Monday, July 28, 2014

Both (a poem)



(Photo Source: HERE.)


I am both 
the sunflower 
and the seed;
both turning 
toward the light 
and digging
down, deep 
into darkness. 
There is not 
one without 
the other.


Linking with Playdates With God.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Abundance (Among the Raspberries and Cucumbers)




I stood on a steep, wooded trail eating raspberries by the handful.  In that moment I was only my outstretched arm, greedy fingers prying plump berries from large clusters.  I was eyes trained on the color red hiding beneath green leaves; I was only a gaping mouth, consuming.  

Eventually my eyes lifted and I realized the berries covered the mountainside – I could never eat them all.  Then I slowed and began to taste again, the abundance, the red juice a communion connecting me again to the grace and mercy that dwells among us.  

This morning I took my kids hiking.  We walked around the edges of soybean fields, through cool shaded woods.  All along the trail berries hung, bright jewels singing their siren songs of sweetness.  Again we were all arms, reaching, grabbing, mouths consuming.  

Isaiah dove into the woods like a hound on the hunt, throwing poison ivy caution to the wind.  Finally, satisfied, he lifted his shirt and rubbed his soft, round belly, “Me full, Mommy.”   

After lunch (fresh berries on yogurt) we ended up in the garden.  We clambered about, hunter gatherers careful to keep our feet from the vines and leaves.  The garden is a sea of green layered on top of green and our eyes played tricks on us – how to tell the green of a cucumber from its vine, the dark emerald of a melon from the leaf that shades it.  Cucumbers hid, giant ones nestled in among the zucchini bushes.  The harvest was too great for five pairs of hands to bear, so we filled the red wagon and pulled it up to the house.  

Wherever Jesus shows up in the Bible, there is abundance – great vats of wine that refuse to run out, bread that rises to the occasion of feeding a crowd, catches of fish that nearly sink the boats.  I am not a fisherman and the bread we took to the lake last night to feed the ducks lasted about as long as I thought it should.  But right now there’s a strainer of blood-red raspberries in my kitchen sink and somehow I know that grace and mercy dwell still in the woods, the garden, in the abundance of the earth giving and giving, as it does.  

Monday, July 21, 2014

An Opening that Leads (On Writing, Retreats and Regular Life)



 (this is the view out the front of our house, the old garage I'm writing about is out back)

My oldest son runs shouting into the house, eyes round like dinner plates.  “We found an opening that leads underground!” he exclaims and I picture a doorway leading to another world.

“Where?” I ask. 

“In the last garage, it’s creepy in there!  We found a pipe and when you put your hand inside it feels cool.”  Breathless, he turns and runs out of the house, headed back to the garage.

The older two are exploring, rooting through the yard and garage for lost bits of treasure that they plan to display in a museum of their own making.  Admission is rumored to be set at twenty-five cents.  I’m cleaning in the house, trying to make some order out of chaos when they run in again, one just a few steps behind the other.   

“We found bones!” they cry, their voices conveying the combined excitement and creepiness of the discovery. 

“Where?” I ask, again.

“In the furnace!” they shout.

I follow them this time, out across the lawn and driveway, into the cool, dark cave of the last garage.  My son pulls the skeleton of some small animal out of an old brick oven.   

After close examination, he declares it to be the remains of a baby bird and it isn’t long before they find a whole nest of skeletons, the mama and several babies.  Based on their location, I imagine they may be rats rather than birds, but given my reluctance to examine the remains, I let my son's conclusion stand.   

They wash the bones in a plastic storage bin and leave them to dry in the sun.

//

I returned yesterday from a weekend-long writer’s retreat at God's Whisper Farm.  I wrote while I was there, just a little, listened to the music of a fine musician, and thought about the place of writing in my life.  Before returning home I set a modest writing goal.

But then I returned to swirling chaos of family life and because I stepped away for a time, I'm now feeling very behind - behind in the laundry, dishes, cooking, shopping, sleep and, ironically enough, behind in my writing.  Now even the small goal I set feels like a millstone hung around the neck of a woman already drowning.

//

“We found an opening . . ." he said, and I realize that’s what I’m looking for too, some way in and through this crazy sinking mess, an avenue to something more life-giving than simply managing the chaos.  I want a way to excavate my life, a way of reaching through to a place of earthy coolness and what strikes me as my children root through the old furnace’s ashes is that this is what writing is for me.

Writing is digging under, inside-of, behind the surface of things; writing uproots the skeletal remains of what was, re-imagining its place in the wider scope of things. Writing is the cool water that washes off the bones of the daily, revealing the very structure of life as I lay it all out here on the page to dry.

//

By lunch time I’ve managed to mop the kitchen floor – a feat which has not been performed here for a month or more.  The kids are filthy from ashes and soot, their feet stained black from rummaging in the old garage. 

Mindful of my now-clean floors, I fill another bin with soapy water and gather them all around me at the back step.  They sit there while I wash their feet, one set at a time.  Lunch is buttered noodles and left-over hot dogs, not a vegetable in sight, and then it’s time for quiet time.  Off to their rooms they go, clean-footed, to build with Legos.

In the silence, in the space made by their absence I remember, there is an opening that leads, and I open the lap top and begin to write, feeling the coolness of what lies beneath as it spreads across the page.     

This post is linked with Playdates with God and Unforced Rhythms.