Poetry Sundays

Boat_front_breaking_water

Here at The Exponent we are starting a new series one Sunday a month where we’ll share poetry.

Following the Christmas holidays, this poem by Wendell Berry came to my mind.  We have so many opportunities  to digitally capture our lives that sometimes it starts to feel like an obligation to get a picture or video of every event, big or small.  This poem reminds me that pictures can’t replace the experience of being really present in life’s events.  Sometimes it’s better to put down the phone and enjoy the moment.

The Vacation
By Wendell Berry

Once there was a man who filmed his vacation.
He went flying down the river in his boat
with his video camera to his eye, making
a moving picture of the moving river
upon which his sleek boat moved swiftly
toward the end of his vacation. He showed
his vacation to his camera, which pictured it,
preserving it forever: the river, the trees,
the sky, the light, the bow of his rushing boat
behind which he stood with his camera
preserving his vacation even as he was having it
so that after he had had it he would still
have it. It would be there. With a flick
of a switch, there it would be. But he
would not be in it. He would never be in it.

I’m sure there are other ways to read the poem.  What is yours?

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Nursing Madonna as God’s Love

Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten God that gave you birth. Deuteronomy 32:18

Mary nursing in a Nativity scene
I am sharing these pictures and scriptures, inspired by the Pope’s recent comments on breastfeeding, which led to a revisitation of this Huffington Post article:

“Ask anybody in the street what’s the primary Christian symbol and they would say the crucifixion,” said Margaret Miles, author of “A Complex Delight: The Secularization of the Breast, 1350-1750,” a book that traces the disappearance of the image of the breast-feeding Mary after the Renaissance.

“It was the takeover of the crucifixion as the major symbol of God’s love for humanity” that supplanted the breast-feeding icon, she said. And that was a decisive shift from the earliest days of Christianity when “the virgin’s nursing breast, the lactating virgin, was the primary symbol of God’s love for humanity.”

We know God loves us because God nurses us, has birthed us. I love the use of Mary as God’s love and it reminds me of all that Heavenly Mother has done for us.

Our Lady nursing the Infant Jesus

His breasts are full of milk, and his bones are moistened with marrow. Job 21:24

Louvre-Breastfeeding Jesus

Have I conceived all this people? have I begotten them, that thou shouldest say unto me, Carry them in thy bosom, as a nursing father beareth the sucking child, unto the land which thou swarest unto their fathers? Numbers 11:12

The Virgin Mother feeding the Infant Jesus

That ye may suck, and be satisfied with the breasts of her consolations; that ye may milk out, and be delighted with the abundance of her glory. Isaiah 66:11

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Least Likely Christmas Lyrics to Appear on Holiday Cards

Have you noticed the trend in Christmas cards? Along with a family photo, quotes and lines from Christmas songs are splashed across the card. Among the most popular are: “Peace on earth goodwill to men;” “Merry and Bright;” “Have a  holly jolly Christmas;” and that old standby, “Joy to the world.” While sitting in Sacrament meeting this past week, my warped mind got to thinking about lines from songs that are LEAST likely to wind up on a greeting card. So with apologies to the families whose images I’ve swiped from the Googles, here you are.

10. Long lay the world in sin and error pining.

Christmas2005web copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9. You better not pout, You better not cry!

christmas copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The work of Christmas

220px-Mr&MrsSantaClausYesterday I read this piece by fellow blogger Jana and it really struck a chord.  She observed that most of the work to make Christmas magical is done by women, but ultimately the credit goes to a man — Santa.  I wondered how true this is for other families.  My husband buys my presents and wraps them, and he helps me pick out and put up our tree.  Weather permitting we cut it down ourselves, and his job is usually the cutting, while I hold it upright.  Once home, he holds it up while I squirm under the stand to try to screw in the bolts (my size and agility making this easier for me).  I do all the decorating of the tree.  I also buy, wrap and ship all presents for family members.  We stuff each other’s stockings.  Because we don’t have kids I think the holiday load is fairly evenly distributed.  If I am doing more it is in large part because I enjoy it and want certain things done, whereas he doesn’t care as much.  I think maybe if we had kids what is enjoyable now could become a chore in terms of teacher gifts, school events and other obligations.

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Nativity: A Letter to My Son


na·tiv·i·ty
(n -t v -t , n -). n. pl. na·tiv·i·ties. 1. Birth, especially the place, conditions, or circumstances of being born.

Dear Luke,

You’re a grown man, turning thirty tomorrow. But every year around this time I see you again as you were–your tiny form making a manger of a down pillow. I was twenty-two and you were my sixteen-day-old Christmastime Baby. I felt so very Mary-like. Maybe that’s why I love Virgin De Guadalupe candles and statues and all things Holy Mother. I seemed to understand her and would forever be connected to her because of you.

You had awakened in the wee hours. I nursed you, gently laid you in the pillow I’d brought from the bed, then moved us both to the floor near the Christmas tree. I lay my head near yours beneath the glow of twinkle lights on pine branches. You slept. I wept. I loved you more than I could say. Still do.

This poem is always the first thing out of my mouth when someone asks me to recite. This poem, that night, a young mother and her newborn child. Thank you for being born. Thank you for being my son.

Love, Mom

 

122410jesus“Nativity”

 

No wise men came

when my son was born–

ten days before the Holy One.

 

There was no star,

no bleating sheep.

No one traveled far.

 

But there was an angel–

spoke of Light and Love.

My newborn son, like Hers,

brought hope.

 

Melody Newey © 1983

 

 

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What kinds of toys did you buy for Christmas?

Before Christmas I read an article about how since fathers are doing more of the child care and more of the purchasing for their families, toy makers are responding by producing toys for girls that also appeal to men.  Enter construction worker Barbie and pink Legos.

This may be the first generation of girls to get a chance (on average) to play a lot with construction-type toys.  From the article:

Research shows that playing with blocks, puzzles and construction toys helps children with spatial development, said Dr. Susan C. Levine, chairwoman of the psychology department at the University of Chicago and co-principal investigator at the National Science Foundation’s Spatial Intelligence and Learning Center. Even controlling for other skills such as verbal and numerical skills, she said, children with better spatial thinking are more likely to eventually go into mathematics, engineering, science and technology.

She said that a set aimed at girls could be beneficial, if only because it might increase girls’ likelihood of participating in construction activities.

Dr. O’Brien, the consultant on the new Barbie set, said adults had traditionally been “the limiting factor” in why girls have not played with those toys as often.”

I thought it was fascinating (and obvious, in hindsight) that adults have been the reason girls haven’t received toys that develop spatial skills, and as I recall in my childhood, nary a Lego entered our home until I was about 10 or 11 and my little brothers were old enough to play with them.  At that point, I certainly wasn’t interested in playing with construction toys.

This Christmas, my husband and I bought our 5-year old son a Lego set (although his favorite gift was a set of WWII airplanes from his cousin), and our 2 year-old daughter received pretend-play kitchen toys (since that’s what she gravitates toward in her Nursery class) and some puzzles.  I want both my kids to fully develop their minds in all kinds of ways, but it’s interesting to me that my husband is the one that’s the most vigilant about making sure our daughter doesn’t get too many “all-girl” toys.  And, he’s the one to really shop the sales.  The toy makers are noticing!

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