Of Crayons and Yarn and Lighting Candles in the Dark….

When I was a little girl I used to make books to give my family for Christmas.
It made me feel alive,  this way of putting my love onto paper with crayons and pencil
and binding together simple books with staples or yard to say a fountain of love
and I see you and you have me always on your side.
To share what I felt and saw and hoped and held dear.

I remember feeling that if I put my whole heart into  it, then I’d have nothing to regret.
Then I  could lose the fear that my voice would get snatched and leave my life unsaid.
I remember wanting so hard to say the things,  to give my heart,
to hold hands with both heaven and earth and tug the veil thin
so that the light that I heard,  the music and motion,
might warm some cold places when a chill set in.
I dreamed to paint the beauty that I felt.

It’s taken me a lifetime to become like a child again,
my work-worn hands itching to make words on paper still, but how?
Well this year life made a way,  slowed down,  and threw me a line
and I grabbed hold and started birthing something been long brewing in my heart.
Something I can offer up tangible,  like a fireside built,  where we can gather peaceful
and soak in the warmth and let it serve up some balm
that I hope may nudge breath back into hope gone tired
or burned right down to the nub.

Some of the words and images you’ve met here before,
served up fresh and easy to gift;
others are new offerings carved in the dirt of this challenging year.
I’ve felt them in my parts and prayers,  the hurting hearts all around,
and I sensed it strong to dive deep,  drawing up some singing water to share,
stringing together words and making art
because it seemed the only way I knew to get my hands messy and do something
to help light candles in the dark.

This book-making thing was way harder than I dreamed
and yet Grace showed up and did what she does
when you can’t muster the gumption but you take another tiny step anyway,
and somehow you’re swept jagged into holy current
even as your bum bruises sharp on the rocks,
and you arrive sputtering
with something
to offer up
in your hands
even
so.

Offering it to you now
with tired and giddy hands
because I really,  really want to tell you something good.

Pre-orders available now on my new website now.
https://www.singingriverstudios.com/

 

“Love is or it ain’t.
Thin love ain’t no love at all.”
-Toni Morrison

Congratulations to Cathy Burns – we drew your name!
I’ll be sending you an art journal I made.  With a whole lot of love:)
This week I’d like to gift one of my books – it will come right to your door
hopefully the second week of December.
(This thing was born to be a Christmas present:))
Leave a comment and your name goes in the hat!

Of prickles, pain and portals….

Sometimes into life’s overwhelm
come soft days so thick with grace
it seems the volume gets turned up
on your joy
and drowns out some prickle,
shaking dance back into tired feet
’til your heart starts taking on hope
as heaven storms down light so fierce
that it swallows up the dark.

When you’re not in that place,
when all you feel is the cave you crawled in,
bone tired and seeking shelter,
and the gloom works it’s way on your soul
’til you’re hungry for good air and tall sky,
but you feel as small
as the yelp
that gets stuck
in the dry
of your voice,

(I know this place)

oh please remember that it’s there
still and always,
along the backroads of your mind,
and you can go again to that moment
when the darkness got sliced through, peeling back some dread
to free the warm buttery peace of something realer than you can see
and you saw some living light
until it smiled courage into your frightened places.

You felt it then.  Remember?
You were maybe still a child and yet you stood beneath a portal
to that sweet someplace and you felt it,
the gentle, un-driven purpose
of being profoundly
and undeniably
okay.

You’re brave enough to let your heart remember.

Open wide and go again – it’s unlocked to you still,
that door so uniquely gift to you.
You’re welcome,  known,  and waited for with great affection there
– go stand again in that place
and let Love sing her songs all over you again.

You belong,  the starry heavens whisper,
you belong.

“There’s a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.”
– Leonard Cohen

A little re-share,  here.   Nothing fresh to offer but these leftovers heat up well:)
Congrats to Elaine Kean of Elk – your name came up in the giveaway
and I’ll be putting your art journal on a fast pony and sending her your way.
With a whole heap of joy and yes:)
I’ll give away another this week – oh please keep tending that beautiful soul of yours.
Leave a comment and you’re in the drawing.

Of brilliance, bobble and belonging….

I’ve been sweet on the art of encouragement for as long as I can remember,
feeling somersaults of thanks for every bit of balm
that helps a soul get out of bed another morning and pull on fresh clothes
over dreams burned down to the nub.
Like gentle shoes for blistered feet,
so a broken heart can go on making fresh tracks in hard places anyway.
I’ve received them like clean cold water in hot swelter,  words
that give my bones a new song,
and breeze that makes my breath
churn fresh hope
and I love it
when someone
takes
the
time.

And so
I’ve cultivated this thing
until it blooms hardy in my garden
because I’ve struggled through drought
and have come to carry water everywhere I go.
I’ve felt it deep how a drink of clean healing river
can be tipping point in a full blown collision between life and death and
I’d drive a watertruck of it for you,  if I could – a freight train of encouragement
coming ’round the mountain of your dry places
until you’re filling up on love
that writes a stream of poems across your weary back,
easing air back into places that somehow forgot how to breathe.

I want to splatter it across the thirst of your sky,
a waterfall of welcome
for who you are,
that even in pain and conflict,
in the beauty and the bruising,
it’s sweet magic that you’re even here and this place just
wouldn’t be the music without you.

Wherever you are,  in whatever way,
I honor every thump of your heart
– such a beautiful rhythm.
And every brave step that you take or even weigh
that inches you toward your next have-a-go.

In the noise and gravel of this critical climate,
oh please hear your name called affectionate across the clamor
by smiling voice so choked up with affection
that it can’t keep quiet over the art of who you are.
Over all of your brilliance and bobbles
there hums a love too strong to be silenced,
and though it crackles across the static on the line,
it’s there for you to open like a letter from your long ago
and not yet
that in the quaking of this season
you are cherished,  held and seen.

Passing the note,  love ……..your belonging runs deep.


“I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic
than to love people.”
– Vincent Van Gogh

Another giveaway this week – I have some new journals to share
and want to offer up the first one to you.
Just plunk a comment in the box and I’ll draw from the names next week.
9I’m back from making something soon ready to share
and will be around regular again now:)

It’s been a year, dear Mom…

Dear Mom,  I was near your old house this week,
a whole year since the last time I got to squeeze your tiny hand
and kiss your sunken cheek
still remarkably soft like the young one that used to nuzzle mine.
I was so tired,  Mom,  and I felt overcome with missing you,
such a longing to drop by your house with the open windows and fresh linens,
and say,  “Mom I need a nap,”  and you’d have welcomed me in with care in your voice
and maybe even stroked my hair for a minute
as breeze slipped soft through your crisp white curtains
while I sunk into sleep for just awhile.
After my nap we’d have shared a cup of tea
and I’d have felt less lonely with each sip.

But as much as I miss you,  I’m glad you didn’t have to navigate this year.
People have been so cruel to each other,  Mom;  it’s harsh enough to blister a heart
but Lord knows you’d have loved the sparring.
And you know I’d have quietly withered a bit over each of your fb posts:)
Oh sweet mercy that your political soap box was retired
before this year of hard shaking.
(smile)

Yeah this year has been a non-stop rumble,  Mom,
– such a catalyst for change.
Kind of like an asteroid slammed into everyone’s backyard.
I’m feeling much charred but also grateful for how it came shaving off places I didn’t know
needed impact until I noticed some shift
in my entitled,  self-righteous places.  Oye.
I hope I’m becoming a better peace-builder.
And even with our wildly differing perspectives,
I always heard the affection in your voice every time you greeted me
and I miss it much.
I know your love was real.

I’ve still got my big feelings
and kind of sense that you don’t find them so daunting now,
like we’re closer somehow
from where you’ve landed,
as if my “too much” doesn’t feel as much so
in the great spacious wide you now enjoy.
I imagine you in those brilliantly lit fields of beyond
and think somehow that we could picnic there for hours,
together without a single sticky fear to flare up between us.
When I climb to the parkway,  to the rocky winds where we released your bones,
I let the jagged light kiss the spaces we kept between us
and it feels like healing
and home.

Last week in your city,  hungry for rest and feeling homesick and alone,
I remembered how you used to crawl into the warm car you parked in the sunny spot
of our old driveway just to take a nap.  Sanctuary:)
The memory felt a little like an invitation,
like I could hear you say,
“just lay back the seat,  dear,  and catch a few winks.”
And you know what,  Mom,  I did  – right there on the street where I was working.
I shimmied down,  closed my eyes,  and imagined you there beside me.
I woke up revived and thinking I’d heard you sigh.

I made you a garden this year.
Out of your favorite things – words and beauty.
On your favorite platform (Lord help us) – facebook.
I tried to show up daily – didn’t make all the days but gave it my all.
I leaned in to cobble together words and images that would lift,
and encourage from a mama-heart.
To honor your fierce like-a-lion love.
I used your pet word “dear” so much I can hardly punch it into the keys now
and I think your garden is full.
Am needing some rest from the digging –  want to go build other things
so I’m calling time.  It’s enough,  and I believe I feel your smile on that, too.
So weird how I made this for you but I grew way richer
in my own heart than anything I could’ve given.
Your generosity still kisses my life with gold.

I honor you,  Mom,
will continue to honor you by living my life – the one that you helped carry –
from the bottom of my being
until I’ve squeezed free every last drop.
I love you forever.

“Out beyond ideas of wrong doing and right doing
there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.”
– Rumi

Thanks for letting me grieve and process out loud,  dear ones.
Your reads and comments are precious to me.
And congrats to Maureen – I drew your name to receive the giveaway bundle
I’ll make for you this week.
With joy:)
More giveaways coming soon.

Of blackness and whiteness and systems and gills……

~~~
I’ve been in the thick of a tremendous wrestle;
feels fearful to share because in hurtful ways I may get it wrong
but the conversation seems important enough
to take the risk so please hold space for my fumbling
~~~

Dear black people,
I didn’t actually see you.
Didn’t see your experience, that is.
I never heard clear all the places where your hearts bleed –
didn’t understand the depth of generational trauma.
Sometimes I wanted you to stop acting like a victim,
to stop being so angry.
It became a habit to just not look

I held a secret hard edge
because of the fear I felt in high school
when the frequent fights would break out,
especially when the friend I rode to school with each day
in his sky blue Volkswagen beetle was stabbed and beaten so severely
that he never again returned to our high school.
I felt undone by the loss and bewildered at your rage.

I didn’t see the system we were all swimming in,
the one set long in motion against you.
I didn’t understand that blackness and whiteness were constructs,
and that in this system my whiteness gave me gills.
I never saw how hard you had to fight to surface again and again for air.
I come from people who taught that we all have a reasonably fair swim,
that if you just swam harder…..
(wince and grieve)
I really didn’t see.

That same system stacked against you – to disadvantage you – was rigged to make
us believe there is no rigging.

And the thing is,  I’ve considered myself a progressive.
I recoil at obvious white supremacy.
But when I watched the recent murders with my own eyes
I realized I was seeing something  that was screaming to be recognized
and that I needed to brave behind that curtain and sit in the discomfort of a painful look and listen.
I took an 8 week deep dive into an intensive with diverse and challenging voices;
actually learned some history (not just the whitewashed parts)
and considered the effects of The Doctrine of Discovery,
Reconstruction,  Jim Crow,  Affirmative Action. 13th Amendment,
–  too many to unwrap here –
that “in the U.S. we often let our institutions do our sinning for us.”
I finally see the spirit of racism is a shape-shifter,  and that once chattel slavery ended,
the evil re-emerged again and again through new policy and law,
still at large and armed.

I realize I cherry-picked the hand-full of black voices saying what I already thought,
realized that we still benefit economically as a nation,
from oppressive,  exploitive laws and trauma to people groups,
that the harm has not been addressed- there’s been no formal reckoning.
The wound is still open on a systemic level even if individuals have heroically moved forward.
Few states have formally apologized, and until we have owned it as a nation,  taken responsibility,
and stopped the effects by deconstructing and re-imagining systems,
that just moving on isn’t even biblical (for my Christian friends).
(Do we think that God is at a lack for strategy?)

I’ve considered that this monster, racism, isn’t political;
that both parties have contributed significant pain
(thank you,  Mark Charles.  And deep respect.  You have my heart’s vote).
I’ve considered what we did,  not just to you,  but to Africa,
considered that racism’s power is to destroy everyone’s humanity.
I’m learning to learn slow,  to take the time to search a thing out,
to not move in a spirit of suspicion toward orgs like Black Lives Matter,
even when I can’t buy into all the internal ideology.
I’ve explored the foundation of conspiracy theory and slander and
grown in respect for the 9th Commandment
(and love for the God who I’m re-discovering as Justice and Mercy).
I’m learning to listen less defensive,  to lose more of my flinch
and let entire ideas roll out like carpet and air dry
rather than hurriedly tossing them with my hasty opinion
(example:  defund police to re-imagine public safety,
or statues – what was the context of the erecting of all these statues?
When were the artists commissioned?  What was going on in society at the time?
I committed to practice slowing my roll,  to listen with humility)

I could hardly stay in my skin at times these last 8 weeks.
My stomach hurt and my heart pounded with shock
and eventually lament.
I’ve stood in the breakers of your unheard voices
instead of diving for cover or scurrying back to shore
as I’ve done so many times before.

For now I have just this,
and I’m sorry for the drop-in-the-bucket nature of my words,

Just this,  dear black people

I acknowledge you.

I acknowledge your suffering,
from the cruel effect of of systems created
in order to advantage one group by disadvantaging another.
By disregarding and dismissing your humanity.
I see you showing up still
and it humbles me.
Your patience, long-suffering,  resilience,  courage – it drops me to my knees.
I don’t know how reparations will be made or when or what my part will be
but I will participate wholehearted.
For now, I just want to thank you.
For who you are and how you rise.
Please don’t give up.

– With love and respect,
one white person who is seeing clear enough at last
to get messy in the fight for change.

“An event has happened,  upon which it is difficult to speak,
and impossible to remain silent.”
– Edmund Burke

Time and space are limited here and I’m still digging out words to do justice
to what is burning and churning in my heart;
I’m not lumping all of anyone together – that’s not my intention.
My language is limited and

I’m wrestling still for the words to cobble together.
Please hold space for my inevitable fumbles.

Congrats to Cathy Davis for winning the giveaway;
I’ll be sending you a Tell Me Something Good bundle.
And offering up another with this post – plunking your name in hat with each comment!