Thoughts in Progress

Quiet

A black-and-white photograph of a pale rose, the focus lightly blurred, the petals unfurling.

Come in, Love,
and shake the rain
from your shoulders.

Come —
let the storm lash
the panes of the windows,
the thunder rattle
the bones of the house.
Here we’ll make Quiet 
the way some people
make Love.

(I’ll tell you a secret:
Sometimes they’re one & the same.)

Let’s not talk of the world
outside the door —
the storm has snapped
the wires to this place,
and no outside voices
can reach us.

We will not eat at the table, 
but here on the floor,
the blanket smoothed out,
the glass bowl full of
petals and candlelight.

There’s a broken husk
of pomegranate.

Bread.

Wine.

The still air empty between us,
and the invitation 
to fill it.

Hush. ❤

 

Advertisements
Standard
Book Talk

A little hope for your Monday morning …

I have a lot on my mind tonight. There are some big changes around the bend for me, and as I stand on the margins of them, it seems right to be quiet for a little while. 

To think, and let the empty space stretch out its limbs.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t have some light to share today. I’ve been perusing through my favorite Mary Oliver poems again, and this one, somehow, struck me as right for the moment.

Enjoy, friends. And happy Monday…

“The Fist,” from Mary Oliver’s collection, Thirst.

 
Today — I promise — is an invitation…

Again. ❤

Standard
Musings

hopeful words for a dark world {on Easter Sunday} …

sunclouds

Today is Easter Sunday: celebration of new life, forgiveness and light.

But.

This world can be dark. 

Dangerous. 

Brutal.

All week long, the violence tearing through this little planet of ours has been weighing heavily on my heart. So today, I thought I’d share a brief snatch of words giving me hope:

  

Courage, friends… For now, the darkness and the light dwell together…

But the darkness just can’t last.<3

Standard
The Body Electric

The Body Electric: Day Nineteen

ukulele2

Maybe it’s just me, but lately I’ve been feeling like December is just … hard.

I don’t have any real emotional reason to feel that way:  no family drama.  No old holiday loss.  If any thing, I’m happy… But I’m also exhausted.  And I’m not just talking about my usual bouts with insomnia.  I’m talking about soul-level exhaustion that I can feel in my body, right down to the muscle and bone…

Too many parties.

Too much food and wine.

Too much sparkle, too much spending, too many colors, too much noise, too much drivingbuyingrushingwrappingtalkingtalkingtalking.

I don’t know … Maybe it’s just me.  

But I suspect not.  

*

Earlier this week, though, I tell T I don’t want to plan anything for this night.  We’ve had a double-booked calendar all week, but tonight … tonight I want nothingness.

So, halfway through our Sunday afternoon, we make a second pot of coffee in the Chemex.

And we laze around for hours and read.

We finish wrapping presents.

 

And I don’t know why, but at some point we dust off our matching ukuleles and decide we’re going to learn “Silent Night.”

*

It was September when T and I first took lessons.  Back then, I remember how awkward my little ukulele felt against my chest, and how hard and sharp the strings felt, biting into the tips of my fingers.  My hands never seemed to want to curl in the correct shapes.

This evening, though, I teach myself the simple chords, and after a few minutes of practice, everything just feels right:  the curved mahogany against my breastbone.  The gentle happy Hawaiian echo in every strum, reverberating through my skeleton.

As I play, I sing the old carol:  Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright…

And suddenly I feel that silence… That calm.

The room fills up with quiet even as it’s flooded with music.  

The hurry of the holidays falls away.

I feel the music in my body — in the muscle and in the bone – and I feel — for the briefest little moment –what it means to know heavenly peace. ❤

ukulele1

Standard
Confessional

When the Past is a Pool of Water by the River’s Edge

I scramble down the trail to the ravine, feet sliding on loose rocks, camera balanced on one hip.  When I catch my breath, I look up to see what I’ve come for:  the river, twisting green in the sun.

This is the place I come to when I need to think about the Past — need the sensation of something rushing away, disappearing around a bend. Today, though, as I leap across a line of boulders near the river’s edge, the Past just won’t recede.  A quiet hurt still lingers — as if dirty water washed over me and left a residue — and I can’t seem to scrub it from the gray matter.

Oh, mercy, I whisper:

Mercy.
Mercy.
Mercy. 

Sometimes it seems like the only prayer I know.

*

It would be an easy mistake, whether you know me by my words or in everyday life, to misread my gentleness as a deeper form of goodness.  To see me as the most shiny and unblemished sort of saint:  sweet-faced.  Sweet-voiced.  White-frocked, well-dressed — eternally clean.

People make this mistake all the time.

But the truth is, if I’m a saint, I’m one with skinned knees and a dented halo — a sinner, stumbling drunkenly toward some holy glow.  I’m a complicated creature, drawn toward complicated situations, with a penchant for getting lost … and when the Maker knit me together in my mother’s womb, he gave me the blessing and curse of a wandering heart and a ravenous mind.

Thank Heaven, he also made me a mouth to cry for mercy.

*

So I stand on the river’s edge, praying and shooting:  white water, muscling through rapids.  The light shattered like a mirror on the rocks.

Don’t let all this beauty fool you, I think.  This is a dangerous place.  Hikers have been swept to their deaths here, and the rangers have posted signs telling me so.

But my stubborn heart never could heed a warning.  And besides:  any place you go to hurl the hurt away from you is a place where you might be dragged under with it, if you don’t know when to let go.

*

Mercy.

*

On this day, the mercy comes as a flash of light at my feet.  I look down and see where the river has pooled in the boulders.  The pools have polished the stone smooth, and the water within is skinned with green moss.

I drop to my knees and adjust the lens. And I understand then, with this palmful of water in my viewfinder, that there are places in the heart where the past can get caught — where the hurt forms a pool. And who knows, then, how long it takes for such a wound to heal?  For a hollow of water to evaporate into sky??

But.  Even a moss-clouded pool reflects the sun, however faintly:

rocks2

Even a scar is a wound that has healed, in its way…

*

I leap from the rocks to the sand.  Walk toward where the river curves in a calmer stretch.  My eyes hunt through the wreckage of old floods:  bottles and broken glass.  Tires.  Twisted tree limbs.

And I’ll tell you:  there is beauty everywhere, if you know how to look.  If you have eyes trained by mercy.

I stand very still. I am waiting, I guess, for the sun to make its way down into these small pools.  To turn them into flame.

I breathe — breathe — my fingertip tingling against the shutter button.

I’ll tell you a secret that every good sinner knows:

rocks The Mercy is already here.  ❤

Standard
Secret Messages

Thirty Wishes for my City: Day Thirty

This post is part of the Secret Messages Project.  Every day for thirty days, I’ll leave my words in places where they might be found — or might never be found at all.  I hope you’ll join me. 

*

I don’t know how I came up with the idea;  I just know that for me, it worked.

I’d been writing one message a day for thirty days, leaving my words in out-of-the-way places, and sometimes in plain sight.    For my last day, though, I wanted not just one secret message, but many.

I wanted to fill my city — my soft-shouldered blue little valley — with kind words.

So I began with thirty smooth stones, and I inked on all the things I wanted for this place.

I want hope.

I want mystery.

I want wonder.

I want mercy.

I want forgiveness, too, for ourselves and for others — a chance to begin again:

thirty8

thirty9

I want all this and more, and I’m learning that I don’t need to be a poet or a prophet to speak it.  I just need to be myself, saying as sincerely as I can what I believe must be said.

If I could do that, it would be enough.

*

I carried the stones in my coat pocket for days.  The load was heavy, but each time I gave a message away I felt lighter.

I left Peace on the railing of the Martin Luther King Jr. bridge:

peace4

I left Peace by a park bench downtown, where a homeless man sometimes lingers:

peace8

I left a stone in a gorgeous tangle of tree branches on the floodplain:

thirty27

thirty28

I left stones underwater:

thirty26

And stones by railroad yards:

thirty3

I even left a special stone wedged on a hook in a Wal-Mart bathroom stall:

thirty10

thirty11

And I hoped these words would do my city good.

The thing is, though, these messages weren’t just for my city.  They were also for me.  Because in any other winter, I’d have been holed up at home in the quiet, longing for spring, seeing nothing but gray.

But this winter, I was out in the rain and the snow, breathing air so clear it sometimes hurt…  It hurt, but also, it was beautiful.  In fact, the more messages I left, the more beauty I saw…

I hid this little bit of Mystery beneath the torn bark of a tree, and suddenly I realized that I wasn’t making Mystery — I was finding it:

thirty21

I took a wrong turn and ended on a dead-end street, where a haphazard pile of junk blocked the way into the woods:

thirty32

But there’s no such thing as a wrong turn — not really — and when I took a closer look at the rain beading the edge of this tire, it turns out I found Mystery there, too:

thirty31

I went searching for places to hide pebbles, and I found paths tiger-striped with flashes of afternoon sun:

thirty29

I found a canoe launch so quietly beautiful, it made my heart kick in my chest:

thirty30

(The stone I left there, with the river lapping its edges, felt just right…)

thirty25

I found beauty in this graffiti downtown:

peace2

And beauty in a set of railroad tracks that ran into nothing — they tumbled off the edge of a little ravine and began again on the other side, spiked with tall golden weeds, and my soul sensed something truthful in that:

thirty2

I left a stone on top of Mill Mountain and saw my city glowing as if from within — sunstruck silver, flooding all the valley’s soft little furrows:

thirty14

I saw that and I was breathless, so I put that hope into words:

thirty12

Oh, Star City, I hope you feel breathless today.

I hope you feel breathless tomorrow.

I hope you feel breathless the day after that.

And I hope, in some small way, I gave back a little of the breathlessness you’ve given to me, in these past thirty days.

I’m seeing beauty everywhere I look today, and it’s been my pleasure to share it with you…

thirty35

thirty36

Standard