Fresh new thank you notes at lap 58

Delivering up some thank you notes as I trot into lap 58….

Thank you,  life,  for showing me that clear is kind,
for swatting me hard sometimes when I’m not direct and nudging me
to ask better questions instead of parking myself in comfortable assumption.

Thank you,  Brene’ Brown,  for “paint done” –
and Candace for “keep talking – don’t quit talking yet”…
and that I’m learning,  learning to do relationship better.
For how beautiful is understanding

Thank you,  local honey,  for being the sweetest medicine I know.

Thank you,  big gold house on the hill,  for holding us all safe through the storms
and keeping a roof over my grateful head.

Thank you, last golden minutes before the sun slips down behind the mountain,
for bathing me in glisten and glow enough to last the whole night through.

Thank you,   pain and exhaustion,  for teaching me that if I say “yes”
when my heart means “no” that I’m doing a terrible thing to myself
and to people I don’t want to hurt.
For growing a stronger “no” in me.

Thank you,  all my messy art journals,  for showing me how to make investment
in my own heart – that it’s the streambed of my tomorrows.
For being peace and purpose and play to me.

Thank you,  Truth,  for letting my questions tumble out – my ugly, raw and angry stuff –
to rest unanswered in your light until they lose the power to throttle me.

Thank you,  Anderson,  for your gentle,  merry way.
For your kindness even when I’m unhinged; I appreciate every minute.

Thank you,  Autumn,  for being warm compassion and healing balm.
Your presence and words this year were pure gift
and my heart is stronger for it.

Thank you,  Katie,  for feeling like home away from home
and for stirring my aliveness with your strength and smile.
And for reminding me to rest.

Thank you,  Hope for inspiring dreams to bubble up life again,
for calling to the beauty-maker in me
and tugging me to find new ways.  I’m forever grateful for you.

Thank you,  hard conversations,  for teaching me courage.  For letting me practice my baby steps
into braver waters.

Thank you, Tom and Beth, for being friendship and fried chicken in the lonesome.

Thank you,  trust,   for coming on slow but sure where I’ve felt jilted.
For finding a place in my heart even where I’ve locked down afraid of being gullible again.
For helping me be open and also shrewd…..for teaching me to hold the line taught between the two.

Thank you,  truth-tellers, for being healing drops to my eyes – for helping me to see
that I don’t always see so well.

Thank you,  God,  for being only mercy when I feel hurt and hard.
For wooing me back to my head on your chest every time I spin out.

Thank you,  Candace, Libby, Gay, Patty, Risa, Marcia, Katherine, Pam, Claire,  Karen, Barbara, Eva, Jennifer, Mary Beth, Elizabeth, Lorraine…..gosh, ya’ll.  You blew me away!
I don’t even know what I would have done without your kind gift last August.
It was a suffocating time and you threw open a window for some fresh air.
I could breathe again and I don’t know enough thank you words.

Thank you,  people who offer “do you want to have a pray?”
It’s a gift of rare beauty to join hands and invite God.
I love this as much as I loved knocking on doors with alongside a friend when I was young,
maybe to sell girl scout cookies or ask someone to come out and play.
Standing together knocking is a sweet spot in my soul and I’ll always appreciate each ask.

Thank you,  Jason,  for your kind, encouraging way.

Thank you,  Audible,  for good reads while the miles passed long beneath me.

Thank you,  old green jeep,  for going and going and going still.
You take me there.  And sometimes make me stay.
And I like our relationship:)

Thank you to some of the sensitive heroic nurses who patiently helped my Mom make her way home.
You are unsung angels and I couldn’t begin to walk a mile in your shoes.

Thank you,  dear body of mine,  for going weak all over and feeling awful when I lie.  You say it strong to make
me honest.  Especially to myself.  Thanks for helping check my thoughts when I’m sleepy to what I’m doing.

Thank you,  brave ones who strip off the label of “victim” and own powerful their stories instead.  You
challenge my self pity and excuses;  I’m grateful for your candles burning potent in the dark. d
You shift things more than you know.

Thank you,  Mom,  for teaching me some things about living and dying.   About being strong – maybe even too strong.  For the way your presence sometimes lands still like a gift and for praying from a clear and peaceful place.
I look forward to togethering with you again someday.

Thank you,  Dad,  for lifelong learning.  For making yourself oatmeal and frying eggs and finding new ways.
For your weakness and your wonder – I’m richer because you’re you.

Thank you to the different ones – the atypical and off-center.
For being both brave and weak in the ways we sometimes punish.  We are all the greater for you
and I wouldn’t want to live in a world where you don’t lead us.

Thank you,  Langston,  for making me wrestle.  For challenging my perceptions and making waves
where I wanted an oversimplified calm.
For reminding me that people are worth the pain.

Thank you to my dearests – Bryan, Hannah, Peter, John, Amanda, Lance, Danielle.  For stirring me always to be curious,  vulnerable,  unsettled,  fluid,  and half-crazy until I do better.  For making me a more humane human and this world a friendlier place.

Thank you,  little table in the woods,  for sharing your space by the river while I play with pens and paints
and write out what I hear the wild wind saying.  You help me let the river flow through me and make all the work worthwhile.

Thank you, you beautiful noble people of Snowbird and Birdtown,
for letting me be a small part of your lives
You have my heart.

Thank you,  pressure and struggle,  for not leaving me the way that I was.
That I don’t have to fear my failings and fumblings

Thank you,  Singing River,  for growing inside me until I’m bursting with the soul spa I’m carrying
to full term.  I can’t wait to discover your name and offer you up to serve and be seen.
You feel like the best part of me;  thanks for hanging on.

Thank you,  new courage,  that sometimes finds me being transparent in the middle of a shamestorm.
For the growing grace to just stand there naked until my fear gets tired of fearing and love gets to find me like that and heal some of my unloved places.

Thank you,  lungs,  for filling up with air every day fresh and fueling my comings and goings.
I’m your biggest fan and so appreciate your flexibility.

Thank you,  dear soul of mine,  for becoming more discriminating about the stories you make up about why things happen.   I appreciate your growing patience before you rush to craft a narrative that may hurt on my body and mind.  Thanks for recognizing when you might not be seeing it true.  This feels like becoming free.

Thank you,  drivers who respect instead of rage.   You make all of our lives more livable.  And every minute you take to be kind is a sweet rain of goodness on dry places.

Thank you to the helpers – the ones who come alongside when trouble happens.  You are the salt of the earth;
we’d all be in a world of hurt if not for your heart to show up and risk.    You make it do-able to be human.

Thank you,  real apologies,  for being said from hearts that know how to kneel down and serve love.
You heal and re-set us.  And give us grace to go again, restoring relationships and building the bridges that move us
forward over busted up places.  You are bottomless brilliance and may just save us.

Thank you,  Lisa, Sandy, Donna, Jennifer and Karen,  for being forever-friends who hear my things
and let me wail and show me grace even when I’m frantic as life is burning down my fear.
For being a finger away on the chat when I need to tag someone in.
For showing up in the hard stuff.  You’re a gift to me,  I know it.

Thank you,  Janet,  for being my sister-friend who loves me always.  I think I’m most myself with you and it’s scary sometimes to be that real and test again the waters “am I still okay?  Still loved?” With you I’m always safe and this is no small thing in this great big wide.  You and David are pure gold and harbor.

Thank you,  midnight hours,  for being quiet and draped in moonlight.  For the stars you offer so gentle and the whisper to put things right.  For the way you strip away the clutter
and offer up the living room to roll out my thoughts and prayers like paint chips on the floor.
I forgive you the intrusion and welcome your tap tap tap on my window.

Thank you to the physical therapists who worked me so good.  My back thanks you so hard!
It’s joy and relief to know what to do to keep my parts all playing nice with each other.

Thank you,  soap and showers and all the bathtubs I have loved.
And Epsom salts,  I heart you forever.

Thank you,  Thistle Farms in Nashville,  for inspiring me wildly.  For showing that crafting and social justice and healing can team up successful to do big good.  For Love Heals.

Thank you,  Pisgah Forest,  for being a living picture of restoration.
For sparking my vision for bigger things.

Thank you, boots that keep my socks dry,  gloves that keep my hands warm,
and all the hats that have shielded me from the sun this year.
You give my skin a fighting chance.

Thank you,  problem-solvers,  for solutions and finding better ways.

Thank you,  cider-makers,  for turning humble fruits into tart bubbles
that sing welcome end-of-day songs.

Thank you,  laughter that shakes my belly – you’re better than pie
and a staple in my life.

thank you,  Bryan,  for working to find your footing on this steep and slippery slope
and knowing sometimes the passwords and prices,  and for holding my hand
warm as we pray in the night.

Thank you,  life,  for being both beautiful and hard.  And exquisitely painful.
And worth living for all the moments and days.  I will believe that you are precious,
that people are priceless,  and that the turn of the decade has ushered in our finest and most fruitful days.

Thank you,  dear ones who read the words I write down,
for the gift of your listen.  This is no small thing in this loud and busy world
and I’m honored that you take the time.

I used to think that when I reached almost 60 I’d be old and wise,
yet somehow I feel as if I’m still just on the cusp of getting a clue:)
My bag is,  however,  heavy with fresh new thank you notes.
Thanks for letting me dump them out and share.

Of decades and dearness….

It’s a new decade
and my one little word surprised me quick:

When I was a girl,  there was one warm little word that could smooth back the hair
from my upset and calm the afraid-and-alone of me,
sometimes offered by my mother and also my grandma Creasy
when I was particularly deserving.
“Dear”
“You dear little thing”
As I grew too big and clunky,  the word became reserved for babies
and petite girls who minded their manners and kept their thick shiny hair tucked
neatly back off their faces.
For puppies and lambs and darling things.
It meant worthy of notice,  of affection,  of protection,  of love.

The remarkable thing about being dear was that
it seemed to come without a single bit of effort on the part of the beloved.
It was as if the essence of the dear one squeezed sunshine and smile and safety
like orange juice from another soul.
It was delicious to be dear,
a soul-soothing energy that made it okay to be seen.

It was potent pain to lose your dearness.
To become un-see-able or worse,  unacceptable,  by love,

As I’ve journeyed through the years I’ve learned and un-learned to hustle  for my dearness
the way you do when you’re still figuring it out,
and I hurt on hearts,  mine and others,  the way you do
when you’re not sure that it’s settled already – your unique value –
in the grand design.

This past year was gift in that it stirred the deep of this primal pain
as I lost the body of work I’d created over the past decade to a hard drive crash
while my mother slowly died
and layers of my shell peeled away,
begging the scary questions we toss like covers in the night.

Several months before she passed, I began to make old photos into cards and write my love
and memories in bundles for Mom to draw from when she needed a lift.
In this way she let me say how dear,
let me lay my heart on the foot of her bed
and feel a home once more in that place.
As I listened and longed for some words in return
I felt it keen the hunger to feel dear again to her,
the little girl of me reaching for her smile.

She was unable to give it,
and so one of the gifts in her passing is a sharp sense of purpose
standing up strong inside where it once felt like a dream being dreamed
a torch to say the things – to say how dear – into our motherless places.
Those holes left behind by the imperfect lives of our mothers and by our own
imperfect capacity to receive what she had to give.
We wound our kids without meaning – even in wanting only ever to love.

This year I’ll tend the memorial garden in my heart,  in part,
by making space to say the things out louder,
to cluck soft and hum tender over our dearness.
To honor my mother and the mother in us all.
Because we’re here for just a few short seasons,  like a wisp,
and I don’t want to leave any of my love ungiven.

So here it is,  dear – my one little word.
And here’s to our dearness.

“You have to find a mother inside yourself.  We all do.
Even if we have a mother,  we still have to find this part of ourselves inside.”

– Sue Monk Kidd

Dancing hope defiant…..

I need to dance with a barefoot heart,
to twirl in the darkness of the wee hours
and wriggle free,
unloading heavy things
into hands so warm and available and open
that they tug the sun up through the woods
while the birds prattle joy
and the candle burns slow,
flickering sandalwood and spruce
and I take it in hungry
and peer into the face of light.

so there is somewhere for the torment
to tumble out and go,
all this anger over unjust things
that hurt the ones I love
while my stomach screams hard for help and change
and my small hands burn to take hold of everything cruel
and make it stop,
to make this big world well
until it goes kind and peaceable and just.

I want to rest deep and also live awake.

So when I need to lay my mind down
on something soft and tender-strong,
and remember deep the shepherd psalm,
and take in the love that speaks truth into storm
so that the fog and the cold doesn’t take me,

I can dance on it,
can paint and sing and write and move and shout and love out loud
in stuff that speaks like prayer
until my vision climbs up higher
and my heart holds firm to peace
and I breathe into hope that is defiant
against the dark.

This is a little re-write I shared a few years back
and it moves me that it’s stirring fresh again inside
and I share with a fresh sprig of new-grown herb
and serve it up with love:)

“The belief is that enough hope and tenderness will lead to world peace,
one mind at a time.    All nations will come together in kindness and justice,
swords will be beaten into plowshares,  spears into pruning hooks.
This is a little hard to buy with a world stage occupied by so many madmen,
and so much suffering.  But setting aside one’s tiny tendency toward cynicism,
in the meantime – in Advent – we wait;  and hope appears if we truly desire to see it.”
–  Anne Lamott

Prickles and portals and play it again….

Sometimes into life’s overwhelm come soft days
so thick with grace
that the volume gets turned up
on your dreams
so loud that it drowns out some fear,
shaking dance back into your feet
until your heart starts taking on hope
like a ship sinking fast in a sea of fresh mercy
as heaven storms down light so fierce
that it swallows up the dark.

When you’re not there right now,
when all you can feel is the cave you crawled in
bone tired and seeking shelter
and the gloom works it’s way on your soul
and you’re hungry for good air and tall sky
but you feel as weak and small as the yelp
that gets stuck in the dry of your voice
( I’ve known this place)

Can I remind you,  friend,  that it’s there still,
that place where darkness got sliced until the light spilled in;
still there waiting with the warm buttery peace of something realer
than what you can see,
waiting to wrap you again in that firm strong love
that breathes courage
back into all your despairing places.

It’s there now waiting and you can go there still
along the backroads of your mind;
where maybe even as a child
you felt it sweet in someplace truthful and gentle
and it’s there still like a portal
where you feel free and profoundly okay.

You are brave enough to lean on in;
Open wide and go again
to that door that is uniquely gift to you,
where you step into the undriven purpose
of being welcome and known and affirmed with great affection.

Go stand in that place and let love sing down her songs over you again.
You belong,
the starry heavens whisper.
You belong.

“Fear is the cheapest room in the house.
I would like to see you living in better conditions.”
– Hafiz

Tender goodbye mornings…..

It’s been twelve days since my mother left this earth
and I’ve lived each one of them,
lived them full and awake and as tenderly open as I know how.
The days just before were some of the most intense that I’ve known and I’m not ready
to unpack those and make words for them yet.
But I’m up before the sun to remember the gifts that found me these days
in the exquisite pain of love.

For the heave of relief that her considerable suffering is no more,
that her body and being were able to rest back peaceful into those everlasting arms
that she trusted to carry her home.
And for the memory of her smile as she leaned into the turn.

For the fog that wrapped the next morning as I made my way to work,
as if the clouds understood my need to disappear for just awhile
and so came down to offer cover those first gritty hours.
And the chores that let my hard tangle of feelings get dirty and sweaty
and walk hard and long until they drained off soft again.
For the fatigue that came from work instead of waiting.

For the black and blue swallowtail that fluttered around me slow,
and then around again and again in soft circles around my face
while Hope watched and cried because she said she saw it happen to another
the day after she too lost her mother
and my heart felt it like a massage
and my breath went deep.

For the kindness of friends who
loved me in it all
and let me say my pain.
And the song that came alongside to walk me through
* Let it Fall* by Over the Rhine

For the goldfinches who flew alongside my window.

For a table thick with laughter and family and Mexican Train
and the soul food of being there loved.

For time on the deck with my sister while the stars bent low to kiss the ridge tops
and how we felt it thin the line between here and there
and got to say our things and listen and understand;
For the butter and balm of that starry night share.

For the project that wouldn’t wait and was lightning strike to my tired places,
a jolt into a focus that gave my grief a shelf for keeping until.
For the way it challenged my art making expansive and stretchy
when I wanted to curl up and just not.
For the deep breath of yes between my bones when we finished.

For the kindness of words written on little bites of art – the magic
of cards that travel through the mail to rest in my box.
And for the gift of needed provision that arrived just exactly when,
like care packages from heaven.

That the food poisoning didn’t kill me
though, Lord,  felt like it tried:)

For the kindness of hands that tugged the sadness from my feet
and rubbed the weight from my shoulders with a sigh.

It feels a primal sort of pain to lose a mama
and I fling thanks for the goodness of mine
and for every drop of comfort and challenge  along the way.
Today I will tug free the words I’ll share at her service on Friday
and God it feels daunting to pick up the pen.

Thanks for letting me  prime the pump and share with you here,  my treasured friends.
I appreciate your kind listen.

“‘Cause rain and leaves and snow and tears and stars,
and that’s not all my friend,
they all fall with confidence and grace,
So let it fall,  let it fall.”
– Jerome Detweiler
Over the Rhine