Tuesday, May 31, 2016

7:30 BELLS: The Best of the Bells: Sunlight and Moonlight

Occasionally I run past favorite 7:30 BELLS posts, like this one, from last June.

In the field southeast of our house, daisies grow wild. Last night as I walked through them in the moonlight they shone—luminous, white-skirted, acres of them kicking up a can-can in the windy moonlight.

Enchanting, yes. Bells, bells, and more bells.

Then, the next morning, I walked through the field in the sunlight. Dazzling, bright, the daisies still kicked up their skirts in the wind, but now I saw their golden hearts revealed.

There’s a time to be luminous and mysterious. A time to be bright, bold, and flash your heart at the world. Sunlight and moonlight together, two things we never see at the same time, create the whole story. Look and keep looking, at every hour, in every light, for parts of yourself you can’t see all at once. Then knit them together in the wind to see your whole rich story.

7:30 BELLS Posts run every Tuesday.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

7:30 BELLS: Mystery Startles Us Awake

Tonight, when I walked the meadow at dusk, clouds played a dark melody on the sky. It was beautiful enough. 

Then . . .a train whistle blew. The brass coming in. I stopped, listened. Then listened to the echo. And again the whistle blew and echoed. And I stood transfixed.

I'm not the first to be transfixed by that plaintive sound. But I wondered, why did it make me feel so alive? And the answer was simple. Because it was laden with mystery. 

Mystery, wonder--the things we feel but can't quite name--can't pin to any rational explanation, startles us awake and makes us feel alive.

Think about the mystery of that: What we don't understand makes us feel most alive.

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Treasure Hunt for Books

Summer is almost here! That means, or I hope it does, reading outside--under trees, in trees, in hammocks, on beaches, boats, camp-outs, picnics . . . .

Kids always get assigned summer reading. But now is the time to ask them to make a list of three books they WANT to read this summer. This is the time to teach them the joy of recreational reading.

And if you hear the inevitable refrain . . . "I can't think of anything," send the child on a treasure hunt. Take her to the library and turn her loose to browse among the shelves. The only assignment: find three books to read that look interesting. Any books except graphic novels (we want them to READ). We need to teach the joy of random browsing among books. The joy of finding unexpected treasure that opens up your world.

Happy Summer Reading!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

7:30 BELLS: Let the Weeds Ring Out!

What made me feel alive this week? Weeds. Yes, weeds.

In spring they come forth—from everywhere. Between cracks in the pavement. Between gaps in the rockery. Among seedlings in the garden. In corners of pots. From everywhere comes the wonderful, verdant, riotous uplifting of life unrestrained.

I have three acres here in the country and lots of gardens. When I first moved here from the city, I looked at the weeds as soldiers in an invading army. I wanted manicured gardens. All that changed. Why? I changed.

I love that everything is alive and wants, fights, to live. I love the wild energy of weeds. And the bees love them, too. They make honey from their flowers.

I can’t think of a better way to live than to glean sweetness from what you once considered an enemy. Now the weeds and I do more than co-exist. Together, we flourish.

7:30 BELLS Posts run every Tuesday.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

7:30 BELLS Guest Post: Being Alive is Being Hosted, by Mitali Perkins

I'm pleased to share this month's 7:30 Bells Guest Post by award-winning children's book author Mitali Perkins.

I was dreading traveling to the Middle East last month. My father is declining and on hospice; my mother needs my help. Would they be okay while I was gone? On top of that, I was worried about encountering the kitsch that comes with tourism, especially in the Holy Land. Would I gag over Jesus Bobblehead dolls for sale in Bethlehem? But my pastor husband had invited me to go along with our church group, and I knew it was important that I go.

“Why are you going to Israel?” Dad asked, looking worried. “We don’t have family there!”

Thanks to cognitive decline, his English is failing faster than his native Bangla. I tried to figure out a way to answer in that language. And then it came in the blink of an aha moment: “I’m going to visit Jesus’ ‘desh’, Dad.”

“Oh!” He leaned back in his wheelchair, nodding with a sudden, full comprehension of the purpose of my trip.

“Desh” literally means “village,” but it’s one of those words that loses oodles of meaning in translation. You can’t really know someone in Bengal unless you visit their “desh.” You draw much closer once you’ve received hospitality in the place where they grew up.

The word rang with a chime of invitation to me. “Come to my village, Mitali,” I heard.

And so I went.

When I travel, I delight in engaging all five senses, but my Host knew all about that. The taste of steaming flat bread and fresh fish from the Sea of Galilee, the sounds of roosters crowing and children calling to each other in Nazareth, the cool feel of old, golden stones under my palm in Jerusalem, the smells of olive oil and nard in Bethlehem, the sight of a golden dome, high on a hill where old olive trees remembered everything … I loved every minute in Jesus’ desh, and my parents shared the visit through the photos I was sending.

Being alive, after all, is being hosted. The whole world is His “desh.”

P.S. No bobblehead Jesus dolls. Only olive-wood sheep. I bought ten.

Mitali Perkins is the author of several novels, including Rickshaw Girl (chosen by the New York Public Library as one of the top 100 books for children in the past 100 years) and Bamboo People (an American Library Association's Top Ten Novels for Young Adults.) Her newest, Tiger Boy, Charlesbridge, is a Notable Book for a Global Society and an NCTE Charlotte Huck Honor Book. Mitali was born in Kolkata, India before immigrating to the US with her family when she was seven. 

7:30 BELLS Posts run every Tuesday.
7:30 BELLS Guest Posts run on the second  Tuesday of every month.