The Least I Can Do

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I am certain,

Someday when I rock a chair with my weathered skin, my worn out body,

that I will rock to the rhythm of these days.

That old chair, will click with the memories of bare feet on these plank floors,

the steady and predicted tick of irrigation running,

the anticipated sun on their eyelids as it rises over us,

the ebb and flow of the waves on all the lakes we have sat beside this summer.

All these memories will rock me to sleep, help me keep the peace.

But there is something else in me too;

I am terrified of these luxurious days.

In a world where bombs fall on schools and hemorrhagic fevers rage;

Where planes just fall from the sky and vanish,

is it still okay to spend an entire afternoon searching for the perfect swimming hole?

Am I part robot, all callous, if I can’t read another article about Syria but instead

read a poem by Wendell Berry as the sun rises, Annie Dillard as the sun sets?

I don’t know.

I make an offering of the huckleberries we picked.

A ceremony of the found fruits I hold and wash.

I celebrate the things that seem whole in a world so dreadfully broken.

Each one is a prayer for my friends in the midst of the rage.

To begin, I make all the peace I can.

 

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When You Forget Your Own Name

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There are days when discouragement sneaks in from behind. It creeps all stealthily and I am knocked down before I even know the blow occurred. Sometimes I can sense it coming, the way I start to forget myself and seek my identity in the approval I can read in your eyes. My laugh gets louder, my voice more shrill, NOTICE ME. Tell me WHO I AM. This is what happens when an introvert gets turned inside out. Sometimes we sense your feelings more than our own, and I am sure my name is failure, broken, weak. It would seem I have forgotten my very own name.
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There is so many things to do when this starts to happen, turn on the tv, the computer, scroll instagram. There is a prescription made for it I am sure, or you can buy something under the counter that works like the anaesthetic you are craving.

OR.
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How was your day? A Note from HERE

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So tell me…How was your day?

By the time night closes in on us we will all have spent every second of our days. We will have spent it however we choose. We will have squandered it or invested it. We will have used it for building up or tearing down. We will find ourselves depleted or we will be, in Him, restored.

There is no need to reply ‘I’m busy’ each time someone asks you how you are. Of course you are. We all are. Life is full. If you have kids, some of your minutes are not even your own, in some seasons almost none of them are. But you still didn’t answer my question.

What I really want to know about is, what is the state of your heart in the midst of all this?What happens to you in the whirlwind? Can you remain steadfast? Can your heart continue to be at peace? Did you notice even one shred of beauty? Or did you rush right by? Did you fix your heart in the present moment or did you let the cares of tomorrow bind your chest up tight? It is never how many things you do (or don’t do) that burns you out or saves the day. It is all about the way you walk through the day, what did you make space for?

Do you hear that? Peace singing out over the tops of the pine trees? Don’t get bound up again. Don’t let the rat race put you in a maze, nor the competition make you jump hurdles. Don’t let your fear of man put you in cages or your fear of failure keep you from trying. Don’t start believing your kids are scanning Pinterest for ideas for their birthdays…you are not in a competition with anyone.

Life is not made up of giant yesses or grandiose declarations. Life is mostly spent in the subtleties. God loves to whisper to you and the beauty is corrupted by the slight turns to the left or right. You will not notice either with the way you spin like a top.

So tell me, where it is you feel your soul quiet , the world spin a little slower? Tell me how you will learn to spend a few more minutes there. Tell me how you will be, wherever you are, without plan or agenda. Tell me…how will you hear Him?

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Today, was library books, swimming lessons, soccer game, 300 youth to the beach night, spelling words (while driving home). Today was meetings on meetings and paperwork on paperwork. Today was exercise on the elementary school campus and arriving late for pick up. Today…was good. Being busy is not synonymous with a heart full of RUSH. I promise you, even in your fullest days you get to choose what you notice.What will you call out to good? In the 20 minutes between swimming and soccer I pulled out a picnic blanket, a peanut butter sandwich and a bucket of watermelon and the three of us laughed and joked and smelled the grass and noticed the clouds. I breathed in the smell of the earth on their skin, I thanked God for that moment.

I am called to HERE and NOW and so are you. Be there. HERE. Lets all spin a little slower.

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When We Build Walls

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The mallards are back. The hen is on her nest, the drake there most days too. The two of them slowly paddling, they fly across the road sometimes, I think the eating is better in the marsh. Most days I see them.

On Sunday my little family took a raft on the pond. It is too small for much but a perfect place to search for snails or tadpoles. The kids took their butterfly nets, a bucket. We could not stay though. My dog, who is rather large, would not stop hassling that hen on her nest. And she would not flee. She would dive and squawk and flutter and flap but she would not go more than five feet away. This hen would not leave her eggs, would not cower to any old dog, she was willing to risk her neck for those ducklings. Samwise kept at it, tail wagging with the joy of the chase.

Mothers are like that. The way they throw themselves in harm’s way. The way they will do anything to protect their young. I’m feeling it this week. Feeling so much like they are sheep among wolves.

A few days ago, my daughter asked me if I knew the very worst word in the world. And I said, ‘no, what is it’. Up till now, the very worst word has been stupid so when she looked me straight in the eye and dropped the ‘f bomb’ in the middle of the living room, I was a little taken a back. There is nothing uglier off the tongue of a little person and I was amazed at how it sounded. How it rubbed some of the gloss off. “The boys taught me in the cloak room” she said. She wore two pigtails to school today, a shirt with kittens on it. Oh God let them be little…

On the way home from school last night, my boy told me that his little friend had to go see the judge because he ate too many drugs. “It is like what happens when you drink too much pop”, he says. This boy doesn’t live with his parents now, I guess this is why.  My heart is still up into my throat when we get home and I plan to hold up in the woods for a few days. Let us dig a mote, build impermeable fortresses. Let us imagine that there are dragons to slay and pirates to fight shall we? I don’t want you to know about the real beasts of our world.

Not just yet.

But I won’t stay here long. Safety only exists in fairy tales, the land beyond the sea.

Besides, am I not at least as brave as a duck?

You see every fence I build, every wall I erect throws another child to the wolves, creates one more wildling. Every time I think I am protecting my kids from something, could I actually be putting them at greater risk? The shootings and stabbings, the kids left outside our great fortresses are being ravaged, they can’t do it alone. We see it all the time in youth. The kids left lingering around the outside. The kids, who by no action of their own, have never learned to swim, have never played a soccer game, have never had a family meal, don’t know what homemade gravy tastes like. The kids for whom the world is too dark, too dangerous they get fierce there on the outside. But they don’t have to…

I am throwing open our doors. Putting down the draw bridge. That empty seat in my car? I want to fill it. That empty place at my dinner table? I want to set it. I want to be someone these kids can trust. I want to be a bright spot in their dark days. I want them to know that we believe in them.

I know this is too simple. That when gates are open, the wild sneaks in and sometimes unsuspecting sheep get eaten up. I know that a mind can corrupt even under the very best of care. Still. I think we can do better. I think we can be as innocent as doves even while the wolves are howling. I think we can teach our kids to be wise AND loving. Brave AND gentle.

We were sent. Let us not hide. Let us dance around these eggs, let us trick the wolves; shrewd and pure but NEVER afraid.

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I am all nostalgia, for the moment I am in now. My baby girl only braved the water slide if she was firmly in my lap. I obliged a million times, what if this is the last time she wants me? They are growing fast these kids. I am having the urge to MAKE ALL THE MEMORIES. DO ALL THE THINGS. Last night I shaped rice crispies into bird nests, stuck a peep on top. I bought the basket stuffing, the chocolate rabbits. TIme is slipping on me. I want to look it straight in the face.

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It has not been easy to be Mr. O this week. It has been all trouble and trial; challenge and testing. He has struggled. When my son pulls away hard and we feel him distancing, weakening, we know he is getting discouraged with his very own flesh, the way it fails. I need to learn to be a vessel of hope for him, how do I pour it out all over him when the world has dragged him down? How do I teach him to be his own clay pot? Opening up to the voice of God in his life, the voice of hope over the hopeless? How do I teach him to throw himself back on the potters wheel when the cracks start to show?

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I am a nurse on a campus. My favorite demographic of humans is people in their early twenties, when they are all fun and hope and laughter. When they are certain they are thinking thoughts nobody ever has, when they have all the authority of a boat not yet rocked. When the world is their oyster, an open clam, and they are all mining the pearls. Tragedy strikes them fiercely, the dark is such a contrast to the light in their eyes. I struggle then too. Darkness just seems so encompassing sometimes.

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It is Holy Thursday. Today is about the foot washing, the betrayal just on the horizon, the remembering. Today, I think about what Judas wanted. Did he get frustrated with the way Jesus was going about things? Did the messiah not do things his way? Was the world just still too dark? I feel like that sometimes. Sometimes, the church, the bride, is not what I imagined her to be. Jesus doesn’t show up the way I would like him too. You need to watch yourself then, you teeter on trading it all for a lousy bag of cash.

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There is very little doubt about the Good Friday world we live in. How easy it is to see the giant boulder there and walk away. Today I am asking God to show me all the stones He is rolling. All the new life he is making. All the Freedom He is giving.

Today, I’m asking Him to rise again in my heart, to clear this temple, to make all things new.

Your Calling

wpid-storageemulated0PicturesVSCOCam2014-02-20-04.53.41-1.jpg.jpgThere is a doe and two fawns I watch too closely. I see her most days, just past Huckleberry road, and before I pass Jackpine. We saw them first last spring when the littles were all wobble legged and spotted. They are yearlings now, almost her size but not quite. I count them out, “1, 2 oh where is the third?! Oh…there she is” and I sigh deep. I am somehow all tangled up with that doe and her fawns wandering around the Rich. If there is anything you can say about me, it is that I am a reckless romantic, finding meaning where there might be none.

That bush is on fire is it not? Burning up with the things of God. What, you can’t see it? Are you blind?

I watched “Big Fish” for the 1 millionth time this week and wept like a child again. Us storytellers do that. You can tell me about that time you went shopping for shoes and I will wonder what it taught you. How were you tossing light while you walked? What of the kingdom upside down did you bring along for the ride? What great character did you meet? Did they challenge your capacity for the peace or did you just come along side, see the gift of the co-created moment.

It freaks me out when people talk about calling as a far off thing. As something they are working towards becoming. A job they will someday get and then they will “BE IT”. You know that is all fading right? That none of it will stand? You can be a preacher but unless you are preaching all the time regardless of your vocation you ain’t no preacher. And I, well you know I love the words, as reckless as I am with them, as ill-equipped as I am to write, still I do. There is no book contract on my horizon, this will never make me an income and yet still I write, because it is the only place the whole world comes together in my head. I am in graduate school and I am having fun. Imagine if it was my job to sit and speak of ideas and healing and all the good things? It will put food on the table and adventure in my lap, but my calling will not be to teach. I am to mother these children well, to lay down my life, put it aside for the little people. Still that is not the whole of my call. A calling is not the thing you do, it is the way we move. 

My calling, and yours too, is to be the salt and the light wherever we walk. We walk in the way of the freedom fighters, and we are to speak the language of the prophets. I want my kids to see the big story that lies just beneath the surface of all the things we do. The way I want them to tell the stories of our strange adventures and the way I want them to question if they really experienced that…Did I imagine that fantastical evening? The way the skies burned bright with stars? I want them to sit around, moments before I die someday with all the people who brushed up against our life. The way I want them to celebrate a life lived to the edges, to the depths. I hope they will say something about the way I loved people, the light of God that leaked out of the edges of my life. The way we sought the glory laden in the mundane of these dailies and perhaps someday, when we return to the dust and the funeral procession is coming, there will be people there shouting about our freedom songs how it rang  from our rafters.