My mom, with her sister/brother quartet, used to sing this poem in slow doleful harmony. A young girl on her lap, I would shiver at the very thought of Robert’s words as mom softly crooned in her low alto. I hum this to myself often, especially when death arrives yet again as it has so suddenly in our tight-knit community this week. It’s a sobering thought.
Just think! some night the stars will gleam
Upon a cold, grey stone,
And trace a name with silver beam,
And lo! ’twill be your own.
That night is speeding on to greet
Your epitaphic rhyme.
Your life is but a little beat
Within the heart of Time.
A little gain, a little pain,
A laugh, lest you may moan;
A little blame, a little fame,
A star-gleam on a stone.
May the God of all comfort be with those who are facing this reality tonight.
Forgive the unoriginal title.
I made white pizza for supper. (Vegetarian recipe, but could add some crumbles of bacon. This recipe is really versatile.)
You should definitely try it! There are multiple steps, but it is still quite simple and oh-so-tasty!
I served it with leftover corn-poblano-potato soup, (vegan recipe) and fresh strawberries we bought from a friend in 4-H.
This blue dish was a gift to me as a young teenager. I know this makes me sound old-fashioned and, well, just old, but when we were young, we always had planning for marriage and family in our forefront. Many gifts I received were given with the idea that one day I would use them in a home of my own. This is one of them. I still treasure this gift, but more so, the friend who gave it to me. I think of her every time I use it.
Here’s what it looks like empty.
May your memories be warm, your dishes filled with goodness, and your friendships sweet.
By Regina Cyzick Harlow
Against my nerves
Rattling my soul
Leaving me in a constant state of angst
Unsettled, unnerved, gloomy
Perhaps a kite
Or harnessed power experiment
Might lift my spirit
I’m drinking coffee
In my favorite yellow chair
About the wind
Every time I attend funeral services for an Old Order Mennonite family member or friend, I wish those “outside” could experience their death rituals, rich with culture, community, and faith. The horse-drawn hearse and the four-part-harmony singing make me cry every time.
This week I attended the funeral for my great Aunt Mary. Later that evening, I wrote this poem about the graveside portion of the service.
Regina Cyzick Harlow
From Aunt Mary Beery’s funeral
Dirt onto the coffin
Filling the grave
Formed from dust
To dust returning
Discretely wiping tears
Faint florals blend
And moth balls
Wafting on the breeze
Inhaling the promise
Of Living Hope
For those unfamiliar with Old Order Mennonites, they are often confused with Amish because they drive horse and buggy, dress plainly, and live simple agrarian lives. My family and I were raised in the Old Order Mennonite faith, and while I had my reasons for leaving as a young adult, I hold many things and people dear from their community.
My friend, Ava, wrote an in-depth article about their death rituals here. She captures the essence of what happens at the time of death through the funeral in vivid beautiful detail.
These two make my world a much happier place. I need happy right now and thought maybe you could use some too.
Yo. That’s good stuff!
What? You’re taking pictures of this?!
Sheesh Mom, stop embarrassing me with all the photos.
Would y’all stop the shenanigans? I’m trying to sleep over here!
Oh shucks! Now she’s taking my picture too!
A few weeks before Christmas, I took Our 9 and 6 year-old on a walk through the basement of our house. The goal was to find ten items that I would eventually write a poem about. We play the “describing game” all the time where one person defines something without naming it, and everyone else guesses. This time, we described without defining and took it to a whole new level of fun for us!
Here’s the list of items we found: Globe, Horseshoe, Maracas, Christmas lights, Toys, Nativity, Clock, Presents, Coat, Glasses. I had no agenda for what the poem might become. The end result as words flowed from me, was a poem about Creation Care.
I snapped those pictures from some of my favorite places with my phone. I love the way God uses Creation to speak to me.
By Regina Cyzick Harlow
Sphere rumbles, rhythmic
Marchers, move toward eternal
Tired, worn out, used up sphere
Capitulating to misuse and consumerism
Beneath the pounding beat
Blind marchers march
Caught in the flow
Impetuous, heedless, injudicious
The stage set
A junction, once in periphery, becomes clearer
Marchers arrive at the hour of decision
Hope, born into their world
Salvation, Eternal Gift
Birthed from darkness
Pointing beyond time
Gate of Perfection
Marchers, every tongue and tribe and nation
Gathered in orbs of jasper, ruby, emerald,
Emanating from the One True Light
Basking in the warmth of One True Love
A New Heaven and a New Earth
Finally the Marchers treasure the gift