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Outside my study window, a shivering branch catches my attention: upon it has alighted a plump tree sparrow, its short beak foraging for insects. Upon its sandy-colored head and thin striped tail feathers, the morning sun plays like a child messing with finger-paints: shadows and light kiss. In no hurry, the sparrow’s foraging continues, as also its twittering enlivening my backyard: a microcosm for what occurs in many parts of the world.

But who has time to look? To enjoy, the myriad gifts freely offered in our daily bread? Certainly, matters of extreme urgency had filled much of my earlier life.

Only during Gloucester retreats did my inner chatter cease, and the seascape come alive with the message of Jesus: Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?

So the tree sparrow continues carrying the message of feeding. I have only to look out my study window to be filled—and the nourishment is always different.

                       In the shadow of your wings, I will sing your praises, O Lord. Psalm 63:7

 

She’s done it again.

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Meryl Streep has portrayed another one-of-kind woman, Florence Foster Jenkins (1868-1941), in a poignant film of the same title, released to theaters last month. No words can describe its impact. You have to see it to believe it.

A Manhattan heiress and socialite in the ‘twenties and ‘thirties, Mme. Jenkins, her name to her adoring public, doggedly pursued her ambition to become a diva and financed her voice lessons; arranges soirees, in full dress, in privates salons and other locales; performed in ornate self-designed costumes; and made phonograph records for her friends among the millionaires in her social circle. She even wrote her own reviews that were circulated in The Musical Courier and other specialty music publications.

Passion for making music buoyed her for decades. Mme. Jenkins’s infectious joy, wholehearted performances, and quirky mien attracted enthusiastic audiences; seated among them were opera stars Lily Pons and Enrico Caruso, Italian conductor Arturo Toscanini, songwriter Cole Porter, and many other celebrities.

The twist in all of this was that Mme. Jenkins had suffered hearing loss as a result of the medical care (mercury and arsenic) for syphilis that she contracted from her husband she later divorced. She could not sing, but she did, anyway. No matter that she could not sustain a note, that she was often flat.

Thanks to Meryl Streep’s artistry, we again experience this woman with a simple spirit, an engaging heart, a passion for music—albeit it, off key—who gave her all. Florence Foster Jenkins is a must see.

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Available on Amazon

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