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Saturday, April 30, 2011

What Good Is a Woman? Lesson 5

Lesson 5

Read Esther Chapter 5.

In vs.1, to what extent does "the third day" suggest a parallel with Christ? Consider the effect of a three-day fast and the expected result of "barging in" on the king.

 Note Esther's clothing. Comment on its significance in light of the previous lesson.

In vss.1-3, compare the situation of the king, his acceptance of Esther's approach and what he offers her to the images in Daniel 7:9, 13 and 14. (This is apparently a vision of what is to take place after the ascension described in Acts 1:9.)


The Apocryphal additions to Esther are not reliable as scripture, but they describe Esther weak with hunger and fear, leaning on her maids as she approaches the throne room. She faints at the sight of the angry king. He then becomes tenderhearted and picks her up to revive her. How does this support the theory of Esther as a type of Christ?


What does a scepter signify? See Genesis 49:10.

Compare Ahasuerus' promise and use of the scepter to the statements in Psalm 2:7-9.

Compare Haman's arrogance in vss. 11 and 12 to that of Lucifer in Isaiah 14:13, 14.

 How does the threat of the gallows (or "tree") for Mordecai compare to the way Esther risked her life? How do both compare to the sacrifice of Christ?

            As Chapter 5 begins, Esther puts on her royal robes. In contrast to Mordecai in his sackcloth, she is dressed appropriately for her approach to the king. Her robes also denote her office. Now, "on the third day," she is to learn whether her appeal will be accepted. The ordinal makes a connection with Christ, since he rose from the dead on the third day to prove that His mission was a success. The scene in the throne room, in which Ahasuerus welcomes Esther, brings to mind the scene in the celestial throne room described by Daniel.
            Ahasuerus "sat on his royal throne in the royal house" (5:1). Daniel "watched till thrones were put in place, and the Ancient of Days was seated" (Daniel 13:9). The fiery stream that issues from before Him shows that it is a fearful thing to approach Him, as it is for Esther to approach Ahasuerus. The Son of Man, however, is able to do it. He is received with honor and is granted, among other things, a kingdom, "one which shall not be destroyed" (Daniel 9:13,14). Though it may be a courtly hyperbole and not to be taken literally, Ahasuerus promises Esther "up to half the kingdom" (5:3).
            We cannot count on Apocryphal works as the Word of God, but the deuterocanonical Greek translation of Esther contains some remarkable images that reinforce the idea of Esther as a type of Christ. "Addition D" of the Greek text presents Ahasuerus as "seated on his royal throne, clothed in the full array of his majesty, all covered with gold and precious stones." This suggests even more strongly the vision of God on His throne.
            "Lifting his face, flushed with splendor, he looked at [Esther] in fierce anger." Here is a suggestion of the wrath of God that was poured out on Christ. Esther faints and collapses in this account. "Then God changed the spirit of the king to gentleness." He takes Esther in his arms and revives her with loving words. This change certainly resembles the way God burned out His wrath on His Son and then brought Him back to life on the third day. In this account, Ahasuerus even elevates Esther by saying that she will not die because "our law applies only to our subjects." He seems to be establishing that she is not an ordinary person; she is a Jew, but she is also in the same classification as the king. Jesus is a man, but not an ordinary one. He is also fully God. Death cannot hold Him because of Who He is.
            The scepter that Ahasuerus extends to Esther makes another connection with the Messiah. It is a symbol of the king's power and authority, his sovereignty. He uses it to show that he accepts Esther's approach. She seems to demonstrate her recognition of the king's authority when she places her hand on the scepter, and when the king offers her "half the kingdom," he seems to grant her a share in that authority. She takes advantage of his benevolence to rescue her people.
            In Genesis 49:10, "the scepter shall not depart from Judah...until Shiloh comes, and to Him shall be the obedience of the people." There is some argument about who Shiloh is, but if He is the coming Messiah, then the passage suggests that God's authority was present with and worked through the people of Israel until Jesus came and took His rightful position as redeemer and king. Psalm 2 shows how He will use His scepter. In response to the nations' hatred of God and His ways, the Son "shall break them with a rod of iron." The Lord rescues His people and destroys His enemies. Esther does the same.
            In addition to making the story more dramatic, Esther's decision to draw out the presentation of her request by inviting the king to a banquet shows a cautious and wise approach. It also triggers Haman's arrogance. He brags to his family that "Queen Esther invited no one but me to come in with the king to the banquet that she prepared" (5:12). He sounds like Lucifer in Isaiah 14:13. "I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God." Esther is setting him up for humiliation and destruction, just as Lucifer would be "brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit" (Isaiah 14:15).
            The gallows, or tree, Haman erects for Mordecai may seem at first glance to draw a parallel between Mordecai and Christ, but there are some differences. Mordecai is in danger simply because he is a Jew, an ancestral enemy of Haman. As Chapter 5 ends, he may not even be aware that the gallows is meant for him. Jesus knew what He faced. He was to be sacrificed willingly in order to redeem His people. Esther also knowingly placed herself in jeopardy for the sake of her people. Mordecai had no redeemer's role. He seems rather to represent God's people, who suffer persecution, but will one day triumph with their Lord. 

Friday, April 29, 2011

Dream of a Wedding

     I didn’t get out of bed at 4 a.m. to watch William and Kate get married, but, oddly, I did dream about it. I was in a hotel room, waiting for the wedding parade to come by, only it was the Hotel St. Francis in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I looked down from the second floor at the street and saw a marching band, dressed in red, but all dressed differently. Then came a group in odd costumes, like mummers or Mardi Gras krewes. Then, in the way of dreams, I was suddenly on the sidewalk with my camera. I was the first one there, but as others gathered around me, a man accused me of trying to cut in front and pushed me back away from the street. His face filled my view, and he shouted at me. That was enough of that dream.
     A nasty comment or two turned up online about the royal nuptials. Called the royals parasites and whatnot. It’s remarkable how venomous people can get over the behavior of others when it has nothing to do with them. It might be legitimate to talk about how much money was spent on the show, but a lot of merchants and hoteliers have to be pretty happy right about now. The carriages were splendid, the horses pranced, the shakos shook, and armor gleamed. Little boy pages were dressed like toy soldiers, and the little girls had flowers in their hair. And how happy the people were, waving flags and cheering for their prince and his lady. Pageantry. Fairy tale stuff. It’s all right with me.  

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Vegetable Whimsy

Landscape paintings and photos are nice and all, but I like to follow artists like Andy Goldsworthy and Joost Elffers into a different scale. Goldsworthy will build a hut of twigs in a tidal pool and film it as the water carries it away in swirls, or stack pieces of natural ice in a tower, or find leaves in every color of the spectrum and place them in ROYGBIV order. I thought of him when I arranged the passionflower leaves around the pink mushrooms above.
Here's a chayote squash with a chaw. For this, thank Mr. Elffers, who produced a book called Play with Your Food, filled with photos of red pepper hummingbirds, okra grasshoppers and cherry ants. With a deft cut or two, he turns a bell pepper into an elephant or a camel. Now I look at the facial expressions on my vegetables. 
Chayotes are supposed to grow vigorous vines and fruit like mad. I've had several failed attempts and am trying one more time with this one. That's a sprout emerging from the toothless gums. Chayote seeds sprout only while still inside the fruit. I believe Mr. Lunt of VeggieTales is a chayote.
    This fellow is either a ravenous killer unripe passionfruit, a despairing passionfruit, or a hillbilly passionfruit.                                              

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Red-Headed Second Child

I was born in an old folks’ home in Montana. No, really.
I suppose the Bronx, New York, must have seemed rather dull after World War II, what with my father carrying the secret code of the day and bathing in his helmet, to the amusement of the locals in North Africa, so my parents decided to move to Montana. He had done Air Corps cadet training in Great Falls, and they thought it was beautiful. They bought a used station wagon, filled it to the gills with their earthly possessions and my older brother, then seven months old, and headed west.
They liked the little town of Choteau. Official population was 1,180, but the locals insisted they had 1,700. It’s about the same today. None of the three lawyers in town wanted to hire my father, but a waitress told my parents she thought there would be work for another lawyer, so there he hung out his homemade shingle.
     No one else in town could imagine living in the little house they bought. It began as a one-room farm house, and other owners had added rooms here and there, not all on the same level, and all with different sizes of windows. The bathroom was carved out of a corner of the kitchen, and a trap door in a closet led to a root cellar. Carrots, they learned, can get very limp in a root cellar. Snow blew under the door in winter, and food stored in the spare room froze solid. But it was a real house with a yard, not an apartment with stairs, and they were thrilled with it. 
    You didn't need a street address to send them mail: only their names and "Choteau, Montana."  In town, their location was "across from the doctor's." There was one doctor in Choteau and one nurse, his wife. They all became good friends. There was also only one establishment that was anything like a medical facility, and that was the old folks' home, which the doctor and his wife ran. When I came along, Mom had a choice between driving 50 miles to the nearest hospital and delivering in the old folks' home. She chose the one she could walk to. 
    I came along in the dead of winter, August. (Mom always said Montana had two seasons, winter and July. I missed July.) She took my brother by the hand, waddled to my father's office and called up to the second-floor window. "Howard! Howard, you have to take Andy!" He peeked out the window and said, "But I can't. I'm working." "Well, I'm in labor, so you have to." He was persuaded. 
    One of the oldsters had to give up his room temporarily for the birth. It confused him, rather. The old dear was A. B. Guthrie, Sr. If you don't know his son A. B. Jr., you must immediately read The Big Sky. There's a movie too, with Kirk Douglas, but the book is better. A. B. Sr. is said to have moved his family as far west as he could and still have a newspaper. That's how he wound up in Choteau, not terribly different from my family's motivation. Anyway, the poor man kept shuffling back into the room, addressing my mother by his daughter-in-law's name and demanding to know what she had done with his clothes. Between contractions, Mom called, "Mr. Guthrie's back." 
    In those days, fathers did not attend births. Once I was out, swabbed and swaddled, Mom and her nurse pal fell to plotting. "If only we could borrow a black baby," they said. None was available. They settled for a little fellow who was about six months old. When my father entered the room, the nurse said, "Here's your new daughter." Right on cue, the little co-conspirator popped his head up from the blanket and grinned at him. Dad's eyes got very large and his knees rather wobbly. 
    I turned out to be a more standard size, but with deep auburn red curls, which necessitated many jokes about the mailman. (Dad was blond, Mom brunette.) After a year or so, my hair grew in blond from the roots. People asked my mother whether she had dyed my hair. She fumed. "What kind of idiot dyes a baby's hair?" 
    Another year, another baby, and a call back to active duty with the U. S. Air Force took us to Nebraska: Offal Air Force Base, as the residents called it, near Omigod. Base housing is the first place I actually remember for myself. When I was four, Dad was sent to Germany, and they took the opportunity to get divorced. Mom drove me and my brothers to Florida, where her parents lived. I grew up there, but I still think the best stories come from Montana. 

Still curly, but red was gone.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Poor Charles Darwin

     Soon as I started wresting out roots and weeds from my new peanut patch, what should pop into my head but the lyrics, “I was out choppin’ cotton, and my brother was bailin’ hay-ay-ay.” Over and over, that one line from—anybody remember?—“Ode to Billy Joe.” All about “the day Billy Joe McAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge.” Mm hmm, a real classic. Digging just a few yards from my air-conditioned suburban 4/2, I was hardly a redneck farm girl, but I felt a teeny-tiny bit of kinship. I was wearing a straw hat, anyway, and the band was sweaty.
     The first peanut patch is looking quite vibrant and productive, with a splash of astonishing beauty, ‘cause that’s how God rolls. The plants seem sturdy and businesslike, like Tolkienish dwarves, especially compared to the lacy tomatoes behind them. They are short and strong and do their main work underground. They also craft gorgeous, complex golden flowers, yellow with slender veins of orange, about half an inch wide. Like other tiny flowers I’ve discovered in my garden, they are shaped like orchids.
     Discovery, discovery, discovery, that’s gardening. I suppose farmers and other more experienced plant growers might pat me on the head and smile tolerantly, but I keep finding things to wonder at. Like those orchid-shaped flowers that you need a magnifying glass to discern. Or an odd little weed that belonged in an antique botanical sketchbook, bearing as it did tiny sprigs of round seed casings, articulated like pumpkins. The sprigs emerged from a slit in a flat green envelope that simply wasn’t roomy enough to produce them!
    I feel like Dr. Maturin in the Patrick O’Brian seafaring novels (Master and Commander, et al.) when I find one of these wonders. Just look how the baby figs pop out directly from the stems. How new pineapple plants show up in the wreckage of frozen parents. How the passionfruit vine, with its most splendid of purple, yellow and white flowers, climbs into the oak tree and drops fruit from the sky.
     “Poor Charles Darwin,” I think. He looked at such things, along with the lizards and snakes and squirrels and hawks and buzzards and ibises and mallards (all of which have turned up in our neighborhood if not our yard) and tried his best to explain them away. He couldn’t give God credit, so he made up a system of time and accident to explain eyes and ears, flowers and seeds, and color-changing lizards. I can’t not give God credit. The closer I look, the more marvelous the creation seems, and the more it seems He is standing right there saying, “Yes, I made this too.” The peanut is no accident. And neither am I. 
Peanut blossom, half inch wide in real life.

Impossible burst of pods
Passionfruit vine blooms twice a year

Friday, April 8, 2011

What Good Is a Woman? Lesson 4

Lesson 4 Questions

Read Esther Chapter 4.

What do Mordecai's sackcloth and ashes signify?

What did Solomon hope would result from humility and supplication in 1 Kings 8:50-53? On what did he base his hope?

Daniel also spent time in sackcloth and ashes. Find some thoughts, admissions and requests he expresses in Daniel 9:3-5 and 16-19.

What is the encouraging answer to Daniel's prayers in Daniel 9:25?

 Consider: Mordecai's mourning contains no recorded reference to repentance before God, but the Jews still get a temporary human deliverer in Esther. Why? Remember Solomon's basis for hope.

Mordecai may not enter the king's gate clothed in sackcloth. Relate to Exodus 29:4-9 and Matthew 22:11-13. Who offered Mordecai proper clothing? Where do we get proper clothing? See Romans 13:14 and Galatians 3:27.

Compare the "written decree" of vs.8 to the one in Colossians 2:13, 14.

What sort of mission is Mordecai asking Esther to perform? See Hebrews 7:24,25 and 8:11,12.
Does the danger expressed in vss.10-12 have a parallel in the priesthood? See Leviticus 16:2.
Consider parallels between vss. 13-16 and Matthew 26:36-39.

To Mordecai's statement about "such a time as this," compare Romans 5:6 and Galatians 4:4,5.
                                                                      Chapter 4

        Along with the terrible face of judgment, God has always offered the hope of deliverance. The Jews in Persia might have recalled the words of Isaiah 25:8. "He will swallow up death forever, and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces; the rebuke of His people He will take away from all the earth; for the LORD has spoken." As they looked to the coming day of judgment, the Jews were in a situation similar to that of the church today. 2 Peter 3:10 reminds us that "the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night." Titus 2:13,14 reminds us that we should be "looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us..."
        In the meantime, Mordecai dons sackcloth and ashes and cries out "with a loud and bitter cry" (4:1). The book gives no content or intended audience for this cry, but the sackcloth and ashes symbolize humility and supplication, which link Mordecai with others who were more specific, such as Solomon and Daniel.
        When Solomon dedicated the Temple, he actually predicted that God's people would so offend God that He would allow them to be carried away to the land of their enemy. He asked God to forgive them when they cry out in captivity, "for they are Your people and Your inheritance, whom You brought out of Egypt" (1 Kings 8:46-53).
        Daniel spends time in sackcloth and ashes over the "desolations of Jerusalem." In Daniel 9, he praises God as one Who keeps His covenant. He confesses the sin of the people and acknowledges that they have been driven into exile because of their own unfaithfulness. He appeals to God's mercy and urges, "Do not delay for Your own sake, my God, for Your city and Your people are called by Your name" (v.19). In verse 25 comes the encouraging answer, the promise of the coming Messiah.
        Mordecai's mourning contains no recorded repentance for sin, no calling on the name of God, no reference to His covenant with His people. Nevertheless, God sends a temporal redeemer to rescue the Jews. Daniel and Solomon have shown us why. They are His people, and no matter how far they stray, He will keep His covenant. Messiah is coming, and until He comes in the flesh and in His time, they will have an illustration of God's redemptive intent in Esther.
        The queen foreshadows the work of Christ in the matter of Mordecai's dress. His sackcloth is not fit for the king's court. We see the importance of appropriate clothing in Exodus 29:4-9, where Aaron and his sons must be washed and carefully covered with tunic, ephod, breastplate, turban and sash before they are fit to perform their work in God's tabernacle. In Matthew 22:11-13, Jesus tells the fate of a man who tried to enter the king's hall "without a wedding garment." He was cast into outer darkness.
        It is Esther who offers Mordecai presentable garments.  In order to enter God's presence, His people must be wearing the garments provided by His Son. They must "put on the Lord Jesus Christ," as in Romans 13:14. Revelation 7:1-14 shows a multitude dressed in robes "made...white in the blood of the Lamb." Since it is the blood of Christ that makes the robes clean and acceptable to God, it seems significant that Mordecai declines Esther's first offer of clean clothes. She has not yet made her risky approach to Ahasuerus, and the threat of destruction still lies on the Jews.
        The threat is spelled out in a "written decree" (4:8).  In the face of this decree, Mordecai asks Esther to "plead...for her people" (4:8) on a mission of intercession. It is a dangerous mission, as Esther explains in 4:10,11. Entering the inner court without being called may mean death. God made a similar rule for His Holy Place: "Tell Aaron your brother not to come at just any time into the Holy Place inside the veil...lest he die" (Leviticus 16:2).
        We had a "handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us" (Colossians 2:14). Jesus has interceded for His people (Romans 7:25) and "with His own blood...entered the Most Holy Place once for all" (Romans 9:12). Jesus submitted to the threat of death in order to carry out this mission.
        Jesus and Esther both approached the time of sacrifice with prayer. Both considered the possibility of another source of deliverance. Both bowed to the will of God, though, as usual, Esther's account does not mention Him by name. In 4:15,16, Esther tells Mordecai to gather the Jews to fast for her; she and her maids will do the same. We can assume that this means prayer, because fasting and prayer are so closely linked in the Old Testament, as in Judges 20:26-28, 2 Samuel 12:16, Daniel 9:3, etc. When Jesus went to Gethsemane, He was clear about His purpose: "Sit here while I go and pray over there" (Matthew 26:36-39). Esther at least had company. Jesus was left alone by those who "could...not watch with [Him] one hour."
        Mordecai raises the possibility that "relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place" if Esther refuses to intercede, but predicts that such a course would lead to her destruction. Jesus prays, "Oh My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me." In this case, He knows that carrying out the mission guarantees His destruction. Esther may die; He must die. Esther's cry, "and if I perish, I perish!" echoes the attitude of Christ when He says, "not as I will, but as You will."
        "Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" says Mordecai in perhaps the most frequently quoted verse of the book. As stated in Galatians 4:4,5, God sent His Son to be born and to redeem His people "when the fullness of the time had come." Romans 5:6 says, "in due time Christ died for the ungodly." God's timing is perfect in placing Esther to save the Jews. It is also perfect in the advent and sacrifice of Christ.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A Pencil through the Heart

        Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe, New Mexico, has some kind of genius curator who brings in wonderful traveling exhibits to go with the pots and rifles and carriages of New Mexico history. When I was there a couple of years ago, the exhibit was about the independent press in the southwest. People lugged hand-screwed presses out from the east to print newspapers, religious materials, humor, poetry and art, like Gustave Baumann’s beautiful woodcut landscapes. The exhibit had the presses and the original books and broadsides. First intro to this year’s exhibit was a stack of newsprint on the cashier’s counter with a rough-edged typeface like that of an old typewriter. “Jack is back.” Jack Kerouac.
        In the center of the creaky wooden floor of the exhibit hall stood a long, narrow display case. In it lay the heavy roll and several stretched-out yards of the original manuscript for On the Road, single-spaced on teletype paper, the three-week outpouring that changed American writing and American culture. On a screen, a film looped, in which Kerouac’s priest friend from Lowell, Massachusetts, tells us he lived like a monk in a room with bed, chair, desk and stacks of paper, and, above the desk, a great crucifix. Kerouac tells William F. Buckley, Jr., that the hippies are better people than the beats, and that he himself never used the word rebellion, “being a Catholic.” He sits on the other side of a piano from Steve Allen and tells him his definition of the word “beat” is “sensitive.” Allen says, “I asked.” Then he plays some blues while Kerouac reads from his work, “I think about Dean Mor-i-ar-ty,” accenting every syllable. I’m pretty sure he was drunk, but the reading was pure and beautiful. So I wonder, did he have to drink to be able to do it, or did he drink because he had done it? This was a man uncovered to crazy depths. It wasn’t long before he died.
        Exit the hall through a little room with sofas and a rack full of books about Kerouac and walls covered with his haikus. They say he took the Japanese form and made it American. You could listen there to more recordings of his voice. Then another little room had wooden tables and chairs along two walls, heavy and scarred, like something from a forties newsroom. On the tables, old Underwood typewriters, like the one my mother had, a relic in a hard, square case. On the walls, an invitation to use the typewriters—they had to explain how to roll a sheet of paper in, like introducing a modern teen to a Victrola—to write your own travel story or a haiku.
        The one I sat down at couldn’t make an apostrophe. Hard as I pressed on the shift key, it came out a comma. Pounding keys seems too harsh for poetry, even if the poem is harsh. Typewriters hammer the words down. Word processors conjure. Etched in ether, the words don’t seem quite real until they are printed. Quills scrape, and pens glide. Pencils take a little more time. Maybe they are best.
This came out first:

            My mother typed fast
            With no mistakes.
            She died bent over.

        Her father wouldn’t let her go to college, even though she finished high school at 15. “I only went through eighth grade, and I did all right. Why should I send a daughter to college?” he said. So at 16, she went to Katherine Gibbs secretarial school in New York, where her classmates were all older and richer. They spent vacations in the Bahamas. She spent hers in the Bronx. She was always best in the class, and that made some of them mad. She learned to type very fast and never to let her fingernails show above the fingertips.
        Her doctor looked at the X-rays, but couldn’t see the first fracture in her spine. He thought the pain must be coming from a kidney infection, so he gave her antibiotics. They didn’t help a bit. He looked again, and this time he saw the crack. “I’m sorry,” he said. She asked whether she should take a bone-building drug. He said no, it wouldn’t do any good. Three breaks later, another doctor said are you kidding, start taking it right now. By then, she was so bent over, she couldn’t balance. She fell. In the hospital, she couldn’t sit up. When her lungs got infected, she couldn’t cough. She died bent over. 

            Found in the labyrinth
            A stick with eyes
            And three white beads.
                  I,m blushing.

        I walked the labyrinth up on Museum Hill. I was the only one. I heard someone say, “I think it’s some kind of Indian thing.” It isn’t. They’re all over the world, including Christian cathedrals, marked on the floor in tile. And it isn’t a maze, bounded by tall hedges. It’s a convoluted path that eventually reaches the center of a circle, then curls out again. The first one I saw was behind a convent near Niagara Falls, where I was helping chaperone a children’s choir. It was mowed into the grass, so the boundaries were soft mounds of taller grass. A sign said to walk the path your own way, fast or slow, and let your mind dwell on whatever comes. Right. So I started walking, and after a few turns found myself gazing at little flowers in the borders. What seemed solid green at first was sprinkled with all sorts of shapes and colors of blossoms. In the center, I sat down with some of the choirboys. “Did you have some big revelation?” one of them asked. Yes. I realized that once you see and believe that God has given you good gifts, you start to see them everywhere.
        The Santa Fe labyrinth made me see little things that I would not have noticed otherwise. Odd bits of wood. Purple sequins. Pebbles full of mica. That stick with eyes, little circles left where a twig fell off, and the end broken into a long lizard’s mouth; the beads from some child’s hair or zipper pull or shoelace. I picked them all up, and when I wrote about it, I thought about writing in public, and I turned the hot, ugly red that makes people think I’m having a stroke.
        One wall in the writing room was covered with clipboards for posting what you wrote. I stuck my two typed haikus on a clipboard with a cluster of other papers. When I went back the next day, my sheet was posted by itself. Maybe somebody liked it. How I wanted to be standing there and have someone read my sheet and say “that’s good” so I could say, charmingly demure and modest, that I wrote them. I didn’t sign them. Who would know me anyway?
        I was leaving when I saw the black and white photos in the hallway, realer than real, Denver in the 40s, like Kerouac might have known. There’s something about the neon on the storefronts, so bold and modern, and now quaint. And booze is always boasted of in neon. I went back to the writing room and wrote two more poems, in pencil this time. 

 New poems,
Carve ‘em out,
A pencil through the heart.

Where sins are cast in neon
I don’t go.
Got my own.
But I folded them up and kept them.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A Short Sabbath

 Pastor Bill preached about the sabbath rest today: the principle that God designed us to rest one day in seven. He says it doesn't matter especially which day it is, as long as it's regular and done in awareness that this is what God set up for us out of His love. It's meant to be a benefit, not a burden. And ultimately, Jesus is our "sabbath rest," because He has done all the work to pay our way into the kingdom. Whew! So, in the same spirit as the disciples who picked grain to eat on the sabbath, I spent the afternoon making a pair of board shorts for my munchkin grandson. They are a size two. I don't suppose he will mind that I made a dress of the same fabric. It is a size... larger.

Friday, April 1, 2011

It's an Impertinent Little Wine

     One of my favorite New Yorker cartoons shows a host displaying a bottle to his guests. He says, "It's an impertinent little wine, but I think you'll be amused by its pretension." Wine aficionados are always writing that you can taste berry and melon and oak and petunia blossoms and I don't know what-all in various wines, but I have yet to detect any such thing. Once in a while, I buy something relatively expensive to try to elevate my palate, but it never works. I wind up going back to Barefoot and Cupcake Vineyards. 
     And yet, there lives in my memory the Beaujolais nouveau I bought in Paris at the end of the Bellbottoms and Duffel Bag Tour I took around Europe in the fall of 1974. Dimly aware that there was such a thing as a celebrated unveiling of the new Beaujolais, I decided to take some home. I remember the merchant explaining in pantomime why the year on the label was 1973. He put his head down on his folded hands to show that the wine "sleeps" for a year before it is released. I bought two bottles, because I'd read that you could bring two bottles of alcohol into the US without paying any duties. The nice young customs man in New York told me that didn't apply to wine, so technically I owed a tax on it, but it was less than a dollar, so they wouldn't bother to collect it. OK. 
     That wine, uncorked for Thanksgiving, was the most delicious beverage I've ever tasted. It had a crystal-clear fruit flavor, and a "dry" quality utterly different from what wine merchants and friends call "dry." Their dry is just acid compared to that wine's light, fine, unique clarity. "Like drinkable light." Words fail me. I have longed for that taste ever since. I've bought more Beaujolais, but it's just old and dusty grape juice in comparison. I suppose it's hope that makes me buy the expensive wines once in a while, but they always disappoint. I'll have to settle for "This is nice," I suppose. I don't expect to return to Paris any time soon.