Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Beautiful Savior: The Man of Galilee

©2010 Susan Noyes Anderson

Gethsemane brought Jesus to His knees.
Remove this cup from me,” He dared to ask.
His humble prayer, “Thy will, not mine, be done,”
allowed no respite from the fearsome task.

Then Judas branded Jesus with a kiss
and set in motion all that was to be.
For silver, he gave up a heart of gold,
betraying Christ, the Man of Galilee.

In lesser ways, His friends forsook Him, too.
"Could ye not watch with me one hour?" He pled.
But sleep earned their devotion more than He
who slumbered, once, within a manger bed.

They loved Him, but they failed to understand,
though He had warned them clearly, in His way.
When Peter struck and smote a Roman’s ear,
Christ healed the grievous wound without delay.

For He would bow Himself beneath us all
and heal the wounds by our own sins laid bare.
The day had come; just One could pay the price
for every soul whose burden He would share.

The great and dreadful reckoning was nigh...
the final act for which He had been born:
when love would overcome the bonds of death
and mercy be returned for hate and scorn.

Meekly, Christ gave Himself into the hands
of greedy men who hungered for His life.
His goodness and His honor mocked them all
and flayed their sanctimony like a knife.

Abusing Him in body, mind and soul,
His people judged Him blasphemer, not King.
They looked to Roman rule to kill their Lord
by means that promised untold suffering...

To crucify, not stone, the very One
whose agony would save them from their own.
What irony that He, to save the world,
would tread the bitter winepress all alone.

When Pontius nor Herod would condemn,
the people chose Barabbas over Him.
Then was He scourged and stripped and crowned with thorns,
His innocence reviled from limb to limb.

No mark of disrespect was deemed too foul,
though He accepted all with kingly grace.
No hand of kindness dried his bleeding brow;
no voice defended Him, nor pled his case.

Instead they jeered and followed His advance
to Calgary, Golgotha also named;
Christ’s hands and feet were nailed upon the cross:
The Lamb of God, bloody but unashamed.

The shame belonged to others––and the guilt.
Naught but a few emerged with hands still clean.
Peter denied Him thrice; disciples fled.
But John was there, to grace the final scene.

And Mary, too, and others of good heart.
Behold, thy mother!” ... Christ was heard anew.
His thoughts, in death, were for another’s care.
Father, forgive…They know not what they do.”

Oh, God, my God, hast Thou forsaken me?
In Father’s absence, Jesus had to own
the sins of all the world, without relief;
He paid the ransom for our souls, alone.

And when, at last, He uttered, “It is finished.
Into Thy hands, my spirit I commend,
He willfully surrendered life for love…
so mercy could serve justice, in the end.

His followers had still not understood;
they mourned Him as if everything were lost.
Christ promised He would rise again, and yet...
they saw but darkly, torn by grief and tossed.

The women went to honor Him once more.
An angel came; the stone was rolled away.
At first, they grieved to find His body gone
and looked upon the angel with dismay.

Where was their Lord? Had evil men conspired
to steal the body and defile His flesh?
But when the angel spake, their fears were stilled,
despite the sting of death…the wounds, so fresh.

He is not here, for He is risen.” Lo,
He goeth before you into Galilee.”
Departing hence, the women saw Christ's face
and fell before His feet on bended knee.

In glory, He appeared to His disciples
and bade them touch His hands and feet and side.
Their minds and hearts were pierced, deeply as He was,
for truth had been revealed and sanctified.

His resurrection meant that Death was vanquished.
The door was opened wide; He held the key.
His sacrifice atoned for all God’s children,
from Eve and Adam...through eternity.

Christ’s gift to us is sacred and enduring:
His saving blood, the only peace we find.
In word and deed, forever we'll revere Him––
The Lamb of God, Redeemer of mankind!

"...I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me,
though he were dead, yet shall he live." -John 11:25


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I Am Every Age I've Ever Been

A couple of weeks ago, I read a wonderful article by Catherine at Segullah. Her quote from Sandra Cisnero's short story, "Eleven," explains the premise of her thoughts, and they are well worth reading:

What they don’t understand about birthdays and what they never tell you is that when you’re eleven, you’re also ten, and nine, and eight, and seven, and six, and five, and four, and three, and two and one. And when you wake up on your eleventh birthday you expect to feel eleven, but you don’t. You open your eyes and everything’s just like yesterday, only it’s today. And you are––underneath the year that makes you eleven.

"Like some days you might say something stupid, and that’s the part of you that’s still ten. Or maybe some days you might need to sit on your mama’s lap because you’re scared, and that’s the part of you that’s five. And maybe one day when you’re all grown up maybe you will need to cry like if you’re three, and that’s okay. That’s what I tell Mama when she’s sad and needs to cry. Maybe she’s feeling three.

What better way to explain age and aging? My husband will be 60 in April, my son-in-law 35, my son 30, my sister 52, my brother-in-law a certain age (diplomacy is alive and well in this family), and my mother 83. Another son will turn 28 in May, right before I hit the magical milestone of 58. Birthdays are on my mind, and I am realizing more and more that I carry, catalogued within me, the indelible print of every year I've lived on the earth...a collection of selves that can be accessed at any time (for good or for ill) depending upon need, attitude, and circumstances. What an interesting reflection this is!

In gospel doctrine class the other day, our teacher asked someone to stand up who was 40. I nearly rose to my feet, because all I could think of was that I am 40, and 41, and 42...that I am, in fact, every age I've ever experienced...for I hold the essence of that age carefully in my heart and spirit. I hope I can remember to be as humble as my 1-year-old self, as playful as the 4-year-old version, as pure as the 8-year-old, as hopeful as the 12-year-old, as feisty as the 16-year-old, as enthused as the 20-year-old and so on. I hope I can forgive myself when I'm as willful as the 2-year-old or lazy as the 14-year-old. I want to be as wise as the 44-year-old, as patient as the 52-year-old, and as available to serve my family as the soon-to-be-58-year-old.

I'd like to reach back into my history and find all of the good that is there, because it occurs to me that, while I have gained wisdom with my years, every year along the way holds its own virtues and merits that were and are unique to that particular phase or stage of my life. I need to be sure that, as time passes, I don't lose sight of those lessons learned, feelings felt, or spiritual connections made just because the hours and days and years have moved me away from them.

I am, after all, every age that I have ever been. I am free to embrace and take hold of every moment of my life and put it to good use, past and present.

The way you grow old is kind of like an onion or like the rings inside a tree trunk or like my little wooden dolls that fit one inside the other, each year inside the next one" (Sandra Cisnero, Eleven).

Thanks, Catherine, for helping me see the onion. And inspiring me to peel it...

and peel it again...

and again.


Monday, March 29, 2010

Raising the Bar on Dancing with the Stars

I'm usually a pretty lukewarm fan of Dancing with the Stars, but this season is shaping up to be hot, hot, hot! (Now I sound like Bruno, which is at once frightening and deeply disturbing...) Seriously, though, they've got some amazing talent this year, and I predict that the judges and fans will not have an easy time coming up with a winner.

So here's the lineup:

First out of the gate was Chad Ochocinco, who is partnered with Cheryl Burke. My husband sort of groaned when I told him this guy was competing. (The humble hubster does not enjoy the brand of football player who struts his dancing stuff in the end zone.) My own take on Chad is that he has some real potential going on, but the competition is gonna be tough and tight. He'll have to progress quickly to be in the running.

Next up, Shannen Doherty and Mark Ballas. I can't imagine that Shannen's got a chance here, but I don't think she'll be the first to go, either, unless former fans hold 90210 grudges and cast her aside for reasons of their own. She's not the worst dancer, but she's certainly not among the best.

As for Erin Andrews (ESPN newscaster) and Maksim Chmerkovskly, this woman's another one with potential. But she was out-danced by at least three of her competitors, possibly because her choreography was so difficult. (What are you trying to do to the poor girl, Maks?) Sheesh.

For those of you who watch The Bachelor (I am not a fan), Jake Pavelka is partnered with Chelsie Hightower this season. I really like her, but he was just okay. This guy belongs somewhere in the middle, talent-wise, but he might get knocked out early if the disenchanted viewer backlash raises its retribution-seeking head.

A comedienne named Niecy Nash is tripping the light fantastic with Louis Van Amstel, one of the most likable coaches. She shows lots of personality on the floor, but her ability doesn't quite live up to it. Not a real contender, but she shouldn't be the first to go home, either.

Olympic skater Evan Lysacek and Anna Trebunskaya were looking good. Evan is as graceful as they come. Their waltz was elegant, and he is arguably one of the ones to beat. (I will note here, with a certain amount of shock, that there are several of these this time.)

Buzz Aldrin danced with Ashly Costa. Moon walker or not, if there were no sympathy/patriotism vote, he would be the first to go home. He still may be.

Nicole Scherzinger of the Pussycat Dolls looked muy bueno gliding across the stage in Derek Hough's arms for a waltz to end all waltzes. She even got two 9's, which is pretty crazy this early. I liked her, and she could take it all for sure. For some reason, Len was really harsh and ripped her up one side and down the other. (Maybe he was cranky?)

Aiden Turner is a soap star I've never seen before, but wow. His English accent and devil-may-care attitude are uniquely appealing. And his dance with partner, Edyta Silwinkska, wasn't nearly as bad as the judges made it out to be. They gave him the same score as Buzz, which was ridiculous! (I had the impression that Edyta is not immune to this guy's good looks; even she seemed a bit bowled over.)

Kate Gosselin and Tony Dovolani were, as Simon Cowell is fond of saying on AI, forgettable. But I guess you have to give her credit for trying, though she seemed to be a bit of an emotional wreck during the rehearsals. Go figure.

Finally, Pamela Anderson and Damian Whitewood (the new pro). All I want to know is how a woman her age manages to look so good? Her sexuality is a bit over the top (even the judges sort of cautioned her to tone it down), but her dancing wasn't bad at all. Pretty promising, in fact, especially if she can tone down the rather distracting Baywatch babe vibe. And maybe cover up a little.

My personal favorites are Nicole Scherzinger and Evan Lysacek, but I enjoyed Erin and Chad, too. (By the way, my husband is filled with additional scorn for Chad because he changed his last name to Ochocinco, or 85, which is his football jersey number. Yes, according to my own dance partner, this insult to the family name constitutes a very uncool act.) And I must admit that it was kind of fascinating watching both Aiden and Pamela, for different but parallel reasons.

Anyway, that's the wrap-up. Sorry it came way after the fact, but I hadn't had time to check out the recording earlier. All I can say is that this season promises to be a pretty entertaining and avidly contested one. Even if you haven't watched before, you might want to take a look. (Of course, it will never rise to the level of my own fave, So You Think You Can Dance. Not even close.)


Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Cat's Meow

Here's the thing about this little guy...
He thinks he's the cat's meow.

grandma thinks so too


Psssst. If my little grandson is the cat's meow, this article is the cat's whiskers:

Meridian Magazine, Maurine Jensen Proctor, A Divine Homesickness.


Friday, March 26, 2010

Despair: Good for What Ails You?

My eldest son turned me on to this series of demotivators not long ago. Sharing his amusement, I emailed for permission to run a few of 'em past you before linking to their website.

They graciously agreed, so I hope you enjoy the fun. I chose six of my own faves, but if these don't tickle your funny bone, rest assured that many others are available. These "inspirational" thoughts can be purchased as posters, t-shirts, glassware, etc. You can even make a custom calendar, choosing your own pages. (I've already given one as a gift, and it scored BIG.)


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Playing Fair with Health Care

With all the furor over our country's recently enacted health care bill, I want to take a minute this morning to weigh in with my own thoughts. While I do support a major overhaul of our health care system, with extensive cost-cutting and regulatory measures in place (let's face it, this thing is broken and reform is needed), I do not favor the new law, nor do I support the massive debt that will be incurred in implementing it. Most of all, I cannot support the self-serving way this bill was passed by so-called representatives, whose actions shouted disrespect for both their constituents and the democratic process in general. (And seeing Nancy-OurNationalNemesis-Pelosi gloat about it doesn't help matters.)

Sadly, I have no faith whatsoever in a system that would depend upon the government for leadership and organization. The vicious cycle of abuse and incompetent management induced and reinforced by Medicare and Medicaid has shown us what happens to the bottom line when the government is in charge. My fear is that costs will spiral, eventually the government will have to ration care, and that such rationing will effectively destroy the delicate balance between doctor as autonomous service provider and patient as free agent consumer that has made our medical care the best in the world. Yes, free enterprise works. Even in the medical field. And throwing the baby out with the bath water is not a necessary ingredient of reform.

These are my concerns, and I think they are valid ones. Having said that, I am absolutely appalled by the recent behavior of a few extremists who happen to agree with my position. Throwing rocks through windows, making threats against opponents, foaming at the mouth and the like do not a strong argument for our case make. And ranting about militias and provisions and larders to defend ourselves from the powers that be does nothing but taint the real message that opponents of the bill should be trying to get across to fellow citizens. This message is deceptively simple and requires no bricks, rocks, or firearms. Have we forgotten, as Americans, that the way to "protect ourselves" from the government is to exercise the right to vote? If the majority truly does not want a health care system that is heading toward full government control (and I'm convinced it does not...or will not when the fallout is seen), then all said majority needs to do is send those in Congress who voted to encourage that eventuality back private citizens. And if new congressmen and senators don't get the message, they can be sent packing in the next election (and the one after that, until the will of the people is made not only clear but operative).

Oh, sure. We need to speak out and educate and maybe even agitate a little. But get a grip, conservatives. Democracy is what we're struggling to protect here, not anarchy. Capitalism, not vandalism. History has proven it again and again. Our strength as political movers and shakers lies in unity, not numbers, not nunchucks. And chuckleheads, knuckleheads, numbskulls, and ninjas need not apply.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Angelina: Adoption or Ablation?

Wandering across the internet one day, I met up with an interesting tattoo that makes its home on Angelina Jolie's arm. This little beauty lists the latitude and longitude of the exact spot(s) where each of her children came into the world and takes a quasi-successful stab at covering the old "Billy Bob" tattoo she attempted to remove several years ago. (As you can see, a few vestiges are left...)

Is it evil of me to suggest (facetiously, mind you) that her desire to adopt more children may be influenced by an equally compelling desire to completely cover the still visible remains of that first, unfortunate tattoo? Looks like she will need at least four more kids to get the job done.

I know. It IS evil of me. Mean-spirited, at least. Patently unfair. And no doubt incorrect. But I had to go there anyway, because the notion amused me.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Our Trip: In Triple Metaphor

Sailing this sleek, silver ship

o'er waves of green and scrub-oak hue

(the swells are mustard-capped, not blue),

we give our faces to the wind...

our cheeks to sea spray...

and our sails to freedom.

Footloose and fancy-free are we,

two skimming on a sometimes peaceful sea,

old mates who've weathered

storm and tide,

with sea legs, rope burns, and

no need to hide.

As ever, he is just across my shoulder,

blue jeans faded over knees

that still do please me,

like the square and sturdy hand

that wraps up mine.

The breathing next to him is easy now,

which means we talk or don't talk,

laugh or don't laugh,

fight or don't fight,

bend but don't break that sweet rhythm––

ours for now and ever––

earned and learned

(purchased, perhaps)

or begged and borrowed, maybe......

Sailing on life's shifting,

shining sea.