Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The First Day of Christmas - When The Angels Say Hush

View of the Church of the Nativity 1883
Bethlehem - by Maxim Vorobiev

When The Angels Say: Hush!

 I know we seem busy
I know we seem rushed;
But we settle down
Christmas Eve when

 The Angels say, "Hush!
Peace in the manger
Peace amidst the straw;"
Thus entered the Holiest 
   Only Child the world ever saw. 

By Connie Nelson Ahlberg
All Rights Reserved.

Written for Linda Hanel's
Christmas letter in 1993
A beloved teacher at
Shakopee Area Catholic School
Shakopee, MN

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Essense: Keeping Holiness

Mural of the Birth of Christ - Wikipedia by David Bjorgen
A painting of John the Baptist Church at the River Jordan

Sometimes I forget
 That Christmas is not
About giving love
But about 
Being Love--

Or just being.
Being present
Hold a hand;
Listen to a voice
Carrying warmth, 
Even timelessness;
Kiss a revered cheek;
Nuzzle an arthritic dog;
Lean to hug a hurting woman
As she grieves;
Cradle an all-knowing cat,
All the while 

The Baby Cache.

Honoring the sick, the elderly,
The lonely, the hurting,
The vulnerable
December 21, 2012
by Connie Nelson Ahlberg

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

What I Wouldn't Give!

 My Radiant Daughter 
Name Withheld by Request

A Tribute to Daughters and Granddaughters

What I wouldn't give, Radiant Daughter,
Gifts for all of your days:
The purest air;
Warmest shelter holding
Unconditional love;
Housing a treasure chest so full:
Brilliant teachers
Cherished family and friends
Safety and health
Holding a bucket of dreams, 
Your own chosen achievements-- 
Those Lived-in heart's longing,
Embellished by Faith and 
Grace which crowns your head
And envelops your being;
Yes, held by Angels
All of your days--
All this is in my hands
To you like offerings 
And prayers,
Living in my kisses 
For your cheeks
And my love
That surrounds you 

Written by Connie Nelson Ahlberg
Inspired by the wonder of this face
And the littlest angels in Connecticut
Along with the women, Saints All,
Who protected them.
December 18, 2012

Friday, December 14, 2012

To Ease the Suffering

To Ease the Suffering

May God
hold the lives
just lost
within our 
outlaw country;
Why, Dear Ones,
do we defend
our guns
the way
we should
defend our peace?

I shall light candles
and ask Buddha and
the Christ
to forget us not;

Help us
exude Light
in the midst of heartache
and heartbreak;

May the goodness
in us all
that as a nation
we have so very much
to heal.

By Connie Nelson Ahlberg
Honoring all of Connecticut,
Honoring the Innocents
December 14, 2012 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Mary, Holiness Was Born in You!

Grotto at Massabielle in Lourdes, France

Soon the babe comes
As the world waits;
Make us ready;
To walk in holiness;
To remember the fallen;
To think of the lost;
To give to the needing;
to forgive the unrepentant;
to bless the arrogant--
Seeing Christ
in a babe
in a boy
in a teen
in a man
in myself;
Our candles are lit;
we bow our heads;
holiness walks with me
Because Holiness 
was born in you.

By Connie Nelson Ahlberg
Inspired by Our Lady,
Advent & JCA
Dec. 12, 2012

Caressing the Earth

Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library - Wikipedia

People with
A magnanimous spirit
Caress the Earth
With their feet.

1994 Connie Nelson Ahlberg 
All Rights Reserved

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Norman's A Best Friend

Norman Vincent Peale's Thought Conditioners

A handwritten Bible on display in Malmesbury Abbey in Wiltshire England.
The Bible was written in Belgium in 1407 AD for reading aloud in a monastery.
The photograph was taken by Adrian Pingstone in 2005. 

Years ago a kind and wise woman saw I was struggling. We worked together. Betty had a real job and mine was on the lowest rung. Betty slipped a diminutive booklet under my elbow. It was Norman Vincent Peale's Thought Conditioners, 40 Biblical phrases to lift and inspire. 

In my years in a Catholic school we didn't quite do the Bible study the way many in the Protestant faiths do. Part of me feels the Church didn't want us "to trouble our minds," when they could think for us. Those were the days one heard "Holy Mother Church," often. Of course, such a title made one want to genuflect. There was a lot of kneeling in those days.

Yet when my co-worker gave me the small booklet, I didn't know what to make of it. But I started carrying the booklet around; I started relying on the words when I needed comfort. Certain phrases lifted me like "You are the refreshing," Peale's 37th scriptural verse. Peace assured.

This morning all the quotes seem to take me to a deeper level. Life is such a mystery; you never know when you'll feel a preverbial poke in your ribs or the Buddhist's shout, the Buddhist slap: Wake up! Wake up your life! 

I've started to see quotes on Facebook for those who are going through hard times during the holidays. The phrase I read repeatedly, "for those who are hurting." I feel many are more than hurting. 

Family health news keeps no calendar. Stunning news comes any time, wreath or no. I just embraced someone I've come to love in my condo building. She is bereft with grief. No one has just died but unless mircles ride my rosary, in a few months, her brother in-law will. 

"Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Who doesn't labor and seek rest? This is Peale's Thought Condition 4.

It's a different view where I live now verses my home just behind me and over a hill. More shiny walkers over here, cranberry, shiny royal blue, ones to carry parcels or the driver herself. You ought to see how deft women are wielding these carts around! 

Someone needs these verses. Someone needs the little booklet. Maybe it's you, maybe it's me.

As I hugged my neighbor I said something which startled a revered member of Clouds in Water Zen Center, my words: Sometimes I truly wish we could get out of here alive! 

A little humor, the sun is shining. And I just bought 5 lbs of seeded grapes. I bow to your  innate goodness; never worry, if I know you, then you're on my beads--. I have a tendency to scoop people up in prayer. How else should we live?

Speak the language of Compassion; everyone understands.

Link to Thought Conditioners: http://www.drcolvard.com/thtcond.pdf

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Tokyo in December

Tokyo Tower - Wikipedia

With a suddenness that still leaves me gasping, I'm booked for my long-awaited trip to Japan. It's a trip I've put off. Procrastination overtook my mind after hearing and learning of long flights over water, drop-dead jet lag, and concern about my weight and being forced to see Tokyo by foot. I saw myself panting behind my 18 month-old grandson.

I know I'm not in shape to climb steps to endless shrines, even though I should be. Do I fast until I get there? I was seeking a lean day yesterday, but then ended up eating too much Vigo red beans and rice (with cheap cheese from Costco).

A niece in Madison has a "Fit Pick" and is as fit as her pick. Yesterday I purchased the Weight Watcher tool that tracks your activity: I thought it would be a great motivator--or cattle prod! (Call it a motion detector for my _ _ _.)

My son said, "Mom, our apartment is just behind the tall building to the left of Tokyo Tower." 

And there they've lived: dad, mom, and two blond offspring, leaning into Asian life as the Buddhists advise. 

Kind residents have bowed to my 6'5" fair-framed son and my equally fair granddaughter. The tall and much shorter ex-pat have purchased French croissants at a bakery, and then sat on a bench. Passersby heard a little voice say: "On Wisconsin!" 

I've howled upon seeing slender Japanese women kneel to get a shot of granddaughter Kjerstin like paparazzi encircling Madonna. My son explained to me that my granddaughter was seen as a pale, blond doll to her admirers. (Now that she's four, the paparazzi have dissipated.)

I've followed my son and daughter in-law's blog and seen what looks like a small octopus-like appetizer move onto a restaurant table when you put hot sauce on it. I've read signs and t-shirts with awkward phrasing since some shop owners want English on signs or shirts but aren't quite sure of their meaning. But since I know virtually no Japanese, they lead me linguistically.

I've admire how my son's family have studied the Japanese language, gone to festivals, and been invited to weddings. It's a morning ritual to hear my son call a cab in Japanese.  I hear "hai," but know it's not hi as we know it. More yes, okay, or hm. My daughter in-law discovered, too, that addresses on buildings don't relate to how we number buildings in the West, which left her in utter frustration. 

I may be calmer today, but it is too early to say. I'm hopeful. After all, a poet in Tokyo can't be all bad.

With loving kindness my son informs me he's taking the first week off to be with me after I arrive. I tell him I'm a tuning fork. He counters with: I can help. 

Easy Japanesey he says.