Tuesday, December 24, 2013


Photo by S. Auberle

Though I've made it a tradition the last few years to post the beautiful letter of Fra Giovanni on Christmas Eve, this year I want to share a part of the piece "Christmas Eve in Door" by my mentor and friend--Norbert Blei, who died this year...

"I think of my family in other places.  I think of friends spread out in so many directions.  I think of my own journey in place this Christmas Eve in Door.  

I think . . .of Christmas as spirit, alive in all men, in all seasons, in all places, and how it flickers in the darkest recesses imaginable.  I think of my gift, my work:  to find the people, the place, the time, the words and forms to say these things for all, yet make them mine.

Call it Christmas.  Call it spirit.  Call it love.  Call it light.

In the midnight hours I read a Hopi incantation, and turn to sleep:

The day has risen.
Go I to behold the dawn.
Go behold the dawn!
The white-rising!
The yellow rising!
It has become light.

And on Christmas morning, on the road, a clarity of sky, a gift of sun."

excerpted from the book "Door Steps" by Norbert Blei, The Ellis Press, Peoria, IL
the words "Find Me In My Writing" on his tombstone...

Saturday, December 21, 2013


Book Illustration by Vlidislav Erko
We are reminded sometimes of important things in unexpected places.  Once upon a winter's eve, at a school holiday pageant, this happened.  In a small village on a small peninsula, reaching out into a mighty lake, a theater curtain rose on a production of Christmas Around the World.  The spotlights shone on a kindergarten class--four rows of children in their bright costumes.  Wiggling, bouncing, dancing, laughing, they stood on stage risers--all except one little boy.  In the front row, he alone sat, his face a study in woebegone misery.  He was brave, not crying--yet.  But clearly, tears seemed only seconds away.  The pageant director, resplendent in her Snow Queen silver and blue, knelt down to talk with him.  All was still in the auditorium as they whispered for a moment, and then the Queen stood, walked back to the front of the stage and lifted her baton.  The boy rubbed his eyes, and sadly looked out at the vast sea of faces.  But he did not move.  For the three happy songs of the class performance, he sat, still as a tiny Buddha.  When the music ended, he rose and marched out with the rest.  As the child's ordeal ended,  I wondered who among us did not want to wrap this little guy in a bear hug, wrap the child we ourselves once were, hug every child in this scary world today, and whisper it's okay, everything's gonna be alright.  Was there anyone in this audience who did not feel compassion this night?   Did not remember, in some distant corner of their mind, a moment of their own--of being different, of being alone in a crowd, everyone brave and happy but us?  Even kings and splendid Snow Queens, I suspect, did not always shine so bright…

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


Photo by S. Auberle

A candle lights this gray dawn--no sunrise yet at 7:15, only a faint lightening over the old orchard.  The coffee is dark and sweet and the furnace hums.  14 degrees, and a small south wind gives hope for a brief respite from the cold.  Ice creeps further out from the shore, into the deepest indigo waters, and only a few open patches remain.  The ice is early this year.  Last night a full moon lighted the frozen land.  "Small Spirit" is the Anishnaabe name for  December's moon, while out on the vast plains, the Cheyenne named it "Moon When Wolves Gather Together."  In the dreams of poets and children, wolf song still rings through the night.  Yesterday the dawn sky was a bowl of peaches suspended above a white table.  This morning the only color is a radiance of cardinals in the twisted old crabapple tree.  What better name for a gathering of these bright birds!  Inside, the geranium, the orchid and Christmas cactus still bravely bloom, though the cactus holds only one pink blossom now, soon to fall.  Cards lie scattered on the oak table by the window, waiting to be written, waiting to touch old friends, assure that yes, we are still here, and all is well, as another year joins the great book of memories.  Suddenly across the road, the very tip of an old cedar flames, then another and another.  Tuesday, December 17, 2013, the miracle of sunrise once more…

Saturday, December 14, 2013


Photo by S. Auberle

"All this hurrying
soon will be over.
Only when we tarry
do we touch the holy."
~  Rainer Maria Rilke