Saturday, December 25, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve 1968 - The Good Earth

When I was 10 years old, I remember sitting in the den of our house in Arcadia with my parents, on Christmas Eve, watching the astronauts of Apollo 8 conduct the first TV transmission back to Earth.  Since then, 42 years have come and gone, on this, the Good Earth:

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Mary's Song

Photo information here.

Mary's Song
by Luci Shaw

Blue homespun and the bend of my breast
keep warm this small hot naked star
fallen to my arms. (Rest …you who have had so far to come.)

Now nearness satisfies
the body of God sweetly. Quiet he lies
whose vigor hurled a universe. He sleeps
whose eyelids have not closed before.

His breath (so slight it seems
no breath at all) once ruffled the dark deeps
to sprout a world. Charmed by doves' voices,
the whisper of straw, he dreams,
hearing no music from his other spheres.

Breath, mouth, ears, eyes
he is curtailed who overflowed all skies,
all years. Older than eternity, now he
is new.

Now native to earth as I am, nailed
to my poor planet, caught
that I might be free, blind in my womb
to know my darkness ended,
brought to this birth for me to be new-born,
and for him to see me mended
I must see him torn.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Into the Darkest Hour

Into The Darkest Hour
by Madeleine L’Engle

It was a time like this,
War &  tumult of war,
a horror in the air.
Hungry yawned the abyss-
and yet there came the star
and the child most wonderfully there.

It was time like this
of fear & lust for power,
license & greed and blight-
and yet the Prince of bliss
came into the darkest hour
in quiet & silent light.

And in a time like this
how celebrate his birth
when all things fall apart?
Ah! Wonderful it is
with no room on the earth
the stable is our heart.

Christmas Time
Originally uploaded by andywon

Monday, December 13, 2010

Norris Family Christmas 2010

And so, it’s December again, and how did we get here?  Each of us finds ourselves confronted with the Holiday reveling, rushing, purchasing, partying, and some mild forms of panic.  If you are even a bit like me, you promise yourself that, finally, this year, maybe you will slow down, take some time, and ponder the wonder and waiting of Advent.  But it rarely happens.  For me, the act of sitting down to share with you a bit of our lives is an exercise in slowing down and remembering where we have been.  This past year, together and apart as family, was marked by some significant moments, which can be sorted into some categories; Adventures, Celebrating Relationships, Losses and Gains, and Thankfulness.

Adventures.  In the Spring, Nancy, Heather and I visited Boston, to look at several colleges Heather may consider in 2012.  This summer found Heather, now almost 17, traveling to, of all places on earth, Albania – to serve young people there.  Her time was remarkable, she was moved by the depth of acceptance and love among a people with whom she could barely communicate.  Just a week ago, Heather and Dad snuck off to snowy Seattle to visit the Univ. of Washington, another possibility in less than two years.  Snow in November, what fun!  The fall found Mom and Dad helping Kelly move into her new apartment at DePaul University in Chicago.  Mom and Kelly did a great job of decorating.  Dad paid for it, thankfully.  Kelly is doing well at DePaul, and loving her sophomore year, with never a dull moment.  And to top it off, from the 4th to 18th of December, Kelly has chosen to travel to, wait for it….. Zambia (!) to volunteer her time in working at an orphanage.  At this writing, she is safe in Livingstone, and loving it.  Really now, what an amazing girl!

Celebrating Relationships.  In the end, these are what make life worth living.  This summer we all were graced by the visit from Canada of Nancy’s brother Dave, his wife Pauline, and their kids, Hannah, Julia, and Tim.  Relations between our two nations were significantly enhanced.  Also this summer, Nancy headed again for a week to Lost Canyon Ranch in Arizona for Young Lives camp – an opportunity to love and care for teen moms and their babies.  Nance continues, each day, filing all our lives with order, grace, and laughter.  Earlier this year, Heather was selected for the LIFE spiritual leadership program at her school.  This is something we are very proud of, as it illustrates Heather’s care for the deeper spiritual life of her peers.  In further simple celebration, this year was graced by evenings under the stars at the Hollywood Bowl, and in the elegance of Disney Hall, experiencing the beauty and mystery of great music, shared with dear friends and family.  This fall we joyously celebrated the arrival of two new special friends, Dan & Anne Baumgartner, from Seattle.  Dan is now the new pastor of Hollywood Presbyterian Church, bringing to a close a two year search, and a massive sigh of relief and a loud Hallelujah from Nancy!

Losses and gains.  Just after I wrote you last December, we said goodbye to our dear brown chocolate Labrador, Cindy, after 12 years of companionship.  This was a hard loss for us all.  But in the Spring of this year (after some rather subversive influence from Steve), we adopted a new puppy of similar color and persuasion.  Ella is her name, and she fills our home with happiness (and, Nancy will add, annoyances) each day.  At the same time, we remember our friends who have lost loved ones this past year.  Pets can be replaced, people cannot; this life we lead together each day is such a gift.

Thankfulness.  As for me (Steve), I will not be sad to see 2010 end.  This recession has been not a ton of fun, professionally speaking.  However, by way of perspective – I remind myself daily that I am simply overwhelmed with blessing.  I cannot believe I get to work with such a dedicated and fun staff.  Further, I have been reminded to renew my commitment to use our firm to help, encourage, and nurture others who are less fortunate than us.  And so, with that thought in mind this year, a Christmas gift in the name of you all, our dearest friends, has been thankfully given to Club21 (, a community service organization in Pasadena that works to support families with kids who have Down Syndrome.  Their motto is “Together Is Better”.  Truly, having you as our dear friends; Together is Better, indeed.  For many of us, this has not been an easy year.  And yet, at the core of it all, we have each other, and we still have the relentlessly abiding love of God, expressed in the gift of the Christ child.  We dwell in Christmas Hope!  And so, reflecting this, join with us in remembering the words found on the Oval Office desk of Franklin Roosevelt during the darkest years of the both the Depression and World War II:

“Let unconquerable gladness dwell” 

May this be so in your home and in your heart, always!    Merry Christmas from Steve, Nancy, Kelly, and Heather!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Nativity Carol

Nativity Carol

Born in a stable so bare,
Born so long ago;
Born neath light of star
He who loved us so.

Far away, silent He lay,
Born today, your homage pay,
Christ is born for aye,
Born on Christmas Day.

Cradled by mother so fair,
Tender her lullaby;
Over her son so dear
Angel hosts fill the sky.

Far away, silent He lay,
Born today, your homage pay,
Christ is born for aye,
Born on Christmas Day.

Wise men from distant far land,
Shepherds from starry hills
Worship this babe so rare,
Hearts with His warmth He fills.

Far away, silent He lay,
Born today, your homage pay,
Christ is born for aye,
Born on Christmas Day.

Love in that stable was born
Into our hearts to flow;
Innocent dreaming babe,
Make me Thy love to know.

Far away, silent he lay,
Born today, your homage pay,
Christ is born for aye,
Born on Christmas Day.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

December 7, 1941 - Remembering 69 Years Later

Tonight, I sat in the comfort of our home, and watched the beginning episode of The Pacific on DVD.  I was again reminded that 69 years ago today, the world was changed forever by the events of this date.

I remain thankful for those of my fathers generation, who defended our freedom, and of the countless many who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Little Lamb

Little Lamb, who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee?
Gave thee life, and bid thee feed
By the stream and o’er the mead;

Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing, woolly, bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice,
Making all the vales rejoice?
Little Lamb, who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee?

Little Lamb, I’ll tell thee,
Little Lamb, I’ll tell thee:
He is called by thy name,
For he calls himself a Lamb.
He is meek, and he is mild;
He became a little child.

I, a child, and thou a lamb,
We are called by his name.
Little Lamb, God bless thee!
Little Lamb, God bless thee!

Words: William Blake / Music: John Tavener

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Wexford Carol - December 1, 2010

The Wexford Carol
Christmas Hymn & Carol Lyrics

Good people all, this Christmas time,
Consider well and bear in mind
What our good God for us has done,
In sending His belov├Ęd Son.
With Mary holy we should pray
To God with love this Christmas Day;
In Bethlehem upon the morn
There was a blest Messiah born.

The night before that happy tide
The noble virgin and her guide
Were long time seeking up and down
To find a lodging in the town.
But mark how all things came to pass:
From every door repelled, alas!
As long foretold, their refuge all
Was but a humble oxen stall.

Near Bethlehem did shepherds keep
Their flocks of lambs and feeding sheep;
To whom God’s angels did appear
Which put the shepherds in great fear.
“Prepare and go”, the angels said,
“To Bethlehem, be not afraid;
For there you’ll find, this happy morn,
A princely Babe, sweet Jesus born.”

With thankful heart and joyful mind,
The shepherds went the babe to find,
And as God’s angel has foretold,
They did our Savior Christ behold.
Within a manger He was laid,
And by His side the virgin maid
Attending to the Lord of Life,
Who came on earth to end all strife.
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