Monday, October 29, 2012

The shedding

I've noticed
on the weekends
that you shed
because I keep finding
pieces of you
around our little house

because some days
I spend a lot of my time
attempting to wipe away
all the things that are shed
around here

It is constantly settling

The remains of the day
work their way
into fabric
and tile
and faces
and respectable folk
such things

after a week
of attempting to order chaos
it is nice
to rest

Plus the way that you shed
is different

Yours is more a
The week has grown uncomfortably tight
and you 

So you flit around the house
absorbing yourself
in the daily
which looks so different
on you
than on me

And as you cook
or iron 
or fold 
or polish
there is an exchange

As you pull me close
and smear me
with kisses
or encircle my frame
with the whole of you
there is an exchange

One skin

And by eventide
you are born
once again

I will wake in the morning
to find you
hair in the sink
soup drips on the stove
grass clippings on the porch

But I'll try not to be so quick to
wipe it all away
Because this shedding of yours
it whispers to me 
that life is always 

 On In Around button

Friday, October 26, 2012


Easing my way back into a writing routine after a very stressful week that stole these moments from me...


Unscripted.  Unedited.  Real.
Writing for five minutes.
A sort of writing flash mob.

Five Minute Friday

Today's Prompt:

You have been here, all this time. 
You were borne into me in the rushing of waters and the swirling of dust. 
Small and frail, perhaps, but you entered the world on holy orders.
You were called into being by the Voice that spoke life into all of creation and, as a result, you have meaning.

You have been known to hide. 
For years, even. 
Taking refuge in the shadows created by other voices, you believed you weren't as important.
Or as eloquent.
Or as relevant.

But there came a day when your timid little soul could hold back the damn no longer and the words came rushing, tumbling and rattling themselves across time and space.

And, standing there, bare and naked, washed clean by the holy waters, you remained.

And though some days you are an Aspen leaf, shaking wildly in the wind, you are golden.

Go, then.
Fling yourself upon the expanse of creation and sing...echoing, all the while, the Voice that breathed you into being. 

Friday, October 19, 2012


Unscripted.  Unedited.  Real.
Writing for five minutes.
A sort of writing flash mob.

Five Minute Friday

You say it so many times a day anymore that I have begun to ignore its imperative.  I brush your entreaties off so easily, like the swishing away of a fly or an errant hair across my cheek. I don't think I even hear the half of them.


It's that simple. 
Stop. Turn. Look.

I used to do that naturally. You were smaller then. So was my world. And the days, the hours, the minutes were filled with that delicate dance of looking and showing and telling. We were all so new back then and so I was sure to miss something if I didn't keep looking.

I'm not sure why I think anything has changed. 

Years pass, you grow, we all look different. But there is still so much to show and tell.

And that looking? That urgent desire to have our eyes meet? If I were doing more of it, there would be a lot less asking for it and instead of dancing around each other's gazes we might already be in each other's arms. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wide open

O World, I cannot hold thee close enough!
     Thy winds, thy wide great skies!
     Thy mists that roll and rise!
Thy woods, this autumn day, that ache and sag
And all but cry with color! That gaunt crag
To crush! To lift the lean of that black bluff!
World, World, I cannot get thee close enough!  

Long have I known a glory in it all,
     But never knew I this:
     Here such a passion is
As stretcheth me apart. Lord, I do fear
Thou'st made the world too beautiful this year.
My soul is all but out of me, --let fall
No burning leaf; prithee, let no bird call.

-Edna St. Vincent Millay

I have felt this, keenly. 

I just spoke of it here and it seems to be fringing the edges of my heart these days...this swelling and bursting. Longing and aching.

And, yes, it begins with the splitting wide of my heart to make room for all of the glory ringed round. It stops me short when I chase the boys under the canopy of heaven and the sun leaks through the limbs and showers yellow all about us. The boys, they flit and fly. They try to catch even a single leaf to put in their pocket where it will burn amber. And I watch and I know. Later this week, we will find their ashes when we go to wash and crumbled gold dust will sift to the floor. The grit beneath my feet will chafe and I will look up and know. We tried to hold it close enough. 

Yes, I know this feeling. This burning. This desire. This looking all around and seeing beauty, heavy and dripping.

But soon, these trees will stop clapping and only their bony limbs will remain. Stripped of their raiment, they will stand naked and cold against the leaden skies. And what then? Will I be like a stilted lover whose heart has cooled with the dawn, chasing the shadows of night so as not to be discovered cleaving to a naked frame?

Oh, how fickle my heart is. 

Passion is not just throbbing emotion. It is a spreading out. An undergoing. An allowing of things to pass. A suffering, even.

It is me, hands outstretched, receiving. Always.

Yes, I want all of this beauty, all of this joy, all of this goodness. I want to press it to my lips. I want to  tattoo memories in the hidden places, so I will always remember.

But I need to pray to be pulled apart so that my soul is all but out of me. And, in the opening that is created, I need God to fall in.

Because, Lord, I have to hold thee close enough.

There is a winter coming.

Linking with Emily and Duane

Monday, October 15, 2012

Gathering beauty

That boy I love? He and I have been talking about space these last few days.

In a twinkling, we've seen how the leaves on the maples have begun to glow like embers and we want to take it all in before they fall away. And to do that, to gather up all the beauty of that dripping gold and scarlet, to really take it all in..all the while, knowing, they won't stay that way...that is hard.

We realize that, so many days, our lives are just like that.  Full of moments that slip away, sand through a glass. And we shudder at only catching the beauty from a slant. We want to see these moments, in all of their fleeting glory, squarely, with eyes wide open. We want to have known and lived these moments despite their promised departure. We don't want our memories to be only the backsides of joy. We want to have walked those moments to the gate.

So we've started examining our steps and the myriad ways that we walk confusing circles around our days. We've discovered how easy it has become to stumble blindly and to walk heavy. And we're learning that to turn a ship around takes great discernment and patience and love.

My first step towards intention came with doing the dishes. I remembered reading Tonia and the idea of doing small things with great care and so I quietly filled my sink with prism-edged bubbles and lit a candle and I washed our Sunday lunch dishes the old fashioned way. How often have I tried to fast forward this chore, letting the tap run continuously? More than just water is wasted in that rushed action. I let myself rest in the comfort of warm water and I whispered thanks for just this moment.

And it wasn't just me, over-spiritualizing a dreaded task in order to elevate it to some higher something or other.

No, it was me, recognizing what my hands were doing, for once.

And that, my friends, was a miracle.

And, it seems to me, to us, that once you decide to tilt your head towards all of the glory, the moments tumble in upon themselves.

There we are, sitting around our table, eating dinner. And it is not lost on me that every night that we do this, this gathering around bread, we are choosing to turn towards one another. The edges of the table, in all their worn roundness, center our hearts and eyes and stomachs and we can't help but see each other.

There we are, gathered on the couch and the big blue chair that stinks like dog and we are all listening. Hearing the part of the story where Frodo has been rescued by the Elves and Gandalf and all is right in the world, for the moment, and we feel the joy and the relief and the thanksgiving.

There we are, stretched out on the bed, listening to our seven year old talk about how fast childhood passes by and how soon he will be a teenager and we are frightened by how right he is. Me and that boy I love, together we gaze at this one who still seems so fresh from God and we marvel at his old soul.  We soak up his aspect and burnish his shiny cheeks with our love for him and know that this moment, like the dripping leaves, will soon fall away.

There we are, lips sweet and supple, ripe with goodness and grace, fumbling in the dark. The closeness presses so deep that my eyes spill joy on the pillow and I am falling, over and over, more in love with you. And I know that these moments are like holy paste, fastening my heart to yours, so that together we can continue to see in the same direction.

So, we intentionally decide to make more space. We pray to cushion our moments with margin and to allow Spirit winds to blow around the edges. And maybe, this season, we can catch the glory just long enough before it slips between our fingers and floats gracefully to the earth.

 On In Around button

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

the edge of the globe

we sit outside because it is just too beautiful to stay inside and the sun burns bright and gilds the leaves and the wind keeps blowing hair into my mouth. we've run around like whirling dervishes and now we collapse into the dappled shadows of the afternoon and we read.

we read about a man long touted as a hero who discovered a new land and claimed it for a country on the other side of the ocean and I can't help but wonder what the natives thought as they watched this spectacle unfold on the sand. how strange it must have been to have not existed before one man lay his eyes upon your frame and declared you his.

and then I think about those that scribe the journey so well and how they, too, have landed on this very same island five hundred years later not to lay claim but rather to relinquish their power and the irony is not lost on me.

they have gone to see for the rest of us. 

and so what are we to make of this? the boys and I study history with the hope and the prayer that we will not repeat its mistakes but we have friends who, right this moment, are in this very same place of which we read and much of what they see is the product of one long string of mistakes and it appears that we are no more the wiser.

for centuries we've mined the gold in them hills and made the beautiful "heathens" commodities. and at times it seems the earth itself wants to plumb the depths of this paradise. and so it cracks and bulges and splits apart and threatens to eat the people whole and it's tempting to think that this place has always been doomed. 

and then I think about that man from Italy who thought he was sailing to China but found banana trees instead and wasn't he really doomed from the beginning too?

aren't we all?

we're supposed to know better because the world has been discovered ten times over and we've put our fingerprints all over creation but yet we still sail so indiscriminately that I'm certain we're about to fall off the edge of the globe any day now. what are we supposed to make of these lands that we once claimed for glory but from which we now turn our heads? how are we any different from that man who sailed west to go east, who landed in paradise only he didn't know it?

aren't we all just restless souls awaiting resurrection?

so we read and we ponder and my youngest boy asks the hard question of why would someone be so arrogant and entitled and I shiver in my bones because I know that he has just described my own heart. I recognize the ambition that lies deep within, the desire to do great things mixed with the expectation that with such will come great reward and I know it. I know that a heart that beats for its own gain will only end up in chains.

so I pray. I pray that the history that is carried on my back will lose its stench and will be redeemed.  that the plague on my household will be broken and that I might recognize that the stranger is not them but me. and all of these broken pieces?...the land...the heart...that they would be places where the light might enter in. 

today's post is dedicated to the Help One Now team of bloggers who are currently in Haiti, chronicling their experiences and challenging us all

Monday, October 8, 2012

Making magic

How can my heart not swell to its seams when I watch him these days? This boy, for whom so much of life can be a struggle, he has discovered a space where he soars.

There he stands, cards fanned out in his hand like a peacock's tail, eyes shining, with a smile daring to escape his lips. He is a new creation.

You see, most days, he does not stand this straight. Most days, he would rather gaze at words on a page or at the clouds oozing across the sky than at someone's face. Connection is something he holds close and private. Only the special few are let into his world and, some days, even I am not special enough.

So, when I see him look at people the way he looks at them when he has transmogrified into this new character, well, I can't help but embrace the contradiction:

a world of illusion can be a safe and nurturing place. 

I suppose that's why they call it magic.

This sleight of hand that he has developed has given him power--power over circumstances, over assumptions, over expectations. For a boy who wilts when faced with the reality of any one of those things, this new ability of his is a game changer. In the moments when he has drawn in his audience, you can see this metamorphosis in progress. Yes, it is just a card trick but this mama heart knows that this, all of this? It is the breaking open of a chrysalis.

And I know that he feels it, too. He knows what life as a caterpillar is like.

I remember when we fostered monarchs, all those years ago. We studied their every move. Their ravenous appetites. Their efficiency in translating food to growth. Then their masterful weaving skills that shrouded them in mystery. The days when they were cloaked in shadow stretched out endlessly and we began to doubt their existence inside. I remember that even in those long days of waiting, my eye kept finding that gilded thread that sealed them in. Like beads of gold wound round the top, they were sealed in by something not of this world.

And then came the transformation. When all that was hidden began to be seen. The shadow that had kept them obscured began to lighten. Suddenly, it was as if they were behind glass and what we began to see was not what had entered into that hallowed space. Things had most definitely changed.

So, I watch him, now. This boy-caterpillar-turned-beautiful. And I am reminded that all is not as it seems. That even a boy who usually chooses the cocoon can be transformed. That grace is gilding his seams and he can become

the boy who lived.

Friday, October 5, 2012


Unscripted.  Unedited.  Real.
Writing for five minutes.
A sort of writing flash mob.

Five Minute Friday


I believe that I will start looking at that word as a contraction.

Maybe that way, I can begin to understand all the facets of its cut.

For I want my heart to breathe with hospitality, acceptance, appreciation, delight.

I want my moments to be less about, "Here I am!" and, instead, sound more like, "There YOU are!"

I want a life that beats from the center of all that is good and noble and lovely.

Consider it another way of scripting the gifts into every moment, every opportunity, every time.

Perhaps then I can really receive all that comes my way.

Because all of it--all is gift.


Thursday, October 4, 2012

My kind of words

My kind of words? 

My words, at all?

These kinds of questions rattle round, loud and clanging, most days. I invest an inordinate amount of time pursuing the answers to them and I have only recently begun to embrace the truth that there even is a "my kind" of anything.

To be a writer is to be both crazed and mystical, inspired and ordinary, loved and hated--and the idea that I would willingly walk into that reality makes me plain out mad, as well.

So why do I do it? Why do I bleed out all over the white space, hanging my canvas out for all the good people to see? Why put out a shingle that claims scribbler as my trade?

Because it is truth.

And even if it is difficult for me to think that anything that I might pen could actually have impact, this much I do know:

If I am not genuine, it is all a worthless endeavor

It is in the becoming that we are known so I have to keep telling. 

I will tell you the story in my kind of words.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


I felt the constriction when dawn broke that day in the Springs. The tightening of forehead and eye bone that pulls one's vision inward and away from the light, it found me. And like a vise, it held me in its grip. For days.
It mattered not that the sun pulsed warm or that the rocks glowed red. It ignored the lilting timbre of boys and quiet rush of beast caught unawares.
It cared not that it was an uninvited guest or that it walked roughshod over my days.
Like a proverbial thorn in my side, it haunted my every waking hour.
The only escape seemed to be down the mountain.

But I was not going that way.

The irony was not lost on me: that in the ascending, I was suffering from a hypoxia, of sorts. I was closer to fine if I stopped moving. But you see, I had come to climb mountains and I didn't have time for these shenanigans.

It hurt the most that day when I wasn't listening. All of us wear layers of love and, sometimes, their very fabric chafes. I was wearing too many clothes that day, old ones that no longer fit, and they were piled beneath that sweater that I bought that made me think of you. I suppose I thought that all those layers would round out my rough edges but really, they only hid my bones. You longed to be close to my frame but I was too bundled to be found. One can suffocate from the weight of ill fitting garments.

The way out of the hurt was to walk in the thin air. To be alive in it, despite its desire to snuff out my flickering. Together, we peeled off the layers that were no longer my style and I breathed deep, in spite of myself. We looked up at those peaks, temporarily obscured by clouds of unknowing, and locked hands. Sometimes we need to be guided up mountains, to step in the footprints of those who know where they want to go. So were you to me.

And then, the miracle happened. Despite your leading, I still found my head spinning light and untethered, like a top flung to the edge of the table. But the light of the golden aspens fell across our path, exposing stones and limbs and other snares. And we just kept climbing. We were headed to that lake, nestled among the crags, named for maidens unseen, and it pulled at us. It was there, on the side of that pool, that the grip on my head and heart flew away.

It was water that would save me from the chains that had been clanking around my head. As we sat in silence around the lake, I watched the water ripple and calm, bubble and rest and I knew that this moment would be my undoing. The clouds, heavy and gray, let go of their essence and dripped life all over me. And, seated upon an ancient rock, placed their ages ago by water in a different form, I knew I had found my own Bethesda. And so I picked up my mat and walked.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Ten days later...what I've learned

I'm back from vacation and it's weird and wonderful all at the same time. I am both comforted and confused by the smell and feel of home after having been gone for days on end. There is even a little grief that comes upon the returning...the end of time set apart and away, contrasted with the realization that life continued on, even in your absence. The sun rose and set, rain fell, people went to work, time marched on...almost as if you being there mattered not. Humbling, it is.

And then there is the processing of it all. Perhaps I should just be like other people and let the last ten days be what they were: vacation. But I'm not other people and I write to figure out what I'm thinking and so I need to revisit it all. Again.

Ten days ago I was full to bursting with palpable excitement and energy. I had hopes and expectations of a trip that I portended as significant. Three generations were going to pack themselves up and journey together. This was going to be an adventure, dammit!

And, while there is most definitely a place for hope and anticipation, there is a more pressing need to simply be present and that, my friends was the first thing I learned while away.

Early on, I realized that if I didn't stop thinking about where we were headed and focus on where we actually were, I was going to miss the whole thing. 

And the whole thing was as big and wide as the Kansas sky. 

I found it in the early morning dark and the sharp smell of strong coffee 
in the small towns like Knob Noster and Emma 
in the bouncing of my dad's head to the driving rhythm of a Mumford & Sons song as the landscape blurred behind him
in the graceful majesty of miles upon miles of wind turbines, jutting upwards and spinning all pinwheel-like

And when the van decided to simply. stop. going
and we were, quite literally, in the middle of nowhere
when my usual response would most likely have been wailing and gnashing of teeth

my son, August, chose to respond with song. I turned from the symbol of ruin, the broken down van on the side of the road, and found my little boy and his ukelele and the dark ribbon of road, buoying me up with improvised melodies and suddenly we were gypsies and this was just the beginning of one grand adventure

And then someone told me to turn around and look and there was the sun, so heavy with orange and red that she couldn't hold her head up any longer and my cheeks glowed and we were all bathed in glory, swelling and sinking right there in the western sky.

That's how it all started, that very first day.
And it could have soured quickly and spoiled the whole brew but there were prayers being whispered and traveling mercies wrapped us right round and we had to smile at the angels disguised as tow truck drivers and state patrolmen.


I learned, on our second day, that even though I want to see and taste and feel the expanse of it all, my ability to truly capture every moment is determined by how I choose to frame them.  I take pictures because the lens closes in on those crazy rugged mountains with their spiky backbones and fuzzy pines and it disciplines me to do the same.  

I marveled at how thousands of pounds of rock could balance on its head with grace and gravitas and how maybe the impossible wasn't what I thought it was. That maybe, just maybe, I could dare to stand so boldly with dreams blazing and head tilted up and that what might appear as lunacy to some might be catalyst to another.

I stood small and, seemingly, insignificant before a cascade of rock and ripples and found myself with an incredible urge to scream my presence to all of creation.  As if, in failing to do so, I would be swallowed up by the hugeness and forgotten. But then I watched as the clouds played hide and seek with the sun and their shadows covered and uncovered the landscape beneath and I saw that there is a time for everything and everyone and all of it is unceasingly beautiful.


On the days that followed, we hiked among rock and ledge and we held our hands up to receive showers of gilded joy. The aspens shook with glory straight up and their quaking sang with a whispering beauty. As the skies turned to slate and dripped tears and the pines took on a darkness that hushed the hills, the aspens began to glow. The leaves were lit with a fire within and we drank up their light, eyes wide open and brimming. It's true...there's gold in them hills.

And we beheld the miracle that is a mountain pine. Roots held fast to rock, exposed to every extreme of weather, it takes the shape of its life experience. Unshielded, it becomes like clay in the hands of the potter wind and it twists and turns and wreathes upon itself. It would seem that such treatment would leave it maimed and disabled but it rallies, in spite of itself. The result is a gorgeous tableau of lines and curves that speak of both struggle and triumph and the beauty that comes from a life fully submitted and fully grounded.

I suppose the trip was truly epic--there were heroines and deeds of great strength and the muses spoke continually to my poet heart. But I think what I took most from this journey was the richness that comes from time well spent. Time with the people you love so much it aches. Time spent keeping your eyes wide open. Time allowed to unfold with wonder and curiosity. Time on top of time.