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Posts Tagged ‘love’

Our Finest GiftsWhose are the finest gifts this year,

At such a time of festive cheer?

Are shopping lists finally completed?

Are pocketbooks once more depleted?

As shops all vie for lowest prices,

Sleep deficit and blood pressure rises;

Where are the gifts we said we’d bring,

To lay at the feet of a newborn King?

Wrapped against the winter’s chill,

Hoping for some warmth to feel;

It is not there within the soul,

Still incomplete and never full.

What is the finest gift but to know,

What a newborn King lived and died to show.

The path to love, the path to living,

Is this the gift that we are giving?

It can’t be wrapped, for it is free;

Knowing this Love for eternity,

Is the finest gift that one could bring—

Showing the way to the newborn King.

Finding peace and warmth within this light,

Flooding the soul with a love so bright,

Sorrow of seasons is washed away,

With the Love that came down on Christmas Day.

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Light of Christmas

Child touching Christmas bell on wreath

Aiden touching the “singing” bells

[Written December 4, 2010]

I am sitting outside in the cold, still night air. The sky above is cloudy and not a star can be seen. A slight and chill wind rustles by, threatening to pull the last few leaves that have managed to last thus far in the tree I sit against. The weather is colder than I have experienced in the past 11 years in India, but a certain sense of warmth pervades.

I am not sitting here alone. Actually, I would not be sitting here at all, if not for my son. Yesterday, my husband and my mother strung colorful Christmas lights around the house and the trees. They put up giant baubles in the trees—green, gold and red. There is a wreath with bells that light up as it plays one Christmas tune after another. That is why I am sitting outside in the cold, with my son on my lap, watching the little golden bells light up as the Christmas tunes play.

I try to keep up with the tunes, singing to my son, as he listens quietly.

I ask if we can go inside now.

“No,” is his quick response.

Aiden points into the window, where we can see my husband making chicken curry for dinner. “Windee,” he says, “Da-da”. Every day his verbal repertoire grows. His new word today was window (windee).

I ask if we can go inside now.

“No,” he says again.

“Ball,” he notices the baubles hanging on the trees. I carry him to one after another, as he touches them and tries out the word bauble: “baboo,” he says, pointing to the biggest one, a deep green.

By now the chill wind is getting to me.

I ask if we should go inside and tell daddy about the lights and music.

He finally nods, “yass”. We head inside and he calls out, “Da-da, meeks.” I’m pretty sure that’s meant to be music.

After just a moment back in the warm house, he points outside once more, “Elights.” That was yesterday’s new word.

Outside once more…it’s even colder than before. The lights are beautiful now that it’s completely dark. Aiden has always really liked lights, from the time he was a baby. My thoughts went back to last Christmas—his first Christmas. Although he was sick with chicken pox that year, it was still the best Christmas I ever had. He loved the Christmas tree lights…so did I.

Every Christmas has been special in some way. Whether in a country that celebrated Christmas or not, whether at times that I was surrounded by friends and family or on my own—somehow those twinkling lights always made me feel the touch of Christmas.

Sitting once more in the dark, watching the brightly-twinkling lights, I think of another light that shines every Christmas. In a time of darkness was born the brightest light the world has ever known.

Maybe that’s why the lights always brought Christmas into my heart.

I cuddle Aiden close and continue singing— of Christmas, of light, of love.

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moments of wonderSometimes my breath catches

Somewhere near my throat

And my heart leaps up

In there too

So my breath

And my heart

Mingle and touch

Like a little bit of heaven

With a whole lot of earth

Like a veil pushed aside

Or ripped from top to hem

And I see clearly

Or maybe not so clear

The transient moments of life

Weaved with the eternal essence of love

The poignant blend

Catches in my spirit

In my throat

Makes my heart leap

And spirit, soul, heart

Me

Mingle and wonder if that isn’t

Perhaps

The way it’s meant to be

 

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Sound of a Voice Play

Photo used from “TheaterMania.com”

In The Sound of a Voice, David Henry Hwang utilizes characters, setting and dialogue in a unique way as he explores the themes of fear, silence, love and loneliness. The play opens to a sparse, drab setting and the two main characters, a middle-aged man and woman, interacting with a rather awkward dialogue. The woman has welcomed the man, a travelling stranger, into her home and pours tea for him. He comments on how well she pours the tea and how soothing the sound of the tea is as it fills the cup.

One wonders how rarely he converses with people, to start the conversation in such an odd fashion. He is not the only one seeming awkward, however, as the woman goes to great length to welcome him into her home, saying, “You would do a great honor to dine with me” (p. 1739). One reason that she is so welcoming is then put forth as the woman states, “Guests are rare” (p. 1739). Already she is making clear the fact that she is hungry for human interaction and companionship.

As their conversation continues, Hwang makes clever use of the character’s spare style of conversation, full of empty spaces, to express a fear that both the man and the woman have in common: a fear of silence. The woman is the first to bring up her deep need to hear the voice of another as she tells the man, “Anything you say, I will enjoy hearing. It’s not even the words. It’s the sound of a voice …” (p. 1740). She expresses her loneliness by then stating that she measures time only by the presence of another: “Time begins with the entrance of a visitor, and ends with his exit” (p. 1740).

The man responds to her expression of loneliness by speaking of his own. He says that he slept by a waterfall the night before because “I can’t sleep in too much silence. It scares me. It makes me feel that I have no control over what is about to happen” (p. 1740). Thus brought together by that common fear of silence – and the underlying, deeper fear of being alone – she invites him to stay longer … and he does.

Hwang weaves an element of mystery into the play, starting when the woman leaves the room to bring the man dinner and he notices a vase of colorful flowers which sharply contrast the drab setting of the room. The man steals one of the flowers, hiding it in his garments before the woman returns. Another piece to the overall mystery of the story is brought up in the statement that the woman makes, implying that all the visitors she has had are male. At the end of their first conversation, both characters ask the other for their name, yet neither gives their real name. Both know that the other is hiding information, yet both accept that fact and choose not to dwell on it. Perhaps, compared to their deep need for companionship, other issues do not matter as much.

As the man stays on, it grows evident that he is frustrated with the fact that he is growing older. He is not as agile with the sword as he used to be and his stomach now has an ample layer of “protection,” which he feels self-conscious about. At the same time, his perspective of the woman who is caring for him begins to change. It is obvious that she holds him in high esteem. More than that, she cares for him and does not want him to leave. She has a vase of flowers that remain perpetually fresh and new. She tells the man that it is because of the care she bestows on the flowers that they stay that way. This is, perhaps, a comparison to the care that she wishes to bestow on the man also, if he were to allow himself to receive her love. It is clear that there is an inner conflict between his growing feelings for the woman and his desire to stay in full control.

Every night, the man wakes to the sound of a shakuhachi playing, but so softly that he can hardly hear it. One morning, he asks her about it and she responds shyly that she taught herself to play, saying, “I tried to make these sounds resemble the human voice. The shakuhachi became my weapon. To ward of the air. It kept me from choking on many a silent evening” (p. 1745). Once more, the strong element of her loneliness comes into play.

That night, he wakes to her playing the flute once more, this time loudly and clearly. He peeks into her room and sees her, young and beautiful, in a room full of colorful flowers, caring for them. The next morning he thanks her for playing and she offers to play the music for him every night. He grows offended, angry at his own desire and need for her, answering “I don’t want you to treat me like a baby” (p. 1746). The author employs a strong tension between the man’s unwanted emotional need and his desire to remain strong and independent. On the other hand, the woman is not afraid to express her desire for his continuing presence in her life.

The underlying mystery comes to the fore when the aging warrior is practicing his swordplay and invites the woman to join him. She declines the offer, but then begins to practice, showing unexpected dexterity. When he shows his surprise at her skill, the woman begins to predict that he will leave because she crossed some invisible line and offended him. She speaks of her deepest fear: “The next day, you learn that you had stepped outside his heart” (p. 1748). She had been so careful not to go too far in expressing who she really was – her skill or her heart – afraid that she would again lose someone that she loves. He then admits that he heard “visitors never leave this house” and that “no man could spend time in this house without falling in love” (p. 1748). He also admits that he has succumbed, that he now thinks of her as beautiful, and that he doesn’t want to leave her.

Finally, in the last scene, the man is about to leave in secret, but the woman is standing in the doorway. Here he admits his weakness and failure to fulfill his original intention in coming: seeking glory by killing the famous witch of the woods. He feels so overwhelmed by the fact that, in his mind, he was defeated by the woman that he can do nothing but “sneak away in shame” (p. 1751). The woman, however, sees it differently. She says, “I only wanted to take care of you. To make you happy. Because that made me happy and I was no longer alone” (p. 1751).

The man confesses that she changed everything for him, from the “shape” of her face to the shape of his heart – transformed by love, yet he considers it “a world where I could do nothing” (p. 1751). She argues that she only wanted to care for him. The aging warrior is finally overwhelmed by the one thing he never thought would overcome him – love. As he says, “That was all it took” (p. 1751).

The play ends with the woman killing herself and the petals of the flowers she so carefully tended blowing away, scattering, swirling, leaving nothing but bare stems behind. She could not handle one more rejection. More than that, she could not deal with the silence that his leaving would create. Days and nights, interminably blending together, without the sound of a voice – alone – was to her worse than any other pain or fear. The man, on the other hand, though he feared silence and loneliness, was torn between that and the fear that accepting the care and love of the woman would make him somehow less of a man. His self-identity was so closely blended with his skills as a warrior and his ability to defeat anything that stood in his way, that without his prowess he was lost.

In “The Sound of a Voice” Hwang expertly merges spoken and unspoken fears, societal expectations of gender roles, and the intense dynamics of love and longing and loneliness to create a memorable play that cannot easily be taken apart and dissected. Rather, like the flowers that play an integral part of the story – representing both the woman and the men whom she loved – the story itself must be discovered layer by layer. One petal at a time. Until, like the man says in the story, “in the silent midst of it—you can hear a voice” (p. 1749). The sound of a voice. The voice of a story, and of an author weaving a tale alive with emotion and color even amidst its spare, drab setting. Reminiscent in its own way of a Voice that resounds through silence, speaking of hope and life. Brimming with belonging and acceptance. Whispering of the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of perfect love.

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Beloved, Valentine

A thousand broken promises

As many shattered dreams

You wish that you could find somewhere to cry

But you must put on a smile

Force it to stay a while

No one lets you ask the question why

 

Endurance now a trademark

And sorrow still your cloak

You try to brave the storm and fiercest gales

Raindrops mingle with your tears

Which have fallen countless years

Merging like rain with their lonely tales

 

Dreams no longer now a hope

Only an effort to cling and cope

As a fragile cry pours from your spirit

It seems all that you can do

Calling out that you are through

Your strength is gone. Hush now, can you hear it?

 

A voice like many waters

In the whisper of the wind

Its very sound embracing, holding tight

A gentle warmth transcending

Pouring healing, mending

Bathing you in iridescent light

 

With words soft and kind and wise

From one who heard your deepest cries

The Beloved brings peace into your soul

Giving joy where there was pain

Cleansing guilt’s pervasive stain

The journey has begun to make you whole

 

A message, kind, is spoken

To a heart so deeply broken

His words bring healing to a hurting heart

From the Beloved, whose sacrifice

Paid forever the only price

Creating of your life a work of art

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Baby Jessica sleepingI’ve always loved sleep … A lot. It’s like one of life’s pure joys.

I hate that fuzzy, grumpy feeling that comes with being tired.

The toughest part about becoming a mom, for me, was the broken sleep, and the fact that for the first few months of her life, Jessica Rose didn’t fall asleep before two am.

The first tell tale sign of pregnancy I always had—and the worst to deal with, even more so than four months of perpetual queasiness—was a constant state of fatigue.

I remember reading, in one of the books in my mom’s vast ‘library,’ that a pregnant woman resting is burning more energy than someone climbing a mountain.  During the times I was pregnant, I had no doubt about that fact.

 

Last night, my son woke me not long after midnight. He had a bad dream and kept me up for the next hour or so as I tried to comfort him, sing to him, pray with him and reason with him.

Today, as soon as I woke up, my first thoughts were, “I’m definitely going to nap today.”

I didn’t.

I tried, but couldn’t. Maybe too much caffeine running through my system.

But more than that was the thought that struck my mind.

One of those weird thoughts that, in my case, unfortunately kept me from slumber.

The thought?

How would I be spending my days if I knew my time on earth was short?

Oh gee. I mean, I know we’re supposed to live each day as if it’s our last and all that, but who really does?

So I started to think about it.

And decided against a nap.

Got better things to do.

Actually, I’ve heard that as people get older, like when they enter their “golden years” they start to sleep less. They wake up earlier or stay up later. My father-in-law, who is in his late 70s, wakes up at 2:30 every morning, spends hours in prayer, and then sleeps for a little while before waking up with everyone else for the day.

Is it a sense that they no longer have “all the time in the world” and a desire – maybe even subconscious – to get the most out of the time they have left?

How would I live if I knew my time was short?

For one, I’d spend more quality time with my kids. Yes, I’m with them 24/7, more or less, but how much of that time is creating lasting memories and some sort of progress and growth in their minds and hearts? Definitely less than 24/7.

I’d also get my writing in some sort of sense-making order, so that if I don’t have the opportunity to finish it, at least I could auction the ideas off to other writers.

There is that logo from somewhere that states, “Life is Short. Play Hard.” Come to think of it, I think I’d need to live by: “Life is Short. Sleep Less.”

Something else I would do is to find a way to tell as many people as possible that they are loved.

That their life has purpose.

And that it’s a beautiful one.

What could be better than living with a sense of purpose and destiny, knowing that you are loved? No matter how short or long our lives on earth, living with meaning, living for love, and living knowing that the best is yet to come – I can’t imagine a better life than that.

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The questions burn within my soul

The passion fills my being

The desire for a hardened heart

To open and find healing

 

And as I feel it touch my own

The questions slowly rise

If I had walked that same sad path

Would my life hold its matching cries?

 

Would I still have found my way?

Or would questions be my life?

Would skepticism wrest my world

And try to mold my mind?

 

Would I have found His tender heart?

My destiny therein?

Would I have known I play a part?

A dying world to tend?

 

Would I have closed my eyes to truth?

Pretended there was none?

Would I have tried to comprehend

No life beyond this one?

 

I am told belief takes faith

Yet what but truth is shown?

Is it harder to believe in love

Or in a heart of stone?

 

Does it bring light in life to say

That faith is nothing but a curse?

To claim there is no deeper rationale

I can’t perceive much worse

 

Than living life as if it had

No purpose and no reason

Nothing more than an existence

That passes with life’s swift season

 

I close my eyes and feel the breeze

Whisper to my seeking soul

I feel a love caress my heart

A touch that always makes me whole

 

Although the way, it might be long

Though tears at times may flow

Though darkness sweeps across the land

Casting shadows over the way I go

 

Yet still the purpose brightly shines

Its way into my heart

A destiny I know is mine

From this I’ll never part

 

The heart that seeks is sure to find

A love greater than mind’s reason

A love abiding that cannot die

Or fade with passing seasons

 

A love that framed the world we see

The very reason and source of life

Creating a bridge to realms beyond

Cutting through the veil like a knife

 

Pouring passion and love upon these lands

By blood that flowed from a broken heart

The sacrifice fulfilled sin’s demands

And pledges a fresh and spotless start

 

In choosing love, I’m choosing life

Reaching out with an eternal soul

Speaking hope into a wilting heart

Knowing only love can make it whole

 

One day a heart will break out and rise

From disbelief’s grey, cheerless prison

Embracing light, and truth and love

Speaking with a heart of joy those glad words:

“He is risen!”

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