Saturday, December 31, 2016

He Born of Her          

 “No money to pay, no place to stay.”
She birthed with the breath of animals.
He gasped the dankness of fresh dung.
The gold of kings received with joy,
A few coins paid, his body was hung.

His baby lips sought her breasts,
Her lips brushed his soft cheeks.
From her he learned a mother’s kiss.
His lips greeted, loved, farewelled.
The kiss of betrayal he did not resist.

A thirst awakened on his tongue,
Her mother’s milk brought nurture.
She taught him the taste of fine wine.
From water he fermented vintage of joy,
A cup of sorrow in the garden he cried.

A newborn shivering in the cold,
Soft lamb wool swaddled him.
Her warmth the glow of very first love,
He loved the sheep every last one,
Became the sacrifical lamb from above.

Embryo ears heard hints of life outside.
Her voice told secrets of the world to come.
A childhood in Galilee with friends.
His voice healed the lame, the spirits fled.
But in the end voices condemned.

Eve’s flesh the dust of his humanity.
His human body hungered as a boy.
Her strong arms kneaded dough,
He told the lesson of leaven.
Broken bread of life we now behold.

woodblock by Eric Gill 1929  British

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

She He Never Blamed

Poem: Mary Stromer Hanson
"She He Never Blamed"
December 2016

Artist: Mina Anton
Cairo, Egypt  2013

"John 8 Woman Taken in Adultery"

She He Never Blamed                  Dec 2016
He laid no blame on her now.
Nor ever. Did he hear the taunts?
Absorb their darts of disdain?
Born of immorality they rant
In derision of his own Mother,
She could have been stoned,
If she were caught in The Act.
Jesus also bore her pain and
On such as her, he laid no blame.

His ancient mothers Rehab,
Bathsheba, Ruth, and Tamar.
Wombs used bravely despite
Deceit to further Jessie’s line.
How did they bear the shame?
Unborn waiting to be born.
His ancestry of uncertain fame,
Boldly proclaimed at his birth.
On mothers, he laid no blame.

The woman spilled blood
Unclean a disgrace shunned.
Jesus did not abhor the stain,
With no angry refrain, he healed.
A woman again unnamed,
Cried and kissed his feet.
How could a prophet not know?
That in this city she is profane.
“Go in peace I lay no blame.”

Stones raised against her,
He could see his mother.
Forced to drink the cup of dust
From the temple floor as the
Priests were quoted.
The adulteress condemned
Miscarries, barren, cursed.
Jesus bent to write in the dust.
Who of you have not sinned?

No one remains? A fetus saved?
On a woman he never laid blame.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Lesson Plans for Bold Girls


 Lesson Plan Ideas for Bold Girls Speak: Girls of the Bible Come Alive Today
by Mary Stromer Hanson

Below are several activities to preview the stories before they have been read or review the Bold
Girls after all have been read. These ideas will pull together the information learned and place
new knowledge into the larger context of the biblical world.

1) Map: On a large map of the Middle East, find the location of each of the Bold Girls. Use this
matching exercise to get started. Note that in some stories the girls moved from one country to
another. Can we visit these places today?

2) Timeline: Draw a time line either on a classroom whiteboard, bulletin board, or your own
paper. Graph paper is ideal. Starting with 1400 B.C., mark off 100 year increments until 100
A.D. Find the approximate years when the stories of the Bold Girls take place.

3) Books of the Bible: Make a list of all the books of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.
Find the book in the Bible where each of the Bold Girls are found. Who is the author of each of
these books?

4) World History: On your time line, note other events that took place in the world outside the
Bible during these years. Who were the important kings and which countries were strongest?

5) Costumes: What would the Bold Girls wear in each of these settings? How does that change,
depending on the country, climate, time of year, their activities, or their economic status?
Students in a class could dress as one of the Bold Girls and then have the class guess which
character they are. Boys could dress as any of the male characters.

6) Work and Recreation: The Bold Girls are involved in many different activities. What would
be your daily occupation as a Bold Girl in the various stories? Students can pantomime the
different activities for the rest of the class to guess from clues. How are these activities different
from those of girls in our time and place?

7) Foods: Find books about foods of the Holy Land or recipes from the Bible.
What foods would you eat as a Bold Girl? How is the food produced and prepared? Who would
do the various stages of preparation during the times of the Bold Girls?

8) Art: Draw pictures of the Bold Girls or make illustrations for the stories.

9) Cultural and Geographic: Find books about ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt, and Holy Lands.
Look for illustrations and information about daily life in those times and places.

10) Families: For each of the Bold Girls, determine the identity of other family members. Look
for hints in the original passage from the Bible. Remember that the Bold Girls stories are mostly
fictional, but built on information available from the Bible.

Matching Quiz

1. Jerusalem: The home of Mary Mark                         A. The Girl Whose Hand Jesus Held

2. Caesarea                                                                        B. The Servant Girls Who Questioned

3. Egypt                                                                             C. The Girl Who Found Her Voice

4. Jerusalem: Quarters of Zadok                                    D. The Daughters Who Prophesied

5. Damascus                                                                     E. Rhoda Who Persisted

6. Capernaum                                                                   F. The Daughters Who Built

7. Jerusalem: Palace of Caiaphas                                  G. Miriam Who Negotiated

8. Philippi (Greece)                                                          H. The Girl Who Spied

9. Sinai                                                                              I. The Daughters Who Inherited

10. Jerusalem: Walls                                                        J. The Servant Girl Who Witnessed

Answers 1. E 2. D 3. G 4. H 5. J 6. A 7. B 8. C 9. I 10. F

Quiz Your Knowledge of Bold Girls of the Bible

1) Does the Bible ever indicate that women inherited property?

2) Who bravely approached the daughter of a powerful monarch?

3) Name a woman in the Bible whom we meet both as a child and an adult?

4) Whose daughters in Jerusalem used non-traditional skills for girls?

5) Who was the Bold Girl who witnessed to an enemy soldier?

6) Who was entrusted with carrying an important message?

7) Which Bold Girl is possibly named after her place of origin?

8) Which Bold Girls are given spoken words which are recorded in the Bible?

9) Which Bold Girls are actually named in the Bible?

10) Which Bold Girls had contact with Peter?

1. Yes, the daughters of Zelophehad in Numbers 27:5 and the daughters of Job 42:15
2. Miriam, in Exodus 2:7
3. Miriam, assuming the sister in Exodus 2:4 is Miriam
4. The daughters of Shallum in Nehemiah 3:12 who repaired the walls of Jerusalem
5. An unnamed servant girl of Naaman in 2 Kings 5
6. An unnamed servant girl in 2 Samuel 17:17
7. Rhoda in Acts 12:5:7
8. Miriam, Ex 2:7; Servant of Naaman, 2 Kings 5:3; Servant girls in the house of Caiaphas Matthew 26:69-71; Rhoda in Acts 12:14; Unnamed servant girl in Philippi, Acts 16:17
9. A sister of the baby is introduced in Exodus 2:4 and is not named in the passage, but traditionally this sister has been connected with Miriam. The daughters of Zelophehad in Numbers 27:1; Rhoda in Acts 12:13
10. The servants of Caiaphas, Matthew 26:69; Rhoda Acts 12: 5-17

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Daughters of Zelophehad

Excerpt from Bold Girls Speak: Girls of the Bible Come Alive Today
 Author: Mary Hanson
Illustrator: Lisa Guinther

from chapter two: "Five Sisters Who Asked for their Inheritance"
“The priests are counting the entire population of Israelites for when they divide up the promised land between the tribes,” Milcah reported to us.
“Oh, they are taking a census all right, but only of the men. They are the only ones who will receive land,” Mahlah, our worldly oldest sister said.
“What do they mean we will draw lots for land which we will actually own?” Hoglah added, “I can’t imagine actually owning anything and living in a house.
“We are only girls, what will happen to us?” young Tirzah suddenly understood the bigger issue. “And we will no longer have manna to eat? How can this be a promised land?”
“We will grow our own food. We will stay in one place long enough to plant grains and then harvest them,” added in Noah. “The elders are already drawing maps with sticks in the dust. They write their names on stones and rearrange them endlessly like game pieces.”
“But our names are not on the stones. As women we won’t get land and our father is dead,” Hoglah predicted.
“Well, we will certainly marry, then husbands will take care of us,” our idealistic littlest sister piped in. She knows her stories about how our ancestor Jacob met Rebecca at the well, and how Moses also found his wife at a well.
“Hey, get realistic sister,” said Hoglah. “Look at us. We are sunburned. Our skin is like leather, sand-blasted from the wind. No eligible young men will ever give us a second look, even if we are struggling with heavy jars to pull water up from the wells. We have to get land in order to eat.”
“Our father never regretted that we were all born female, at least he never expressed it,” Noah sighed. “Yet he knew he would never live to see the Promised Land and receive his allotment of land. What would he want us to do?”
“It is a matter of justice,” Milcah hands planted on her hips. “Without a son, his family inheritance promised by Yahweh will disappear unless we advocate for ourselves.”
 “Father knew Moses and said he was a fair and good man. Maybe he would help us preserve our father’s memory,” Mahlah lightened up.
“Not to mention, provide us land to keep some sheep and grow crops for a living,” Noah added.
“Do you know anything about planting a field?” Hoglah asked.
“Well then, we have two problems, no land, and we don’t know wheat from a weed. All we have seen in this barren wilderness is manna and thorns that poke through our thin sandals,” Milcah added.
So which one of us is going to approach the great Moses and ask for an inheritance? I have heard that he actually talks to Yahweh, and once received the commandments from Yahweh on Mt. Sinai,” we fell silent at that thought.
“So, will Yahweh condemn us for daring to ask and will he remember our loss?” Hoglah asked the hard question. We all looked at each other. One of us will have to be very brave. Better yet, all of us together.
We hesitated at the gate of the tabernacle when the curtain was pulled aside for us to enter. Compared to the dullness of our dusty, everyday lives, we seemed to be looking into the splendor of heaven. The morning incense had already been burned, leaving behind a fragrance that assaulted our noses with a heady sweetness.
 “We are the daughters of Zelophehad,” Mahlah told the guard at the gate of the enclosure. “May we approach Moses with a special request concerning our father’s inheritance?”
“Come nearer, Daughters of Zelophehad,” we heard a voice from within call us. We hesitated to put one foot ahead of the other and progress into the enclosure. “I knew your father, I am sorry for your loss, is there anything I can do?”
This was the first time that we had seen Moses close up. He wore the years of desert life in his deeply creased face. He and several other priests formed a line of gold-trimmed, heavily embroidered robes. Eleazar, Aaron’s son as the high priest, was dressed in the ephod, or a sort of apron that was decorated with large gems of precious stones, each represented one of the twelve tribes. We had never seen ruby, topaz, and sapphire stones, which reflected the morning sun with dazzling light. The whole effect of the tabernacle made us quite dizzy with awesome majesty.
“Our father died in the desert and he was a good man. He did not participate in the rebellion of Korah but died of old age,” Mahlah dared break the silence.
“He taught us well to serve Yahweh with fear and reverence. He told us all the stories of the Exodus and forty days at Mt. Sinai when you, Moses, received the law from the hand of Yahweh,” added Noah.
“We are five sisters, without any brothers. Why should our father’s name disappear from his clan because he had no son?” Hoglah continued.
“The tribe of Manasseh should not lose this land. We wish to receive our father’s portion along with his male relatives in the Promised Land of Canaan,” Milcah finished the request.
“Well, it is rather irregular that women would receive an inheritance of land. I will have to ask Yahweh about this unusual request.” Moses thoughtfully replied.
“When do you next talk to Yahweh?” our littlest sister piped up. We had forgotten to tell her not to talk.
“Ahem,” Moses had a rather shocked look on his tired old face. We were horrified that our whole cause could be lost. After an impossibly long pause, Moses spoke up again, “I can’t really say, Yahweh speaks in Yahweh’s own time, but I should get in one more talk before I see him face to face.”
“What did he mean by that?” we gazed at each other. No one sees God face to face and lives to tell about it.
We retreated backwards a few steps before turning around somewhat dejected. “Well what kind of answer did we get? Moses did not refuse us. We have to wait on Yahweh,” Hoglah broke the silence on the way to our tent.
“Were we too bold to ask for this exception?” we questioned among ourselves.
“You know women don’t inherit land,” some men taunted us. “There will be more land for us if you don’t inherit. After all, do you know what to do with land?”
“Well none of us knows how to plant grains and vineyards. Our generation has never been settled in one place,” Milcah reminded them.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Spietis of the Devill

Spietis of the Devill                     Mary Stromer Hanson
                                                  October 30, 2016

Spietis of the devill, shrieked the High
Court of Justiciary. Women for pain.
No whiff of herb, sorcerie,  charms.
Sche deserves what Eve brought forthe.
Timber heaped high, stake driven deep.
Shee is reprehensible and heretical. 

From Pain of labour to Pain of flames,
Eufame MacLayne bare twins, her babes
torn from her full breasts aching on the
Castle Hill of Edinburgh. Genesis, Exodus . .
Do not contravene the Decrees of Providence.
Evil women. Gateway of the Devil. 

Sche gasped for a potion, the midwife
Agnes Sampson, seized her hidden stash.
Now damned for showing compassion
practicing her craft. Carnal, Heresy!
Woman, do not despise your curse.
Outcasts, Bitches, Hexen, Vixen, Scum.

Faire is foul, and foul is faire. She who is
the misbegotten sex, brings black plague.
"God almighty, when did I deny you?
You forsook me, you made my feminine form."
Fire licking at her soles, hair singed."
“Come my child, you are home in my breasts.”

Friday, July 8, 2016

Wedding Poem after Song of Solomon

Cecil Buller Embrace, from Song of Solomon, 1929

 Wood engraving 1929  Art Institute Chicago

Wedding Song after Solomon
by Mary Stromer Hanson
Flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone, 
Take my hand on this path unknown. 
Cleaving forever to you alone, 
And leave my mother and father’s home. 
Blessed with sweet wine and the honeycomb, 
Our bed is green as in Solomon’s poem. 
Together we go to a place of our own, 
And find there our own sweet shalom. 

 I give to you, you give to me, 
Such is God’s plan since Adam and Eve. 
Man and Woman, together they lead, 
Ruling the earth by God’s decree, 
Mirrored in God’s image equally. 
When the time comes that we disagree, 
Patience and prayer, that is the key. 
May Christ be the head of this family. 

Wind and rain, rock and flame, 
 Yes, we are different, but also the same. 
When you are strong, that is my gain, 
If I am weak, that is your pain. 
With God’s blessing, peace does reign, 
Sin and sorrow which Christ overcame. 
All that is old has passed away, 
Together our crown we do reclaim.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Mary Did As Mothers Do

Kaethe Kollwitz 1867-1945  a Prussian artist mostly influenced by the German Expressionist. She lost a son in WW1 and a grandson in WWII. She was most interested in drawing the suffering of the working class and greatly impacted by the wars.
"There has been enough of dying! Let not another man fall!"

Mary Stromer Hanson April 2016

 Mary Did As Mothers Do 

                                            Mary did as mothers do.                                              
She drew him under her scarf,
If sharp winds suddenly blew.
Or wrapped him in her skirt,
He noted the hen too lowered her wings,
Over her chicks frightened,
Of dangers, she taught him what she knew,
When overhead an eagle flew.
One day they drew lots for his coat.
Did she teach him how to die?

Mary did as mothers do,
And Joseph too, in the cool of the grove,
They taught him where the olives grew.
To seek solitude and sustenance,
In trees where he rested and prayed.
He selected wood with strength and straight
Grain to build tables and good things.
They taught him work that satisfied.
Then one day a tree was felled. 
Did they teach him how to die?

Mary did as mothers do.
She hastened not where the poor
Hoped for healing or sight renewed.
He saw those begging for crumbs or coins.
She taught him to care, 
And showed how blessings are shared.
One day he was anointed king,
His feet were washed by her who cried,
He received the oil over his head.
Did she teach him how to die?

Mary did as mothers do.
On that day the angel Gabriel came.
Obedience the only answer she knew.
“May it be unto me as you say.”
This son of the house of David born
By the power of the most high.
As she obeyed so did he,
The call of the Father not denied.
One day he faced Jerusalem.
Did she teach him how to die?

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

In Memory of Her

Mary Magdalen 1926 by Eric Gill 1882-1940
Tate Gallery London

Mark 14:9 And truly I say to you, wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world,
That also which this woman has done shall be spoken of in memory of her.

In Memory of Her

Mark 14:9 And truly I say to you, wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world,
That also which this woman has done shall be spoken of in memory of her.

She, who alone understood,
            What the others found too hard.
Her alabaster flask was filled,
            With a rare and costly nard.

She, who did the utmost,
            Her lot in life allowed.
The poor are with us always,
            Here sat Jesus before her now.

She, who anointed the head,
            Of David’s son, this was the mark,
Of the heavenly King, who
By thorny crown was scarred.

She, who felt the scorn,
            “She’ll be stopped,” they vowed.
“No, this is a great favor.
            The deed she did just now.”

She, who showed such love,
            With the little in her power.
By her His body was prepared,
            For the burial and sorrow.

She, who did not speak,
            Her actions spoke much louder.
Had the twelve only asked her,
            Her motive would not be doubted.

She, who was not asked.
            Her wisdom lost never learned!
Her thoughts were never sought,
            Her voice was never heard.

She, will be remembered,
            Far as the gospel reaches.
Whomever is empowered, and
            Forever her story teaches.

In Memory of her, in memory of her.
Truly I say to you, wherever the gospel’s told.
In the whole world. In the whole world.
What she has done, will be told.
In memory of her.