Thursday, June 30, 2011

Halfway House: Day three

Internship at the halfway house.  What a good place to be, and learn, and weep.  I know it*s not for everyone, but really, I wish it was.  I really wish it was.

Day three at the halfway house.
Clearly it*s not for everyone.
Not for all addicted people,
But really
I mean Everyone
I mean all people everywhere,
Addicted to any substance whatsoever
Or even addicted to anything that blocks the road
To Life.
I figure that*s all of us.
Day two I found myself in tears
Four times

I am an intern.
I listen and learn and, it seems,
I learn again it*s not for everyone,
This place of accountability and honesty,
This place where people sign over
Their lives to learn better ways
To live.
I learn again
Indeed it is for everyone but sometimes
Now is not the time,
It may never be the time.
Here people learn they have to
Ask for help,
They can*t do it alone.

Day three.
I want to admit everyone
To a halfway house
Including myself.
I hear the reader in church.
Choose life.
He says
And then, because it bears repetition,
Perhaps we didn*t hear the first time,
He says again:
Choose life.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The summer sun tracks different

Sometimes I write to figure out where I am.  Even though I*m watching shadows, long spider shadows in particular, I also watch how the sun is bright on the cat, sprawled, or shines purple through the clematis on the living room table. From the chair in which I write these days, the summer sun is just beyond the edge of the window, which means I do not have to draw the shade, but can feel its warmth on my right arm.

It is day two of my internship and I am excited to experience what Wednesdays are like at the halfway house.

The summer sun
Tracks different
In the sky.
In the spring when I wrote
It landed in my eyes.
Now I can see.
It seems I always notice particulars,
My self
The beginning reference point.
We each need a place
To begin.

The cat finds the summer sun track
On the carpet,
Sprawls to catch every ray.
The spider between the window
And the screen,
Casts a long spider shadow
On the floor.
He is not as big
As his shadow,
But still healthy

Today I continue to make new tracks
Alongside the summer sun.
I make new tracks
In new summer places;
New shadows:
Sometimes bigger,
Sometimes smaller.
I am still the exact same size
God has made me.
Appearances perhaps to the contrary,
I am still
Just as God has made me.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Landing

I started my 300 hour CADC internship yesterday.   In exactly the right place, at exactly the right time, exactly the right people.   I went to internship seminar and there it was again:  I may have suspected, but I didn*t know until I got there, both places.  

(This feels like one of those Dr. Seuss reflections, or possibly something from the Gospel of John, or Paul.  I*ve never put the three in one sentence together.  I wonder if they would like it.  I wonder if they all hoped what they wrote was comprehensible.)

Can you tell?  I love the new beginning.

Sometimes God lands me
In the exact situation
Where I can learn exactly
What I need to know
But never knew I needed to be there
To learn it
Until I got there
And knew.

Sometimes, often,
I learn it as I go,
Find the particulars

I know it is exactly the right place
With the right people.
They may even have tiny offices
Without windows,
Whiteboards with the names of people
On the wall.
But there is laughter between
The tiny offices,
When someone goes out for coffee,
They bring a cup in
For the person left behind,
With just enough cream,
The way he likes it.

I know you know what I mean.

Sometimes you have to be there
To know what being there
Exactly means.

Sometimes God lands you
And you just have to be there
To know
It is exactly the right place.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Rough places made smooth

Today with certified clean teeth, and near-certified clean carotid arteries, I vacuum the living room and clip flowers from the garden for the front table.

This afternoon I begin the CADC internship at Serenity House.  Another new beginning.  I run my tongue over my teeth and remember.

It is easier to keep things clean
Than do it all
From scratch
In the first place.

I have just returned from the dentist
With now clean teeth.
My tongue finds the rough places
Made smooth.
It is almost biblical.
I search for the right psalm
To quote.

I wait for the call
From the doctor.
If the technician is to be believed,
It promises to certify
My carotid arteries
The blood flow to my brain
Clear and free.

Today I begin again:
Clean teeth,
Clean arteries.
Clean slate.
I vacuum the living room,
Put flowers from the garden
On the front table.
My tongue finds the rough places
Made smooth.
I am reminded:
Today I begin again.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Thin spots

Thin-ness comes at particular times, as well as in particular places.  This week my daughter went to the Episcopal Youth Event. I listen and it sounds like the Bethel College campus was a thin place this last week.  

Our parish mission trip returned from Nigromante in Southeast Mexico and felt the presence of God, maybe even more so this year because there was no project planned, and it was all about hospitality and receiving from each other.  

There was a conference in North Carolina called the Wild Goose Festival.  The Wild Goose is a Celtic metaphor for the Holy Spirit.  Thin-ness was reported there, as well.  

Praise be to our God known in the thin places, especially so we can find Him when things become thicker, and still hear the flutter of wings.

This week summer came.
Thin spots emerged.
God broke through again and again and again.

In Minnesota they built a house,
Sang and prayed and sang again.
I am told God broke through
Again and again and again.

In Mexico they were greeted
With a brass band and fireworks.
With no project to do,
They met the people again
They received the hospitality because
They came
With emptier hands.
It is hard to receive
When your hands are already full.
God showed up.

In North Carolina
The Wild Goose flew.
We have yet to see where it will land.

When there is thin-ness
It is hard to know
The end result,
As if we ever know the end.
We catch a glimpse of the beginning,
A flutter,
A rush
Of wings;
The combination of song and prayer,
The brass band and fireworks,
The meeting in thin places,
And the Goose,
The Wild Goose,
Taking flight.

Eagle*s Wings

On Eagle*s Wings seems to be one of those songs.  I like it, despite its difficult verses trying to work in all the syllables of the scripture.  It takes some learning and practice to do so.  A little like I am the Bread of Life... which a number of choir directors also hate (and I love).  So this morning it is Eagle*s Wings from the choir loft.  Off to practice.

I have been waiting to sing
All week.
Today the pickup choir sings
On Eagle*s Wings.
It is a song that choir directors everywhere
Maybe only the ones who cut their milk teeth,
Trained their keyboard fingers
On the 18th Century.
But I have been waiting to sing this song
From the choir loft
All week.
When Mom died my sister said,
We could sing anything but Eagles*s Wings.

Today I will sing Eagles* Wings
For Mom,
My sister,
And choir directors everywhere.
I will sing that everyone
Will be Raised Up.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Healthy Spider

I have people who say they miss my writing about the ducks in the back.  This year, I have the spider (or he has me).

It seems spiders are part of the picture this year, particularly that one black spider living between the window and screen.  How he does it, I don*t know.

The spider works his territory
Between the window and the screen.
I am still not sure
How or what he eats.
Somehow he is the spider picture
Of health.
I imagine Healthy Spider magazine
With articles on finding prey
In difficult situations,
Ways to live fully
Without a web,
And even
The advantages
Of limits.
I might even buy a copy
And read
Between the lines.

Friday, June 24, 2011

God is the only One who gets it all right

It is interesting to me how artists often span out into other art forms.  And often (not always) because of their popularity in one, say, poetry, they dabble in other art and offer their art for sale at high prices... and no one seems to dare tell them that, well, You are a wonderful poet, but that painting?  Really?  Really?

There seems a balance
Between noticing things
In the way tried and true
And the finding
Of new paths
For noticing.
I look at poets who believe
They can be painters,
Brilliant authors of science fiction
Who think that now it is time
To write essays
Or paint a picture.
Every once in a while
A songwriter spans the arts
Writes a book
That seems to work.

Of course God is the only One
Who gets it all
Every time.
No one ever tells Him
Tells Her
That metaphor just didn*t work,
If only You*d have used
A different shade of green
That plant would have really popped,
You know
A little more blue in the sky
A more unusual tint of cloud.
And that Voice from the cloud
Identifying Jesus?
You might have used
A tone that caught more peoples*

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Possibility has its limits, thanks be to God

I remember growing up and being told I could be Anything I Wanted to Be.  Perhaps the key was in the wanted  part.  A few years ago now I had a dream about asking a beloved colleague for his shirt.  He said Of course and started to take it off.  But as he untucked his shirt, the tails went on forever (like those scarves being pulled out of the magician*s sleeve)... in the end he couldn*t take it off.  Months later, I realized I get my own shirt.   We all get our own shirts.  It*s why we have been made in our particular ways.  God has it covered, completely covered, when each of us does what we are called to do, even when friends get Really Good Jobs and I wish it were me.  But it*s their shirt!  Not mine.  I can rejoice looking at the possibilities before me, that make particular sense for me.   Mind you, sometimes I go back to thinking I can be anything I want to be, as if I really want to be just anything.  I*m grateful God is in charge.  Today I am grateful to consider the things before me.  They are plenty.

I have a friend who is like me
In so many ways.
He just got what looks like
The ideal job.
I try on the possibility of his job,
It would not fit me
Around the neck.
Every time I swallowed
I*d pop another button.
This morning I realized again,
I am not in search
Of endless possibility.

Out the window
The seeds ripen in the green pods
Of the columbine
Long past the flowers.
They will split and spread dark seed
In August,
Sprout and green,
Then bloom and purple again
Next May.
They have columbine possibility.

I have discovered my particular purple,
The time of fallow,
The time of bloom,
The time of ripening seeds
None of it is endless.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


So many of my friends and acquaintances are now in the job search.  I realize I am always at at least a partial loss re: what to put on my resume, and always have been.  The things I do best are often undefinable.  I see connections between people and institutions.  I like being on the edges of things: I see better there.  And references?  Who do I put down for references when so much of the work I do is sight unseen, and is best done that way?  When I can leave the proverbial silver bullet, and be thrilled to watch a person shine with new light and life, even a little?

It rains again.
I watch the spider between the screen and window
Still going strong.
Me too.

Along with so many friends these days,
I consider my references.
These are the people who know my work.
These are the people
Who would even praise me to the skies.

There is at least one
With no home address
No phone.
Some make secret visits,
Perch on the sofa in my office.
Some are only comfortable
If we meet at Starbucks.
Some find me outside public restrooms,
Or when our toenails are drying
Newly pinkly polished
At the nail salon.
These are the people I would never name.
Even if I knew their names.
They will never be the ones
On the bottom of my resume,
Or In finely-nuanced italics
On Linked-In.

These are my real references.
They will net me no paid job
At all.
Yet these are the references which tell me
This is what you must do:
Even when it rains
And I am the spider
Healthy between the screen and window
Going strong.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Perspective and definition.  Today people around the world dance for different reasons.  We Christians have found it easier to re-define the winter solstice.  Jesus as the Light being born into the world makes a lot of sense as we begin to see the light lengthening.  At least it makes sense from this Northerner*s perspective.  We humans are the universal adaptors.  We can rationalize nearly everything.  I have no doubt that Australia makes its own sense of the birth of Jesus coming at a time when the days are at their longest.  If I lived there, I would have known this to be the clearly understood thing.  Perspective.  Definition.

The season has changed
Like all marker days,
The solstice is there for a reason.
Today has to do with the earth
And the sun;
The longest day
The shortest night.
In the Northern Hemisphere
People dance.
In the South people dance
For different reasons.
They dance for light*s return.
Genesis said it best
John echoed with Jesus as the Light
Of the world,
The perpetual Light of the world,
No matter the outward appearances.
The movement from dark to light
Seem easier to capture.

Today, we claim the height of light;
Tomorrow, we begin to darken.
The South begins the journey
The opposite way,
Easier to see
Easier to grab onto.
It is amazing we share the same calendar.

In the Australian restaurant two nights ago
The map of the world
Was upside down.

Monday, June 20, 2011


I think some days are sit and watch days.  Rain helps.  It is interesting to me that on sit and watch days, I still think that productivity is called for.  As I was writing about the spider, I thought: but where will this end up, and what does it mean?  It seems the spider is having a sit and watch day too.  He (she) looked pretty healthy when I saw him yesterday.  I assume he is today as well.

There is a spider
Healthy, but really
Not large by spider standards.
He or she lives between the window
And screen.
The window
Is next to the chair I write in.
This spring it proved itself
The hummingbird chair.
Now it is the spider chair.
We have meant to get the screens fixed
For three years now.
There are holes
They allow spiders.
This one even appears
On the inside window.
I have a rescue cup
On the window sill but really
I have come to believe
He or she is not in need
Of rescue.

Last night it rained.
I see the water droplets caught
In the screen
The street looks like a green-washed watercolor.
The spider
Is nowhere to be seen.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father*s Day

Today I think it*s not just the personality of the father or the mother, or the roles each has carved out for him or herself within the family.  There does seem to be a male/female distinctive about the way we celebrate.  As I write this Jeff is upstairs finding bicycle clothing, gently egged on by our daughter.   The day will end in ribs, which now that I think of it, has an Adam/Eve resonance to it (except eating (the ribs) and barbeque sauce had nothing to do with that occasion).  Vive la difference!

No matter the father or mother involved
The days are different
In themselves.
They can*t help
But be different.

Today involves
A list of things to do:
A bike seat to be fixed,
Followed by the father/daughter
bike ride;
The cartoon movie
Of a Wild West chameleon
To be seen;
Take-out ribs
To be eaten
Before collapse

In May I got flowers
And a nice lunch.
In the afternoon
I took a nap.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Circus cannon

This one is probably along the lines of: If the tree falls in the forest, and no one is there to hear it...

If we perform a brave, possibly stupid act, and there is no clown to light the fuse, and no one around to see, does it matter?  If we haven*t flown across three rings in front of grandstands of people, and taken the bow at the end; and then:
if we go back to making breakfast and reading the paper (and writing the blog for the day), and on top of that, no one notices the red and white striped circus cannon parked in the driveway, except for us, does it count?   I think it does.  Somehow.  In the way of dreams.

Who knows the content of dreams
The night-time ones,
I mean?
Things happen or don*t happen
In the night.
Sometimes we think they are stray sparks
Between synapses
Sometimes things happen or don*t happen
Are rehearsed perhaps
At night.
They seem more than stray.

Last night we had a circus cannon delivered,
Red and white striped
The length of the barrel.
It was the cannon I used to plug my ears for.
The man in the helmet and sparkle suit
Climbed in,
A clown lit the fuse.
The man flew the length
Of the three rings,
Landed safe and sound,
Took off his helmet
And bowed.
Last night I looked at where the cannon was pointed,
Climbed in
Nothing happened.
It seems there was no clown
So I climbed out again.
No one was looking.
I went and made breakfast.
No one was the wiser,
Except me.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Francis... waiting for a saint

I catch myself looking to follow others... hoping that the exact blueprint will show me step number one, then step number two.  Somehow they have figured out how to do it right.  I do this even when I know I would do something different anyway, or at least redefine it.  I remember my daughter, when she was five, being concerned about all the people who prayed to Mary.  Don*t they know they can go directly to Jesus? she asked. We must tell them.  Still... we have this wonderful calendar of saints, and the ways they followed Jesus.  We have saints for a reason.  They give us examples of people who were more fully themselves, the way God intended.  They show us the boots we are to fill... are our own.  Today, here, for me, it involves the sparrows.

It seemed Francis redefined
What the Church could be.
There are books after books
On the Church that re-emerged
When he heard and lived and sang
The Gospel,
Stripped naked in the square,
Preached to birds,
Even rescued worms
So they wouldn*t be stepped on.

I have waited for a Saint
To come,
Make big Yeti footprints
In the Himalayan mud;
Me, the small child
Wearing Daddy*s boots,
Could slip and trip
After him or her.

Today the sparrows
Nested In the light on the back of the house
Might be ready to fly.
The sparrows in the vent
On the side of the house
May have flown
All the sparrows knew
we had too much room
For just three people.
We were clearly safe to nest
And birth and house
Many more.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


This is my earliest memory of encountering The Holy.  I believe all children experience God, but often don*t have the words for it.  I don*t blame my mother (anymore, anyway) for not getting that this was a God experience.  Even mothers aren*t expected to be perfect... (being a mother myself has helped me understand this... and it has still taken awhile...)   I put this out there because I spent years thinking that cloud experiences don*t compare with the folk who see the Sacred Heart of Jesus and don*t just see clouds but hear God saying, from the cloud itself, You are my beloved child.  I spent years thinking that because I didn*t feel called at four to celebrate Eucharist with my assembled teddy bears, my vocation as a priest was suspect.  Now I know (capital *K* KNOW) that God calls each of us particularly.  Way back when, He showed me the clouds, and moved them for me.

When I was three, maybe four,
Pixie haircut,
Bright pink sundress my mother made,
Playing in the back yard
By myself,
I saw the clouds move.
I Saw The Clouds Move
And I Knew
(capital K)
There was so much more to things
Than me.
I ran and told my mother in the kitchen
Yes, dear
She said
Lunch is almost ready.

Now I know
It was God.

Today the clouds are painted
On the sky.
How they stay in place
Is beyond me,
But so much seems
Beyond me
Right now.
The appointment I knew I had
This morning
Is next Thursday instead.
The clouds remain
In place.
Painted in place.
I know this afternoon
They will look different.
They will have moved on
When I wasn*t looking.
They may still look painted in place.
It may be a new painting
This afternoon.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

When change comes big

I wrote this thinking of the nine people who lost their jobs today at the Diocesan Center.  As with most advice, I give it to myself as well.   Change often comes big, looms large and incomprehensible.  When I think about it, most change comes big.  Pitching rocks seems to help.  Friends definitely help.  My prayers and blessings go with the nine, and with all who are walking through really big change, whatever that change may be.

When change comes big
Really big
It can be hard
To get your arms around it.
Sometimes it helps
To pitch rocks
In the backyard,
Take aim
At the back fence
Until it is finally
Finally a little smaller.

When change comes big
Really big
Even if it is almost entirely
It can still slip through your fingers
Sometimes it helps
To find the plumbline of friends
Who have known you forever,
Or at least
A very long time,
Remind you of who
You still are,
Who they know you
To be.

When change comes big
Really big,
I recommend a pile of rocks,
An anchoring
Of good friends.

Lessons learned at the doctor*s office

One of my clergy friends wore a red hat to the bishop*s retirement party.  It was awesome.  I could never have pulled it off (I don*t do hats well, any size hat).  She, however, wore it well, with panache.

Usually I am able to sluff off patronizing remarks, though some days are more difficult.   I have made it through the six month no-driving thing, and am out the other side, for now.  And now there is another test ordered to scan my carotid arteries.  

Somehow planting the elderberry bush, and planting it deep, seemed the right thing to do after that doctor visit.

A doctor my age or older
Is less likely
to patronize me.
Even the doctor*s gender
Does not seem
A determining factor.
I understand
I am now
In the older category.
I still have a fifteen year old
At home
And getting a physical
For an internship
Is not just
A nice way to keep busy.
I would rather garden.

The internship will not be
Pleasant volunteer work
Making lace doily placemats
For the nursing home.

Oh sure
I think, but do not say,
 I*ll come back
For regular TB tests
So I can see all of you
More often.

Yesterday I planted
The elderberry bush
Next to the rhubarb.
I dug deep so its roots
Would find a home
Next to the rhubarb roots.
I will watch it bloom and fruit
But first I want to make sure
Its roots
Have room enough.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Things learned not driving: small trips

It continues.  Lessons learned.  And already the amnesia begins.  My garden store trip netted two flats of annuals and an elderberry bush.  I do not have planters for a full two flats.  With a car I am a lot more self-indulgent, because I can be.  I want to plant a rainbow on the front lawn,  I think I will have to give away a number of the coleus (the spotted varieties are so much fun).  Still, I am glad to be able to pick up mushroom compost without walking a wheelbarrow for three blocks.

A small trip to the store
Means one, at most, two bags
With handles,
Preferably the same weight,
So I am balanced.
One gallon of milk
Counts as one bag.
Charcoal briquets
Are out of the question.
Forty pounds of mushroom compost
Require at least
One day*s planning.

There are local folk who always shop
This way;
The store clerks
Know them by name.
The people
Who live next to the train station
In assisted living
Often walk.
Some have motorized carts.
These trips are a large part
Of their social life.
They offer joy and the possibility
Of different vision.

I learned small trips.
I learned joy and possibility
Live next to the train station.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Lessons learned not driving: riding shotgun

I am not a fan of being carried... anywhere.  I like to go places in my own way, at my own speed, in my own time.   I do not like being considered something, someone, to be planned around.  When the cat jumped in my lap this morning (his idea, mind you), and then decided my lap was not quite stable enough, he dug his claws in.  I do not have the gift of retractable claws, but I know his feeling.  It*s hard to feel safe and anchored when the ground (or lap) does not feel solid enough.

I have learned to pray
In place
There*s nothing like existential crisis
To bring God
I have learned to watch
The light shift as I sit
In one particular place,
The family come and go,
But often
Me with them.
I have learned to ride
Sometimes to relax into it
Sometimes even appreciate
Being carried.

Better I have learned
Cat as steady companion
And not so steady
When he anchors his claws
In my leg
For better purchase.

Sometimes I have claws
Like the cat,
Try to anchor myself
Not so steady.
I have learned.