Christmas Joy!

I had a big disappointment as a kid one Christmas, but kept it a secret all these years. I’ve never forgotten the Christmas when I was 5-1/2 years old.  We’d left a favorite Marion, NY farm to live in Clifton, NJ again, the city where I was born.  I was a big girl, walking all by myself the several blocks to kindergarten – PS#15 overlooking scenic Weasel Brook Park.  My sister and I with our toddler brother loved to visit Grammy and PopPop (our Dad’s parents), and that Christmas was especially exciting ‘cause we were going to meet Santa!!  And I knew all about him…

You see, I had a book, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”, and knew that little story by heart… like another favorite book, “The Three Little Kittens Who Lost Their Mittens”.  Just ask my kids… they’ll tell you not to get me started – ‘cause I still know that favorite story by heart!  But there we were at the Christmas party with a house full of relatives.  And who arrives amidst a big fuss?  Santa Claus!!!  No, not down the chimney, silly!  After all, my grandparents didn’t have a fireplace, only radiators in their city house.  No, Santa simply came in the back door, all dressed in red with white trim.  He had a white beard, and a wide black belt around his big tummy – just like in my book!  So, it really was him!!

Then, while PopPop took movies, we girls took turns sitting on Santa’s lap, telling him what we wanted for Christmas – me, my sister, Carol, and our cousin, Susan.  I honestly don’t remember who went first.  But, I do know that I was scared despite being the oldest cousin and in kindergarten.  I didn’t know what to say!  But cousin Susan?  She wasn’t afraid of Santa!  She talked to him just like she knew who he was… and I was jealous.  Why couldn’t I have talked with Santa like that?  But, we were very happy with the big stocking full of candy that he gave each of us!

As Santa left, Grammy took us three girls to a window upstairs that overlooked the snow-covered street out front, the sides banked high with plowed snow.  “See those lights?  There goes Santa!”  But, you know what?  I knew that was just a car’s red tail lights.  Under city streetlights, I didn’t see Santa’s sleigh!  Where were all the reindeer?  And Rudolph with his nose so bright?  He was supposed to lead the way!  I knew every word of that story, remember?!  Right then and there, I was so disillusioned that I never believed in Santa again!  And dear Grammy never knew about my big disappointment…

Writing this story, I had to find out who played Santa.  From my Aunt Hilda, I learned that Richard Andela was our Santa.  Richie actually worked with her husband, Roy Oostdyk, at his Gulf gas station on Main Street in Clifton… where my father also worked on Saturdays over the years when we lived in Clifton.  No wonder Susan was so comfortable talking with him!  Oh, the precious memories of childhood we hold onto!

Yet, there is someone I can believe in without disappointment… for eternity.  For me, it’s the baby whose birth we celebrate at Christmas… Jesus, the Light of the world, our Lord and Savior.  “For God [our heavenly Father] so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believeth in Him, shall not perish but have eternal life.”  (John 3:16 KJV)

With the busy holiday shopping extravaganza, commercialization and our hectic schedules, I think we sometimes lose a little of the joy and wonder that must have been felt on that very first Christmas… and perhaps we, too, forget to make room amidst the hustle and bustle for this precious little baby.  Like us at times, another youngster was once trying to find the right things to help him celebrate, but nothing seemed to go right for him either.

“It was finally Christmastime, the best time of the year.  The houses were strung with tiny colored lights, their windows shining with a warm yellow glow only Christmas could bring.  The scents of pine needles and hot cocoa mingled together, wafting through the air, and the sweet sounds of Christmas carols could be heard in the distance.  Fluffy white snowflakes tumbled from the sky onto a group of joyful children as they sang and laughed, skating on the frozen pond in town.  Everyone was happy and full of holiday cheer.  That is, everyone except for Charlie Brown…”

“Charlie (to Linus):  ‘I think there must be something wrong with me.  I just don’t understand Christmas, I guess.  I might be getting presents and sending Christmas cards and decorating trees and all that, but I’m still not happy.  I don’t feel the way I’m supposed to feel…’”

“Later, after a day of frustrations, Charlie said:  ‘I guess you were right Linus; I shouldn’t have picked this little tree.  Everything I do turns into a disaster!  I guess I don’t really know what Christmas is about.  Isn’t there anyone who can tell me what Christmas is all about?’”

“Linus quietly said:  ‘Sure, I can tell you what Christmas is all about.’  [Walking to the center of the stage, Linus speaks.]  ‘And there were in the same country Shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone ‘round about them, and they were sore afraid.  And the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not!  For behold, I bring you tidings of great joy which will be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.  And this shall be a sign unto you.  You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in the manger.’  And suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, good will toward men.’”  [Luke 2:8-14, KJV] *

Did you notice that Linus dropped his security blanket while saying “Fear not” in the film?  He knew Who to trust and believe!  And that’s what Christmas is all about.

Wishing A Blessed and Merry Christmas to all!

No Room

Linda A. Roorda

Is there no room, no room in my heart?

Midst all the trinkets this world can offer,

What do I value and treasure the most…

Things that decay or things of the heart?

~

It seems I’ve filled my heart with worry

Frets and concerns of every-day life.

My wants and wishes each clamor for time

Leaving scant room for what matters more.

~

Like the innkeeper from long ago

He with no room sent seekers away

Little did he know, the love they carried

Was in the babe about to be born.

~

This babe grew strong and embraced the weak

An emissary of love sent to our world.

How else could He know what this life was like

Except to become like one of us?

~

Tempted and tried amidst the world’s cares

Unrecognized, despised and rejected.

No room in their hearts to welcome salvation

No room for love and gifts eternal.

~

Still, we are drawn to this man unique…

One who went seeking the hopeless and lost,

Forgiving our pasts, making new from worn

He who has room in His heart for us.

~

Is there no room, no room in my heart,

Midst all the trinkets this world can offer?

Yes, there is room for the One I treasure…

The precious babe, my Savior and Lord!

~~

12/21/16 – 12/29/16

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

*1965 TV special: “A Charlie Brown Christmas” by Charles M. Schulz.

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Dancing Embers

Watching a fire burning in the fireplace is mesmerizing. The dancing flames seem to take on a life all their own, swaying as if in a gentle breeze. And it appears to be that time of year again. Admittedly, fall is not my favorite season, though I do enjoy the brilliant colors as leaves turn various shades and hues before cascading down to replenish the earth. I also tend to find the cold rain on dark and dreary days a bit depressing… yet, I do like the time to slow down, gather in, and observe nature’s changing moods.

We shiver as the cold air closes in around us, put on a warm sweater, or wrap ourselves in a cozy quilt or blanket, and grab a good book to read. The flowers faded long ago as their greenery wilted, and the gardens have been put to rest for another season. Soon pristine white flakes will flutter down to cover the drab browns and grays as winter’s blanket settles upon the earth… in a relentless cycle of time.

This poem was among my earliest, written in 2013. And, once again, I find myself sitting in front of the pellet stove, missing our trusty old woodstove, gazing at the small fire that slowly begins to burn. As the fire is fed and builds momentum, its heat slowly radiates outward, and I take time to pursue thoughts that ramble… time to think about life… time to ponder where all the years have gone… time to worry… time to realize I need to give those frets to God… time to plan next year’s gardens… time to consider chores on my endless to-do list… and time to contemplate the innumerable blessings God has given us all. Blessings in an every-day hectic life that we so often take for granted.

Dancing Embers
Linda A. Roorda
~
On a cold wintry night
Sitting quiet by the fire
A welcomed rest and retreat
Watching embers glow bright
Dancing as in a breeze
Pausing to think and reflect…
~
On blessings clearly seen
In ways beyond counting,
On those hid from view
Only the heart can perceive…
~
On a life oft’ encumbered
With worries, frets and woes,
On dreams gone up in flames
Leaving memories behind…
~
But then I remember
One who softly entreats
Draw near to Me
And release your burdens
For I’ll care for you
Each step of the way.
~~
Jan/Feb 2013
All rights reserved. May not be reproduced without permission of author.

This is Love…

What is love?  We say “I love you!” … but we also say we love a book, a movie, a car, a new outfit, our pets.  Is love found in endless glowing words of romantic emotion or selfless acts to please another? So, what makes our love tick?  It’s the minutes between the anniversaries that make the memories special.

I can’t say that my husband is the most romantic guy in the world.  Yet, he has written me the most beautiful letters to express his deepest feelings.  Not able to buy cards for me unless someone takes him to the store, many are the times he has listened repeatedly to a specific song on record, tape or CD and painstakingly written it out, phrase by phrase… just to express what’s in his heart.  That effort on his part means more to me than the world’s most beautiful manufactured card.

He shows his love in a myriad of ways… like willingly helping with our babies after he came in from 14-16 hour days of farm chores just because he wanted to.  He learned to diaper them, lovingly rocked and burped our little ones, and even read bedtime stories to them before his own dinner.  Seeing my big 6’7” guy hold our tiny babies in his calloused farm-worn hands clearly evoked an image of tender love.  He’s been committed to his family, always there for me and our children, helping guide them as they grew, or enveloping us in his arms when all we needed was a warm snuggle.  He still helps with household chores despite vision and physical limitations – just because it’s his way of showing love… trying to ease the load I carry after working a full shift, taking him to medical appointments, and handling more and more of what he can no longer do.

I used to attend an annual women’s faith retreat years ago.  In one of the classes, we were asked to share how we express love to our spouse in a unique way as the leader wrote 10 ways on the board.  A few said they’d write “I love you” with shaving cream on the bathroom mirror or add a special note when packing lunch for their husband, etc.  My simply saying “I love you” to my husband was laughed at when shared with the woman next to me, a pastor’s wife.  I felt so humiliated.  What I wanted to explain (and should have said, but was afraid to) was that my husband was blind and my saying those three simple words has always been special to him, and that everyone’s examples were only good for those with vision.  But, baking scrumptious meals and desserts, and not treating him as incapable of doing things just because he’s blind, seeking his advice when I’ve a problem, or even waiting for him to ask for help before offering or giving my assistance… these also show my love in tangible ways that he appreciates.

My husband means what he says.  His words are not empty, hollow flattery.  When he says something, listen close because there’s a depth of truth and wisdom from his innate ability to understand life and how people operate.  Actually, he’s a man of few words.  I used to wish he’d talk more, like me!  But, I’ve come to appreciate the meaning behind his few words chosen well, his sense of humor, his devotion to me and his family, his strong faith in the midst of blindness and multiple health issues, and his ability to share Godly wisdom.

Giving flowers has never been his thing, though I tend to long for beautiful bouquets.  On the other hand, he knows the value of our hard-earned dollars.  He won’t frivolously throw it away on something that will be tossed aside in just a few days, like flowers.  He’d rather spend it on something to be enjoyed long term.  And I admire him for that.

I have a husband who respects me and appreciates all that I do.  Maybe he doesn’t tell me that every day; but, when he does, it’s worth the wait to hear those words because he means it.  It’s been a hard life for him, yet he doesn’t feel sorry for himself.  Being legally blind since he was a premature infant, and though he could drive a tractor on the farm or along the roadside, he could not hop in the car or pickup and go whenever and wherever he wanted.  He was stuck at home, unless someone drove him to his destination.  How frustrating that has been for him at times!  I so appreciate his attitude of acceptance as, even now, being totally blind and with health issues that limit his mobility, he accepts the path God has allowed his life to take.  He’s able to express a wisdom and insight we both would not have understood had we not gone through these various difficulties.

My husband loved me despite the immaturity I came into our marriage with at age 19. He loved me enough to help me grow, to become the best wife and mother I could be, and to use the talents God blessed me with in ways I could never have imagined.  In turn, I love him for being there for me, listening and talking through issues we’ve faced.  He’s also been gifted with a sense of humor that crops up when needed most.  I loved working by his side in the past in the barn, doing yard work, or in the house.  He used to tease me, saying I followed him around like a shadow in the barn, and when he’d stop short to take care of something, I’d “crash” into him and we’d burst into laughter!  I miss those times working closely together… a lot.

No marriage is perfect.  We’ve had our share of problems and arguments when our wants got the upper hand.  But, we made it work and kept our vows to each other rather than running away when times got tough.  Love comes in admitting our wrongs, asking forgiveness, and understanding the unique and different strengths we each bring as gifts to be shared for personal growth.  In contemplating love, the depth of a heart is revealed in the willing ability to stand by a loved one no matter the cost, except in the case of abuse. Yet, even then, if the abuser is willing to admit their wrongs and truly change from within, the path of regeneration, or reconciliation, is well worth the effort.  But, if the abuser refuses to see or admit their wrongs, and perpetuates such behavior, even if others may not see it, then it’s time to walk away for one’s physical and/or emotional preservation, whether in a marriage or a friendship.  Love is not about what someone else can give you; it’s all about what you can give the other, in building them up, without looking for praise.  And in that, I’m reminded of Jesus’ words, words rephrased in our marriage vows, that “greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  (John 15:13)

Though I may not be married to the most romantic guy in the world, God has truly blessed me with Ed’s love and practicality.  Perhaps the complement to my emotional heart and creativity, he brings a balance to keep me grounded and contented, sharing laughter with his great sense of humor that has helped bring many a smile to our faces.  He has an innate ability to understand people… like the depths of my heart and our children’s needs as they grew up, or taking seriously his former role as a church Elder/Deacon… and knows how to balance his role as leader of our family with the Lord as guide.

We’re far from perfect, but it’s knowing how to pick our battles, and how to pick ourselves up again in the storm, with “promises to keep and miles to go” to quote another poet.*  Therein lies the secret of true love as we seek the wisdom of God above… letting His love permeate our hearts and souls to become a better person.  Because I firmly believe God put us together, allowing us to face various difficult trials to draw us closer to Him as we grow in faith and love.  And, if Christ loved each of us so much that He willingly lay down His life for us, for our sins, then we can surely share that love with others around us.

For as Colossians 3:12-14 reminds us, we are to “…clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”  This is the love I see in my husband.

Happy 44th Anniversary, Edward!

This is Love

Linda A. Roorda

~

This is love

beyond a feeling

in the depths of the heart

a commitment to keep.

~

This is love

exhilarating joy

that flows through the soul

with a gentle tenderness.

~

This is love

in the place of self

a sacrificial gift

bringing joy to another.

~

This is love

a blending of hearts

to become as one

in sharing life’s journey.

~

This is love

a tear that is shared

the hand tenderly held

the comfort in silence felt.

~

This is love

a listening ear

with honest confession

as mercy and grace pour out.

~

This is love

to take life’s pain

and wash it away

in selfless gifts with joy.

~

This is love

that One above

would give His life

to show us the path of love.

~~

February 2013

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

*Robert Frost, “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening”

~~

A Stranger Barged In

How do we see others? By their outward appearance? By what they’re wearing, or not wearing? By the words they speak? We can’t tangibly see their heart or their thoughts, nor they ours. So, do we react to what we see and hear, or reach out to meet others where they’re at?

Not long after we moved to Clifton, NJ in 1965, my Dad went to the boys’ Cadets meeting at the Christian school we kids attended. A few blocks from his destination, he saw a man struggling with a flat tire. Having been a farmer and now a truck driver, this was no problem for my Dad to fix, though it might get him dirty and make him late for his meeting. Without hesitation, he stopped and changed the tire for the stranger, refusing pay for his efforts. Each going his own way, they soon discovered their destination was the same meeting, and became instant friends!

But, how do we treat that stranger when he or she walks into our church? They may be different from those of us who normally attend… and, sadly, the stranger in our midst may not feel welcomed or accepted. They may not be dressed up fancy like some of us. They may look a bit shabby and worn, be wearing the dirt of life, or even carry the aroma of alcohol.

And I was reminded of the time a stranger dressed in black barged into our church, slamming the door behind him, dropping into the pew. As music worship leaders, my friend, Patsy, and I smiled to welcome this man as we sang. But, he was having none of it, staring straight ahead with an angry sullen attitude. Barbed-wire tattoos encircled his upper arms, the sleeves cut off a black T-shirt. His black hair stood up in spikes, and chains draped from his black jeans. Then, just as our Youth Pastor stood up to read Scripture as our pastor was away for the day, this man bounded up to the pulpit. Grabbing the Bible, he began to read: “…But the Lord said… Do not consider his appearance or his height…. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (I Samuel 16:7)

What’s his purpose? Why is he here this morning? Does he have an ulterior motive? Are there more like him outside? Are there more like him in other churches in town? Why does he look so sullen and angry? Is he sad and lonely? Do we need to protect ourselves from harm? Does he have a gun? What could we use as a weapon? How can I make him feel welcome? I mean, he’s so different! Will he even accept us? How can we best reach out to him to meet his needs? Such were the questions running through the minds of us parishioners, as we slowly realized that this was actually our Pastor Steve dressed up for a lesson as he expounded on that verse.

Do we share our love easily with someone different from us? We pride ourselves on maintaining a status quo of acceptable friends, those with whom we’re most comfortable. But what about others in various difficult situations? What about those who may be going through hard times and are poorer than us? What about those who are dealing with life’s deepest struggles, lost in the midst of their grief, dealing with inner emotional pain or depression, or perhaps seeking answers to life by delving into alcohol and drugs to numb their pain? They, too, are in need of the love and comfort we just might be able to give.

What did Jesus say about the strangers in our midst? In telling one of his parables, Jesus spoke about a king whose servants were called faithful and righteous for the love they had shown the king in his time of need. They replied, “‘[But] Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King [replied], ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” (Matthew 25:37-40)

In response to his critics for eating with those considered “unholy”, Jesus gently said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17) And later, the Apostle Paul wrote that this “righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:22-23)

And I admit that I, too, stand guilty in many ways. We can express ourselves and our opinions with kindness rather than with an attitude. We can welcome the stranger who is different from us, sharing a peace and comfort from deep within our heart. And, we can reach out to others who are hurting with the same love and mercy we’ve been shown by our Lord… for in so doing, not only will they be blessed, but we’ll be blessed in turn.

The Pew and the Barstool
Linda A. Roorda
One day I walked through an open door
Looking for a seat but the pews were full,
Except in the front where I sat to listen
Searching for comfort from a world of pain.
~
The message of love was heard in my heart
And I longed to feel this emotion lost.
I yearned for peace in my troubled soul
Hope for the day and light in the dark.
~
Wisdom and truth for a hurting world
These were the words in the message heard.
But as I turned to follow the crowd
No one reached out… no one showed they cared.
~
No welcoming smile… no words kindly shared.
Their glances away gave proof of their thoughts.
Shabby were my clothes with tatters and tears,
Dirty was I, and smelling of beer.
~
No comfort from pain, just withering looks.
No peace or love was offered to me.
I stood alone feeling shamed and grieved.
Where was this love they sang from their lips?
~
And so I strolled to the other side
Across the street where welcomed was I.
Finding my seat on a barstool tall
I ordered a round to drown out my pain.
~
If only they knew their hearts had grown cold.
Who was this Lord they claimed for their own?
Where was the love, the hope and the peace?
Did they not know who walked in their midst?
~
Have they not heard and have they not read?
I was a stranger yet nothing they gave.
They fed not my soul, warm clothing not shared
Sickly was I, but comfort they withheld.
~
Do they not heed the words of their Lord?
Whatever is done for even the least
Is done in His name to brighten a dark world,
For those who bless will blessings receive.
~~
12/08/15
All rights reserved.
May not be reproduced without permission of the author.

Tolerance

It seems we often want our way regardless of how anyone else feels. That old “give-and-take” attitude I remember growing up with seems to be lacking… all too evident among those who mock and bully others, even within today’s world of politics… where a war of words has erupted yet again. It seems like absolute truth and moral or ethical standards have become a negative, cause for ridicule… while relativism, or determining our own truth as we want it to be, is more often revered.

Authors like Laura Ingalls Wilder and Mark Twain/Samuel Clemens are now suspect, apparently not worth our reading in today’s political correctness. They, like many others, wrote about the way life was as experienced while they walked upon this earth. The Wilder Award in literature has been renamed the Children’s Literature Legacy Award because Wilder used words of a different era, inappropriate for today. We were appalled at censorship, banning and burning of books many years ago, yet even now we walk a fine line of what is appropriate. We disallow our children to read of life in other times when words or language we now recognize as inappropriate was used. Even our Holy Bible is not accepted at times because it might offend.

Yet, as discerning parents, we did not allow our children to read a few certain books in high school. We discussed why they were inappropriate reading material with both our children and school personnel. We were told by the principal that, because we calmly explained our objections, the school graciously saw our valid points and gave alternative reading material. In Jenn’s case, after giving one particular oral book report, two classmates told her they wished they’d read that book instead, too. A true story, it showed a quality of character in the challenges a young man faced as an Olympian runner diagnosed with cancer. Unable to compete, he turned to helping inner city under-privileged kids.

The book read by the rest of the class, however, was filled with gratuitous sex, filthy language, and mocking of parental/family values – found when I simply opened the book at random junctures. Actually, the teacher told his students to seek their parents’ permission to read that book! And, apparently, if the kids actually showed it to their parents, I was the only one who said “no way!” Even the school board was shocked to learn what that book held, and it was pulled from the school’s recommended reading list. There truly is a time for discernment of right and wrong with respect.

My poem here began to flow with news of the violence and tearing down of our nation’s historical monuments in the summer of 2017. Removing such historical memorials does not erase or change history. There are lessons learned in those memories earned. We’ve come so far. We’ve grown in understanding and acceptance. Isn’t that cause for celebration rather than condemnation? Our differences can be teachable moments. That’s what Freedom of Speech is all about… with a chance to show love and respect even in our disagreement, revealing true tolerance.

Tolerance, by definition, is an ability to be fair, to accept a viewpoint which is different, and to bear with another in realizing that the opposition also has rights… without approving wrong by our silence. Perhaps we remember that society’s Golden Rule (which promotes tolerance, when you think about it), actually comes from the words of Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the law…” (Matthew 7:12a)

Yet, tolerance is not a license to do anything we want at will. A moral society adheres to absolute truths of right and wrong, or it breaks down without this solid foundation. We should certainly be cognizant and tolerant of others’ opinions or beliefs, respecting our differences… but, that does not mean we have to tolerate rude or foul language, or abusive, bullying, or violent behavior. Tolerance is not freedom to persist in traveling down a wrong path. There are consequences for everything we do… and there is a time and place for speaking out respectfully against inappropriate words or actions.

So, where did tolerance go? Too often, it seems tolerance is relegated to that which accepts and promotes a particular politically-correct agenda to the exclusion of the opposing view… and regards differing perspectives as not having validity to be honored. What happened to our ability to show respect through appropriate discussion? What happened to true Freedom of Speech? Why the hate-filled, foul-worded, disrespectful language? Why violence with riots and angry rhetoric to disallow conservative or religious speakers on college campuses? What is there to be afraid of? That others might actually have valid points, different than your own perspective?

Fear of a differing opinion by engaging in anger and wrath toward that with which one disagrees serves no good purpose. We have heard violent mobs calling for their rights… while proclaiming how tolerant they are. Seems to me that violence as a coercive bully tactic is anything but tolerance. Perhaps it would be wise to observe that true tolerance… the courtesy to listen, even agreeing to disagree… comes by respecting another’s viewpoint, their freedom of speech, without the backlash of vitriolic speech and/or destructive violence.

When morality steps up and extends a hand in true respect, we’re living out the ancient Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17). Given by God to Moses for the Jewish nation during its exodus from Egyptian slavery, these words serve us well as a moral foundation even in today’s modern society. Doing our best to live out Jesus’ words in what we call the Golden Rule, we show great love and respect for others… just as we wish to be treated. With this love, and acceptance of those with whom we disagree, we embody Christ’s love, for “love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth.” (I Corinthians 13:6 NIV)

Tolerance
Linda A. Roorda
~
Could I but live a life that was safe
I wouldn’t question the wrongs encountered.
I would not wrestle with problems I face
Or troubles inherent with consequent strife.
~
For if I the bad from this life expunged
I’d then have left the best for display.
My life would exist by my design
For my benefit and pleasure alone.
~
Remove the memories and mask the failures
Fashion the remains to what I deem fit.
Let visible be selfish ambition
My life according to myself and me.
~
I have no tolerance for views but mine
My way is right and suspect is yours.
I demand my way and fight you I will
If only to prove entitled am I.
~
Yet what I now see is your hand held out
Bearing a gift, tolerance by name.
You’ve come to my aid and lift me up
To help me stand with dignity tall.
~
There’s a price, you see, for this freedom shared
It’s a cost in red that flowed for us all.
And it grants relief from oppression’s fist
That your words and mine comingle in peace.
~~
08/18/17 – 08/30/17
All rights reserved.
May not be reproduced without permission of author.
~~

The Artist’s Eye

I love a good painting, especially a realistic portrayal.  Actually, once upon a time I painted landscapes, getting so lost in the effort of creating art that I’d easily forget the time and when to eat.  Sadly, I haven’t picked up my brush and oils in a few decades… though I used pen and ink to illustrate a few stories I’d written for my grandchildren a few years back.

In all honesty, I’m not a big fan of abstract art, though I can appreciate various works of modern art among the different genres.  Yet, each one of us views a painting, sculpture, or even a photo differently… because we “see” through our own heart, our own emotions, our own life experiences.  That which may stir my thoughts and emotions with a depth of appreciation may do nothing for you at all.

And that’s what art is meant to do – to stir our thoughts and emotions, perhaps leading us to recall another time and another place.  A great work of art can transport us in thoughtful reverie as we ponder the meaning of the vision before us… taking us back in time to what once was… or stirring our imagination to envision something only a dream may hold.

The artist’s work might convey a concept, an idea, a novelty… that which sparks our interest to understand better what the artist is trying to say or trying to elicit through our individuality.  Good art should challenge us to think in a way we might not do otherwise.  Good art can tear at our heartstrings and bring us to tears.  It can incite anger at an injustice.  It can elicit great joy within our soul.  It can combine a dichotomy of powerful conflicting emotions.  It can portray evil overcome by good.  It can soothe the weary and distressed.  And, it can even reflect a tremendous calming peace, a peace within the storms of life.

A good painting can be likened to the beauty we see in the people around us.  Each of us portrays an individual beauty, a uniqueness created by the Master Artist.  We’re one of a kind, no duplicates.  Even the world of nature exudes a seemingly immovable, yet ever-changing panorama which the Master Artist blessed us with.

After He created each aspect of the world, our great God “saw that it was good.”  (Genesis 1)  And in our appreciation of nature, even the simplest perspectives excite emotions within us… as we observe brilliant sunshine lending both a glow and a shadow to life, the menacing darkness of gathering storm clouds, a brilliant colorful rainbow during or after the rain as the first rays of sun return, the fanning out of the sun’s rays from behind a cloud like fingers of God, the awesome display of stars and moon in brilliant light upon a black velvet tapestry, from the calm and peace of gentle waves to the roiling waters which batter a shore, from the awe of majestic mountain grandeur to the simplest flat or rolling land with grass gently waving in a slight breeze, to the colorful changes of the seasons…  as these vistas elicit thoughts and emotions within our hearts and minds.

And, though the world and people around us are seen individually, through our unique emotions, we see all as through the artist’s eye…

The Artist’s Eye

Linda A. Roorda

In the artist’s eye is beauty beheld

Within each scene perfection arrayed

A haunting image that speaks to the heart

A story told in visual display.

~

Facing blank canvas, brush poised in mid air

A picture forms in the artist’s eye

As ever gently stroke upon stroke

The scene unfolds, its beauty to share.

~

From lighting bright to shadows darkened

Lingering mirage or perspective clear

 Sentiments stir as we gaze upon

The artist’s work from within the heart.

~

They say a picture is worth more than words

And there are times words uttered alone

Cannot convey the depth of feeling

Where spoken voice the ambience missed.

~

For within our soul perception awaits

The depths of which we don’t often plumb

That we might enjoy designs unique

By an Artist greater than humanity’s touch.

~

So we gaze upon the scene before us

As emotions stir like brush on canvas

For out of feelings tempered by life

Colors are worked with passion displayed.

~

Thus, what the artist has framed for our gaze

Reaches into the depth of our soul

As image pondered gives rise to emotions

Its secrets exposed through the eye of our heart.

~~

02/13/15-02/15/15

All rights reserved.

May not be reproduced without permission of author.

~~

 

You’ve A Gift Within

Sometimes, our best inspiration comes from the most unlikely place! I often enjoy relaxing in the evenings with Ed by watching reruns of M*A*S*H. Though not overly fond of some of the show’s escapades, I especially prefer Corporal Walter (Radar) O’Reilly and the latter years with Captain Benjamin Franklin Pierce’s new surgical partners, Captain B.J. Hunnicutt, and Major Charles Emerson Winchester, III, as well as their commanding officer, Colonel Sherman T. Potter, and Major Margaret Houlihan. The show and its characters seemed to have evolved from a certain nonsense to one of moving and memorable themes. As the varied characters offer a wide array of human egos and emotions, I find the wisdom of humanity expressed well in many of the shows.

Recently I saw an episode that has always held a special place in my heart, one that I consider the arrogant Major Winchester’s best. After operating on a wounded soldier, able to save the young man’s leg with his surgical expertise, Winchester tries to encourage his patient further. Explaining that, although he’ll have permanent nerve damage to three fingers of his right hand, it won’t be too noticeable. Angry, the soldier is reduced to tears and despondency, telling Winchester that his surgical efforts weren’t good enough. His hands were his life… he was a concert pianist!

With determination, Major Winchester approaches the 4077th’s company clerk, Corporal Max Klinger, handing him a list of sheet music to pick up in Seoul. Later, with music in hand, Winchester wheels Private David Sheridan into the Officers’ Club and positions him in front of the piano. Despite his patient’s disgust, Winchester attempts to encourage the young man’s gift to make music. Angry and resentful, Sheridan wants none of it.

Unshaken, Winchester shares the story of a pianist from another time who’d lost the use of one hand. Placing sheet music for a one-handed pianist in front of Sheridan, he asks, “Don’t you see? Your hand may be stilled, but your gift cannot be silenced if you refuse to let it be.”

Private Sheridan scoffs at his surgeon: “Gift? You keep talking about this damn gift. I had a gift, and I exchanged it for some mortar fragments, remember?”

With great feeling, Winchester responds: “Wrong! Because the gift does not lie in your hands. I have hands, David. Hands that can make a scalpel sing. More than anything in my life I wanted to play, but I do not have the gift. I can play the notes, but I cannot make the music. You’ve performed Liszt, Rachmaninoff, Chopin. Even if you never do so again, you’ve already known a joy that I will never know as long as I live. Because the true gift is in your head and in your heart and in your soul. Now you can shut it off forever, or you can find new ways to share your gift with the world – through the baton, the classroom, or the pen. As to these works, they’re for you, because you and the piano will always be as one.” (from the TV series M*A*S*H, “Morale Victory”, 1980)

Just as Maj. Winchester tried to help Pvt. Sheridan understand, we’ve each been blessed with a special gift, a talent. We can hide it, misuse it, or use it to benefit others… we have a choice. Though we may not see our gift as the blessing it is, Jesus’ brother James acknowledged that “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father…” (James 1:17a) Even the Apostle Peter encouraged us by writing that “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” (I Peter 4:10 NIV)

We can encourage a friend with our words or any of our special gifts, like the gift of our time. When we make wise use of our talents and training, we truly are blessing the recipients of our gifts. In faithfully serving others, may we one day hear our Lord say to us just as he told the young man who grew his financial gift: “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:21 NIV)

You’ve A Gift Within
Linda A. Roorda
You’ve a gift within your heart to be shared
To love your neighbor as you do yourself
But much more than this is humble service
Sharing devotion from depths of true love.
~
Seek out the hurting, the ones bewildered
In a world of turmoil, in the midst of grief,
At a loss for words, not knowing where to turn,
Be an anchor bringing peace to their soul.
~
Be generous with praise, speak truth with wisdom,
Carry the burden to lift the heavy heart
Encourage and esteem, strengthen with hope
Humbly meeting each need on your path.
~
Lift up the oppressed, release from restraints
Enfold in your arms those wounded by life.
Show mercy and grace, forgive the offense
Come alongside to guide wavering feet.
~
For out of confusion and cries of the soul
In walking a line tween query and quest,
Comes peace that calms and joy that rebuilds
From the gift within your heart that was shared.
~~
04/06/18, 06/30/18, 07/22/18
All rights reserved.
May not be reproduced without permission of author.
~~