every common bush

earth's crammed with heaven, and every common bush afire with God; but only he who sees, takes off his shoes – the rest sit round it and pluck blackberries. elizabeth barrett browning

Small Packages

a shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a branch will bear fruit 

The city is alive

Christmas trees on tops of cars

A mother yells for the child who has roamed too far

Twinkling lights brighten the night

Lovers hold hands in window seats

Their hearts match the horse’s beat

strolling with a family of four

Oval mouths sing deck the halls

overtop the city sounds

In Central Park there is a rare, dark corner

in it sits the stump of an old dead tree

Nobody noticed when it fell

Nobody misses its shade or smell

(If it came back, no-one would tell)

But in this dead, not missed tree

Something is happening, smaller still

A sprig of green, barely seen

Like two cells meeting inside of an unsuspecting mother

New Life

The groaning and moaning and longing of this world

answered in an inaudible sound

It would take silence and a thousand megaphones to hear

The shoot in the dead tree grows

The baby in its mother forms fingers and toes

God is here, and who would think

He would come like this

* a very quick note on where this poem came from. this christmas, we are skipping the tree, the lights, the presents, and the amazing christmas movies in lieu of well…nothing. it was ben’s idea and I wasn’t looking forward to it very much. in all of those wonderful things’ places, the symbolism of this very, very small green leaf and this tiny cellular baby holding the hope of the world, has bloomed in my heart. why did God choose to come so tiny? so quietly. “to shame the wise” perhaps.  anyways, this is me trying to assimilate that imagery and its significance in my head. God is so different from this world. so unexpected and upstream.  I love it.

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Children Are Persons

I once thought children like clay

you mold them

shape them

guide them into form…

My fingers ache with trying

You are wild, like wind

You are air and spirit and Life itself

You are a force that won’t be contained by hands

A creation all your own

I am in awe of the strength of your spirit,

getting clearer, more defined everyday

My striving hands become praying hands

and bowing hands

The person in me honors the person in you.

An Autumn Walk With My Boys

kerplunk                               

acorns falling on the forrest floor like blueberries on tin

the trees are deaf people clapping, wind chimes chiming

squirrels claw, scratching bark to ascend

Plop!
an acorn encounters the water below

a perfect circle forms around its’ memory

a bird trills, a dog barks

it is autumn in a forrest that is alive as you and I,

[maybe more]

 

Tomorrow We Go on Vacation…

and all I have is my book list ready. Somehow this makes me feel fully prepared.

In Michigan, we tell time by where the sun is on the water. In the morning the light is behind the trees, not yet touching the lake, and a white mist hovers above it.  During the day, we watch the kids crash into the thousands of light crystals made when the full sun hits the blue below.  And at night we drift off  to moonlit ripples started by bullfrogs and loons.

We read morning, noon, and night, always facing the water. I have certain books for each time of the day.  In the morning, I crave soul food, like the Bible or a spiritual life book, or poetry.  In the day, I am vibrant and inspired, so I usually read non-fiction for work or homeschooling. The evenings are cozy and romantic, and ripe for stories.

I have spent the better part of today finding the books I will take with me on vacation.  In the process, I have signed up for a book club, added about a hundred books to my reading list, neglected packing, and developed an itch to write (I would write a grocery list poetically about now).  The best thing to come of it, though, is a hearty booklist for vacation. Here it is, in no particular order:

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery: Anne Bogel from the Modern Mrs. Darcy blog recommends this series to Meyer’s Briggs’ INFPs, which I happen to be. The main character is an orphan, and so, has much incentive for dreaming and longing.  I relate to Anne quite naturally and I have decided it is time for me to make significant headway in this beloved, classic series (and not just the movies!).

How Children Fail by John Holt. John Holt is the father of unschooling, which I do not plan to espouse.  However, the subject of organic learning is intriguing to me, and this is a classic on it. I will probably not read this front to cover, but using the index to find the most interesting parts to me.

The Weather of the Heart: Poems by Madeleine L’ Engle. I happened upon this one in a used bookstore in Philly on Friday and I am forcing myself to not read it in one swallow.  The few flat lines that I did read created such three dimensional pictures in my mind that I think i’m looking forward to this one the most.

Drawing With Children by Mona Brookes. This one is playful and practical for me.  I want to integrate field drawings into our science this upcoming year and it is a personal ambition to draw better. This approach leads the adults through the book first so that they can take a child through it successfully. Her premise is that anyone can learn how to draw, not just inherently gifted artists.  Sign me up!!

The Cultivated Life by Susan Phillips. Ben introduced me to this one.  Susan Phillips is a spiritual director and uses the metaphor of a garden to illustrate how our spiritual life flourishes when we cultivate it. With prayer and Scripture, yes.  But also with friendship, creativity, and rest.  With her, I get a sense that giving myself permission to be fully and deeply human leads me to God in the truest way.  Like in the Garden of Eden.

Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout. I do not know anything about this book or this person, except that this is the first book in my new book club and it won the pulitzer prize, which is enough incentive for me.  I will say, signing up for a book club makes me feel like a person, a real citizen of society, and not just a wrinkly mama. I am pumped.

I have fallbacks like The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver), Emma (Jane Austen), and Quiet (Susan Cain) if the others fail to keep me.  I know there is probably no way, with children, that I will read all of these books. I am ok with that.  There is something about just having them that gives me pure delight.

 

 

 

 

On Friendship, while my husband watches basketball.

“A friend is…crumbs, let me think. Someone who sticks by you, I think.  Someone who won’t let you down.”

Oh Mother, you haven’t said. What do you think a friend is?

Mother frowned thoughtfully and carried on nipping the little stalks off her gooseberries without replying. She said eventually, “Well, I’ve had friends who’ve disappointed me. Sometimes, even the ones who loved have let me down, and not understood, and betrayed my trust. Thats only human nature, isn’t it? I daresay I’ve done as much to them. No, I would say that because we all have our failings and weaknesses, because each of us is only human, a friend – a good friend – is someone who helps you to persevere.”

“What?” said Therese.

“A friend is someone who helps you to persevere. When the going gets touch and you’re on the point of jacking it all in; by the time you reach my age, Therese, you will be able to look back at lots of times when you nearly gave up and walked away from a difficult situation; and the people you will remember with thanks and love are the ones who helped you, in those moments, to persevere”.

Penelope Wilcock, The Wounds of God

I have been looking for a suitable definition for friendship for awhile now, and this is the closest fit to my experience that I have yet to discover.  I stumbled upon it while reading my most recent book and I felt like I do when I stumble upon a missing earring while looking for the library book.  A bonus find, perhaps more valuable than the item for which I was looking.

Friendships are important to me and I have done my fair share of failing them, and have been failed.  This has not squelched my desire to cultivate them. Actually, it’s been the opposite. The people who really know each other and are still showing up for the other, screwing up a little less, cheering a little louder, they are the miracles.

If I had only a handful of words I could choose to describe my feeble attempt at a life, serving as the umbrella over my eternal resting place, one of them would be Friend.  And by friend, that up there is what I mean.