Thursday, December 29, 2005

pastorpoetfriend

i knew when i saw the title of this book i had to read it. i even recommended it to a dear friend, sight unseen (or page unread as the case may be). it has proven immeasurably more than i could ask or imagine. he has tough competition, being that i've been reading exceptional works of late.

i misjudged peterson and would the man were standing before me i would tell him myself. and humbly ask his forgiveness. i was utterly wrong. ignorant. stupefied by his successes and the production of a work so accessible to everyman that i could not see beyond it. a friend helped me to realize, just because i delight in king james english does not mean everyone else does. it is, in fact, a matter of preference. and i shall shut my mouth about it. i'll try not to cringe when i hear it. and i'll try to be gracious with those who adore it. i am, after all, a work in progress. "open during renovation" as it were. don't mind the scaffolding see, it is supposed to be there, holding up sagging beams and trusses. what a wreck i am, but then aren't we all.

my intent is to share a poem i just wrote. this moment. or that one actually. but let me share a passage from the peterson book i am reading. and a letter, or commission--as far as commissions go, this one is not so great, but it will suffice--i wrote this morning to the fine circle of poets who honor me with their presence. i humbly offer this commission to all artisans, whatever their field or medium.

hi there.
by way of introduction. in denver a story was read about a pastor. it occurred to me then, and i still believe it now (i'm coming to believe it more), that we are all pastors. we artists convey the truth of God to the people. while we may not hold the position or title pastor, that is merely window dressing. our actual function, as artists, is to convey the Lord to the world. prophetic in nature, sure. we are ministers all, of life. of fire. but the pastoral calling is something we abdicate to the titled professionals to our peril. a high calling indeed. higher than, perhaps, we realize. may it be our word for this coming year. that whatever task you find yourself fulfilling. oiling boots, tending patients or students, sweeping floors, that you might have the unction of God upon the work of your hands and the force of creation behind every word that forms in your spirit and comes forth onto the page. so be it, Lord.

here's the passage:

an excerpt from a book i'm reading: eugene peterson's "the contemplative pastor"

Apocalyptic Poet

"The apocalyptic pastor is a poet. St. John was the first major poet of the Christian church. He used words in new ways, making (poetes in Greek is maker) truth right before our eyes, fresh in our ears. The way a pastor uses the language is a critical element in the work. The Christian gospel is rooted in language: God spoke a creation into being; our Saviour was the Word made flesh. The poet is the person who uses words not primarily to convey information but to make a relationship, shape beauty, form truth. This is St. John's work; it is every pastor's work.

I do not mean that all pastors write poems or speak in rhyme, but that they treat words with reverence, stand in awe before not only the Word, but words, and realize that language itself partakes of the sacred.

If St. John's Revelation is not read as a poem, it is virtually incomprehensible, which, in fact, is why it is so often uncomprehended. St. John, playful with images and exuberant in metaphor, works his words into vast, rhythmic repetitions. The gospel has already been adequately proclaimed to these people to whom he is pastor; they have become Christians through preaching and teaching that originated with Peter and Paul, and was then passed on by canonical Gospel writers along with unnumbered deacons, elders, and martyrs. But there is more to St. John's work than making a cognitive connection with the sources. As pastor he re-speaks, re-visions the gospel so that his congregations experience the word, not mere words. To do that he must be a poet.

The pastor's task is to shape the praying imagination before the gospel. This revelation of God to us in Jesus is a fact so large and full of energy, and our capacities to believe and love and hope are so atrophied, that we need help to hear the words in their power, see the images in their energy.

Isn't it odd that pastors, who are responsible for interpreting the Scriptures, so much of which come in the form of poetry, have so little interest in poetry? It is a crippling defect and must be remedied. The Christian communities as a whole must rediscover poetry, and the pastors must lead them. Poetry is essential to pastoral vocation because poetry is original speech. The word is creative: it brings into being what was not there before--perception, relationship, belief. Out of the silent abyss a sound is formed: people hear what was not heard before and are changed by the sound from loneliness into love. Out of the blank abyss a picture is formed by means of metaphor: people see what they did not see before and are changed by the image from anonymity into love. Words create. God's word creates; our words can participate in the creation.

But poetry is not the kind of language that pastors are asked to use, except in quotation at funerals. Most pastoral work erodes poetry. The reason is obvious: people are not comfortable with the uncertainties and risks and travail of creativity. It takes too much time. There is too much obscurity. People are more comfortable with prose. They prefer explanations of Bible history and information on God. This is appealing to the pastor for we have a lot of information to hand out and are adept at explanations. After a few years of speaking in prose, we become prosaic.

Then a dose of apocalyptic stops us in mid-sentence: the power of the word to create faith, the force of imagination to resist the rationalism of evil, the necessity of shaping a people who speak and listen personally in worship and witness. The urgencies of apocalyptic shake us down to the roots of language, and we become poets: pay attention to core language, to personal language, to scriptural language.

Not all words create. Some merely communicate. They explain, report, describe, manage, inform, regulate. We live in an age obsessed with communication. Communication is good but a minor good. Knowing about things never has seemed to improve our lives a great deal. The pastoral task with words is not communication but communion—the healing and restoration and creation of love relationships between God and his fighting children and our fought-over creation. Poetry uses words in and for communion.

This is hard work and requires alertness. The language of our time is in terrible condition. It is used carelessly and cynically. Mostly it is a tool of propaganda, whether secular or religious. Every time badly used language is carried by pastors into prayers and preaching and direction, the word of God is cheapened. We cannot use bad means to a good end.

Words making truth, not just conveying it: liturgy and story and song and prayer are the work of pastors who are poets.

yes. be encouraged in your high calling, pastorpoetfriend.
suz.

pastorpoetfriend

raise up the word
high over the altar
break
___symbolic flesh
bless the cup
an offering
___poured out
for a friend
fellow sojourner
whose eyes across
___your lines
may be the only
___gospel
they ever see.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

befitting

i've never hung my hat on being appropriate. you can tell that in two seconds around me (whether irl or blog). but you know that if you're read me even once.

so my poetry book is in the final stages before publication (i am self-publishing). being read by dear souls who are willing to bless me with their kind concern.

i have written a few poems about the darkest days of my life on this earth. one, in particular, ponders suicide.

i have been told this is rampant self-pity and unbefitting a christian work. i am not sure if i agree.

i know judas is a lowsy comparison, but he offed himself in the Bible and we mention it and move on. perhaps because he didn't say a monologue in the to be or not to be vein it is well. he just hung himself or rolled off a cliff (and in mel gibson's movie it appeared demons drove him to it. very interesting).

but my dilemma is whether or not to run these poems in my collection. whether they are befitting an heir of righteousness.

i had some black self-piteous works early on in my days of healing that i trashed because i wanted that legacy to end and my children not to read it. somehow i feel this is different. i'm healed of much of the trauma of my youth, and now these battles i am fighting seem at times to be more for others than for me.

i ask the Lord why i struggle with depression, why i write about it, why i get the privilege as it were to pen these dark poems, and the reply i hear is,
because you can.
no sorry about how it makes you look. sorry about how you are percieved. just,
because you can.


often times in my great despair, or emotional throes i have lamented, why am i like this? and the reply,
for My good pleasure.


it makes me rethink every valley i've wandered, every dark thought i've fought off. it makes me think they might have a purpose. inexplicable though it may be to me, they might have a higher purpose.

i am asking the question, what is befitting my work now. one friend who has experienced depression agrees i need to leave them in. she has read the poems and knows me thoroughly.

my experience with christian art is canned happiness. the triumphant situations exclude me because i never did it right, never took the high road (i do sometimes now, but still i struggle immensely). when i was presented a big fat doobie i inhaled, i won't even pretend i didn't. there was so much i did wrong, and i'm not glorifying it, but saying, i hate to read about saints who don't have muddy shoes.

perhaps that is why henri nouwen has been such a great fount of wisdom for me lately. he clearly says,
i haven't changed. i'm afright. i can't do it on my own.
and that is the kind of honesty i need. that is the kind of honesty i want to live. and i want my work to convey that kind of honesty.

truth is often a painful friend. so my works will likely include the suicidal pieces because i think they need to be there. i know this will put me on the outs with some christians, but i am probably already on the outs with them anyway (and don't mind, actually).

i just want to convey a true piece of art. not something prettied up with triumph or smiley faces. that is not my life or me. ultimately the story is truimphant, but i guess like mary in those death shroud poems i'm writing, i just don't know how it ends. at least not yet.

soundtrax

inexpressible things have been happening lately. some poems have come but these experiences are largely eluding my grasp and i cannot wrangle them into words.

my life is a study in paradox. the things which draw me most of late embrace this aspect of life (or at least don't avoid it).

i listen to heavy metal/alternative (which my husband and probably a great many of my friends would say contributes to my depressive tendencies), and find it resonates in my deep, deep places--something i long for and often return to (don potter has said, rock and roll is not stealing your kids, it's the anointing. yes, that's it).

there are times when these worldly comforts do not assuage me. those times i find old hymns the remedy. today i began hunting and pecking my way through what a friend we have in Jesus the words ran over me like a balm and i lost myself in their lament.

What a Friend we have in Jesus,
all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged;
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful
who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden,
cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge,
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He'll take and shield you;
you will find a solace there.

hymns do not avoid the difficulties of life. my gripe with modern christian music is it is too "happy" too triumphant, too jubilant as it were. and i'm simply not there anymore. i don't live from that place. which admittedly is more my fault than anyone's, i should just rise above it. but i can't folks, i simply can't. i am grateful someone, somewhere took the time to detail the human struggle and it is captured in a hymn to soothe me.

this morning as i was playing sweet hour of prayer (a very melancholy tune that i play well when i am sad), i kicked into improv mode. that has never happened before. when i tried to recreate it as my family returned home i found it eluded me. like so many great and precious gifts, they come to me unbidden and steal away when i try to lay hold of them. i am merely a recipient of the gifts, not a possessor.

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
That calls me from a world of care,
And bids me at my Father's throne
Make all my wants and wishes known.
In seasons of distress and grief,
My soul has often found relief
And oft escaped the tempter's snare
By thy return, sweet hour of prayer!

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
The joys I feel, the bliss I share,
Of those whose anxious spirits burn
With strong desires for thy return!
With such I hasten to the place
Where God my Savior shows His face,
and gladly take my station there,
And wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer!

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
Thy wings shall my petition bear
To Him whose truth and faithfulness
Engage the waiting soul to bless.
And since He bids me seek His face,
Believe His Word and trust His grace,
I'll cast on Him my every care,
And wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer!

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
May I thy consolation share,
Till, from Mount Pisgah's lofty height,
I view my home and take my flight:
This robe of flesh I'll drop and rise
To seize the everlasting prize;
And shout, while passing through the air,
"Farewell, farewell, sweet hour of prayer!"

Friday, December 23, 2005

lifeline

after reading Henri Nouwen's "Remain Anchored in Your Community," from The Inner Voice of Love

caving
caverns
of the
heart

keep me
tethered
here

when i
launch
out in
service

you are
__my
lifeline

belay me
__pull
me back

if i
plunge
into
sorrows

too profound
you are
___my
lifeline

lead me
to safety
only
after

letting
____me
_____go


who knows what makes a poem come. but i am certainly glad it is here. i wrote something about a passage emerson wrote where he says all poetry was written before time. i do not think it such an odd statement, especially when espousing my contemplative technique. i listen for poetry. and if the Lord loved me from BEFORE the foundations of the earth, if He is truly omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient, then He knows each word before i write it, each thought before i think it. and emerson does not seem so far-fetched. i can embrace his transcendent view and it comforts me.

poetry index


death shroud


for charlie

review index

  • rated -*mulch it, *don't bother, **so-so, ***good, ****must read, *****absolutely loved

  • *** dan b. allender'sto be told: know your story, shape your future

  • **** lynne m. baab's sabbath keeping: finding freedom in the rhythms of rest

  • *** george barna's think like Jesus: make the right decision every time

  • *** james stuart bell's from the library of c.s. lewis

  • **** john bevere's how to respond when ou feel mistreated

  • * carol brazo's divine secrets of mentoring

  • **** howard e. butt, jr.'s who can you trust?: overcoming betrayal and fear

  • * nancie carmichael's selah: your moment to stop, think, and step into your future

  • **** jan coates' set free: stories of God's healing power for abuse survivors and those who love them

  • *** jan coleman's unshakeable faith: the steadfast heart of obedience

  • *** judson cornwall's dying with grace

  • ***** joe dallas' when homosexuality hits home

  • ***** david dewey's a user's guide to Bible translations: making the most of the different versions

  • ***** john eldredge's epic

  • ** elisabeth elliot's a lamp unto my feet: the Bible's light for your daily walk

  • *** michael evan's the american prophecies: ancient scriptures reveal our nation's future

  • *** john fischer's love Him in the morning

  • ***** david foster's accept no mediocre life

  • ***** david w. gill's doing right: practicing ethical principles

  • *** sandra glahn and william cutrer's the infertility companion

  • * connie glaser and barbara smalley's what queen esther knew

  • * rick godwin's live full, die empty

  • **** gospel light's raising up spiritual champions: teach children to think and act like Jesus
  • **** group publishing's coloring creations: 52 Bible activity pages

  • *** group publishing's give-it-away-crafts for kids

  • *** nancy guthrie's holding on to hope

  • **** chip ingram's God: as He longs for you to see Him

  • *** june kimmel's that i may know Him: a women's Bible study

  • -* ellie lofaro's leap of faith
  • **** marvin l. lubenow'sbones of contention, updated and expanded ed.: a creationist's assessment of human fossils

  • ** beth moore's further still

  • ***** brennan manning's ruthless trust

  • ***** brennan manning's the signature of Jesus

  • ***** brennan manning's the wisdom of tenderness

  • **** elisa morgan's naked fruit:getting honest about the fruit of the Spirit

  • *** stormie omartian's the prayer that changes everything: the hidden power of praising God

  • *** mike pilavachi's for the audience of One: worshiping the One and Only in everything you do

  • ***** tim riter's 12 lies you hear about the Holy Spirit

  • ***** tim riter's 12 lies husbands tell their wives

  • ***** tim riter and david timms' just leave God out of it: the cultural compromises christians make

  • ***** david ruis' the worship God is seeking

  • *** t. stanton and dr. bill maier's marriage on trial: the case against same sex marriage

  • ** fred and brenda stoeker's every heart restored

  • *** cynthia sumner's mom's trapped in the minivan: surviving your child's middle years with your sanity and salvation intact!

  • ***** joni eareckson tada's 31 days toward intimacy with God

  • ***** c. peter wagner's changing church: how God is leading His church into the future
  • ***** pat william's coaching your kids to be leaders

  • ***** jan winebrenner's the grace of catastrophe: when what you know about God is all you have
  • Wednesday, December 21, 2005

    misdirection

    i love the Lord
    in you

    you love the Lord
    in me

    we dealers
    in passion

    can easily
    misdirect

    love and
    drink the

    cordial down
    to our peril

    rather
    pour out

    a drink
    offering

    to the Lord
    whom i love

    in you.

    ecstasy

    speak with me in silence
    hold me at a distance
    whisper words unheard
    and i will listen.

    touch me with your greatness
    love me with your life
    and i will dance
    and sing songs again

    too long this barren
    womb unleaping
    too tired this body
    broken unfeeling

    and i cannot help
    but weep
    in sweet relief

    as i hear the echoed
    silence
    and feel
    the caress of love
    upon the wind

    hold me from a distance
    and i will dance again.

    Tuesday, December 20, 2005

    poembs

    tonight i let these
    phantoms fall
    a restless waking
    tempered

    tonight i let this
    hunger go
    and yield to
    feasting

    tonight i let these
    shadows fade
    and lighten all
    illusions

    tonight i let this
    torrent out
    rushing course
    unyeilding




    ...

    i am bought
    with a price

    paid for
    in full

    who do i see
    about making
    a return?

    ...

    death shroud
    vi.

    how can i not
    love you
    who received
    my worship

    how can i not
    long to see
    you again

    how can i forget
    deny the love
    in your eyes

    how can i not
    worship you
    again

    had i all the myrrh
    with tears i would
    wash you

    my hair the
    fragrant towel
    of my choosing

    across your face
    your body

    i remember well
    your life

    how can i not
    long to see you
    again

    hold the silent echo
    of your voice
    within my heart

    how can i not long
    to worship
    you


    ...

    Saturday, December 17, 2005

    believe

    there has always been a cheering section in my life. i am blessed that way. and lately, i've just lost the will to prove myself to anyone. i've never been much of a joiner, but i'm terrible about it now. to the lookeron it might appear as if i am just being difficult. but no, this is how it is folks.

    i've quavered and quaked in my boots of late because i've been so petrified of moving forward, stepping out into what i believe the Lord is calling me to and at the same time i'm afraid not to move out. it is quite a damned if you do dilemma.

    i make no professions of wisdom. certainly none of certainty. maybe i'll make you laugh, probably i'll piss you off and that is fine with me. i trust that you have your reasons for reading these words as i have my reasons for writing them.

    it seems the Lord just won't let me crawl under a rock and stay there. although at times i want to. it is an odd place, not fitting in community and being unable to manage without it. again, damned if i do.

    but i'm just trying not to check out of life but stay in the game, painful as it may be at times. i wear this necklace my daughter made for me, a flourescent pony bead, gawdy thing. i wear it to remind myself my life is not my own. i am accountable for more than just myself these days. i have to remember her. i have to think of her. i have to make it to tomorrow for her.

    sometimes, that is all i've got.

    Wednesday, December 14, 2005

    benediction

    may you find friends worthy and true. may they be life and blessing unto you. (damn rhyme!)

    a poem i wrote this morning in gratitude.

    it is not
    that you
    love me
    i doubt
    the earnestness
    of your regard
    i feel
    it is
    that you
    love me
    i doubt
    you see
    my shortcomings
    it is not
    that you
    love me
    i doubt
    it is
    that you
    love me
    i believe.

    my friends have saved me alive in more ways than the literal. even now they rally to encourage me to keep on in my appointed task. they have, it seems, more faith in me and my abilities than i do. i am grateful beyond words.

    Tuesday, December 13, 2005

    reader

    in order to keep my child reading and not avoid big thick books. i require her to always be reading a big thick book. my 8 year old has read all the little house on the prarie series, little women, black stallion, and assorted other big books. i keep looking for big fat juicy literature (not just calvin and hobbes, believe me, she gets plenty of that), but noteworthy books for her to read. (suggestions welcome.)

    when she was three or so, maybe younger, she sprawled out on the floor and said,
    i want to be a writer


    i got a big stupid grin on my face and a smile in my heart at hearing that one. i did not make her say it or ask her to say it. she just said it one day while scribbling on some sheets of paper.

    she has written poems (quite good ones i must say) and draws like the dickens. she has had a change of heart in the past couple years and no longer wants to be a writer. she says
    i am not a writer, i'm an artist


    and she draws well, but i don't want her to put a mental block there. so my typical response is,
    say i choose not to write now, i choose to draw rather than setting your mind against writing


    although the heartache and grief she would be spared by NOT being a writer is immense, i just don't want her blocking herself. and fifty years later in therapy finding it was that little profession that bound her up (like mick's rum soaked fruitcake).

    so she is sitting there reading some big book this morning and we have to leave. i go shopping on tuesdays. and she says,
    i'm going to read another chapter, that one was good.


    the kid may not be a writer, but she is definately a reader and that is plenty.

    Monday, December 12, 2005

    budgies

    it is so woefully human to want to train things. to make them little replicas of us. such is the case with the little parakeets my daughter recently acquired. one is a white, ecru, lavendar aptly named orchid. the other is an aqua blue named chyna (aka. mr. feisty).

    having read parakeet books and training books, she informed me the way to make these birds talk (although they are not talking at all, merely mimicking), is to separate them. to keep them apart during the training process.

    these are young birds. striped foreheads and all. they call to each other when not in the same enclosure. and i know capturing birds and enclosing them is cruel to begin with, believe me, i hear you. but i do not make any claims at perfection or having even approached some semblance of it.

    watching the maneuvering of birds, the logic behind their separation, while reading works of fiction on native history had me thinking about how these means of training have run through the ages. somehow i don't think dominion included bits, bridles, and cages, but that is another issue for another time.

    yes, i kept thinking of indian boarding schools. and couldn't help but ache when chyna would call for orchid or they would sound just to hear each other, unsure of what was happening only that their counterpart was missing.

    my girl asks me,
    can't we train them to talk?


    and i reply,
    let's just let them be parakeets.


    something in me wants them to not learn mimicry. not to make them little models of humans and thereby establish their worth. they have value because they are.

    we have learned, they fly away from us when they are not together. in order to keep them on our arm and get them accustomed to our handling, if we just hold them both on the same hand, they have the comfort of being together. and, i'm learning to speak a bit of parakeet, whistling calls in return. they appear content, as am i, to see them not being little humans.

    when i first tried to write this post, i got called away to a funeral. since then, a full eleven days have passed and most recently my girl and i went to the caldwell zoo in tyler (more on that later), but at the end of the day, we found a little wild bird walkabout enclosure. we entered. some fifty to seventy-five free flying parakeets and cockatiels were in there. they would dive bomb your head and swoop by your ears. my kind of exhibit. (my first thought was, bet they don't try this with the lions.)

    we left after oohing and awwing, only to return one last time. that time the birds kept flocking to our feet and nibbling on our tennies. we purchased seed sticks (glued seed on popsicle sticks).

    i held the stick curled around over my chest. in short order i had about six parakeets walking all over my chest and arms. and a small flock on my tennies still sampling the goods.

    it was utterly delightful.

    i know i wax melancholy most often, but not today. i'll leave you with that sense of sheer joy i had feeling like jane in disney's tarzan with birds all over her up in the canopy. it was the best day i'd had in quite some time.

    Monday, December 05, 2005

    faith

    today i can only make
    french toast
    soaked slices
    in milk and egg
    dashed cinnamon
    pat of butter
    sizzles in the pan
    no great thoughts
    or plans
    just french toast
    plated and served
    gratefully devoured
    the measure of my
    faith today
    swirled in syrup
    all that is required
    of me today
    is french toast.

    Saturday, November 26, 2005

    fragile

    i am afraid
    to let you
    go from my
    embrace
    for i may
    never hold
    you again.
    i am afraid
    to let you
    go beyond the
    sound of a
    whisper
    for you may
    never speak
    with me again.
    i am afraid.
    hold me
    whisper
    return to
    me again
    i am afraid.

    i have begun to realize how fragile life is. we are not guaranteed the next breath. nor the next embrace. while we can't live our lives in fear, i find it utterly human to admit the simple anguish of being temporal. mortal. finite.

    Friday, November 25, 2005

    honesty

    i sit tonight
    and wait
    for your response
    to my honesty
    was it a wound
    inflicted
    or a festering
    boil lanced
    was it a grief
    or joy to hear
    and does it matter
    that i sit
    waiting for your
    answer to my
    honesty
    for even if you
    lash out and rail
    i welcome it
    my friend
    as i welcome
    you and all
    your honesty.

    Sunday, November 20, 2005

    strykethrough

    recently, when reading about the conquistadors, my girl came across the line
    and they killed many indians.


    mom,
    she said
    can i cross that out?


    she was troubled. deeply troubled. this was the first time this realization has hit her this way. when i told her dad about it, he said

    i've talked to her about it before.


    but there she sat, furrowed brow, waiting for permission to strike through the truth.

    sure baby, it doesn't change the fact that it is true though.


    i know. i'll erase it when i am finished reading.



    how does one convey the truth of history to children? disney glosses over many details making the stories "fun" in a sense, this is for marketability i'm sure. being uninclined toward marketability, i find the messy truth something we must work through.

    i've bypassed difficulties my entire life because i never learned how to go through the pain. to experience it. to glean wisdom and compassion from it.

    but seeing the pained expression on my dear child is not something i know how to deal with. and we've only just begun. she's doesn't even know about the blankets, the wars, the massacres. what then?

    where do i find the words and wisdom for dealing with this?

    in the jewish tradition, they retell the stories of their past ceremonially, yearly. tasting the bitter herbs.

    i guess it is time for us to find some parallel tradition for our stories.

    Saturday, November 12, 2005

    winged grace

    i recently said, butterflies are like grace.

    yesterday, troubled in thought, i plunged into fulfilling duties.

    sitting in traffic after picking up precious cargo, i noticed a monarch swirl around the back of the car in front of me. it flittered, not in a purposeful way, but more like it was adrift.

    i watched it land on the strip of weedy grasses springing up on the median.

    when our truck nudged gently forward, i put the car in park and grabbed the monarch. it did not resist.

    i have picked up dying butterflies before. they are strangely passive. this one was listing. his tiny black legs seemed to be buckling under the weight of immense wings. his abdomen rested on the armrest.

    i could not let him die alone, as it were. so i put him on my shirt.

    i arrived to lead the meeting with a monarch basking on my chest.

    the meeting was work. teaching girls to fold and unfold a flag. the bulk of them under seven. but i had tangible grace with me.

    it flew across the room once, and i retrieved it and set it upon my shirt again. there it stayed until we gave it sugar water, which it drank and perked up a bit.

    there were moments when the butterfly would close its wings and the only movement was a slightly twitching leg. i was certain it had passed into shadow. but it had not. it perked up again.

    grace stayed with me all the way home and before i entered it flew away. to die in beauty.

    it is not often one spends three hours with a monarch. i think the girls will have this peculiar memory of me, and that pleases me more than anything.

    Wednesday, November 09, 2005

    attrition

    for jim

    come close to me
    let me wound you
    and i will let you
    wound me
    the blood let
    by the hand of kindness
    is healing to the bones
    salvation to the soul
    come close to me
    and i will wound you
    as you will wound me

    Tuesday, November 08, 2005

    tonight i cry

    let me cry tonight
    weep and mourn
    wail and rage
    at the way
    history is
    told by the
    victors
    victims lie
    silent and still
    trying to get away
    from the pain of remembering
    let me weep and mourn tonight
    for i have heard an echo
    in this darkness
    i am not alone
    let me wail and rage
    for the pain that stirs
    with this retelling
    righting wrongs
    unknown to many
    giving voice
    to those
    who cannot speak
    for themselves.

    Sunday, November 06, 2005

    step down

    you have the power
    of position over me
    step down
    and be my friend.

    you have the wisdom
    of years i lack
    step down
    and be my friend.

    you have the grace
    of heartache healed
    step down
    and be my friend.

    you have the earned significance
    rightly due your name
    step down
    and be my friend.

    i do not want to belittle anyone. to make them less than they are. but there are times when we can only relate to one another on level ground. not looking up or looking down, but looking eye to eye. walking side by side. this is all i ask, this is all i pray. step down and be my friend.

    Friday, November 04, 2005

    the man got me

    i was so ticked off at my husband recently, i forgot to set my cruise control.

    before the advent of cruise control (or my desire to use it, probably the latter), i got tickets on a regular basis. monthly. if not weekly. i was a scary driver.

    my hubby came home with a ticket and i laughed. he has never gotten a ticket (i think that is what he's said, although i've seen him get pulled over twice and both times let off with warnings. i never get warnings, i get tickets. well, i've gotten a few warnings when i was young and possessed a firm body).

    so he gets a ticket and i'm gloating because it has been literally six years since my last ticket--thanks to cruise control and a daughter who sits in the back seat,
    mom you're speeding. slow down.
    God bless back seat drivers. she sits in the middle seat so she can glimpse the speedometer. i also have her on the lookout for speed limit signs as i blaze past them and often miss what they say (details, life is in the details). she yells out,
    45 mom. slow down!
    and i do. at least i try.

    so i was coming home after seeing proof with gwyneth paltrow (i saw it with a friend, but gwyneth was in the movie you understand).

    my mind on a comment my hubby made. i round a particularly curvy corner and have audio slave blasting. spot the man. i'd forgotten to set my cruise control.

    of course instinctively i let my foot off the gas, but he claims to have gotten me. and i have learned you can't argue with the man. i have tried. it doesn't turn out too good.

    so i drag myself in the house after peeling out from getting a ticket (wisdom emanates from me when i'm angry). and tell my hubby, i got a ticket.

    where? told him the whole story and now i've got to blow six hours of reading time. of my life on traffic school. i'm going to the comedy course, so hopefully it will be marginally funny. but i still have to watch the videos and take the tests. sigh. the closest thing i get to school is traffic school.

    Sunday, October 30, 2005

    tryst

    it has been a while. but i am here. reading. writing. thinking. praying. mostly trying to keep up with the laundry and be true to my family. the rest is tabled for another day. if you make it through the quote below i shall reward you with a poem, may it be worthy of your time.

    the book which has found its way to me (through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, past the goblin city), is The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross:


    Even though these souls have begun to walk along the road of virtue, and our Lord desires to place them in the dark night so they may move on to the divine union, they do not advance. Sometimes, the reason is, they do not want to enter the dark night or allow themselves to be placed in it, and sometimes they misunderstand themselves and are without suitable or alert directors who will show them the way to the summit. God gives many souls the talent and grace for advancing, and should they desire to make the effort they would arrive at this high state....

    For some spiritual directors are likely to be a hindrance and harm rather than a help to these souls that journey on this road. Such directors have neither enlightenment nor experience of these ways. They are like the builders of the tower of Babel. [Gen 11:1-9] When these builders were supposed to provide the proper materials for the project, they brought entirely different supplies, because they failed to understand the language. And thus nothing was accomplished. Hence, it is arduous and difficult for a soul in these periods of the spiritual life when it cannot understand itself or find anyone else who understands it.

    It will happen that while an individual is being conducted by God along the sublime path of dark contemplation and aridity, in which he feels lost, he will encounter in the midst of the fullness of his darknesses, trials, conflicts, and tempations someone who, in the style of Job's comforters [Jb 4:8-11], will proclaim that all of this is due to melancholia, or depression, or temperament, or to some hidden wickedness, and that as a result God has forsaken him. Therefore the usual verdict is that, since such trials afflict this person, he must have lived an evil life.

    5. Others will tell him that he is falling back, since he finds no satsifaction or consolation as he previously did in the things of God. Such talk only doubles the trial of the poor soul, because its greatest suffering is caused by the knowledge of its own miseries; that it is full of evil and sin is as clear as the day, and even clearer, for, as we shall presently say, God is the author of this enlightenment in the night of contemplation. And when this soul finds someone who agrees with what it feels (that these trials are all its own fault), its suffering and distress grow without bounds. And this suffering usually becomes worse than death. Such a confessor is not satisfied with this but, in judging these trials to be the result of sin, he urges souls who endure them to go over their past and make many general confessions--which is another crucifixion. The director does not understand that now perhaps is not the time for such activity. Indeed, it is a period for leaving these persons alone in the purgation God is working in them, a time to give comfort and encouragement that they may desire to endure this suffering as long as God wills, for until then, no remedy--whatever the soul does, or the confessor says--is adequate.



    my friends, how these words soothe my soul. i had begun to tremble at my state. at the darkness of the things, which for some time now, seem to be the only things i can comprehend. i can fathom. john comforts me by saying death to sense is the first death. i hope this explains what i have been struggling dumbly in my poetry to state (from a source hopefully more reliable than i).

    (formatting lost)


    tryst with saint john

    come to me tonight
    ___in quietness
    your words graven
    ___long ago
    you're dead these many years
    ___and counting
    i am here feeling closer
    ___to you than any
    ___living soul
    who lightens my
    ___darkness
    illumines my burden
    ___having borne it before
    the beggar, i
    ___go door to door
    ___shunned by all
    save you.
    ___here you are, with me
    ___now whispering words
    ___of comfort penned
    ______ages ago.

    Friday, October 21, 2005

    time travel

    today i journey back and forward into time. i go to see friends i have not seen, some in nearly ten years. people who know me, who have read me since i was eight years old. some who were there with me through my darkest days of high school when friends were few. true friends. those who cared more for your soul than their use of you. those who wept with me over ice cream at our shared impotence to change the way things seemed to be. those who listened and understood. those who through the years have strengthened me with their love.

    it is not that i fear welcome, or that there will be none. i fear that the long years of our separation may have been enough for the masks to take on some permanence between us. i wonder if these dear friends will let the facades of life, the striving for the right words, the smiling pride of success dominate our time together. or if, they will let me back in to their hearts.

    will we sit, worlds apart across the tables. speaking in veiled terms about the periphery of our lives? or will we dive in deep and share the anguish, the joy, the muckiness of life that soils our feet.

    after the chit chat will the dialogue resume? after the smiling and polite introduction to the children who have come along in the long years which have separated us, will there be a knitting of hearts? am i unreasonable to desire this? am i demanding more of a long time friend than i require of those that inhabit my daily sphere? i think not.

    but i have learned to let things die when the other party wishes it to be so. i have long ceased chasing down people, tackling them, and dragging them back into my life.

    i do not enjoy watching friends walk away for the last time. but i also do not care for first time encounters, they are awkward in their own way. unfamiliarity is a necessary evil.

    so as i journey back to pick up where we last met and spoke and looked into each other's eyes, i wonder if we'll journey forward. or if we'll abandon the pursuit. either way is fine, i prefer to go forward. but know present disinterest does not glut the past of its value. and that gives me hope.

    Tuesday, October 18, 2005

    lectio divina

    my time for reading is so sparse (not according to my husband, but to me), that i must prayerfully consider each book read, each word noted, each author i give my time to. for those authors enter into my life and pour themselves out as i pour myself out in lectio divina, or scriptural reading. reading can be, according to keating, a method of contemplation, and i employ it regularly. it is my greatest diversion and my greatest necessity. my words have long since failed me (my journals pecked with a few original poems, but largely full of nouwen, manning, foster, and now norris).

    i am finding a longing for discovering the mysteries of the catholic church. iconography. liturgy. vespers. how to incorporate these many practices into my fragmented life.

    i had been concerned with my seeming darkness, how the same haunting doubts linger, as have always lingered. but then i read this from no less than henri nouwen:

    Today, my fifty-fourth birthday...as I reflect on my life today, I feel indeed like the least of God's holy people. Looking back, I realize that I am still struggling with the same problems I had on the day of my ordination twenty-nine years ago. Notwithstanding my many prayers, my periods of retreat, and the advice from many friends, counselors, and confessors, very little, if anything, has changed with regard to my search for inner unity and peace. I am still the restless, nervous, intense, distracted, impulse-driven person I was when I set out on this spiritual journey. At times this obvious lack of inner maturation depresses me as I enter into the "mature" years.


    all is not lost. this is not the party line i have heard in church. it is not the standard i see being raised. this path of "downward mobility" as nouwen puts it, does not start, as i have been lead to believe with pristine saints (which i have NEVER been).

    there is hope. for me and for you.

    hallelujah.

    Monday, October 10, 2005

    :(

    apparently it doesn't take much to drive me back to melancholy. my friends are so happy when i write something not grim, but alas, here is a poem that may not be happy, or, perhaps, what it needs to be, but is merely what it is.

    i
    looked
    with
    open
    eye
    but
    could
    not
    see
    mind
    barren
    ill-formed
    concepts
    aborted
    ear
    unplugged
    but
    deaf
    to
    all
    hands
    outstretched
    numb
    to
    pleasure
    feet
    unshod
    aching
    bare
    i
    wander
    taste
    all
    ash
    and
    ill
    content
    eyes
    open
    cannot
    see

    Saturday, October 08, 2005

    why my house is not clean

    the great
    migration
    begun
    and i am
    home
    to see it
    some left
    like my
    mother
    weeks
    ahead
    of the
    others
    ensuring
    timely
    arrival
    some fly
    fast, determined
    like my
    husband
    all business
    where travel
    involved
    some delight
    like i
    in diversion
    wafting high
    then low
    light
    upon
    the garden
    planted
    for those
    in need
    of
    refreshing
    with a
    moment
    to linger.



    and then:

    then there are those
    winging north
    who knows
    what they're
    thinking
    or where
    they are going

    another monarch
    wings north
    perhaps
    he forgot
    something
    to turn off
    the iron
    or change
    for the phone.

    cycling

    there was a time
    circling
    her small bicycle
    with training wheels
    doll carrier
    and flourescent pink
    basket
    was sufficient
    shed the wheels
    and circling indoors
    she rides down
    to the neighbor's
    house and back
    her world
    like her
    stamina
    ever increasing
    carrying her
    further
    from home.

    Friday, October 07, 2005

    encouraging word

    my sister writes me this and it makes me think of how deep some of my readings have sunk into my psyche. one of the poems i read on the mountain was kabod Yahweh, it pleased the Lord to crush Him:

    Hi Suzi Q,

    I was just reading The Three Battlegrounds by Francis Frangipane and came upon this. It is an excerpt from the chapter Worship the purpose of creation. I think you may have read it to me once, but here it is for you....

    "In these closing moments of this age, the Lord will have a people whose purpose for living is to please God with their lives. In them, God finds His own reward for creating man. They are His worshippers. They are on earth only to please God, and when He is pleased, they also are pleased. The Lord takes them farther and through more pain and conflicts than other men. Outwardly they often seem "smitten of God and afflicted" (Isaiah 53:4). Yet to God, they are His beloved. When they are crushed like petals of a flower, they exude a worship, the fragrance of which is so beautiful and rare that angels weep in quiet awe at their surrender. They are the Lord's purpose for creation.,

    One would think God would protect them, guarding them in such a way that they would not be marred. Instead, they are marred more than other men. Indeed, the Lord seems pleased to crush them, putting them to grief. For in the midst of their physical and emotional pain, their loyalty to Christ grows pure and perfect. And in the face of persecutions, their love and worship toward God becomes all-consuming."

    Loveeeeeeeeeeeeee,

    Geenie

    Monday, October 03, 2005

    nameless

    i do not want to know
    your long publication
    history or how much
    more accomplished
    you are, than i

    no respecter of persons
    do i want to be

    only myself
    fully lacking
    wholly broken
    impeccably flawed

    i do not want to know
    you know famous people
    for i do not want to know you
    for who you know

    i want only to sit
    and listen to your words
    my brother, my tribesman, my friend.

    so tell me of your heart
    and all the things that fill it
    tell me of your life
    and your sorrow.

    tell me of your joys
    the things that make you smile
    and i will tell you
    of mine.

    i cannot impress you with
    accomplishment
    i've done nothing
    noteworthy.

    i cannot woo you with
    namedropping foolishness
    because people to me
    are not commodities.

    they are friends.
    and friends whom i love
    come from all walks of life
    and i embrace their variety.

    do not tell me of your awards
    and your fancy degrees
    for i care to hear
    none of these. (damn rhyme)

    symmetrical forests

    climbing up the mount surrounded by great artisans (whom i shall not name), i found myself watching my footing along the root studded path. not gazing at the trees and scenes, though my photographer friend would point out a golden aspen glittering in the sun and run off to catch a glimpse of it.

    butterflies are like grace. i said.
    so are aspens. he replied. and darted off to capture grace.

    i did not get it. i could not see it. my eyes were not seeking mystery, merely compassion.

    i, the poet, was dull to the beauty, save that pointed out for me. i was not there to see the trees. i was there for the company. for the community. for the peopled solitude i often inhabit.

    i found that there are voices which fray my nerves. there are also voices with a hint of joy, which soothe me. and those were the voices i wanted to hear. the voices tempered with honesty. the voices loud and full of certainty. the voices clear of tears, uninhibited by the tentativeness of uncertainty.

    i did not make it to the cascading falls, which was our destination. i turned back. i descending down with a dear soul whose arthritic hip slowed our pace so i did not have to feel guilty for my lack of stamina and windedness in the altitudes. i could mete out my steps slowly, pensively. while we spoke of things and poetry, my favorite subject.

    but after the path widened to the parking lot, i found a tree to perch upon. one felled and rested where my feet reached the ground (a marvelous comfort more than the long legged can imagine). and i listened to the gossipping brook. that was a voice that gentled me this weekend. one i could lose and find myself in.

    a pine tree, perfectly formed, held my gaze and i began to realize it was the symmetrical beauty tree farmers pine for. in any other unprotected setting, this little beauty would have been doomed to hold up glittering balls and lights until it were faded brown and a certain hazard. then it would be drug curbside and abandoned to landfill where its future would not be to grow.

    beside the little pine was a giant. i cranked my head back to take it all in. it towered above me like the empire state building and i was in awe. i looked at the little pine growing in its shelter and realized, this is what we do to poetry.

    we cut off the little beauty, because we can. by our critiques and group think bring things into symmetry. we are in a sense, creating symmetrical forests.

    the word that kept coming to me as i sat looking at the tree was compassion. compassion for the work of others, compassion for my own work. as we drove from the forest i noted the awkward bends of some trees, how some limbs face only one direction. how felled wood creates angles and beams to rival the greatest cathedral. how little ill-formed trees had grown into mighty ill-formed trees and the beauty was immense.

    the beauty of the forest is its asymmetry.

    perhaps my gangly poems, my ill formed works are the very stuff of beauty in my artist life. perhaps they will stand one day proud and tall, rivaling symmetrical giants. but i must not fell them. or let them be felled.

    i must not fell the works of others. but let them grow. encourage their diverse beauty. and most of all, have compassion.

    Wednesday, September 28, 2005

    franticktickticktock

    that is from a metallica song called frantic. it reminds me of how i've been running about of late trying to accomplish so much, trying to do everything, and getting nothing done. nothing of substance that is.

    the more i ask God, what do You want from me? the more i hear, wash the dishes, sweep the floors, set your house in order.

    this baffles my mind. it is not the answer i want to hear. i've been trying to do that but often i get sidelined by the utter chaos of clutter. the drudgery of doing the same thing day in and day out. how many times does one need to clean a bathroom in a week? the answer it seems is more than i'd like. these are the pivotal questions of my faith right now. where the rubber is meeting the road and i am balding ready to blow.

    purging time is upon me again and when i return from the mountaintop, i go knowing i am ill prepared (how can one prepare to encounter God?), i go knowing i have much to do when i return.

    publishing contracts, payment for editing services, none of this matters to me. what does matter is that i start keeping my house clean, learn to cook (i'm all right but nothing fabulous and i certainly don't enjoy it), and truly nurture my family.

    sometimes i am blind to the obvious and i believe myself to be in such a time. i've been locked away hidden in my home for so long that i don't want to be about that anymore. and with so many potential good things on the horizon (publishing, etc), i want those things with my whole heart. but not at the expense of my family. that cost is too dear and i cannot pay it.

    but i hear the Lord saying, want what you have. that songline, you can't always get what you want, but if you try sometime, you just might find, you get what you need comes to me as the very mandate of the Lord.

    i have never wanted success, publishing at the expense of my family and now i stand at the very crossroads of that decision and must choose for my family again. how to do this is one dish at a time, one floor at a time, one meal at a time.

    and then perhaps, in time, the Lord will release me from this obscurity. perhaps not.

    Sunday, September 25, 2005

    proof

    well i've just printed out my first proof of my poetry collection titled, mere consolations.

    taking this to share with other poets of the calibur i will be with this weekend is a bit daunting. i'm not easily intimidated, usually i'm resilient. but this is too near and dear to me not to go with my head slightly bowed.

    i find that when it comes to these words, these pages of my heart in print, that i am, like every artist--sensitive about it. i am trying to brace myself for criticism which i will receive, but at the same time remember i am speaking in my true voice and that is not something to be edited out or embarrassed of.

    well, that is all for now. i've much brewing my brain in terms of contemplation but i can't put it into words just yet. it is still grey and misty. and i remain uncertain exactly what i am to say about any of it. and when.

    until then.

    peace.

    Wednesday, September 21, 2005

    wellmess ratio

    we'll see if this goes on to become a brilliant post or like so many other things in my life falls into the abyss of silence.

    my girl is on the mend, her fever broke after nearly seven days. i can tell she is feeling better as the apache has returned. eyeing me as i question her. leaving shampoo bottles with pools of sticky coconut smelling concoctions running down the side and pooling on our faux-marble, placed just so i grab them instinctively and slime my hand (but do not clean the mess, i don't feel good either). i leave it there for when i wander through next or my husband unwittingly falls into the same sticky trap. who will then in turn leave it for me to clean up. what goes around, comes around it seems.

    we passed the pony purchase ratio at toys r us yesterday adopting seven my little ponies (i was assured the limit on pony purchases was five), but they made a one time exception for which i am glad. my girl who coughed her way through the weekend did not cough much while extracting delicate ponies from their packaging.

    packaging that strewn about the livingroom this morning testified to her wellness.

    you're making messes again, i'm glad to see you're feeling well. yes, i'd rather have the messes than a sick child who does not want to play.

    Tuesday, September 20, 2005

    dreamlife

    Tonight I dreamt of my grandmother. And she was come to me from God’s presence. She was young, joyous, and knew Scripture—well. She sat across from me and leaned on her arm as she looked into my eyes, and questioned about this darkness. I evaded her, she pursued. Then gave me Hebrews 8:1 and James 5 as she knew I would not surrender my position. We spoke of other things, I got a notepad to scribble messages for liz, geen and then she left me in her house, her only house, the one where all my days were lived, where I knew safety, comfort, where I had refuge.

    Then in the blue room, my mom, sister and I were there with grandpa. He had on tan slacks, a large tribal belt buckle, black belt, and a button down white shirt with pinstripes. He wore cowboy boots and moved swiftly. He was young. He carried with him a ball of yarn. He was crocheting. He sat at the kitchen table just outside the blue room crocheting while we settled ourselves in the room. I laughed because this was grams’ pastime in life. Fashioning warmth, comfort, style one skein at a time. Hours upon hours she would sit and crochet. I know now these were prayer shawls, mantles if you will, she draped us in illness and health in robes of prayer. It seems grandpa has taken up that heavenly occupation. And I was tired, so lay down on some gray yarn. The skein he was working from was cream and blue variegated. I could not tell what he was making, but imagine it consisted of soldiers. Among the many things my grandma taught herself, was crocheting. she taught us how to make chains and soldiers and pair them to make blankets—or anything we wanted really.

    Gramps lay down beside me and his presence reminded me of when we were young, and I would sleep between him and grams. Aunt Jane and Uncle Tony were there because they were always there, an unchangeable constant of my early years I would not have otherwise. They kept their silent vigil in their respective rooms, serving, loving, being. Gramps lay down to sleep beside me and I awoke.

    It occurred to me how easily we hang our hopes upon one person. Whether right or wrong. We fashion our future from dust. And they cannot live forever. They, like our beloved Lord, must die. Just as we. But there has only ever been one Man worthy of such trust. Our inward bent is idolatry. Making little temples and altars wherever we can to gain favor.

    Yet the only worthwhile favor we have ever needed, was ours before we knew we needed it. It is no longer the stuff of temples and altars, but of hearts and fire. The Indwelling King laid it all down for our redemption, relationship restored. A priceless, unmatched gift many cannot allow themselves to receive.

    And I imagine Mary spending her Sabbath revisiting Jesus’ last tormented hours, walking the streets, seeing the scenes, hearing the jeering crowds. And weeping wordless.

    death shroud

    v.

    red hot
    embers
    cool to
    black

    the silent
    garden
    revisited

    the temple
    a shell of
    chaos

    the veil
    torn

    the courtyard
    empty

    the whipping post
    weeps

    the blood stained
    path
    i walk
    You stumbled
    a pulp
    hardly
    recognizable

    the agony.

    O my Lord
    Your words
    come to me
    in this
    darkness

    three days
    the temple
    cannot be
    rebuilt it
    has fallen

    golgotha
    lone hill

    Eloi Eloi
    Lama
    Sabacthani

    Eloi Eloi
    Lama
    Sabacthani

    we are lost
    without
    You

    Sunday, September 11, 2005

    the hard work begins

    over the past couple years, mostly because my then writing group demanded something of me, i compiled my poetry into two collections. since then, i have written another. since these collected collections comprise a story of sorts, i hesitate to send them into the world unbound together. they will be read in varying order, and may become singletons when in fact they are triplets at heart.

    to remedy that, i have decided to publish the three collections in order. they have proven to be unwieldy and quite overwhelming. some things i could overlook in one collection i could not overlook in the triad. each collection suddenly had to bear the weight of the others.

    weighing in around 300 pages, i opted to cull the collection of lesser poems that never had much more of an appeal to me than origin. those were the easy ones. the ones who never looked like my children, but bastards, orphans if you will. i cut them loose, and sought to find others to send away with them.

    it has taken over five complete readings to narrow the collection down to somewhere in the neighborhood of 209 poems. these withstood my repeated scrutiny. their words held together when questioned by my editorial sensibilities, and these, i believe are the best representation i can present at this moment to the world. (critics now's your chance!)

    these triplets need a collective name, and it is to that end i write this now. i thought i'd ask only my friends but decided i'd do a poll of sorts so see what would happen. so i'm listing here some of my potential titles for my collected collections. individually named and in order those collections are called: revolution of a soul, break me gently, and irreverently reverent.

    collected, these are the optional titles (see if you can pick out the two my husband suggested) in no particular order:

    rampant ingratitude
    radical dependence
    infinitely loved
    shattering encounter
    veiled clarity
    out of darkness
    lived concrete
    exhilarating agony
    stark raving honesty
    reckless abandon
    pantywaist preacher
    a soul laid bare
    naked trust
    ragged journey
    unearned grace
    poems from a dark night

    i am also open to suggestions. this seems a most important choice and i don't necessarily want a christian reference or some sappy happy title. i dig perplexing uncertainty.

    anywhoo. there you have it. have at it, let me know your thoughts.

    Thursday, September 08, 2005

    consumer

    i've been on the recieving end of some "without works, faith is dead" comments lately. and i sit here after having labored all day for my family (i can always do more, with a better attitude, but that goes without saying), gone to a meeting where i am in leadership for an organization for my daughter, and then i can look forward to sunday hearing how i am consuming.

    while it is not my intention to lay out all i do for you to see. it is my hope that you will remember the hidden things. we all have them. we all do them. God sees them and knows.

    i am tired tonight. i've been tired for a while. every time i try to engage in church i get the feeling i'm not living up to somebody's expectations of me. i'm not quite the person they want me to, or think i "should" be. and that troubles me.

    they don't ever come out and say, why aren't you serving in the church? no, they just lace sermons and conversation with references to these issues.

    i like the direct approach, incase you haven't noticed. and i await the direct approach. unless you ask me specifically, why aren't you serving in the church, i won't answer that question. i won't get defensive. but i will get tired of hearing veiled comments and feeling pressured to use my influence on my husband (which is why women are talked to about such things right, to get them to play puppet master with their husbands?). i cut those strings long ago. i'm not going back down to that bondage again. if you have a question or want some action from my husband, you had better ask him directly. i am no conveyor of secret messages. no prompter of good works (that is someOne else's job).

    the king's heart is in the hand of the Lord and He directs it where He will. not me. not the kind people at church. i have stopped ruling our home and if i am to sit beside my husband and do nothing, so be it. i will do it unto the Lord.

    i'm just tired of feeling like i'm not being a good christian. when it comes down to it, none of us would be good christians if it weren't for the grace and mercy of the Lord. so if you are challenging me to be a better christian, it had better be under the unction of the Holy Spirit, because if not, it is just a load of guilt. and i don't go on those trips anymore.

    Wednesday, September 07, 2005

    melon collie

    my dog
    ran away
    not
    wasting
    his affection
    on one
    who only
    seems able
    to love
    only those
    who cannot
    love
    in return
    he did
    not
    linger
    but
    caught
    a ride
    and set
    out to find
    one
    who could
    love him
    in return
    and i
    miss him

    Monday, September 05, 2005

    marketshare

    being a homeschooler i long pondered how i would teach history. clearly it needs to be taught but i did not want to teach the history i learned. to convey some blind allegiance to what men want to believe but the historical record does not bear out. neither do i want to teach history the way i learned it. i wanted some text, some representation of the complexities of the founding of america. i have yet to find that text.

    i am dealing with a child here and while the atrocities of tribal battles, the horrors of nazism, the chaos of church-wars in europe are subjects we can deal with at a later date, we are beginning a study of the history of this land we live on.

    so what i have begun doing is annotating the text with my daughter. she reads the history text to me and we discuss it. there are some things a simple word change will do: native americans thought of themselves as sovereign nations. we line out thought and put, think. easy enough.

    but there are some irredeemable passages we simply line through and try to purge from our minds:
    Because [indians] didn't have the Bible, which tells us about the one true God, they worshipped many false gods. Their worship of false gods kept them from advancing the way europeans had.


    how do you redeem such grievious errors in thought and logic? True enough there was no Bible in the new world, i let that stand. but i cannot ever be convinced God is not large enough to reveal Himself to peoplegroups without europeans. somehow europe became indispensible to God and salvation. i don't understand it. it breaks my heart to think children are still being taught this. then attributing the lack of a european Bible/worshipping false gods to keeping tribal people from advancing "the way europeans had."

    in one passage america is deemed a wilderness because it lacked cities and cultivation. but that manifest destiny thinking is so off base. clearly the authors have never seen photos of anasazi cliff dwellings or navajo hogans. clearly it never occurred to them that european civilzation is not the ultimate.

    get this line:


    the history of america as we know it actually began in europe.


    what?

    i have walked around homeschool conferences asking, do you have anything less european? and the vendors (typically white--i cannot recall one minority vendor) stare at me like i'm insane.

    i think, when this is all said and done, i will have a history book that genuinely lays out in non-inflammatory language, remember i am teaching my child, the history of this land we live on. taking into account the great nations which existed before the first boats arrived. before the gold-grabbing began. before the treaties were violated.

    i hope also to be able to convey to my daughter that europeans, americans for that matter don't have a corner on the righteousness market. God doesn't need us. He doesn't need you or me to convey the depth and breadth of who He is to any peoplegroup. and i refuse to believe He would let myriad nations live and die without access to the Way, the Truth and the Life. He has made a way. we simply have not comprehended it. and i for one, am unwilling to condemn all these many nations to hell for my ethnic pride.

    Tuesday, August 30, 2005

    me as mother

    i wonder, sometimes, if i am doing right by my child exposing her to all the musical influences i have so loved over my years. as we drove to the library today and iron man played, i was banging my head to styx before that, come sail away--my arms flailing and my hair flying about. and then i wondered if there was anything i'm missing, the really important musicians of the past.

    but she doesn't always like what i like and i'm glad for that. i'm not fashioning zombie or conducting an educational frontal lobotomy, i am trying to expose the child to the great and glorious variety of life.

    she made me laugh this morning and i will have to tell you why in another post on another day. but as we arrived at the library to check out some respectable materials (and the car pulled in beside us while iron man played and the little boy looked at me through the windows kind of confused, and i smiled back) i realized, i left the house today without my purse, without my wallet, without much of anything really. (talk about missing the really important things.)

    i do that sometimes, forget the very obvious but i did remember to bring along richard foster, celebration of discipline, so i can read him in the inbetween times. oh me.

    the child is fine. she is able to play music on the piano by memory (because i won't copy the music for her, she has to commit entire scores to memory--we are just starting so the scores are not very long, but i think this good practice for a child who enjoys tv as much as i). she reads too, so you don't think i'm a terriblehorriblenogoodverybad mother. but then again, do i really listen to what others think? i try. i'm in a rare phase of my life where i am listening. so opine if you care to, i may take it to heart. then again....

    Monday, August 29, 2005

    a new day

    i couldn't or didn't want to get up this morning. a malaise that stikes me now and again. i didn't even go out of doors this am and wouldn't have if nature hadn't mandated it.

    my daughter, who was riding her bike excitedly exclaimed,
    the black swallowtails!


    so i scrambled outside to find this...




    life. new beginnings. the glory of the Lord.

    she is still nectaring in my garden as we speak (or as i write) but he took flight as soon as he could and another black swallowtail joined him as they wafted away on the breeze.

    life pulses on even when we grow weary and that gives me hope.

    Saturday, August 27, 2005

    darkdayscome

    typically when i clean my house, i hear from God. He speaks, i listen. sometimes i get poetry. today's was black. and i hesitate to even share it. i probably won't except for my dearest friends until i get some space between it and me.

    there is something to be said for putting it out there, purging. it lightens the mental load. it quiets the clamour. and i can be silent without so much fury.

    but that is saying too much for the christian, isn't it? we don't have dark days, or if we do, we don't speak of them. they are things of the past (moments ago, but past, leave them there).

    rebuke it


    my mom would say. and she's probably right.

    but not today, i wrote about it. i let the lines come and wrote them across the page where they sit, and i wonder if anyone in the world feels this way, has these days.

    sometimes i feel so broken, unmended and unmade.

    then i go to the piano and play amazing grace. and let the words run over my soul, the melody drive away the things that frighten me, that i could lose the unloseable. that i could quench the unquenchable, that i could doubt the Father of Truth.

    it all comes down to that. do i believe He gives without revocation? do i trust He will be with me even in the midst of utter darkness? do i remember how to get back or is there no need when i am lost, will He find me again? and again, and again.

    i'd like to say i have this happy christian story of triumph. of wholeness. of certainty. but i just don't. it's never been that way. and these days of darkness are farther apart, but they are there.

    there is one poem i wrote that i'll share, it is for those friends of mine who truly are friends indeed. who have stayed through my darkness and not been afraid. i do not have words to thank them. only a few poems. for whatever that's worth.

    gentle me


    there are those
    who see beyond
    externals
    and hear
    between the lines
    who can see
    beyond the
    _____veil
    of words
    and understand

    those who talk
    me down
    from the
    emotional
    twelfth floor
    where i sway
    _____and swagger
    in the swirl
    _____of confusion

    there are those
    _____whose gentle
    presence persists
    when i bid
    _____them go away

    those who
    _____follow
    when i attempt
    _____to disqualify
    ________myself
    from the Promise

    those who
    speak truth
    _____and gentle me
    when i abraham
    _____hold the knife
    over my breast

    there are those
    who know
    the darkness
    i have fought
    _____against
    all my life

    and those whose
    _____light
    can be seen in
    _____their eyes

    Wednesday, August 24, 2005

    sidetracked

    i'm having pangs of inferiority. i don't read many blogs anymore, but happened to have some time and scrolled through one to see what was up and this little gem stuck in my jaw: so and so has his MFA in creative writing giving him definable skill in this area.

    as i have struggled to finish my degrees, and been thwarted over and over again. i have spent much time agonizing and praying over this. i don't begrudge anyone recognition for their hard work. praise God for their ability to achieve something so noteworthy.

    i used to feel like i got sidetracked. when i was attending orientation at UCLA, i never thought i would never set foot on the campus again, but i didn't. i got married.

    when i attended first day of classes at ASU, i never thought i would never set foot on the campus again (i was admitted as an honor student and raring to go), but i didn't. we relocated to texas.

    after buying a house, and discovering the ad velorum waiver, i enrolled at a local community college to bide my time (the requisite two years to establish residency). i won a scholarship, got As a couple Bs, and prepared for UTD. then i got pregnant.

    what joys. what immesurable joy having a child. but i always wanted to finish my degrees. so i became an accredited la leche league leader. no not a noteworthy endeavor from the intellectual standpoint, but very helpful to moms and babies.

    a move back to texas when my child was two, and i enrolled at Texas A&M U, Commerce. Went to transfer orientation. i had no idea that i would never set foot on that campus again, but i had to take the dreaded TASP. i had avoided it before because i was at a miserable community college. but when i had to take it, i went back to the miserable community college (a place dear to my heart) and did some more undergrad prep work there, based on those dreaded math scores.

    having done that, i went to UTD and registered, began the whole process yet again, for the last time i had hoped. and we lost our job, the telecom industry literally dried up and blew away. for the next four years it was not even an option to think about college.

    yes, i've been steadiily trying for that elusive degree. and i keep reaching but it has become like the door that descends down the hall faster than i can run. it has become my white whale.

    someday i may finish it. but along the way i keep the mental parts oiled with much contemplation and study, albeit unrecorded, unrecognized, undocumented study, but study none-the-less.

    and i've got a beautiful girl and a wonderful husband. i hardly call that sidetracked. somehow i think it is my main track. schooling, degress, all that is my side track. and i am all right with that.

    i would prefer it if there wasn't such a stigma of ignorance when one doesn't have their degrees. or is not employed in some "meaningful" way. i'm just fashioning a person for life. that is no small endeavor. i don't claim to be the best at it, but i am grateful a degree is not required.

    Monday, August 22, 2005

    on details and mindnumbing tedium

    perhaps the reason why i post so much unedited stuff, is because i spend so much time attending to the details of others' writing that i haven't the stomache to mess with mine.

    i spent hours this past week, all told, about 20, here and there, some successive, but many hours tweaking a newsletter i edit for our homeschool group. the deadline is the 15 and i'm still getting, "can you fit this in?" emails.

    uh, no, i can't.


    formatting is a feat of momentous proportions at times. making something pleasing to the eye is more than just cut and paste, it is lining stuff up, balancing pages, and placing pleasing neutral spaces (which people complain about as being a "waste" of space).

    when i see newsletters jammed from cover to cover with stuff. crazy with fonts, like some hyde came in late and changed them all, it overwhelms me. i am for three fonts, maybe four (i like vivaldi for offsetting quotes. when i do a newsletter i try to put inspirational quotes in, when told this is another "waste of space" i reply, inspiration is cheap. many times i've read this newsletter and gotten nothing out of it. if there were something to inspire me, then that is something after all).

    i guess all this playing with lines and hyphens, abbreviations and symmetry makes me do strange things to my own works. i like to see poetry left justified, or if centered upon the page, done so without center justification. but i think this is a distinction most don't even contemplate. there is no reason to annihilate formatting of a poem just to center it upon the page. center justification alters the poem. center aligning a poem resets the poem in the center of the page without disrupting layout.

    when i am editing for friends, when i am reading a book--currently i have a poetry book and i notice the apostrophes are different although baskerville old face (a favorite font of mine) was employed, there is not a follow through of curly apostrophes. the straight quotes or apostrophes are called "dumb," just like the one's used here on blogger. but the curly ones, those lovely little whisps off-setting words and phrases with their delicate curls, now those are the ones you want dotting your prose.

    and while i'm on the subject, your free editing lesson of the day is:
    hyphens are for line breaks, word-mating and the like.
    M-dashes (shortcut: Ctrl+Alt+Num-) are for interjections, interruptions, there are no spaces preceding or following M-dashes provided they are not interrupting lines of type like: "quick beforeM-dash"
    N-dashes (shortcut: Ctrl+Num-) are for the conjunctions between verses of scripture (i.e. john 1:2N-dash5 <--i am limited here and can't show you).

    these tedious little things no one sees or notices pop out at me when i am reading a book. i can't read poorly edited books without approaching them as an editing project. i seem to have the compulsion these days to comment on the works friends' give me.

    yet my work limps and swaggers like a drunk in the gutter. go figure.

    Monday, August 08, 2005

    tremble

    honesty has never been easy. it has often been the hardest thing for me to embrace for it, like a thorny crown, imbeds itself into me and my juices flow.

    i remember a writing shirt from long ago that read,
    writing is easy, just open a vein and pour it out.
    something to that effect. and yes, it hurts that much at times.

    why do it then? because it hurts more not to. just as it hurts more not to be honest, with myself, with my friends. with many things.

    we don't get around hurt whichever path we choose, but truth has always been to me, bittersweet.

    one night at a home group, i sat down and told the leader,
    the truth ain't done much for me lately.

    it gets me into trouble. it causes me grief. it causes my friends to grieve. which grieves me doubly. and i wonder, is this the way it will always be?

    when i write, i tremble. i pour out my truth and leave it there to live or die at the reader's hands. when i reread the fruit of my labors, i cannot deny the words for they are still my truth. seeing them there does not make them less true, in fact, it makes me really understand that this is in fact what i believe. and i tremble.

    i've done more trembling of late than ever. more wondering if what i say and do is right with God (men's opinions come and go, rightness with them never amounts to much).

    and trembling i sit here now, laying out these fragile words hoping they convey something of meaning to you. my truth, take it for what it's worth.