Wednesday, December 31, 2014

three hundred and sixty five

When you break a year down into days, it doesn't seem like much. Three hundred and sixty-five is not very many, especially when you think of all that can fit in the half-of-it during which we are awake. This year, and each day in it, spilled over with what filled me, us, the schedule, up.

2014 began and with it came a ring unlike the others. Boyfriend turned Fiance. Girlfriend turned Bride. Certainty now had a public symbol, one I wore on my left hand. Rings like these bring in a rush of everything: peace, joy, purpose. There's planning to be done and beauty to maintain and tradition to honor. Through the rush, we kept our eyes on each other. Through the pressure building, we held each other's shoulders up. Our hands did part to do the work, but they always came back together. For this, I am humbled & grateful.

I haven't written about our wedding day just yet. One would think - and I did, too - that marriage would be my main reason to speak, before and once it happened. But actually, I've been having some difficulty fitting our day, and especially our relationship, onto a page, inside some alphabet and letters, marked with the dirt of grammar and structure and limited time. The sound of clicking keys, pen on page, pencil led a-marking; I love them all. But none of them can tell you what it meant to marry my husband, and what it means to me to be his wife. I suppose if you could crawl in here, camp out in the deep reaches of my soul, breathe the fresh air he moves into my spirit; maybe then you'd grab an inkling. But it would still lack. He doesn't fit in a sentence, paragraph, page, poem, book series, library, planet. When time rushes on, we keep our eyes on each other. Though pressure likes to build, we hold each other's shoulders up. If I have to pick between anything and him, I choose him. When I do have to go away, I bring what I can of him with me.

This year has been good and blessed, but each day has brought its own version of groundwork. You can not build on sand, and so we've found ourselves sifted. Sometimes a little, sometimes all at once. We've watched our community both rally and reel, as birth and death, each in their own turns, take breaths. We've felt our grip on each other tighten, both with gratitude and, if we're honest, fear of loss. I've locked myself away and opened my heart just as swifly; so fickle is my hope, for humanity, for myself. I've been gracious and I've been rude; I've been a mama bear and I've bitten my tongue, and I've acquired a taste for the mouth-blood earned by restraint.

Even more, I've watched my family and friends navigate these days, dark and light as they are. This year, in its fullness, is done now. The good things, the anchors, we keep in celebration. The bad can not be reversed, though some reversals would save us. What we didn't do wasn't done. What we live for will find our hearts mended, if we live well; our buried desires will stay where we put them, for now.

What did come from this latest set of three hundred and sixty five? Every time the morning unwrapped itself, it became something. Each day is a package full of moments, and we caught things in the snare of time well spent. Sure, some things have slipped, but if you look at your net you'll see it is glittering; most of what you need is right here. We miss those who are gone (oh god, do we miss them), but so much of what they gave us is found when grace, in turn, finds us. Grace finds us in the still-here hands of those we love.

2014 was the year of the knee-bend.  Humility, gratefulness, turmoil, beauty, prayer: much of what was experienced kept our limbs on the ground. As we carry on with what 14's days gave us, we send a kiss into the wind of what took place, as we ready ourselves for another year.

It only takes twenty-four hours to spin the planet. Just think of how much change could be headed our way.  So much good to be found in this next set of days; let's help each other look for it.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

for auld lang syne, my dear

Though memories are made, forgot, and kept in hearts, entwined; though hope does come and go a lot, joint efforts soul-deep bind. Stay with the hearts who heal you, leave the pains from past behind. Let love break your heart and then rebuild you over time. The moment shows it's weaknesses, so hold it gently, let it win, remember all the good there's been, for auld lang syne.

antonio de simone

 until i write about all of the things, I'll write, vaguely, about some of them.
blessed december to each of you, each in your own way;
may it be blessed in the way you need it.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

it is well

Winter comes and with it comes the weather: whether rain or snow, grateful sunshine, crisp air, darker days, awakening breaths. Both the good and the bad draw us inward, toward family or solitude, staying home, admiring window panes. The winter invites hibernation, introspection, inner-self-exploration. It also invites discovery. Think of unwrapped gifts, recipes pulled from a hot oven, shoveled walkways, novel pages. There are relationships to deepen, sort out, let go of, admire. There are tests on patience, providence, people skills. Need arises in a new way, gets highlighted, our radios are rampant with opportunities to give. As much as we spend the winter days indoors, much is pulled from within to get through it. Don't forget that. You are strong and will survive this season, and good will come, is here, has happened to get you to it.

I admit it: I keep forgetting about the hope that comes in with the cold. Rather: I've been reading the news a lot. Is this stuff always happening, or has the world been shaking with unrest in a new way, lately? Children everywhere, such injustice, such horror taking their lives. What those children, men and women must have gone through in their last moments here on earth. It draws the breath & stops the heart to think of it. My eyes close at my own feelings of helplessness; nothing can be done from here. Every day I tune in, a new (and yet, old familiar) form of brokenness takes the spotlight. Poverty of spirit, and depravity of mind & moral seem to be winning out, ending the innocent. Right and wrong have become a matter of personal benefit; no longer is Right out to help the others. Right is ownership, a stronger hand, a louder voice, a bigger gun. Right is MY RIGHT, and not necessarily right at all. Affronts to justice are committed by everyone, and admitted by few. Humility is a lost art.

It is well with my soul. These words from an old hymn, once easily spilled off my tongue, are now an echo bouncing. Is it, really? I've been turning that phrase around a lot. It is well. How do I feel about this phrase? On its surface it is confusing. Death is not well, tragedy is not well, not heartache, or discord, or unrest. But then, The waves & wind still know his name, don't they? I've heard this so much, and yet I wonder: what happens when the mountain stands firm in front of our nation, our kids, our families? What happens when the sea doesn't swallow our pain?

As it turns out, It is well is as ironic as faith itself. Faith is best displayed in hardship, perhaps peace is, too. The only way I can be well is when I stop trying to climb the mountains on my own. I can not move them, I can only sit humbly at the bottom, and look up. Peak to peak to peak, Hope rises like sunshine, twinkles like stars.

I was talking to my little darling a few weeks ago about space. We were talking about planets, clouds, weather. She wished aloud that the stars would be in the sky all the time, she loved them so much. I took great joy in telling her: sweetie, the stars are always there, even when we can't see them. The earth is surrounded, at all times, by little lights. The only reason we can't see them is because the sun is too bright.

If I admire anything about creation, it's this: light is always there. It changes form, and colors the morning, the afternoon, the evening, the night differently; but light is light regardless. Clouds may cover it, daytime heat may dwarf it (but even daytime heat is light), and nights get longer in certain seasons, but light, put simply, is. Always.

When I can not reconcile my heart to the mountain, I reconcile instead, to light. I take my heartache out, point to the sky, and ask it to believe again.

Wherever you find yourself this Christmas, whether in joy or question marks, look for the light in your world. It may be as tiny as a star, but it, most certiainly, is.

Friday, December 12, 2014

a little wind

the sun, the waves, the wind: by Steffi Au Fotografie
: on flickr

every time it's windy
i am moved
     and assume    the wind is
for me;   change,

it says.

every time it's windy on     my    street
i am      moved   
                            as i think
how    the     wind      is   moving
on everyone's street
knocking  everyone's windows
lifting everyone's            feet.

every     time
    the wind   moves
                me         i     stand
where i am   i stay  put    and    lean
              i put foot to     land

    i   am   calmed   when   i   breathe
        through the    pressure     rushing
             and all around  beseeching me
                                               to stop.

Pay attention to the signs         
                                          the broken branches
            the apprehensions in the trees
              swaying this way and                            crack!

        Do you see what it means?   Do you see what happens when the growth
        from the roots refuses to glean from     age old   wisdom:   be    willing
                                       to move    when the wind does
                                                                 or you'll break
                                                                     into threes

          Part one: what was          Part two: what grew    
                                                                                     Part three: split by force

every time  it's windy    i can see    that a little    wind    is  nothing to be    afraid of:

    a fourth thing surprises, at least eventually:  new where broken,  in the air: peace.

© afterthought composer

Thursday, December 11, 2014

take your blessings as they come

It seems as though each angered swing t'ward the heavens is answered in some funny form: a flock of birds over the sunrise, a touch in perfect time, a needed conversation. Tempting, perhaps, to ask what in the heck flying birds have to do with sorrow. The answer is: practically nothing. But, if you're anything like me, you've got your own version of a signal, your own soul-deep way of telling if the world will swallow your whole heart, or not.

Let's call them there birds: air bubbles. A puff to the face from a God who's got the world in tow.  Let's call the hand on my shoulder a rapid awakening, as if sadness were a dream, and happy-abilities were a dream within it. Parking lot talking and office escapees and letters in the mail: all service the reminder need. It's easy to feel forgotten when you forget yourself. How gracious, then, that I'm not forgotten; I'm not alone on the earth. How gracious I've got people to poke holes in my solitudium, every now and again. Else, I'd swallow my heart whole (or not).

So, it's been a good week. I've been lifted. But,

I'd be lying if I said I no longer desired an Encouraging Word of Biblical Proportions. Where are my open-faced rocks and dancing columns of  lava, my doormats watered by heaven, and not by the Vancouver rain? And where, hello, are the visions of my enemies, being tossed about in a sea recently parted?

Yes, I would find that encouraging.

Maybe it's generous of Him, then, to stay silent. As it turns out, if He truly spoke I'd light on fire. And if I'm honest, I usually assume his speaking = Worst Case Scenario of Biblical Proportions Wherein God Takes Away to Teach Lesson. If that's true, his silence is especially generous.

Because I've got myself afraid of hearing Jesus, I'll settle for wing-ed things and quiet drips of water, distant voices, muffled by the chasm of the creation of my brain. I'll breathe & bathe in the fresh air of all I've been given. I'll hope, because hope is one of the many good things. I'll pray; on the periphery.


Monday, December 8, 2014

seriously considering alcoholism

I probably don't mean that. I probably mean that I'd like an easy form of escape. The title's suggestion is not truly easy, and I know that, but it does take less time to drink a drink than it does to nap, go on vacation, watch a whole TV series, eat an ice cream cake. But I should be clear, since certain people I know will print this out and bring it to their lawyer as PROOF SHE'S A TERRIBLE MOTHER/WIFE/HUMAN BECAUSE LOOK WHAT SHE WROTE ON HER BLOG: I'm just kidding about the alcoholism.

In a time of life where Life is unrelentingly busy and I can't stop it, where the perverted, maniacal little clowns keep throwing shit in the fan and aiming it right at my face, and The Great Doctor feels it necessary to dump all of the salt in my raw, raw, wounds: tell me why the sermon was about rest and peace, and how those who receive the two are under the favor of God and those who do not receive them are not in the favor of God. Dear Jesus, do you really think I needed to feel abandoned about something else?

I digress. Jesus has it out for my sanity. He has a serious hate-on for my comfort zones, boundary lines, requests for progression, positive feelings about humanity. He continually turns my sweet, healing water into acid (for the record, I'm the one who turns that acid into whine).

The problem is, you can't love God and people and wear a protective sleeve over your heart. It doesn't work that way. You can either be gracious through the pain, or set the boundary for next time. You can either be honest about your love, or lie to protect yourself. Self-preservation and generosity of spirit don't mix. In fact, self-preservation doesn't mix with anything, except bitterness, greed, nashing teeth, haphazard soap-box construction, and confessional booths I make myself, wherein I try to hear God over my reactions.

I guess I'm waiting for something more than a whisper. Threads are hard to hold on to. Where are the grand gestures, winds of change, holy fire-pillars, parting seas? Where are the angels with messages just for me? They're in a book, on a page, and even there, I can not find them.

amazing photo: credit:

Thursday, December 4, 2014

something to write about; writing about something

I've been wondering lately - well, not only lately, but especially lately - if I am addicted to the treacherous. Hear me out. My life is easy. Embarrassingly easy. Not only in comparison to the rest of the world, but especially in comparison to the rest of the world. Basic needs are met with ease for me, the only squeezing comes when I buy myself too much stuff. I enjoy a plethora of little luxuries. My question of addiction comes from the awareness that, for the past few years at least, it has been much easier for me to write when things are difficult, and much more difficult to write when they are not. I have developed a habit of swinging my words, with some force at, or in direct reaction to, the changing winds. Though I don't depend on faulted cues, unfortunate coincidences, and angry people, I have certainly used the existence of all these things as a crutch for getting something on the page. I miss the days when the wind could come or go and I'd be writing anyway. I miss those days.

I have just begun part two (or rather, the second "part one") of a two-part book entitled HOW TO BE BOTH, by Ali Smith. It's a brilliant novel - and though I don't often swear (and especially not where my mom will read it), I feel I'm leaving something important out of my desciptor, by not using any swearwords. A bit of advice: don't read about it first. Just go buy it, open it, dive in. Reading anything on the amazon page, or elsewhere, especially comments and reviews, will ruin the experience of this piece (why I didn't include a link -- no snooping!). This book is one to be experienced without preperation.

Reading How to be Both, in its opening pages, annoyed me greatly. Here it is, you guys: a well-written stream-of -consciousness novel; a novel I have been told ad nauseum could not be written well. It's poetic and formula-breaking and really, really good.
I digress.

I am envious of those who create, whether by force or habit, and not by circumstance. It seems I am a circumstance writer, trying very hard to know how to write, no matter the circumstances.