To the dark and endless skies, my love

(second in a series….a little love story)

….There came a slow closing to my heart
with every prick of the lie;
each disappointment made up another story
as did the ugly stuff of life,
stories about the One who’d held me tender in the trees,
lies about his heart
that in time I started to believe
like the way a rumor slowly poisons
until you no longer see the same,
dark rumors about the price of deserving,
too high for a girl like me to pay.

A heaviness set in where I’d once known carefree light,
as if I’d sprouted something shameful,
something hard on holy eyes.
And as my limbs grew awkward and my body shot up tall,
had I become too much of something?  Too big to hold?
Outgrown it all?

There came to my soft places an edge of silent grief
where I’d once felt gently known,
seen generous by loving eyes so understanding and bright
that every drop of knowing was a kindness,
a sunbath of warmth over the very whole of me.
God,  what had I done to lose it?

I was a once-loved girl gone homesick,
feeling lost and  left behind
and I began to pick up speed,  running away reckless from the missing,
too mad to slow down and get quiet,
too lonely to stop and feel,
the lie whispered to me in that way that it does
“you are particularly alone.”

And so I closed my arms tight over my heart,
jaw hard and breath held short and quick like the runaway I became,
shutting out the One who’d brushed over my spirit and senses
like whisps of orange blossom and firelight and lightning over the sea,
with the tenderness and strength of a mother’s devotion
until my fear had melted like wax,
and now had the wax gone hard.

But somewhere down in my belly
there rumbled low like a bell on a breeze
“Come awake,  to all that is sleeping,
come awake, to all that is true,
in the lonesome of your heart
wake to the welcome, the arms still open for you.

“The first time ever I saw your face
I thought the sun rose in your eyes
And the moon and the stars were the gift you gave
To the dark and endless skies,  my love,
To the dark and endless skies.”

– Roberta Flack

Dancing in the dark…..

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Before my skin grew tight around the noise and clutter of life,
before I felt sharp the heavy of shoulds and musts and deadlines and bills,
when I was young enough still for time to stretch long and spacious like the hallway
where I rolled pretty glass marbles to hear them clatter and ping on wood,
I fell in love.
It was this time of year and there were candles.  And deeply moving music.
And a tree brought indoors and decorated with brightly colored glass bulbs
and shiny strings of foil my mother called icicles,
although they weren’t frozen or even cold.
I lay for hours beneath that sweet-smelling tree
and  gazed up into the twinkling branches.

I also spent hours outside after dark,  even though it was barely evening.
The stars came out early to shine,  and the moon,
and it seemed the heavens drew near as I climbed my favorite tree
wrapped thick in the mystery of night.
I’d look up at the stars and wonder aloud who are you,
the One to inspire such beauty as this,
moonlight on bare branches and the songs and stories been humming in my heart.
I wondered at the love I felt poured out safe and warm like fireside
high up in that tree,
wondered would it follow me down and inside when I finally had to leave.

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I lay in my bed at night and felt it still,  when I would lean the turn of my heart
into this unseen light that still lingered like moonglow in the dark
and how my heart would dance.
Here I’d never felt so alright.  As if everything could only ever be okay.
These times of soaking in what I know only as God-love
lasted for a short season.  My first window.
A place where I could go, if I would,  and remember thick the presence I felt those winter nights
and somehow re-join the relish
in a room inside myself.

The rest of the world could feel harsh and cold.  And lonely.
We did church,  my family,  and I’d walk into that organ-smooth and dimly lit grandeur
and look up at the large wooden cross stretched sterile against the tall of the ceiling
and wonder if he,  too,  preferred the crisp air high in the tree.
Here I felt sting more than sanctuary.
An undercurrent of you better watch out.
A Santa sort of God who saw me,  yes,  but withheld when I was bad.
Or worse – withdrew.
And I was born a hungry sort who didn’t do well with rules.  Too fumbly and footloose.
When it came to things straight and narrow, I could pull off a piss-poor performance,  at best.
I knew I wasn’t that girl – couldn’t be good for goodness sake.

But oh my God I longed for more of this generous presence that lit my heart under those bright winter stars.
Had the air really been charged with such a kindness? What kind of love was that?
As I grew older and fell into step with demand for appearances and favors doled out,
I wondered had I only imagined?
No,  said the voices of my fears –
I’d simply stopped deserving,
the river just gone dry.

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“We are suspicious of grace.
We are afraid of the very lavishness of the gift.”

“Holiness is nothing we can do.  It is gift,  sheer gift,
waiting there to be recognized and received.
We do not have to be qualified.”

– Madeline L’Engle

This begins a little series I’m doing as it’s coming on Christmas.
A love story.
My gift.
With hope that you’ll enjoy:)

The most creative thing I know……

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I’m grateful ~  so much ~ for creativity.
For the way it feels like flight and flutter and drift and dance,
and that free and airy feeling of stretching out your body
after being folded up closed too long,
or taking a mug of steaming goodness into cold hands
or digging like a child in the sand.

For me it is the feeling of when someone brings you flowers
or opens a window to let the stuffy out
– the smell of a freshly bathed dog
or sunshine in clothes dried fresh on a line.
It’s starshine and moonglow and getting caught up in a satisfying flow,
every shade and tone and color and the feeling of an open road.

Creativity feels like all of the ways that poetry happens,
that family happens,
that art and rest and friendship happen.
And the surprising lift of grace when all you could see was a long,  slow climb.

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It’s ears to hear the whisper and beating heart to feel the pain,
the power to be gentle and the room we’re free to make.
It’s “I’m sorry” and “me, too,”
“I need some help.”  “I understand.”
It’s throttle down and rest
and that mistakes are a part of the plan.

It’s the artful gift of a friendly listen
and time taken slow to be heard.

I see creativity as less a thing and more a being;
a person to dance with;  a partner in collaboration.
It might just be the heartbeat of God:)

Someone asked me recently what’s the very most creative thing that I  know.
My first thought: LOVE –  love is a wildly creative thing.
All rivers and fountains and flowers and fields
and bulbs and seeds and stories and songs
and the gazillions of ways that it waltzes right in when hope holds open the door.
Then I thought how maybe the most creative act of love
might be reconciliation.

This one creative thing I celebrate today –
the way of hearts and lives becoming free and fitted back together again
in a healthy and life-giving way.
For this I fling thanks like paint with fresh passion,
and for you,  my traveling companions
– happy Thanksgiving,
with love!

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How cool is this canvas we’re all given:)

“We’re on a planet.  At the same time.  In the universe.
Let’s do something great together!”
– Jeff Byington

“That cannot be.  Unless it could!”
– from Alice Through the Looking Glass

Thanks for coming by,  my creative friend:)
I believe your juiciest days are ahead.

Of hope and news and a new breaking through….

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My heart is full for the wounded and afraid among us,
for the ones shaking their heads how,  how did this happen.
I’m gonna share what I believe and say it plain like I would if we could sit
around a fire and clink our glasses,  talking soft beneath the stars
and let our voices fill the night.
Hear this from the overcomer in me to the overcomer in you
because it’s our muchness we need to remember
and we were born to make real peace
and I believe it’s some lies that have us bleeding.

No one that I know whose vote called forth this trumpet
voted against women or minorities or anyone at all,
but against dishonesty and corruption so deeply entrenched
that what was needed wasn’t another politician,
but both a wrecking ball and a builder.

He was voted in by those who sensed that the media’s narrative wasn’t altogether true.
That maybe here was someone who might break open both parties to let the bad air out.

I saw this when riots broke out in my city
and the stories showed so skewed what really happened
that the eyes of my own heart grew wide
as I saw the media overplay their hand.

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Remember this,  please,  when you see the fake and scripted protests.
Because seeing out of context is like being dropped into
the middle of a movie and needing questions answered
but no one is telling it true.
Maybe a cruel campaign has played on our wounds
to demonize a ticket that might cleanse the corrupt
from their tidy trenches.

Perhaps the real President elect isn’t the monster the media has painted.
Neither is he a savior –
to be sure, no leader ever is.
Love never chooses perfect people.
I think he will make some messes but move us forward
and as we pray for this administration and hold tight to hope,
our best days can still be ahead.

This campaign wounded us – his words and hers – how reckless each were used,
and in this,  too,  is gift.
We’ve been dragged from the holes where we safe-hid our pain
and exposed to the light that demands that we deal
and when we do,  instead of hurling blame,
healing can happen in otherworldly ways.

Love is always undefeated
and love will make a way.
Don’t give your tender heart to the deception in our streets.

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Sometimes what looks like a wolf isn’t at all what our nightmare’s whisper.
Quiet your fears and listen to your spirit.
May all your paths be peace.

“There is no mind so closed as a mind locked into a victim narrative,
nourished by words of hate.”
– L. Wallnau

“You don’t have to live like a refugee.”
– Tom Petty

Grace for the busy, bumped and broken…..

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It’s been a bumpy,  broken-toe ride these weeks
and I’ve wiped out in the dark waves as much as I’ve ridden tall
during this busy, busy, busy season for our little mom and pop business.
We let it outgrow us this year and then lost some really stellar help
so this mom is having to dig down to the bellows of her being
to stay the course and keep our word to all the gardens we promised to tend
while the heat kept pounding and the rain refused to fall.
I’ve poured my heart onto paper filled with lists and long days
but haven’t patched them together to make anything to share over here with you.

So I’m just gonna show up and spill what grace I have from the broken bits that I am,
because it’s grace that’s holding me,
and I love the way it’s given ~ always ~ just as each fresh now arrives
That tomorrow looks a dread is only because it’s grace has not yet come.

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But it will come.  Sure as sunrise,   it will come.

Serving up some snippets for sipping during testy times:
(hope something fits)

“Shame is a bully,  but grace is a shield.  You are safe here.”  – Ann Voscamp

“You look at me and cry
everything hurts

I hold you and whisper
but everything can heal.”
– Rupi Kaur

“Tears are liquid prayers.”  – Robin McMillian

“Sometimes grace works like water wings when you feel you are sinking.”
– Anne Lamott

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“This grace is indiscriminate compassion.
It works without asking anything of us.
Grace is sufficient even though we huff and puff with all our might
to try and find something or someone it cannot cover.
Grace is enough.”
– Brennan Manning

“You can have the other words – chance,  luck,  coincidence,  serendipity.
I’ll take grace.”
–  Mary Oliver

“There’s nothing to prove and nothing to protect.
I am who I am and it’s enough.”
– Richard Rohr

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“When the rain is blowing in your face
and the whole world is on your case
I could offer you a warm embrace
to make you feel my love.”
– Bob Dylan

Breathe deep from the brave to just be……

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Life is noisy right now.
I’ve got a rumble in my belly for quiet,
for shelter from the grating hurry
that seems to crackle like electricity all around.

I feel it in the air,  the shove to go faster,  to outrun the clamor
to shut out the buzz with my own frantic go.
But I’m defying it inside where I remember that I get to choose,
to dig in my heels against the push.
This feels like life to the bones and breath of me.

Yes,  I do have time to slow this train on down.
To pick up feathers and leaves and words and stones
and notice what they might want to say.
No,  it’s not irresponsible.  These are the days I’ve been given.
These moments are free and mine to gather.

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It’s brave to rest inside while the noise rattles on,
to taste and see and savor the mystery,
to press through the amnesia that settles over like a fog
and remember that we’re co-creators with a God
who likes to do the heavy lifting.
To find the partnership delicious.

When I pull up feeling empty and discouraged,
I often discover in the still small voice
that my ego has been driving.
Exhausting taskmaster,  that one.

I can break up again with the offender
and get back to the business of wonder,  breath and being,
to living out this life of one who tumbles and leaps and feels it all deep
in this dizzying, glorious wild.
~ To not draw back from the not knowing how.

To breathe deep from the brave
to just be.

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“All I know is there’s nothing better than that wide-open,  opinion-busting,
all-things-are-possible,  everything’s-OK feeling of prayer.”
– Elizabeth Lesser

Sending this out to all your tired places
with a bold dare to slow down and find rest:)

A little love letter to my country….

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I love this country.
I wish I had a way to hold our collective hands, smile into each pair of eyes,
and whisper tender and strong,
“hey,  this is so not you.”
You aren’t defined by thisthe hurtful ads and jabs
and manipulative campaigns that saturate our feeds
until we’re forced to look away or go hard inside
so the poison doesn’t scald what we need to keep on living.

I want to plead,  “Do you see the children watching?  They can hear us.”
What are they taking in as we demonize and degrade the ones who’ve stepped into the arena
while we project our bias and turn down our thumbs with words increasingly lethal and obscene.

 I want to look over at the young ones and say “it’s okay,  we’re good,” and  then invite us all
to sit down together
at a table groaning with good coffee and wine and really yummy things
and make it safe to let our hearts speak,
to say our reasons and share our other-ness
without shame or defensiveness or assumption.

Because,  for the love,  we are spirit and bone and soul and skin
and it’s clear that this political machine doesn’t care who or what it grinds up
as it slashes through the airwaves,
feeding on our wounds and rage.

Much of what our eyes and ears get scraped across in the media
isn’t genuine news or even politics.
It’s emotional abuse.
So we  buy into the lie that there is a monster to be exposed,
goaded into to battle,  gladiator-style,  until the arena is soaked in blood
and even though it’s our collective blood that gets spilled
it’s okay,
because this is how progress is done,  yes?
No.
This is not who we are.

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I know smart,  big-hearted, wide-thinking,  and deeply feeling people
who plan to vote for each camp.  They really aren’t happy about this.
They don’t love their particular choice
but will make it because they see something in this specific platform,
among all that they dislike about the candidate,
that compels them to follow their heart and place their vote for this ticket

What might we discover by having meaningful conversations with our egos checked?
By engaging in inquisitive and respectful dialogue with other hearts
in order to listen wide.
By pursuing the meat of it,  not in debate,  but to hear the heart
of what is it that you want?
What is the hope that you are voicing with your vote?
By hearing deep their reasons and finding them maybe also valid

and worthy of respect.

Someone is going to win this election and our kids are going to have to find a way to function
in a country where a demonized-as-dangerous  figure head
has become their President.   We all will.
Will we be able to build and create more than we’ve destroyed and torn down?
I’m holding onto big hope that we will look back on this election as a tipping point in history
where we were shaken sober to become a civil, more noble society.

I’ll go and place my vote.
And,  yes,  I’ll likely throw up in my mouth a little bit while I pull the lever.
But I won’t give the political machine any more of my power
by buying into the hateful spirit it encourages.

Imagine a diverse community of people who respect the individual enough to listen and know,
rather than assume or reject or attack.
We will build this sacred space yet,  I believe…..regardless of who wins this election.
Neither of these candidates will save us.
But,  oh,  there is a field….

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field.  I’ll meet you there.”
– Rumi

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 “If we want to know,  love and experience community,
if we want to be part of creating a more peaceful world,  we will work to understand this:
Either everyone is special,  or no one is.
Putting yourself or another human being on a pedestal
– making yourself or someone else right all the time –
is a sure recipe for disappointment or conflict or loneliness.”
– Elizabeth Lesser

Healing the wounds of the unseen…..

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I feel so full for my city,
even as a massive wound has been lanced and pain spills into the streets.
Charlotte is bleeding sorrow and anger and frustration and confusion.
over the disease of unseeing.

I grieve for the lives lost and silenced
because of a systemic blindness that builds fearful walls instead of seeing grace.
I feel again the white hot tears that I tasted when my own sons were shoved down on gravel
on an empty stretch of highway while police officers grabbed their tender wrists into cuffs.
They were the right color but the wrong flavor
for the rural tastes of the small nearby town that they didn’t skirt far enough
to join their friends in a field for an air soft game after school.

Their windows down, long hair flying and music turned up high on a lone country road,
my youngest, 14,  twirls his toy gun absentminded in the passenger seat
as a passerby phones in a false alarm.
Within minutes they are pulled by shouting authorities with guns drawn
who mistake my youngest son’s neurology for defiance.
He does not process quickly the clamor and shouting,
is bewildered why they have him on the ground.

In the chaos,  neither of my sons are seen.

I bristle at  the condescending severity of the voice on the line
who asks if I’m a parent who know my kids are carrying guns.
Can’t you even see the plastic orange tip on the end of the thing,  I growl
– of course I know where they’re going and my throat goes dry as I struggle to explain.
I bite down hard the angry stream of words that rises up inside,
fearing for my teenage sons who are still in their hands.

But they will come home to us that day.
No one is shot and I don’t bear in my being
a long history dark that has scarred my emotional DNA
toward badges and the people who wear them.
I know this is only a taste.

We call and arrange a face to face with the officers for early next day
-we want to make them see.
My husband and I sit across a wide table lined with defensive faces.
Their patronizing slowly turns to understanding as our quiet voices begin to paint
what they didn’t see.
We wrestle down our own defenses and lean forward to see the people behind the mistake.
We can feel the vast expanse between us come together
as we let our hearts go wide.
I was proud of us all as we stayed in that place
until peace was made.

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And now my heart pulses hot grief for the man who was shot in my city this week.
Maybe plastic orange tips are harder to see when a black hand holds them,
or when a black man is too rattled to comply.
Was he just the wrong color or flavor?  I don’t know.
Won’t pretend to know the whole of his story.
Or of the young black officer who felt pressed to pull the trigger.
But the wound of years of injustice
was opened
wide
and
I see
healing
rushing
in.

~For the man who was shot down and for his family – for the all too many families before.
~For the man who felt forced to drop him.
~For those grieving another officer buried just this week
because he served a warrant to a hopeless man with a loaded gun.
~For those uniformed men who do abuse their authority and act out their distrust and fear.
~For my neighbor whose piercing wail still haunts me
because her son has been shot by a cop who must mow down her boy
because he waves a gun,  wanting to die.
~For the shaking and horrified officer whose job required him to oblige.
~For my black friend who hints that my white life must be charmed
in a way that says she doesn’t see me.
~For the places where racism hides still inside of me – places where I, too, don’t really see.
For all of the wounds of the unseen.

I see you,  Charlotte.
And even now I’m so proud of my city.
Of the healers and seers and helpers and peace-makers
that you won’t see on TV or a facebook feed.
But unless you see them,
you haven’t seen my city.

We are those who protest peaceful and work to see and respect the people behind the badges
even while we show up to let our stories speak.
We are tender-hearted public servants who fight back tears even while standing tall
to protect and keep safe the all of us,
making space for expression of people in pain.
We are many standing humble together to build
more than those who come to tear down,
than the empty-eyed inciters who have traded in their their humanity
to bleed out hopelessness,  like infection,  in our streets.

The healers and seers and helpers and peace-makers are of more powerful stuff,
living antibodies more potent than the poison can survive.
Healing is happening in my city.

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“Means we use must be as pure as the end we seek.”
– Martin Luther King

Thank you for coming by to have a read.
For being a witness.
Your company here is bread and wine to me.

Dance like you’re already in the rain….

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The heat has lingered long this year,
the ground more parched than I’ve known in all my days of coaxing things to grow.
Painful dry.
The little bit of rain that has kissed the dirt rolls mostly off unreceived
and I’m watching people lose trees that have stood long
through the seasons.

I want to water everything.

To give a long,  slow pour to thirsty places,
dipping down my bucket to draw up water,
and then let go a fountain
to make brittle things live again
– dry bones,  dry-docked dreams
and dry ground.

I’m in heavy watering mode these days so if you’ve got some thirsty places,
hold still  while i give us a little pour:

You there,
growing where you’re planted in the middle of a dry spell,
hunkered down drawing up moisture from the dust
while your heart thumps hungry for the rain.
Can you feel the faint tremble as the ground rumbles deep?
Like something far is coming – the sound a wildfire or stampeding herd might make.
You feel it in the way that dogs hear a high pitched sound
so it puts you on edge and your heart begins to pace
because you’re already wilting in this place.
Feeling too far gone.  And tired.

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Wake up your hope and listen.
In the early morning blue of your before there swells a river
that’s been rising on the raw end of a long night dark.
It’s the squeeze before your breakthrough that your thirsty heart is hearing
in those places of “damn,  we’re in a tight spot.”
This is your before – not the end as it may seem.
There’s coming a healing rain and it will find you
where and how you need.
There’s nothing you can do to miss it,  this help that’s on the way.
Your heart is seen and known and understood
and you’re okay.

What if you let yourself take on
a holy curiosity about it all.
To go toward wonder.
The clouds of something good are gathering.
Your dry season is ending.

Go ahead and dance like you’re already in the rain.

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“Faith is not a club you belong to,  but a current you surrender to.”
– Glennon Doyle Melton

“God is perhaps more tender than you know.”
– Brennan Manning

I’d like to give away another package  this week
– yeah,  it lights me up:)
Leave a comment and I’ll plunk your name in the hat
for the drawing.
And it gives me huge joy to send one out to wonderful Susan of Windrock Studio this week
with a whole lot of love.

Singing river and shuffling shy…..

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Last year this time I was bursting at the seams
to flesh out a wordy dream I’ve carried for a long time growing
– to find a way to give form and flight to my love for helping tug stories into the light
and whisper free voices that may have gotten buried in the bustle of life.
I’ve carried this flame since I was a girl,  this desire to hear and sing
the hidden songs that another spirit breathes
until they discover in themselves a beauty maybe yet unseen.

It’s grown as I’ve spent time with my older clients,  who come out to sit in their garden chairs
while I dig and tend and weed and mostly keep company with a listening heart
and as I reflect back the breath of their stories and watch their eyes mist and come alight,
it is my honor to hold these spaces sacred.  To be a witness.

So I saved my pennies and purchased a website and named my dream the Singing River Wordshop.
I’ll jump in and pop that thing right out,  I thought,  fueled by strong passion
and labor pains that had gone on plenty long enough.
Get ready to manifest:)
Or so I figured.

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Instead,  the river surged wild and I was swept into the tumbling, muddy waters of my own story
and could only ride the waves that tossed me far and away downstream
to a new place altogether.
It’s different,  where I’ve landed.
Less apologetic.  More fearless.
I don’t quite recognize,  but it feels like somewhere I was too afraid to go.
The water sings softly here,  like an afterstorm.
I can hear.

So I’m stepping back in
and trusting help be poured out into every place of need.
Even though I’m knocking around in the dark in technical terms,
I will learn.
Because it’s how I want to invest my Autumn years
– leaning in for a listen to do some wordsmithing for those who may want this,
helping give voice to their own rustle and rhyme.
To notice the whiffs from the incense that a secret heart burns
and wrap words around the treasure buried there.

Because our story is what we leave behind.

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“Ultimately what remains is a story.
In the end,  it’s the only thing any of us really owns.”
– Carole Radziwell

The Singing River Wordshop:  It’s about love letters and legacy.
The site is still an empty shell – I’m babystepping into the water again
and so open to questions and input from you – I invite it!
– I want to learn to put words around this thing I’m carrying and I’m not quite there yet.

Giving away another little soul spa package – a love bomb,  of sorts:)
Leave a comment and I’ll toss your name in the hat.

(last week’s drawing goes to Kathy of Paper Pumpkin!  With sooooo much love)