Monday, June 17, 2013

You Aren't The Only Sinner

Life gets hard in ways that you never expected would come. This is the problem, and it becomes more of a problem when there are people watching – which there always are. Sometimes, I think about the pioneer ladies, and how embarrassing their lives must have been. Their children were probably always walking in poison ivy, and falling into lakes without signs, fences, or lifeguards. They didn’t have dishwashers, or hair dye, or braces, or contacts, or tide pens. Even though I want to talk about how hard life can be, I think we can all agree that it can’t compare to those crazy Puritans.

I was raised to know that life was hard, and it required hard work to keep up with a hard life. I was raised to get up when my alarm clock went off, and to not hit the snooze button. I was not allowed to miss school, even when I was getting bullied in 7th grade because of a bad perm. I was raised knowing that I’d have to get a job at the age of 13, and that a few years later, I’d have to buy my own car. I was raised knowing that if I worked long and hard enough, and then even harder, that everything would probably be ok. God was in the picture too, but from what I gathered in my short 14 years, -- ultimately, it was up to me.

Then the unexpected things came. The cruelty of others, the effects of bad decisions, the painful memories that didn’t go away with time, fear, insecurity, people pleasing, narcissists, lust, addiction, and envy. I would think: Does everyone deal with this crap?

God would’ve really been able to help me out during that time. The funny thing is, I was mad at Him for not being the God I needed, or wanted Him to be, and so I was my own God, and I really suck at being God.

In the few years that I have committed to taking my self out of the place of God, and letting Him in – whichever way He should so choose – He has given me so many answers. I used to tell people that “my story didn’t make sense,” but now, pieces are fitting together.

Funny enough - God has gave me those answers by taking almost everything away from me. At one point, I was very alone. I had lost some of my closest friends, my reputation, given up my job, failed at applying for a Doctorate, was far from family, and totally broke.

Thankfully, this didn’t last long. Being humbled is a lot like healing – an ugly, itchy, scabby process.

I sat in this place of total nothingness. Without my job, how could I work hard? Without anyone to please, or cater to, or help, or impress, what would I do? Just sit here?

I was totally stripped of my identity in every way.

Being alone with God like that is scary. I feel like we spent most of those weeks just staring at one another. And then, one day, He put His arm around me.

It wasn’t easy coming back to God. Even though His arm was extended to me, I felt like the prodigal son, staring at my house on the horizon. 

Is this really the place where all of this has led me? Back home? 

Sometimes I still blush when I walk into church. God’s love is like that.

Since then, God has given me pieces of a life that He wants me to have. Unexpected and hard things still happen, but usually the answers come in, right when I need them. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Memory of my daughter, and of myself.

Today, I came into the kitchen and saw Emilia on the far side, behind the table. Her head, or the top two inches of it at least, peered over the table's edge. She looked at me like "you better not come over here," or maybe it was "will you come over here?" I couldn't tell. Either way, she was too quiet. I walked across the room and around the table to discover that she was eating dirt. The dirt from the seedlings for my garden to be exact. Soil was smeared across her face and littered on the floor around her. My mustard green seedling had a considerable-sized hole in the center, dug by a small and chubby finger. I stood there a moment, and then I laughed. After a brief inner monologue deliberation, I let her swallow the dirt. Venturing my fingers into her mouth never ends good.

I wondered about God and how this had to have happened between the two of us. How many times have I crawled to the far side of the kitchen to get into something off limits. How many times did I peer up to see if God was watching, and what He would do, and He, looking down to see my mouth full of dirt.

“There is so little to remember of anyone - an anecdote, a conversation at a table. But every memory is turned over and over again, every word, however chance, written in the heart in the hope that memory will fulfill itself, and become flesh, and that the wanderers will find a way home, and the perished, whose lack we always feel, will step through the door finally and stroke our hair with dreaming habitual fondness not having meant to keep us waiting long.” 
― Marilynne RobinsonHousekeeping

Thursday, January 31, 2013


A couple years ago, I got my largest tattoo. It's on my forearm, and it's a cardinal. 

The guy who gave it to me is famous for his "Deep Needle" technique, which makes the color more vibrant and slower to fade. Needless to say, it hurt so bad that all I could do after was drive down to the Texas Inn and eat a cheesy western with a bunch of fat redneck men whose butts were hanging off the barstools. It's the only thing that made sense at the time.

Then I went home and waited for it to heal, and I learned something about healing in that time that made sense to me (in a concrete, visible way, which is the only way I can learn). I learned that healing is ugly, itchy, uncomfortable, and it takes no pains to go faster because I want it to. Healing means the scabs come slowly, make your life hell (and require incredible will power not to scratch off, thus ruining the entire tattoo), and fall off one by one at a rate you have no control over. 

I thought about this again today, as there are many people who I love dearly, and some who I only kind of know, who are hurting and who need healing. I wish there is something I could do to help, some kind of salve I could offer. 

You know that old phrase "Healing takes time?" It is totally annoying when people say that. But it has stuck around so long because there is truth behind it.

Healing physically is an ugly, itchy thing. 

And just like we would clean our wounds, wrapping them carefully to keep the outside world at bay, favoring them while they bind, 

-- we must do the same with our wounds that don't bleed. And just because we can't see them doesn't mean they don't heal the same way. They itch and scab, they cause us pain, and they heal in a timing not created or scheduled by us.

So spirit, soul, mind, emotions, memory, body - whatever the wound - clean, wrap, bind, and favor it. Read scripture. Stretch or walk. Drink big cups of tea. Rest. Quiet yourself. And in someone else's time....

At: A Table

Baking bread broken bread
and purple fingertips press out the pulp
From under your skin
comes the wine

filling the dusty air
like a thick reminder
fragrant and inescapable

Baking bread
and drinking wine:
Have we ever been anything else

Who put a body in the kingdom?

My Favorite Adrienne Rich Poem

I sit inside, doors open to the veranda
writing long letters
in which I scarcely mention the departure
of the forest from the house.
The night is fresh, the whole moon shines
in a sky still open
The smell of leaves and lichen
still reaches like a voice into the rooms.
My head is full of whispers which tomorrow will be silent.

Listen. The glass is breaking.
The trees are stumbling foward
into the night. Winds rush to meet them.
The moon is broken like a mirror,
its pieces flash now in the crown
of the tallest oak.

--Adrienne Rich

Soil and Eggs


olive oil, onion, salt and pepper:

and then a female is born,
sucked into this world by a storm

long hair like an umbrella pulled inside-out
Body like a rib -- plunged into the bloody earth

and Mother Nature carefully
gives her breasts and calls her beautiful,
like the center of an egg

[Yolk drips from the door-post
and this world is blessed with a place to call home.]

{For Sarah Veak}

Marilynne Robinson On The Discernment Of Beauty

"I really can't tell what's beautiful anymore. I passed two young fellows on the street the other day. I know who they are, they work at the garage. They're not churchgoing, either one of them, just decent rascally young fellows who have to be joking all the time, and there they were, propped against the garage wall in the sunshine, lighting up their cigarettes. They're always so black with grease and so strong with gasoline I don't know why they don't catch fire themselves. They were passing remarks back and forth the way they do and laughing that wicked way they have. And it seemed beautiful to me. It is an amazing thing to watch people laugh, the way it sort of takes them over. Sometimes they really do struggle with it. I see that in church often enough. So I wonder what it is and where it comes from, and I wonder what it expends out of your system, so that you have to do it till you're done, like crying in a way, I suppose, except that laughter is much more easily spent."

--[from Gilead]