Monday, November 30, 2015

The Creche

Alana at the Creche

I was a bride of twenty in the mid-sixties
decorating my home creatively and economically
by attending ceramic classes Tuesday evenings
in Bette Carozza's basement
We sat round the table and coffee cups
cleaning greenware, applying
underglazes and overglazes
talking girl talk all the while
We made cookie dishes and ashtrays
glossy green Christmas trees with snowy branches
fitted with tiny colored lights
We made rooster lamps, pitchers and bowls
piggy banks and tall German beer steins
The most ambitious of us
made chess pieces and Nativity figures

I began working on my Nativity set in 1965
took a few months off after Mom died
and picked up the last pieces
hot from Bette's old electric kiln
on Christmas Eve Day, 1966
How well I recall carefully cleaning
the fragile greenware with a sharp tool
till the seams were perfectly smooth
sanding and sponging tiny bumps
and filling pit holes
Wanting to be as authentic as possible
I applied three coats of sky blue to Mary's robe
and ruddy brown to Joseph's
Jesus' features were less sharp
than the other figures
having been cast from a mold
that had been poured too many times
I unknowingly made the flesh tones far too pale
for Middle Easterners
The magi and their regal camels
were embellished with accents of pure gold
and I glued tiny rhinestones
onto their gift offerings
even though it's likely
the wisemen didn't visit the Christ Child
until months after He was born
The shepherds' garb were given earth tones
and a staff was provided for one of them
fashioned from a birch twig
I dabbed white froth onto the lambs' coats
and gave the cow big brown patches
making it a Guernsey
a breed not likely to have grazed
the fields of Bethlehem
The long eared donkey was painted gray
Bette's husband, ChiChi
built a fine wooden crèche
with a place on top
to hang the golden haired angel
who flourished a banner proclaiming
"Gloria in Excelsus Deo"
I installed a music box
which played "Adeste Fidelis"
and a little light bulb
and bought a bag of sweet straw
from Woolworth's

For forty-nine Christmases
I've been unpacking the big cardboard box
unwrapping the fragile figures from newspaper
and displaying them throughout the season.
Some years, when the children were young
Jesus wasn't placed in the manger
until Christmas Eve
then we all sang, "Happy Birthday"

The angel now has a chipped wing
and the Guernsey's missing a horn
but Jesus still lies sweetly in His crib
apparently not minding whether or not
I managed to get every jot and tittle
of His manger scene historically correct
He just lies sweetly there
year after year
reminding us
that significant night
long, long ago
is a forever celebration

Maude Carolan Pych

My six going on seven year old granddaughter, Alana Muniz, helped me set up our Nativity set on the day after Thanksgiving.

This is Poem #2 -- A Poem-a-day until Christmas

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Have You Been to the Mall?

I'm going to attempt to share a poem a day from now until Christmas...

Here's a question for you:
Did you start your Christmas shopping on Black Friday?

Photo Credit:


Day after Thanksgiving, at the mall, what is this I see…
Santas sledding in the air and a tinseled Christmas tree,
a roly-poly Frosty, red-nosed Rudolph with some elves,
glittery garlands, balls and bows, bedazzling on the shelves?
The shops are alive with music, “White Christmas,” “Jingle Bells;”
there are “ho, ho, hos,” “let it snows” and cinnamony smells.

It certainly all seems festive, so cheery and so bright,
but what oh what does it have to do with that Holy night?
I cannot find a manger scene, an angel or a star,
I do not see the wisemen…wonder where the shepherds are.
I do not hear a carol or the story of the birth
of Our Savior, Jesus Christ, Who dwelled right here on Earth.

Many, it seems, have cast aside the things that matter most.
By replacing them with fairy-tales, the Treasure became lost.
My heart fills up with sorrow, and I feel the need to prod
the waning faith of restless souls who live apart from God.
We all need to remember the virgin and the Child…
Revive, O Lord, the rock of faith that’s been so long exiled.

Maude Carolan Pych

An Invitation
I've been invited back to be the featured poet at a special holiday event at the Ant Bookstore & Cafe, 345 Clifton Ave., Clifton, NJ, Saturday, December 19th, 7 p.m. It will be an evening of poetry, music and Christmas cookies...
Come join us!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

One Thanksgiving Remembered

I'm taking a little walk down Memory Lane. It's 18 years ago. It's before Leo passed away, and before any of my darling grandchildren are born. That year we gathered at my home in Totowa, NJ. This Thanksgiving Day we will gather at Kristin & Randy's lovely home in Manasquan. Some of the faces around the table will be different than they were back in 1997, but the family warmth, the giggles, the stories, the over-full tummies and the abundance of God's blessings to us remain very much the same. We are a blessed family, indeed! Thank You, Jesus!

Happy Thanksgiving Day to all...

Photo Credit:


Leo and I hosted Thanksgiving this year at our home in Totowa
in our compact dining room, which we made smaller
through poor planning of our home renovations
(We recently bought a smaller dining room table
and smaller, armless chairs to provide a bit more room
to maneuver, which is a huge help!)

Actually, this turned out to be one of our smoothest running feasts
attributable in part, no doubt, to years of experience
but even more attributable to good cooperation by all
I took a vacation day the day before
and got an early start house cleaning, then began
simmering cranberries and marinating mushrooms
Beth came in the evening. She peeled potatoes, stuffed dates
and worked on a new recipe, onions braised in honey and wine
Kristin arrived early Thanksgiving Day
and created a superb antipasto masterpiece

The night before my sister and Carrie spent making desserts
They baked pumpkin, apple and chocolate cream pies
and made a pumpkin bread, besides
I think they told the truth when they said
Uncle Ricky baked the chocolate pecan pie himself, but
I wouldn’t bet money on it. It was awesome! Awesome!
Carol said she stayed up until 2 a.m. keeping watch
over the hot pies cooling on their back deck
to make sure raccoons didn’t dive into our holiday goodies!

The escarole soup, the turkey and all the veggies were
(wonder of wonders!) ready on schedule
Rick, carved the bird and opened the wine
(once we found a corkscrew)
Leo led the blessing and we each
mentioned something we were specifically thankful for
then all partook (of more than we should have!) of course

Leo stationed himself at the sink (What a guy!)
and in between courses, Evert suggested
playing board games in the living room
There was Trivial Pursuit and Scrabble
I had to break a deadlock between my daughters
over whether hyphenated words are allowed
which we determined are not
since there are no Scrabble hyphen tiles. Sorry, Kristin!

Richie and Carrie are old enough now to fully take part
so there was much giggling, chatter and good natured teasing
Everyone took turns clearing away plates
The girls helped put up the leftovers
(and made packages to take home)
Carol carved the rest of the meat off the turkey...bless her heart!

Later, I brought out the old family photo albums
and we squeezed around the dining room table
trying to figure out who was who, especially
in the black and white photos from the 20’s and 30’s!

Aunt Carol Harris called from Florida to say she loved everyone
Frank called twice (We missed our brother.
He was with Ana’s family, at an even bigger feast for thirty!)
We sent and received e-mails from Leo’s daughters in North Carolina
and warm thoughts sailed across the miles and sea
to his sons in Florida and Germany
We also thought about Kevin in Amsterdam
who celebrated his Thanksgiving alone at a Burger King
and Michael in California and Donna and her family
(who we hoped would join us, at least for dessert)
She was spending the holiday with family in Pennsylvania

We wished everyone could have been with us
crowded into our cozy house around our dining and kitchen tables
but those were impossible wishes...                                                   
nevertheless, we were wonderfully full and very happy
and supremely thankful for all our blessings—

Maude Carolan


Sunday, November 15, 2015

Remembering Richard Wurmbrand

Rev. Richard Wurmbrand

Written after hearing Richard Wurmbrand speak at Beth Israel Messianic Center, then in Garfield, NJ, in the spring of `93.  Born Jewish, he was born again as a young man and became a Lutheran minister.  He was persecuted in Communist prisons for 14 years for underground Christian activities in Rumania. Pastor Wurmbrand was the author of "Tortured For Christ" and founder of "Voice of the Martyrs." He died February 17, 2001.

The prisoners rejoiced,
singing, jangling,
wrists bound in iron chains,
hungry, shivering
in one dismal cellblock
somewhere in Rumania
between 1948 and `62.
Bound in shackles
but spirits free
and hearts jubilant,
like thorn birds
their voices
pierced the wretchedness
with a laser of unearthly joy.

“Praise God for providing
musical instruments,”
cling-clang, cling-clang!
“Praise Him for this crust,
a blanket, a bucket,”
cling-clang, cling-clang!
“Praise for our dear families
unseen for years,”
“Praise for fellowship
in midst of persecution,”
cling-clang, cling-clang!

There were days
without bread
when they partook
the Lord’s Supper
without elements,
but most solemn reverence.

Many years later,
after release,
the echo of chains
may have been
the loveliest music
their hearts ever heard.
In reverie,
the Body and Blood
without bread and wine
may have been
the sweetest Communion
of their lives.

Maude Carolan

Would you like to learn more about Rev. Richard Wurmbrand? Click on the following link:

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Dancing with the Bridegroom

Photo Credit:

Holy Unto The Lord

      dance    dance   
           Dance          dance 

Joanne's snowy garlanded hair
and white gown
with music
movement and grace

Her gestures      Holy
the Spirit

Arms raised high in praise
her tambourine
its streaming
silvery ribbon strands
          in the Sanctuary

She leaps     she bows
visage, enraptured

her eyes seem to see
what her heart
sees            Wondrous

her Bridegroom

Once I danced
for The Lord, she says
I could no longer dance
in a secular manner

so we watch, prayerful

She whirls
     she worships
        in the     Dance Sacred

the dance         dance

Maude Carolan

Joanne Connelly is the gifted leader of the "Kodesh L' Adonai" worship dance ministry at Beth Israel Worship Center, Wayne, New Jersey.

SAVE THE DATE: I have been invited to return to perform another Holiday Poetry Reading at the Ant Bookstore & Cafe, 345 Clifton Avenue, Clifton, NJ. Saturday, December 19, at 7 p.m. There will also be special music and Christmas cookies. Come, enjoy & say "hello".