My father and the sea……

I cannot separate my love for my father
from my love for the sea.
They meet and merge like the tides.

Each year,  when we were young,
despite his longing to vacation in new places,
to satisfy his thirst to explore,
he would carve out a week to gather by the sea
with my mother,   my sister and me,
and lean into the rhythm of the wind and the waves
that smoothed back the furrows of his busy forehead
and I’d watch his eyes go soft
to the soothing of surf and sound.

They relaxed,  those deep brown eyes,
because there was room enough,
and space and calm and time enough
to hear the light
and see girls in the sand,
even ones that were hard to see.

That great wide sky
and vast rolling water
un-pinched and turned my father’s face
and sometimes his eyes would find mine
and stay awhile.

I lived for those moments
when the sea and he would look at me.

I wonder at the power of fatherlove
and breathe grateful thanks
for love that looks and sees and smiles
and believe that my father’s love will find me always
as sure
as the shore
meets the sea.

“Fountain of sorrow,  fountain of light,
you’ve known the hollow sound of your own steps in flight,
you’ve had to hide sometimes,  but now you’re alright,
and it’s good to see your smiling face tonight.”
– Jackson Browne

Gifts from a song-bird…..

I want to share some birdsong I’ve been grooving on,
some sweet shots of sanity
that sift  the kool-aid to the top
so truth can skim it off and toss it,
leaving clearer waters inside.

Because, geez, this world gets noisy,
so much hype and clatter
drummed down harsh on living things
and we seem somehow to reserve the cruelest prattle for ourselves.

Into the thick of some sludge and syrup,
God sent me a bird.
Mandy Bird.
I want to share some words from her perch.
Because maybe you need her healing music just now,  too.

“Something very beautiful happens to people
when their world has fallen apart:
a humility,
a nobility,
a higher intelligence
emerges just at the point
when our knees hit the floor.”
– Marianne Williamson

To this rich quote Mandy responds,
“This is the blessing of huge struggle……
don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Pulling yourself up by your bootstraps is bullshit.
Putting on your big girl panties usually means avoiding your grief.
Those statements are designed to shame you for being so beautifully human.
Tell shame to kiss off.

Don’t fall for that numbed out bravado.
Let’s actually learn to be heart-awake and emotionally intelligent.
Be courageous by keeping your heart open.
Now that’s big courage!”
– Mandy Bird

I know,  right?
And this.

“Don’t lessen your intensity to make others feel comfortable.
Don’t pour water on the fire of your heart.
The world needs your fire and passion.
Tell shame to kiss off.
Be you.”
– Mandy Bird

I’m in the thick of writing and writing and more writing
so I wanted to share Mandy with you this week instead.
Because her voice is one of the ways I listen for God above the fray
and I love her humor and heart and way.

You can find her on Instagram @bird_mandy

“The Ocean says ‘quit pretending to be clear.
That pretense keeps you from receiving what I can give you.’ ”
– Rumi

Of curiosity and closets and the clothesline of things…..

I’ve been taking stock,
cleaning out the closets of what I think I am,
reclaiming some treasures and discarding what no longer fits.
It’s been carting off piles of what may have worked in seasons past
and infusing with sunshine fresh from the clothesline the ones I choose still to embrace.
There’s been sadness in the letting go
but this yummy, spacious joy in the after
and I feel so light about these roomy new digs that I want to share
what got refreshed and left behind to grow:

Who am I anyway.  A list:

~ I’m a friend.  A good one.

~  I’m a mother.  Not a great one.  But devoted,  wholehearted,  and I show up always
to the learning curve to discover,  listen and improve.
And I relish the climb.

~ I’m a lover of people.  Oh yes – love deeply and without apology.
I get caught up.  Smitten.
And I’m rarely disappointed.   People are mostly altogether
as beautiful as I first realized them to be.
Relationships may disappoint, yes,  and I’m learning to better navigate those,
but I think humans are almost always lovelier than even they seem.

~ I’m a codependent, recovering.  Always recovering.
But I feel the crazy like an old injury when certain triggers and fatigue wear me down
and I can stumble down those stairs so sudden
that I’m sleepwalking in the thick of habit before I’m fully awake.
I’ve wrecked a relationship or two this way.
Mostly,  though,  I reserve the lion’s share of injury for myself,
still often giving more than I can afford.
But I am in recovery, enthusiastically showing up to the work,
currently working a 12 step (CoDA) and getting some delicious freedom in the new.

~ Because, I’m a student.  Always.
Curious and unwilling to waste my living unexplored.

~ I’m a gardener.
It’s how I see the world.  I love the whole messy, unpredictable process;
– it feeds something deep inside.

~ I’m a seer…..empath…..intuit
– whatever you want to call a super-sensitive soul.
I feel places,  see songs,  hear hearts,
sense energies,  and sometimes touch the mystic.
I accept and often enjoy this,  and it also sometimes unravels me.
Such a paradox,  life.
(And,  yes,  so woo woo)

~ I’m a listener.
I love to know people.  To hear their stories.
And to be heard and known.
Assumption is the ugliest thing I know.

~ I’m a lover of nature,  lover of honesty,  a lover of God,
and a lover of words.
I’m a writer,
and diving deeper into the deep end of things I’ve carried
since I was only a girl full of dreams.

Someone recently handed me a box of darkness,  as Mary Oliver described,
and this indeed has been gift.
I’m getting clear about who I’m not,  that I am,  and what my own heart may be howling
above the music of the waves.

I’ll be back more now that our busy season is done and all the gardens growing happy.
So much that I’m bursting to share!

 “Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand that this,  too,  was a gift.”
– Mary Oliver

“Over and over,  we are broken on the shore of life.
Our stubborn egos are knocked around,  and our frightened hearts are broken open
– not once,  and not in predictable patterns,
but in surprising ways and for as long as we live.”
– Elizabeth Lesser

A smidge from the middle of my own sweet lane…..

Serving up some sweet and simple from the archives today
because it so fits, this small smackerel.
Just a smidge – for your snacking pleasure:)

I want to believe in rest,
the kind that finds me when I’m true.
The sort of peace that soaks through honest
to the real of me
and it’s scary,  still,
because it can feel like stepping into fog on a ridge
that may give way if I step down the full of me solid.

Rest is so like trust,  that way.

But I want to believe in it,
especially when I’m feeling driven to please,
hungry for sanctuary,
my molecules charged with rush,
jarred to attention,
soul strings strung tight
and plucked too hard and fast.

Do you ever get like that?

Codependent.
I’ve re-learned,  healed,  developed,  and come a long way baby
but sometimes I get dragged back into that strange and strangling undertow.

When I remember what I’ve forgotten to love,
(do you sometimes forget to care for yourself too?)
I’m swept back into my own roomy lane
where there’s this rich and ridiculous grace,  and plenty of it,
with only one thing ever to do
at a time.

This creates some amazing space for remembering
how to keep right on breathing,
to wriggle free from the believing that’s been squeezing
and do some living of a life that’s true.

“Oh sweetheart,  love is kind;  it doesn’t stand still and do nothing
when it sees it’s own need.
I don’t need stress to do what I know to do;
that’s not efficient,
the way peace and sanity are.”

– Byron Katie

(ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.  happy breath)

 

Springtime and sprawling; the soup and the swirl ….

I started writing down a series right in the middle of Springtime,
the way you start something when you think you see the road ahead
because you’ve seen so many tomorrows before.
Then everything changes,
and it has, my world swift sprawling
and I’m in the swirl,  choosing to go loose in the waves
instead of digging in firm to my agenda and fighting the current.

I remember when my daughter was a river rat,  guiding whitewater tours
downriver and through the rapids.
She told me often stories of people dumped into the soup and having to be coached
to keep their feet drawn up high,  face the oncoming waves,
and just bob on down the river like a hat tossed overboard.
Struggling to plant your feet creates danger of injury and even drowning.
Go with the flow until you see a safe out,  she said.
I’ve remembered that a time or two.

So here I am,  wide-eyed and whooshing along in the might of waters
that I don’t need to control,  just to discover;
letting myself be shaken like a new leaf in a fierce wind,
open to the goodness in the going upended,
shaken loose from things been squeezing me
until all that remains is love.

To be a friend to myself in this place where I’m a little lost and gimpy,
to stop apologizing with my breath,
to tell the truth with my life
even when circumstances seem to scream that I should cover over the ugly,
this is rest.

I can totally dance with this tension.

So I’m gonna give myself a pass on that series until life goes Summertime gentle again.
Just pick you flowers and sing you easy songs:)
Because you’re worth showing up to
and it’s joy to be here
even when I haven’t much to serve.

“You will find peace of mind
If you look way down in your heart and soul
don’t hesitate ’cause the world seems cold
stay young at heart ’cause you’re never,  never,  never
old at heart.”
( Earth,  Wind,  and Fire)

I’ve had a story churning in my heart.
I went writing,  taking small bites (each post) to discover what my heart wanted to see
and learn and say.  Seems since I took off on that journey a few months back
that my sea got wild with big waves

that capsized my little boat until I’ve been sputtering on a few thin boards and adrift.
Maybe Springtime wasn’t the best time to set sail:)
So I’m drying off on shore but have my eyes to the horizon,  watching and listening.
I’m curious still about fundamentalism and how it played out in my own story.
I hope by going there that
maybe I’ll learn better how to live true and real and love in the heaving of our often troubled times.
Maybe I’ll find something to share that will heal someone the way Love seems to be healing me.
I’ll come back,  I will,  with a better boat:)
Thanks for your smiles.

Of music and musts and medicine…

The music flowed like medicine,   gently relaxing fingers
where my soul had become a fist closed tight.
Over my senses it came,  like springtime drifting through a window,
this invitation to the whole and small of me.
“Father,  I want you to hold me,”
the slow healing sound offered me words
to wrap around the lonesome inside.
“I want to rest in your arms today,”
sang someone who sounded tired like me.
Tired of hard trying and hiding
and making like I was fine.
Just fine.
There came a hush to my noise as the song ached low
and with it came permission here to be not quite fine at all.

“Hold me,”  I sang to this presence who enfolded me in a way that felt protective.
Here I sensed protection from judgement,  from evaluation,
from every driving, pushing, accusing thing i’d ever run from.
  Here was a love to run to,
and my voice dropped whisper-low as I sang the words,
“I bring all my cares and I lay them at your feet.”

This moved across my tender places so hard that I drew my breath in sharp
and let it go slow,
slow as a lifetime.
Here,  with this benevolent being,  this gently-there presence,
were no musts about another something else to do.
There was nothing here to earn.  No performance allowed.
And I heaved a tearful relief,  exhausted from effort,
from failure,
and from being angry over the notion that I had to try.

And so I began to show up to the music,
to meet with God there,
and so great was the peace of this place that I wondered whether I could ever
be moved to fear again.
Because this Love wasn’t impressed with me.
Nor un-impressed.
This freedom from evaluation felt delicious to me.

“I’m impressed” were words I’d learned to pocket
like tokens of my worth.
This had come with a hefty side of insecurity
because being impressive is such a random spark-of-brilliance kind of thing.
You never know when it will fire
or just leave you standing in the dark.
And I was tired of feeling exposed and having to hustle to cover myself.

Yet here I was,
all splayed out and weepy and unraveled and felt somehow safer still.
This began to heal the all of me
from every little bit of un-love I would ever know.
The relief swelled up inside and ran down my cheeks.
Here was a door only open,
a Love always there.

In those awkward places of pain,
those anxious parts that didn’t seem anywhere to belong,
in every tender, posing,  hard, off-putting,
game-playing,  humiliated place,
God was in the music and rocked me safe
in arms of Love.

“I feel your arms holding me,  I’m not alone.”
– Brian Doerksen

“The real ‘work’ of prayer is to become silent and listen to the voice
that says good things about me,
to gently push aside and silence the many voices that question goodness
and trust that I will hear the voice of blessing.”
– Henry Nouwen

Of breakers and breathing and sprains…..

I started writing this series a few weeks back,
letting it dig up my heart,
so that I could carve out and share the overflow.
Then things got weird,
as if I was digging up buried treasure,   yes,
but also other really disturbing things packed away in boxes
in the basement of what I am.
Rocked me back hard,  I tell you,
until my soul felt concussed:)
Then I got some whiplash, for good measure.
Just one big, weepy,  anxious,  throbbing,  nauseated mess.

So I’m giving myself a week to sit down on the beach of this thing
and just watch the waves and listen to the surf sing it’s soothing songs
until my cheese climbs back on my cracker.
Sit here and breathe with me,  if you like.
I love your company.

“The depth of the feeling continued to surprise and threaten me,
but each time it hit again and I bore it,
I would discover that it hadn’t washed me away.”
– Anne Lamott

“The sky where we live is no place to lose your wings.
So love, love, love.”
– Hafiz

Of hiding and hunger and a low sound humming …

I was born into the anxious airbrush of a disapproving religion
and I was born into love and welcome arms and really glad you’re here.
Always the two danced together,  as they often do in an uncertain world
where life is fragile and being is messy and only rules seem safe when nothing else does.
Born to good people who wanted only goodness for me.
They’d been raised severe,  my parents.  Especially my mom,
whose own dad kept court with a southern baptist smoulder that could singe
the tender parts of curiosity and joy
until even they trembled fearful in the corner.

They were unmarried and in love and in college chasing dreams
when I came to be.
They packaged my presence in a lie
–  already they’d married.  Secretly.  Months before.
Now that I was on the way they quickly wed
and so began the family into which I shortly arrived.
The appearance swept clean,  we tidied up pretty good
except for the disease.
Deep running through the fault-line of all that I received
was this message of dark shame
and what we do to hide the beast.

I was a lively sprite of a child and this unsettled the conservative core of my parent’s sensibilities.
Oh we knew love and laughter and joy in our days,  especially after my little sister arrived just 13 months later,
but I was less compliant,  more boisterous,  willful and impulsive and sometimes “a little hellion”
which fleshed out my mother’s darkest fear:
that I had let a little hell in.
The chill of her childhood left scars that made my deep-feeling curiosity seem dangerous,
and this hung cloudy over me,  the child of her shame.
I felt it long before I knew it’s name.

And there was goodness and I’m grateful for the village that was my childhood and church,
rich with stories and friendships and music and meetings that sometimes felt like bright stars.
But I felt different from the other kids,  like I was somehow less;
all my hard-trying didn’t cover up the dark and don’t of me,
not even my scratchy Sunday best.

Into this hot lonesome came a sweet, sweet Love,
like a tall glass of acceptance to my apologetic heart,
healing balm for the shame I’d feel burned by
for the slightest infractions and failings,
not served up by my parents – please don’t hear that.
They were young and on my side.
The voice I heard was the sound of the lie
hissing over us all that there was something dark to hide.

I hungered to know more
of this God that loved the wild of me
and I began to travel roads less stained-glass and steeple’d,
looking for a safe somewhere
where my truth wouldn’t have to get dressed up,
a shelter where Love kept shop and togethering happened honest,
all the whosoevers and ragamuffins,
unguarded and at peace.
No fighting for scraps of attention.
No competition for who would love who.

I was a smooth bundle of nervous contradiction as I plopped down onto throw pillows
on the living room floor where I first learned how to be seen
in a way that soothed the hiding child of me.
Kinship group,  they called it,  and with the first soft strum
of the guitar humming low,  a lifetime of tears began to flow
as if I was taking off  ill-fitting shoes and discovering inside little rocks that I could dump.
I’d been holding my breath long and didn’t know.

 “I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness
the astonishing light of your own being.”
– Hafiz

(this is second in a series I’m tugging loose….come along for the ride,  if you like;
I’m always so glad you’re here)

Of sinners, saints and seagulls…..

(Gosh,  I almost put out a cold tray of leftovers for you here again today
because I’m scared silly to wrangle free the words stuck inside.
But here goes.
Because a bad beginning is better than no beginning at all)

My life is a small one,
as lives here are generally measured.
My jobs have been many and unsubstantial and not even the measuring kind.
No fancy credentials.  No letters after my name.
My time here on earth unimpressive,
a barely glance-worthy resume,
if I had a resume.  Which I don’t.
If I were to muster one up,  it would be underwhelming.

And yet mine is hardly a wasted life.
In fact I like my weird little journey,
even when I trip over messages that I’m such an underachiever
that my time here barely registers on the value-meter.
But I’ll wrap back around to that later in this series.
I think I’m stalling:)

What I really want to start tugging my words loose about
is my Christianity.

There.  I said it.
Did your skin crawl just a little?
I understand the shudder.
Because we generally freak people out.
Christians even unhinge each other
unless we’re cut from the exact same strip of cloth
and sewed up tight and exactly like the next.
Which nobody is.
So it can be prickly business,
which is tragic since I think God is the least prickly being ever.

A few months back I brushed my words light across the story of my heart’s dance with God
and it was life to me to pour it onto paper.
Those were the easy pages.  The sweet beginnings and where I’ve landed.
I want to go exploring through the come-to-Jesus years,
the messy in between
because I’ve grown more curious about this thing called “Christian,”
how it’s tossed around and flashed and fought over like scraps flung to seagulls.

“How can you call yourself a Christian and……..”
Many of my people don’t even use the word anymore.
Somehow it’s come to name a hurtful thing.
I want to go exploring.  To tell my truth.  And maybe discover healing along the way.
Because healing is only ever what I’ve always wanted to offer
and I’m one of them,
odd though my flavor may be:)

So come along or wait this one out.
I’ll be back for the next however-many weeks digging up old stories,
looking for buried treasure and sharing it with you here.
With all the love I’ve got.

“As long as we continue to live as if we are what we do,  what we have,
and what other people think about us,
we will remain filled with judgments,  opinions,  evaluations,
and condemnations.
We will remain addicted to putting people and things
in their ‘right’ place.”
– Henry Nouwen

On sails of celebration…..

I’ve been a quiet sort here lately,  haven’t I,
my soul long squirming to stay still and startled grateful as the stillness found me instead.
I haven’t wanted to stir the deep quiet
because it’s been feeding me something I didn’t even know I was hungry for.

I do a little creative challenge each year and this time I’ve been sharing my daily
over on instagram  (jenniferripplespeak);  it seems to be fueled by the bit of juice
that I usually cook with over here
so I forget that I haven’t actually been blogging regularly.
I think I want to change that.
So here again I am:)

I’ve got another little series steeping in my heart
but it’s not strong enough for sipping yet
so I’m letting it brew.
Until then,  a celebratory snippet to offer up to you:)

~ “Let me keep my distance,  always,  from those who think
they have all the answers.
Let me keep company always with those who say,
‘Look!’ and laugh in astonishment
and bow their heads.”
– Mary Oliver

“Every day I see or hear something
that more or less kills me with delight,
that leaves me like a needle in a haystack of light.”
– Mary Oliver.

(thanks for being gracious to me about my gone-time;
i love and appreciate you big)