Over in That Corner, the Puppets

For many, “’tis the season to be jolly.” And for some that is not an easy thing to be.

I have failed over and over again–especially in my own home, a place where my anger and disappointment should be kept where it touches no one I proclaim to love. Oh I can try to justify it and even ask others to understand. But that fails to eradicate its effect.

Be jolly? No, I don’t think I can pull that off. But I do feel that I can and should “Be of good cheer.

To “be of good cheer” is a decision. It doesn’t require a “season,” something that puts the responsibility outside my responsibility. But “Be of good cheer,” that’s a sweet and gentle command.

I’m going to take it on, no matter how I really feel, I’m going to “be of good cheer.” And it’s not hypocritical to the way I really feel, because the way I really feel isn’t what’s important. What’s important is the feeling I create for others to be with. I want them to be with someone who can, no matter what, “Be of good cheer.”

A repeat poem for today–

Over in That Corner, the Puppets

Even when the weather changes,
remember to pet the dog, make
the cat purr, watch whatever

comes to the window. If you
stand there long enough,
someone will come by,

a stranger perhaps, one who
could be more, but needs
to keep walking. “Hello”

is likely what you can say.

–for Naomi Shihab Nye

–Jack Ridl

First published in Peninsula Poets.

Subsequently published in Saint Peter and the Goldfinch (Wayne State University Press)

Once again Gayle Boss’s marvelous and original All Creation Waits: The Advent Mystery of New Beginnings, is here for the Season. The moving woodcuts are by David G. Klein, whose work has appeared in the New York Times, Random House, DC Comics, and Marvel. Published by Paraclete Press, it is available where fine books are sold and online. “A lovely invitation into the quiet mysteries of darkness.”–Christine Valters Paintner, author of Illuminating the Way: Embracing the Wisdom of Monks and Mystics.

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Visit Reader’s World or Hope-Geneva Bookstore in Holland, The Bookman in Grand Haven, the Michigan News Agency in Kalamazoo, and The Book Nook & Java Shop in Montague to find Jack’s books in West Michigan.

Jack’s page on Amazon.

Click here to subscribe to receive Jack’s poems and news in your inbox.

Click here for Jack’s entire collection, In Time — poems for the current administration.

Click here to watch Jack’s TedX talk.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Kindness.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Everyday Forgiveness.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Empathy.

Jack Ridl at Fetzer Institute on Suffering and Love.

Beyond Meaning with Jack Ridl, C3: West Michigan’s Spiritual Connection

14 thoughts on “Over in That Corner, the Puppets

  1. I love your honesty Jack. I love Naomi too! Merry Christmas in all real sorts of ways: with anxiety, with anger, with peace, with generosity, with patience, with love, and with pure chaos! Cheers, good friend.

    • Maggie,
      The lyrical authenticity of your voice here is so moving. I
      appreciate it very very much. Cheers to dear good you!!!!

  2. I try to chose to “be of good cheer.” I do not chose it as often as I ought and do not always accomplish it well but I will keep trying. I have felt weighted since the election, and more so since the impeachment investigation began and the knowledge that a good portion of our representatives have no interest in honoring their oath. The more I hear ignorance and ugliness paraded about like it’s somehow righteousness the heaver the weight feels. I take comfort in knowing we still have a chance, we still have hope, we still have those standing next to us. Thank you for being one who stands.

    • Meg, I sure agree–it ain’t easy. And I can’t stomach how horrid it is
      and what it’s doing to the general mental well-being of those who care.
      It’s frightening to realize how they can truly affect our very minds.
      May you continue to stand strong.

  3. Yes, I do I do so wish to say

    From: “comment-reply@wordpress.com”
    Reply-To: “RIDL.COM”
    Date: Thursday, December 5, 2019 at 6:43 AM
    To: Rosemerry Trommer
    Subject: [New post] Over in That Corner, the Puppets

    Jack posted: “For many, “’tis the season to be jolly.” And for some that is not an easy thing to be. I have failed over and over again–especially in my own home, a place where my anger and disappointment should be kept where it touches no one I proclaim to love. Oh I”

  4. I needed to read this today before I head into work. Don’t know if I’ve ever been jolly, but I can strive to be of good cheer in an environment (a movie theater) where people expect that, but I don’t always feel it. Thank you, Jack for your wise words and wonderful poem.

    • Oh, dear Betsy, I’m so so grateful that we connected on this, and that
      the post was helpful. How in this time can we be jolly, but we can
      be steady in giving good cheer.

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