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Thursday, March 31, 2005

Signs of Spring

A leisurely walk to the end of the block with my children and their red wagon. Wearing no coats or sweaters, we were hot even with the wind that raced continually past us on its endless journey southward.

A downy, gosling feather, smoky grey with tan fringes, captured by the bark of dead wood lying amidst last years fallen oak leaves, gently removed by my daughter and kept as a treasure in her collection.

The constant trill and chatter of busy birds nesting in the canopy of tree branches above us. The busyness, in general, of all the woodland and prairie creatures.

Cotton fingernails budding on the slender, drooping branches of my towering willows. They are a splendid lady, swishing her fine frock and swaying her ample hips as she waltzes with the wind, full of feminine sensuality and proud of it.

A bee sting, a welt the size of a blueberry with a bright pink center, on the bare bum of my son who sustained the injury while passing water in the bushes.

Green spears cutting through black soil, as daffodils, tulips, and daylillies wake from icy slumber and seek the sun.

A rain shower with small, scattered, gun smoke clouds casting dark shadows over there, but leaving a pitcher full of sunshine pouring down on the ground in a giant gush, splashing puddles of glistening light over here.

The result was a remarkable rainbow. And this, just when current events had cast me so low that I was having a hard time looking up. Just when my heart had dried up within me and turned my tears to ashes over this Terri, this Precious Braveheart, that sweet baby, who, being condemned to die of starvation though innocent, drank heartily from Christ's cup of suffering before withering away; God sent His sign and I was surprised by joy.

O wondrous love that watches over me. You overwhelm my days with good. O wondrous love that will not let me go.

The rainbow shone like gemstones, like yummy sherbet bands, only luminescent, in every flavor and waxed unbroken from one end of my property to the other arching high into the bruised sky. Above it was an echo, a larger rainbow, less brilliant and broken but almost heralding the brilliance of the other. They were royal brothers, half-deities, leaving their celestial thrones for a rare, earthly procession.

As night approached, the temperature dropped suddenly and the constant clanging of the chimes hanging outside my kitchen window alerted me to the rowdy weather that was on its way. From the west a herd of buffalo, in a line of thunderheads, charged with their heads down, kicking up dust and shaking the ground beneath them. With them came hail, and lightening, tornados, and strong winds.
I love a rainy night. Ooh,ooh. I love to watch the thunder and the lightning as it lights up the sky. You know, it makes me feel good.
With the morning came a return to wintry weather and news of Terri's death. Both were welcome.
by C.C.Kurzeja
2005 All Rights Reserved

Monday, March 28, 2005


I had been married a few short months when my husband and I shared our first Easter together. With my family in California, we spent the afternoon with his.

My husband is fifteen years my senior and he is ten years younger then his closest brother. The result being, as I stepped into my in-laws kitchen, was that I was surrounded by old people.

"Oh, good." My brother in law, who looks a lot like the banker on the Monopoly game board, said when he saw us. "You're just in time for Grandma's Polish soup."

"What's that?" I asked innocently. I had no reason to be suspicious. Our families had a long history that began over a breakfast of pancakes, fresh squeezed orange juice and bacon. I knew my brother-in-law was a great cook.

"It looks gross, and it sounds gross, I know," began my husband, "but it tastes great."

"What's in it?" I asked with growing skepticism.

"Just try some." Was my brother-in-law's cagey response.

"After you tell me what's in it."

Looks were exchanged all around the room.

"Well, you start with chicken soup."

"You know, just plain chicken soup." My husband, sounding defensive, looked at me like I was supposed to respond. "Chicken soup."

"I got it."

"Then you add polish sausage, chopped hard boiled egg and chunks of rye bread."

"Without caraway seed." My husband clarified. "Seedless Rye bread." The way he said it suggested the whole soup would be ruined by the presence of that seed, but it was hard for me to imagine the soup wasn't ruined already.

"And then you top it off with horseradish." My brother-in-law said, setting steaming hot bowls down on the kitchen table. "It's delicious."

My in-laws began to slurp it up like wolves sucking marrow out of a bone.

"Why do they call it Polish soup?" I asked.

"I don't know." Replied my brought-in-law with a shrug.

"No. I mean: Where does it come from? Is this an ancient soup served among the royal line? Did it originate with the peasants in the countryside? Was it a result of communism? Why is it Polish?"
"I think Grandma just made this up herself." My mother-in-law added. "The boys just always called it Grandma's Polish soup because she's Polish and she's the only one who made it."

"Oh." I stared at the steaming soup placed before me like my death was at the bottom of the bowl.

My mother-in-law sensed my trepidation. She is a little, robust Italian lady with lips like the curl at the tip of a rose petal, skin like chilled cream in a porcelain bowl, and light chocolate truffles for eyes. A perpetual frown announces her sanguine personality and a shrug of her shoulders coupled with upturned hands could mean any one of a million different things. It's her language.

"When I first got married. I thought this soup was weird." She did her shoulder/hand thing. "But I ate it. And year after year," she shrugs again, "I started to, you know, get accustomed to it. And you will too, get accustomed to it."

Like heck I will!

It was as if, in that moment, sitting at that table surrounded by my new family who also happened to be old friends, with the diffused Spring light coming in from the window catching dust and cat hair in it's streams, with noses running from the horseradish being patted and wiped, and with the sound of hot soup being sucked off a spoon ringing in my ears like ocean waves, my mother in law pulled back the curtain and showed me my future.

I tried, honest I did. I psyched myself up, and then backed down; psyched myself up and then backed down. Finally, I just gave up.

"It looks great. If I weren't a vegetarian I'm sure I'd love it, but I just can't bring myself to eat meat." I said as I gently pushed the bowl away.

It's been eleven years, and I haven't been a vegetarian since before my first child was born, but I have yet to bring a spoon of Grandma's Polish soup to my lips. Although, I have managed to get it half way between my chest and my chin before backing out on several occasions. And while I may never learn to appreciate that soup, it remains a very important part of the way my husband and his family celebrate Easter.
by C.C.Kurzeja
2005 All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

My Why

I ran across this little ditty as I was cleaning out my files. I wrote this for an assignment I was given in a script writing class I took over the internet. The intent was to help us grasp the concept of "why" in a movie, what it's all about, or the reason behind it. I thought I'd put it out there for public consumption before deleting it forever.
A little background is needed in order to put my assignment into context. Richard is the instructor as I've already stated and Judith was my sole classmate. Richard had submitted his "why" as an example for us to look over. His was several pages long, began hundreds of millions of years ago in the primordial swamp and was imbued by post modern thought.
Don't try to sing this though, you'll only end up hurting yourself.

Dear Richard,

You are very philosophical and complex and I am not. "See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ." I've been taken captive according to Christ. I'm sure you'll find me to be simplistic. But if you want to know my heart and soul, here it goes.

Why? Because He first loved me, as the song goes. I am because I am thought me, and before the foundations of the earth were laid, predestined me, and called me according to His purpose, and justified me and glorified me.

I cannot over emphasize this: I am a person deeply changed be the love of God in Christ Jesus. I have been touched by a heavenly Father who, "watches me with His eye upon me, and instructs me and counsels me in the way I should go." He heals my deepest wounds, and He restores my soul. I love Him. I simply cannot talk about the depth of the riches of His grace towards me in Christ Jesus, or His abundant mercy towards me, or the gentleness of His rod of correction on me without crying. This sounds totally corny to you, but it's true.

And my why animates my every thought and deed. I am compelled by the love of God and I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ for it is the power of God unto salvation, first for the Jew and then for the gentile. I can attest to that power.

I live to "glorify God and enjoy Him forever" as the Westminster Shorter Catechism goes. I didn't write it, but I own it. I've adopted it and it is my purpose.

But it is only my broad purpose. I am persuaded by scripture that I have a distinct purpose, that God created me with talents and interests for a reason. For: "...you are His workmanship...created...for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them." And, "I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord..." And, "Show me the work of my hands, O Lord. Yes, confirm to me the work of my hands."

And so exploring my talents, using my creativity is an act of worship for me. And being known by you and Judith and knowing you and Judith is acting in the very image of God. It is an act of love.

And love is my ultimate truth.

And so that's my why. What's yours? Do tell.