Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Encouragement

Did Our Best Moment last — | Emily Dickinson

Have you ever had a Best Moment? When did it come, and when did it go? Did it change you? My comments follow

Did Our Best Moment last –
‘Twould supersede the Heaven –
A few – and they by Risk – procure –
So this Sort – are not given –

Except as stimulants – in
Cases of Despair –
Or Stupor – The Reserve –
These Heavenly Moments are –

A Grant of the Divine –
That Certain as it Comes –
Withdraws – and leaves the dazzled Soul
In her unfurnished Rooms

(c. 1862)

Emily Dickinson Poems, Edited by Brenda Hillman
Shambhala Pocket Classics, Shambhala 1995

Have you known Despair from the inside out? Emily doesn’t promise a Best Moment for each of us. She does, however, acknowledge that sometimes we need a Best Moment. Not to hoard, but to encourage us to keep going.

Some may Risk trying to obtain a Heavenly Moment. Perhaps to lock away and show off from time to time.

Instead, Our Best Moment is a rarely given temporary gift, a Grant from the Divine. Not because we ask for it or earned it, but because we’re in danger of falling into Despair. Or, just as heavy, walking around in a Stupor wondering what to say, do or write next.

While each Best Moment is beyond wonderful, it’s also a sign. It appears unbidden. A small Grant of the Divine we didn’t expect to receive. For a Moment it dazzles us, and then withdraws. Leaving us to make do with our everyday unfurnished Rooms.

Emily’s image of our unfurnished Rooms might sound empty and hollow, On the other hand, perhaps our unfurnished Rooms are invitations to furnish them. Just as we furnished the Room that became our temporary Best Moment, a gift that dazzled our Soul.

We aren’t alone in our efforts. What we say and do makes a difference, though we don’t always know or see how it plays out. Still, from time to time, the curtain is drawn back to dazzle and encourage us.

Praying these uneasy times will yield Best Moments that let each of us know we’re not alone, or left to figure things out on our own. No matter what happens next.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 29 February 2020
Image of Victorian Era Kitchen in America found at

Monday Morning Jolt

Fair warning, my friends. I’m writing this primarily for myself. I woke up this morning feeling gray, drippy and overcast. Just like the weather. Miserable.

Were there reasons? There always are, aren’t there? Still, if I don’t put one foot in front of the other, this day will take longer to traverse than it otherwise would.

On my way down to make my morning smoothie, I picked up a small book I read when I was in graduate school. Less than 100 pages. Written in honor of one of the most beloved preachers of the Nazi era, Christoph Blumhardt. Speaking on behalf of those begging for a cup of cold water, he wrote the following:

We must not be silent. The social struggle of millions in our time is not a coincidence….The ferment in the nations, the agitation of the poor, the crying out for the right to live—a crying, given into the mouths of even the most miserable of [us], which can no longer be silenced—these are signs of our Lord Jesus Christ…They do not know that it is Jesus who wants it.” (Action in Waiting, p. 8)

Yet Blumhardt didn’t pour his entire life’s energy into political life. He saw that neither political nor church movements for social justice could deliver a final solution to the world’s agony. Instead, we long for human fellowship that both waits for and experiences the fulfilment of that for which we are created. Not simply in our places of worship, but in everyday life.

Was Blumhardt a dreamer? I don’t think so. I believe he saw within the misery of his world the seeds of something greater. Yet not so overwhelming that we can ignore right now the work to which we’re called daily. Especially in the midst of political, national, social, religious and economic warfare in which some are winners at great cost to everyone else.

Even so, he argued we’re not called simply to work for social justice. We’re called to delight in the beauty of each day:

The earth is so beautiful, the earth is so lovely and full of joy, every little midge rejoices, every tree rejoices; all things are arranged delightfully and beautifully by God so that we too can live and move among them in joy and graciousness…. (Action in Waiting, p. 25)

Finally, just as all nature is ordered toward its Creator, so too are we:

God has already put into us what God is and what God wanted to put into us so that we should become God’s image. (Action in Waiting, p. 27)

I’m not an outlier, and neither are you. We’re already in the vision held close in our Creator’s great heart. My work is to move in the right direction, do what I’m called to do, trust, fear not, and keep my eyes on the goal.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 17 April 2017
Photo found at, Golden Regulus

All quotes from Karl Barth, Action in Waiting, Plough Publishing House, 1969
Response to WordPress Daily Prompt: Jolt

She sweeps with many-colored Brooms —


Here’s a charming poem from Emily Dickinson. It suits my mood for something that turns my eyes toward the heavens. Something spectacular that hints of glory and power beyond our human capacities. My personal response follows.

She sweeps with many-colored Brooms –
And leaves the Shreds behind –
Oh Housewife in the Evening West –
Come back, and dust the Pond!

You dropped a Purple Ravelling in –
You dropped an Amber thread –
And now you’ve littered all the East
With Duds of Emerald!

And still, she plies her spotted Brooms,
And still the Aprons fly,
Till Brooms fade softly into stars –
And then I come away –

c. 1861

Emily Dickinson Poems, Edited by Brenda Hillman
Shambhala Pocket Classics, Shambhala 1995

I first found this poem in my Emily Dickinson collection for young people. However, it’s also in my adult collection. So taking the role of an adult child, several possible responses come to mind.

  • If this Housewife is trying to clean things up, she isn’t very efficient. Just look at all the bits and pieces she’s dropping and leaving behind! Doesn’t she know how to sweep anything right? Look at that! She just left dust all over the Pond!
  • Whatever’s going on up there, it doesn’t have any rhyme or reason. The longer she sweeps, the more littered it gets. First this bit left behind, then that. All swept helter skelter across the face of the heavens. Maybe she doesn’t have good eyesight.
  • Also, why waste so many Aprons and colored Brooms? One of each would be more than enough. She isn’t very cost conscious, is she? All that effort and investment for just a few minutes of who knows what. A flash in the sky. That’s all.
  • Now look at that! It’s already getting dark out here. I don’t think she knows what she’s doing. This isn’t going to amount to a hill of beans in the morning. In fact, all her hard work will be for nothing in just a few seconds. Why bother?

Of course all that is nonsense. Emily isn’t writing about a sloppy housewife. She’s describing a majestic display in the heavens that just keeps traveling around the earth each minute of every sunset.

Even more amazing, the beauty being swept across the evening sky comes from the remains of the day. The ‘Duds.’ The ragged old clothes that are tired and worn out. Not sure they’ll live to see the next day. Coming near the end of their life, almost but not quite disappearing into darkness.

Such a spectacular, even wasteful show of beauty. Doesn’t this Housewife understand what’s going on down here? How dare She waste time with the dust and duds of this earth in a show of supposed glory? Doesn’t She know what really matters and will make a concrete difference?

I love the extravagance of this Housewifely Creator. Day in and day out. One magical sunrise and sunset after another. Especially sunsets that transform bits and pieces of throw-away detritus and fragile whisps of clouds, making them a Prelude to the starry night. All for our delight, awe and encouragement. We are not left to our own devices.

Psalm 8:3-4
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what are human beings that you are mindful of them,
mere mortals, that you care for them?

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 28 January 2017
Image found at

About Awards and Me

End-of-Year Awards

The first time a blogger nominated me for an award, I didn’t know what to do. Was I happy? Yes! Thrown into inner turmoil? Yes! It felt like an interruption that would derail my writing.

I decided Read the rest of this entry »

My California Grandpa

My California Grandpa, Parents and Me - Dec 1944 - I'm 1 year old.

My Parents, and My CA Grandpa holding Me, Christmas 1944.  I’m 1 year old.

The Christmas Present got me thinking about Grandpa–my mother’s father.  Here’s what I’ve concluded:  In my list of influential men in my life, especially my childhood, my California Grandpa would stand at the top of the ‘good guys’ list!

A few months ago I found out he was a child of divorce.  I would never have dreamed this about him.  I knew  from way back that his wife, my Grandma Z, abandoned him and his two children (my mother and her younger brother), and filed for divorce.  Back then I saw her as the villain, and Grandpa as the innocent victim.  As an adult, I know it takes two to make a relationship work.  That means there’s probably a lot more I don’t know about Grandpa.

Still, if I put him side by side with my father and other men I encountered as a child, Grandpa wins first prize for positive influence.  He was a bright spot in a sometimes scary childhood.  He was like a kid himself.   He knew what kids wanted and needed, and he knew how to get right down there with them.  In my memory, he’s the one person who most encouraged me to be myself as a child.  Just the way I was.

When I married, Grandpa ‘gave me away’ to my future (now present!) husband.  My father officiated at our double wedding with Sister #2 and her beloved.  So we had ‘giving away’ stand-ins.  I got Grandpa!  In our wedding pictures he looks like a short, mischievous elf.  Proud, happy, honored and thrilled to walk me down the aisle.  I was equally thrilled to have him playing that role.

I sometimes wonder what my childhood might have been without his presence, his cards and his letters.  I know from my mother that he wasn’t happy about her marriage to my father.  But he never let on to any of us, and never asked for reports on how things were going.  He just kept showing up in person, going with us on adventures to the zoo and the park, and writing Grandpa love-letters to his little women.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 16 December 2014

passing through

passing through
silent white headstones
urge me on

* * * * *

Sister #3
who showed me
how to live and how to die

My Colleague
who told his family story
with tears streaming down his face

My Piano Teacher
who knew me inside out
and told me I needed a boyfriend

My Mother
who began to know me
inside out and longed to know more

My Brother-in-Law
who never told anything
but the full blunt-naked truth about life

My Theology Professor
who encouraged me to speak in
my distinct voice without shame or apology

My Quaker Employer
who thanked me in writing for
relational gifts I didn’t know I possessed

Members of a Great Cloud of Witnesses
gone in body from this earth
present in my spirit

Haiku written 18 August 2012

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 4 March 2014

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