Christmas Eve: In the Bleak Midwinter

It’s a very quiet Christmas Eve at our house.

Fog covers the mountains.

Bleak Midwinter in the Shenandoah Valley

Bleak Midwinter in the Shenandoah Valley

We didn’t decorate a tree. No sound of children’s voices.


Our family had festive days together in November and will have more this weekend. Tomorrow there will be brunch in the home of friends.

But today it’s just us. And time.

Time for reviewing the year, mug in hand, wrapped in an afghan made by loving hands long ago.

Time for prayer for our troubled world. Black lives that matter. Police lives that matter too. Endless wars.

Christina Rosetti focused on bleakness at Christmas, turning away from tinsel and sleigh bells and snowmen who sing.

In 1872 she responded to a Scribner’s Monthly request for a Christmas poem with “In the Bleak Midwinter.” The poem appeared in her collected works, was set to music by the composer Gustav Holst, and published in the English Hymnal in 1906.

I invite you to get your own mug and afghan and listen and watch.

The bleak midwinter is calling me to celebrate Christmas quietly this year, to open no presents, just to give the babe my heart.

I immerse myself in bleakness and ask what it has to teach.

Have you been called by bleakness this holiday season? I’d love to hear how.

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Do You Say, “Have a Nice Day”? If Not, Why Not?

When you part from someone, do you have a favorite farewell blessing to utter?

Wikipedia CC image:

Wikipedia CC image:

Other languages, French, German, and Spanish, for example, have much more graceful words than the English “Good-Bye” or “So long!”

Witness this song written for English speakers about a famous multi-lingual Austrian family:

In America, in the decade that followed The Sound of Music, a new phrase came into popular parlance: “Have a nice day.”

I remember when the president of Eastern Mennonite College began ending his chapel talks in the late 1960′s with that phrase. I rather liked it. It seemed to personalize his magisterial presence in the pulpit.

But then came the backlash. Social critics found it easy to bash the superficiality of what became the ubiquitous end of a clerk-customer exchange in stores.

George Carlin became famous for his anti- “Have a Nice Day” routine laced with four-letter words. Just Google his name and the phrase and you can hear him.

Wikipedia has an amazingly detailed entry on this phrase, including arguments pro and con.

Why am I writing about this phrase today?

This will be my last post in the seven-part series about A Good Day. I’ve decided on an action step based on all this reflection and conversation at the end of 2014. I will look for ways to use this phrase, “Have a GOOD day” when it seems appropriate. I further resolve not to use the phrase flippantly, to look the other person in the eye, and to make a real Presence connection when I do so.

I’d love your thoughts. What is your history with this phrase? Hate it? Use it sparingly. Love it? When you switch from “nice” to “good” what difference does that make? Even if you don’t comment, I hope you have a GOOD day. :-)

P. S. This just in from my publisher Herald Press. It applies to all their books, not just BLUSH. Click on the link and look around: “On orders placed and shipped December 14–20, we are offering free shipping on items shipped via USPS priority, UPS delivery, or other standard shipping options within the continental United States. This offer does not include expedited shipping options (next day or second day) or guaranteed delivery by Christmas. The ‘Free Freight’ option will show under “Shipping Method” during check-out.”

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A Good Day is a Gutsy Day: How You Can Win a Free Book or Download a Bargain

It’s a good day today.

In no spectacular way.

It’s good just by waking up, alive, in a “warm” house (I’m grateful for the afghan made by my mother-in-law and a prayer shawl give to me by Mennonite women this fall). Then there was coffee, and breakfast with Stuart, who made the steel-cut oats.

Lots of time to look at the mountains, dramatic today with clouds of many colors hovering over them. Then more coffee. Any day with a book and a cuppa is good. Right?

My Gutsy Story Anthology, volume 2

And not just any book! A book about courage, My Gutsy Story Anthology: Inspirational Short Stories About Taking Chances and Changing Your Life (Volume 2) featuring many of my writing friends. I choose to make this a Good Day, a Gutsier Day, by inviting you to make friends with these writers also.

I read many stories in this wonderful anthology this morning.  I’ll give you a chance to do the same. Read on to find out how you can win a free copy of this anthology. In the meantime, I want you to meet  a few of the writers featured in the book with links that take you right to their websites.

Sonia Marsh

Sonia has created the Gutsy brand, first with Freeways to Flip-Flops: A Family’s Year of Gutsy Living on a Tropical Island and now with a My Gutsy Story website that leads to edited books such as the one above. Below are six authors I did not know three years ago, but who now make up the tapestry of my everyday life because I continue reading their stories. The title of their individual stories in the Gutsy anthology follows their name, along with other ways you can become acquainted.

Janet Givens, “Leaving a Life I Loved”

Janet joined the Peace Corps at the age of 55 and wrote a gripping memoir about the experience: At Home on the Kazakh Steppe: A Peace Corps Memoir.  She blogs about “oh no moments” that make us gasp, negotiating boundaries, making connections, and embracing transitions at her website.

Marian Longenecker Beaman, “Gutsy in Ukraine”

Marian blogs at Plain and Fancy Girl. Anyone who has read my memoir Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World will love the amazingly creative and well-researched posts Marian publishes. She brings all of her wisdom from her “plain” heritage into the wider world of “fancy” professional life and draws all of these influences together into beautiful essays. She’s working on her own memoir, and I can’t wait to read it.

Laurie Buchanan, “From GED to Ph.D.”

Laurie’s philosophy as a transformative life coach is “Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.” Every Tuesday she delights, surprises, or challenges me with her short essays combining one picture with her unique slant on the visual and inner worlds. She’s the kind of friend who reads about a book tour and drives all the way from Boise to attend a book talk in Seattle. I’ll never forget that gesture of kindness. Get on Laurie’s list. You will thank me.

Leanne Dyck, “Rising Above Expectations”

Leanne Dyck was told as a child that she was uneducable. She has proved the teachers and social workers wrong and has become a published author, overcoming the challenges of dyslexia. Leanne interviewed me on her blog. I was delighted to find her inspiring story among the many other Gutsy stories in this anthology.

Victoria Noe, “I’m Not Gutsy, But You Are”

Victoria and I connected briefly at Book Expo America this year. We didn’t have enough time to get to know each other well, but today I got to know her better by reading her unique take on the meaning of “gutsy.” She’s had an amazing series of careers in theater, nonprofit organization leadership, activism, and now writing. She has written several books about friend grief and has been published in the Chicago Tribune and the Huffington Post. You can reach Viki , her blog, and her books, here.

Angela Marie Carter, “Poetry Saved My Life”

I’m particularly happy to end my list of friend’s Gutsy essays with Angela’s. In the words of Langston Hughes, life for her has “been no crystal stair,” but Angela has wrestled with the demons of child sexual abuse, parental alcoholism, and many other challenges by pouring her sorrows into language. It was a pleasure to share the podium with Angela this summer at a talk at our local public library and to exchange ideas over lunch a few times before and after her beautiful book of poetry Memory Chose a Woman’s Body. One of her poems in that volume has been nominated for a Pushcart prize. I will not be surprised to hear it has won. You can find Angela at her website.

Finally, I need to mention one other writer friend,

Joan Z. Rough

She doesn’t have an essay in this particular anthology, but she nominated me for a Lovely Blog Award a few weeks ago. I have not been able to respond until now. Joan lives just “across the mountain” from me in Charlottesville. Stuart and I have enjoyed getting to know Joan and her husband Bill. We don’t see enough of each other but enjoy every encounter. Joan is hard at work on her memoir called Me, Myself, and Mom: A Journey Through Love, Hate, and Healing. Coming soon! You can read the first chapter here.

Now, as promised, here is the offer. I have three My Gutsy Story Anthologies, Volume Two, to give away to those who comment below. Just answer this question “What is gutsy in your ordinary life today?

I’m also bursting to tell all my readers that Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World (Kindle edition) is on sale this week only. Tomorrow it will be the featured memoir on Bookbub. But you can jump to the head of the line and buy it for .99. Now! At this price you might want to add an e-copy even if you own the paperback. Thanks in advance for your support. And if you are interested, I’ll describe the BookBub experience after it’s over. Which leaves my with one more person to thank: Carol Bodensteiner, author and marketer extraordinaire. Check out both her books and blog too! Carol told me about BookBub.

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Recovering Joy in A Good Day: The Woman in the Photograph

What if the only clue you had to your mother’s past was a photo taken before you were born — when she was young, carefree, and beautiful? What if it looked like this:The Woman in the PhotographHow would you feel, upon waking up in the morning, if the day stretched out before you had no clear architecture from the past?

That question is hard for me to imagine. My ancestry is so foundational to who I am today. I had to begin my own memoir Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World with three generations of the nine that preceded me in America.

I’m constantly fascinated by difference. And by good storytelling. You are in for a treat in the guest post that follows. And if you aren’t having a good day yet, I think it will cheer you on.

Mani Feniger

Mani Feniger

Mani Feniger is a therapist and writer who lives in the SF Bay Area with her husband Michael and dog Gigi. She is the author of two books, “Journey from Anxiety to Freedom” and “The Woman in the Photograph,” winner of the 2013 BEST MEMOIR Award from Bay Area Independent Publishers Association. She is available to speak at book clubs as well as community and professional organizations, and offers individual counseling and memoir writing classes. Learn more at her website and blog. Purchase her book by clicking here: The Woman in the Photograph: The Search for My Mother’s Past.


A Good Day

By Mani Feniger.

Sometime in your life you will go on a journey. It will be the longest journey you have ever taken. It is the journey to find yourself.

                                    –Katherine Sharp

For me, a good day does not require special events. Its essence is that I am open, optimistic and curious about whatever happens. This view may seem normal to you, but it took an unexpected turn of history for me to realize that I had unconsciously adopted a family attitude that life was hard, and it was dangerous to harbor dreams and aspirations because they would inevitably be dashed and whatever you accomplished would be lost.

Harsh advice, but it made perfect sense to my parents who escaped from Nazi Germany. They were extremely “lucky” to get out early, but beyond that, I knew none of the details of their persecution, nor of other relatives that must have once existed, or the exciting lives they each had led before their exile.

I was very close to my mother. This was especially true after my dad died when I was eight. But our house became a place of silence, cloaked in shadows I couldn’t name. Seeking direction, I carefully observed my mother’s facial expressions, her tone of voice, her body language and random comments, often as fragmentary as

“I kiss the ground we walk on”

with no explanation to follow. I was not aware of how deeply her outlook infiltrated my own beliefs about life or that I had absorbed the imprint of her traumas and disappointments.

Then came the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Though my mother had passed away by then, a door to her buried past swung open. A flow of documents issued by the newly unified German Republic informed me that I might be the rightful heir of a family property stolen by the Nazis under “Aryanization.” Soon after, I got a startling glimpse into a significant part of my mother’s prior life. It came in the form of a photograph, buried in a box of papers and documents my brother had carted off to his garage when we cleaned out her apartment.


As I said in the introduction to The Woman in the Photograph

The picture of two women seated close together on a loveseat transported me back to a lost era of my mother’s life. Suspended in time, my mother and her sister gaze into each other’s eyes. They seem unaware that outside their private world, the Nazi party is gathering momentum to sweep away the life they have known.

            I was stunned by the image of my mother Alice in a white evening gown…. The woman in this photo is not my mother, I thought. I recognized her proud profile. Otherwise she bore little resemblance to the woman I had known all my life….

            The image ignited a spark inside me, an urgency to know more about the person who had such a profound effect on my life… Long after her passing, the omissions in her story still haunt me. What happened to her? Why didn’t she tell me? Who is the woman in the photograph?

The journey of unraveling her story took me nearly twenty years with twists and turns I could not have imagined. But the really important shift was that I began to understand the roots of her silence and the impact of her losses.

I discovered that she had withheld not just her pain, but also the most glorious adventures of her youth, which I observed later in a photo album she had secreted away. I sensed that I had denied myself the permission to be lighthearted, not on purpose, but as an almost primal expression of loyalty to my mother. Have you ever struggled with the beliefs and values that mattered to your parents but might not be appropriate for your own life or your own time in history?

Joy-filled sisters Alice and Erica

Joy-filled sisters Alice and Erika

I have faced many real challenges. But I approach situations differently than before I knew my mother’s true story. Now a good day means my heart is open and I no longer confuse my mother’s experience with my own. I look up at the clouds shifting through a blue sky, and am grateful that I have a lightness of spirit that I didn’t feel when I was growing up. Even when things are not as I might wish, I savor the happy moments and bring compassion to myself when I am afraid or sad or angry. And though I am almost seventy, some days I turn up the music and dance around the house as I did when I was seven, and know it’s a very good day.

This story makes me want to cry, and then dance too. It has enhanced my understanding of the meaning of a good day in a profound way. Do you know the connection between pain and joy?  Is there a photo in your life that has unlocked a mystery?

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Always Returning: Prairie Wisdom for Breathing in a Good Day Every Day

So what if the day you are having doesn’t seem like A Good Day? No day can be Good all the time!

I’ve learned much Prairie Wisdom from my friend Daisy Hickman, author of Always Returning: The Wisdom of Place. I have her book on my table TBR (to be read) soon! I hope you’ll check it out by clicking on the link.
I asked Daisy to reflect on what she’s learned about A Good Day from her spiritual journey into place as an author.

I offer Daisy’s essay below as a Pre-Thanksgiving Meditation sent to you from a place special to me — Montclair, NJ — where our whole family has gathered to celebrate and be grateful together.

Just breathing, as the snow falls outside the window, brings me joy. Each out-breath sends joy to you!


Not Quite There Yet

By Daisy A. Hickman

Indeed, it is the perfect time of year to consider gratitude, a good day, and their convergence.

In fact, according to many spiritual teachers, we should feel grateful for each breath without trying to decide if it is a “happy moment” or an “unhappy moment.” The ability to do this must be the mark of true spiritual enlightenment, because I’m not quite there yet.

But I sense movement in that direction, and for that, I’m deeply grateful.

There is a time for evaluation; there is a time for simply breathing in the moment. As I wrote in my book about wisdom: less is more. And certainly less evaluation (judgment, analysis, reaction) is “more” in this context.

Always Returning Book Cover

Always Returning Book Cover

In terms of what comprises a “good day” for me—while I wrote this book, the first edition (William Morrow) in 1998; the second edition, just this year—

I believe that every day, on a spiritual level, is a good day.

Not necessarily in largely personal terms, because when I encounter extremely difficult days, I, like you, am reluctant to call them “good.”

But whenever I’m writing, I feel blissfully connected to something that feels timeless, complete, and knowing. Something beyond designations of “good”:

The sights in front of me are in continual flux, but the secret is to look into them to unearth their deeper truths.

–(Always Returning: The Wisdom of Place, 2014).

I grew up in a place (remote prairie lands) that inspired me deeply, and with time’s passage, I realized every place can prompt us to look within – and if we are lucky and intentional, we are always returning to that place.

That is where wisdom resides, not somewhere far-removed from our own realities. But, often, we fail to feel the roots below our feet, because we are so certain what we “need” is somewhere else.

 I seriously doubt it.

The lessons of life are more simple than we choose to believe, but we have to stand still long enough, breathe deeply enough, to understand this.

Daisy's Cabin

Daisy's Cabin

Good is now. Good is everywhere, tucked within each sunrise, each sunset. Every smile, every sigh. Good is even part of tragedy and loss and missing people no longer with us on days we label as “special.” Days like Thanksgiving.

When we finally discover the true depth of each day, however, they are ALL special. No need to differentiate, no need to evaluate and consider and decide. And definitely no need to “wish” for something else.

View from Daisy's Cabin.
View from Daisy’s Cabin.

 As I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope, For hope would be hope for the wrong thing. ~ T. S. Eliot

And although I’m not quite there yet, still growing, like all of us, a certain amount of equanimity graces each moment of my day when I’m able to look beyond rules, expectations, popularized values and beliefs, matters of the ego, and anything else that clouds my inner vision.

Thank you so much, Shirley, for inviting me to share a few words here. May we all come to sense the profound “goodness” of each breath, each day –the challenge of a lifetime.

You can find Daisy at her delightful, highly recommended, website Sunny Room Studio. You can thank her for sharing these thoughts about the good day by leaving a comment below. In what way are you “not quite there yet” in your understandings of any of the following: the meaning of a good day, the wisdom of place, or what it means to be grateful as a daily practice of Thanksgiving?

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The Quiet, Productive, Connected Very Good Day: Tina Fariss Barbour’s Wise Words

Last week I broke one of the basic rules of good writing. I got a little carried away with adjectives, writing about the Amazing, Excellent, Superb, Splendid Very Good Day. I’ll blame my infatuation with my grandchildren.

But sometimes breaking the rules leads to new opportunities, as it did today. One of my readers has wisely slowed down the pace and today champions the value of another kind of good day.

Meet Tina Fariss Barbour.

Tina Fariss Barbour where she loves to walk.

Tina Fariss Barbour where she loves to walk.

A Good Day


Tina Fariss Barbour


A good day is not the one where the exciting things happen.

A good day for me is a quiet one, with some work, some reading. My husband is doing his own good things, but we come together for a meal and a walk, and always, talk.

I used to wait for the good days to happen. I have long been challenged by depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder. I thought I couldn’t have a good day until all the depression was gone, all the obsessions were out of my head, all the compulsions were done and laid to rest.

However, part of the healing process for me has been learning that the good days are to be enjoyed when I can make them—or allow them—to happen. In the midst of a dark time, in the midst of unrelenting anxiety, what can be cherished are the good days.

Another challenge is the work I do as a newspaper reporter for a weekly newspaper. About two years ago, I reduced my hours to have more time for my own writing and editing.

But at least four days a week are spent dealing with deadlines and stress. A goal for me is to find a way to work the characteristics of a good day into the newspaper workday.

So, until then, a good day for me looks something like this.

I get up early enough to take a walk in the neighborhood before many other people are stirring. Before I go, I whisper to Larry where I’m going, and he nods and goes back to sleep.

I take my phone along so I can take photographs of the things that catch my eye: the look of the sun through the trees, a particularly lovely shade of gold in the leaves.

Fallen leaves along the path.

Fallen leaves along the path.

When I return home, I stretch and drink water and feel physically strong. I eat a cup of Greek yogurt.

I write in my journal, a page or two.

After Larry goes out to his shop to work on one of his projects, I start on my own projects. I open my computer and spend some time on my editing work, or blogging, or a research project. I make progress.

Our cat Chase Bird wanders through the room, his face full of late morning sleepiness. But he’s open for a back scratch, a belly rub, and a treat or two. Then he’s back to his daytime sleeping havens.

Chase Bird Barbour

Chase Bird Barbour

Then I take a shower and read while Larry takes his. We go out to lunch at a local café that has the best four-bean chili. I enjoy a bowl with a toasted peanut butter sandwich.

If it’s a pretty day, a walk in the park along the Staunton River is called for. I bring my camera.

Back at home, we separate again to our own corners, me with a book, usually, him with his own research or work project. A nap, maybe with Chase Bird. A quiet supper at home.

A quiet day. A productive day. A day connected to my husband and my cat. A good day.


Bio: Tina Fariss Barbour lives in Altavista, a small town in south-central Virginia, with her husband, Larry, and their cat, Chase Bird. She is a newspaper reporter, a freelance editor, a mental health advocate, an animal lover, and a writer striving to live a life of connection. She blogs here. You can find her on Twitter at @TinaFBarbour.

Can you identify with Tina’s version of A Good Day? What elements of her day do you want to add to yours today? What wisdom can you commend?

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Owen and Julia and the Amazing, Excellent, Superb, Splendid, Very Good Day

I’ve been on a quest lately to deepen my understanding of what it’s like to have a good day.

We all know about Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day but what about the Amazing, Excellent, Superb, Splendid, Very Good Day?

So I went to two experts: grandson Owen, age 3, and granddaughter Julia, just turned 2.

Here are some of the things I learned.


Start with exercise:

Downward Dog on the yoga mat

Downward Dog on the yoga mat


Reading is fun and even answers our questions A Good Day Board Book:

Reading Kevin Henkes' book A Good Day

Learning about a good day by reading Kevin Henkes' book A Good Day


Help each other make things:

Helping Mommy decorate the cupcakes

Helping Mommy decorate the cupcakes


Transform all boo-boos into something else. Maybe even something better.

Granddad makes a balloon "cherry" after the pop

Granddad makes a balloon "cherry" after the pop

Very Good Day!

After playing, learning, helping, exercising, and napping, it’s time to PLAY and SING! And CELEBRATE. Watch Julia’s face as she realizes that the song is for her. And Owen’s vicarious joy as he sings for his sister:

What have YOU learned from a child about how to have a good day?

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In Praise of Breakfast: Starting Three Good Days at The Bishop’s Hall

What’s your favorite meal? In the morning, at least, mine is breakfast. :-)

And my last three breakfasts have started a good day with a bang. Here’s the table setting:

Breakfast at "Tiffany's" otherwise known as The Bishop's Hall

Breakfast at "Tiffany's" otherwise known as The Bishop's Hall

Along with my two “Pilgrim Sister” friends, I enjoyed the hospitality at The Bishop’s Hall at our annual meeting, this time in Oak Park, Illinois.

Our hosts, Sam and Chuck, prepared sensory delights of all kinds — color, texture, sound, light, beautiful objects, intentional design and attention unsurpassed.

When I sat down to this table, gazing at the freshly-squeezed orange juice for the first time, and anticipating the three courses ahead, I said, “I feel like Goldilocks without the other two options.”

Chuck chuckled and said, “And you don’t even have to eat the porridge.”

The next morning, of course, Chuck arrived at the table with bowls of steel cut oats garnished with apples, bananas, and maple syrup.

We all exclaimed, “Porridge!” It was the best ever, of course. And it included more condiments, toasted raisin bread in its own special blue ceramic dish, and a finishing course of little pumpkin cake squares topped with whipped cream.

On the final morning the center piece of the meal was Eggs Benedict, done perfectly and served with yummy roasted potatoes.

Eggs Benedict at The Bishop's Hall

Eggs Benedict at The Bishop's Hall

The conversation around the table included many exclamations of appreciation for the food, the cook and server, and for the beauty of the Oak Park setting. As is our custom,  we also talked freely about religion, education, writing, and politics — and about our lives.

The Pilgrim Sisters, who have met at least once a year ever since their first meeting at the Harvard Seminar for New Presidents in 1996, were blessed!

Pilgrim Sisters Shirley, Anne, and Janet at Norwich Cathedral, July, 2012

Pilgrim Sisters Shirley, Anne, and Janet at Norwich Cathedral, July, 2012

Now that I’m home, tomorrow I’ll probably have simple scrambled eggs and coffee. If I get up early enough, Stuart will make breakfast for me. If not, I’ll make my own and sit in the red chair looking out at the mountains, grateful for plain food after having fancy, and most of all grateful for three perfect pearls of time shared with true friends. A good day now begins with freshly-pressed memories instead of freshly-squeezed juice.

Do you love breakfast — or is this the meal you skip? Why? What are your favorite foods, settings? Does a good breakfast assure a good day — in your book?

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Every Day Is All There Is: Defining a Good Day

Have you ever found yourself thinking about a subject and then discovered that lots of other people are doing the same? For me that topic is: what is a good day?

Joan Didion’s words “Every day is all there is” came into my life via my daughter Kate’s business partner, Emily Levenson. She’s the one who created the image above.

My personal mission statement, inspired not only by Didion, but by so many other valiant writers and friends, is this:

“to prepare for the hour of my death one good day at a time . . . and to help others do the same.”

So the definition of a good day matters to me. Every day it matters more.

Joan Didion uses six words to say why: every day is ALL there is. We can’t relive yesterday and aren’t guaranteed tomorrow.

So this day must count!

Spend five minutes right now listening to these words from Brother David Steindl-Rast. I guarantee it will make your day better:

I had the privilege, while working at the Fetzer Institute, of meeting both Brother David and another advocate of the concept of the good day, Joel Elkes.

Joel will celebrate birthday 101 on November 12, 2014! He’s lived more good days than anyone else I know.

A pioneer scientist in the field of psychopharmacology, Joel has been thinking about the value of the good day most of his life. Since his father perished in the Kovno Ghetto during the holocaust, Joel’s dedication to the good day rings with the urgency of the human spirit to live on after unimaginable tragedy and loss.

I just finished reading The Spacious Heart: Room for Spiritual Awakening by Donald Clymer and Sharon Clymer Landis. The last chapter of that book contains a description of Don’s ideal day.

It starts with rising at 5 a.m. Then coffee, exercise, and meditation. It proceeds prayerfully to work. It ends with the simple task of drying the dinner dishes and reflecting on where God has entered or been blocked during the day.

That’s Don’s ideal day. What’s yours? Please offer one or two elements of a good day from your own experience. Next week I’ll add my own recipe, and it will benefit much from your thoughts, aspirations, and frustrations. All are welcome!

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Rest, Rock, and Roll: Some Thoughts about Rhythm from the Road

We’ve been a rockin’ and a rollin’ again!

We don’t exactly jitterbug like these couples, but we are on the move! In fact, I’m writing these words in Indiana on the way to Ohio. Last week we visited Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa.

This morning we started out with breakfast with a dozen people who attend First Mennonite Church in Urbana, Illinois. They came out early for a book talk about Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World. Tonight we booked the last available room at the Comfort Inn in Berlin, Ohio. 

Apparently other people are on the move right now, too. It’s fall color tour time across the country.

Here’s my favorite Maple tree from the trip:

Gorgeous colors -- the rhythms of nature in this season

Gorgeous colors -- the rhythms of nature in this season

At First Mennonite, I was able to celebrate the newly-announced betrothal of my friend Janet Guthrie to Mark Jaeger. She was glowing almost as much as the leaves above.

With Pastor Janet in the first flush of her engagement public announcement

With Pastor Janet in the first flush of her engagement public announcement

Just three weeks ago, the theme I was living was REST. Over at Not Quite Amish I immersed myself in peace and simplicity along with more than 100 Mennonite sisters.

I think it’s possible to rock and roll and still be peaceful.

I would pick another “r” word to explain the link: RHYTHM.

It takes rhythm to dance.

It takes rhythm to rest.

It takes rhythm to move back and forth between both. Whether our movements are slow or fast, they can rest in the calm sense of God’s presence.

Some days we feel the rhythm in everything we do. Some days we don’t. What does rhythm feel like to you?

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