April 11, 2015 § Leave a comment
Sorting through my bookshelves, I picked up the bulky, gray-blue book and leafed through its thin pages. Should I keep it, or put it in the garage sale pile?The Book of Poetry of the English Speaking World looked well worn, and I had other poetry collections. On the inside cover in ink I found the name Louise McFarlane, Nov. 13, 1941, and a street address but no city. A quick Google search and I found her address was indeed a Seattle address. Another site told me the house at that address had been sold recently by someone who could be her daughter or granddaughter, or perhaps it was Louise herself. The house had stayed in the family, and the book hadn’t traveled far.
At the top of a half sheet of yellowed paper tucked inside I found a poem executed on a typewriter by a typist who hit some keys with more strength so the type had varying shades of darkness. One word–“each”–had been crossed out and “every” inserted in its place. Two letters had been typed over and corrected, making it seem a likely first draft. From the notation on the half sheet I saw Lou, had written the poem for a verse writing class on Nov. 26, 1956. It read:
Caught in the grip of indecision, I wrestled with my mind, Believing in the proverb–“He who seeks shall find.”
In the solitude of aloneness, I felt the sharp impact of every objective reason, and each deciding fact.
I carefully weighed and measured, –as if by rule and scale.
— I gave complete attention to each minute detail until no longer swayed by the arguments I hurled, I made my decision, and gave Atlas back his world.”
At the bottom Lou had typed: “To My Sister Her child like beauty and grown up grace, no longer bless this earthly place.”
If Louise was 18 in 1941 when she inscribed the book, she would have been 33 in 1956 when she wrote the poem. It is now 2015 and 59 years later Louise would be 92. She had paraphrased that bit of scripture (“He who seeks shall find”), but determined that Atlas was in charge of the world.
Is Louise McFarlane still living? Maybe she was like so many of us who long to leave a legacy saying who we are, our tentative or bold imprint as if pounded by fingers on a typewriter on the blank sheet of our lives. Did she go on to write more poetry and prose? Had she longed to be published? Did she decide God, not Atlas, held her future in His hands? I don’t know. But, here’s to you, Lou, I found you. You’ve been heard. You’ve been published.
copyright 2015 Inger Logelin
May 20, 2014 § 2 Comments
Oh! We’re all puffs of air. Oh! we’re all shadows in a campfire. Oh! we’re just spit in the wind. We make our pile, and then we leave it. What am I doing in the meantime, Lord? Hoping, that’s what I’m doing–hoping …” (Psalm 39:5-7 The Message).
Today is our grandson’s 14th birthday and his eight grade graduation. Wasn’t it just the other day that his father carried him out of the birthing room for the inspection of two eager pairs of grandparents? He was a blond toddler when he came to live next to us so he grew up imperceptibly before our eyes in daily increments. And then one day almost two years ago he and his older sister and his mother and dad moved to the middle of the country to the extremes of temperature in Tornado Alley. And now he’s a young man, taller than his mother and ready for high school.
And what happens to his grandparents in the intervening years since his birth? We grow older in daily increments, and not so imperceptibly. We see old friends and recognize the quick appraising glances we give each other: how did we all get so old?
“Puffs of air.
Does that mean we’re like ethereal gusts, short-lived, entertaining while they’re moving, but not destined to stay around? I think it does.
“Shadows in a campfire.”
I’ve seen a lot of campfires in my 18 years of sitting around nightly smoky campfires at a wilderness camp ministry. Everyone is drawn to fire, sees something different in it, is fascinated by the glowing embers as they burn down. But they eventually burn down and the fire goes out.
“Spit in the wind.”
Not an elegant word picture. Spit in the wind doesn’t go far and can’t decide where it goes. It just has its moment in time and then is gone.
“We make our pile and then we leave it.”
Or not. The accumulations that we leave behind better be more than dishes nobody wants and oddments that get relegated to an estate sale. (A little money would be nice, the kids say sotto voice.)
Do I sound depressed? I’m not, not at all. I’m just measuring my days, looking back and looking ahead. It’s the last line of this psalm of David that tells the real story.
Our lives are more than a puff of air, a campfire shadow, accumulating and leaving. There’s hope! Hope for the discoveries ahead, for the joys yet to come. Hope reassures me God has planned amazing things for our real lives to come in our true home. No more fleeting puffs of air, or campfire shadows but life, eternal life.
“My hope is in you,” the New King James Version of verse 7 says. And that grasp of a living hope in God is what I want to leave my children and grandchildren.
© Inger Logelin 2014
April 22, 2014 § 2 Comments
And it seems as if the earth is groaning too.
Oh, not on the outside where my life goes on as it usually does, where tragedy has not come to my door. Here the apple trees are showing off pink and white blossoms, Easter has been celebrated with gusto, and the garden is pushing up the first green of onions, radishes, beets and potatoes .
But, underneath, underneath, the default position of my thoughts shifts to those 41 lost, the bodies in the mud of the Washington State Oso landslide, not far from my island home. Those bleak March days afterwards—a month ago today—when the rain was still pouring and I was warm and comfortable in my house, my mind would shift to the grandmother, the baby, the working man, the small children, lost in the cold mud and insurmountable piles of debris. Although I sat as close to the comforting steady heat of the woodstove, it was as if I couldn’t get warm enough when there were those who would never be warm again … on this earth.
The Bible says, “the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time,” (Romans 8:22 NIV).
And it feels right now as if there is more reason to groan than ever.
The current triad of tragedies began on March 8th with the mysterious disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 with its 227 passengers and 12 Malaysian crew. The unbearable uncertainty, the drowned hopes, the grief with no resolution, the groaning.
When the South Korean ferry “Sewol” sank on April 19, 2014 near Jindo, south of Seoul, Korea it was as if the previous two disasters were combined into something unthinkable, unimaginable and utterly devastating. Some 476 passengers had boarded the ferry, most of them teenagers, 250 of them from one high school in Ansan, Korea. To date, there are 121 confirmed dead, with 181 missing. As rescue has turned to recovery, the numbers of dead will go up exponentially. It is a stunning loss; and I grieve.
It is Earth Day, and the earth is groaning. Darkness and death seem ever present.
The cover story of April 28th’s issue of Time is “Finding God in the Dark” and features Barbara Brown Taylor. Author of the article, Elizabeth Dias, writes that Taylor says, ” … contemporary spirituality is too feel-good that darkness holds more lessons than light and that contrary to what many of us have long believed, it is sometimes in the bleakest void that God is nearest.”
“In the bleakest void … God is nearest.” I remember the words of Psalms 24:1: “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.”
The earth is his. He knows. He understands our darkness. His heart is touched with our grief, our groaning. He is near.
The hope that seems so out of reach in times of great tragedy, but is nevertheless actual and real, is there will come a day, when this earth has worn out like a garment when there will be a new earth, a new heaven. When death that touches all of us here on earth, will be done away with. When there will be no more darkness or grief.
But, not yet; we wait. The rest of Romans 8:22 says, “ … [We] groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons the redemption of our bodies.”
There will come a day.
copyright 2014 Inger Logelin
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February 7, 2013 § Leave a comment
Colorful flashes of my life accost me at regular intervals throughout my day.
There’s the baby, she must have been three months old.
Who is that? My mind refusing to pull up a name.
Don’t ever wear that again, I warn myself.
Oh, remember that street in Nice … the dogteam ride in Greenland … Oh, there’s the wedding.
Does that top make me look fat? I muse, not looking for an answer.
No, it’s iPhoto selecting bits and pieces of my life to rotate on my desktop computer. No rhyme, no reason, no pattern. Just a delight of discovery. A frisson of remembrance. A slight breath in.
I look at all the lives who have touched mine, places traveled I never thought I’d go, the rich and varied tapestry of my life and I’m thankful.
copyright 2013 Inger Logelin
June 19, 2012 § 1 Comment
I slouch down comfortably in my seat at The Clyde Theater anticipating excellent acting from the ensemble cast in the comedy-drama The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. The theater is full, patrons chatting amiably as usual. A gaggle of “Red Hat Ladies” fill three rows, red, feathered, sparkly side-perched “fascinators” their hats of choice. Sitting next to my daughter and her friends I realize that I’m sitting among the youngest in the theater–as they are in their mid-forties. The theater is like a large cozy community living room, tonight peopled with the mobile aging.
As the movie begins, the money woes and/or personal issues of the characters are introduced, one by one. Judi Dench’s character has just lost her husband of many years (well, you know what I mean: he died). Her son informs her she is deeply in debt and she must sell her home and go to live with him. Bill Nighy and Penelope Wilton play a long-married couple who have sunk their life savings in their daughter’s internet business and can only afford a stark retirement cottage with grab bars and a call button. Tom Wilkinson plays a high court judge raised in India who retires and returns there. The indomitable Maggie Smith, an ex-housekeeper with no house to keep, can’t wait six months for an expensive hip replacement in Great Britain and comes to India for the operation. Ronald Pickup and Celia Imrie play desperately-seeking, failed-in-love individuals. And then there’s India: gloriously multi-colored, volume-turned up, people everywhere, spicy India. India is the background character who steals the show and holds the story together as the retirees all head off there–to the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (the manager played by award-winning Dev Patel of Slum Dog Millionaire fame).
As the retirees mesh their lives in the attractively shabby-chic hotel in India, secrets begin to emerge, new strengths and opportunities are discovered and passions rise. I won’t spoil the story for you if you haven’t seen it, but know that lives change as India—glorious, maddening, exasperating, beautiful India—forms the backdrop. We watch Judi Dench grows as a person, finds a job to supplement her meager retirement and opens her heart to new love. Maggie Smith morphs from a bitter and racist harridan to a woman of purpose. Those looking for love are persistent until they find it. Tragedy and comedy play out in the other characters’ lives, racism and inflexibility are revealed, love and persistence win out and death waits in the wings.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a movie that looks at how some live that end stage, that winter season, that final act that we call “Golden Years.” The acting is skilled and seamless, the screenplay by Ol Parker from a book by Deborah Moggach called These Foolish Things is engaging. But as the screen went black and credits rolled and the patrons at The Clyde Theater clapped enthusiastically, I felt a little sad.
Sad that family connections are portrayed as so flimsy that the characters don’t want to live around their children or grandchildren as they age. Sad that there doesn’t seem to be a purpose in the lives of the pensioners except amusing themselves. And sad for the portrayal of the one long-time marriage in the movie. When the wife will not adapt to India and they learn their retirement money has not been lost after all, she demands they return home. Thirty-nine years of marriage disintegrates in seconds in standstill traffic as the wife goes on to the airport and the husband turns away and returns to the Marigold Hotel and the potential of a waiting new love.
It’s just a movie, I know. But, I’d love to see couples in marriages occasionally portrayed working through misunderstandings and disagreements, portraying commitment and faithfulness. Is it too much to ask to see a man and woman growing old together content with each other and what they have?
ⓒ Inger Logelin 2012
April 9, 2012 § Leave a comment
Spring has come late to my corner of the Northwest. The tulips are waiting for frost-free mornings to fully open. Rain upon rain and more rain has encouraged so many shades of green that verdant doesn’t begin to describe them. There are signs that once again the season has truly changed, that once again we will see sun.
- My favorite iridescent-orange-crowned hummingbird is back fighting for space at the deck feeder.
- Pink and green buds on the Japanese maple and the espaliered apple trees whose linking arms form a natural fence.
- Doves and squirrels feeding together under the hanging birdfeeder where the songbirds discard their castoffs.
- My dachshunds ever watchful for the three wild turkey hens foraging in the yard. A half-hearted chase ensues before laziness overcomes them and they retreat to the porch.
- The music and tradition of Easter … Resurrection Day … A high, piercing and achingly beautiful live soprano duet of G. Faure and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Pie Jesu.”
- A Down Syndrome adult teaching a congregation to sign the words as his parents sing, “Beautiful, beautiful/ Jesus is beautiful/ And Jesus makes beautiful things of my life. Carefully touching me/causing my eyes to see/ Jesus makes beautiful things of my life” (Dennis Cleveland).
I agree. “Jesus makes beautiful all things of my life.”
Not seeing it? Wait. Open your eyes for the next opening bud, the next baby’s drooling smile, the next kind word. There it is. Beautiful.
ⓒ Inger Logelin 2012