Friday, December 25, 2015

Mama

I think that memories are gifts, so, Mama, I wanted to give you a batch of memories I have of you, memories we are still adding to, and tell you that they all mean so much to me.  I keep these memories in my mind's treasure box, and I want to articulate them to you to say how great a treasure you are to me. Merry Christmas!


I remember, Mama. When you’d take me to the creek and help me catch tadpoles.  And then we’d bring them home and watch them change into frogs in a glass bowl, watch them become something impossibly new.  I didn’t know it then, but seeing that slow evolution has given me so much more hope for my own transformation into myself...a hope that I might be in the process of becoming something impossibly new...possibly.

I remember, Mama.  When we would fall asleep on the couch with the fan on in summer time.  It wasn’t even that hot, but we loved the sound.  I remember the soft kiss of my hair blowing on my neck, forehead, and cheeks.  I remember the unassuming comfort and safety of having you close by, asleep on the couch next to me with "TV Land" showing I Dream of Jeanie, Bewitched, or Happy Days.

I remember, Mama.  You wearing curlers in wet hair.  I remember that you would sometimes forget the last one was there in your bangs before we left the house.  I remember you doing this over and over again even with the volume you hoped would come from said curlers would never stay.  Some part of me feels this was perhaps a foundational example of perseverance, that taught me repeatedly and from a young age to try, try again...even when failure happens along the way, over and over.  That even when failure is assumed and imminent...trying is the thing, trying still has value.

I remember, Mama. We walked a lot of places when I was little.  I always thought it was only because you liked it, and because I liked it to.  But years later I realized for a while it was because we only had one car, and dad took it to work.  You made it seem like a fun outing though, and it always was.  I remember our family-of-three moving a lot, and I always found it to be something fun, I didn’t know it was because we didn’t have money.  You always made it seem like a gift : I was getting a new room!  You have always made a lot of “have to’s” seem like “are delighted to’s” instead.

I remember, Mama.  That time we found a hummingbird with a broken wing.  We, together, took it back home and put it in a shoe box and tried to figure out how to heal it.  I remember seeing how much care you have for living things, just how much you go out of the way to help everyone, even a hummingbird who had nothing to bring to the table. 

I remember, Mama.  You could never help but buy anything with holiday decor on it at the grocery store.  I remember you’re affection for paper towels with decorative prints on them, and how those were for eating and not for cleaning.  I remember how you could never resist dancing a little bit when music would play anywhere, and if you knew even a few of the words, you could not keep yourself from singing.  I remember thinking that you just couldn’t help sharing joy with those around you, wanting them to feel the energy of it too.

I remember, Mama.  Birdy.  That imaginary, invisible bird that you would give voice to and would tell me was flying outside our window when we’d drive places.  I remember how much you love birds, how you buy expensive bird food to put out in various places in the yard, how you’ve always had a hummingbird feeder filled.  I remember how you loved to watch the birds and would run outside to chase away crows and birds of prey that came anywhere close to the smaller birds which you always called the “babies.”  Maybe this is a big reason why I’m am an emerging birder now.

I remember, Mama.  “Are you sure?” and “They Say….” and “It’s the principle thing.”  I remember you emailing me in college to tell me to wear a jacket or take an umbrella because you’d checked the weather for my city, although you were many zip codes away.  Just because you cared that much about me.  I remember how you could never take me to airports to drop me off because you were always sad to see me leave, but that you never missed picking me up.  I remember you supporting my love of traveling and exploring even though it would break your heart to see me walk off into the unknown.

I remember, Mama.  When dad deployed and we would only hear from him sporadically and only briefly and had no real idea of where he was.  I remember you acting like everything was fine, seemingly like you weren’t worried about...about that possibility that we just couldn’t think of, let alone speak of.  You tried to not act worried so I wouldn’t worry, and I did the same.  I remember us going to the airport together to pick him up, I remember that I cried just as much as you as soon as we got sight of him...I accessed a tear level that day I thought only you were capable of in our family. But, I remember.

I remember, Mama.  You having occasional disagreements with Dad.  I have always been so thankful that you didn’t make it seem like marriage was a continuous honeymoon stage, that you showed me that love was a real thing, a choice you make daily, and something that can last.  That it can be something sincere and strong, something you have to work at but something that works.  And, I want you to know, Mama, if I never get married it is NOT because you failed to show me what a wonderful thing it could be, because you have.  In fact, Mama, you are maybe one of the only reasons I haven’t completely closed myself off to the idea.  And, Mama, I know you would love to throw a wedding for me, so I’m sorry if I never give that to you.

I remember, Mama.  You showing me a nonsensical amount of love as a mother.  Sacrificing so much of yourself and your time to devote affection and attention on me.  I remember this driving me nearly out of my mind (still does sometimes), but the point is I REMEMBER it.  I know others, Mama, who doubt that their parents love them - and I never could.  Even in my darkest thoughts about myself, when I want to think that no one cares about me, I cannot, Mama, because no one could tell themselves that you didn’t love me unconditionally.  You would make the most wonderful Grandmother there would ever be.  Just know I believe that with every fiber of my being, and if you never become one, Mama, I hope you find other ways to get a taste of grand-motherhood vicariously.

I remember, Mama.  All these things you have been and still are to me.  I am glad to remember now and to tell you know while we can both remember together, and make new memories to remember in the future.  

Monday, December 21, 2015

wake



what do you call that moment
right before you wake up?
it is not quite “awakening”
but the foreshadowing of that,
the prelude.

it is said that eyes
are the window to the soul.
i’d like my eyes
to tell me what my soul knows
about my heart.
i’d like my eyes to open me up.

there are a thousand wings
fluttering in my thoughts
swirling at unpredictable velocities
up past where i can reach.
past where i feel safe.

they know the beat
of my own drum i’m certain.
i’d like them to teach me that beat
so i can march to it
& find any sort of rhythm.
(no matter how different).
(no matter how common).

why is it so hard
to keep our hands open?
to embrace empty?
the journey to meaning
seems so long without something to hold.
don’t you sometimes fear you won’t survive it?
i do.

i’m not trying to live “the” dream
i’m trying to live mine.
why does that feel irresponsible
and dangerously childlike?
do we each need to wake up
our inner child again?

but dreams are so unstable
fleeting and mostly impressionistic.
hard to grasp
and hiding just behind our eyes,
hiding in that moment just before we
wake up.

Friday, December 18, 2015

comforter






couldn't i just lie here awhile?
underneath the comforter
hiding from the morning light?
safer, with the impression of light
and calling it a life.

couldn’t i just sleep?
forget what day it is?
throw my watch away
so to make time stand still?
just to be in numb rest.
just to be.

but these days
i can’t sleep unless the window’s open,
unless cold air is blowing in,
making me something between
chilled through
and
right-at-home.

i’d like to let the flood in my mind
overflow
and go elsewhere,
(with or without chaotic care).
just to go anywhere
that isn’t my headspace.

because:
the words that get caught in my heart,
get caught in my mouth,
and sometimes just don’t make it out.
they die before they reach my lips.
and, like sinking ships,
become submerged artifacts -
lifeless & betrayed by their sails.

these days
i feel i’ve trained myself
to not have expectations.
because that is a dance
dangerously close to hope
and i’m not sure i know those steps,
i’m doubtful i have the rhythm required.

do pathways expire?
i wish question marks would.
i wish that that “yes” or “no” were ever answer enough.
i wish to learn to live the questions better.
i wish i could just lie here awhile
underneath the comforter.
comfortable.
but maybe that isn't quite living.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

glass


i can't see
except through glass.
so i'm always one level removed.
i can't tell
if this has hindered,
or helped my lack of courage improve.

once upon a time,
cross-stitched steps
would lead you somewhere.
but now i feel
i might see much better
with my eyes wide shut.

i tried to train myself
to stop blinking
because it seems tied
to my tendency for overthinking:
of thinking thinking thinking
which withers my foresight
into nearsightedness.

i've got hindsight
(a disease)
and the ever-present chant:
icanticanticant.
that's no "abracadabra."
that's no kind of magic
to waste a wish on.

these days
i feel i'm wishing
to prove myself wrong.
to find all my weaknesses
turned into something strong.
and to hopefully learn
the answers to questions along the way - 

how to be brave?

&
is my grey your gray?

Sunday, December 6, 2015

multi




Not too long ago, I chose to make a career change, which is a journey I’m still walking through.  It required me to move away from “home” into a rather opposite sort of “world.”  This made me feel both more myself – more at home in my own skin – and somewhat of a stranger to myself – at times, someone I don’t recognize at all.


Then, when I visit home, I’ve found it hard to know exactly who I am.  The person I was when I left is not gone, but is not exactly “here” anymore...so what does that mean?


I have had a somewhat silent fear about being fake in all of this.  Am I just play acting at life?  Am I just putting on a role based on my surroundings?  Because when I come home some part of the "new" version of myself is suppressed, and some "original" parts of me are brought to light.  Then when I’m out on the new path I’ve taken, those "original" things that come out at home among old friends lay a bit dormant.  Are parts of us allowed to sleep?  Or am I forcing them to drown?
 

I grew concerned that I wasn’t real anywhere, and hence wasn’t anyone at all.

I spoke of this confusion to a friend recently, and he shed light on it in quite a clarifying and comforting way.  He described his experience with it as having a core self that is always present, but that the portion of this core which is projected changes based on his environment - changes mostly based on the people he is around.  None of the portion is fake in the moment, but not all portions are projected at once.


The funny thing is, the first image that came to mind as he described this is those mutli-ink pens...you know the ones that have between 4 - 10 different colored inks in a single pen?  Not all that practical mainly because of their clunky form (so they aren’t all-too-pleasant to write with) but mostly because you only end up using 2 - 3 of the colors.


Anyways, this multi-color pen I felt a good image to what he described.  The pen is always a pen, but, depending on the needs of the writer, it will project a different hue.  Most of the time that is black or blue, and once-in-awhile the red is used, but very rarely do the brown, green, or purple get called to use.  


But isn’t this true of each of us?  We are always ourselves, but the part of us that we emphasize does change depending on our surroundings - mostly on who we are spending time with or the chapter of life we are in.  In the usual day-to-day, we mostly project 1 or 2 of the key parts of our character...every once in awhile a 3rd key component comes out, and then only very rarely some fringe components.  All our part of us, just parts emphasized differently and at different times. 

I think maybe what I am discovering now is that I hadn’t yet found one of the 2 key colors that most defines me, and that maybe one of my "original" key colors, is now becoming a fringe color instead.  Maybe we need a fringe-color shake-up every once-in-awhile.

But, I’m still the same old pen - still bent on scratching out words in the hope of living authentically.


Thursday, December 3, 2015

skin

 
the trouble with the skin we're in,
is that it is sometimes quite constraining.
and i'm not exactly complaining,
but mostly just contemplating,
how i feel that i am now
both within
and without.

turns out you can't just slip back in
to the skin you were in.
turns out that when you grow,
when you stretch
you shed that skin,
and leave it behind
and it dries out in the sun.

and try as you may,
and try as you might,
that old skin is now far too tight.
you've expanded,
and it has shrunk,
and it won't welcome you back,
it keeps you from fitting
back into yourself.

this leaves you feeling lost,
leaves you feeling 
you've given something up
at too great a cost.
and you are no longer
at home in yourself.
you are no longer at home
anywhere at all.

because this new skin you're in
doesn't feel quite right.
it hasn't bent to your curves,
or broken to your creases.
and your anxiety increases
each time that you move.

you force a hope that this stiffness
shall someday improve.
but the breaking-in is so slow,
you hardly notice its progress.
and you feel you're in quicksand:
just waiting and waiting.

waiting in uncomfortable skin.
skin that is still you,
parts of the old and
parts quite new.
but you don't know if you like it.
but you don't think you agreed to this.

this.
this learning to love the skin you're in.
this letting go of the skin you've shed.
loving the memory,
but not letting it haunt you.
letting the sun dry it out
letting the wind weather it
to dust.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

threadless

i dream of being
threadless
instead of threadbare.
seamless.
without origin.
without destination.
nearly invisible.
frequently moved by the wind.

sometimes
(most times)
i feel i'm missing.
missing a pattern.
missing a form.
missing.
just missing.
is that freedom
or
is that forlorn?

maybe
i want to be
a thread instead.
something 
to stitch together
someone else.
something
to help repair.
something
useful.
something
needed.

oh to be needed.

i feel i am
unraveling.
slowly unwinding.
subtly detangling.
my threads in sight:
leaving me uprooted,
ripping me apart.
shreds of threads.
threadbare.

dreaming of being
threadless.

Friday, October 30, 2015

lately

lately i've been wondering about fragments. i've been wondering at how my heart breaks off a little bit of itself each time i have a departure. i've been wondering at how part of me stays behind with certain people and with certain places that my heart has fastened itself to.  it mostly does this without my awareness, does this sometimes brashly without my consent. 

i've been wondering about how many pieces of it i can afford to leave.  how many fragments is each heart made of?  because each bit has a heart string attached, which pulls on what is left inside of me.  this stretches me in multiple directions at once, making movement in any direction a certain hyperextension of the heart.

lately i've been wondering how much of this i can take.  what is the line between chiseling away for proper defining of our shape and going over the capacity of fissures that causes the whole sculpture (that is each of us) to crumble into dust?  but, i also know i can't take the pieces back either.  they were seeds from the start, fallen on fertile soil.  they eagerly took root.  they've already become saplings.

i've been thinking that i don't remember giving permission for my heart to do this.  i don't remember chipping off a morsel of myself and putting my own hands in the soil to bury it in the ground where i long to linger in myself.  it seems unfair that the piece is able to remain when i have to leave.  i'm not selfless enough to willingly let it do so and to then suffer from jealously.

lately i've been wondering: wouldn't it be better if, right before we had to leave something good, it became a nightmare instead?  if all those our hearts become firmly affixed to could become monsters, so repulsive we can't get away fast enough?  or at least malicious jerks who burn our favorite books, cut down old growth forests, and break our legs so we can never hike again (insider information - if you want to be a malicious jerk to me, this is how to do it). what if the places we'd found a sense of self in suddenly became a burning building we had to run from, were being singed by?  if such places suddenly felt like an alien planet, void of oxygen, and with a very heavy sense of gravity?  wouldn't that be nice? wouldn't that be easier?

instead, these people and places become ghosts, sweetly haunting the edges of our chipped and fissured heart.  both a sorrow and a solace. because, although our longing thoughts of them are a transparent reminder and poor replacement of the real deal, such thoughts are also a means of tracing our fingertips on the wound marking that which was hard to let go of, that which part of us remains attached to.  it becomes a talisman permanently burned into us so we can reach to it for pain (which is really a kind of courage) no matter where we are.

lately, i can see these left behind pieces as a sort of bread crumb trail, that traces the journey from where we once were to where we are now.  there is sense of fortification there, a safety net, an exit strategy.  we know we could follow our heart strings back to each piece until we are at our beginning.  even if we never do this (or only do it just briefly) the mere knowing it is an option is enough to keep our heart together.

lately, i'm thankful that i have people and places that are hard to leave. i'm wondering if perhaps our whole life is learning how to adjust to the reshaping of our heart as we leave bits of it behind, or as others take bits of it with them when they go.  maybe all the heart strings attached to those pieces are one big tapestry that is the story of how our life is interwoven with others.  the stretching of thread is something painful as we go, and seems a mess at the start, but the pattern is becoming something well defined and beautiful, just imperceptibly.

how lucky i am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.
- a. a. milne

Friday, October 23, 2015

betrayal

why does our heart
betray us when we sleep? 

not every night
not with kind predictability.
and this leaves us off guard,
in the greatest vulnerability.

it lets us drift with the tide
all our defenses down
lets us nuzzle into the fiction
willing us there to drown.

how cruel it is,
letting us be wrapped in light
letting us drink in the imagined
with all the misguided delight.

and when we wake
still under the veil of the dream,
in whiplash suddenness
we realize it was all a scheme.

because in earlier waking hours
we had made a deal, had come to sense
we'd tossed out impossibilities
and built up our defense. 

but our heart cleverly deceived
and shelved such things instead
only to dust them off in dreams
and bring them to life in our head.

we are then only too willing
with rationality at rest
to invite such delusions
to simply "be our guest."

but when we wake
there is the hangover-of-belief,
from that period of contented faith
that was painfully, tragically brief.

the dream now burned in remembrance
as real a memory as the truly real
but it "was just a dream"
"its really no big deal."

however, these dream memories
haunt us in the day,
revealing our heart's treachery
of things in which we have no say.

each betrayal dream is a hallowed hope,
a shadow thought we will to stay
we just can't help ourselves,
can't bear to banish it away.

we could have done so
before it was a thing we fell for,
before it was a thing with life.
so we concede we've lost the war.

and now in both waking and sleeping
we beckon this ghost to return
not caring for the re-wounding
nor the deepening of the burn.

why does our heart
betray us when we sleep?

Sunday, October 4, 2015

sparrow


there it is again,
that same old feeling,
that hallowed-out cavity
and its misguided reeling.

wings folded in again,
mistrusting the wind’s direction,
fearing a kidnapping,
desiring its own protection.

sometimes it dreams it’s a jay, a tanager,
some species colorful and bright,
but its feathers lose their color,
and it is a sparrow again in the daylight.

it keeps its wings folded in
why risk testing their strength?
why risk seeing if they could carry it
to that distance of great length?

because these empty branches,
are a haven, not a hell,
their architecture so familiar,
the sparrow falls willingly into their spell.

it is no icarus.
it does not crave that height.
it’s well suited for shadow.
it’s estranged in something so bright.

the jays dive in the currents,
the kinglets flit in the breeze,
the finches dance in the gusts,
but the sparrow is perched in the trees.

curious what it would feel like,
to have feathers of a different hue,
but only ponders with detachment,
pondering it is quite known to do.

but never quite wishing to be other
than a sparrow, plain, but true.
and watching the flight of the others,
its daydreams stayed and grew.

so there it is again,
that same old feeling,
that hallowed-out cavity,
and its misguided reeling.
  

Saturday, September 5, 2015

gale

it is incredibly windy today.  the kind of wind that rattles your window, blows dirt into miniature cyclones on the road, makes your hair a delightful mess.  it is the first firm whisper of autumn's approach and makes me think of things made with pumpkin pie spice, warm mugs of cider, and everyone i miss who i'm hundreds of miles from.

my first thought when i awoke to this gusty atmosphere was : what a great time to be a bird.  the birds seem to enjoy the chaos of air currents.  and with no ability to anticipate which direction it might go next, they let go of their control, trust in something they can't see or grasp.  they simply float and glide wherever the wind blows.

wherever the wind blows...

i've never been very good at giving over control to God.  i'm fine "trusting" Him if i know what the plan is, if i can predict the steps He's called out for me to follow.  but, that isn't really faith, that isn't really following, that isn't any sort of trust.  because when i'm planning, there is no trust in anyone or anything but my plan.

i can't say why this is.  i don't have any great confidence that i can make stellar plans for my life, or even for my next hour.  i know the Bible verses that direct me toward letting go and trusting in the Lord, i believe them, really i do, but then my life so often doesn't reflect this.  no wonder so many people see Christians as hypocrites, how easy we fall into the trap of not practicing what we preach.  i know i'm guilty of this, but i am trying to at least be more honest about my hypocritical ways to combat this in myself.

i want to be like these birds. to delight in the chaos of the unknown and simply take flight and let God move me this way or that as necessary.  sometimes subtle adjustments and sometimes dramatic, just like the changes in direction of this wind on this blustery afternoon.  the birds don't crash, even when they make sudden, dramatic and fearful dips, they pull out in the end, and keep on floating on.  and they reflect this experiment in utter trust with the unknown, creating an illustration of faith for others struggling in this (like myself) to see.

so my prayer is to not let my thoughts fly behind or ahead, regretting the past or worrying about the future, but to simply let them fly upwards, as an offering, and let them go where His wind blows.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

boat

there is a small boat
out at sea
sitting alone
lacking directionality

its sail lays limp
its anchor drawn
and the sky is neither
dusk or dawn

it is not empty
but is still somehow hallow
it is both stuck on the past
and worried about the morrow

its been severed from its fleet
its port far, but not forgot
it seems uncertain
of what it is and what it is not

the sea is calm
the boat longs for a storm
something to bring movement
to shake it from this quiet norm

no sound of gulls
no clouds, no breeze
some might see this
as a scene of ease

the horizon lies all around
in a 360 spin
but the boat knows not
which way to begin

it longs from whence it came
but feels it must go a different way
so it simply sits on the sea
thinking of many-a-yesterday

something safe, something warm
the boat has left behind
something familiar, something missing
the boat wants to return to find

there is a small boat
out at sea
wanting to reverse route
but the wind begins to blow oppositely

Monday, August 3, 2015

moonburn

in this moonlight hour
just before blackness complete
consumes the sky,
granite hillsides glow
like snowy slopes.
and the lake they enclose,
on this windless night,
appears as a floor of ice in the stillness,
something you could skate upon.
this is your snowless winter wonderland.

the silence profound
becomes a song you find all around
one only your heart can hear
but one you want to bottle up
and share, if only in words.
so quiet it almost rings.
so soundless it seems to sing.
(perhaps)
you now understand bliss.
(perhaps)
this is a moment you already miss.
(perhaps)
this is your guestless concert hall.

the conifers stand as sentinels
in this amphitheatre.
and with them as guard
you find you feel safe.
you find you feel at home.
you find you can stargaze
and weave your own twilight dream
as deeper darkness slips in.
you inquire whether or not
it is possible to "moon bathe."
can the moon burn your skin?
or will it make you paler instead?
will laying in its rays make you
a moonglow kindred?
(you hope so)
this is your soulless woodland beach.

so, you give it a go:
you lay down on smooth, flat slab
of sierran granite
to consider the Heavens above
bathing in cascading moonlight.
here you become a moth
drawn to the milky flame
hopeful that if you just don't blink
you might deeply sink
into this twilight dream
and live there for longer than
a moment.
this is your ageless never-never land.



Tuesday, July 28, 2015

scalded

my scalded tongue
was burnt by words
held back by sealed lips.
they scratched to get out,
struggled in a silent shout
and in their death
continue to haunt
the hallow space
behind my retinas.
they painted a scar,
an imprinted impression:
blindingly bright
like a chanced glance
at the sun.
not quite seen
but not quite forgot.

i kept those words
clutched to my breast
like fledglings
i wasn't ready to let
leave the nest.
they were too delicate.
they were too uncertain.
i was afraid they might
fly wayward.
i was afraid they weren't quite
ready to meet the real world.
but, truthfully, they were ready
and it was just i
that was not.

these words
are ghosts with wings:
transparent, but
not quite invisible things.
and their chorus of fluttering
rings in my ears.
it is a symphony
of remindings
that my absent courage
was perhaps
the withholding of a gift.
their flutterings
are calling to me
to be more dauntless.

in my most honest imaginings
these words would have been
as autumn leaves:
brilliant but dying,
given to the wind
given to the forest floor,
offered up to
the Creator once more.



Saturday, July 25, 2015

organ

i have an organ
that is missing.
but it is one
that i do not seem
to miss.

i do not search
in any lost & found
it hopes i might recover it.
it do not wish it
to be hidden underneath
to be laying dormant
like wisdom teeth.

and, so, i am quieting
the war between
"when" & "if" inside of me
that takes place in the space
this organ would normally be.

because maybe it is a gift instead
and as with a missing sense
our other organs
feel more strongly
when one is absent?

because:
my mind thinks to much
and my heart feels too much
and my spirit observes too much
and this too much
is so much
of what defines me as me.
so i am hoping that what i now see
might just possibly be
some God-given clarity.

i have an organ that is missing
it is not atrophy
it is not personal entropy
it is my window
of opportunity
to better make use
of my own wiring.



Wednesday, June 24, 2015

sigh

there is nothing quite so
delicious,
so gloriously peaceful,
so sweet to the soul,
as the sound of the wind
sighing through conifer branches,
making them sway gently
to let the sunlight break through
in soft pockets
to a rhythm,
to a symphony of light.
this wind announces its approach
through ripples
on an alpine lake
in conversation with
several unseen song birds
speaking that exactly
which needs to be said
and letting silence
proclaim all the rest.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

timshel

but the hebrew word, the word timshel—‘thou mayest’— that gives a choice. it might be the most important word in the world. that says the way is open. that throws it right back on a man. for if ‘thou mayest’—it is also true that ‘thou mayest not.
-john steinbeck

dear dad, 
 
i mentioned east of eden to you as a common thing - our usual book recommendations where we pass them out casually, where some stick and other do not (but most of mine do for you, don't try to deny it, you know it is true).  i have found myself feeling rather proud that i'd introduced you to, what became, a new favorite of yours. a book you'd read, a re-read, and "re-read" regularly via audiobook too. proud, oh-so-vainly proud (yes, double vanity). 

and we've most frequently spoken of a particular passage in this book, a theme carried throughout the novel : the notion of timshel.  and i just realized, here on father's day, that although i introduced you to the book that this passage is encased in, you had already, long ago and continuously, aquainted me to this most penetrating and powerful notion of "fiction" in the non-fiction of my life and raising.

because you have been there to guide me in choices, but always left them as my own to make.  never making them for me, even when i wished you would, even when my heart silently begged you to do so, because you know the importance of developing the understanding of timshel in the making of my own choices. me deciding. me moving forward in shaky confidence, learning to have my own sea legs in the voyage of my life.

you have been there to exemplify that doing and not doing are both part of this process.  that not doing has a responsibility and weight of its own, that the absence of action has its own set of consequences that one has to consider in the type of wake we choose to leave in this life. and you have helped me learn how to leave a more lovely wake (although the perfection of this is a never-ending learning process of course), one that will glorify our Heavenly Father.

you have shown me the freedom of this timshel as this open way, that we are not bound to any one path, that no choice is so heavy and final that we can not change our path, but that also no path is wrong to take, if God walks with us on it, and God always does. and you have walked me on my path, and down what ever fork i choose to go, and even when i've turned around and back-tracked, or stood still, indecisive and fearful of having to find my bearing.

you have talked with me over the beautiful contradiction of having free will but also having a plan God calls us to, one that we may or may not choose to follow, but regardless one that ends up being something God works in and through us on.  at times you have been a shoulder for me to lean on when i've been to weary to stand alone, when my endurance ran thin as i waited for fog to clear so i could feel more self-assured in seeing clarity in this sensible contradiction we were created to live in.

so today, i thank God that i have such a father to discuss and live out this timshel with.  and i choose today to say that the fact that i may have such a friend and role model to discuss all my "mayests" and "mayest nots" with is a gift i can never praise fully.

happy father's day

Sunday, June 14, 2015

sameness

i will learn to love the skies i'm under
-mumford & sons 

it seems to me, that the vogue mentality of my generation is to crave change.  a thirst for the new and different is the cool thing to have.  the trill of uncertainty.  the high off of the unknown.  maybe that is because most people truly do love and crave change, i can't say...but, all i do know is that i'm not such a person.  i crave sameness.  i like routine and predictability.  call me boring (i call myself such, and i don't mind at all), but that is what i prefer.  it is true that i have the travel bug, and like to go see new things, but then i like to return to the sameness of home, and the home i've had for a long time.  the truth is, i could happily walk the same route, do the same things in the same order every day and be content.  or so i was able to do until God intervened, shook up my world, and called me to a rather regular dose of constant and continuous change for going on 9 months now.

sometimes, when i take a moment to process this new phase, i feel like an alien in my own skin.  and that leads me to wondering if my skin or my innards are the foreigner?  is the person i project the stranger or is what i am clinging to deep in my core, that substance that has always made up my heart and mind, the stranger i need to let go of?  

maybe God calls us to the opposite of our comfort: sameness is comforting to me, so God has called me to change, where your comfort might be change so He calls you to sameness.  either way, i ache for the things i had to leave behind to follow this recent calling to change.  ache in the heart, but it bleeds into an almost physiological ache as well.  and when i say "things" i really mean "people" that i had to leave behind.  i feel like a child who has left all her treasures in a shoebox, buried under her favorite tree.  she gets to visit the tree every so often, and open the box, savoring the time with these treasures in the pleasant shade of the canopy of leaves overhead.  but, eventually, she has to return home, put the treasures back in the box, and bury it once more, put it out of her thoughts.  it is almost a tease to get to open the box at all, only to have to put it all away again. a reopening of a wound, but better than never having the joy of the treasures at all.

the problem is, i have felt so much confirmation from God and even from these people (aka: my treasures) that i've left behind that what i am doing is what God wants me to do.  some secret part of me wished there was less of that, so i could crawl back to the sameness i crave and call that God's will for my life.

if i look back, i am lost 
-george r.r. martin
 
to reconsider whether or not leaving was "right" is not the point.  i know that God will work in and through me wherever i am.  further more, looking back is a dangerous exercise for me, as a person who is clinically indecisive and who will never feel "certain enough" to feel "certain" of any choice.  there were too many open doors for me to deny the leap through them, as much as i secretly wished there had been even a closed window somewhere to keep me in my sameness.

fear not, not every day is this full of these confused thoughts.  i (and i'm sure God had a hand in this too) have kept myself busy, busy to distraction, and i think that has helped me not think too much about my treasure box, buried back where i've come from. so, most days i'm not full of this hallow yearning for those which are far from me.  but, some days, i do feel this.  and today was such a day. 

all of this swirled around in my head today while i sat in church, attempting to focus on the sermon (only fractionally successful attempt).  and the verses we studied were about stephen, the first martyr of the Church.  and the pastor ended with this thought: "regardless of what you face in this life, what will your posture be?  will you gaze to heaven like stephen or will you hide (from the discomfort)?"  my desire is to be faithful to what God wants for my life, and i pray that i not hide from whatever that is.  i want my posture to be heavenward, and let my feet follow that path, whether it be towards or away from my treasures. 

i don't know what i'm getting at with all this.  i don't put this out there to get answers or solutions or to elicit pity.  and i am sincerely not intending to be over-dramatic.  i just was so full of emotions that i didn't know how to name, that i had to write, because i am me in this is how i process things.  but i guess it is also to remind myself how blessed i am to have those treasured people i have elsewhere, and to let them know how much i do treasure and poignantly miss them.

i just want what i can't have: to be where i'm going and also be where i've been (with my treasures).

it's got mountains, it's got rivers, it's got sights to give you shivers, but it sure would be prettier with you
- lulu & the lampshades


Thursday, June 4, 2015

blew


You blew away before you had a voice
But maybe you were absorbed instead
Maybe you became a thread
A magnet
A button too

Because your absence
(Perhaps)
Created a deeper presence
A greater awareness
To draw near one another

You gave a lesson on time
And how value is detached from it
How legacy is free from it
Because you left an impression
And your time was a blink

And when I sit and think
Of how all might have been changed
How my life might have been rearranged
If you had rooted down
I am not left with a tear or frown

Because you blew away before you had a voice
But you have given awareness of my daily choice
To be intentional
To speak love and light
And to know you in hindsight

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

familiar

i took a good look at myself today.  not a reflection in a mirror, but a reflection of a different sort. i am not sure if i look familiar or a stranger.  see, lately, everything has been new and changing, it is my new constant. and i haven't had many quiet moments to actually look at myself, to reflect on it all.  i have made myself busy, whether intentionally, subconsciously, or necessarily so, i can't say.  but regardless, i haven't had much time to reflect.  so when i looked at myself today, i was left uncertain if i recognized myself or not.  am i new or the same? is it good or bad that i'm not sure?

it is so hard to see yourself as apart from yourself, so i don't really know.  but, if i have changed, have i changed in that way of peeling layers away to get to the core of who i've always been? or have i left some part or myself behind somewhere and acquired new layers instead?  or (my greatest fear) am i just play-acting at being someone i want to be, but am not?

i really don't think it is the latter (certainly hope not), but the fear is swimming around now in the pensivity pond. see, as a rule, i'm a rather anxious person. i like to plan, i like to know what is coming. i like a plan B, plan C, plan D "just in case" plan A doesn't pan out. i like routine and comfort.  i like things to remain unchanged.  but, looking at my recent track record, my life has had none of those things, anything but.  and, shockingly, i've been for the most part relaxed about that.  so relaxed i almost haven't noticed?  which may sound like nothing to you, but that is so shocking it is almost unsettling to me.

so are those things, the need to plan, the constant state of anxiety, still part of me or are they now gone?  because sometimes i hear words come out of my mouth that suggest i am not anxious about "not knowing" and am excited by all that is "new" and "changed" and i wonder if these are encouragements (albeit lies) i am trying to make myself believe or do i really feel this way now?  i am not sure i know myself rightly if one of the first adjectives to describe myself is not "anxious" or "a planner."

maybe it is a "chicken or the egg" type scenario...in which case, i do not know if i'm in a chicken or egg stage.  am i telling myself i've grown apart from these things and then i do grow apart from them, or have i grown apart from them and have now just articulated the newness to myself?

tomorrow i start a new job.  a kind of job that is so polarly opposite from what i've done before that i feel like i'm jumping in the deep end when i have only just learned to wade up to my knees.  maybe that is the only way i can learn to swim anymore.  maybe being thrown in the pool before i have time to consider the option of floaties or an inter-tube is the only way i can learn something now.

and before you think this whole post is some cheesy reinterpretation of a Mulan song, my primary hope is not to see "who i am inside" but rather "who i am in God's eyes" (after all, that is who i hope "i am inside", or at least am working towards that).  i want to reflect Him in what i do with my life, with how i use my words, which is why i hope i am being true to His calling, and not play-acting at something i just want for myself.  so, my prayer (and i'd appreciate some from anyone who reads this too) is that if He is not in my reflection now, that the next time i look i will see mostly Him and less of me. a purposeful anonymity.