Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Thanksgiving

Caged Bird | Maya Angelou

From the introduction: “…This poem deserves to be read slowly and carefully. In what it implies about the difference between the caged bird and a free bird, it becomes one of Angelou’s most complex and most important poems.” My comments follow.

Caged Bird

A free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wing
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn
and he names the sky his own.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

© 1995 by Maya Angelou
Published by Sterling Children’s Books in 2013
Maya Angelou, Poetry for Young People, p. 34

Tomorrow we celebrate Thanksgiving, a national holiday. It encourages us to eat a lot of food, connect with our families, and think highly of our nation. This includes being grateful for the peaceful Pilgrims, the nice Indians who shared the first feast, and freedom ringing from every mountainside.

Yet what about the slave trade that began in this part of the world in the 1500s? What about seen and unseen iron bars, clipped wings and tied feet?

I’ve always felt reluctant about Thanksgiving. It comes close to my birthday. Sometimes the two got lumped together, with my birthday losing out to the Thanksgiving feast. Still, there was good food on the table, and my father’s prayers always spoke highly of our wonderful country and its many freedoms.

I love this nation. Yet I don’t know what to do with myself as an ‘uncaged bird.’

I’ve always felt socially awkward, not fully at ease in large groups or crowds. Perhaps my feelings aren’t off-tune, given our largely unknown, unowned and unexamined history. To say nothing of caged birds still singing of freedom they don’t have.


© Elouise Renich Fraser, 25 November 2020
Image found at

A Fond Farewell to 2018

Dear Friends,

The last two months I’ve been barely alive on my blog. That’s partly because D and I have gallivanted with family members almost nonstop.

In November we enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner with our son, his wife and their three children. It was our last family meal in their big old house plus barn and meadow. We were surrounded by boxes waiting to be moved to their new house (minus barn and meadow). Not in the middle of nowhere, but in the middle of everything—with no big yard or outdoor animals to keep up.

Then we were off to Portland, Oregon for ten wonderful days with our daughter and her husband. It was our first visit to Oregon in over two years. I posted photos here. We did nothing but rest, talk, and eat good food plus some of the other stuff. Fabulous!

Then just before Christmas we spent Sunday in western Pennsylvania with David’s sister, her husband, two adult children, their spouses, a couple of grandchildren, and our son. Lots of good food, lively conversation and catching up with relatives we don’t often see.

Finally, back to our son and daughter-in-law’s new house on Christmas day with their three children, their second set of grandparents, two big dogs and two small cats. There were still boxes to be emptied, and everyone was feeling his/her way along. Nonetheless, they were excited about their new neighborhood and neighbors.

In addition, I talked on the phone with my two surviving sisters, and thought a lot about our sister Diane, and our Mother. I still tear up and grieve their lives and deaths. Both were in their last months during and after Christmas. I’m grateful for the opportunity to visit with them before they died. Mom in 1999; Diane in 2006.

Yet the bottom line isn’t morose. I’m more upbeat and less anxious now than I’ve been for the last few years. Hopeful about many things, but chiefly about my health and well-being, no matter what happens next.

For now, I’m grateful for the opportunity to write from my heart, and belong to the WordPress community. Thank you for all your visits, likes (or not), and comments.

Though things look bleak at the top (speaking of politics), it seems the best place to live is at the bottom. With love and acceptance, without malice, reflecting the light that entered our world at Christmas – one small flame at a time.

Happy New Year to you and yours!

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 31 December 2018
Photo found at

Surely goodness and mercy….

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day; yesterday’s post is still on my mind. I’m grateful for the poem that was in me, grateful for words to tell you about this episode in my professional life, and grateful to be who I was and still am. A tough old cookie. A highly sensitive and intuitive wise woman. A thriver. A persistent woman who won’t sit down and shut up. Or stand up and perform on command.

I didn’t get here by myself. I got here thanks to scores of women and men who saw in me more than I could see in myself. I also got here thanks to my Creator, my true Parent from the beginning, walking with me and watching my back.

Following a well-earned sabbatical leave and peaceful summer break, I was on my way to the seminary for the first day of fall term. Several students who protested against me a year earlier were likely to show up in my required course.

To say I was anxious would be an understatement. Yet here’s what happened next, as described in the semi-memoir I began writing during my sabbatical.

I stopped at a traffic light and waited for it to change. Two older men, perhaps in their seventies, were coming down the sidewalk, facing me. They were out for an early-morning walk. They moved along quickly, talking and laughing. The sun was up. It was a gorgeous day.

As they came closer, I noticed they were holding hands. This seemed rather unusual. But it was also wonderful. My mind turned to friendships among older men. I wondered how long these men had known each other and whether they walked together every day.

Suddenly, without any signal and without breaking their stride, they left the sidewalk and began walking through a large parking lot. They seemed to be of one will. As they angled away from the sidewalk, I saw it for the first time—the short leather strap they were holding between them. One of them was blind.

In a flash my eyes filled with tears. I saw myself walking blindly into this class. Seeing some things, but not everything. Knowing someone with sight beyond my sight was beside me. All I had to do was follow God’s lead, keep holding on to the strap and keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Elouise Renich Fraser, excerpt from Confessions of a Beginning Theologian, p. 132, Intervarsity Press 1998

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life….”

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 22 November 2017
Photo of shepherd boy playing flute to sheep found at

Daily Prompt: Mercy

Waiting for God

My soul-mind-body health barometer is a nasty piece of business. Totally independent of my plans and wishes, it does its duty whether I like it or not. It won’t be bribed or bought off with promises to do better tomorrow.

And then there are those pesky paydays. Days when what I wish were true about me has to face harsh reality. Inconvenient reminders of how I’m progressing in soul, mind and body. Or not.

I seem to have arrived on this earth with a predisposition to try harder, more often, more consistently, in better form, with a better attitude. Never give up. Just keep practicing. Little by little today; giant leaps tomorrow. Yes, you can reach the sky. Just pick yourself up and try again!

This morning, however, my soul-mind-body wants something different. The kind of difference Simone Weil writes about in Waiting for God.

There are those people who try to elevate their souls
like someone who continually jumps from a standing position
in the hope that forcing oneself to jump all day—and higher every day—
they would no longer fall back down,
but rise to heaven.
Thus occupied, they no longer look to heaven.

We cannot even take one step toward heaven.
The vertical direction is forbidden to us.
But if we look to heaven long-term, God descends and lifts us up.

God lifts us up easily.
As Aeschylus says, ‘That which is divine is without effort.’
There is an ease in salvation more difficult for us than all efforts.

In one of Grimm’s accounts,
there is a competition of strength between a giant and a little tailor.
The giant throws a stone so high
that it takes a very long time before falling back down.
The little tailor throws a bird that never comes back down.
That which does not have wings always comes back down in the end. 
― Simone Weil, Waiting for God

And so I’m challenged today to wait for God. To give up jumping through hoops and trying harder, hoping for something better. I anticipate God’s descent to lift me up, and kindle quiet thanksgiving in my heart.

We cannot take a step toward the heavens. God crosses the universe and comes to us.
― Simone Weil, Waiting for God

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 23 November 2016
Response to WordPress Daily Prompt: Anticipation

Let’s go see the meadow! | Photos


~~~My favorite! A Longwood Meadow bird house hat in late autumn finery.

Is Longwood Gardens addictive? Maybe. No matter. It’s a healthy addiction! Especially on a chilly, breezy, bright sunny day that just happened to be my birthday. Here’s a tiny peek at what we saw Read the rest of this entry »

I have more than enough


Unsorted Used Clothing

It’s Thanksgiving time here in the USA. Last Sunday I heard a sermon about generosity. I always squirm a bit, knowing my family and I Read the rest of this entry »

Food, Money, Sex and the Earth…

Here’s a timely piece from Oswald Chambers (OC).  It’s the daily reading for today, November 26, from Daily Thoughts for Disciples.  During his life, OC commented more than once about long-faced, dour Christians.  He found them unattractive.  Sadly, when OC was traveling in the USA, he saw a considerable number of Read the rest of this entry »

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