Arrayed across the page, the words evoke memories, pluck at threads of emotion as though determined to unravel their mystery.
If you do not believe in the ginn, you have only to look at the heavens for proof. That “shooting star”, as you call it, what is it but the stone thrown by one of the angels in heaven when an evil ginn approaches too near in order to try to overhear the conversation of Paradise and thus learn the secrets of the future?
Another custom is the way they mark one of those pauses in conversation which in England is sometimes denoted by the declaration that “an angel is passing”. After a moment of dead silence, one of the company will say, “Wahed dhu!” (“God is One”), and the whole company in a low murmur will repeat, “La ilah ilia Allah!” (“There is no God but one God”), and conversation will be resumed.
I made a note of all the proverbs I heard in these talks, for all conversation in the East is enriched with unending proverbs, as with a wonderful power of expression in poetic form and idiom.
Reading on in S.H. Leeder’s Veiled Mysteries of Egypt and the Religion of Islam, I realize I’ve encountered source material for Lawrence Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet. The diplomat Mountolive, whose name provides the title for the third volume of Durrell’s series, reflects on the customs of Egypt using remarkably similar language. (more…)
Now that we have baked our cookies and trimmed our trees,
now that we have wrapped our gifts and planned our dinners,
now that we have hung stockings, sent greetings and set tables,
assembled toys, trimmed wicks, written Santa and hung wreaths,
the time has come to abandon it all,
if only for a moment.
Even as we anticipate our day of celebration,
Wisdom turns to extinguish the colorful strings of lights and dim the gleaming star.
Pinching out her candles
Wisdom sighs the music away, then brushes laughter off to rest in deepening drifts of silence.
Standing in stillness before her window,
Wisdom gazes toward the mystery of Christmas
And smiles at this truth – Christmas needs us not at all. (more…)
Laugh at the antlers if you will, but laugh at your peril. That business-like look in the eyes of my beautiful calico is very real. Dixie Rose (short for Dixie-Rose-Center-of-the-Universe-and-Queen-of-all-She-Surveys) loves Christmas, and she intends to be ready when it arrives. Do not stand in her way.
Dixie arrived at my door as an unloved, four-month-old stray who became my first real pet. As a child I did receive a small painted turtle, but the poor thing met a most unfortunate end. My birthday puppy lasted only hours. A tiny but exceedingly enthusiastic black Cocker Spaniel, the pup terrified me and was sent packing by disconsolate adults.
Later, I raised a fox squirrel and laughed my way through four years with a prairie dog, but my relationship with Dixie Rose is of a different order entirely. I believe her to be the most beautiful and most clever creature on four paws. I don’t think she’s the most spoiled creature in the world, but we’re working on it – diligently. (more…)
Christmas comes differently to the country.
Twisted and threaded around and through twin pieces of rusted rebar that serve as mailbox supports, the plastic pine garland is older than several of the children who tumble from the school bus. Still, its shabbiness is apparent only to the mail carrier, or to the slippered woman trudging down the lane from her house, hoping against hope to find greetings in her box. From the road, the garland appears perfect, full and fresh. From a distance, even plastic communicates the determination and joy pulsing in the woman’s heart. In this house, she thinks, we will celebrate. We will mark the season. We will share our joy with you, the passer-by.
Farther down the road, a wreath made of vines adorns a gate propped against a fence. Its ribbon flutters in the wind, attracting attention, drawing the eye over the gate and into a pasture. There’s a brush pile, and some uncleared mesquite. A few trees, pushed over and left to die, wait to be added to the pile. No cattle roam, no stock tank or pond offers refreshment - not even a piece of rusted, broken-down machinery resists the despondent wind sighing across the field. (more…)