Notes from Jan

Time to Stand and Stare

June 21, 2017

This morning we slipped into Oslo, Norway’s capital. Sunshine showed up to welcome us and momentarily startle the Norwegians.

Yesterday we sailed from Bergen to Oslo. I love days at sea.  Onboard options included:  Passenger Poetry Recitation (by memory).  A few forgot a line, pausing until memory kicked in. Good to be with kindred minds. Men and women rose from cushioned seats to recite words,  so meaningful they’d chosen to safe keep them in memory banks for decades, sharing accrued wealth with all who listened.

One man recited The Owl and the Pussycat(1871 Edward Lear), treasured because of the fifth grade teacher who’d introduced him to poetry.   Another, from Germany, presented Red, Red Rose(Scotland’s Robert Burns 1794), dedicating the recitation to her husband..  A plumber delivered In Flanders Fields (Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae 1915) with such passion, silence stayed long, hallowing then and now.

Four lines,  from the poem recited by a Czechoslovakian immigrant, continue to whisper to me. (from Leisure by William Henry Davis,1911 Welsh poet). 

What is this life if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs

And stare as long as sheep or cows.

When I think back on this cruise, the magic’s been in moments to simply stand and stare.

Or sing.

At choir rehearsal, this morning, Vern Sutton challenged us to “breathe appropriately.” That’s a new commandment.

Later when we sang, Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen, Garrison shared he rewrote it to more readily reflect his experience, “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve been.”

True for most of us, which is why, every now and then, life worth living needs time for standing and staring.

And stare as long as sheep or cows.”

And sing, but breathe appropriately.


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  • Reply Dale Lefever June 21, 2017 at 1:17 pm

    Thanks Jan,
    Marty and I have some wonderful memories of our time in Oslo and Bergen (the order we visited) and the wonderful train ride through the mountains. I am not sure, however, the sun ever broke through during our September visit. Your note reminded me of the familiar song, “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow… and life is worth the living…” It is good to hear you are finding new life in Him – not to replace the previous life, but to show its value.

    Blessings, Dale

  • Reply Dan Russ June 21, 2017 at 9:41 pm

    He leads me beside the still waters–or the rolling waves–he restores my soul. Sounds like you are enjoying a lot of restoration.

  • Reply Mark Taylor June 21, 2017 at 10:31 pm

    I wish I had been there for the poetry recitation. I could have added “The Cremation of Sam McGee” or “Casey at the Bat.” Or if that is too lowbrow, I could have contributed “Mending Wall” or “The Road Not Taken.”

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