Category Archives: self

everything and nothing

There are days when everything and nothing is just wrong
in an Alexander kind of way.
And the little things feel like big things
and the big things feel like giant things.
And all those things seem to weigh too much
and be too bulky
and too awkward
And it leaves you struggling along,
just trying to do your thing.

And you just can’t.

The depths of the day settle in
and pull you under.
And a blanket of quiet ache drapes over you,
and there’s nothing to do but wait for the clock to keep ticking
until you’ve reached a new day.
Every morning brings new mercies, right?

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p.s. Adulting is hard.
p.p.s. The puppy is great and wonderful and perfect for us, but I really miss my dog.
p.p.p.s. I’m fine. I really am. Just some days seem heavier than others.

encountering eucharist

For over a year we’ve been attending an Episcopal Church.
It’s a far cry from our Baptist background, but it fits in a way that I never expected.
I can’t call one way good and the other bad, nor can I call one way right and one way wrong.
That’s both the mystery and beauty of religion, if we allow it be.

At first, I fumbled to hold this book and that book
and figure out what the S-songs were in the blue book.
Some people knelt in prayer,
some people leaned forward,
some didn’t move at all.
Some did the sign of the cross upon their foreheads,
some on their lips,
some over head and heart,
And some did a little of this and a little of that,
while some didn’t cross at all.
We weren’t sure who to follow or how to cross or when or where to genuflect.
But in this place where everyone was a little bit different,
Different didn’t seem so bad.

And yet, for months I struggled,
trying to follow everyone else’s lead.
Kneeling and standing,
Creeds and collects,
Prayers and Peace.
Which page?
Which prayer?
It was, quite frankly, exhausting to keep up.

But as we travelled around the liturgical calendar,
I found a soothing rhythm in the words and the sounds.
Each season with it’s own tone, one that I’d never quite noticed before.
And the words…they settled down into my heart-gut and ruminated there for months.
Until one day I realized I wasn’t just reading any more. 

silence.

We work together in silence.
not an angry silence.
or a resigned silence.
but in a calm, easy, comfortable silence.

Once upon a time, I would have worried
about what he was thinking, what he wasn’t saying.

But our nows are very different from our thens
and quietness has become a language that I’ve learned.
His language, actually.

Years of his lack of words
have taught me to listen to the in-betweens.

Years of his placidity
have taught me to take my thoughts
and slow.them..down…

Years of his quietude
have taught me that sometimes
there’s nothing inside the silence but silence.
And that’s okay.

 

one fraction at a time.

A hundredth of a second. That teeny, tiny moment before she says the words that you know are coming, the words you see in her eyes. A hundredth of a second and a hundred years all at once.

I think I want to go to “real” school.

I think I want you to go to “real” school, too.

And so it was.

And ever-so-quickly we made the calls, signed the papers, provided the proof that yes, we are indeed alive and living and in this place at this moment…something that on paper sounds simple, but is it really?

We both knew, in a hundredth of a second, that she was right, that our heart-guts were searching for answers and then oof just like that, our truths collided and we both knew this was the right thing to do.

But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

Seven hundredths of a degree. That’s how far we moved. Seven hundredth of a degree to the north and just under three tenths of a degree east. A hop and a skip and a leap and a bound all at once.

I think we should move.

Me, too.

Words uttered months ago, maybe even years ago, in the darkness of a quiet room long after the chaos of life died down. 

The slow and arduous process began, and we found what we were looking for – or thought we did – until it was ripped from under us and we walked away with drooping shoulders and moist eyes.

And then doors opened, and fate – or something like it – stepped in. One bit of truth after another sang to me, to us. My heart-gut heard, and I said yes.

And we moved.

A world apart, but only the smallest part of the world.
And yet somehow still a whole, wide world apart.

Life changed, continues to change.
As it should.

But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

Two hundredths of an inch. A movement so small, just barely there. That shift in your heart and in your head. The changing of who you are, bit by tiny bit. Ever-changing, we are. Millions of moments of milliseconds that make up a lifetime.

I’ve always been me.
I will always be me.

I know this to be true.

And yet I wonder.

We change, all of us.
And as we change, are we still us?
Is there a point, some magical point, when we have changed so much
that
me is no longer me, but someone else entirely?

Who I am and what I was.
Ever-changing and never-changing.

Defining and then redefining.
Fundamental changes expected, yet not.
The rush and go of life, the tumbles up and down…

Knocking away the rough edges gradually, almost imperceptibly.

But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

This is the story of our lives
Of all of me and all of you.
A package full of fractions waiting to be made whole.

 

ordinary

There are times (many times, actually) when our life begins to barrel downhill with nothing to slow us down. We hit bumps here and there, of course, but we manage. I say we, but it’s really more like he. I’m a catastrophist, full of “what if”s and “oh, no”s. He’s much more reasonable and fairly unflappable. He takes things in stride and keeps on going. In the past month, the children and I have been on two week-long adventures without him – once to the beach, once to the mountains. And he? He’s been back home working hard. When we got home after our last trip, I had a few opportunities pop up that we a really good fit for me, and he insisted I go and leave the children with him. And this past weekend, when he had a rare weekend off, he spent the entire weekend wrangling children in the heat and cleaning up the giant mess I made. He also sent me off with my mini-me for a 2.5-hour painting class.

Have I ever told y’all how fortunate I am? And how grateful. Oh, so very grateful. He tolerates my wildest whims and pushes me to explore more of the things that fill my heart with happiness. He helps me when I’m struggling, and picks up where I leave off. He works hard and makes so many sacrifices – both small and large – for me, for us. If you ask him, he’ll say that he’s nothing special, just an ordinary ol’ guy. He’ll tell you that he’s just doing what needs to be done. But I promise you that he’s anything but ordinary.

I can’t believe that for 14 years, he’s been so perfectly un-ordinary. That for 14 years, he’s listened to my ramblings and helped me flesh out the craziest of ideas. That for 14 years, he’s always been there, always loved me. And that he has continually put family first and given us all a steady place to come back to when life gets a little helter-skelter.

I love you, Marsh. Here’s to 114 more chaotic and happy years.

 

 

detour of dreams

I won’t be getting my thwack-bomp-bomp-bomp screen door.
Or my chickens (for now).
No sleeping porch or attic fan.

But let’s be real.
After a few weeks of kids rushing in and out of that door
the thwack-bomp wouldn’t be as romantic, would it?
And the sleeping porch? It’s Georgia, y’all.
I’d only be able to use it comfortably when the weather was just right
(which is two whole weeks a year).

But windows?
I’ll have those. Lots of those!
And laundry on the line.
And love and laughter.
And rocking chairs.
(Well, 3 rocking chairs since 1 went missing).
There will be a symphony of crickets and frogs, sitting still, and hopefully a few hymns.

It’s funny how your dreams have a way of shifting,
of washing in and out with the tides of life.
How one little thing can wipe the slate clean and you start all over.
We didn’t get the house we’d dreamed of.
But this? This is so much better.

Thirty acres.
A house with giant windows.
A barn and a chicken coop.
A creek and a big playhouse that I’ve claimed as mine.
A writing space, a home for my art.
I didn’t even know that it was my dream
Until my eyes saw it and my heart said yes…

 

Look.

I’ve been searching for my word of the year.
January passed. February passed.
And now March is zipping by.
And as I was looking for my word, my word found me.

image

Look at my children.
Look at them when they talk.
Look at them when they rush off to play.
Look at them and remember how they used to be,
and how they are, and how I pray they will be.
Look at the little details and wonder.

Look into the eyes of others.
Keep my eyes sharp and focused.
Look and listen, really listen.

Look at the world around me.
Marvel at the good.
Look for ways to heal the hurt.

Look at those I love and see how to best love them.
Look at those I don’t love so much and see how to best love them.

Look for goodness.
Look for mercy.
Look for grace.
Look for love.

Look for the sacred in the ordinary
And the ordinary in the sacred.
Look and pray that I am changed by what I see.

 

be who you be.

the wind blows the blinds gently and I hear their voices dance through the air.
a swing squeaks in time. squeak {pause} squeak {pause} squeak {pause}
she laughs as the others chase her to home base.
Oh, the Joy of being the baby.
(they never let her lose).

the wind blows the blinds and lands upon my face.
brushed by The Almighty, my eyes prickle with tears.
breathe deeply. drink up this moment.
but The Melancholy weights me down,
refusing to let me sit up and answer.

this too shall pass.

be still and know.
more than a suggestion,
less than a command.
be still and know.
(i know, but my heart is still restless).

i can’t do it.
this being still is hard.
this being is hard.

I lie in bed, eyes straining, begging to close.
be who you be
the words stare at me from the wall.

image

be who you be when all is well and happy.
be who you be when anger stirs up in your soul.
be who you be when you laugh until your face hurts.
be who you be when the world smooshes down on your heart.
be who you be when you don’t know who you be.
Be who you be when who you be changes
(sometimes a little, sometimes a lot).

Be.
Be still.
Be changed.
Be who you be.

 

*art by the lovely and talented Robin Plemmons

the hum of humanity

They process in without a word.
Normally songs and sounds usher them in,
but today the organ sits silent, no voices sing.

Music carefully pulls words from my heart.
Without the strains of songs, I trip on my own thoughts.
Although silence can often be a balm to the soul,
today, in this moment, it leaves me naked, exposed.

I listen carefully as they walk by.
Shoes shuffle. Someone sniffles.
A cough, a squeak, a child’s “whisper.”
Proof that silence isn’t made of nothing,
but a thousand little things
(if only we listen).

We lean into Lent with an unsettled feeling on our shoulders.
A season of quiet, a season of seeking.
Wanting, trying to hear God speak to us,
but getting distracted by all of the everythings that live in the nothing.

The kneeling bench settles heavily onto the floor,
bearing the weight of a hundred thousand prayers -
some slipping silently from shaky souls,
others proclaimed loudly, full of confidence and grace.

God hears it all -
every mumble and moan,
every laugh and giggle,
every gasp and sigh,
even the imperceptible sound of a tears slipping down your cheek.
The hum of humanity is never nothing to the almighty.

living lent.

I’ve always done lent a little differently than a lot of folks.
I’ve given up time and bad attitudes.
I’ve prayed with laundry and lint.
I’ve taken on some things.
I’ve given up some others.
I’ve redefined things, too.

This lenten season will be (I hope) a time to remind myself of how I should already be living.
A time to look at my words and actions, head and heart and try to get them all in line.
(It may be a very squiggly line).

For strangers I will:
Be joyful and patient.
Be peaceful and kind.
Be helpful and giving.

For friends I will:
Practice hospitality.
Share and serve.
Encourage.

For foes I will:
Show mercy.
Shed my pride.
(Sincerely).

For family I will:
Devote myself to staying in the moment.
Show grace, especially with the little things.
Be patient. (Oh, how I need to be more patient).

For myself I will: 
Reinvigorate my faith by asking new questions.
Reduce expectations of myself and others.
Remember things done and left undone.
And live and serve in newness of life.