Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Christmas Gift

Stark trees turned white shoulders to a stiff westerly which had piled snow on the west side of the house almost to the eaves. Christmas was upon us. All the cars had disappeared beneath beautiful white blanket laid down over night. On this cold, overcast morning we played through streets and yards. I had thrown ten thousand snow balls, and dodged twice as many, when all of a sudden, in a fierce shoot out, Robby’s snowball caught me dead in the eye. It hurt so bad I cried. They laughed at me and I was mortified. I blindly gave chase and they fled through the drifts, leaping and laughing. I turned and went into the house peeling off layers while Mom poured hot chocolate. “What’s wrong?” She saw my tears and gathered me into her protective arms. I explained and she inspected the eye.

“Can you see okay?”

“Yes.”

“It’s going to bruise, but you’ll be okay.”

There was a knock at the door. “We’re sorry,” I heard them say. “Is Var okay.”

“I think so.” Mom led Robby and Owen into the kitchen and poured for them.

“Mom, I saw the mailman,” I said as a whiff of steam rose from my cup. A week earlier I had written my letter to Santa with my Christmas list that would make me happy. It was a short list, because I knew Santa had many other children to care for, and Mom and Dad told me not to be greedy. A Buffalo Bill Cody Cap Gun set with a real leather holster. Buffalo Bill had recently become my hero. I’d read all about him in our school history book and checked out books from the school library. He had been a Calvary scout for the United States Army and later a Wild West entertainer beloved by all. I wanted to be just like him. Tough and popular. Also, I explained to Santa that I thought Dad was going to replace my blue handled Cub Scout knife which I had lost in the field down the street. Though Dad had said it was my responsibility, I knew in my heart he would help me. So, if Santa would be so kind, a Bowie knife like the one I had seen at Sears & Roebuck. And with a sheath. I had to have the sheath so I could wear it on my belt for adventures. I knew the knife was dangerous. I promised to be very careful with it and explained that I was a big boy now. I also took pains to let Santa know I was not greedy, but that I did want him to know that I wanted the Schwinn Stingray bicycle in green with the sissy bar, but next year would be okay for that. The bike I had was okay.

I was specific and asked Santa to reply. Mom explained he was very busy this time of year and might not be able, but I explained to Mom that Billy had gotten a reply. So if Santa could reply to Billy, he could reply to me, too. She reminded me of all the millions of children to whom he had to reply. I didn’t listen. Mom patiently helped me write it, and when we finished, she sealed, stamped it said she would mail it for me.

“Did I get my letter?”

She leaned over and whispered in my ear, “yes, but I’ll give it to you later.” Then patted my head.

“I want it now!” I demanded at no less than 100 decibels. If Santa had responded to me, I should not be kept from that letter. No way, no how. This was too important! Even if she was my Mom.

“The sun has come out. Why don’t you all go back out and play? Momma has to cook.”

“No, I want it now.” I could be determined. Even then.

“Okay, honey.” Strange, it didn’t come from the envelopes on the table, but rather she withdrew it from her apron. She handed it over. I tore into it like a wild animal. It was brief. I was shocked.

“Stupid Santa!” I screamed. Those insidious words on the paper etched themselves into my heart. How could he? “Is this it?” I was so mad I almost cried again. “That’s no gift.” I leapt up and threw the letter.

To my great surprise my mother laughed.

“It’s not funny,” I screamed again.

“What did it say?”

“Read it yourself.”

She picked up the letter and read it. “I think those are fine words Santa wrote,” she said, not the least upset for me. My Christmas was ruined.

“I hate Santa.”

“But why?” She asked.

“That’s no gift! I want my gun. That’s just stupid words.”

“Var, I didn’t see anywhere there that he wasn’t giving you your gun.”

I though for a moment. She was right. As always, she made me feel better.

“Go outside and play,” she said. “It’s too pretty to be trapped inside.”

I asked for a carrot to decorate the snowman we were going to build. There were no carrots so Mom gave me a ruby red radish for my snowman’s nose. Everyone thought that was so funny. The grownups all called him Whiskey. Whiskey stayed up for weeks and was the talk of our block.

That was fifty years ago.

A million battles, jobs, self recriminations, bottles of scotch, mortgages, unfulfilled dreams, diapers, divorces, tuitions and sleepless nights ago. I am not sure who I dreamt I would become, but I am not he.

I have been selfish and a failure.

Outside a cold December rain falls. It is Christmas again and now I hold my mother, my real life Santa, in my arms. I realize, a little late, how much she means to me and how greatly I will miss her. “Merry Christmas,” she says quietly. She hands me an ancient, yellowed scrap of paper. “I love you, son.” What's this? My old letter from Santa Claus. She’d kept the thing all these decades. I have never forgotten, nor heeded its words. With trembling hand I read,

Var, Things won't make you happy, but, if you are happy, you will enjoy your things. Love yourself as I love you. From this flow the cardinal virtues of Character, Compassion and Forgiveness. From these comes your happiness. When you are happy, you love yourself.

This is my gift to you.

And you are my gift to the world.

Merry Christmas,

Santa Claus.


Copyright, 2013 
Luke Saucier

Monday, January 14, 2013

Life's Battles

My childhood slumped, lifeless, onto the battlefield of my parents' dysfunction many years before manhood came to me. The war had ended, but my battles had just begun. I questioned God. I cursed and lamented this premature death, and the battles that followed until age and wisdom gave me insight.

Through my battle with anger I learned that anger undermines life and this life is far too short. Anger makes the bouquet of the heart wither. A withered heart invites disease. It is better to love and forgive. Even those who have wronged you... Especially those who have wronged you. For we don't know God's plan for them. This battle taught me to never show anger toward my children.

My battle with insecurity drove me to achieve; to create; to draw; to write. To create art with pencils, and paint and with words which may touch or lift or move or transform others. And to hopefully share these talents with my children.

My dreadful fight with the fear of abandonment compelled me to be at each of my daughter's bedside each night, without fail. To hold each tenderly and let her know that she is loved completely and unconditionaly. That someone would always be there for her.

My mother and father had difficult roles to play in life's drama. Where ever they are, I thank them.

And so you see, we don't understand God's plans for us. It took me years to see his presence in my life. In his wisdom, he moves us where we need to be. We are each players upon his stage.

Accept your life and take from it its lessons.

For they are God's lessons.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Abel and Cain

Without contrasts the mountain, nor the newborn can be seen. All life and art is the dynamic interplay of light and dark.

Deep inside the heart of Abel passes a little of the feeling of Cain, likewise within the mind of Cain flashes a brief thought like that of Abel.

It is the Yin and Yang of all things.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Prophet

Prophet,

when you said "Oh, Child of Israel, you've lost your way,"
I mocked you. "I am a child of America!"
The rags you wear proved you hadn't found much.

And when you said "you've allowed
relativism to replace reverence,"
I sneered loudly,
and called you irreverent.

When you said, "time and again
you mend the symptom, but the body grows ever sicker,
I laughed at you, "my body is fine!"
I shouted.

And when you said "you've taken Creator
from the head of your table, and replaced Him with man,"
I scorned you, openly.
"God has no place at the public table!"
I yelled back at you, you old fool.

When you said "while you lay intoxicated at the games,
your freedom will surely be forfeit,
and you will strangle by your own laws."
I knew you were mad,

for, surely, this would go on forever.

You said "there is a better way,"
but I didn't listen
and don't remember what you taught.

Then one day the sun peeked through the clouds
and I saw things in a different light.

Now ill omens abound,
and my mind is uneasy.
Calamity builds just beyond the western horizon
like a lethal winter blizzard.
I can sense it.

And I can't find you.

Oh, Prophet where have you gone?

For I have lost my way.

Copyright Luke Saucier, 2012

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Musing on Letters

 “Daughter,” I queried as we walked along the shore, “what’s the greatest power known to us?”

“Knowledge,” she answered.

“Good answer. Writers of the Old Testament would agree with you. What else?”

“Money.”

“Another great answer. Can you think of anything else?”

“Love.”

“I am proud of you for such thoughtful answers to this important question,” I said as we walked on.

“What do you say it is, father?”
“I think it is ‘Story.’ The Story of Christ has led to countless acts of goodness and mercy, but also mischief and murder. That Story has touched billions, and has changed the course of history. The Story Thomas Paine wrote combined with the a handful of words in which Thomas Jefferson Declared sparked the separation of child from parent and the birth of the greatest experiment in human history. The Story Charles Darwin told forever changed the way in which man looks at himself. Standing in the yawning breach, with only 271 words, Abraham Lincoln's Story stitched together the wound between the old country, and its new successor. In 1917 Vladimir Lenin became both a part of the story and the storyteller. The tide he unleashed killed tens of millions. Then there was story the French sold at that fateful treaty in Versailles, 1919 which begat the story Hitler sold his people which ended or changed forever the lives of hundreds of millions. Each of these Stories had tectonic ramifications in the history of man."

She pondered.

"So, you see, I think the greatest power in the life of man, daughter, lies in your command over letters; in your ability to craft a narrative; to tell a ‘Story.'"

The Storyteller holds in her hands the keys to the gates of both Heaven and Hell.

That is awesome power.

The wise Storyteller uses those keys judiciously.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Musing on Pursuit of Truth

Eagles don't soar in flocks. Their hunt is solitary. So it is with us. While in the nest we are surrounded by family and friends, but when the mind takes flight; when we seek, we fly alone.

Musing on Normal

"Normal" is a dreary, one-size-fits-all uniform for the dull of mind. It's an ill fit for the thoughtful woman. Aspire to be independent and unique.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Musing on the Writer's Palette

I lift my quill to write. The ink wells spread before me are labelled:

PAIN. EXPERIENCE. FATHER. COMMON SENSE. INNOCENCE. IMAGINATION. MORTALITY. LOVE. FANCY. DEATH. BETRAYAL. TIME. MOTHER. CHILDHOOD.

From this palette come the myriad colors in the tapestry of life.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Exception

Daughter,

While they load your bags into the stainless steel belly of your 767, I had a few thoughts I wanted to share with you.

Until today you’ve lived on the Island of Home. It is a sanctuary of boring sameness for children. Many can’t wait to flee that island, only to spend the rest of their lives looking back at it. Beyond the shore of this island lies the Sea of Change.

When your plane lifts off, you will cross that sea, bound for the land all must eventually inhabit: the land of Adulthood. In adulthood, Experience is the currency of the realm. Often experience is got by making a mistake. Experience is the internal voice that keeps you from making similar mistakes again. Experience is the parent of discretion and discrimination. Your life will always be filled with choices. Chose well. Experience comes at the expense of childhood innocence; as the one is gained, the other is lost with one exception.

They are loading the last bags into your plane. Just a few more things I’d like to say:

Kindness is good policy. It is usually returned. The opposite holds true as well.

Understand and be patient with the foibles of others. The time will come when you will need a little understanding.

Hold reasonable expectations of others, but high expectations of yourself.

Adversity is part of life. Embrace it. That will take away its power to scare you. Resist it, and it will wear you down. When possible harness the energy of adversity. Like a strong northerly it can take your craft far.

The powerful often show magnanimity. That is easy when you have all the cards. Not so simple when you are vulnerable, but do it anyway. Grace is humanity’s most beautiful adornment.

Health, character and education are the only real wealth we actually possess. Everything else is on loan.

Never sing your own praises. Others will do that plenty for you, but don’t believe them. Stay grounded.

Friendship in adulthood is rare, but it does happen. Remember, to have a friend, you must be a friend.

Marriage is a decision. Staying married is a decision. It takes work, it takes two and it won’t always be easy, but if you’ve found the right mate, it will rarely be difficult. There will be worries and stress. Your children will be your greatest joy.

Parenting—call me. Not enough paper here.

Give. Don’t lend; especially money. It entangles you in a web of resentment and pain. Often the debt cannot be repaid and then you lose a friend. Give happily and freely. The universe has a way of balancing all things and you may retain a friend.

Similarly, you cannot always repay kindnesses shown to you by others. You must pass them along.

Forget talk of the end of the world. This world ends eventually for every man.

It breaks my heart, but they’ve closed the door. The plane’s loaded. Boarding will start soon. There is just one more thing.

Some adults become jaded and cynical. For them life has lost its flavor. That is because they no longer possess Wonder.

Wonder at the setting sun and violet star scattered heavens hung with golden moon. Wonder at the migratory geese flying purposefully overhead and the dew-kissed clover. Wonder at the shooting star and at the babbling mountain brook. Wonder at thoughts of the unknown universe, and Wonder at the tenuous proposition of life itself.

Wonder is the last vestige of childhood innocence left to the adult. It is the Exception gifted to humans by the Almighty to keep alive the magic of childhood. Lose Wonder and life no longer holds beauty.

We are stardust infused with eternal life. Right now our bodies are composed of atoms born at the dawn of time. Those atoms have comprised countless nebulae, stars and planets before they came to reside in us. And those atoms remember. We are a part of eternity. We are within the universe and the universe is within us. It is a closed system neither gaining, nor losing energy. The life-energy within us which animates all living things never dies. Ashes go to ashes, but life returns to life. Yield gracefully and give fear of hereafter no purchase within your heart.

Spend as much time in nature as you can. For it is our cathedral.

Now, you must go. My heart is filled with happiness for your going, but my eyes fill with tears at your leaving. Go now.

I love you.

Copyright, 2012  Luke Saucier

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Musing on True North

You are the captain of your ship. If facts and truth be your North Star, you will always stay on course.