Monday, March 25, 2013

Pour Me Out...

             Can it really be Easter this weekend? Already? Okay, it hasn't really sneaked up on me since I have a calendar and all.  However, despite the calendar, I admit to being thrown slightly off by the fact that I just put out the St. Patty's decorations and haven't had any time to really enjoy them, and now it's time to put away the green and shamrocks and get out the brightly colored eggs, etc...  (Of course, if I go by the length of time I "enjoyed" Christmas decorations--I still have my singing Sinatra ornament out--I have a disproportionate expectation about holiday decoration viewing time.)
              So, since I know that time flies faster than I want it to, I have to make a conscious effort to slow down to experience Holy Week.  The start of this special week, yesterday, was lovely because I was able to spend time with family (as this year Palm Sunday fell on my mother's birthday) all day after church.  But the day started at church with a small fellowship of believers (it was snowing, and the weather may have kept people from getting out).  
            The pastor taking up the collection referenced Jesus getting His feet cleansed by the woman (Mary) who gave of herself--her tears and hair to dry--and her resources--the Nard she poured out over his feet.  He encouraged us to do the same--to give our service and resources to the Lord.  His homily reminded me of this poem I wrote several years ago. This Holy Monday I remind myself that I must allow Christ to do some redecorating in my heart even while I must pour myself out as an act of reverential worship.

The Offering

Pour me out like Nard
Onto Your feet, Oh Lord!
Break my selfish heart
And pour me out for

Shatter this clay jar, my God.
Let the slivers of porcelain
Prick my fingers
As I tremble before

Kneeling humbly at Your feet,
Let me pour the thick, syrupy oil—
Through bloody fingers—
As an anointing and
Preparing service for

Your alabaster skin will shatter.
Your essence, like Holy Oil,
Will pour from your Jar
Like pure Nard
As a Saving balm for

Friday, March 8, 2013

Missouri Read-In Day (March 8th)

       It doesn't shock anyone who knows me that I'm an English teacher because they know I love books and reading.  I read through the entire fiction section in the library in high school.  I mean it; I started at "A" and read until I got to "Z."  And then I had to start over to catch up on the new books for the authors whose last names I'd already read.
       I have had any number of libraries of my own, too.  I don't want to start calculating how much money I've spent on books over the years.  I have stacks of books in my house I haven't even gotten to yet.  I have boxes of books still in my parents' attic (don't tell them; I don't have room in my house).  I have books everywhere:  There isn't a room in my place that doesn't have books in it.
       Where did it start, though, this love of reading?  The love of the turn of a phrase?  The love of falling into a world of someone's creation and experiencing the joys and sorrows and celebrations and tragedies of those characters?  If I look back far enough, it was because of the books I loved as a child.
One of my first favorite books was Little Cottontail by Carl Memling; a Little Golden Book about a baby bunny who wanted to grow up too fast.  "Not yet, Little Cottontail," the mother crooned...and those words still come to me when I am telling a student to be patient.  My favorite picture of me is a Christmas morning picture where I have unwrapped (you guessed it!) a book: T'was the Night Before Christmas by Clement C Moore.
       I remember being so excited in elementary school when, because I was already reading chapter books stage when the others in my class were still learning how to read, I was allowed to check out books from the "older kids' section" in the library.  I devoured the Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, and then The Black Stallion book series by Walter Farley (I was into horses then).  I moved on from horses to dogs and other animal stories.  The Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder I read over and over again until I had to tape the covers.  Then I moved to fantasy.  I still remember fondly a book about a headstrong black-haired fairy named Bluebell.  I wish I remembered the name of that book; I don't, but that character has stayed with me for well over 30 years.  I still wish I had long dark hair like the main character did.
       When my sister and I were in the upper elementary, my dad read The Hobbit by JRR Tolkein to us as a bedtime story.  He even did the voices!  My, what a world was opened to me then!  I couldn't wait until I could read the whole series on my own.  It's still one of my favorite series to read.  I get something new each time.  Then, when I was a pre-teen, Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis overtook my imagination. I still own most of the first set my sister bought me for a Christmas present; I've had to replace a couple of the books in the series because students have "borrowed" them forever.
       I've already mentioned how I read all the fiction books in the school library, but I also made a nuisance of myself at the public library because during the summer (before I was old enough to get a job other than babysitting) I'd go through their shelves and borrow the maximum number of books I could--six--and then be back the next day to turn those in and check out new ones.  I was reading sweet romances --none of those Harlequin novels for me (yet)--about nurses who fell in love with their patients or the doctors they worked for.
       I then got into high school and college and met literary geniuses like Emerson and Wordsworth and Shakespeare and fell in love all over again with reading.  I couldn't get enough of those words "that take us Lands away" ("There is no frigate like a book" by Emily Dickinson) as I read the stores, poems, plays, and more that my own English teachers introduced to me.  It is little wonder that I love reading and sharing with my own students the literature that I hold dear.
       Each book (whether it be the actual book or on some e-reading device) is a ticket into a world away from our own.  I look at those books as portals that will wing me away to a ball in Regency England or to a futuristic world on Venus or back to ancient Rome or to linger on a hillside covered with golden daffodils.
       So, on this Missouri Read-In Day I encourage everyone to grab a book or magazine or anything that strikes your fancy: begin reading and enjoy the journey!