Monthly Archives: November 2021
By Christina Rossetti – 1830-1894
My heart is like a singing bird
Whose nest is in a water’d shoot;
My heart is like an apple-tree
Whose boughs are bent with thick-set fruit;
My heart is like a rainbow shell
That paddles in a halcyon sea;
My heart is gladder than all these,
Because my love is come to me.
Raise me a daïs of silk and down;
Hang it with vair and purple dyes;
Carve it in doves and pomegranates,
And peacocks with a hundred eyes;
Work it in gold and silver grapes,
In leaves and silver fleurs-de-lys;
Because the birthday of my life
Is come, my love is come to me.
Today is my 44th birthday. I took today off work, so I doubt I’ll be spending it with anyone. I am going to Burlington to have lunch with a friend of mine, and I might even take myself to dinner tonight and enjoy a lovely meal. Other than that, it’s really just another day. My mother will probably call, and my sister and her two kids will call to wish me happy birthday. That’s about it. Today’s poem is dedicated to it being my birthday.
About the Poem
Love poetry is a common theme in English literature, but there are a few truly great poems about being in love (and being happy). “A Birthday” is an example of a poem which celebrates being in love using colorful and majestic imagery. It is written by one of the Victorian era’s greatest poets. The poet is not celebrating her own birthday but celebrating the birthday of her lover.
Today is a very difficult day for me, and it has been for the past five years. It’s not because tomorrow is my birthday, and I’ll be one year older. No, I’m happy to be alive, and I count each year as a blessing. It’s a day filled with sadness for me because it’s the anniversary of the death of one of my closest friends. He doesn’t have the blessing of having another year. Six years ago, he’d spent Thanksgiving with his boyfriend and was on his way home when he was in a car accident that killed him. We had been texting about an hour or so before his death, and I’d told him to text me when he got home and the last thing I wrote while he was alive was, “I love you.” Later that night, I became suddenly nauseous and threw up. I texted him to say, “Text me when you get home. I’m going to bed because I’m not feeling well.
I never received the text that he was home safely. At first I thought he’d gotten home and fallen asleep forgetting to text me. I was becoming frantic the next day, my birthday, when I had not heard from him. I knew he’d never let my birthday go by without acknowledging it. I knew something had to be wrong. Later that night, I received an email from a friend of his telling me he’d died in a car wreck. I began to cry uncontrollably and basically did so for the next year or more. Grief nearly consumed me. If it had not been for Susan’s friendship, I don’t know how I would have survived.
Thinking back on that night six years ago when he died, I’m convinced he died at the moment I became sick that night. Some of you might think that is crazy, but we had a connection like none other I’d ever had. He was more than just a friend. He was like the younger brother I never had. One that I could tell anything to. He was the first gay friend I’d ever had. In him, I had someone I could talk to about being gay without any fear of judgement. He encouraged me to pursue my own happiness and was my greatest advocate when I got my job in Vermont. He knew it was a very gay friendly state and believed I’d flourish there. I guess he was right, but it took coming to terms with my grief over his death before I could begin to flourish in Vermont.
I had been in the closet for so long. Yes, I came out twenty years ago, but when I moved back to Alabama, I was kept pretty firmly behind that closet door. If it hadn’t been for him, I wouldn’t have met the boyfriend I had when I moved to Vermont. Sadly, said boyfriend is still in Alabama, and I’m up here, so it didn’t work out, but we had some great times together. I’d almost chickened out on meeting my soon to be boyfriend for the first time, but my friend encouraged me to go anyway, and I’m glad I did. It was a wonderful experience in my life.
I talked to my friend multiple times a day. We would text back and forth for hours. Though he lived in another state, we would even sit and watch TV shows “together.” We always watched Teen Wolf and How to Get Away with Murder together. I haven’t been able to watch either show since. He was there one day and yanked out of my life the next. I still find it hard to talk about him without getting very emotional. That’s why today is such a sad day for me. I always remember what a wonderful person he was, and what a great person the world missed out on getting to experience. I try to be more positive on my birthday, but I’ll be honest, it hasn’t been the same since he died.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Have you ever been a part of teaching someone about Jesus? I have been teaching in one form or another for the past twenty-two years whether at a university, private academy, or a museum. If you are or have ever been a teacher, then you undoubtedly know the joy when a student has an epiphany from something you’ve taught them, that moment when it finally clicks for that student or even a class as a whole. While I don’t believe in edutainment, I do enjoy departing knowledge in a way that is fun and relatable. Enthusiasm plays a major part in that. I have always found that when a teacher is enthusiastic, then that enthusiasm become infectious. If you are not enthusiastic about what you teach, students will not be enthusiastic about what they learn.
The same is true when spreading the message of love and acceptance that Jesus brought to this earth from heaven. When you open someone’s eyes to the message of Jesus dying on the cross for our sins, it is a momentous occasion. Just think how this person’s life has the opportunity to be changed. Picture it now, the potential for all they can accomplish and the growth they will encounter through God’s love and acceptance. Impacting a life makes a mark on eternity.
Are you making a difference? Are you spreading love and acceptance or are you spreading hate and fear? Jesus wants us to love one another unconditionally. We may dislike people and their ways, but we cannot allow ourselves to hate because if we do, we are no better than them. We lower ourselves to their level instead of attempting to lift them up to our level. Ever moment of life is a battle of good vs. evil, love vs. hate, courage vs. fear, acceptance vs. discrimination.
Good will win out over evil. Love will conquer hate. Courage will defeat fear. Acceptance will bring us closer to God, where as discrimination only distances people from God. We must stay positive, because it is the only way to defeat the negativity that exists in this world. I hope today that you will smile at a random stranger. You never know when that might make someone’s day and lift their spirits. It never pays to be mean. We need to do acts of kindness every day because we do not know what another person may be going through in their life. Sometimes, a small act of kindness can make a huge difference in someone’s life, even though we are unlikely to ever know how much of a difference we make.
One smile to a stranger can change their life. One compliment can improve someone’s day. Never forget the importance of spreading joy and kindness to the world. The late comedian Robin Williams has given us so many things throughout the years: movies, unforgettable impressions and funny memories. But also some incredibly wise quotes. He’s been credited with saying, “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.” Think of it as karma. Good begets good. Evil begets evil. The cartoonist Scott Adams offered this piece of advice, Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.” Author Henry James said, “Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.” We can do so much with just the simplest of gestures. Be kind and teach by example.
Today is supposed to be a rather messy weather day. I wish I could stay in and just curl up on the couch and watch television, but alas, I have an appointment at the Headache Clinic this morning. I’ll have to be very careful driving down there. The National Weather Service issued the following warning (edited for brevity and clarity):
From 1 pm today to 1 pm Saturday, snow is expected with a total accumulations of 3 to 7 inches and wind gusts as high as 35 mph. The mix of snow and rain is expected develop this morning before transitioning to all snow in the afternoon and continuing through tonight. The snow is expected to taper off Saturday morning. It is advised that drivers slow down and use caution while traveling and allow extra time if travel is necessary.
My travel this morning is necessary. This appointment is my quarterly Botox treatment for my migraines. I am so grateful for these treatments as it seems to be working, but they are a pain, literally. If my headaches had not been increasing over the last two weeks, I might attempt to postpone my appointment, but I feel that this is something that cannot wait. As I wrote this last night, I had a bad headache. With the increased frequency and intensity over the past two weeks, I desperately need some relief.
On a totally different note, my Thanksgiving meal turned out pretty well, especially the cornbread dressing and the dessert I made. Here’s the recipe for the dessert I came up with (I haven’t thought of a name for it yet. Any suggestions?):
- 12 oz bag of cranberries
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tsp orange zest
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 Granny Smith Apple (cored, peeled, and diced)
- 1/2 cup pineapple
- 2 oz. good vodka (I prefer Grey Goose)
- 4 Philadelphia Cheesecake Crumbles
- 1 can whipped cream (or make your own)
- Empty a 12-ounce bag of fresh or frozen cranberries into a saucepan.
- Add 1 cup sugar, 1 strip orange or lemon zest and 1/2 cup water to the pan and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and the cranberries are soft, about 10 minutes.
- Increase the heat to medium and cook until the cranberries burst, about 12 minutes.
- With 5 minutes left, add diced apples and pineapple and stir to combine.
- Add 2 oz. vodka and cool to room temperature.
- According to what consistency you would like the cranberry mixture, either leave as is or place in a food processor or blender and pulse to your desired consistency.
- Divide the mixture between 4 parfait glasses (or I used martini glasses). Top with one package of cheesecake, spreading evenly over cranberry mixture.
- Top with graham cracker crumbles and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.
- Just before serving, top with whipped cream.