Posts Tagged ‘child’

My father lives in a different world than me.

He lives in Mallorca, Spain and the traditions are different in many ways. I always like to hear of the festivities for different occasions, so I sent an email asking him about Christmastide, and whether they decorate Christmas trees.  I received this long message which I want to pass on to my readers, complete with links and photos.  I am especially amazed by the snowflake lights.  At the bottom of the post you can listen to the song my father refers to in this message, sung by a child.

I hope you all have a meaningful Christmas celebration in honor of the Son of God who came to Earth to save us all.

Shalom,

Sister Olive

~♥~

Dear Dottir,

In the last decade or so, yes, Christmas trees, Santa Claus, elves and any commercialization possible has taken over.  Even here in this small village, in the little plaza up in town there is a Christmas tree with decorations.

Before this northern invasion, Christmas Eve was celebrated in the church, or quietly in the home, no tree, no gifts just a celebration of the birth and the mother.  Here on Mallorca and in Catalunya, they had another very strange custom. A young child sings the Sybila, a song of the Judgment Day. You can read about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Song_of_the_Sibyl 

I have heard it sung many times over the years, because when I directed the church choir we were up in the organ loft, waiting for our turn to sing various Christmas songs from the region.  It is a haunting melody, very difficult for a child to sing, so they practice it for weeks before, no accompaniment of any kind, just that pure “white voice” as they call unchanged voices here. Here it is sung in a little church by a woman: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cfirOs1RGIc

In the Cathedral of Palma they make a real production of it, with full choir, organ and a young woman singing http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8aYV_Kqv44g– these may be beautiful, but I prefer the single child in the Deya church, innocently singing about the end of the world.  Every year a different child is chosen.

Before also, the decorations were basically “nerulas” or white paper cutouts like snowflakes, hung across the nave of the church and in houses.  The streets still are blazoned with lights, as traditionally – I first saw them in Barcelona in 1969 and was amazed. Take a look https://www.google.es/search?q=christmas+lights+in+Barcelona&hl=en&tbo=u&tbm=isch&source=univ&sa=X&ei=nZfRULDuGOyY0QWeuICoBA&ved=0CEMQsAQ&biw=1024&bih=614

As for myself, you know me – Stephanie and I would sometimes walk and look at the world, especially the stars which are exceptionally bright in winter, just appreciating Creation, perhaps lamenting its ultimate passing…

I will be doing that alone this year for sure, and will send my love to you all.  What I see from my balcony is this:

 Poppy's Window View

Where Chopin stayed in 1838 for the winter, so I have good company.

At night it is lit up, blocking the stars until late, when they are turned off.

 Poppy's View at Night

What will you be doing?  Have you found a compatible church where you can enjoy the songs of Christmas?

Lots of love,

Poppy

~♥~

Here is the link for the solo sung by a child, my favorite of the versions so far:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nANDw8XOHhU

 ~♥~

The Song of the Sibyl

On the Day of Judgment
The good go to heaven for their services.

An eternal King cometh
Dressed in our mortal flesh
He certainly will come from heaven
To judge the century.

Before the judgment is passed
A great sign will show itself
The sun will lose its shine
The earth will tremble with fear.

Then comes a mighty thunder
The sign of a great anger
In a hellish confusion
Rays and cries resound.

A great fire will fall from the sky
In a stench of sulfur
And the earth will burn furiously
And a great terror afflict people.

Then comes the terrible signal
A major earthquake
The rocks will break
And the mountains will collapse.

Then nobody will have gold pieces
Silver or wealth
And all await sentencing.

Death will leave you penniless
And all collide
Only men remain crying
And sadness will cover the world.

The plains and peaks are all the same
Good and bad will be achieved
Kings, dukes, earls and barons
They will have to account for their actions.

And then comes, unexpected
The son of God Almighty
He will judge the living and the dead
The good go to heaven.

The Unborn
Cry from the wombs of their mothers
And with her cries say
“Help us God Almighty”

Mother of God, pray for us
You, the Mother of All Sins
You have the judgment merciful
You have that paradise is open to us.

You who have heard it all
Pray to God with devotion
With all your heart and fervor
That should save us.

 ~♥~

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My brother disappeared from my life very early because he was adopted by my grandfather, so I have very few memories of him as a young boy. But sometimes while I eat my morning corn flakes, I imagine him sitting across the table studying his cereal box with a serious adult expression, penciling a line through the maze or cutting out an order form for the Goofy Grape Kool-Aid cup. He was always the scientist and the wise guy, no matter how ridiculous he appeared at the time.

I can see him now with his little felt cowboy hat and the red string under his chin pulled tight with a brown bead. His skin was the color of oatmeal and small freckles dotted his nose and cheeks. His brown hair was always just a bit too short and his cowlick looked like a paintbrush stroke over his right eyebrow. He tied a red bandana around his neck and chased me around firing his silver cap gun because he knew I despised loud noises.

He chewed Bazooka bubble gum and once in awhile gave me a piece, as long as I gave him back the comic because he was collecting them along with Cracker Jack prizes. My brother watched Batman in the evenings and savored superhero comics. His favorite character was Penguin, the aristocratic crook with flashy clothes.

My brother kept boxes full of creepy comic books like “Tales from the Crypt” and whenever I sneaked into his room and opened one of them, it didn’t take long for me to run back to my own room with my friendly Disney toys. (Of course I abused them when I was mad at my brother and wanted someone smaller to kick around.)

On Saturday’s we watched Rocky and Bullwinkle and Underdog and the Wacky Races. I imagined that I was Penelope Pitstop and my brother was Dick Dastardly, especially when he would say “Drat, drat, double drat.” In Underdog he was Sinister Simon. Of course I was Polly, but Underdog never showed up to rescue me.

I worked hard at school to get good grades, but my brother always came home with perfect report cards, straight A’s to be exact. Jealous and confused, I often wondered if you had to be wicked to be smart. That seemed to be the formula for the cartoon villains he admired, so I resigned to the fact that I could never be that smart.

I remember when he got his first job as a paperboy. I can still see him at the table, putting the rolled up newspapers into his canvas bag, and strolling out to jump onto his red bike and riding away. I felt jealous of him at times like these, and even more so when he returned and sat at the table, counting his coins in little round columns and then putting them into his cigar box. He was the only one with money, and sometimes he would walk with me and our little sister to Burger King. We would wear our cardboard crowns as we drank Orange Crush and ate cheeseburgers with mustard and no pickles and plenty of French fries.

But mostly my brother loved to terrify me, his stormy little sister who was already scared of everything. I was the perfect victim for his wicked games unlike my quiet fearless little sister, and he knew this too well. He would chew the warts on his fingers until they bled, light candles and pass his hands through the flame, set off noisy firecrackers- and he told horrific ghost stories. I always asked him to tuck me in to bed since our parents were away, but instead he told me frightful tales he heard over the campfire during Cub Scouts. Blue-eyed Bloody Bones was his favorite, and I would cry when he would wail with a quivery voice “Blue-eyed bloody bones gonna eat you up.” I would scream and beg him to stop and he would laugh and laugh.

His laughter was always odd, because it seemed to emerge from a frown instead of a smile like most people. The sound of his laugh was smooth and gentle, but his top lip would curl back over his small teeth, and the lower lip would contort like the lips of Gumby as if they weren’t sure what to do. His left eye would narrow and his right eye would roll upward like a milky glass marble towards his forehead. I never could figure out if he felt happy or sad, because his face never really told the story.

On Sundays, I would awaken to the sound of the TV in the living room. I would find my brother sitting in his footy pajamas on the cold wooden floor with his cereal bowl and spoon, watching the Lone Ranger or the singing cowboy. I could sense his loneliness at moments like these, because no one seemed to fit into his world. No Tonto or Silver or fair damsels. Only his mask.

Amid all of the confusion of our childhood, I think he discovered his super powers but lost his identity. I am still looking for his face behind the disguises.

It was hard for him trying to be a man at the age of ten in a house with no parents. I don’t know how he endured the pressure at such a young age. I couldn’t see it then, but I can see it now. He wanted to protect me, but he was trying to enjoy being a kid too. It was a terrible juggling act and I think he felt inadequate for the task.

Although I missed him when he left and never got to know him after he came of age, I am pleased that my grandfather offered him a secure world where he could relax and play for awhile.

Film poster for The Legend of the Lone Ranger

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I know that I have been neglecting my writing for some time for a variety of reasons, but I hope to get busy again before long. I have continued looking in on your blogs and have not forgotten you.

I know it sounds cliche to say that trials and temptations are always along my path, but if you are a spiritual wayfarer, you know how it is. Sometimes we create our own woes by trying to be tough and manage our own affairs without God and sometimes our character is being put to the test, but I have learned that it’s all right as long as I don’t forget who I belong to.

I watched a film about Martin Luther recently, and how he was plagued with fears over his soul while he was young. A certain priest told him that he should hold on to Christ with all of his might and pray continually “I am yours. Save me.” This is a beautiful prayer for a child of God, because we are so helpless without our Father.

I have realized a few scary new things about my damaged heart during the past year or so.  I have discovered that many of my relationships in life- friends, sweethearts, even spiritual leaders- have been part of my subliminal search for parents. I have sought unconsciously for people to take care of me and comfort me and I have never been as responsible and self-sufficient as many adults, because there is still a frightened child living inside my body.

Fortunately God has dispatched many human angels to me over the years, who have carried my burdens with great love. But since I’ve had this epiphany, I want to rise above these fears that have troubled me for so long. I think about the words Christ spoke after He healed a certain woman. He said, “Be of good cheer. Thy faith has made thee whole.” Only Christ has the power to repair all of my damage, and no human being can ever be as trustworthy as He is.

I have loved Christ for most of my life, so pray that I might truly find my peace in Him. The scriptures say that “perfect love casts out fear.”

Shalom,

“Sister Olive”

~♥~

 

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“The suspense: the fearful, acute suspense: of standing idly by while the life of one we dearly love, is trembling in the balance; the racking thoughts that crowd upon the mind, and make the heart beat violently, and the breath come thick, by the force of the images they conjure up before it; the desperate anxiety to be doing something to relieve the pain, or lessen the danger, which we have no power to alleviate; the sinking of soul and spirit, which the sad remembrance of our helplessness produces; what tortures can equal these; what reflections of endeavours can, in the full tide and fever of the time, allay them!”
Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist

English: A photograph of an engraving in The W...

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I am feeling a peculiar mixture of emotions as I prepare to depart for Spain-  happy and overwhelmed and apprehensive to name a few of them.

I feel like Bilbo Baggins after Gandalf and the unexpected party showed up at his door and summoned him for an adventure. There is a part of me that would just as soon stay safe and snug in my hobbit hole, and let brave-hearted folks go to faraway lands to meet a dark mysterious stranger (who just happens to be my father- there’s the rub).

It has dawned on me that I really don’t know my father…but I want to so much.  Please keep praying for me that I will “go out with joy and be led forth with peace.”

“Sister Olive”

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i remember you defending me when people didn’t understand me, i remember recording your singing and drawing you art and you treating them like they were special, i remember you showing up to school trying to keep me from being bullied. i remember going to lighthouse park and climbing trees while you played tennis, i remember you buying me crystals and crushed pennies on our trips to north carolina.

~♥~

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I came across these lovely quotes while reading Twice-Told Tales today, and they really spoke to me:

 The mother’s character, on the other hand, had a strain of poetry in it, a trait of unworldly beauty- a delicate and dewy flower, as it were, that had survived out of her imaginative youth, and still kept itself alive amid the dusty realities of matrimony and motherhood.

…for all through her life she had kept her heart full of childlike simplicity and faith, which was as pure and clear as crystal; and, looking at all matters through this transparent medium, she sometimes saw truths so profound, that other people laughed at them as nonsense and absurdity.

From “The Snow-Image”

English: Twice-Told Tales by Hawthorne. Printe...

(For more of Olive’s favorites, click on the “QUOTES” page or category- look above or in the sidebar)

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