La Ermita

Interior

Arropada por la flora que busca su lugar en el cambiante y abandonado terreno donde un día fue dueña y señora. Fue erguida una vez, y ahora yace en ruinas, la Ermita de la Candelaria en Toa Baja, Puerto Rico. Sus coloniales paredes de ladrillos color terracota expuestos, como una herida en carne viva, a los elementos. A su alrededor arboles revestidos de enredaderas de flores violeta, un terreno fangoso en el que yacen los remanentes de pasadas generaciones que vinieron a descansar por última vez en este sagrado lugar.

En un pasado, la Ermita, que fue bendecida en 1759 en la Hacienda El Plantaje, era el único lugar de adoración para los feligreses de la iglesia Católica. Hacendados, campesinos, negros libres y esclavos venían allí a escuchar la palabra de Dios. A ser bautizados, a unirse en matrimonio, a celebrar las fiestas.

El pasado 2 de febrero, día en que se celebra el Día de la Purificación de Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria, tuve la oportunidad de visitar el lugar por el cual pasé de largo muchas veces cuando era pequeña, por una carretera que ahora está cerrada al publico. Allí, gracias a los esfuerzos de la Familia Picón, se mantiene la tradición centenaria viva y se enciende, luego de la celebración de la palabra y varios actos protocolares, la tradicional hoguera hecha de los secos árboles de navidad que fueron utilizados por los residentes de mi pueblo en las pasadas navidades.

No conocía de la actividad y acompañada por mi mejor amiga/comadre, nos fuimos a un lugar de la infancia. La Ermita era hermosa toda en ruinas y al final de su atrio, donde una vez estuvo el altar y la sacristía, estaba una imagen grande de Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria en vivos colores. Parecía que estaba vigilante. Los presentes estaban sentados dentro en sillas blancas. Sin techo que los cobijara, luces colgaban para alumbrar el interior. Las paredes ya no sujetaban ni ventanas ni puertas, y de cuatro solo quedaban tres.

Mientras hablaban comencé a capturar en fotos con mi celular la hermosura del lugar. Me acerqué a una de las ventanas por donde se veía la imagen de la Virgen, click. La cúpula aún permanece fuerte, con rastros de humedad y un círculo en su centro. La entrada en ruinas con sus ladrillos expuestos parece darle tregua al tiempo, como diciendo de aquí no me moveré. El tronco de un árbol fusionado a las paredes de la Ermita, evidencia el abandono en un pasado.

Llegó el momento de encender la hoguera y varios de los presentes se acercan para entre las aromáticas ramas de los pinos echar sus peticiones. Una antorcha fue encendida, el Alcalde la acerca y las llamas lamen las ramas. El fuego arde, el calor intenso se siente a flor de piel como si las llamas desearan acariciarte. Me interno dentro de la Ermita para protegerme, miro arriba y la noche se iluminaba con fragmentos pequeños que flotaban por la brisa nocturna. Parecía como si la fogata, a pesar de nuestra retirada, deseaba alcanzarnos, tocarnos.

El acto culminó con la muerte de la fogata, los presentes gozaban de un caldo de pollo y nosotras nos retiramos dejando nuestras huellas en el húmedo terreno con la promesa de un regreso el próximo 2 de febrero.

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A un reino / To a kingdom

Ruta

English version below the Spanish.

El asfalto negro me transporta al pasado, a una juventud marcada con nostalgía en el espacio neuronal donde las memorias son tan solo reacciones químicas. De ellas nacen el deseo de recorrer el camino bordeado por árboles y rodeado de valles. Ese camino que corta por entre las montañas de la Cordillera Central de una isla sin medida precisa. Entre sus elevaciones verdes y la roca grisacea, entre el suspirar del alma y las preguntas de los pequeños, me adentro en su seno con deseo.

Una necesidad, quizás, es lo que me condujo hasta allí. Hasta los lugares que son besados por la neblina al crepúsculo asomarse. Los niños en el asiento trasero admiran la naturaleza a su alrededor, mientras mi corazón palpitante conversa con el subconsciente llamándolo a recordar.

Mis pupilas se dilataron en asombro cuando al subir la colina la ruta obsidiana atravesaba millas por el vientre rasgado en dos de las montañas que exponían sus entrañas ásperas y grisaceas a los elementos. Fue entonces, que una parte de mi ser, ese maternal, se mantuvo en la realidad, y mi ser creativo se transportó a la historia que espera paciente el roce de mi bolígrafo. Todo se transformó en el reino el cual mis protagonistas visitarían en el proximo capítulo.

Mi mundo imaginario solidificado en la realidad me hacía experimentar las ondulaciones que encorvan sus faldas,la magia del paisaje esmeralda que se alza para casi rozar el índigo cielo.

En una lancha recorro la ruta de escape que tomarán mis personajes, la brisa es suave y refrescante. La serenidad del lugar me adentra más en mi imaginación que me hace ver casas talladas en las montañas lejanas exponiendo trazos de la civilización que será plasmada en papel. Todo estaba allí y me perdía en él, deseaba estar en él.

El ser creativo se perdía con cada mirada y click de la cámara digital.

Pero fue ella que me hizo despertar y dejar grabada en la memoria la experiencia. Mi ser maternal tomó control por completo y se perdió en el momento que sus ojos admiraban y deseaban ser parte.

 



To a kingdom

The black asphalt took me to the past, a youth marked by nostalgia in the neuronal space where the memories are just chemical reactions. From them is born the desire to walk the road bordered by trees and surrounded by valleys. The one that cuts through the mountains of the Cordillera Central of the island that has no accurate measurement. Among its elevated green and grayish rock, between the sigh of the soul and the questions of the children, I step into her bosom with desire.

A need, perhaps, led me there. To the places that are kissed by the mist as dusk arrives. The children in the backseat admire the nature around them, while my beating heart dialogues with my subconscious calling it to remember.

My eyes widened in amazement when going up the hill the obsidian road crossed miles through the belly of the mountains ripped in two, grayish and rough exposed to the elements. It was then that part of my being, the maternal, remained in reality, and my creative being was transported to the story that patiently awaits the touch of my pen. Everything is transformed into the kingdom which my players would visit in the next chapter.

Solidified my imaginary world into reality, it made ​​me experience the the undulated skirts, and the magic emerald landscapes that rises to almost touching the indigo sky.

In a ferry we go around the escape route my characters will take. The breeze is soft and refreshing. The serenity of the place immerse me further into my imagination which makes me see houses carved into the mountains beyond exposing traces of civilization that will be captured on paper. Everything was there and I was lost in it, I wanted to be in it.

The creative being is lost with every look and click of the digital camera.

But it was her who woke me up and left recorded the memories experienced. My maternal being took over completely and was lost in the moment her eyes admired and wanted to be part of.



La fruta del campo

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El comer pomarrosa me transporta a mis días juveniles en el pueblo de las flores, Aibonito. Cuando antes de jugar en el campo saqueábamos, mi hermano y yo, el palo de yambo que estaba al final de la jalda cementada que servía de entrada a la finca de mamá Duve. Seseábamos el deseo que se metió en nosotros con su aroman sutil a rosas cuando de la loza llegábamos la noche anterior.

Tan solo de mirar esa fruta carnosa los recuerdos viajan al pasado lejano, a las noches frías características del llano, los juegos de briscas en la marquesina arropados de pie a cabeza con suéteres y frisas, a los mosquiteros que nos resguardaban durante la noche al dormir. La residencia de la matriarca era, y para algunos sigue siendo, el lugar de encuentro familiar; sitio sagrado de los Santiago Ortiz. Donde nuestro corazón late y encuentra paz entre los platanales, el canto de los gallos, el agrio de las naranjas con las que hacíamos maldades para inaugurar a los recién llegados a la familia.

Un riachuelo, ahora seco a causa de las construcciones de urbanizaciones aledañas, recorría el largo en el área este de la finca. Uno que varias veces engolfo nuestros juveniles cuerpo al caer en él por nuestros infructuosos intentos juguetones de cruzar a la otra orilla. Jaulas de conejos estaban cerca de él, les alimentábamos con el permiso de tío Coco, y quienes veían su fin en un guisado hecho por las mujeres de la casa. Pepinos colgaban de los árboles de panapén, y pobre de aquel que les tocara, su traspasar lo sentían en la punta del cinturón de cuero de mamá.

Las vivencias que viví en los campos de Aibonito, donde la miramelinda reina y embellece con su color el verde de las jaldas, son en mí enseñanzas de amor, de un estilo de vida diferente al que vivo en la loza. Ah! De la loza salgo para regresar al barro donde mi corazón pertenece y donde mi linaje nació. Al ver a mis hijos jugar y recorrer en la residencia de la matriarca me enorgullezco, pues aunque sea un poco de mi niñez le doy.

La última vez que visité Aibonito, tomé de la mano a mi hija y con ella me fui a recorrer los caminos que a su edad me veían pasar. Mucho había cambiado, hasta el arbusto de granadas de tío Chucho había desaparecido. Los cambios en esos momentos no eran importantes más sí las anécdotas que le pude contar a mi hija y ver en sus ojos la misma ilusión que yo sentía. Sonreí alegre al reconocer en esa ilusión que mi hija sentía en su alma la paz que amo de aquel lugar. Más mi alma se estremeció al llegar de regreso a la finca y ver a mi hijo jugar encantado con su primo en la misma jalda que yo lo hacía con mi hermano y mis primos.

La pomarrosa tiene forma de corazón y allí entre los llanos amparados por las montañas de la cordillera central, está el mío. Donde comenzó mi linaje, a donde el anhelo familiar regresa.



The denied goodbyes

Josué

ON the eve of a special person’s birthday, I remember what has been denied by the Lords of Time. This is something I don’t experience alone, for many have pass through it too. A final goodbye is considered as a way of healing and a chance to move forward without regrets. In this lifetime of mine, that only covers three decades and three years; I have been denied of some important and needed goodbyes. And the question always lingers near, what if?

In August 22, 2005, I had the chance of being part of a creative writing online retreat on a marvelous place called Soul Food Café, and made a journey to the Island of Ancestors. In this exercise I got a chance to say goodbye, more of a farewell, to someone I love dearly. This piece is for those that I love and have been denied my last goodbye. My grandfather, for whom this piece was first created; my loving grandmother, I know you waited for him those three months you laid on that bed, that sacrifice will never be forgotten; my dear brother, who last time we saw each other we laughed, who I see through the round dark brown eyes of my son, to you I would love to say happy birthday. Even though they him and abuelita have been gone for almost four years, I never will forget their love.

 

Enjoy this story, warning, grab a tissue. Read you soon, my friend, and don’t forget: Always say I love you to someone special. Love you!

 

Journey to the Island of Ancestors

The meditation room in the hermitage gave me enough time to get in tune with myself and my soul. It truly was a peaceful experience and at this point I’m waiting for more. I think of myself as a complete unit- mind, spirit, body and soul –and that all of them are getting to a state, were each can live in peace with one another. Especially my mind, it is always in the clouds and not where it belongs, but still I love when it takes me to places I never been or want to be.

There was in front of my room door a piece of paper lying in the floor. I pick it up and opened it. The journey was going to take me now to another place, this time an island; but for what it’s called it seems this is not a regular island. You see it is called The Island of Ancestors. A chill ran down my spine for no reason I can explain. I figure it this will be an experience I will never forget. If it was an island of ancestors, maybe I might find great philosophers of old, like Aristotle or maybe Pluto. Who knows!

I went to the stables to see Güarionex whom was waiting for me and was ready, Rob, the Horse Whisperer, was holding him. When Güarionex saw me, he got much exited moving his head up and down. I smiled and went to him immediately giving him a kiss on his forehead. He made a sound with his nose that tickled my neck. The Horse Whisperer climbed his horse and I climbed Güarionex. We set out as we did the first time we met going as fast as the wind, like we were on a race against it. It was really lots of fun.

As we slowed down Rob told me a thing or two about the island. He explained that weird things happen to those who visited it. Some come out full of joy, others are traumatized by the experience. None are allowed to tell what happened there to them, for that will decrease the curiosity in people and travelers alike who want to visit the island. But it seems it is a most popular place for the waiting list is long. Only especial invitations are granted like the one I had. He instructed me not to pass this opportunity.

“Have you been there?” I asked him curious for he spoke of it as he knew it very well.

“Yes,” he answered looking ahead watching the Island from afar.

“How long was it that you visited it?”

“Many years ago,” his voice sounded sad and his expression changed completely. I wanted to asked, but remember what he had told me of not speaking of the experience gain on that island. I wonder if he was one of those who where traumatized by it. It seems that was not the case, for if it was like that he would not have accompanied me here and would have stayed in the hermitage.

As we approach the coast a ferry was visible from the top of the hill we were standing. A beautiful island was visible in the distance. It was all covered with nature and looked as an emerald was drop in the middle of the river. I breathed deeply for I was a little nervous for I didn’t know what to expect.

We went down the hill and got closer to the port. A woman was waiving her hand to us and we approached her. She was very happy and a little weird I might add. Well this woman was not a woman and you could see that after getting closer to her. Her skin was covered with scales, green ones and she had no ears. Her hands and feet were a strange mix of fingers and fins. Her arms were like those of a human being, but she had no nose and her mouth was of a round shape like those of a fish. When we got down of our horses and stood in front of her I smiled slightly. Rude of me, of course, but I was perplexed with what I saw. To think I should expect to encounter everything in this journey.

Suddenly, the fish-woman opened her arms wide and went to Rob who was doing the same thing. They both grab their hands up high and hit their foreheads. Then they laughed hard.

“It is good to see you again, Rob,” the fish-woman said, but it sounded more as if she was underwater than in land.

“It is good to be here, Trucha. I’m here to take her to the Island of Ancestors.”

Trucha turned to me and did the same as before. Probably that was the way she greeted people so I did the same. The hit in the forehead was not that hard and it was a cool way of salutation, for you feel like you are under water for an instant. Then just like that you feel you are back on land.

“I have been expecting you, my dear. You may leave the horses here, they will be taken to a place where they can relax and stretch their legs. Come on board for everything is ready for you, but we have to wait until nightfall. It’s the best way to navigate for the guardian of the Island is sleeping. He gets a little cranky during the day for the spirits are sleeping and he doesn’t want anybody disturbing them,” Trucha said much exited.

We got on board the ferry and ate on the deck that had been prepared with a dining area. We chat, drank and laughed for hours until the stars appeared. That’s when Trucha got up and said to me, “It is time. You may wait here while I navigate.”

Trucha stood up from the table, then she went up some metal stairs and got into the cabin on the second floor of the ferry were the control room was. I stood up and walked towards the rail as I admired the elegant night covering us completely. The stars looked like tiny diamonds sparkling elegantly. The breeze was soothing but it carried a strange smell that was sweet. Maybe it came from the island, were flowers bloom at night and perfumed everything around them like a special gift for those who dare to go to the island.

The journey on water took approximately fifteen minutes and the island was very visible indeed. A port could be seen getting nearer as we got closer. It was lighted by torches that made visible the beginning of it for the ferry fish-woman to see her way to it. When we got to the port Trucha came to me, as I was very nervous for the time had come for me to live and start my journey into the depths of the Island of Ancestors, and said, “We will wait for you here until you come back, we cannot go any further. Follow the torches until you find an apple groove. There is a path that goes inside the groove, take it. Keep walking forward; do not take any other paths, only the one that goes between the apples trees. If you do take another path you will be lost. When you reach the end of the groove you will find a mound and there a door, you must go through it. The rest is up to you.”

“What will happen if I take another path?”

“The ancestors will claim you. I do not need to say more.”

“Very well, off I go.”

I got down from the ferry and walked to the path as instructed, always looking at the trail beneath my feet. I didn’t want to get lost and be claimed by the Ancestors of the Island. Passing the apple groove I took one apple to eat it as I walked. At the end of it I saw the mound and in it the door. Two large torches lighted the way, I made my way through.

The passage was narrow and dim, it went downward. At the end of it I saw a light like that of a fire. I hurried my pace so I could find out what was in that room at the end of the corridor. Once there, in front of a great fire, sitting on an armchair there was a person covered with a black hood. Slowly I got near the figure, once in front of it I sat down on a marble bench. I waited for him or her to say a word, but nothing happen. Nervousness ran my whole body as I stared at the person in dismay not knowing what to do. My head was trying to understand the situation, but it was too complicated for it had never been in this kind of situation before.

Then, the person’s hands removed the hood and there I was looking at his face. My jaw dropped as I was astonished and out of breath. For in front of me was a man that still is the love of my life. The person that even thou passed away many years ago, still had a special place in my heart. Tear drops came from my eyes as they could not believe what they were seeing.

It was inevitable, an explosion of sentiments took over me completely. He approached me and hugged me tight as he used to do when I was a little girl. His smell was already gone from my memory and I could not remember it as I smelled him when he got closer. I cried more and more trying to hold on and didn’t want to let go of his grip. I was not letting go ever again.

When he died the only person he wanted to see was me, but the doctors at the hospital did not grant his last wish for I was a little girl and wasn’t allowed to go to the rooms. I knew he was gone for his sister, my great-aunt, came down crying inconsolable. But it did not hit me until my mother explained to me what happened. Then and there I knew the Lords of Time had denied me of a moment that was mine, of a wish that might have changed my life and my healing process. Now that I was there holding him tight no one was going to deny me of that moment.

“I have missed you so much!” I sob.

“I know.” He said.

“Grandpa, I wish so much you could still be alive. Sometimes I think life would have turned so different for me if you just been there. I know I would have been someone else with you by my side.”

“But think of all the things you would have lost if our story was written differently. Think of my great-granddaughter. She reminds me of you so much and it made me so proud that you thought of me when naming her.”

I laughed full of joy and looked at his blue eyes. They were as I used to remember.

“Well,” he said, “you are here to ask me a question. What would that question be?”

“I just want to talk a little longer. I don’t what to ask questions right know. Can we just talk, please?”

“You see, mi reina, we will have time for that in another life. When God sends for you I will be waiting at the entrance to greet you and forever be together. Know we have but little time to spend and I want to answer whatever question you have for me.”

“Then I shall stay here with you. So we could have an eternity know and not later!” I exclaimed crying.

My grandfather dried my tears and his hand felt soft. Looking at me straight in the eyes he said, “I can’t let you do that. There is too much at stake. Besides you are needed back there, Versaly needs her mother and our family too. Think of your grandmother that loves you as much as I do. Your mother, your husband and of your brother that even thou he sometimes looks as there is no hope for him there still is. But you must be there and as always be strong for them.”

He kissed my forehead gently and I finally stopped crying understanding that my time with him was limited. I grab his hands tight and smiled once again not knowing what to ask.

“I have always asked myself if you were proud of me. Of what I have become and what I wanted in life. You have always been in my thoughts when I think of my life. What would you say or do or advice?”

“There is no doubt that I have always been proud of everything you have accomplished in life and of what you want of it. I know sometimes you feel alone and without guidance, but I’m always there for you. Look for me inside your heart and feel the warmth of my arms hugging you whenever you feel alone and lost.”

We both smiled and I kissed his hand. The fire dimmed a little and my grandfather looked at it and said, “Time is running out. Know I have a question for you.”

“What is it?” I ask curiously.

“Will you promise me to take care of yourself and our family?”

“Always.”

“Then, please heal your heart of my loss. Do not cry for me with sadness, but with joy for I am in a better place know. A place you will be when your time comes. So no sad faces only happy ones, ok.”

“I promise.” As I said that, we hugged for a few minutes and I felt in peace with myself as I accomplished one of my most desired dreams. To see him one more time before living my life to the place he is now.

“I have a gift for you grandpa. It’s a lock of Versaly’s hair from when she was a baby, I always carry it with me to feel her closer. I want you to have it so you could have a little of her until you can finally meet her.”

“Thank you. I see her every day you know, even thou is from afar I’m always watching over her and praying for her. Here’s something for you too. I think someone lost this and couldn’t find it.”

He opened his hand and inside it was a small image cover in plastic of the Sacred Heart he used to wear every day. It was lost when my brother and I argued about who should have it. My heart rejoiced when I saw it for I thought it was lost forever. He had taken it to guard it and to give it back when the time was right.

“This means so much to me. I’m just sad I have to go.”

“Me too, but we’ll see each other again and spend eternity together.”

“We’ll do that; I will hold you to it.”

We hugged me again and he gave me his blessing. My heart, my soul and my spirit felt like crying again, but I hold it back. I had gained what once was denied to me, a final goodbye and a farewell. That moment right there could never be replaced.

So I got up and walked away only looking back once to see him smiling and throwing a kiss to me saying, “This is for your grandma, but don’t tell her is from me. Just give it to her.”

“I will. Love you.”

“Love you too.”

I walked away feeling the tears come down my cheeks. I kept walking toward the port just looking at the relic my grandpa had given me. When I looked up I saw Rob, the Horse Whisperer, waiting for me at the port smiling happy to see me. I stopped to look back to the trail that had given me such an immense gift hoping to see a final glimpse of him. But he wasn’t there. Smiling joyfully and content I turned back to Rob and climbed aboard the ferry.



The end marks the beginning… / El final marca el comienzo…

celebrating_2011_new_year-wide

Versión en español abajo

…a common knowledge amongst humans. The fall of a kingdom was the rise of another; a dead king is replaced by other; at the last second when a year dies, the first of another passes like the blink of an eye without us even noticing it. On those first seconds of a so call new year that is dominated by the forces of time, we probably will embrace another being or be kissed. We’ll laugh, drink, sing or maybe cry for the memories of old have made their presence in the present. The phone lines will be filled to the fullest like the glasses of champagne. Thanks will be given for another year of life, also love and yearnings for those who lay the path for us and are not there anymore to share that moment.

It’s those seconds that mark the beginning of resolutions that must be achieve in the fast dying second by second of the newly arrived year. And as the night passes on, when our eyesight welcomes the first rays of light of a ‘new’ beginning, we daydream over a cup of coffee of what is up ahead intertwined with our day to day routine life. What was not accomplished in the last one and must be a priority in this one.

A new beginning must be mark by new things that are based on reality and dreams, filled with a new spirit of our selves. Breath for a new chance has been marked by the end. Smile for no matter what the dying seconds bring with their last breath, there is always a new one welcoming you with hope. Look for that one, and even thou it will die what it leave behind never die and is the beginning of much, much more empowering things, beings in your life and in your spirit.

Happy New Year, my beloved friend!



…conocimiento común entre los humanos. A la caída de un reino otro ascendía; un rey muerto era remplazado por otro; y en el último momento  en que un año muere, el primero de otro pasa tan rápido como un cerrar y abrir de los ojos sin que lo notemos. En esos primeros segundos de un llamado año nuevo que es dominado por las fuerzas del tiempo, probablemente abrazaremos a otro ser o seremos besados. Nos reiremos, tomaremos, cantaremos y quizás lloraremos por las memorias del pasado han hecho presentes en el presente. Las líneas telefónicas estarán llenas como las copas de champaña. Agradecimientos serán dados por un año más de vida, también el amor y los anhelos por aquellos que hicieron el camino para nosotros y no están más para compartir el momento.

Son esos segundos que marcan el comienzo de las resoluciones que deben ser alcanzadas en el año nuevo que muere rápidamente segundo a segundo. Y mientras la noche pasa, cuando nuestra vista le da la bienvenida a los primeros rayos de luz de un ‘nuevo’ comienzo, soñamos mientras tomamos una taza de café lo que nos espera más adelante enredado entre los días de nuestra vida rutinaria. Lo que no alcanzamos a realizar en el pasado año y que deben ser una prioridad en este.

Un nuevo comienzo debe estar marcado por nuevas cosas que estén basadas en la realidad y en los sueños (metas), lleno de un nuevo espíritu de nosotros mismos. Respira pues una nueva oportunidad ha sido marcada por el final. Sonríe porque no importa lo que los segundos que mueren traen con su último respirar, siempre hay uno que te da la bienvenida acompañada de la esperanza.  Busca a ese, y aunque muera lo que deja atrás nunca muere y es el comienzo de muchas, muchas cosas que te fortalecen, así como en tu espíritu y los seres en tu vida.

¡Feliz Año Nuevo, mi amado amigo! 



Sang Christmas Words

Christmas musical notes

Lost in the season I will be, inmersed in the loving blessing of my family. Hughed by love and lighted by lovable smiles and cheerful laughter.

Thankful for a celebration that is welcome with incense and sounds of bells and prayers.

The floors of my family room will be decorated by torn wrapping paper and empty boxes, half empty cups of coquito lay on top of the dinning table and the blue frost lights of the Christmas tree will light our joy.

An image of what might be I leave you with, not before saying Merry Christmas to Thee, and songs of ‘Parrandas‘ from me to you. So click on these links for Chritmas Words sang for this season of joy.

Enjoy and have a Merry jolly and blessed Christmas! God bless you!

“A frozen tear”

A_frozen_tear_by_ShinyDragonfly

 

 

I just enjoyed reading this poem by William Thomas, it is deep and touches the core of the soul. Enjoy and hope you think in this season of love of those who spend it in solitude.

A Frozen Tear


By William Thomas©

Winter in Kodiak, a time of little light.
The snow brightens the ground and the stars light up the night.
A cluster of Spruce sag deep, a drift in front of my car.
My heart weighs heavy. Thoughts of relatives afar.
A blustery wind blows, north then south.
A cold winter thirst, warm java for my mouth.
A homeless man sleeps, all bundled in clothes.
His heart deep with thoughts of past Christmas woes.
A handshake, a smile, a sip of my coffee.
A friend in waiting, I became to he.
Some food from the shelter, a warm place to rest.
His life for the moment, felt happy and blessed.
He told me the stories of days long ago.
My full attention, he required, to him I happily bestowed.
A veteran of the war, a father of four.
A long distance call seemed to matter no more.
The blanket of stars and the snow under his feet,
only brought back memories of a scar so deep.
A story from my life, I understood his loss.
To spend Christmas without family, there’s no greater cost.
One more handshake. A “man-hug” goodbye.
His face looked of worry, wondered if I would be back tonight.
A job in Kodiak sometimes is so rare.
But I am happy to tell you, where I work is here.
A smile, a thought, the lending of an ear.
A thousand times more helpful than a frozen tear.

Stories, one of fun and the other of love

merry_christmas-1

Short Funny Christmas Story 

Just before Christmas, an honest politician, a generous lawyer and Santa Claus got into the lift (elevator) at the Ritz Hotel in London. As the lift travelled from the 5th floor down to the ground level, one-by-one they noticed a £50 note lying on the lift’s floor.

Which one picked up the £50 note, and handed it in at reception?

Santa of course, the other two don’t actually exist!


Christmas is for love

Author unknown

Christmas is for love. It is for joy, for giving and sharing, for laughter, for reuniting with family and friends, for tinsel and brightly decorated packages. But mostly, Christmas is for love. I had not believed this until a small elf-like student with wide-eyed innocent eyes and soft rosy cheeks gave me a wondrous gift one Christmas.

Mark was an 11 year old orphan who lived with his aunt, a bitter middle aged woman greatly annoyed with the burden of caring for her dead sister’s son. She never failed to remind young Mark, if it hadn’t been for her generosity, he would be a vagrant, homeless waif. Still, with all the scolding and chilliness at home, he was a sweet and gentle child.

I had not noticed Mark particularly until he began staying after class each day (at the risk of arousing his aunt’s anger, I later found) to help me straighten up the room. We did this quietly and comfortably, not speaking much, but enjoying the solitude of that hour of the day. When we did talk, Mark spoke mostly of his mother. Though he was quite small when she died, he remembered a kind, gentle, loving woman, who always spent much time with him.

As Christmas drew near however, Mark failed to stay after school each day. I looked forward to his coming, and when the days passed and he continued to scamper hurriedly from the room after class, I stopped him one afternoon and asked why he no longer helped me in the room. I told him how I had missed him, and his large gray eyes lit up eagerly as he replied, “Did you really miss me?”

I explained how he had been my best helper. “I was making you a surprise,” he whispered confidentially. “It’s for Christmas.” With that, he became embarrassed and dashed from the room. He didn’t stay after school any more after that.

Finally came the last school day before Christmas. Mark crept slowly into the room late that afternoon with his hands concealing something behind his back. “I have your present,” he said timidly when I looked up. “I hope you like it.” He held out his hands, and there lying in his small palms was a tiny wooden box.

“Its beautiful, Mark. Is there something in it?” I asked opening the top to look inside. ”

“Oh you can’t see what’s in it,” He replied, “and you can’t touch it, or taste it or feel it, but mother always said it makes you feel good all the time, warm on cold nights, and safe when you’re all alone.”

I gazed into the empty box. “What is it Mark,” I asked gently, “that will make me feel so good?” “It’s love,” he whispered softly, “and mother always said it’s best when you give it away.” And he turned and quietly left the room.

So now I keep a small box crudely made of scraps of wood on the piano in my living room and only smile as inquiring friends raise quizzical eyebrows when I explain to them that there is love in it.

Yes, Christmas is for gaiety, mirth and song, for good and wondrous gifts. But mostly, Christmas is for love.

The “W” in Christmas                                                      
                                                                           
Last December, I vowed to make Christmas a calm and peaceful experience.   I had cut back on nonessential obligations – extensive card writing, endless baking, decorating, and even overspending. Yet still, I found myself exhausted, unable to appreciate the precious family moments, and of course, the true meaning of Christmas.       
     
My son, Nicholas, was in kindergarten that year. It was an exciting season for a six year old. For weeks, he’d been memorizing songs for his school’s “Winter Pageant.”  I didn’t have the heart to tell him I’d be working the night of the production. Unwilling to miss his shining moment, I spoke with his teacher.  She assured me there’d be a dress rehearsal the morning of the presentation.  All parents unable to attend that evening were welcome to come then.  Fortunately, Nicholas seemed happy with the compromise. 
                 
So, the morning of the dress rehearsal, I filed in ten minutes early,  found a spot on the cafeteria floor and sat down. Around the room, I saw  several other parents quietly scampering to their seats. As I waited, students were led into the room. Each class, accompanied by their teacher, sat cross-legged on the floor. Then, each group, one by one, rose to perform their song. Because the public school system had long stopped referring to the holiday as “Christmas,” I didn’t expect anything other than fun, commercial    entertainment – songs of reindeer, Santa Claus, snowflakes and good cheer.

So, when my son’s class rose to sing, “Christmas Love,” I was slightly taken aback by its bold title. Nicholas was aglow, as were all of his classmates, adorned in fuzzy mittens, red sweaters, and bright snowcaps upon their heads.  Those in the front row- center stage – held up large letters, one by one, to spell out the title of the song. As the class would sing “C is for Christmas,” a child would hold up the  letter C. Then, “H is for Happy,” and on and on, until each child holding up his portion had presented the complete message, “Christmas Love.” 

The performance was going smoothly, until suddenly, we noticed her; a small, quiet, girl in the front row holding the letter “M” upside down –  totally unaware her letter “M” appeared as a “W”.  The audience of 1st through 6th graders snickered at this little one’s mistake. But she had no idea they were laughing at her, so she stood tall, proudly holding her “W”.  Although many teachers tried to shush the children, the laughter continued until the last letter was raised, and we all saw it together.  A hush came over the audience and eyes began to widen. In that instant, we understood the reason we were there, why we celebrated the holiday in the first place, why even in the chaos, there was a purpose for our  festivities. For when the last letter was held high, the message read loud and clear: 

C H R I S T   W A S   L O V E”  
  
And, I believe, He still is.




“The wrapping paper”

Gold wrapping paper

This story I love for its inspiration and love. Enjoy!

THE GOLD WRAPPING PAPER – An Inspiring Christmas Story

Once upon a time, a man punished his five-year-old daughter for using up the family’s only roll of expensive gold wrapping paper before Christmas.

Money was tight, so he became even more upset when on Christmas Eve, he saw that the child had used the expensive gold paper to decorate a large shoebox she had put under the Christmas tree.

Nevertheless, the next morning the little girl, filled with excitement, brought the gift box to her father and said, “This is for you, Daddy!”

As he opened the box, the father was embarrassed by his earlier overreaction, now regretting how he had punished her.

But when he opened the shoebox, he found it was empty and again his anger flared. “Don’t you know, young lady,” he said harshly, “when you give someone a present there’s supposed to be something inside the package!”

The little girl looked up at him with sad tears rolling from her eyes and whispered: “Daddy, it’s not empty. I blew kisses into it until it was all full.”

The father was crushed. He fell on his knees and put his arms around his precious little girl. He begged her to forgive him for his unnecessary anger.

An accident took the life of the child only a short time later. It is told that the father kept this little gold box by his bed for all the years of his life. Whenever he was discouraged or faced difficult problems, he would open the box, take out an imaginary kiss, and remember the love of this beautiful child who had put it there.

In a very real sense, each of us as human beings have been given an invisible golden box filled with unconditional love and kisses from our children, family, friends and God.

There is no more precious possession anyone could hold