Measuring Life

We try and try to
Measure our lives
Days, weeks, months, years
The number of seasons
We travel can never
Accurately measure
Our existence
What matters most
Is often invisible
Harder to quantify-
The full impact realized,
After physical days
Have long passed
If only our hearts
Could be weighed
An appraisal revealing
The constant flow
Of life-giving air
Transformed into
Actions of love-
Actions of love
Breathing
Life-giving air-
Leaving the heart full
But never heavy
Always overflowing
Impossible to measure

I suppose there is something about being in quarantine that makes me think more about time. Particularly being quarantined as a new year begins. But it is ok. As my Mom recently said, “Looking forward to better days!” 🙂 ❤

Time in a Bottle ~ Kelley Morris, piano

Arkansas Honey

My parents have been buying honey from the same man for years. There was always a jar sitting on our kitchen counter. Drizzling it over vanilla ice cream was a treat!

As an adult, these beautiful golden jars of goodness became treasured gifts, usually at Christmastime. My parents made sure we were well-stocked. Whether used to sweeten hot tea or drizzled on toast, the taste was unmistakable-rich, pure, and unfiltered.

In more recent years, I experienced the process of purchasing this honey for myself. The last time was in September when I was visiting my Mom and Dad. It occurred to me we were almost out at home. So, my parents and I went for a drive.

At the top of the driveway sat a quaint house with a simple stand. An empty jar with a slit in the lid placed there to accept my payment-the honor system. I deposited my money and picked up my honey.

Actually, on this trip, I bought two jars-one for a friend. 🙂

The beauty and innocence of this sweet experience gave me a whole new appreciation for the honey I’d been enjoying my entire life. My most recent jar, now over half-empty, sits on my kitchen counter. Every day it sweetens my hot tea and provides comfort thru its connection to home.

BUZZING BEE

Buzzing bee flits
From flower to flower
Briefly alighting on a petal.
But not to rest
To scope out tiny
Grains of pollen
Gather them up
And fly back to its nest.
Not its own singular nest
As is the kind belonging
To the bluebird and her babies
No, a communal nest
Endless golden hexagons
Connected to hold the future
While providing sweet gain-
Healing golden drippings-
Suddenly the spoonful
Of honey that sweetened
My cup of tea this morning
Does not seem so simple

No Magic Wand

When the clock strikes midnight tonight, I know there will be no magic wand to wave away all the hurt and loss of this past year. Although it may provide a fresh perspective, a reminder that time continues on.

This year has brought new experiences. Some were not good, not pleasant, not on a list of wishful repeats. Others are most certainly worth remembering and repeating.

Early in my quarantine experience, I began participating in poetry circles. I had no idea what to expect. The first time I clicked that zoom link, I was nervous. But those butterflies quickly disappeared as I was welcomed by unfamiliar yet friendly faces on my computer screen.

This process of listening, writing, and reflecting through poetry has brought so much joy during this challenging time. It also brought the gift of friendship, even across great distances.

Thank you, Ali Grimshaw http://flashlightbatteries.blog/, for sharing your kind heart and making these circles possible.

I wrote the following poem during our most recent circle. ❤

Woven Strong

Small sticks and twigs
Soft pieces of lint
Maybe a leaf or two
Not a particularly strong
Sounding description for
A safe dwelling

Yet, the tiny bird gathers
Its building materials
Carefully lacing
Each item with the next-
Until a soft bed is ready
To hold precious cargo

A little like the heart
Don’t you think?
Small in comparison
To its host
Precisely as the nest
Is to the tree

Likewise held together
With strands of love
Woven strong
Yet, soft enough
To hold close
Those I love

Rainy with a Chance of Hope

Rain poured all night long. Thunderstorms make for sound sleep, but not this kind of rain. Sounded more like a flood.

I woke up several times during the night. Yep, it’s still raining. Made me feel restless.

When I finally decided to crawl out of bed and get my coffee, the sky was dark and gray. Still raining.

No lazing around. My husband and I had appointments for COVID tests this morning. Not exactly how I would have chosen to start the day, but necessary. (Feeling fine. 🙂 I will update later.)

About the time I was dressed, he said, “Look outside. It’s snowing!” Heavy white flakes were beginning to mix with the pouring rain. By the time we reached our test site, the precipitation had changed. No more rain. Just beautiful fluffy snowflakes!

I watched in awe of this lovely gift! I could feel a change in my spirit as the rain changed to snow- a perfect picture of this year that is about to end.

Yes, there has been much heartache. But there is still hope. And today, it comes in the form of countless snowflakes, each an original, falling from the sky to blanket the world outside.

Time Passes

Time is a funny thing. Looking at the clock, I see the seconds ticking away. Always the same, steady beat.

And yet, I foolishly think I have some control over its passing. Certain moments I try my hardest to slow down as if they will last longer. Others I try to push ahead, wanting them to be over already.

Here’s to taking each moment as it comes-all steady, sixty-seconds of it.

Stopping Time

What if I lie
Perfectly still
In the dark
Breaths shallow
Muscles relaxed
Surely time will
Stop for a moment
Allowing me a
Space to hold
One single note
Ringing in the air
A reminder of
Joy that sings
Even when
Days are hard
A simple request
One moment
Frozen in time
Melting away only
As your hand reaches
Through the darkness
To take hold of mine

Fast-Forward

Looking for the
Fast-forward button
Feeling like life
Is busy taking
Seldom giving
Desire to connect
Difficult to maintain
When physical touch
Is discouraged-
But time passes
No faster than
On the days
We can walk
Hand in hand
Arm in arm
Whispering in
One another’s ears
No-there is no
Fast-forward button
To be found
So, I wait
Ready for
Winter to pass
Flowers to bloom
Friends to embrace

Season of Joy and Grief

Yesterday, I had the joy of watching adult children give gifts. Each gift was purchased with that one person or couple in mind, considering interests, wants, and/or needs. Cooking/kitchen, video games, music, and coffee were some of the themes.

We laughed, ate a delicious meal prepared by my husband, Gart, and enjoyed each other’s company. Yet, even in our joy, there were hints of sadness.

We missed my father-in-law, Bob, gone for five years now. Other family members, we could not invite because of Covid concerns. Not being able to go to the hospital and visit my friend who just had her baby. Not being able to travel and visit my parents.

While acknowledging our grief, I realize others are in much more difficult circumstances. Many have lost loved ones this season. Many are isolated and alone right now.

I need to hold on to our moments of joy in hopes they will grow. Not only grow but overflow. ❤

Vastness

The vastness
Of this world
Lies beyond my
Understanding-
Both above and
Below the waters
Lives a state of
Continuous motion
Where all move
From life into
Death and
Joy must exist
Alongside grief-
Many are left
In need of rescue-
If love is held back
What happens to
Those searching
Staggering
Feeling only sorrow-
Will they fall into
A pit of despair
Or will joyful
Hearts reach out
Their hands into
The vastness
Ready to raise up
Those who grieve
Into the light of
A hopeful embrace

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

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.

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.

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