these are a shadow

…all that is worth remembering of life is the poetry of it

thaw

The sun lives again,
(sang slumped bones and grey minds today,
weary of winter’s endurance.)
It called me early from my bed
to where it pierced in most,
the window with the roses on the sill.

Wind swirled without the bite –
the golden beams kissing each bluster
with warmth enough for our lungs to expand
and breathe deeply without a shiver.
Snow mountains shrank into streams
and roof gutters did what they were made for
almost gladly, spraying droplets in
bursts of thrill for the thaw.

Hearts, too, have felt frozen,
though cooped indoors.
They’ve stirred against the dullness,
wanting to see glory in still (even [more]) snow blankets –
but so needing the sun and a grand melting away
for starting again.
Yours and mine leapt
for the hope of certain springtime
and believed in the promise again.

promise

Our mother was the barren, weeping, waiting one.
She quivered and laughed in her time
to believe that something could be made of
her emptiness.

It is taking so long. We must be forgotten.
Abraham’s strength must make our child another way,
in a more fertile womb -

And so came Ishmael of the slave, of the flesh
that sawed against the everlasting goodness of
God’s oath with Himself.

But Yahweh was tender and spun Isaac’s
human frame in the right place and time,
against the odds of
reproductive powers as good as dead,
silencing the rage and splintering brought by
doubt and human hands.

And we know Father Abraham as righteous
apart from things he’d done.

As Abraham’s,
we believe,
even when we can’t see the ram yet,
even when our very skin needs assurance,
(Again and again, Yahweh stoops.
Now, in bread and wine.)
even when we struggle
because we forget that we are not slaves,
but free, and righteous another way,
by believing God’s yes against the strain of our ways.

As Sarah’s,
we look to her city dancing above, Jerusalem the free -
while we finish here,
being born from nothing for that glory,
children of the promise.

of tea and open doors

We started sending invitations:
“Come and drink tea, come and sit, open doors for you this weekend!”

Soon, they became habit and needed, these small college gatherings, every one with their own story and mix of souls. We then welcomed friends of friends, and always (bravely) a particular boy or two we’d like to know better. Over time, the regulars grew to know they’d probably end up with a floor seat, or a center of the rug seat, or a closer-than-we’ve-ever-sat-together seat. But there were no cares, no weights of time (other than the leave-by-midnight rule for the gents), and no knowing who would knock. Those who never drank tea any other time would do it tonight. Those who had too much homework would at least peek in and meet the new faces. Those who were timid in normal circles felt safe in this one. There were always stories, laughter, and antics to take in. It could have been too much noise and chaos, but our mugs, slowly sipped, kept everyone anchored and together and quiet inside.

Other times, we’d theme the night. Those tended to be more sparsely attended; perhaps we were too eager and silly. But they held their own importance and helped us not take ourselves so seriously. 80s dance night was the least popular, but that didn’t keep us from living it up and running around campus to share the neon with those who had better, more responsible things to do. The redneck themed party was a bit more successful. One guy dressed up, although he did come wearing some overalls we had just seen in the women’s section of the Salvation Army earlier that day. Maybe clothing sections don’t matter to rednecks. I wouldn’t know.

College kept us busy, kept us studying. We needed these nights to lay aside the books and grades and enjoy simply being. Being here. Being family. Being welcomed in, as we were, no exclusions. We were occupied with becoming grown-up, and here is where could at once practice it, and still dance in the happiness of being young and not knowing what we were doing. I pray it was a gracious haven for any who ever came. It was for me.

Maybe these spots of fellowship even sparked something lifelong and good. One admired fellow began to come when we invited him, and soon one of us fell in love and is now sharing life and hospitality and tea with him every day. (Heidi and John, you are sorely missed.)

Don’t let it die, friends. It may look different than it did, because our lives ever shift. It may be harder, as I’m finding, to start over in a brand new place. But we need open doors for the opening of hearts.

changing and still

I’m sorry, my world is spinning again
And I need to hold on to you harder than I did yesterday.
You are standing so still and strong,
Your arms wrapped around my shakiest parts
Where I need to know most that I am safe.
I know you are weak, too,
Holding me because you need to right the wrong.
Yet, you are here with me, and
This tells me that you and I cannot be snatched, because
There are even stronger arms.

I am afraid of the rocking and churning of
Inconsistency and the sharp edges of
Our broken pieces and the tender, deep pain of
The spots we’ve been wounded.
We hurt, and we hurt each other more.
We get sick with the falling down and the lifting up,
Overandoverandoverandover,
Our sea legs wanting the firmness of the
Everlasting hills, but still wobbling with the
Chaos we’ve been taken from.

Learning:
We are being moved by wise hands that love us,
Not the unruly depths we nearly drowned in, remember that
Awful unrest? That will all be swallowed up in life, and
We’ll soon be fit to run, even to the highest mountain,
Where all is real and right.
There our changing will end, and be
Glory to the Eternally Same.


O Lord! My heart is sick,
Sick of this everlasting change;
And life runs tediously quick
Through its unresting race and varied range;
Change finds no likeness to itself in Thee,
And wakes no echo in Thy mute Eternity.
– F. Faber

this is new.

I feel more like a child than an adult, most days. All this feels new, all this takes more trying.  Feeling ignorant and a bit silly, I think I move in awkward, trembling fits and starts rather than smooth, bounding bravery. Then I hear someone say (probably you), that change is new, and new tries take failure most times, and that doesn’t change the beauty and goodness of it all, so breathe easy.

Sometimes I feel lost without a structure, without someone spelling things out. Now, there is so little of that, and I don’t know what to do with this extra movement. My living never was very rigid by its looks, but it seemed there was always some sort of grade or rubric at the end of it all to check-check-check and pass with flying colors. If not on paper, then in my head.

Now, do I still judge by inward obsessive tendencies (on their way out of me, but still there, fighting the light and the sturdy Door.) Or by trying to shape a confident-worker-woman look, so detailed that I start to believe it? Or by how many times my husband complimented me today, as compared with other days? Or by making it through a grocery shift without ruffling customers or letting bosses see me weak or faulty?

Or… need there be a judging at all? Do I need routine, or sameness, or comfortable, padded living, tiptoed through, so nothing can pierce me? So no change can knock me? So no self-construed red pen can mark against me? I need a different anchor, a different judge of me.

I think there’s slow peeling going on, a shedding to my raw parts, a salve of the Heavenly Father’s violent, tender grace touching me to the quick, as I unfurl colors you haven’t seen in me yet. (Some not worthy of the word “color,” but they hold their own hue just the same.) You are helping it, too, I imagine. Don’t stop the good exposure, even if I flinch. We’ll look again and smile in the future days, when minds and things aren’t so shadowy. Especially when that best harbor and shade make us finally glorious. When we’re finally you and me and home.

But I will need your hand, I will need your praying, because risk is a frightful word. Leaping and stretching and filling a space is daunting. Believing is hard. Tell me again, if I forget, that I can’t know or make the end, but it is okay to live partly seeing, partly knowing, yet brave to the uttermost, because grace is steady and enough.

32nd

At the front window,
I found purple puddles
in the lot.
They showed me a sky,
severally hued
and singing of the storm’s end
as it swayed into night.
I gasped in the screen’s bold allowance of
cool, better air for my small lungs,
and felt soothed of trouble.

(I couldn’t fix it all today,
and my creations, my tries,
fell limp and sorry with the spilled
Goldfish. Or so it felt.)

Mozart played next. With another shivering
sip of rain’s vanish, I stood and heard:
“Move and dance with the sky, darling.
Your shadows do not undo the light,
or shake your place there.”

Moving, belonging, relearning of
the rightness, being made –
the goodness, even now –
the freedom, really mine.

two making home.

This place, here,
It is becoming home.

We are taking root, for the time, in this corner of Locust Street. It feels sweeter with every day’s learning what our life is and can be. The familiarity of things is deepening, and we welcome it and rest better.

We are learning to love and live as one, he and I being two vastly different souls yet profoundly united and same. It is nearly like starting life from infancy. I make new steps, mostly wobbly, unsure, but the graceful, steadier ones are taking over. Only now, he is with me in the stepping, and my giving to him is one with my taking from him, somehow. Our hearts are in the open, together, and we realize the weight of words and looks and wounds and grace. They are intertwined, these hearts and the rest of us. There are two who must balance now, two who must face what is deeper-down when those stumbles peel more skin, and two to pick up the mess, soothe and heal.

So we are stepping into a liturgy, for the inward dancing in the outward goodness we have. We are forming frames and rituals. And they are not rigid, but freeing. They give fluidity to our dance as we slow down and perfect our steps, because these are the parts that time returns us to, the parts that are turning into normal (but yet are sacred beyond knowing.) These help us hold on to our promises, and even face the bigger things.

Not all of these parts have been chosen by us, but they are just right for fitting into life together. Parts like the late work nights, making our two-to-ten sleep schedule a new normal, and noontime still appropriate for breakfast-eating. Or the ten dollar load of laundry at the Depot every Wednesday, while we catch up on our internet interactions at the chained-up tables there, then debate folding styles for t-shirts and whether or not you even bother with folding underwear. Or the forever pile of dishes we wash, sometimes grumbling right after praising that we have eaten again, holding full plates and full stomachs. Or the late-night open-Bible readings and wonderings, the haven where we rest our confusion and hold on to certain things.

And it is because of these shifts nearer into oneness, nearer into love, that we embrace this touchable place where we live the everyday. Home is being made.

tuning

Here, tonight, we raised our Ebenezer.

This church, bearing shattered marriages, dying babies, sick babies, joint pain, soul pain, car accidents, false accusations, and the rest of humanity’s groanings for rightness and wholeness.

And for all we carry, we are holding each other upright, helping each other praise.

I came weary, too. Quietly tossing, anxious and afraid. Tired of forgetting that Jesus is Lord, and is enough for my heart, this marriage, our health, this bill, this resume, this home, this week, that friendship,
enough for it all.

But this giving of thanks, (while saying pain is not done, but yet we praise for His doing all things well)-tuned my discordant heart over mercies thankfully taken yet quickly forgotten, in which the Father reached deeply into need, speaking his promises to shaking faith, whether or not prayers had been answered or even prayed.

So, for resting tonight, and for the common rejoicing, a few of my heart’s loudest songs:

.My Redeemer lives.
.New Life church helps me see Jesus and breathe the air of grace.
.At just the right time, through a story better than my best dreams, I have been given Seth. And though he is not my fullness, life sure is better with him.
.Seth has insulin, and soon, insurance.
.We have good food, and a darling home.
.In the snow last year, Seth’s car took the force of the crash, and within hours he was joking again.
.Our jobs may be ordinary, but they are ours, and we have all that we need.
.Friends have loved me, and have given of themselves for me when least expected, least deserved, and most needed.
.Soon, I will be an auntie.
.I don’t have to prove my goodness, talent, or beauty to be loved. Jesus is all that for me, and I am learning to toss the bonds of perfectionism and believe freedom.

                               

              Streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise.

                                

24

I’m twenty-four years in to this life, as of March the first.
The day was gray-skied, but the sunshine of
Love slowed down and spent time that day,
and Seth took my hand as we wandered the town for good things.
Here, some glimpses:

A six-inch hair trim, and deep relaxing as the older ladies gaped that mine abounds and is actually brown.

The admired wedding band fit next to the sparkling one, and we said “yes” and took it with us, as he squeezed my hand in the mall and looked those silly boys in the eye as if to say “She’s mine, fellas.” He is tenderly, fiercely jealous for me. Gracious, I see Jesus.

Fresh coffee at the hip place, and so good, and so hearkening to my college aspirations of living the earthy barista life. I still itch to write for hours, though, in places like that. Nothing seems to phase the comers and goers who stop in for a slower, better sip of life in their cups and conversations. We laughed and savored, too.

The brewery hummed, and my earlobes were graced with new gems. Brew your beer with apples, folks. It tastes good.

Library rotundas are good things, especially when there is free bluegrass music. He held me and I swayed, and saw others basking too. The twangy men were not quite crude, but much what you’d expect of late-middle-aged pals with paunches. They did echo heaven, together with anything else excellent.

After, confessions and weeping out fears at an in-between place. Love soothed and assured me, once more.

(Since then, even more transparency, bravery, tenderness, and trust. We learn that things are never too bad for a fresh start, and hearts are never too hurt for Christ to mend. Grace is always enough, and it dances wilder in our hearts when we take a deep breath and step light-ward. Let’s make this lifelong, you and I. Yes, you.)

Then a disappointing movie, but I can’t yet decide if it’s worth hating. Because we really are messes, but for grace. Maybe that was the Silver Lining.

on light

It sounds delightful to be identified as a light-lover, a frolicker in all things beautiful and glowing. Sunshine and warm-lit rooms expand our souls. Something draws us to happily lit places, something safe that bids us come and welcome. Light can be the sweetest thing to perforate us, deep to our souls, to heal and to free. But it’s a shocking sort of glory.

Real light is seen in the Messiah, the world’s Light, and we fell stunned at his blistering goodness when he embodied it to us. No smothering or death could make him flicker, though. And still, he saves through drawing out of darkness into light. His marvelous light.

And helps us to love it. Because on our own, we do not.

We do not run to things that out-glory the moon and make the sun bow in shame.
We do not dance in the truth of our dust and brokenness and need.
And even when the the deepest deeps of our souls are laid bare,
we do not dare believe that he loves us. Yes, even then.

It is in His light that we see light, and ever find it lovely.

And while many things in these shadows remain to be seen and undone, darkness is dying with all else that could never stand in his way when he says:
“I AM he who makes all things new. I AM light, and you are mine.”

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