Winter Haikus

Monday, January 27, 2014

I spent Saturday afternoon at a writing workshop. I was a volunteer (event photographer) rather than a registrant, so I was in and out of the sessions and didn’t get to participate in most of the exercises. Still, I was inspired by one of the poetry sessions to write my own winter haikus.

A haiku is a poetry form that originated in Japan. It is a three-line, seventeen-syllable poem with five syllables in the first line, seven in the second, and five in the third. Haikus usually focus on images from nature.

The first deals with the beauty of snow and ice.
White falling droplets
Winter water ice and snow
Veil bushes and trees.
This one talks about a pastime I used to enjoy in my much younger days.
Firm sparkling water
Skaters glide by to and fro
Lake frozen over.
And this final poem talks about the drive home from the Strictly Sail show on Friday.
Snow covers freeway
Drivers watch for white lane lines
Going steady slow.
Okay, so I’m not a great haiku writer. But it’s fun to try now and then.
How about you?

I Didn't Graduate From Here

Monday, January 20, 2014

I’m not in this picture, but I wish I were.

When people ask where I grew up, I respond with “DeTour Village, on the eastern tip of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.” That’s where we lived from 3rd grade through 10th grade (with a break for 6th grade when we were on sabbatical in Edinburgh, Scotland). But my father was a minister, and he took a call to Lake City, Michigan between my sophomore and junior years.

It was not my choice.

I was a shy teen, and I didn’t want to move. Although I wasn’t popular, at least I knew where I stood and how I fit in. When we moved, I didn’t have even that.

In many ways, the move improved my lot. At both places, I was active in the church, singing in the choir and doing things with the youth group. But the only school activity available at DeTour was cheerleading, and I couldn’t even do a split. Lake City had a high school chorus and a forensics club, and I participated in both. And since Lake City was located in a more populated area, I got to take violin lessons.

But I still missed my old high school, and I never felt as if I belonged in the new one.

My church installed a new senior pastor yesterday. He moved his six children in the middle of the school year, and the oldest two are in high school.

Obviously, I survived my high school move, and Sam and Ella will survive theirs, too. God doesn’t ask us to do anything we can’t handle with His help.

Still, I pray that their new high school feels more like home to them than mine did to me.

To is Better Than From

Monday, January 13, 2014

Last week’s snowstorm delayed Roland’s return to school by three days.  His original concern was that he would have to make up the days after his official retirement date at the end of May. But as one day turned into two turned into three and the boredom got to him, he started realizing that he really needs to figure out how he is going to spend his retirement years.

I’ve never been concerned about the financial aspects of his pending retirement, but I do wish that he knew what he wants to be when he grows up. He’s been giving it some thought, but I won’t be satisfied until he has a plan. His health (and my sanity) will be much better if he isn’t sitting around watching TV all day.

When I “retired” four years ago, I didn’t retire from the law—I retired to write. When my father “retired,” he didn’t retire from the ministry—he retired to write his memoirs and work with his hands (he particularly enjoyed carpentry) and travel. When my mother “retired,” she didn’t retire from teaching—she retired to be his travel partner and to sing in two choirs and play handbells. And she wrote her memoirs, too.

My parents spent several winters volunteering at Xocenpich, Mexico, on the Yucatan Peninsula near Merida. They also took a number of trips to the Holy Land. My mother went on most of them, but the picture shows my father just before he left for the Middle East alone in the spring of 1992, when he was 81 years old. He planned to (and did) hike around the Holy Land with nothing except what he could fit into that backpack, and he grew the beard so that he didn’t have to worry about shaving.

Daddy lived to be 88 years old, and he didn’t slow down until the last year. Mama is 94 and is as active as her age allows her to be, attending church services at the assisted living facility, playing Bingo, reading, and traveling with her children—including a trip to Yellowstone National Park this past summer.

It’s okay to retire from a job. But it’s much better to retire to an active life.  

What's a Little Snow?

Monday, January 6, 2014

I grew up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and have spent most of my adult life in or around Chicago, so I’ve seen a lot of snow. This weekend’s ten inches barely counts.

Well, it did keep some people away from church and reduced our attendance by around half. It also got some of us talking about when it was appropriate to cancel church.

My father always said that he would have the worship service if there was even one person in the congregation. That was before e-mail and systems that shoot a message to multiple telephone numbers at once, so it wasn’t as easy to cancel church as it is these days. Still, I don’t think that was his reasoning. Daddy just couldn’t imagine denying anyone the fellowship and spiritual nourishment that comes with worship.

That’s what I missed after the blizzard of 1979. The picture shows my roommate standing in front of my car several days after the blizzard. I was living on the north side of Chicago and attending a church that was a 10-15 minute el (elevated train) ride away. But the el and most of the buses weren’t running, and I certainly wasn’t going to drive.

There was a church about six blocks from my apartment, so I called to confirm that it was still having a service. Then I started walking. No, not walking. I trudged through snow that was higher than my knees. Twenty minutes and two blocks later, I was exhausted. I also realized that church would be over by the time I made it.

I really had no choice but to turn around and go back, and I know that God understood why I wasn’t in church. But I knew something was missing, and I felt the void.

Church renews me and carries me through the week, so if I can make it, I will.

And ten inches is nowhere near enough to keep me away.