If you would like to add a comment to any of the threads here on AADB, registration with blogspot.com is not required. Simply click on the ‘comments’ link at the bottom of an essay, and either enter a nickname under ‘choose an identity’ or post your comment anonymously. Serious comments are always welcome.

REQUIEM

Below are the two final essays to be posted on Allegiance and Duty Betrayed. The first one is written by a friend -- screen name 'Euro-American Scum' -- who, over the past four years, has been the most faithful essayist here. He has written about everything from his pilgrimage to Normandy in 2004 to take part in the 60th–year commemoration of the invasion, to his memories of his tour in Vietnam. His dedication to America’s founding principles ... and those who have sacrificed to preserve them over the past 200+ years ... is unequaled. Thank you, E-A-S. It has been a privilege to include your writing here, and it is a privilege to call you my friend.

The second essay is my own farewell. And with it I thank all of the many regular visitors, and those who may have only dropped in occasionally, for coming here. I hope you learned something. I hope a seed or two was planted. But, even if not, I thank you for stopping by ... 25 March, 2010

12/16/2006

Merry Christmas


I rarely include non-political subjects in the essays here, but tonight I am feeling particularly enveloped by the season, so, before allowing this year to come to a close, I want to share with the ‘regulars’ here a brief personal Christmas greeting. (If you visit here solely for the political content, you may simply want to skip this particular post ... :)

We live on nine acres of woodland in an isolated corner of our township, less than a half mile from the end of a barely-traveled, dead-end road -- nestled close to the bottom of a valley, with mountains to the north and south. There are only a handful of other homes on our road. Most of them are set back from the road, invisible, or barely visible, to the rest of the world.

We walk our dog, Bert, at least a half dozen times a day, either down the road in one or the other direction, or into the woods, taking familiar paths, or walking cross-country when we’re in a particularly energetic or ‘trailblazing’ frame of mind. :)



We have lived in our new home about a year now, and, in the evenings, we still find ourselves sitting by the fire wondering when we will have to pack and go home. The beauty, isolation, and serenity that surround us daily sometimes causes us to succumb to the illusion that we are on a ‘vacation’ of sorts. Such peace of mind could not possibly be permanent. :)

Tonight my husband was feeling a bit under the weather so Bert and I took our late-night walk alone. We walked down to where the road ends and the woods take over in three of four directions.

The night is so clear tonight that, for the first time in the more than five decades I have walked this earth, I was virtually overcome with awe as I looked into the nighttime sky.

Silence.

No colors but for countless infinitely tiny specks of white above … and skyward-reaching ropes of blacks and grays.

The trees are bare now, and, as I looked to my left, the entirety of my vision was filled with 100-150-foot tall, dark sentinels, through which peered an endless blanket of stars, all the way down to where the sky meets the dark left horizon. As I looked to my right, the image was the same. And, gazing upward, where the smallest, highest tendrils of those thousands of old, wise trees’ narrow arms trail off into tiny twigs, yet more stars formed an endless glimmering canopy above.

I sat on a large rock alongside the road, and Bert sat down next to me, appearing to want to drink in the majesty every bit as much as I.

I began reflecting on the way we modern Americans find ourselves incessantly bombarded with glitz, glare, noise and superficiality ... all posing as something of value. How often do we set aside time to step back from the cacophony, seek a secluded spot (if only in the corner of our own mind) and reflect on the majesty and artistry that surrounds us each and every day? Artistry that we rarely, if ever, acknowledge, let alone offer thanks for, when overwhelmed in its presence.

There is more beauty in a single leaf than in most of what passes for expensive, acclaimed, 'priceless' art today. What I saw and experienced around and above me tonight, extending infinitely in every direction, causes the creations of Michelangelo, Beethoven, and Shakespeare to pale in comparison.

I am convinced that the degree that we are able to experience of what we humans call peace of mind is directly proportional to the degree to which we are able to divorce ourselves from the dissonance and superficiality of modern society and, instead, regularly reflect on beauty and significance that is of a more eternal nature.

God is good. And, no matter how many trials we may be facing, or how many burdens we may be asked to bear, if we but take the time to isolate ourselves from the world for some time each day, the realization of a myriad of personal blessings that we tend not to acknowledge will find themselves flooding into our hearts and minds. And it is from that ‘stepping back’ ... and simple spiritual observing ... that peace of mind is born.

Below are a few personal Christmas photos that I’d like to share with friends here before signing off for the year.

Being that we are in a new (our final) home, we started fresh with new tree decorations that I have admired from afar for many years – mostly German blown-glass Kugel balls, white lace wire ribbon out of which I designed bows and a tree-topper, silver garnishes and white feather birds. The photos are of those that are among our favorites.






With these thoughts and these photos, I want to say to all who have wandered by here over the past seven months, thank you for stopping by. And to those who have added their own thoughts and observations, thank you for taking part. An interactive weblog is only as successful as the conversations it inspires.

Best wishes to all for a blessed Christmas … and a New Year filled with Peace and Contentment!

~ joanie

69 comments:

robmaroni said...

Good words and beautiful pictures.

Merry Christmas, Joanie.

Kathymlynczak said...

Thank you for the wonderful Christmas ideas and photos! Merry Christmas to you and your family, Joanie!

Anonymous said...

Amen.

johngalt said...

I am convinced that the degree that we are able to experience of what we humans call peace of mind is directly proportional to the degree to which we are able to divorce ourselves from the dissonance and superficiality of modern society and, instead, regularly reflect on beauty and significance that is of a more eternal nature.

Fewer and fewer Americans know that. That's part of the reason we're in so much trouble.

A wonderful commentary. Thank you and merry Christmas.

Montypython2 said...

"There is more beauty in a single leaf than in most of what passes for expensive, acclaimed, 'priceless' art today. What I saw and experienced around and above me tonight, extending infinitely in every direction, causes the creations of Michelangelo, Beethoven, and Shakespeare to pale in comparison."

I had to think about that one for a while, but I get what you mean and I agree.

Happy holidays to you and your family.

John Cooper said...

The wife and I drove up the hill just after dark and parked in an area where there were no trees obstructing our view. After our eyes adjusted, we turned them to the beautiful early-evening sky and waited for the Space Station/Shuttle to pass overhead.

It came up right on schedule in the SSE where the glow of the setting sun was still lingering. It flew almost overhead then winked out in the NNW three minutes later. It was the brightest object in the evening sky tonight.

We had just been watching the spacewalk live on NASA TV, and it was kinda' cool realizing that there were two astronauts outside the Station looking down on us as we were looking up at them. (I'm pretty sure I heard Sunita holler, "Hi John!" as she went overhead.)

You, too, can pretend you're a shepherd staring up at a mysterious object in the night sky if you know where to look and when: Space Station/Shuttle tracker

guinevere said...

My great aunt had two or three antique kugels on her tree when I was growing up. She prized them. I wish I knew where they are now.

joanie said...

Rob, Kathy, JohnGalt, MontyPython2 --

Thank you all for the kind comments, and best wishes for a blessed Christmas to you all!

~ joanie

joanie said...

Guinevere,

I, too, would wish to know where they are now. The ones I have are not antiques, and I would imagine the older ones are exquisite in their workmanship. I'm sure you great aunt's tree created wonderful memories for you!

~ joanie

joanie said...

Thanks for the link to the schedule, John. It appears that Lancaster County has a few good suppertime opportunities over the next few days, clear skies permitting. We'll be out there watching on one or more of those nights.

So did you return Sunita's wave? :)

~ joanie

3timesalady said...

Such beautiful photos! Thank you for sharing them. You have a very cute dog too!

Merry Christmas to you all!

All_good_men said...

After reading this commentary, I decided to walk my dog to a quiet, secluded, location near our house. I just listened and observed. After a while, everything seemed okay with the world; no problems; no trials; no nothing. My dog could not figure out what I was doing. However, he loved it. Thanks for the inspiration.

Proudpodunknative said...

I began reflecting on the way we modern Americans find ourselves incessantly bombarded with glitz, glare, noise and superficiality ... all posing as something of value. How often do we set aside time to step back from the cacophony, seek a secluded spot (if only in the corner of our own mind) and reflect on the majesty and artistry that surrounds us each and every day? Artistry that we rarely, if ever, acknowledge, let alone offer thanks for, when overwhelmed in its presence.

It might sound strange until you think about it, but I believe that is why many of us go to church- to be reminded by either the atmosphere or the talk that goes on there that the things you described above need to happen for us to feel "contentment."

All very well said.

Gary Burgess said...

I am convinced that the degree that we are able to experience of what we humans call peace of mind is directly proportional to the degree to which we are able to divorce ourselves from the dissonance and superficiality of modern society and, instead, regularly reflect on beauty and significance that is of a more eternal nature.

It's the younger generation that has gotten away from doing that, and each generation falls further and further away from what I like to call the "real meanings of life." It's becoming a danger to us all, because along with that attitude comes an unwillingness to fight for our freedom of religion, etc.

In spite of all that, Merry Christmas all!

Anonymous said...

I be serious I watching Rudolph earlier and Frosty the Snowman it is Christmas

remember Rudolph is Rudy of reindder smallest and outcast

MichelleBurrows said...

What a lovely story and pictures. I am glad I happened by. {:-)

MichelleBurrows said...

From what you wrote here, I think you might like this Christmas story ("A Cup of Christmas Tea"). It's always been one of my favorites:

http://www.atthewell.com/christmas/tea

Anonymous said...

Here are some photos I think you will enjoy:

http://bibchr.blogspot.com/2006/07/beauty-of-gods-creation-in-californias.html

joanie said...

anonymous,

I, too, loved the story of Rudolph as a child -- it and Black Beauty and Bambi are in a class all their own. :)

Merry Christmas to you!

~ joanie

joanie said...

Michelle,

Yes, I know the story 'A Cup of Christmas Tea'. My Dad gave me the small, hardcover book (beautiful cover!) for Christmas maybe ten years ago.

Thank you for calling up some fond memories, and a merry Christmas to you and yours!

~ joanie

joanie said...

anonymous,

Absolutely beautiful photos! I especially like the one of the Indian paintbrush plant. Not only are the flowers beautiful, but the photographer obviously knew what he/she was doing.

Thanks for the steer there, and merry Christmas to you and yours ...

~ joanie

Anonymous said...

Nice blog. Enjoyable read.

2ndAmendmentDefender said...

Thank you, and Merry Christmas.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Joanie.

Merry Christmas to you too.

I particularly liked this paragraph of yours:


"I began reflecting on the way we modern Americans find ourselves incessantly bombarded with glitz, glare, noise and superficiality ... all posing as something of value. How often do we set aside time to step back from the cacophony, seek a secluded spot (if only in the corner of our own mind) and reflect on the majesty and artistry that surrounds us each and every day? Artistry that we rarely, if ever, acknowledge, let alone offer thanks for, when overwhelmed in its presence".

Very true !

Greetings from Hong Kong which also has its fair share of glitz, glamour, noise and superficiality !

Liz said...

I just had to tell you that your ESSAY actually brought tears to my eyes as I was reading it this morning.
As I was driving to work this morning I reflected on yesterday at the mall when I sat down to rest and watched the people going back and forth and wondering how many of them truly know the meaning of XMAS.
Your ESSAY expressed so much what I was thinking about on my way to work.

Anonymous said...

Your essay really touched me, as I can relate to it very much. I enjoy and always have enjoyed my few times of "solitude". When I lived at home on our farm I would often take walks and sit in the woods and just think about many things.

gretahoffman said...

Such wonderful observations, and your tree is gorgeous!

Merry Christmas Joanie, and I am looking forward to the 2007 blog.

Anonymous said...

I visit your blog almost every day and I've learned a lot here. I hope you continue writing often into 2007. Thank you for this last column. It's one of the best I've read.

Merry Christmas to you and your family!

joanie said...

Thank you all for the very kind comments, and best wishes for a blessed Christmas, and a happy, healthy 2007 ...

~ joanie

joanie said...

Luis,

Thanks for the kind comments. Enjoy the remainder of your Hong Kong visit, have a safe trip back to London, and a warm and memorable Christmas with your family!

~ joanie

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Joanie, for your insight and wisdom.
Pausing to reflect on one's life and the lives of those who came before you and also those who come after you helps one to realize that he is a small part of the past, has touched some people in the present, and continues in those he will eventually leave behind.
May you and yours have a merry, safe, and blessed Christmas!

stonemason said...

Beutiful. Just beautiful.

Merry Christmas Joanie,

patriotkathleen said...

Thanks for inviting me in, Joanie. I will visit more in the New Year. A Merry Christmas to you and your family.

I share your love of simplicity and of The Messiah:

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."

Anonymous said...

thank you for merry Christmas

merry Christmas for Joanie a lady with good pitures and vere sad stores about a old people

I want to hope you a LOT OF LUCK for the new Year

Darius



remember I be serious for EVErbody watching Rudolph

PatriciaEnglert said...

Your description of the peace of mind that can be achieved through solitude and observation is eloquent. Thank you for writing about your awe-some experience. It isn't a real Christmas story, and yet it is.

RnN said...

Thank you, joanie, for the invitation to your blog. Such beautiful and meaningful words you write, such a beautiful person you are.

We would all be wise to learn from your God given wisdom.

Your home, your Christmas tree...they look JUST LIKE I'd imagined. I'll try to find some of those ornaments and send you the link, OK?

I wish you and your family a Merry and Blessed Christmas.

joanie said...

anonymous, stonemason, and patricia,

Many thanks for your kind words, and best wishes for a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

~ joanie

joanie said...

I share your love of simplicity and of The Messiah.

A kindred spirit! Welcome, patriotkathleen. :)

joanie said...

I want to hope you a LOT OF LUCK for the new Year

And I wish the same for you and yours, Darius. Merry Christmas!

~ joanie

joanie said...

rnn,

Thanks for the link to the beautiful ornaments and lace (I have saved the lace link so that I may drool over it again at some future date. :)

And thank you for the kind words as well.

Best of Christmas blessings to you and yours.

~ joanie

Anonymous said...

Thank you and Happy Christmas!

dawn'searlylight said...

God is good. And, no matter how many trials we may be facing, or how many burdens we may be asked to bear, if we but take the time to isolate ourselves from the world for some time each day, the realization of a myriad of personal blessings that we tend not to acknowledge will find themselves flooding into our hearts and minds. And it is from that ‘stepping back’ ... and simple spiritual observing ... that peace of mind is born.

So right.

alexib said...

You have a lovely tree Joanie, and your ideas about obeserving nature and the simple things are so right. We are moving more and more away from teaching our children that and that is part of the reason children are so much more disturbed, depressed and unruly these days. They are looking for happines in "things."

Happy holidays to you and your family.

ronitafromdallas said...

It's nice to stumble on some place that knows what Christmas is all about. So many other places are full of "XXX shopping days left", "what to get for last minute gifts" etc.

Merry Christmas to everyone here!

Arlene Albrecht said...

I loved this book and I think you would too Joanie:

http://www.amazon.com/Simple-Home-Faith-filled-Simplicity-Spirit/dp/0824947029/ref=pd_bxgy
_b_text_b/102-3570493-3193729

MitchCassidy said...

I only read about 10 of the essays so far but this web site has very good writing and very good illustrations too. Your story about the starry night brings back memories of camping in the woods and what it was like late at night when I was younger. Congratulations for a good job and I plan to come back often.

calbrindisi said...

I've always liked Henry David Thoreau.

Many people believe that conservatives don't share a philosophy with Thoreau, mostly because he was into "civil disobedience." But I think the pendulum is swinging where two philosophies that were once so different are beoming alike.

Here are some quotes from Throreau that I thought about when I read a few of Joanie's and other people's columns here:

As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.

A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone.

A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint. What I began by reading, I must finish by acting.

A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint. What I began by reading, I must finish by acting.

An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.

As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.


Merry Christmas to all.

Anonymous said...

What a lovely Christmas greeting! Thanks to you and merry Christmas to everyone!

joanie said...

dawn’searlylight, alexib, ronitafromdallas, and mitchcassidy,

Thank you for stopping by, and for the kind and insightful comments.

Merry Christmas!

~ joanie

joanie said...

Arlene,

I'm not familiar with that book, but I absolutely know I would enjoy the content. Will check it out next time I'm in the local bookstore (not that I believe they will carry it. Such worthwhile books are generally hard to find, and can only be found in a Christian bookstore, or require ordering online. :(

Thanks for the steer, and Merry Christmas!

~ joanie

joanie said...

I heartily and thankfully agree with you, Cal!

I have said for many years that, if it weren’t for the fact that I would be leaving my family, my fondest dream would be to spend six months in an environment similar to his Walden Pond, with all the food, etc. I would need, mountains of paper and pencils, and a piano. That is just about as close to heaven on earth (other than the desire to be with one’s family) as it could get. :)

I think these may be my favorite of his quotes -- in addition to the one about the different drummer, for which I don't have the exact words just now, so don't want to risk butchering:

Most of the luxuries and many of the so-called comforts of life are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind.

Many go fishing all their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.


Merry Christmas, Cal!

~ joanie

patriotkathleen said...

"A kindred spirit! Welcome, patriotkathleen. :)"

Thank you very much.

Maybe some more kindred connections, as half my ancestry is Irish and the other the Pennsylvania Dutch.

I'm also a fan of Southwest Indian pottery... the Mimbres black-on-white: YES!!

I'll be back!

Al said...

I am convinced that the degree that we are able to experience of what we humans call peace of mind is directly proportional to the degree to which we are able to divorce ourselves from the dissonance and superficiality of modern society and, instead, regularly reflect on beauty and significance that is of a more eternal nature.

I think the trash that is pushed today in the areas of music, art, literature, and entertainment in general is deliberate.

The result is a degradation of whoever comes in contact with it.

Whenever I turn on the tv, I run once through the channels fairly quickly and maybe a second time. I see fleetingly Opra Winfrey, Katie Couric, the ladylike BBC male announcers, local tv news people, the late night talk show hosts----and the gibberish they are spewing.

I say to myself, "There's nothing on," and then click off the tv.

And I wonder silently why I have done this useless exercise yet again.

Anonymous said...

This is one of the best Christmas greetings I have read this year. Thank you for publishing it here.

Anonymous said...

****I am convinced that the degree that we are able to experience of what we humans call peace of mind is directly proportional to the degree to which we are able to divorce ourselves from the dissonance and superficiality of modern society and, instead, regularly reflect on beauty and significance that is of a more eternal nature.****

Most people NEVER realize that. They're too busy trying to buy happiness.

Minuteman23 said...

Joanie, your comments and your pictures are beautiful.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your whole family.

a california girl said...

Joanie, I love the photos of the little children on the top of this column! They should be put on Christmas cards!

guinevere said...

Joanie, your tree is beautiful and the way this blog is laid out is lovely. What do you do for a living? Do you do anything with design or with your hands?

Anonymous said...

Bless you this Christmas and always.

Ellwoodlee said...

Thank you for such appropriate thoughts at Christmas.

walt said...

Your description of the night time srars reminds me of a time I was working aboard a mechant ship and one of those nights at sea. Words couldn't describe it.

John Cooper said...

To "al":

I think the trash that is pushed today in the areas of music, art, literature, and entertainment in general is deliberate.

The result is a degradation of whoever comes in contact with it.


Ahhh, very perceptive. You're not a fellow Ayn Rand fan are you? She wrote a great deal on that subject in The Fountainhead. Her character, the newspaperman Ellsworth Toohey had set out to destroy greatness in every area of life. In the book he elaborated on how to go about that. One way was:

"Kill man’s sense of values. Kill his capacity to recognise greatness or to achieve it. Great men can’t be ruled. We don’t want any great men. Don’t deny conception of greatness. Destroy it from within... Don’t set out to raze all shrines – you’ll frighten men. Enshrine mediocrity - and the shrines are razed."

Read the rest of the passage at How to Rule Souls

Al said...

A Politically Correct Seasonal Wish

Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, gender neutral, celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all.

And a fiscally successful and personally fulfilling recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great, (not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country or is the only "AMERICA" in the western hemisphere), and without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith, or other preferences of the wishee.

Disclaimer: By accepting this greeting, you are accepting these terms. This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for him/herself or others, and is void where prohibited by law, and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher.

Regards,

Al

John Cooper said...

...and please drink responsibly, and whatever you do, don't consume any trans-fats.

Anonymous said...

john,

you can eat some fats it is Christmas

Darius

Anonymous said...

http://www.thecompassgroup.biz/merryxmas.swf

BillSteever said...

Here in Montpelier the sky is crystal clear tonight. I put on my parka and sat on my front porch and looked at the stars for almost an hour. I know what you mean.

John Cooper said...

Darius,

Glad it's OK because I just got out the cast-iron skillet, cooked up some bacon and grilled a platter of Irish Boxties in the grease. Yummmmm!

A new Christmas morning tradition thanks to a good friend.

Anonymous said...

Good stuff here.