Friday, December 11

Do you know him?

I had to quit my little part time job working at a Korean owned after school academy so that I could go to Kentucky for the birth of my second nephew. So, I've been meaning to post this story for a while. I went in yesterday to pick up my last paycheck from there and remembered it:

Tony, a middle schooler who has been in the States for about a year or so, asked me one afternoon, after he found out that I lived in Korea for a while:

Do you know James? He lives in Korea.
(puzzled look on my face)

He's white.

(I start to open my mouth...)

He's a pastor.
Do you know him?

(I ask him if he knows his last name.)

He's married to a Korean.
He lives in Seoul.
Do you know him?

(I tell him that there are probably many white pastors named James who live in Korea and are married to Koreans. I want to tell him that not all white people know each other.)

He has two dogs.
He's kind of huge.
Do you know him?

(Tony is totally serious asking me this question, and he's pretty sure that if he gives me a few more pieces of information on this James guy, I'll end up figuring out who he is. Stories like this are one of the reasons I love teaching.)

Tuesday, December 8

When Death Comes by Mary Oliver

From New and Selected Poems by Mary Oliver (Beacon Press, 25 Beacon St, Boston, MA 02108-2892, ISBN 0 870 6819 5).

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measles-pox;

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth
tending as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it's over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it is over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.

one paragraph at a time: alliance

Found at one paragraph at a time:


“You have to make an alliance with your anguish,” he said,
“not wage war against it.” And I thought of all the fists
I had shaken at misfortune: games lost
because the shot clock ran out,
a good meal scorched in a forgotten oven,
money dropped on a dress worn only once,
the bully in 6th grade, the math test in 9th,
the wrong outfit at Halloween.
But of course, this isn’t what he meant.

If I were brave enough, I’d tell you how my heart
has raged for love, stretched thin as a high wire.
If I were brave enough, I’d tell you
how my body has been fighting to stay upright
on every precipitous downhill the city
throws at it. If I were brave enough,
I’d climb into your lap and weep with longing.
All I can say is that any attempt at beauty and hope
is land-mined with failure. And so the perilous
track-making begins. A certain blindness must necessarly
set it. Wending our way through darkness,
there are possible clutches at sunlight, at windows, at yes.
We are each of us inches from death.
We are each of us inches from life.
We are each of us inches from one another.

Friday, December 4

Holiday Shopping for Good

Last year about this time, I linked to the Advent Conspiracy.

Recently, I've come across some more links to share in the same spirit:
  • You can buy boots for a kid in North Korea for only $5 here.
  • You can check out the rating of stores you might shop at here to see if they are a company that actively prevents exploitation of workers.
  • You can check out the social and environmental responsibility of companies and brands here.
  • The Preemptive Love Coalition has unique shoes made in Iraq and t-shirts that help fund needed heart surgeries for kids in Iraq.
  • Better World Books is where I buy my books now. They're a certified B corporation. Find more companies like them here.

My Cards on Etsy!

I just set up a shop to sell my cards on Etsy!

I have holiday cards, other types of blank cards, and gift tags.