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I’ve just learned the meaning of Black Friday and I’ll bet these people have never heard of it and thank goodness!  The day after Thanksgiving is called Black Friday because store-keepers know it as a time of the year when sales move further into the black and farther into profit margins.   You probably knew that but I am a bit slow when it comes to merchandizing and advertising.  More than 50 years ago C. S. Lewis said that “long before Dec. 2 everyone is worn out ~ physically worn out by weeks of daily struggle in overcrowded shops, mentally worn out by the effort to remember all the right recipients and to think of suitable gifts for them.”   50 years ago!  He would turn over in his grave.   I am told that there were people camping out in tents last night in order to be among the first in the shops when they opened.  This little lady beside the roadside in Dodoma would welcome such business I suppose.  They will not have such lovely tomatoes and melons yet.  It has been their dry season but soon they will plant their crops and wait and pray for life-giving rain.  The Dodoma region where Jessie and I go is particularly drought plagued.  As you make your Christmas list, remember alternative giving to Karimu.  So little goes a long way.   I hope we all find some soul-filled quiet these 4 weeks leading up to Christmas.   

WHY I WAKE EARLY

“Hello, sun in my face.

Hello, you w ho make the morning

and spread it over the fields

and into the faces of tulips

and the nodding morning glories,

and into the windows of, even, the miserable and the crotchety ~

best preacher that ever was,

dear star, that just happens

to be where you are in the universe

to keep us from ever-darkenss,

to ease us with warm touching,

to hold us in the great hands of light ~

good morning, good morning, good morning.

Watch, now, how I start the day

in happIness, in kindness.”

MARY OLIVER

  Honestly, this is not to make any of us feel badly or guilty.  This is actually a good meal in Tanzania ~ it is ugali and a hot cabbage mixture.  Of course, tomorrow is not Thanksgiving in Tanzania even though every day is Thanksgiving there.  I think what is mostly getting my goat today is that when the afternoon paper came it was filled with inserts from local shops and stores ~ Best Buy, Staples, Wal Mart, and Stein Mart, and many of them are open tomorrow ~ tomorrow, Thankgiving day!  Many open at midnight on Thanksgiving.  As my husband and I looked at some of the ads he shook his head and said:  “STUFF.”  We all like bargains, but can’t we take one day away from the desire to get more and spend it with family or friends and to thank God for all that we have?  Nothing that we have is permanent and as they say:  “we can’t take it with us.”  I hope to send you special words from the poet, Mary Oliver tomorrow.  She really knows what life is all about and expresses it so that I nod my head in agreement and understanding.

Many of you will be making stuffing and sweet potatoes and other delectables tonight.  Jessie and I wish you all a very joyous day with food, friends, family and with thanks for all that we have.  We send love too.

You might like to see where I preached this past Sunday ~ the good old sheep and goats sermon on Christ the King Sunday.  This too is Emmanuel Church (God with us) and the pews are old trolley car benches.  It is a lovely church and the people welcomed me, a stranger.  One of my first cousins sings in the choir here.  We had not seen each other in at least 12 years, maybe longer but we grew up together and it was special joy for me.

Beverly Sills used to say that everyone deserved a little beauty in their lives.  I think it was Dostoevsky who said that “beauty will save the world.”  And I have said for years that art, music, poetry, literature and theatre will define our culture.    We have an  opportunity to attend and experience “Elements of Art,” an extraordinary show featuring artists Jessie Mackay and Meridith Martens, and designer and creator of elegant jewelry, Marilyn Arthur.  The opening reception will be held on December 8th from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. in the Razooks’ Building in Pinehurst.  The gallery will be opened Dec. 9 – 11 from 11:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m.  A percentage of the sales will go to The Empty Stocking Fund in Moore County.  

In the African hut or home one rarely sees pictures on the mud brick walls.  One mostly will see a calendar or Christmas cards from many years back.  What would they think of the beauty these three artists  have created?  If you are in the area, please come and feast your eyes on this bounty of  beauty.  I love this spot in Jessie’s house ~ look at all the paint brushes and on the second shelf there is a huge basket full of oil paints!

Many of you know that Jessie and I widened our horizons this summer while on our mission in Tanzania.  Since we flew Ethiopian Airways to save money we spent 5 days on our return journey in  the  Horn of Africa ~ Ethiopia.   In topography it is quite different from Tanzania.  It is dramatically mountainous with Addis Ababa, the capital city being the 3rd highest capital city in the world.   There is much we want to learn about this country, totally landlocked with Somalia close enough that we saw fields of UN peacekeeping trucks.  This is not going to be a geography or history lesson but one to say that from it Jessie is creating some amazingly beautiful paintings.  Her world travels over the years have lead to the subtleties of Provence, the dramatic colors of the Masai in Kenya, factories in England, a different style in Tobago, Tanzanian women who manage to put together colors and patterns that Americans would never get by with and look stunning, and now a new look from Ethiopia. 

Jessie will have an art show on December 9-11 2011 at the old Razooks building in the Village of Pinehurst.  A percentage of the proceeds will go to the Empty Stocking Fund to aid families in need in and around Moore County where we live.  Look for posters and information on Sandhill’s Dig on-line.  If you live out of our area and want to see Jessie’s work go to her web site: jessiemackayart.com.  This is a wonderful opportunity to shop for Christmas and to help the poor in our own backyards.  Any house with a Jessie Mackay is enhanced with breathtaking color and beauty.  I don’t have much but I have 7 of her paintings and sometimes I find myself just stopping in my tracks to look at them.   Ah, I say!

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