Shone

I saw you on a hill afar, shining like a light
I walked and walked forever,
Day turned into night

Night was dark and pitch, and heavy like a stone
I felt it weighing round my neck
“I’ll never make it home.”

I slept amid the tar pits, sludged it in that mud
I thought it made me warm now,
thought it felt like love

Until the daylight broke through, bright and clear and high
I saw you on that hilltop
Heavy with a sigh

I could not reach the summit, tarred and pitched about
I saw the light around you
And thought I’d do without

That light, though; holy, holy, encompassed me from there
Reaching with its fingers
Combing through my hair

I felt my feet now lifting, lilting on the air
The scales about me falling
The hopeless, dank despair

“Last night”, I told you, crying, “so dark, devoid of stars,
How am I redeemed now,
Standing where you are?”

But e’en as I asked it, I felt that light break through
It shone somehow within me
Filling me with you
 

“Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
and to guide us to the path of peace.” Luke 1:78-79

Popcorn Bowl

Gamma's popcorn bowl

Just a quick share today. For years (from my teens through most of my twenties) all I wrote – given the choice, of course – was poetry. I jotted little verses on scraps of paper, journals, napkins, the corner of a recipe – most of them are lost now, as you can imagine. But they often came to me in full form. I’m out of practice these past few years, but I have had the “poetry bug” biting at me again.

I had only ten minutes to sit down today (without an idea) and started with a short prayer, then wracked my brain for a topic. I had taken an extra minute to study Gamma’s popcorn bowl as it drained in my dish rack last night, and that’s what came to mind. Gamma’s on my mind a lot these days anyway, because, as I wrote about last week, she recently broke her pelvis, and faces a long recovery at 98 years of age.

So my disclaimers are; I’m a bit rusty, this came to me in less than five minutes, and I have no verifiable proof I’m a good poet to begin with! Ha ha! So, that said, here’s today’s five minute creation…

Popcorn bowl

“The finest aluminum” was made to last

Through endless evenings

From decades past

Awake on the floor of grandmother’s room –

Bursts of popcorn and laughter

made us swoon

We weren’t old enough to watch Benny Hill

We’d have sat at your feet

politely, still

For a taste of joy from the pink tinny bowl

Those nights, we knew well,

gave Summer a soul

Now it’s in my dish rack, you in a home

And it’s worn, and you’re worn

And I’m sentiment-prone.

2 Cents

Every day presents a new opportunity to grow. A lot of times these opportunities come in the form of painful circumstances, wherein I choose whether to trust God’s love and providence or “lean on my own understanding.“ Other times, the opportunity is more a gentle whisper or nudge that challenges my thinking or inspires me to act in new, more loving ways. Of course, I prefer the latter.

Take today, for example. Meandering along sidewalks that curve around the beautiful park near our home, I was overwhelmed with gratitude. I had an extra spring in my step, and I don’t even know why. It’s true, I always feel most peaceful and close to God when I’m outside enjoying nature, and this was a stunner of a day. I caught a whiff of jasmine, and while I was still in the middle of savoring that, wind rushed through the tops of the trees, rustling them like petticoats at an old-timey dance. The sun was out, of course. After all, this is Southern California. My heart was bursting with thanks, and the statements formed in my mind and shot like fireworks to God in rapid succession, just tripping one over the other;

Thank-you-for-this-beautiful-day-thank-you-for-the-smell-of-jasmine-thank-you-for-my-sweet,sweet boys,-thank-you-that-I-can-stay-home-with-them-and-take-them-on-walks-in-a-beautiful-park-like-this-thank-you-for-a-husband-I-love-and-adore-more-than-anyone-thank-you-for-a-roof-over-our-heads-thank-you-for-delicious-food-to-eat-thank-you-for-being-the-good-shepherd-and-for-how-you-promise-to-help-us-who-have-young-ones-thank-you-for-friends-and family-who-are-so loving-and-generous-and-patient-with-me,even-considering-my-flaws…

It occurred to me, even amidst this unusual level of gratitude, that a lesson must be forthcoming. I do have flaws, after all, and one thing God is faithful to do in me is to root out the weeds, one by one, so there is room for my roots to grow deeper still. I’ve asked him to do this gardening, knowing I myself can’t keep a simple potted plant alive (see rose picture. So sad.) And he loves me too much to leave me in one state, even a state of unusual gratitude!

Back at home, recalling a phone conversation with my mother this morning, I thought again of my beloved Gamma, who fractured her pelvis in a fall yesterday morning and now waits in a hospital for the details of her recovery to be decided by doctors. I’m so thankful that we still have her with us, at 98. So thankful that her voice, when we spoke yesterday, was still full of that unflappable spunk that is her undeniable signature. So thankful that my husband has a Summer job in Virginia that will allow us to see Gamma and the rest of my family. Yet I’m heartbroken when I consider the pain she is suffering from these fractures, and the tough recovery ahead of her. And I’m sad, today, that we don’t have enough money to send her flowers. Not even that little extra.

Stopping by my room to drop off some laundry, I noticed a box of cards sitting on my vanity; the beautiful, gilded notes bearing butterflies and hydrangeas I’d bought a few weeks back, having finally resolved to practice the art of sending hand-written notes. My sister-in-law, Madeline, has been a huge inspiration in this; while supporting her family by working two jobs as a hospital Pharmacist, she has managed for years to send out hand-written cards for every single birthday and holiday. I, on the other hand, haven’t even managed a phone call for most of my nieces’ and nephews’ birthdays. I’m still pretty good about sending gifts out to my sisters and parents, and for years I’ve taken pride in that fact. Well, I suppose there we’ve found the problem. Pride! And there’s that gentle opportunity to grow, expand my thinking and my heart, even a little bit. It’s almost as if I can her him saying;

Dear child, don’t simply rest in the gratitude of today’s blessings. Certainly that is a good thing, but there can be more! Don’t simply celebrate how I’ve helped you grow over the past weeks, months or years. Certainly it is God-honoring, but there can be more! Don’t wallow in financial worry and uncertainty, you’ve been down that road! There are better things for today. Trust me for tomorrow’s needs, and use today‘s gifts to their full extent!

How amazing it felt to finally take the first beautiful card from the box and begin writing a “get well soon” note to Gamma. I was so careful to write neatly and include just the right sentiment in the small space allowed on the card. And I felt strangely privileged just to write on such pretty stationary (even the envelope was beautifully decorated!), to sign the names of my husband and children alongside mine, to imagine Gamma’s smile when my mother reads her my note. I wrote another quick note to my sister-in-law to thank her for being such an inspiration, and just then, the mailman drove up. I threw a couple of stamps on the cards, rushed out to shove them in his hand, and was a few steps away when I glanced back and caught his puzzled expression. “Uh, you do realize these are two cent stamps, right? These won’t go anywhere!” Luckily, he waited for me to rush back inside and find the right stamps. I still don’t know why we had two cent stamps in the house. Perhaps it was just so that I could say that I hope I’m able to keep practicing the wonderful, lost art of sending hand-written notes, and more than that I hope I keep growing even a little bit every day (and on some days, maybe even a lot), and well, I guess that’s my two-cents worth!

 ”He tends to His flock like a shepherd. He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young.” Isaiah 40:11

a cool drink of water

We made it through long post office lines with a smile.. Finally!

It’s the hottest day of the year so far. 92 degrees. The air conditioning in our car is out, so I bought shades for the boys’ windows. It didn’t help. Their faces are flushed, their water bottles filled with hot water. It’s been a long morning-turned-afternoon shopping for and mailing gifts for Mother’s Day and they have had it!

Because the first lesson of parenting is unselfishness, I’m actually desperately motivated to offer respite from the heat and a cool drink to my two little boys. I rush them up the stairs, jamming the key in the lock and frenetically begin filling a cup with a mixture of cold water and refrigerated apple juice. But I’m not moving fast enough. Worse, because I’ve taken the bottle of hot water from the two-year-old’s hands, he has gone from fussing to full-hysterics; reaching, reaching for that bottle as though it is his last and only hope, despite my reassurances and obvious enough actions to aid him. “Bring me your cup, Luke!” I call out. Nothing. I’m frustrated. Didn’t he hear me? Doesn’t he want the cold drink I’m offering his parched little body? “Luke! I said bring me your cup!” Nothing. “Luke!!” And then finally “Yes, Mommy?” “I asked you to bring me your cup! Don’t you want a cold drink?” “Oh, I was drinking out of the water faucet in the bathroom.”

The water faucet in the bathroom. Huh. And voila, I’ve been served another picture-lesson about God and me. How often does my heavenly father stand right before me, ready to serve the ultimate refreshment; cool, living endless springs of water and sweet nectar for my parched soul, and like a two-year-old I stand at his feet screaming for the hot, stale liquid of yesterday. Or am I oblivious to his offer to meet my needs, as I am off sucking from the bathroom faucets this world has to offer; deafened to his call by my own cheers of self-pride in “taking care of it myself like a big girl!” Do I not understand that my heavenly father loves me so much that he is eager to meet every need, exceeding not only my own efforts but even my wildest expectations of refreshment and relief?

    Likewise, have I not proven to my boys in the two and four years I’ve been their mother that I’m there to wipe away every tear and carry every burden to the absolute limit of my ability, if not beyond? Do they not trust me to care, to be strong enough, to still love them even though they were naughty in the post office minutes ago? What is it? I am incensed; and that, even knowing young children, even knowing I am a quite imperfect, human mother. The perfect, all-knowing, all-loving, all-powerful God of the universe is far more jealous for my trust and devotion than this. Yes, jealous. A corrupted emotion in humans, but in a perfect God, the picture of his holiness in the face of our every need. And in this picture, not jealousy for selfish gain; but for the opportunity to love and care for me as only a divine parent can. If only I will reach out and accept that cup.

“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters” Isaiah 55:1

“Cast all your cares upon him, for he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7