As we unwrap our gifts, may we find.....
Love in our hearts
Peace in our families
Tolerance in out communities
Compassion in our world
|reflections from the interior||
As we unwrap our gifts, may we find.....
Love in our hearts
Peace in our families
Tolerance in out communities
Compassion in our world
O Holy Night
the stars are brightly shining
it is the night of our dear Savior's birth....
till he appeared
and the Soul felt it's worth
For how many decades we have been singing these familiar words, hearing them playing in the deep and quiet night, going about our hurried lives, rarely pausing to think about their meaning.....
until we find ourselves coming round to this season again.....
facing all of our loves and our losses,
our moments when we were our best selves and when we could have done better....
and hoping for more,
more chances, more dreams to fulfill, more happiness.....
until we find ourselves coming round to
a greater awareness of all the gifts we have received
through the years of coming to know ourselves
being born anew everyday with
just those very same chances.....
and the eternal invitation
to partake in the glory that is within and all around!
Blessed Christmas Every One
Once you have learned
sailing is easy;
the path you took,
if you nearly,
but couldn’t quite
if time was spent
and spent again,
all was worthy
all was Grace
trust the wind
and the sails
and learn to chart
your course by
©18 november 2017 pab
A constant barrage of news - real, fake, biased, slanted, opinionated, slandering, demanding, slamming, degrading, opposing, blaming, infammatory, violent.
A renewing of relationships - attentive, respectful, insightful, kind, patient, compassionate, inclusive, forgiving, consoling, understanding, spacious, quiet, restorative.
There are no unsacred places;
There are only sacred places
And desecrated places.
-- Wendell Berry
My friends, the choice is in our hands.
- paboernke, oct 6, 2017 -
O O O O O O O
Black Hills Gold and Silver
silently creeps through the Hills by night
gilded leaves on aspen and birch, quivering
silver tipped needles on pine and spruce, glistening
at first light
autumnal morning brilliance
© 2017 phyllis boernke
I was born and raised in St. Louis and I grew up appreciating all that the city had to offer. My grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins were nearby; involvement in our church was the center of our lives and the source of many deep friendships; recreational and cultural activities were abundant. The St. Louis Zoo, the summer Municipal Opera in Forest Park, Shaw's Garden, the downtown historic area, Cardinals baseball games; department stores and theatres, Mississippi River cruises on The Admiral are a few of the many activities residents and visitors enjoyed. After high school graduation, I left for college. A year after college graduation, I married and moved to South Dakota. Here I found a home, a place, that satisfied a longing that I didn't know I had. I felt settled. I loved the slower pace of smaller towns, open spaces, ready access to lakes and forests and mountains.
People here were different than city people. They were easier to be around and appeared more relaxed and open. They seemed as natural as a thunderstorm, as much a part of nature as snow and wind. They were resilient and hearty; they seemed to accept whatever came next and to help each other meet unexpected challenges. They seemed to be old souls, wise and steady. They were settled.
In time, I came to know people who had deep roots in the Dakotas. They are ranchers, farmers, small business owners, neighbors whose ancestors have been here for generations. They embody a sense of belonging that I have come to know. They are made of the dust, the rains, the sun. They struggle and persevere. They know the seasons and signs as intimately as they know their own spouse and their children and the neighbors down the road. All of the elements of life are present here, inseperable. The land and sky, the climate, the seasons that shape us, inform us; it is difficult to distinguish people apart from place. It's hard to describe and perhaps easier to feel; it is a sense of belonging, of peace, of deep satisfaction. Kathleen Norris, in her book, "Dakota, a Spiritual Geography," captures that essence that seems too large to define. A very good read!
South Dakota Magazine published my poem "dust of creation" in the March/April issue this year. I wrote it to honor a rancher who lived on the land his grandfather homesteaded. He was of the land. His wife grew up on a nearby ranch and she, too, was of the land. Today the land is loved and worked by a son and grandson. Though ranch life has changed, those who are "of the land" have not. My poem is dedicated to one rancher. And it speaks of a way of being of many who have chosen Dakota as home.
dust of creation
he writes each morning,
this poet who says he is as old as dirt,
up before dawn
pulling on cracked leather boots
caked with red mud
stuffing weathered hands deep into pockets
of tattered brown sweatshirt
hood pulled up tight against the chill,
slowly he walks the windrow
stooping now and then
plucking a blade of grass
calculating the season
by the rising of the river
the budding of the willow
with each measured foot fall
dust clouds rise up in his wake
salutations to the morning sun
his life the poem,
permanence of the land,
these fleeting days
- for RA, 1923-2006
pab © 2017
Spring storms are not usually a surprise to most South Dakotans. But today, I was so unprepared to greet the morning snow showers. Yes, they were predicted. But winds can change and forecasts can be wrong. Not this time!
All weekend the sound of lawnmowers dominated our neighborhoods. Sunday and Monday were perfect days for clearing dead stalks from the beebalm, coneflowers and blue flax. And for digging out all the pretty yellow dandelions. Plenty of other flowers were in bloom so I knew the dandelions could go and the bees would not be deprived of their first food of the season. On nearby ranches, calves born in February and March had a good chance to grow stronger and fatter. All was well.....
It started as rain last night and still I did not think the snow would really follow. This morning we woke to about an inch on the ground, bushes covered, tree limbs drooping. When the sun returns, we will celebrate the freshness of it all, the vibrancy of color, the return of warmer days. For now, we are grateful for the gift of moisture to the thirsty plains.
days heavy with fragrance of lilac,
crab apple blossoms and wild plum,
easy nights of starlight
sparkling till dawn
whispers of feathers
in slow motion
snow this April morn
dashing all my hopes
that your return
©25 april 2017
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“When I am with you, no matter where you live, I feel at home.” - CW, 2017
The plumber finished reconfiguring the pipes and connecting the new sink on Friday. After months of doing dishes in the utility sink in the laundry room, the kitchen of my dreams is almost finished. It’s not a model you would find in “Architectural Digest Magazine” but one you might see in “Country Sampler.” My eldest daughter asked what inspired my design and I told her about the summer kitchen at my grandparents’ home in the country. Their wood burning kitchen stove/oven made the dining room and kitchen cozy and warm with the aroma of pot roast and pies and homemade bread in the winter. But day after day of temperatures in the 90’s and humidity nearly the same in Missouri in the summer, wood stove cooking was a torture. So all cooking and baking was done on the smaller wood stove in the attached screened in porch to keep the inside kitchen and dining room relatively comfortable. My grandparents died before my daughters were born, so they never knew the country place. Nevertheless, when I told her about the summer kitchen, my daughter was astounded. “That has always been the kitchen of my dreams! It feels like it’s in my bones!” she said.
And of course she is absolutely right. Not only do our ancestors give us our blue eyes just like grandma’s and our laugh like Aunt Wilma’s, our passion for gardening or cooking and our love of piano music or animals comes along as part of the genetic package. We have an innate sense of rightness of the environment, the paint colors of the rooms, the furniture placement. The food cooked in this kitchen gives us comfort, the view through the front window soothes and inspires us. Diana Butler Bass, in her book “Grounded” tells of inadvertently finding the exact place where her ancestors began their life in America. Diana had an internal feeling of belonging when she stumbled upon a tiny church at the end of a dirt road in rural Maryland. The Book of Records in this Quaker meeting house bore the names of her ancestors, married here in 1678.
Even when we don’t know much about our origins or when we cannot trace far back to discover our roots, we somehow know when we feel at home. We often recreate that which gives us a sense of belonging. It may be that a geographic location calls to us, or the design of a house like the one I’m living in now, or the scent of flowers in the garden, the rush of the nearby river, that tugs at a memory. It is all of this and more that makes for home. The people we love and those who love us, the stories we are creating and the memories we share with those living and stories about those who have passed out of our lives, create the generous environment that is home. This is where we return again and again to know who we are. And here we may receive a blessing such as the one spoken by my dear friend -
“When I am with you, no matter where you live, I feel at home.”
+ + + pab 2017 + + +
January and February are quiet days of contemplation and nostalgia for me as they may be for many of us in the north. The sun is hesitant to appear on some days, temperatures dip, we are housebound because of cold and snow and wind. These are good days to make soup, watch movies and remember.
My parents were married on February 3, 1940 and celebrated their love every year following until 2006 when, less than 2 weeks before their 66th anniversary, my father died. Both my parents were of sturdy Germanic constitution and though they were slowing down, we were surprised at my father’s sudden departure. Our parents were still enjoying tranquil days together, visits with children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, meals and outings with friends. Our family reunion in 2005 was a celebration of Dad's 90th birthday and Mom's and Dad's 65th wedding anniversary. Every day began for them with breakfast and morning prayers and ended with a goodnight kiss and “I love you.” I don’t know if either of them really believed that one would leave and one would be left behind. Two and a half years later, 2008, my mother re-joined my father in everlasting love.
“red skies” is for you, Dad.
I was a baby, my brothers unborn,
when first he went to sea
Navy vessels took him
through perilous waters, to distant shores
his wife and infant daughter
enfolded into the family bosom
when tranquil days returned
his watchful eyes trained us
to trust the skies, to believe the winds
to steer along quiet river banks or
run the rapids
unfurl the sails and race
as one with wind and waves
“red skies in the morning, sailors take warning,
red skies at night, sailors delight”
was our weekend mantra
that imperceptibly receded
into drifting clouds
as our grown-up lives took us
far from his shoreline and
we trusted evening news to tell us
of northern blizzards and hurricanes in the south
rarely looking to the skies and the winds
we missed the signs
the lowered mast, the flattened sails,
the wooden hull with fading paint and fissures
more often moored in its slip
than tacking and coming about on
even drives along the shoreline
becoming a dimming memory
until that Sunday morning
when we joined our mother
on her widow’s walk,
we had not known nor even imagined
that before the dawn,
the aged vessel would move silently
into the red sky
spinnaker catching the sun and wind,
a single star rising on the golden horizon
at the edge of the sea
©2 february 2017
+ + + + +
So many of us are facing changes and challenges, holding conflicting emotions in tension as if holding our breaths. We're not fully inhabiting a settled place.
How does it feel to live fully present to our whole and our fractured selves? To truly embrace all parts of our human complexity in love. To stop judging! To know our strength and fragility as opposite and essential parts of our same beautiful wholeness? A seamless tapestry unfolding?
it began as quietly
as the tentative heartbeat
of the eaglet hatchling
steady and fragile
hungry, waiting to be fed,
to live or to die
immediate the question with first breath
a crack down the center
not fully loving
not really mourning,
the outer appearance of
covered over with imperatives:
resignation and action
stumbling path made visible
to every fledgling,
fraught with unknown danger
through the crack
sunlight pours in
revealing every tenuous
each hint of reassurance
sustenance on every side
close-up and textured
not hidden or barely imagined
obstacles along the way like boulders
or as smooth as sugar sand
clouds ever tied invisibly to sun
quietness and revelation
articulate amidst the noise
two-sided heart, expanding,
eternal grief-eternal love
the winged path
© january 2017
O O O