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Posts Tagged ‘Battle of Good vs Evil’

“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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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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I welcome them as they come. I greet them all one by one and call them by name. And it is hard. This kind of naming and search for gratitude and fill.

But this is what I’ve been taught. This Welcoming Prayer. To stand in this doorway to acknowledge, to empty out, in order to fill up.

And just when I think none are left, just when I think those hidden bruised places have finally flushed out back to ordinary color, to supple flesh, more come. Sometimes in a flood, sometimes slipping through unnoticed.

Hello, Anger, I welcome you and say good-bye. And in my mind I shake a hand.

Hello, Lonliness. I welcome you and say good-bye. And in my mind I gently glide her through.

Hello, Sadness. I welcome you and say good-bye. And I nod familiar as I see the heavy booted foot cross the threshold.

I’ve watched the shelves fill with pots waiting. All created by my gentle husband’s hands. They’re bisque fired, which means they’ve been through the kiln once, to harden and solidify shape and texture. This mean means they are ready for rubbing smooth, for carving filagree and spirl, for glazing beauty.

   

A bowl created from tiny bands of clay spiralling up and over. Tiny circles placed inside remind me of sky, of clouds seen from a plane window over the wing.

A tiny pot. No bigger than the heart of my palm. Mashed and formed with fingers whose prints are still visible.

A handless pitcher. One that must be grabbed with both hands in order to pour out.

Things to hold things. Vessels.

And I think of the woman at the well filling up and the woman with the alabaster jar cracking to find and give joy and gratitude.

I must be empty of all this, I scold, in order to fill up with all that. To heal.

Hello, Criticism. You’ve shown up wearing different pants. I welcome you and say good-bye.

So I sway to music internal, a sort of theme music to escort, this week. Hymns and poetry to guide. And I pray my desire to empty, to surrender, to lay all this down is enough, as I continue to humbly nod, greet and then let go.

___

Posted with Lisa Jo for 5 Minute Friday fast and so messy today. The links and photos were added afterward.

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There are the days when the sun is shrouded. This I know and feel in the concrete of day pushing me in and down. This I know when I stand looking up at the heaviness heave and roll in sky and wonder why it doesn’t simply rain. It behaves as if it doesn’t know what to do with this swollenness. It behaves as if holding it all in will garner, prove strength.

Isn’t it tired? Wouldn’t it feel better if it just rained? What would happen if it simply let loose, gave up and in? Wouldn’t it suddenly feel light and give light and be light?

It is me who heaves yes standing in the sticky brown grass looking up. It is me whose parts unseen are heavy with the misery I’m told I give daily. I make someone miserable every day I breathe.

This is reality. Or is it temporal perception?

The misery that burns and rages and spews out is my fault. A list is given like kindling. Each tiny action recorded and relived causes spark and red flame until all gathered glow blue white hot.

I listen to the fantasy of heroism that is heroic because it purposefully excludes me.

I absorb how the words I offer are simply that – words. Without action, without intent or truth. They are simply air like that staleness that blows from a vent in the ceiling above the fireplace, that subtly causes the flame to rise up a little further.

I am told that I am oversensitive and bitchy. I nod and say yes I can be, sometimes. But this admission, these words too, fuel this fire more, because that’s not the point. It is not my intention to be this kind of fire bearer.

I hear myself lumped in with others whose reason for motion and word is solely aimed at the superior winning prize, of conquering all that comes in sight. Those whose paths are wide and barren and pungent with decay.

I hear of the constant internal battles waged loud because all is a battle to gain what is wanted, what is considered personal treasure, that supreme solid emotion evoked by possession or circumstance. I am the one to be beaten.

I ask myself what I am bringing to the table that causes such a nauseous wave of suffering. I ask myself if I, in fact, am splitting the kindling with hatchet that’s left sharply imbedded in the chunk of wood when idle, simply waiting.

I ask myself what I am. For real. Not perception.

I’ve been here before, I think. I sat for years listening like I do in this moment right here. I learned that this kind of fire is raging up from the world and against the world, but perhaps I am all this. I’ve been told it for so long. Perhpas it is all true.

I hear the thunder in the dark announcing inevitable spill. Restless, I go to the couch.

And I don’t know what to do – differently – better – stronger.

So I pray. Like I always have, I pray Ezekiel’s words broken by silent sobs for a heart of flesh. I pray admission and apology words smelling the deep oiled wood of childhood confessional with each breath. I pray David’s words of slipping foot comfort. I pray Habakkuk’s questions and hear the answers received. I pray Paul’s words for the Holy Spirit to descend to fill this emptiness. I pray all this despite the fear of which fire they are igniting strangles.

I hear the rain hitting the chimney, the roof, the panes of this old house. From the couch I feel the sky ripping and how the earth surrenders to it and smell the sweet wetness racing down the flue.

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The world is divorcing, I think. And she is right. My friend who shook her head clear and said not to drink the water at work because three divorces have been announced in as many weeks.

I know the statistics of 50%, of half. That marriage as an institution is on the decline. That more couples are living together, doing daily dishes and scrubbing bathrooms and having children without commitment of better and worse, without the commitment of stay.

And I think of those days, my days, filled with bits of both in a battle for strongest perspective before bodies fall weary into bed.

I think of the man who brought Merry Christmas sticky sweets on plastic trays into work. “From the New …” he said and listed himself and the dogs in a clenched voice. I smiled and clenched too because the familiar searing pain was hard to witness. Then I prayed for him and for her and the dogs and filed away last year’s work.

I think of my dear friend, who asked out loud and “Why would I do something that would ruin my marriage?” as old habits shrouded the gentle light reflected in white satin and crisp linen of yes said less than a year ago. ” “What wouldn’t I do to make this marriage work?” And I knew it would be hard for her, that she wouldn’t be supported by some, that a battle was raging for identity.

Days later at the dinner table, her husband said “Thank You” and she thought it was for the pork chops and the green beans until he said “for standing up for us,” until he said “it means a lot.”

The fact is we are on our second chance at have and hold. The fact is we are statistic too.

When the woman says not to drink the water, there is wisdom found in cliche. Because isn’t what we take in what we believe? And aren’t we sometimes the ones who poison the well, drink from it and offer it to other and all?

When my dear friend asks the questions, I see truth sought and coming forth as truth always does. I see how flesh choses to bind into one, each grafting the other to make stronger the places once weak.

I know too the statistic that half of those who are unmarried want to be married, crave from this day forward, and most likely seek it daily with either flood or gentle persistent tides.

I wonder if this half stands tall when labeled romantic and ridiculed for rose colored glasses.  I wonder if they tremble at the dangers exposed and the pressure placed by the other half, but continue to raise their cup in salute of happily ever after as I do.

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When did the nights become so long, I think, standing in the yard looking up. Last week I don’t remember the slant of gold and red coming before moving into lavender so early. I close my eyes and remember the maple tree at the corner of our yard. I remember how we could see more legs and arms and faces clearly in the branches. I remember the lady up the road asking for some leaves for a center piece of a ladies’ luncheon. Were they all red and gold like this now light now then? Or were some still clinging to green and summer sun?

And I watch the star rise from the east and the indigo of season gently creep in like ink over trees and houses. The gist of verse slips in about immeasurable. The exact words I can’t remember. Alpha and Omega. East to west. And after months of hurry and bustle, I slow like this pour of ink.

And I smile into constellation before walking inside to a home brimming full of faces and voices like that night sky.

Walking into the kitchen, it hits me again that I must write a list. The charge was given to create a task list of all done, to self-evaluate, to think hard about loves and likes and ability. I stick my hands into warm dishwater and sigh.

Self evaluation is an opening for so much, I think. The slithering one can whisper in lightly and hide in the crevices and nudge in deep and destructive to pull up rocks with his strong tusks. The “don’t do well” and “ability doesn’t meet requirements” begin to shadow the “do wells” and “exceed expectation.”

I had even asked the cost of such a list. I said that I have learned that there is always throw back, when I am out loud honest. And I pushed the questions quivering inside deeper down still. “What are your intentions?” and “Am I protected?” In the game of open self-evaluation, all can be used as weapon and bricks are thrown instead of rocks.

I began to feel myself tumble so I prayed while making clean circles on plate and pulling sweet sticky dessert from fork tines. I stacked each neatly next to the sink, noticing how the low light caught the rim of blue plate and shone deep purple, nearly black like the sky. Again the single word lilted in. Immeasurable.

It’s a big word, almost imaginary in form and function. It’s ungraspable, I think. In a world where all is weighed and measured how can I believe any thing is immeasurable? And that deep down bone knowing slips in that I am temporal.

Laying in bed alone, I looked up at the childhood room to see more stars stuck in tiny clusters sparkle. The earplugs I put in to block the rumble of the TV through walls made the world sound like a seashell. I laughed at the thought that I could be at the beach all I lacked was water.

There are 1.3 billion cubic kilometers of water in the ocean, which means 326 million billions of gallons of water. I read it once on a journey through science sites an blogs. One person in NY, maybe Wall Street, said that this means there are 22 septillion drops of water. I remember one snarky commenter said “Maybe there’s just one drop – a really big one.” I laughed.

I turn over to see the way the light through bent shades filters in lavender onto the chest of drawers catching the corners of photo frames before pivoting into the dark room. This is fact, I think. Physical. Measurable. And all is calculated this way. Or at least it’s tried to be.

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The sun is beginning to warm up this space with its last light. When I look down the drive to the street, I see bright shining spots covering all that I must blink and rub away. I think of my grandma, who is going blind. Big dark cloudy patches block her direct sight. She says she looks at the world from the side now.

I watch him move the bucket from here to there. Paper deemed trash goes into the can. Gloves are placed into a pile.

And I listen to him talk. Words burst hard from tightened jaw. I hear the word “gobbled” over and over again. All is being gobbled up – money, time, energy. Words push back the hungry screaming mouths of want and need, crashing their focus on all that is lacking. I watch him kick them from his heels and sling them off his shoulders in a battle.

I listen and think of his monster, the one he formed of clay on our living room floor, for the benefit a couple of weeks before. He sat cross legged and coiled clay one thin line at a time, stacked then smoothed each one into the other on the inside. Once he asked me touch it, this inside part. He quipped at its smoothness, that it was soft as silk. He mashed small circles at the ends of some like a period to a stream of thought, to dam it up before moving on into creation.

The boy’s description typed out on a narrow piece of paper says that his monster eats the flesh and spits out the chunky pieces of bone. In his small hands, blue crayon marks them hard at monster’s feet in a dizzy round frenzy of long sweeping red. Is the the chaotic dream place where his monster waits? Is that pulsing blood from the hearts of imaginary victims? Or is it the burning light of setting sun? Is this when the monster rouses and begins to ready himself for the night?

With each pass I made through, I saw his hands slowly turn more and more gray and the monster grow in shape and form beautiful. I knew later he would say the clay sucked all the moisture out, that his skin felt like sandpaper, rough and scratchy. I wondered if after his inside felt smooth.

“Do we have a tea light? I want to put it inside so the glow comes out his mouth and eyes.”

I smiled and nodded. My husband chose the setting sun, the warning that shortly monsters will prowl into the night.

“I hope it looks like a lantern,” he says, head bent low into work. This is when I fully stop to look. This is when that gist of verse about words being light at my feet slips in. This is what I carry as I continue to peck away at the mountain of laundry and chores.

My feet don’t touch the ground when I sit and swing here. I have enough leg to tap my foot gently on the plastic chair and push off. I have enough room to create a minor disturbance with my movement.

On the bench where he sits, I see his profile rigid and tight. He is squinting out into the road, watching the neighbor move things in his car port.

“Did you get the email I sent? The one with the list of bills and stuff?” I asked, watching my foot tap chair.

“I don’t understand that stuff. It doesn’t make sense how you make those things.” He looks straight ahead, unmoving.

“We’ll have enough. It’ll be okay.” And then I answer all of his questions pushed hard, while gently tapping and swinging with one outstretched leg. I watch him blink into the light to refocus.

I wonder if he’ll remember these small steady outstretched words of comfort and assurance or if he’ll remember the bright spots of sun so red and hot that when he turns his eyes all appears as kaleidoscope. Or if like my grandma his sight is filled with murky clouds that pull him like a swirling vortex like that around the boy’s monster, the one he turned into a lantern from clay.

___

How sweet are Your words to my taste,
Sweeter than honey to my mouth!

Through Your precepts I get understanding;
Therefore I hate every false way.

Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.

I have sworn and confirmed
That I will keep Your righteous judgments.

I am afflicted very much;
Revive me, O LORD, according to Your word.

Psalm 119:103-108

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