It Is Well With My Soul

March 31, 2020

“Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies.”


This morning I could feel the enemy come creepin’, creepin’…


Fear. Not a good companion for the long day ahead.


A friend had suggested at dawn that I hold myself with care this day. Good advice.


So at a pause in my writing and for lack of a better idea, I went outside and gave my newly planted Mexican heather a drink of water.


Also the pot of green and white caladiums I planted for my husband, who likes the way the wind makes them ‘wave their hands.’ Jazz hands!


All the while rediscovering a classical music mix on my iPod.


Finished with watering, I sat on the patio and began to enjoy the ‘table’ spread before me: music, cool wind, sunshine, and a mockingbird ruffling as he clung to the powerline. I went still, and joy came creepin’, creeping’…  This is good.  I’ve somehow managed to hold myself with care. And oh I would like to send this good energy out.


Then the turn of events. After some minutes of Beethoven and Boccherini came chords of guitar, a piece I don’t remember including in the mix:  the Lecha Dodi.  “Come my friend, my beloved.”  Traditional song to welcome Shabbat, Sabbath, precious day of rest, longed for as a man longs for his bride. As the guitar strummed and man’s voice soared in Hebrew, soon joined by woman’s, I was filled with a sweetness that pushed back the enemy, at least for now.  Here are the lyrics in English:


Come my beloved to welcome the bride
The presence of Shabbat we receive
Observe and remember in one divine utterance
We heard from the One and Only God
The Lord is One and His name One
For renown for splendor and for praise
Come my beloved
Shake off the dust arise
Dress in garments of glory my people
Through the son of Jesse the Bethlehemite
Redemption draws near to my soul
Come my beloved
Wake up wake up
For your light has come
Awaken, awaken sing a song
For the glory of the Lord is revealed to you
Come my beloved


Awaken, awaken! Come my beloved!


I hit replay and listened again.  Of a sudden, listening was not enough.  I told you it was a strange turn of events!  A call to strangeness! So I processed as if drawn to a sunsplashed corner of the yard, the traffic of Major Drive just beyond what we are pleased to call our ‘privacy fence’, and I began to move, in the breath of God, in the Light.  A venerable Methodist church lady engaged in a liturgical work-of-the-people dance with all the Hebrew in her, which is evidently a lot. My ‘garments of glory’ were an old red top and black leggings and gray sneakers. What a sight! For God and all the bluejays to see.  Also a broad-winged hawk who swooped near the dance floor as if mildly interested then veered away to find better fare than this.  Can’t say I blame him.


Then I spied some palm branches growing from our neighbor’s yard through the fence into ours.


So I cut them and added them to the dance.  Strange, strange, strange.  And I loved it.


We’ll call that my best prayer of the day, at least so far.








Revisiting Treasures

March 30, 2020


When I was a little girl, first of four kids,

Mother and Dad took us to the beach.

Our father spent some time collecting

Six shells, nesting them securely.

He gave them to me

To keep.

Scan 2.jpg

A lifetime later

on holiday

I collected shells of my own

Arranged them in a shadowbox

According to shape and color

Sunshine scallop at the center

Light at the heart of us


I’ve had more freedom from care

Than he did

I hope he knows how grateful I am

For his care

And how sorry

For charging him with



And now, now care he never dreamed of has shown up


I’m pleased to think

Both shell collections

Are safe with me

As are the memories and the desire

To hand things on to the next generation

Miracles are where you find them

March 28, 2020

Psalm 90:12-17

To count our days rightly, instruct,

that we may get a heart of wisdom.

Come back, O LORD! How long?—

and have pity on Your servants.

Sate us in the morning with Your kindness,

let us sing and rejoice all our days.

Give us joy as the days You afflicted us,

the years we saw evil.

Let Your acts be seen by Your servants

and Your glory by their children.

And may the sweetness of the Master our God be upon us

and the work of our hands firmly found for us,

and the work of our hands firmly found!


The concluding verses of Psalm 90 have long appealed to me, and now more than ever.


The reality of separation from family and friends is hitting hard.  One dawning shock: for my sake and theirs, I can’t be around my grandbabies. Facebook is some consolation…


Maybe if I check the latest news one more time there might be some ray of improvement.  Or preferably, a miracle.  No such luck.


Today I came across a piece by a woman named Alison Glock, who’s trying to manage her own dismay while comforting and guiding two daughters, ages eighteen and nineteen.  She writes, “in those long, vacant hours, free of clutter and busyness and traditional validation, we will have to learn how to sit with ourselves and discover the glory and meaning in that stillness. Or, at the very least, accept that tomorrow was never promised. In some ways it’s no different than it always was, I explain, we just have fewer distractions to hide behind.”


Tomorrow was never promised.  Indeed.  And oh the hyper-management projects and distractions we’ve invented to avoid that fact.  To self-soothe, to give some illusion of control.  And oh, the time we’ve ‘killed,’ placing so little value on it.


Yes, we will have to learn, and accept what must be accepted.  The Serenity Prayer comes to mind, and the Twelve Steps of recovery.   Whatever self-soothing way of being that’s got you in its grip, time to let it go.  If you dare. If I dare.


“To count our days wisely, instruct, that we may get a heart of wisdom.”


No distractions to hide behind, not anymore.  Reality must be faced, fear must be managed, the long view nurtured, kindness and gratitude practiced.  It’s time to step up, say what matters most.


But such straight thinking is hard. For me, anyway.  Order helps.  A day properly ordered.  In my life I’ve learned the value of routine, and now more than ever.


One thing I value is keeping as flexible and fit as my venerable age will permit.  New reality:  No more weights and yoga group at the gym.  However, I have my yoga DVD’s and a computer at home, and I’ve found the continuation of my practice an enormous relief from tension.


As for the weights, my wise son suggested gallon jugs filled with water. According to my scale, each gallon of water weights eight pounds. Good enough!


Oh, but I miss one device at the gym in particular: the back extension machine.  This machine supports the front of the lower half of you, feet tucked and hips supported as you lower yourself from the waist into free space, then rise again. I’ve found this enormously helpful for back strength, posture, and in general moving about my world with a lighter step.  I do feel this is a small but holy thing I can do for my circle of care!


Rather than give that up I got online and found a reasonably priced version, and within days it arrived in a big cardboard carton, which I sprayed down with Lysol and left on the front porch as long as I could stand it.


When my husband and I opened the carton, we looked in vain for assembly instructions.  There weren’t any.  The only guide was what what my husband informed me is an “exploded diagram.” Which looks like an explosion of a million or so small parts, hovering near each other, with arrows and numbers.


Said my husband, “I’m not at all sure about this.”


Yet as we pulled out each part and laid it on the sun porch rug, I saw him go into his zone.  Even after forty years I don’t know exactly how this zone works.  But it does. Reason and the right tools and aiming to please his wife worked their usual magic and soon I had CB-13 Back Extension, made by Valor Fitness.


Whose motto, by the way, is “Fitness Equipment for the Brave at Heart.”


Miracles are where you find them.


By the way, the treasures behind the machine are (1) a gift-plant from my beloved Brenda and (2)  a cat facsimile from my beloved Janice, of blessed memory, when I was grieving my real cat Sandy, back in the spring of 2006.


And so, we’ll cultivate brave hearts and strong backs, insofar as possible.

Out from behind the distractions so rudely pulled away by the coronavirus,

we’ll establish the best routines we can,

praying that God will teach us to number our days for God’s glory,

And may the sweetness of the Master our God be upon us

and the work of our hands firmly found for us,

and the work of our hands firmly found!











Happy Birthday!

Sixty six, oh my!  The parents who welcomed me are gone to glory, the hospital long a grassy vacant lot.  But here I am, sound of mind and centered enough to hold a frightened world in my heart and thank those faithfully doing their jobs.

Trust God and do the next right thing.

Practice gratitude:

Cream for my coffee.

Husband cooking bacon on the patio.

Virtual church.

And oh, what a party this morning!




Carolling cardinal.

Trilling woodpecker.

Cacophony of jays.

White wing doves with their mournful questions about continuing the species.

Brown thrashers thrashing, silently squaring off. Whether this be courtship or a matter of invaded territory, only the Shadow knows.

Love and shalom to all.