What shall I say of my goals, as the year comes to its close?

I had a few. Some I accomplished. Some I didn’t. A few were work-related. Most were not. These I never articulated; they were just on my heart every day, from my rising to my sleeping.

That’s the thing about goals: personal commitment-keeping. They’re desires of your own heart. Aspirations. No can set them for you. They come from within. They become your own bar to reach, for the stretching of your own wings, as far as you wish. The extent of your growth is up to you.

I learned much by watching birds this year. This was an unplanned goal. One hummingbird materializing by the pines in my backyard, hovering long enough for me to take note, led to the purchase of a hummingbird feeder (and another, as more hummers appeared) and an incessant thirst to know more about these endlessly fascinating creatures. Day by day, my sense of awe deepened.

Awe is a vital element for vibrant life in this world. I looked for it and it found me. Like that hummingbird. For two years running, awe has been my guiding idea-word and its payoff, beyond compare. I find it everywhere but not in everything. Not in material things, for they never fully satisfy and pursuit of them potentially enlarges the void. In my previous post I wrote about the universe being a dark place (check out the jellybean analogy from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics). Yet there is light. I am awed by the stunning brightness of the planets each night; Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn have become like family. I’m always looking for their return. They inspire the same thirst in me as the hummingbirds: can I get closer to them, know more about them, learn from them?

In the end awe, for me, is about the divine design of things, the Creator’s reflection in the created. There are intrinsic, intricate, infinite lessons to learn and my time above the Earth’s crust grows shorter. There’s a sacred interconnectedness to it all… from a solitary hummingbird to the solar system to the scent of baking bread to the ability to love and be loved and my own DNA so evident in my baby granddaughter’s face… every particle a poem, a song, a ribbon of light.

My ultimate goal for every day is to keep myself open for awe and to be grateful.

I have done so. I am doing so.

I didn’t create an official list of resolutions or goals for 2022. I carried them in my heart and lived them, as I will for this new year on the cusp.

But I did write a few things… this is my 365th post of the year. Something I’ve never accomplished before.

Day by day, moment by moment, the story of life unfolds. Goals are attained the same way.

My wish for you: Believe. Let awe weave itself around you and through you.

And write.

See how you grow.

The unused goal page in my my plannera bit of seed, if needed

Light bucket

to the astronomer
light bucket
means a telescope
with a wide aperture
and parabolic mirrors
that collect
and reflect
great quantities of light
from objects
in deep space

for the universe
is a dark place

to the starry-eyed poet
light bucket
is a means
of picking up bits
of divine spark

for keeping
the mind’s aperture wide
the soul and spirit aligned
humanity’s parabola
so intelligently designed

for collecting
for reflecting
great buckets of light

for the universe
is a dark place

Image. Danielle Scott. CC BY-SA 2.0

Stumbling on a treasure

So it was, while I was skimming about for a photo of magical waters (never mind why), I stumbled across this illustration from a book called The Wonder Clock: Or, Four & Twenty Marvellous Tales, Being One for Each Hour of the Day.

Enchanted, I dug a little deeper and learned the tale of a wood-chopper’s son who, in spite of his father’s insistence, didn’t wish to be a wood-chopper himself and went off to school instead where he studied and studied and became the cleverest student in all the world…thumbnail version: with a bit of magic and much transformative wit involving hawks and fish and ruby rings, the Clever Student leaps into the basket of a princess who’s collecting seashells by the seashore. He ends up revealing his true self, marries her with the blessing of the King, and goes home to collect his wood-chopper father to live the rest of his days in comfort by the warmth of the stove in a fine home.

Key line: “And that is what comes of book-learning.”


Illustration from The Wonder Clock, Howard Pyle, 1887. Public domain.

The gift of awe

In remembering my grandmother
on her hundred-and-seventh birthday
I suspect she never thought about
her stories as gifts
in living them
then giving them

for so many are laced
with a palpable sense of awe:

witnessing the birth
of her sister’s first child
the doctor gently molding
the baby’s little head
with his hands…

the family dog that was stolen
yet found his way home again
after chewing off the chains
and wearing his teeth to the gums…

seeing a doe with white-spotted fawns
crossing the old dirt road
for occasionally a doe had twins
(and once, only once in her ninety years,

taking her turn sitting
with a neighbor lady
who was dying
(as farm communities did
long ago
before the advent
of nursing homes
or hospice)
when the woman
unresponsive for days
suddenly sat up
right at the last
her face aglow
crying out
Can you hear them?
Can you hear them?
(—who, Grandma?
I asked as a rapt child
noting how her own face shone
with an otherworldly light
her blue eyes far away
then coming back again
to rest again on me
with certainty:
I am sure it was

and snow
and icicles
as big around as her arm
hanging from the eaves
the whole fierce, sparkling beauty
of it all
(not to mention Christmas)…

oh and birds
especially cardinals
(red birds, she called them)
and hummingbirds
in fact, many ornaments
in her house
were birds:
a crystal hummingbird
hanging in the hall archway
on the shelf, an eagle
spreading its wings
on the high-back piano
robins watching over a nest
filled with babies…

and music
and flowers

every single red poinsettia…

in remembering her stories
I realize
that this constant capacity for awe
may well have been
her greatest gift
of all

The poinsettia my husband and I place in church at Christmas comes home to live between Grandma’s piano and organ. Grandma’s funeral visitation was on the bitter cold, starry night of her ninety-first birthday. At the service the following day, her tiny hometown church was still decorated with red poinsettias.

I still marvel at the perfection.

Divine message

inspired by my husband’s Christmas morning sermon

In the second chapter of Luke
there are three references
to the baby Jesus
lying in a manger

the word ‘lying’
signifying being placed there
by someone else

the same reference appears
three times in Luke 23
regarding Christ’s body in the tomb

beyond the symbolism
of three
as complete and perfect
— holy holy holy
the message of Christ
from creche to crypt
is that in our humanity
we must
have help

Christ in his Manger-Bed. Lawrence OP. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Jesus is laid in the tomb. dbgg1979. CC-BY

Merry and bright

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting. —Micah 5:2

Ancient wonder is born anew this night
is this ancient night, wonder born anew

Micah, 14 months, Christmas Eve

‘Twas the night before… ick

with apologies to Clement C. Moore
and mice

‘Twas the night before the night before the night before Christmas
when all through the house

or at least under the kitchen sink
a creature WAS stirring

yes a mouse

what to my horrified eyes should appear
in the morning
amongst the forks and spoons
—you can imagine—


so off to the hardware store
we flew like a flash
for D-Con and such…
all we could score…

I spoke not a word but went straight to my work
of rodenticide, with my newfound arsenal
after disinfecting and sanitizing everything in sight
—dash it all, dash it all, dash it all—

tidy, furry, and cute (?)
works from a distance
or maybe in fiction
definitely NOT in my kitchen

with visions of vermin
dancing on spoons
(among other things)
I keep shuddering and scrubbing
in spite of myself

happy Christmas to all
and to all a good-night
except the poor mouse
no more in my house…

Santa Claws: the greeting card (Project 365: 348/365)tehchix0r. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Is it too late to ask Santa for one more thing?