A whole heap of time has swirled past
since I last met with you here and I can’t say for sure why
except that I’ve opened this laptop often, just brimming with words,
that then bottleneck and quickly subside like a low tide falling.
I let my fingers stammer for a little while and then release them to go outside
with a basket on my hip to work in the garden instead.
I come ’round to read your blogs and my muscles draw me first
into the art room where I pour easy streams of paint into a paper plate
and begin swiping on another layer to hold space for the words
so that when they finally do tumble onto paper somehow, they’ll have somewhere interesting
to land and maybe artfully arrange themselves.
Who am I even in this new season?
It’s taken me a minute to give a long and loving listen
to learn what this woman needs from me.
Quick back story: I was immunosuppressed before Covid hit;
for years I’ve been extremely allergic, tagged “overly” sensitive,
and so was super mindful to take care because I knew that if I got the virus
it may likely pound on me pretty violent, as most viruses seem to do.
A common stomach virus can drop me because it’s gonna take a while.
I can’t actually physically throw up (lovely, right?).
I had an experimental surgery in the early 2000s because of reflux so severe
that my doctors at UNC guessed I needed to have a go.
Of mistakes I’ve made, this was a big one.
Had I waited a few years, as my intuition suggested,
I would’ve discovered that reflux is just one of the many
auto-immune symptoms that I’d need to navigate
with a lot of creativity and patience in the decades to come.
So it wasn’t totally shocking that Covid would hamstring me for a while with long haul symptoms.
But my healthy husband? That shook me.
When after a vigorous move and months of navigating my own confounding symptoms
my husband went suddenly ill with acute kidney failure, I felt raw with fear.
For a short while I thought he may die.
Instead came the challenges of his living a newer normal – high doses of prednisone,
insulin shots, and wobbly with weakness. And all the new what-do-we-do-now’s.
I had been pivoting away from our family business, gentling down, and suddenly that move
became as hardly do-able as all the other new necessities to navigate.
But ride each wave we did
and when anxiety stormed down a torrent,
I went out and dug in the garden like it was my only thing.
I guess trauma requires new dances
and this became mine.
Life became new normals and dances and gardens and ways. And all of it mattered.
I hold them as delicious gifts now, the days when my body and brain show up in ways that I understand.
I’m learning new work-arounds for times when they don’t,
like using food enzymes to support a bum pancreas,
and implementing more structure to help with the buggy brain that can fog my windshield with sudden haze,
and talking myself through the panic that can jump me like a prowler
with a random wave of nausea or sudden chill.
Honestly it’s an unfamiliar place, this learning to give myself some tender loving time.
To have to bend low and be patient, sometimes as if with a toddler, has been a level of care
I’ve never offered to myself before.
And as I do, tentative and awkward, I’ve felt this compassion rise
because I feel it vivid the spaces where this woman
could have used this kind of support always from, well, me.
How did I leave her last in a line
that never reaches the end?
This challenging stretch of road has been a ruthless and beautiful teacher.
I’m glad for these fresh cracks
and the way they’re letting the light crawl in,
bringing me somehow closer home.
Sometimes my heart flutters shy in this newer, more tender relationship with myself
and I’m having to sit with it for a minute
before I can say the things.
I mean it sincere each time I write that I’ll be back to you more regular soon.
But I’m holding no space for the hurry I’ve long inflicted on myself;
I’ll be back when the wind fills my sails;
for now it’s maybe enough that I’m keeping them set.
And watching my garden grow:)
“Inside your chest
lives a little nightingale
who never sleeps.”
– Alexandra Vasiliu
Big joy in sending out a package this week to Renee Clark
who likely doesn’t even remember leaving a comment
it was so long ago that I posted.
I’ll wait until I come back more consistently before offering another giveaway.
About twenty years ago, when I was in the thick of trying to figure out
who am I in the strange and terrible beauty of this life,
coming on forty and wondering what of all that I believed was even true enough
to haul into the next season
– what was real
and what would hold the weight of all that I loved,
I had this powerful whisper of an experience.
It started soft like a low hum, a glance of the clock on my old stove
landing neatly on 4:44. My eyes liked the something-ness about it.
Early the next morning I woke with a start, face to the bedside clock radio.
Again with the 4:44.
I felt my curiosity rustle.
It kept happening through the remainder of that year,
so many 4:44’s that my questions began to burn.
I was church-ing hard at that time and I prayed for answers and clues
about the gift I seemed always to be unwrapping
only to find another box inside,
wrapped in 4:44s.
What did it mean?
And what was I supposed to do with it?
Eventually, instead of enjoying the experience,
it stressed me out (as did much of my inner life).
I figured I was missing something important – another deficit
in my spiritual account.
Secret fear: God was trying to warn or correct me about something and I was too dull
to decode the memo.
If only I could discern the message and comply, things wouldn’t be going so poorly for me.
Prayers would get answered. Hurtful situations would heal.
That’s where I camped fearful.
That hard season was followed by a sweeter blossom of a time
and I got free from some fears.
Every now and then the 4:44 would pop up and I’d wonder still and hold it close to heart.
It felt more, in that less constricted place, like a stone that caught my eye
that I’d pick up and put in my box of special things.
For over almost two decade my eyes would often be drawn to clocks
just when the fours all lined up
like sunflowers waving tall against the blue.
I studied numbers and dream interpretation and all the hullaballoo,
but when I’d have a pray about it, now more like an easy conversation,
the thought that would bubble up from my being
was simply this: “I’m for you. I’m for you. I’m for you.”
Like God was winking into my insecurity and hesitation
and reassuring, “hey, I’m for you.”
(maybe if you, too, come from a severe spiritual climate,
you can relate to the ingrained idea that God is mostly against).
Many years later, just as the sun began to go down on 2020,
all the fours began lining up persistent across my clock faces again.
For about four days they hummed and then trouble came sweeping
and I felt carried downriver by the blast.
I don’t need to sing you all the details, just that all my fear-buttons got pressed hard.
These numbers. Like old friends.
They felt familiar, showing up like a strong Dad on a dark lonesome road
with a spare tire and a torch and time and skill and love to spend.
I’m for you.
I’ve got you.
Hold tight my hand.
I’m right here.
I gimped into 2021 without a word for the year – didn’t even want one.
No head space for that.
I did feel inspired to start a creative challenge (a bouquet a day) and
noticed the number 4 showing up in my art in droves once we moved and I got back at it.
Then, as my little challenge started to unfold (i share it on fb),
I noticed I was beginning every share with “For you.”
Well dang. There it is. Once again I backed into my one little word for the year.
Only this year it’s also a number.
So, way late to the new year’s share but toddling in just the same
(always the late bloomer),
my one little word: the number 4.
Because it’s been a slow unfolding, this peaceful confidence,
that shitstorms in my life don’t define me.
That trouble doesn’t tell me who I am,
especially who I am to the One who is for me with warm affection,
even when I’m bent low by a cold wind passing.
I think that’s what’s growing in my garden this year;
I’ll come around to share what blooms.
“We unwittingly project onto God
our own attitudes and feelings toward ourselves…
but we cannot assume that he feels about us the way we feel about ourselves
—unless we love ourselves passionately, intensely, and freely.”
– Brennan Manning
Congrats to Judy Hartman
for winning a copy of my book in last post’s giveaway.
Another drawing this post,
a little packet of handmade cards, all originals.
Nice and textured and unique and with beautiful soft envelopes.
Leave a comment and into the hat your name goes.
(I hope to come back to you way sooner this time)
I have loved being the strong of me,
loved being the older one who hefted bags of soil and pots of living things
and pruned and dug and tucked and tweaked and lasted long until the work was done.
Loved flinging myself headlong into wild dance with the Muse,
until my chest heaved wholehearted and sweat and dirt and paint and grin
covered me like a song that I relished diving into,
unafraid of swirling waters because I actually prefer.
Oh give me strong white roaring waves because I’ve got a whitewater heart
and peace can be hard to find in stillwater places
unless I’ve spent myself already in the breakers.
When I went down with Covid in mid December, it found me
able to rest patient and lean into the process of cooperating with and waiting for healing to happen.
It was fear and relief and dread and hope and mindfully ride each sickly wave as they hit.
A lot like labor – really painful hard but focused, with eyes of the prize.
“This too shall pass,” I imagined my mother’s voice saying.
Breathe and pray and go through.
And I went through. Within several weeks I was weak but back to my life
and so grateful to be.
When another wave crashed down and knocked me powerful off my feet again
in January, I was bewildered. I was in the thick of packing and preparing to move
and this felt totally rogue. I was mystified. How even is this real?
I slowly recovered, read, researched, and realized that this sometimes long road is a real thing.
I slowed down more and took even better care.
Then, in early February, the night before the movers came,
I again couldn’t taste my food and began to sink beneath the dark waters.
I went through again and in about a week I was able to do life pokey and slow again.
Pokey and slow and hesitant. Like walking-on-egg-shells fearful hesitant.
How do I stop this thing?
When the beast flared again in early March I was less surprised
but more discouraged.
The shaking, burning, thirst. The dizzying nausea. The feeling of being pulled underwater.
How the weight of my shoulders threatened to crush me.
It all came with ugly crying this time. I was tired. Tired of going through.
I wanted answers and tools I could hold in my hands.
I knocked on doors – please help me – until I found some.
Not a cure, to be sure, but handy tools that have helped me feel a little less afraid
so I’m not wasting precious time and focus scanning always the horizon
for another monster wave beginning to swell.
I’ll say more about that someday
(if you’re really allergic and post virus and shaking in your boots,
feel free to message or email me and I’ll gladly share what bits I’ve found.
In short, you have to treat these flares like a massive mast cell activation
or cytokine storm. Use the tools that treat anaphylaxis. It works for me).
The storms still come – but I’m still going through to the other side.
I don’t want to give more time and attention to the virus here in this space.
It doesn’t deserve any more of my life and I want to continue to see and celebrate
the big beautiful of this ocean rather than the storms that blow in.
I’ve always loved waves and will ride them wholehearted still.
Just wanted to catch you up on my disappearance
and get back to the blogging space.
I’ve missed you much!
Happy greenings. Happy springing. Happy bounding back to life again.
“God of herons and heartbreak,
teach us to love the world again.
Teach us to love extravagently,
knowing it may
(it will) break our hearts
and teach us that it is worth it.
God of pandemics and suffering ones,
teach us to love the world again.
God of loneliness and longing,
God of bushfires and wilderness
and soup kitchens and border towns,
of snowfall and children,
teach us to love the world again.
– Sarah Bessey
(from her new book “A Rhythm of Prayer” which I’ve been loving so big)
To celebrate being back on the blog, I want to give away one of my books.
Hard to believe that even happened – my book – because I’ve done zero marketing.
Have not done any of the things.
But she’s here in all her ragamuffin glory and I want to share her
– leave a comment and I’ll pop your name in the drawing.
Thanks for coming around again; I welcome you warm.
Grinning thanks for all the bright candles burning sweet heat
as I head into the last lap of my fifties.
59 thank you notes:
Thank you, nuance, for being sanity in unsafe times.
Thank you, Bryan, for fighting through with me for us.
For being the yang to my yin, the still water to my rippling waves,
and the well-grilled steak to my sweet potato fries
(with a buttery herby drizzle).
Thank you, Singing River Studios, for being a studio without walls.
For finding space in the forest and in my heart to get born this year.
Thank you, Jess of Bohoink, for my incredibly beautiful logo.
For seeing my heart and using your inks and paints to give it shape
in the real world.
Thank you to my tools!
For how my heart does a happy jig when we get to create together.
My gardening tools, paints, pens, words, camera, journals, and practices.
I love doing life with you.
Thank you, laughing rivers, empty fields, tall trees and big skies,
for singing my heart open so I can listen as Spirit speaks.
I need you like air.
Thank you, Honey and Salt, for your greenhouse skillet.
You make breakfast a celebration
and inspire me in an Irregardless kind of way.
Thank you, Anderson, for helping me make my book this year.
For sharing your mad design skills and lending your considerable talents.
You helped bring the calm when tech challenges overwhelmed
and helped me chase down my nerve
so often when I lost it.
I appreciate you so.
Thank you, Hope, for sending us home from the market when the risk got too high.
Your heart to keep us safe surpassed your need for help
and I feel your generous heart for us all.
Thank you to all the voices who were salt and light
and challenge to my biases and belief systems this year.
With loving creativity you brought truth into some dusty folds of my thinking
and helped me navigate this season
with some peace and purpose.
And thank you particularly, Ashley Abercrombie, for being wisdom and fire
in the crazy; you felt like an online big sister
during a year when I really needed a sharp and honest voice like yours.
Thank you, Cherokee people, for remaining.
Your presence here and in your scattered nation is a gift and I appreciate you.
I acknowledge you as the host people of the home where I get to dwell
And thank you for your stewardship of this land.
And for receiving me.
Thank you, Mom, for your continued prayers.
I feel them all the stronger
more and still…..
Thank you, Mark Charles, for being unflappable in your sharing
of the history and perspective and wisdom on which I’m chewing….
I hold a hefty hope that this country will be ready for your leadership soon.
Thank you, rocky places in the sky where I get to roam and jeep and pray,
for being a place where I can feel the jagged light of heaven
kiss the broken ground…..
Thank you to the brave voices who bless instead of curse
during these polarizing times.
Who listen instead of assume.
And who protect and affirm the humanity
of even those with whom they disagree.
Heroic, every time.
Thank you, Anne, for project managing my book
– for finding me a great printer and being a friend
of life-long proportions:)
Thank you, God, for the grace
that can’t be wiped out by the firestorms and fault-lines of my fears.
For the rest that comes when my heart feels safe
and the friendship that blossoms when I believe in rest.
Thank you, Soul-keeper, for more layers in the healing of my hurry.
Thank you, white people, who make room for willingness
to examine the myth of American exceptionalism.
For those willing to look at the doctrine of discovery (just look),
who defy the fear of shame and listen deeply beyond excuse and defenses.
For those not afraid to drop to their white knees and rethink.
In fact, the biggest warmest thank you to everyone who got a little bit better
at listening this year.
Such a vital art. We’re all the richer for your wrestle.
For the soundness of mind that comes only from cooperating with reality,
and for how it heals the bones and breath of me
when I shelter in this place.
For how the heart of God comforts
instead of condemns
when we sit in the trauma of our history
and feel the weight of our individual and collective wrongs.
For the birth pains getting stronger on this wild spinning ball,
how we’re getting to the roots of our collective trauma.
A healing crisis.
For the gentleness of God
when I judge him/her as unkind, unjust, indifferent or impotent.
For the way Covid didn’t steal my breath away.
And the prayers that supported my wings.
And thank you, taste buds, for being so dependable for most all of my days!
I have missed the taste of food so hard
and I’ll never take you for granted again.
You help make living fun.
Thank you, sharers of your stories.
Because your heart beats out this beautiful unique-to-you song.
Thanks for allowing us a glimpse so that we can cherish the gem that is you.
Thank you, humans, for every time you refused to demonize another one of us.
For that inspired act of love. For trusting that there is an un-truth
in every demonizing story. And for admitting you may not know the whole of it.
You are my biggest heroes this year. Love and honor.
Thank you to all the creative tension that flickers and sparks between suffering and solution,
and to humans who are willing to get messy there.
Thank you to the disruptors. Because love disrupts. And so does story.
Thank you, Meg and Joanna, for helping me with tech issues.
For tugging me up to speed with all the things.
My brain hurts, but thanks for scraping me up off the floor and propping me up anyway.
You were a path through the fog. And so awfully kind about it.
Thank you, 2020, for being the scene where I learned in a big way that panic,
not the task, is the enemy.
You forced me so far outside of my comfort zone that I couldn’t find my way back
and had to just build a new home in the wild of the crazy unknown.
For requiring me to focus on the present. There’s a gift in there somewhere.
Thank you to each big deep breath of focus. Fooooooo-cus. Helped me get some stuff done.
Thank you, Vivian Howard, for the little green dress recipe that lives always in my fridge.
Really does make things taste good.
Thank you, Schitt’s Creek, for making me laugh tears. For your superb writing.
For “Be very careful, John, lest you suffer vertigo from the dizzying heights of your moral ground.” (Moira)
Quote of 2020 in my book.
Thank you, Justice, for being the big chunk of the heart of God I fell in love with this year.
Not the hopeless justice with no mercy, but the gospel-of-Luke mad love
for the oppressed and excluded that Jesus modeled.
I saw it fresh how tight he remains with the voiceless.
Thank you also, 2020, for the space and noise that inspired a deeper dive into the love of God
who is no slave to politics or religion or the systems devised by those
very man-made things.
For the confusion that drove me deeper into the light.
Thank you, sweet stirring Breeze that warmed and cuddled seeds
until they broke through hard shells and lived anyway.
I love that way that you do:)
Thank you to all those who made brave pivots, set new paces,
took wild generous strokes into unmarked territory
in all of the loss and bewilderment of this turbulent year.
And for those who kept shooting up flares to help us orient and find footing in the fray.
Thank you, simple pleasures, for being a drizzle of raspberry jam on an ordinary thing.
For botanical prints on plain paper, cloud patterns on sky,
painted pages drying on the clothesline, white foam on waves,
good songs on the radio, tan on legs, loved ones on Zoom,
moon on dark nights, rain on too dry ground, and time on my hands.
Thank you, art and hope and gratitude, for being subversive joy
and defiance against the dark.
Thank you, poetry, for distilling it all so powerfully.
My crush on you only deepens.
Thank you, truth-telling, for being this powerful and humble harbor.
For how you never try to manipulate and control.
Oh and also, Truth, for being a place where we can rest. That you require no plate-spinning,
juggling or shape-shifting.
Nothing tricksy to manage with you. Sanctuary.
Thank you to the peacemakers this year. Holy. Your work was, just, holy.
I could go full-on dramatic about this but I’ll just leave it here simple.
Thanks, ya’ll. You’re heroes every one.
Thank you, life, for permission to feel it all and still not lose hope.
This year made having thin, sensitive skin a long raw scrape on dirty gravel.
Thank you, grieving ones, for doing the grieving.
Please don’t turn it down or off to satisfy one of our insipid ideas
about getting over it to make the rest of us more comfy.
We all need the brave work you’re doing.
Keep the faith.
Thank you to the mountains where I get to make my home.
For lifting always up my eyes. Sharpening my senses. Unwinding what gets tangled in me.
And for how you rain down sorrow long held within your rock,
the tears of a people driven from their home by pride and greed.
You saw and hold their footsteps like a heartbeat.
Thanks for whispering their story.
Thank you, Janet and David, for your passionate hunt for houses this year.
For following the impossibly steep and winding trail
until you treed the sister houses across the valley. For having big, wild vision and
sharing the spoils with us.
Can you believe we get to be neighbors in these mountains – what crazy-sweet,
scary and worthwhile dream are we living?!?
Thank you, local farmers, for planting fields of flowers
and especially dahlias
just because they’re beautiful.
Because beauty. You also are my heroes.
Thank you, dear infusion center nurse, for your emphatic, “today the world sure isn’t as it should be.”
Because I heard them bubble up from my belly these words,
“No, but it’s getting a little closer.”
Snapshot in time, that one – I’ll store and keep it long.
Thank you, shifting seasons, for helping me not get lost in my love for yesterday.
For reminding me that nostalgia isn’t my God.
For the nudge that in this hurricane of change,
hope and disappointment can sit together all day long
without lying to each other.
Thank you, change that shakes my shaky things,
for stirring my stuck places into rock and shudder,
Getting unstuck is worth the pain.
Thank you, wildflowers and perennials and all the bloomers that bloomed.
Went right on and bloomed anyway during this hardscrabble year.
You were hope and resilience on bold dewy stalks and fostered joy by the fist-fulls.
Thank you to those who messaged me criticisms this year.
For your instructions on how I should show up in this world.
You stirred some bristle and wrestle about what I stand for and where my lines actually are.
I appreciate the clarity your words forced me to cultivate.
(and with respect, do write your own lyrics if you don’t like what I pen;
I’m busy writing mine.)
Thank you to all the helpers and healers who surrounded my Dad when he was struggling this year.
And for all of the healthcare heroes who have worked tirelessly and endured unspeakable stress
while so many were safe at home. Hand to my heart for you.
(And heartfelt prayers in the stress you still navigate in the battle we still wage).
Thank you to every human willing to listen beyond their cultural biases and ego’s defenses
as things previously hidden to them began to be revealed.
To those who refused to dismiss the painful light.
The art of listening was a triumph this year. Cheers to the listeners who listened.
*I realize I listed listeners twice. Keeping it. Because listening*
Thank you to the ones who pre-ordered my book!
You fueled so much. And to all who purchase still -it’s joy to send them to good homes.
Thank you, generous ones, for holding space for people to be where they are
until they shift.
For trusting that mercy and grace are far better building materials
than accusation and contempt.
For letting Love lead and doing the work of grief when your hearts break
but refusing to make camp in hate
because you trust that hate won’t hold us high enough to see forward.
For doing the badass business of forgiveness
and making welcome without judgement
when people change their minds.
For being generous when perspectives evolve
For trusting that revenge is cheap and shortsighted and not ours to take.
For believing, instead, in the Love that never fails.
Thank you to my grown children.
You are beloved. My biggest reasons.
There isn’t a morning I wake or day that grows dark when my heart doesn’t reach across the miles
with prayer and thanks and hope and celebration and love for who you are.
I am so thankful to share this planet with each of you.
For one more year!
So many didn’t get another.
My neck is sunkissed wrinkles and I’ve noticed a droop in my jowls,
and you may even spot some chin hairs that without glasses I can’t even see to pluck,
but to get to head into the last lap of my fifties is pure gift,
this I know.
Gimpy and flawed and still figuring it out, I’m all in:)
“You, too, will find your strength
We who must live in this time
cannot imagine how strong you will become –
how strange, how surprising,
yet familiar as yesterday.
We will sense you like a fragrance from a nearby garden
and watch you move through our days
like a shaft of sunlight in a sickroom.
We will not be herded into churches
for you are not made by the crowd,
you who meet us in our solitude.
We are cradled close in your hands –
and lavishly flung forth.”
– Ranier Maria Rilke
Thank you for reading this impossibly long post:)
I’ve recovered from Covid mostly and am now deep up to my elbows in the restoration
of an old house that will be my new home.
The one across the valley with the red roof:)
I’ll be back soon with more to share
Much love to you this new year!
I posted a snippet yesterday and then plucked it back down again
because I’ve been a little frazzled
and I didn’t trust my words to land true.
So many swirling around like birds – not sure if they were ready to light
or if they needed to linger in flight until they perch for you to read.
So I’ll share instead what the river seemed to sing
as I watched her tumble smiling across the rocks:
That even in the noise and swirl there is reason enough, and grace,
to gather up the edges of my hope
and shake it out hard so I can lose the fluff
and draw up solid around me what remains
like a blanket in the night
to feel the strong warm
against my heart
of what may be coming
around that scary-looking corner up ahead
and all of the dark unknown that seems to cry danger
and warning and this is the moment just before the other shoe drops
and then won’t you feel stupid for all the joy you held foolish like a silly child
so busily enchanted in your sandbox that you didn’t see the storm in time to run.
Those are the bony fingers that come for my joy in the night,
rattling that it’s a fool’s errand to celebrate beauty
and cultivate gratitude
because shelter is not built in such ways
feeling it all so deeply is not a luxury
you can afford.
Better to numb it all down,
the cold wind hisses,
and brace yourself against
whatever is to come.
But as I watch the waters tumble and trust-fall undaunted down
into wild places they’ve never been, all of that whitewater
singing fearless joy in a brave language
that I’m longing to learn,
I feel a wisdom in the joy
that rises high above the
voice of my anxious rumblings
and makes sense
My heart settles there today,
trusting, leaning, and tumbling headlong into the Hope
who is loving presence and tender mercy and solution and strategy and peace.
Anchoring my soul in this gives space for my joy to get loud and colorful and do the bright work
of making this moment delicious and this life worth all of the even gnarly, often heart-breaking living.
Fight for joy in this strange season, friend;
Don’t go ’round without it’s medicine.
“Joy is the most vulnerable emotion we experience.
And if you cannot tolerate joy, what you do is start dress-rehearsing tragedy.”
– Brene’ Brown
Congratulations to Jeanie of Marmalade Gypsy
– your name popped up in the drawing for a copy of Tell Me Something Good
which arrives fresh from the West Coast tomorrow. I’ll be sending it out this week!
Offering another giveaway this week – leave a comment and your name goes in the warm fuzzy hat.
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
to offer up
in your hands
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.
“Love is or it ain’t.
Thin love ain’t no love at all.”
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!
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
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,
“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.
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
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.
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:)
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.
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
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.”
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.
More giveaways coming soon.
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!