Wednesday, May 31, 2006

rough roads traversed

my work has become increasingly sensual. i don't foresee this changing. it is who i am. today on ma, i've posted a poem i wrote about poetry. i've wanted to say a great many things about poetry, but i'll let the poems do the talking. sometimes, my prose is just too intuitive and it were better it were a poem.

i've begun a new poetry series on the songs of the traditional church. i am told this sensual aspect is as old as the church essentially. it will likely never change that it is something many people want to avoid, yet a eunic religion is not any fun either.

i'm not saying everyone need be whacked out on sensuality, i'm just saying it is part of where i'm at. i won't be afraid to be where i am at, i never have been. so this, will be whatever it will be. amen.

my friend called the other day and commented that she wished she had a relationship with her sister like i have with mine. i do tell a great many stories about my sister because more than anyone she is in my life every day in an active way. she and i do talk on the phone for hours (horrible the days when my phone bill was $300/month), but we've since found ways to accomodate it. cell phones and whatnot.

but let me tell you this, which if you know me you may know all ready.

there was a time my sister and i had such a falling out that we said to each other,
i don't like you. if i wasn't your sister, i wouldn't be your friend.

the feeling was mutual. we let it ride for a while. i think in that particular time period we went through six months without talking. a record for sure. but having acknowledged our vast limitations. our inability to create a sister we'd "like" we dealt with it and moved on.

blood makes all the difference i guess. if i said that to a friend, i would likely not be that person's friend. although, i have come to crossroads with dear friends, my best friens, on many occassions (usually once per relationship). the successful navigation of said crossroads is what determined they were actually best friend material.

sitting across the table from my second-longest best friend, we discussed not being friends any longer.

it's just too hard.

and we both agreed. we let it ride and dealt with it. we are still friends. she still calls me on her way home through the seven hills of seattle, just to check in. she is a pianist. a musician who helps nurture the artist within me more than many in my life. even though infrequent our calls now, we return to the deep level of trust whenever we talk. no barriers, no bars, no holding back. truth be told, i am this way with many of my friends, but the best friends, always without question have the right to call me out in accountability.

i realize, not everyone has been blessed thus, and some have been blessed far more to have their best friend in their spouse. it's real hit or miss for me on that one. i've been missing a lot lately. but i keep trying. i think relationship is more about trying, about perseverance, about renewing trust than anything. i will let you down, i understand this. one woman says,
i will fail you. we serve a jealous God.

that is essentially what i've come to understand. He will not be usurped. or set in the back seat for long. He must first be your best Friend, then all other relationships come into alignment. slowly. not without great difficulty, but they will.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

waiting one moment longer

so i'm reading the tao te ching, and came across this passage:

Great accomplishment seems imperfect,
Yet it does not outlive its usefulness.
Great fulfillment seems empty,
Yet it cannot be exhausted.

Great straightness seems twisted.
Great intelligence seems stupid.
Great eloquence seems awkward.

Movement overcomes cold.
Stillness overcomes heat.
Stillness and tranquility set things in order in the universe.

the only things that seem to resonate with me these days are paradox, metaphor, and unknowing. in zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance, he uses the beautiful phrase
in the high places of the mind the air is thin with uncertainty.


when i read the saints and mystics, they seem to be saying the same thing. the only way to know God is through unknowing. fenelon,
stop learning. it will take you a lifetime to use what you know.

so much in the way of, be still, experience life, be present. so little in the way of how i tend to live, disconnected, apart. i'm trying to make room for wholness, to allow myself room to spread the roots deep. to be still and thrive.

i feel a stillness in the air that i would normally call the great heave before the thrust, but it is a lull before the breakthrough. the quiet before the bulls are in the chute and ridden. it's almost show time.

i spent some of this weekend planning what i'll wear, how i'll present myself. this weekend, i'm going with comfort and style. not over the top, but certainly things i feel gorgeous in.

people keep asking me, are you published? i say, soon. very soon. because i know it is coming. i can feel it. the impending opening of a path i've longed for. now who will go with me is the question. my prayer is that more poets would arrive on the scene of my life and that i would soon be able to conquer the city, and frequent poetry haps there. so much i'm missing out on by being so close and yet not braving the trains.

but that will all be changing soon. very soon.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

wars and rumors of wars.

hi kids, you miss me? i've been out and about. spent the weekend listening to marion woodman's sitting by the well lecture. it is fabulous. if you haven't heard it, and care to learn about such things, i highly recommend it.

feeling the pace and pulse of life quickening here in ny, and i'm hoping that is a good thing. so easy to get caught up in busy-ness that one loses all touch with presence. at least that is how i find it happens to me. one moment i'm connected, the next yelling at some jerk who just cut me off and running late for an appointment.

it is nice, for a while, not knowing anyone, not being needed anywhere in particular. you can move at your own pace and set your own agenda.

i'm surrounded by piles of laundry i need to fold, sort, put away, then iron (i hate ironing. something about wrinkled clothes, they are endless. i guess that is the problem once i submit to the iron, i'll never stop ironing. but living in an apartment one can't stand in their skivies by the dryer waiting for something to lose the wrinkles, so the iron is a necessary evil. plus the closets are very small making my clothes into origami before i can wear them).

i listened to a book on tape yesterday called the art of war. i do not know why things catch my fancy, but they do. i happened to pick up this title together with the art of happiness, go figure.

anyway, i transcribed a passage that i found utterly intriguing. (i find it interesting that my journal pages for this tape have these crazy columns which there are three to four on a page, like i was writing in some oriental way or something. i'll never be able to make heads or tales of the notes, they are like some madman wrote them, but it is an interesting change from all the other transcribed passages.):

so it is said that if you know others and know yourself you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles. if you do not know others but know yourself you will win one and lose one. If you do not know others and do not know yourself you will be imperiled in every single battle.

now that made my head spin. the passage continues:
When you know others then you are able to attack them. When you know yourself, then you are able to protect yourself. Attack is the time for defense. Defense is a strategy of attack. If you know this you will not be in danger in a hundred battles.

frightening, but eye-opening. consider the spiritual ramifications of this passage alone. not man v. man, but screwtapian, the heavenly powers v. man issues this raises. not that i'm saying we need to know the ways of the enemy (as in become an expert, but be aware of his tactics), i'm saying there may be more to this than meets the eye.

the passage continues:

If you only know yourself this means guarding your energy and waiting. This is why knowing defense and not offense means half victory and half defeat. When you know neither the arts of defense or attack you will lose in battle.

i'm sure there are tons of people who say they heard from God before 9-11. well, i did not know what was going to happen, but in august of the preceding year, the Lord started talking to me about guerilla warfare. how the enemy will use and uses mind games against us. i wrote some poems about it, that is what i do when i hear stuff, and mentioned it in passing to the small group i was leading at the time. but this passage in retrospect makes a great deal of sense to me.

we have an enemy who knows us. who watches our every move. who can probably tell what foolhardy thing we'll be about next.

the author advises warriors to make their plans in secret and disclose them to no one. to make their actions contrary to appearances. all this to win wars. bone chilling as this tape is to listen to, it is very enlightening from the point of, the gullibility of the one the warrior is looking to defeat.

lure them by their appetites,
he says at one point.

i heard once, probably john wimber say, esau was a man of appetite. we must learn to curb our appetites (psalms says, cut your throat if you are given to desiring the king's dainties), or we'll sell the birthright for a mess of pottage.

these are very serious words. i know i'm a bit wacky at times, but this tape really made me think about how much i do in the open. not that i'm going to become all sneaky, because i don't think God has called me to that (and i am not going to adopt the ways and means this tape endorses, because they are anti-biblical), but it makes me think. to consider what i am doing. do i know God is in this, am i firmly rooted to the Vine? am i plugged in to the Source? what are my appetites anyway?

it is worth some consideration, that is all i'm saying. if we've got an enemy who is constantly plotting our demise, we do well to heed don potter's words,
make your movements contrary to the way you've always done things in the past. don't do what you've always done because it is known that you are going to do that.
(though he said it far more eloquently).

that's all. kind of a bummer word, but timely, i hope.

Friday, May 26, 2006

showing age

the grey is beginning to be noticable, i'm not too heavily wrinkled, but there are more fissures developing than before. i'm aging, what can i say?

i found this in my email this morning:
At this 2 - hour seminar you will learn the secrets of:

-How to alleviate or completely eliminate any degenerative disease

-How to reach an ideal weight and have boundless energy

-How to reverse the aging process and enjoy impressive youthfulness

-How to get rid of eye bags, eliminate puffiness, and add a polished
glow to your face

-How to prepare delicious green smoothie that acts in your body as
"Elixir of Youth"

am i the only person who wants to grow old and show it? i really doubt that. and yesterday at the ren faire, a sir francis drake called me fair one, so i am not going down too shabbily.

the thing about it is, everywhere, there are all manner of ways to amend appearances. to make oneself acceptable and perpetually young-looking.

i want to look good, don't get me wrong, i'm just going about it differently. elders in native cultures are honored and revered. i have watched old native women, grey streaked, powerful, and bowed with age convey such grace and dignity, that this is all i long for. to stretch out my hand, wrinkled though it may be, and bless the young and old alike.

it is said that old women can do whatever they please, they can touch whomever they please, they can say whatever they please. they can kiss whomever they please.

because it is all different then, they have traveled long and far on these hard roads, and their blessing of presence is welcome. their gift of touch is received without question.

i have thought many times of late, we are here to assuage each other's loneliness. perhaps this is just my take on it, but so many times, i've felt the balm of another's presence, the healing of another's voice, the soothing of another's touch to be the only thing that connects me to presence.

i get caught up in contemplating life, but then my little daughter, who is nearly as tall as i am now, climbs onto my lap and wants to be held (not at all comfortable or easily accomodated anymore), but i do try. my touch still means something.

i want to grow old gracefully. to speak with wisdom and grace. to teach anyone who wants to learn. to impart the gifts i've been given to anyone who wants to receive them.

i have five things i know the Lord has given me. writing, dance, freedom, words of knowledge, and mercy. these five things are for me to give away. these five things are my charge to impart to whomever would have them. but i only give them to those who ask. very few people know to ask for such things.

one lady sat beside me once and said,
why are you smiling?

do you have something to give?

i said.

i would like to recieve,
she said.

then let me pray for her. i would not encourage you to ask every soul you meet for their gifts, but when the Lord moves upon your heart to ask, do not hesitate. do not be afraid. we are but whispers on the wind. moments in time. a flash of lightning which doth cease before one can say, it lights.

grow old with me, the best is yet to be.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

i'm outta here kids

my sister is a genius. she said,
why don't you got get the ren faire tickets so you can go to the ascension service.
why didn't i think of that???

so i drove off in a hurry, to get the tickets, got lost, found, and back on track (i get lost a lot. i have the excuse that i'm in a new place. but i get lost a lot), picked up another stack of books at the library, and am licking my chops at the small mountain i have before me. the thing about the roads out here is, if you miss your turn, it might be miles before you get to turn around. i threw a u-ie in a bad way and got off bear mountain the quickest way i could. fortunately, that worked out.

i can see Christ off, symbollicaly, then find my unhurried way to the wenches and pirates, belly dancers, and bards all in a dusty conglomeration of marketing meant to represent something which was once a very fertile breeding ground for literature and art.

i am quivering with delight at what lies ahead. so much to rejoice about. so much to leap into. so many dreams coming to fulfillment.

i am reminded that we have only a short time here. a brief life and must make the best of it. i just want to know people i love know i love them. i want actually enjoy my daughter's remaining years at home. i want to serve my husband and be his soul mate. (this idea of being his best friend is really pie in the sky. maybe this soul mate business is too. but i can try to be the woman i am with him. i realized, best friend is a title of honor i give to my closest, dearest friends. it does not mean joined at the hip, laughing at all the same jokes, it means they are there for me and i am there for them. through the years. over decades some of them now. so i bequeath this title of honor upon my husband, promising to be there through the years.)

it is always about the people for me. i am a romantic this way. i don't care much for formulas or science, i just want to hold your hand and be your friend. i'm listening to zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance on a very old tape from the library. so it sounds like wookie in some parts, but i got the gist of it.

i have believed so many things to be true, so many ways i could measure myself, worldly standards all, that mean i don't measure up. but i'm trying to throw those standards out and trust. trust that i have a purpose in this life and today is just the beginning of fulfilling that purpose. i am in this body of believers for some reason, i am in touch with certain people by design. there are no accidents. there is no question, it all goes together, i have only to follow my heart.

but my heart loveth much and gets wounded. and when that happens, i say,
do i continue to risk it?
and every time the answer is yes. this is what i'm here for. to be present.

as i write this, my husband has just left for work and i am engrossed in my world of symbol. it is not perfect, but it doesn't have to be. i can try and fail, and hopefully receive the grace needed to try again (from those i fail, not from God, His grace is assured).

so it is a trust walk. and i walk out in faith. sometimes i forget myself, but then God is faithful to remind me of who i am and what my purpose is. sometimes i get angry and frustrated, but God is nearby. i don't understand any of it. how it can be so good and found myself saying to a friend,
i've got another chance to make it right.

you can't.
she said.
you can only control your responses.

yeah. so if you know me, i'll likely wound you, and you will likely wound me. but i've come to understand that is how it is. and with much grace and forgiveness, we'll be friends until we cross over into forever. at least that is my hope.

fill my mouth with laughter

given this is my first year in a chapel which keeps the feasts and holy days, i want to attend them all. this thursday is ascension, and i want to be there. but we've got a hot date with the renaissance faire. i'm supposed to pick up my tickets outside the front gate and am not sure of the location of the faire, or the lady who will have my tickets. i'm not certain i can squeeze in the ascension and make it in time to the faire. what to do.

a major feast i'll miss is pentecost. this bummed me out quite a bit until i found out i'd be retreating to a anglican convent. hopefully i can sneak away and attend the service there. it is a pretty important event as far as my poetry series goes, but if it does not work out, i guess there is a plan b of which i am unaware. which would not suprise me in the least.

well i've gotten myself in a campout for this weekend, gratefully only one night of squealing girls. there are at least forty in the age group my daughter and i will be bunking with. i am hoping it won't be too difficult to steal away and read.

i've picked up marion woodman's bone. a book about dying into life. very much where i'm at. she refers to her husband's involvement with other religions in ways i've not previously seen, but this is a personal journal of hers documenting her battle against cancer.

mike duran is talking about cyber communities and how they are being looked at as the new wave of churches. well, whatever form the body of Christ takes, it is just nice that it is taking form.

i am praying about my vocabulary for joy. my capacity to experience and describe this most elusive phenomenon. i've got the dark stuff down. now it is time to find words and manners of describing blessing.

the phrase that i love most in the Bible is about job, and God, filled his mouth with laughter. if He can do that for job, striken man that he was, He can do that for me.

i found a penny saturday, they surprise me. they still turn up here and there and i hold them and regard them for a moment, wondering, this is supposed to mean something, but what?

then i remember, joy. i smile and tuck the penny someplace it will not be lost. it is good not to lose one's joy. it is good to find it again when one has lost it. it is good not to have it stolen, it is good to have it returned.


i approach this word with awe and wonder because it is so foreign to me. it is something i've come to live without great quantities of for so long. it is something i am searching for. yet, am still uncertain of what exactly it is i seek. where do i find it, why do i keep looking?


mingled with tears and laughter. mingled with wine and good friends. mingled with hope and trust. unfettered. freely given, freely recieved.

yes, that is what i am looking for.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


i have recognized a pattern in my life. many times when the good, the bounty, the feast is spread before me in the presence of mine enemies, i have thought myself unworthy and disqualified myself from these many graces.

sabatoging self, i would wander away into exile prompted by the voices that told me i was not good enough. i'm not listening to those voices anymore. i had a friend who laid himself down for me and showed me the Love of Christ, the Heart of Christ toward me. i cannot disqualify myself any longer as it is not my worthiness these feasts and bounty hinge upon. but Christ's.

understand, i always knew this in my head. i spoke these words with great fervor. i thought them true. but i did not believe them to the depths of my soul. i did not live them out. it took a great act of God on my behalf to rouse me from my waking slumber. it took a great act of selfless courage on the part of a dear friend to love me to life. it took a great many trials to finally rend me from my doubts of worthiness. i could not cling to them any more, for i believe myself to be, finally, truly loved. the beloved.

the old almost quaint movie, pretty woman, has a line in it which has rung true my entire life,
the bad stuff is easier to believe.
but now i'm wondering, why is it? why is it easier to believe i am not qualified for the good the Lord longs to lavish upon me? why am i not qualified to recieve the gifts of abundant provision? why am i so afraid of bounty?

there have been times when i've not wanted for material goods, but they never satisfied. those were seasons of great woundedness, and i guess the two are forever linked in my mind. so for me to get around this particular road block, i'm going to need new eyes, new ears, new senses. a new understanding. i will not walk away from the promised land.

but i am also reminded there are foreign gods here, and i must not bend the knee. this warning echoed throughout the pages of scripture, was echoed in real time by a friend. this mythic journey, this metaphoric path i'm on can lead me away from the faith. do i understand this? yes, i do. but i also understand this, He is able to keep that which i've entrusted to Him. His ability to keep is greater than my ability to wander. His ability to redeem, greater than my ability to sell my soul into slavery. His ability to find, greater than my ability to get lost.

His eye has never been off me. His hand, never far from mine. His ear, ever attentive to my cries. i don't understand it. i really don't. in all my wandering, in all my seeking wholeness, in all my wounded disqualification of myself from every good and perfect gift, He found a way to weave the chaos into beauty, the tattered threads into garments of praise.

so when i go to this next place of honor, and stand before poets of great stature, i will at long last be adorned in robes of righeousness, face shining, standing in the power of Truth. for so long have i been sojourning to this place, i will not turn away from it now. His ability to keep me, is greater than my ability to be lost.

Monday, May 22, 2006

see my soul

yesterday after church an 84 years young woman sat with me and taught me how to use the book of common prayer. duh, it was so easy. but the church calendar is pretty integral to the whole thing. if you don't know that it's the fifth sunday after easter, you're pretty well sunk, as i could never figure out what was to be read when.

mystery solved. i prayed through the prayer book (this morning for the first time) and hopefully will get into the morning, noon, evening prayer routine. my teacher told me she used to pray her morining prayers on the subway into the city, and her evening prayers on the way out. which makes a great deal of sense to me. the prayers are so eloquent and in this day and age of bland words and lackluster phrasing, it is nice to read some truly beautiful language. and it is still foreign enough to me, though i've been praying the liturgy for about six or eight months, that i find it immensely intriguing.

i walked to the library yesterday, and true to form, i dropped my tape player and yelled an expletive. but composed myself and looked into the woods. there i saw a doe, not five feet from me bedded down. she did not move. or startle. she merely turned her elegant head and watched me walk by. i like to think she saw my soul. that she looked into my eyes and knew she need not fear. that she stayed so close because of perfect Love. this is what i tell myself anyway. she was exquisite. she was alone. she was serendipitous in all manner of ways. if i wasn't almost late to hear a pianist, i would have stopped and regarded her for a while. but then she might have bolted if i hadn't kept moving away. better, to leave me with my joyous trust. the momentary bond between us. she was gorgeous i tell you.

so i get to the library and the room is about 2/3 full. i find a spot where i can be apart from the traffic, from people in front of me and see out the windows without having to stare at anyone. (all these things make a great deal of difference.)

the israeli pianist starts to play, and she was elegant in manner and music. i heard things i have never heard before. what she called "tone gestures" by a composer who took hebrew words and put them to sound, a ten minute piece that was quite compelling.

when i attend readings, musical events (save the orchestra), i tend to shut my eyes and focus all my attention on sound. trying to block my visual cues as i am easily distracted. sometimes when guitarists play though, i have to watch them, they make the greatest faces. but i let my mind waft away in dance and song upon the sounds. i found myself being brought rudely back, almost like being pulled back from a waking dream when the audience would applaud. as if my falling would hit a conscious ground and i opened my eyes to find her bowing.

once the audience chimed in between pieces, and i, being unaware of anything other than the music joined in the applause. it was the wrong time, between pieces, and she played on once silence resumed. i wrote a poem about it and went to give it to her mother who was visiting from israel. her mother told me to give the poem to her myself, and so i did.

the pianist said,
this has never happened to me before

after i handed her my poem transcribed and dedicated. i certainly hope it is worth her while. i still like the poem. so maybe. just maybe.

on the way out of the library i found another caterpillar. this one bedecked about with redorange hairs and a single white stripe down his back with blue dots on either side of the stripe. his face was black, as was the undershading of his body under the fuzz and colours. his fuzz reminded me of the pomegranates and bells the OT priests wore into the holy of holies. perhaps he'd just come from ministering in God's presence. then i noticed his entire face was covered in yellow pollen, like he just went down on a flower. (yes, my thoughts do plunge and swell that fast). i held him in my hand and he was extremely slow. he went belly up a couple times because i cupped my hand too quickly. i wondered if he was dying, but he seemed to perk up now and again. i'm not sure if he'll make it (or if he did make it), i brought him home for my daughter to see and she turned him loose in the bushes. i had rescued him from the sidewalk and certain death.

that is all, the poem i wrote:

Usurping Silence

Crowds break in
___with much applause
Afraid to hear, to listen
___lest joy light upon them
___grief, despair
Crowds break in
___usurping silence
Afraid to listen
___afraid to hear
Too much silence might
___hope long forgotten
___dreams all but dead
To listen, to yield to artist
___and compassion
Let me rather
___pierce the silences
Rush past the depths of
Let me rather
___hum and stir
___amuse myself
Than yield to
___angelic voices
___rhythmic bliss
Reminders of how far
___from mystery
___I've fallen
To sit in silence
___would loose too many
___dreams forgotten
Tremulous hope
___Stirring agony
______Let me rather
___usurping silence.

for Ofra Yitzhaki

(it is a delicate thing for poet and pianist alike, to incorporate
silence into their compositions)

Saturday, May 20, 2006

unapproved oranges

over at mike duran's fine decomposed blog, he's been discussing all things theologique. in an effort not to pirate his blog, i'm going to put some thoughts which have congealed since yesterday's blog on ignorance. (quotes below are for those who are not aware of the discussion)

my question to mike's statement about defending the faith:
It's bumper sticker theology for many:
"God said it, I believe it, that settles it."
Of course, ask them how they know God said it, and they'll probably shrug or retreat into less than convincing arguments of a more personal nature.

my initial question:
so what then in a convincing personal statement mike? how do we know God did what He did if not via personal relation?

mike's reply:

People can "validate" all kinds of weird things "via personal relation." Someone has a vision of Krishna, the angel Moroni descends and confirms that Christianity is wrong, an inner voice says "your wife is the devil." How can any of these be disputed if all personal revelations are valid?

The fact is, Christianity is built first upon solid historical evidences -- the creation event, the Jewish people, prophetic accuracy, the historical Jesus (He really lived, died and was resurrected) and the reliability of the biblical documents -- before it becomes "personalized." Personal experiences must have an objective plumbline, or else every experience is valid (including the voice that says my wife is a devil). It is these "objectives evidences" which I believe most Christians are sorely unable to defend. Great questions, suz!

which led to my next question:

okay, we believe the creation event is fact, the documents legit, that His word is His word because it is His Word. but try selling that bill of goods to a nonChristian. i think the more "endearing" approach, precious though it may be, is to say, my life was crap before. now it is still crap but heavenly bound crap. (not the prettiest faith arguement, granted, but you see where i'm going).

the folks don't care about apologetics. out on the street i've never once influenced a soul with my vast biblical knowledge. but i can talk to them about their fear, or doubt, and win their hearts in friendship.

again, eating unapproved oranges.

one unsaved person once was vascillating, in church no less, and i said to her, listen, the Creator of the Universe has just taken up your case. she converted. but that was IN church. would that argument work out? i don't know.

mike replied:

suz, you're right, people aren't won over by head knowledge. But neither are they compelled to believe by ignorance and naivette. While changed lives are a tremendous evidence of the power and validity of the Gospel, they are inadequate to sustain a long-term defense. Why? Scientology transforms lives. Neo-paganism transforms lives. Buddhism transforms lives. Does a life transformed by an unbiblical belief system validate that belief system? If so, then Christianity is far from unique.

Consider that the defining tenets of Christianity are rooted in historical events -- namely the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. In fact, the apostle Paul suggested that if Christ was not raised from the dead, our faith is in vain (I Cor. 15:14). Therefore, it is a linchpin to our beliefs. If there's no evidence for the resurrection -- and I emphasize evidence -- we're screwed. Faith is not purely a matter of "heart" or "personal revelation." It must be grounded in fact or else it is presumption.

I suppose people can choose to believe the earth is flat... but they must do so amidst overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Likewise, people can choose to reject the claims of Christianity, but it is our job to articulate those claims with skill and vigor. Of course, we cannot force people to believe by simply touting the facts. But the inability to articulate those facts will most surely persuade no one.

now to my thoughts of the day:

i'm sure there are a great many thinking men out there (including women!), but i was not "won" to Christ by compelling arguments. i was not won because He created the earth and i was finally "convinced" of this. no theological argument had anything to do with my conversion. do not hear me saying there is no place for right theology. we all need to know the bible and the creeds. we all need to know what we believe and why. just hear me out on this.

the flowers testified. the hope of beauty in a life of darkness is what finally moved me to Christ. sure there was that tear streaked trembling walk down the church where the pastor said,
if you don't accept Christ now and he returns at noon, you'll burn in hell.
i consider that one manipulation, not a free will act on my part. so i don't count that fakey conversion experience. i am told by my sister we got saved another time, but since i don't remember it, i'm counting that as a fakey conversion experience. (not that she is lying, but i meet people all the time who tell me, i got saved on june 15, 1989 at 3:34 pm. i don't remember these details of my conversion. at all.)

what i do remember is, attending bible studies, hearing the stories, but they didn't make the change. they were cushions on the seats, if you will. i was there for the people. it has always been about the people for me.

i was hooked on drugs and alcohol. my life was utterly out of control. one night a christian rock band opened for a heavy metal band called armored saint. i went with my hooked on cocaine boyfriend and someone else, i can't even remember who.

that night i saw some of my christian friends, and was powerless to be in the life they had. they were smiling, happy. they constantly tried to tell me about God, but i couldn't hear it. i needed change. i needed some way to get a grip on my life, in my life.

they left the concert before the metal band, so we crossed paths on the street and as i entered the smoke filled room, there was another christian friend of theirs who stayed for armored saint. we talked, he was my lifeline in that place of despair.

shortly thereafter at a bible study, i got filled with the holy spirit. there was no conversion event before that that counted for anything. i was lost while found. what manner of conversion is that if i can hear the theological arguments and not have life changing power filled experiences with God? none that mattered to me.

so my life changed then. the drugs and alcohol lost their power. i quit them cold turkey. while it was not all roses, i found christian boyfriends to be worse than unsaved, but that is life.

but i remember that moment and consider it my point of conversion. it was the power of God, not the arguments that won me. i needed life change, not a book of stories and the right theological arguments.

most people are probably locked in despair as i once was. most people are probably not looking for the right doctrine or acceptable dogma. they want life change. power. God to come and make things right.

so i can't yield on this mike, though i believe God can make a way where there is no way. and, i'm not saying there is no room for theology AFTER the true conversion expereince, i'm just saying, it didn't change my life before. it was powerless. God was the only One who could effect change in my life.

so i think approaching evangelism with this persuade the masses from the intellect is the wrong approach for a great many souls. i think the power evangelism (to coin a phrase from my beloved pastor john wimber) comes first, then the book learnin'.

at least that is how it worked for me. and in revelations it does not say, by the blood of the lamb and all the right doctrine. it says, by the blood of the lamb and the power of their testimony. they overcame.

i think there is more to the personal testimony of grace and truth, and power than is acknowledged here. and we are amiss to overlook it.

Friday, May 19, 2006

calling down the firebird

i'm really not an interesting read unless you care about metaphor. i'm probably not interesting to talk to, unless you want to speak about merton, poetry, or the deep things of the heart. i don't do chit chat. unless it is with God. because His answers are profound, no matter what we're talking about.

His yes, awash with power. His no, the same. a tidal wave of certainty comes and carries me away.

i have realized i don't talk much. only to my sister and to those people you have to talk to, the librarian, the grocery checker, the postal worker. my daughter gets me talking sometimes, but i have realized it is probably not as much as it could be. she sits beside me often and we read for hours. we walk and ride in silence many times. we spend almost every waking moment together but those hours are filled with much silence. perhaps the most together sound we make is laughter. i'm an extreme creature, so i have been trying to curb the yelling. because i could seem a bit like jekyl and hyde with all the laughing and then silence which yields to peals of thunder.

so i'm working on that. i've realized also, that i don't answer questions unless you ask the right questions.

do you want to read to me?
my daughter asks.

no, not really.

do you want to read a hans christian anderson fairy tale?


do you want to go outside?


will you go with me to the park?


and on and on it goes. she has taken to tricking me, which i don't like.

come with me,
she says.

and i follow. but she won't tell me straight out what the deal is. there is this tricksteresque quality to what is happening and i don't like it.

that's the whiteman's way,
i told her one day.

she stopped doing it.

the maiden king is the bly book about uniting the masculine and feminine. in it, he remarks,
liturgy is a way to call down the firebird.

the firebird arises from ash and flame. the firebird wafts one away across uncrossable regions. the firebird is ablaze with mystery. not many get to the firebird experiences of life. i hope i do. i really hope i do.

i see myself going the way of merton these days. fancying, more and more the solitude of a little hermitage in the woods somewhere. writing, praying, monkifying (that's not even a word). i heard it said recently that the way of life merton and many hermits embraced is long gone, not for our time. but i tend to disagree. it is. i think we have not understood it. like so many things in life.

on the navajo reservation there is a pink, hot pink, stand out from miles away pink trailer resting in the shadows of the ancient giant.

that's where i'll live when i'm old.
i told my beloved once when we passed it.

what miracle would have to transpire for me to live on the rez, i do not know. it is not the sort of place one goes without adequate spiritual preparation. but i do know this, God has means and ends we know not of.

i wouldn't put anything past Him. and now i come to find these many long months of praying the liturgy and not knowing why, i've been calling to the firebird. calling to the mystery. think about it, the church doesn't know either.

what a surprise we are all in for, when she finally wakes up and the firebird arrives.

Thursday, May 18, 2006


walking to the library yesterday, absorbed in looking at all the different shapes of leaves, colors of green, fading flowers, blooming flowers, zipping bugs, plus listening to a book on tape, my daughter calls out,

the pianist!

she loves saying that. and there he was, walking up the other side of the hill across the street, headed in the same direction.

for a little village, the street to the library is a main thoroughfare, lots of traffic that is supposed to be going 30 mph but has the conspirators of a huge hill and no traffic signals to keep things zipping along at quite a pace. pedestrians beware. many are the times i've jumped as cars zoom pass me at too close proximity for my comfort.

so the idea of crossing that street anywhere but at the appointed places is unthinkable for me. there is a crosswalk right in front of the catholic church down the hill which at least gives cars pause because of the signal. the red light is helpful, but people are still impatient.

the next crosswalk is blind to one side, the side coming up the hill, save about 50 feet of road, and is a good deal away from the stop light that might help a bit.

so crossing this road becomes a bit like survival of the fittest. we run. we wait. we use our best judgment to not become creamed corn.

as we were walking home, i saw the most beautiful striped caterpillar on the sidewalk, i had to pick him up. and i had to place him on my shirt. that seems to be my standard resting spot. he climbed up me so fast, i am not sure if was due to his superheating from basking on the sidewalk (my girl had just cycled by, i'm amazed he wasn't turned into strained peas). but he raced up my chest, across my shoulder and into oblivion. we couldn't find him once we dashed across the dangerous road, and while it was tempting, it is not the kind of road one stands in and seeks out lost caterpillars, though we might have doomed him (or i might have) by picking him up in the first place.

best intentions gone awry again.

i hoped for the best and that he either made it off me before the road, or was on me until we passed through the wooded grounds of the salvation army training center. such lovely grounds. the trees are amazing.

we couldn't see the squirrels when we finally made it back home, but i did see one high up in another tree at the library. i'm getting good at picking rodentia out of foliage. we saw a woodchuck at the park recently too. they are very sweet, so round and full of life. except for the dead one i saw on the road.

i saw a deer on the way to the open mic, dead, half on the road, half off. and i thought, almost made it. i guess most of them die off in the woods after they are hit. but to be so close and not make it.

i want to make it all the way across the line and i'd like all my parts to be in working order when i get there.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

poquito por poquito

i can hear my grams saying that to me even as i write it.

poquito por poquito, mija.

little by little, my little girl. she had a way of breaking through all my defenses. a way of calling me home to myself when i wandered away lost. i have missed her these many long years she has been gone. and just today i sat down and worked through the elephant families poem i read at the open mic last thursday. little did i know how that reading would bless me this night.

i'm too tired to go into it all, but suffice it to say (and visit the master's artist today if you want to read what i wrote in the throes of excitement), i've been invited to my first intensive poetic weekend with a major poet.

i'm weeping even now. i'm blessing the God of heaven for every last struggle that has gotten me to this point. my sister and i were discussing this just today,

those things that look like curses in our lives, God uses those too.
she said.

but i don't always want to listen, sometimes it is hard to believe. sometimes, i'm just tired and want to weep and curl up in a ball. or be held by my beloved. sometimes the world is just too big and i am just a little girl.

i mentioned this to my sister,
when am i just going to grow up all ready, i'm so tired of being afraid.

i'm tired of being in recovery.
i told her. (she listens well.)

we discussed goal setting too. and i lean so heavily upon the will of God, that sometimes i think it is a major flaw. a major drawback to getting on with life. but i keep being asked by don potter,
are you willing to lay it all down and never be in charge again?
are you willing?
are you willing?

and like a knucklehead i keep answering yes. because i am. i really am. i'm tired of being a lowsy sovereign. i need God like you can't imagine. i need Him to release me from my percieved bondage, so i can bloom all ready. i think i'm straining my eyes looking for fruit, blossoms, any signs of life. but i'm not seeing any. thank God for people like my dear friends who point the stuff they see out to me, because i can't see it.

remember dear soul, little by little. my grams knows.

elven cloaks

it has felt as if i've left Lorien and am standing on the Rohan Plains wearing an elven cloak and seen by none. i don't really understand it, this hiding in plain sight. it does nothing for the ego, but maybe that is the lesson of this season.

don't look at appearances.

i keep hearing that and wondering, what do i look at then? i ask such silly questions, now really, what do you think the answer to that one is?

Peter knew.

why did you look away?
he was asked. and there really is no good answer to that question. there is something utterly frightening about beauty. something mystifying about it.

bly says,
one listens better when hidden.

yes. this silent listening ear is tuned in and what i hear is as yet just pieces of a puzzle i can't assemble, i must trust the work is going on underground. as it is for all seeds. they have been sown. the waiting is the hard part. but it does one no good to pace the ground and wring hands. i still don't understand any of it, but i am moving forward. unseen as i may be, i am stepping out and pressing on.

i'd like to say i have some plan, but when i plan things they generally go south quite rapidly. so i'm going back to winging it. it works for me.

no great insights today, just the words

don't look at appearances.

Monday, May 15, 2006

essential mundane

i have mentioned the mundane keeps me tethered to this realm. the underworld business is what i was troubled over some time ago. i've come to understand from bly a wonderful metaphor for the underworld, which typically makes one think of all things evil and slimey. or gnashing of teeth and weeping, which is about the same in my book.

bly writes:
a willingness to be a fish in the holy water, to be fished for by Dionysus or one of the other fishermen, to bow the head and take hints from one's own dreams, to live a secret life, praying in a closet, to be lowly, to eat grief as the fish gulps water and lives. It means being both fisherman and fish, not to be the wound but to take hold of the wound. Being a fish is to be active; not with cars or footballs, but with soul.

as i understand it, bly relates fishing to "waking dreams" when one is actively trying to draw something mysterious from below, from the unseen unknown realm, the place where God dwells.

i'm revisiting some recovery literature i read in the years of my intense healing because i've forgotten many of the principles i once learned then. i'm in need of a soul tune-up i guess you could say. these authors spoke to me many years ago about the essential mundane (my paraphrase of their collective genius).

each act can be holy. each task we are called to fulfill throughout our day can be an act of worship. and in many ways, it is. whether we acknoledge it or not. are you worshipping materialism? status? God? or something else? everything we do is an act of worship. i heard a pastor once say there is no stasis in life (my paraphrase), you are either moving toward or away from God. (scary thought, isn't it?)

so, yesterday being mother's day. i had the same idea as at least a few women i know to do absolutely nothing and not cook, not wash dishes, not be domestic in the least. very catlike, i am at times.

but the dishes were piled high and crusty. in this new apt we have no room for anything, not an extra set of dishes, so if i don't wash them, we break out the fine papier, but that was not to be the solution. as i finally resigned myself to washing the mountain of dishes in the kitchen on mother's day.

the tape i was listening to reminded me:
don't keep score.
don't live life like it is an emergency.
look for the best in life and you're sure to find it (conversely, look for the worse and badabing, you'll find that!).

so the good doctor reminded me i'm looking for the wrong things. i'm seeing the piles of dishes not as a sign of abundant blessing, a healthy family who has food, a meal had recently taken place and we are well, together, so many blessings i can't even chronicle them.

today i ascend and descend four flights of stairs to do the laundry. for the next few hours i will be on my archaic stairmaster, but i will find the divine in the mundane today because i am setting my mind to that task.

look for it, you'll find it.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

feminine whiles

a poem i wrote this morning. a meditation of sorts on woman as i've come to understand the feminine.

"There is an ancient Egyptian saying that suggests that the divine power in woman is so strong that boys in some sense die from simply having experienced that power. 'We must die because we have known them.' [Rilke]" Robert Bly, the Maiden King

is woman truly so deadly
___to know her power
______is to die

is woman really so powerful
___too much power emanates
______from her moon cycle

is woman always cyclical
___darkness gives way to

is woman necessarily darkness
___no but neither is she
______necessarily light

is woman essentially evil
____ no more than man
________--perhaps more than man

is woman ultimately redeemed
____yes, through her
________redemption born

is woman a thing of beauty
___no curve in nature so divine
______as her hips and breasts

is woman always seductress
____yes even when she behaves
_______which is rarely

is woman truly so deadly
____to know her power
_______is to die

Saturday, May 13, 2006

all my children

i was asked to clarify what i meant by trim the fat. i tend to be too accepting of my lesser poems, my weak stuff gets as much place as my stronger stuff. the thing is, i'm so close to this stuff i can't tell, often what is strong and what is weak until i've lived with them awhile.

these poems come to me and i write them down. they sing themselves to me in a way. i know some people are uncomfortable with my using this kind of language to speak about what i do, but to say anything else would be inaccurate at best, a lie at worst.

so, the way i decide if they are strong is after awhile, years, if i still feel the strength of them when i read them, either aloud or as i'm perusing them, then i know they are strong. if they can live on their own, beside the others i've written, then i know they are strong. if they can't, they would be culled out of the herd and likely forgotten (at least not presented to others).

truth be told, i am enamoured of all my children (i call poems my children), because they come when i need them. by this account, i am sarah, mother of nations. so many poems have come to fill my life, i have trouble choosing whom i shall dote on. whom i shall take to poetry readings and let stand before the people on their own.

there are a few reliables, a few that are so strong and brave and wise, i am certain they will define me as a poet. these children, though are not me. they are merely those who have come to join me. to bless me. to minister to me and those who read them and are ministered to.

so what does trimming the fat mean? leaving the weaklings at home in their oxygen tents where they may someday gain enough strength to see the world. or they will die. but they will always be with me. either in thought or actuality.

either you're enlightened or baffled. which is usually the case when i write something. i hope it is the former.

Friday, May 12, 2006

hardbodied poetry

i didn't want to go to the open mic last night, just a couple hours before, when i'm usually raring to go, i couldn't get moving. i wanted to just stay home, pull the blankets up over my head and be comfortable.

isolating is a great danger when one is depressed, so i forced myself forward. to get up (yes, i was even in bed).

i really didn't have any reason to go last night, i didn't even know what i'd read and i've felt strangely estranged from my own work of late. so it's like taking a frigid woman to bed, more duty than fun.

after calling my husband, who immediately agreed i should not go if i don't feel like it, (i tend to do the opposite of what he says, maybe he used reverse psychology on me. that sneaky devil), i made myself, made myself get up and get moving.

things got sunnier when he got home and i moved in the general direction of the car. but after running a couple errands, i went by the library because i knew bly would get me through. it was one of the curious things that motivated me. i have a new bly book i'm working on (four of them, actually). if nothing else, i would have some time to read him before the open mic.

i picked up bly's new poetry book from my side table and read nearly all the way through it before my husband got home. it was just what i needed to change my perspective, which admittedly, was grim.

so after my poetry infusion, i dash off to the library and proceed to lock my keys and my spare key in the car. i was suffering from blinding brilliance, apparently. my mind is too focused sometimes for my own good. i got a whole pile of things, including another bly poetry book and went out to find myself stranded.

after unsuccessfully calling my knight in shining armor, i decided to walk home and retrieve my husband's key. i don't do damsel well, and if it is a choice between sitting idly by and having a hand in my rescue, i'll have a hand in it every time.

on the walk home, i kept wondering what i was to learn by this little venture. i hadn't walked yesterday to that point, and i think that was part of it. i get depressed when i stay home. walking does me good. but i also heard a poem on the way back to the library.

i hopped in my car after rescuing myself, and lit off for the open mic.

the crowd was rough. i could feel the weight of powerful poets in the room. there was scant applause for those who did not bring works up to par. i was nervous (and i don't get nervous at these things, but like i said, there is a whole different calibur of poetry here. and i still didn't know what i was going to read).

the whole evening had a matriarch feel to it, so i read elephant families, a poem about matriarchs, and lament--one of the black poems i wrote over christmas.

the room had a tolerant feel through most of the readers. there were a couple moments when older ladies punched through the jaded listening. but when my moment came, there was palpable silence. no restlessness. everyone was engaged.

something happened to me when i came here. in texas i was a young, stumbling poet. here, when i read, i am all about performance. each word annunciated with power and eye contact the whole way through. i'm not really estranged from my work, it is in me. deep in me and comes out at moments like these.

my poems were very well received. the matriarch of the place said,
well done.
which was huge praise. i lit on out of there feeling like i knew my plan and purpose in life. i am a poet. when i get to be fully poet, reading my work, even briefly, it is as if i have wings and can fly. (but that is part of the poem i have yet to write so i won't talk about it any more).

poetry is a powerful force. i am grateful mine is trimming down into what i heard my mind call it last night, hardbodied poetry. i'm learning to trim the fat and choose the best of what i've got. so far, so good.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

squirrel love.

it's been a while since i've posted poems, so here are a few from the last couple days. a dear friend suggests this title to me, probably more as a joke than anything, but i found it funny. (and i really thought it was mother's day yesterday. i really never know what day it is. and holidays, forget it).

i have been so
___aware of my
i was blind
___to the abundance
all around
I was so in touch
___with longing
neglected joy
i was so attuned
___to lament
i could not hear
so in need of
i only wanted you
___through all
___of it
no word
___from any other
meant as much.
i only wanted you
___and you alone
that i ignored
___those whose
love surrounds
i only wanted
but no more--
___i'm choosing
believing i can
___be loved.
by those closest
___to me.



Do you think me
____as beautiful
as I think you
Are you as enamoured
____of me
My heart leaps
____and skips
at the thought
____of you
Tell me,
____does yours
Do you think me
____as magnificent
as wise
____and true
as I think
Are you as enamoured
____of me
dear soul
____as I am
________of you?


right now you are
_____so trusting
_____so curious
_____so brave

what will it take
_____to finally drive
_____the wedge of fear
_____between us

right now you are
_____so curious


you're hiding now
i know you're there
i hide in the
hoping you'll
___come again
let me see
___your beauty
witness your grace
revel in your
let me watch you
___laugh and play
come to me


i will hurt you.
____if not me
someone just like me.
____i will get the blame
we'll be forever parted
____which is probably
for the best
i will hurt you.
____if not me
someone just like me.

(these were all written about the squirrels i've been watching.)


if i call out
___in the cool dark
will you hear
___me call?
if i sing aloud
___my heart's true song
______will you hear it?
if i call out
___will you reply
______and come to me
if i call out
___in the cool dark
tell me, will you
___answer me?

(i heard a bird call and echoed it. i looked up in the tree and a robin was searching for a lover, a long lost friend, a companion. his breast swelled with each burst of song, and his tail descended as he forced the sound out. it was lovely to behold a longing, i understand).


nothing lasts forever
___i tell myself this often
because i thought we would
___i really thought we would.
nothing lasts forever
___i tell myself this


Have you, my mate of song
___and verse, now gone
found a new partner
___a new song
Have you Lord, who made
___me Queen,
found a new realm
___and people?
Have you my soul's kindred
___gone beyond
To the place i cannot follow
Will you never


Will you come
___carry my broken
______body away
When I am slain

Will you muster
___strength and courage
______to redeem my bones
When I am slain

Will you
____find the strength
______to admit knowing me
When I am slain?

(this last one came after i watched an ant carry a fallen comrade home. it reminded me of the courage it must have taken for the men around the cross to go request Jesus' body, to convey it to the tomb. to lay it to rest before the sabbath. such great courage).

poems are a great pain to post. so that is probably why i am so sparse with them. if you are a poet, join my poets in community group and share/read work there. i share more there than i do here. this is just too laborious to deal with when my works are formatted thus.


Wednesday, May 10, 2006


these lines, coupled with herod being eaten up of worms, have served to chill me this morning:
For they preferred human praise to the glory of God.

i do not know if the things i write are worth your time or mine. if they are of God, or just something i came up with, if they are literary indigestion, or art. the response of the people has always helped me determine the good seed from the bad. but there are those moments when i am committed to a piece, be it a poem, a word, whatever, that i believe it to be of God and no matter what anyone says or does not say, and i let it stand.

i do not claim to be God's mouthpiece, yet i hear Him speak and write about it. i do see Him move, and make notes. this is the least i can do.

this issue of praise then always gets me because i wrote a poem a long time ago, years i think, that asks the question,
how much praise did it require for Herod to be eaten up of worms?

i still ask this question. not that i want to get so close to the line i can see the worms stirring, but it is a question i contemplate often. i'll likely spend a bit of time searching my heart today asking God,
am i stealing Your praise?

because my concern is this, if i do it now, when i'm a nobody (according to the writing industry, not God), how much of a greater temptation will it be if i am ever in a position to actually recieve praise from more than just a handful of friends and acquaintances?

i like a pat on the back as much as the next guy. i have also learned it is a feigned humility to deny compliments, to back out of attaboys. i have learned to simply say,
thank you.

but is complimenting praise? is praise complimenting? can we answer this question with any kind of certainty? i certainly can't.

there are people who are kind and generous with their words of encouragment to me. just as there are those that i am kind and generous with my words of encouragment to. when does it cross the line to praise?

i think praise has more to do with worship than mere complimenting. but the human heart is so tricky. and i don't always believe it.

i trust God to rend the idols of my worship away from my hands and heart because this is my prayer. those people and things i begin to worship, i pray they get removed from me, though the pain be intense.

that is what it all comes down to for me, God being soveriegn and me coming back over and over to say,
search me and know me, try my heart, see if there be any evil way in me.

and i guess i just have to learn to accept a compliment and not fear it is praise unless i am convicted. i don't think God is about smiting people without first convicting, so if i keep a tender heart before God, all will be well. at least that is what i believe.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

negating authority

there are many times when i intentionally contradict myself. many times when i simply lay out the fact that i am unable to produce satisfactory documentation for much of anything i do. one person whose opinion i value very much essentially said,
don't negate your authority.

this has come to mean a great many things in my life. not the least of which have to do with my husband.

i have a dear poet friend who is married to his best friend. how does this happen? how does one marry their best friend? and if we're all ready married, can we still become best friends? am i asking too much?

i had hoped that marrying my best friend would be the case for me, as i am sure all premarrieds hope that to be the case. but the actuality of it is something more difficult. something that comes about in the living. so last night i greeted my husband with an enthusiastic welcome home, nearly tackling him as he walked in the door. i can at least do as much as fido, eh? he laughed.

how can i be your best friend?
i asked him.

he didn't say anything. but i understood, cooking was part of the answer. you know my issues with cooking. but i must try. make a concerted effort.

i have begun asking myself,
how can he be my best friend?
certainly it is not by joining me for all things poetic. he has no inclination in that area. he's an engineer. he tolerates my poetry, but asking more is, well, asking too much probably.

he has lavished all manner of gift upon me since we've come to new york. the latest a gorgeous orchid whose unfurling tendrils look like tiny purple claws. gorgeous. i hope i don't kill it. i kill most plants, which is why cut flowers are so nice. they're all ready doomed. if i can prolong their lives it is a triumph. house plants are entirely the opposite though and in short order i dispatch them.

we went to a funeral a year and a half ago. took a plant we couldn't kill. well, we killed it. or i killed it. the following year we returned for the companion funeral to our uncle's death--his wife, and my daughter ratted me out, that i had killed the unkillable plant. they entrusted me with another doomed plant, which i similarly dispatched in short order.

this not negating my authority business really speaks to me. by not entrusting my husband with my deepest fears and questions, am i not in some small way negating my authority? my best friend pointed this out to me the other day.

so i am making a concerted effort to appreciate what i have all around me. my husband, my daughter. the abundant provision he lavishes on us, and the selfless way he encourages me to be the poet i am.

will i start attending car shows, likely not. will he start reciting poetry, no. but we will, by virtue of our openness to one another make a place in the innermost circles of our lives for each other. that open access i have always wished him to want on his own, will be laid out for him, like a checkered picnic blanket. he can come and go as he pleases. and i will hopefully not negate my authority any longer.

Monday, May 08, 2006

destiny calling

there is a song i've been listening to for months. it only plays in my car cd player, so i put it on loop whenever i'm in there, which is rarely here in ny. don potter sings about destiny. saying,
we have destiny on our lives.
you don't have to make it happen,
it will just start taking you,
and you'll never know what happened.

all you need is willingness,
all you need is giving up.
all you need is willingness,
all you need is giving up.

are you willing, to give it all up?
are you willing, to lay it all down?
are you willing to never be in charge again?
are you willing?
are you willing?

these are the words i can remember, i hear them echoing in my brain actually. and at one juncture of the song he speaks about kathryn kuhlman and how she changed her life after receiving the call of God. a couple other people are mentioned and don goes on to talk about how these world changers thought
"someone else would be better"

and don sings,
"maybe they're right, but God still made the choice and He chooses you. He chooses you. give up right now."

there is a fine line between allowing the will of God to carry you and being completely lazy. i find myself wondering at times which side of the line i am on. have i given up and am letting the Lord carry me, or am i just a sloth and don't want to do it myself? sometimes i have to trust that the Lord will actually convict me if i am being lazy, and trust that He is still able to make a way where there is no way.

i don't understand any of it. i don't really know what God could possibly be up to, but i know i have a part and my job right now is to sink my roots in deep. no other task is more important than that. when the wave of the spirit rushes by it will pick up and carry away what is not firmly anchored. and there is one kind of carrying away that is good, another that is not.

these distinctions, these many points of trust, are the baffling part of this walk with God. i often ask,
how do i know? how do i know with certainty what You would have me do?

He often doesn't dignify that with a reply, because He knows i know. i know i know, i just keep asking because i want to be sure i know, i know. you know?

destiny is calling though, i can feel it. i can sense it in my spirit. and as far as poets go, i don't know of many others (save worship leaders like don potter, and intercessors), who are watching the horizon for the fist sized cloud. sure there are others, i'm saying, i have no clue who they are.

when it happens, and it will happen, i want there to be no doubt about who it is that is worthy of Praise. for certainly, it is not me.

one thing i've noted of late, the things Jesus was tempted with in the garden are still the things we are all tempted with every day. food, power, bossing God. the little decisions of the day (even mine), to take comfort in something other than God, to let food minister to me (in unhealthy ways), to manipulate God (there is a line in dogma that ben affleck says,
the church makes it policy and God must comply.
scary, probably because it is how we act.)

but giving up control is a very disconcerting way to live. it sucks actually. i'm still trying to figure out what the good part of it is (aside from obeying God, that is a given. but as far as feelings go, it is yeucky).

destiny starts now. it starts in the preparation for the calling. behind closed doors. in the dark corridors of the heart. destiny starts now.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

embrace the wound.

robert bly's iron john has been calling to me for about a year now. i remember the few times i've held it at book stores, caressing its cover, thinking about purchasing it. each time, i've slid it back onto the shelf and moved along.

not yet.
i'd say.

i don't know what it takes to make me actually read a book, but i do pray about every book i read. i ask for the next one. i've a stack of books right now i am praying my way, reading my way through. they seem to hit me at just the right time, literally capturing my syntax and the very words of my prayers and conversations. this astounds me every time, still.

at my first open mic, i went early to "find my book." and in the process came across bly's little book on human shadow. i wasn't sure why i wanted it, but a poet had mentioned wallace stevens to me and as i flipped through, bly had written an essay on stevens' dark side. so i held it close to as i walked away, uncertain of what it would hold, hoping it was good, and if not good, at least interesting.

i found the little book to be perfect for my place in life. bly's comments about shadow, a poet struggling with darkness, understanding it and breaking it down was just what i needed. you see, i don't want to excavate and remove the darkness i've come to understand. i want to incorporate it. find a way to live at peace with the darkness i've come to understand resides in me (in us all really, some just don't know it, or have not reckoned with it).

bly commented that poets must let the shadow come into their work.

my heart sighed in relief. my work vacillates between two things lately, ecstasy and shadow. seems there is no inbetween for me. but i am willing to let that be the case for as long as it need be. i knew it was time for iron john. to at least add him to the coffee table pile for consideration.

opening iron john, i passed over a book written for women, for this book written for men. i tried to read the women's book, but it just wasn't what i needed to be reading. so iron john called to me again.

this time i opened him. and read. and didn't stop reading. won't stop reading until it is finished. this book is partner to the wild women book i have come to love. it is about the wild man. a poet writing about wild men. there is so much there that pertains to my situation, i find myself sighing in relief as i read something from someone who understands. who gets it.

embrace the wound,
bly writes [my paraphrase].


only by embracing the wound, not turning away from it, not running off in denial, but squaring shoulders with our wound, only by looking into the eyes of the wound do we ever find our way through it.

i cannot recall where i read this but one person said the darkness gives depth to work. shadown creates perspective. the intricate carvings of pain in our lives make them more magnificent. if we can stop being afraid of them. if we can find a way to embrace the wound.

bly's poetry is calling to me now.

poets are astounding people. i have come to understand a great deal of their depth and quality of character by interacting with them in my small poetry groups. my prayer for them is that they would find what they need, whether it be community, publication, a reader, inspiration. and that through it all, God would be glorified. poets don't get it all right. but i believe we have a purpose (more on that later).

Saturday, May 06, 2006


my dear poet friend used this marvelous word and i had to abscond it.

it gave to me images of everything most everyone i know wishes for me. and i am grateful. my sister was talking to me and said,
we don't have to be this way, you know.

which way?
i asked

she went on to tell me we could choose joy. we could be happy if we set our minds to it. (or so she's been told.)

do i agree with this? do i want this kind of happiness? i replied,
i want the kind of happiness that wells up. the kind of joy that springs from deep within, that is abiding, not something i embrace to make others feel better about where i'm at.

you don't want fakey happy?

no, do you?


square one welcomes me home.

my dear poet friend sees a great battle, a great struggle going on between two forces in me. i asked,
do you realize i am struggling with my questions on the page but i have a sure foundation?

i understand,
he said.

you see, my whole growing up life, then when i became a christian i never heard the questions. i never saw the struggles. i was presented with this facade and illusory christianity. this book of regulations that i must adhere to.

well, the fact of the matter is, i've never been good at adhering to any rules, regardless of what they are or from where they come. because i question them. i ask, who made these rules, and why? if i must submit i do, but christianity, while it is a great deal about submission, is a great deal more about relationship.

relationship for me is rolling around in the dirt trying to figure out what is going on. wrestling. struggling. grappling with what i don't understand (which is a great deal more than i do understand, admittedly).

this reminds me of my dear friends who gathered for a reading/luncheon before i left texas. they went around the room and said a blessing over me, before praying for me. more than once, it came up that we'd had rifts in our relationship. i looked around and every one of those ladies, with very few exceptions, i've struggled with. we've grappled through relationship. could it be, i ask you, any different with the Lord? i really don't see how it can. relation ship is difficult, taxing. requiring a great deal of tenacity and trust.

i don't like happily wrapped up stories. which have no loose ends. i don't like romances which are not bittersweet, because that is life as i understand it.

perhaps there'll come a day, i pray there'll come a day when i embrace unpain because my life is not painful. when i will laugh, sing, and dance unfettered by these questions.

but i hope even in that time, while i am rejoicing, that i can embrace the mourner and sit beside the downtrodden. it is so easy, i have done it myself, to get irked with people who are bummed out.

i just want to be who the Lord created me to be. and i haven't quite figured stuff out yet. that, if anything is the purpose of this blog. i make wrong choices and do not hide them. i have not seen that done much. and if i err on the side of my unwisdom too much, forgive me. i'll try to bring in more of the unpain of my life. more of the rejoicing, i do feel it is barreling down out of the sky like a celestial water balloon and shall break upon me at any moment.

Friday, May 05, 2006

comfortably uncomfortable

i have spent a great deal of time of late talking to the Lord about these besetting fears. my uncertainties, my doubts. He's very straigtforward in His answer. and very clear that i am where i am supposed to be. this comforts me little, you see, for i am very uncomfortable.

Papa, i'm lonely,
i say
I am with you.
He repies.
Papa, i'm scared

I am with you.

Papa, i don't know what to do next.

just the next thing.
He reminds me.
it's almost dinner, make dinner.

i can do that.

sleep comes to me, and i rise.
Good morning, Papa. i'm scared.

I am with you.

always this, I am with you bit. no tangible comforts. no hand holding friend to get me through. just Him. just His presence. just the certainty of knowing who He is.

reading merton he says,
we have to know we don't know God.

i don't know God. for all my familiarity. for all my sensitivity. i've no clue who or what this God of Heaven will do or say next. i think that is where my fears come in. i'd just like to know (but then i wouldn't). if someone told me the things that were revealed to the apostles about their (grim) futures, i wouldn't want to have to muster the courage to face knowing. rather, embrace unknowing. i read somewhere, probably merton,
the only way we can know God is through unknowing.

yes. deep down in me i understand this.

does it make it feel any less like a free fall through God's grace? absolutely not. i'm uncertain every day. i'm questioning every day. but when i fix my eyes on Papa, i'm able to do the next thing. just the very next thing.

editing five chapters of a book are the next thing on my plate, and i can do those, one chapter at a time.

i get lost in all the big talk about positive confession and name it and claim it, because God is not my dumbwaiter. He is not my errand boy. He is everything to me, but not anything i can boss about.

i'm tired of unknowing. i'd give anything for a little certainty, or at least i say i would and it comes right down to it and i like not knowing. i like letting Him be Sovereign. i'm tired of trying to fix everything i break and mend every wound i inflict. sometimes it takes a true Physician and i must accept my limitations.

i'm finding joy this year, remember. that is what my resolution was. i have often wondered if using the phrasing "finding" automatically puts me in this roll of hunter and joy is eluding me. like i have to track it and shoot it and bring it home dead, stuff it and mount it on my wall.

that is not the kind of joy i am to embrace, i'm sure of it. i think the kind of joy i am to find is hidden in the next thing. just the very next thing. when i am faithful to that thing, it can then be found in the next next thing.

be about the mundane,
i hear Him say.
yes. i will try.

just do the next thing. and remember, I am with you.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

signs of life

(Note: thanks to the kind reader who found this little gem for me! this is him!)

yesterday as i was blogging, then editing, the brightest little yellow bird--audaciously bright, with a slight black cap and touch of black on the back (looked like it was on the wings when closed), lighted in a huge pine just outside the window. i've yet to identify this bird. it was as bright yellow as a canary, but touches of black. i've ruled out the warblers and the yellow finches. but i'm still searching. perhaps he'll show himself to me again and i can get a better idea of what i'm dealing with.

the ravens have been about much. i'm partial to ravens. they call me to embrace the mystery. during the years when i went to powwows and lived in the high desert of california, ravens frequented my life. they were everywhere. this was frowned upon by my comache friend, who was dear to me, because to him they were harbingers of evil.

a dear friend went to alaska and brought me back a whale bone carved into a raven's head. so the northern pacific tribes do not dislike ravens as much as some of the other bands of tribes i've known do.

the trickster is a common motif in native stories, perhaps in other stories too, but i hear it mostly in relation to native tales. the trickster is very helpful at times, has much wisdom, but it is deciphering this wisdom that is the tricky part. or not being tricked into doing something you don't want to do. the trickster can be portrayed as clown, snake, rabbit, or raven (there are probably more, but these are the one's i've most commonly encountered).

so the ravens calling me to mystery is an interesting sirenesque call. do they lead me to my doom, or no? but i've come to understand this aspect of God as well. so the raven is not so far fetched for me, as trickster and Godtype, or mouthpiece of God. Certainly
the trickery comes to an end and we must obey God straight out
as don potter says, but i find many times when things are not what i think they are, or thought they would be, that God's hand has somehow kept info from me so i wouldn't judge based on my preferences.

this apartment for example. there were two we were deciding between. had we known there would be someone rumbling about the floor above us, there is no way we would have come here. but here is where we were supposed to come. trickery or not, i have to bless the God of Heaven for his stupefying ways. for i don't understand them.

so this little yellow bird's appearance speaks to me of something delightful. some new friend or accomplishment. though i can't yet understand and say with certainty what that is, or who that is, my heart rejoices.

the squirrel i mentioned before, he apparently lives on or around my apartment, and yesterday stopped and regarded me for quite some time. this writing turret puts me up at tree level and i think many birds, squirrels and whatnots are surprised to find me here when they happen upon me. but the squirrel quit darting away and sat there for a good five minutes scratching and regarding me. then went about his business.

it is good to befriend squirrels. maybe he'll get brave and regard me when i'm not enclosed in glass.

he's back! the little yellow gem just lit upon a branch, he has a touch of black on his tail that i didn't notice yesterday and a delicate golden beak (stubby triangle like a v). i really need to put my binoculars nearby so i can really stare him down and check him out. i've thought i really need to use a camera, instead of just words.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


this morning i read this in my prayers:
God has pitched there a tent for the sun;
it comes forth like a bridegroom from his chamber

such an image. it reminds me of this old gentleman who often walks by my writing turret, flowers in hand, a slight grin on his face. the man is eighty if anything. he clutches the flowers close to his chest, and once they were roses, another time tulips, if i remember correctly. he wore a burret last time i saw him. i imagine he is taking them to his beloved. oh, to be loved this way.

i imagine, for a man to continue carrying flowers home with such joy, long into the years of togetherness, there must be great rejoicing in that home. i can't imagine a husband who would gleefully bring home flowers to a sourpuss.

the wisteria which cascades across and down the sides of an entire porch trellis out my kitchen window has begun blooming. the extravagance of God is made clear to me in wisteria. the great ocean of lilac with its swells of bud and blossom tumbling up and over itself, is breathtaking.

leaves are a necessity of photosynthesis. a mere afterthought to the extravagant and joyful giving of the Bridegroom to his bride.

there is a dogwood, white, which is out my living room window. i sat to read merton yesterday (i spent the whole day with him, i have to return him today), and i kept gazing at this dogwood. something about dogwoods, they get more lovely with each passing day. i think, that is the most beautiful tree i've ever seen (and the pink dogwood, utterly gorgeous). then i see it the next day and i'm breathless again.

there is a little riding path through the church garden, and it circles through all manner of flowering bushes, whose names i do not know. but the blossoms leaping scent as you pass by. it is hard not to want to linger.

the sun is just coming up, the birds are still silent. but dawn is breaking. my Bridegroom is coming, i better go meet Him.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

squirrel dens and bffs

i spend a lot of time outdoors now, wandering through the village. much of this time i am looking up through trees at the gorgeous blooms. i can stand under a tree for a very long time and just look. i fade out of reality in some way, as i take in the angles, particular leafage, and scene.

i sometimes wonder if people looking out their windows, seeing me standing under their tree (we're such a possessive society), think i'm odd.

my little girl has a bff now (for those of you who are male or over the age of nine, that would be "best friend forever"), a little girl in the villiage she has met a couple times.

so i'm under this tree for at least a half hour, staring. i hear the little girl say,
what is your mom looking up in the tree for?

my girl knew because i had pointed it out to her. and we have a kind of sign language like i do with my sister. we can use very few words and communicate a great deal. so our communiques are not always caught by those around.

she's looking at a squirrel,
my girl said.

the kids flanked me. two razor (or scooter) helmeted riders, to my right and my girl atop her bike to my left. we all stood in a line staring up at the tree.

i've always wanted to befriend children and animals. everyone else is a necessary evil as far as i'm concerned. children don't befriend just anyone. espeically the mean ones. when i meet and connect with a mean or "bad" kid, it pleases me immensely.

same with animals. when i walk through the parking lot or around our little apartment, the squirrels stop dead in their tracks and look at me. i talk to them now and say,
it's only a matter of time. we'll be friends. i'm sure of it.
i've got nothing but time here.

i have to file homeschool papers, and i'm wondering how it will look to put, instruction in poetry: befriending animals and examining trees. probably won't go over too well. but this is a different type of education, that's all.

the ducks at the creek were swooping in and out. i'd never seen (at such close proximity: within five feet) a duck fly out of the clear blue sky and land in the water. saw it many times yesterday. the boys were chasing the girls. there was a lot happening. meanwhile my daughter is trying to lure them close to feed them. they did not want to be fed though.

so my girl picks up her recorder and plays her,
i hate ducks song.

which i found funny, until the noise pollution made it very unfunny. she got over it. the ducks came around. did not eat, but entertained us for a good while.

then we went home, but found my girl's bff and her little brother.

so we're all looking up at this squirrel den, and there was a tiny little squirrel face which would peek out. then it would disappear. if you watch something like that long enough you get what is happening. i could make out three distinct squirrel babies. when one would look out the hole for a time, the other would put his hand on his head and push him out of the way, not unlike actual children when trying to see out the den hole. (can you imagine seeing the world for the first time? it is an image i've yet to wrangle into words. but i'm thinking on it.)

i watched this jockeying for position even after the kids resumed their cycling, scootering, and ball kicking.

once in a while, diminutive squirrel forearms would pop out of the hole, as if they were trying to see if they had the ability to cling to the wood. which, they did. the most i saw was half a baby squirrel popping out the hole. and when the kids would circle around and ride by, the squirrels would watch ever so curiously and pull their little heads in. sometimes there were two little squirrels trying to look out the hole.

i need to go back today and see if the squirrels don't venture out entirely. meanwhile, my girl and her dad will try another church where her bff and family go. i will stick with the little chapel for now.

Monday, May 01, 2006

dishpan hands

my husband asks me why i like this little church we found (or God put us in, is probably more accurate).

i don't really have an answer. but i left for church yesterday morning heavy of heart. weary. many troubled waters of my mind were stirring. and i walked to the chapel and sat in the creaky old wooden pews (the building has been around since 1860), and the stain glassed windows tower to the ceiling. they have the names of the men and women (full names, not just mrs. henry whatever) who donated them. they are all stained glass, so the colored hue of the room is especially gorgeous in the morning.

there's a big punchbowl of holy water (i don't know the proper names for any of this stuff), and a huge altar with kneelers 360 degrees around, gorgeous.

when the priest is preparing the one Great Feast, the bell tower chimes at particular junctions and it makes my heart beat faster. when the fraction happens, it rings thrice and i just lose my breath. i wondered how they knew when it was time to ring the bell (i couldn't figure it out), but a lady i met yesterday told me the bell ringer just listens to the liturgy and knows when to ring it. it is still utterly gorgeous though demystified.

i think the ceremony of it all, the organ (and i'm not partial to any organ, they are a weird instrument whose sound is less than glorious, shall we say), the hymns sung fully--all six verses if there be six verses, that blesses me because i'm about the story, the build up, the message of what we're singing not that it fits in some time slot.

sometimes i think we put God in corset and wonder why He doesn't let it all hang out.

this song was sung yesterday, and i wrote down the words and sang it for the rest of the afternoon. i now want more than anything to add it to my slight piano repertoire.
Fairest Lord Jesus

1. Fairest Lord Jesus,
ruler of all nature,
O Thou of God and man the Son,
Thee will I cherish,
Thee will I honor,
Thou art my glory, joy and crown.

2. Fair are the meadows,
fairer still the woodlands,
Robed in the blooming garb of Spring;
Jesus is fairer,
Jesus is purer,
Who makes the woeful heart to sing.

3. Fair is the sunshine,
fairer still the moonlight,
And all the twinkling starry host;
Jesus shines brighter,
Jesus shines purer
Than all the angels heaven can boast.

my girl has been tricking me into long walks. and i hardly need to be tricked but sometimes i don't want to go anywhere until i get there. she knows this about me. so we're out rambling about town and she says,
turn left here. let's turn right there.
and i let her lead because she is a bright girl.

so she mentions she saw a park, and i'm thinking, this is another trick (Lord, forgive my unbelief). so we backtrack and sure enough, there is a park. dedicated and signed, everything. it is this wooded park that makes one feel like they are in the forest. i walked through this place with awe, and we found the creek is accessible in this park.

while walking i felt like a little child being led. i kept thinking of peter being led where he does not want to go. (does the Bible come to you this way? actively? incorporating itself into your every day? i think this is part and parcel of why i get the poetry i get. the Bible speaks to me every day in myriad ways).

sitting beside the creek, mallard girls and boys came to see if we had any food for them. there is nothing half so lovely as a duck butt sticking up in the air while it gets food. the angular shapes and buoyancy were just delightful.

at one point there was some duck ruckus and my girl asked,
what are they doing?

the boys are fighting over the girls,
i said.

she said,
the girls are fighting.

then the girls are fighting over the boys, (figures)
i said.

we saw the snake again. or a cousin. swimming up stream, and i called my girl,
come look at the snake.
which probably wasn't the brightest thing to do, but i figured the odds of getting bit by a snake swimming by are probably relatively low.

i sat there, beside the creek and sang fairest Lord Jesus. it was healing to my soul. i am sure my girl and i will spend much time at this new park, especially since it is just down the street (the access point), from our apartment.

they had a dinner at the church, london broil, baked potatoes, and whatnots. my hubby helped cook. i helped do the dishes. it took hours to do all the dishes and i came home tired, but at peace.

sometimes, one needs the Body of Christ to be the Body of Christ. to encircle you without question and with acceptance. to give you a place to serve and let you do your job. for however long you happen to be there. to be a part. to belong.

i can't say why i like this little church, but it moves me deeply. it seems the kind of place i can find peace.