has its moments of glad brightness.
Author Archives: adailyportion
A prayer for the third Sunday of Advent, 2012
You have promised us that Your Light has come into the world, and the darkness will not overcome it.
We confess that Your Light is hard to see in our darkness of senseless violence, hunger, homelessness and addiction. You Light can seem as frail and flickering as the fames of these candles.
But we know that our hope is in You. You are always returning to us, to bind up our broken hearts. Help us to be your Light-bringers. Help us to carry Your hope and help into our world.
In the name of Jesus, Who is our hope, our help, our strength, our peace.
For indrawn breath at the chill
Beyond the covers,
For feet finding floor.
For the dusty furnace rumble
And the warm shush through the vents.
For windowpanes cloudy, condensed
Where the first rays paint
Our coziness within, frost without.
For pen and ink tree etchings
Frozen against the lightening gallery of sky.
For the brown and bitter grace of coffee,
For butter melting into toasted bread,
For crumb-dusted fingertips licked clean.
For candle wax left sculpted
By last night’s flames.
For my love’s hands,
Knotting his tie, tying up shoes.
For lunch boxes banging against boy knees
In a dash into the cold, into the day.
For being the one left waving,
Slippered, on the doorstep.
For the swept span of a house made quiet
Hello back and shoulder pain easing.
Hello morning workout.
Hello prayers for those in the path of a huge storm.
Hello quiet day at home.
Hello rolling out pie crusts, chicken and vegetables, apples and cinnamon.
Hello one for the freezer and one for a friend.
Hello mulling over a life-changing book, finished over the weekend.
Hello Monday! What are you greeting this week?
I’m linking up at Lisa Leonard’s Hello Monday space.
Hello thinking back over the full goodness of the weekend.
Hello Triune Art Show, and Pastor Deb’s book, and miracles in word and brushstroke and stitch. And more art on our own walls.
Hello friends over for dinner, soup and bread, good wine and conversation.
Hello Boy Scout, studying first aid, setting goals.
Hello worship, hello art room, all of us with paint on our fingers.
Hello winding road up to Skytop, hello heavy bag of Galas, hello first bite of apple doughnut, all crisp sugar and spice, worth the wait in the long line.
Hello new library book I don’t want to put down.
And now, hello Monday! Hello short week with Fall Break soon. Hello lacing up the shoes and filling the water bottle.
Hello good good life.
linking up at Lisa Leonard’s lovely space
where she invites us to greet the week
I have typed and hit delete several times, trying to formulate pretty sentences about what is going on in my life, how my inner life is merging into my outer one in some exciting and challenging ways. But the truth of it is that I feel I am in a season of feasting this autumn, sitting down to a rich stew of inspiration, opportunity, encouragement and grace. I’m learning the discipline of setting my place and picking up my spoon and tasting, perhaps, for the ingredients I might add.
So may I just share what is shaping up to be my recipe for this season?
- a writing workshop and concert with this amazing woman, who has been breathing life into my ears for almost two decades (Clicking on the link will take you to her site, and a chance to hear a new song called “The Speed of Soul.” You might give yourself the gift of four minutes listening.)
- Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation by Parker J Palmer. The book I’m cracking, the one I’m almost afraid to read.
- a dear friend, who is asking good questions and giving gentle but intentional nudges. My reconnection with her is all gift.
- A little yoga to start the day, which is making me feel stronger and more flexible, but kinder and more patient with my body as well.
- Traveling through the parables with my dear friend above, and a few other members of our Triune family, trying to find what Jesus’ stories might reveal about our own.
- poemcrazy. I mentioned it on Monday, but it bears repeating!
- the cool mornings and evening quickening my spirit as they do every year. “Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.” –George Eliot
- The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. Nightly rescuing my sense of humor from the election season.
- facing the blinking cursor, the blank page, the truly awful first draft Anne Lamott warns us about. And lots of coffee.
And finally, a few lyrics from one of the first Carrie Newcomer songs I fell in love with:
“I’ve been known to think too much
Get caught up in planning and choosing
I’ve sat down with my head in my hands trying to
Lose the fear of losing
But you can’t go back and you’re never the same when
Love’s left its mark on you
Whether stronger, bitter or better, or wiser it’s all up to you
Take one step a little bit closer
Take one step a little bit closer
I woke up yesterday morning I was smillin’ I was smillin’ wide
I heard wild geese calling
I called back and looked into your steady eyes saying
Take one step a little bit closer
Take one step a little bit closer. . . “
What’s filling your cupboard, your plate?
Hello rusty blog. Hello waiting keyboard. Hello rather scary blinking cursor.
Helo new disciplines. Hello questions about calling. Hello journaling, reading, sitting quietly.
Hello wordplay. Hello poemcrazy.
Hello new habits and old insecurities.
Hello first really chilly morning, hello jeans and a sweater.
Hello trustworthy listeners.
Hello mercies, new every morning.
Hello to anyone out there, who needs a Monday morning, sheets thrown back, a new day “with no mistakes in it yet!”
We thought we’d missed out on the rain. In the mid-afternoon, the clouds had heaped to the northwest, and I’d hurried at the clothesline, unpinning shirts and socks in the dimming light. But with only a few spatters and a low departing rumble, the storm had sped away and the sun shone bright again as we ate an early supper.
Later in the full dark, after we’d pulled the curtains and opened the wine and the pages, the thunder startled us all alert, and while we were still exclaiming, the rain came in a roar and rush and the wind whipped the branches in a frenzied dance. In an hour it was quiet again.
I did not find them until early afternoon, so many of their painted faces resting on the ground. Fed with warmth all through an early spring, my gladiolus have towered over the garden, and in some cases, well over the fences to which they are tethered. The cuplike blossoms filled with heavy rain in the night and the wild wind broke their slender stems, and there is something so sad and familiar about all those brilliant silk petals in the dirt.
But I’ve seen the beautiful faces of the broken before, and I knew what to do. My sharp clippers freed them from the plants that can’t feed or support them anymore, and I carried them inside, even more lovely gathered together, plum and salmon and white and rosy pink. In a tall vase of thick green glass, filled with cool water, they stood straight again. Their trimmed stems will continue to drink, and each bloom up the long stems will slowly open as they were made to do.
Some days it seems as if all the beauty we can find in this world has been through a storm tossed night, is a little bruised and shabby and glorious around the edges. I want to walk slowly enough to see it, love it, gather it, participate in a rescue if need be. Support, a cool drink, and a chance to continue blooming– sounds like a good prescription.
The boys and I spent the last hour of our morning doing a little writing yesterday. We’re not doing anything much in the way of formal learning this summer. Joshua and Sam are voracious readers anyway, and summer gives us more time for art making, soldier fort building, and marathon Lego construction. Monopoly and Yahtzee cover math and probability. All that’s left is a little word play.
We sat a few minutes in our breezy living room, jotting down our strongest sense associations with summer. What smells, tastes, sights, textures and sounds are the essence of summer to us? Then we spent a few more minutes shaping those into free verse poetry. In the spirit of process over product, and still smiling over the easy fun of those moments, I’ll share the rough draft of my contribution:
Summer comes and calls
from the sliding screen and I follow
her out, closing the door with a snap,
metal on metal.
She is all flickering leaf shadows,
chemical cocktail of bug spray, sunscreeen.
She’s sweet-sour lemonade swallowed
all in one long icy gulp.
She dazzles my eyes with a riot of fuchsia roses,
the noon glare of the driveway,
the bright grassbound stars of daisies,
tethered to the long afternoon.
She follows me indoors
under the rhythmic wash of ceiling fan blades,
and sits at the still-sunlit supper table,
white plates and the sweet milky pops
of kernels bitten off corncobs.
As twilight finally creeps in
to our friends’ kitchen,
she is all blue
while outside the fireflies blink on,
Tonight I’ll rest and tomorrow
summer will be waiting
crouched beyond the drawn shades
of another drowsy, sleep-in
As I read over this first draft, I see perhaps only one or two phrases that will ultimately make it into a finished poem. But what I want to model for the boys, what I think may stretch beyond writing into this wholehearted living itself, is that we don’t wait for the one great wonderful idea to write the poem. We write, read, cook, make, to discover. The wonderful comes in the process, and sometimes the best part might not even be rows of words on a page, but the morning breeze, the focused faces, the flowers in the mason jars, the scratch of pencils and the imprint of memory.
When I was a child, it was always about the next thing. My childhood was often unhappy, and the next thing was always the hope that it would be better. A cold silence would melt into words, open hostility would simmer back down to a lower boil. I’d get to the bottom of my pile of paperbacks, and play my Billy Joel records. And finally, I’d be grown up and not always leaning toward next.
But I ‘ve found the practice of presence in the current moment is not easy. I was wired early on to peer over the next fence, and our culture gives me a boost. It’s all about better and faster, more and more, and your body may be one place but your mind and heart, soul and spirit, aren’t necessarily where you plant your shoes.
But last night, I was where I was. Seated at a table with friends, sharing an impromptu crab cake dinner. We passed the dishes and ate, laughed and passed them again. There was good food, there were the faces around the table, and I was all there. With all my senses, with my thoughts, I wasn’t even leaping ahead to writing this post, I simply was. And it was good. When we got home, I gathered up our huge cat and cuddled her on my lap, petting her to hear her loud purr. And I was all there too.
The patient is getting better.
There is a place for my forward-looking, for planning and hopes for the future, for best-case scenarios and just-in-case arrangements. But I’m learning to long for more here and now, the grace of twilight coming into a kitchen over dear faces, plates scraped clean and the last of the dark chocolate, melting on my tongue.