Thinking About France

 

 

 

 

 

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France. 

The very name stirs up images of artistic, musical, and intellectual greatness. France has given us Degas, Cezanne, Monet, Rodin, Renoir, Gaugin, Manet-and that is not even the tip of the iceberg of French artists.

Dubussy, Chopin, Satie-musical genius that stirs the soul.

Voltaire, Rousseau, Hugo, Flaubert, Leroux, Colette, Dumas, Proust, Zola-literature that transcends time and quite simply the best ever written.

France.

Croissants, macaroons, bouillabaisse. Red wine and joy of just living!

My first encounter with the French language was as a seventh grader. I remember struggling to figure out why so many letters are not pronounced. I struggled with it and can to this day honestly say I have never truly grasped the pronunciation of it, however my love for France and its culture has never decreased. 

This horrible event at Notre Dame has made me think more about France and its beauty, elegance, and the indisputable truth that France is an absolute jewel.

Merci, France for all that you have contributed to this world.

 

 

Easter: A Season of Renewal

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Spring is my favorite season because the flowers begin to bloom and the weather warms up. It is a season of renewal. In this Easter season, my mind turns to hope for the future. To me, that is what is at the heart of Christ’s resurrection-that there is hope that at the end of the long, dark night the sun will rise and light will shine forth and defeat that darkness. Christ is that light that guides us out of the dark tunnels of our existence on this earth. There will always be darkness, but there will always be Christ’s light to guide us out of those dark shadows, out of those dark pits into which we all fall from time to time. Easter is about the light. It is about hope. It is about a promise that God has made to us. We are never alone; we are never too far from his reach.

Psalm 139: 1-12 says O, Lord, thou hast searched me and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandeth my thoughts from afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it. Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or wither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day; the darkness and the light are both alike to thee. (King James Version, Holy Bible)

In this Easter season, I think about light and hope and the future. Pope John XXIII is quoted as saying “Consult not your fears, but your hopes and dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you have tried and failed, but with what is still possible for you to do.”

Spring is a season of renewal. Easter is about hope. This season I think about the renewal of hopes and of dreams for my future. I do so with the assurance that Christ’s light will guide me through any darkness that I might encounter.

Have a blessed Easter.

 

Broken Clay Pots

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Psalm 103: 12-16 says “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. Like as a father pitieh his children, so the Lord pitieh them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. As for man, his days are as grass; as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.” (King James Version, Holy Bible)

This psalm inspired me to write a poem; it inspired me to think deeper about God’s love and compassion. This life is so fragile; each day is a special gift to be cherished. This year, I refuse to waste one second of this special gift called life. Here is my poem.

Broken Clay Pots

He remembers that we are dust,

leaving footsteps on a receding shore.

Countless days pass away to return no more.

Yet, he remembers that we flourish like a flower of the field which simply fills the world with brilliant colors, then fades with the dying of the light.

But, he remembers, he knows that we are as fragile as broken clay pots,

he knows that we drown in our own tears,

he knows that the valley of death is far too frightening for any of us to stand.

He knows the emptiness within our souls.

He reaches down and lifts us up out of the darkest of nights; he knows that we are dust.

He knows that we are dust and that we are not whole,

just like broken clay pots.

copyright 2019 Jenny W. Andrews

 

Alma: Just Mama’s Half Sister

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“She’s just my half sister,” Mama had declared with a particularly strong emphasis on the word “just” as if somehow by virtue of the word “just” she could perhaps distance herself from that genetic fact. Just recently, cousins have crawled out of the woodwork after I finally decided to get an Ancestry DNA test. I have received messages from first, second, third and fourth cousins from around the world who bear last names of those long-lost uncles and aunts with whom I lost touch after my parents divorced and moved far away from each other. In a shoe box on the top shelf of Mama’s bedroom closet I discovered old black and white photos of family I have just the vaguest childhood memories of. Mama was in hospice care for cancer at the time. It has taken me almost thirty years to come to terms with those faces frozen in time-those faces that through blood connect to me. Over the years, I have written a memoir but I am not sure if I really want to share it with the larger world. Family is complicated and even more complicated when it has been fractured and what remains has been scattered like dust over mountains and across oceans, both literally and metaphorically. 

What am I to say to those with whom I share a bloodline and little else?  What do I say to a cousin who shares with me painful memories that confirm the validity of my own nightmares despite the fifty years that have elapsed since we saw each other last?

Family? What does it mean truly? They say a picture speaks a thousand words. What do those words say exactly? Perhaps it should be better expressed as pictures can hide a thousand secrets. On my desk, I have scattered all the black and white photos from Mama’s shoe box; I have searched the faces of my ancestors, immersed myself in research so that I can make sense of the past-my past-their past. With the help of my newly found cousins perhaps I will find the courage to forge ahead with my memoir. Perhaps I will find the courage to tell my family’s story, fractures and all.

Since it is National Poetry Month, I would like to share this poem about my mother’s half-sister Alma, whom I met on a few occasions when I was a  small child. I recall the occasions had been most unpleasant due to the tension in the room between Mama and her half-sister Alma. I never understood the reasons for the tension. Perhaps I will one day be enlightened by a cousin. I do recall Mama going to Alma’s funeral, though. I never called her aunt interestingly enough. Mama never told me to, so I didn’t. I guess she was a half-aunt. I had been in college when she died and  I did not go to her funeral. She had been like a perfect stranger to me as had most of my family after my parent’s divorce.

Last Day

Sweet Thursday and here I go again.

Weeping willows and dogwoods in the sand, dried crumpled leaves laying on the dirty ground, sun burning through the black, rain filled clouds, trying to break out.

Red juicy cherries clustered on green vines, snow-white lilies fluttering in the evening breeze, the yellow petals of the black-eyed Susan drooping towards the wet grass.

Day has ended,

my little red tricycle has rusted brown in the endless Georgia rain,

Mama’s half-sister Alma has passed away.

And all I recall of her is this black and white photograph,

her eyes looking away from the world,

and faded words.

And the rain.

Copyright, 2019 Jenny Andrews

 

 

 

Options

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Time flies, it has been said more than once.

It is already April, the fourth month of the year; time moves on and at a rapid, relentless pace. This year, I have really began to slow down and re-evaluate those things which matter to me most. I have asked myself if I am making the most of this precious life I have been blessed with. I have considered how life is about choices, about those things we choose to do and those things we choose not to do. Some would categorize it as freewill. A few years back I wrote a poem entitled “Options.” I would like to share it with you, as well as another poem entitled “Just Being”I have written about simply finding peace in the moment.

 

Options

Cold rain in early May.

God has left it up to me to decide which way to go.

Live or die?

Laugh or cry?

Cold rain in a present year I decide.

Sunlight breaks through the clouds,

the warmth refuses to hide.

I lift my hands toward God who loves me; I accept the laughter and the pain.

 

Copyright, 2019 Jenny W. Andrews

 

Just Being

Little lavender flowers wet with early morning dew drop their petals into the green grass; dragonfly flutters by.

God glances between ancient oak branches; birds rustle in their nests.

Breezes swirl around brown and gold leaves.

God lifts His fingers to touch the sky; clouds drift by.

I turn my face skyward for the benediction.

God blesses me with the gift of just being.

Copyright, 2019 Jenny W. Andrews

Thank you for reading my poetry. My poetry book “Life at the End of the Rainbow” is available on Kindle/Amazon. I look forward to hearing your comments on my poetry.

 

 

 

Sheba

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This is Sheba.

It has been over a decade since she was in my life. Just the other evening I was reading Charles Heath’s blog about his cat Chester. I was reminded of Sheba and her quirky behavior. She liked to sit in her favorite spot in the middle of the yard and lounge in the sunlight. She liked to stalk in the patch of woods behind my house. Once, she hurried to me out of the woods with a tiny black snake clenched between her sharp little teeth; she dropped it at my feet and gazed up at me with her perfectly pale green eyes as if waiting for me to thank her. The poor little snake needless to say had given up the ghost. I reached down and patted Sheba on the head; she purred and jumped back into the grass leaving me with what remained of her expedition into the woods. I remember pondering what to do with the corpse of the little snake. I gathered up brown paper to wrap it in and with respect for its life I buried it deep within my flower garden and planted flowers over it. Sheba in not too far of a distance lounged with sunlight glinting off her slick black fur.

I miss her presence in my life. Pets are so much more than just pets. They are family; their spirits linger with us long after they leave this earthly existence. I truly believe that the next plane of existence is blessed with the spirits of animals, as well as the spirits of  people we have loved.

Chester is a really cool cat. Check out Charles’s blog for updates. I enjoy reading about Chester because he reminds me of my Sheba from so long ago with his quirky personality. Sheba was quirky; she was bold and stubborn, yet she was so full of love.

I truly miss her, but her spirit is always with me.

Copyright, 2019 Jenny Andrews

The Importance of Big Sisters

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That’s my big sister Darlene, or should I say older sister. She is the brunette and I am the little blonde staring intently at my hand. I was about four years old and I was absolutely enamored with that little wristwatch my daddy gave me. I can still see its shiny golden band and its pretty glass face with the golden Roman numerals. Of course, it wasn’t real gold in the monetary sense, but to me it was pure gold of the highest value because my daddy had given it to me.

My big sister Darlene and I as all sisters since the dawn of time have had our disagreements, but she has and will always be my greatest advocate. I am hers, as well. She just celebrated a birthday-the age I have sworn to secrecy.

This is a poem that captures how I feel about my big sister, Darlene. Happy Birthday, big sister!

Sister, Can You Tell Me

I saw you standing there, could it have been just yesterday?

My big sister, waiting for me outside my first grade classroom.

You, an all-knowing second-grader dressed in a red plaid skirt, your silky black hair spilling down your back.

Wasn’t that just yesterday?

You saw me standing there, a young bride of twenty-two,

pink roses and ivory lace, naively believing in forever.

My big sister, you stood beside me at the altar, you squeezed my hand in yours,

and you let me go.

Wasn’t that just yesterday?

I saw you standing there, crying at Mama’s graveside.

My big sister, I reached over the years and clutched your delicate ivory hands as one who is drowning would do.

Wasn’t that just yesterday?

Sister, can you tell me when the hands of time spun around the clock, at what hour the winds changed?

Sister, can you tell me at what minute tiny lines crept under our eyes?

Can you tell me at what second our hair started to turn gray?

We were young just yesterday.

 

2019 Copyright Jenny W. Andrews