The gift giving season of Christmas and other holidays has started and everyone is shopping for the perfect gift and waiting to hopefully receive their perfect gift in return. One of my fondest memories of childhood occurred when I was ready to start school for the first time, and my grandmother made something very special for me. It was not expensive looking by today’s standards, but for a young child starting kindergarten, it was awesome.
A simple but beautiful white book bag hand sewn with my name embroidered in red, “Jeannie.” My grandmother always called me by my middle name, but she pronounce it Gina. If only my grandmother knew she had not only provided a great gift, but she also provided a blessing. I still remember her goodness and these wonderful treasures of her being my grandmother and of her gift.
Her present to me was so inspirational it sparked a life long interest in learning. When I set eyes on my first school bag my excitement about attending school spiraled even further. I wondered about what kind of books the teacher would give out so that I could put them into this bag. I was holding the most expensive bag in the world. I could not wait to get some paper and writing instruments because these items were necessary tools which every student must have, and I liked writing and drawing instruments. This was to prove prolific because I am an artist and a writer. I knew I wanted to do this since I was four years old.
Sometimes I would sit at my grandparent‘s pristine dining room table with white laced table-cloth and practice drawing lines and making doodles. I remember my grandparents watching me. When my grandfather would lay his pencil down, I would take it and start drawing with it, but when he realized he no longer had it, he went looking for it. I was the one who took it, and I did not always want to give it back. When my other relatives explained to me that my grandfather really needed his very small pencil, I kind of understood. My grandmother, uncle, or aunt would replace his pencil with another pencil, and I was appreciative.
I had this urgency to craft, draw or practice writing. My grandfather learned to guard his small yellow pencil with pink eraser, and he remembered not to leave it on the table and walk away. It fit perfectly into his shirt pocket. I finally got the message that no one should take his pencil. It was only later on that I learn to appreciate why he treasured this pencil. He was not being selfish.
Whatever this book bag contained and anything in it became even more special. It was a special present because my grandmother made it with love. Her excitement for my education and her enthusiastic nature inspired me to look forward to a great learning experience. My mother was also happy and proud of me.
Holding it in my hand, I examined it most thoroughly. It was white with red embroidery. Simple hand stitching, and the most wonderful thing was I could see my name on it. I thought how smart my grandmother was because of her talent for sewing. Later on I acquired this skill and watch both my grandmother and mother designed and mend clothing. My mother was a professional seamstress.
When you look at school bags today, they come in all sorts of designs made of heavy plastic or canvas,. They are so non-personal in contrast to my school bag made with love. You can’t buy love. Love is not plastic. Over the years I tried to hold on to this bag for as long as I could, but eventually it moved on with grace. I may no longer have the school bag, but its meaning and its message are in my heart forever.
It takes a special person to give you something that no one else can give you. If you accept it with a child like attitude and a humble spirit you will see its true value. Adults rarely see value in inexpensive items, because they look at monetary value. They only buy presents for people they know will buy them a present. Sometimes expensive gifts are okay, but don’t forget to understand the real value of the gift and why it is being given. Learn to appreciate the true value of small things, because it is the thought behind the gift that really counts.
I am thankful for my grandmother’s wonderful hand-made gift which set me on my path to education. She is with God, but her hand sewn bag contained a gift of wisdom for me. Remember when you celebrate the holidays to bless the giver, be appreciative of small things, and be thankful for every gift even if it has little value.
Is it normal to love or is it normal to hate?
Depends on circumstances or fate
Loving is for the giving
Others void the receiving
And find it not normal to relate
Left out when ignoring fate
Walking out of Love’s revolving door
Others find it just worth faking
For some, romantic dreams are normally forsaken
While living in the world of frustrating love.
They are molded to believe this way
Like a repeated nightmare, they keep collecting fears
Visualized like a mirror reflecting the surreal
Practicing what they want the world to see and feel
A little scrutiny to clear-up
And cover with a band-aid the nicks and cuts
Safer to hide the face of abnormal fears
Rather then showing any kind of courageous love.
I posted this poem on-line as a response to a writer’s prompt involving the word normal or a concept of normal. I try to bring out what people often like to hide. They sometimes miss the opportunity for love.
The reason behind Jacob‘s wrestling with an angel of God is just one of the many mysterious ways in which God works. He works in unconventional ways and in ways we often do not expect. Who was this angel, and why did Jacob have to fight this holy being? Jacob’s story is found in the book of Genesis and foreshadows Jacob’s calling the nation of Israel. Jacob not only is given the blessing of first fruits, but he is also given a new name. The Lord is most willing to call each of us in unique ways so that we can also receive blessings, and like Jacob sometimes we do struggle.
Messengers or angels are often sent by God as an answer to prayer or when we need guidance. The angel sent to Jacob is disguised as a man who appeared at the banks of a river to have a conflict with Jacob. Jacob was going through some spiritual turmoil. There must have been some common trait found in both the man and Jacob. The angel could have appeared with wings, but it really does not matter. Jacob was physically touched by the angel who took human form just as Christ took human form. Could the angel have been Jesus? According to the Gospel of John, ” The Word” is Jesus and “The Word” existed with God, and was the same as God. Jacob does remark that he saw God face to face.
Jacob’s plan will later influence the nation of Israel giving us Jesus the Messiah. The communication between God and Jacob is truly personal, but becomes shared because Jacob’s ordeal is really a message for everyone. God wants Jacob to be deserving of blessings, and he also wants us to be worthy. This is why we must not give up in our struggles against sin and temptation. We may not wrestle outwardly, but we wrestle inwardly. We need to realize that God himself will help us.
What God did for Jacob was to prepare him to be father of a nation and give him a special name. I believe that God does give us a new name and he calls us by that name. When daybreak approaches Jacob realizes that he is not fighting an ordinary being and then ask the man to bless him. When Jacob tells the being his name, the angel changes it from Jacob to Israel. The angel tells him he will be called Israel because he struggles with God and men. Genesis 32, 22-31. The man is revealed to be “the angel of the Lord” and Jacob names the place Peniel which means I have seen God face to face.
By Illustrators of the 1897 Bible Pictures and What They Teach Us by Charles Foster [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons Illustration from the 1897 Bible Pictures and What They Teach Us: Containing 400 Illustrations from the Old and New Testaments: With brief descriptions by Charles Foster
Jacob’s ability to wrestle with the man all night is a superhuman act and not a typical wrestling match. Jacob did not die from the struggle but because he overcame his inner conflicts his life is spared. Because Jacob was willing to fight, God transferred Jacob’s superior characteristic spirit and made it personify Israel and all those who follow God through Jesus Christ. The nation of Israel has always endured conflict and this is why God gave Jacob a new name. One day the messianic king will return.
Struggling with our life and situations is not a sign that God is punishing us, but our conflicts and the way we handle them should involve a refining process. This is how Jacob is found worthy. Our struggles help make us receptive to our higher calling. Just like God knew Jacob, he knows all of us. Jacob had to fight this angel in order to show his worthiness. He was not just trying to win, but in this struggle Jacob is defeating his fears and repairing his flaws. God has to get Jacob’s attention, and he does so by an outward struggle. In order to past the time men often wrestled or played combative sports. This kept them physically fit.
God understands our thought processes, and he does not change, because one that is perfected does not need to change. God’s ways are the same, but he relates differently to each of us on a more personal level. Even though we struggle with internal conflicts or everyday concerns, God is there helping us and giving victories when we call to him. Blessings even happen when we thank him, and even when we are unaware, some stranger will help you, but don’t be surprise if it is an angel.
About fourteen years ago I painted a mural for the City of Marion and their Recreation Department. I had a full-time job working during the day and afterwards I would come home and eat, then head down town to the Marion recreation center. I would stay late to paint this mural, and sometimes working until the early morning hours. The news clipping illustrates only a small part of the mural; however, the mural no longer exists because the current recreation center official painted over it. She said the admin policy changed when the new mayor became elected. What a strange decision.At least some people got to view it. I am happy anyway. God has a plan. Here is the news clipping or part of the clipping. This is only a small part of the mural.
The writing of poetry is an artistic form of expression eliciting deeper feelings and emotions which is written about any subject. The art form of poetry is creating poetic words with an expressive personal style. Becoming a true poet is a growth process; however, there is something deeper inside waiting to be expressed. What inspires poetry writing? Is it a build-up of ideas or do poetic thoughts spontaneously appear?
Sit in a room and look around you or take a walk and look at the path. What do you see? Is there something that reminds you of the past? That old wooden toy or an old letter from a loving relative who is no longer with you. All of this is your inspiration. I was actually inspired to write a poem called “The Shadow” while waiting in a dentist’s waiting room. While observing everyone around me some people were reading magazines, some were talking, and others just sitting there.
It was important for me to somehow question their movements and expressions, but then I sensed a cohesiveness in the waiting room. Everyone appeared to have a shadowy existence. They were existing in their own reality while maintaining a separateness from all others. The focus was on what they all had in common. In this case, the shadow, which could not be seen, but is hidden. A shadow is much like the real self which remains hidden but becomes exposed under certain conditions.
My life experiences and years of employment, people skills, and sales skills have given me a better understanding about observing and interacting with people. While writing “The Shadow”, I did not actually stare at anyone, but looked quickly around with notebook and pen in hand; then, the thought about what we can’t see, the shadows, entered my head. This is how I sometimes write poetry, but this is only one way.
Inspiration to write poetry can come to you when you least expect it, and it is often better when you are not even looking for something to inspire you. Just let it come. Observe people and life around you. We realize that a common situation can be very inspiring to a poet, because something is there which takes us beyond our normal experiences. It is all a matter of just using your senses and going beyond what you see. It is what influences and touches you on a spiritual level, and this is why we are more than shadow.
You can check out “The Shadow” and other poems at this on-line publication by copying and pasting this link:
Posted in The Poetry of Life | Tagged Anonymous, Art, Blog, Literature, National Poetry Month, Online Writing, poet, Poetry, poetry writing, Shadow, What inspires poetry, Writers Resources, writing | 3 Comments »