First Sermon

I have been preaching for half a century.

I have been preaching for 50 years. Half a century. At 57 years old, I am a virtual stranger to myself if I am not a preacher. A woman. A preaching woman.

The poem below recalls my early preaching years. I practiced as a child on a captive congregation of Barbies, G I Jerrys and other dolls. The poem was published in *82 Review several years ago. My calling came early, and I have been sustained over many years as a proclaimer by God’s love and grace.

I preached my initial sermon
to an ecumenical throng of listeners
gathered on my childhood bed
in that little yellow room
in the house at 243 Winston Lane.
I was six years old.

Mrs. Beasley, wire-rimmed glasses askance.
She never stopped smiling.
Barbie and Ken side by side.
(They arrived in their pink convertible, top down.)
G.I. Jerry (I named him after my dad) in full fatigues.
He came packing
but left his semi-automatic at the foot of the bed.
Brownie Scout doll, missing her beanie and one sock,
winked a single eye at Little Red Riding Hood.
“I know my way around the forest.”
Red said nothing,
stared straight ahead. Indomitable. Wooden.
Madame Alexander, her expression plastic,
kept her eyes fixed on the conventicle
of purple-and-yellow haired trolls.
Howdy Doody looked eager, but I was not fooled.
His commitment has never been more
than mere lip service.
A bride showed up,
costumed in wedding day white.
She was alone
and kept her story to herself.
The Liddle Kiddles created the biggest stir
spilling out of their house and onto the bed
in a disorderly pile of teeny tiny arms and legs
and teeny tiny accessories galore.
My congregation was gathered.
I preached.

Perhaps all were saved that day
or maybe none at all.
We all needed saving:
wars and rumors of wars
hunger
violence
brokenness of every kind imaginable. 
But then, as now when a word is proclaimed
to some assemblages, 
no sign of response could be seen or heard
until the preacher without intending it
pulled Mrs. Beasley’s string
and she said what was on her mind:
“Speak a little louder, dear, so Mrs. Beasley can hear you.”

Space Walking in Glass Slippers

Do you need glass slippers for a space walk?

Two women walked in space this week (without men) for the first time. This event was scheduled for last spring but had to be postponed when NASA discovered that they did not have two spacesuits the right size for both women.

Really?

For some reason, this detail of the space walk news story made me think of Cinderella. Yes, Cinderella.

Even as a child, I was curious about those glass slippers of hers because I knew that shoe stores where we shopped tended to have more than one pair of each size of each style of shoe. Didn’t anyone else in the whole kingdom wear the same size shoe as Cinderella? And besides that, how can a person walk in glass slippers without breaking them?

What does this have to do with this week’s space walking women? Perhaps nothing. But I am blogging every day in October, and the struggle to find daily content is real!

AND I try to write a news related poem each week to submit to Rattle.com. Rattle publishes one poem each Sunday that a poet has written in response to news stories from the previous week. This is my 69th submission and my 69th rejection.

No matter.

I still wonder about those glass slippers and how the story would have turned out if the lost slipper had fit someone else’s foot before the prince every made it to Cinderella’s house. Or what if Cinderella’s frantic flight from the ball as the clock chimed had shattered both slippers?

But Cinderella’s story is just a fairytale, and this 20th Blogtober blog is no place to unpack such philosophical “what ifs.”

In any case, I celebrate this week those space walking NASA women who heard the stars call their names—and who can now find spacesuits in their size.

Space Walking in Glass Slippers

Do you need glass slippers
for a space walk?

I’m asking for Cinderella,
the woman with the fabled foot
in that magical
once upon a time
from my childhood.

She was lucky, don’t you think,
since the prince only had
one size that didn’t fit all—
one size 
that didn’t fit 
anyone else but her
at the ball.

Yes, she was lucky,

wasn’t she?

unless she 
tumbled
stumbled
down the stairs that night
slippers shattered,
dreams
unfettered
when she heard distant stars
calling out to her: 
“May we have this dance?”

Come Home Free

Ah, the joys of self-publishing!

Self-publishing is intriguing. And when you self-publish on Amazon and immerse yourself in the world of Amazon’s algorithms connected to sales, reviews, and rankings–well, Amazon’s self-publishing world is something of a mystery.

Yesterday, Come Home Free went on sale for a limited time on Amazon for .99.  Amazon suggests sales promotions such as this to encourage people to read self-published books, especially novels. We got the word out about the sale through Facebook, Twitter, and blogs. We also put an ad on Kindle Nation Daily. Throughout the day yesterday we watched on Amazon’s author “report” page how many people were downloading the book. We had fun seeing the purchase numbers rise and our Amazon ranking number fall (lower numbers meaning that our book is higher in the rankings).

I have learned much about self-publishing and have a new respect for editors and both traditional and non-traditional publishers. These days, it takes a lot of effort to create an eBook and make it get attention in a world where hundreds of thousands of others are writing and publishing.

Come Home Free will be on sale for about 18 more hours today, until midnight tonight (October 30). Sheila and I are eager for folks to meet some of our favorite characters–Aria, Clara, Sarah, Ruth Maiers, and the rest. We also hope that the story these characters embody offers laughter and perhaps even a glimpse of hope for readers.

We hope you might read–and enjoy–Come Home Free. And don’t forget to add your review of the book online. Reviews make the self-publishing world go ’round!