A Trembling Reminder

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A couple nights ago, the East Bay was rocked by a nice size earthquake. Long enough to fear that it could be “the big one”. Strong enough to remind me of the many earthquakes I’ve been through.

I was born in San Francisco back in the late ’50’s. You’d think I would’ve become accustomed to this Bay Area phenomenon. Nah…I still don’t like ’em. I still have memories of the many I’ve experienced.

Fifty years ago this month in Santa Rosa, a pair of earthquakes seered into my childhood memory, into my being. And to this day…yes, even now…I often get chills around 10:00 PM…remembering that night. Thirty years ago, today, I remember the Loma Prieta quake, but it didn’t have the same effect on me as the quakes of 1969. Across the decades, I have a spattering of memories from the little quakes that have peppered the area.

In 1969, I was a ten year old tomboy sleeping in my top bunk bed. I was transitioning from consciousness to that wonderful place of slumber when the house violently shook like some giant grabbed it and shook it like an Etch-A-Sketch, and then put it right down. I remember being terrified, I remember my father running down the hallway, I remember hearing swearing, no doubt when my dad stepped on a tack from the fallen bulletin board. The only physical injury sustained in the Moore home.

“What was that?” I screamed. “An Earthquake!” someone replied. That earthquake and the two that followed were the most fearful things I’d ever experienced. Afterwards, most of the neighbors gathered in the middle of the street…very unlike our 4th of July celebrations when we would close off the entire street and celebrate. We all stood around in our nightgowns and pajamas…parents wondering what to do next.

By the time we had settled back into bed, around 11:15…bam came the second quake. That’s it, I’m sleeping with my parents. I don’t know when I feel asleep…but eventually did. I woke up when my dad did sometime after 5, just in time for a powerful aftershock. I’ll never forget that day…the absolute fear and helplessness of being confronted with a natural event so powerful.

Loma Prieta….luckily for me, I had just hopped into my nice little Honda to drive to the Mission District. Turned the key just at 5:04 PM….why was everyone running into the street? My little boy sat near my friend’s front yard palm tree with his sister while my sister, friend and their kids rushed to the street. Then I felt the tail end of the biggest quake to hit the Bay Area since ’06.

“Oh…it’s ok, it’s just a little earthquake.”  as I got out of the car. I assured everyone in my smart alecky way. The looks I got spoke otherwise.

“Oh no it wasn’t, that was a big one!” Bonnie said just as her husband rushed out of their house still covered in soap. “I saw the street rippling.”

It wasn’t until I got home did I realize the magnitude of this earthquake. The broken water pipe was a little inconvenience for my family, the furniture could be picked up and broken things could be replaced. When the images of the damage started to flood the news stations, it is remarkable that more folks were not killed.

My husband and my father were both stuck in Oakland, not arriving home until after 11 having to travel through Marin to get home. I spent that night, sleepless of course, with Dennis and Elaine…praying with them as recovery efforts continued for days at the Cypress Structure. Forty-two lives were lost when the Cypress arm of 880 collapsed. It Was Apocalyptic.

Over the years, there have been many small quakes. Little fake ones in Daly City which were really sonic booms in March 1971, the day we moved into our new home. A few more there over the years. None in the Pacifica house since it was built on rock…how many piers did Papa say were driven into the rock, Katie? My mom, in 1989, thought a large truck had driven by. A few scary ones when we lived in Berkeley, thought I was safe when we moved to San Pablo only to find out we were sitting on the Hayward Fault…site of the next big one. Great!

As my phobia of earthquakes ebbed and flowed over the years, I realized I’ve always lived on a faultline. I’ve always been in danger of these unpredictable seismic events, these trembling reminders of the kind of geography we inhabit. These trembling reminders that our lives can change in a matter of seconds. These trembling reminders that our lives are short and the future is uncertain.

So teach us to number our days,
That we may present to You a heart of wisdom.

Psalm 90:12

 

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Frolicking in the Autumn Mist

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Every year it seems, I write a blog about autumn. Last year I wrote The Warmth of the Sun, the year before, The Intimations of Autumn, and others that include Autumn Days are the Best, Autumn and Joe Montana and Delicious Autumn! My Soul is Wedded to it. There may be others as well. Evidently, I love autumn. What is it about this season that produces such nostalgia, such longing, such remembrance of things past?

Monday I was in a kinda funk. So to feel better, I played around on my phone, checking out social media. I posted some of my favorite pictures, and updated one of the aforementioned autumn themed blogs. Still feeling a little out-of-sorts, maybe I was looking for “my own spot to stand,” to quasi-quote Jim Weatherley lyrics. I stumbled on some very cool Autumn themed Facebook pages, joined a few and was greeted by other fall-a-philes.

Finding these pages reminded me of my love for this season and some of my favorite memories. As I frolicked, like Puff, in this kind of autumn mist of misty-colored memories of the far past, my out-of-sorts sorted itself out. When I reconnected with things I loved and others that loved them too, I got re-grounded. There’s more than just memories here.

I consider myself in the autumn time of my life, being past 50. And as I age, I appreciate this season more and more. I know my autumns are numbered, as all of ours are, and I’m determined to extract all the joy and pleasure I can from its colors, its celebrations, its sensations, its weather and its memories. True pleasures are few and far between.

However, C.S. Lewis said something interesting in The Weight of Glory, when speaking of a universal sense of elusive longing, a longing which appears to be related to nostalgia, but not necessarily so:

We cannot tell it because it is a desire for something that has never actually appeared in our experience. We cannot hide it because our experience is constantly suggesting it, and we betray ourselves like lovers at the mention of a name. Our commonest expedient is to call it beauty and behave as if that had settled the matter.

Wordsworth’s expedient was to identify it with certain moments in his own past. But all this is a cheat. If Wordsworth had gone back to those moments in the past, he would not have found the thing itself, but only the reminder of it; what he remembered would turn out to be itself a remembering. The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing.

These things – the beauty, the memory of our own past – are good images of what we really desire….For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.

I believe this is what autumn does to me…those good memories I have are really like beautiful phantoms. If I went back to those days, granted many joyful moments remain, but the beauty that Mr. Lewis speaks of, the longing, the saudades is elusive; it is a reminder and longing for something else. It’s the thing I long for when I look for a home.  Mr. Lewis continues:

We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is a bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words – to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become a part of it…

For if we take the imagery of Scripture seriously, if we believe that God will one day give us the Morning Star and cause us to put on the splendor of the sun, then we may surmise that both the ancient myths and the modern poetry, so false as history, may be very near the truth as prophecy.

At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the splendors we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumor that it will not always be so. Someday, God willing, we shall get in.

In the meantime, and during my remaining autumns, I will frolick in the autumn mist of my happy childhood memories of Santa Rosa, my summers at the Russian River. I will remember school, mud football, Halloween, Thanksgivings and Christmases with my grandmother. The old memories. I will also remember, misty-eyed, the lean Christmases with my babies, listening to Evie’s Come On, Ring Those Bells while decorating the house and making homemade Christmas presents. Running around now with three grandchildren, I have NO IDEA how I managed to tend to ten kids. Grace abounding.

And as I remember, I understand swirling about those memories are gleanings of a far away country, a place where He is preparing for me an eternal abiding place. Something wonderful this way comes….

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.”

Revelation 21:1-5

Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

C.S. Lewis – The Weight of Glory

 

 

Something Wistful This Way Comes

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Man, it’s a hot one…like seven inches from the midday sun…” Yeah, that’s the Bay Area these past few days. If I was on the coast like I was before I moved, I would bemoaning the heat and anxiously awaiting our lovely natural air conditioner. But I’m not. I’m in Concord. No hope for fog out here. Hang in there, Donna!!

Concord…not where I expected to end up. I knew a move was coming late last year, and I had hoped to move up north where I’ve been trying to relocate for decades, probably deep down since 1971 when my family moved from Santa Rosa. In 1993, my own family and I tried to get situated up by Windsor near a small church we wanted to minister with. But no such luck…no such opportunity, no door opened. Again in 2006, after my divorce, I wanted to take the profits from my East Bay home and buy a place in Santa Rosa. I put an offer on a little home (with lots of rooms), counter-offered even and still none of my offers were accepted. I ended up back on the Peninsula….not where I wanted, but definitely where Providence led. Definitely, Donna!! (See other blog – Positively Providential)

Finally, last winter knowing that my SSF job was ending in the spring, and, coincidentally (providentially if you will), my apartment lease was up at the same time, I became proactive for the first time in my life. I took the reins. All the kids got on board to move up to Santa Rosa. I knew a firm that I was SURE to get a position, a position with comparable pay. I was looking forward to returning to the quaint town I lived in as a young girl, all my fond memories of holidays, seasons, schooling and community are rooted in Santa Rosa. I was pretty happy that I was finally planning and doing things the “right” way. I even had my finances in place for this move.  Go Donna!!

However….it did not happen like I planned. I don’t know now…with three strikes against this desired move…if I will ever get up there. Let me tell you what did happen. I didn’t get the job nor the others I applied to and interviewed for. No job, no move. Only one promising job prospect came my way, and that was in Pittsburg. Pittsburg, really!!? I didn’t want to go to the East East Bay…I wanted to return to a place that had the elements of home to me. I wanted to be near the river, where I would feel close to my dad. But after all the Santa Rosa efforts failed, I just told the Lord, I will go where you lead. Yay, Donna!!

Once I yielded, things fell into place quite quickly and perfectly. The new job was available the day after my limited term position at SSF ended. An apartment was secured with ease. Ellie finished her course work right before our move, so she didn’t have to commute to Baden, and Eloisa was able to get into an independent study program to complete her freshman year at home. And away we went! Bye, Donna!!

We’ve been here for almost two months. I thank the Lord for the cooler weather we had through May, and I am so thankful for the crisp, cool air conditioning at my new job. I feel the Lord has welcomed me over here. My first day at work, I went into the break room only to be greeted with a coffee aroma, an aroma just like the one at my first construction job 40 years ago, a job I worked at with my dad. I’m sure it was just a plain pot of Folger’s, but it smelled like that old brand, Farmer Brothers. One of those deja vu olfactory experiences. Very cool, Donna!!

God knows I love bluebirds, and in Pacifica, I took lots of pictures of our Scrub Jays. Right before I moved, someone posted a pic of a Western Bluebird. I didn’t know there were any bluebirds over in this part of the state. So I looked them up and found that some were nearby in Antioch. One lunch I took a jaunt up to the Black Diamond Mines Regional Park camera in hand, and I wasn’t even in the parking lot, when, lo and behold, there’s a male Western Bluebird perched on a fence post just waiting for me to take his picture. Welcome, Donna, bienvenidos!!

Finally, something wistful this way comes…so, this morning. I’ve been taking public transit to work since we’re in between cars, and this morning I took the local bus from Concord Bart all the way to work, two buses, lots of stops. The AC on the bus was freezing and looking out through the bus’s tinted windows to a slightly overcast sky, I was somehow transported from being in late Spring to feeling like I was in late Fall. It was weird. And, then, all of a sudden, all those lovely, wistful sensations of my most pleasant memories, many of which come from Santa Rosa, splashed over me. As I enjoyed and bemused this very pleasant experience, I thought, maybe, maybe God is bringing me home, bringing me to a place where those feelings and sensations reminiscent of late ’60’s Santa Rosa can be cultivated or experienced over here. Maybe my home is forward not backward, maybe….something wistful this way comes. Maybe, Donna!!

“The belonging you seek is not behind you – it is ahead.” 

Maz to Rey, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

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She Walks In Beauty – My Mother

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I looked over my blogs and noticed I hadn’t written a lot about my mom. My dad, yes; but my mom, not so much. As much as my dad was formidable, boisterous and gregarious, my mom was the opposite. She is quiet, hardworking and constant. And funny. But her humor is subtle and understated.

One of the funniest stories I remember I wrote in another blog: My sister and I were at my parents’ house one day. Standing at the kitchen counter, we were engaged in a serious and riveting conversation about what we all discuss in the kitchen: hemorrhoids. Who knows who was the afflicted, but our conversation covered causes, symptoms, side effects and various and sundry methods of treatment. My mother entered the kitchen while we discussed the burning, itching and pain. She listened for a bit. And, in a humph, she pronounced her expert therapeutic remedy: “Just put a little Vaseline on it; and, for Pete’s sake, stop licking it!” No, Mom, we’re not talking about cold sores. Although she didn’t intend that to be funny, it certainly was.

Living with my dad was no picnic. I remember the tumultuous times which she endured with dignity and strength…but there were times when he pushed her across the line. That’s when the plates and pots began to fly. I’m sure that quieted him down. I suspect she regretted those times, but she was human…she is human.

My dad liked to be the center of attention, and I think my mom was content to be in the shadow. As I remember all my dad gave me, all that I attributed to him to the creation of my personality, I realize the things that are the dearest and the most important to me are the qualities and characteristics I received from my mom.

Three biggies I got from my mom – faith, family and literature – continue to dominate my world. Her faith in her church is such a stronghold that it even kept me grounded, well as grounded as I could be (as a restless and reckless hare) until I found my own faith. Only God knows how much I owe to her prayers. My mom is so Catholic…not the devout zealot who prays and penances painfully, but the one who echoes and reflects the beauty and joy of the old denomination though aware of its shortcomings. A sensible saint.

My mom taught us “Ohana”. Family…like what little Lilo said, “Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten.” My mom taught me Ohana generosity. When a neighbor girl would come over hungry, I thought my mom may shoo her away, but she didn’t, she invited her in and fed her. That one act of kindness taught me to always keep my door open. Even when there were times when I didn’t have enough, I tried to exhibit her Ohana generosity.

Growing up there was one book – one book –  that I remember reading, my Mom’s literature book from her Honolulu Catholic high school. In this book, I discovered Shelley and others whose poetry became seeds, seeds which would bear fruit in my own writing and can be seen in my little library that I am creating. One of my favorite poems from that book, She Walks In Beauty, defines my mother:

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express,
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.
And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!
-Lord Byron

My beautiful mother’s raven tresses she cut after she got married. But her cheek and brow remain “so soft, so calm, yet eloquent” and her smiles still win and her tints still glow as she embarks into her ’90’s. Now she has some peace, and her love continues in innocence.

Thank you, Mom, for these priceless gifts. Gifts I hope to pass down to my children. Happy Mother’s Day.

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The Flower Fades

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Daffodils have been abloom in Pacifica this past month. I love this flower — it is so delightful, so innocent, so cheerful, yet, sadly, so short-lived. At the end of January, the green shoots are standing tall. I was excited to see them. I knew the flowers were coming. Seemingly, overnight, the blossoms bloomed. There they were, in their yellow glory. But, now, the stalks are leaning and the flowers are beginning to fade.

Isaiah writes, “All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades…” Daffodils as well as all flowers represent the brevity of life. I remember the lives that have faded from my life, and one life, especially, that was cut off before it was fully abloom.

As you know, my dad died four months ago. The hardest death I’ve experienced. Everyday, I think of him…and the ache…the sense of loss…the sadness overwhelms me. He was no daffodil, he was like, as my niece Katie described, the redwoods he loved. He lived a long life, his flower never faded, but the tree was struck down by the Great Inevitable; and the subsequent loss has shook our family like no other event. His presence will be missed, his voice, though many times formidable, is sought for…many changes are going on in my life right now, changes I’d normally ask his advice on. He was the one I turned to for stability, for wisdom, for continuity. The strong pier I latched my little barque to. And now it’s flooding, and the pier is gone. Thankfully my Heavenly Father provides an eternal mooring.

My uncle died six years ago. He lived a full and active life. His bloom lasted as long as one would expect. He was a teacher who was a perpetual student. His home was filled with thousands of books, a haven for a bookworm like me. His homes were the places where I fell in love with books, and for that I will always be thankful and blessed. He traveled, he entertained, and he only slowed down a month before his blossom faded.

My friend’s fiancé died six years ago as well. I didn’t know him very well, but I know my friend, and in many ways I knew him because of the reflection of his life in hers. He brought her so much joy and happiness and through her happiness, I could tell he was a great man, a beautiful flower — a flower that sadly faded too soon. A bloom that is painfully missed to this day.

Finally, this day seven years ago, my family and I (and many others I know) remember a flower that didn’t have the time to fully bloom or ever fade. He died at 22 just reaching the full, vibrant bloom of youth. He was a beloved son to his mother as well as other women, including me. He was a beloved brother to all my children, all ten of them. Many of them mentioned that Jesse was the only one that knew them. He was like that – he noticed you and he listened to you.

I was an overprotective homeschooling mom in the middle of a divorce when this kid came bounding down the stairs with my boys into my home. I smelled trouble. So I was apprehensive — but this kid’s irrepressible charm and contagious smile won me over. At a time in my life when I felt not only invisible, but defeated, dejected and definitely down in the dumps (I was progressing in my housekeeping, though), Jesse noticed me too, he even called me “sexy” when I felt and I am sure looked quite the opposite. I am still amazed at the capacity and depth of love that not only my children, but their friends felt for this young man. And to this day…we miss our Jesse, our “Jelly Donut”.

Leo Buscaglia wrote: “What love we’ve given, we’ll have forever. What love we fail to give, will be lost for all eternity.” We who loved Jesse, Robert, Uncle Bill and Dad will always have that. This life is so short….the blossoms bloom for a short time, then the flowers fade, let us heed the psalmist’s admonition: “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Wisdom that will cherish our brief stay here on earth, and those who are among us. 

The daffodils and the Scriptures agree.

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This Beautiful Country

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I love books! I mean, I really love books.  Many times I would rather read than eat, that’s how bad it is.  When I have extra money, I’d hit up the used book section at Florey’s or even splurge on a new book purchase.  One day a few years ago, I had some money, like maybe $30 (now that’s a lot for the used book section) and I stopped by Florey’s.  I found some nice used books and was very pleased.  But I was in for a pleasanter surprise. Coming out the bookstore, I saw the sign – 2 DAY LIBRARY BOOK SALE at the Pacifica Library.  Oh my gosh!! I still had an hour to kill before I had to pick up the kids and at least $15 bucks left.  And the sun was shining in Pacifica! Don’t you just loved those days when the stars align just for you!

With great anticipation, I scooted up the little hill to the library and even found a parking space. I spent the next 45 minutes hungrily searching the various sections and left with a bagful of goodies that only cost about $13.  Of course, I should have used the money for something more practical, like extra boxes of oatmeal or topping off the gas tank, LOL, I mean pulling the indicator out of the red.  But I am a hopeless book addict.  I have decided that if I marry again it will have to be to a man like the Beast in “Beauty and the Beast”.  I fell in love with him when he gave Belle his fantastic library.  Now that’s a man after my own heart!

My love for books was born in my grandmother’s Richmond District living room.  She had a wall full of books, the built-in bookshelves stretched from her lovely carpeted floor to the high ceiling; and for a young girl, it was larger than life and filled with so much potential.  Similarly at Uncle Bill’s Russian River cabin, he had dotted the entire cabin with small bookshelves so everywhere you went you were sure to find a silent companion.  I am not comfortable without books around me.  They are my constant companions, and they don’t talk back!

No movie, no second-hand account, no Cliff Notes can convey the clear impressions of a great literary creation.  Forever etched in my mind is Aeneas’ wrestling over whether or not to plunge the sword into Turnus’ breast in Virgil’s Aeneid.

“I know my death deserv’d, nor hope to live: (said Turnus)
Use what the gods and thy good fortune give.
Yet think, O think, if mercy may be shown-
Thou hadst a father once, and hast a son-
Pity my sire, now sinking to the grave;
And for Anchises’ sake old Daunus save!
Or, if thy vow’d revenge pursue my death,
Give to my friends my body void of breath!
The Latian chiefs have seen me beg my life;
Thine is the conquest, thine the royal wife:
Against a yielded man, ‘t is mean ignoble strife.”

In deep suspense the Trojan seem’d to stand,
And, just prepar’d to strike, repress’d his hand.
He roll’d his eyes, and ev’ry moment felt
His manly soul with more compassion melt;
When, casting down a casual glance, he spied
The golden belt that glitter’d on his side,
The fatal spoils which haughty Turnus tore
From dying Pallas, and in triumph wore.
Then, rous’d anew to wrath, he loudly cries
(Flames, while he spoke, came flashing from his eyes)
“Traitor, dost thou, dost thou to grace pretend,
Clad, as thou art, in trophies of my friend?
To his sad soul a grateful off’ring go!
‘T is Pallas, Pallas gives this deadly blow.”

Or when, in Robert Bolt’s A Man For All Seasons, Thomas More explains to his daughter, Margaret, why he cannot sign the Act of Succession, that by taking an oath he holds his very self in his hands.

When a man takes an oath, Meg, he’s holding his own self in his own hands. Like water. And if he opens his fingers then — he needn’t hope to find himself again.

And he adds later in the play these sublime words.

Listen, Meg, God made the angels to show Him splendor, as He made animals for innocence and plants for their simplicity. But Man He made to serve Him wittily, in the tangle of his mind. If He suffers us to come to such a case that there is no escaping, then we may stand to our tackle as best we can, and, yes, Meg, then we can clamor like champions, if we have the spittle for it. But it’s God’s part, not our own, to bring ourselves to such a pass. Our natural business lies in escaping. If I can take the oath, I will.

Or the divine act of kindness by hungry little Sara Crewe in Frances Hodgson Burnett’s A Little Princess, when after she found a coin in the gutter and bought half a dozen hot cross buns only to part with five of them to one hungrier than she.

“Bless us–no,” she answered. “Did you find it?”

“In the gutter,” said Sara.

“Keep it, then,” said the woman. “It may have been there a week, and goodness knows who lost it. You could never find out.”

“I know that,” said Sara, “but I thought I’d ask you.”

“Not many would,” said the woman, looking puzzled and interested and good-natured all at once. “Do you want to buy something?” she added, as she saw Sara glance toward the buns.

“Four buns, if you please,” said Sara; “those at a penny each.”

The woman went to the window and put some in a paper bag. Sara noticed that she put in six.

“I said four, if you please,” she explained. “I have only the fourpence.”

“I’ll throw in two for make-weight,” said the woman, with her good-natured look. “I dare say you can eat them some time. Aren’t you hungry?”

A mist rose before Sara’s eyes.

“Yes,” she answered. “I am very hungry, and I am much obliged to you for your kindness, and,” she was going to add, “there is a child outside who is hungrier than I am.” But just at that moment two or three customers came in at once and each one seemed in a hurry, so she could only thank the woman again and go out.

The child was still huddled up on the corner of the steps. She looked frightful in her wet and dirty rags. She was staring with a stupid look of suffering straight before her, and Sara saw her suddenly draw the back of her roughened, black hand across her eyes to rub away the tears which seemed to have surprised her by forcing their way from under her lids. She was muttering to herself.

Sara opened the paper bag and took out one of the hot buns, which had already warmed her cold hands a little.

“See,” she said, putting the bun on the ragged lap, “that is nice and hot. Eat it, and you will not be so hungry.”

The child started and stared up at her; then she snatched up the bun and began to cram it into her mouth with great wolfish bites.

“Oh, my! Oh, my!” Sara heard her say hoarsely, in wild delight.

“Oh, my!”

Sara took out three more buns and put them down.

“She is hungrier than I am,” she said to herself. “She’s starving.” But her hand trembled when she put down the fourth bun. “I’m not starving,” she said–and she put down the fifth.

The little starving London savage was still snatching and devouring when she turned away. She was too ravenous to give any thanks, even if she had been taught politeness–which she had not. She was only a poor little wild animal.

“Good-bye,” said Sara.

When she reached the other side of the street she looked back. The child had a bun in both hands, and had stopped in the middle of a bite to watch her. Sara gave her a little nod, and the child, after another stare,–a curious, longing stare,–jerked her shaggy head in response, and until Sara was out of sight she did not take another bite or even finish the one she had begun.

I came across the lyrics of this old hymn from Lilias Trotter’s Parables of the Christ Life. Written by Gerhard Tersteegen in the 18th Century, these words seep down into my soul like a sweet rain on thirsting ground:

Gently loosens He thy hold
Of the treasured former things—
Loves and joys that were of old,
Shapes to which the spirit clings—
And alone, alone He stands,
Stretching forth beseeching hands.

And finally, the serene, sublime words – “he restores my soul” – of the shepherd-king from his most famous psalm. Words that have found a resting place in billions of hearts over the centuries. Words that have guided many souls from this life to the next. One of David’s greatest legacies, one of God’s greatest gifts to man.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Such treasure, such beauty….however, I am but a poor dilettante traveling the rich borderlands of a vast continent of literary landscape.  I have only scratched the surface. There are places I have yet to travel; happily, I have the rest of my life to go and enjoy this beautiful country.

Misty Water-Colored Memories

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Today is Super Bowl Sunday. A big day in the Moore household growing up. From late August to January, football dominated the television on the weekends. College ball on Saturdays, pro ball on Sundays. I was more familiar with the likes of Vince Lombardi, Bart Starr and Johnny Unitas than I was with any female athlete…until, of course, Olga Korbut in 1972. In order to get any attention from my father, I had to be athletic. I could play baseball, football, basketball and swim by the tender age of 12. I had two older brothers to compete against, so I had to try.

As the months have passed since my father’s death, I find many memories falling by the wayside. The acrimony, the fighting, the disagreements and the emotional misunderstandings, for now, have minimized. The memories of playing catch, watching football, talking about construction and the various moments when my father stood tall stand out. I didn’t realize that I’ve been missing this person for quite some time, even before his death. My dad, who I could call when times were tough, would listen and be supportive. Even when my ex was arrested, my father, who ordinarily wouldn’t miss an opportunity to hurl a criticism, was supportive of me, and even said, “I’m not gonna kick someone when they’re down.”

But Super Bowl….always a day I talked to my dad. If I wasn’t with him on Super Bowl Sunday, I called him many times. Football was one of the avenues we could walk side by side. We would scream and yell at the TV, my mom too…not screaming at her, but she was screaming too. It was fun watching the games with him. I miss my dad today more than I did on his birthday last week. It’s hard to watch football without hearing his voice…albeit swearing most likely. This game ran through his veins.

Today I had to venture into the City to drop off a kid at the bus. I passed out all my cameras to the others in the car and ordered them to take some good city shots. I don’t often get into town, so when I do, I like to be camera-ready. We passed by Third & Mission. Ellie mentioned that Eva worked right there near Moscone Center. I responded that I worked at that high-rise hotel next to the church, and your grandfather and his father worked right on this corner as well. History lesson.

To wander through the City on Super Bowl Sunday only exacerbated my father’s absence. We drove all the way on Geary from Downtown to the Beach. We hoped to grab burritos at Gordo’s, but parking is cursed on Sundays around noon. Took a slight bypass on Clement so I could swing by my grandmother’s place on 36th Avenue. Misty water-colored memories of enchanted Christmases long ago.

Great Highway was closed, so I chose to jump up to Sunset and drive to Sloat from there. Passed S.I. and all the memories of going to high school games with my dad…at Kezar. Even though I should have been embarrassed to go to those games with my dad, I don’t remember being that put out. I was just glad to go.

Today I am explaining some of the game to my youngest. She doesn’t remember football being a part of her life at all, she said she should watch football more often. That’s a good idea. But today is the last day of the season….we’ll have to catch up with the boys of autumn later this year.

boys of autumn