Mele Kalikimaka!

We may not have a White Christmas in Hawaii
(except on top of Mauna Kea)
but we do have an incredible display of poinsettias!

All along the highway we find massive blooms,
some in long banks of poinsettia hedges –
others peeking out from behind trees.

As late as April,
I have seen a wayward bloom
here and there that
simply didn’t want to go away.

Wherever you are in this world,
I send you joy in this wonderful holiday season.

A hou hou!
and
Mele Kalikimaka!

Season of Light

During the month of December, there are many celebrations from various cultures, faiths, and events to remember.

Many of these are linked to the winter solstice, which has been celebrated throughout history as the “rebirth of the sun.” The natural rotation of the earth was not known in earlier times, so the shortest day of the year (December 21) and the gradual lengthening of days afterward took on a meaning that has largely been forgotten.

We don’t know the exact date of the birth of Jesus, but over time, his birth was also associated with this “birth of the sun,” or many say “birth of the Son.” Early Christian celebrations were generally observed on days that were already holy days, such as the solstice, to help make the transition to Christianity.

…Shab-e yalda, the rebirth of the sun, was an ancient Iranian ceremony that reflected the basics of goodness and light against evil and darkness. (from Suite 101 – see link)

There are many other interesting days of celebration listed on that last link, including The Festival of the Wild Women!

Because I spent many years in Arizona, and Tucson in particular, one of my favorite December traditions is Las Posadas. This procession is a reenactment of the trip Mary and Joseph made from Nazareth to Bethlehem. A group dressed as angels, shepherds, and the holy couple go from house to house seeking shelter. The word posadas means “lodging” in Spanish. At each home, these “pilgrims” are served various foods, including tamales.

There are many other dates to honor during December, but three stand out for me as a special way of honoring this season of lights. They are World AIDS Day on December 1, Pearl Harbor Day on December 7, and Human Rights Day on December 10.

Mele Kalikimaka!

A Joyful Christmas Party

 

One of the joyous downfalls of anyone who tries to watch their weight is the number of Christmas parties. I try to watch what I eat, but sometimes it’s so hard! These pictures were taken at the home of Robyn and David, dear friends up the road.

With all the fabulous goodies spread around, I put on ten pounds just looking at it. So rather than eat too much, I decided to take pictures of it and show you. Not too many calories were consumed in the making of this post.

 

I am a “Featured Publisher” with foodbuzz.com, so when I found this video/recipe for a special brie baked in puff pastry on their website recently, I knew I had to try it. I made it for this particular party, and will make it again soon for another party! It made quite a hit at the party, and I’m afraid I did indulge.

 

Even here in Hawai`i we love the atmosphere of a fireplace. Believe it or not, at an elevation of 3500 feet, the warmth feels good. The crowd of people made an actual flame unnecessary this time, however.

 

Jaunty white bears were scattered around the house.

 

The extra potent eggnog was a family recipe from another friend. One cup was all I could handle, since I don’t drink anything else all year. There was also a “virgin” eggnog available, but I stuck with my diet tonic after one cup of the “real” stuff.

 

The flash on my camera wasn’t able to get the right light for all the pictures, so some are darker than they should be. It’s a good thing I took this picture early in the evening. You wouldn’t have been able to see the counter of pupus or table loaded with goodies for the mob of people gathered around.

 

We all rolled into our cars after such a grand feast, but it was worth every bite! Thank you, Robyn and David, for helping me get into the Christmas spirit!

Mele Kalikimaka!

Luz de la Vida

Today’s post is a bit of my short fiction.
From time to time, I post something on that order.
This banner is one I made many years ago.

 

Luz de la Vida

 

The StoryTeller woman lives in a harbor this side of the sea, near a spurious border between two kingdoms. Once, as long ago as yesterday, the whales and dolphins and other creatures of the sea gathered around to assist on the day of her birth. The name they wrote on her Certificate of Birth was Luz de la Vida, “the light of life.”

From the moment she emerged out of that watery place of all birthing, those briny creatures of wisdom saw the light hovering in the ovaries – in that deep, warm and wet dwelling place of all seed.

“Look!” they said, as they celebrated the wonder of her birth. “There is a light! It must have always been there, but it was not visible until this very moment – not until her birth!”

A few scattered herders of sheep, keepers of land animals, scurried across the fields and arrived in time to witness an inconceivable birth — the birth of Luz de la Vida. This happened merely because they heard some curious music in the wind. They came to see for themselves what was happening.

Still, it was those wise creatures of the deep who first saw Luz de la Vida. They saw the light hovering within her. They followed it and they brought her gifts. In that moment everyone around came to know Luz de la Vida in their own hearts.

Luz de la Vida developed into a lovely, luminous and wise woman. Everyone knew, but no one said, that Luz de la Vida even knew when the sea was born. No one knew, and everyone said, that Luz de la Vida had no name for herself, but was known by all as simply Luz.

Now, each day before the Sun grows up, Luz sings her lullaby to the Moon, and offers her day to the world. She sings her message of Emmanuel as the sea gulls play the wind and the pelicans sit on the rocks to eat their fish. She sings her message as she bakes her bread, hangs out her laundry, scrubs her floors, as the coffee pot perks out a rhythm. She tells her stories to all who stroll by and does her best to lighten their day in her other-world by the sea.

Many wonder if Luz really is, or if stories need a figure to play out her special role. Luz looks under rocks, under seaweed, under docks or among the crabs, she watches the waves for life. She consults the universe with the mind of a million years. We never escape her — she’s crazy, she’s wonderful. She’s fun, she’s scary, she’s unreadable and she lives.

I met Luz one day. She called me from darkness into the light of my own birth.

“Come,” she called. “Come find a light in the midst of your chaos.”

It was in this way that the luminous spirit within Luz gave me a new beginning. Like the Magicians — those others who were led by Luz — I, too, was given her bright star for direction and endurance.

“Here,” she said, “here is the path that leads to the presence of light.”

Her hovering presence lingers in curious ways. She is there when the tired, stifled center of the typhoon passes through my days. She hovers silently during those ceaseless shadowy struggles within my soul. Luz stands by with healing poise as I shiver fearfully in the hospital. Luz swirls through the ruthless torments of my spirit.

When I permit it, she seeks me out as I grapple with responsibilities. When I believe I can find my way without her light, Luz emerges. When all purpose for my life is misplaced, she calls me into a light of rebirth. She arrives in seasons of resurrection. Luz touches my body, my spirit, my mind. She comes, calling my name, your name, Luz comes. I see her, I hear her call. She demolishes my darkness, invites me to dance, nudges me forward to answer to life.

Mele Kalikimaka!

Middle East Journey

 


NOTE: I mistakenly posted something else on the evening of December 23, so if you can’t open it, that’s why. You’ll get that post on Monday, December 28.

Christmas Eve is an appropriate time to share a little bit about one of my trips to the Middle East. I was still in active ministry at the time, making everything I learned there more valuable.

So much of what we saw on that trip was exactly how most people picture that part of the world – wide expanses of desert with Bedouin and their camels.

When I was offered a chance to ride a camel, I quickly agreed. Riding a camel certainly has been one of my more unique experiences! I’d been riding horses for many years, so I thought a camel would be a cinch. How wrong I was!

Camels have a nasty disposition! Also, along with their constant complaining, they bend down in stages to let you climb on, which gives you the sensation of being on a very fluky rocking chair (or a slow roller coaster).

LUCY ON A CAMEL
LUCY ON A CAMEL

 

I took this ride near the Qumran where ancient papyrus scrolls were found in 1945. Later, I visited the museum where these scrolls are on exhibit.

QUMRAN
QUMRAN

 

In just a few days, we will celebrate the magi following a star to visit a baby in Bethlehem. In the meantime, I want to say that I can appreciate those guys even more now. I can empathize with the grueling ride they must have had on those camels!

Mele Kalikimaka!

Cranberry Bread

 

A few Christmases ago, my brother gave me a gift certificate from Ace Hardware. I bought an old-fashioned grinder like the one I remember using to grind up cranberries for the bread our mother often made. It is still one of my favorite fruity breads.

There is a funny incident that goes along with this recipe. All I could find here was a snippet of paper with my mother’s handwriting that said “4 cranberry bread.” It had these massive amounts of flour and sugar and eggs, but with absolutely no mention of cranberries or how much. It had probably been her way of making sure she had the right amounts when she made up four loaves of the bread.

So I called my daughter, Debbie, to see if I had given her the recipe at some point. She pulled out a cookbook I’d made up for her as a wedding present many years ago. Sure enough, there it was. She read it off to me and I offer it to you here.

 

Cranberry Bread

 

2 cups coarsely chopped cranberries (I used my hand-grinder above)
½ cup chopped nuts
2 cups sifted flour
1 cup sugar
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
Juice and grated rind of 1 orange
2 tablespoons butter
1 egg
Water as needed, but leave the batter rather stiff.

Combine everything except the cranberries and nuts. Fold cranberries and nuts into batter. Line bread pan with greased waxed paper.

Bake at 350 degrees F. for 50-60 minutes.

A hui hou!