Sunday, April 23, 2017

Jane Eyre, March 8

Happy Women's Day. I am up and awake at the Citadel Bank, by the skin of my teeth, you might say. I budged by the grace of God, not my alarm.
The day is looking beautiful. Sunny with long, combed-wool clouds, and sparkling puddles. Not very cold.
Five years ago we arrived in Rome. Yellow flowers were the city motif.
Oh, there is so much I want. Part of what I want is that sharp sensitivity to the world, that tenderness and wonder. The irrepressible hopefulness of the beloved.
Lord, help me not be nervous and brutal. Elisabeth knew how to be graciously blunt. So did Maya Angelou. I'm still learning.

There is this absolutely gorgeous tree across the road, at a house down a long driveway. It's large and fantastically curved, as if it journeyed from some other world. It comforts and terrifies me to find such beauties unexpectedly. How little I know of my own planet. Of my own body, even!
The blush of red at the tops of the trees is so lovely against the blue. I want there to be a word that combines tender, passionate, subtle, and shy. That's what it is. Very Jane Eyre. That gray bird with a bleeding heart. I think we would have been friends. So fiercely friends that we might have died for each other. Funny how we can make our lives so remote that no one touches us this way at all. Not funny - tragic.
But tragedies are often what shake us from our deadly complacency and cool independence.
Don't let me learn the hard way.

Jesus. Please help me know my identity in You. To be truly at peace, at rest, secure. Growing, but not frantic. Conscientious, but not hypersensitive. Confident and quiet and bold. Give me again that whole trust in You, that surrendered helplessness and joy. That janeyre.

Surrender, March 6

It's not as if I expect to be healed in a moment, but I expect to be healed. 
And I want to decide to surrender everything before I'm asked. Before the gypsy asks for my shawl, or the homeless ask for dignity and money. You haven't let me off easy. I'm not even a nun, with a habit and rule and the protection of manifest surrender. But You are always with me. And your Spirit will lead. 

Reconciled, March 6

Yesterday morning, the perfect opportunity came up for talking with J, and we made pax. He was very gracious. I'm so grateful. And relieved that You like reconciliation better than bland avoidance and dismissal. 

Balanced, March 3

Oh, I always need You. I can't keep myself right or strong or "healthy" or "balanced". I wonder if I should even try. But I can leap into Your arms, ride on Your shoulders, even stand on them, and it won't matter how "balanced" I am, because You won't let me fall.
Let there be nothing and no one reigning before You in my heart, especially myself. 

Complaint, March 1

I want to complain about how horrible I am at life, and how distractible and unsteady and neurotic and forgetful, but You already know all that, and You blessed me like crazy in spite of it all.
How can You assure my heart that I am safe here, with You?
However it can be done, please do it.

Judas, Feb 28

Yesterday, when I got up in the morning, I had swift opposition: a pouting concern for Judas. At least, cynicism about how he really died. I was ready to base my attitude toward God for the whole day on whether he hanged himself or tripped in a field, whether he bought the field or his filthy money was requisitioned. Finally I read both accounts and decided I was stupid; they offered me more confidence than doubt, if I could accept it.
Christ called you "Friend" to the very last.

What God Will Do, Feb. 28

You can't really guess what God will do, or how He'll change you.
Camp reminded me that I still have to offer up everything and agree to be changed. It doesn't matter how old I am or how much experience I've had.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Touchy, February 26

It's hard to see, sometimes, the attitudes that still emerge in me. It's difficult to love like You, Jesus, and not keep score, not be touchy. Yesterday I painting that painting of us (more or less), in flame, and when M came in and immediately said, "Is that Jesus and His daughter?" I was offended. OFFENDED.
I'm still trying to figure out why. I think it was in part because it was a vulnerable painting. An amateur one. A personal one, like a journal entry (we know how private I am with those...). I still have this stubborn obsession with being "deep". Save me.
Give me the simplicity of a child, and the honest humility of a beggar who needs to survive, and knows there's no other way. 

Hundreds of Roses, February 22

Please pace me with my headstrong ideas. I'm loving the little changes, and yet I'm afraid of myself. Guide and temper me in all this. Take charge of me.
I chose You, I choose You, but most importantly You are choosing and have chosen me. Hallelujah.

Humble me, gently, surely. Help me to desire You first. To want Your ways.
To live for You, in that fashion that doesn't make sense without You.
Please take my hands. Form my mind and dreams and affections most carefully. I know You can, You of the hundreds of roses. Make me a blessing. Help me be brave and faithful, and leave the rest up to You. 

Eggs in Alaska, February 21

Who is this? It is my Lord, the Prophet from Nazareth, Messiah.
It's just after 9:30, a good sign. It's nice to be awake this...early. Though I do feel stiff and groggy. I've been collecting eggs in the snow around a plane crash in Alaska. And standing up to a cruel teacher who wanted me and my classmates to read the abridged version of Anne of Green Gables. And sewing flour sacks with subliminal messages. And climbing big old broken trees.
It is so bright outside. I love the light.
And I am eager to work today. 

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Comfort, February 10

Comfort makes me uncomfortable, but I'm also addicted to it. I don't want to be threatened by violence or assault. I don't want to smell bad smells, or hear yelling, or get involved with chronically needy people. This is all understandable, and it is all Christless. Lord, help me. 

Rocks for the Crop, Snow Flurries January 31

I woke up this morning to my alarm, and five minutes later to a strange man casually swinging a grocery bag against the side of my face. That was a dream, but it was unpleasant.
Well, I'm awake now, and I'm glad to have another day. Thank You, Jesus. And help me, I need You. Again Your words hit my creature-comfort-hungry soul like something indigestible. Rocks for the crop. Cheep cheep!
We saw a lot of starlings yesterday. Those bully birds with the charming name. We got home mid-afternoon. I even had the house to myself for a spell - and an unearthly spell it was. I watched snow flurries come in from the west. The sun breathed in and out like the light on a sleeping Macbook. Thick snow finally swallowed up the glowing orb completely, and the whole sky was filled with flakes, looking dirty and ashen against the bright, yellowish clouds, and cottony against the somber trees. 

Satisfaction, January 26

I dreamed that I was looking through manuscripts, and had just finished scanning one complete set when the alarm went off and I awoke. That sense of completion was very comforting. Satisfying.
"You will never be satisfied, I will never be satisfied..."
That's something that frightens me. The thought that maybe I will never be satisfied. With life, with a man. For some reason I'm not really worried about being satisfied in God, or with my identity. Not in this moment, at least. That is a gift. But when it comes to romance, I have this unreasonable fear, that I will marry someone flat or who won't understand me and pursue my heart, and that later on I will meet some incandescent, bleeding soul and be thrown off balance (be discontented, or even unfaithful - which are not dissimilar).
Save me from this fear and dread and burden, Father. You gave the soul.
You know how to give good gifts and make good matches.
Strike Anywhere matches.
Ah, but You are the only match. And the skeleton key, and the O negative.

Quote: Lin-Manuel Miranda

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

God, I am afraid of You

God, I am afraid of You.
Afraid that You are too far from my experience.
That You are a cruel master.
Or so immoderately gracious, gushing healing, that I can hold You as easily
as water. And I will find myself cold as Jonah.
And wet.

Inauguration (Jan 21)

I don't think I've ever cringed so much at prayers prayed "In JESUS' Name". Though I do prayer He heard them, and will take seriously what is done in His Name... even if that means judging and disciplining. O Lord, violence and self-interest and wealth and isolationism are not the answer. Forgive us. Remind us how You saved the world.

Remind us what Christlikeness looked like: identifying with the outsider, loving all people, speaking truth unapologetically, touching lepers, washing feet, praying earnestly, having compassion, risking danger, rebuking the proud, paying taxes, not abolishing but fulfilling... choosing obedience and humility unto death, in order to give life, to glorify the Father.

Things done for Your sake, in obedience to You, are done in Your Name. Not things done selfishly. Help us remove the logs from our own eyes. Help us follow You, and forsake all notion of being "the greatest". Let us seek to serve.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Dreams, January 19

I slept in. And dreamt much.
One of the dearest dreams was about some little rescue animals, including a tiny black-and-white kitten who was skin & bones & fur. Its little eyes bulged out.
But I'm pretty sure we saved it.

There was also a scene in a thrift shop where I looked through vintage dresses. And a music video of me and the bros in cow/zebra/snow leopard onesies.
And a book I was reading about relationships, with a section entitled, "Why Do You Feel Powerless?" and an ad for pear 'claret', which might have been spelled 'clarinet'. 

Meta, January 18

I can't sleep; I was thinking too much and I was hungry, so I decided to write
and let myself sleep in a tad.
I've just been eating yogurt in bed, in the dark.
I thought about how I would write that (and I'm so literal that, after I instinctively turned on my light, I turned it off again so "in the dark" would be true).
I also thought about how I would write that, and how it would sound very real and transparent.
And I thought about writing that, too.
I'm so meta. :I
I'm also driving myself crazy (sleep, brain) (or come up with song and images and EP ideas, if you must).
I don't think I'm a genius, but if I am it's at the expense of nights like these.

I'd like to talk more to God and less to myself, because He's a better listener, and His answers are better, too.
Although, as J pointed out, they don't always make sense.
"Lord, what is 2 x 4?"
God: "Ethel." 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Imposition of Ashes

In like a lion,
I could complain. You are already
taking care to deliver this day,
to bless through curses,
in like rape, out like labor,

life out of death, out of mothballs.
Here I sense no wickedness at all,
but the persistent inconvenience
of the work of God.

It is an imposition
to be human. To face the mirror
and the toilet and have both
deny your divinity. Glass and porcelain
flesh and bone and stray silver hair
bear witness to decay. I'll take it.

For days we borrow, forty days You loan
and lean down to transmogrify. A party
in the ferns, a table spread with invisible
fruit. With secret teacups we have sipped
together; what kisses You give in all weather.
Carry me like the child I am.
In like an infant,
out like a lamb.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

This Year (Jan 5)

I'll tell you what,
Six hours of sleep feels so good.
I am still stiff and thick, but I want to kiss the window and wear a long,
soft dress. I want to come awake.

I want this year to be one of Your increase in me, of my life being crushed
so that I can be the precious fragrance of Christ.

I want to write songs that are more private, that are more public.
Songs that will carry mystery to the disinterested and clarity to the thirsty.
I want to be a bold voice for justice. I want to give me.
I want to rest and meditate and choose fruitfulness over bitterness,
busyness, and leave the definition of "fruitfulness" to You.

I want to eat and breathe and sweat and sh** and exhale righteousness.
I want to be so in love with You that anything less is laughable,
more absurd than Warhol tossing taffy.
I want to become raw to the holy, to let it burn me,
to understand why the whole universe is about the Name of Jesus.
You are worthy
You are worthy of Your Name,

Italics: "You Are Worthy" (Brown, Younker, Curran)

Sleepless Travel Buddies (Jan 3)

Being here is very good. We bond just by being sleepless together,
and finding each other in crowds.
We celebrate each other's existence.

I am so thankful that I DID SLEEP, because if I hadn't I'd be angry. And afraid.
As is, I'm delirious and a little appalled, but there's a sweet trusting babyishness to it, like being born.

Purity of Heart (Jan 2)

I really want a pure heart.
I want to know what that means, because I suspect I'm calling it a bottle of Dasani, while You call it a thunderstorm, Niagara Falls, or the ocean.
Everything that is toward You is larger than we think.
Every aspect of Your character is endless and whole. 

Eternity (Jan 1)

Eternity.  I know it exists like the womb exists. Maybe with more certainty.
I thought that sounded poetic, even though it may not be true.
Although I think it is true.
Eternity is set in the hearts of men, by God.
The womb is set in the abdomen of women, also by God. 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Use Your Safety

Remember to use your safety.
It is not for blind indulgence.
It is for healing,
and preparation.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Sign of Jonah

Matthew 16:4 NIV

"A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign,
but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah..."

I dreamed I had crocodiles inside me. My abdomen was a parched bed of earth, and we poured a bucket of water over it. As it soaked down into me and the dirt turned to mud, many small crocodiles began to squirm and wriggle about. It was painful. I was torn between wanting more water, enough to release them and let them slide away, and wanting to endure their activity until the mud dried and they grew quiet again.
One croc, near the surface, was so large and painful that I reached in through my navel and found my fingers inside his stomach. I felt around until I knew the tissue was his, and then I dug in and tore him to death with my fingernails. His writhing was awful. Although I couldn't feel his teeth, the stretching of his open jaws and the rough spines along his body were terrible. When he died, I realized I was still stuck with his body inside me; it would tear me if I pulled him out. His body lay transverse from above my left hip to under my right ribs.
Happily I woke up after that. I don't know what I "should" have done, or what the "sign" means. I'm inclined now to choose water, to dissolve myself to mud and set the crocodiles free. It seems a very, "If your right hand causes you to sin" kind of situation.
How do we deal with our sin?

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

January 15, Sabbath

Happy Love Day to us!
Show me Your face. Look at me and speak to me in such a way that I'll know how to think, feel, and behave. I'm usually horrible at following. Help me breath deeply, evenly, quietly. If I do nothing else, if I simply match your breathing, that is enough for today. Even if we don't make it across the floor.
Help me believe that.
Wax on.
No one has shoulders like Yours. And milk and honey are under Your tongue. Share them with me? Spread me out until I'm light as a bird, and quivering. Until the little knots can be rubbed away with one touch.
If we can't enjoy each other, what is the point of it all?
Put Your ear to my lips.

"...They will drink and drink
and be as if they never were."
-Obadiah 16b

"I think you are the first sip of new milk."
-Jess Yu

"These walls of one window will open into something
wider still..."

Friday, February 10, 2017


Three things that make me feel encumbered, yet invincible:

Three words that bubbled up in my vocabulary last month:

Three alternate lives I'd lead:

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Tom's Voice: Two Poems

For a week Pooh Bear ate bran instead of honey. He grew lean and ground his new-found claws on concrete. He gargled with salt water every night, and again on Thursdays at three.
He dined the second week on swiss cheese, washed down with strong black tea, tannic and hot, grumbling and humbling and snapping his fingers to Louis Armstrong.
On the third week, he packed a knapsack with Pecan Sandies and hiked the Matterhorn, plodding till the air was thin and the planets close as moths. Then he stopped, and munched, and spoke - and the voice he used was Tom's.

II. Haiku
Pumice stones sand heels Tom in the Dry Tortugas Heals sand by speaking

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Dialogue, Feb. 7

Me: God, I need to see You. O God, I need to see You.
God: I'm here.
God: Look at Me.
Me: Huh?
God: I'm right here.
Me: (mumble)
God: I've got all the time in the world...
Me: What, right now?
Me: Rats. I actually wanted to sleep.
God: Not yet. Look at me.
Me: Thanks. Ok, yup. That's better. Thanks.
Me: How about I sleep now?
Me: ...OK, so...
God: What do you want?
Me: I'm not sure how to answer that. There are about three true answers. I guess I want to want You, if that counts...
God: It does.
Me: But that means I have to stay up and be with You for a while, doesn't it?
God: Possibly.
Me: You mean I need to cooperate... i.e. the shortest route is surrender?
God: You'll just have to trust Me on this.
Me: (long, slow breath)
God: Can you drink this cup?

Thank You, God. You won't leave me to starve on my own juices. Even when I hardly want You, try to pray but hardly do, You answer. Calmly and persistently.
You understand how it is. But You also understand that only You will satisfy me, and You answer Your own magnet within me. You want my highest good, my deepest pleasure, more than I do myself. 
You see through my palliative fantasies and have compassion on me. Too jealous and too kind to give up.
You know that in wanting a man I'm only wanting You. You know that in rolling impossible brokennesses over in my mind, I'm really asking, "Is the impossible really possible? Can anything ever change? Can redemption strike here?" 
I do want to want You. And I want You. And I need to see You. 
O God, I need to see You. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Lines from December, Part 2

There are so many things to write about.
But first I ask You to bring peace to my own soul, which is not at ease. I think that vague, avoided doubts are more harmful than honest, addressed ones.
Are You there? Are You Who You say You are? Why is so much of life this waiting and persisting, thinking fleeting thoughts, and rarely finding that spark of sharing it with another?

Are we all so solitary? So alone? Why are moments of clarity and blood-singing beauty so hard to grasp, or to remember?
We are more than the sum of our parts.

There are two things I've decided I must cherish closely this season:
honor and joy.
Make it three: humility.
Make me honorable, merry, and meek. Meekness is not the same thing as humility, but they walk with arms linked.
And help me pray more these weeks, even in ways that seem abstract, or are silly, like praying for whatever catastrophe was causing all the sirens, only to find out that Santa was canvassing the neighborhood in a firetruck.

I moved the studio today. There's not enough space to do yoga in my room anymore, but I'll figure something out.

You work small miracles in domestic situations, and I'm asking You to do it again. Break down self-pity, pride, and insecurity. Bring out the best in us, the patient, gentle, faithful love that has no substitute, though it may have its mockers and skeptics.

Jesus. Be my God this weekend. Be God with us. Be praised in the perfection of Your goodness.

P.S. Psalm 73 was so perfectly timed. Thank You.

"Yo, I walked with God in the garden and it was good" - Sintax.the.terrific

We had an ice storm last night, which complicated matters today. J and I went to the party anyway, and it was the right choice. He got to ride in Wesley. We had a little time to talk.
Sobering to tell him, "None of my relationships really flourished this fall." That's only partly true. A few were maintained with adequacy. My weekly chat and prayer with A was actually very nourishing, deepening to our friendship. But for the most part, I either gave old friendships mere nods, or started new ones which, though positive, are yet green.
Remind me of this, when I am tempted to load my plate. I need space and margin to be the fully-present, invested, relational being I was meant to be. I'd like to feel again, with a grin, that I am a "professional friend". That my personal relationships are what fill most of my waking hours, and that I can care well, know and be known.

Please guide tomorrow, my last Christmas Sabbath before the whole gang is here. Bless Your Name, faithful one.

Thank You, Jesus, for such a sweet day with S.
Bulletproof coffee, cookie baking, a lunch of mushroom soup and marbled rye bread, tea and prayer.
Please heal my knee. Please stir my heart and mind, toward You, toward prayer. Help me care well for what/those who You have entrusted to me.

Guide me into a place of peace and overflow - even if it's an overflow that simply allows me to grieve and suffer, which I have often been too crowded to allow.
Bring more, true love into my life.
Help me be the seer and giver You meant me to be, without pride or bitterness. Help me to be secure in You. Firmly planted and fruitful in Truth.
Jesus, be glorified. Come.

Please help. I really need to paint. And I felt like I needed to sleep, so I slept in, but now I'm grouchy. This is stupid. Please put me to rights, and work through me, and get all the praise.

Mom just came in and prayed with me. Thank You.

You are answering prayer. You are like long looked-for rain, like the firm squeeze of a hand, like sleep after a tiring day. You constantly challenge my smallness, and ask my heart, "What are you living for?"
I am not free enough. And I am too loose as well. Train and temper me, please. Make me transparent and winsome. Help me to love You with every bit of myself, to fear You - and nothing else. Never let me slip into arrogance, flippancy, or complacency. With all the luxury I have, help me always feel my need for You. And always show me You are there, and enough.
Love is the best impetus.

Remind each of us of You. Help us pray. Awake our consciences, our spirits, our intellects, even as You (please) put our bodies to sleep. It is so sweet to have families.

What a Christmas. This was good. And the chaff blows away the longer it sits. Holidays have the unfortunate tendency to be idealized, stereotyped, and idolized - leading to disappointment. But with the reality we are given, I don't think you could get much better than this. The gift-giving was relaxed and warm, with a few lovely surprises. Breakfast was delightful, lunch was late but delicious. E joined us. I had a little afternoon time to sequester myself. Later I got to talk to Roomie, and over the past few hours we've been listening to "Hamilton" - all of it - in the living room. This was the best way to hear it. With attentive, engaged company, absorbing and responding together. Soaking in the art, following the nuances.

I've noticed that old habit of muteness creeping in, but part of that is my tiredness. I didn't leave the house today. Better do so tomorrow. And paint...

Carry me through this week. It's up to You whether I finish or not. Anything is possible. Because of You. Help me live with that undaunted confidence in You again. To be willing to "kill my darlings", to let go.

These rare clan gatherings are so crucial; to reaffirm belonging, to establish context. May I never, ever take them for granted.

Who am I? What do I believe? What do I stand for?
Some things are crystalizing. What is my name? How can purity flame forth as beautiful and joyous as it really is? Help me hate what is evil and cling to what is good. Let there be no acceptable sins with me, as there are none with You.
Where will I draw the line? When will I pray and participate, when will I abstain? How can I live in truth, and not as a hypocrite?

Sex and alcohol and explosions and satire - they're all so overblown and out of proportion - so BORING! Give me something genuine and tender, something noble and mysterious.
I want to be a heroine, but help me want, more than that, to see You glorified. To always, always point back to You and Your finished work on the cross. To be content to be a sinner forgiven, a wretch made holy by no merit of her own. Name me again.

Win the battles, Lord. In me, in my family, in this community, in the world, the universe!
How small my language is. But I want everything to bend toward You. For You to show Yourself, and for this mangy heart to drown in worship.
Lead me away from false loves, by Your One True Love. Play a sweeter song than that of the sirens. But don't let me live in metaphor. Show me the actual, literal work in front of me, and help me do it. Help me know when to speak.

I'd like to paint a day for us. With ripe fields, gardens, woods, and hills - with lambs and kids, birdsong, fireflies. With light snow and a fireside, hot food and drink and measured talk. The best of every season, and You beside me. A swing, a run, a swim, a dance, a climb in the old magnolia. Sunset seen through branches. Berries picked from the brambles. Peepers and crickets and owls. Low singing, and the creak of stairs.

I ate my first passionfruit today. I almost liked it. Talk about a fruit that seems as if it were made for aliens.

E and J are gone. It feels so abrupt. Tomorrow night I'll be the sole "kid" again - and I'm not looking forward to it. To more time to work, yes, but not to the loneliness.
T sent Mom a book. Dad cried when she opened it. And then they both cried, missing my brothers. I sat down at Dad's knee and we all grieved gently together, and prayed. We had such precious time, and we don't know when it will happen again. More and more it feels rare. We can't take it for granted.

And I've been sitting here, thinking of children traumatized and killed in Aleppo, thinking of the murderousness in us all, hating all the sin and weakness and apathy in the world, needing Your comfort and perspective.
Remind me that caring is worth it. I want to love this year, remember?
Sometimes loving feels so painful, too hard, or like it's not enough. Remind me that it is enough. It carries a seed within it. If I tend it, it will inevitably yield good. My love is one small stitch, but stitch me tight and true. Connect my love to all the long and neverending spool of Yours.

"Look like a baby once again, 'cuz I'm shedding my old withered skin"
- Danielson

The year is almost over. 23 more hours. And what a lot to fit into them!
Today, despite some slower-than-anticipated aspects, was pleasant.

PLEASE help! All the photos to come out well. Me to drive safely and be present with the people I love. Me to pray. Me to know You. Me to see things for what they are...
Like my first bite of persimmon today. It helps to think, "It's a nectarine!" to block the thought, "It's a mutant tomato!" But no, it's a persimmon.
Help me trust You with all the pains I take, and all the grace I choose to rest in. You have called me to now, to this moment, and I don't want to miss it.

I feel so much better than I did 5 hours ago, leaving Verizon with no progress, driving to pick C up through tears. The shoot went so well, and I stopped by K's, so we got to talk, exchange gifts, and pray. And I'm home, and have eaten, and can PAINT now, for a while.
Thank You for this relief. For helping me make decisions even when I'm sick-tired and weary. You weave beauty, truth, and goodness into all this. DO.