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Posts Tagged ‘Men and Women’

“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 gives me the details as one does while driving in eight lanes of traffic and looking for the correct exit and as she does with most. Bullet pointed. Outlined form. Before she changes lanes, she laughs in that self-accepting jab way, and delves into the city roads of four lanes total.

And I knit, looking up at sign and cars occasionally before returning to purl two knit two. I listen to stories of emergency surgery of a little girl accidentally shot with a pellet gun and of the in-laws and of mother’s grocery lists and of the funeral he will be officiating soon for a member of the church.

“I didn’t know this about him,” I say. And I feel this weight descend causing needles to rest in lap and eyes to search the sky for cloud and full moon rise.

“Sometimes he calls and I hear Bill say “I see, Son,” and “Let me know if I can do anything to help you.” But really all he needs is a sounding board and Bill was it.”

I nod, pick up sticks and arrange all of the knots inside to continue smooth circles.

The pressures of a man are great, I think.

Of this one man, who has three households and one interim around his waist and in his palm, are great.

Of the one who as sounding board must offer support, listen and not physically act, as is preferred, is great. Of my man, who is off with our three we are raising to become strong is great.

All of those big resume words shoot in – To Lead, To Provide, To Protect – followed by those softer words unmarked by own black & white lines, the ones in between and intertwined – To Love, To Cherish, To Soothe.

Adam was called first by God in Eden after eating the toxic fruit, after sitting idly by watching – was it with indifference? or fear? And he, who named all, was burdened with all in that moment.

I can’t help but wonder in my messy girl mind if he didn’t run back to that grove and that valley in the deepest darkest night wanting entry. I wonder if it was in frenzy the night Abel was born when motions and pain new and out of his control were witnessed. Or if it was after the title of Father was felt stretching places inside wide as his hands cupped the head of firstborn.

“And Emily tries to help the best she can.”

And I think of Eve. Of how Adam exclaimed his joyous”My” at first sight. I wonder if he dreamed this right here, while sleeping that one time, of two becoming one suddenly real, tangible and supple to touch. I think that this is truly the first holding, the first cupping, the first point where all of those inbetween words began weaving themselves inside.

“He’s always been patient,” she said. “Even as a child, he was just so patient.”

I wonder if sometimes Adam went to sit in silence a few yards away from the blocking fire and longed for the stiff breeze to blow the scents he often dreamed to cling to his t-shirt and blue jeans.

The conversation changes to coupons and a journey taken along back roads, but I drift in listening.

Eve must smell it t00 upon his return. She smiles remembrance and yearning deep in his wake when he walks by on the way to the kitchen. The boys follow him bustling around the island as he fills a glass. They explode questions at break neck speed not listening to answers before changing lanes to where and why. Does Adam laugh delight and slowly drink?

When we pull into the parking lot, I look down at the ring of yarn. I smooth stitches into one long continuous pattern growing bigger with each twist. I open the car door and offer quiet Selah.

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Becoming a mother makes you the mother of all children. From now on each wounded, abandoned, frightened child is yours. You live in the suffering mothers of every race and creed and weep with them. You long to comfort all who are desolate. – Charlotte Gray

The older girl worries and frets. She wrings her hands raw and bosses in a naive voice acting older. She talks a lot, tells of her day, of the injustices, of her lack. I touch her hair always. I pull her in close to me whenever I can. I pay attention. I listen to all of her words and focus. I holler to her across the yard and street giving drive by love and praise. “Hello, my sweet princess! I like your pretty pink shirt!”

The little one doesn’t run. She pivot turns. She stops on point to toe twirl. She stands still long enough to throw yellow maple leaves over her head and wondrously squeal. When I insist she hold my hand while walking down the road to the big pond to feed the ducks, she tells me “No!” and snatches her tiny hand away. I stoop to look strong into rich brown eyes. I say, “Ma’am, if you want to come, you must hold my hand.” Then I extend my hand and wait. She looks up, twists her mouth and wipes snot away before putting her hand into mine. I stand holding small sticky fingers. We begin to walk. “Good, I’m glad you chose to come. I would miss you if you didn’t.”

“I want to steal them,” I say to my husband. He looks at me, closes and hardens. “I know I shouldn’t say that. It is politically incorrect, but I do.” I cross my arms.

“Cindy, they’re trouble. You shouldn’t…”

“Whatever,” I cut him off. “I know I shouldn’t get involved. The danger of getting hurt. All that crap over there,” I roll my eyes up at him to sky. “I can’t help myself. I’ll not turn them away. I can’t.” I shrug. “I want to steal them.”

We can’t remember when they moved in or when we met both of the girls. It’s a renter house so families come and go. We watched a moving van come and the men put things inside last week. I wondered if they were moving. I wondered if we would see them again. I wondered who would wipe their faces clean and run fingers through their hair. We watched with curiosity through windows.

My arms are out like wings, my eyes are counting heads and pulling all into the cul-de-sac. I am delighting in all of their chatter, glowing from picking curb flowers.

“There’s always a bunch because no one pays attention to them. Some of my favorites. I like the purple ones,” I say into the cluster of heads bowed around mine. “They’re just so little. Look here. Look how shiny and bright this yellow one is. Almost like patented leather.” Little hands clench the thin stems liquid. And we talk of birds we see and why squirrels are creepy to only me I learn and step into yards when a car comes.

Even though I dislike the inconvenience and irritation of pregnancy and the loads of laundry, I always wanted six. I wanted this. Now with the possibility permanently gone, I whisper gratitude for the momentary fulfilling. “Ah, so hey God…” I can say no more that makes sense. Words ungraspable. I can’t stop smiling.

“Hello, my sweet husband! We’ve been off feeding ducks and picking curb flowers. How was cutting trees?” He grimaces. I lean it kiss him through clamoring children, to breathe in that open air smell of working men. Some of the children lie flowers on bench to race to the maple tree. Others go inside to search for cups to turn into vases. The littlest one is dancing with the dog in the car port.

“Dog. Dog. Quit wickin’ me. Dog.” Each time she turns, he turns so their noses meet and feet bounce off one another. “Hey, Dog.” She turns, stretching out her handful of limp flowers. “Wanna ‘mell ’em?”

My husband, against all protective instinct, melts into laughter.

He tells this story often. I watch him watch them. I see him check for shoes on feet and cars coming. I hear the rhythmic dripping and wonder if he will allow himself to scoop them into father arms, sheltering as best he can. If he will allow himself to look into longing, to feel the full rush of water.

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In steel light from window, you walked into the kitchen and took my breath.

Long lean movements with focus. Stoop to reach cup from dishwasher. Pull freezer door for ice. Twist of hand on bottle top.

“Hey – you look good,” I say, standing to fetch more coffee. Stepping over book pile, papers and tool box to get closer to you.

“Should I touch?” I think. “Should I offer this adoration now? In this state?” I smell soap on your warmed body.

“Should I pull you in and down to me with dirty messy hair and mascara smeared eyes? Should I pull you into my new dress the one who’s cut you don’t like?”

You are sensitive to things like that. Desiring clean, unblemished, together beauty. Symmetry.

Maintaining distance, I watch you. Memorizing how you gather things to go in a white t-shirt and jeans. I smile from behind the clutter at the kitchen table and children darting through the room.

I am outside when you walk from our home. Standing tall over my seated body, you say something I don’t remember. I smile. I think I say something back.

As you walk towards your car, it escapes in awed rush.

“You look so good to me. I like that shirt.”

Length and thickness of lashes seen from my angle of up daily.

Each hair on your head the same. So closely knit that at times it appears impenetrable until I run my hand through it.

I know how to soften myself to curve and curl around you. Yielding.

I know the curves of your body. Your topography.

Where you go soft. Here near my hand. Belly.

Where you are solid like packed ground from years of treading. Here where my foot touches leg.

Where the bump, the finger callous, from holding pen tightly, from creating, is. I feel it when we grasp.

Here there is a mole.

Here a scar.

Here where I lay my head there is a slight dip and rise from a break while racing fast. Sure of foot and wheel until you weren’t. Your voice ran through you, you say. You could feel the vibration through your entire body, you say. Intensified. An echo of the broken part. This is where I hear your heart best.

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All of us were laid out on the couch watching TV. The littlest one was snuggled into my side with his wild hair brushing against my shoulder, my cheek. His feet on my feet in constant movement.

It was one of those Man Vs. Shows of the gluttonous variety. People watched to see if man could eat the challenge. We all were slightly repulsed by the display. Mounds of food heaped a plate. His face looked worn. He said his jaw was tired of chewing. There were few minutes left the narrator said to further build anticipation. Then the camera pans the cheering crowd to highlight a girl. She moves forward into the ring where the man sits surrounded by people and slick plates of food.

“You can do it,” she giggles. “I believe in you.”

The crowd cheers. I think snarky, “Scripted,” and roll eyes internal.

The man smiles shyly, wipes slathered condiment from his face, and mutters loud enough for all to hear. “Thanks. You’re…you’re pretty.”

The crowd and my children laugh.

My son looks up at me, eyes beaming wild, “Mama, did you see that?”

I nod. “Yes, Baby, I did.”

What I saw was how it spoke to him. To the place is his heart where beauty and hero speak and grow, ignited by Eden thoughts. The place where great adventure begins, the longing for something bigger and bolder, a return to. This idea of what beauty of was made for scripted, etched so deeply, in the light of blue eyes and shadow of dimple.

He is six.

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“Wanna go walk Berkley with me?”

She didn’t want to go. She was tired and wanted to go to the gym then fall into bed. She wanted nothing asked of her on this day, but still she said “Sure.”

When she arrived, his car was parked there, but he was no where to be found. Mildly irritated, she began to wander up through dry leaves, to the hill, where they usually walked. I wonder if those small sticks whipped up when she stepped on them just right. If they smacked her calves or caused her to stumble. If she watched for things unseen.

She turned at the sound of crunching, expecting the large dog to bound into her, but only saw him descending, hands in pocket, his feet heavy on hill, unaware of the the stick crunch and whip.

Then the tiniest black ball wearing the tiniest red t-shirt came crashing and sliding down behind him towards her, trying to keep up with his pace, hopping just a little bit with each step.

I know her squeals of delight, her touch of tender excitement. Dogs and babies bring their rise. “All puppies. Select babies and kids” she says.

He watched her, hands still in pockets, scoop up the tiny puppy, saw how it licked her chin and cheeks, heard her talk in the voice she reserves for times like this. She is stunning beauty, wearing gym clothes and a ponytail.

In my mind, I see his half smile, controlled, nervous. He shifts from one foot to another maybe. He nods his head in the way men have.

I know she laughed and looked at him through puppy fur. I know she wanted to ask where the puppy came from, her name and if she was hers to keep forever. The last made her more nervous than the first.

“Well?” he asked gruffly. She startled and looked up at him.

“Huh?”

“The shirt.” His voice was deep, impatient with time and plan. “Did you see the shirt?”

She quickly looked down and twisted the wiggling body to read. Embroidered on the red t-shirt are the words “Will you marry me?”

I don’t know if she teared up right then. I don’t know if she gasped in a mixture of shock and joy. I didn’t ask. I know that I did as I listened to her story months ago, as I looked at the stunning blend of modern and antique sparkle on her finger, as I rejoiced with her.

I saw this puppy yesterday bouncing through the window at the same time I heard her squeal from the crowd waiting on luggage behind me.

My smile was fueled partially by the memory of this day as I spoke to him. He said he thought she’d like to see her, this bundle of tiny furry kisses. He smiled in that way he does, that first caught her attention, cutting his eyes towards her.

He slowed down as they went by me in the parking lot. I waved big and smiled.

I opened the door of my truck and felt the hotness stagnant rush of air. And I wondered, as the air conditioning cut through the thickness and I loaded my suitcase, of them, riding together, after a week’s absence.

I know she was tired and weary from travel and strange bed. I know she still told stories, but brief ones without the accents maybe, in between puppy kisses and jumps. I wonder at her voice.

And I wonder if he heard her all the way or if he was, as it is at times like this, just looking and absorbing her, filling up the places she does. Because beauty does this. It unearths paths inside us to the outside and into others. Beauty forges. I wonder if she felt it across the seat of the big truck. This movement.

I smiled wide and thought “And you. She wanted to see you, too.”

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I whispered yes to the screen as I read what this Godly woman had to say about the Hard Topic.

I struggled with her, saw her struggle to broaden her vision, place herself inside.

I imagined this woman stomping her foot, saying “No no no no RULES.” And I smiled.

I felt the pain of the woman whose gender meant no man would join her in an elevator, that no man would speak to her, minister to her, talk with her, encourage her, laugh with her.

I have been her, this woman thought snare, thought predator.

Approached, accused, gossiped about this appearance of evil, this idea of ‘something up.’

And it hurt. It still does.

Once I babbled when the stone was thrown, attempting defense, but the rawness of a wife’s insecurity and flare of her protectiveness and my love for both of them, which I see as one, stopped me. I simply stood there hands moments earlier that were waving no, hung limp at my sides as I listened and absorbed the dirt hurled. I heard her pain and mixed it with my own.

Because I too have been her. I too have felt threatened so that heat rises from belly into eyes and spits from mouth like a cobra.

I remember imagination taking over sight. All I saw was the negative, the what if’s swaddled in fear funneling vision narrow like a magnifying glass does light to make fire. I remember the searing of flesh, the pulse of the poison, the aftermath of infection.

Standing and feeling the blunt cold wind of insecurity, I simply shake my head as I receive it again. Words spit out with fiery hate. Rules were given to make no mention of then broken by me, I hear. It is my fault. Again. I caused it, this stumbling of other’s self esteem and worth.

I know my heart. I know what I chose each day when I leave my marriage bed, when my feet hit the floor. I chose God. I chose my husband. I chose our life together. I chose that love.

And I know the world, where perception, even when fogged, means reality.

A man once said in a business meeting there is no way to change another’s perception. I agree. It’s a God Thing. For me, it’s the most subtle glorious miracle – this change of heart, of mind, of sight.

I have no control over another’s heart  nor actions. Regardless of words said or actions taken, I must remain true to my walk with God. And sometimes it is so hard to stand with chin high, silent, praying away words and looking for the way of love and healing amongst the chaos.

I return to the Samaritan woman. I return to Jesus sitting with her, despite disciple’s view of Him, despite her view of herself. I wonder at the love she must have felt wrapping her warm and new.

I return to Peter walking onto the sea. I return to this and other gentle reminders of the faith walk.

I return to Paul’s pleas to love one another as he was told, as he witnessed.

I return to the demands of signs by Pharisees. I return to the warnings of yeast that narrows vision and hearts.

And I guard my heart, walling tender places off with prayer, so the slippery whispers of the world don’t slither in with comparisons, doubts, imaginings and suffocating rules. I pray for discernment, for bravery, for faith. And I pray for sight and insight for the accusers and the accused because I am both, stumbling self righteous in fear. I pray for light to lead the way to love and healing that moves beyond this physicalness, beyond my gender.

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