Posts Tagged ‘A woman’s heart’

“It’s just going to take a lot of Grace from both of you. A whole lot of grace given by both of you to get through this.”

~ A. B., November 2012

I was busy. I didn’t want to talk, to answer. To open up to seek & find because I knew my own cracks. To hear again all of the ways I was “not.” I had the list in multiple forms from multiple times given. But I did, at first moving boxes with the phone pressed between shoulder & ear, because I was working & there were deadlines. Then while lifting tub filled with serving tools & napkins, the air shifted inside the humid shed & I sat heavy with unspoken apology, in unseen humility, towards him.

His voice was genuine. His concern authentic.

He spoke of a role, of covenant, of grace.

I heard him tell of his burden to teach, to lead. I know this rightly is his gift.

I counted the slats in the ceiling, listening, inhaling his words. Using a broken pen to scrawl his words on a cocktail napkin to carry, which I did in my pocket for weeks, well into holiday, before it pilled and ink from the broken pen stained my hands when I touched it.

I’ve read that when Jesus was stabbed by solider’s sword on the cross, the Holy Spirit was released, Grace came rushing, into the battlefield of our lives.

And that’s what I think of now. I hear the rhythm in his voice, the words unfiltered, speckled with the language of men now when I must recall to steady myself in the world’s wind blowing up threatening storm.

And I whisper “Hey” to him for the volume of his voice to rise. I whisper prayers with each exhale acknowledging Satan in the list being given again, in my never ending desire for Grace to move in. I whisper, quiet inside, “Dear Holy Spirit, I know you’re here somewhere. You are welcome here. Please wrap us tight in armor, gird us so we can remain open, fearless.” I near whine, drawing out the word ‘Please” again and again because words left me. But all I hear is a haunting echo as I look to the ceiling, counting slats. I remember the pilled napkin. The one whose ink stained my hands.


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It was a competition. Truly at its core it was a competition, but not like the ordinary learned competition – that of man against someone or some thing bigger outside like in barfights or bear attacks or in a boat on the ocean during a hurricane. It was more simple that than and more complex. It was woman. It was me.

It was the fourth, officially day 1,460 of yes acceptance in good and bad, in sickness and health, in tripping over shoes in the living room and struggling for a Windex sparkle clean and words to express. It was a long day for me, filled with spreadsheets, floor plans, impossibly small font and the task of weighing and measuring not just these. And I thought at 4:30 that I must do something. Tangible. With a bit of whimsy silly. A bit of sentiment. A bit of filling up gently, steady. A bit of saying something without using words. Something to bridge the growing gap and buttress a weariness also growing.

With an ordinary pot roast, something we Midwesterners serve on a busy Tuesday, a few candles, scrap wood, yard roses so different from their shop cousins because they show the wear of wind and rain and children bumping past and through, and honeysuckle vine dripping sweet nectar on an generic fruit filled tablecloth, I stood slowly to the challenge against self, pulling up from the boot straps snug around weary ankles to create a celebration. From all I had within my grasp, I set about to create feast.

And I could feel myself lift from the cheap seats of whatever-world to the field. The girl’s eyes were alight. The small boy smiled shyly. On a Tuesday.

And I spun rose petals so the bruises were hidden on the bottom.

And I tucked vine around and through candles gathered from other rooms.

Once, I thought, in a fit of silliness, candles dripped down the front of long bureaus and into drawers. Was that pre-ring? Or early-ring?

These wicks enflamed and sizzled the dust away.

As I fixed plates, the children asked questions of why and how on a Tuesday. And I told truth.

I told of how God made Adam and Eve to create the first covenant. I told of how children added texture and depth and how they were brought into this covenant to bear witness, to learn and grow it bigger. This glory is what is craved, I said. To create like this and spread wide. I told of how the commandments said to honor it in so many ways. And that right now I was trying so hard, with all that I had in my bone, to gather the pieces of fumbled days and celebrate. I smiled at them and told them open over potatoes being mashed that I hoped I was doing a good job as a bride, as a wife, but was fearful so I prayed those places away which is what one does, I said, when an ache becomes searing, when something must be done. And this brings glory too, I said. To pray. To lean.

And I said all of this in that way that comes hushed because of the absence of flourscent light over kitchen island. In candle light, all feels like a secret revealed, doesn’t it? Something mysterious maybe? Something sacred? And they pushed in and they blushed and got out the ketchup.

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“Oh my gosh, your hand is so soft!” The words exploded from me without thought. And I flushed bright. She offered an explanation, but I don’t recall it.

We stood together in this crazy organic circle, listening then offering names outloud and in silence, her hand in mine and mine in hers. I wandered there, offering up faces and hearts. I tried to recall the last time I held a woman’s hand.

I thought of how I watched her stoke a tired fire alive in the cold morning air, how she without hesitation dug into drawers to produce things needed, how she had opened up her home wide to us, how she shared simple single line stories of abuse and redemption and hope, how she smoothed the cover of her book when talkingand how warm she felt standing next to me. All of these things are so small. They seem so practical and necessary, even mundane. After all, the large spoon was needed.

But to stand and watch her body move through these rooms and hear her voice lilt with delight and compassion was indescribable beauty like one receives when seeing the full moon rise rusty orange after hours of driving in the dark.

There are no great things, only small things done with great love.

~Mother Teresa

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There’s a certain subtley I think we’ve not mastered yet.

That of this moonlight falling around and inbetween and through these tall trees on I-20/59. So ethereal soft and delicate like eyelashes that nothing is disturbed, not even the papery veins of oak leaves or the web built between.

I hear the children centered up tightly safe in mounds of blankets, a homespun quilt nest. They rustle like small birds adjusting feathers against cool air and skin. Their impulsive sighs and dream words mark the road stronger than the dashes that lead me home.

I think I could do that – of course I always think I can. I always think I can learn that right there. To touch like that.

With the right tension of muscle and mind, with the correct poise of hand and body like that of a crane over water, I believe I could discover the way of this moonlight.

I know with this open hand I would suddenly feel the very pulse of growth from deep white root to dark leather leaf. I would slide along gentle the gossamer threads and weave in and through the grasses and twigs of a nest built of tiny things found and carried there one flight at a time.

With this gentleness found in fingertip, I know I could fall into that shadow of arm crook and permeate the emptiness between those eyelashes and rest in the tightness of that wrinkle to become fully bound and contained in the dreams and thoughts the moment they rise like that misty haze at the wood’s edge. I wonder if I even would be able to see myself in reverse from here inside, as if in a mirror, through those eyes, their blue as wide and clear as sky.

This is too thick, I admonish, watching my left blinker flash bright before moving from behind the truck into the empty lane. Ordinary people are turning off televisions, locking doors and perhaps preparing the coffee pot for the next morning. They don’t think of this. They don’t wonder at the hows to make such a consideration like this possible. They don’t consider this a kind of perfection.

But I long to touch this way. Without harm or alteration or consumption, I know my hand placed just right could do it.

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I read the words at work and was undone in that way that scattered me and gathered me up tight and free in complete paradox.

And I watched the screen move to watery wave and knew I had to pull it in and focus. Focus – a word I said over and over again as those typed words drifted in and whispered soft while doing other things. A description of me, of all people. Amazing? Me, who has been told and reminded I don’t belong, am not near worthy, am not enough.

I knew a reply was expected and required and felt impossible.

How do you tell someone the depth and width of such an emotion?

How do you give breath to something when breathless?

I failed twice – back spacing my way out with machine gun fire. I reminded myself to focus. I moved onto other things like accounting and lists and schedules. I reminded myself to breathe.

And then when I was called out, the sin of omission brightly flagged, all I could offer was the two failed attempts and a stuttering incomplete explanation sung to the whine of please mercy and please grace.

I don’t know when I realized the word, felt it and knew deep as blood. Perhaps it was in that insistent bright light. Perhaps it was the flurry of my mind trying to wrap around, but not grasp at the proverbial straw.


And the moment I replied with that word, shaking deep and chest breathless tight, is when I opened up wider than desert sky because it was true. Words drifted in reminding me of who I still was, erasing the world’s bruises, balming weary bone and skin. Typed words became vestibule for letters from Paul and Peter and Psalms then ended with Mother Teresa.

I remember the letter I found with no return address opening with her words. They were proclaimed as those I already knew, had written on a post-it and taped to the refrigerator, tatoo-ed in ink on my hand. This anonymous knew me, habits I owned and practiced quietly.

There are no great things, only small things done with great love.

~Mother Teresa

I hoped one word would be that one small thing.

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She said the words I didn’t know I felt. She said them over our clasped hands in a warm lamp lit office.

“I know she’s angry. Help her, Lord, move through it to find You.”

I felt that place, where secrets are pushed, jump awake as if at an alarm. Yes, I thought, yes, I am angry. This is not the way it’s supposed to be. And I squelch the scream inside.

And I walk, offering it up, labeling it joy, like James said to do. To bear all trials and tribulations as a gift. To say thank you for this barbed mess I hold in heart’s palm.

I tuck them, shattered pieces, into drawers and cabinets, out of sight, because company is coming and the house must be tidy and fresh feeling.

It’s becoming harder I think to cover and hide.

I think I am strong, that I can do hard, live hard and still not be hard. And I know I’ll take the blame, when no one else is around, because there are two so one must bear the weight of what is now tarnished, for the garden weeds and the dirty floors.

And I give hard thanks in hard rain fashion that pounds the earth at my feet, lifting dust as a reminder with each drop. And I walk, conscious of the callouses and blisters forming with each step, reminding myself that maturity comes with this kind of walking, that this limp and wilt is part of it.

What happens if I stop? What happens if I stop taking these actions and words as reminders that I am dust, to return to Him? Do I turn tables over because there’s desecration going on?

I think of Jesus and the money changers. I believe his skin prickled when he entered the temple. I believe it was with shaking hands he took the cords and wound them into a whip to banish.

And I wander there to that messy stone courtyard, stepping over broken bowls and mangled cages. All are screaming. Some with anger just because this is their livelihood being trodden. Some scream with that fear of a mad man. Did the hard wing flap of those doves released recklessly mirror the pounding panic and anger felt in the hearts of those businessmen?

After the turning over and the words spit through clenched teeth, I see John rip his hem to bandage up the cut on Jesus’ forearm.  I watch his hands move gentle as they pick the bits of straw from around it and wipe away the dirt. His mouth is moving, but his words, not meant for this crowd, are inaudible. After such strong action, there is always a cleaning up of more than the eye can see and the ear can hear, of more than washing dirty dinner dishes, gathering things dropped and letting go things broken.

Then the blind and the lame come. Always the blind and lame, I muse, as I hear the thunder move in and watch a July sky darken with heavy rain.

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“Great faith is often at the end of the search that starts with doubt. We should be thankful for what God has revealed to us. He doesn’t belong in the package we have created for Him.”

~ David Jeremiah

I laughed when I first read this, which is probably not the reaction desired. There is a hardness in the words, a stark reality that can be used as hammer. Instead I laughed loud and hard.

I carried the words with me written on a scrap and shoved into my pocket. Each time I reached for the coupon pile, I saw it and smiled.

I found myself playing with the words in what I’ve call Bugs Bunny style, adding emphasis on different words and syllables.

GREAT faith is often found at the end…Great FAITH is often found at the end…Great Faith is OFTEN found at the end…

I wanted to do the “bouncy step” I taught the children when they were small. We picked up a toy, then walked on toes heel down, heel up, to the toy box, singing a song or simply talking in an up and down voice. It made the task of Lego and puzzle clean up more tolerable and pleasurable.

This also is probably not the reaction desired.

When my husband in a most suave way, asked from the seat of the children’s 4-wheeler, if I wanted a ride. I giggled and jumped on the back, wrapping my legs perfectly around his waist. He took me to the neighborhood where the fine homes are – the homes I dream of living inside. The steep roof tops meet low long porches in sweeping vines of Carolina Jasmine. Periwinkles blinks dark purple among flat rocks lining the drive and the road. The way the English ivy draped like the dress bricks where chimney flues shot up through oak trees is romantic. I told him I loved the nestling of homes here. I prayed they were as peaceful inside as I laid my face against his shoulder. I thought of this quote and those lovely walls. I chuckled lightly, thinking perhaps this thinking is more in keeping.

I looked beyond the laughter and the play as best I could that night while swinging in the cool evening to say it straight.

You have placed the stars in the sky and know them each by name. And you made me from the inside out. From the womb, you have seen me grow so I guess you know why I laugh. Because I have as many doubts as you made stars. And you make them shine with you.

I turned to watch a blue jay, who was scolding something unseen. The dog lifted his head to see too.

You know my love of ivy drape on lovely brick buildings. They appear so warm, safe and yet you will burst through them, after, in my imagination, I finish building, before the mortar is dry and my boxes are in the foyer.

Shaking my head, I go to the kitchen. The screen door slam is loud and comforting. I prepare my husband’s potato and place it on the grill. In the late afternoon light, the foil sizzles the water away.

And you taught me gratitude, huh? I thought I knew it. But when I thought you were flogging me, all I could really feel was the pressure and  some heat, not the lashes nor the burn, because you were truly my shield. And how I screamed at you! I remember that and I cannot bow low enough now.

I look into my piece of sky between rose barked crepe myrtles and shaggy pine.

Coal into diamonds. Refining of silver. Right?

And I think that this is what is revealed to me: how many times have I run from his very definition of himself, how often I construct tidy walls with lovely ivy and flower boxes and windows where I want him to come in.

And yet, I can still twirl silly making a child’s game. I laugh again and think I twirl only deeper into his grace and by his grace I twirl. Tomorrow is Easter, I think, and a good day to twirl.


Posted with the girls at In Other Words. Please visit Karen for more thoughts. If you feel the urge, twirl and link up.


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