Thursday, October 31, 2013

haunted


yesterday’s coffee grown cold
a rusted key to an unknown door
yellowed newspaper clippings
a discarded apple core

sundrained book covers
empty flower vases
a shattered boudoir mirror
photographs of anonymous faces

a wilted bouquet
pile of postcards never sent
table-top radio on static
a lampshade with a dent

posted letters missing pages
spider-webbed window sills
moth-eaten cotton drapes
abandoned dollar bills

piano, decades out-of-tune
chair with a caved-in seat
dinner plates set, unused
cold bed with a wrinkled sheet

a wind-bowed umbrella
wall paper peeling in strips
pocket watch no longer ticking
a sweater with unexplained rips

all hum in mockery,
with shadows of regret,
of something you’re unsure of
of the past held in silhouette


*inspire by an article shared with me by a friend

Thursday, October 24, 2013

horizon

--> for much of my life i've been counseled to look towards the horizon.  this came literally from my cross-country coaches, instructing me to keep my head up when running to keep proper form.  this came symbolically from my parents and other role models who were encouraging me to look towards the future, be ambitious, to remain hopeful of things to come.
however, as i've grown older, i feel like, quite often, it is actually unwise to do just this. i don’t mean to definitively state that this is advice poorly given, but rather to suggest that it is advice that is not always applicable.

perhaps it is because i just finished training for a long running race and have recently returned from an annual backpacking trip...and both things always make me wax-metaphorical.  

when training for a long race, you slowly build up your mileage by running one long workout a week.  you start small with 3 miles and keep tacking on a mile or two with each week until your race day.  at a certain point in a 13 mile+ training run, your mind begins to tell you that you can’t go on.   you have been running for over two hours, you are bored, and your muscles are beginning to scream.  if you look out at the horizon line, to where your ‘end’ point is, it seems an impossible distance.  you’ll never make it.  so you should quit now.  it is in these moments that i feel i have to focus on smaller goals…which mostly means i begin to look at the ground just a step in front of me. that is a knowable distance. that is an achievable goal.  and after an hour or so of doing this, with periodic glances at the horizon line, i realize that impossible distance to the end is actually becoming more achievable.  and then, there is a moment i tender a glance to the horizon, and i am there. i have done the impossible.  i have come to the end and can stop running.

when hiking in the backcountry, time and distance come to have different definitions.  when you are carrying a pack on your back at altitude, time is slower and distances seem further.  at some point on a trail you’ll catch a glimpse of where the pass is and you find yourself at a foot of a ‘grunt'.  most often, this means you find yourself greeted by switchbacks.  the terrible thing is, if you look at the horizon, you can see your goal in sight. it almost feels like you can reach it and grasp it in your hands.  you want to make a direct line for that horizon, to get to the pass as quickly as possible, so you can take the cursed pack off your back for a bit of a reprieve.  but you can’t.  the straight ascent to that horizon line is too dangerous, too strenuous, and unwise.  so you begin the switchbacks, and you want to keep looking at the horizon, to will the pass to come to you sooner.  but you can’t do that either.   the trail is narrow, and you are gaining altitude, and there are rocks and roots to battle with. so, to stare at the horizon is not only deceptive (because the distance via switchbacking is longer than you think, and hence disheartening) but it is also dangerous (because you are more likely to fall if you aren’t paying attention to where you are placing your feet).  it is at these moments that i stare at the ground, focusing on the dust swirling around my shoes, marveling that i can take another step at all in the cacophony of my internal whining at how unpleasant this hike has suddenly become.  you begin to celebrate the little victories to keep your spirits up: “almost to that tree!” or “made another turn to a new switchback stretch!” these are false enthusiasms you feed yourself, childish even, but they are necessary and effective none-the-less.  just when you think you can’t go on, you do go on, and then you are there. and the view from that pass, from the horizon that you told yourself not to focus on, is stunning to a degree it could not have been if you had been able (as you wished) to take an escalator strait to the pass in mere seconds.

anyways, i find both these metaphors apt illustrations of the season of life i’m in at the moment. i am not entirely sure where i am going. i am not certain of what i want to do or who exactly God is calling me to be.  and sometimes i stare so hard at the horizon that the sun blinds me into a sense of vertigo.  or the horizon is so foggy and ill-defined and i end up feeling lost for which direction is forward, or begin to ask myself i have been going backwards all along.

so, i believe God has fed me these metaphors to remind me to focus on the present.  to ask Him about the next step, not to plead with Him to deliver me to an unknown horizon line.  as they say, life is about the journey, and as clichéd as that may sound, i am trying to convince myself of the greater and more beautiful truth of that cliché.  there are so many blessings to receive and lessons to be learned from the ‘next step’ and if i focus too intensely on the horizon i am likely to miss those things along the way.  i might wound myself by anxious planning that concludes in a fall from a path-to-progress i narrowly self-construct. i might become disheartened by a sense of no-progress-made as the time taken to get to the unknown "where i am going" seems never ending.  but if i just look at the step i am in, with eyes out for the next one to come, the tangible distance achieved becomes an encouragement and the horizon line less important.

so here’s to baby steps.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

stretching



it was several lifetimes ago
it was just yesterday
perspective causes vertigo.
and we can’t find a path back,
because we can’t see the path forward.

roots sinking into the present
where roots belong
but we’ve forgotten
a constructed amnesia
a willful feverish blurring.

we’re all afraid to drink that last drop
to quaff all life has to offer
with a dash of reckless abandon.
our faith is a weak muscle
in need of stretching

there is nothing to do but start
if we hover at the edge too long
cautiously testing the temperature
we’ll not embrace the cold that won’t kill us
the cold that will save us from lukewarm.

we can’t see beyond the shadows
that we have sewn into our seams
we insist on shouldering burdens
that we are called to leave aside
we’ve too often compromised

steps forward and steps back
we’ve mastered the journey’s dance
and are growing to find grace in that.
it was several lifetimes ago.
it was just yesterday.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

airtight


put it in a box with a lid: airtight
leave no room for sunlight
so it will fall into deep sleep.
its flames melting to ashes
to be blown by a predictable wind.

i’d prefer to stay on familiar ground
on the precipice of lost and found
in the rhythm always known:
a lullaby tune
that nearly goes unheard.

age it to a winter wilt
bruised by the ancient silt
of rooted resolution
drained of all color
preserved in an amber drop.


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

nimble


there’s a growing sense of dread
a burial of time gone by
but that was someone else’s dream
someone i used to know.
it’s just hard to give it wings to go.

feverish bleeding from frantic
it is a steady sort of rhyme
a familiar, comforting tune
but the frost comes just the same.
i have long know it’s name.

dwarfed by a sense of smallness
a humbling, needed reminder
that i am just a wanderer
a sojourner to be swept away.
it was nothing that would stay.

i cannot welcome its arrival
but i will not block its easy path
because we are called to be nimble
designed for a malleable state.
it is merciful sort of fate.

so there is not time enough
to say all that goes unsaid
so what’s to lose in being brave?
knowing chances are far too few
and may not come twice for you?