And now you feed your students the bread of knowledge
and piece together with threads of love
the brokenness you witness.
We cherish each day with you in our lives…
May the wind always be in her hair May the sky always be wide with hope above her And may all the hills be an exhilaration the trials but a trail, all the stones but stairs to God.
When it’s hard to be patient…make her willing to suffer When it’s ridiculous to be thankful … make her see all is grace When it’s radical to forgive…make her live the foundation of our faith And when it’s time to work … make her a holy wonder.
May she be bread and feed many with her life and her laughter May she be thread and mend brokenness and knit hearts… ~Ann Voskamp from “A Prayer for a Daughter”
It was gray and drizzly the day you were born. November is too often like that–there are times during this darkening month when we’re never really certain we’ll see the sun again. The sky is gray, the mountain is all but invisible behind the clouds, the air hangs heavy with mist, woods and fields are all shadowy. The morning light starts late and the evening takes over early.
Yet you changed November for us that day. You brought sunshine to our lives. You smiled almost from the first day, always responding, always watching, ready to engage with your new family. You were a delight from that first moment we saw you and have been a light in our lives and so many other lives ever since.
And you married another bright light and now shine together.
I know this is your favorite kind of weather because you were born to it–you’ve always loved the misty fog, the drizzle, the chill winds, the hunkering down and waiting for brighter days to come.
November 15 was, and each year it still is, that brighter day.
Just past dawn, the sun stands with its heavy red head in a black stanchion of trees, waiting for someone to come with his bucket for the foamy white light, and then a long day in the pasture. I too spend my days grazing, feasting on every green moment till darkness calls, and with the others I walk away into the night, swinging the little tin bell of my name. ~Ted Kooser “A Birthday Poem”
I usually go in to work on my birthday,
just a regular day most summers~
instead today decided to catch up
on weeding, reading and needing
a day of quiet:
To notice each blade of grass while grazing through the hours,
transformed by something so simple,
to be called as the time comes
to return to the barn
ready to give all I have until empty.
Your rolling and stretching had grown quieter that stormy winter night
twenty three years ago, but no labor came as it should.
A week overdue post-Christmas,
you clung to amnion and womb, not yet ready.
Then the wind blew more wicked
and snow flew sideways, landing in piling drifts,
the roads becoming impassable, nearly impossible to traverse.
So your dad and I tried,
worried about being stranded on the farm far from town.
Our little car got stuck in a snowpile in the deep darkness,
our tires spinning, whining against the snow.
A nearby neighbor’s bulldozer dug us out to freedom.
You floated silent and still, knowing your time was not yet.
Creeping slowly through the dark night blizzard,
we arrived to the warm glow of the hospital.
I, not at all.
Morning sun glistened off sculptured snow outside our window,
and your heart had ominously slowed in the night.
We both were jostled, turned, oxygenated, but nothing changed.
You beat even more slowly, letting loose your tenuous grip on life.
The nurses’ eyes told me we had trouble.
The doctor, grim faced, announced
delivery must happen quickly,
taking you now, hoping we were not too late.
I was rolled, numbed, stunned,
clasping your father’s hand, closing my eyes,
not wanting to see the bustle around me,
trying not to hear the shouted orders,
the tension in the voices,
the quiet at the moment of opening
when it was unknown what would be found.
And then you cried. A hearty healthy husky cry, a welcomed song.
Perturbed and disturbed from the warmth of womb,
to the cold shock of a bright lit operating room,
your first vocal solo brought applause
from the surrounding audience who admired your pink skin,
your shock of damp red hair, your blue eyes squeezed tight,
then blinking open, wondering and wondrous,
emerging saved from the storm within and without.
You were brought wrapped for me to see and touch
before you were whisked away to be checked over thoroughly,
your father trailing behind the parade to the nursery.
I closed my eyes, swirling in a brain blizzard of what-ifs.
If no snow storm had come,
you would have fallen asleep forever within my womb,
no longer nurtured by my aging placenta,
cut off from what you needed to stay alive.
There would have been only our soft weeping,
knowing what could have been if we had only known,
if God provided a sign to go for help.
Saved by a storm and dug out from a drift:
I celebrate each time I hear your voice singing.
*my annual “happy birthday” to Lea,
now a college graduate and school teacher*
These trees are magnificent,
but even more magnificent is the sublime and moving space between them,
as though with their growth it too increased. ~Rainer Maria Rilke
Each birthday passing brings this realization:
the years themselves, as notable as they are,
mean nothing compared to all the million moments,
invisible as they may seem at the time,
that fill the moving space between the birthdays.
Each leaf distinguished only by its tremble
distinct from the next leaf,moved by breezes from unseen sources.
Now in this iron reign I sing the liberty Where each asks from each What each most wants to give And each awakes in each What else would never be, Summoning so the rare Spirit to breathe and live.
Whether the soul at first This pilgrimage began, Or the shy body leading Conducted soul to soul Who knows? This is the most That soul and body can, To make us each for each And in our spirit whole. ~Edwin Muir “The Annunciation”
For Dan’s birthday…
to find freedom
to be each for each
both body and soul,
and know what it means
to become whole in another.