Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Lines from the Months of This Last Year: December

Finished "Braveheart" today. Sobbed.
Took off my hat in class.

Help these baby wings grow large & strong with use.
Please kiss my tired zitty face.
I don't want to keep asking for relief -
give us strength to bear it.

Thank You for the miracle of comfort. Of safety there - here.

It's dumb how often I look forward to flaky things to satisfy me. Not bad. Not worth my time.
But thanks, oh Jesus, stop me, make me look. His Mom died last night.

Today a stranger offered me her clothes. In the canned goods aisle, I complimented a lady on her knit vest (her whole outfit was simple, tasteful, autumnal). She told me where she got it, and the next thing I knew she asked me my size and offered it to me. I hope she saw how moved and delighted I was, through my surprise. Of course I didn't take it.
Another lady spilled some Fruit Loops she'd been tasting for staleness, and I helped her clean them up. She was really embarrassed, both for spilling, and for snacking, and because I helped her clean up. But I think it would have been more embarrassing if she'd done it alone.

Thanks for the miracle of yesterday. Helping us talk. That was hard and awkward but clearly a gift from You.
We'd just finished watching a film. So, I mostly wanted to watch it to be titillated. That's really lame. I felt shallow and cheap, trying to squeeze all the excitement and longing I could out of their looks and kisses. I'm writing this in part to be truthful, in part as warning, as confession, as reminder of what I want - and don't want - to be.
Purity of heart, to will one thing, can't ever come from me. I can't wrassle it up. I can't fake it. But I can hanker for it more than I hanker after sin (AKA cheap substitutes) if You help me. If I'm willing to be helped. Please.

My soul needed this. Needs. Keep wooing my whole heart, stir up all Your jealousy. Enemies surround me, waving feathers and fruit, or chanting dark songs - whatever will serve to either lure me away or cover me with fear and mistrust.
I do adore You. Thank You for those soft shadowy trees, bare and glowing in warm diffused light. For dear friends. And for the deep loneliness that remains, that You understand. That You meet with utter completion, with simplicity.
So envelop us in Your love that even stale days tingle at the edges, even loneliness cannot split us into squares and wrap us separately.
I say all these prune-colored things about us, but I'd like more.
Say something.

Kindest. My attention is so scattered. Even fasting today was lame, I felt a little more controlled, but not still. It was more for me than for You. Now I'm lying here looking across my room at so many bright and arresting things. Things calling for attention. Things I've been busy with, expecting You to be around later, hoping You were watching. And You were, but did You slip out early? Leave the party for a cold night walk, and I was still warm inside, making smalltalk and wishing I'd spoken to You while I had the chance?
The lovely thing about You is, You're everywhere. But this sort of attitude is real. Sometimes I'd rather talk about You, read about You, than deal with You face to face. Here I am now.

I should have written at 10:11. Apparently this is the last consecutive day of my lifetime. Actually, for a very long time! Although: 1/23/45? I might be around.
Lord, I am getting the memo. I'm trying to be queen.
But what was Mary? A servant. Help me have honesty to look at myself squarely, and then look to You. To not be so terribly worried about whether there'll be a place for me in the world. Or if I'm OK. I am. I'm a twisted and pathetic mess alone, but I am Yours, and so I'm not. I am bought, released. Owned for life, free!

I don't have to prove anything to anyone. I don't have to prove anything to anyone. I don't even have to be liked (scary). But I am free to love without fear or strings attached. Free to be underwhelming. Free to laugh like a loon as You wink at me from around corners and swish Your tail. Free to hum childishly or write ballads under Your silver wings.

Dear Jesus,
Thank You that You can use anything.
The margin...that is the best part. I still feel reclusive and weak, but more human now. More able to think, feel, listen, be.
Protect me. I could, I can, be very susceptible in these moods.
Too enamored with a particular "deep" feeling, too ready to float in it till it sucks me in and drowns me.
Move me gently from strength to strength.
Help me hear Your voice only.

Today Mom and I listened to Les Mis as we drove to thrift stores and BB's. Almost every song made my throat rise. It's not hormonal, I don't think, just...I finished "The Small Rain" today, and I feel, as I said, more human, more artist, and I want to cry out, "I am ALIVE! I too will blaze out in beauty, with all these suffering broken precious humans! I'm small, but I'm here!"
Sometimes that's all we're trying to say, I think, with our art.
But it can be so much more. Like talking with You. Like tonight, walking out in the fog, exhaling my own small clouds into its vastness - it was as if You had bent down and breathed over our hilly little county, dotted with Christmas lights, breathed Your smoke-and-pine edged breath, the very essence of clean, so much better than my garlic-and-coffee.

The other night J asked me how I liked my hair, and tried to make me admit I didn't. I confessed it's frustrating sometimes. But I do like it. It is sharply sinner or saint. It makes me feel bolder, like I have to live up to it.
Winter stretches out so far ahead of me. Months and half inches. Cups of scalding tea, cold fingers as I paint with the window open. But there is what comes me believe there are tadpoles and schoolbooks, milk caps rolling under the table, small hands on my neck. There are years when flowers will be beautiful, and I will take the train for fun, and sing in Gaelic in the shower just so he'll hear.
The candles will burn low. I'll watch that last orange dot, the swaying thread of acrid smoke.
Will it be painful, when our eyes open?
Will it be instantaneous epiphany, or a cultivated knowing, like life here? Finally the touch we "touched" but couldn't touch? We're trying to steal our birthday gift. Shame on us. Mercy on us. Grace.
Kick in me, baby Jesus. I know You're inside.

T wrote today about rape/violence against women. And how even You, God, announced Your way... in effect, You asked permission. Thank You that she said yes.

"This is my sun, with which I am well pleased."

Your strange and unlovely, but love. I wonder what it would do to me to paint Your crucifixion every day. It comes more easily to me than facsimiles, I suppose because it matters to me. I can paint angels more easily than the front door. This is also strange. 

Our peaceful last two weeks. They have been so good for me. Thank You. Our secret retreat. I feel able to think again...though I still balk at the thought of commotion. 

Frame my mind in grace.

We're gonna have to stand up to this. With a wit and brilliance and good humor so winsome it's irresistible. Brainstorm with me? 
Make me the kind of lady who can do that?

Prude - pride + love = spicy goodness.

One of the very best parts of today was our evening walk, the fog, the houses bright with lights, many parties. How damp and fresh the air was. Wet dangling crabapples against my hair and face, my tired eyes. 
Feeling good with the sibs. And even feeling's OK. Just remind me You're here. Help me not force anything. Help me notice, and be grateful. Help me be true to myself, and especially to You.

Perhaps the ocean terrifies me because it keeps calling me, "come in, come in," even in winter, on the New England coast.
Do You do the same? I want us to get the very most pleasure from each other, for You, so help me do the impossible. Help me not hold back. What matters in the end? You do.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Lines from the Months of This Last Year: November

1 (Really 2, but I already turned the clock back).
Lord Jesus.
Thank You for - believing me? - all the times I half-heartedly love You, pray.

"I am the only inheritance the priests have. You are to give them no possession in Israel; I will be their possession."
Ezekiel 44:28 NIV

Thanks for all the good.
I called and asked forgiveness.

"Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live."
Psalm 116:2 NIV

Without the scarf.
Just help me, God, to be a life-giver today.

Remember remember...
Your goodness.

You are kind to help me paint, study. Kind with the moon. Warm feet.
Things to live for (viz. You).

Dearest Lord,
Tzimtzum. Second fiddle. Pure Joy. Healer. Please feed these hungry places. I've been trying to dance, half-naked, today. I've been trying to understand the martyrs. My brother imprisoned in Iran. Barabbas, equally real. "Guys and Dolls" and the slippery sins, the glitz and charm and sickening powdered sugar of "love."
Or the hard brave brutality of it. What love lets us suffer.
I need You. I need tears. To bring all of my oldness/youngness to You to be slowly, fragrantly burned. It will be fragrant, in Your fire.
Am I brave enough to embrace? To refrain? Give me more desire. Bigger vision, bigger hope. Tempered and trusting, prudent, patient. Willing to be lonely.
Never alone.

Even though this helpless feeling of inevitable winter is coming over me, I'm glad for snow. For warmth inside.
Reading through my Orvieto journal, smelling the sweet inky smells, familiar. Words that have stayed with me, words that have changed color.
I'm wondering how to be closer to You. Why am I so frantic?
Help me pray and work.
Trust and expect. Rejoice and rest. Expect and attempt. Attempt and expect.
Jesus, help me not be so terrified of losing life. I find it in You alone.

Peace. Really.

Help them keep clean and flowing, not be too tight or fierce even now. But also be willing to love deeply, sacrificially, be hurt and hurt each other - for Your glory. Help them do good to one another. Have life more abundantly.

Again, You've done it. Thank You.
I felt tired and happy and sad, and I sang "I've Got a River of Life" in the bathroom.
"Spring up O well and make me whole..."
Let the small sacred things be noticed.

I need You so painfully this afternoon. I'm not in the right frame of mind for anything, God. But I'm Yours,
Happy Birthday.

You hunted me down,
You invited me to the picnic, You led me barefoot
into thistles and "cutgrass" but You made mud paste for my eyes,
and I don't want to miss this.

When I'm blind, You whistle like a bird for me to cross the street,
the river. You are rich espresso, strange marvelous spices
I know to be true at first sip.
Keep me never satisfied with ketchup.
I'm hungriest for You. You're salt & a blanket & magic.

I may need to take Benadryl; I can't sleep. And I'm hungy. I want to eat something, but I also want to feel hungry. To remember what longing is like. Sweat and hair and smells, trying to describe what skin feels like but sounding as inane, and feeling as inept, as someone writing about Autumn leaves and breezes. We can't do it, unless by some miracle. Instead we circle around and make stiff or flimsy allusions. Suddenly we realize that none of us has to win. We can all try, or not try, and just laugh. Just keep opening up our eyes. Just keep touching, tenderly and tremblingly. 
I say this, and I don't even know what I'm talking about. 
You see where I'm prickling with fears again? Driving into the sitty. Baby citing. Living up to my own expectations. 
I sang, "As I was walking down the street, Boo-ya," to the mailman today, before tromping out in the snow in heels and a red coat. Boo-ya. Where did that come from? 
Make me pure. Dewy and linen-like. Joyful as the burgeoning earth. We still quiver at Your Name. 

I've been sampling "Braveheart." 
"One day you'll be a queen, and you must open your eyes." 
It's better and dumber than I expected. So violent. And, ha, syncretist. Revenge is OK. Rape, no; adultery...under the right circumstances;...kilts. Oh dumbo rot. After a while, bodies become disposable. Should they?!

The tree is up and fragrant. Oh Jesus, be my company. I'm tired. 


I drove the most ever today. Thank You for taking me safely everywhere. For these last 3 hours to unwind...I must be more Yours. More single-minded. I like that play on words.
I'm happy today to be write wear I am. Gawky still, and yet so ripened I astound myself. Where did I get these muscles or that womanly turn of neck? Spider-veins are nothing new, but they're freshly amusing. 
Ai, humility. Is self-appraisal vanity? 
If only we all looked good in Your holy drab robes.
I'm afraid I'd shrivel away, or grow so shapelessly round I'd feel betrayed. Betrayed? Whatever can be trusted apart from You? What saved? Everything burns unless it plunges headlong into Your river. And You know I'm scared of water. But here's the thing:
I'm chained/sewn/grafted/fused to You already, there's no breath for complaints around Your kisses.


Thursday, December 25, 2014

Lines from the Months of This Last Year: October

Happy October. Happy dress. Happy Kingdom.

Use everything in this little bedroom. Take it all. May every use of it be holy.
My body. Hallowed be Thy Name.
Goodness often looks like bright plastic fruit. Help me  s  m  e  l  l
the aroma of Your table. Hot-diggity-believe it. Work up/with appetite.

No room for questioning our motives when we see You for all You are....You fill our vision. 
Fill me now, again. Pure, wild, and delicious.
Draw on all nature to describe Yourself.
Abundance. I like the "dance" in that word. Parts of today were so low I had 
to sing. Patrick's breastplate is a You-send.
Feed me like a baby bird. I'd like to fit into You snugly, to crow with love over every good thing. 

Give men courage to be real, even weak, with one another. 

I've been home alone all day. I've been giggling a lot. It's chilly. It's so GOOD. 

Lord, You move the hearts of kings. Move my heart. Direct me completely toward You. I'm content. I'm thankful that You haven't brought me this far for nothing. 

God, why are we such finicky beings? You want me here, so help me give You what's in my hand: paintbrush, toothbrush, somebody's shoulder. 
Why did You make touch such dynamite?
The reverberations were driving me batty...I don't know what I'm trying to say, because I sound like a high-schooler with the hots. Yours is the fullest, deepest, most wild & diverse & satisfying union. I absolutely delight in You, my God. 

It is so very easy for me to get offended or feel wronged. I've found myself wanting to say, "It's not fair! It's not fair!" so many times over the past 2 months. Forgive me my absorption with myself. Help me be ready for You to use, without needing to scrape off my me-layer first. 
What a day. Father. Always got my back. Holy Spirit - oh! Make me willing, giving up everything. "A brush with the devil can clear your mind." (Mumford). Make me tender enough, strong enough. Help me trust You when everything feels sick and off. Your Word stands firm. You stand firm. I could never do this without You. 

I've been pathetically bummed. Help me come to You anyway. Where we have become chilled, anxious, or proud, whittle us back into something smooth and small in Your hand. 
Help me not try to impress anyone. Help me be true.

Thank You for the legacy of a loving family. Thank You for bringing Mom and Dad to Yourself, transforming them, making them more open to forgiveness and grace because of you. Strengthen us. Be known here. Help us love well and give each other to do good, to respond with grace, not play psychological games. 

Thank You for giving me awareness both of my ordinary sinner-ness and my unique mystery. Don't we all need both? 

This afternoon at home to run, shower, study...make eggplant parm for J. Thank You for including us in what You're doing. How wonderful to know that You are a God who hears. We only need to ask. 

Thank You for such a rich life. 
Help me be safe in Your Sabbath lap even longer tonight.
Keep us ever mindful of You, enthralled by You, as if we were in prison and You were all we had, because all we have is You. 

Thank You for the pattern of Your work around me, even in all these needs. 
May I rest in You as in a boat on a stormy sea. 
I am tired. Feast me on You. Thank You. You are more than enough. 

God, none of this is a mistake, right? 


Help me not become small and bitter. 
Wean me, also, from the desire to be extraordinary. I'm Your egg yolk.
Subsume me, grow large on me, hatch nidifugous. 

I have to know that You care, that You're working, that I'm free.
That there is hope. That I can love - because of You. 
Thank You that love dares, and that love is worth it. 

I've been up since six; You gently woke me. Still weepy 
and groggy, stiff-footed, tender at the neck where the painting toppled
onto me last night. 
You know how I desire to do right, 
and how I want to be desirable. 
You know why I cringe and demure, flirt and babble here at home
as if I were six, twirl around the kitchen.
Your "world-wielding shoulder" must be here for me also. I need it
to be. I need to feel safe and protected. Answered in all my yearnings.
That is why I've been crying. Before I despaired of the answer, You enveloped me in a harmony of soft, strong voices all saying, "yes."
Yet...I couldn't be confident.
So here is what I need, clearly: more odd hours to be pursued by You, 
made so secure and incandescent that no earthly silence
quells me. 

My great goal, my prize, my Troubadour. 
My life's blood, the light in my eyes. My wild bird call, leaping
shouting champion, lips-brushing-hair. 
We would like to be more and more devoted to You. 
Please teach me submission. 

"I am concerned for you and will look on you with favor;
you will be plowed and sown..."
Ezekiel 36:9 NIV

Scour me, cut the groove very deep, make new beauty,
small sweet fruit in my fresh cut soil. 

Thank You for this: "Until I can mourn the loss of a dream I cannot be comforted enough to have vision for a new one." 
Madeleine L'Engle, "The Irrational Season."
Meet and walk with her through this darkness. 
Resurrect me always. 

Thank You that we could be honest and good to one another. This is a gift from You. And thank You for the merlot. 
I've been feeling such joy & freedom & safety...but I know how little it takes to feed a great affection. So help me. Please use me only as an agent of good, to ennoble and bless and water and spur on. And God, dear Lord God, TRANSFORM my loves, because I can't be an executioner. 

When things are strained or strange or boring, sizzle new clean love into me, right at the source. What sets us apart if not our love? Use us here, in this neighborhood, in our families. Please use the dumb things I attempt. My music, art, letters, words. Texts. Outfits. 

Thank You for tough feet. 

In my own heart, I see pride and one-uppance creeping around. Please help me. Please forgive me. Please show me when/where I need to ask for forgiveness. Thank You for being tender and patient with me. 

Halloween. ISIS. Bros K...what's up with us?

Harvesting herbs, gathering books, wearing mismatched earrings. Praying. Wanting to pray more. Wanting to soak in You so all of me feels fresh and alive and clean - like when I soaked my feet and brushed my teeth simultaneously. Bliss. Could sex be any better? Ha. 
You're strange. And good. 
So near. 

(19. "World-wielding shoulder" - Gerard Manley Hopkins, "Hurrahing in Harvest")

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Lines from the Months of This Last Year: September

You patient lover. Thank You.
Moon through clouds through walnut leaves. Clutching the catalpa, kissing it hard. I'm still learning love.

I can't do anything on my own. Please speak through me, my work, my voice, my eyes, my body language. May I be an instrument of peace, truth, healing.
Of virtue.
Give me honesty and humility.
Keep returning my focus to You.

A lot of people love me. How can it be? Thank You.
Please help un-knot my innards and melt and mold me. I'm not blameless. I'm no saint. And yet I am. I have Your Spirit, You holy holy beautiful God.
B reminded me today that somehow it's the sufferings that prepare us, fit us, to be like Christ.

She warmed to me, chatted, took my hand. Gave me some lovely smiles.
Love makes you brave.
Alll goood thiiings cooome frooom You.

Could it really be that You are all I need? And that I can always fling myself on You and it is enough, and sometimes I don't even need to try?
Oh Jesus, how willing and meek You were. You did not grasp at power, at praise, at wealth - did not coerce love. Teach me Your ways. Make me a good lioness.

Romans 8 and Psalm 130? Yes please.
If the Gospel matters at all, it matters right now, today. Go before us, Shepherd. Help me pray like Vera.

Beautiful sunset and moonrise tonight, Sir.

Tell me where You graze Your flocks.

10. Back safe. How kind You are. My lips were twitching, tickling, when I parked on their street. My hands were actually trembling. Keep me always having to trust You. Hands, heart irrevocably Yours.

The first time every inch of me is awake, afraid.
In time it will be natural to me as solid food, taking showers. Do you remember when that was new? You used to fit in the sink, baby girl.
Each action is miraculous.

What can I let go of so that I'll be ready to pick up and follow whenever You call?

Lord, You have redeemed this day so utterly. Thank You.
Your spellbinding sunset and yellow gibbous moon on the drive home. I'm loving our late-night drives.

Please keep calling him, guiding him closer to you. To want You more than girls or money or feeling important. To sell You all he has.
We are all such needy people, Lord. And leadership can be lonely.

"We are so preciously loved by God that we cannot even comprehend it. No created being can ever know how much and how sweetly and tenderly God loves them."
-Julian of Norwich

Dad is in the hospital. I took him there shortly after noon today. Thank You, Lord, that You are caring.

Watching a couple Alfred Hitchcocks with Mom and Dad, I realized afresh how TRAPPED people get by money. The love of it, or of the things it provides. So much disorder when it takes Your place. Help me never let that happen. Help me stop looking at myself and saying, "unproductive."
Help me look to You and say, "Vine, I am Your branch. Bear fruit in me."

"If I had a friend all on this earth, you've been a friend to me."

How gentle You are with me.
Thank You for waking me up.
Be my song today.

Lord, make Your Name known. What is Your Name? What do You mean to me? I to You?

We suddenly see how much courage is required of us. How resolute and terrible is truth, how towering and resplendent.
How small and firm as seeds.
Fullness of time. Ripe, irrepressible.

There hasn't been enough today. What do I mean? Is it all about me feeling accomplished? No. But I need to see more of You. Not all of this feels like a song.
But I'm thankful for errands with Dad. For the bit of green pea on C's eyelid. For notes written, for cold milk, stars, fiddle tunes, Mom's prayer in the doorway. Clean laundry.

Jesus, I understand that suffering must come. But why does my suffering look and feel so lame? Why can't I get over these emotional, mental, spiritual blocks? What makes diligence, freedom, joy so HARD? There's too much and nothing.
Take my chin in Your hands and lift my eyes to You.

"The LORD looseth men out of prison..." (Psalm 146)

Whatever I'm still holding back, Lord,
Take it.
Whatever it takes to bring me to that place,
Do it.
I want to be whole.

"He hath no pleasure in the strength of an horse; neither delighteth he in any man's legs. But the Lord's delight is in them that fear him, and put their trust in his mercy." (Psalm 147)

I delight in legs. But help me delight in You more. Fear You, trust Your mercy.


(7. Pray like Vera, ref. David James Duncan "The Brothers K")
(20. Mary Chapin Carpenter, "10,000 Miles")

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Lines from the Months of This Last Year: August

"We can't do justice to any of this.
Sometimes I forget to try anyway.
Will you really find me extraordinary and delicious? Will I find you so?
Or will we spend years resolving to make peace with a fluctuating image,
misaligned printing - the cyan, magenta, and yellow bleeding off the edges
where they shouldn't?
Will I be as boorish and perverse with you as I am with myself?
Will you teach me gentleness and manners?
Lord God, help me to be honest. To laugh and mean it.
I'm tired. I've been well fed, and I'm hungry for hunger. Want a little more of the unavoidable acquiescence of fasting.
Jesus, we call on You under our breath, and with our eyes open,
and with fingers on skin. Come, bridegroom."

If I die soon, no one can say that we didn't have a satisfactory love. You've been so good to me, and I've been afraid to believe it, but I do and I love You better than anything. May it be.

3. (Cabin)
I'm writing from the loft. What a lovely (if rainy and intermittent) night of sleep. It feels strange to be suddenly here, no computer or phone, very little planned for myself except reading, writing letters, and perhaps sketching a bit, or planning.
Help this weekend be a time of perspective and healing for me and for each one here. May we love each other as we love ourselves, and not get into a funk of trying hard to please our contrary and insatiable selves.

Lord, open up our eyes to angels.

Do You know how much my sensitive hopes swarmed around that sentence? Yes, smile with me. Nurse me on Your sap. Oh, this beauty heals. All the green, mountains, thick damp foliage, moss, spring water.

Old vs. new NIV: love "is not rude" becomes, "does not dishonor others." What an apt way to communicate what rudeness is... as denying someone existence is akin to murder (MacDonald).

Help me as I feel timid and slothful again, and SO VORACIOUS but not voracious enough!
I've felt sarcastic and unappreciative most of today. Help, Lord.
Thank You that there are no fish in the pond, and no worms on my hook, and no hooks in my finger. We'll still eat well tonight. You are not cruel and perverse in all this. You are very, very kind.
Please help me be content. Not cut my hair until the time is right. Seize me with a desire for righteousness. Cleanse me, purify me. Simplify and beautify me.

A's letter. Pink sun. Peaches.

Lord, children are being beheaded in Iraq. Have mercy. Bring justice, relief, healing, repentance. Love and hope and forgiveness. These words have sharpness and life against such brutality and wickedness.

I mostly played with a little boy of four who loved to spell words (SHELL, LAMP, DOOR, MAT, CAT, DOG, CUP, PLANT, etc.). We were cars, went swimming, went to quite a few fast food restaurants (seems he does that a lot).


"...your face's planes, your plain face something pure 
if not eternal, what? wipe out the bowl, that grin off your face,
that levity around water
are you crisping up by the heater? or grown warm?
you man-of-war,
you're boring holes, I can't hold this, 
I can't hold on, O mother, 
Daddy, lift me down 
I climbed so high 
I couldn't see the ground
and every pair of eyes 
is overwhelming."


Swing low, swing high
whistle, howl, hoot beside
me at the full moon with your chains flying,
brother, laughing helplessly and too loud to be
reasonable. Was creation ever
meant to be taken indifferently,
of habit? A tooth-flossing duty, or a cough
and a gasp like vodka?
Far be it from me
(it is ever so close),
to blink at heaven
scooping down and whipping up
our heels, our hair, our hearts in hallelujah.

Keep us grateful always. Heal Your world.

"Thou deckest thyself with light..."
"...full of sap..."
(Psalm 104)

I'm feeling sort of weak and shattered. So here You go! Please make something beautiful out of me.

"Went a whoring with their own inventions..."
"He thought upon his covenant, and pitied them..."
(Psalm 106)

Adventures on the road. Stories about things that make our eyes sparkle. Such good food. Birdsong. Hugs. Mama coming out to chat a bit while I got tea - looking like a vibrant silver-white haired angel grandma.

"For he satisfieth the empty soul..."
(Psalm 107)


"O God, my heart is ready, my heart is ready..."
(Psalm 108)

I was reminded this week that harmony with You is the only beauty.
It is not some oddball, screech-to-a-stop-at-life, stunted attempt.
It is tapping into the sap, the lifeblood of the universe. It is drinking deep
each moment with a prayer of praise,
whether dressed in heavy skirts or naked in water.
It is allowing emotion, obeying honor, choosing love.

I was practically dizzy. Maybe it was the caffeine. 
Lord, I know it's a pointless and Biblically frowned-upon question, but, 
"Why did You make me like this?"

Woke up to roosters.
What a beautiful place.
Now there's the smell of bacon wafting up the stairs. 

"Oh how sweet are thy words to my throat..." 
(Psalm 119)

I hardly know what to do. I keep receiving
Let me slide contently out of words, and sleep in You. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Lines from the Months of This Last Year: July

Now that I have come to the late afternoon, I am weary and
I   d o n ' t   k n o w   h o w .
How to paint, how to love, how to pray. Please speak for me.
Make Your gospel shine clear and true tonight. Exert all Your powers of attraction.

B  E  H  O  L  D

"The river of God is full of water..."
"The little hills shall rejoice on every side..." (Psalm 65)

Thank You for this most delicious day. Oh, the air.

"Be joyful in God....who holdeth our soul in life..." (Psalm 66)

We all need to see Your winsome goodness, Your terrifying holiness, your personal love. It is too easy to look in the wrong places.

"Do you know everything about sharks?"

Lord, thank You for all the flickering bits making light, for the picture You're building. The glimpses just in these last few days.

"Let them also be merry and joyful." (Psalm 68)

"We need to remember that the little blueberry-sized fruits borne by the Holy Spirit are part and parcel to his kingdom." - Gloria Furman

There was no feeling of impact. But I looked back to see wrecks burning.
Where is purity, safety? True purity & safety? In You, centrally and only in You. Not in any tidy rules or tight-lipped resolutions.

Help me move with You, sense in the muscles of Your hand, arm, shoulder, where You are leading me. When to pause, linger.

"There is none upon earth that I desire in comparison of thee." (Psalm 73)

Jesus, help me trust Your sufficiency again. I am not good enough. I have not been. But You have, You are, and You will be. Remind me. Ezekiel 33 & 35 were good reminders of the hard sharp truth.
TIMSHEL. Help me.

What kind of noncomformity? I would like to be unflinchingly loving. Rarely, if ever, do I think about selfless persistent love as noncomformity. But it stands out sharply against a backdrop of arrogance, apathy, and self-centeredness.
And makes other forms of "self-expression" or "self-actualizing" noncomformity look small.

Very early morning. Couldn't sleep.
Prayed, wrote, watched "Princess Mononoke".
Thank You for swings and rain and smelly dogs and wonderful wonderful people. Is love enough? Will there be a day when love is not enough? Yours, me what it does. Show us what healing is, redemption, transformation.

Here I am again, "small and unsure." Give me words for this.
What petty and circular thoughts I have. How can I escape? What am I digging into, when I dig into You? How do I get through the matter to the matter, to the stuff of life?
You see this tiny little fly traversing the hairs of my blanket like hurdles.
You sense the faint, taut itch of my healing scar. You smell my lavender and deodorant, my sweat. You taste the strawberries' last lingering sweetness and acidity in my mouth. Feel the thick of my waist, the dimpling in my elbows, the fine, flexing muscles of my eyes. Nothing, and everything. One actual thing, perhaps.

What is most precious to me, when there is no applause? Do I want to prove myself to myself? To the mountains? To You, You who heard me laugh like Sarah at Your absurd promises?

Thank You that I can feel sort of dumb right now. Accessory, peripheral. I know I'm not. I know I matter. Sometimes I get tired of waiting to matter more. Give me patience, help me grow a good nut inside this shell.
Help me not grasp at everything as if I could keep it.
Help me live as only I can live.
Thank You for ways that people begin to trust each other and do well by each other. Thank You that we all need You the same. You love each of us. We can fall confidently into Your arms. Please protect us from the evil one. Please unify us. Cover our loves with Your miraculous love.

Help me honor sacredness better.

Help me live quietly and unafraid.

"The singers also and trumpeters shall make answer: all my fresh springs are in thee." (Psalm 87)

Teach me all that I already know, and more. Lord, enlarge me. Help me not grow frantic.
Help me wonder.
Lord, I think I forgot to tip the waitress.

Please meet us tonight. Welcome us into You. Tear the veil (it is torn), help us step inside, reverent, confident, joyous. Worshipping.

I got a chance to bawl later, after seeing all the responses to my "pray for me" painting post.

We are all victims and all oppressors. Help that to be clear today.
Lord, help me pray about the things that really matter. Fasting helps, and hinders. I don't want to be just waiting to eat, distracted by hunger, too weak to concentrate. You Lord. Who are You?
Jesus, use all the conversations. All the small weak things.
You are answering prayer! Help us keep believing! Inspire us. Put sparks in our brains and hearts.

You knew what I needed today. Early-ish morning, nourishing food, sunlight, texting J, painting, the terror of thinking I'd poisoned B and the relief of discovering I hadn't. J bringing vegetables and staying to talk, C's phonecall, pesto, more painting, L's impromptu invite to walk and talk and sing.

"But my horn shall be exalted like the horn of a unicorn; for I am anointed with fresh oil."
"That they may show how true the Lord my strength is, and that there is not unrighteousness in him." (Psalm 92)

17. quote: "Skyline Hill", Jenny & Tyler

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Lines from the Months of This Last Year: June

Make it your ambition (to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and)
to kill 7 flies before breakfast.
1/3 accomplished today.

No amount of anything can save me, protect me, or satisfy me but You.

"O taste, and see, how gracious the Lord is..." (Psalm 34)

Help me not build things up to such a tremendous height. Keep things in their proper sizes. Driving. Men.

"All my bones shall say, Lord, who is like unto thee...?" (Psalm 35)

Well, Lord, please preserve me. I don't want to die with the paintings looking this awful.

"For my wickednesses are gone over my wounds stink, and are corrupt...I am feeble and sore smitten; I have roared for the very disquietude of my heart.  Lord, thou knowest all my desire..." (Psalm 38)

"For I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were." (Psalm 39)

Lord, my Lord, how am I to understand all this? Start with gratitude.

Mimado. Spoiled. I read that and it made me nervous. I am spoiled. I have things so easy. And yet I make a big deal out of my inconveniences, my feelings. So I start to self-flagellate and plan sacrifices and disciplines.
Happily, I recalled that it's not my job to make religious plans and projects for myself. What does God want? How should I view my circumstances?
With gratitude. With open hands. It will be He and I together, whatever comes.
God, remind me of the logs in my eye. Is it my job to defend You? To judge on Your behalf? Show me how to love people. My family, my closest people. You, and trust You on days like this when I'm not pleased, don't feel right or lovable. All knees and elbows, and a stubborn chin. Oh, make me laugh!

"Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but mine ears thou hast opened....
As for me, I am poor and needy; but the Lord careth for me." (Psalm 40)

"My soul is athirst for God..." (Psalm 42)

Let us come to You like children, again and again and again today.

How. THANK YOU. I don't understand. But I'm grateful. For J's fever breaking. For someone's prayers in CA, another in KS, another in PA, all coinciding today, and You answering.

Thank You for Job today. Stark and difficult and so, so comforting.
Thanks for Dad being so patient and helpful in the face of my stupidity. Thanks for Mrs. L's fragrant sea roses. For the prospect of a full, good Saturday. For faithful prayers. For all of my family.
Surround us, Lord. Protect us. Prepare us for anything.

"Our heart is not turned, not when thou hast smitten us in the place of dragons, and covered us with the shadow of death..." (Psalm 44)


"This far you may come, and no farther;
here is where your proud waves halt."

Maybe You have been a little lax with us, forgot to turn the water off.
But everything knows You mean well;
the garden grows regardless of my droughts,
and even the basement flooded apologetically
like a shame-faced child
with wet pants.

Could You be
more gentle? Any more

Everything I love, I am afraid of.
How long did my voice go on, and all they were 
were words, were whimpering, were fumbling 
trying to touch You (trying to see through, feeling shapes in the dark,
the door handle, the bedpost, the light switch
    is broken, it must be, You have never been 
cruel to me), 
Or have You? 

Have You.
How can I? I'm sitting at Your table, playing hostess.
"Do you know when the mountain goats give birth?"
Will You take more salad? I made this stew myself.

River deep, can I know You as well as You know me?

I want him to be well. 
This is more than a lot of analogies about pearls and tapestries, 
thorns-in-the-flesh and stigmata. Shake down the stars on us. 
"Can you bind the beautiful Pleiades?"
Sing in tongues. We sang to her as she lay in a coma, on the bedsheets 
with Hawaiian flowers that my roommate gave to me. 
And there she died today. You can't say You didn't know. 
"Can you loose the cords of Orion?"
I'll tell You everything I want, and before You say no, 
show me that I don't want any of it. 
I want You and more You     and 

      You are

the liminal pleasure of not touching.
Eyes closed at the piano, feeling notes, finding chords, that-one-sweet
stirred me -
sustain. . . sustain. . . last just a little longer before
my fingers slip into dissonance and lift quickly 
in pain.

Carry me, Your love is wider than my need could ever be.

These drownings feel like baptism.

Lord, thank You. It is too much, but it is not too much. Not really.
Thanks for Your irony. You're just the most lovably frustrating. I want to say dangdest but that's not OK. May I? If we both clearly understand what I mean? And if I apologize just enough to make it awkward?

Thank You that my tomatoes are growing. Thank You that I do not have to compare my life to anyone else's - I just need to follow You.

Beggars get me thinking again. And just thinking, about the last couple times I was here. There IS something very exciting about the city. So many lives colliding. And unique places. Old & new tossed together, wealth & poverty.
Jesus, take and hold me tonight. Make me more of a woman, Your woman, this weekend.

There was a totally extravagant wedding going on. And with so much richness, I felt both fake and delighted. Had that icky feeling I get around wealth - that I want it, and I DON'T, and if I'm being sweet it must be because I'm scheming.
Give me daily bread. And,
Thank You.

"O cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall nourish thee, and shall not suffer the righteous to fall for ever..." (Psalm 55)

Solomon built a temple for You. How can I make You more at home?

Lord, I want to understand. To understand what all this means, to look at it from a wide, a high angle. Why things matter. How they connect. I want to do a better job of listening and of obeying, but all it seems I can do is make half-sincere plans and then fail. Help me up. Give me a new heart, mind, and spirit for this life. This isn't just a song I sing in church, this is what I want. I want You. I want to really be satisfied in You, and not pretend I am. Bring me back daily to the Gospel.

Lord, forgive me. Already I feel bitter and offended this morning.
Mom just came down the hallway, gave a quick succession of claps, and said in a high voice,
"It's summer! We're making ice cream at 10 o'clock at night!"


Monday, December 15, 2014

Lines from the Months of This Last Year: May

Thank You that our flooding is not worse.
Quorum plus ONE!

Thank You for the people on the subway. Thank You for the Bronx zoo,
the birds, the lemurs, the tigers, the sea lions, the fossa and crocs and red pandas. The long walk back. Curry stir fry, vinegar apples.
I woke up late in the night to moaning from the street; prayed.
Thank You that You will do whatever You want.

Show me how to know You, be in step and in love with You all day. And not a wishy washy namby pamby happy pappy wimp.
Nurse me at Your comforting breasts.

Help me forget myself. Help me be open and obedient to whatever You ask me to do. Help me delight in You, in Your words, more and more.

Please help me take each day as a gift, joyfully, quietly, trusting You. Ready for any sacrifice. Help me be flexible, hold nothing back from You.

"Men will have to give account...for every careless word they have spoken."
(Matt 12:36)

Lord,  please forgive me. Please take this heart and reform it. Remind me that I have the power of Your Spirit, that I CAN say NO to sin, to myself, and claim Your victory. Please help me do that today. Make my heart good, whole, holy. Help me gather with You.

Lord. What is the matter with me? Why is it so hard to be steadfast in heart?
Help me.
Hearing from J's room, "Who holds back the raging sea? Who keeps trouble far from me? This far will you come, and no more." (Innocence Mission)
I'm wearing Grandpa's overalls. They make me feel kooky and '90's. A little old school, homeschooler, hipster.
J came in hungry, ate more of my nuts and pondered what else he could eat. It seemed like bananas and PB were the only pleasing option; he went off to have some.

Lord, why do I love You? In the silent loneliness of my soul, why do I believe?

It is all made of cake. All these things. Nothing is real. Not really mine. This is cake lamp, cake book, cake antique stool. Shoe cake. Soul cake.
Prayed today, unconsciously, until I heard myself say, "In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen."

Lord, shake us up! Me up! Unchain the tiger in my ribcage! I turn into a sallow mealworm between dreams. What courage is there in me?
It doesn't matter. You do. So help me be true to You. I am only a balloon, You are the solid, the real, the soul. No cake.

"I have no good like unto thee..." (Ps 16)

This is so much better. Prepare me for whatever this will bring, however it will change me, the world. Show me how to honor this, this precious time, and let it flow through my hands. Renew me day by day, because I'm already tired and ugly and protective.
You are a maker of such beauty. Help us see past ourselves. Help us see You, and trust You where we can't see.
Please be filling our hearts and souls tonight. Protecting us (send angels), comforting and calling us.
Oh, so many. I want to let the weight of them sink deep into my hands, my heart, and then out into the bed You make. Into the air.

Thank You for the beauty of this day. Lake Chautauqua. Salads and Sara Groves and coloring feathers. My talk with Dad, on the lawn chair, in the sunny patch of moss by the old doghouse. Massages and hair-playing and Gundam Wing. My nap in the spare oom. Show me what love is. What obedience is, in these situations. Help me write. Create. Process all these things. "Add to the beauty". Pray and work and believe the very good.

Certain slants of light remind me of epiphany. My mother with a crumpled Kleenex in the passenger's seat, lifting and shaking it out in a puff of golden, sun-caught dust. Each fleck an airy and impossible thing.


Jesus. Tie more cords between us. Thank You for books and for actions. For words spoken. For lives shared. For food. For safety, and wit, and surprises.

Keep me in wonder.

We have freedom to play. Because we are securely loved.

O King of heaven.

Please give me wisdom and...well help me OWN the fruit of the Spirit. These things are mine already, in You, by You, through You.
To You.

"No man hath quickened his own soul..." (Ps 22)

Thy rod and thy staff comfort me... it is so assuring, Jesus Christ, to know that You not only guide but discipline me. That if I am doing wrong, going the wrong way, You will not allow it. I can act freely, confidently, trusting that You will correct and reprove if I need it.
There is comfort in that.

Help us be good to each other. IT IS NOT TOO MUCH. Help me give my fish and bread, this measly heart, to You. These crumbs can feed a multitude.

Thank You for all kinds of work, hard in their own ways. Thank You for baby calves, for hay mows, for swallows and barncats and tulips, for Tom Bombadil on the hill at Grandma's. Thank You for strange dreams. Thank You for everyone persevering in prayer for us. Bless them.
Jesus, I can't do anything without you and have joy. Ice cream, movies, sleep, reading, music, dreams of romance - all sour and turn flat and ugly without You. Bring me back to a childlike position - on Your bosom. Be glorified in me,
whatever it takes
(please be gentle).

Life is too long to plant nothing,
to think fruit trees won't bear fruit,
or the flowers that flower next year
aren't worth planting.

Stars have been singing all this blooming time...

I take your faces for granted.

Renew our vision. Keep us humble, always learning. Remembering that YOU are God. Lord, chasten me. Open and close doors as You will. Thanks, I guess.
Cultivate me and my little weedy garden of a heart.

Let me be a clear birdsong singing praise.

Make me alive, sharp as cider vinegar. I love this life.
And I wish, I wish, I wish, to be wet all through with rain. To be rocked in tree boughs again. To hold hands and not care that I'm sweaty.
Knit me, Lovely, deep into Your vine. I want to feel Your sap mingling with mine.

Meet all of us here. People waiting. PLEASE. People I love. And I can't love very well. Show me how. Holy Spirit, I EXPECT You!

J has graduated. The ceremony was mostly mortifying, but we made a mighty roar for him.

"Be strong, and He shall establish your heart..." (Ps 31)

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Lines from the Months of This Last Year: April

Uhhhh. I don't even KNOW what I need. I need more of You. I need to be faithful with little. Help me. And give me much when I've learned. Help help.
Madeleine talked about how we overuse some of these four-letter words.
                                          H  e  l  p .
It's on its way. I trust You.

How can I take on more responsibility?

Writing from A's window seat. I appreciate this family so much.
It is an overcast day, but the birds are active. Two fat ducks just landed in the puddle by the treeline.

Lord God,
What can I say to You? What is there?
As. You. Wish.

Two years ago today was Maundy Thursday, in Orvieto.
One of the best days of my life.
Today I went to the Evangelism class at 9am, a video lesson. It was thought provoking. And provoking.
What do people need to hear and know? How can we best understand? It's not such a clear "us-them." Who is God?
Whey does He love me? Why should I love Him?
What right do you have to accost me  - what is your motive?
Motives. I do not ever want to speak out of guilt or compulsion. But out of genuine concern, love, drive. Not that God couldn't use my words in any form,
but Madeleine L'Engle wrote about how we speak to people most by who we are. Who am I? Does my life witness?
What must be told as parable, and what can be spit out clean and offensive & joyous?

Being called like Samuel. Do You Still Call Me?
Yes, Lord.
Here I am.
Your Servant wants to listen.
I hate being so half-hearted, mistrusting. Apprehensive. Pouty. When
You Delight In Me.
Can I learn to take it one day at a time and trust You?
For good? For $? For <3? For this little lentil of a heart?
Hear me, heal me. Show me righteousness.
Give me a steady drip of grace.
Build real love in us. Help us not fear.
Why is it so easy to be cynical about romantic love? Don't good things have to be believed in?
M   E    &    Y   O   U  .

Anoint my tongue. Guard it with me.

My problem is not Paul's. He acted in ignorance & unbelief. I know, but I just don't care. And I'm a coward. A people-pleaser. A comfort-lover. Or maybe I don't really believe, because if I did I'd care more about people's eternal comfort and pleasure than their earthly ease. Life isn't about ease. Lord, help me. I know fear and guilt could choke me. Free me, love and speak through me, truth, law, grace.


He is like a tree. Tall, contained, eager but unruffled. Of few words, but easy ones.  Ruminated, aged ones. He is not lazy, is not busy. He is.
He does what there is to be done, in season. Steadily works, readily rests, heartily enjoys.
He is friendly, but not suave. He likes people and is therefore easily liked, respected because he is honest. He is childlike. There is no social veneer. No careful solicitude. Only curiosity and attention. His hands are the most beautiful. Brown & knotted with callouses, cracked in places, still edged with earth.


Help all of us to have softer hearts this week.
Help me not to get tied up in knots, but love from who You made me to be.

Guide forth, my Lord. Be glorified in us. Make me more and more Yours. Utterly, undeniably, willingly. You give me such joy. This is a beautiful life.
Thank You for Yours.

Decided to let go of C's wedding bouquet. I found a Kleenex folded up and tucked between the roses. I cried quite a bit that wedding, and didn't have sleeves to hide tissues in.
Today is painfully beautiful. One of those rare, first warm days before everything bursts into life. Few insects, many birds. Budding forsythias. Breeze, clean air. A heaviness, too, the feeling of impending rain. Spring peepers.
The highway, the chimes. Iris yapping. Am I allowed to drink this? Do I know what any of it means, I so short on earth, not capable even of the back deck, and never a tree? But is it also for me? Can I be safely lost in this, and trust it (You), trust this love because it makes me quiver, swell, dissolve? I disappear in You, and become. I don't understand. I am sad for spring, too, this year.
"Heaven is my heart made large enough
to love You the way You deserve."

Edible air, goodness so real and graspable. Jesus. You can have me.

Dear Jesus.
Thank You for seeing, and knowing, and loving with such perfection.
Thank You for yesterday. Thank You for helping her come, and come dancing. For the dancing. So, so good. I danced every dance!
You know what You are doing.
Oh, provide. NOTHING can be done without You.
Make them wise and innocent, righteous and humble.
Cars, $, spouses, houses, jobs. Care for us.

Only You are my help.
Thank You that You WILL BE here for everything. That You never fail, and You are more trustworthy than Your creatures could ever be.
Do sanctify me.
Full moon. Blooming forsythia. Fan on, blankets swapped. Spring is here. Hallelujah.

17. Maundy Thursday
Dear Lord,
You know why I'm here, downstairs quarantined with the flu, rather than on my way to New York. Please take this time and use it. I give all I am and have to You.

19. Easter Eve
"Who knew fever breaking was like water breaking,
Cold sweat, wet bed and 
'What has happened to me?
Am I born again, resurrected?'"

Keep leading us. Help us follow.
Praise You, Risen Lord.
Do I believe You rose? I'm trying to imagine. If I say I don't it, doesn't make sense. I do. I guess You could say I'm staking my life on it.
Like Madeleine, believing utterly with all kinds of doubts. Help me.

J: "You looked like death this morning....Beautiful and something to
look forward to."

Lord, help me to desire Your Word, not just be tired of my sickbed.
Wowza. Remember before I could write? And now I can write almost without thinking about it.
Hope for driving, huh?

Thank You that I can sleep in my own bed tonight.

Dear Jesus,
Thank You that You see me. That You care about how low I feel today, and I don't have to hide it, to hide from You. Please help me.
Thank You for Rilke's 8th letter. For E's text, and A's call immediately after I asked for prayer. For Mom and Dad praying over me. For a talk with J.
Please keep us all firmly under Your hand of protection and guidance. Use us. Make us fruitful. Please give me patience and trust.
"I Will Wait."

I feel trapped in smallness...I keep rearranging my room. Trying to get rid of things. Is it really because I'm preparing for something, or am I just growing stagnant? Where is the life You showed me, that would call for everything I had, even beyond what I felt capable of? Isn't that life also (always) Today?
I want something large and demanding and beautiful to give myself to.
But how well am I preparing?

I have something to battle the depression with - praise.
Help them to refuse to let this slide. To fight for their love with YOUR WORD, all the weapons and strength You provide.
We are trusting You Lord, for victory over sin and death and brokenness. Trusting Your redemptive power, Your LOVE and mercy. Your justice.

Thank You, Lord.
Please keep feeding me truth and hope, and help me give my whole self to You, every day. Not hold back anything out of fear, but know the glorious freedom of abandonment to You, and of seeing You multiply my loaves and fish.

Thank You for picking me up again and again. Please keep showing Yourself strong in my weakness, and humbling me by the graciousness and love of my family and friends. Bless us Lord. Help us mean our words. Help us know Your Word, and live it. Use it as it is meant to be used.
It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of God. But better Your hands than anyone else's.