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QUINTESSENCE

Postcard of Marvels

Cottage, Faroe Islands, North Sea.
ORIENT
by Billy Collins

You are turning me
like someone turning a globe in her hand,
and yes, I have another side
like a China no one,
not even me, has ever seen.

So describe to me what's there,
say what you are looking at
and I will close my eyes
so I can see it too,
the oxcarts and all the lively flags.

I love the sound of your voice
like a little saxophone
telling me what I could never know
unless I dug a hole all the way down
through the core of my self.


Why do we read poetry? Because a poem tells us something about ourselves or the world that we sense to be true but have not found or known to express. A poem is a gift of language. Someone hands us a poem to read, and as the words settle into our brains and senses, the poetry transforms our understanding. New language. Language that carries the odors and tastes of tinny regret, shining cities, old earth, briny sea, hot love, or wet winds. Poetry gives us a way to speak about the world beyond the limitations of our native tongue.

This small poem ORIENT by Billy Collins is both a nugget of insight and a love note. I appreciate the way Billy Collins spins the word "orient" in his poem, a double entendre. He speaks of mysterious Asia, from where he stands a distant land, and yet the meaning delves inward, invoking the distances traveled toward deeper self-knowledge, "down through the core of my self." This poem offers an appreciation of the other - for that fresh truth, that unknown knowledge of the self found in the eyes of our familiars. His friend, lover perhaps, turns him like "a globe in her hand," examining the hidden side, the shadowed side. Digging straight through to China as we used to say as kids, hand-shovels churning the beach in search of treasure.

All too frequently we undervalue what we cannot see, dismiss aspects of ourselves reflected in the observations of others. And we sometimes undervalue those who know us this well; those who see us intimately, honestly. We possess strange mysteries within us, as Collins imagines - foreign lands, stranger times, exotic ways. Those who love us know these secret festivals. Those who love us best celebrate our mystery, "telling me what I could never know." For it will always and forever be true that each of us sees the world and our selves from inside the room, looking out on what is not us, while our beloved "other" observes us from beyond those limits, watches us from the street, peeking in our windows. We are voyeurs to one another always, and this is both why and how we love. We color in our private invisible and faraway lands from the brightly-colored postcards and humorous travel notes our lovers post on their journeys beside us, hearing ourselves in their words, "voice like a little saxophone."

It's a good day to tell someone you are close to, Thank you for the way you see me. And maybe an opportunity to send a postcard of marvels of your own.

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The Gratitude Stole

The Gratitude Stole
Which is to say, mi corazon, drink up the sunlight you can and stop feeding the good fruit to the goat. Tell me you believe the world is made of more than all its stupid, stubborn, small refusals, that anything, everything is still possible. I wait for word here where the snow is falling, the solitaires are calling, and I am, as always, your M.
- from "To Gabriela at the Donkey Sanctuary," Incarnadine by Mary Syzbist

The Gratitude Stole is a tradition at Stanford University. The stole's only decoration is the University logo in gold thread at the bottom. Graduating seniors who choose to do so, wear this red silk stole through commencement. After commencement, the new graduate removes the stole and places it around the shoulders of that one person the student feels supported him or her most significantly, mentored their success, or inspired them toward their life calling.

My son placed the Gratitude Stole on me.

He didn't need to. I was forever and always his number one fan, yet other fine men and women had a hand in his success. We'd been though a lot together as a family. I knew he was thinking not just of me at that moment, but of his absent father, who passed away in 2003. I knew he was reflecting on the unexpected challenges and struggles he endured to grow into a young adult, a confident man, and today a university graduate. We both knew the accomplishment was entirely his; his alone that core of courage and determination. I was simply that someone who believed in him. I offered faith. Faith in his ability to meet his challenges, faith in his intelligence and talents, faith in his chosen dreams, and faith in our resilience and love as a family. I believed in my son, because that's what parents do. But I was believing for two: his father and me.

I know Ken would have been incredibly proud of David on this day. I know he would have been proud not only for the completion of his education, but for the character and integrity his son exemplified every step of his journey. I felt the twinness of their beauty, the father and the son. The light of the man gone illumined the sparkle of the younger man before me. Receiving the Gratitude Stole from my son made visible the love and faith carried forward by a long line of strong shoulders. The father. Grandparents no longer here. Our closest friends. All of us bearing witness to one young man's quiet triumph on this day.

I think symbolic ceremonies set apart life's important moments and teach us about continuity. These ceremonies mark one journey's end and embrace turning forward to the next. Symbols of recognition and accomplishment, while certainly cultural or institutional, live within the deeply personal. Behind a graduation or diploma stand the dreams and struggles every such achievement signifies. Years, perhaps entire lifetimes embroider the borders of ceremony. I like to think even the presence of those no longer with us.

We see ourselves in these moments, and I know that I saw myself in David's eyes.
Grateful.

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Wings

WINGS
I saw the heron
poise
like a branch of white petals
in the swamp,

in the mud that lies
like a glaze,
in the water
that swirls its pale panels

of reflected clouds;
I saw the heron shaking
its damp wings -
and then I felt

an explosion -
a pain -
also a happiness
I can hardly mention

as I slid free -
as I saw the world
through those yellow eyes -
as I stood like that, rippling,

under the mottled sky
of the evening
that was beginning to throw
its dense shadows.

No! said my heart, and drew back.
But my bones knew something wonderful
about the darkness-
and they thrashed in their cords,

they fought, they wanted
to lie down in that silky mash
of the swamp, the sooner
to fly.

- Mary Oliver

There is something about the delicacy of the transitions into early summer and late fall that always remind me of the poems of Mary Oliver. The way in which she captures the voice and imprint of the unseen, the song of the living things, the guardian silence of the skies. When I read this poem, it reminded me of my late husband Ken, who passed away in 2003. His presence among us is the heron at the water's edge below the cliffs of the place he is buried. For a week after his death, this single gray heron waited there at the river's elbow, braced against the rushing waters. Still and tranquil, he watched us. Eventually, as twilight fell to its deepest hue, our heron would spread its feathered wings and lift into the sky, lost in the dark.

This weekend, our son, David, our youngest, graduates from Stanford University. Ken would be so proud. He understood dreams, and struggle, disappointment, integrity, and determination. He experienced the accomplishment of great ambitions, and the loss of things the heart can only imagine. I will be celebrating David's accomplishment for him, and for us. For what that beautiful man did not live to see. Yet I know he will be there beside us - in that great silky mash of life, memory, love. David thrives, brilliant in his passion for life, rooted in the deep strength of his father. His commencement this weekend marks something wonderful; a milestone in a great and terrible journey of his own, through experiences a young man should not have to weather at such a tender age. All of us sing from an unknown song sheet when it comes to life. We receive, we give. We begin to hear the melody in our song as we progress through the years.

I celebrate life. I celebrate family, love, the accomplishment of big dreams, and yes, the reflecting clouds. The presence of the heron.

To you, my son, shining so bright this moment.

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The Hidden Ordinary: Two Poets (Book 2 of 2)

GENTLY READ LITERATURE, editor Daniel Casey, has just published its Spring 2014 issue. You will find a link (to copy into your browser) to this fine online journal below. In this issue I reviewed two extraordinary poets, Catherine Barnett and Jack Ridl, exploring themes of "the hidden ordinary" in their recent poems. This duet of reviews is the feature of today's post. I hope you enjoy and seek out their work.

GENTLY READ LITERATURE
Spring 2014 Issue
[http://gentlyread.wordpress.com/2014/05/01/gently-read-literature-spring-2014/]

The Hidden Ordinary: Glenda Burgess Reviews Two Poets
The Game of Boxes, Catherine Barnett, Greywolf Press, 2012
Practicing to Walk like a Heron, Jack Ridl, Wayne State University Press, 2013

The two poets Catherine Barnett and Jack Ridl speak well beside one another. Their poetic styles and themes resonate uniquely in these books of collected poems. Impressions, delicate and telling, fossils of the hidden ordinary and intimate.

The Game of Boxes by Catherine Barnett, recipient of a Whiting Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the 2012 James Laughlin Award from the American Academy of Poets, comprises a collection of poems crisscrossing themes of vulnerability and intimacy. Barnett, author of the poetry collection Into Perfect Spheres Such Holes Are Pierced, extends her archeology of human loneliness and dislocation in The Game of Boxes, a rich work of intellectual and thematic poetic dialogs that riff off concepts from sources as various as Darwin and biological diversity, categorical thinking by Kant, a phrase from Keats in a letter to J.A. Hessey, even the reasoning of the Renaissance physician Paracelsus that “What makes a man ill also cures him.” This scholarly grounding informs much of Barnett’s poetry on motherhood, the erotic, child and parental bonds of trust, the alienated modernist’s soul. A thin dividing line on the page wavers between ecstasy and dread expressed in Barnett’s lyrical unwavering language, “Depends on how you define ‘nothing’-/ I think it’s a little shard of the whatnot/ I keep trying to name.” Barnett digs at the double-talk of passion and reason, “little shocks of pure mind,/ and I like them there, yes, ageless,/ persuasion’s design and rush.”

Perhaps what resonates deepest is Barnett’s ability to build on themes of cognitive- spiritual dissonance, evoking in these poems the very contradictions she deplores: the gap between sureness and mystery, need and abyss, the material and the unknown. In writing of absolution, of the verbs listen and forgive and the unique forms of human suffering, Barnett describes people in “Chorus [We didn’t believe]” entering a church transformed as animus shapes of personal pain and endurance. With this exquisite image of tangible wounded-ness, Barnett speaks of an elephant,
and her eyes
they shone like glass before it breaks. She looked
like she might fly but only walked down the aisle
in a dirty gown of wrinkles, so wrinkled and slow
and vast and silvery, the whole galaxy shivering.


Barnett’s themes shred intimacy as a draining, a taking, a trickle-down, a loss; “she’s already given herself to the world” she writes. Bare poem fragments hint of Bacchanalian appetite and aftermath:
I know agape means both dumbly
Open and not the kind of love,
That climbed the stairs to you.
(Of All Faces)

Barnett’s ability to find the inner nerve and follow it to and away from regret make her poems ring like powerful fables.

Practicing to Walk like a Heron by Jack Ridl, professor emeritus of Hope College, comprises Ridl’s second book of poetry. His earlier work, Broken Symmetry, was named best book for poetry by The Society of Midland Authors, and Ridl was named Michigan’s Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation and coauthored with Peter Schakel Approaching Literature. Ridl observes, with an almost Darwinian eye for that which endures, the nature of the long familiar: couples, childhood, the human obsession with the bizarre...and the hidden alone. Ridl’s poems on what draws us into connection provide a thoughtful counterbalance to Catherine Barnett’s study of what then happens within.

Sections of Ridl’s collection – From Our House To Yours, The Enormous Mystery of Couples, Interlude: “Heh Skinny, The Circus Is In Town,” and The Hidden Permutations of Sorrow – gather poems around emotional epiphanies in the most daily of moments. Family life, preparing for the holidays, clearing up after a storm, an itinerant’s life on the road, moving past loss. These are poems that explicate and punctuate: the death of an arielist, the turning of seasons, the lost and the dislocation of memory. Writing of the routine that is love, and the intimacy that is routine, two lines stand out: the infinitely rich, “We will sleep/ within the muted infinity of each other” (The Enormous Mystery of Couples), and the wry, “Sometimes sentimental is our way/ of holding on.” (Ron Howard’s on the Cover of AARP). In imagery that does not err, Ridl addresses the acceleration of modern life, musing on the manual labor required to restore function to the tools of old. In a poem titled, “My Wife Has Sent Me an Email,” he writes,
After lunch
today, I’m going to find the trowel

my father used. I’ll get a rag and
some rust remover and bring it back.


Jack Ridl sparingly inks in tender everyday experiences in poems that both startle and reassure. When we are at our most human and alien: when we discover ourselves in the process of losing reassurances of what we thought we knew. In the title poem, “Practicing to Walk Like a Heron,” Ridl’s narrator practices stepping across the room in “the walk of solemn monks.” Lifting his legs one after the other in stilted stillness
the heron’s mute way, across the
room, past my wife who glances
up, holds her slender hands
above the keys until I pass.


Why mimic the heron? Perhaps Ridl’s answer lies in the collection’s closing poem, titled simply “The Heron.” Here we find language that touches – even evokes – spiritual transcendence,
...she would bend
her knees, raise her wide wings,
and lift into the welcome grace
of the air... her great feathered cross moving above the trees.
(The Heron)

Jack Ridl’s work is grounded in observations of the extraordinary ordinary, and the subject matter of how we spend our days compelling when read beside Catherine Barnett’s profound spiritual and philosophical rhetorics.



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The Hidden Ordinary: Two Poets (Book 1 of 2)

Gently Read Literature
Spring 2014

The Hidden Ordinary: Glenda Burgess Reviews Two Poets

Review is posted below:
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Beginnings and Endings

Sunrise over Haleakala Crater, Maui
In the end, all books are written for your friends.
- Gabriel Garcia Marquez

As soon as you trust yourself you will know how to live.
- Johann Wolfgang Goethe

This week has been full of important endings and magnificent beginnings. The world said farewell to one of the greatest writers in my lifetime, a spinner of tales of magic and fable, Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, Marquez passed away at his home in Mexico on April 17 at the age of 87, leaving the world a legacy of writing that most are familiar with and generations treasure. His stories were stories of ordinary, impossibly grand lives. Lifetimes lived accidentally, yet with instinct. Of poetic nuances and tragic shadows, ignorance and discovery. Marquez celebrated life for its many impossibilities - for those are the moments that give us beauty.

Also, a beginning to note. The birth in Princeton, New Jersey, of a baby boy. The first child, a son, of a dear friend's daughter. This beautiful, talented woman and her brilliant, compassionate husband have added a new voice to the world. I love this moment: when the revolving door of souls, the coming and going of destinies, freshens history. A sweetness on the air so delicate and full of promise with the arrival of new life that we can't help but notice. The world taketh and returneth. We give and lose and regain and lose and give again. Each life makes a unique, profound impact on the world; and when it is our time, we step aside for the next new performance. On April 17, one family marks a new beginning, even as another says goodbye.

I will never forget the stories of Marquez. And I cannot wait for the songs of one new boy. Isn't the world a marvelous place?
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What is Beautiful, Revisited

The Matisse Window, Mainz, Germany
The date is perfect in symmetry and resonance - 02/14/2014 - Valentine's Day. Doesn't the day express itself uniquely? Long ago my loved ones and I bailed on commercial expressions of the holiday, but we do celebrate the ancient Roman's message of love. Confections are baked, wine toasted at a candlelit dinner table, a handmade poem or card...

As my children have grown and moved on through college, and then to medical and graduate schools, I find the process of mailing them my "I Love You" conjures both joy and an echo of the poignant. How well I remember the sticky-glue hearts that came home from grade school, the heart cake that caved in the middle under the weight of a ton of chocolate frosting - the snow bear's story and "Amanda the Rocket Girl" scribbled in crooked handwriting. These days I write them simple notes and stick in a cafe gift card or bookstore gift certificate. And off it goes, my love in the mail. Catching each remembrance, they call, blowing back a kiss. I like to think that if I have been able to teach my children anything well, it is how to love.

So however you celebrate St. Valentine's Day, enjoy the love. I am re-posting an older essay below - the poem by Billy Collins reminds me of the day my beloved wrote me the rare and remarkable poem. Enjoy:
To all you Romantics...
Hold on to this one, friends. Let this poem resonate, listen. Close your eyes.
"A dark voice can curl around the concepts on love, beauty, and foolishness..."


NIGHTCLUB
by Billy Collins

You are so beautiful and I am a fool
to be in love with you
is a theme that keeps coming up
in songs and poems.
There seems to be no room for variation.
I have never heard anyone sing
I am so beautiful
and you are a fool to be in love with me,
even though this notion has surely
crossed the minds of women and men alike.
You are so beautiful, too bad you are a fool
is another one you don't hear.
Or, you are a fool to consider me beautiful.
That one you will never hear, guaranteed.

For no particular reason this afternoon
I am listening to Johnny Hartman
whose dark voice can curl around
the concepts on love, beauty, and foolishness
like no one else's can.
It feels like smoke curling up from a cigarette
someone left burning on a baby grand piano
around three o'clock in the morning;
smoke that billows up into the bright lights
while out there in the darkness
some of the beautiful fools have gathered
around little tables to listen,
some with their eyes closed,
others leaning forward into the music
as if it were holding them up,
or twirling the loose ice in a glass,
slipping by degrees into a rhythmic dream.

Yes, there is all this foolish beauty,
borne beyond midnight,
that has no desire to go home,
especially now when everyone in the room
is watching the large man with the tenor sax
that hangs from his neck like a golden fish.
He moves forward to the edge of the stage
and hands the instrument down to me
and nods that I should play.
So I put the mouthpiece to my lips
and blow into it with all my living breath.
We are all so foolish,
my long bebop solo begins by saying,
so damn foolish
we have become beautiful without even knowing it.
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What We May Give

NOEL
When snow is shaken
From the balsam trees
And they're cut down
And brought into our houses

When clustered sparks
Of many-colored fire
Appear at night
In ordinary windows

We hear and sing
The customary carols

They bring us ragged miracles
And hay and candles
And flowering weeds of poetry
That are loved all the more
Because they are so common

But there are carols
That carry phrases
Of the haunting music
Of the other world
A music wild and dangerous
As a prophet's message

Or the fresh truth of children
Who though they come to us
From our own bodies
Are altogether new
With their small limbs
And birdlike voices

They look at us
With their clear eyes
And ask the piercing questions
God alone can answer.

- Anne Porter

From my earliest memory as a child, Christmas has always meant something special. Something unique to my family. For one thing, I had a Grandma and Grandpa who for most of the Christmases of my childhood, were dressed as Santa and Mrs. Claus. My grandfather, a business executive and El Katif Shriner, cheered the children of The Shriners Childrens Hospital in Spokane all of December with his hearty laugh, smashing red velvet suit, reindeer bells, and thick white hair and twinkly eyes. He loved children, loved Christmas, and growing up a poor Scotsman, felt the very best gift was to cheer up ill children with a hug and toy. My grandmother stood at his side handing out smiles and the presents she wrapped nightly.

Christmas morning spent with my grandparents meant "Santa" would appear at the front door jangling his bells in his amazing Santa suit just for us, his grandkids, home for a week from wherever we were in our lives as a military family. My mother, one of the sick children herself the year she was seven with rheumatic fever, spent a year in isolation in a children's hospital. She both loved her father for his generous spirit (perhaps born of cheering her up in the hospital as a child) and pained by memories of the loneliness and isolation the holidays symbolized for her: separation at a time dedicated to family. Christmas also became the one acknowledged armistice in the conflicted relationship between my parents. Whatever sorrows, arguments or disappointments the year might contain, Christmas marked a time my family came together. My mother, an ice skater, built homemade rinks in our wintry back yards. There were trips to the mountains to hike through the snow and find our tree. There were lights and presents even when the money was tight; sledding, cocoa, and snowmen in the front yard. Christmas Eve was the one night it was okay to fall asleep under the tree, looking upwards at the beauty of the lights waiting for magical Santa. The one night God seemed real and close, an expression of peace and love.

After blending both Jewish and Christian traditions together in my own adult life, I discovered that, like my mother, I have a complicated adult relationship with the holiday now. When my husband Ken was ill with cancer and went into surgery on Christmas Eve of 2002, I sat the night beside him after that failed operation watching televised celebrations from the Vatican, marooned in the cold indifferent rhythms of the hospital and the disconnected attitude of the shift nurse on our floor. The night resonated with the utter absence of God. Where was the magic? The sacred? Simple compassion of the human kind? I held my husband's head as he retched uncontrollably, feeling like one of the lost souls my grandfather might have cheered, not the girl who loved and found solace, always, in this one exquisite night of the year.

Those moments gild the day with a particular melancholy. A poignancy in which the beauty of Christmas subtly marks the prelude to feelings of real loss.

Life goes on. My family and I make holiday cookies, decorate a tree with ornaments and vintage decorations that hold memories of people and places and times past. There is a "Just Married" ornament with Ken; a pewter engraved book celebrating my first published novel; framed pictures of the kids; glass ornaments from Germany my uncle bought my grandparents during the Korean War; a hand-painted ornament with my mom's and my name on it the year I turned one; the Christmas stocking my grandma made me of hand-stitched velvet and sequins, the stockings I made everyone in the family after that. My daughter's stocking from her Godmother and the quilting club that is 4 feet long. School ornaments from the kids' colleges, travel mementos gathered with my second husband, Greg; the dog and ski and music and Barbie collections. The album of my life is on that tree. I tell my life in Christmases.

Christmas isn't a religious holiday or a festive month on the calendar for me: the season signifies a willful decision to create joy, when the human need to love reaches across disappointment and misfortune. Christmas is my grandfather with a sick child in a hospital johnnie on his knee holding in his hand a new toy. It is my parents pulling something happy together. Christmas is the time of year, for me, when people try a little harder and often succeed at making the world a better place. Snowflakes and glowing lights, mystery packages and sweets. When we battle the darkness with as much light as we can muster.

So as James Taylor sings his particularly melancholy "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" in my study as I write this, I smile. Yes, it is a world of chipped edges and tattered corners. But life is also beautiful in its capacity to reflect the best we give it.

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Savory Life Lessons

forwarded along from woohdreambig.tumblr.com

My first gifts to you this holiday season are morsels of goodness, both wise and tasty. The words of life wisdom above came to me anonymously and I regret not being able to tell you more about the folks involved, but I find Mr. Snell's advice worth passing on as it is wise, humorous, and certainly practical.

AND…TIS THE SEASON OF FEASTS & CELEBRATIONS!! Here is a recipe for a holiday family favorite, an English-inspired savory cranberry conserve. This cranberry conserve is a robust recipe that balances the sweet and the tart (and can actually be made into a dessert tart); a recipe we usually double, so popular it is often given as a gift, with the beautiful conserve spooned into a festive jar decorated with a bow on top.

THE SILVER PALATE GOOD TIMES COOKBOOK (1984):
CRANBERRY CONSERVE
1 thin-skinned orange (or two clementines*), seeds removed, cut into eights
1 pound fresh cranberries
1/2 cup dried currants
2 cups packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 cups raspberry vinegar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

1. Process the orange in a food processor until coarsely chopped
2. Combine the chopped orange with all the remaining ingredients except the walnuts in a heavy saucepan. Simmer, uncovered, until all the cranberries have popped open, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the walnuts.
3. After cooling, pack conserve not immediately for serving into air-tight containers and freeze, or refrigerate for up to two weeks.
Makes 6 half pints


* The substitution of clementines is my edit to the recipe. I usually double this recipe and cook in one large heavy saucepan; note, the simmer time is closer to 30 minutes then. The raspberry vinegar taste will be too intense if you use a raspberry balsamic, so be sure to look for a raspberry vinegar. (Silver Palate now produces a bottled raspberry vinegar you can fortunately find in most gourmet grocery stores around the holidays. A doubled recipe will use most of three bottles.) I use a wooden spoon to pop any remaining stubborn cranberries open against the side of the pan. Savory taste can be shifted toward the sweet with the addition of slightly more brown sugar and currants, but everyone seems to love the chutney-like consistency and tartness of this blend as is. Also delicious on bagels with a cream cheese spread. Hope you love it!


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A Stitch of Love

A MARRIAGE RING
The ring so worn as you behold,
So thin, so pale, is yet of gold:
The passion such it was to prove;
Worn with life's cares, love yet was love.

- George Crabbe

In the last of three beautiful weddings this year, on Saturday we will join family as my younger brother celebrates the wedding of his oldest, a daughter. My brother is the second among my siblings and I to have a child marry, and the ceremony defines once more the transition of generations. I remember the event of my niece's birth, and the feeling among the four of us (my brother, two sisters and I) that in the birth of our children we were laying a true milestone: that family builds the future. Educations complete - marriages and careers, a home, children. Now that niece with the big smile and infectious giggle is to be a bride, beginning her own adult journey. The foundation of a new generation.

Our parents are not alive to enjoy or appreciate this moment. This gives each wedding a particular poignancy, the sense of a premature shift in roles. It is up to us, newly middle-aged parents and future grandparents, to stand as unshakable pillars. To brace the uncertainty and evolution of the next generation's first steps into marriage, parenthood…taking on the challenges of life. Will we be good in-laws? Surprised grandparents, self-conscious, perhaps unprepared to be the wise, supportive elders our grandparents were to us? How do we step into such large shoes? Dazzle our grown children's lives with that same bracing unconditional love and faith? Echoes of courage in our hearts, embedded in the memory of our own crossing from "I Will" to "I Do" and "I Shall," we stand proudly at the side of our sons and daughters as they take the hand of the one they promise to love and cherish. We blink back tears, remembering first smiles, tiny arms wrapped tight around our necks.

A wedding celebrates the day we fully let our children go. No longer the smallest or the first stitch in the line, the thread slips forward and loops the future in. Love darns new hearts into the family tapestry. We smile in joy.

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