Monday, June 26, 2017

It Was Good

Photo credit: Damien Taylor - 
Novelist Billy Coffey gave a great talk and reading Saturday evening.

This past weekend, three writers gathered two dozen more behind barn walls.  In a square room, wrapped in wood, floored in concrete, we sat around white plastic tables in folding chairs while a fresh breeze blew in through barn doors thrown open wide. 

We held space.

We held silence.

We honored words – ours and others’ and others’ still.

Then we held more silence, listened, and held space for words unspoken and words yet unheard. 

We pruned words – ours and others.  We trimmed back the dead, exposed new shoots, sank small sleeping seeds deep in darkness and watered them with attention and simple care.  We plotted out the landscape of our days, made plans to fence in empty spaces right in the middle of our back home, work-a-day, noisy, crowded lives.  We envisioned fertile ground, held apart, separate, where words and silence might wed, like water and sun, and bring forth bright blooms, arching vines, gnarled roots.     

Blue sky, rolling hills, and passing clouds wove mountain magic around us and we believed, again, in ourselves, in each other, and in the truth that “what we need is here.”  We found ourselves both hungry and fed, both giving and receiving; and it was good.  

//

Friends, I am just back from helping to lead the annual God's Whisper Writers' Retreat in Radiant, VA.  We've already set the date (June 22-24) for next year's retreat and will have the website up and running soon.  Meanwhile, you might want to nurture your writer's heart, by signing up for Andi's Discover Your Writing Self course which begins July 1st. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Sidewalk Flowers: Carry, Gather, Spread

I had the joy of speaking at our little church this past Sunday and, because I got to choose the text, I focused on 1 John 4:7-19.  I talked about the love of God that we are made from and for - the love of God that abides in us and invites us to abide in it.  

Before all of that, though, I shared the video below of the children's book, "Sidewalk Flowers," by JonArno Lawson.  I told the congregation how flowers - particularly wildflowers - are a symbol, for me, of God's love.  I told them to pay attention to the use of color in the book, to pay attention to the flowers.  I told them we can be like that little girl - carrying, gathering and sharing the love of God.  

Maybe you need a gentle reminder?  

You are loved by God - this is who you are - God's loved child.  God's love is in you, like a seed, just waiting to unfurl, to sink roots down deep, to grow you up into your one and only vocation as one who loves and is loved.  

May you carry love with you today.  

May you gather and spread the love of God wherever you go.   



Wednesday, June 14, 2017

How It Has Always Been



Summer hit our house like a freight train when the kids got off the bus last Friday at 1:15.  It's all good, but intense.  I'm still writing, but with preaching this Sunday and preparing for next week's (!) writing retreat, I didn't get my usual post out on Monday.  In lieu of anything new, I'm sharing this poem that first arrived in June 2014. Enjoy! Also, scroll down for a preview of some of the paintings I've been working on this spring. 


How It Has Always Been


The vicar general, shying away from ‘paganism’ hangs back and sits under a tree reading the guidebook.  I am able to approach the Buddhas barefoot and undisturbed, my feet in wet grass, wet sand. – Thomas Merton describing his visit to the sleeping Budhas in "The Asian Journal"

My son comes walking to me, barefoot, 
across the wet summer grass.
The morning light lays soft around him  
and in that moment I see how it is,
how every child is a contemplative, 
exposed in every way to the Now.  

“This is what you must become,” Jesus whispers 
and I see now how it has always been, God 
and his children, barefoot, the morning grass 
cool and wet beneath their feet.


* I stopped by Infinity Graphics today to get some prints of recent paintings. These bright beauties (the picture is a little dark) will soon be available to purchase as small wooden block paintings. Stay tuned.


Monday, June 5, 2017

Miss. Ann's Zinnia's (The Kingdom of God is Like . . . )


Sunday afternoon I left my husband with seed packets of Zinnias and Dahlias and walked up, across the yard, to look for a spade in our overflowing garage.  The planting of those flowers, four packets, was what I requested for Mother’s Day this year. 

I don’t know why planting seems, for me, an impossible task.  Maybe it’s that simple act of letting go and watching the impossible seed fall into darkness; maybe it’s the familiar struggle of facing an unknown future.  Whatever it is, my husband plants the garden each year and I, in time, tend it. 

Walking up from the garden, across the green expanse of lawn, I looked over at our neighbor’s yard.  They have a small, fenced in, vegetable garden and the wife, Ann, has a separate flower garden.  Their garden, like most in early spring, is a miracle waiting to happen – a tilled expanse of soil, a pregnant pause.  My eyes saw the emptiness there, the open waiting space, but in my mind I remembered the Zinnias. 

During our first summer here, we planted a good-sized vegetable garden filled with the practical means of nutrition.  Our neighbors did the same in their fenced-in plot, but around the outside edge of the fence grew large, splashy, red, purple and pink flowers – a fiesta of color that started blooming in late summer and stood strong into the fall. 

Oh how I envied Miss. Ann's Zinnias.  I eyed her flowers hungrily and finally, in September as the flowers were beginning to fade, asked if I might over and cut a bunch.  From that moment on, I was hooked. 

The following summer, I bought a packet of seeds and grew my own riot of reds and pinks.  I cut them and filled our house with vases.  I carried them to friends’ houses.  Everyone loved the Zinnias.

Then, last year, we made a farm stand for selling fresh, free-range chicken eggs.  I again planted my Zinnias (or rather, my husband did) and, when they grew and bloomed, I started cutting large happy bunches of purples and pinks, oranges and yellows and selling them in old tin cans at the farm stand for $1 each. 

It was a real steal for fresh cut flowers and they flew off of the farm stand’s two tilted shelves.  A friend suggested I should charge more.  But I refrained. 

I was already making a profit, but, what’s more, I know what it’s like to not be able to afford fresh flowers.  I know, also, how beauty feeds the soul.  I also know the feeling of finding a wonderful deal, how it opens our hearts and minds, makes us feel the expansive mystery of goodness and provision in the world that’s so often buried in layer after layer of unmet need. 

I wanted people to feel what I felt in my garden, the sensation of wonder and delight, the absurdity of so much color available for mere ornamentation.  

Returning to the garden with the trowel in hand that Sunday afternoon, I thought, the kingdom of God is like those Zinnias.  The Kingdom of God – heaven in our midst – blazes and waves in the place where it is planted.  It attracts the eye, captures the heart, fills those who are awake enough to notice, with longing.  The Kingdom of God is like a packet of seeds, bought for $1.49, that yields one hundred fold.  The kingdom of God is color cut and watered in an old tin can, bright joy on the side of the road bought with a handful of change – a deal too good to be true.