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If only…

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And there they were,

~ a gathering of clouds ~

spread perfectly above a slice of sky … a window to the universe.

 

Precisely aligned to reflect the beauty of the rising sun, these puffs of vapor were destined for greatness,

designed for magnificence

and clearly meant to become an unparalleled sunrise.

Then…

BOOM!

Nothing.

 

Not even a fizzle.

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In clamoring for a better view of Sun’s entrance, they squeezed shut the slice of sky

pushing,

shoving,

elbowing their way to a better seat.

Loyal only to themselves, they tripped over ambition and became a huddled mass

closing down

even a hint of Heaven’s window

that would have transformed them into Beauty beyond themselves.

 

Instead…

 

Earth kept on spinning

and Sun rose behind a muddle of grey

and this bramble of darkening fluff just kept on shoving and pushing and crowding out Light’s magic

oblivious to the greatness they could have become.

 

… If only they had known.

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The Dance

My father-in-law died from Alzheimers this week. He died peacefully in the hands of a facility full of life and hope and angels dressed in flesh. Unmistakably, Alzheimer’s is a hideous and heart-wrenching disease and to those of you living out this life with your loved ones, my heart goes out to you. Yet, I am thankful that this disease is mercifully forgetful for the one living in its tangled grip. And for the ones watching it play out, dare I say, in struggling past the initial shock and grief, there can sometimes be found – even just briefly – beauty in the ashes. I pray you have moments of beauty, -albeit different and stark and always sad- but beauty nonetheless.

 

In the early years my husband and I cared for Dad at home, until we couldn’t anymore.

… This is the dance we danced. 

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We dance this dance
you and I
between magic
and tragedy
and the innocence of life
reduced to a Saturday picture show
whose cutting room floor we waltz gently upon
strewn with
images and scripts
and tangled nests of
stories…

those reel too real stories
that circle tirelessly
and feed endlessly
onto Silver Screens of nickel talkies
and kerosene-lit rooms
spliced with fiddle-played tunes
and a dad who hunts badgers on sunlit prairies
with his 10-year-old son
softshoeing closely beside

On this dance floor we dip
and in dipping we slide
into The Great War
of a 17-year-old sailor
fueled by honor
and duty
and a dream of life at sea                                                                                                                 haunted by Japanese boys with eyes too big and wanting

to forget

Swinging to a different song
we twirl through manhood
past marriage, and fatherhood, and too many years
sliced and forgotten
on Sundowner’s cutting room floor                                                                                                      buried
too far beyond reach to protect

so we glide and sachet and tap past all the madness

… and we gently circle back

to Saturday’s picture show and its nickel talkies
and this waltz                                                                                                                                       between magic
and tragedy
and the innocence
of a mind
brought back to simpler memories

of Life that keeps dancing on

astaire (1)                                                                                      Dance free now, Dad. Dance free.

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in the settling of the dust

We-are-dust

the dust has settled now

particles of Life strewn through space

finding rest

on window sills

and piano benches

and picture frames that speak of a different time

when the dust was first kicked

up

into Clouds of Life

that followed little boys dressed in ninja gear

and cowboy hats

and dreams too big to hold

racing into summer nights

piled high with sleeping bags and shooting stars

darting through ping pong marathons

and “Happy Shakes” and treks along the railroad tracks

_ _ _ … ~~~ —- _ _ .. ~~ —. _ ~ —

. . . . . . . .

Grains of childhood gone too soon

quiet now

finding rest

in the settling

of dust

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Let Us Walk Worthy

the deep ache of Want

She was gone. And he was walking alone. Her camera in his hand, taking pictures of what life was meant to look like

if she were near his side.

Two weeks gone now, and he was wandering the canyons of Utah. Alone.

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You wouldn’t know on the outside.

He smiled and chatted briefly about the coldness of his feet. “Maybe someday, I’ll come back and wear what I need to make it up the Narrows

… maybe someday.”

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Obvious, was the Nikon camera he guarded as he forged through the icy water. We asked him if he wanted a picture of himself in this adventure, framed in all of Zion’s beauty. You’d have thought we had handed him a rare and costly treasure. As Chris started the photographer talk of of cameras and lenses, millimeters and apertures, his face washed red with a clouded uncertainty… He didn’t know what lens he had. He didn’t know his camera’s ins and outs. He didn’t even know the name of the weight that draped heavy around his neck. With a hesitant voice, he offered, “I’m sorry. I don’t really know a lot. The camera is, was my wi… um…I inherited it.”

Carefully he looked into the lens with a faraway smile, and the shot was taken. And another for good measure. Then his words began to tumble into the river at our feet. He apologized that he was going to cry. He’d lost his wife two weeks ago. A two year battle of cancer. His boss had said, “Go. Take as much time as you need.” He went. With his wife’s camera, and a dream, and a new life that didn’t fit right.

Wouldn’t ever fit the same way again.

He said he’d be okay. He said times like this he’d fill up and then overflow, and he’d go sit on back over on the beach right there, and just cry and let it out. He said how thankful he was for the picture.

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We said how we would pray for him in this hard time,

in this new life

and how we were praying even now.

Then, he thanked us and hugged us and we left him alone

… with a picture,

a raw new memory,

and the deep ache of Want.

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Looking back, as we headed up the river,

 

I saw him build an altar.

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Let Us Walk Worthy

… though I can’t imagine where

 

Early morning shadows sprinkle the lawn revealing splashes of Light

and baby fresh,

spring-popping

green.

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The robin hops through the landscape – stopping to listen – head cocked at the slightest rumble of a worm inching its way near.

The flower turns its head to welcome morning’s light.

And just beyond, a doe and her twins stroll past, looking for greener pastures I suppose…

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… though I can’t imagine where

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Today,

this day,

is a gift.

The birds know it. The flower and doe know it… and the worm that got away knows it too. Chirping in the distance, blossoming and grazing along the sun’s lit path, … inching through the warming earth. Happy to sing their morning song, they welcome the turning of this world toward its Maker.

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New mercies, new hope, a new start.

 

What purpose do I have in this new day?

What Good works are planned for me to walk in since the beginning of time?

What voices need silencing to hear the One Voice that is needful to hear?

 

Be still and know that I am God.

Really know.

 

Quieting the noise of life

long enough to understand

 the certainty of the Life Giver.

 

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Seasons change.

Life happens.

… I don’t know what tomorrow brings, or the day after that or next month or next year.

But this I know:

In this moment, I am loved by a King

I can face this day and all the craziness it may bring

with thankfulness.

Today, in Him, I have a haven.

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Jesus loves me. This I know.

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Old Crusty, be gone!

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We all self-talk. We all have those inner conversations – some analytical, some matter-of-fact that say: “Do this. Go here. … Okay, that’s done.” And then there’s the other conversations – the judgments. The ones that wiggle their way into our hearts and hiss: “That was stupid! Why did you say THAT? I can’t believe I DID that?!”

 

Over the last year, something has changed in my self-talk. Instead of berating myself, I hear myself say, “Good job, Jane.” … or “You can do this, go for it.” or… “It’s okay, you’ll get another chance.”

 

These new conversations tickle me rosy pink every time. It’s nice to be nice to myself. It makes me giggle deep down in the heart of me, where disappointment used to nestle. It makes all remaining Crusties break apart and bounce far away, sent out with the garbage by the simple kind words, “Good job, Jane.”

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Today I heard an old barrage of similar rubbage, “I can’t do it.” These are words I’d like to send running as well. But the thing is: I don’t want to be one of those bubbly, smile-pasted-on, “name-it-claim-it” kind of girls. Because, honestly, the very real truth is: there are some things I think I should be able do, or try to do, that I really can’t do. I simply can’t.

I mean, can’t can’t…

 

So how do I change the self that struggles underneath the taunting of this honest “I can’t.” I know I can’t stay up any later, work any longer – try or pray any harder. I am doing what I can. Sooo??

Sooo…I just stop fighting it.

“I can’t.”

Plain and simple.

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Maybe someone else can. Maybe someone else looks like they can. Maybe someone else is simply satisfied. But that’s definitely not me.

So how do I change the self-talking reality of “I can’t” into one I can live with,

giggle with,

and break apart this old Crusty with?

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“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Yeah, yeah, I know… but. But it doesn’t say I should do all things through Christ, or I will do all things, it says I can. And somehow I don’t thing Jesus is thinking about my growing list of “to do’s.” I don’t think he’s giving me a lot of “shoulds.” Maybe, the “I can” he’s talking about is really just back to the basics:

I can have a great attitude in all things

through Christ who strengthens me.

I can try my hardest, and let the rest go

through Christ who strengthens me.

I can learn to be who he made me to be in the midst of my “to do” list

through Christ who strengthens me.

I can let go the strangle-hold of “I shoulds”

through Christ who strengthens me.

I can do all the needful things

and smile,

at the all the rest

in that “I’m thankful I’m not bored” kind of way.

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Woman and her Savior against the world.

Me and Jesus against the wiles of the enemy.

“To-do’s, schma-mooz”

… I can do all (important) things through Christ

my sweet, Nazarene rebel who strengthens me

and cheers me on

when and where it counts.

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A familiar tune

 

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The new day peaks its head just above the night

and a mourning dove begins his soulful tune,

Waking the Sun, his melody glides the currents of the dawn

 

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Coo, coo-dee – COO, coooo coo

Coo, coo-dee – COO, coooo, coo

 

Why does he sing, this morning minstrel, … what moves him so?

Does he call for his mate to lead her home?

Does he sing for friends,

for family

for loss?

Does he sing for his Creator?

… or maybe, I imagine,

just

for

me?

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Suddenly a flurry of wings breaks the stillness of the air,

catches my eye

and stops the beating of his song.

… I have my answer:

His sweetie’s come home.

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His song pauses for a small moment – a morning peck, I suppose –

and quietly his song starts up again, a duet this time

 

COOooOOOO!

            coo ku

COOooOOOO!

            coo ku

 

In my heart

it calls…

the echo of a familiar tune

 

Hope is real

            Love is all

Life is good

            Love is all

 

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The new day peaks its head just above the night

and a mourning dove begins his soulful tune,

Waking the Sun, his melody glides the currents of the dawn

… a day of hope, I expect.

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An Empty Canvas

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“Just write” they say,

“Just put your pen to paper, your fingers to keypad ” they urge.

 

“Your heart will end up in the ink of new discovery,” they tell me…

 

I suppose it’s true.

I suppose words are created in action that becomes thought

and I suppose maybe even the opposite is true:

thought becomes action

 

ah yes, the infamous chicken or the egg

 

So I write and I grow

I yammer on until beauty or Truth

or both

find Life on the page

 

 

~ lukewarm coffee

~ muffled chimes

~ distant highway trucks

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~ the falling of pine needles

~ the deep clearing cough of Chris at the sink

~ the kneading urgency of Tiger, demanding the attention due his royalty

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the beautiful Ordinary of a lazy Saturday morning

 

 

Life penned in ink

finding worth

on an empty canvas.

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Literacy Musing Mondays

This Road We Walk

At what point do you stop believing what you see

 and reach for the golden ring that passes by each waking turn?

At what point do you grasp at the straws that lie scattered at your feet

and build with them a mansion spun in gold?

At what point do you take the stars and toss them wild to the wind

to wish on them the million dreams that fall in a twinkling shower before your eyes?

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Is it possible that simply trying to see with new eyes

might be all it takes to

reach beyond hope

dance beyond dreams

and live beyond every obstacle that jumps out like a monster in a long and lonely night?

And so with heart in hand, and bravely or not,

you wrestle with demons, and find solace in sunsets, and count all the bleating sheep that wander past your sleepless nights

… And you walk on.

Over the ups and the downs. Through the ins and the outs. Past the rights, and forgiving the wrongs

…. you walk on.

With each weary step, every unsure nudge, and all the inevitable stumbles along the way

… you walk on.

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And you look for his footprints on the narrow, dusty trail.

And you listen for his small, still whisper in each rage storm.

And you reach for his hand that reaches to you

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… and you walk this Calvary Road together

finding that, somewhere along the way

– in the pit of your deepest fear and in the corner of your furthest dream –

you begin to taste the sweetness of this gentle Truth:

You are right where you are supposed to be

– tethered to His love forever –

with new eyes to see.

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A big shout out to Mor, Jenson Lee, Tim Parkinson and Lee (Shoothead), all @ Flckr Creative Commons respectively.

Joining with Lyli, Jennifer, and Kate

Against all Odds

I didn’t know what I was getting into.  How many times, and for how many things could we say that?

I wonder how many things we’d never have done had we known.

I wonder if not knowing is the point. The point from which we throw caution to the wind and go diving in, only to awake to our senses

feeling exhilarated, or drenched

released into freedom, or shackled in regret.

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… I wonder if waking to our senses -in the Now of knowing – is the answer.

The exhale of life that says “You’re right. You didn’t know what you got yourself into… but I did. And I do. And that has got to be enough for you right now.

So much of Life is a leaden blanket draped heavy on the chest
Guarding
Covering
Comforting
Reminding that beyond the shield lies an invisible world

from which we need protection.

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And sometimes you just have to lie there unmoving

trusting

exhaling His peace

…against all odds.

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when the stillness is the dancing

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I hear the gentle breeze sneaking through my window, and the morning dove’s call – just beyond the fence – blends with a neighborhood dog’s cry for attention.

The sprinklers beat out their rhythm as the chimes are teased into a simple melody – set sail to drift on passing clouds tipping their hats on this lazy afternoon.

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In the distance, a rooster seems to have lost the time like the morning dove

maybe today is an endless dawning.

My old dog chases rabbits in her sleep, barking with muffled glee.  And somewhere in the distance a lawnmower motors its tune into the universe, carried as far as the heart will take it.

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I notice my computer’s flashing cursor nudging its impatience while I sit lost in the listening. With each flash it pushes and shoves, trying to convince me that Time’s running out… “Hurry!” it shouts. But, it can’t even keep time to the chirping squirrel … so what does it know?

Nothing, I say.

Because not enough time is spent listening to silence these days.

Because silence is not silent when eyes can hear, and ears can see.

Because there’s nothing lonely, or scary, or empty — and no time even lost…

 

when the stillness is the dancing

a simple two step with a playful dip and a slide-

 Oh, please, all you that have ears to hear…

Come, hear the sounds of Life being found.

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Rosy Pink or Lavender Sad

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in the glow of an approaching sun, I hear it

wrapped all rosy pink and lavender sad

the morning anthem

the whispering plea

…you

…today

choose whom you will believe

don’t wait for the sun to burst into

the fray of busy have-to day

…choose

…now

this life, this day, this moment,

waits for no one

but invites us all the same

sunrise, or sunset

purpose or mundane

first – last, life – death,

now

…or a fading dream of yesteryear

in the approaching sun I can hear it

the morning anthem

the whispering plea

rosy pink or lavender sad

choose this day whom you will believe

Joining with Lisa @ Five Minute Friday

when the small becomes the necessary

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Lately, I’ve been noticing the small things.

Last Spring, I bought a birdbath – a little thing – that I’d wanted for a long, long time.

It sits now in our yard, like it’s home – like it’s always been there. It fits. I bought it to fill a space transformed over the years by an emptying nest. First it was filled by a wading pool, then a trampoline, next a fire pit, now Life had circled back around to a wading pool; this time for the birds. Seemed fitting, I suppose.

I bought it as a reminder of my mom, and her love of little things.

But the funny thing is, in essence, I bought it for decoration. Of course I hoped it would be useful, but I’m not sure I ever believed it would be. And the funnier thing is, the birds found it right away. And they used it right away, but not to bathe…to drink! Turns out this little birdbath thing was important after all.

My mom knew the importance of small things. Her life was a collage of them, and they made her who she was: a masterpiece. But most importantly, she was faithful in those little things. For her, small things weren’t “for the birds” at all. (And, yes, every last feather of that pun intended 🙂 )

When my mom died, many of those Small Things came knocking at the door.
“She was my second mom.”
“She was my only mom.”
“I’ll always remember her kitchen table. I always knew, when I walked through the door, we’d sit down there together with her homemade muffins and she’d say, ‘How was your day? Tell me about your day’…I always knew she’d ask. I always knew she wanted to know. I always knew she’d listen.”

And then came the smallest – largest – knock of all:

“All my life I was bullied and teased… your mom sent me a birthday card every year of my life. I can’t tell you how much …” And really, how could he measure the yield of an invested Life?

Measuring in at 4 ft 11 in. of bending, aging Life… it took Mom most of her life, to feel at home in her own skin. There were hard days and dark days, and days that dimmed her light. Yet she always found a way to rise up beyond the Night, plant her seeds, and tend to her little things.

Turns out they were the most important things…

the Small became the Necessary.

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A Dream Come True

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I look out from my morning fortress, snuggled in my blanket, cradling coffee and sipping life.  I wish for deep thoughts, but they allude me here. Sometimes it’s everything just to watch and listen.

As I wait, Sun’s first rays shine bright their spotlight on dreams come true right at my feet and though covered in Winter’s Wait, I can still see them: my lawn, my perennials,  my walkway turned porch, my raised garden… even my sweet peas. I see the cedar flowerbox mounted and painted fresh, the burning bushes and the 10 year pathway lined with boulders I now call friends.

Each place my eye scans I see a dream with its own life story — big or small, no matter, they played out all the same: a seed planted, a tentative wobbling step, a tear here, a despair there, and that long road of wondering “Will this ever be?” Then, always, the miraculous in sight – the end. It is finished. And it is good.

Each dream was a hope-filled ember that refused to be snuffed out. Some barely hung on for life, yet they did.

… and here and now, they stand.

Fulfilled. Shimmering. Reflections of hope.

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I look out from my morning fortress, snuggled in my blanket, cradling coffee and sipping life. And quietly, I am reminded: I need the morning.

I need the feel of the rising sun washing fresh my hope spun dreams.

I need this beginning to scrub clean the thankfulness.

I need the Sweet Reminder who whispers true, “Listen closely, the Father’s voice calls from His Garden’s path.”

“Keep it simple sweetheart.” I hear him call.
“You can do it, Honey” I hear him cheer.
“I believe in you, Punkin'”

This morning I hear him clear.

I’m a garden of the Father’s planted dreams and I am living His dream come true….

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Joining with Thought Provoking ThursdayTell His Story, Playdates with GodFive minute Friday,

Unaware

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The sunrise exploded the sky into a palette of brilliance this morning.

One second, I notice a tiny beginning of color and I looked away… the next, the sky was on fire. Blazing, breath-taking, fire-breathing.

I raced out the door, my robe ties dragging on the ground behind me, and my girl dog leaping up from a dream- caught unaware – panting behind me.

But it was over.

The crescendo of beauty? Not even one minute long. Forget the 15 minutes of fame, this brilliant beginning was over and done in 30 seconds, tops. And I had missed it.

Life had moved on. The sun came up, and routines began, and I wondered how many had been honored to witness how beautiful it all began?

And I wondered: “This day started out extraordinary, how is it possible that it stumbles and limps into the mundane?

I dragged my robe tails and my girl dog back to the darkened house, but my mind was wrapped in the sunrise I had missed. Is this how dreams are? Flashes of hope that shine briefly only for the ones that are watching?

What about the other days, the days whose beginnings I’ve missed? Could it be that they started out just as brilliant – with so much beauty and so much hope? Could it be that I was just unaware and let them whittle away to ordinary?

What does this say of God? Is this sunrise just one of his thoughts, tucked away in a journal of a million thoughts  – thoughts He’s willing to share if I only take the time to notice?

And what if I’m the one that sees? … Does that make me a dream keeper? Can I, will I, let the beauty change me, change the day, change mundane to extraordinary?

This day is special.

This day is a gift.

This day matters.

Whether I run out to see with robe tails dragging or not, the miracle remains the same:  Every night transforms into brilliance. Every night is captured and wrapped in Light. Every darkness is brought back to life. Full and Bright. Sparkling new.

Beauty not lost,  but complete.

Screen Shot 2014-02-12 at 6.13.35 AMHugo A. Quintero G. @ creative commons

“Today, if you hear His voice…”

Joining Laura  and  Joining Michelle

Nighttime Visitor

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It’s late at night that she visits  – the dreamer

the one whose voice I know, tugging gently my heart, she whispers —

“Wake up! Come away with me. Come, you’re still young. Come, let’s play like before. Let’s go, let’s eat the fruit, let’s run!”

I can hear her trying to disguise the desperateness in her voice, and I’m tempted to hold her, to help her, to hold her through the ink black night…

But then I hear the train’s lonely cry as it echoes in the night, tugging at all things real, and the dreamer hears it too — the restlessness of a heart prone to wander– it’s her song

Slipping quietly away

she’s gone

off to chase illusions

off to ride the rails

Oh my sweet nighttime visitor, I remember you as I call after her, “Go. Run. Spread your wings, little one. Search for peace…you’ll find your way back here one day.” And I sit back, in this starlit brightened night, wrapped in the arms of the One who led me home

and I smile

at the here and now

Joining with Lisa at Five Minute Fridays,

and Jennifer at Tell His Story

 

Time’s Echo

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I remember her hands, wrinkled and plain

her sliver-thin misshapen ring hanging loosely like her neck –

Sagging misfits on her shrinking frame

I remember his Jim Beam paunch, jutting past his cinched up belt

A slide rule in his pocket and smoldering cigarette in his hand

Strands of hair arching across his balding forehead –

fading masquerades of youth

Too old to be my parents

They spoke of harder days

They warned of leaner days

and the talk of bread lines and Pearl Harbor mounded ashes beyond my years

Not poor, but forever frugal

we lived life learning to do

without

And the young parents of my peers stood as polished reminders that mine

were worn and out-of-date

like the hand-me-downs and mended socks I wore

I wore them, too, in shame

Too old to be my friends

~ ~ ~ ~

But Time has met its echo

and age-tinted glasses tell a new tale

I look at my hands, wrinkled and plain –

they are my mother’s

I touch the strands of my hair, untouched by grey –

they are my father’s

I hear their voices ring more gently now

of nickel trolley rides and Saturday talkies

and gazing through clouds to see winged magic in flight

the whispers of my parents

once my shame

have now become my glory

Autumns’ Dance

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The leaves burn red and blaze orange around me and for a moment I’m caught unaware – breathless. In the middle of all this beautiful change I feel every part of me smile and weep and yearn all at the same time.

What is it about Fall that causes my thoughts to tug at the edge of my heart?

I listen to the leaves rustle. I watch them wiggle and flutter dance and I wonder:

Is their’s a dance of excitement? Are they ready to spring free and soar on the wings of the wind? Or are they restless and clingy and trying desperately just to hold on with all their useless might?

Probably both.

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Seasons change, I know that. And every season brings with it the same push and pull, hello and goodbye. I know that too. This isn’t my first rodeo, as they say.

But somehow, Autumn’s magnificence is greater — its letting go more severe. Autumn is beauty and tragedy. It’s all things full and all things empty. Autumn slaps you in the face with magnificence then demands in no easy terms, “ Now. Overnight. Let go.”

Fall forces all things to be settled. Finished. Harvested. Made ready for Life to be blanketed in the peace of  Winter’s sleep. To be not ready is a sad leaf clinging to a barren limb only to be pushed off later anyway… so why hold on?

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So, yes, Fall tugs and tussles in me.

Some days I want to break free and tumble cross the universe. Blow this branch that I’ve clung to way too long and kick up my heels in a daring back flip that wows the crowd. I want to travel paths nudged solely by the passing whim that blows behind my steps. I want to get swept into the twirl and the swirl of it all…, unfurl my wings to adventures unknown.

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Some days I just want to gently fall. Let go of waiting. Let go of trying. Just simply let go… and let the leaves fall where they may. And provide cover for the roots below.

Luke Redmond

Some days, the thought of falling makes me tremble and shutter and cling all the more. Below me speaks of death and dying, aging and withering. I scream, “NO!, I’m not ready to let loose my colors. I’m not ready to fall lifeless among the masses. I’m not ready to wait for the rains and snows and feet to trample me to a soggy, heavy mess? Where is the glory in that?!”

And Some days, I feel it all. Bright and bold. Quiet and ready. Excited to show Life’s brilliance in colors that shine true. Yet ready to gracefully move on.
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So my heart waits and watches – caught up in the winds that swirl my way.

I grasp tightly.
I release willingly.

…Autumn’s dance is funny that way.

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Through the Door

Last Saturday, we placed our Dad in what will be his last home. It was all things hard, all things right, and all things Life mixed into a jumble of wearied emotions and ‘next thing’ challenges. SO thankful to a God who loves us and ushers us gently through new thresholds – especially when their the hard ones.  

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We said goodbye over coffee

and haunting silence

covered by the traffic going by

We created our ruse, and collected our thirty coins and left you

wondering

and wandering

in the hallways of your own mind

lost

And we were lost too

between right and wrong and choices that seemed so harsh and hard and right

tumbling together confused as we waded through the maze of truth and lies and made-up stories created to make you believe, to make us believe

that Life might bring us hope again – somehow

So we took the long steps across the parking lot, up the curb and down the walk and we pushed past the Doubts and Darkness that mocked our every step.opendoorPeterGeorgiev

We were bringing you to the “Old Folks Home” The dread idea used to set you off on a tirade when your mind had been whole, “If you ever have to take me to an old folks home, dagnabbit, just shoot me. I’d rather be dead.”

And yet here we were,

and here you were

and here

right around the corner, much to our weary surprise, we found Life

waiting patiently

holding the door

arms opened wide,

“Welcome home, Willie, come on in.”

Then nodding with a smile, He looked our way,  and spoke to us too,

“It’s a been a long hard journey, you two… You did good. I’ll take it from here.”

And just like that – with our hand in His, and our hearts snuggled in His care –

Life walked the three of us through the door.

Calling All Ye Jolly Oxen!

Sometimes out of nowhere Life bubbles up so full and overflowing that it spills over into one deliciously messy puddle of delightful mud. An amazing mix of Deep and True and all of earth’s richness swirled together into a perfect pool where words splash brown – washed clean – unleashed in hard earned Joy that sparkles pure without them.

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Indeed, a mucky glop of oozing goodness is this Life we get to love. Teasing us, drawing us, tugging us beyond ourselves. Bringing us to the edge of an exquisitely dirty choice:

Dive into the thick of ick? Or stay clean in sanitized, but muddy despair.

The truth is: Life is messy. It can get ugly and lonely, and desperately caked with all things grim.

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And it’s easy to get lost in it alone.

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But what if I make you family, and you make me yours?

What if we meet Life head on and stop pretending these mud-filled potholes are easy to walk alone?

What if that is all it takes  to uncover Hope hidden in its depths?

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MudbirdSangudo

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~  We might even discover magic!  ~

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And in the thick of it all, when Good is hard to find, we’ll reach together

to the One whose hand is reaching back – muddied too – pulling us up, lifting us out…

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Showing us, in his throne-to-manger way, how to love each other clean.

…Bubble bath clean!

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So, let’s do it! Let’s jump in. Let’s fling off our shoes. Lift high our heads. Open wide our arms and find a hand to grab. Let’s welcome this Life in all its messy glory and dive right in with every brown splattered hope that’s left in our hearts.

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Because sometimes there’s just no other way around.

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I think it’s time, don’t you?

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“Hey Ollie! Ollie! and all your oxen friends.” Together, we have all we need to live this crazy, hard, wonderful Life.

No more hiding! Come on in!

It’s free! Free! FREE!

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So thankful for all these flickry, creatively in common photographic artists: (in order of appearance: w; nichameleon; jimee jackie tom and asha; Adam Cohn; Sangudo; fveronesi1; Ben Mcleod; Mark Dumont; my_southborough; peasap; Our Enchanted Garden; and last but not least Wes Cutshall

Morning’s Revelry

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It’s icy blue outside – that shade of blue that paints itself cold between night and a dawning day.
And in the distance the roosters have begun their morning song.
Heralds of a new day, they crow in frantic urgency, “It’s coming! It’s coming! Wake up! Be ready!”

Every morning they cry.

A wandering frog joins in and the revelry strengthens, “It’s here! Look up! Be brave!…It’s time!” And quietly I’m reminded that just last week, in another land, I heard coyotes and Canada’s geese sing their version of this same song. “It’s a new day! It’s a new day! It’s a new day” … their cries beat strong.

Loud. Clear. Insistent.

         Funny, what can catch your heart’s ear when you listen to the stillness.

What do they see, these watchmen of the day? What music do they hear? What dreams lay swaddled in the arms of the warming horizon?
… Is there purpose beyond the scribbles on my planner?

At first the answer whispers, then beats loud, and pulses sure:

A call to forgive. A chance to love real. A day to live true.
A call to forgive. A chance to love real. A day to live true.

A call to forgive – the icy blue gives way. A chance to love real- the song echoes deep. A day to live true  – dreams stretch to Sun’s first beams.

Slowly in this moment between night and dawning day Life begins again.

Surely in this morning revelry there is

true and persistent

Hope.

sunriseikewinskiPhoto: Flckr Creative Commons: ikewinski

Nothing…and Yet Everything

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It’s been a quiet season of the soul

… one of those seasons in which the light dawns and you realize you have nothing, and yet everything, to say.

I look out from my morning chair, draped in woolen blanket, coffee in hand. It’s 5:30 in the morning and the sun is just beginning his course across this small outdoor cathedral of my universe. Last week, Summer warmed this early morning sanctuary of mine… but today tastes like a sip of Autumn.

Around the corner comes my fifteen year old cat. Out all night these summer nights, he struts by me like a young, brave tom — neither of which he is … or maybe he is both. In the distance I hear the morning dove cooing her new day’s song, and a sprinkler sputtering to life racing to make rainbows in the coming light.

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I look out at the green carpet that transformed that hard, dry place where once I tarried too long. And I watch the breeze gently nudge each tender blade, as it nudges me, into a morning dance of thankfulness.

Everywhere I look in this quiet season, I hear peace. I taste goodness. I smell hope and sense joy.

Everywhere I look … I see home. Life, full and complete – hidden – in the everyday.

In front of me, the daisies, like an eager marching band, line up proud and ready. So ready. Waiting. Hoping. You can just sense them busting at the seams in anticipation to unfurl their colors.

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And beside me, Daylily tickles me with her swaying arms as she joins the morning dance. She took years to grow so full and strong – a long quiet season to stand tall in her beauty. Reaching up. Reaching beyond. I see her too, like the daisies, holding her breath as she waits for Sun to tease her open, to warm her beautiful.

And beautiful she will be. She will blossom and she will shine — and she will glow whether she is noticed or not.
… I want to be like that.DSCN1638

It seems like everyday I notice something new. Everyday I’m a part of something old. Everyday something catches my heart in that fish-nibbling kind of way and I am changed -I am changing.

Changed like the flowers, one day closer to their grand premier.

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Changing like the root that pushes up against the fence – bending, nudging, forcing the boundary line beyond itself. Bit by bit. Day by day. A mighty force – imperceptible -yet earth-shatteringly real.

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…  like this quiet season of my soul

in which I have nothing much to say

– and yet everything –

to be.

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Look up

I get car sick

and seasick

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and any other churning illusion that paints itself Deathly Dizzy White.

I know its optical trickery.

I know Outside stands still beyond the car window… as I’m catapulted forward motionless

I know the horizon stretches beyond me steady and true … as I bob and weave among Life’s waves.

Yet try as I might, my head and my stomach can’t sort out what is still and what is moving, and I buy-in to the illusion every time. Every. Stinkin’. Time. I just can’t seem to reconcile what’s happening around me with what’s happening inside me

… and I’m left dizzy, nauseous and in desperate need for some sweet kiss-the-ground reality.

Over the years, I’ve learned how to fight this green-gilled monster. I know to guard closely, from the start, the smidgeon of balance that cowers in my inner ear. I know to let fresh air splash my face and fasten my gaze straight ahead. I know to lock sights on a distant point with the focus of a sharpshooter.

And I know to always. look. up. ALWAYS.

But Life’s choices aren’t always wrapped so neat and tidy. One day you’re looking out on the horizon of a calm and endless sea, and the next you’re gazing down mesmerized- hypnotized- by the Everydays that swirl at your feet. And before you know it, you’re pushed and tugged, whirled and churned, and left with your stomach in your throat, your head in your lap, and your feet stuck deep in shifting sand — praying to God for the spinning to stop.

Because you know all the regrets in the world won’t quiet the whirling madness that spirals in your head. Only the one who calmed the sea. With a word. And for this you hold on tight, and hold on strong,

and wait for the dizziness to pass

… because it will. It will.

So open wide the window and feel fresh the wind

It will pass.

Laugh. Cry. Dig deep. Breathe slow.

It will pass.

Look up. Look far. Look deep.

It will pass.

It will.

“I look to the hills from whence cometh my help? My help comes from the Lord
the maker of heaven and earth.”

Photo credit: Wendy Zukerman at Flickr

Photo credit: Wendy Zukerman at Flickr

Each Day

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A prayer in the wake of a tornado

The sun is going to rise today. Over the horizon. Covered by clouds or not, escorted by colors or not… the sun will rise. A relentless task master, a faithful friend. And ready or not, friend or foe, we move on together this sun and us.

Oh Lord, help us to number our days.

Help us count this day as one that matters. One that rises simply. One that cloaked by weariness or not, heralded with fanfare or not, shines with smiles that soothe, hearts that care and hands that work along side in the rubble of a fallen world that cries for answers, weeps for mercy.

Help us, Jesus, find in this day: our purpose.
A purpose bringing us deep into Lives of those You died for.
A purpose that sends us with love scarred hands to Lives that cry out in darkened places, hiding in despair…

Lives that need to know that

Each
Day
You wait for us, cry with us, yearn with us.

Each
Day
You wait to carry us on wings of eagles that rise up from the storms of Life that too often hurt, bury and destroy.

Each
Day
You come for us and carry us

whether we push hard against your hold and struggle wild in our grief
whether we pound your chest, and scream our pain and blame the very breath you give
whether we know it’s You who carries us from the rubble or not

Lives that need to know that

Each
Day
You rise to rescue.

The sun is going to rise today. Over the horizon. Covered by clouds or not, escorted by colors or not… the sun will rise. A relentless task master, a faithful friend. And ready or not, friend or foe, we move on together this sun and us.

Oh Lord, help us number our days.

Flikr creative commons: C Jill Reed

Today I Dig Deep

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This day I rush home. This day I tear off the Sunday best that paints me cold and distant with all things fake, and shallow. All things that I loathe…. and all things that I am.

Something is going on in my soul, like a brewing storm. Something dark. deep. unknown. And I fall to my knees.

I’ve been in this place before. I’ve heard these distant rumblings and felt the churning winds, and I’ve been caught in the deluge – unaware-  too many times to count. But not this time.

Not. This. Time.

This time I step into the comfort of my grungiest jeans and sweatshirt – like best of friends – and I rush outside to the garden, the dirt, and I dig deep.

I’m not looking to plant seeds or pull weeds or pretend I care about anything except the in-the-thick dirt of earth jammed deep beneath my nails, immersed to my elbows, and wiped in the sweat of my brow. No gloves. No tools. No caution. This is what I need. This is what my heart demands: plunge deep into this fallow ground, churn this earth too long neglected, bring it to the surface, remove the rocks … and feel. Just simply feel.

This is what I know.

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But in seasons past I didn’t know. I’d face these seasons of the heart and to try to fix things by burying all the ugly. Like this garden that now lay dormant in my hand, I’d layer on the manure, heap heavy the compost, sprinkle light the peat moss and call it good. Sure, I’d dig a little here, stir a little there. But mixing deep and mixing true is hard work and makes pale the black, rich soil so desirous. “Why dilute all this goodness with such poor soil?” I wondered. “Why waste my time with what lies beneath?” I mused. “I’m only worried about the top six inches anyway, right?’ I argued. “The rains will come, the goodness will seep down. It won’t matter.” I decided. “It won’t matter.”

But it turns out that it does matters. Turns out Life can be burned in shallow, layered goodness. Turns out, like me, new roots can wither in the midst of all things holy – silent and desperate for all things real. Like me, they cry out for all of Life’s messy fullness. ALL of it.

All of humanity that cries out for Truth to burst through the layers and light the fire that has iced within.

All of Truth that stands immovable- unafraid of dirt, or ugliness or the messiness of Life.

All of Life that finds its beginning in dark, hidden places, planted firm and deep and holy in this sinner’s heart

So today I dig deep. I thrust in my hands. I crush the clods, finger the humus, I work gently together the good with the bad. I turn Life on its end and make room for Hope again. Ugly churns with Beautiful. Anger tosses with Forgiveness. Holiness makes peace with all things frail…. Mixed together. Mixed deep. Mixed True.

Life is messy. Life is holy. We live and we thrive and we are healed when we make room for both.

Today I dig deep.

Today I make ready for rain.

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