Monday, December 31, 2012

My one word

One word.
Because that’s easy to remember all 365 days of the year.
Not as easy is the choice to live it out. To let it shape your year. To allow it to shape you. But if you’ll let it, your One Word will become the filter through which you see and live your life. It will steer your decisions and guide your steps



-in the company of
-next to, alongside
-in the charge or keeping of
-in support of
-in spite of
-in the same direction as
-so as to be touching or joined to

This year, I will set up camp in the company of three amazing boys. They will talk and I will listen and we will do life together in ways real and hard and beautiful.

This year, I will keep my eyes open and I will choose to come alongside others, to anchor with them, to stay nearby.

This year, I will stay true to that which has been put in my charge. I will be thoughtful in my commitments, faithful in my duties, true to my word.

This year, I will look for people and causes that need support and willfully act. If standing with someone means making a statement, so be it. Life is too short and people are too important to worry about what love looks like.

This year, I will no longer try to fade into the scenery. I will not turn my head when confronted with difficulty. Instead, this year, I want to be counted among the broken-hearted, the downcast, the ones that others dismiss. I will not try and pretend that I am not one of them.

This year, I will press on, in spite of my mistakes. I will not let my failings define or constrict me. I will not let them become excuses.

This year, I will, once again, join hands with my beloved and join his gaze. For what Antoine de Saint-Exupery said is true: " does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward in the same direction." I will choose to look forward with him, not around or behind or over.

This year, when given the opportunity, I will choose touch over tension, embracing rather than rejecting, joining in place of separation. I am not an emotional island, nor are the ones I love. I will choose to move towards them, even when it is hard.

I will choose to be with those that are in front of me.

Friday, December 28, 2012

How the light falls

The darkness and the light are wrapped together like twine
these midwinter days
The sun
it walks with a crook in its back
and it sheds its rays

I walk around the house
switching on lamps
I need the light to spill over
onto chairs and floorboards
I keep stumbling

It is cold now
most of the time
and I've been wearing
the same wool socks
for days on end
I know I should wash them
start fresh
but they

That is what it is like
these last days
of the year

Old dancing with new
reminiscing wrapped in foretelling

I think
that I will just
keep going around
switching on lamps

whatever I do
I can see
more clearly

Friday, December 21, 2012

Take Joy!

I will be taking a break from the blogosphere over the Holidays so you will probably not see me here until after Christmas. Until then, I leave you with one of my all time favorite passages. I shared it last year but I will share it again--for it is good and right and true.

Take Joy!

I salute you! 
There is nothing I can give you which you have not;
but there is much, 
that, while I cannot give, 
you can take.

No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today.
Take Heaven.

No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present instant.
Take Peace.

The gloom of the world is but a shadow; behind it, yet, within our reach,
is joy.
Take Joy.

And so, at this Christmas time, I greet you, with the prayer that for you,
now and forever,
the day breaks
the shadows flee away.

-Fra Gio

So as you gather with family and friends this holiday season, as you look into their faces and wrap your arms around them like you will never let them go, as you feel the ache of dear ones lost. in all of this, my prayer is that you will take joy.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

There are cracks

Outside the wind is howling . . . H O W L I N G . . . wrapping around corners and rattling old windows and I wake from the moans of this old house. I try to shut it out, that shriek of swirling air, but it pursues me and finds me hidden under covers and there is nowhere that I can escape its grip.

I get up and walk through the darkened house, lit softly by the glow of star shaped lights, to get to the front door. It's an ill- fitting door, old and wooden, and I can stick whole fingers in the gap at the bottom. The cold air is rushing in, streaming like a hemorrhaging vein that can't be stopped, and I feel like that little Dutch boy looking at that leaking dike. I look down at my hands and know that ten fingers mean nothing.

I find the yards of foam caulking in the closet and I rush to shove it into the one huge gap that circles round the entire perimeter of the door. It is a swaddling of sorts, with all of the tucking and patting and wrapping... yet ... still
my house whines.

I cannot keep the wicked wind of the northwest from sneaking inside.

And I think about all of the people who have lived in this house, all these last hundred and seventy years.
How, every winter, there has been the same battle against wind and weather.
How, every winter, there is moaning and howling.
And how, no matter the attempts by good, well meaning folks to keep the storms outside,

There are cracks, to be sure, and you can find them all over this house. And the wind, it roars straight to those thin places.

And as I stand in front of the old door I feel it.

I feel my cracks.

And when the wind blows, there is a rattling deep down that is hard to muffle.
When the gusts cut round my sharpest corners, sometimes, there is a howling.
And when those storms sit atop my house, holding me fast in their grip, there is a rending.

But The Song, it says that those cracks are also how the light gets in.

All these storms--they will never cease. These winds--they will continue to blow and shriek and howl. I can't stop them any more than I can stop the light from rushing in with them.

There is wind, yes. But there is also light.

And as another gale crashes into the walls outside, I hear it. The wind chimes.

They are ringing.

Photo credit: krystian_o on flickr

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Noel {A Haiku}

Inspired today by the thoughts of Seth Haines over at Tweetspeak Poetry. The structure of certain poetry  forms can provide just the right space in which to share raw and ragged emotion. Here, I fall into the haiku and I am grateful for its conciseness. It hems me in--in just the right places.


When there is silence
my ears are tilted upwards
catching the holy

Into my empty
there falls a swelling presence
that keeps me breathing

For these days are stretched
across my breaking heart space
and I need comfort

But haven't I always?
every Noel finds me poor
in mind and spirit

This one only rips
closer to the quick, the root
from which life is born

The idea of God
as a child burns deep and wide
it is at once, mad

And beautiful, because
it is the heart of the young
from which springs glory

And in the inky
black sky a crop of new stars
sing Hallelujah

O come, o come, now
usher in sweet songs of joy
be born in me again.

i'm a poetry chick

Saturday, December 15, 2012

On the darkest night

the darkest night
greedy arms

wider, thicker, stronger

there is yet 




Friday, December 14, 2012

{Adagio: A Poetry Project} Born in the Night

Today I give you a second offering of Adagio: A Poetry Project. Perhaps you saw the first poem? The one where Elizabeth Marshall and I each strung words on colored threads and then wove them together into one unified piece. That idea, of writing collaboratively, was what initially launched this project and it is the heart and soul of how we see this project growing.
But just as its name suggests, an Adagio is a dance between two partners. A dance in which there is a lifting, a balancing, a turning. So, today, we are dancing as individuals to the same music. There is a poem from me, here, and another poem from Elizabeth over at her place. Together and apart, we are writing from the same prompt, the hymn "Born in the Night, Mary's Child."


It is night when you come

We have not made it to a place that makes sense
a place proper 
a place right

But still 
you come

there is darkness

But then
you burst forth
pulling on skin and bone and sinew
and the light
from your face

who at once
knows nothing
are the one
that will tell us
God is good
even while
all around you
that early darkness

grips at your heels
a streamer
dancing and flapping
on the wind
and it
kingdom dust 
on the streets


Writing is, most often, a solo venture, a process worked deep inside the confines of one’s heart and soul. But when two pilgrim poets turn towards each other and embrace the tension that lies between, something new emerges.  A writing “pas de deux” is born and the two begin weaving their words together, in and around, over and under, into something bigger than themselves. The writing becomes a lifting, a balancing, a turning…and the words on the page become an Adagio.

We would love for you to enter into this project with us. Please feel free to leave your own poem in the comments, either here or at Elizabeth's place. We welcome your choreography on this endeavor and we long to hear your offerings on the prompt.

The space that remains

I have been so very quiet this week.

I was not prepared for how my heart would fold in upon itself after it had spread itself so wide open. It was the writing of My Broken Hallelujah piece that did it. After slowly and carefully pulling together the words to share that story I found myself needing to sit in the hushed space that remained.

For when one reaches deep into the vulnerable places, its as if a thread comes loose, dangling and exposed at the edge of the soul's fabric. And with each passing moment, that thread shakes in the wake of waters churned and is pulled a little further out of its seam.

And there is a slow unraveling.

So this week has been spent gathering up the gold colored filament that hems in my heart.
And slowly and with great measure,
I have wound

And now Christmas is coming.

Oh how I wish to be caught up in that story again. The one that I never tire of hearing. The one that, despite knowing it backwards and forwards, never fails to alight on my heart space anew.

The one in which, once again, a baby's birth changes my world.

O come, o come Emmanuel.

Monday, December 10, 2012

My Broken Hallelujah

He burst forth this side of heaven with a flourish, arriving earlier than expected.
It was there, in the hushed predawn light, before even the birds could herald the coming of the day, where I pulled him to my chest and breathed deep his nativity. For the holiness of that moment hung heavy and I lay still under the weight of it all.
In the months that followed I cradled my son continuously, in every crook and curve of my body. A skin to skin, breast to mouth, finger to toe rhythm emerged and soon we were connecting in thousands of ways, over and over. This sacred dance had no fixed steps. It was simply that Love led and we, the beloved, followed.
Both of us continued to grow in knowing and being known.
We leaned into the hard places, into the fevers and the pain.
And, together, we rose on zephyr winds, celebrating new exploits and the joy of new milestones.
My son was incredibly affectionate, with me. He would nestle down quietly into the folds of my body and he would fling his chubby arms around my neck, pulling me deeper into his heart space. I was enraptured with this little soul that longed for connection. He was mine and I was his.
We were growing into our God-stained selves and it was good.

We were together, always.
We spent hour upon hour curled up on couches, befriending the likes of Huckle and Lowly and Wilbur and Charlotte. We perched near our large picture window at every meal and, just as if he were learning his ABC’s, my son learned the name of every bird that visited our feeder.
Because we shared our home with other families, we almost always had one or two other children laced in and out of our every hour. My son learned the difficult realities of sharing and compromise early and he practiced them long.
I’m not exactly sure at what point I began to notice that things were changing.
To read more of this post, please join me here at SheLoves Magazine today as they partner with Prodigal Magazine in hosting a "Broken Hallelujah" link-up. Through stories of hardship and redemption we hope to open wide the gates of brokenness. Will you consider joining us by sharing your story?

Sunday, December 9, 2012


"I have loved you with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with unfailing kindness."
Jeremiah 31:3

With swirls of light
there is


has always been
always be



Thursday, December 6, 2012

Where there is life there is love

Christmas Lights

In my last two posts, here and here, I shared about being open to the hope and the wonder of this Advent season. I mused on long darkness and piercing light and holy spirit smoke. I swelled with anticipation.

It's amazing how everything can change in a day or two.

My first week of Advent has been ripe with hard conversations, thwarted goals, and deep soul walking. There has been no lighting of the Advent wreath, no dwelling in Words of life, no mighty nesting instinct spurring me on to small acts of preparation.

Instead, there has been life.

And it has been drippy and sticky and complicated.

I lost every ounce of patience with my children, closed the door to the world and lamented my fate to the skies. And never fear, there was much cursing and clenching of fists.

I surveyed my house on several occasions and wondered how I could possibly want for more when I was already drowning in piles of paper and trinkets and dust.

And as people near and dear to my heart spun like dervishes in the wake of their own deep churning, I felt the strain of impotence.

But that is not all.

For "where there is life there is love" and this week delivered that, as well.

I learned the spiritual discipline of letting go... of control. of unrealistic expectations. of perfection.

Every year since we have been married, I have put up the Christmas lights. Not to take a stand on equality or anything else noble like that. No, I have always put up the Christmas lights because I am a control freak.
But this year found me committed to another task on the 65 degree December weekend that simply insisted be dedicated to donning holiday lights. And my husband and two boys needed something to do together. The answer was simple=put up the lights.
The lights did not go up in the order or manner they were supposed to. There were colored lights hanging all willy nilly from columns and door frames and I didn't understand the arrangement and it was.all.wrong.
I was just about to intercede on the behalf of Christmas lights everywhere and offer some constructive criticism when I felt my tongue freeze heavy in my mouth. Something stopped me. It was not because of anything generous in my own spirit. No, my mind was busy talking my body off the ledge of Christmas madness and encouraging deep breaths and closed eyes. No, something bigger and greater and wiser than me was taking over. And it was winning.

That is what love does. It wins.

And the other miraculous thing? I didn't put up a fight.
I let love win this one.

Something hard and brittle broke in me that day. A rigid cast of contention that I had made my uniform for all these years, it simply fell away.

And in its absence I could move. And breathe.

And now my sweet, little house shimmers with color and beauty and glory and I had absolutely nothing to do with it.

That has been my Advent lesson this week.

quote: Mahatma Ghandi

Saturday, December 1, 2012



Standing on the edge of darkness
so deeply hushed with quiet through and through
I can feel the surrounding
the holy rushing, silent
whispers of spirit smoke

It is upon me
this swelling hope
grafting my detachment
to its pulsing
for it believes

This hope
it rolled in atop 
the mighty words of prophets
springing forth day from night
life from death

And here it is now
billowing on the edges
of my coming
reaching for my hand
with wonder
and blessing

The silence
it is upon my lips
while my mortal skin
I must keep awake

 Sweet Blogger Grey

in sweetening the world with poetry words.