Friday, October 3

She Responds in Kind

One evening last week while we were clearing up after dinner together, Larry pulled his head out of the pantry (where his cookies hide) and cheerfully commented, "You make my life so pleasant." "Aww, thank you Larry! What a nice thing to say."

I've thought about that off and on since then. That kind little offhand remark made me feel like gold. You know the feeling? When someone says something small in a complimentary way, but your heart hears it as if it were a just makes your world seem ripe with juiciness and meaning. 

A couple nights ago I was restless and couldn't sleep, so I got up and wrote poetry. Here's the poem that was born of that pleasant comment and a 2 a.m. meeting at the computer keyboard...


It began to come together at the age where
Merry-go-round living jumps the tracks
With the gold ring in hand.
Ripe, yet new, it commenced,
The second flowering of a life in music,
The blush of a being a bride again,
The opening up of new doors of thought
Brought into view by an eclectic husband who stole my heart
And championed new forays into culinary arts, poetry, travel,
While exploring meridians beyond work 
Or laundry days and ways.

A different, elegant light began to glow,
Multi-hued, enhanced by conversationed journeys,
Grandbabies being born,
Wrestling new difficulties in times of economic uncertainty,
While pulsing through
Savory moments at home alone or guest-festooned,
Ups and downs of living accompanied by people, places,
And unexpected opportunities to shine.

Tottering on a precipice, a pinnacle of juicy existence
Can be a defining moment that just is,
Not something well-rehearsed or planned out.
This gilding of years makes up and coming days
Look hopeful, appetizing, rewarding.
It was a gift really, this second-phase-of-life convergence,
Wreathing me with a breath of fresh air
At the starting gate in another round
On God’s good earth.

© 2014 Nancy Gerst

Thoughts inspired while counting the ways my husband has made my life so rich and beautiful.          

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The Four Seasons - Vivaldi - 42 minutes of joy

Just the Way You Are - Billy Joel

Life Is Beautiful - Moments that Matter Most 
Beautiful Moments - Cecilia Bartolli - an hour of beautiful arias. Larry and I enjoyed listening to her while we dined in the days of our courtship.

Sunday, September 14

Intersecting Planes

In the arborestum. Noting a flower up above.
She walked along the 
   heightened ridge
While I took a meandering path
Through thickets and 
   deep pools
Of reflected dusk 
   and dying days
Where shadows 
   offered bittersweet
Comfort of familiar ways,
Memories and the 
   years of my life.

Where, Lord, should we meet,
This effervescent wife and I?
Her steps incline toward the light of
Cheerful lays and flowered paths
I often see the underlying pebbles and snakes
And ponder them searching to know
If meaning lies therein too.

How will we walk hand in hand
Toward the spire end of our life together
In the Arboretum, checking out a salamander.
When one of us will
Soar alone toward You,
Sent off with teared farewell
And Godspeed your journey?

Perhaps the mystery of God in Three
Can best explain this path to me
Of walking one-stepped in
Different boots with concurrent missions
To accomplish the Finality that coalesces in
One glorious, hopeful Goal.

What is this Godly communion like?
Do each of You (and I speak as a man)
Exist in Uniqueness and Experience,
Yet knotted in perfect three-Love clasp?
Oh Divine Mystery! Let it be!
Help me to walk sure-footed in Your grace
While I keep a stretched-out, 
Firm grasp on hand so small
With heart so big 
Across the canyon of
Who we are and what Your breath
Inspired us to be.

Feb. 12, 2007, © 2007 Nancy Gerst
Written from the perspective of my dear husband. This poem acknowledges the difference in our temperaments and offers a prayer that these two will truly become one, not because they are identical but because God brought them together.

From my collection of "Poems for Larry." Shared here on the occasion of our wedding anniversary.


Monday, September 1

Prayers for the Work Day

Potato Planting - Van Gogh, 1884
Most of us spend the largest part of our days working, at employment and also in our homes caring for them. Here are two beautiful, practical prayers on the theme of work from the heart and pen of a pastor who has taught me through his writings, Rev. Peter John Cameron. 

The first group of petitions in this first prayer ask for protection, a beautiful example of how to use the petition in the Lord's Prayer, "and lead us not into temptation" as a seed for our prayers. The second group of petitions ask for grace, a fleshing out of the petition, "give us this day our daily bread."

Prayer to Sanctify Work1

In a spirit of sacrifice, we consecrate our work day to the Lord and pray:

R:  Lord, protect.

From the temptation to be listless and lazy: R              FROM TEMPTATION

From the temptation to complain: R

From the temptation to be critical of my boss: R

Peasant Woman Digging, van Gogh, 1885
From the temptation to cheat or to be dishonest with others: R

From the temptation to gossip: R

From the temptation to lateness: R

From the temptation to waste time: R

From the temptation to be judgmental of my co-workers: R

From the temptation to procrastinate: R

From the temptation to indolence and lethargy: R

From the temptation to be hyper-critical: R

From the temptation to engage in idle conversation: R

From the temptation to be quick to take offense: R

From the temptation to shift my work onto others: R

From the temptation to impatience: R

From the temptation to cut corners or to be sloppy: R

From the temptation to give in to weariness: R


Basket of Potatoes, van Gogh, 1885

R:  Lord, please grant it.

For the grace to be a peacemaker: R

For the grace to witness to you by word and example: R

For the grace to be energetic and committed: R

For the grace to take 
initiative: R

For the grace to be compassionate 
and forgiving: R

For the grace to offer up all tedium and drudgery: R

For the grace to be attentive to those in need: R

For the grace to be generous in sharing: R

For the grace to be prudent in dealing with others: R

For the grace to be kind: R

For the grace to be understanding: R

For the grace to fulfill my responsibilities well: R

For the grace to be patient and persevering: R

For the grace to put myself in others’ shoes: R

For the grace to be dedicated and undistracted: R

For the grace to be honest and forthright: R

For the grace to be hard working: R

For the grace to be free of stress: R

For the grace to insight to solve problems: R

For the grace to industriousness: R

For the grace to resolve conflicts and difficulties: R
The Potato Eaters, van Gogh, 1885

For the grace to put up with hardships: R

For the grace to esteem the dignity of my co-workers: R

For the grace to be thankful for the chance to work: R

For the grace to spread the Good News of the Gospel: R

Prayer After Work2
 Most merciful Father, thank you for this day of work with all its achievements as well as its burdens. Thank you for all the successes, the challenges, and even the difficulties that it brought me. Your Son once said to his apostles, “Come by yourselves to an out of the way place and rest a little.” Thank you for this gift of rest. May this time be a chance for me to renew my gratitude for all your blessings. In your great compassion and generosity, please be mindful of those who are out of work. And help me to do a better job tomorrow. I ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen. 

1Prayer to Sanctify Work, Father Peter John Cameron, Magnificat, September 2014, page 9-10 
2Prayer After Work, ibid, page 11

I hope you will find these prayers helpful in giving your work hours and days to the Lord. I know they have been helpful to me. May God's blessing of peace be with you all. 

for a video combining a Bach Prelude and a reflection on Vincent van Gogh's, "A Pair of Shoes (1866), from my piano solo collection.

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The Promise of Living - Copland from "The Tender Land"

And a little fun while you work: