Tag Archives: Leonard Bernstein

UNCLE MIKE

Bittersweet days are feathers. Feathers of thought. They drift and float on lazy currents of emotions and leave our “life boat” rocking too and fro – – – torn between tears and smiles. A love – hate relationship between two opposing factions that take us “Somewhere” different.

“There’s a place for us,
Somewhere a place for us.
Peace and quiet and open air
Wait for us
Somewhere.”

The sweetness started the day. Swirling dreams that left me laughing so hard, I woke up shaking. (Of course, that could have been the result of two dogs who were tickling my nose with their tongues). Chores and devotions accomplished easily except that the Hubby used part of the meal I was delivering to a neighbor for our breakfast. But that aside – the sweet currents of morning were large blessings that kept my mind and hands occupied.

“There’s a time for us,
Some day a time for us,
Time together with time to spare,
Time to learn, time to care,
Some day!”

The bitter currents were still there. Still swirling silently around the sweetness of my day until – eventually, I let the boat drift on into those salty waters and remember the things I had been avoiding. Remembering the small town where I grew up . Remembering my family and extended family. Remembering – – – my Uncle Mike.

When Our Father calls someone home, I think He blesses us with bubbling memories that break the surface of our mental waters, coaxing us forward into the deeper waters of life with their gentle effervescence. Opening my eyes wide as I can, I look at the bubbles, smile through my tears and re-watch those bubbles glide across my mind.

“Somewhere.
We’ll find a new way of living,
We’ll find a way of forgiving
Somewhere . . .

Remembering the uncle who made me laugh every time he walked in the house. Shouting, “Hey, Brynie” as he caught me in his arms and spun me around and round and round. Remembering the uncle who took me for car rides just for fun or took me to the lake where he bought me orange sodas and Correll’s potato chips. Remembering the uncle who took my cousin and I on our first grown-up date.

Yupper –  he was THAT uncle. He decided to take a couple of his little girl cousins on a date. He and his girlfriend (who eventually became my aunt) managed to talk my mom (his big sister by almost 20 years) and one of his other sisters into letting him abscond with their daughters – a 10 and 11 year old – in tow – on – a- date. We sang songs all the way to the theatre in Ashland (at least I think it was Ashland). And when the movie started, Bunny Lee and I were mesmerized. West Side Story changed our lives – which is a whole ‘nother story.

“There’s a place for us,
A time and place for us.
Hold my hand and we’re halfway there.
Hold my hand and I’ll take you there
Somehow,
Some day,
Somewhere! “~Bernstein/Sondheim

So tonight – since I couldn’t be in OH with my family – I went to the movies. I sang with Anita. I fell in love with Tony (all over again). And – as I knew I would – I cried with Maria as her world fell apart. Later tonight – I will pull my prayer shawl over my head just as Maria covered hers at the end of the movie. It is not easy to adjust to the fact that my cousins and I are now the elders of our extended family, but I am full of thankfulness for Uncle Mike and all my aunts and uncles who filled my life with His golden bubbles. Bubbles that will buffer my “life boat” from the ugly currents and light the way towards smooth waters.

“There are many lodgings in my Father’s house, and if not, I would have told you, because I go to prepare a place for you.”~ Jn 14:2

Blessings!Be! Michael McCaskey, Kerry Wood, Kelly Patton, Shayne McCaskey, you are all in my thoughts and prayers.

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BLESSINGS TRIAD #10-12

thanksgiving2A TENTH BLESSING OF THANKSGIVING

“I will sing the LORD a new song –
To praise Him-
To bless Him –
To bless the LORD –
I will sing His praises while I live
All of my days.” – Simple Song from Bernstien’s Mass

Today, November 10, 2015, I am thankful for a new day. A new day to sing a song to my LORD. A new day to offer praise that bubbles over in Joy. A new day in my walk of faith, stumbling over rocks others have place in my path and falling into pits that I have dug myself. A new day to pull myself upright once again and stand upon His rock. A new day to bless Him with all that is in me. A new day to gaze upon all that is around me. A new day of reflection, gleaning wisdom where I can. A new day to bend my knees (as painful as it is at times) and wonder, “I Can Only Imagine”. A new day in Christ who has forgiven me over and over and over…..

“Lauda, lauda, laude, lauda, lauda di da di day
All of my days……”

A ELEVENTH BLESSING OF THANKSGIVINGl721flag

“…the LORD Almighty says: ‘Return to me,’… ‘and I will return to you,…’ Do not be like your ancestors…”

Today is one of those days that warm my heart. The posts supporting our current and past veterans brought a smile to my face and tears to my heart. I love looking at my father’s photos from his time in China during WWII. I love looking at the pictures of my uncles and the elders of the small rural town where I grew up.

daddy 1945 (2)The “Greatest Generation” are the men and women that set a standard before me as they wove the stories of their lives into my mind around the Thanksgiving table. They are the ones that showed up for every volunteer community program – built youth buildings, led scout troops, played Santa, inspired my brother, cousins and classmates to serve our country as well.

Today has been one of the few areas where our country appears to still be united. For the most part – on this one issue – we are not Hyphenated Americans. For this one day, I am thankful to feel that rare concept that used to be the fabric of our everyday life: We are all Americans – united.

This was the miracle of the day. God granted me a second miracle of the day as well. I got to play with the Grands all morning. Teach a little piano. Teach a little math (see, God, I got the hint). Walk the land with the pups and get home to find a third miracle – God has already answered a prayer – in an “impossible” manner, natch (as my mom would say) – that had been at the back of my mind all day.

Today, November 11, 2015, I am thankful for 3 miracles. God is moving. Believe. Blessings!Be!

“…this is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Turn from your evil ways and your evil practices.’ “…”Proclaim further: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘My towns will again overflow with prosperity, and the Lord will again comfort Zion and choose Jerusalem.’ ”~Zech 1:3a, 4b, 17

A TWELFTH BLESSING OF THANKSGIVING

“We gather together to ask the LORD’s blessing…”

2 weeks from today will be Thanksgiving. The football games will still be on the TV. In many homes, the bellies will be way over-filled. In others, the bellies will be112913turkeydinners-1p - Copy a little fuller than usual. Churches or community centers will be cleaning up after feeding many of homeless and heading home. Cell phones and/or video games will be whirling away in hands of children and adults alike. People will be crowding into the theatre to see the newest release. Others, like the family I married into, will probably be still playing cards. While Christmas music and movies will appear on a more regular basis – except for Hallmark station which is already playing them non-stop. And some overly excited shoppers will be adding to their personal debt, supplynng more totals of early “Black Friday” stats.

1671301-slide-inline-norman-rockwell-freedom-from-want-thanksgivingIt just makes me sad. Somewhere, our culture has lost the history behind the day. I still remember when every story, gas station, and banks were closed on a holyday. For that matter, they were closed every Sunday. The roads were empty unless you had gas in the tank and wanted to visit family or just go for a drive. I don’t remember the TV being on at any of our Thanksgivings until I was in high school. After all – it was cousin time. Games to be played. Plays to produce. Music to sing and elders that sat around playing guitars and banjos. It was Thanksgiving. People remembered.

I was lucky. I grew up in a family that knew history and told stories. I wasn’t wise enough to always listen. My brother was much wiser that way. But thanks to a couple of marvelous history teachers, including my dad, I learned the basics and began adding to those as I grew wiser. History points the way if we are smart enough to remember.

Today, November 12, 2015, I am thankful for Thanksgiving. A day set aside to remember. A day when two different races — two different cultures — sat down to eat a meal together. Each honoring their Creator. Each coming from a differnt space and finding each other. For a moment in time, the gates of the Garden were thrown wide open, so that we might learn and remember how to give thanks to the One that breathed into our nostrils the breath of life. It is time to remember.

Blessings!Be!

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A Living Epitaph

A Living Epitaph – sounds like an oxymoron doesn’t it?

Death surrounds us.  We lose family, friends, acquaintances, loved ones, pets, co-workers, even celebrities (those people we don’t really “know”, but are somehow a part of our life), and in my case…sadly, former students.  Just a part of life throughout our journey upon this muddy sphere of life.  Our periods of mourning varies depending on the person and their personality.  For me, cutting my hair, music, crying buckets upon buckets of tears, building a memorial, and spiritual introspection all seem to be part of my mourning process.  Don’t ask me why, it is just me.  Maybe it is also why I am fascinated by epitaphs – although there is nothing special on our own family stones.  

George Washington:  (1732-1799) – Looking into the portals of eternity teaches That the Brotherhood of Man is Inspired by God’s WORD; Then all prejudice of race vanishes away. 

I tend to think that music is the Light that is always in my transitory hallway of mourning.  It echoes down that darken space where the lights are almost non-existent and scary shadows stretch up the walls.  It beckons me forward when I really don’t want to move.  If I listen, it encourages my steps, inch-by-tiny inch. Its harmonies, melodies, accompaniments, harmonic overtones, dissonances waft around me until I am ready to open a new door in my life and walk through.  When my father died, I filled my life with classical music.  Requiems – masses – in particular, the B-Minor Mass by Bach and Bernstein’s Mass.  My college choir sang the B-Minor Mass  just a few months after Daddy died and “Simple Song” from Bernstein’s Mass resonated in my soul constantly – and still does.   I spent a long time in that hallway before my steps reached the right door to open.  Many years later, that transitory hallway appeared again when my mother died.  This time it was filled with spirituals…specifically the recordings of Moses Hogan choirs: Swing Lo, Sweet Chariot and Gonna Ride.  It was a shorter hallway for some reason, but still a very dark one.

Benjamin Franklin: (1706-90) – The body of B. Franklin, Printer, Like the cover of an old book Its contents torn out, And stripped of its  lettering and gilding, Lies here, food for worms. But the work shall not be wholly lost, For it will, as he believed, appear once more, In a new and more perfect edition, Corrected and amended. By the Author. 

Since the time my father walked me through my first graveyard and pointed out special family markers, looking at tombstones have always been fascinating to me.  Walking through old, old cemeteries is always one of my favorite things to do. Especially taking the time to read the Epitaphs.  Epitaphs are a way of summing up a person’s life.  Some of the great ones are written by the deceased before their passing.  Some are blank.  Some are short.  Some are erased by weathering over the decades.  Now there are even pictures and computer chips that can be activated by cell-phones. Epitaphs are as varied as the people that walk upon this earth.

Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Junior: (1929-1968) – Free at Last, Free at Last Thank God Almighty I’m Free at Last. 

I watched a movie this weekend.  In it the protagonist was challenged to change his life.  In the climax, the protagonists sits in a graveyard and writes two lists.  One was a list of lies that he has always believed; the other, a list of truths that he has found to be true.  He buries the lies and then writes a living epitaph for himself using those truths as a guide.  Those three words stuck with me all weekend.  A Living Epitaph: a sentence that describes who we want to be from here on out. We don’t have to wait till we die before we are “free” or “re-written” or “inspired”.  Because of Grace, we can be all of these things today.  We can bury the “lies” we believed about ourselves and become  – A Living Epitaph.  It is just a simple action of opening up the door and walking into the Light.

“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;” Jn 11:25