Stormy Weather

“I like to hear a storm at night. It is so cosy to snuggle down among the blankets and feel that it can’t get at you.”
― L.M. Montgomery

Old age is like a plane flying through a storm. Once you’re aboard, there’s nothing you can do.
Golda Meir

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(ominous clouds as tornado sirens howl on a stormy Sunday Georgia morning / Julie Cook / 2015)

“. . .Life is bare
gloom and misery every where
Stormy weather
Just can’t get my poor self together
I’m weary all the time
The time
So weary all the time”

2nd stanza / Stormy Weather

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There’s nothing like listening to that beautifully melodic and mesmerizing voice of the one and only Lena Horne.
I loved / love Lena. . .
Ms Horne was born to a generation of singers who sadly have come and gone.
Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Etta James. . .
Soulful storytellers whose beauty and life’s trials, as well as their gift of song, could stir the deepest of emotions in even the most casual of listeners.

Lena Horne defined both class and grace.
Although being born in Brooklyn and spending most of her life in New York and Pennsylvania, Ms Horne spent a good bit of her childhood living in Fort Valley, Georgia—of which I suppose lead her to acquire that markedly distinct sultry southernesque drawl she’d call upon for wooing audiences and movie producers alike.

Today’s weather is a fitting tribute to the woeful lament Ms. Horne made famous, Stormy Weather.
First performed at the famous New York Cotton Club in 1933 yet a song made immortal when performed by Ms Horne in 1943 in the movie of the same name. . .

“. . .don’t know why, there’s no sun up in the sky. . .
Stormy Weather. . .”

I didn’t need Ms Horne however, to remind me of the current weather condition as the early morning wail of the tornado sirens was sign enough.
The sirens wailed, the phones buzzed with alerts and the television was rife with the warnings of impending doom. . .as in “SEEK SHELTER NOW!!!”

Luckily the “rotation” the doppler radar was indicating was remanning up in the clouds and thankfully had not descended to the ground.

It was to be on this tumultuous Sunday morning, as it is on many Sunday mornings, my husband was to treat me to breakfast out. As in I wasn’t going to have to cook it. It’s the only morning he’s not at work. As in he’s actually home. And of all the little treats in life. . . it’s breakfast out that I enjoy most. There’s just something special about heading out on a lazy stress free morning to some inviting little restaurant or tiny cafe, as the heady scent of bacon mingling with fresh coffee greets all at the door.

And so it was on this stormy, springtime morning I was to be treated to a nice breakfast out. The only problem was that an impending tornado was in the middle of my path to bacon and pancakes.
UGH!

The weatherman on the news was zooming in on a fierce looking storm hovering about 5 miles south down the road from our house. It’s amazing how they can pinpoint storms with such vivid accuracy. A Tornado Warning had been issued, the sirens were wailing and my stomach was growling.
We waited.
I peered out the windows.
The rain beat down.
No lightning thank goodness.
I hate lightning.
No winds.
Just black skies with torrential rains.

All of which got me thinking. . .
How often in life are we excited, full of anticipation, looking forward to something special, when suddenly, out of the blue, we get blindsided, we’re thrown a curve ball, we hit the proverbial bump in the road, we hit the wall? There’s a glitch that rears its ugly head in our best laid plans. Our assumptions for a complete follow-through are not what we had expected or anticipated.

Rather than savoring the smooth sailing toward a treat, a reward, a trip, a special event, a magnanimous moment we’re faced with an impending storm, a train wreck, a disaster, a detour. Our attentions shift, our guard gets up, plan B must be implemented, and we hunker down.
We wait.

And as it so happens with the worst of storms–the rains fall, the clouds lighten, the winds shift, the energies exhaust and the dangers pass.
With or without repercussions.
At which time we emerge bleary eyed, nerves shaken, but resolve in tact.
We’re ready to proceed, to continue, forward.
Maybe we have to pick up a few pieces along the way, maybe our plans are delayed. . .
yet nevertheless our eyes remain fixed. . .fixed on our hopes and dreams which remain down the road where we had yearned to travel in the first place.

So on this new morning to this new week, may you keep your eyes on the prize. . .
whatever that prize may be for you. . .
May you remain prepared for what life may throw in the middle of your travels
And may you remember that we all have stormy weather at some point in our lives
but that the storms will always, eventually, pass. . .

Tall grass

A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.
Saint Basil The Great

To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee, One clover, and a bee, And revery. The revery alone will do, If bees are few.
Emily Dickinson

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(red clover blooms in a field of tall grass / Julie Cook / 2015)

I lose myself in the tall grass
Hidden from preying eyes
Inhibitions that lay chains upon the backs of the innocent
are lost in the tall grass
Running unhindered, unencumbered. . .finally free
The tiny and small feel brave and bold in the tall grass

I am safe in the tall grass
Resting from demanding voices
Fears that lay hold falsely around the necks of the virtuous
are banished in the tall grass
Basking uninhibited, joyously. . .finally at rest
The weak and the weary are at peace in the tall grass

I joyfully sing in the tall grass
Free to be who I wish to be
Songs soar on the wings of the grasshopper reaching happily
above the tall grass
Resting, musing, dreaming. . .finally happy
The innocent and pure feel happiness and joy in the tall grass

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Falling into you

“The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity… and some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself.”
― William Blake

The Infinite Goodness has such wide arms that it takes whatever turns to it.”
― Dante Alighieri

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(the canopy of a leafing river birch / Julie Cook / 2015)

Inviting arms reach to embrace
as delicious tenderness beckons to all who dare delve inward

The depth of Your fullness draws the wayward ever closer. . .
There is a heady yearning to fall into the open vastness

Rich, luscious and verdant envelop a longing so intense
that it is nearly unquenchable

Barren cold dryness has given way to an insatiable hunger. . .
Warmth seeps into each crevice of my soul

The spirit awakens to the lofty scent of heavenly perfume
As eyes open wide to behold the majesty of Your hand

Soothing whispers swirl underneath my feet
Lifting a longing heart up to the tree tops.

One heart burns for another
An extended hand aches to touch the hand of the other

Longing
Drawing
Pulling
Calling
Wooing

I open my being to Your sweet song
and fall thankfully into You

Your song to me

“Every heart sings a song, incomplete, until another heart whispers back. Those who wish to sing always find a song. At the touch of a lover, everyone becomes a poet.”
Plato

And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me, And I will offer in His tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the LORD.
Psalm 27:6

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(cardinal singing high in the tree tops / Julie Cook / 2015)

Head down,
busy doing,
lost in thought

When a delightful sound,
A lyrical tittering cadence,
calls for my attention

My head lifts
My eyes search
Seeking the source of the call

I careen my neck
Looking high into the trees
The lush new foliage hiding your presence

Elusive yet persistent
Sweet and inviting
You call out, seeking

Your tenderness I cannot ignore
I listen with intensity,
for your persistence is rhythmically inviting

You call out to me,
wooing me with your song,
pulling me ever closer

Your delight is directed toward me
as it intoxicatingly draws me in. . .
I continue. . .
listening,
watching,
seeking

As you continue. . .
calling,
singing,
loving. . .
me

“The LORD your God is in your midst, A victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy
Zephaniah 3:17

All things new

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
Revelation 21:5

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(new blooms in the yard / Julie Cook / 2015)

Your mercies are new every morning
So let me wake with the dawn
When the music is through or so it seems to be
Let me sing a new song, old things gone
Every day it’s true, You make all Your mercies new
(Mercies New chorus lyrics / Nichole Nordeman / Woven and Spun Album )

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Song of Triumph

“We thank Him less by words than by the serene happiness of silent acceptance. It is our emptiness in the presence of His reality, our silence in the presence of His infinitely rich silence, our joy in the bosom of the serene darkness in which His light holds us absorbed, it is all this that praises Him.”
― Thomas Merton

There is not room for Death,
Nor atom that his might could render void:
Thou – Thou art Being and Breath,
And what Thou art may never be destroyed.

Emily Bronte

Eternal truth, eternal righteousness, eternal love; these only can triumph, for these only can endure.
Joseph Barber Lightfoot

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(the first butterfly of the new season, a Tiger swallowtail amongst the quince / Julie Cook / 2015)

We greet this brand new morning not as we normally would every other morning of every other day. . .
But rather, this new morning, this new day, is greeted with great expectancy. . .
We greet this morning not simply as a new day through old cloudily lenses but rather we greet this morning with the clarity of new sight.
For today marks the beginning of a day of transformation.

It is as if we, you and I, have emerged under the wing of the Victor from deep within the sealed dark and dusty tomb of Death
Eyes now clear, wide opened and focused are anxious to behold the brilliance of a new dawn.

And we greet this new morning with a song. . .
We sing our song in the face of all that was broken, damaged and dying.
For ours is the song of hope, of life and of Love

For what was fragmented, splintered, lost and laid in a tomb to rot has been found, recovered, repaired and made brilliantly whole.
For this new morning has been paved with wholeness. . .
Life indeed is now transformed
As we triumphantly sing this new morning’s song of a clear and brilliant Alleluia

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
The strife is o’er, the battle done,
the victory of life is won;
the song of triumph has begun.
Alleluia!

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
The powers of death have done their worst,
but Christ their legions hath dispersed:
let shout of holy joy outburst.
Alleluia!

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
The three sad days are quickly sped,
he rises glorious from the dead:
all glory to our risen Head!
Alleluia!

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
He closed the yawning gates of hell,
the bars from heaven’s high portals fell;
let hymns of praise his triumphs tell!
Alleluia!

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
Lord! by the stripes which wounded thee,
from death’s dread sting thy servants free,
that we may live and sing to thee.
Alleluia!

Words Symphonia Sirenum Selectarum, 1695
first three lines adapted from Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestria, 1525-1594
arranged by William Henry Monk, 1823-1889

I want to sing

“If I cannot fly, let me sing.”
Stephen Sondheim

“Sing, then. Sing, indeed, with shoulders back, and head up so that song might go to the roof and beyond to the sky. Mass on mass of tone, with a hard edge, and rich with quality, every single note a carpet of colour woven from basso profundo, and basso, and baritone, and alto, and tenor, and soprano, and also mezzo, and contralto, singing and singing, until life and all things living are become a song.
Richard Llewellyn

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(a tiny wren lifts his song skyward / Julie Cook / 2015)

Sing!
I want to sing!
I want to lift my voice to the Heavens!
I want to stand upon the roof top and shout my song to you!
I want you to hear me oh God of Heaven!
If I am not soon to let it out, everything within me will explode.

Yet I don’t know how to sing.
I don’t know how to make a pretty note.
Pitch is but a key quite off.
And Harmony is all but hidden.
There is no reading of music nor playing of sweet melodies.
How is there to be song if the sounds can’t be woven and spun?

Adoration and Praise
Lamentation and Sorrow
Exultation and Triumph
Meditation and Contemplation
How may such a lowly one express such mysteries to You?
How may prayer flow aloft carried only by the wind?

I will simply open my mouth
I will merely let the sound fall out
The Spirit Divine is who will carry my tune to You.
A Holy bearer of holy song will gently sing my song to you. . .

O what a miracle

O what a miracle is the presence of the divine heart
which foretold all creation.

With God’s gaze upon the face of man,
whom He formed,
He saw His entire works,
reflected in that same human form.

O what a miracle is this inspiration
by which humanity was awakened.

Hildegard von Bingen
translated from Latin to English by Norma Gentile