Tuesday, January 31, 2006


i watched anna and the king yesterday. what a film.

i heard my words come to me again, and that always gets me.

the king says to anna,
when a woman who has much to say says nothing, the silence is deafening.

and at one point they actually discuss the moon yielding to the sun. a line from a sonnet i wrote (i shared it with my family--who were largely unimpressed). perhaps i needed to take a moment to explain the intricacies of the sonnet form, but i didn't. i just read it. they are used to short, relatively succinct poetry from me. so when their eyes glaze over and my daughter is ready to run off singing the star-spangled banner (her new favorite song. Lord have mercy), i just pressed through and read it aloud anyway.

my poet friends who heard it applauded it and recieved it well. but i have to remember, my husband doesn't "do" poetry. that he listens is a gift. a blessing. so many years i had left my works there beside him to read and there they sat, unread. i have foregone the leaving of my works and simply read them aloud, which works out.

my daughter wrote a poem yesterday, which i thought, fantastic, and she read it aloud about twenty times (not exaggerating). i wept the first couple of times because she has emphatically said, i am not a poet. (how many times i've heard that line from various people. i get numb to it. but to hear your own child say it is a whole different kind of heartache.)

i've been granted the singular privilege of being asked to be myself.

the only thing i really know is who i am. i've labored long to make peace, smoke the pipe with my dark side. but letting that person be seen, save in this place of obscurity is something frightening.

i had thought when i came out of shadow it would be all light and bright flashing neon signs saying, this is the way, walk ye in it. but no. more cloud. more obscurity. more trust.

that is the way of it for us all i guess. following aslan through the mists over the mountain top with only the comfort of his breathing beside us. knowing He alone is what keeps us from plunging headlong into the abyss. yes, that is it for me.

walk with me aslan.
let me hear you breathe.
i'm afraid.

i'm going to the symphony today, then the art museum. i'll either be vastly inspired or feel like a clod. so many times when i walk into places where greatness is on display (or for sale, a book store for example), i wonder,
what am i doing here?

yes the works inspire me. but they also intimidate me. sitting in the poetry section of one large bookstore, the poetry alone towered a good ten to twelve feet high. there was a chair in the nook, which i sat with poetry books spread all around. i could feel the collective genius of the place breathing, it was palpable. and i sat in the mists of giants feeling like an ant. i chose my books, one of which was a letdown, you never can tell with poetry--and fled the scene.

i stay away from those places where poetry gangs up on a soul. i stay clear of the towers of books that i could never possibly read or write. i am most content with a clean sheet and good pen, no pressure, just trust.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

you are safe

i spent the better part of the weekend i was in denver weeping. it was such a loss of dignity, that i felt like a leper. i usually don't have this reaction to my tears, but i wanted to make a good impression. i wanted to be all right. but i was not. i separated myself to keep the others from feeling uncomfortable around me because i couldn't quell the tears.

i have come to understand now that it was some deep healing taking place. some vast torrent of tears locked up, which finally found release. but i still felt like a leper.

this is one of my favorite Bible stories. Jesus, being unafraid, and reaching out to touch the leper.
A leper came to him (and kneeling down) begged him and said, "If you wish, you can make me clean." (mark 1:40)

judith and many of the artists that weekend were Jesus to me in that they reached out to touch me, the leper. judith held my face in her hands and looked into my eyes and said, it is going to be all right. and i smiled.
Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, "I do will it. Be made clean." (v. 41)

we do not know the effect our acts of mercy and kindness will have on people. i was healed of many things that weekend, no doubt spiritual leprosy.
The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean. (v.42)

i had a conversation recently where i mentioned i was between churches at the moment. and asked if that was okay.

the response?
you are safe.

i am safe.

i am safe.

those words wash over my soul and i sigh in relief.

i am safe.

i am safe.

i keep saying them to my friends, because i believe it is the kind of thing Jesus would say.

you are safe.

nothing in my life has had the appearance that i am safe. but i have trusted the Lord to breach the gap. to make up for the lack submission has left in my life. and to hear those words, you are safe comforts me more than you can imagine.

you are safe. i am safe. praise be to God.

Friday, January 27, 2006

unsettling at best

in the matter of uriah the hittite, i've heard nothing.

but today's reading brought this to my attention:
Joab fought against Rabbah of the Ammonites and captured this royal city. He sent messengers to David with the word: "I have fought against Rabbah and have taken the water-city. Therefore, assemble the rest of the soldiers, join the siege against the city and capture it, lest it be I that capture the city and it be credited to me."(ii samuel 12:26-29)

whoa! what utter selflessness on behalf of Joab. come capture the city before it is credited to me. this word makes my head spin. to willingly lay down the victory and hold the spoils out for an offering to the king is something i had never even imagined.

this blessing comes upon the heels of the firstborn of david and bathsheba dying.

the thing that keeps me reading the bible is that there is always fresh revelation. it is never day old bread.

the passage continues:
So David assembled the rest of the soldiers and went to Rabbah. When he had fought against it and captured it, he took the crown from Milcom's head. It weighed a talent, of gold and precious stones; it was placed on David's head. He brought out immense booty from the city, and also led away the inhabitants, whom he assigned to work with saws, iron picks, and iron axes, or put to work at the brickmold. This is what he did to all the Ammonite cities. David and all the soldiers then returned to Jerusalem. (vv. 29-31)

i must confess, i have thought more about securing the spoils of victory than offering them up as a sacrifice. i fought this battle. i besieged the city. and now you want the credit? how many times have i heard that line in church? i've said that line in church and been irked by it. it never even occurred to me that there could be another way of looking at it.

just when i think i understand, i begin to follow the path God is taking me. i am becoming familiar with the terrain, He lays another one like this on me. and i shudder in disbelief.

this deeply unsettling passage reminds me of the higher order of the Kingdom. the upsidedownness of it all.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

cereal reality

i love playing with words. just using them to say what i want in a new way. a friend asked me yesterday, so what happened with "the guy"? and i said, you'll have to tune in tomorrow. same bat time, same bat channel. i would like to write a line like that, that comes to you when you need a line and stays with you for life. yes. i'd like to write a line like that.

on to my story:

i was reading thomas merton (in his book, contemplation in a world of action) yesterday morning and he responded to the question i posed about the old guard and what am i to do. here's a quote:

The monastic movement needs leaders who must come from the new generation. These must have the patience to undergo the testing and formation without which their ability cannot be proved. No one will entrust himself to the guidance of men who have never had to suffer anything and have never really faced the problems of life in all their bitter seriousness. The young must not be too ready to give up in despair. They have work to do! Fortuantely there are creative forces at work. ...Tradition is not a passive submission to the obsessions of former generations but a living assent to a current of uninterrupted vitality. What was once real in other times and places becomes real in us today. And its reality is not an official parade of externals. It is a living spirit marked by freedom and by a certain originality. Fidelity to tradition does not mean the renunciation of all initiative, but a new initiative that is faithful to a certain spirit of freedom and of vision which demands to be incarnated in a new and unique situation. True monasticism is nothing if not creative.

i'll spare you any more. but this really slammed me. sure the passage is about the rethinking of monasticism, but it applies to my struggle entirely. this is the greatest kind of writing. the kind quickened with the Spirit of God that transcends time and space. that speaks in season, a timely word from the Heart of God. yes, that is the kind of writing i want to produce. i praise God for merton's faithfulness. some have faulted him for not being "silent" enough. but i am grateful for his willingness to pen the words God put upon his heart, as they are my light of earendil.

i hadn't planned on being an armorbearer to this "guy", but i guess that is what i am supposed to do. bob dylan and all. Lord have mercy. (on him and me.)

this morning during my daily prayers, this passage of scripture, from the infamous david and bathsheba passage revealed Uriah the Hittite to have been Joab's armorbearer. a fact i did not know until today. interesting. here is what got me:

The next morning David wrote a letter to Joab which he sent by Uriah. In it he directed: "Place Uriah up front, where the fighting is fierce. Then pull back and leave him to be struck down dead." So while Joab was besieging the city, he assigned Uriah to a place where he knew the defenders were strong. When the men of the city made a sortie against Joab, some officers of David's army fell, and among them Uriah the Hittite died. (i samuel 11:14-17)

it makes me wonder what kind of armorbearer i would be. what kind have i been? if the king called me from battle, i'd likely go up and rest a bit. in doors. thinking not about the men i'd just left. but not uriah. perhaps war does that, forges such alliances that men (like c.s. lewis and his boot camp buddy) take vows and fulfill them. i've never been to war or boot camp, i do not know.

i like to think the Lord can use anything to teach us the lessons we need to learn. i don't have to be an assistant pastor to learn the armorbearer lesson, merely a servant to my husband and those the Lord calls me to serve. these lessons then translate. i would hope, to all ensuing scenarios.

that uriah carried his own death decree troubles me. he was faithful unto death and died an innocent, just like Jesus. i'd never thought of that connection before and it grieves me. there is more here for me to learn but my brain cannot wrap around it right now. i have to let uriah sit in my head for a while and speak his truths.

what kind of armorbearer will i be? what kind will you be?


finally back online. forgot to artificially format the poetry i posted, so it is just big huge columns of text. oh well. i may just take it down and forget about it.

went to my first open mic gig at a local bookstore. i had gone in to see about starting up the gig myself, and was told some "guy" was going to do it. and i offered to help. well, i met the guy last week and this week at the gig, he made it clear in no uncertain terms that he neither wanted nor needed my help.

the thing about it is, i dig older people. they are wise. they are usually pretty laid back. but i guess my overmuch enthusiasm last week didn't help. so we're there at the gig and the guy mentions bob dylan. my dad listened to dylan. no one i know of for the past couple decades has listened to dylan. i'm more of the kurdt cobain set. but that's just me.

this is hard for me to swallow. there are 19 year olds there who are all bright eyed and bushy tailed. i want to see a community come from this gig, not just a bunch of anonymous people showing up to inflict our poetry on each other.

so i'm about that. i'm starting a group of the people who want to get together in between the reads and share work, etc. the guy leading isn't going to be a part because he doesn't do email.

forgive me, but i feel like saying, old guard, stand down. but i can't. i need to shut my mouth and see what God has for me to learn in this place. i guess it just caught me by surprise.

one of the cool things was, i was reading the poetry below (poorly formatted), and i saw a white-haired gentleman stop and lean into the rails as he passed by the cafe. he heard the whole poem, and wandered in and took a seat. afterward he came over and shook my hand. he is a poetry lover. it is nice to have some people there just to appreciate the work, you know? it is often such a lonely task banging out these words (while i don't mind, it is nice to see flesh and blood people and have them shake your hand).

so in my prayers this morning i read:
The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you, and still more will be given to you. To the one who has, more will be given; from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.

it really feels like the Lord is loading me up in this season. and giving me so much in terms of blessing, freedom, creativity. and it all feeds on itself. it keeps multiplying. i just want to be able to share the goods, you know?

i don't think the guy who is host will be opposed to that, but i'm trying to get people there and i guess, i'm nursing a bruised ego. i haven't had to prove myself in so long. i've finally come into my own in terms of accepting who i am. i guess that doesn't have to change, but the guy was so down. so, well, i can't make a living at the thing i love, so i just keep plugging away.

i'm so not there. usually i'll jump on the down in the dumps bandwagon, but not today man. no way. there has never been a time when i've been more ready to do what i am created to do. i just pray this guy will let me encourage him.

i reminded him of van gogh who was never famous in his life (and i think that is what gets people, not being famous), but now. now we would be the sorrier for his absence. if van gogh didn't labor in obscurity, press through the hard times, what a loss that would be to art and creativity. i've not made it all the way through his letters, but the man loved poetry. and i, for one, appreciate that. can't have too many folks who appreciate poetry.


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

poems from sunday

it seems
have passed
it rained.
the land
is parched
the rain
has come
the earth
in relief.


Dance is in my blood
My heart beats
native rhythms
My hips lead a belly dance
Feet stomp, leap, twirl
Serpentine arms
sway through the air
Undulating fingers
Hair flowing raven streams
a covering
Eyes uplifted set fast
upon my lover
Who watches
with delight.


She cannot be apart from him
too long
Or he from her.
She attacks him
When he's near
He's just begun
fighting back.
But if he lights upon
another perch
Across the room,
down the hall
She must find him
see him,
seek him out
She does not idly await
his return
But leaps out and flies
scuttling after him
Until again she is beside him
and at peace.


"They mate for life,"
my daughter said.
We have played
But as she sits now
perched outside
He inside feeding
through the bars
He feeds her
creamy curd
"They mate for life,"
my daughter said
And I hope
it's true.


He cannot escape her attention
Preening aqua feathered britches
She strikes out
He withdraws
She follows
until he preens
her head, beak
delicately nuzzling
blood feathers stirring
circling her eyes
she turns her head over
as his tiny tongue
passes each down and quill
their devotion shows.


Sometimes they fight
amidst warbling song
screeching call
Latching beaks
Thrust, Retreat
Then settle, side by side
and sleep.


He strikes at her
When she picks at his feet
She pursues him
like night follows day
He rests between the forays
no doubt, saving strength
For her love tangles.
When she has tempted him
enough, she pulls a foot
into her fluffy down
and they warble themselves
to sleep.


She will turn her head around
Tuck it gently under
diminutive wing
While He, close to sleeps
head erect--a sentinel
She sings until she sleeps
He listens, close at hand
--or wing--
The black bead of his eye
closes gently
He ensures their safety
or sounds the alarm.
While she, half-asleep
warbles her song.
He rests only when,
they are safe.


when perched by the window

outside flocks of birds
fly by, they call
out, "hey, wait for me"
then leap and flap
but cannot fly
their wings are clipped
they call out
"wait for me"
but the flock
unhearing, unseeing
passes on their
daily pilgrimage
for worm or seed
our birds retreat
to cage and feed
uncertain of why
they cannot

when the flock has passed
and silence falls
their heads together form
a single silhouette
consoling one another
in their captivity
bred and reared
indoors, apart from sun,
rain, hunger, predator
they know no freedom
of flight
the flock returns
and leaping, flap
but cannot fly
grounded seek their solace
in shared captivity.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

trapped in 3d

i've been taken out by spyware, and won't be able to blog for a while. you were probably getting tired of me anyway. so here is your chance to contemplate life without my incessant blathering.

my house is getting remarkably clean though. amazing what one will do when one cannot write at will.

Thursday, January 19, 2006


when i went to denver this year, the grace and beauty of the artists moved me deeply. seasoned artists who know who they are, they create works of power.

i've returned home to try and find my way. to try to bring something of that mountain top experience home with me. to live on the mountain in the flatlands, if possible.

i keep hearing the Lord whisper to my spirit, don't die with your mantle on. and this morning's prayer reminds me afresh:
Jonathan divested himself of the mantle he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his military dress, and his sword, his bow and his belt (1 sam 18:4).

the heir apparent of Israel did not covet the crown so much he could not lay down his mantle.

the story of elijah echoes this willingness to lay down one's authority on the shoulders of another. elijah had just seen the prophets of baal slain, was fed by ravens, heard God speak (remember the old, i alone am left line). and this is what happens next:
And the LORD said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria: And Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room. And it shall come to pass, that him that escapeth the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay: and him that escapeth from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay. Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him. So he departed thence, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth: and Elijah passed by him, and cast his mantle upon him. (1 Kings 19:15-19)

the Lord says, let me break it down for you elijah, you're not alone. you've never been alone. i've got it completely under control and here is what i want you to do. you need some company, see, and there is this kid, elisha, whom i want you to anoint in your stead. so elijah sets out and lays his mantle on elisha.

mantles don't pass from one to another without being received. this is a two part story. elisha responds:
And he left the oxen, and ran after Elijah, and said, Let me, I pray thee, kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow thee. And he said unto him, Go back again: for what have I done to thee? And he returned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the instruments of the oxen, and gave unto the people, and they did eat. Then he arose, and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him. (1 Kings 19:20-21)

let me make an offering before i go, elisha says. then feeds his family and runs off to follow elijah. it is not about taking folks, it is about giving. always about giving. we can't exhaust God's resources. we can, however, exhaust our own.

cut to second kings. we don't really hear all that much about elisha's ministry to elijah, which is fitting. but when it comes time for elijah to be carried away by the chariots of fire, he asks elisha what he has learned:

And it came to pass, when the LORD would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal. And Elijah said unto Elisha, Tarry here, I pray thee; for the LORD hath sent me to Bethel. And Elisha said unto him, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they went down to Bethel.(2 Kings 2:1-2)

elisha learned enough to know he cannot leave elijah. elisha cannot forsake his mentor. elisha's part in this whole drama may have been more of a supporting role until this point, but he knew his place well. beside elijah. (his devotion reminiscent of ruth's).

at Bethel they encounter "the sons of the prophets" who ask Elisha:
Knowest thou that the LORD will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he said, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace. (v. 3)

it was no secret what God was doing. anyone who had ears to hear could hear it, but not all were in the place to receive what elisha was in place to receive. he was the anointed man prophetically, but he would not receive the fullness of his anointing unless he watched and listened.

And Elijah said unto him, Elisha, tarry here, I pray thee; for the LORD hath sent me to Jericho. And he said, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they came to Jericho. (v. 4)

again, the persistence of elisha prevails. his devotion shows. he has learned well.

another town, same story,
the sons of the prophets that were at Jericho came to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the LORD will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he answered, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace. (v. 5)

God does not leave us guessing. He does not leave His church without a clue. that encourages me immensely.

And Elijah said unto him, Tarry, I pray thee, here; for the LORD hath sent me to Jordan. And he said, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. And they two went on. (v. 6)

three times he tried to shake elisha off. three times elisha stayed true to his calling. there is something significant there besides the number three.

it was no secret what was happening:
And fifty men of the sons of the prophets went, and stood to view afar off: and they two stood by Jordan. And Elijah took his mantle, and wrapped it together, and smote the waters, and they were divided hither and thither, so that they two went over on dry ground. (vv. 7-8)

so everyone is amazed by this, but elisha knows he must cross over too. he will not leave his mentor. i admire him for this. elijah would have ditched elisha long before bethel if possible. but elisha had orders too. to receive the blessing. to become the man. to follow in elijah's footsteps.

And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me. (v. 9)

severely tested, elisha finally gets asked THE question. what wouldst thou have of me? elisha can ask for anything. he wants more of God. i dig elisha.

And [elijah] said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so. (v. 10)

the blessing will not simply light upon elisha. he'll have to watch for it. he'll have to be present in the moment and grasp it, if you will. this challenges me more than you can imagine. i appreciate that elijah doesn't simply bequeath his "powers" if i can call it that, on elisha. but lays it down again on elisha's faithfulness. the test of elisha's readiness for a double portion is his attentiveness, his presence in the moment. powerful stuff!

so they're walking and talking, and lo! check it out:
And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. (v. 11)

you might think, how could elisha have missed THAT? but it must have been one of those spiritual eyes types of seeing. that kind of open their eyes so they can see what i see Lord. a way of looking into the heavens and the heart of God that doesn't just come to those who see the reality, the tangiblity before them (i think he must have been a poet).

And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces. (v. 12)

a personal aside. i asked for a double-portion once. i knew that meant, i had to be paying attention. before getting online to check in with my mentor i was standing at the coffee pot and heard, the chariots of fire and the horsemen thereof. i knew my mentor was leaving me. and it was true. it was a mutual parting of the ways, and i don't know that i received the double-portion i requested, but i do know i saw him carried away from me. and that is significant.

He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan; (v. 13)

he picked up the mantle. the thing that gets me about this elijah/elisha stuff is how there was mutuality. there was reciprocity. there was a holding of hands between them. they were both active participants in the passing of the mantle. one was receptive of the other's ministry (in more ways than one). this speaks to me immensely. there are so many gifted people whom i see at writers' conferences and such, and sometimes it seems like they are swarmed by so many leeches. but i think as mentees (or elishas) we have a vital role of ministry to the mentors (or elijahs). we are not just takers here. not just recipients of their great gifts. we are participants in a willing passing over of the mantle. and it all hinges upon presence. if we are present to them and they present to us, these great giftings can be passed, in double portion. from elijah to elisha.

then what?
And [elisha] took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the LORD God of Elijah? and when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over. (v. 14)

oswald chambers has a great devotion about this passage. he says, this must come. we must let our elijah go and take up the mantle and walk across the jordan. we must let the wisest and bravest of us pass on into the glories of God, so we can rise up and take our rightful place. we must rise up so that we can rightly empower the next generation with our great gifting. (ozzie didn't say all that, but i am embellishing it).

And when the sons of the prophets which were to view at Jericho saw him, they said, The spirit of Elijah doth rest on Elisha. And they came to meet him, and bowed themselves to the ground before him. (v. 15)

i'm sure it's not easy to empower someone for ministry. and the kind of impartation i'm talking about here is largely relational. but it is essential, i think. and part of the problem of so many powerless pastors, perhaps. we really do need each other in Christ. we really are part of some great, glorious unfolding. and personally, i can't wait to see who gets carried away from me in a whirlwind. or who comes after me and asks for that double portion.

real time

i hadn't been to an open mic in a year and a half at least. i can be flaky sometimes but also i had other pressing commitments. endoresed by my husband, i am back in the scene and the timing is uncanny. it feels like the Lord is lifting me from this place of darkness and isolation to be among the living once again. and i rejoice.

a phenomenal poet named damascus said a line that i had to write down. "weaving shrouds of words."

another poet, jack ritter, read a poem about pain that left me speechless. when i told him i liked it, he said, he couldn't tell how it went over. and i said, i had nothing to say and that's a good thing.

next wednesday, i start helping (if he needs my help i do not know) a poet lead an open mic at a local barnes and noble. my offical gig, where i will settle in and get comfortable and let the people see me for who i am. impeccably flawed.

last night felt like i was truly present, alive. the smiles and kindness of the other poets always astounds me. they receive me so well, and i do the best i can to return the favor.

i usually sit with my eyes closed because i can't block out the visual input. but last night i read with my head down and projected my voice. it never really has been about the performance for me, it is all about the words. if they can get my words, if they can hear my poem, that is all that matters.

performance poets really astound me though, their inflections and rhythm, their spur of the moment genius. i don't know that i could launch out like that, on faith.

the vastness and variety of the works presented there, works that are not in print and may never be, precious words each one those are the real words. the living words. the kind that knit hearts and empower artists to be who they are created to be.

i came home and realized i have to let this poetry out. i can't keep it bottled up. the last seven or so poems i've written had not been seen or heard by anyone until now. if i can't share them with my most intimate circle of poets, i can't share them with anyone. and i don't intend to bury the gift. hide the talent. that sounds so proud. but it's not. it's mere acknowledgement that yes, i know i am a poet. and what i am created to do. and by the Grace of God, i'll do it. one word, one read, one person at a time.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


why am i ever surprised that God is actually listening? it must just be my experience in this life, that the seeming important things we pine for go unnoticed. but today's prayers give me hope. and i had to laugh at how strong the counterpoint to my lament of yesterday was. it is as if God Himself had a hand in it. imagine that.

R. Blessed be the Lord, my Rock!
Blessed be the LORD, my rock,
who trains my hands for battle, my fingers for war.
R. Blessed be the Lord, my Rock!
My refuge and my fortress,
my stronghold, my deliverer,
My shield, in whom I trust,
who subdues my people under me.
R. Blessed be the Lord, my Rock!
O God, I will sing a new song to you;
with a ten-stringed lyre I will chant your praise,
You who give victory to kings,
and deliver David, your servant from the evil sword.
R. Blessed be the Lord, my Rock!

He teaches my hands to war. did you see saving private ryan? that storming the beaches of normandie scene was really where my head was at yesterday. the deluge of bullets, the ravages of the enemy's ferocity had me pinned.

suddenly today, i'm in the tower, perched on high. echoing that young warrior,
Blessed be the LORD, my rock, who trains my hands for battle, my fingers for war.

all is not yet rosy. nor do i expect it to be. but reading about david facing goliath i am once again encouraged.

When Eliab, [David's] oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he grew angry with David and said: "Why did you come down? With whom have you left those sheep in the desert meanwhile? I know your arrogance and your evil intent. You came down to enjoy the battle!" David replied, "What have I done now?--I was only talking." Yet he turned from him to another and asked the same question; and everyone gave him the same answer as before. (1 sam 17:28-30)

David had all ready been anointed king of Israel, in the very sight of his brother Eliab. Yet Eliab renders a blow of judgment saying, i know your evil intent.

yeah, whatever. how many times i've been thrown off course by the judgment of others. how many times i have walked away and said, you're right. but not david. he turned to another, because from the purity of his heart he knew his brother spoke amiss. david knew, as he knew God, what had to be done and would not be dissuaded.

the passage continues:

Then Saul clothed David in his own tunic, putting a bronze helmet on his head and arming him with a coat of mail. David also girded himself with Saul's sword over the tunic. He walked with difficulty, however, since he had never tried armor before. He said to Saul, "I cannot go in these, because I have never tried them before." So he took them off. (vv. 38-39)

the thing that gets me most about this passage is david's defiance of men's wisdom. God had kept david safe every time in the past, so sure was his confidence in God, that he could abandon himself to God's protection. even when men provide a proven way of protection, david did not go out to battle with a sling forever, there was a time to take up rightful armour, but there is a time to walk in the protection of God. exercising a cross and a switchblade faith.

henri nouwen talks about the movement from hostility to hospitality in his book, reaching out. this passage reminds me of henri's words which essentially say, we live in a state of lockdown. uncertain of our neighbors. fearful of strangers. not trusting in God. this word encourages me immensely. henri says we need to return to davidic trust in God for our protection.

first the lion and bear, then goliath. God is not asking you today to kill goliath unless you have gone through the preparation of the lion and the bear. the years of desert training. the preparation in the wilderness. then, when it is time for your goliath, you will return as Jesus did, imbued with power.

david says:
"You come against me with sword and spear and scimitar, but I come against you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel that you have insulted. Today the LORD shall deliver you into my hand; I will strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will leave your corpse and the corpses of the Philistine army for the birds of the air and the beasts of the field; thus the whole land shall learn that Israel has a God. All this multitude, too, shall learn that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves. For the battle is the LORD'S, and he shall deliver you into our hands."
The Philistine then moved to meet David at close quarters, while David ran quickly toward the battle line in the direction of the Philistine. (vv.45-48)

remember, everyone was wraught with fear. the whole army of israel were hiding like a bunch of girls in their tents. david was the only one who had the trust in God to stand before the enemy who was defiling His Holy Name.

it says that goliath moved toward david, but david ran toward goliath.

run out and meet your foe. the Lord will be with you. His hand mighty to uphold you. this word encourages me like you can't imagine.

The king of Israel asks the general of the armies of Israel when
"Saul saw David go out to meet the Philistine, [Saul] asked his general Abner, "Abner, whose son is that youth?" Abner replied, "As truly as your majesty is alive, I have no idea."

obscurity. i had to look back and ask where and why i got on this obscurity track. and it is something Richard Foster wrote, "become comfortable in obscurity." couple that with merton who says, "all work done properly is prayer." and while i'm not slaying any goliaths today, perhaps i'm about the work of the lion and the bear. i'm being trained in the ways of warfare by God All Mighty Himself.

i leave you with this, when Jesus was doing his thang, his family didn't even get it. so my guess is, ours won't either. even those closest to us as times will wonder.
When [Jesus'] relatives heard of this they set out to seize him, for they said, "He is out of his mind." Mark 3:21

but remember, He is faithful to complete that which He began in you.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


it seems my heart has been a trojan horse to me. inward betrayer. and i can't get the tiny hordes of greeks out of my sacred places.

that has been my greatest dilemma of late, fashioning a line of demarcation. establishing a wall. sealing the garden. i've been pummeled by grenades chucked over my defenses, or perhaps i unwittingly walked out into the battlefield and left the gate wide open. the ensuing chaos is all resultant of my own carelessness.

the phrase i keep hearing is belljar. like i am encased in glass with my own swarm of locusts. my own personal scourge.

so i picked up st. john last night, i hadn't read him for a great while. i've had others preempt my time with him because of return dates at the library. but last night, i read through his entire first book and found comfort there.

he writes:

A moth is not helped much by its eyes because, blinded in its desire for the beauty of light, it will fly directly into a bonfire. Those who feed on their appetites are like a fish dazzled by a light that so darkens it that the fisherman's snares cannot be seen. David describes this blindness well: Supercecidit ignis, et non viderunt solem (fire, that gives off heat and dazzles by its light, came upon them) [Ps. 58:8-9]. The appetites cause this in the soul: They enkindle concupiscence and overwhelm the intellect so that it cannot see its light. The reason is that a new light set directly in front of the visual faculty blinds this faculty so that it fails to see the light farther away. And since the appetite is so close to individuals as to be actually within them, they are impeded by this interior light, feed upon it, and are unable to see the clear light of the intellect; nor will they see it until the extinguish this blinding light of their appetite.

he's got my number. he knows my name. he read my mail. i am blinded. when i breezed through this book before, i was unaffected then because i did not see my blindness as i see it now. as i grope in utter darkness, i know i'm blind. i could read this work and be unfazed by his words because i was unsullied, or so i thought. but not so any longer.

what then is the remedy? the only one i can come up with is honesty. standing before God, my husband, my friends in utter and complete honesty and forcing myself to mortify my appetites. starve them and they die (my praphrase of the line in a beautiful mind).

bask in the presence of God and allow him to drive out the minions.

yes, that is the remedy.

Monday, January 16, 2006


what i wouldn't give for a little peace. the deep abiding kind. the kind that centers and grounds. the kind that seems to elude me at times.

i've been trying to meditate, to deeply center myself in God. and the ruckus that goes on in my head is not unlike a train blowing by at a crossing. julian of norwich has a phrase that i've adapted to meet the keating/finley's five syllable requirement. julian's phrase is: the fiend has been overcome. my adaptation is, the fiend's overcome.

sometimes i'm the fiend. sometimes it is the enemy. sometimes the world. but always, there is a fiend in need of overcoming.

keating says that if you pray this phrase (or whatever phrase you choose), it will become a prayer that prays itself. i've been sporadic about praying it at best which may be why the phrase does little to settle me.

if i've learned anything, i've learned meditation is no different than the daily walk. that which looks least beneficial is often incomprehensibly valuable. so i press through meditation and try to try.

meditation has been called, divine therapy. and i am grateful for the divine Shrink. with the aid of many counsellors, i am finding the only thing i can do is keep drawing closer to the divine Shrink. and let Him change my heart. settle my mind.

the hymn just as i am (which even now my daughter is playing in the other room) has a line that talks about healing of the mind. i play that song often, all the verses, as my melodic prayer.

sometimes when we lose our way in prayer, as i have, it helps to just surrender my heart. to sit and weep, exercising julian's gift of tears.

i hadn't meant to sound sad today, it's not that i am sad. it's that i want to be a better wife and mom. i want to make my life a prayer and offering to God. but sometimes it just looks like the offering i bring is mostly rotten.

do i still bring it? drag myself, as it were, to the altar praying something is better than nothing? yes. i do. because this is me. in my grandeur and glory. if i wait to heal up before seeing the Physician, i have missed the greatest of Gospel messages. He did not come for the healthy, but for the sick.

and sometimes, i have to lay down my pride and admit, that i am one of them. and am much in need of the Great Physician.

Sunday, January 15, 2006


i like samuel very much, after david, he is probably one of my next favorite characters. right up there with paul and peter. over the past week, i came across this passage:
Samuel was sleeping in the temple of the LORD where the ark of God was. 1 sam 3:3

samuel was unfamiliar with God, as "the Lord had not revealed anything to Him yet." but samuel was comfortable in God's presence. he made his bed and lay down to sleep in God's presence. the ark of the covenant was the tangible presence of God, the habitation back then. but now, that ark is us. we are the dwelling place of the Most High. so in a sense, we all lay down and sleep in the presence of the Lord. i find this passage deeply insightful that while samuel, who was later to become the man prophetically, was young he was not familiar with God. God must reveal Himself or we are forever estranged. watching bruce almighty last night reminded me of the simple struggle for us to love God. to simply love Him.

i have so many times thought, but God, why this, or why that? and then i read this passage:
Why not rather put up with injustice? Why not rather let yourselves be cheated? 1 cor 6:18
this is so wildly unamerican, so vastly backward, so downwardly mobile. we have rights and we fight for them. but i believe the Lord is calling us to lay it all down. to trust. to rest in His provision. let yourselves be cheated. HELLO? we're the chosen. the holy. the children of God. what about the whole enlarge my territory thing? aren't i supposed to get more and be more and do more? but You're saying, put up with injustice? madness. the madness of God. welcome to the upside down kingdom. the place where the right choice is often guised as the wrong. and the high road, terribly low. the way of pain. the road of nothingness. there is no path to greatness or fame for the christian from my reading of the Word. it is the hidden foolishness of the world which God uses. and the anonymous book i read recently, the cloud of unknowing, the book which cannot be attributed to any one person strikes me as indicative of this kind of faith. is our greatness going to cost our hiddenness in God? can the two co-exist? greatness and obscurity? i just don't know.

i think about this a lot as a writer. whom can i trust? who isn't in it just to make a quick buck at the cost of the message? sometimes i wonder if i don't sacrifice the message. every time it comes to publishing i retreat, i say, no, i can't. it is not a control thing as much as it is a confidence thing. these words soothe me:
But Jesus would not trust himself to them because he knew them all, and did not need anyone to testify about human nature. He himself understood it well. john 2:24-25

they wanted to promote Jesus (like He needed their help). but He knew the Father had a plan. i want to live in that kind of yieldedness. even when i have awesome opportunities and friends who will help me to get there, i can't fashion my own liberation or that is no liberation. i must trust in God. it is such a difficult question because one could think, if you are being exalted, it could be God lifting you up. but it is so individual. it is such a tender thing. allowing something to be born in season (or borne in season). i've had too many spiritual miscarriages. i want the next child of promise to live. to be as samuel was, yielded entierly to the presence of God. don't let me become eli, deaf, dumb, and blind to the Presence. but let me become david and know the Heart of God. even when i do not please Him, let me repent quickly and receive His forgiveness.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Who is this?

Mark 3:23 As he was passing through a field of grain on the sabbath, his disciples began to make a path while picking the heads of grain.
24 At this the Pharisees said to him, "Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?"
25 He said to them, "Have you never read what David did when he was in need and he and his companions were hungry?
26 How he went into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest and ate the bread of offering that only the priests could lawfully eat, and shared it with his companions?"
27 Then he said to them, "The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.
28 That is why the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath."

i have been asking and hear people around me asking, Who is this God we serve? how do we not offer strange fire? when do we know when we can eat the shewbread as david did? when can we approach and grab the horns of the altar and be safe? is there safety in the presence of God, won't His holiness just obliterate any trace of our being? hard questions, all. i do not have the answers.

but i find my safety in this. He knows you. He knows me. that is sufficient. i attempt to live my life so completely yielded (not perfectly, i could never do that), but so willing to forego my own agenda that the Lord God All Mighty can be the King. i do not need or want kingship. i do not desire to be in charge any longer. i'm fond of saying, He makes all the deposits, i make all the withdrawals. because it is so true. i bring nothing to the equation, i recieve all from the equation.

i wrote recently that i use God as a crutch. but not merely a crutch, he is the stretcher, the gurney, the ambulance, the emt, everything. He is the only reason breath fills my lungs and i am still a pulsing, thinking, reasoning (on occassion) being. and i am grateful for His infinite patience.

i say the wrong things, i do the wrong things, i act impulsively. the other morning i was standing in my bathroom looking at myself in the mirror. (we're not huge on mirrors, but this is the only one that is actually on a wall and it is massive). i'm standing there seeing my wrinkles, greying hair, knowing the stuff i am made of and saying, i am so horribly flawed. but then at just that instant the thought that followed hard after was, but i am fully loved.

i left that moment relishing life. cherishing God's great love for me. i have never walked in this place of utter awareness of both my lack and gain, my faults and merits (or God's rather, as i've mentioned above).

i was thinking and maybe someday this will congeal into a poem, in response to something a friend wrote:

we are all
blessed and cursed
whole and broken
empty and full
dark and light
we are all

the great paradoxes comfort me more than you can imagine. i cannot embrace a simple yes anymore. it has to be, yes and no. i cannot abide a simple no anymore, it has to be both. i know this flies in the face of let your yes be yes, but it is not getting around that. i am not speaking of paradox as it pertains to integrity (although i am sure someday i will). i am speaking of paradox as it pertains to life and the mysteries of God.

i am comforted greatly by honesty. by truth. even, and especially the hard, painful truths because i know those to be really true. many times when it is all joyous sweet, i know in those moments, this too shall pass (and it always does). but the hard stuff, i often feel is more the stuff that is present to us. ours to keep. flawed as that reasoning may be, it has been my experience. but henri nouwen takes it a step further and says, don't be surprised by the suffering, we'll all suffer. be surprised by joy. i must put the whole quote here and let you read it for yourself. i do feel the time of Peter is coming and we will have to abandon ourselves to the will of God. but do you know Him well enough to know it? well enough to know His will, even though it be a road laden with sadness?

let henri send you off today. blessings. suz.

From Finding My Way Home by Henri Nouwen

The third discipline is the hardest one. It is the discipline to be surprised not by suffering but by joy. As we grow old, we will have to stretch out our arms, be guided and led to places we would rather not go. What was true for
Peter will be true for us. There is suffering ahead of us, immense suffering, a
suffering that will continue to tempt us to think we have chosen the wrong road
and that others were more shrewd than we were. But don't be surprised by pain.
Be surprised by joy, be surprised by the little flower that shows its beauty in
the midst of a barren desert, and be surprised by the immense healing power that keeps bursting forth like springs of fresh water from the depth of our pain. And
so, with an eye focused on the poor, a heart trusting that we will get what we
need, and a spirit always surprised by joy, we will exercise true power and walk
through this valley of darkness performing and witnessing miracles. God becomes
ours and goes out from us wherever we go and to whomever we meet. ... But when we dare to let go ... empty our hands, and raise them up to the One who is our true refuge and our true stronghold, our poverty opens us to receive power from above, power that heals, power that will be a true blessing for ourselves and our world.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

chick magnet

my husband is a chick magnet. all women swoon at his appearing. some men are smitten by him too which i still find, well, weird.

we've been talking lately about how we met. so oblige me, please. i was descending the staircase at the southwest indian museum in california, and he was ascending. i caught a glimpse of him out of the corner of my eye and the bells and whistles went off. again, he's a chick magnet.

but the thing that really got me about him is, he offered everyone drinks as we were standing around talking. it was the grand opening of the APACHE! exhibit, and his family had contributed a great many of the artifacts and current photos of ceremonies and stuff.

danny was accompanying his aunt to the event, and i had known of her, and knew her son from having been on the powwow circuit with/around them for the past year. i knew danny's cousin best, because he was a gourd dancer and i love gourd dance. i even own a gourd shawl, i was taught by a kiowa woman so my kiowan liberties get me in trouble now that she is not beside me dancing. but that is a whole nother story.

anyway, back to my story, we met and married in the space of three months. i've never been much for preliminaries and when he asked me to elope, i should have just gone for it, but i didn't. for that, i am sorry. it would have been very in character for me.

we're going on our eleventh year this year. our girl, who didn't look at the camera (why does someone always have to have their eyes shut, or be looking away, or whatever? maddening) is our joy. this photo proves i'm not totally anti-social. recently at a wedding, danny forgot to introduce me to his friend because he's so used to being unaccompanied by me. look at it this way, i homeschool, i stay home, i got to have some time alone folks. i opted out of thanksgiving this year and stayed at home, blessedly alone. i read, watered the garden (or what's left of it), and just meandered through the house in my pjs (my favorite things to do).

once when we had just been married probably six months we went to a restaurant with some friends. a white woman walked up, sat at the table beside us (there happened to be an empty chair) and starts flirting with my husband. my husband's friend's wife leaned over and said, is she dumb or just stupid? i said, whatever.

after ten years, i know what the women are going to say, here are the top three:
1. are you an indian? (first of all, he hates to be called that. recently i was asked, is he an indian or somethin'? in texas twang. i said, or somethin').
2. i love your hair (ugh, so obvious. c'mon ladies, get creative, think of something original or at least interesting).
3. my grandmother was a cherokee princess (okay, everyone says that, but puhleeze. if this is true about your family, let me break it down for you, no one believes it!)

he is a chick magnet. i know this. i live with it. and i love him.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


i can't say i found any pennies yesterday, but i did find my friends alive and well and that is more than i could have asked or imagined.

this morning i am greeted by the words of a dear friend, returning the kind compliment, calling me friend. i cannot tell you what an honor it is to be a friend to someone. truly. people use that word as if it were mere interjection, well, um. you're standing here. friend.

no. let's return to the sacredness of being friend.

i heard somewhere that there is a movement for covenant marriage. so people will actually make a covenant marriage to stay committed to one another. duh. that is what marriage means. so basically it is a marriage. marriage is a covenant before God whether you deem it such or not.

i feel the same way about friendship. i have learned that there are those who simply don't have it to give. for those, i reserve my christian love but not my friendship. i cannot have a one way friendship, it is simply not possible. it is a holding of hands, a mutuality. which very much reminds me of a word i need to write down, something i believe the Lord whispering to my spirit.

friendship is a commitment. a challenge. a living entity unto itself. a force to be reckoned with. it is not a trifle or a passing fancy. i do not call everyone my friend, and wish only those who truly think me their friend would reserve the word for use on me. for it is a calling forth, a stirring up the gift, a mandate to me.

i wrote to a friend recently that i was finding joy this year. but it has only been six days. God can do a lot in six days, i said. realizing how massively true that word is. today is the second sixth day of this season for me.

things have not settled down in terms of the chaos of life, but i have peace. friends. companions on the way. and i am grateful beyond words. i am grateful.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


being in need sucks. needing to be published. needing to be read. needing friends to keep me emotionally sound. need. i have so many of them. more than i can name or count. more than i can even acknowledge. i thought the days of need were long gone. the way of diapers and bottles. ages ago. but i find myself still scanning the horizon for a friendly smile. checking email for a friendly word.

got in a fender bender today. i just couldn't avoid it. seems i need to call the insurance guy now. being in need sucks. but i said that all ready.

i would like to abandon my needs like so many broken down cars on the side of the road, hauled off to those scrap yards where bolts are half pressed into the ground. scavengers pouring over metallic carcassas to give life to something from something irredeemable.

i guess that is it, i've just felt like a wreck for a while now. but at the same time, there is this acceptance of the need. of the wretchedness of who i am. of who i am not. i'm still not patient, i'm occassionally kind. somedays i curse like a sailor and am not pleasant to be around (what a surprise).

but that is just part of the package. we can't all be perfect. in fact none of us are. we're just messed up folks who hope our clothes match (and for me, sometimes not even that), and that we can get through yet another round of church socials with a plastered on smile.

the thing is, church hasn't been it for me for a very long time. but i need the church. i need fellowship. i fear the intimacy of it though sometimes. people are messy. they need, and i'm too wrapped up in my need to be needed. but i need to change that. so i go to church and find i need a shoulder to cry on. a friendly hug, and a listening ear.

we went to a funeral recently and i was perfectly unhelpful. i sat on the front porch reading the cloud of unknowing. when i apologized for how little i actually helped meet the needs of our dear family we were visiting, the response i got was, you helped us with our hearts.

i could have wept. that may be all i'm good for some days. if you've got heart trouble, i'm your gal. i've got heart trouble too. i need you like you need me. sometimes i guess it doesn't suck so bad, being in need.

on being loved.

what can i say that you haven't already heard. maybe already isn't a word? all ready is the proper usage, but we cut everything down, chop it up out of laziness. i'm that way too.

i have tons of stuff to do today, so i'll be brief. i'm looking for joy. finding joy. wanting to be a joy to others. sometimes all those things just don't coincide. sometimes they just bounce off each other like marbles.

what was a joy one moment can be a mess the next. then was it truly joy? i don't know the answer to that question. i just don't. j.mark's hughes spoke with me yesterday and i'll be posting it on ma tomorrow.

the strange thing is, the strange thing always is, i read the word for word rendering of my thoughts in henri nouwen last night. be present. love the people in your life. let them love you. the moment is where it's at.

we're a distracted people. we want to be apart from pain, discomfort, uncertainty. i've been cranking my radio station directly into my brain so i didn't have to think. it works a bit. it takes the edge off.

one line from a p.o.d. song "goodbye for now" rings truest, i found the whole song online, here are the lyrix:
I can still see the light at the end of the tunnel shine
through the dark times even when I lose my mind
But it feels like no one in the world is listening
and I can't ever seem to make the right decisions
I walk around in the same haze
I'm still caught in my same ways
I'm losing time in these strange days
but somehow I always know the right things to say

I don't know what time it is
or who is the one to blame for this
Do what I believe what I can't see
And how do you know which way the wind blows
Cause I can feel it all around
I'm lost between the sound
And just when I think I know, there she goes

Goodbye for now
Goodbye for now
So long
Goodbye for now (I'm no the type to say "I told you so")
Goodbye for now
So long (I think the hardest part of holdin on is lettin' it go)
When will we sing a new song
A new song

We’re still smilin' as the day goes by
and how come nobody ever knows the reasons why
Bury you deep so far you can't see
If you're like me who wears a broken heart on your sleeve
Pains is troubles that you know so well
Either time don't
It can't or you just won't tell
I'm not the type to say "I told you so"
I think the hardest part of holding on is lettin' it go

I don't know what time it is
or who is the one to blame for this
Do what I believe what I can't see
And how do you know which way the wind blows
Cause I can feel it all around
I'm lost between the sound
And just when I think I know there she goes

Goodbye for now
Goodbye for now
So long
Goodbye for now (I'm no the type to say "I told you so")
Goodbye for now
So long (I think the hardest part of holdin on is lettin it go)
When will we sing a new song
A new song
When will we sing a new song
A new song

And you can sing until there's no song left (song left)
And I can scream until the world goes deaf (goes deaf)
For every other word left unsaid
You should have took the time to read the sign and see what it meant
In some ways everybody feels alone
So if the burden is mine then I can carry my own
If joy really comes in the morning time
then I'm gonna sit back and wait until the next sunrise

Goodbye for now
Goodbye for now
So long
Goodbye for now (I'm no the type to say "I told you so")
Goodbye for now
So long (I think the hardest part of holdin on is lettin it go)
When will we sing a new song
A new song
When will we sing a new song
A new song
this speaks my heart, precisely.

last night i had to battle in silence. i kept calling on the Lord to move. to reveal whatever the purpose of these dilemmas are. people are and always have been my greatest treasure in life. perhaps too much. i value them more than money and life itself. to know one is loved and to be loved is the greatest gift we can give each other. but sometimes i just don't know how to love aright. or be loved aright. and those are the times joy eludes me.

the day marches on and i've got to catch up. but my heart is flesh and aches. perhaps i'll find joy today. i'll definately search for it.

Monday, January 09, 2006

my beloved

Is 12:2-3, 4bcd, 5-6

R. You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.
God indeed is my savior;
I am confident and unafraid.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
and he has been my savior.
With joy you will draw water
at the fountain of salvation.
R. You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.

it seems my beloved is leaving me tokens of joy. four of them i found yesterday and realized he was studding my path with them.

did you leave these for me?


it has always been thus, i have just not seen it. no he does not write poetry or wax romantic (although lately he has been able to stomach a romantic comedy or two! he tells me it is all make believe. i replied, so is that kill 'em stuff you like. it is all pretend, what's the difference?).

our girl budgie (orchid, right), or whom we like to think is a girl, is our resident mae west. she swings and sings. i'm not sure if she is demon, angel, siren, saint, or some combination of them all. perhaps even God himself reminding us to worship. she delights me though. her songs fill our home with joy. and that is a welcome addition. while i would prefer she didn't wratchet up the songs when my husband came home (she'll sing until midnight if we let her, even if we send her to bed she will sing and sing and sing).

she probably has much to teach me. i have forgotten how to sing those sweet songs to my beloved. so entangled in the dailyness of life that i just get plain old distracted. but that too is changing. as i see him lay himself down for me, i am moved to tears. i am learning not only to give him love, but also to recieve. for he is my beloved and always will be.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

death shroud vii.

i could almost hear the apostles scoffing at mary. saying, stay away from this Righteous One. there is no place for you here, be gone. i could feel her rejection as she left. i could see the pain in her eyes. they could not comprehend how she needed Him. and He needed her. they were not prepared to send Him properly to death. they could not have heard it if He asked directly. she was listening though she could not get close enough to speak a word. she was listening. and when the time had come, she found the way where there is no way. she broke through their defenses and made her worship known. and He received her. and honors her still.

away be gone
the memory
as the pain
of Your

they would
not let me
touch You
nor speak
a word

they kept me
from You
until i
stole in

while they
feasted and
vial cupped
in mine hand

at Your feet
i brake my
poured it
all out
for You

and wept
and worshipped
where they
could not keep me
any longer

i wept over you
as i weep over you

they cannot keep
me from You
my Lover
my Friend
my Lord

one penny more

yesterday was tough, but the peddeling of so many sugar laced treats to unsuspecting residents of local towns went well. my husband gave me a radio, so i was able to listen to some music during the long hours of our walking door to door. but i am tired today and have an unwelcome visitor whom i had not wanted to see for some months. i understand how restless sarah got when she was promised a child. i've no such promise, but the restlessness is the same. i tallied it up today, 96 months i've had my hopes dashed waiting for the next arrow to fill my quiver. the next gift from God. but i must content myself with one child of promise. so bright and beautiful she is. i must be grateful. so today, she is my joy and my delight. she is my hope fulfilled. i will not fashion a heir of promise, but will continue to wait. though months pass and i grow weary. though we have no resources to handle the blessing anyway (that has been my saving grace these last four years, if you can call financial struggles a saving grace. it assuaged my grief that we did not have to have the finances to raise another child, merely our singleton. our beautiful singleton. she was and is enough.).

joy. i brought home a stack of books yesterday and i'm finding merton a peculiar comfort again. and the words, "fruits of contemplation" were in the intro by some buddist who also used the words flowers in conjunction with that phrase. i find these crumbs upon my path a comfort. that all my theories and ideas are not so far fetched after all. that God is still, in fact, speaking to me.

i am coming to understand that shadows give depth. annie dillard talks of how some people who were born unsighted, got surgery and could see. but they saw in a flat plane. they walked by flats of color and could not perceive depth. such an interesting thought. some of them wanted to return to the unseeing world, so perplexing was the innundation of light and sight to them. i understand that longing. i sometimes want to go back to the unseeing world. to sitting bound before a wall with the lights and shadows of reflected fire at my back being the only reality. life, it seems, is a wonderful quagmire of trust and faith. only the brave dare truly live. i'm not quite sure if i'm one of them yet. but the thought of going back to the unseeing world, while a familiar comfort, is not one i can justify. or even contemplate long. we poets cannot live without depth perception. we must see beyond the flats of colour that surround our lives, and embrace the shadows of darkness that create life's depth.

may i see today with open eyes and a heart willing to love, and be loved. may i trust again with the faith of my little child, that it all works out well in the end. (how? it is a mystery). i pray the same for you.

Saturday, January 07, 2006


three pennies more i found. and noticed in the heading of blog it says, "richly penniless" suppose i'll have to change that now. i'm packin' eleven pennies. i've started a collection to see with my eyes what i find this year. pennies have become my tangible symbols of joy.

i neglected to mention in yesterday's post that my girl rescued a diminutive cricket. so small it looked to me like a grain of pepper. she kept going, aww. but i could only think, he's cute now. but in a few months, you'll be lunging for that cricket and hear the crunch of his tiny exoskeleton and lift thy foot simultaneously leaking an ewww, as you see the assorted legs and white creamy entrails of said cricket on your shoe. he's cute now. just give him a few months.

i think the woodpecker and God are conspiring to keep me out doors. the woodpecker says to God, hide me when she comes. and God does. i can't find the woodpecker anywhere. but i am noisy. so i send my little apache out and watch the woodpecker circle behind the tree and turn his curious eye in her direction to see if she is coming. he gets away faster than she can apprehend him. we kept this up all day yesterday. the oaks look like they are bleeding. their interior bark is red. i'm not sure if they'll survive this encounter.

i'm out of sorts again. so long i'd prayed for poets, that now when i speak with them and we write poetry and it is all intermingled and overwhelming joyous, i hardly know what to do. it is too good. i guess it is the goodness that gets me. i'm not used to it. i'm not used to such gracious people, such wondrous company. i'm not used to it at all. but here it is. and they are creating works that bless my soul. my work is improving by being around them.

in julia cameron's artist's way, i had read about the master painters of old and she asked, what did they do? they painted each other. at lunch. at play. their masterpieces were living portraits of their community.

while there is no one to really say that about our poetry circle, it does feel that way to me. there are works being created even now which astound me. the lining up of so many letters and crafting phrases and honing imagery with such power that i am often left undone.

it is not only the sincerity of the work, it is that these are my people. this is my tribe. my clan. my kinsmen. i guess that is the scariest part. i have looked so long for my inklings and here they are. i just hadn't known i would be so awestruck when they arrived. i hadn't realized i would be so indebted to their collective brilliance.

art is a living thing. poetry is a craft of emotion and precision. i've always heard of the assumed persona for poetry and perhaps if i did write that way it would be less grueling emotionally for me. but i don't. i don't know how.

so either this is the right way for me to be, or i've got it all completely wrong. i keep going with the former because the latter devalues everything i have come to understand as being who i am. i cannot let go of what i have fought so hard to realize. for better or worse, i am a poet. for right or wrong, i reckon with poets as living breathing beings. may the blessing of God be on our work and in our fellowship, so sweet it is.

if you could only read the words i read. you'd understand. i cannot convey how gifted these poets are, perhaps someday the world will realize it. and i will have had a moment in their bright company. they are my inklings and i bless God for them.

Friday, January 06, 2006

9 pennies later

so my quest continues. finding joy. yesterday my large (over 16 pounds) striated cat stretched out across my lap and resorted to kittenhood. mewing and kneading my various parts with her well developed claws. fortunately i had a sweatshirt on.

i had to sit very still for a very long time for her to remain with me, stretched and sharing the warmth of our body heat, basking in the sun. my daughter hitting tennis balls against the house. it is amazing what "hurts" kids. sometimes i just have to say, c'mon. she got clobbered (and not even in the nose like my sister did once at a softball game, or the time i made her into a unicorn with a meat thermometer, it was sticking out of her forehead. i was mean. i also slammed a wrought iron gate which she intercepted with her forehead, just before the insertion of said meat thermometer if i remember. yes, we survived childhood. and my sister was and is a trooper. none of this, "ouch" for being hit by bouncing tennis balls. so it is hard for me to take my daughter's complaints seriously. i know what it is to hurt, and how well it can be handled...i better call my sister, i'm feeling pangs of remorse) by a bouncing tennis ball. pleeease!

anyway, i sent her away to jump on the trampoline, a requisite, hundred times before returning. and when she did, you'd have thought the girl struck paydirt. she produces the deadest twig in the yard and pronounces it a salvageable bush. but having read about budding rods, i'm not going to doubt the child. she may have a prophetic unction i know nothing about. (see, i have moments of kindness.)

she proceeds to produce a container, very small. and plants the twig.

i am reading annie dillard out loud, and enjoying the warmth of my sleeping cat (when they turn their head over and expose their belly in your lap, it's pretty cool to have that kind of trust from a relatively wild animal. i had just cleaned up the leftovers of one cute and fuzzy bunny. discovering a new definition of cute. if your head can be chopped off and you're still "cute" that is pretty darn cute.)

into the workshop my child goes, producing another, larger vessel for her "plant" (or weed as her dad calls it).

she proceeds to plant and water this twig. i keep reading aloud. the cat kneading in her sleep.

after about a minute, my girl says,
look it's greening.

wow, i say. and continue reading.

the cat departs, the bush comes inside, gets watered. and now resides in her room. i'm still counting pennies, i'm a rich woman.

Thursday, January 05, 2006


i've finally picked up pilgrim at tinker creek. i started reading chapter two and it is titled "seeing" and i thought of you. have you read it?

she talks of how she used to hide pennies at the base of trees and draw big chalk arrows saying, money this way, free gift. then off she'd go. she would forget about it until moved to hide another penny.

she writes:
It is dire poverty indeed when a man is so malnourished and fatigued that he won't stoop to pick up a penny. But if you cultivate a healthy poverty and simplicity, so that finding a penny will literally make your day, then, since the world is in fact planted in pennies, you have with your poverty bought a lifetime of days. It is that simple. What you see is what you get.

she continues later describing some of natures gifts and how ultimately nature's "bright coppers" are everywhere if we only look.

i sat down at this desk and there were six pennies. i searched out the seventh, knowing God is into that sort of thing, and i just had to lift up two slight obstacles and there it was, waiting to be found.

there is a woodpecker who has come to visit lately. he is particularly fond of the young oak trees in our front yard. our home is built on land once cleared for farming. it was a cotton field when we moved onto it.

being an urban creature, i seldom get out of doors. it is part of my warp and woof, nothing can be done about it. but i realized today that i often watch through windows for God to invade my indoors.

the woodpecker has ringed each oak tree and gotten through to the tender bark inside. i have no idea if this will kill the trees. my husband says the woodpecker is searching for bugs. i opt for a wait and see approach.

this morning, he was back, rhythmically moving around the tree seeking whatever delights he finds there. my daughter chased him away. but i was glad to see him. glad he interrupted my day and made me remember to go outside and contemplate things other than the four walls i happen to inhabit.

gotta run. may you find nature's coppers this day dear soul.

give me joy

sometimes the Lord has to intervene. there is just no other way. this morning is one of those times. i'm particularly overwrought, though less than yesterday. and this is part of my morning prayer:

R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
serve the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful song.
R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
Know that the LORD is God;
he made us, his we are;
his people, the flock he tends.
R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
his courts with praise;
Give thanks to him; bless his name.
R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
The LORD is good:
the LORD, whose kindness endures forever,
and his faithfulness, to all generations.
R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.

so the question then becomes, will i receive it?

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

finding joy.i

much of my day is comprised of reading. contemplating. cleaning. my daughter is being nurtured in silence. she is learning to hear the voice of God for herself through the complexities of silence.

keating says,
God's first language is silence.

since bringing home our little budgies, i have noticed how much they fill our home with a happy banter a warbling song of delight. it moves my thoughts from whatever i'm pondering to contemplate their praises.

i try to enter in sometimes, to whistle my worship. but it is a lumbering speech i've not yet perfected. i let them lead me, a child in these regards, to the Father.

when my husband comes home, the girl perks up, orchid is her name. she coos and sings and delights in his presence. showing me up, as usual.

your girlfriend is glad to see you,
i mutter.

my husband coos like a dove. (literally. he was a dove hunter sometime past.)

she replies, and their banter begins. an eloquent language i can only listen in on but cannot speak.

i watch them, the budgies, and her silent partner sits. i ask,
why doesn't he speak?
my husband replies,
she speaks enough for both of them.

and i understand.

we cannot all be speakers. some must listen. some must worship in silence. some must be still.

but there will come a day when we will all cry out in song and praise. in dance and delight. we will all together worship.

the glimmer of unfading joy, delights me.

Monday, January 02, 2006


sometimes i wish the words of God would just bounce off me like so many racketballs flying by, but then i don't really. don potter warns, don't pray talk to me God. because then you are stuck with what to do with what He says.

yes, that's it.

i've had resolution anxiety because last year's nigh unbeatable rez was able to be kept (laugh more). this year, i was baffled about how to carry on something like a rez that means something. so i punted it up to God and waited for the return.

it came new year's day. i awoke with the words joy and embrace and ultimately find circulating through my brain. so i listened. i lay there and listened to let the words firm up and tell me what they wanted to say. they said clearly, find joy.

i knew that was it. this year is about me finding joy. holding it close to and not turning from it even when i want to. not that i enjoy being joyless, but it is kind of a rut that pulls your tires in and you keep driving in that groove. yes, i've been stuck in a dark groove for a long time. time to let that go and move on. toward joy.

it strikes me that the Lord didn't leave it at embrace joy, which is what i thought it was at first. because i got that word after about a year of grieving for my grams. when she died, i mourned unihibited. i grieved the loss of a precious soul. a friend. a prayer warrior. i grieved the loss of a life essentially. perhaps mostly mine. my strength seemed suddenly undermined, and i was left danging without the mighty prayer covering i once (unwittingly) relied upon.

but i have since come to realize, she hasn't stopped praying. she is just doing it face to face. over a cup of joe. she is laughing and dancing, and cooking. doing all the wonderful things she did so well here, just without pain and grief. which she knew well enough in her years here.

it took her dying for me to understand the grief she held close to. never letting the children know, but always managing to give an encouraging word and the comfort of her presence. yes, i miss her even now.

so embrace joy came to me when i was in the throes of grief and now, a different kind of grief has beset me. i have come to understand that i may never be free of these things, but i can find joy in the midst of the trials. i can find joy and search for it, then hold it close to.

i admit, it is kind of a scary word for me, because i've seen joy equated so closely with happiness that i fear i will have to fake it. that i will have to surrender honesty and embrace some kind of mamby pamby smiley faced facade that i've tried so hard to avoid until now. but i do not think that is it.

one night as i lay in bed i felt this bubbling joy inside. i'd never felt it before and knew it was joy. so foreign it was to me, like spotting a pineapple in the road. i knew it was, in fact, joy. unexpected.

so i have to look for that again. it is my mandate.