We have a guest in the house

In 1928 Eleanor Farjeon wrote a poem:


“People, look east. The time is near

of the crowning of the year.

Make your house fair as you are able,

trim the hearth and set the table.

People, look east: Love, the Guest, is on the way.”


Set to the tune of an old French carol, Eleanor’s poem brings special cheer to Advent, which is fast approaching.


Love, the Guest, is on the way.  It is of guests I wish to speak.  Last weekend my husband and I attended a basketball banquet at Lamar University here in Beaumont.  The guest speaker was Julius Erving, age 69.  That’s right – Dr. J!  He of elegance, and unearthly athletic prowess.  He spoke of being the son of a single mom, how with his life he always wanted to help her, not make her life any harder than it already was.  He spoke of his faith, of perseverance, of mentors, of lines falling for him in both pleasant and challenging places. He spoke of his promise to his mother that he would finish college.  Which he did. Eventually.


I was quite caught up in his story. But I had to listen hard: he is soft-spoken, and near me was a table of young persons caught up not in him but in their cellphones and comments thereon.  I really, really wanted to as the old folks used to say “snatch them baldheaded.” Not only were they ignoring the message he brought them, they were interfering with others hearing it. Ah, heedless youth.  I’ve been there.  But I hope I had better manners than that. I definitely had more healthy fear!


After a long while of this, Dr. J looked over at their table and said something about heads down, looking at cellphones.  “I see you,” he said.  Then he said mildly, “We have a guest in the house.”


Whether he meant himself,  the young people’s forebears and future offspring, their debt to life for having been given life, the Holy One within and among and all round us, or all the above, he made his point.


Their table quieted, and he continued.



Fast Away the Old Year Passes!

I am sick to death of Halloween for adults, done to death, with collateral overwhelming of little psyches.  The Gym I frequent has been draped in bats and skeletons and gravestones for weeks. On checking in yesterday I announced (per senior prerogative) that I was tired of it.  The  young man addressed looked surprised, then sympathetic.  Then he murmured something about it being over this week.  Hallelujah.
After the Gym and dropping off soup for the soup kitchen I went to a purveyor of seasonal decor, whose interior I circled twice, looking for a Thanksgiving wreath.  Again, my heart sank at the mandated expression of seasons – rows and rows of goofy scarecrows, wooden signs commanding ‘Be Grateful’, others announcing ‘Harvest Blessings’ — aisles and aisles of harvest schlock — and did I mention Christmas?– all lined up, waiting in inanimate splendor for agitated shoppers to pick through to find just the right ‘statement’ for their homes.  What a mood I seem to be in!  I left empty handed but with an idea.  Got home and removed a pepperberry wreath from the study wall, where it’s hung on a brass hook for probably 30 years.  I took it outside,  hosed off the dust, and put it on the front door, where it looks marvelous and good as new. Here’s a predawn picture of it. Hence the shadowy effect:
Reduce, reuse, recycle.  And still the schlock machine grinds on and the landfill mountains rise.
But my particular task is to communicate goodness not gloom.  I thank the Universe for opportunities. My brother emailed yesterday morning, asking if there’s room at the Thanksgiving table for his elder daughter!  She’s been overseas a long time.  So I emailed all the Thanksgiving invitees, saying, “As if November doesn’t hold joy enough – a new baby boy, a fourth anniversary, a fortieth anniversary, a 31st birthday, a 67th birthday – I’ve just learned that Rosemary will be joining us for Thanksgiving.
Our Rosie is over the ocean
Our Rosie is over the sea
Our Rosie is over the ocean
O bring back our Rosie to we.”
Keen eyes may have spotted the baby reference. Here’s a picture of the family said baby will soon be joining:
Goodness aplenty!