Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Oh, Swallowtail...

I may not understand exactly why I feel
immense compassion for this battered, beaten butterfly
or why I took her in...

the one who survived the storm, the windshield, the predator…
who crawled through rain to safety,
with no wings to speak of, and never quit... 

unless I somehow see myself, 
and choose to believe like her...

because I know she did not come to this by choice
and her life remains (though quivering) 
within her storm wracked frame,
a picture of something much greater...

Patricia Spreng

2 Corinthians 4: 7-18

We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.
We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies. So we live in the face of death, but this has resulted in eternal life for you.
But we continue to preach because we have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, “I believed in God, so I spoke.” We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus, will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself together with you. All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.
That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.
This is the Word of the Lord.  Thanks be to God.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

It's Time to Write

It’s time to write…
but the house groans with ‘fix me’ sighs
and inspiration wanes…

It’s time to write
but reality keeps waving
a little white flag in my face...

It’s time to write
but children call from far and near
and birthing pains continue into the night...

It’s time to write
and I thank God for his
ever present gift of words...

He’s already written everything down.

Patricia Spreng

Monday, May 13, 2013

My Mother's Lullabies

Mary Allen Burkholder Smolenski

She wasn't country club, 
though she grew up in it.

She was practical and matter of fact.
Mary Allen Burkholder, 9 years old, the middle daughter
She used a big magnet to hide 
an envelope of cash in the corner metal cabinet and a safety pin to keep the legs of a toddler's sleeper together and in the crib. "Necessity is the mother of invention," she'd say. 

I tried to pull her into my teenage drama
but she wouldn't come.

I got it from her.  She could redirect any child with a raised eyebrow.
When my children yank my chain they hear me say  "I will not be playing that game" or "Welcome to Camp Pat"...they pretty much know... 

She didn't go to every sporting event
and never felt guilty about it.
She didn't plan lunch dates or shopping dates
or mommy/daughter time.
She read to me, tucked me in and
sang adorable lullabies.  When we were sick 
she brought us scrambled eggs
on her special plate, with her china doll and a shoe box full of weathered family photos.

The Little Small Red Hen... she read this over and over to us with great inflection and drama!

She washed and sewed and thought of "umpteen" ways to sort socks.  She ironed shirts, gave spit baths to toddlers on the run, lined us up weekly to shampoo 10 heads, and made countless meals...
always the loaf of bread, in a stack, on the dinner table.

She said funny things like "If you're thirsty, swallow your spitand "I am not Everybody Else's mother."
She said "uneducated women talked about people
and educated women talked about things."
That "men put their pants on one leg at a time," 
and some she "didn't trust as far as she could throw."

I shopped for my prom dresses in the attic closet,
worn by 7 sisters before me.  I wore every one of the bathing suits in this photo...
happy to have so many choices
and I never thought to ask for more.

She didn't drink (much),
she wasn't angry or resentful and sometimes,  I wonder why.

She taught me, scolded me, sang to me
and loved me, she told me so before she died...

"You're one of the good ones, Patty."
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Patricia Smolenski Spreng

In loving memory of Mary Allen Burkholder Smolenski (1918-2008)  

The lullabies she sang to me...

Friday, May 10, 2013


he came to her a bud

she even called him that once or twice

but one day he came to her
in a suit and tie

ready to move out
move on

the long awaited blossom
a fragrance so sweet

bursting forth

and the smell of pride
filled the air

Patricia Spreng