Friday, August 14, 2015


It is our nature to wait.
It is our destiny to wait.

As the seasons change, we read the signs and we wait.
   For the first green shoots to peek through the snow.
   For the first red and orange leaf to float to the ground.
   For the sun to ride high in the sky.

When I was a kid we waited for the mercury on our outside thermometer to read 75 degrees.  That was the temperature it had to be before my mom allowed us to swim in our pool.

Christmas morning we  got up early... after the long  wait... to see what Santa... and my parents... had brought us.

The first day of school was a day I waited for, looked forward to always, even as an adult and teacher, anticipating the new school year with joy.

At this moment, I am waiting to hear news and results on several fronts.

What are you waiting for?

We all remember being little and told maybe as we asked about an upcoming possibility or soon  as we one more time asked when an event would occur  or later as we asked when mom could play with us or dad could walk us to the corner store. 

In  Waiting for Later by Tina Matthews, Nancy finds a wonderful way to wait for the promised later.

How do you wait?

What makes your waiting easier or harder, shorter or longer?

Waiting can be exhilarating  as we anticipate the good, the wonderful,  and the desired.
Waiting can be unbearable, as we wait for results which could be  negative--medical tests, academic hearings, or judicial verdicts..

What do we do with the time when we cannot act, but are forced to simply wait?

Early childhood educators are waiting for September 1.

That is the day the Waiting by Kevin Henkes will be released.     I can't wait to read about how five friends (actually five toys) wait by the windowsill for something to happen.

They each wait for their own something.

The pig with the umbrella waits on the rain.   The bear with his kite waits on the wind. The dog with his sled waits on the snow. The owl waits on the moon... and the rabbit is content just to watch and wait.

We wait our turn. We wait in lines.  We wait in traffic.
We wait to hear about Y...  We wait for X to meet us... We wait...

And as we wait, some of us create reasons and  worst case scenarios.  I am not good enough or  He never wanted to go in the first place or  I should have never agreed to this or It will never come.

How do you wait?

Waiting can be in the eyes of the beholder, in the mind of the "waiter". Your waiting is not my waiting.

Samuel Becket offers absurd possibilities and a tragicomedy vision of waiting in his two-act play,  Waiting for Godot ,

Two characters are  waiting in vain for the mysterious Godot.  Their waiting continues.... comically, repetitively, and endlessly.

Lawrence Ferlinghetti  elevates us from childhood waiting pushes us beyond comic waiting to thoughtful, sophisticated, collective waiting.

In I Am Waiting, he challenges us to critically consider that for which we wait.
 And more importantly, he asked What should we be doing to end the waiting?

His poem begins

I am waiting for my case to come up   
and I am waiting
for a rebirth of wonder
and I am waiting for someone

to really discover America
and wail
and I am waiting   
for the discovery
of a new symbolic western frontier   
and I am waiting   
for the American Eagle
to really spread its wings
and straighten up and fly right...

As he continues to list that for which he waits, I note with sadness that this poem, published in 1958 in  A Coney Island of the Mind: Poems, still resonates today.  We don't read it as just historical commentary, but current social and political commentary on our own time, as well.

Read Ferlinghetti's entire poem here.

What are you waiting for?
How are you waiting?

Today's Deeper Writing Possibilities

Make a list of small and big things for which you are waiting

List the thoughts and activities in which you engage which you wait.

Write a poem about waiting.

Saturday, August 1, 2015


On a hill far away....
 The Old Rugged Cross -Photo by Andy Rogers

The Old  Rugged Cross. I often sing this hymn, Its words and melody are embedded in my soul and  my spiritual DNA. As a small child, I heard this song several times a day by paternal grandma as she worked in the kitchen. There were others she sang, others I remember, but this one remains with me always.

The Old Rugged Cross. It was among a host of songs my sister recorded on the piano to play for my father when he was in the hospital - first very sick, then dying. He would listen --and smile as he listened, even as he slept. As a small child, he also heard this same song, several times a day.

The songs we heard as children carry knowledge  of our family, our community, our collective lives.

Heard again, songs can evoke smells, images, and feelings.

Heard again, sung again, these songs transport us to an earlier time, to childhood fun, to perfect memories.. to romantic moments.  They remind us of funerals, wedding, parties and other celebrations.

As I hum, as I sing, as  I work, I am back in my grandmother's kitchen eating homemade ice cream and drinking a hot toddy for a  sore throat.  I am in the living room watching Queen for a Day and General Hospital or  I am being tucked in bed under her homemade quilts.

In this treasury of memories, Giovanni has invited her friends, including some folks we know for their own writing, to share their meaningful moments, precious memories, fictional accounts,  and gathered wisdom from their grandmothers.

So we peek into the minds and grandmother memories of Gloria Naylor, Gwendolyn Brooks, Maxine Kong Kingston, Nikki Giovanni, and others whom we meet through their grandmother memories.

What do you remember about your grandmothers?
What songs did they sing?
What words of wisdom did they impart to you?
How are they embedded in your cultural and spiritual DNA?

I just finished reading Songs My Grandma Sang by Michael B. Curry, the newly elected  Presiding Bishop of my denomination, the Episcopal Church in the United States.

Bishop Curry revisits the spirituals and traditional hymns he heard as a child, extracting the life lessons and  wisdom found there,  reaping  the cultural history and theology planted in those words,  remembering the energy and spiritual  strength rising in the melodies.

Our grandmother sang life into our lives.

Our grandmothers did not sing only the songs of faith and the church.

Sometimes the songs they sang were the pop songs of their time, the songs played on the radio or heard in the juke joints and honky tonks. Pop and country singer Brenda Lee's first album, Grandma, What Great Songs You Sang, recognized this both in title and content.

What did  you learn about life from your grandmother's songs?
What did her songs teach you about faith?
How did the songs your grandmother sang teach you about history and culture?
How did they explain your family and community?

For additional thoughts on grandmothers, see my previous post.

Today's Deeper Writing Possibilities

Reflect and remember:

What do you remember about your grandmothers?
What songs did they sing?
What did  you learn about life from your grandmother's songs?
What did her songs teach you about faith?
How did the songs your grandmother sang teach you about history and culture?
How did the songs explain your family and community?
How are their songs embedded in your cultural and spiritual DNA?

Write a personal narrative or essay about a song (s) your grandmother sang.

Compose a hymn or song like the ones your are remembering. Write lyrics and create a melody..