Can there be anything braver than love?

My son is  home from Afghanistan
for precious few days of leave,
hearts gathered near to love him hard
before he returns.
It’s sweetness so sharp it hurts deep
and steps heavy on my buried landmines,
the debris somehow beautiful
because it’s true.

There is so much pain in love
and I’m thick wrapped
and undone,
life’s lens turned in sharp,
the focus so crisp that I’m raw,
from standing in the clarity
with a naked heart,
not rushing for cover,
or for habit,
or for busy.

Just this fresh grated grace raining down all fat and gentle
soaking my soul bare through,
until all of me is showing,
the parts I’d rather tuck away safe
and here I am
all disheveled
and unraveled,
and awkward
and spastic
with love.

and full up with words that aren’t enough,
and with pain that shows through messy
and I’m squeamish at the weakness seeping through
as I lose the pretending,
and go all true and slow,
until I’m still enough
to let Love’s eyes meet mine

and,  once again,
the gentleness breaks me
and my hands and heart roll open
and I let the scared and trembling insides of me
take comfort and shelter,
and shamelessly love and be loved.

Can there be anything braver than love?

“We are so limited,  you have to use the same word  for loving Rosaleen
as you do for loving Coke with peanuts.
Isn’t that a shame we don’t have many more ways to say it?”
-Sue Monk Kidd
“The Secret Life of Bees”







  1. rachel awes on February 13, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    oh honey, my heart squeezes your love pained heart,
    + celebrates your precious days with your dear son.
    your photos + painting + all the ways
    you see + say are soooo beautiful.

  2. Nacy on February 13, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    You know every once in a while someone crosses your path that challenges you to look deeper, fly higher, see more clearly, and to be present in the moment…that’s you my friend…you have done that with your words and your paintings for me…now you are again showing me what loving bravely looks like….You are special…..

  3. elk on February 13, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    so often we are on the same page .. your words flow so beautifully though~ thanks always for sharing your heart!!

  4. Julia Of Petals and Wool on February 13, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    Dear Jennifer, I’m so glad that your son is home from Afghanistan. What a bitter sweet joy this must be for you and your family as he home for such a short time.
    There is no braver love that the love of a mother for her child except maybe, God’s love for all of us. Your words describes the depth of your emotions at this blessed reunion. Savor every moments that is given you. I rejoice with you. Hugs & love. JB

  5. beth on February 13, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    your love for your son, tangible. the love in your heart, overflowing, even while making you messy.

  6. S. Etole on February 13, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    You say love in a way that evokes the mysteries of the heart in many different ways.

  7. Ophelia on February 13, 2012 at 8:21 pm

    What an incrediblely beautiful post. Thanks for sharing. Your blog is amazing.

  8. Louise G on February 13, 2012 at 9:06 pm

    Your question speaks
    to love’s true beauty

    I wrote a post a couple of years ago about a tribe in Africa who have no word for Love — when they feel it for another, they say — My Heart is Beautiful for You.

    My Heart is Beautiful for You.

    you touch my
    with your words
    and images.

    Thank you beautiful one.

    Enjoy your son
    enjoy each moment
    store the memories
    and the feelings
    and feast on his presence.

  9. Anyes - Far Away in the Sunshine on February 14, 2012 at 12:21 am

    You are brave in your love and even when it hurts you go with it, the whole emotion of it. Sending you hugs and wishing your son’s stay to be overflowing with even more love.

  10. Bren on February 14, 2012 at 8:43 am

    Jen, you’ve written my heart, my experience though it differs in nature from yours, I none the less feel the power and tremble of your words. For ‘the book’ my friend, nothing wasted, nothing left unsaid, unfelt.

  11. Lynn on February 14, 2012 at 9:04 am

    Wow. I felt this one hard and deep. My oldest graduates high school in four months. Bitter sweet. Thank you for sharing these words, this depth of soul. Thank you.

  12. amanda {the habit of being} on February 14, 2012 at 9:29 am

    wow. this is so raw and real. enjoy your son and his visit. wishing him safety as he returns back to afghanistan.

  13. missing moments on February 14, 2012 at 10:30 am

    Beautiful words … and yes, it take a lot of courage to love.

  14. leslie on February 14, 2012 at 11:09 am

    your words sink deep. rejoice in this precious time with your son, and may he be kept safe until the next time you see him…

  15. Mimi and Tilly on February 14, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    Such a beautiful, beautiful post. I feel so moved by your writing, and don’t seem to have the words to express how much your post here resonated with me. It takes so much bravery and courage to truly love another person, to allow yourself to be seen, and to allow the other person to be free to follow their path. I read a quote today that deeply moved me “Him that I love, I wish to be free – even from me.” Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Thank you for sharing your art work and your heart. Em x

  16. Naomi on February 14, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    We ARE so vulnerable in love. So well said. Beautiful. I feel you, my dear.

  17. Connie Smiley on February 14, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    Jennifer, bless you and thank you for seeing all this and saying the hard stuff. Beautiful.

  18. kathryn on February 14, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    you’re right….when you open up to love all your raw emotions spill out. but it’s better to be like that then hold it in and not feel.

    so happy you got to see your son…i can only imagine what a joy that must have been for you!!

  19. Jess Morrow on February 14, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    Wow … so beautiful here, and on so many levels. I also find love incredibly painful, yet so worth it. I love some people so much that it actually hurts, and you captured that so well here!!

    Not just that, but the language is so beautiful, seriously. especially “fresh grated grace raining down all fat and gentle.” WOW. So gorgeous.

  20. lisleman on February 14, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    Happy news, happy moments, but so sad that your son must go back to serve more. Wishing him and your family all the best. Also, as I have said before but can’t say enough – thank your son for his service.

  21. Sandra L. on February 14, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    Sending many hugs. I do not have children so it is a bit hard for me to identify with what you are saying. But I will give you this quote that I once read (can’t remember where): To have a child is to walk around with your heart outside your body.

    I will keep you and your family in my prayers, and especially pray for his safety, and the safety of all who are serving in dangerous situations.


  22. Maggie Mallard on February 14, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    I don’t think I have ever read anything more beautiful than this written tonight by you.
    So glad your son is home with you now and please tell him how much I appreciate his courage and the great job he is doing for all of us.
    Sending you so many prayers and much love

  23. JillsyGirl Studio on February 15, 2012 at 7:22 am

    How lovely that he was home for Valentine’s Day, but sad that he has to return. Enjoy every day with him to the fullest!

  24. marion on February 15, 2012 at 8:18 am

    I am so in awe of your bravery, the way you can be still and let these feelings wash over you. The way you let yourself feel and the beautiful way in which you share it with us.

    My Greek friend told me that the Greeks have about seven words for love – just because there are so many different kinds of love. That makes so much sense to me, and I think we could build on that and come up with our own definitions.

    In the end, love is never easy yet we are so so so very lucky to have it.

    Love and all good thoughts to you!

  25. Cousin Cathy on February 15, 2012 at 8:33 am

    We all hold him and your family close to our hearts and say a prayer from him to be watched over all the time. We also say prayers for you and the rest of your family for it to be easier on your hearts and mind while he is there too. Enjoy all the moments you have with him and know he will be back with you again soon. Love to all.

  26. Barbara on February 15, 2012 at 8:36 am

    We should all be so brave and messy in our love as you are! Beautiful post! Soak up as much of your son as you can!

  27. Relyn on February 15, 2012 at 9:13 am

    I am so glad to know that he’s home and wrapped not only in your love, but in your arms. Happy heart day, every day, my friend.

  28. Anne on February 15, 2012 at 11:41 am

    Once again, your words hit those deep places. Someone already quoted my favorite from this: “fresh grated grace raining down all fat and gentle
    soaking my soul bare through,
    until all of me is showing….Love it.
    One of our authors is re-examining some of the common words used in Christianity. His research led him to this definition of Love:
    “always contending for the highest kind
    of good in every situation and
    relentlessly contending until it’s a
    present-tense reality!”
    Seems to fit pretty well here, my gifted, precious friend.

  29. Jen Zimmerman on February 15, 2012 at 5:58 pm

    Your writing touches the soul in a way few can achieve. So raw and beautiful. I hope you clock ticks slowly for you over these precious days.

  30. jeanie on February 15, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    I’m so very glad your son is home — and what perfect timing! Yes, I am learning in a way I wish I didn’t have to — there IS nothing braver than love. Many hugs to you. Celebrate with joy. Silly me, don’t have to tell you that; I know you will!

  31. Judy on February 15, 2012 at 8:21 pm

    I am weak and weeping after reading your words, having just recently said goodbye as my daughter returned to her home in another country. How would I bear it if she were going back to danger and uncertainty? Your writing really touches me and I greatly admire your heart and your talent.
    Wishing you joy-filled moments with your son.

  32. Liz on February 16, 2012 at 12:05 am

    wishing you sweet peace tonight, my friend….wishing you deep rest as you let go into the Hands that never sleep….

    “He Who keeps him neither slumbers nor sleeps” -Psalm 121:4

    gentle hug,

  33. JBR on February 16, 2012 at 4:07 am

    Jen, thank you for sharing from your heart. Blessings.

  34. LindyLouMac in Italy on February 16, 2012 at 10:25 am

    Enjoy the precious moments with your son, your feelings as always put into words so beautifully. It is bad enough living away from ones children as we also do but to know they are in danger every single day, must be so very hard to bear.

  35. Michele Bergh on February 16, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    Hoping every moment was wonderful during his visit, filling you up with warm fuzzies until he returns.

  36. Anita on February 16, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    Your words make my heart ache with the wish that time would stop so that you could keep him with you. I wish you joy in every precious moment!

    I love that line from “The Secret Life of Bees”; what a fabulous book!

    xo, Anita

  37. Marjie Kemper on February 18, 2012 at 9:31 am

    This is so open, raw, and beautiful. What a lovely way to start my day reading this post… feeling your love for your son and total ‘in the moment” joy in today. Love your photos and art, too. This was such a groovy post!

  38. Eydie on February 19, 2012 at 2:46 am

    Dear Jennifer.

    Hoping that you had all the moments you wished for with your son.

    Your words are always filled with such beautify, raw truth, and heart.

    I loved the quote at the end. So simple and profound.

    XOXO Eydie

  39. Poetic chronicles on February 19, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    Ah but there are more ways to say it…just have to read your words 🙂
    Hoping (and sure) that you’ve had a terrific time wrapped in family love 🙂

  40. Marcie on February 19, 2012 at 7:20 pm

    This is so beautiful!! Hope your time together has been special…and filled with love. Oh-so-very precious!

  41. Jema on February 20, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    Dearest Friend,
    How I love your authentic feelings that come pouring out from you. I felt it all, I feel the love, the angst in your writing. Sending you love, time to be with your son.

  42. Cheri Wollenberg on February 21, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    My search for you finds you happy, squeezing, pressed and running over with love….as usual Jen, your words ripple over the wireless and speak large,clear,and tremendous golden nuggests to my heart:) Blessings and Love you Friend.

  43. suz on February 22, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    no , nothing better
    love your open windows….
    they look like home
    must be the love

  44. Mary Carroll on February 24, 2012 at 9:45 am

    I think this must be the most beautiful, painful post I have ever read. Thank you for opening your heart so that I may find what is buried deep within my own. I hope you had a wonderful visit, and I pray that your son remains safe and returns home well in body and spirit. xoxo

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