“Nancy’s Notes and Quotes”

I own a fabulous collection! Not jewelry. Not art. Just words…quotations I have copied in my journals for 20 years or so. When I read someone’s words that cause a responding leap in my heart saying  “YES, YES< so true. I get it!!” then I write it down in my journal that year. Now in my stack of about 20 journals, there are so many wonderful  quotations! From time to time I’ll share some with you. Enjoy!

So, here are a few for today, July 14, 2016.

“Joy is nothing but the awareness of our being fulfilled in our true being,our personal center.”     Paul Tillich

“Prayer is the unceasing recognition that God is wherever we are, always inviting us to come closer and celebrate the divine gift of being alive.” Henry Nouen

“The happiness you feel is in direct proportion to the love you give.” Oprah Winfrey

(from her book “One Thousand Gifts”, well worth reading.)

“My life right now is a C major chord with a C sharp stuck in the middle.” Marvin Hanlisch

“Parables and jokes – if you have to explain them, don’t bother.” Frederich Buechner

“Everything that happens in life, large or small, is a parable wherein God wants tell us something, and the art of life lies in getting the message.” Malcolm Muggeridge

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A Loyal Fan

God has more imagination than Walt Disney, Bill Gates, and Steven Spielberg combined. Just look at how God is using an old car tag with a football logo to affect my life.

The logo is a large, elegant, black fleur-de-lis, the symbol of the New Orleans Saints. It’s on the front of Dana’s car, parked five days a week in our driveway. Dana is one of my husband’s helpers. Their official title is “Certified Nursing Assistant” – but to us they are really Angels.

Dana and her husband were born and bred in New Orleans. Like thousands of others they fled the city after Hurricane Katrina. They settled in Atlanta. They have jobs here, children in the local schools, are buying the house they rented at first. Atlanta is now their home.

But New Orleans has their hearts.

They stay in close touch with their large extended families there and celebrate graduations, weddings, holidays with them back and forth. Their hometown loyalty includes passionate support for their football team.

Any day the Saints have a game, no matter where, Dana wears a scrub shirt with the Saints logo to work. But that’s just the beginning. She also has a warm, hooded Saints jacket, a Saints cap, a Saints scarf, Saints earrings, and a Saints necklace – a pretty trefoil on a silver chain. And of course Saints flags to flutter from their car on game days.

The Saints play the Atlanta Falcons twice a year. When the game is in Atlanta, Dana marks it early on her calendar, because all of their New Orleans kinfolks come to their house – in a rented bus! They bring marvelous groceries with them because “they’re just not the same in Atlanta” – crawfish, shrimp, crab, smoked sausage, corn, potatoes. They cook and feast all weekend on mouth-watering, genuine “N’Orleans” style gumbo, jambalaya, and shrimp and crab boil.

Hosting such activity would wipe me out, but Dana’s eyes shine as she reports what a wonderful time they had, looking forward to the next one.

When I see the Saints tag on her car I often wonder, “Do I care about ANYTHING as much as she does her beloved football team?” And that leads to more personal questions. Since my main goal in life is to become the “Nancy” God created me to be, by living a truly Christian life…how am I doing? What kind of fan of Christ am I, enthusiastic or just so-so? Can others detect Christ’s symbols in me – things like love, joy, peace, kindness, generosity? They are intangible qualities, but just as obvious and recognizable in a person as wearing a tee shirt or scarf.

These thoughts make me more than a little uncomfortable. I remember the sharp warning by the Apostle John: “So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” WOW! (Revelation 3:16.)

But before too much guilt sets in, I remember the encouraging words of Paul,  God’s incredible cheerleader: “Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord.” (Romans 12:11.) And I’m inspired once more to do my best.

After all, Lord, I do want to be in that number when the Saints go marching in!

 

 

 

MAY MEMORIES

Memorial Day brings out the best in Americans, and oh, how we need it now, remembering all that makes our nation so special,  during this nightmare of a presidential campaign. At least for one day we feel connected and sing “God Bless America” together, for many of us not just a song but an urgent prayer!.

Strangely, there was no Memorial Day when I grew up. Instead we honored veterans on Armistice Day, November 11.  Some of us got out of high school to sell red paper poppies in downtown Orlando, to benefit the  American Legion. My post was in front of Yowell-Drew-Ivy Department Store on Orange Avenue. The only veterans we knew were from World War I.  World War II was underway, but Korea, Viet Nam, Iraq, Isis, and other future war horrors were never imagined then.

So my May Memories begin just remembering the fragrant, lovely warm air of Maytime down South. (I lived in Gainesville, Georgia in grammar school days.)   A delicious scent came from dewy  new grass, pink, red, and yellow roses spilling over garden fences, the heady sweetness of gardenias, and so many other fresh, growing, blossoming things. They combined in a delicate, delicious fragrance blown on the soft May breezes. Better than any perfume in bottle. I can still detect that wonderful scent today, when I go out in our yard, slow down for a few deep breaths – and for an instant am a child again in May..

Another May Memory: permission from Mother to go barefooted (we didn’t say  “barefoot”). Off came our stodgy, tie-up Buster Brown school shoes. Hooray!  At first I would mince along gingerly, like a sissy. But when my feet got a little tough, ah – the ticklish, delightful feeling of tall grass cushioning your feet in games of  Kick The Can, Hide and Seek,  Mother, May I?, and Snake In The Grass. We’d wash our dirty feet at night before going to bed, sitting on the side of the bathtub.

I need to back up. I forgot to tell about the very first day of May – May Day, when two really Big Deals happened!

First ,May Day Baskets. Do children still do this? I confess I didn’t with my five little Ryles. But  I loved doing it as a child. Under Mother’s guideance  my little brother and I would  cut colored strips of construction paper and weave them into a little  square basket, one strip glued across the top for a handle. Mother would put a few pretty flowers inside. Then came the really fun part. We would sneak up on a  neighbor’s porch,  hang the basket on the doorknob, knock or ring the doorbell, and scoot away to hide and spy on them as they opened their door. Wow – mystery, surprise! I felt almost like Nancy Drew.

The other really Big Deal was  May Day at Brenau College, which was just two blocks down the street from our house. I don’t think any little girl ever enjoyed anything more than I did that beautiful event each year. The audience sat under the big oak trees on the campus, around a stage platform. It always began with the  march from  the opera Aida, (a recording), trumpets royally sounding ta-ta tah, dum dum dum ta ta ta.Then the beauties of the May Court appeared two by two,  almost floating in their long gorgeous dresses  under the trees to the stage. They wore the most delicate pastel colors: two in lavendar, then pale pink, daffodil yellow, sky blue.  Finally, the May Queen herself, as splendid as any bride in her white frills and lace. To entertain the court, girls holding colored ribbons then danced around the May pole, until it was covered like a tall upright rainbow. And little Nancy Dendy felt I’d been right in the middle of a Fairy Tale come true!

One last sweet May Memory: wearing a rose to honor your mother on Mother’s Day. In our church (First Presbyterian at the corner of Green Street and Brenau Avenue) just inside the door was a huge basket of cut roses, red and white. The elders and deacons would help us choose one. Being a little girl so imaginative and romantic it was ridiculous, I remember feeling so, so sad for every person I saw wearing a white rose…wondering when and how their mother died, so sorry they were part orphans (even though they may have been  gray- haired oldtimers!)

The poet wrote “What is so rare as a day in June?” But he was British. What did he know? It SHOULD be “what is so rare as a day in May?” And what is better as we grow older than happy memories to live through again?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lenten Lament (Looking In the Mirror)

The year’s at the spring, the day’s at the morn,

And I’m at the mirror, forlorn, forlorn.

Why, oh why, do I indulge

In eating habits that make me bulge?

At Halloween I ate the sweets

That I had bought for “Trick Or Treats”.

At Thanksgiving time I went on a spree,

I stuffed the turkey and then stuffed me.

Now my figure is even ampler,

Thanks to my Valentine Whitman’s Sampler.

I’ll diet right now! It will come in handy…

Just in time for the Easter Candy.

Nancy D. Ryle, copyright 2015

STAR WARS

Nancy Riddle Martin invited me to speak to her Garden Club and install their new officers at their  March meeting. I felt so honored…but what on earth could I talk about to those talented, expert gardeners, many of whom are my good friends?

\I thought of pulling a “Pete Pike.”  Pete, founder of Pike Nurseries, used to have a regular column in the MDJ, a very erudite article with gardening information. A great advertising ploy for his company. But it was ghost written. Pete was a sweetheart, a “good old boy”, obviously a brilliant businessman…but a writer and orator he was not. Once A garden club invited him to give a program. What he did was put a straight chair in the middle of their circle, sat down, and said “Do you have any questions?”

As I tried to think of an inspirational theme for my program, . Nancy told me there were seven officers, and each should be given a small symbolic gift during the installation. Seven officers. Seven…aha! Suddenly a Eureka  breakthrough.  I could use the pretty little star constellation  called “The Seven Sisters” (or The Pleiades.)  It was easy to come up with five points (get it?) of how they could shine as sister stars for the club this year. All kinds of good stuff to use . Robert Frost: “Choose something like a star, to stay your mind on and be stayed.” Browning: “Man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?”  Reach for the stars….wish on a star…I was on a roll.  But what to use for a meaningful little “star” gift?

I’m not artsy-crafty.. Sticking a little gold star (like I used to put on my piano students’ pieces when they learned them)  on an index card was my only pathetic idea. . Dixie told me Party City sold  star- shaped weights for balloons. YES! I bought seven of them in pretty colors – red, blue, green, gold. The program was still three weeks off. For once I hadn’t procrastinated. I felt so smug. I was ready.

But then…second thoughts.  Shouldn’t they be silver, like real stars, instead of colors? Another trip to Party City. They were glad to exchange mine for seven silver stars. These stars weren’t slick glass like the colored ones – they were shiny with glitter. So pretty.

A week before  the program. I took the stars out of the Party City plastic bag. A disaster! Showers of glitter blew around everywhere, covering the table, the floor, my hands and face. .I looked like Lady Gaga.. Oooh, no one would want these stars.

A phone call to Party City. No, they had no non-glitter silver stars. I could try at their Johnson’s Ferry or Cumberland stores No, they wouldn’t phone them for me. No, the manager wouldn’t order them. I could come to the “kiosk” at their store and order them myself.  Thanks a lot!

Phoned my friendly florist,Mike Whittle, who always works miracles. . He would order silver stars. They would be in on Monday before the Wed. meeting. But they brought only six stars Monday…..and snow was predicted.. Would they bring the extra star Tuesday? I needed a backup plan. Dixie bought seven  colored stars again from Party City, just in case. On Tues when I picked up Mike’s stars, , they were gorgeous: no loose glitter, graceful, perfect…but HUGE.  Not a little token to put on a dresser or window sill.  More like a Congressional medal, or the star at the top of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree.

That Wednesday morning I used Dixie’s stars, telling the officers the different colors represented the unique, special gifts of each woman. Since I didn’t read my speech but just talked, I forgot some of my best stuff, including the Frost and Browning beautiful poetry. But the club members were gracious and dear as they thanked me. And for the first time ever, I’ll be ready early with my Christmas gifts for friends this year: the shiniest, most sparkly, prettiest, BIGGEST silver stars you ever saw.

DOWNTON ABBEY MOTTO

I bought my new wall calendar because I liked the January page: “Keep Calm And Set New Goals.” Now I’ve flipped through it and every single month says “Keep Calm” followed by different sayings.. Also, with the tiny outline of a magnificent mansion. It’s a Downton Abbey calendar.  Duh! And  “Keep Calm” must be their family motto. No doubt inscribed on their family crest, their  coat of arms and the note paper supplied in their fourteen guest rooms.

I should have known, because last year I bought a Downton Abbey tee shirt that says “Stay Calm And Ring Carson For Tea.”

Yep, I’m a hard core Downton Abbey fan. Between 8 and 10 PM on Sunday nights, I am unreachable. Last Sun. night Dallas called out that he was hungry. I crammed an oreo cookie in his mouth and ran back to the den.  Stephen, my beloved son who lives in California, phoned and I snapped, “Downton Abbey is on. Call tomorrow.”

But about that family motto: it you want a laugh, try to apply it to the show’s plot and characters.

Keep Calm – though Lady Sylvia elopes with the chauffeur and dies in childbirth.

Keep Calm – though the manor house is ablaze with a major fire.

Keep Calm – though Lady Edith has a little girl our of wedlock, her lover vanishes, and she acts so gaga over the child that the caregivers tell her basically to butt out.

Keep Calm – though Lady Mary has a country inn tryst with Tony  (Lord Something-Or-Other). After all,  her reputation was already threatened when the Turkish Ambassador’s son had a fatal  heart attack in – gasp! – her bed.

Keep Calm – though a Russian Prince emigre turns up at teatime, meaningfully kisses Gran’s hand (the incomparable Maggie Smith). she rolls her big eyes demurely, and we KNOW they had a thing going, fifty years ago. Wow! (Or as the Brits say, we are “gobsmacked!)

This is just the life “Upstairs.”  Meanwhile, we know stuff about  “Downstairs” life that the family doesn’t. How can we Keep Calm, when maybe Bates killed Mr. Green, Daisy leaves Mrs. Patmore alone to prepare those six course dinners, and true love might blossom at last between  Mr. Carson (so dignified, but with a Teddy Bear heart) ) and the sweet housekeeper, Mrs. Montgomery (is that her name?).

Oh, dear.  So much to worry about. Maybe  I should have chosen another calendar.

 

Thoughts On Martin Luther King Day

(Note to the reader: I hope soon to make my blog available on Facebook. Also, according to what I THINK my girls tell me, you can click on “follow” below, post your  email address there, and my blogs will pop up automatically, ready or not.  I might be totally wrong: I’m still learning! Love, Nancy)

Jan. 19 Blog

Long ago I memorized a poem by Henry Longfellow. It began:

“Listen, my children, and you shall hear/

Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere.”

Today I feel like Longfellow. I have tales to tell. Listen, my children. I am one of the dwindling number of Southerners who grew up in the first part of the 20th century. Listen, my children.  Yuppies, Generation X, and Millennials. You already know , from your history classes, movies and TV, the stories of Dr. King, John Lewis, Rosa Parks, Andrew Young, and their followers –  the brave, awesome black men and women who risked their very lives to end segregation in America.

But there were other heroes you don’t know about. They were White.  They were Southern. They were not famous. Movies have not been made about them. But they, too, took heroic risks: stinging criticism, being snubbed and shunned by former friends and family, loss of jobs. They did it because of their deep, unshakable Christian faith. They believed that Jesus loves ALL the little children – red and yellow, black and white. The law that inspired them to fight against  segregation was  the Golden Rule.  I think most communities in the South had a few such men and women. Quiet heroes who made the world a better place – not in their lifetime but in ours.

Just now we are terribly  bogged down by painful racial divides. Ferguson…New York police…nationwide street demonstrations…all-white Oscar nominations.. issues around sports figures. It’s discouraging. But  I try to remember that we have come a long, long way in my lifetime. Really, we have!

I have my own  personal list of heroes in the early civil rights struggles.  In another blog I’d like to tell you about them. Today, on Martin Luther King Day, I name and honor them as heroes.

1. Rev. Marshall C. Dendy, D.D. Presbyterian minister, outstanding leader, and the        best daddy in the world.

2. Alice Jane Hover, youth minister and my personal mentor  (though I didn’t                know that word back then.)

3. Rev. Earl Stallings, Baptist minister in Birmingham and Marietta.

4. John Sibley, Atlanta attorney who led the movement to keep public schools                open.

5. Ralph Magill, editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

6. Andrew Young, who needs no introduction.

Listen, my children. The color scheme of leaders in the long struggle for intergration has not been monochromatic. Not all black, but black-and-white. Five out of the six of my personal heroes were white. On this special day I thank them with all my heart.