Friday, October 6, 2017

Maintenance Field in August

Twice, on my rounds,
I smelled the warm stink of death
and saw the vulture rise

Lucky. To have someone
to pick your bones.
Hidden by the tall grass,
my body could decay
discreetly, in a diaspora
of ants, worms, wasps, and larvae.

But let a burnished beak archive,
a bright eye survey,
this bald coroner, a cleric,
cross my body to enact the liturgy:
Dust you are,
and to dust you will return.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Artist's Date in the Cemetery, September 13

Today I went to the cemetery for my Artist's Date.
The idea came to me last night when I went to pick up L. It was rainy this morning, and I almost changed my mind about going, but then realized that my inner romantic would LOVE to walk barefoot in the cemetery in the rain. Under an umbrella or a shawl. In a long dark skirt.

It was worthwhile. Nothing epochal, but thoughtful and good. Seeing old gravestones (18th-19th cent.) and new (the earth still raw and ruddy). Walking in the quiet solitude, but surrounded by stories. Minnie, who lived to be ~97 and was buried with her husband, who had passed on 41 years before. In the old section, lots of babies and young children, with lambs on the tops of the gravestones.
I was impressed by the number of veterans, with flags marking their graves. And struck anew with the pathos of wet, sun-bleached plastic flowers on solemn headstones.
Rebuke and denial. Manifested in Galadriel's gesture toward the East and the Eye. Our response to death, to evil?
There was a gravitas, but a sweetness, to this cemetery. I'll probably go back.
"...Up the long delirious burning blue..."

Ref. to Tolkien's "The Fellowship of the Ring"
Quote from a poem on a cemetery monument, by John Gillespie Magee, Jr. 

A Joke, September 11

Isn't it amazing that you are a living thing? That you stir the air, and change the motion of atoms when you look at them? Isn't it incredible that your lungs expand, and compress, and that the air you exhale is different from the air you inhaled? And your heart has been beating for hours and days and years and decades, without your instruction or consent?
Isn't it noteworthy that your fingers aren't raw, after all you've touched this week?

I don't understand. And I have so much - so much freedom and goodness and capacity to enjoy, to assimilate and cultivate. But I can be blighted by things as slight as moods. Or the amorphous, generalized concern that others are suffering, and what right have I to enjoy - anything?

Heaven forbid I laugh when hell is screaming.

Part of me believes this. Believes that for my faith to mean anything at all, suffering (especially eternal damnation) is so deadly serious that I should be willing to drop everything to save those in its path.
But part of me also believes that death is a joke. That I don't understand the matter at all, to look at it so drawn and wide-eyed. Methinks I saw the mask wink; a joke was played on hell, and Heaven still rolls with the wit of it.
What creeps up my esophagus is a sob that chokes on its own freakish laughter. I've gone mad and wild somewhere - but the sense and sanity is all on the side of love. On the moth blown off the hand outside, the woolly bear avoided on the road. On the quick kiss and the glass of water and the smile at the tired stranger. On the cheerful cleaning up of things, even the trash and the public toilet.
A joke has been played on hell, and the clang of Heaven's bells rings down and drowns my fear with joy, if I will let it.

Today at dinner Mom said, "God loves you," and I absently said, "I hope so." She said, "I KNOW so." And I realized how morose my inner thoughts had become. How circumstantial, or not: based on the most impersonal abstractions. The things I can't control or even experience, to say with authority that God was there or not. Lord, help me.

Clouds and thick darkness surround him; 
righteousness and justice are
the foundation of his throne.
-Psalm 97:2

Let me love You
and be obedient,
and leave what only You can do
in Your hands.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Little Bird II, September 5

Settle my spirit, Lord Jesus. A couple of days ago I was prepared to find a dead body. Yesterday I was a hostess. And today an artist. But make me Yours. Your little bird, Your child, Your love.

I dreamed last night that I had married a Chinese man. And he was very lovable and touchable, and our little boy was just like him. The other night I dreamt I was fighting and tearing apart a wolverine with my bare hands. Last week I dreamt I was racing a guy friend to get a seat in a van, and running with everything I had and saying fiercely to myself, "I WILL win!"
And I actually pulled ahead...

Rejection, September 1

I really don't have any updates. What I'm feeling now is that small uncomfortable pocket of rejection - the nothingness that hurts, like air bubbles inside. Like gas. It's embarrassing, and you hope it ends soon and nobody has to know. So that's my update: I've been swallowing air, and ended up with gas.

No, that's too simple. Too ultimate. No ultimatums allowed. Except that one.
I must be allowed to change, because I am only human. And things are not always what they seem.

Help me, Jesus, to rest in You. To trust Your mercy over all my slovenly housekeeping/bookkeeping/heartkeeping. Help me to be a lover. For a while now I've grown wary of the words. But that's not what I want. I want to mean them and SAY THEM if I mean them. 

Edible Day, September 1

It was an edible day. The air was cool and decidedly autumnal, like the two ends of the month met and kissed. I woke before my alarm, rested and edged
with a chill.
I relished my sweeping and mopping - it felt like such an intimate, sacramental way to close out my time in the store. Cleaning out its corners and washing it, inch by inch.

Pull, August 29

Why is there so much in me that wants to pull away from You right now?
And yet, the You in me keeps pulling me toward You. What a mercy.

Help me to be a friend like Job's friends weren't.
"Anyone who withholds kindness from a friend 
forsakes the fear of the Almighty." (6:14)
Make Your love undeniable to these hurting people.

Lord, make me willing. Break me.
Because I don't want to be broken. I'm afraid of being useless. But You have to break me to use me.
Let me feel Your hands, without a doubt. 

Open Wide Your Mouth, August 26

I'm struggling with this, Lord. I don't know if I can celebrate being Yours if I believe that others are irrevocably damned. Damnation itself is so terrible a thought, and right now it's hard to want heaven. What I know is what I have for context. I'm too touchy-feely, I know, but I can't be excited about what feels artificial and confusing to me right now. Please help me trust your patience on this, because if I'm too rushed I could snap. Could shut down, turn away.

I know that part of this is my own idolatry - wanting You to be what I want. Wanting praise from men. Wanting to be secure. Wanting, perhaps, an excuse to take more "liberties" - to indulge in sin. Don't let me become a slave again. You Yourself know who took me out of Egypt. Who made me brave. Who gave me a heart to love others in the first place. Who gave me any love I possess for the pure and noble and good.

Help me to hear what YOU are saying, and to be obedient to it.
Tonight You are saying,
"Open wide your mouth and I will fill it."

Monday, August 28, 2017

The Mirror, August 23

I don't feel very lovable right now. Not horrible, or in some depressed stew, but tired, needy.
Yesterday a character at the post office said to me, "Have you looked in the mirror lately? You're pretty." And I told him the mirror had told me I was tired, but thanks, I'd take it.
I feel super irritated/threatened by comments like that, but Dad was right behind us. Then I also felt mad that I was relying on the presence of a man to save me if things got "actually bad". Couldn't I stand up for myself? Do I always need a savior? (The answer is yes).
I eventually added Dad into the interchange by saying that he could take half the credit for me, but then it bothered me that I'd done it. And at the same time, it bothered me that Dad hadn't spoken up for me of his own volition.

Poor us. We put ourselves in these lose-lose situations, we stupid humans. If I had been a Brit, would I have patiently explained to this creep how to actually treat an unknown woman? How there's almost nothing you can do to become her "friend" on first acquaintance? We are on guard, for better or worse.
God, make my heart hospitable, but shrewd. 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Spine, August 15

There’s a shuddering weight of things pressing up against my spine.
I feel all right. But my eyes are looking tired. I’m home. Spent most of the morning cleaning, which WAS good for my soul. And did a little final work in the store; I was there in time to “fix” the dishwasher – remove a fork that was obstructing the plug. I left gifts. Packed up and drove home on precisely a quarter-tank of gas.

So behind. That’s OK, babe. Take it a step at a time. R just said to be good to my heart, my family, and my work.
I need to let You be good to me, Lover-Lord. Yikes. That sounds either saccharine or ominous. You’re right there, already ahead of me, ready to welcome me, ready to speak to me. You will not let me fall.

Mostly I just don’t want to lose You. I care too much about what people think. And I don’t understand, or like, everything about You, God. Yet I’m married to You. This is it. You’re stuck with me now, forever, so You’ve got to help me. This was Your idea. But I know You’re too much of a gentleman to manipulate me. Just keep being Yourself. And don’t leave me alone.

Little Bird, August 14

I remember reading once how baby birds, when they are young, have droppings that harden quickly, in a lump, so that parents can dispose of them outside the nest and keep things tidy within. But as the chicks mature their excrement softens, so that by the time they are old enough to leave the nest it is a messy and unpleasant place. They have an added incentive to leave the safety they’ve known and enter the wide world.

I feel something like a little bird right now. I’ve been taking things down and packing them up incrementally, until now there are very few corners that feel homey and cozy. The loneliness is still sweet, but the cold anonymity of bare walls and the clutter of bags and boxes are unbearable.
How do refugees stand it?  There are people in the world who want nothing more right now than to stand still in one place for a while, and be safe.

Remind me I am a pilgrim.

Muchness, August 11

So much today. Much of a muchness. The last store time. It went pretty well, all things considered. The fritzy iPad felt like predictable calamity, but it could have been worse. We finished well. You DID give me love and sweetness for the girls. And the chance to do kind things for people, give little gifts. I got to give 3 ½ back massages, and take dressy photos, and give lots of hugs.

But there is such a sadness today, and not all of it is the sweet sorrow of finishing the summer.
They lost the baby.
Lord Jesus, they need Your truth and comfort so much right now. Protect them as they grieve. Help this bring them closer to each other, to bring others around them, and to bring them deeper into fellowship with You. You, who have also lost a child.

Lord, I praise You. For giving and taking away. For acting out of Your perfect wisdom, love, and power. In Your righteousness.
I feel Your tender care tonight. In the way You orchestrated my time and energies. The beautiful bonfire, music and dance and baby-holding and singing in rounds, and the nudge that it was time to leave.
I prayed. You brought me where I needed to be, with what I needed. Keep my ears attuned and my eyes open to You. Keep me resting as I go along; things may not slow down too much between now and death.

Take tonight. Tomorrow. Keep me following You, moment by moment.

Disappointing, July 25

Lord, I’m so annoyed. I want Your help. I want this to be over. I don’t have patience or love. I’m as disappointing as a brown avocado.

Save me.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Splendor, August 8

Such a good day. Store time was smooth and fun (I actually helped scoop ice cream for most of it). I had enough time in the morning to spray off the recyclables and cull them (gross) and consolidate merch. It felt good. No more orders. But I called Nelson's and thanked them. Counted soda machine $. Ate baked ziti while manning the office, and there were no calls.

Game Night was fun. Spoons (which only gained momentum, increasing in pitch & danger & foul spoonfuls of food for losers), Dutch Blitz, Picture-Down-The-Lane, Uno.
I went to Traber afterward, to swing, and the moon... it was full, golden, rising above the trees in a special show of splendor. What I mean is that it felt important, and made me want to cry and open my mouth to receive the Eucharist. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Hope, July 13

Here in bed. It's been a hopeful day. At least, a day of moving out
of crisis mode (you can't live there forever, even when the crisis
continues). A quiet-inside day.

Lord, I'm aching over her. And I'm sad and sorry that "peace and
harmony" sound hollow.
Keep my hands open.
Help me not try to take on all these burdens that I can't handle.

Thank You for the sweetness of friends visiting.
God, I want You. 

Comatose, July 12

I need to feel Your grace in all this madness. What feels like madness,
chaos, mess.
Please show her Yourself.
Please take all the broken, helpless pieces of me.
Thank You for "The Broken Way", and for kindness, and for a comatose few minutes on the office floor. For sustaining me time and time again.
Help me pray. Help me love.
Make me willing to be broken open by You, and use me. 

Monday, August 7, 2017

But Today. Now.

Another bless├ęd day. Punctually clothed. 
Receiver of all Your Fatherly 
Your furs
and wings
and iridescent petals.

Universal donor. Is it all there, in the details? 
In what we are embarrassed, in our own sophistication, to name? 
But I want to be wowed.
Not just at the altar, in a wedding dress, 
but today. Now.

(July 21)
Ref. "Love Calls Us to the Things of This World", by Richard Wilbur

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Chalk, June 30/July 1

I feel like a soft piece of chalk, scraped along the macadam. There’s a nub of me left. I thought maybe a full night of sleep would sweep up my crumbs into a mound and help me reabsorb myself, reform, be who I think I am (so much of me is scattered over the last few weeks…). But that’s not how it works. I don’t lose myself that easily, and the only way to gain myself is in You. And no number of kisses can satisfy a supernatural pica. So steer me from navel-gazing and sensuousness. And feed me Your flesh. Eucharisteo.

Insomnia, June 27

It seems You are giving me a second lease on this night. One of the girls was sleep-talking, and it shook me out of my drift toward unconsciousness. So I’m very awake now, and sick with exhaustion, but grateful (or trying to be) for the way you fish my soul of deep waters with the elusive bait of sleep.  No matter how I may dissemble, I cannot remain agnostic when You call me out into starlight. I could wake an atheist, but I cannot sleep that way. THANK YOU for Your mercy. Forgive me of my pride and anxiousness to control, label, settle matters, and be safe. You are my only safety. 
You surround me on every side.

Oikonomia, June 19

Lord, I’ve already been talking to You, but help me talk more. And listen. Help me to pour out my complaints to You so they don’t grow into me and stunt me. This is a turning point. I want to grow. But I am hurt.
Why?! Why all these back taxes, complications, time Dad has spent, time we’ll both have to spend? Why did You let me go wrong for 4 years? Why debt?
Why have I been buying underwear at the thrift store, scrimping on groceries, saying no to social events, carpooling, budgeting, making old supplies stretch, eating expired food, tithing extra? 

I’m trusting You to be gracious with my complaints. I think I need to see them on paper to remember how easy I’ve got it.

But it hurts to count the dollars every time I drive, to be relieved when I can’t go to an event, to count it a sacrifice to go to prayer meeting. To be afraid of seeming needy and dependent. God, I want to bless my parents. I want to send care packages whenever. I want to buy fresh fruit. I want to take friends out for coffee on their birthdays. I want an easel, and new brushes, and to be able to afford a haircut on occasion. Or to buy a new pair of shoes. I’m ridiculous.

God, I want to go out to the movies sometimes. Or buy a friend’s artwork. Or sponsor someone in a significant way. I want to own a house someday. I don’t want a man to save me. I want You to save me. I don’t want to be rescued out of ineptitude and a victim complex. I want to be strong and mature, to have something to offer. Not to be proud, but to be capable and confident. I’m afraid. I don’t know what I need. And I don’t want to decide for You what You are doing, but I want You to do it, whatever it is, and move in me, however You will, and make me able to trust You and worship You when it would be easier to curse and cry and give up.
Work a miracle here. Don’t let anything (me) get in the way of Your power and glory, of Your redemptive display. Have Your way in me.
Your kingdom come.
I am the Lord’s servant.
May it be to me as You will.

Banks, June 7

It’s lonely here. And so
w o n d e r f u l .
It’s Handi*Camp, and the place is alive with sweetness and the powerful transparency of need and care. This is partly why I love Handi*Camp and praise You for the “disabled”. The disguises are stripped away and what remains is humble and glorious. Also, they can sing and dance to Disney. This strikes me as a prophetic freedom. It was also what made me start to choke up, wiping out the shelves.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Falling in Love, June 5

Thanks for writing a romance that will not let me down, even though I might think I’ve lost everything, myself, even love in the process. This is bigger than me and my conceptions, and I will not be lost. Or if I am, I am leaning out over You, and I will fall into my greatest passion, purest desire, and truest dream. There are worse ways to extinguish.

Rely, June 5

Help me rely on You heavily this weekend. Because I am vulnerable and stupid. I might try to do this alone. Or I might forget to let You speak to me, love me. Save me from my waywardness. Continue to blow on the coals of my love, of my appetite for the holy.

These Pieces, May 25

Keep me fresh and sensitive to You, skin to skin. Keep me aware of all the ways You are wooing me, and shrewd to the wiles of evil. Do not let me be overcome. Unite my heart in awe, in worship, in obedience and love for You. In desire for Your fame and pleasure. 
Please strengthen my hands, and imbue my arms with power. 
And help me let go more often. Feed a multitude from these pieces

Insistence, May 21

I feel this strange insistence. That each day and moment is precious. Not so that I should rush, but so that I should pay attention. And be wise. 
The rest is just as important as the action.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

I Am Won, May 13

Build up my trust and security in You, so that I can be a safe place and a welcomer to others, and not ever have to rely on them (one way or another) for my worth or justification. 
I am won. 
I am Yours. 
Thank You for all this green, for food, for beauty, for babies, for books. For a future and a hope. For history, and written language, and friendship, and prayer.

Do Not Spare Me, May 10

I was thinking today how little real suffering I have know. O God, don’t let me fritter my life away. Make me strong for whatever comes. Pull me into the thick of life, of what You are doing. Do not spare me from what will bring me to You.

The Arsenal, April 28

As we drove to the Arsenal, I caught my first glimpse of prairie dogs and fairly had a conniption – I’d forgotten about them completely! They were all over the preserve. At one point on the drive I looked behind me… and saw the Rockies. 
I don’t know how to describe the sensation. 
It was like some quieter, grander version of being surprised by someone you love who you thought was 400 miles away.

Smelling Breath, April 27

I had strange dreams that involved being here and my friends and 2 men and a pet dog and an Indian man I was meeting. We went through a ritualistic series of greetings that progressed in physicality – one of which was to smell each other’s breath. His was fresh and dewy, but he was disappointed that mine was all gum. Cloaked with mint.

Airplane, April 26

I was shot with joy a few times yesterday, thinking of the travel. Flying requires surrender, utter abandon… I’m always newborn with I fly, and in wonder and awe. It helps that a dear friend will be at the end of it! Goodness.

Living Fire, April 25

Lord, please inspire and empower me and fill me with love and peace and energy. I don’t have the stores in myself today to love as I should love. I’d much rather sleep or read to scroll around online. Fill me with living fire. 
Thank You for waking me and giving me life.

Good Listeners, April 24

Talking with R the other day was so good. 
She was painting, I could just talk. I could even contradict myself in the course of an hour, and it was not a problem.

Monday, May 29, 2017

I Want to Know My Own Strength, April 18

I want to know my own strength. Perhaps
it is very small. But I want to know it.
God, I want to feel Your flames lick around
my living. I want to burn on Your altar. 

Dayenu, April 16

Dayenu, it would have sufficed us. If You had not killed the first-born.
Lord, help me understand Your holiness and Your justice. Surely the one who gave the heart the ability to love and forgive, the capacity for generosity and compassion, will be more tenderly and more powerfully merciful than we can comprehend. 

Blackberry Jam, April 14

Yesterday our eucharist was three peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
made with P's last jar of blackberry jam from the farm.
Mom started crying when P gave it to her. 

Carrying Feathers, April 12

Help me carry my friends
as a bird carries its feathers.

Traveling Mercies, April 12

What a rich life I lead.
Traveling, painting, reading, eating (mostly) well, seeing beautiful things and enjoying lovely people. Ugh, but I'm full of fears.
God, remind me that You've got this. That You're not about to drop me, like I dropped my pants yesterday when I thought I felt a big spider dart along my leg. It was so convincing, a quick ticklish movement. But it was a knot of loose thread in the inner leg that slid down my thigh as I was reading. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

My Farmhouse, April 6

Oh Lord. Please give me Your peace.
I'm not ready for the cogs of travel to chew me up just yet. I am too easily fractured by worry and anxiety. And I want to know how to claim Your order and harmony and shalom over every aspect of my life, of this day. Not that it will be perfect, but that I will be closer to You in it, fully Yours, fully used by You for Your purposes. Make use of my feeble life, to bring people to Jesus.

Quench my thirst in Yourself, only. Keep me dissatisfied with anything less than you. And help me pray, and care well for what You've given me, and LOVE well.
I still picture that farmhouse, that little, white-walled, sun-filled, peaceful, flourishing place, as the epitome of home-peace. You are my farmhouse. You are every person in it, and my chores, my lamb, and the strength in my arms.
Dress me in muslin. Kiss me. 

Skazka Morosko, April 2

"Are you cold?"

It is better in life to accept and be content than rant and complain about your lot. The treasures of the patient, meek, forbearing will not melt.
Lord, help us to be honest, especially with You, about our feelings - but prevent us from falling into grumbling and bitterness.

Even You admitted, "I thirst."

Live Wire, April 1

I'm sick of these twisted romances. I want You, Jesus, and I want to love You. Forgive my heart its spurious affections. Make a fusion of us. Show me how to seek You, and how to meditate on Your law, and how to delight in You.
Fill me to the brim with Your romance, which is really all around me.
Cleanse me and protect me from unfaithfulness. 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Thankful Thursday

It seems fitting to take part in Thankful Thursday with my friend Allison, since we're visiting together this week. :)

I'm thankful for...

Lots of sleep
Back massages
Honest conversations
Riding in the backseat of a car with the windows down (and going so fast that my earrings dance against my neck and tears trickle back to my earlobes)
Tall trees
Rainbow trout
Goofy sibling antics
Peaceful afternoons
Several dozen chocolate chip cookies
Countless written resources at my disposal
Cold pizza
Chaim Potok
The Artist's Way
God, who doesn't give up on me
Not sneezing
Mismatched china
Getting old(er)

Sunday, May 7, 2017

The Sun is a Peach, March 23

The sun is a peach. The sun in a lion on the front lawn.
The sun is a man with a laughing heart
                            a screaming heart
            a heart of spun sugar.
A heart like a lightbulb
a heart
where his brain should be. 

Maple Syrup, March 22

I asked what he would charge,
and he said,
"A smile and a sunny disposition."
Mom said, "A song!"
And so I sang "Dear Theodosia"
to pay for maple syrup for my french toast.
And my parents sat with me, although they had eaten,
and talked about how much
they had wanted a little girl. 

Panic, March 22

I've been in bed over an hour, but I just had a sensation like fear, of desperation for Jesus. Like I hadn't fully addressed Him at all before. It came so quickly, shockingly, like the clang of a bell, like calamity. It almost feels like a panic attack - like I need to run, or sob hysterically, or shake something vigorously out of my chest. It's not endearing. 

Spiritual Warfare ~ Seeing Germs, March 21

I have such a struggle, Lord. Between common sense and faith that You honor the plans of those who commit themselves to You. Between active concern, and curiosity to see, will the world actually work differently for you? As if she sees germs. Or the cosmic dance.
But there was even part of me, I discovered, that wanted to see her put in her place. Wanted confirmation that her agony was unnecessary. It would be some kind of liberation for me, permission to keep living at my "comfortable" level of "spirituality", and not feel compelled to acknowledge or operate within such an intense level of spiritual warfare.
This is a humiliating and condemning thing to admit.
I was tempted to rein in credulity. I did, I still do. We are not so in-tune with You that we can know Your purposes in all things, and call all things by their right names. So help us.
Purify my heart.
Give me love.
Help me pray.
Intercede on our behalf. 

Neighborhood Walk, March 20

I took a walk with Mama. I was barefoot, which I love, but which does look peculiar in a coat, and while there is snow on the ground.
It is also less comfortable when you can't walk in the grass.
I need to figure out when my liberties become trespasses.

Ah, the lovely punctuation of horses' hooves. A buggy just passed. The combination of whirring wheels and sharp clops reminds me of bagpipes. 

Teacup, March 20

Mom thought it was mine, I thought it was hers, Dad broke it, and no one is heartbroken. 

I Said in Dreams, March 19

"Do you know that He loves you? That's half - no, more than half - the equation."

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Nuns, March 18

I've been thinking about how I've had this interest in nuns for years.
And somehow I'd forgotten that Marie Dominique looked at me and thought, "Nun". That she wanted me to see that option, to go to vespers and to watch the ceremony for the young woman at Buon Gesu.

Lord, I don't want to be a nun, officially. But I want my life to be one of devotion and intention, of passionate and spousal love for You. These are things You can grow in me. I have not felt very hopeful or zealous about them lately. There are too many ghosts of other things and people. But keep my eyes on You, on Your face, and help me turn toward the dream You have planted in me.

Today is a good day to write letters. And to sing around the house. And choose a few small tasks for my attention. Flood me with Your grace, because I'm going to fail. Use me as a blessing. Let's keep talking.

Lioness, March 18

I fall back into fear again and again.
But I'm thankful for the courage You give me. Yesterday, when B suggested we meet close to home, I was awash with relief, but also felt cowardly and flat.
In the end, I'm glad You helped me desire the challenge and offer the farther option (with trepidation, but willingly).
That is what You do. You turn me into a lioness. 

5 Things I Am Not Allowed to Do

1. Watch bad movies
2. Jump upstairs
3. Scrub the printing off the Henckel knife
4. Put food down the drain
5. Elope

Spring Green

I am the color of growth, hope, purity, freshness, vitality, and nourishment.
I am resilient and tender.
I am calming and invigorating.
I am edible and medicinal, I am transparent
and transformative.

Turtle, March 17

I'm like a turtle You're asking to leave its shell.
Or it could be You're just asking me to move, but I always fear the worst.

Hunt Good, March 16

Please show me what I should do today. I don't want to be held back from anything out of fear or laziness or a small mind. Keep me open to Your possibilities, trusting You. Please provide for my needs. Please help me live in Your mercy and grace, and extend it freely.
Help me to eschew evil and hunt good like one in love. Give me love. That is what I want. And virtue. Fill me with the fruit of the Spirit.

Possible, March 14

It is not for us to say what is possible and what impossible.
Prove to us again that Your power, the power that raised Jesus from the dead, is still at work.

I feel as if this day is already doomed to mediocrity. Please change that. I can come to You, and give You my heart, give You all I am, have, do, and suffer (as E.E. said), and welcome in the life You will give me today. Keep me surrendering. And help me to know if there is something I should be doing differently.
One thing is decided: take my full attention. I squirm to ask that. But I'll be satisfied with nothing else. And if I really believe You, You are the only thing worth looking at, knowing, and believing in the whole of existence. So please draw me deeper. Be gentle, but don't stop. Renew my life, my spirit, my resolve. Fill me with Your love. Prepare me for whatever life holds next. Help me to be grateful. 

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 pray 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.