glory be the cat that meowed an hour or so after the new year breathed its first full lungs of breath.
glory be the mama’s feets that shuffled the stairs, that rounded the bend, that came upon what appeared–through groggy eyes that, of course, had taken in the toll of the midnight bells, and thus had been sleeping not more than an hour when all the cat ruckus occurred–glory be what appeared to be a bush all aglow. a bush with a halo.
a bush with a message to tell: be still. illumination awaits you.
and so i breathed for a while there. stood at the window. breathed in the blanketed birth of the new year. marveled at all of the stillness. the gift of the snow and the absolute silence. not a bird’s wing quivered. not even the wind moved.
only my cat, prancing. lifting paw through the snow drift, headed out for adventure. determined to take in the new year, one deep plunge at a time.
i, well, i tucked a bookmark there in the night, and i tootled back up the stairs to my bed.
i didn’t stay long, though. just long enough.
and then, when a toss or a turn shook me back to my preferred state of being–the state of being wide-eyed awake–i weighed my options: sleep, or savor the dawn.
dawn won, as it always does.
particularly here on a morn when inches of white had transformed the world, had draped a tableau that as long as there have been poets and ice crystals fallen from clouds has made for breath inhaled, held, and let out in long lines of glory.
i tiptoed back down, back to the place i’d left off, there in the deep of the night. same bush, still aglow. but washed now with the blue light of dawn creeping in from the east.
glory be the first footstep laid in the snow, glory be especially when it cuts a straight path to the trough where the birds come. where the birds know the seed will be poured, in abundance.
“g’morning world,” i called out. to whoever was listening. and whoever wasn’t, as well.
glory be the gift of the morning. glory be the newborn year, the chance to begin again.
something inside me stirred me to steep in the wholeness. every pore cried out for attention. i wanted to taste, to smell, to see, to hear, to feel the crisp, full, delectable launch of the day and the year.
i’d plugged in the tree, so two bushes glowed now. one in, and one out.
i’d fed the birds and my four-legged friends; truly, i make like i’m some sort of make-believe farmer, slopping the seed, pouring fresh water all around, outside and in. out, where the birds and the squirrels, even the possum, soothe their parched wintry throats. in, where sometimes the midnight cat slurps.
now it was time to feed my sweet children, the ones dreaming up in their beds, the ones who i hungered to greet with all that was sweet, that was good, that was soft, that would lighten their hearts on the dawn of the blessed fresh start.
i spotted a whole braided bread in the corner. considered milk and butter and eggs. considered cinnamon. eyed a big bowl of apples. considered slicing and sizzling in butter and sugar and spice. cranked up the old oven.
the original mother’s-milk bath–3 cups of milk, half a stick butter, half a cup sugar, pinch salt, a good douse of cinnamon clear from the streets of saigon–steamed in a pot on the stove. the bread i tore into bits, considering wholly the gift of the moment at hand.
tucked in the oven–the bread in the bath of the milk and the eggs and the cinnamon apples and raisins–a wholesome new-year pudding now on the horizon, i slipped on my knee-high wobbly rubber boots, the ones the color of school buses. and i returned to the place of the snow and the silence.
i walked before even a soul had preceded me. the snow was all mine, and if i kept my eye only in front of me, didn’t notice the damage i’d done–the foot step left in the snow–i scored the gift of treading where no one had trod.
and so it was on the glorious dawn of this year so ripe with infinite hope, and a good measure of oh-lord, brace-me for whatever will come.
and so on this start of a new year’s adventure, i thank the maker of snow, and the bringer-on of the sunlight. i thank the hands that kneaded the dough that became the bread that i tore into bits for my boys. i thank the one who spins the words from my head with the prayers of my soul and puts them forth in the snippets i call my word-breathing.
i bow before all the greatness above and before me. i drop to my knees, and beg for the grace and the might to carry on through this mountain called life.
i breathe in in prayer. i breathe out, whispering incantation, sprinkling glory-be wherever i go.
blessed God, fill me so that i might fill those in my path. no matter how steep, no matter how close to the edge, there where the precipice is. there where we inch ever so slowly, hold on for dear life.
for just ’round the next bend, just maybe, you see, there will be sights–and moments, indeed–that will carry our hearts straight up to the heavens. i’m certain.
arm-in-arm, or alone, it’s a path best taken in strides. best taken with lungs teeming with spirited prayer. it’s a path paved in glories, for those daring to see. blessed God, open my eyes. let me breathe in all of your glories, swallow your sorrows. carry on, in ascent ever lasting. most holy amen.
what is your prayer this new year? how did you meet the moment of wonder as the fresh start washed over you? blessed beginning again……
Gorgeous photo and magical sight! My son and I rang in the new year in a taxi from O’Hare to home, riding through all the snowy magic. Our driver was a newly minted US Citizen from Pakistan with a wife who speaks only Urdu and two bilingual children. He was singing the praises of our country–the one that I feel is losing its magical illumination. He said he arrived 9 years ago, and loves being in a place where he has freedom to work, to pray (he is Muslim), to recreate, as he pleases. He told me this next election will be the first in which he can vote, and he is thinking about Hilary Clinton, because he thinks her husband left the country in good shape. Not sure what his mathematical calulation was, but he said that Hilary will have 60% of her governing ideas from Bill and 40% from her own work as a senator. When I asked him about the tragedy in Pakistan, he lamented the loss of life, all life, any life, saying he didn’t understand all the killing and the suicide bombers and that “Life is the Most Precious Thing That There Is. Praise Be To God.”It turned out to be a memorable New Year’s Prayer/Toast after all!
I found my “breath” for the New Year on a solitary walk through the falling snow on New Years Eve. After a week with family, friends and the like, our “llittle” family of four was spending the eve at home amidst baking cookies, Shrek movies, pocorn popping and the New York New Year The confetti and party hats l;eft me with little tair to reflect on the past or seek inspiration for the New Year. After my cajoling to take a night time snowy walk failed to recruit my 7 yearold, 13 year old or husband, I found my self walking in the most beautiful snow ever and feeling very much at peace and ready to welcome the New Year with all its joy and heartache, and love and peace.
so glad to see this little gift of your words, fresh like that feathery snow. i want to thank you for continuing to peck away at that keyboard; for reminding me to pray; worry less; and keep on moving towards what tugs at the invisible sleeve. i gave my notice at the ad job today. i am sad and hopeful and excited and humbled at the possibility of what the next year in a new city, in a new field chasing down stories and words will bring. you’re an everyday saint for writers like me you know. happy, happy new year. x0.
ahhh, new year wonders coming in so many forms: cab drivers home from o’hare, snowy walks, and the wide-open possibility that comes from closing one chapter, opening another…..sweet laur, how lovely that you pull up this particular day. i had you right there in my mind, somehow, as i wrote of climbing the mountain, you who trekked the appalachian trail. you the lumberjack girl now headed off to the big city on the harbor. we will always be here my beautiful friend. when you come in from a hard day in nyc, or from an exhilarating day on madison avenue, you pull up right here, and we will be waiting, filling you in on news from your hometown, reminding you of the wonders just under your nose, ready to hear all of your stories. the beautiful thing about this table: its leaves are many and it just keeps expanding……here is a hand to squeeze on this bumpy, oh-my-God day. love, your chair lady friend
I love, love your turning year reflections and invitation. I’d made a little pledge to myself to connect with the prayerful musings of others, and remembered you. Glad you’re still at it!Shortly after midnight, in the yard of a friend’s house, I was introduced not only to a real live magical Moringa tree, but also to a twenty foot poinsettia bush! We’re two degrees south of the equator, here in Rwanda, where even rampant poverty and malnutrition, orphanhood, AIDS and the ghost of genocides past (and did I mention poverty?) somehow have not triumphed over people’s dignity. That is reason for gratitude, wonder and awe. The vegetation surprises are icing on the cake. Some of my hopes for the year are reflected in the meal blessing song, “give food to the hungry, and a hunger for justice to those who are fed…” Also, that we/I might have the humility to do with, not always to do for. Thanks for the table talk. It matters.
well, oh my goodness, isn’t that a gift, meandering over to the chair on my birthday, finding this here from rwanda. finding someone who believes in all the things i believe in, i hunger for, here on the leafy shore of chicago. lovely to meet you. open our eyes, please, to the unspeakable heartbreak you see all around you. remind us to never take for granted one soft moment of grace. inspire us never to rest, truly rest, until all who are hungry or broken or poor–all who are cold here on this frozen white day in the north–are extended a hand, the essential hand that must be outstretched…finding you here gives me tingles, reminds me of the miracle, the magic, of the internet, this odd little box that sits on our desktops thousands of miles away, yet can connect us. i think of the promise: build it, and they will come.your words here are the whisper in my ear: keep going, keep believing and writing. the darkness demands that each of us kindle a light. if many of us walk with that candle now burning, then someday, someday, the world will be brighter, be fairer, be stripped of some of its shadow, now won’t it?please know as you walk through this day, mindy, that you are the gift of my birthday. finding you here was a little bit of magic. just the thing to start my new year. blessings, abundantly….