Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Praying Savior

I like religious art, as anyone who has been to my house can tell.  Heck, I can find spiritual meaning even in pictures not intended as "religious," as evidenced by my last posting about the Summer Day picture.  Somehow, having such visual reminders in my home is comforting to me.

This picture called "Gethsemane" (by Marzani, I think)  is a favorite of mine.  I see this in every Christian book store and in the homes of some of my older relatives.  Not so much in younger households, which makes me old, I guess.  Maybe it's not popular now because it is so familiar that people don't give it a second thought.  Or maybe it's just too old-fashioned when there are so many cool new portraits of Jesus.  Whatever the reason, I think it deserves a poem.

PS:  Those are dried palms around the picture and crucifix, which is an old Catholic tradition.

The Praying Savior  by Janet Sobczyk, 2012ⓒ

Such a famous print,
a portrayal of Jesus at night.
He seems calm yet sad,
quiet in the dark, a town nearby.
But what does it mean?
There are so many ways to view it.

Looks like He’s praying
off by Himself but never alone,
which He often did,
spending precious time with His Father.

Is He praying there
in the Garden of Gethsemane?
Has He seen it all
and then accepts the most bitter cup?

Is He thinking ’bout
His big entrance to Jerusalem?
Is He pondering
His death or the city’s future fall?

Perhaps He’s thinking
about His dear group of disciples.
How will they manage
on their own after He goes away?

Maybe He’s thinking
about the doubters and Pharisees,
His old friend Judas,
who are also all children of God.

Maybe He’s thinking
about the future of the world,
about the hardships
and victories yet to be seen.

Or is He thinking
about the people He’s healed and saved?
Or quite possibly
maybe He’s thinking ‘bout you and me!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Summer Day

I've had this poem started in my head for a long time because this is my favorite painting in my house.  I can't read the artist's signature to give credit, but am adding photos of it.  When I first purchased it many years ago for the living room, I was attracted to its blues and greens (my favorite colors) and to its serene scene.  

Back then, my eyes were always drawn to the first woman who is so dignified, peaceful and calm, a lady of leisure.  But recently my attention has been more on the second woman, the quiet maid.  As a mother I can actually relate more to her role.  This poem is the result of my pondering the portrayal of these two women.

Summer Day – A Nostalgic Painting
By Janet Sobczyk, 2012ⓒ

One woman sitting
in a wooden chair
doing needlework
under a shade tree
in soft dappled light.
A sunhat covers
perfectly coiffed hair,
a long dark skirt and
starched crisp, light blouse grace
her delicate shape,
thin fingers guiding
the needle through each
precisely-formed stitch.
She is the mistress
of this country home.

The other woman
is wat’ring the plants
in the bright sunlight.
A long black dress and
white apron announce
her status:  servant.
With cooking, laundry,
And cleaning the house,
does she ever have
a chance to sit down
and enjoy the shade?

As I gaze upon
this peaceful picture
of a summer’s day,
I wonder if it
really signifies
Martha and Mary.
Martha was busy
and worried about
many things to do.
Mary chose the best
by sitting quite still
and listening to
her Lord, Jesus Christ.

One woman sitting,
one woman working.
If I had to choose
I’d prefer Mary’s
contemplative life.
But it seems that I
am caught in Martha’s
daily list of chores.
Perhaps these women
portray a balance
rather than a choice.
Surely each woman
needs a balance of
working and sitting
to be her best self.

With this new insight
when I gaze at this
most favorite print
I will always see
so very much more
than a summer day.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Needlepoint Pleasure

 The last two poems have been on deeper topics than this one, but I wanted to shift the mood.

I don't do nearly as much needlework and sewing I as used to, but I still enjoy it occasionally and feel it is a great stress reliever.  I used to like counted-cross stitch, but now that I'm older my eyes prefer the printed canvas of needlepoint instead of a blank cloth with squares to count.

When I do needlework, I feel connected to women of past generations who made useful and beautiful things by sewing, making lace, crocheting, knitting, and needlework.  Today, with store-bought goods so available, sewing has become a hobby in our society instead of a necessity.  But it is not a lost art.  I am so glad when I see a quilt display (at the library each year) or see someone knitting on the bleachers at a ballgame.  I am drawn to converse with anyone using a needle and thread, and I always find a kindred spirit who feels the same satisfaction as I do from having created something beautiful.

Needlepoint Pleasure  by Janet Sobczyk, 2011ⓒ

Some people relieve stress
with drink or jogging or TV,
but what I like the best
is pleasant and calming to me.

Opening a new kit
reveals a rainbow of colors
to sort and count and sift
each shade apart from the others.

Once the sorting is done
and the directions are read through
then I begin the fun,
the part I truly love to do.

Thread the needle, then start
to fill the colors in each space;
it somehow calms my heart
to see the new picture take shape.

Time then seems to stand still
as I push the needle up and down,
each part slowly is filled
while I get lost in my thoughts now.

When I look at the clock
and see the time I sigh and groan;
I think with a mild shock,
“time didn’t stand still, it has flown!”

The kit gets put away,
the needle, canvas, and the thread
to wait another day,
but for now I must go to bed.

Monday, July 23, 2012

In Case of Fire

There has been so much fire in the news this summer:  Colorado (near my brother's home) and locally from stray fireworks.  I think fire is on the top of most people's list of fearful things because of the physical and emotional pain and loss.  I admire people (like my brother-in-law, a fire chief) who choose to face the horror of fire to help others get out safely. 

However, this poem is not intended as a tribute to firefighters or to share about grief.  Rather, it speaks about the loss of material things and deciding what is the most important. 

In Case of Fire by Janet Sobczyk, 2012ⓒ

Picture this...
your house is on fire
you're the last one out.
The spouse, kids, and pets
are outside and safe.
What will you take as
you dash out the door?

A purse or wallet?
A coat and some shoes?
The photo albums?
Laptop computer?
An I-Pad or phone?
A box of jewelry?
A priceless heirloom? 
An old sports trophy?

I know what I'd take.
My prized possession
is a special gift
the children gave us
for our twenty-fifth
It's a published book
of precious photos
and letters from each
of our five children.
When I first saw it
it brought me to tears.
We showed it proudly
to fam'ly and friends.

Where should I keep it?
Where would it be safe
and handy to grab
to dash out the door?
Nearest the front door?
Nearest the back door?
Near the garage door?
Which way would I leave?

There's no way to guess,
I should face the facts.
No earthly treasures
are ever quite safe
from a fire or flood
or a tornado.
Every manmade thing
can break or rust or
be lost or destroyed.
I finally see
the safest treasure
is stored up above
in heaven with God.

I dedicate this to my five children, who are truly my greatest treasures, with a special thanks to Carolyn for creating the gift book which inspired this poem.  :) 

Monday, July 16, 2012


  I thought I'd follow my last posting with another horse story. 
 This poem is about when I first got my horse and it was still so new to me.  The title is a horse term but, as a play on words, could also refer to the rider.  The ending was a temporary reaction.  As time went I became much more confident and adventurous.  

Brownie and Jan, approx 1975.

“Ladybroke” By Janet Sobczyk, 2012ⓒ

Such a good horse!
She was trained to be
loyal and obedient.
So she, of course,
didn’t nip or kick.
She was calm and, oh, so sweet.

She wasn’t young,
a bit overweight,
but I was her new owner.
I didn’t know
she could do races
in figure eights ‘round barrels.

In the pasture
some barrels were set.
She saw them and took off fast.
I was startled
and tried to hold on
but over the side I went.

I fell down hard.
She came back to me,
but stood a little too close.
In pain I yelled,
from the bumpy ground,
“You’re standing on my hand!  Move!”

A big, blue bruise
was my souvenir.
I learned a lesson that day.
Later we cruised
at a slower speed
throughout the big, green pasture.

No more racing,
no more silly tricks,
no more barrel runs for me.
Gentle pacing,
tame enough and safe
with my polite lady’s horse.

Saturday, July 14, 2012


 When I was in junior high I was horse crazy and took riding lessons with my best friend, Helen.  Our parents bought us each a horse because there was a boarding stable fairly close to Helen's house and we could get there on our bikes. The horses were for our families to enjoy, so Helen's sister joined us frequently, but none of our other siblings had the time (or interest?) to go very often.

  Eventually, the owner of the stable sold it to our fathers, who went out regularly to maintain it.  I don't recall the dads riding much, but I think they enjoyed the barn and pasture as much as we girls did.  Some of my favorite childhood memories revolve around that place.  There are several stories from adventures on horseback with Helen, but strangely enough this is my favorite.  The heat wave we're having this summer reminded me of this day.

Trespassing  by Janet Sobczyk, 2012ⓒ

The summer sun was high
And so hot in the pale blue sky
A great day for a ride
Two friends, two horses, side by side.

Another dusty road
Gave us not a clue to forbode
The new delight in store
A fresh green meadow to explore.

Surrounded by tall trees
With barely a soft summer breeze
We reined the horses in
And admired the view with a grin.

The clover smelled so sweet
The shade above us was a treat
But soon we heard a sound
A soft humming rose from the ground.

It began very low
Then gradually started to grow
A new sight made us freeze
Literally hundreds of bees!

They flew from the clover
Angry that we had stopped over
 Not wanting to get stung
From the cool meadow – run, run, run!

So we made a mad dash
The horses took off in a flash
Down the hot dusty road
The horses didn’t need a goad.

Once the danger was gone
We slowed to a walk and laughed long
That was surely the last
Time we ever chose to trespass.