Monday, November 29, 2004

a spot of poetry

can't sleep. so i got up to write a bit. i write these sometimes redundant collections of poems when i write, and while i won't be posting everything i hath just writ, i will say, i notice how my ideas congeal and really take form by the last little verse. i have some thoughts to share on how i am currently butchering the sonnet form (challenged to write a sonnet by a friend of mine is proving to be a herculean task! it is too cognitive and i am too primitive cramming words into the form like some australopithecine--hey look, she can use tools, great, but a stick is hardly noteworthy).

anyway, i am tired. rambling. but here is a little ditty i just wrote (another brief aside, i will try to dredge something less "dark" out of my manuscripts to post in the coming days, for those of you who grow weary of my melancholy nature).

ii kings vi:xvii

Too long
These many prayers
Unanswered
Too close
These many foes
Undaunted
_________I cannot help
_________but tremble.


one more then i must away...


untitled


when day is over
darkness falls
all i love lie sleeping
the distractions
of the day have ceased
my mind starts
racing
heartbeat quickens
and i tremble
wondering if
You, Lover of my soul,
will be like so many
who have left me
longing
through the years
will You, like so many
leave me
promises unfulfilled
have i hung my hope
upon foolishness
or will You prove true?
no one can settle this
question
_____save You.


and this of another topic, i wrote on 21 nov 04, i forced myself to write it (if it reads stilted somehow), i've been in this poetic dryspell. where the poetry has been lacking and i just wanted to get it flowing again...here it is:

untitled


like a book
whose spine
has separated
from the binding
the many pages
held together
by my hand
the spine lay
useless
a reminder
of the many days
gone by
many years
i held you
bound
worn by affection
i hesitate to retire
one so familiar
so comforting
so broken

Saturday, November 27, 2004

trump the chump

i heard, last week or so, that donald trump's casino and some hotels have filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. some 1.8 billion in debt.

last night i heard this same man giving business advice on the radio.

now wait, what is the message here?

if you have millions, it is alright not to repay your debts. not to be "good" on your notes--save the ones that are "good" for you. what the heck is wrong with this society?

i watch the apprentice and see how trump is revered and how his influence is like some great glory shining out from behind his combover. (and what's with the combover anyway? you have to have a lot of money to look really bad and still be cool, but that is me being petty now!).

if our financial situation worsens and we file for bankruptcy, you better believe they are hauling away my car, liquidating any assets, and plaguing me for at least seven years on my credit report. no one will be asking me for financial advice.

but they still do ask trump. i don't get it. i simply don't get it.

Friday, November 26, 2004

something from my manuscript...

II Samuel 9:6 ff.

I would have
_____Settled
For the crumbs
At Your feet

Beneath the table
_____Leftovers
I would have
Taken the place of a dog

Just to be near You.
Yet You set me at
Your table
_____Feast of Love

I would have begged
My bread at the
Court gate.
Yet You bid me enter

Unworthy as I am
_____You love me.
Crippled as I am
_____You love me.

Mephibosheth
Gazing on the face
_____Of the King
Feasting at His table.

What sweet mercy.
I’d have settled.
Yet You lavish Your Love
_____Upon me.


Goodness

Tuesday nights I set my large green trashcan out by our two-lane farm road. Too many trash days have I looked out the window as the trash truck was nearing and just passing with my trashcan safely tucked by the workshop. One Wednesday morning, the sun was crisp and shining after a midnight storm. I gazed out at the road to reassure myself that I had indeed put the trashcan out. But it was gone. Where did it go? I sought out my husband, Danny, to ensure he was not playing some Jedi mind-trick on me (like the man has nothing better to do).

“Honey, where’s the trashcan?”

“Look across the road.”

There she was my lovely, heavy-duty wheeled trashcan splattered across the field like road kill. Oh no! Why a trashcan’s demise would trouble me so is easier understood in the context of goodness.

Who doesn’t want to be “good”? Well thought of? Righteous? I confess, I do. But the Lord has been breaking me of the illusion of my own goodness. What a painful process that is. As a friend and I were speaking about the subject I commented, “Goodness is overrated.”

“Goodness needs to be a by product of holiness, not manufactured,” she replied.

Yes, that’s it.

The Lord has been traveling with me down a road where I am getting a glimpse of the real me. Not the sham, not the image of who I portray myself to be, but the real me. It is a horrifying experience—truly frightening. The judgments, pettiness, anger, and frustration which course through my brain at any given moment are shocking. I am embarrassed by all my repenting and confessing. I wonder if anyone could be as messed up as I am. With each new revelation, I have learned to humble myself and cry out for the Lord’s mercy, asking for a new heart, a new mind, and of course, for forgiveness. I have only been in this place for a short while, but it has been sobering—the cold turkey sober of an addict in rehab.

The sight of the trashcan was a perfect analogy for my life. My “pretty” container has been demolished. My reeking innards lay exposed for the world to see. I’m not even on the road anymore, I am strewn beside it. The sight grieved me. I couldn’t stomach the thought of gathering up all that garbage. I walked into the house—in a funk. What a mess, what do I do now? Can I just leave it? No. That’s disgusting. What a mess. Why me? Ugh.

Somewhere during the haze of that day—which spiraled rapidly down hill—I heard the Lord speak to my soul, “I love you.”

What?

“I love you.”

He loves me. I am much more aware now of who He is speaking to, of what I am capable of. His I love you, in the midst of my funk and utter disdain for myself, sounded like the first birdcall of a crisp spring morning. No, I didn’t start romping through the daisies, but I did take a moment to savour it. You love me? I thought I understood it before, but look at me, look at the mess my life has become, and You love me?
“Yes. I love you.”

Unbelievable. He loves me! In the midst of my utter worthlessness, He loves me. I keep hoping those moments of experiencing His relentless love for me will override my need to “be good.” Being good has hindered me most of my life. My righteousness is as filthy rags—or better yet, as filthy rags strewn about the highway for the neighbors to see. The more I try to manufacture goodness, the more elusive it becomes, the more imbedded in fantasy—albeit a rather grand fantasy of my inherent “goodness”—I become. I want to walk in truth. If the truth of the matter is I am a wreck on the side of the road of life, so be it. I know the Lord can resurrect the dead, heal the maimed, open the eyes of the blind. There is hope because He loves me. There is hope because He loves you.

Friday, November 19, 2004

even as we speak

i forget we are not speaking at all, but it seems that way as i write you this and you read, that we are having a tangible chat, the way so many ims have come and gone moments in time, conversations held in two dimensions. but i digress...

at this moment, two poems i wrote sit in brennan manning's bible. my beloved sister carried them to him for me today. i do not know what will come of this. good thing it is manning and not me, in whose bible they sit or they would go untouched for many, many days. but that is another story for another time.

they are in his, and he may find them and read them and i pray they would quicken in his heart as they fell from my pen and quickened mine. may the breath of God blow across his face as he reads my words. as i feel the breath of God when i read his.

who knows what will come of this. maybe nothing. but one can hope.

epic

you know, if you know anything at all about me, that i love john eldredge. his writings are right up there with brennan manning and richard foster. they are the fodder for my poetic soul. they give me hope again.

i just read epic. i was bummed--severely--when i didn't get to review it for my beloved christianbookpreviews.com and i didn't want to see a bad review, but it got one.

so i am offering my opinion, for what it's worth, take it or leave it as any of my offerings.

like a dry crust to a starving man, a drop of water to a parched soul, eldredge's epic, gave me hope again (no small feat by any means). it made me wonder why i'd given up on the story i find myself in.

i often find myself uttering the very words tolkien penned, or lucas, or any of the great storytellers. in posts you can see no small use of movies and stories, modern day fables. so this book was as familiar to me as my own journals. it was a place to slip off my shoes and recline, soaking in the all to familiar scenery.

we must be kindred spirits, eldredge and i, he is as fond of the fragment as i. it does my heart good, i even laugh a bit when i come upon them. alone, able to convey so much, yet undeveloped.

so many of the unpublishablethings about my writing i see in eldredge. although i do not claim to have his mastery in writing at all. i am but an apprentice eagerly devouring the works of a master.

truly, my heart was quickened as i read. i moved through the story elated, poetry came alive and danced in my head as i was reading.

that is the stuff of greatness to me. if an author can evoke a poem by mere prose, then that is greatness to me.

lest you think my praise too high, check it out. read it yourself. if you find my writings familiar and the stuff of your life, you will enjoy epic even more. for he is truly a masterstoryteller a weaver of stories. and i sit, laughing with delight because i am wearing my whitefeather storyteller shirt. my native design of the pueblo storyteller of mythic motifs. and i know this kindred spirit tells a truth i have hoped in my heart to be true. an epic, a saga, i can only hope to delight in. when my part comes i hope i play it well.

chronicle of a downward spiral

well folks, we've reached the end of the road. the last of our horded resources. i hope as annie johnson flint's poem says, the Father's full giving has only begun, because we are pretty well sunk.

a dear friend asked, is it really that bad?

well, when you can only find day jobs and some contracts for short periods of time, nothing only goes so far. it has gone pretty far, in my opinion.

i think of one of my favorite movies, out of africa.

karen blixen (who wrote of herself under the penname isak dinesen) was sitting watching her coffee factory go up like a sweet smelling sacrifice. walking arm in arm with a dear friend, Dee, she says, God gave me my best crop, then took it back.

what will you do? dee asks.

after my rummage sale, leave. the baronness is broke dee.

did you have insurance?

insurance is for pessimists. would you like some tea? we're just out of coffee.


at the end of the rummage sale, sitting in her empty house, listening to mozart and smoking a cigarette, she inhales deeply, as denys finch hatton walks in, her estranged lover.

have you had dinner?

yes.

a servant in white gloves walks over and pours a drink, karen pulls the gloves off his hands and he smiles.

this was not a very good idea, she says.

looking around at her empty house, through wafts of rising smoke, she says, we should have had it this way all along.

oh, i don't know. i was beginning to like your stuff. minimalist denys replies.

you know what i do when it gets real bad?

what?

i try to make it worse. would you like to help me?

yes.

i remember barkley (a deceased mutual friend), and the camp by the river (you'll have to see the movie!), ... and when i think i can't stand it any longer, i go one minute more. then i know i can stand anything. would you like to dance with me?


moral of this story: there is nothing can be done to change the way things happen. nothing i can do to alter my fate in these circumstances. all i can do is hope in God. i told renee last night, when i get scared, i say, i am scared God, but i choose to trust You. renee says she tries not to think about what might happen. i say, i know baby. i know. but think of all the adventures we'll have and all the new people we'll meet.

some part of me hopes again. if we lose this place, maybe i can finally return to school and get some married housing and finish my degrees. maybe. maybe we can roam the country for a while as curriculum salespeople for homeschool fares. that would be wonderful. selling everything and living as minimalists. what a dream indeed.

it simply requires the willingness to let go of what i know. what is familiar. what rings out to me as security. it requires me to trust in the Bible to be infallible and that Romans 8:28 is actually true. some good will come of this. i know it will. if i only, just believe.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

mercenary physicians

how can a word so closely related to mercy be void of any vestage of human kindness? i found myself wondering what has happened to mercy in our world as i sat praying over our phonebook searching for a dentist who would have mercy on us.

mercy: 1a: compassion or forbearance shown esp. to an offender or to one subject to one's power. b: imprisonment rather than death imposed as penalty for first-degree murder 2a: a blessing that is an act of divine favor or compassion b:a fortunate circumstance 3: compassionate treatment of those in distress.

finally, got the bright idea to start at A and work my way through the hundreds of entries, until i found someone with an ounce of compassion in their heart.

my husband was much in need of the talents and mercy of a dentist yesterday. as i called, my voice began unbroken, but with each successive no. the brokennes crept through the phoneline, until one kind heavily accented woman of middle eastern descent spoke with me:

do you take emergencies?

yes.

how much do you charge? we don't have a job or insurance? we need to know before we get there.

she quoted a price.

can you work with us?

(little did i know she had quoted me a lesser price than usual)

when can we come in?

immediately. the doctor will be here until 2:15.

we live 45 minutes away, but we'll be there as soon as possible.

that kind doctor, masoud arami, stayed an hour past 2:15 and worked for a full hour and a half on my aching husband.

was he kind? i asked when danny returned home.

yes. he mumbled producing two prescriptions for which we had neither the money nor the insurance to cover.

i called my dear friend immediately to tell her the situation and get her advice. no answer.

i hopped in my car and began driving to town. we needed gas too, E was not a comforting sight and the twelve dollars in my pocket wouldn't cover everything we needed. but as i drove, i prayed one of my neandertal prayers, help God. help God. help God. woefully primitive, but effective (i learned that prayer from john wimber, btw).

i drove on, at the pharmacy i saw a dear friend, and said hi. he walked up beside me and stood with me at the counter as i handed the prescriptions to the guy in the white coat.

what are you doing here?

i am here to pay for your prescription.

i burst into tears that did not stop.

he told me how he'd been there. how he loved our family. his wife called and told me the same thing as i stood mid-aisle in front of the condoms (not a necessary detail, but one i vividly remember), weeping.

after filling my tank with gas, he said, we love you. let us know if you need anything. weeping i hugged him, then pulled away.

mercy.

i found mercy. it was humbling to receive their precious gift of mercy, but i was in no place to argue.

this was going to be a piece about the lack of mercy in medicine (something we really can't do without indefinately), but it is more a piece about the faithfulness of God, who is The Merciful Physician.

i told my friend that night when i got home, i had a shitty day but God is faithful. and i hope you find that to be the case in your life. whatever the circumstance, however dire, God is faithful.

Friday, November 12, 2004

fairytalechristianity

Once upon a time in the land of Christianese (a small town outside Christendom) there lived two godly parents, named Always and Faithfully Doright.

Their children, Certainly, Withoutfail, and Eagerto were well behaved, model children who had memorized 57 Bible verses each by the time they reached the age of four.

Always was a farmer, and rose before dawn to study the word of God. Faithfully, rose just before her husband, to light the cleanburning lamp in their kitchen and rekindle the wood-burning stove, before spending time with the Lord.

Always never failed to meet with God, and saw that his family never failed in that task either. Leading devotions in the predawn darkness to three bedheaded children and a submissive wife, Always completed his priestly duty with a family blessing.

Then, He would head out into the darkness to begin the morning routine. Meanwhile, Faithfully faithfully tended the children. When all were groomed and fed, they milked the cows, gathered fresh brown and green eggs, and plucked a head of cabbage, “can’t forget your roughage—even at breakfast,” Faithfully would remind little Eagerto who hated cabbage.

With the top field plowed by the light of the rising Sun, Always returned for a hearty breakfast, only after bowing his head in prayer. The children dutifully began their studies, while Faithfully spoke in soft loving tones from the shining sink where she completed the breakfast dishes. Ever the planner, Faithfully set a kettle of stew to boil on the stove for the evening meal.

Withoutfail was the clown of the family, but his jokes were never crude or inappropriate. He directed his humor at nature, mostly, asking Certainly, “What kind of garden gift do you find in a cake?” Certainly was never good at jokes, and after thinking a moment simply lifted his shoulders signifying, I don’t know. “Flour” Hahhahaa, Withoutfail certainly loved his own jokes.

Little Certainly was the baby of the family and sat there bewildered, until Eagerto spelled it out for him. Certainly smiled.

The day went on without a hitch, as the good health and grand providence of God blessed this family. High hedges of protection encircled them, and the children were trained in the way they should go. The animals of the field mutliplied, and there was plenty to share with those in need. Tears hardly fell in the Doright home, laughter rang throughout.

Without want or need of anything they counted themselves most blessed indeed. …


Wednesday, November 10, 2004

mental game

yesterday i found myself uttering, if you lose the mental game, you've lost everything. no one can help you. (no one except God that is.)

how those words sum up this wilderness experience. when i let my hand unfold and the tattered strands of hope drift like so many tiny spiders upon the winds, then i am lost. i run aground on the jagged rocks and am ruined.

my friend asked me, how can we help you?

you can't. i replied. we're beyond the reach of man.

she said, how are you?

i just am. nothing more, nothing less.

you look like Jesus to me, she said.

and i wept.

if these many trials do nothing more, than as brennan manning says, carve the signature of Jesus upon my flesh, than these many trials are welcome.

i can no longer abide the "happy ending" christianity preached by most, who don't realize that their happy endings are more for themselves to feel better than the one sitting in ashes and sackloth. there are no words for a time and place like this. there are no happy endings. (sure ultimately we go to Heaven, but nowhere in the Book do i read we all get "happy endings" here on earth. certainly stephen did not. moses, it could be argued, did not. why would i then?)

i didn't go to a bible study recently cause i couldn't abide hearing any more "promises from God." while praying prayers of faith and being more than a conquerer is what we are called to do, there is also a time for weeping, a time for sowing seed in tears. my tears have watered acres upon acres these many years, but i may not have sown my tears in full as yet. but i can hope.

i wrote a poem, if hope is a car, about my not abandoning hope. but what happens when hope abandons me? when i look everywhere but she cannot be found, or she is so gaunt and pale she is beyond recognition. what then my prayer warrior friend? what then?

i have told the Lord, no more promises, until i see some movement in the positive direction on the ones heavy in my heart. i cannot hold anymore there. i am full. i am heavy with promises, counting the minutes until delivery. don't give me anymore promises and please, stop your servants from uttering them before their words taint my ears and break my heart yet further.

i specifically asked for movement in the positive direction because i am no fool. movement in the negative direction is movement as well. but i want to see fulfillment. even and only if like simeon i spy it before i die, in its infancy. i pray i've faith enough to believe and receive the fulfillment then cross over into forever and my tears are wiped away.

no more promises.