Of bouquets and brambles and bounty 4 you….

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.
4:44
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

And
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)

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

Badlands and bounty and loving it all……

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I took a week away unplanned because I was spent from tugging some story into words
and then I lost my faithful little sidekick,  Lucy,  and I needed to hold some quiet
around me soft while my heart sat with it all for awhile.
In all of my remembering,  I met again the word that found me at the new year.
I’d danced with several.
The one that wanted to come home with me was so bold and sure of itself
that I could only smile and take it’s hand
and go.

All

And so began a year of leaning in to be brave enough
to learn to live from the all of me.
With all of my heart.
Even when I feel the hiss that I’m too loud,  too expressive,  too ebullient,
too much.
Be the all of me,  anyway.
For all of my life.
Give it my all.

barn beauty

Always.
All day long.
Leave it all on the table.

Lucy lived this little word in a big way
and we loved her for it.
And so I welcome again the gifts in the grieving,
both the side that hurts hard
and the side that celebrates the beauty and wonder
and laughter that she gives us still
where we hold her in our stories.

Life is a bounty
and I want to live it all.

I’ll be back next week with a fresh batch of words
strung together just for you.
Wishing you all the joy your heart can possibly hold,  friend.
And a couple of measures more.
A cup-runneth-over type situation:)

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“Hope knows that pain does not get the last word.”
– I’m not sure who said this
but I like it.  A lot.

I’m giving away a package that I’ve added to my quiet little etsy store
– a soul spa,  of sorts.  It’s given me such joy to make and write and send these out
that i want to offer them up to anyone who wants.
I’m plumping them up and letting them sing a little louder now:)
Leave a comment and I’ll draw a name next weekend.
With much love.

These days…….to live them all.

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I’ve been writing gifts (sorry for disappearing for a while).
Writing and wrapping like the busy elf I sometimes am.
All the while,  waiting and watching for the word that might find me,
my own little gift to tuck inside my heart and carry with me into the new.
I’ve danced with several.
The one that wants to come home with me is so bold and sure of itself
that I can only smile and shrug at the others,
take it’s hand
and go.

All.

All of me.
With all of my heart.
Even when I feel the hiss that that I’m too loud,  too expressive,  too ebullient,
too much.
Be the all of me,  anyway.
For all of my life.
Give it my all.

frozen

Always.
All day long.
Stand beneath the great wide and feel the small of me in it,
surrounded by it all,
and then feel the all that I carry inside
and embrace it.
Acknowledge it.
And release it generous
with love and hope for us all.

(holding close to heart those good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people)

I wish you all the joy your heart can possibly hold.
And then a couple of measures more.
A cup-runneth-over type of situation:)
For all of your todays.

fresh tracks

“I have no need for half of anything,
no half time,  no half a man’s attention.
Give me all the earth and sky.
And at the same time add a new dimension.

Half the truth is of no use,
give it all,  give it all to me
I can stand it.
I am strong that way.”
– Carly Simon

Shine and soar, anyway

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“Bells”
  there was so much juice on that word
as I traveled around the sun these past twelve months
and opened up to fresh skies and some new ways
and began carving a bright new groove,
even if it was slow going
and isn’t half done.

But there was this enormous grace in the carving
and even as Fall turned into Winter
and circumstances seemed to mock my hope,
and this tender heart of mine got broken up pretty badly
I found that,  still,   my banged up joy is stronger than despair
and the bells keep playing anyway.

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And I’ve been listening for a new word to ring clear
and quiet in the heartache
it snuggled near
like a big wet kiss
from my lab’s warm nose
and it feels like a firm guiding hand on my back,
this little word,
as I head into the nexts
because I want so much to squeeze more juice from my pens,
my camera,  my choices,  my days.

My little word for the year:  anyway.

(Brave, beautiful beginnings to you,  too,  friend,
with plump shiny hope that whatever your deepest heart is longing to do,
you go and do it,  anyway)

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“I sing,
I dream,
I love,
anyway.”
-Martina McBride