Memory Connections: A Magical, Delicate Balance

The Memory Connections writers at Hope Lutheran Church contemplated big themes in their work together: the immensity of time and space, the beauty of the wilderness, and the magic of music and art. And yet we kept coming back to those small details that make stories—and life—both challenging and endlessly fascinating. We examined the tiny petals that make up wildflowers, and the small ornaments you’d find in a curio cabinet. We looked at photographs to pull visual details into our stories, and we listened to the subtle blend of instruments in works by Mozart and Rossini. As creatures walking the planet, we may be small in comparison to the vastness of the universe, but there is beauty in being small. There is wonder and humor in vulnerability. And there is magic in seeing both the smallest flower and the farthest star. The Memory Connections writers at Hope Lutheran reminded me of this delicate balance, and how it makes for powerful storytelling.
Claire Campbell 
Badgerdog Teaching Artist



Red roses for my
My wife loves
The yellow roses.
Our daughter loves the white roses.
When I look back,
There are many other flowers.


Study of a Bloom 


A gorgeous shade of purple with a background of green and clustered leaves: the beauty of which is transformed by the freshness of springtime, before the heat of August overwhelms the countryside. Each petal is a delicate array of colors.

Flowers like these capture the essence of life and remind us of the fragility of the busy outside world, often overwhelmed by the changing breezes or transformed by new rainfall. Water can surge unexpectedly in the shadows of rocks that shelter this bloom.

The wild flowers cultivated along the roadways in springtime first appear with the showers of April and May: I hope her sisters and brothers are nearby and can shelter their beauty.


Childhood Morning 


I peek one eye open and can see it is early morning in my home. I smile, hug my covers, and look for my house shoes. Then I look out the window again and feel the slow rising of the sun, and the stars quietly disappear in the sky.

“This is just the beginning!” I say to myself. “What wonders are ahead of us!” I get myself dressed quickly in a clean shirt and my new blue jeans.

Tip-toeing ever-so-quietly past my sleeping parents, I head for the back door.

Suddenly: ”K-i-g-i-g-i-g!” The door slams and shakes the house, and everyone, including my parents, are in the hall wondering what in the world is happening!

I look up, shivering but smiling. “Oops! I didn’t mean to wake anyone…” Mother frowns and Dad points to my bed with a strict expression on his face. I don’t think I will ever try this again!


My Perfect Morning


There will be birds chirping outside my windows, which look out on a yard full of flowers and fresh green trees. The smell of the flowers floats up to my table by the window. It is springtime.

I’ve got a fresh coffee cake on the table with plenty of raisins and nuts on top of it. The pot of dark roast coffee is there, as well as fruit salad with apples chopped up, oranges, and strawberries.

I hear music—Mozart is calling to me, telling me to get with the program. All is as it should be.

Pat Keen

An Ordinary Object 


The tiny Santa Clause with the cute black reading glasses reminds us that Christmas is on the way, even though it isn’t May as yet.

His outstretched arms are ready to hold all the small boys and gals who sit on his lap. Santa’s red lips are ready to break into a wide smile as he begins his ho, ho, ho!

Santa is tiny, but he has the presence of a big-bellied generous man with a big hearty laugh. He wants to be more than a big yard balloon. He wants big-boy pants made for a small frame!




My object is used as an ornament, a decoration.
It can be hung on a Christmas tree.
It could be used in decoupage—I can see it there with pictures of flowers and other plants.
If it was hung on a Christmas tree, I could see my old cat batting at it.
It looks like it was made from parts of toothpicks.
Please tell me they were new ones, okay?
The red accent makes an intricate design.




I see only two small blooms—two flowers, two tiny blooms, really—from a common shrub. I am surprised and saddened to behold so little of what is ordinarily a large shrub. Usually, there is more to see in a yard.

Looking more closely, I notice a line of small, unopened—I don’t know the word for then—buds or clusters: just enough here to identify and make me recall this common, blooming shrub.

I see for the first time the structure, the life, of the shrub familiar to those of us who live in this area—this verdant, temperate Austin.


Paying Attention to a Flower


This is my flower. It has come into my life, and I am focusing on it. It is a small flower, not large, like an iris or a lily. It sits demurely in water in a paper cup, waiting for me to observe it. It is purple and has many little blossoms that grow out of a stalk. I counted forty-five blossoms—a lot of blooms for such a small flower.

What do I notice about my flower? I notice its long green stem. I notice it is soft and feminine. Paying attention to a flower is not something I do every day. Usually, I walk right past them and don’t notice them. But this one has my attention. What is so special about this flower that I should notice it? It was given to me by a teacher. She probably cut it, got a paper cup, and put water in it to nourish the flower. And she gave it to me to write about. Now it is a part of my day!


We Are

–A collective poem by the Memory Connections writers at Hope Lutheran


We are millipedes
We are insignificant creatures
We are old [now wait a minute!]
We laugh at our own mental ability
Our fragility
We are elderly, free as kids playing in the sand
We are led, enriched, educated
We can lie on our backs at night and ponder the immensity of the universe
We want more time, and to see where we can go
As free-flowing spirits.

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