Tag Archives: family life

An Anniversary Poem by Tom Webber

3 Nov
You can find out more about Tom & Barb's music by visiting their website: www.fairwebberfolkmusic.com

You can find out more about Tom & Barb Webber’s music by visiting their website: http://www.fairwebberfolkmusic.com

To Barb: An Anniversary Poem

I love you this moment
This small moment —
One drop of the tide of moments
That make the ocean of our life together.

We cannot know its distant shore
‘Though it seems we are on a long journey
On this tiny vessel we call “marriage”.
We do not know whence our journey first began
Nor when we will one day land.
(But we do have this one moment!)

We do not know its depths,
Nor what peril lies ahead.
But we feel the high tides
And the low ebbs
As we ride the crest of this moment along
To some unseen shore past the horizon.

What really does it matter?
This moment is all I have to give you.
For the ocean would be so much less
Were it diminished drop by drop.

So I love you this moment
And give you this moment.
Perhaps the ocean is in this single drop of time.

(c) Thomas C. Webber, November 1990


My wife Barb and I celebrated our silver wedding anniversary today! It has been a wonderful journey together so far, and I am looking forward to all the years we will share in the future. We have filled it with a simple but full life centered on family (we have four lovely children) and our shared love of music which we have been performing together since the late 80s.

I wrote the poem above to commemorate our first anniversary together, and I shared it again with Barb in a homemade card. The message, I believe, will never lose its meaning for me. I share it you, my reader, with the hope that it might likewise speak to your journey of love.

Peace,

Tom

 

 

Advent Resource: Feast of St. Nicholas, Dec. 6th

7 Dec

Icon of St. Nicholas by contemporary artist James Christensen

As most people know, our modern figure of Santa Claus had a real life inspiration in the 4th century saint, St. Nicholas of Myra. Myra, where he was born, was a busy port city on the Mediterranean Sea, helping to link Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Nicholas came from a wealthy family with parents who taught him to be generous to others, especially the poor and needy. He later came to be ordained a priest. Then one morning, after the bishop of Myra had died, many local people were gathered praying in the village church for a sign to help them discern who should be the next bishop. Divine inspiration told them that the next priest to enter the church should be ordained . This was Nicholas, who became bishop by popular acclamation, as was the custom of the times. Many stories are told of St. Nicholas’ holiness and generosity, including miracles he is said to have performed.

The Story of the Three Impoverished Daughters

One such story depicting the generosity of St. Nicholas concerns a rich man in Myra who had lost all of his money when his business failed. This man had three lovely daughters who all wished to get married. Unfortunately, the father had no money to offer as a dowry.  Without a dowry, the daughters were doomed to be lifelong spinsters, or even worse, subject to being sold into slavery.

The father felt that he was a failure. Desperate to provide food for his family, the man decided to sell one of his daughters into slavery, hoping that they other two would survive.

 

The night before his first daughter was to be sold, St. Nicholas took a small bag of gold into his hand. Then after quietly approaching their house in the darkness, tossed the gold into the house through an open window, and then quickly vanished.

The next day, the father found the bag of gold which had fallen into one of his stockings* hanging next to his bed. He had no idea where it came from. At first he thought that it must be counterfeit, but once he tested it and found out that it really was gold, he set about pondering which of his friends or relatives could have done such a thing. He decided that none of them could have possibly have given this to him.

The poor man fell to his knees and great tears came to his eyes. He thanked God for this beautiful gift. His spirit rose again to new heights of gladness as he quickly set to arranging a wedding for his first daughter. As it turns out, there was enough money not only for her dowry, but for he and the rest of his family to live for a year. But he often wondered who had given them the gold!

After a year had gone by, the father once again found himself broke. Desperate and distraught, he decided that his second daughter must be sold into slavery. Once again, Nicholas, upon hearing of the father’s plight, once again came to the house by night and tossed in another bag of gold. The next morning, the father rejoiced and thanked God as he once again found the gold. The father also begged God’s forgiveness for losing hope. But he was once again left to ponder what mysterious stranger gave him such a gift?

The man kept a vigil by the window for many nights after this, hoping to catch his benefactor, but to no avail. And so he arranged another joyous wedding for his second daughter. Once again, after a year, his money ran out and he found he and his last daughter in poverty.  In the dead of one night, the father heard steps outside of his house and a bag of gold being tossed through the window. He quickly rushed out to see who had thrown it there and discovered the saintly bishop walking away in the dark. After catching up with St. Nicholas, he recognized who his benefactor had been all along.

“Why did you give me this gold?” the father asked?

“Because you needed it,” answered Nicholas.

With tears in his eyes, the father embraced the bishop and thanked him. But he asked, “Why did you not tell us who you were?” “Because it is good to give  and have God alone know about it.”

*This lovely story seems to be the origin of putting stockings out to be filled with goodies and toys, be it on Christmas and/or the feast of St. Nicholas. Also, some versions of the story tell of the gold landing in shoes instead, which explains why many put shoes out instead.

The Legend of St. Nicholas and the Evil Butcher

There is a story, or rather legend, that is told about St. Nicholas, helps to explain why he has traditionally been viewed as the patron saint of children. The story of “The Evil Butcher” can be found in several forms, but the most intriguing is the story as it is popularly told in France. This version, dating apparently from the middle ages, is rather gruesome, sounding an awful lot like one found in a collection of fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm. Below is a short form of this story that I found:

Nicholas Saving 3 Children from the Evil Butcher

Three little children sought the plain
Gleaners of the golden grain.
They lingered past the angel-song,
And dewy shadows swept along.

‘Mid the silence of the wood
The butcher’s lonely cottage stood,
“Butcher! lodge us for the night,
Lodge us till the morning light.”
“Enter in, ye children small,
I can find a place for all.”

The butcher seized a knife straitway,
And did the little creatures slay.
He put them in a tub of brine,
In pieces small as they were swine.

St. Nicholas, at seven years end,
His way did to the forest wend.
He sought the butcher’s cottage drear:
“Butcher! I would rest me here!”

“Enter! enter, St. Nicholas!
You are welcome, St. Nicholas!
Enter! enter, St. Nicholas!
There’s place for you the night to pass.”
Scarce had the Saint his entrance made,
He would the supper board was laid.

“Will you have of ham a slice?”
“I will not, for it is not nice!”
“Of this veal you’ll take a bit?”
“No! I do not relish it.”

“Give me of the little swine,
For seven long years have laid in brine!”
The butcher caught the words he said,
And forthwith from the portal fled.

“Butcher! butcher! do not flee,
Repent and God will pardon thee!”

St. Nicholas the tub drew near,
And lo! he placed three fingers there.
The first one said, “I sweetly rest!”
The second said, “I too am blest!”
The third replied, “Tis well with me,
In Paradise I seem to be!”

*freely translated from the French by English poet James Henry Dixon (1803–1876)

 

There are dozens of other fascinating stories and legends surrounding the figure of St. Nicholas, many of them truly inspiring. Always they are delightful to read. I would invite and urge you to spend some time at the links and sites available on the internet. Like me, once you begin to do so, you’ll surely find yourself fall in love with St. Nicholas all over again!

The most comprehensive internet site is most certainly one called The St. Nicholas Center. There you will find a massive collection of information about St. Nicholaus, including: historical information and primary documents; stories and customs about St. Nicholas from around the world; online copies of illustrated children’s books; a large collection of religious icons and paintings of St. Nicholas and his life; and dozens of resources for celebrating and teaching about St. Nicholas. And this just scratches the surface! It would take weeks to make your way through everything there.  I certainly plan on returning there often during the remainder of this Advent season.

Here are a few quick links from the St. Nicholas Center that I found intriguing, and I bet you will, too:

  • Because of how large the site is, start at the site map page found here:   http://www.stnicholascenter.org/Brix?pageID=23 . The site is so large and detailed, unless you go to this page, I find that you’ll run the risk of missing much of the fun it offers, especially if you were to rely solely on the side panels for navigation.
  • A large collection of stories, legends and miracle accounts surrounding the life of  St. Nicholas can be found here, including The Golden Legend: http://www.stnicholascenter.org/Brix?pageID=911 .  Many of these are lavishly illustrated, and some are interactive.
  • The Life of St. Nicholas shown in paintings, icons, and frescoes from around the world is found here:    http://www.stnicholascenter.org/Brix?pageID=913
  • For an interactive page for discovering how the feast of St. Nicholas is celebrated with different customs around the world. Almost three dozen different countries are represented. Go here:    http://www.stnicholascenter.org/Brix?pageID=76
  • A collection of online stories, activities, and games for children can be found here:  http://www.stnicholascenter.org/Brix?pageID=166
  • An wonderful collection of articles and prayers to enhance your celebration of this great saint can be found here  http://www.stnicholascenter.org/Brix?pageID=120 and here http://www.stnicholascenter.org/Brix?pageID=1 . One of the articles found there that I especially like include a magical story by the well-known spiritual author Fr. Edward Hayes called The Pay-less Shoe Gift Shop & Hobbit Gifts. Another article I found was a reflection by Orthodox Christian and peace activist Jim Forest on St. Nicholas and the death penalty  called A Saint Who Stopped an Execution.” Once you go there, I’m sure that you’ll find others that appeal to your interests and spiritual needs.

    Banner for St.NicholasCenter.Org (Click me!)


Advent: What Are We Waiting For? — Some Resources for Jump-starting Your Observance

3 Dec

 

Advent Prayer

by Henri J.M. Nouwen

 

Lord Jesus,

Master of both the light and the darkness,

send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas.

We who have so much to do seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day.

We who are anxious over many things look forward to your coming among us.

We who are blessed in so many ways long for the complete joy of your kingdom.

We whose hearts are heavy seek the joy of your presence.

We are your people, walking in darkness, yet seeking the light.

To you we say, “Come Lord Jesus!”

Amen.

 

Orthodox Christian author Matthew Gallatin has claimed that we in America have traditionally celebrated the Christmas season in a backwards fashion. He writes: “Just as the guest of honor walks through the door, it’s all over.” Wow! Ain’t that the truth! It is my hope that I might be of service in helping you, my reader, and others to rise above the crass commercialism surrounding the business world’s countdown to Christmas by helping you find ways to enter as deeply as possible into the mysteries of this sacred season of Advent. As I have already indicated, I hope to provide a series of resources to assist you in doing just that. Here are a few general but important ones on the internet that I think you might like:

For those of you who might want a simple and even folksy introduction to the meaning of the Advent season, I suggest you visit an article entitled “Advent Introduction: What is Advent? Why Does It Matter? How Can We Celebrate It?” at this link: http://blog.beliefnet.com/markdroberts/pages/advent-introduction.html

If you are interested in a more detailed explanation of the meaning, including an overview of the history of the season of Advent, here is an excerpt from a book by a Benedictine monk named “Abbot Gueranger, O.S.B:  http://www.internetpadre.com/christmas/history_of_advent.html

Prayer and the reading of scripture are two the most important practices for entering into the spirit of Advent. Here are some excellent general resources to get you on your way:

  • The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has created a new site with many resources for helping you and your family pray your way through Advent. They have even included an online Advent calendar wherein each door opens to a new web page containing lectionary readings and prayers for the day:  http://www.usccb.org/advent/advent_index.shtml . You can also find at this site a printable booklet in PDF form called “Advent and Christmas with Pope Benedict XVI” with excerpts from his homilies accompanied by scripture readings and prayers. There is a different entry for each day of Advent and Christmas. This booklet is available for download at this link: http://www.usccb.org/advent/AdvChr.pdf .
  • If you are a little hurried, or just like things relatively short and sweet, a community of Irish Jesuits have provided their own online Advent Calendar that is not only inspiring, but is visually pleasing, appearing in the form of an animated Advent Wreath. Each day once again opens to a link to the lectionary readings of the day, accompanied by a brief but inspiring devotional and prayer. They even set it up so you know what day to click to get your inspiration! Check it out here: http://www.ciadvent.ie/2010/wreath.php

That’s it for today, but I’ll return tomorrow with some more resources, including links to online Advent retreats you can take advantage for free in the comfort of your own home!

If you find discover something personally helpful here, or if you know of an online resource you’d like to share with the visitors to my blog, you are encouraged to leave a comment. Likewise, if you have an Advent devotion or practice you’ve found personally helpful, you are likewise encouraged to share that with us!

Shalom,

Tom

Introducing a Series of Advent/Christmas/Winter Solstice Resources

30 Nov

Hi, everyone! I’ve been meaning to get around to write again to for a few days now but I have decided that I would post a series of posts in the spirit of the Advent / Christmas seasons. I won’t be a purist here, avoiding any mixing of Advent and Christmas material. However, think of this as a kind of virtual online Advent Calendar that you can visit. For your edification, you will find spiritual reflections, readings, prayers, music, videos, helpful links, recipes, and even some fun to hopefully help you join me in entering more deeply in the spirit of this blessed time of the year. Since I plan on posting at least once everyday, I will not even try to make everything I post original. That way I can keep up with all I wish to accomplish.  And I’m really going to enjoy this!

I hope you like what you find here enough to visit often, if not daily, for an infusion of grace to brighten your day! Please let me know when you like something I’ve shared through a thumbs up and/or adding your own thoughts through a comment. And you are more than encouraged to share your own related thoughts and reflections as we journey together. As the old song says: “It’s a Most Wonderful Time of the Year!”

Shalom!

Tom

Tah dah! For my first post, I’ll share a brief poem…

10 Sep

Since I am not really a poet, perhaps I should call this a “proem” so that your expectations are lowered. I wrote this little ditty while out at a neighborhood park with my two oldest children, Elizabeth and Christopher. They were both young kids then. I had just purchased them a kite, and Chris had just gotten the hang of getting one afloat for the first time in his life.  They were both delighted! As their dad, I was transfixed, caught up in the wonder and delight of this shared moment with them.  It was simply magical, even mystical! Since I didn’t have a camera with me, I sat down with a scrap of paper and recorded that memory right then and there with following words . . .

The wind

crept up

like some

unseen, crafty cat

stalking


As a kite

tap danced

playfully

on its tiptoe

a tease


Clouds

and Sun

stood by

hushed

and smiling


And I

just watched —

an innocent bystander

to simple beauty.


— Tom Webber, (c) 4/19/89

%d bloggers like this: