Part of the Harmony

I have not spent enough time at my piano in recent weeks. So this week, I decided to remedy that. With it being Christmas time, what to play was an easy choice.

As I played through several old Christmas hymns, the word balance kept coming to mind. No matter the context, there are always notes, voices, instruments, rhythms that need to be heard above the rest. And quite often, that spotlight is shared, giving others a chance to be heard.

Even though one voice might not be the momentary focus, it remains essential to the music. Where would that melody be without harmony? Or that jazz riff without the brushes of the drum floating behind it?

When I sat down to play this morning, I began by playing the hymns as written. Though tempting, I did not add any embellishments. My goal was to play so that the melody rang out clearly, while the harmony provided support.

After reading the music as written, I went back and added new rhythms, patterns, harmonies while keeping the melody clear. Both versions required the same thing-balance.

I have said this before, but the only time my brain is calm is while I am playing the piano. Somehow, it provides an inner balance. There is that word again. Outside voices are quieted. Worries of the day temporarily disappear.

Music reminds me that I do not need to raise my voice above the crowds. Although I may have something important to say, unless it is balanced with love for those in hearing range, I should probably remain part of the harmony.

Harmony-that is my prayer for this Christmas. For there to be less shouting and more listening. That we may experience joy amid our sadness. And hope that outweighs our fears. Merry Christmas!

Please enjoy a few Christmas carols! ❤ Kelley Morris, piano

What Child is This?
I Heard the Bells on Christmas Dat
Come Thou Long Expected Jesus
Hark the Herald Angels Sing

Lingering

Impossible to count
The many notes
Played in places
Near and far
On pianos, grand
And ordinary
Yet, in certain
Circumstances
Melodies hang
In the air of
My memories
As if sounding
For the first time…
I remember sitting
At a familiar piano
My hands playing
Precious hymns
Honoring a life-
My Grandma’s-
The music of both
Joy and sorrow
Where each note
Carries its own tear
Easing the grief
While lingering
In the heart

Some faces are no longer present, but their presence remains strong. Such is true of my Grandma Mahar. I smile, remembering the many Christmas Eves spent at her house. And while this poem is not about Christmas, I hope it brings honor to her memory.

Warm Blanket

Cold outside
Sun is shining
Sky is blue
But the air…brrr
Perfect paradox
When the visual
And physical
Do not match
Cold chills
My bones
As sunlight
Warms my face
One unable to
Fully exist
Without
The other
If my skin
Never felt
A chill, there’d
Be no joy in
A warm blanket
If my heart
Never knew
An icy touch
It would not
Know the warmth
Of your affection
Able to melt the
Coldest memories

There are only four days until Christmas. Our celebration will look different this year. Memories will be made, even while embracing sadness.

I’m choosing to view this year with a new perspective. One that looks inward, not tied to tradition simply for the sake of tradition. Digging deep for the joy that does not disappear when mixed with sadness.

Believing this challenging year will teach us more about what truly matters. Helping us look back with fondness at Christmas past and look ahead with hope to Christmas future.

Frozen Blossoms

Three days
Had passed
Since the snowfall
First in seven years
Glistening drops of
Magic remained
Though much
Of the snow
Had melted
One tree
Stood tall
On the side
Of the road
Proudly wearing
Its Fall colors
Accessorized with
Frozen white blossoms-
Thankful to have
Caught a glimpse-
By the next day
They had disappeared

I so enjoyed the snow last weekend. Mesmerized, I watched as the snowflakes fell, covering everything in their path. It felt like a gift, a fresh start. I am hoping for more snow this year. Next time, I might have to make a snow angel. 😉

Missed My Turn

Have you ever been headed somewhere and driven right past your intended destination? It is a funny feeling. I have done it many times. On my way to work early in the morning, lost in my own thoughts, a little sleepy, and…oops! Just missed my turn.

I had this experience last week on my way to the grocery store. Even deciding which of two possible stores to go to was a challenge. During this pandemic, I use the grocery pickup as much as possible. This day, however, there were no available times.

So, after much back and forth, I chose the store closest to our house. Even though store two is a little better, I am more familiar with the first store. I headed out with a list in hand.

Music is usually playing in my car, even if I am not going far. My choices are predictable. James Taylor is always an option. The Hamilton soundtrack, Need to Breathe, or the Vince Guaraldi Trio is also current favorites.

For some reason, I chose an Apple created list called “Kelley’s Station” for this short drive. I was curious. What songs did they think I would want to hear? The first several songs were old favorites. I smiled and sang along.

Then one popped up on the screen that I did not recognize. I read the title-Best Song Ever by One Direction. Hmmm…it did sound familiar, but not a regular on any of my playlists.

When the music began to play, there was an instant connection. I could see myself standing at the edge of a dance floor. Smiling, I watched my son, Robert, and his wife, Erin, dancing with all of their friends. They were having the best time laughing, singing, dancing, and celebrating!

As the Best Song Ever continued to play, I continued to remember their wedding day. Such a perfect mix of beauty and fun!

In that few moments of reminiscing, I drove right past store number one! Thankfully, the second store was only a few blocks further. At least I was able to listen to the rest of the song! Truthfully, I was kind of glad that I missed my turn. 😉

A New Word

There is little more precious than experiencing joy through the eyes of a child. It adds more than happiness, another layer of contentment.

However, this week, I experienced the phenomenon on a different level. And this level requires a new word.

Thinking back to when my kids were young, several events come to mind. Times I was able to see and feel their joy. Viewing star clusters and planets through Uncle Larry’s high-powered telescope. Fireworks displays on the Fourth of July. Their first time to experience snow.

I can picture them all bundled up in coats, hats, and gloves. Red glowing on their little faces. Also, of course, the plastic grocery bags covering their feet. The kids still chuckle at that one. I like to think of it as being resourceful. We did not get snow often enough for snow boots. 😉

Just this week, we had our first significant snowfall in seven years. Many little kids were building snowmen and sledding down neighborhood hills for the very first time! However, it was the reaction of a young adult, two actually, that caught my attention.

My daughter’s boyfriend, Mike, happened to be visiting when the snow arrived. Rachel has experienced snow. Mike had only experienced it one time when he was two years old and had very little memory. This was like his first snowfall. At least, that is what his reaction said.

Seeing that white powder outside turned him into a little kid once again. Excited, bundled up, and ready to explore. Such happiness and joy! Not to mention wet clothes from immediately falling into the snow to make a snow angel.

Yet, this is not the joy requiring a new word. No, this has more to do with being a parent, witnessing your own children’s reactions to others. I felt it as I read Rachel’s tweet later that same day.

“In the midst of an incredibly trying year, watching Mike experience snow for the first time in his life brought me so much joy today.” ❤

Rachel is a high school special education teacher in her second year. She is beginning her long-planned-for career during a global pandemic. “Incredibly trying” is putting it mildly, but she is doing amazing things despite the situation.

Something about her reaction struck my core as a parent. Hearing her describe her own joy over watching Mike play in the snow was powerful. Knowing that she recognized how magical such a simple thing can be…made me feel?

Well, here we are again. I still need a new word. For this is more profound than joy and greater than pride. I will continue searching while this feeling plants itself deep in my heart.

Uncommon

Snow is not a common occurrence in Oklahoma. The expectation brings a collective holding of breath. Adults become like little children, waking up all hours of the night to see if the snow is falling.

Today is one of those uncommon days. I was awake several times during the night. At first, all was still and quiet. Doubts began to creep in…the forecast was probably wrong anyway. And then I heard something hitting the roof.

A quick look outside brought disappointment…only rain. According to the forecast, it should be changing to snow in another hour or so. I would hold my breath a little longer.

Finally, the transformation from rain to heavy snow began! It didn’t take long for the grass to turn completely white. Snow-tipped evergreens now graced the backyard. And the snowfall looked like it would last forever.

What is it about snow? It has the power to transform the faded colors of winter into a magical wonderland. Snow makes me feel like a child again-at least in my heart. But most of all, it is a reminder that when all feels bleak, the uncommon gives hope.

In the Bleak Midwinter Kelley Morris, piano

Transformation

Moonlight shines on
Snow-covered grass
Afternoon clouds
Long dissolved
Giving stars their
Chance to shine
Pulsing through
The darkness
Feathered birds-
Cheerful melodies
Now quieted-
Nestle peacefully
Inside their nests
While the fox
Ventures out to
Gather food for pups
Sleeping in the den
I am tired, but
The moon shines
Snow is calling-
Do I snuggle in
Like the birds
Or venture out
Like the fox?
Wisdom says
Sleep can wait
Give witness to
The transformation

Unaware

Stare deep
Not a quick glance
But a look requiring
Thoughtful
Contemplation
Not judgment
Tempted to focus
On those wrinkles as
Merely a sign of age-
Instead, appreciate
Their true origin
Their significance-
For others have
Followed the map
Of experience
Those lines
Lovingly display-
Before walking away
Take one more look
Acknowledge
The bright light
That is your eyes
Knowing it has
Secretly guided
Many, though you
Remained unaware

Distance Learning Lesson No. 1

My school district is currently in distance learning. We have experienced it once before, but there is still much to learn. And I have a feeling the most important lessons will have little to do with academics. Oh, those will be woven in and out, but they will not be the lasting thread. No, the final fabric will be found in the simple attempts to cover the distance.

Distance…I do not like that word. It implies being away from family, friends, and now students. This is hard to explain to children, especially when we cannot see the ending.

I have been busy creating music activities to share. Students can access the lessons online. For the first one, I added a twenty-second voice recording-a short greeting with some basic instructions. Not a big deal…I thought.

These lessons also had a response page for students to share their favorite part of the story from this lesson. One precious kindergarten girl recorded her response. Her message was confusing at first.

“My favorite part was when she said I love you guys!” Hmmm, that was not part of this story. And then it hit me-she was talking about my twenty-second voice recording. At the end of the message, I said, “I miss and love you guys! Bye!”

Such a simple thing, I thought. Until this little voice spoke it back to me.

So, my first distance learning lesson? One phrase spoken from the heart covers more distance than any music lesson I could ever create.

Blue Iris

I remember
The colors in
Our front yard
A row of
Beautiful blues
A row of
Bright yellows
The blue variety
Is the one that
Appears when
My eyes are
Closed tight
Not only
Clear images
A sweet scent
As well-grape-
Childhood
Memories
Accompanied
By smiles
Rows of blue iris
And my Mom
Standing in
The front yard

I realize many of us are beginning to feel the chill of winter, some more than others. Yet, it seems fitting to share this poem today. I wrote this during a recent Poetry Circle with Ali Grimshaw. http://flashlightbatteries.blog/

Sometimes memories surface when we least expect them but right when they are needed. ❤