pinnacle to savor success.  Realizing that thought covers a lot of ground, we can openly face the challenges in many areas of our life, learning the lessons each step forward holds.  Ahh, those carefree days of our youth as we faced our mountains and earned successes!  Those days of uncomplicated friendships and simpler times that bring special memories to treasure as the years rush onward…

Do You Remember When…

Linda A. Roorda

Do you remember when the days were long

And we made our fun beneath a bright sky,

When neighborhood kids called out to us “come”

As we fled confines for the great outdoors?

~

Do you remember a time of few cares

When our word was good, and trust was implied,

When our biggest fret was the end of games

As the dark enclosed to shoo us inside?

~

Do you remember when we took our chances

Taking on risks seeming without fear,

Acquiring skills we’d not otherwise gain

If safely ensconced at technology’s beck?

~

Yet you can’t go back, back to what was

It’s never the same, the moment that passed,

But memories linger, frozen in place

When you recapture the essence of time.

~

Within those moments the mind has preserved

Are sights and sounds with laughter and tears,

Images held dear to our heart and soul

Retrieved at will for nostalgia’s cheer.

~

07/25/17, 08/02/17

All rights reserved.

May not be reproduced without permission of author.

*April 2018 Guideposts, “Soul Trail – How old is too old?” by Soren West.