Dancing in the Reflections (review)

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DancingDancing in the Reflections by Patricia Mussolum

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In Dancing in the Reflections, Patricia Mussolum rejoices in the beauty of nature and the simple pleasures of home. Dancing is full of stories of God’s simple gifts to her—like an armful of lilacs when she was hankering for a small bouquet, or the assurance, through a deer, a fawn, and rabbit, that God loved her on a day she felt like a failure. Any of us who have collected such moments of our own will find ourselves saying “yes,” and “yes” again as we read this memoir.

Mussolum adds to the significance of her stories by finding spiritual lessons in them. Her knowledge of the Bible and love for it are obvious. Inevitably she casts thanks back to God for the ordinary “miracles” that once filled the box in her living room as a collection of notes, and now make up the contents of this book.

As I read her descriptive stories I felt like I was having a visit with a warm and upbeat friend. The short chapters would make this book a good choice for devotional or waiting-room reading.

Don’t be surprised, though, if Mussolum’s recollections get you to do more than just read. They may have you recalling God’s goodness in your life—and fattening a journal with your own danceable remembrances.

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October prompt: thanksgiving

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It’s October and in Canada the month in which we celebrate Thanksgiving (second Monday), that “annual national holiday marked by religious observances and a traditional meal” – Oxford Dictionary.  (I’m already making a menu in my head!)

Thanksgiving seems like an obvious thing to write about in October because of the holiday and other reasons. For farmers and gardeners fall can be a stressful time. My dad, a grain farmer, always had one eye on the sky, especially as harvest approached. Mom, listening to the weather forecast and paying attention to her arthritis, developed great instincts for when to cover the tomatoes and cucumbers to protect them from frost. What a relief and time for thanksgiving when all was gathered in!

Seasonal issues aside, gratitude (“the quality of being thankful, the readiness to show appreciation and return kindness”Oxford Dictionary) is always a good thing. And it has many angles.

We could ponder who is getting our thanks?

The official thanksgiving celebration began when America’s pioneers paused to thank God for food, protection, health, survival etc.

We could ask, what is thanksgiving?

One leper returns to thank Jesus - by William Brassey Hole

One leper returns to thank Jesus – by William Brassey Hole

One aspect of it  surely is paying attention so that we see the many good things—from the fresh smell of rain to the tinkle of a baby’s giggle— that litter our pathway. It’s also expressing our gratitude. The story of the one leper who returned to thank Jesus after he was healed comes to mind (Luke 17:11-19). So does the story of the widow who made a room in her her house for the traveling prophet. Later when her son died, Elisha willingly came to pray for him (2 Kings 4:8-37).

We can contrast thankfulness with what it isn’t.

A sense of entitlement surely inhibits thankfulness. Henry Ward Beecher expressed it well: “Pride slays thanksgiving. … A proud man is seldom a grateful man for he never thinks he gets as much as he deserves” – (quoted by Ann Voskamp in One Thousand Gifts, p. 177).

We can see that it’s possible to look at all of life through gratitude-tinted glasses. Cultivating an attitude of thanksgiving is the point of Ann Voskamp’s popular book One Thousand Gifts. In it she writes: “In memory, the shape of God’s yesterday-heart emerges and assures us of God’s now-heart and reassures of His sure beat tomorrow … it is thanksgiving that shapes a theology of trust”  p. 152.

This month I invite you to write about gratitude / thanksgiving.

  • Perhaps you will write a story of someone who wasn’t thankful.
  • Perhaps your writing will tell of a kindness for which someone (you?) gave thanks in a unique way.
  • Perhaps you will write a poem that lists the many and diverse things for which you are grateful.

Whatever shape your writing takes, I hope the time you spend counting your blessings will be yet another item of thanksgiving to add to your list.