Sunday, October 4, 2015

"I Am Delighted" by Emma Lou Thayne

Last December a respected and beloved older friend of mine passed away. In January I listened to a recording of her spiritual autobiography The Place of Knowing. Hearing Emma Lou Warner Thayne's words in her own voice, I rejoiced in having had this renowned poet and activist's influence in my life.

One of my favorite memories of Emma Lou occurred a few years ago when we attended the same women's retreat in the mountains near Salt Lake City. It was early June in a year when winter had brought a heavy snowfall, and the historic lodge where we were staying was still surrounded by snow. The lobby to the lodge is down a lengthy staircase from the street level, and Emma Lou was not physically able to navigate the many stairs. Because of the snow, traditional vehicles were not able to drive from the street to the lobby door. Determined to attend the retreat, Emma Lou had made arrangements for a snowcat to pick her up from the street and drop her at the lobby door. When Emma Lou arrived at the lodge, I was sitting in the dining room near a large window that had a view of the sidewalk leading to the lobby door. I watched as one of the lodge workers opened the door of the snowcat and lifted Emma Lou out of the vehicle and helped her down the pile of snow. Smiling the entire time, Emma Lou then entered the dining room, joking about her grand entrance!

This memory coupled with a poem in The Place of Knowing illustrate for me Emma Lou's ability to "love life and choose good days" (1 Peter 3:10). From a chapter titled "On Paying Attention," this is "I Am Delighted" by Emma Lou Thayne. How I want to be one who sees particles of delight!


I am delighted. My life goes well.
I must say it as clearly as I can
before I'm gone.
So little delight there can seem in the world.
Almost as if it's shameful or naive
to love what is there:

a new collapsible pair of glasses
flat in a one-inch pouch—imagine!
Can be worn inside my bra:
anywhere the telephone book,
a needle, newsprint—it's OK.
Touch a key on my new computer:

Clean up window. And tiny icons
on a desktop scoot about for space—

Take a 4 o'clock walk
from Sun Valley to Ketchum
past the fields and watch a young mare
and gelding frolicking like kittens,
a nine-year-old biker trying to look nonchalant
as he sails past
with no hands.
Hear the brook getting in with
the white swans at the black pond.
Feel the sun making its last statement
to the fence posts.
Smell the perfume of the yellow-haired
lady strolling with her hand in the short man's hand.
Nod as the civilized gives way
to the languid redolence
of manure.

Back, find the word I've hunted for:
forage, jasmine, medallion.
Taste the strawberries on yogurt
at my own sink.
Let the shower have its way with
my hair.
Be tired.
After they have stood and sat and walked
and climbed the stairs, put those legs
to bed.
Talk not at all.
Take as long as I need
to find the fit.
And those eyes, let them close.
See, see, particles of delight
to sleep with
and be delightfully surprised by

Thayne, Emma Lou Warner. The Place of Knowing: A Spiritual Autobiography. iUniverse, 2011.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Just Another Ordinary Miracle Today

Homestead Resort, Midway, Utah. 2011.
© 2011 Alison Walker

Friday, October 2, 2015

Ordinary Miracles

In one of my favorite hymns, we find these words:

Come, Thou fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace.

- Robert Robinson

Such a beautiful prayer! I love these thoughts from Christian singer/songwriter Ellie Holcomb:
I'd never play a song with an out of tune guitar, but so often (too often) I am willing to live with a heart that is out of tune. Dissonant. Fearful. Discontent. Ashamed. All because I don't take the time to restore my heart to its rightful place, to a place of gratitude for a Love that will never leave me.
As I've contemplated what it means to tune my heart to better understand and more fully experience God's grace in my daily life, I've come to realize that learning to see is one of the keys. In a young adult novel I read earlier this year, one character learns from her grandmother, "You have to see the miracles for there to be miracles." Wow!

A number of years ago I fell in love with the work of Canadian musician Sarah McLachlan. Her song "Ordinary Miracles," which is on the soundtrack to the film Charlotte's Web, is one of just a handful of songs I have downloaded to my iPhone for frequent listening. Among the lyrics are these:
The sky knows when it's time to snow
Don't need to teach a seed to grow
It's just another ordinary miracle today

Isn't it remarkable
Like every time a raindrop falls
It's just another ordinary miracle today

Do you want to see a miracle?

Sun comes up and shines so bright
And disappears again at night
It's just another ordinary miracle today

It seems so exceptional
The things just work out after all
It's just another ordinary miracle today
"Do you want to see a miracle?" Yes. Yes, I do.

Holcomb, Ellie. "'Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing'." She Reads Truth, November 11, 2014.
Nelson, Jandy. I'll Give You the Sun. Dial Books, 2014.
"Ordinary Miracle" in "Lyric Lounge." Sarah McLachlan.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

"Love Life and See Good Days" (1 Peter 3:10)

Settlement Canyon, Utah. August 2014.
© 2014 Alison Walker

Beginning with 2011, inspired by my friend Sue, I've made a tradition of choosing a one-word theme for the year. My word for 2011 was Order, and in 2012, I chose Fullness. The word I chose for 2013 was actually three interrelated words - (en)light(en) - and in 2014 I wanted to build on what I'd learned in the previous years and chose Onward as my word.

My One Little Word for 2015 is See. I chose it after I'd encountered a particular scriptural passage three separate times over a period of just a few weeks in three entirely different circumstances. That passage - from the first epistle of Peter - counsels us to "love life and see good days." What a simple yet profound suggestion! Says the inspirational writer Emily Belle Freeman:
It is an interesting choice of words. We live in a society that is constantly reminding us to have a good day. We see that phrase written at the bottom of our restaurant receipts, hanging on the walls of our grocery stores, and even used as a salutation at the end of our e-mails. Interestingly, no one reminds us to see a good day.

I wonder how different our outlook on life would become if that became our motto. What if we trained ourselves to see good days?

I believe it is possible.

I believe it would be life changing.
As I've thought about and tried to live the word See this year, I've been amazed at what I've learned and felt - and, yes, seen. Throughout this month I'm going to blog about some of those things. Will you come and see?

Edwards, Ali. "One Little Word." Ali Edwards.
Freeman, Emily. Love Life and See Good Days. Deseret Book, 2011.

An Index of Posts

Sunday, September 20, 2015


This year I've decided to do something crazy and participate in #Write31Days. The epitome of my personal commandment Stretch - 31 Days is an online writing challenge started by home blogger Myquillyn Smith (The Nester) and now hosted by Crystal Stine, where bloggers pick one topic and write a post on that topic every day in October. Wish me luck!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Three Gifts Worn

  • Colorful sandals. Even in November.

  • Comfy purple pajama pants.

  • Warm black sweater. Resurrected from 20 years ago.

#20DaysofGratitude #1000Gifts #JoyDare

(Click here for more information.)