One night I was very ill and out of nowhere, it seemed, the vision of this poem came to me. I thought of the woman in Luke 7 who anointed Jesus’ feet. And it just came to me like never before that, in Jesus, God was physically present in our world and to people. I like this story because of the physicality of it. Christ is truly present to us.
The week before Christmas is a good time to read and meditate on these poems of praise, adoration, and celebration of the Christ Child. In her fresh, almost breathless style, Mary Harwell Sayler has designed the title as the first line in most of her PRAISE! POEMS. She employs sometimes startling images and reversals. Enjoy!
The glory, sorrow and unquestionable beauty of life are encapsulated in Catherine Lawton’s Remembering Softly. Lawton’s prose gently captures, like coaxing a firefly into the palm, the indescribable joy of simply seeing nature and the world in action. Sure, there are vile things out there, but there are precious things which overcome them and are worth living to witness. When misfortune passes, the memories of goodness will be everlasting.
So begins a just-published review of my poetry collection, Remembering Softly: A Life In Poems, reviewed by Realistic Poetry International. They seem to have “caught” and understood my poems. The review continues:
Remembering Softly is a personal and inspirational collection with Christian themes. The poems span several years of Lawton’s writing and experiences and are richly emotional. Reading it conjures a feeling of great creation, like seeing the kaleidoscopic glimmer of sunbeams through the fire reds of autumn woods, or perhaps one of those pure winter days where the sky is an unblemished white like being just beneath the floor of heaven.
“Shadows” stood out to me, as did “Glory” and “A Walk at Dusk” as strong points of the compilation. “A Walk at Dusk” in particular is a thought-provoking and fearless piece….
Remembering Softly is truly a beautiful book, and it’s hard to find anything to dislike. If I absolutely had to choose something, some of the personal poems addressed to certain people may not be as resonant to a new reader, though it’s obvious that they were written out of love. The illustrations are a charming touch, and fit well with the poems.
I would recommend Lawton’s collection wholeheartedly, with a 5 out of 5 stars.
My thanks to Realistic Poetry for their reading, evaluation, and recommendation of my first volume of poetry. You can read their entire review HERE.
We are a nation of immigrants and descendants of immigrants.
Today, on the 4th of July, the passionate words of the poem below express the heart of a woman who grew up on a “far-flung” island of Scotland and immigrated to America as an adult, with her husband and young family. Author and poet, Alice Scott-Ferguson, writes:
“In a land of deep class divides, my parents were not from the nobility or elite or formally educated. They were people of the land and sea in the farthest reaches of the United Kingdom, the Shetland Islands, where the sun never sets in summer and the aurora borealis dances in the long, dark winter skies.”
Many of my ancestors also came from Scotland (and Ireland)—but way back during Colonial times of the 1600s. They crossed the Atlantic to the New World for economic opportunity (survival?) and for religious and personal liberty. They settled in and around Virginia and Kentucky, and each generation moved steadily across the expanding frontier, seeking new beginnings and opportunities, until they reached the Pacific Ocean. And now some of us have moved back toward the east. My ancestors include farmers, preachers, teachers, homesteaders, soldiers, and transient laborers. Many generations of blood, sweat, and tears have soaked into this land from shore to shore.
We are America. “This Land is My Land …” we have sung with gusto. Does our subjectivity make it hard—even impossible—for us to take an objective look at our country, our land, our nation? Have we become full of “hubris,” as Alice has penned (below)?
I think the voices of immigrants, who continue to choose to come to “America the Beautiful” to seek life and opportunity and freedom, are voices we need to hear and heed, if we want to “trade our hubris for humility,” as Alice Scott-Ferguson expresses in this poem:
America the Beautiful
Pilgrim from a more restricted place to America, the parent of my progression land of my adoption.
Country of limitless opportunity for me and my progeny, ever grateful sometimes sad land divided in agony in greed in need of a re-birth of soul into a vibrant whole not of uniformity but of unity in our differences in our sameness with the world though still we hold that glorious space of being a framework of freedom.
Wide and wonderful land open your arms of welcome let us love one another let us not fear one another let us harness the love and discover fire again.
Let us trade our hubris for humility, thee and me.
We look down on Agate Beach before descending the steep, winding trail at Patrick’s Point in Northern California.
On the pebbly-sand beach as the fog clears and tide ebbs.
Larry searches for agates in the sand.
One of my happy places, finding semi-precious, polished-by-the-waves agates glowing in the sand.
See any agates among these pebbles?
A few agates collected and polished in a rock tumbler.
Looking for agates on the beach is what it’s like for me, as a poet, to be present to the thoughts, emotions, winds, and waves of gritty life. To dig into my heart in the moment and find poems that seem to reveal themselves to me: Reflecting light. Shaped by experiences and observations, by forces of my environment, by the workings of Love.
—Written by one of my granddaughters (age 10 or 11 at the time) during an Easter Sunday church service as we celebrated Christ’s resurrection. I found this joyful verse written on the back of a bulletin I brought home in my purse. She gave me permission to share it but asked to remain anonymous. This child’s spontaneous expression of faith inspires me anew to praise the One who is risen indeed!