Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Oh hail the black and white Eye-Ball that rolls in its grassy socket!

Recently several of my friends have described their weekend to me. In short: soccer: soccer: soccer. Their kids have been wearing their league t-shirts around since kindergarten at least. Their refrigerators are full of age progressive magnet-backed photos of grimacing, grinning beckham-tots, clutching the ball, lest it rolls out of the boundary-frame. My friends always sound tired about the whole schedule, yet resolved in all-pursuit of collegiate scholarship (if it turns out that way) or at least resolved in keeping their child happy, healthy, and out of trouble. If anything can do that, it's soccer, they seem to think. A debatable theory, I think.

Nevertheless for myself, I'm quite thrilled that my kids are hopelessly inept at ball maneuverment. For one thing, I can't imagine all of those years of finding shinguards and socks. We were intensely stressed out those two and a half years our children found themselves mesmerized by the Eye-Ball (due to parental or peer pressure). One shinguard was always in an unlikely place like the freezer or feminine protection drawer. The mismatched socks were always dirty or vacationing. Often, I used my husband's dark work socks when I was in last second frenzy prior to leaving the house for a practice or game. I should have used his tie for a headband, I guess.

So while the soccer parents drive all over the city or state, I'm glad that we have Sundays for rest, or reading, or grandparents, or church. Saturday mornings are good for the farmer's market, or friend coffee, or home cleaning, or garage sales, or longer visits to farther away family. Or, just for relaxing around the yard, watching the new season's flowers sprout.

If my kids were athletic, given what I enjoy and prioritize now, I would only hope that if a black and white Eye-Ball happened to cross my path, I would kick it out of its boundaries and into the Missouri River, where it could travel to the Gulf, and then beyond to perhaps a castaway on an island, and he could give it a name to fulfill all of his deepest needs. The Eye-Ball would be happy again, but not in my weekend!

(nothing against any of you who have kids on a soccer team:)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Most Blessed of Women be Jael

Commemorates the song of Deborah. Jael acted with stealth as she gave Sisera, an enemy king, milk and not water. The music of seeming refuge lulled him to sleep in Jael's tent, where she offered hiding after a losing battle with prophetess-judge Deborah and army-leader Barak. When the king was fast asleep

"Her hand reached for the tent peg,
her right hand for the workman's hammer.
She struck Sisera, she crushed his head,
she shattered and pierced his temple.
At her feet he sank,
he fell; there he lay.
At her feet he sank, he fell;
where he sank, there he fell -- dead." (Judges 5:24-31)

The song rises with righteous entreaty in the final verses:

"So may all your enemies perish, O Lord!
But may they who love you be like the sun
When it rises in its strength."

In the book I'm reading now called "Army of Roses: Inside the World of Palestinian Women Suicide Bombers" by Barbara Victor, I'm introduced to modern day women just like Jael and Deborah. Fighters. Killers. Praisers of Allah and his allegiance to those who love him and do his bloody work.

And, I thought that such feminine militaristic zeal was a new thing. As long as there are religious warring men, there are religious warring women -- equal in life, death, and spiritual ambition for glory.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Photo: Ann Hermes, Columbia Missourian, March 18, 2007

Maya smiled and the world was calmed. That's how it felt last night, even in the back student section (thank you lovely student friend for the invite) when we watched her, in person, smile out over her latest enthralled audience. I'm sure the smile went over into the Gaza settlements and into the outposts in Nepal where children march with guns.

Okay, most likely, it didn't. People died today because of violence despite Maya's smile and grandmotherly advice and benevolent hope for humanity. Yet wouldn't one who died today wish for someone who cared, who spoke about caring, who used her time to be expressively hopefully about a better world, who marched her words outwards to spread the care? I would want that in my shocked and final suffering at the hands of hatred.

Maya was funny. She said that she was trying, trying to be a Christian now, but it's so hard. Sometimes, someone will come up, shake her hand, and announce that they're a Christian. To which she likes to respond incredulously, "Already?"

She received many laughs, many claps. I sat there moist-eyed, because I had started to feel like the world was sinking into the mire of hopeless conflict and subjugation. And, perhaps we are. But, if we ask for more from ourselves and each other, as Maya spoke about, a "rainbow in the clouds" can appear: promising hope for even us, for even Israel and Palestine, for even the disenfranchised in New Orleans, for even Iraq, for even around our own homes.

I'm quite glad that I was introduced to Maya Angelou only 12 years ago, despite the gaps in my biased education. She truly is an amazing torchbearer of human dignity. Below is a poem written by her on the subject, written and delivered for the 50th anniversary of the United Nations:

A Brave and Startling Truth By Maya Angelou

We, this people, on a small and lonely planet
Traveling through casual space
Past aloof stars, across the way of indifferent suns
To a destination where all signs tell us
It is possible and imperative that we learn
A brave and startling truth

And when we come to it
To the day of peacemaking
When we release our fingers
From fists of hostility
And allow the pure air to cool our palms

When we come to it
When the curtain falls on the minstrel show of hate
And faces sooted with scorn and scrubbed clean
When battlefields and coliseum
No longer rake our unique and particular sons and daughters
Up with the bruised and bloody grass
To lie in identical plots in foreign soil

When the rapacious storming of the churches
The screaming racket in the temples have ceased
When the pennants are waving gaily
When the banners of the world tremble
Stoutly in the good, clean breeze

When we come to it
When we let the rifles fall from our shoulders
And children dress their dolls in flags of truce
When land mines of death have been removed
And the aged can walk into evenings of peace
When religious ritual is not perfumed
By the incense of burning flesh
And childhood dreams are not kicked awake
By nightmares of abuse

When we come to it
Then we will confess that not the Pyramids
With their stones set in mysterious perfection
Nor the Gardens of Babylon
Hanging as eternal beauty
In our collective memory
Not the Grand Canyon
Kindled into delicious color
By Western sunsets

Nor the Danube, flowing its blue soul into Europe
Not the sacred peak of Mount Fuji
Stretching to the Rising Sun
Neither Father Amazon nor Mother Mississippi who, without favor,
Nurture all creatures in the depths and on the shores
These are not the only wonders of the world

When we come to it
We, this people, on this minuscule and kithless globe
Who reach daily for the bomb, the blade and the dagger
Yet who petition in the dark for tokens of peace
We, this people on this mote of matter
In whose mouths abide cankerous words
Which challenge our very existence
Yet out of those same mouths
Come songs of such exquisite sweetness
That the heart falters in its labor
And the body is quieted into awe

We, this people, on this small and drifting planet
Whose hands can strike with such abandon
That in a twinkling, life is sapped from the living
Yet those same hands can touch with such healing, irresistible tenderness
That the haughty neck is happy to bow
And the proud back is glad to bend
Out of such chaos, of such contradiction
We learn that we are neither devils nor divines

When we come to it
We, this people, on this wayward, floating body
Created on this earth, of this earth
Have the power to fashion for this earth
A climate where every man and every woman
Can live freely without sanctimonious piety
Without crippling fear

When we come to it
We must confess that we are the possible
We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world
That is when, and only when
We come to it.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

No Rock

Nothing against the gorgeous state of Arkansas and the fine people there, but hallelujiah!, we are not moving to Little Rock. I'm embracing the trail here as I run it, the friends over coffee, the church parking lot, the cheery cardinal that swoops now by my window, the perennials that are peeking up from my soil. I can remain a "Show-Me" girl, and I am mighty pleased, and did I mention hugging all that Missouri offers, every flyin', flowin', rooted, spittin', twangin', show-offin' thing? (even Branson and Republicans!). One big bunch of love goin' on here for the best state and people in the country! Don't you agree??


Sunday, March 04, 2007

Friendly fiddlers

The shrieking fiddle boys on Friday nights are especially cute and courteous. Not only did they brush off our windshields, they shoveled an individual path to our snow-covered cars after the jam, during a snowstorm. I like them. However, another venue seems to be necessary for me to hear myself play the meek mandolin.

Fortunately, a couple of men at church were in my bluegrass class. And, they're flexible workers which means they can come to my house in the late afternoon beginning this week. They both have musical backgrounds apart from their beginning instruments, and I trust them, although the BTK man was from church too.

Nonetheless, I'm quite excited about a smaller group, where we can diverge from fiddle tunes which split the air. And, I can improve my hypocritical musical contributions too. I'll still play from time to time with the little boys on their various instruments (mainly fiddle, but occassionally they pull out a jaw harp, a harmonica, and an old mandolin). I'm sure one day they will be famous, and I'll rue the day that they gave me a headache.

Saturday, March 03, 2007


This entire week has been one of early risings (well, okay, not one morning!) in order to embrace the quiet of the morning because.... I have a new writing project which envisions a novel or a book of sorts. It's just ... all my life, I've desired and then procrastinated, desired, procrastinated. I even want to deny my actions towards this end even now, even here. The confession is hard because in some ways I'm ashamed. The shame voices of "as if!", an untoward ego ("as if!"), the echo of false starts ("as if!"), crescendo as I state. However, I can't help it. The decision has been made to myself, that I shall undergo a writing project: a book attempt. Why not? I have that English degree (as if that matters!), and, most importantly, as I, girl of about 13, kicked around in the cow lot one hot summer Ozarkian day, all glazed over from one of my numerous reads, I knew that I desired wholeheartedly to lead words into some sort of order, for some sort of reason, for some sort of joy.

Therefore, I confess and hope and arise early.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Crocus Gratitude

Yes, that's right -- the first flowers in my garden -- bursting forth from underneath the cold wind, ice, sleet, tornadoes and singing praise to the heavens. I'm so thankful for these little, loyal blossoms, hope bells of renewal and beauty.