April has arrived ~ it’s poetry time!

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April is here, and spring is in the air. The season of growth and life around us doesn’t only bring leaves and blooms, but it also inspires the poetry in each of us. Yes, April is National Poetry Month!

To encourage any who wish to craft verse in honor of this special month, I thought I’d share again a piece I penned a few years ago. The first seeds in our garden were just planted last week, and it was when I planted lettuce seven years ago that I wrote this piece. (It also hails back to my science teacher days in the mid-90s, when we planted seeds and charted their growth, measuring and marveling at the miracle of “tropisms.”

So, happy poem-ing to the poets among us!

 

Tropisms

By Angela Knight

 

Diminutive as a speck of dust, the black seed glistens on my palm.This onyx-tinged grain holds promise; it encapsulates life.

They say that if I bury this bit into the soil, a stem will soon point upward as roots burrow into the dirt.

“Magic?” I ask.
“No – science,” they say. “Tropisms: stems go up, roots come down. That’s just how it is.”
“But why? How do they know? Where do tropisms come from?”

As I ponder, I hear a silent reply:
“It is I who created the constellations, the oceans, the peaks, the valleys, the beating hearts, the seeds.
And I AM.”

So with awe more expansive than the waters of the world, I unite this tiny beacon of hope with the earth. Rains come: geotropisms tug down, phototropisms pull up, and the Creator smiles.
It is good.


Published in Parnassus, Feb. 2012


 

If you are in the Upland area this weekend, check out the Barton Rees Pogue Poetry and Arts Festival!

 

…I will share other poetry related to life’s “invisible issues” later in the month.

Day 27 – Thirty Days of Thanks – nineteen years and counting

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Nineteen years ago on this date, the air felt decidedly hot. And quite humid. And very sunny. (Of course it was… it was July in Indiana.)  So what made it memorable? July 30, 1997 was the day of the official word, the day that Dr. Stevens confirmed that the preliminary June diagnosis was correct: I have Multiple Sclerosis.

Nineteen years later, this journey continues. Few wish for struggles, and I admit that I do not enjoy them, but my MS path does indeed contain pieces for which I give thanks. Today’s list will focus on that:

5 things I’m thankful for, highlighted by MS in my life:

  1. Embraced Slowness –I’ve never been super speedy (as my parents and brothers can vehemently attest), but MS has enforced a movement level that has me running races with snails, and sometimes they win. But you know what we’ve discovered? When you refrain from being speedy, you notice and appreciate things you may have missed otherwise. It can be refreshing.
  2. Connections with others –More people than I can count have contacted me for assurance or advice – or commiseration – after receiving a frightening diagnosis. This was never a lesson I had planned to teach, but I’m thankful that I’m able to step in here at times.
  3. Little everyday ADA blessings –I credit the ADA for many bits of blessing, and I am thankful for things like not-too-steep ramps, early boarding for an airplane, and special seats at the theater. I read last year that we are now a part of “Generation ADA” – we have indeed come a long way. I have an understanding here that I never would have before!
  4. Learning the blessing of giving AND receiving –For some of us, giving is a lot simpler, more comfortable, more joyful than receiving. And rightly so… but I have finally realized that by being an appreciative “receiver,” I bless the life of those on the other side of the equation. For a proud and independent type of person, this wasn’t a simple lesson, but I feel that I am experiencing this truth more fully after nineteen years.
  5. Deeper family relationships –Life as it is in the Knight house requires a level of giving, understanding, patience and love that I don’t think would be if not for challenges MS brings our way. My husband and daughters are so very special, and there are bonds within our family that have been strengthened by this thing called MS.

So “Thankful for MS”? Not today. Thankful for (sometimes hidden) blessings that abound? You bet!

 

[Note about “Thirty Days of Thanks”: I continue being thankful, but writing about days 28-30 will actually begin again August 9. As mentioned above, I am indeed slow, and my energy is limited. I will be attending two conferences, and my writing time and energy will be focused there. I love adopting a mental and spiritual posture of thankfulness, and it will be fun to bring my thirty days to a proper close!]

Day 24 – Thirty Days of Thanks – more writing … and chocolate, too

Continuing from yesterday – writing offers more than five things to be thankful for! So moving on, here are five more reasons I have to be thankful!

So here I go –

Today’s 5 Thankful Things:

  1. Online classes – Last fall, I was able to enroll in “Media Communications,” completing coursework at home and turning it in online. Professor Sara Brookshire was very encouraging. Among other things, I learned that I am not so fond of basic newswriting. I’d rather write something that can contain bits of personality, not just fact.
  1. recorder appSmart phone apps – Many thanks to Sara for introducing me to the “recorder app.” When I completed an interview for a course six years ago, I actually used a cassette recorder that I toted with me. (Yes, I was behind the times, but I didn’t own another portable recording device. Yet.) With a new smartphone, I was able to use a recording app that simplified so much!
  1. Siri Life 2 chocChocolate – As Siri told me just today, chocolate adds meaning to life. Even though I admit life has much Image result for Dove Chocolate Wrapper Quotesmeaning beyond chocolate, I do enjoy sharing words and chocolate with “Writers’ Bloc” frequently. I call these “chocolate fortune cookies,” as Dove chocolates have fun messages we read while enjoying our treats at our weekly lunches.
  1. Spring online class – What an incredible blessing my spring class was! “Nonfiction writing” offered many challenges and rewards. As I learned to hone this craft, life lessons came my way also. Remember my comments about March, how my nervous system turned extra-rebellious? This came to fruition the first full week of class. And it gave me extra reason to persevere – would this teacher let something like a burning tongue or uncooperative legs give excuse for missing an assignment? I think not.
  1. Wonderful instructor and new friend – Kim, a professor from a northern Indiana university, showed patience and skill. Thankfully, she believed me when I shared my reasons for schedule changes and such. But she took me seriously and took me to task as needed. My verbs are becoming more active, my sentences less bloated, and my messages more direct. Okay, sometimes … but I can keep trying. And I have a neat book project in the works!

 

 

Day 23 – Thirty Days of Thanks – about writing

A few words of thanks …

Background to today’s list: when I first decided to become a teacher, I hadn’t been able to decide whether I wanted to study to teach English, science, or general elementary grades (so as not to specialize, and to avoid teenage angst). Thirty years later, life has taken paths beyond my middle school classroom of 1994-97, my grad school years, and my Museum Educator chapter. Even my “adjunct professor” times. And the beautiful Kids Hope adventure.

During this journey, T.R. and others encouraged me to continue taking coursework that allowed me to keep my teaching license current. In order to keep my license renewed, I’ve needed to complete six hours of college coursework every five years. Graduate school classes were staggered enough that the first classes I took for this specific reason were about six years ago. My elementary license also includes middle school science and language arts, so I was thrilled to have the chance to take two writing courses to meet the licensure requirements..

Eight years ago, my writing adventure launched in an unexpected way. Our area newspaper, the Marion Chronicle-Tribune, put out a call for community bloggers. As T.R. and I discussed, we has an idea: blog about the challenges faced by those dealing with disabilities. These topics are often misunderstood, usually unseen. “Invisible Issues,” one could say.

Six years ago, I enrolled in “Freelance Writing” and “Creative Writing.” License was renewed. Five years later, I completed “Media Writing” and “Nonfiction Writing.” Each of these four courses helped me grow in so many ways, and I do feel like a better person because of it! And definitely a better writer. (One who is willing to purposefully break grammatical rules, for instance … but only if she knows she is doing it.)

So my point here? Writing: is this how I am now meant to teach? Without the physical wherewithal to lead a middle school, college, or elementary classroom, shall I hone my writing abilities so that God can use these tools in ways I hadn’t planned? So begins today’s thankful list:

Today’s 5 Thankful things:

  1. Thank you to patient college professorsDr. Hensley and Dr. Householder both tolerated this student, two decades older than the other class members. I felt a little younger myself, and I hope I helped teach them a tad bit. This was in 2010 and 2011, when I was the slow student with the floral folding cane. Doc Hensley taught me to stop splitting my infinitives, among other things.
  1. Thank you to my supportive husband – Though I had planned to attend Gen Con with him next week, he arranged things so that I could also attend Taylor’s Writer’s Conference in August. What a beautiful gift, meaning more than I think he realized!
  1. Business cards – How cool is it that one can design business cards, then have a box of
    image1100 delivered to your door less than a week later? Awesome! Thank you to T.R. for designing them and to Zazzle for printing. (Of course they had a special also. Even online, I try to follow my mom’s example to use coupons and catch sales whenever possible.)
  1. Thank you to Writers’ Bloc – our writer’s group that meets weekly or so, encouraging each of us to continue writing, and offering friendship along the way.
  1. A laptop on which to type – Particularly after my laptop died in early June, I gained an even greater appreciation for this technology. What a wonderful gift this is!

Day 8 – Thirty Days of Thanks

Time for another look at five more things I’m thankful for – summer is so full of these! (So are spring, fall, and winter, but summer is when I have time to contemplate them, I suppose.) So here we go –

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5 Things I’m Thankful for Today:

  1. Fresh rhubarb pie – Who was the first person who decided to eat the thick stem of this tangy fruit/vegetable? And who discovered that the leaves were toxic? Fun dinner conversation.
  1. Baked pasta dishes – Either lasagna, baked spaghetti, ziti, or something totally different, cheesy and saucy recipes bring a smile to my face. And make my tummy happy.
  1. McDonald’s restrooms – Okay, this may sound silly, but I am thankful that when we’re traveling, I can always count on McDonald’s restaurants to have a clean, safe restroom I can stop in when I need. And I don’t feel guilty if we don’t purchase something every time we go, as our family has given the golden arches lots of business over the past decade plus.
  1. Coupons we remember to save – I love it when I remember to save a coupon, and have it with me when we need to use it!
  1. Things like Twitter that teach me to choose words carefully – and letters. Can I share a coherent thought in under 140 characters? I can try.

A few thoughts for World MS Day

Today, May 25, is World MS Day. In late February, I began a writing course, and much of my writing time has been devoted there. This blog shall begin regular posts by late June – I just feel that  I must draw attention to this particular day! (Side note – I “celebrated” March as MS Awareness month by experiencing the most difficult MS month I’ve faced in 18+ years. That story will come later, as I really must finish my homework. But I assure you that I was very aware, as was my family.)

Those facing MS are asked to share their stories on this day, so I will do so in the form of a poem. It’s one I’ve shared before, but I refined it a bit. So in honor of World MS Day, here’s my story:

Scars

MS
Multiple Sclerosis.
Many Scars.
a Misbehaving System is what I call it.
You can call it what you wish.

Cells that should kill germs harm others instead, and what do they leave behind?
Scars.
What do they take away?
Energy. Control. Ability. Freedom.

“It’s all in your head,” you say.
And I agree.
With scars in my head,
I sometimes wonder what’s left.
Besides scars.

But then I hear an inner voice, one of assurance:
“Scars are not alone. When you look, you’ll find unexpected gifts:
The gift of Empathy to offer an ear to hear of invisible pain, filled with frustration and hard to see with the outer eye.
The gift of Peace beyond understanding, easier to feel when busy-ness is forced aside and stillness found.
The gift of Love you’ll feel as dear ones see through and beyond your scars, and the truest love, shown through one whose scars bring new life.”

MS
Multiple Sclerosis
More than Scars.
That’s what I call it.
You can call it what you wish.

a poem of peace

As National Poetry Month nears its end, I can’t help but look to the world at large… one thing we long for, we strive for, is peace. Facing personal struggles, family issues, troubles on the larger scale that we read of in the papers or see splashed across the news, I found rest today as a happened upon a poem I wrote a year ago. It is a narrative from the perspective of the apostle Matthew. I can only imagine how it must have felt to be a follower of Christ, one who had worked with government and numbers and likely deception at times, but who left that to follow Jesus. And who was on a boat on the Sea of Galilee when they faced a storm unlike any other.

be still and know

(Matthew 4:26, Psalm 46:10)

Quiet!
Be still!
The wind obeys
The waves listen
I reach the shore
and step from the boat
And
The wars move on
The storms rage
But
I saw His hand
Heard His voice
And I know…
No storm
No war
No plague
No hurt
None is stronger than His peace.
“Be still and know that I am GOD.”
I’ll try, Lord. I will.

Psalm 46

Come and see what the Lord has done,
    the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease
    to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
    he burns the shields[d] with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.”

 

Matthew 8

23 Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24 Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”

26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.

27 The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”

Poetry winner – second place!

This National Poetry Month, for the fourth year in a row, I entered a poem in the Barton Reese Pogue Poetry and Arts Festival original poetry competition. The past three years, I was not an award winner, but I was quite thrilled when this year, I placed second. Fun! The past three years, I’ve entered poems that were lyrical or free verse, but this year, I decided to be more “traditionally poetic.” I thought I’d follow the style of a favorite poet of mine, Emily Dickinson and use rhyme and a sing-song type of lyrical feel.

The theme for this year’s competition was “The Great Outdoors.” I decided to take a different stint on this theme, telling a story of the effect a step outside had on a newborn in our home… I’ll let the poem tell the story. Before I share the poem below, I will share that I owe my husband and daughters huge kudos for helping me to physically be there and be a part of this competition today. Ideally, I wish I didn’t have to slowly make my way to a front podium using a walker, but we made it work. And though winning would be lovely, I knew how tough it would have been for me to make it up to the stage to recite it at the front… the winning piece was absolutely lovely, and I was thrilled for her! I was shocked that after three years of nothing, I actually placed, and that was more than I certainly expected. But without further ado, here we go:

The Magic Door
by Angie Knight ( a true story – April-June 1999)

The time was close – six weeks to go,
spring was on its way.
Mommy waited patiently and
treasured every day.
Her favorite season brought new life
to tired, faded trees,
while she and Daddy took a walk
to feel the April breeze.
Soon they would come, two little ones
who waited now to see
the lovely world that would be home
for Babies A and B.

But then the doctor put the brakes
on time for work and play,
“Lay and rest, this will be best,
and soon will come their day.”
Six long weeks, they plodded by,
with Mommy longing for
a moment to just take a step
out through the wooden door.
She’d missed the daffodils, the scents
when spring was in the air,
the Great Outdoors were calling,
but she couldn’t visit there.

The day, it came, the babies joined
the world, first A then B.
They stretched and cried and lay in beds
for everyone to see.
Two days later, home they came
and all could hear them cry.
Eating helped and swings were nice,
but everything they’d try
to calm the smaller baby failed –
not song, not bounce or whirl.
The tired mom was wondering,
so holding Baby Girl,

she opened up that wooden door
and let the infant see
the outside world –
then something seemed to happen magic-ly.
Her eyes were new, but what she saw
brought silence to the place.
The spell she felt, the Great Outdoors,
the fresh, green quiet space.
In days to come, the parents found
the “magic door” still reigned:
quiet overtook the child
and peacefulness remained
each time they took a step outside
to venture out and see
“The Great Outdoors,” a view of life
that helped her to feel free.


p.s. I’ll share a poem next week that I think those with “invisible issues” will enjoy. It is a fun description of walking without falling… stay tuned!

MS poem, “Scars”

As MS Awareness Month comes to a close, April will welcome a month I have come to appreciate, National Poetry Month.  After April, I will keep looking at the “Invisible Issues” faced by many of us. Today, though, I’ll transition from the month about MS to the month that celebrates poetry. So here I will share a free verse poem I wrote two years ago:

Scars

M.S.
Multiple Sclerosis.
Many Scars.
a Misbehaving System is what I call it.
You can call it what you wish.

Cells that should kill germs harm others instead, and what do they leave behind?
Scars.
What do they take away?
Energy. Control. Ability. Freedom.

“It’s all in your head,” you say.
And I agree.
With scars in my head,
I sometimes wonder what’s left.
Besides scars.

But then I hear an inner voice, one of assurance:
“Scars are not alone. When you look, you’ll find unexpected gifts:
The gift of empathy to offer an ear to hear of invisible pain, filled with frustration and hard to see with the outer eye.
The gift of peace beyond understanding, easier to feel when busy-ness is forced aside and stillness found.
The gift of love you’ll feel as dear ones see through and beyond your scars, and the truest love, shown through one whose scars bring new life.”

M.S.
More than Scars.
That’s what I call it.
You can call it what you wish.

 

Everybody —

As National Poetry Month came to a close on Tuesday, I openly admit that I didn’t write a new poem every day. (That is a goal for next April!) I did spend a bit of time every day, though, doing SOMETHING poetry-related, and I have more than twenty new poems. Several will certainly remain in a digital folder to collect “digital dust.” A few made me laugh, some led me to deeper contemplation, and after my writing group encouraged me a couple of weeks ago, I even mailed one to The Saturday Evening Post to consider for publication in the humorous “post scripts” section. (It was a verse in a Shel Silverstein type of style about how to avoid falling, and if it is published anywhere, I’ll share it on my blog, but not before, as it needs to remain “previously unpublished. 🙂 )

Each day of National Poetry Month, the “poetic asides” blog offered a prompt to get me started. Often, this was very helpful in directing me. Sometimes, though, it made my mind travel in so many directions that it wouldn’t settle. (Think “hummingbird.”) One such prompt was the “everybody” one. Everybody ____ (fill in the blank.) It sounded to me like the title of a picture book, so I tried a rhyming type of verse… about eight lines into it, I was not sold. So I went thematic, but there were so many possible directions… this was a day we were traveling, so my writing was with pen and paper, and I decided to be simple and positive.

Made my list of verbs that “everybody” does. Everybody sleeps, eats, laughs, cries, plays, hurts… and everybody dreams. (I know that everybody isn’t monosyllabic, but one that day, they apparently were.) So my “everybody” poem was one of my simplest, and I’ll share here my “Everybody Haiku.”

Everybody dreams,
but everyone doesn’t hope…
maybe they can learn.

(And this haiku is dedicated to our 24 mentors, students and prayer partners in the Eastbrook South/UCC Kids Hope USA partnership!)

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