Thursday, December 17, 2015

excelsis Deo

"Angels we have heard on high," I sang, handing my grandson a wooden angel to hang on the tree.
Without missing a beat he joined me.
"Sweetly singing o'er the plain, and the mountains in reply, echoing their joyous strains."
"Glo, o,o,o,o,oria, in excelsis Deo."

I knew I would always remember him just as he was in that moment.
A picture engraved,
like a snapshot,
of a nine year old,
so tall now,
our voices blending as we hung the Christmas ornaments.
Me re-learning how to say excelsis Deo.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

in the bank

"In the bleak midwinter,
frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
water like a stone;
Snow had fallen,
snow on snow,
snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter,
long ago."
Man I love Christina Rossetti.
Love all poetry.
Poetry and song lyrics.
Old hymns too.

Last night I sat with an old friend, visiting my mother.
Our conversation led us by the hand in big loops and circles and brought us around to our beginning point; the power of words to comfort us.

My mother has forgotten things.
She is even forgetting how to speak, how to frame her thoughts with words.
But words have not forgotten her.
If anything, they hold an even greater power and importance for her.
When I quote back to her, snatches of song and poem, her eyes brighten.
Hearing a story read aloud stirs all of her emotions in turn, right in time with the words.

When I was a child, students still memorized things, poems mostly although nothing like the previous generation had. Nor they, like the generation before them. My great grandmother was known for breaking into snatches of song and for reciting poetry. My great Uncle Howard could recite great long epic poems, stanza after stanza. My own grandmother was a quoter as well and my mom too.  And my dad too now that I think about it. Bits and pieces and fragments of poems, selected just for the moment from a rich repository.

I'm so glad my earliest memories include plenty of poetry and song. That while I sat fidgeting and squirming on hard wooden pews, mighty hymns swirled in an out of focus. That as I sat pouring over the pages of Childcraft Encyclopedia's stories and poems, I was building something important. Those words, so rich and varied and colorful and comforting are there now. Just like money in the bank.