the New Year

My thoughts at the end of 2016:
I listen to a radio program called the Commonwealth Club every Saturday morning. Today the guest was a journalist and author who has a new book out which is all about the pace of change in our world.
His name is Thomas Friedman and the book is “Thank You For Being Late: an optimist’s guide to thriving in the Age of Accelerations.” (You can see who Friedman is by just googling his name.)
After listening to his lecture this morning, I felt compelled to write down the following thoughts, and share them on my blog.
If you haven’t stopped to think about it, ponder this: it is only in the last 9 or 10 years that we have had Google, Facebook, etc. and the “cloud”. I know, it seems longer, but not so. Those of us who are older, like myself, look at the lightning speed of change and feel like we cannot keep up. Only that short time ago we did not have Wi-Fi, hand-held devices that double as telephones and internet connections, or people in undeveloped economies with the same telephone connections as we in the Western world.
Because of things like Twitter, whole populations can be swayed in an election year into voting for an inexperienced demagog. Truth is being buried under fake news and people scarcely know any more what to believe or believe in.
As I listened to the lecture on the radio this morning, I began to think of what it is that we CAN cling to in times like these. What never changes, no matter new technology, new governments, or new standards of human behavior? God, of course !
God is love, yes, but also peace, joy, generosity, and hope—always hope for the future, no matter what happens. A belief in and trust in the eternal spirit that lives in all of us humans and that we call God allows us to deal with change, and even with despair and pain.
There is an old hymn that is still sung in Protestant churches, “The Solid Rock”. This is our God, solid, but unlike a rock in that He is never eroded or changed by wind, rain, water, or the faithlessness of His creation.
This is what we can cling to and believe in now, in the days of lightning fast change.
I wish you a blessed and hopeful New Year.

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Merry Christmas !

This is my annual Christmas letter to friends and family. I wanted to include a couple of pictures, but since I can’t figure out how to transfer them from my photo gallery to this site, I finally gave up. I do waste a lot of time trying to figure out how to do things. The aging brain does not take easily to all the new technology.
I will also include a poem that I scribbled just this morning as I sat and admired the few decorations that I managed to drag out of my closet a couple of days ago.

December 2016

This year has sped by, as it does, but I think I’ve aged about 5 years at least. (smile)
The worse part of my year was, of course, the death of my dear sister Lona. It was a huge shock to everyone as it was so sudden. She insisted that there be no service of any kind and so her family honored that although it wasn’t what we would have preferred. We talked on the phone often and also by e mail, but I had not seen her since summer of 2015 when she came to Colorado. I am thankful that I had seen her so recently.
In March the Toths asked me to move out of their apartment as Barb wanted it back to use for a music studio. I was quite surprised, as I had always had the impression that this was a long-term arrangement. So, at first I couldn’t imagine how I would ever find a decent apartment elsewhere. Rents are not high here compared to other places, but to someone on a small fixed income it seemed I would have to live in a less than desirable part of town.
As usual, God led me to just the right place. It is rent-subsidized senior only building. It is not old, and is very nice both in and out. It took me awhile to get used to having someone living above me, and walking farther to my car. But I usually can feel at home wherever I land
Lara came down for a few days to help me move the small things, and a group of men from my church came and moved the furniture. What a blessing that was !
As everywhere else, I suspect, our weather is not as it used to be.
Our hottest month is usually June, and we get our
“monsoon” rains in July and August. This year was hotter in July and most of the rains came not until Sept. It is finally cooling off, but has been mostly sunny and nice up to now.
I’m feeling my age more and more as I‘ve had several annoying health problems this year; nothing life threatening, but things that have sapped my patience and my energy. In July I had heart tests, including a heart catheter. All year I have struggled with wax build-up in my ears, sometimes blocking my hearing completely. Several times I had to go back to the doctor to have them cleaned out, including one time when he had to send me to the hospital and knock me out in order to get the wax out without causing excessive pain.
I am experiencing also more back and leg pain and find it harder to walk any distance or be on my feet for long. Not sure what that bodes, but I try to take it one pain at a time. (smile)
The end of Sept. was the most exciting time of 2016 for me. Lou’s family decided that since we were denied a chance to gather and grieve after she died, that we would get together anyway. Since we all had planned to go to New Orleans on the 29th to celebrate her 80th birthday with her, we went anyway, even though she was only with us in spirit. Her oldest son, Mike, his wife and 2 children came, as did her youngest son, Doug, with his wife and two children. So, Lara and I made 10 and we had a lovely family reunion.
Lara and I decided to drive, but it was a fast trip as she had only a week left of vacation this year. We managed to cram a whole lot into our short time, however. We made a short stop in Little Rock, AR at the Clinton Presidential Library. Neither of us had been to a presidential library before. It was quite impressive.
Next, we stayed over in Vicksburg, MS and spent a morning touring the Veteran’s Memorial Park, which is a huge place stretching over several miles of the site where the famous Civil War Battle of Vicksburg took place. It was a long siege which resulted in victory for the northern army and their regaining control of the Mississippi, a key supply route.
The next day we arrived in the New Orleans area, but as the rest of the family had not come yet, we decided to tour a Civil War era plantation, which was fascinating.
We only had a couple of full days with the rest of the family, but we enjoyed each other and shared memories. At dinner on the 29th we toasted our mother, grandmother, sister and aunt with an appropriate Irish toast.

CHRISTMAS (2016)

they’ve all come to the party
as they do every year
to climb dutifully up on the tree

a crystal dove of peace settles
on a branch next to a Santa
who is kneeling at a manger

wondering why he is there along with
balls of native design, sporting bear claws
and kokopelli in nambe

stylized clay bears hang along side bells
ringing Feliz Navidad near tiny white
lights and red chiles

we all gaze fondly across the room
to the table by the window where
another group of regulars has gathered

they find their places, knowing
that of all those at the party
they are the most important guests

Mary and Joseph look down once again
on the tiny baby, beside well-dressed kings and
a rough shepherd who brought a cow

and a sheep along, staying a safe
distance from the kneeling camel.
the month of lights and good cheer

will soon be over. Then they will all go
back into their boxes while I
make them promise to come again next year.