Monday, February 28, 2011

Monday Night

(Or A Post as Disjointed and Bi-polar as I Feel)
Tonight, I am balancing between a lot of different feelings. Or maybe balancing is too optimistic a word, but for now let's leave it there; it's what I would like to think.

-I finished the Greek parable I should have done for Friday. Grammar books are frustrating.
-I am exhausted, body and brain. So what is new?
-It would have been intelligent to start my paper, but the hours shrunk away into the darkness and my bed is calling me.
-I wish I could bestow life with my words. I wish they were grace.

Today, every day, living on this earth is a thing that is sharp and it is sweetness and it is bitter, it is long and far too short all at the same time; God is rough and He has faithful hands; I want to beg Him for things, but I have enough thanksgivings that I could be busy saying them for ever.

-Singing in choir today filled my soul and body with vigor, and I was satisfied.
-Maria, Becki and I ate milk-duds and laughed at near-nothings as we hadn't done in weeks.
-My weekend was beautiful. The need for rest is, indeed, the pulley that turns us back.
-The sky broke open and spilled thousands of small wet pieces like diamonds, or paper clippings, all over my town. My feet got wet. My car is stuck. But my hair wore those diamonds, and my sister and I snowballed each other on the way to the car, and the hills are gloriously smooth and pale, fading into the white sky at the horizon.

Yet every week, all of the time, I am pulled in so many directions and am so inadequate. Between readings and quizzes due for classes, and studying for finals fast approaching, and seriously working at resumes and job applications for summer work, between the work I have now, and headaches and letters to respond to and choir and car breakdowns and desperately wanting to sleep for ever, between realizing I don't read my Bible enough and trying to finagle CRF meetings or coffee-with-friend-dates into my schedule, and never picking up a newspaper or getting involved with the rest of my community... I'm not really sure what I should do when I get an hour, or half an hour, or 5 minutes in which to do something. It is, frankly, sometimes more than I feel like applying myself to. But I want to be able to do things.

-I want to be diligent, industrious, focused, and do well in my studies.
-I want to branch out, to learn, devour and plan a future, to be taken by the glories of the wide world that stands pulsing with possibilities at my door.
-And mostly, this week, I want to be with my friends who just lost their baby. I want her fear and pain, their sorrow and confusion, to be taken away, to be healed. I want to live with comfort in my hands and my presence, living like the Spirit teaches.

I cannot truly balance these things. And so I lift my eyes to the hills again.

"Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God." Psalm 42:11

Sunday, February 20, 2011


I went walking today. Alone. In the snow.

The sun was shining so brightly that I was nearly blinded, and the road was soaked with melting snow sort of seeping across it from the edges where it had been plowed.

It felt good to breathe the cold air deep into my lungs, to move briskly and even to run for a bit, to spend an hour and a half getting the bottom of my pants legs soaked with snow and my earlobes bright pink with the cold.

But I spent a good portion of my time today in the graveyard on the edge of town. I didn't see the resting place of anyone I knew in life, in fact, I don't think I know of anyone buried there. I brought no flowers, cleared no mess or snow, said no actual prayers. I just like something about graveyards. And not in a morbid, or goofy, or any negative kind of way.

I read the epitaphs, some in other languages, reminding those who are left behind that there will be a morning to this still night, or speaking of the love we had for this person whose flesh is laid here. I touch the miniscule moss and fungal life creeping through the names and dates etched in grey slabs. I wonder about the lives of the two brothers, both named George, who were born and died within a space of 10 years; about the family of a child named Johnny whose simple, small headstone is being pushed and unleveled by the great tree growing at his grave; about the background behind the name of the Innocenti family. I feel the air stir against my face and turn, facing East, seeing the sky that the righteous will see when they rise from these tombs one day.

Yes, I like graveyards. I like the history, the peace, solemnity and the hope they have. I like the metaphorical weight of the fact that we honor the bodies that have been left by the soul's departure, that we lay them down in wooden boxes and cover them with dust of the ground, that we do it in an orderly fashion, gathering these beautiful, broken bodies to wait in congregations of expectation. Being there is like being in an outdoor sanctuary. It is like waiting for a birthday, yet not just one's individual birthday, but the re-birthday of all mankind. I feel the waiting, standing there, the waiting of each in the womb of the earth, for the emergence into a world of light and color and praise that will make this one feel immature in comparison.

I love the promise proclaimed in a graveyard. I am pleased to be there, between the rows of quiet lives marked by stones with stories that I wish I could read fully as I, too, wait.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

For all kinds of weaknesses

For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And He said to me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:8-10

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Hidden in White Pulp

Sometimes I wonder how I can have walked past this tree a hundred times and never ran my fingers and my eyes along the rough rugae of its bark.
Sometimes I look at a word and want to jump into it, to see the world of its origin swell, to be the one that bells its meaning clearer and stronger.

by Denise Levertov

I like to find
what's not found
at once, but lies

within something of another nature,
in repose, distinct.
Gull feathers of glass, hidden

in white pulp: the bones of squid
which I pull out and lay
blade by blade on the draining board—

tapered as if for swiftness, to pierce
the heart, but fragile, substance
belying design. Or a fruit, mamey,

cased in rough brown peel, the flesh
rose-amber, and the seed:
the seed a stone of wood, carved and

polished, walnut-colored, formed
like a brazilnut, but large,
large enough to fill
the hungry palm of a hand.

I like the juicy stem of grass that grows
within the coarser leaf folded round,
and the butteryellow glow
in the narrow flute from which the morning-glory
opens blue and cool on a hot morning.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


How would you describe what a camera does and what a photograph is to someone who had never heard of such a thing?

There are these little boxes that can capture and store memories of a moment and show them back to you.

They are like instant artists at your beck and call, drawing a sketch of what is in front of you *exactly* as it appears to your eyes.

You can save these images for ever on this little thing called a chip, or you can transfer them to your computer and share them with people on the other side of the world, or you can get them printed on paper and hold them in your hands.

Cameras are magical. Time runs towards us like a tsunami, and goes away as irrevocably as a jet plane rising from a runway. Time stops for no man, and our memories of faces and places are always fading gradually. The camera helps us remember that uncle who died of MS, that face before the scar happened, that one little side-road we took on our great road-trip.

They can, of course, remember for us in a superficial way, letting us focus on the wrinkles on our grandma's face more than the taste of her cookie jar. They can change our memories at times and in ways we might not want them to. But they are fabulous tools. They are genies in a case. They are magic.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Why We Have Children by Timothy Dalrymple

"Why do we have children? The question lies beneath social and political issues we confront today..."

One of the best articles I have read. In a very long time.

To a New Life


Written by Ingrid Michaelson

I will live my life as a lobsterman's wife on an island in the blue bay
He will take care of me, he will smell like the sea,
And close to my heart he'll always stay

I will bear three girls all with strawberry curls, little Ella and
Nelly and Faye
While I'm combing their hair, I will catch his warm stare
On our island in the blue bay

Far away far away, I want to go far away
To a new life on a new shore line
Where the water is blue and the people are new
To another island, in another life

There's a boy next to me and he never will be anything but a boy at the bar
And I think he's the tops, he's where everything stops
How I love to love him from afar

When he walks right pass me then I finally see on this bar stool I can't stay
So I'm taking my frown to a far distant town
On an island in the blue bay.

Far away far away, I want to go far away
To a new life on a new shore line
Where the water is blue and the people are new
To another island, in another life

I want to go far away
Away away, I want to go far away, away, away
I want to go far away, far away

Where the water is blue and the people are new
To another life, to another life
To another shoreline, in another life