When I was a small child, I remember hearing the story of the baby Jesus. I heard about Mary & Joseph, how they went to Bethlehem, but found no room at the inn, and gave birth to Jesus in a stable. Of course at five or six, I had no understanding of theology, but I did grasp the idea that the son of God was born in a stable and laid in a manger. In my mind, that Stable and Manger were places of beauty and magnificence. The stable was a place filled with light and angles and the manger was a glorious golden bed fit for a king. When I was much older, I bought a farm in Fauquier county and moved into “the country”. One of the things I had on my farm was a run – in shed. Soon I succumbed to the strange illness that affects so many out here, and added some donkeys and horses to run in and out of the shed. One time, when I went out to clean the shed, I was struck by a realization. My run in shed was essentially a stable. The old feeding bucket I had set up was actually a manger. That brought up another realization. If you own horses you know what is on the floor of a stable. For those of you who are not afflicted with the need to own horses, you can probably guess, but I’ll tell you anyway. It is mostly horse…manure. And the wet straw is not wet from spilled water. A stable is in reality a dirty, unsanitary place smelling of animal waste. You might choose to spend the night in one, but only if you had no other choice. When Jesus was born in that stable, however, it was transformed. In our minds the stable, full of animal waste and bugs is transformed from an object of filth and degradation into an object of unspeakable beauty. In later years it was physically transformed into the beautiful Church of the Nativity. A common, filthy, unassuming building transformed into a holy place because Jesus was born in it. By being born in a stable, Jesus transformed it almost beyond our ability to imagine. What then happens to us, if we allow Jesus to be born in our hearts? Even if our lives seem sometimes to be filled with the contents of a stable. If Jesus is born within us, would we not also be transformed beyond our wildest imagination?
In Early Morning as they sleep
In morning mist, they stood at peace
The five deer on my lawn
The sleepy dogs ignored them all
Except to sniff and yawn
The one whose turn it was to watch
Looked up when I peered out
She sensed no danger from the sounds
As I made to move about
The deer will disappear, of course
When my door opens wide
I like to think that they watch me
As I watched from inside
In thirty minutes more, I know
The children will arise
I must once again become
Both tireless and wise
So now on my front porch I sip
Hot coffee from a bowl
And feel the sacred peacefulness
Enfold my weary soul
The Pear Tree
For over sixty years it grew
Standing in the field
And every creature benefited
From its fruitful yield.
No hand of man had felled her
T’was nature brought her down
And now the shattered trunk and limbs
Have stained the pasture brown
The might trunk, decayed within
Concealed the deadly rot
The seeming sturdy ancient tree
Was sicker than we thought.
Against the run-in shed it fell,
Thank God that beam was sound
I feared I’d find the shed as well
Collapsed upon the ground.
I did not see the rot creep in
The outer bark seemed true
Each spring I’d see the buds appear
And then the flowers too
But rot was eating her inside
I guess the signs were there
But like a fool, I’d missed them all
Moved past them, unaware.
And now there’s nothing left to do
But move the broken wood
And burn to ash this ancient tree
That once gave so much good.
Perhaps I’ll look at what is left
To find a piece that’s free
And clean of soul destroying rot.
I’ll carve a memory.
In life’s relationships I know
I need to look for signs
Lest rot, or apathy, set in
And life gets undermined
A piece of wood from a broken limb
Should not be what I hold
When wife and children gather here.
Those moments are pure gold.
I’ll strive for more as I grow grey,
To love, and understand,
And tell this tale of the old pear tree
As I hold my grandchild’s hand
Amy Joanne Stone (6/28/1991 – 09/03/2009)
All who knew her said that she
Made joy come alive with her eyes.
Yet joy like hers was not meant to be
Just as a flame in a candle dies
Out in a puff that no one can see.
And nothing that’s said can change how we feel
Nothing can bring the happiness back
Nothing soothes grief that just seems to steal
Each breath from our bodies; each moment we lack
Strength to move onwards so that we can heal.
Then was a time for sorrow, now let her memory live
Out of the grief of her passing, here is the gift to give
No one knew better than she, that she died enfolded in love
Each of us now should feel, that love she returns from above
Our fingers touch, and hands entwine
The essence of our bodies intermixes
Our lips touch, our tongues explore
Our souls extend and wrap themselves
Around the burning fire of our passion
Our bodies touch and come together
Our souls begin to interweave and dance
And within my inner eye, I see
Our souls merging and expanding
And then a spark of divine fire
Smaller than a dancing ember
Hotter than the blazing sun
Melts and fuses us until
A third soul is created and we have
For a moment
Become like God
The Cat’s Thoughts
In fact you are a slave to me
You sit or move at my command
While my claws dig into your hand
I know you think my purr is nice
I use it wisely to entice
You, and so ensnare your mind
So that the truth you never find.
The truth is that I run the house
And sometimes deign to give a mouse
To let you know I am aware
Of slaves that give me daily care
Oh you may think you’re strong and large
But who feeds who? Who is in charge?
Toys – 1
My toys are put away
The focus of my life is
Changing as I watch
Toys – 2
My toys are put away
The choices I made are set
But I do look back
My toys were put away
I took them out to relive
A crazy moment
Toys – 4
My life is put away
I did not know what I had
Until I let go
After Five Years
She is grinning now
In her number 12 jersey
As she dribbles the ball
Up the field with her feet
Outrunning the defender.
She is grinning now
In her cheerleader outfit
As she dances onto the floor
And into formation
Ready to perform.
Just five years ago
She cried when she came to us
Frightened, angry, confused
Taken to a strange land
By an unknown couple
Who spoke her language badly.
Always ready to fight or run,
She did not think this could ever be good
We did not think it would be so hard.
We were both wrong.
Last night, she smiled as Mama tucked her in.
We know how blessed we are because of her
And now, we grin.
It’s cold outside tonight
The icicles hang like teeth,
Snow dragon’s fangs,
To show where melting snow
Has gathered to be transformed.
Hours ago the sun shone
And melted the snow
But the thaw has turned at last
to angry monster teeth.
Its colder inside too
Your glare would put
The icicles to shame and
The ice pierces my heart
We were warmer also, once
I did not know
Winter would come so soon