Story Telling


gray and grateful, I am

glad to be grandmother

holding this child who continues my story

she sleeps in my arms

as if melted and poured out,

I am melted and poured out too


Nothing in my life prepared me for how being a grandmother would change me.  I should have suspected, remembering the molding and mentoring of my own grandmother and seeing the love and tenderness my mother gave with abandon to my sons when she became a grandmother.  Our first granddaughter came to us when she was three, when our oldest son brought her and her mother to meet us for the first time. I enjoyed fussing over her, and when my son married the two of them, was tickled when she began calling me my Grandmother name, Granmary, instead of Mary Ann. I jumped into being a grandmother without a second thought,love, tea parties and all.  And when her sister Skye was born.12 years ago, I was ready and waiting to be crazy about this baby,  cherished from the moment of the announcement of her conception. I kept a journal during the time we waited for her birth, a practice which I continued 9 years ago with Madelyn, 6 years ago with Jordann, and this year with Nora! This is something I now realize helped me tell family story to them and to welcome them into that story. As they grow and interact with me, I have many exciting opportunities to add to our together stories!

Every grandchild that is born is another leap of heart and soul for me, each one unique.  I am changed forever in my love for them and my joy in them.  And I am increasingly aware of the importance of our story and the need to tell it.  It is another Mary Oliver moment: “Pay attention, be astonished, and tell about it.”

“My story is important not because it is mine, God knows, but because if I tell it anything like right, the chances are you will recognize that in many ways it is also yours.

Maybe nothing is more important than that we keep track, you and I, of these stories of who we are and where we have come from and the people we have met along the way because it is precisely through these stories in all their particularity, as I have long believed and often said, that God makes himself known to each of us most powerfully and personally.

If this is true, it means that to lose track of our stories is to be profoundly impoverished not only humanly but also spiritually. The God of biblical faith is a God who started history going in the first place. He is also a God who moment by moment, day by day continues to act in history always, which means both the history that gets written down in the New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle and at the same time my history and your history, which for the most don’t get written down anywhere except in the few lines that may be allotted to us some day on the obituary page.

The Exodus, the Covenant, the entry into the Promised Land—such mighty acts of God as these appear in Scripture, but no less mighty are the acts of God as they appear in our own lives.”    Frederick Buechner




Ideally, a human life should be a constant pilgrimage of discovery. The most exciting discoveries happen at the frontiers. When you come to know something new, you come closer to yourself and to the world. Discovery enlarges and refines your sensibility. When you discover something, you transfigure some of the forsakenness of the world.—John O’Donohue, Eternal Echoes: Celtic Reflections on Our Yearning to Belong

discovery is not always finding

a thing never before found,

coming to know the unknown

I loved the little gardenia bush

my Mother planted

snuggled against the screened porch

struggling to survive East Texas winters

when blooms came,

stars hanging on dark green sky

fragrance reaching

all the way to the porch swing

I picked one to float in a glass bowl

this fragrance is not new to me

nor the ivory petals strange

held brushing my nose

but strangely fresh joy is found

when I place this gardenia

in my granddaughter’s palm

hear her breath of delight

as she cradles it

this thing I have known for 70 years

is new and exciting

Mary Ann, February 6, 2014

Looking for the Star


 The house is very quiet and still this afternoon, on this first Sunday of Advent. I have loved having all 12 (and another on the way) of us together.  After our family’s Sunday morning at church and lunch together, our adult children and our grandchildren have dispersed to their own homes.  Those who live in Fort Worth have been here the last 4 days during which we gathered all for a Thanksgiving feast, and as has become our tradition, then the Christmas tree was brought in and festive decorations begun. Lights in the yard and on the tree were reflected in the happy eyes of little girls, music filled spaces between laughter and excited conversation.   

As I sit among all the not yet placed wreaths, manger scenes, garlands and dear old things we hang on the tree, I think how the anticipation and joy did not leave with the children.  I sit in the quiet for a time.  Then I light the first Advent candle and begin listening to James Galway’s On the Way to Bethlehem.   Advent begins. How will you mark your Advent journey?  I would love to hear.

Adult Advent Announcement

O Lord,
Let Advent begin again
In us,
Not merely in commercials;
For that first Christmas was not
Simply for children,
But for the
Wise and the strong.
It was
Crowded around that cradle,
With kings kneeling.
Speak to us
Who seek an adult seat this year.
Help us to realize,
As we fill stockings,
Christmas is mainly
For the old folks —
Bent backs
And tired eyes
Need relief and light
A little more.
No wonder
It was grown-ups
Who were the first
To notice
Such a star.

~  David A. Redding,, from If I Could Pray Again


Morning Meditation

 dawn casts veiled promise
through this day’s window
I come to the quiet
in shifting shadows of morning light
inhaling peace
exhaling all that I need to release
grace settles like a shawl around my shoulders
dance of stillness, silent song

The Old Oak Tree


One of my favorite places to be still is here, beneath a very old oak tree in our church prayer garden. Its branches spread out over a trickling stream and bubbling fountain and a small labyrinth. In dry times, like our present drought, there is crusty brown growth along its mighty branches. But when we are blessed with rainfall, this turns to vibrant green. It is Resurrection Fern.

At all times I soak up the green and growing refreshment of this place. But it is in the times when I feel drought in my spirit that I come here to be still and know God, and to refill and refuel – the greening of my heart, Eastering.


MaddieTeaParty 077

Receive each day as 
a resurrection from death, 
as a new enjoyment of life.
[William Law]

I do not skip down a Lenten path singing

my steps are slow, measured


a labyrinth path reminding

each day

take one step, then another

on toward center

and Song

Finding Beauty

LastofFeb 026“if you ignore beauty, you will soon find yourself without it,

But if you invest in beauty,

it will remain with you

all the days of your life.”

~ Frank Lloyd Wright

100_1612Remembering the planting and sprouting

watching for beauty of weed and flower

cool dark hours bring both

LastofFeb 045To be still

to be astonished

to see beauty in a cabbage

before it goes into the soup



It’s a Wonderful Life

November 14, 2012, my 72nd birthday.

I have made it my custom for years now to give myself birthday gifts which no one else can give me.  I cherish the hugs and surprises from my husband and children, love every phone call and email, and smile all over with my granddaughters’  “Happy Birthday, Granmary!”  But no matter how else I spend my time having a happy day, I give myself music – this is the time when I begin playing my favorite Christmas albums, beginning with James Galway’s Christmas Carol and going on to thrill to an English Handbell Choir, Renaissance pieces by the Tallis Scholars, Handel’s Messiah, and John Denver’s Muppet Christmas, which was the one my little boys loved to listen to when they decorated the Christmas tree.  It still makes them laugh and we still play it when the tree is staggering to stand up and be dressed.  but I also play Paul Hillyer’s Home to Thanksgiving.  And in the last couple of years I have added a gift to myself.  I write a list to go along with Hillyer’s music.  This is a list of sacred ordinary things from throughout my year and is a way for me to move toward the celebration of Thanksgiving in our family, which also is the springboard for Advent.  Since I keep a gratitude journal where I record 5 things I am grateful for each morning, I simply make my birthday list from that journal, choosing 2 or 3 entries for each month in the past year.  Just remembering and writing these things is a reminder of hope and joy. What a gift!


In my 72nd year, these are things for which I give thanks:

greens from our garden on the table with peas and cornbread

time to curl up with a book

walking around the lake on a clear, cold day

pain management for Joe

silent room, dark except for Christmas tree lights

Christ, who came, is come, and will come

warming my aching fingers on my coffee cup

my son taking down the Christmas tree and making our dinner

safety during a storm

winter sunshine after the winds

puttering and pruning in the garden

rainbows on the floor from the prism in leaded glass at our front door

the buttery taste of winter squash

memories of babies and boys

my husband’s gentle spirit

morning quiet time

13 bean soup

settling, being settled

deep colors of roses blooming in January

mockingbird singing on top of our rose arbor

“hope is that thing with feathers that perches on the soul and sings….”

Sabbath heart

a perfectly timed call from a dear friend

hoping in, not for

the poetry of Luci Shaw

my nursing education and experience

books on hold at the library

planting Cherokee Purple heirloom tomato seeds

quiet – no rushing to fill with noise

still – no rushing to “do”