Saturday is for Sharing – Shelley Alongi

Post #128 – September 15, 2018

Saturday is

for Sharing

Series of Guest Authors – #11

Miss Opal & Lynda

Welcome YOU to

Saturday is for Sharing 

_____

Shelley Alongi 

Photo:  TheAuthor holds  a collection

of 3 published books

 

  

Shelley,  I know you are a cat lover so Miss Opal and I are really delighted to speak with you today about your book publications and your life as an author.

You nearly always talk about your cats in phone conversations and interviews.  We like that!

It is  a hot day here in Western Pennsylvania but the cats, Miss Opal and her sister-cat ,Miss Bessie, are enjoying the air conditioning. The 2 dogs are napping in their beds.

I’ve enjoyed getting to know you through the National Federation of the Blind Writer’s Division over the past several years.  NFB was one of the first contacts I had with writers who have sight loss and I was happy to find the organization at that time. I remain a member, and look forward to the publications you produce. I’m always happy to submit work to this magazine.

Our readers should know that you are the editor of

Slate & Style, a literary magazine.

It is published throughout the year by the Writer’s Division.

I’d also like to let our readers know that they can enter their writings to the magazine. They do not have to be disabled or blind to send in their work.

Q_ I have a question for you, since you are so busy with the magazine and your own writing…what do you do to relax?  When it is 5 O’Clock “somewhere, what will you be doing?   

Shelley_ Laughing!   I might be at home in the recliner with a cat on my lap – or a book  – or both.

I might have a documentary film from Netflix or my TV app playing in the background and I might be asleep.

I might be at the church practicing the organ. I play for 2 churches!

Or I might be playing my piano.

In my literary life, I could be working on a draft of one of my novels. My latest novel is Forgiving Sky,  due for release in 2018.

I am currently working on the draft before I submit it to my hand-picked editing team.

In addition to this, I  am also working on a book of poetry called Christ Crush.

I may be working on that one. If I’m not doing any of those things I might be entertaining company, or cooking hamburgers, spaghetti, or some other wonderful concoction.

Sometimes I never know where I’ll be.

My only requirement is wherever I am it’s cool, and I mean below seventy degrees. 

Q_ What could you never live without? What would happen if this would go away?

Shelley_  In 2003 I went to Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi to help the city rebuild after Katrina.

We helped to plant a Calvary Chapel there and our job specifically was to cook for the people who were rebuilding their own houses. Some of the people went to help those who were cleaning up their property after the August 27 damage.  Over lunch, one of the men who was rebuilding his house asked that question. They asked what we couldn’t live without and I thought about that between lunch and dinner. When I told them that I couldn’t live without friends some of the team members were surprised. One of the gentlemen there who was rebuilding his house said he thought I might say I couldn’t live without a toilet or a toothbrush. But, all through history our bodies have made due with what we have or don’t have. We can always find ways to meet basic needs.

One of our basic needs is friendship as human beings. I don’t need many friends, but a few good friends go a long way toward helping me live my life in a satisfactory way. What would happen if friends went away? Well, I think what might happen is that I might curl up and shrivel away like leaves and plants on a very hot day.

Q_ You are person who is so curious about so many aspects of life, Shelley.  What would you like to know more about?

Shelley_  You asked, “What would I like to know more about?   EVERYTHIING!

I am am  information junky.

Reading and watching documentary films feeds my need for information. I also read widely: I  try to catch podcasts.

Because I am blind, I wonder if my brain doesn’t have that kind of input if a desire is created by the parts of the brain that requires stimulus. I don’t limit myself to knowing about certain things because the way my brain works I sometimes become passionate about something,  and then move on to other things.

This is the wonderful part of being a writer. Sometimes,  I might have a conversation with someone, or read a book that piques my interest on another subject. I will go find a book on the subject that fascinates me. For instance, I might get interested in some local subject, then I design a story around it and I can ask people about their jobs. I usually will say this is for helping me with my book.

I’ve recently settled in a small Texas town where the economy is bolstered by an air force base. People I know here have either retired from the Air Force, work for it, or live on base. We all know someone here who either lives on the base or works for the Air Force. It is interesting that the novel I am working on right now, Forgiving Sky, has an aircraft mechanic as the main character. I started this novel before I moved here, but it wasn’t till I moved here and had more time to devote to the book  that I met people who I could ask  about their job as an aircraft mechanic.

The same thing happened to me with train engineers. My first novel Trespasser is about a railroad engineer. I had ocasion to be interested in trains and so I was able to talk to railroad workers and some of them helped me with scenes in my first novel. Sometimes I’ll pick up a book on a subject I know nothing about just to peak my curiosity. I never know what I might be interested in next.

 Q_ When is the last time you had FIRE  in your eyes?  What happened to light your fire?

Shelley_ When I first moved to Texas I had not yet made connections and so I spent my first 4th of July at home. At that time I decided I would go online and find a recording of

Handel’s Messiah.

  • I was a music major in college and was familiar with the piece but had never really listened to it. The recording I found was stunning.

I spent three hours listening.  The one choral piece that got me really tuned into was

Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the Sin of the World.

This recording was done on a large scale and the sheer power of the vocals grabbed my attention. The whole experience made me investigate Jesus Christ’s claims again, things I had already come to terms with in my younger years. This music really grabbed my attention and I spent the next six months just rereading the Bible and deciding to read as many fictional accounts of the life of Jesus as I could. Some of the fictional accounts were very good. Some of them were ok. I know this helped me write my third book  – Angel Hug  – which surrounds Jesus prayer in Gethsemane. I still have the fire in my eyes three years after arriving here. I remember those months and their impact on me. I think that night really set the course for my time in Texas.

Comment from Lynda:

I can fully relate to this experience. I had such a personal  encounter with Jesus when I was 30 years old,  after reading Dietrich Bonhoffer.  Just one line, staying in my thoughts. I was changed from that time forward. Thank you for sharing this, Shelley. It brought me back to my own life-history. 

Q_ What do you have your eye on for the future?

Shelley_ Currrently,  my future includes releasing my fourth book, Forgiving Sky in 2018. If not 2018 then in January 2019.

I’m working on the final draft at this time. I always have a plan for my future and sometimes what happens is better than what I plan. I’d like to buy a house. I’d like to go to Germany. I am taking advantage of the time given me right now to finish reading books that I’ve always wanted to read and to work on several more ideas for novels. I spent many years at a job that gave me lots of experience but which for me was not fulfilling. Writing books is fulfilling. So, I’d like to finish the ones I’ve started and see where we go from here. I figure that as soon as I finish enough of them I can take them anywhere and offer them for sale. They’re for sale now, but I mean that I can offer them and perhaps move out of state or get busy again. I am blessed with lots of writing time now. My future is to work on my music and also finish writing the novels, something I’ve known I would do for many years. Now is the time.

Q_ What,  in your mind, is your most notable achievement or accomplishment to date?   

Shelley_  I look at my life and compare it to others I know and I say I haven’t done enough.

Yet,  when I sit down and look at mine, 

I say ___wow ___I’ve done some amazing things.

I’m not sure which is my most notable.

______I’ve founded an aviation club at California State University, Fullerton.

I received a call from someone who came across it when he was looking for places to advertise his helicopter sight seeing tours. We met for lunch and talked about his company. This call was received ten years after I started the club. But hey I’m in the records!

_____I’ve written four books_____

Trespasser – about a railroad engineer’s search for happiness,

Brave Pilot – about a man who must avert a looming tragedy between two families.

Angel Hug – inspired by Christ’s agony in Gethsemane.

Christ Crush –  my first book of poetry.

And my forthcoming publication:  Forgiving Sky.

Soon I will be able to hold five books in my hand. I am my own publishing company, it seems. I have a music degree and that took a lot of work. I’ve been to Mississippi to help after Katrina.

I’ve been in the pilot’s seat of a small airplane.

I’ve talked to the prosecuting attorney for Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber. That was a big one for me because I wanted to interview him for an oral history project. He did not grant the interview, but I got to talk to him.

I just recently uploaded a video to Youtube. I know that is a regular occurrence for some. I’ve been wanting to do this for a while and was able to upload it by using VoiceOver on my Apple iPhone.

I’ve been to Washington DC twice, once as a high school senior and once to speak with our local representative about the National Defense Authorization Act.

I’ve moved across country twice. That’s a pretty regular occurrence for people who live here. I’ve had a pretty full life and I’m sure it’s not over.

Thank you for the opportunity to share my life and work with you. I

F you would like more information or to be kept up-to-date on new releases, contact me at:

Shelley J. Alongi

Queenofbells@outlook.com

The names of my books are

  1. Trespasser, released in 2015.
  2. Brave Pilot, released in 2017.
  3. Angel Hug, released 2018.

The first three published books can be purchased in electronic or paperback format.

Trespasser is also available in hard cover. Here are the links where you can purchase the  books.

Trespasser, paperback,  released 2015

http://www.lulu.com/shop/shelley-alongi/trespasser/paperback/product-22657384.html

Trespasser, hard cover, released 2015

http://www.lulu.com/shop/shelley-alongi/trespasser/hardcover/product-22410531.html

Brave Pilot paperback, 2017

https://www.amazon.com/Brave-Pilot-Shelley-J-Alongi/dp/1974398730/ref=sr_1_12? s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1517024969&sr=1-12&keywords=Brave+Pilot

Angel Hug, paperback 2018

https://www.amazon.com/Angel-Hug-Shelley-J-Alongi/dp/1985243156/ref=sr_1_3? s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1522514916&sr=1-3&keywords=Angel+Hug

For electronic copies of these books you can visit

Brave Pilot

https://www.books2read.com/u/47kBPE

Angel Hug

https://www.books2read.com/u/31MooW

Trespasser

https://www.books2read.com/u/bWKLkW

You can also see my Facebook page at http://www.facebook.shelley.alongi

________

Dear Readers of SCAN,

Your support of our Featured Guest Authors is  appreciated.

Here’s how YOU can spread the HAPPINESS:

Please  share this article with your friends on Social Media and by Re-Blogging

OR – you can copy and paste the entire blog articler into your own FB page or blog.

You can purchase our featured book: Gift Giving Season is closing in on us already!

Thanks again for your support of the Authors who are featured on Saturday is for Sharing.

________________

Lynda McKinney Lambert. Copyright: September, 2018. All rights reserved.

Saturday is for Sharing

is a weekly series coordinated by Lynda and Miss Opal, her feline writing partner.  Lynda and Miss Opal live in rural western Pennsylvania in The Village of Wurtemburg.

Lynda is the author of 4 books:

Concerti: Psalms for the Pilgrimage Buy it!

Walking by Inner Vision: Stories & Poems Buy it!

Lynda has just completed her 3rd book

Star Signs: New & Selected Poems – not yet published.

AND… her FIRST CHAPBOOK

first snow, 16 Poems with a Wintry Theme – Not yet published.

Both new books  are now available for publication. 

Currently Lynda is working on her next book, a Memoir.

Thank you for visiting with us today.

Miss Opal and Lynda McKinney Lambert

Your COMMENTS, QUESTIONS, and SUGGESTIONS are always welcome.

PLEASE SHARE by Re-Blogging this article on Social Media  I only require that you copy/past the entire blog post including our Copyright and blog information.

If you are a published AUTHOR or an actively exhibiting ARTIST – Miss Opal and Lynda  want YOUR STORY for our “Saturday is for Sharing” blog features. We spotlight one outstanding author or artist a week.

Right now, we are scheduling into the month of November.

E-mail us today: riverwoman@zoominternet.net

Saturday is Sharing Day

Post #84

Saturday is Sharing  Day #1

 

Saturday is  Sharing Day

#1 in a series

Today, I am SHARING

Spirit Fire Review

 

Do you LIKE to read uplifting stories & poems?

Do you LIKE ee beautiful photos and art work?

 

If you said, YES,  then I have something nice to SHARE with you.

 

Spirit Fire Review Click HERE!

__________________________

Spirit Fire Review is a magazine of celebration ~

changing the world through love! 

Our mission is to show the goodness of God by sharing through the creative and literary arts our experiences of the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives. We hope you will join us by reading, sharing, and submitting your own experiences and work to Spirit Fire Review”  Quote from Spirit Fire Review, April 2018.

_____

 

Saturday is Sharing Day

is brought to you by

Pennsylvania author, Lynda McKinney Lambert.

SCAN is owned by Lynda McKinney Lambert.

View Publications Page for updates on Lynda’s  stories and poems.

Walking by Inner Vision.

Lynda’s Author ‘s Page

Saturday is for Sharing is Lynda’s property. You have permission to SHARE this blog post with your FRIENDS on FaceBook.

Copyright May 27, 2018. Lynda McKinney Lambert. All rights reserved.

Please share with your Friends on FaceBook and SHARE to your blog.

Leave me some comments and let me know what you liked about this post today.

 

SHARE Good Thoughts

with someone EVERY day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gentle Zephyr

Gentle Zephyr is an Abecedarian Poem.

Each new lines is a letter of the alphabet. Look down the LEFT side of the poem and you will see the first line begins with “A” and the final line ends with “Z.”

*****

 

Gentle Zephyr

 

Angel of the Lord

by night you

called me without warning.

“Do not be afraid,” you said.

Even so, I shuddered

fearful and ashamed as you

granted me a message

“Holy, holy, holy,” you sang.

I heard you that lonely night

“Just as I am?”  I AM. “Let me

keep this night forever

locked in my memory,” I thought.

Miraculous, our Messiah has arrived. We are

night watchers near the City of David

only Jehovah saw value in us.  

Patiently, we kept waiting

quietly, the angel came; a brilliant star

revealed the message to

shepherds! The sheep barely stirred,

Tonight, the sky was falling, spinning,

until the Angel spoke. Divine

visitations are unexpected. I’ve been

waiting for the One called

X is for the newborn Christ. Oh, come, Emmanuel.

YHWH.  El Shaddi. Come quickly, gentle

Zephyr.

_____

Lynda McKinney Lambert. Copyright 2016. All rights reserved.

Visit Lynda Lambert at www.lyndalambert.com

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS to ALL

 

The Dreaming Prayer

cropped-mondsee_swan2.jpg

The Dreaming Prayer

by Lynda McKinney Lambert, 2016

 

Are you at a place in life where you are thinking, “Now what?”

Do you feel like you have reached a dead end?

Maybe nothing really works out for you?

Or, maybe you just have no idea that life can be different than what your life is right now?

Feeling hopeless or unloved?

It does not feel good, does it?  It is not where you wanted to be right now, I understand that so well.

Please be patient, my friend.

LEARNING  is a life-long journey.

Where are YOU GOING?  What will you GET? You can make the changes now to make your life  different than what it is today. I have done this. I promise you it will change forever and for the BEST.

You CAN ASK GOD to guide you and give you the insight you need, day by day.

 

What do we want more than anything else in your life?

PUT YOUR DESIRE into WORDS!

Are you facing a more mountain that is too high to even  think you can scale?  

Are you in a treacherous place where you would not choose to be standing?

Have you experienced  loss or failure?

Maybe it is time to make some adjustments in your life.

Do you need some divine help and guidance from God? 

Let me recommend something that changed my own life many years ago.

St_Gilgen

The Dreaming Prayer

 

 

 

 

First introduced by Catherine Marshall, in her 1961 book,

Beyond Ourselves

Read: Chapter 11 – “Dreams Come True.”

Catherine’s mother taught her about the Dreaming Prayer.  You see, we are really on a pilgrimage all through our life. But, we don’t know that. Someone has to help us understand it sometimes. Catherine helped me to learn The Dreaming Prayer one day in the 1970s as I read her book.

We have a DIVINE PURPOSE in our life.  We have an “inner voice” that speaks to us but we have to be quiet enough to begin to listen for it. That “still, small voice” is the voice of your CREATOR. He is speaking through the Holy Spirit, directly to YOU. But you have to be quiet and begin to listen to hear it.

The Dreaming Prayer is a prayer of helplessness. We are asking God to help us and to set our feet on the best path of his plan for us. But, best of all, the prayer will open the windows of heave for us and it is nothing but the BEST POSSIBLE life we can imagine.

Ask God to guide you in your prayer.

We need help!  We need to REGROUP.

The Dreaming Prayer will do that for you!

 

This prayer is about YOU! What is it that is deep inside your spirit that is longing to have a presence in your life? Speak it out loud to God right now as it comes to your mind.

You may ask – What if this prayer is not right for me?

 

TEST the prayer!

  1.  Does it fit  with the scriptures in the bible?  God would never ask you to do anything that is not affirmed by His Word! Seek his guidance through his word. Spend time reading the scriptures and listen for God’s voice to guide you as you are meditating on his word. He will do that for you. He will speak directly to your heart and you will know his presence in your life at those moments.
  2. Does it benefit  or edify other Christians? God will never ask you to do anything that would harm the body of Christ (other believers).  Does it lift up others as well as yourself?  Your life purpose will be a benefit to yourself as well as to those who are around you.
  3. Expect to have some closed doors. This is often God’s way of directing you to his higher purpose for your life. DO NOT KICK DOWN DOORS!  That door has been closed as  a providential circumstance in your life – Use your common sense and not your emotions.  Stay CALM when you come upon a closed door. Doo NOT panic! It will be for the good that you would not have been able to encounter if you had walked through an open door that was not right for you.
  4. Be sure what you are asking for is not for God to take anything from another person to give to you!  Never covet what another person has and never ask God to take away something from another person to fulfill your prayer. What God has for YOU will be just for YOU – a new thing that he has planned for your life that is yours alone

Go ahead, find our for yourself. Go beyond yourself. You will be so glad you took the plunge and prayed The Dreaming Prayer.

 

Note: Photos on this page are by Lynda McKinney Lambert.  They were taken in Austria on her summer teaching trips each year. Lynda says, ‘My Dreaming Prayer (my heart’s desire)  was to spend every summer in Europe.  God opened all the doors for me to live my prayer. I was able to spend my summers in Austria and visit other European countries  for many years.  I took students with me each year as I taught the course – Drawing and Writing in Salzburg.  The Dreaming Prayer has been at the center of my life since I first read about it in the 1970s.”

 

To find the book, Beyond Ourselves, click here: Beyond Ourselves by Catherint Marshall

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Lynda’s 2 blogs:

“Walking by Inner Vision” Link:  Walking by Inner Vision Blog
“SCANdalous – Recollections” Link:  SCANdalous – Recollections Blog
Contact Lynda:  riverwoman@zoominternet.net
_____

Lynda’s Bio

Lynda McKinney Lambert is the author of “Concerti: Psalms for the Pilgrimage” published by  Kota Press. To order this book, click here:  Concerti: Psalms for the Pilgrimage
Lynda  authors two blogs on writing, the humanities, arts, and faith.
She is a freelance writer and her poetry and essays appear in numerous books and literary journals.  She is a retired professor of fine arts and humanities and she exhibits her fiber arts in exhibitions worldwide.
Currently, Lynda  has two books in development for publication in 2016.
Contact me:  riverwoman@zoominternet.net
If you would like a signed copy of my book, contact me for information.
Lynda McKinney Lambert. Copyright 2016. All rights reserved.

Are YOU at the Beginning of a New Vision for 2016?

The End -or- the Beginning?

SCANdalous-Recollections

 

Kaleidoscope: Collecting Images of Light and Dreams

I’ll sing a farewell song as 2015 comes to a close. My writing has appeared in many publications this year and I am thankful so many publishers, editors and readers found my work worthy of their time, efforts and reading enjoyment. Most of all, I am thankful for the shared time we spent together in 2015. And, I am so proud that I shared the work of 6 writers here on the blog this year!

The symbolic image I envision for the New Year, 2016, just ahead, is the

KALEIDOSCOPE

 

A Kaleidoscope is symbolic of Constant CHANGE.

I’m making an INTENTION to VIEW life filled with BEAUTY, COLOR and extraordinary PATTERNS of light and dreams.  This is my INTENTION for 2016.  I’ll be writing articles throughout the year with the magic of a Kaleidoscope in my mind as I write.

__________

My Literary INTENTIONS for 2016:

Publication of my book of memoir/essays: 

Kaleidoscope: Collecting Patterns of Light and Dreams

 

Publication of my new book of poems:

Eclipse: Hands Folded in Prayer

 

Continued publication of my writing in periodicals, literary journals and inclusion in books by other authors.

 

New articles by me and featured Guest Blogs with special topics in the Humanities, Arts and Faith.

SCANdalous-Recollections Blog just entered the 2nd year.

Walking by Inner Vision Blog entered its 7th year.

 

Before we say “good bye 2015” I want to share where the year ended here at SCANdalous-Recollections Blog:

 

December 29, 2014 was my first POST on SCANdalous-Recollections Blog!

2015_Viewers on the blog: 2,342

2015_My Home Page had 442 visits.

2015_Articles published and written by Lynda McKinney Lambert: 33

2015_My most popular article had 951 views: https://llambert363.wordpress.com/?s=Kaleidoscope

2015_ I featured 6 Guest Bloggers this year. Each of them wrote 1 article.

2015_The most Popular Guest Blog Article is by Beckie Ann Hurter:

https://llambert363.wordpress.com/?s=United+by+Stories

2015_ Search Engine searches that found the blog: 1,051

2015_Face Book Searches:  318

See you in 2016

with

A new VISION for the YEAR!

_____

You can read my 5  previous articles on the Symbols of Advent by clicking on the links below.

*** Link to Week 1 – The Candle of Hope at this link:

Go To Week 1 – the Candle of HOPE

*** Link to Week 2 – The Candle of Preparation (The Bethlehem Candle)

The Candle of Preparation (Bethlehem candle)

*** Lind to Week 3 – The Candle of Joy, or the Shepherd’s CandleWeek 2:
 *** Link to Week 4 – The Angel Candle:
*** Link to Week 5 – The Jesus Candle:
*** Link to my story, “A Western Pennsylvania Christmas”

__________

Lynda’s 2 blogs:

“Walking by Inner Vision” Link:  Walking by Inner Vision Blog
“SCANdalous – Recollections” Link:  SCANdalous – Recollections Blog
Contact Lynda:  riverwoman@zoominternet.net
_____

Lynda’s Bio

Lynda McKinney Lambert is the author of “Concerti: Psalms for the Pilgrimage” published by  Kota Press. She authors two blogs on writing, the humanities, arts, and faith.  She is a freelance writer and her poetry and essays appear in numerous books and literary journals.  She is a retired professor of fine arts and humanities and she exhibits her fiber arts in exhibitions worldwide.
 Currently, she has two books in development for publication in 2016.

Skip to Walking by Inner Vision Journal:

In 2015,  Lynda wrote  30 Writing Assignments and Lessons to help you begin to write your own life story.

Kaleidoscope: Collecting Patterns of Light and Dreams

“Kaleidoscope: Collecting Patterns of Light and Dreams”

by Lynda McKinney Lambert, 2015

Blog15_April_Violets

Note:  The first version of this essay was first published on “Amy’s Adventures Blog, by Amy Bovaird,

April 24, 2015.  Thank you, Amy, for inviting me to create a guest blog for you.

You can VISIT me at Amy’s Blog by clicking here:

 http://amybovaird.com/friday-friends-spotlight-on-lynda-lambert/

**********

 

“For behold, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone.

The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come,

and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.

Song of Solomon 2:11-12 ~

**********

Patti and I walked down the old, narrow stone path on an April afternoon in the 1950s. Our pastel plaid dresses fluttered slightly in the soft afternoon breeze.  We removed our cotton sweaters, draped them carelessly over our arm for the journey back home. Like most days in April in western Pennsylvania it had been raining in the morning that day. A few hours later, the day took a turn and now it had warmed up significantly since our early morning walk to school. We felt happy because there was not a rain cloud in sight as we took our time walking along our familiar path. Now we meandered at an easy pace in the opposite direction.  School was over for the day and there was no reason to walk faster.   We walked a short distance and then we were standing beside a large field.  The aroma coming from the thick blanket of woods violets slowed us down even more as we scanned the field. In a moment, without speaking to each other, we stepped lightly between the moistened deep green leaves that flourished in thick patches of weeds and flowers. We were absorbed at the moment, bent over the deep blue-violet blossoms and reached out to gather some dainty flowers.  One by one, we snapped the fragile, slender stems of the violets.  While we picked our violets with our right hand, we placed each one in the grasp of our left hand.  Our bear arms were hot as the late afternoon sunshine turned our pale skin bright pink. When our left had could hold no more violets, we stepped away from the field and continued our walk home where our Mother was waiting for us to return   we came into the 1920s frame house through the back door with our fists full of violets, she was delighted with our small gifts.  She went to her cupboard, got out two small glass jelly jars and put the bouquets in water to keep them fresh. Our floral  gifts remained on the windowsill in our kitchen.

***

This year I set my intentions on observing small details in nature.  The landscape is changing continuously.

I see crystal  drops of dew on tender new leaves in the meadow.  They are sprinkled with transparent silvery diamonds.   Another turn, and I am walking beside a field of dewy dark green leaves with little periwinkle flowers peeking through the moisture.

Blog15_Guest_PeriwinkleRaindrops_Photo

Nature_WoodsViolets_closeView

I felt the velvet softness of Sumac branches. I looked at layers of last autumn’s leaves intermingled with shoots of new grass, and budding Hyacinths   Along the stone walk, I observed the red stalks of Peony bushes forging upwards through the moist earth.   Oh, Yes!  It’s Spring!

 ***

All these thoughts bring me to think about the beauty I have seen in a kaleidoscope. The word “kaleidoscope” has Greek roots.  It means “a form beautiful to see.”  I am compelled to ask you…

“When is the last time you have had a kaleidoscope in your hands with one eye focused through the small round window?”

“Do you recall the vivid colors, ever-changing shapes, as you slightly moved your hand around the barrel of the kaleidoscope?”

You give it a small twist and all the shapes fall into new pictures.  Hidden fragments inside the instrument create  numerous symmetrical, abstract  pictures.   Envision the world such as you have seen in a kaleidoscope!

 

Could you describe what you feel as the colors dance and flow over the mirror images inside? And did you know that inside the kaleidoscope are tiny, ordinary objects such as buttons, stones, chips and fragments – every illusion you enjoyed viewing is merely a collection of ordinary little things someone gathered and put inside with mirrors set at 60 degree angles

***

It has been over six decades since I picked wild violets with my sister in a rural farmer’s field.  I realize my faith in God still works in the same way it did when I was a child gathering God’s little presents.  Just a small twist takes us to a new landscape.

***

Big things make headline news, are celebrated and sought after. There is no mention of the ache we have in our inner being and the feeling that something is just not right.  Oh, I know that yearning that whispers from deep inside my body.  Could it be that once again I have walked on that familiar pathway that led me to places where I was not called by God to be?  There is always a sense of discomfort and painful stumbling blocks to be experienced when we are outside of his will or his calling, for our life. Fortunately, we can turn around, retrace our steps back to where we need to be and get our direction going once again. That is the good news – we can change direction!

***

Sitting in silence, being calm, listening for God’s still, small voice takes us to his glory.   Small treasures surround us   When I sit down and spend time alone with him, in silence, I experience transformation.  I turn another bend, there is a shift in perspective, and those little gifts are reflected by the mirrored light of his countenance. I am transformed yet again, by small gifts.

***

God works just like that!

The longer we look at him, the more our faith grows.  Each turn we take towards him opens up a new landscape that shows us insight into his character. I approach quietly.   Slowly, I realized the rain has stopped. I tilted my head towards the sky, listened for the songs of the circling birds as they hover above the tall trees; it is happening again.  Something new.  My feet are damp from the spring shower. Just another small turn of the kaleidoscope – yes! I can see it now.

Transformation.

***

Copyright, 2015. Lynda McKinney Lambert. May 9, 2015. All rights reserved.

Written for publication by Amy Bovaird. April 24, 2015. With much gratitude for the kind invitation to write for Amy’s Adventures Blog. Thank you!

 http://amybovaird.com/friday-friends-spotlight-on-lynda-lambert/

The Living Room – I Believe in Christmas Eve!

The Living Room

I Believe in Christmas Eve!

 Christmastreesoutside“A baby on its mother’s back does not know the way is long”. African Proverb.

 Esther looked forward to one special night of the year when she won’t be lonely in her quiet home.  Esther walked slowly through the stillness and then she stopped briefly to look out the large picture window in her spacious living room. She checked once again to see if anyone had arrived yet.  She won’t be alone tonight because it is Christmas Eve.  Every year Esther’s four grown children returned home with their families to celebrate this special evening together. Esther’s face will be radiant with happiness throughout this evening and she’ll be transformed into the queen of the night. Esther is the lone matriarch of the family.

 The elongated living room will quickly fill up with her children, grand children, and even great grandchildren tonight. This room was built with enough space for holding large gatherings for all sorts of family events. Along the one long wall, there is a gray stone fireplace. As she had done for many years previously, it was decorated with her hand painted ceramic angels.

christmasTree1The three elegant angels are glazed all over in pearly white. Each carried a different musical instrument. She had accented those instruments with a glittering gold paint that matched the halo on each angel’s head.  She always placed cranberry red candles among the angels and carefully arranged boughs of pine across the mantle. The graceful holiday decorations created shimmering reflections in the wide mirror that stretched out the entire length of the mantle behind them. The reflections made the room seem joyful and optimistic as the little multi-colored twinkle lights flashed brilliantly around the edges of the mirror. .  When Esther’s husband, Bill, was still alive he always made a crackling fire in that fireplace. Now it is bare and unused.  She did not turn on the stereo tonight because she did not think about it

 

For this special occasion, Esther selected her favorite Christmas sweater. She has had it for years.  The bright holiday sweater makes her feel happy.  It is a warm sweater in bright Christmas red and on the front it has white poinsettias and golden ribbons woven into the fabric.  She did not think about what her two sisters will probably be wearing when they arrive tonight.   The two elderly women, Fanchion and Bettie arrived early in the evening and as usual, each lady wore a noticeably similar Christmas sweater.  The three sisters always shopped together and most of the time, when one sister selected something to buy, the other two bought one just like it. Bettie, the youngest sibling of the trio, complained to someone, later in the evening about it.  She remarked, “I pick out this pretty sweater for myself. I found the sweaters first when we were shopping, and the other two had to copy me and buy one just like mine! They do this all the time. Why can’t they just pick out things for themselves?”

 ChristmasTree2

The three often grumbled about each other, but the siblings went shopping together often. Shopping helped fill the emptiness of their long days.  The sisters each lived separately, in their own hone. They lived about two miles apart.   They came from a family of seven children.   At this time, only four girls survived. They had lost the two brothers and one sister in the last decade.  Esther did not think about them very often any more. Sometime she even forgot they were no longer living and seemed surprised when someone mentioned they passed away.  She became agitated; her eyes widened as she said,

 

“They died? Oh, no! I didn’t know that. Why didn’t you tell me they died? I wanted to see them again! I wanted to go to their funeral. Why didn’t anyone let me know about this?”

 

Each time she learned again that one of her siblings was dead, she wept all over again. It always happened as someone brought up a conversation about their deaths. Each time it was the beginning of grieving for her.

 

When Esther’s children look back through old family photos they laugh when they see the three sisters sitting at a wedding reception. Each sister is dressed in a delicate little flowered dress.  Very often another sister, Jeanne, is there in the photos and sometimes her outfit looks like the other sister’s clothing. Strange, isn’t it? They all have the same taste.

 Esther’s husband, Bill, died eleven years before tonight. It happened suddenly one Saturday morning. It was in July.  While Esther prepared their breakfast in the kitchen at the opposite end of the home, Bill had left this world. He was in their bedroom and had not yet come out to have his breakfast with Esther. His sudden departure was a shock she never really recovered from, I recall several occasions when she grew silent and it was apparent she was overcome with sadness as she spoke. I turned my head away for her words were too hard for me to take in.  I tried to hold back my own tears as I silently inhaled and held my breath.

 

“I never got to even say good bye to Bill. I realize he didn’t come out of our room yet, I am in the kitchen reading my morning devotions. I hear him get up and go to the bathroom. Then, I think he should have come out for breakfast by now. Where is he?  I walk through the living room and into our bedroom   He is just laying there on the bed. All stretched out on his back.  His arms are wide open and his feet hang down almost touching the floor.  He is wearing one sock but the other foot is bare. I see he was putting on his socks. But he’s not moving.  I scream and rush over to him. I shake him, but he never moves. I try to put my mouth over his open mouth, and I try to breathe into him to wake him up. Nothing is working. I leave him and I run as fast as I can run, through the house, out the door, across the lawn to the neighbor’s house. I need help! Bill needs help he isn’t breathing and I cannot wake him up.” Bill left Esther alone at 6:30 am on July 17th, 1988. This is the year they would have celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary, on Christmas Day!

christmsaTreeBalls

 

Esther was now seventy-nine years old – still a beautiful woman.   Her sharp, deep amber-brown eyes had clouded over.  They looked like a gray film had grown over the rich darkness of her eyes. She was still tall and looked stately. Her dark raven hair had slowly transformed into a soft, short silver color. She patiently watched out the thick glass window at the end of the living room.

 “I am sure someone will be here soon,” she whispered to the empty living room.

ChristmasSnowHouse

Some people told Esther she should sell her house and move into a smaller one. They said she needed one without such a big yard to take care of since Bill isn’t here anymore.  Her four children spoke about this to each other and once in awhile one of her children told  her she needed to move out of the big house so she would not have so many things to worry about and such a large yard that needed tending. But, Esther’s response to everyone who said something like that was,

  “No, Bill built this house, and I can never leave it. And, if I sold this house we would not have a place for our Christmas Eve party.” 

 

Esther was stoic in her determination to stay in the home she helped build. She managed to hold on to her home because it was built just for her and she loved it. The walls of every room surrounded her with a lifetime of memories. And, it held future possibilities for her Christmas Eve parties for her family.

 Bill and Esther did build the house, just like they had planned.   When they were younger and their four children were all at home, Esther and Bill dreamed about the house they would build some day.  Bill, a good artist and draftsman, entertained the children with his drawings of cartoons and animals. He made sketches of the ideas they formulated and envisioned their new house. Each of the children can recall the many times their parents poured over plans for a new home they wanted to build. . Bill even constructed a meticulous scale model of the house they planned together.  The model he built was large.  It was on a sheet of plywood. Bill spent the long, solitary winter months in the basement working on the model.  One of the features they planned so carefully was the spacious living room.  It was the most important room in their home.

 Now, so many years later, Esther is here all alone inside their dream house. They had worked side by side to build this home.     Esther was 38 years old and Bill was 42 when they moved their young family of four children into this house. It is the house where the children grew up together.

Esther and Bill had dreams of living in a nice neighborhood and in a house that they built. They made their dream come true. It was a little at a time, as they could pay for the things they needed when building it.  Bill was a Pennsylvania steelworker.  I can remember so many times when the men who worked in the steel mill went out on strike or when there would be lay-offs, and those times were difficult for our family.  After they started building the house, there would be several times when things came to a stand-still due to unemployment.  Our whole family actually moved into the basement of the house.  I was fifteen years old that summer. While our family lived in that basement, the upstairs was being built.  In a year or so, we all finally moved upstairs into the newly finished house.

 ***

It was exciting for me, as a fifteen year old girl, to be part of this new adventure in our life.

 ***

“It is a sultry, warm summer day and the men are here to start mixing up the fresh batches of plasterer. They set up all the equipment outside the front room, right there in the mud. They laid down some boards and they are walking back and forth on the boards, pushing the wheelbarrow. Some of the men are carrying the wet plaster on large boards. They hold the boards up with their arm and balance it on a shoulder, and walk as fast as they can towards the house.  They are really strong men and this is hard work carrying all the plaster into the house and to the room where they are putting it on the walls.  With each trip into the house the men start to cover the open studding. They are making wet walls that are getting thick and strong. I like to hang around watching the men and joke with them a lot. When they came today, I told them I wanted them to make the plaster lavender for my room. The man told me they never made lavender plaster before, but they said they would see if they can do it.  I really want lavender plaster in my room! They worked at it for a while, and then, they did start carrying in the lavender plaster for my room. I have to share this new room with my sister, Patti, and I hope she likes lavender because that is just what we are getting! And once we get the room plastered, then Mom said we can go pick our fabric for the new drapes she will order for it. I am going to pick out fabric that has black and white abstract print on it.”

***

 Our long-awaited new house was completed over the next week as the laborers made trip after trip from the mixing place outside, into the rooms inside the new ranch style house…

 “I have always loved real hand crafted plaster. The walls seem so solid and give me a feeling that I am safe inside of them. When I rap on a real plastered wall, I can hear the dull thud that does not make an echo.  The house seems to have a nicer voice once it is dry and has aged.  The older it gets, the clearer it sounds.  Handmade plaster sounds soft, and friendly.  When I lay my ear beside those walls, I can listen to the men talking as they carried it and slathered it onto the walls. I can hear the men bring in the plaster and the sounds of my two brothers and my sister as we danced about inside the bare, unfinished house. Memories whisper to me and I can hear the many voices from the past .The plastered walls have the power to speak and the voices of our family remain inside the plastered walls.”

 ***

One of the loveliest sounds that echoed through the house was Esther’s voice as she sang hymns. She was a strong singer with a ringing alto voice.  The living room was her concert hall as she dusted the table tops or washed the large picture window. 

***

Esther Luella Kirker started singing as a small child with her family.  Almost her entire family sang or played a musical instrument. Everyone who knew the Kirker family always remarked about the music they all made together at the local Wurtemburg Methodist Church. Esther’s father, James, played the coronet in the church orchestra. Her oldest brother, Clair, was there, too, because he played the tenor saxophone.  Sister Jeanne played the Piano.  Esther sang along with the family musicians. Her voice was her instrument. Esther sang at church.  Members of the congregation often asked her to sing their favorite hymns. She continued   singing those old time heavenly songs by memory her entire life. My Mother had forgotten many things these days, but she never forgot how to sing. She never forgot the words or the melodies of the old hymns. “How Great Thou Art” and “In the Garden” are two hymns that still ring in my memories today. I remember my Mother’s voice.

 ***

Around 7 PM everyone began to arrive tonight.  They parked on the blacktop driveway at the Mercer Road residence.  Cars soon lined the driveway and even down the sides onto the frozen lawn. Our entire family members came bursting through the front door. They called out, “Merry Christmas” and laughed as they greeted each other with hugs and smiles.  They carried in holiday foods wrapped up with foil and they juggled boxes and bags of bright wrapped gifts.  Each person wore holiday outfits for this special night.  Christmas Eve at our house was a grand affair and everyone always dressed in their sparkling new outfits; velvet, silk, and taffeta dresses were on all the little curly haired granddaughters.  Their little brothers had slicked down hair and they arrived with small metal model s of cars and soft stuffed toys to keep them busy.

 ***

Once her family members began arriving with their arms stacked with wrapped gifts and foods, we quickly put   out the colorful holiday food on the table Esther had prepared for this feast.  Esther served the very same punch every year. It is a fruity punch and we all expected to enjoy it. If she ever changed and used a different recipe, it would not be the same for us. We loved her frothy pink fruit punch.  When my father was still living, I brought him his favorite pie, an old fashioned Shoo-fly Pie or a mincemeat pie.

 ***

When the new house was nearly finished, Bill brought some spindly trees home from the woods. He planted them around the house and down the driveway.  One neighbor remarked, “Those trees from the woods will never grow.”  Tonight, the bare winter branches of the Maple and Sycamore Trees stand tall and strong in the early darkness of a Pennsylvania winter.  They were just like my Father and Mother might have imagined them forty years ago. Our Father’s hands were hardened by years of labor in the steel mill yet he carefully crafted this house and surrounding beauty of the yard through years of sacrifice and labor.

 ***

Tonight, in the gently beating heart of our family home,  our Mother’s swollen arthritic hands struggle to open the gifts are stacked around her. She looks so fragile and seems almost like she is drifting away to another place while we sit and watch her surrounded by her unopened gifts. These days, she struggles with almost everything. She often forgets ordinary things she had done for many years in earlier times of her life. She does not say very much tonight but she keeps on smiling. It is almost like she is part of a dream. She is like a Christmas angel, surrounded by her many offspring. She is quieter tonight. Sometimes she looks lost in the middle of the family celebration in the living room. At times, I watch her and try to imagine what she might be thinking about in the middle of this noisy laughter.

***

  As I glance over at her, I wonder if she is listening to the walls, hearing the voices from the past years.  Esther looks out over the five generations who have gathered here every Christmas Eve. The annual photos record the changes in the family. Small babies who once crawled on the floor now bring their own little babies to squirm through the ocean of wrapping paper. Bill is no longer in any of the family Christmas photos. Esther looks frail, and smaller than she looks in the old family photos.

 The living room has now become a witness in the house we filled with laughter, tears and secrets. The living room is part of a conspiracy tonight.

 We all know that this Christmas Eve gathering is Esther’s last Christmas Eve party in her home. We will never again be here as a family gathered around together. We are all facing a shift in our life. We will all be going in different directions after this night. While we smile and chat, we are lonely and deeply sad. I wrote a special poem about the house and gave a copy of it to every family member tonight.  There are tears behind our smiles. We all feel the meaning of the word “bittersweet.”

Epilogue:

The day after Christmas, I took my Mom to the local hospital for an evaluation. As we had all suspected, she was diagnosed with advanced Alzheimer’s disease. She lived another eight years but we would never again be in the living room of our childhood home for another celebration… This was the end of all our happy holidays together as a family. Our Mother’s life changed and so did we.  Each Christmas Eve, the living room remains the same as we always knew it, in our memories.

 TONIGHT, I miss the Living Room!

Blog_2014_IBelieve_Angel_PHOTO

                    

Lynda Lambert.  Copyright 2012 and 2014.  All rights reserved.

  

 

I Believe in…ANGELS!

Blog_2014_Advent4_AngelPHOTO Advent Week 4

The Angel Candle

Candle of Love

The word ADVENT means “coming.”  During the FOUR weeks of ADVENT we light one candle for each of the four Sundays  preceding Christmas Day.  After those four have been lit, on Christmas Day we will light the FIFTH candle to welcome the COMING of Jesus.

When we read the accounts of the miraculous birth of Jesus; we find an angel and the Heavenly Host of angels present  at every stage of the well documented historical  story.

Blog_2014_Advent4_AngelsNativityIcon

The angels give clarity to any possible confusion that may have developed – Angels made announcements, predictions for the present and the future, gave directions, and provided protection.

***

9Then an angel of the Lord stood before them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they are terrified. 10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see–I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, 14″Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”   (Luke 2:9-14 NRSV)

Blog_2014_IBelieve_Angel_PHOTO

Ah, yes, from all accounts in historic texts, an angel was such a distinctly different kind of being, that every person who met an angel was immediately afraid – the angels always have to say, “Fear not!” when they encounter humans because they appear to be  frightening when they suddenly appear among human beings.  In most descriptions of angels in literature and art works, they are quite tall – the size of a human or larger. They appear unexpectedly, and with no warning – and human beings tremble at the sight of them.

Blog_2014_Ibelieve_AngelStarSkyPHOTO

Events that take place in the SKY or the HEAVENS  will always point to coming events on Earth.  This is a historical fact. They are prophetic signs and wonders. The Nativity events began in the  SKY,  in the HEAVENS, and then the events announced by the angels took place on earth with the angels interacting with,  and fo,  humans.  We can WATCH the SKY, SUN and MOON  and KNOW when supernatural events will take place on EARTH! The coming of Jesus was announced in advance of the birth, by signs in the sky.

***

Here is something interesting that you may not be familiar with – when you see an angel depicted as very small and flying about in the sky, this would not be a credible depiction, but instead, it is imagery from pagan origins and antiquity. Putti are very sensual little creatures with wings.  Often, people think they are angels but they are not.

***

Angels are certainly NOT  cute little frolicking and fun-loving chubby, naked, baby-like creatures with little wings that are depicted in art works, altars, and sculptures from Antiquity to the present time. These curly haired, flying babies are pagan representations and are always associated with Dionysius in mythology, not at all Christian.  They are called PUTI, and these little beings are quite devilish and devious as they are often seen in sexual acts with humans or mythological deities.  Okay, I know, you are probably wondering, “Why are the Putti present on Christmas Cards, and other decorations at Christmas time?”  And, why do people look at them and smile and say how cute they are? I think it is because most people do not know what a Putto is and they think the Putto is an angel. Once again, this is a traditional image that has been carried over from earlier times in the history of humanity.

***

I am certain that angels interact with people all over the world today, just as they did in the Nativity story. I believe in Angels!  I have had situations where I know for sure I received help from an angel in times of peril. But that is a story for another day.   How about you? Has an angel stepped into your life at some point and rescued you or helped you out of a challenging situation?

***

Angels we have heard on high,
Sweetly singing o’er the plains.
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their joyous strains,
Gloria in excelsis Deo;
Gloria in excelsis Deo

 ***

Click on the link below to listen to the song, “Angels We have Heard on High.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VAMzAIH12yc

***

You can visit another Blog with a great essay on the Advent Wreath. Just click here:

http://livinghopeomaha.com/special-services/holiday-worship-schedule-at-living-hope/the-meaning-of-the-advent-wreath/

Merry Christmas to You!

May ANGELS surround you day and night,

and guide your path always!

Lynda McKinney Lambert. Copyright, 2014. All Rights Reserved.

Visit my website at:  www.lyndalambert.com

At my Website you can click on my blog: Walking by Inner Vision

or view my art works!

I Believe…in Shepherds!

Advent, Week 3

Celebration of the Shepherds

 Blog_2014_Shepherdand skyBlog_2014_PHOTO_ShepherdsWhat do I know of shepherds?  

Well, just about nothing!

This week I struggled when I considered what to write for the Candle of Joy,  or Shepherds!

I kept thinking of the shepherds out in the field with their sheep, at night.

I remembered how they were surprised by a visit from angels who gave them the news of a special birth, and how they were given instructions as to how they might find the little family located in a stable with animals that night.

One IDEA  kept recurring to me as I  quietly thought about this week’s activities surrounding the Birth of Jesus in the manger in Bethlehem. It came to me that the one thread connecting EVERY  character in this story is that each person was required to make an unexpected, unplanned, trip from one place to another.  Every single one! And, I  felt like  there is a somber loneliness that underlies  this miraculous story – everyone had to give up something that was familiar  and travel to an unfamiliar place to do unfamiliar things, with unfamiliar people.

Travel – Journey – Go – Trip – Excursion – Passage – Flight

Mary and Joseph had to leave their home at a time when no pregnant woman would choose to be going anywhere on a trip – especially by foot and by donkey. Yet, the trip was mandated by the law and they had no choice but to go.

***

When I was nineteen, I gave birth to my first child.  Eighteen months later, the second daughter was born. At age twenty-five, our third daughter was born. For all of those births, I was living in a comfortable home with my husband.  I had a local doctor, and when the time came, he delivered our daughters in our local hospital just 2 miles from our home. And, I remember how frightening it was – every time – when the pains of labor were intense enough that I was bent over double, unable to even stand up straight and I knew it was time to leave for the hospital and give birth. OH, how did young Mary bear the long days of rugged travels when her body was heavy with her baby boy? How did she straddle the back of a donkey and ride those many miles with her bones and her muscles aching and cramping? How did Joseph bear it to see her pain during the long journey to Bethlehem?

***

Oh, Mary! My heart is sad when I think that you did not even have a warm bed or the comfort of your family or friends that night.  Mary, you knew you were carrying God in your womb, but how you must have wondered WHY  you had to be so far from h home, so lonely, and in such a strange  place as a barn that night.

***

I know that in art through the ages, in songs, and now, in contemporary depictions of the Nativity, we see Angels, the Holy Family, Shepherds, and Three Kings all there together with the animals. Yet, when I read the scriptures that record this event, what we see in the depictions of it are not at all accurate. The nostalgic Christmas card scene has been pieced together over the years into a fantasy world that never existed in that way.  The centuries of lore have put together a very odd mixture of Christian history mingled with pagan practices, ideas, superstitions, and myths.  And, then add to this mixture, the cultural and racial confusion that exists to add to the fantasy.

***

One evening in October 1997, I heard a whisper, “Come away, my beloved!” I turned,  walked towards Him that night,  changed the course of my life forever. Oh, but that is not all.  You see, as I was walking to meet Jesus,  I so clearly heard  the voice  of another man, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”  I knew I was laying down my life,as I had known it,  and I stepped into a new  one.

***

The shepherd’s in the fields near Bethlehem traveled that night to find the infant who would one day be known as “The Good Shepherd.” We all turn around when the call comes, and we travel to the place where we have been called to be

***

There were only a very few worshippers around the manger in Bethlehem – just a handful of shepherds.  Oh, yes, the Three Kings were on the way, most likely, but it would be quite a long time before they traveled the distance and bowed before the little boy.

***

Luke 2:7 sets the scene:

“[Mary] gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”

When I look at this account of the birth, I can feel the loneliness of a woman as she takes her newborn child and wraps him in clothes and places him on the straw.  No room for them anywhere, except for a barn.

“The very nature of shepherds’ work kept them from entering into the mainstream of Israel’s society. They couldn’t maintain the ceremonial washings and observe all the religious festivals and feasts, yet these shepherds, just a few miles from Jerusalem, were undoubtedly caring for sheep that someday would be used as sacrifices in the temple. How fitting it is that they were the first to know of the Lamb of God!

More significant, they came to see Him the night he was born. No one else did. Though the shepherds went back and told everyone what they had seen and heard, and though “all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds” (v. 18), not one other person came to see firsthand.” (John MacArthur)

We are left to wonder, when we search the historical, scripture accounts – about the shepherds.  We don’t   how they knew where to go. I imagine they just came into Bethlehem, and began walking about, asking, “Do you know where a baby has been born tonight?” The important thing for us to know is that they came!  They came because angels had visited them while they were taking care of their flocks at night. They had a visit from God, and they left their fields and followed the direction of the angels to go find the baby.  The shepherds became, that night, the first Christian evangelists. They went out from the manger, and they told others what they had found.

***

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was hanged on April 9, 1945,  for his part in the conspiracy to assassinate Adolf Hitler. and, here, he throws down the gauntlet for all people who choose to follow the path of the Messiah.

Here is the context of his most famous quote:

The cross is laid on every Christian. The first Christ-suffering which every man must experience is the call to abandon the attachments of this world. It is that dying of the old man which is the result of his encounter with Christ. As we embark upon discipleship we surrender ourselves to Christ in union with his death—we give over our  lives to death. Thus it begins; the cross is not the terrible end to an otherwise god-fearing and happy life, but it meets us at the beginning of our communion with Christ. When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die. It may be a death like that of the first disciples who had to leave home and work to follow him, or it may be a death like Luther’s, who had to leave the monastery and go out into the world. But it is the same death every time—death in Jesus Christ, the death of the old man at his call. (The Cost of Discipleship, 99)

***

Well, now that I have talked my way through the meaning of the shepherds, I can better understand Psalm 28. (NIV) and, here is where I find the connection between “joy” and the journey of the shepherds. I wish you a joyous journey to the Christ Child tonight, too.

“My heart leaps for joy,
and with my song I praise him.

The Lord is the strength of his people,
a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.
Save your people and bless your inheritance;
be their shepherd and carry them forever.”

**********

Lynda McKinney Lambert. December 2014. Copyright. All Rights Reserved.