Wednesday, November 30, 2011


I can make lists of what is wrong with the world.  To start, I can*t find my sunglasses, and these days I need them.  I won*t go on.  Today is not a day for such lists.  Today I did not wake up dizzy and blurred. There is cool air blowing through my office window.  A flock of sandhill cranes just flew overhead.  Even mothballs count for good.  

I knew it would be a fine day:
I didn*t wake up dizzy and blurred.
It*s amazing what counts for good
These days.
Below freezing
I unearthed the scarf,
Discovered  my husband
Had put it in a box
With mothballs.
You were there when I did it,
He said.
Of course I don*t remember.
I smelled naphtha all the way to church.
Now the scarf hangs on the tomato trellis
Outside the church door
In the wind and sun.
It will be ready
When I go home.
Every time I move
I smell mothballs.
It*s amazing what counts for good
These days.
Even mothballs.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Cleared space

It surprises me every time.  One cleared space encourages order in more things than the obvious.   In our house the dining table is the center of family activity, or at least it*s the center when it is not overtaken with clutter.  I forget this.  It is good to be surprised, again.

The dining table:
It*s the center of the known universe.
It holds three laptop computers,
Often bills and catalogues.
We cleared it for Thanksgiving.
Now the Advent wreath holds court
At one end.
The cloth napkins from Thanksgiving
Mark three places
For us,
The family,
To eat.
Now we begin to sort the mail,
Recycle the catalogues,
Put the bills in a findable place.
Now, five days out,
We really set the table
For dinner.
The computers are put away.
The first purple candle
Is lit.
We even think of special things
To eat.
It is amazing what one simple cleared space
Can offer.
In our house the dining table
Is the center of the known universe.
When it is cleared,
The possibilities
Are endless.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Side effect

There is a lot of money spent developing medications for all that ails us.  A lot of the research does not pan out (we don*t hear about it), but some of the meds end up being marketed for other things (hair growth comes to mind).  The side effect becomes the wanted outcome. Of course who decides wanted outcome?  My invisibility dream was actually quite pleasant.  I can also imagine how it could have been an absolute nightmare.

I dreamed I was invisible.
It was a side effect of a medication
I take.
The prescription bottle did not list invisibility
As a danger.
I knew it was a side effect
Every day we find medicine
That does not work
For the researched condition.
Instead there is potency found
For an entirely different part
Of the body.
Why not invisibility?
A rather pleasant side effect
All told,
Except perhaps when one would like
To be the life of the party.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

In waiting

I like waiting in small identifiable chunks, punctuated with candles.

It was easier with small children:
The waiting, I mean.
Four weeks of waiting was difficult,
But doable.
The time was punctuated
With things to do:
Light candles
Prayers for each candle.
Every light off in the house.
Advent songs.
The countdown began
Right after Thanksgiving.

With no small children
I*m still glad Advent
Is four weeks.
I wait better
In small chunks,
Candles marking the way

Saturday, November 26, 2011

In the beginning

I remember when I first understood that Advent wasn*t just about waiting for the baby, that there was something cosmic about it, waiting for the beginning, but also for the promised ending.  We didn*t talk a lot about Judgment in my church growing up.  I know others did.  But it wasn*t until I was an adult that I understood that we were also waiting for the Second Coming of Jesus, and probably not as a baby this time.  This year, with Christmas being on a Sunday, we have the longest Advent possible.  A full four weeks.  This means that the seven O antiphons from Isaiah, the ones we sing in O come O come Emmanuel all fit into the week which follows the Fourth Sunday in Advent.  Very cool.  This year we get the fullest Advent possible.

In the beginning
There was Advent.
There was waiting,
Lots and lots and lots
Of waiting.
Waiting for the Baby:
Waiting for the true beginning
Of everything:
Waiting for the end
Of all time:
In the beginning
There was Advent,
So simple
So complex.
In the beginning
We waited.
We wait
To see the Baby*s eyes
The smile.
We wait
To hear the true beginning
Of everything.
We wait to embrace
The end of all time.
We wait
To know ourselves held

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday

While looking through the sideboard drawers for candles for the Thanksgiving table, I found the Advent wreath candles I never used last year.  We never quite readied ourselves for Advent.  This year, helping serve Thanksgiving in the soup kitchen, and making dinner for three at home, I feel we have a head start on cleaning.   Advent seems almost certain this year, Advent on a simpler scale.  Soon and very soon, we are going to see the King.  We already have all the ingredients for Advent here.  We are well in the black.

While it appeals
To help stores
Cover costs,
Make their bottom line,
For yet another year:
I won*t.

Today is lovely and blue,
The pumpkins
Still strong and orange
In the outside planters.
This morning I drink coffee
From the dinosaur mug,
Contemplate the sun patterns
On the floor
While the family sleeps
Soup ingredients wait
Lined up on the counter.

Yesterday I found candles for the Advent wreath
Never used last year.
Yesterday I scored four candles:
Three purple and a pink.
Today I will look for
What waits to be seen,
What is buried
Here in this house.
I will make turkey soup
From the turkey carcass
Picked clean.
Perhaps I will unearth the breadmaker
From years ago.
I think I know where it is
On a shelf
In the basement,
Behind all the other boxes.
Perhaps I will end the day,
Bottom line,
Well in the black.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Triduum (of sorts)

We have different ways to mark beginnings and endings.  I declare Thanksgiving to be the beginning of the beginning of the year.  Usually the First Sunday in Advent is the Sunday after Thanksgiving.  While we have included Thanksgiving into our church calendar (sort of), it is not ours alone.  It belongs to everyone in the United States.  Other countries have their own versions.  I know the Native Americans will never look   upon Thanksgiving with deep favor.  And I*m pretty sure Black Friday will never get its own propers.  Still... there is gathering and ritual and a kind of newness in the air, even as we turn to winter.  I declare today to be the beginning of the beginning of the year.

Today marks the beginning
Of the beginning
Of the year.
I know
That*s officially
Another holiday.
Really It depends on who is talking.
I declare
Today is the beginning.
Today the stuffing is made with vegetable broth.
It will never see the inside of a turkey.
Today the particular jellied cranberry sauce
Will be decanted into a dish
In its can shape.
Today there will be pomegranate and pink grapefruit
In the salad,
Sweet potatoes with orange juice,
Mashed potatoes with butter,
And of course
Turkey and Tofurkey.
Today we will all claim a dish,
Taste everything
Whether it is our cup of tea
Or not.
Today we will sneak the Reddi-Wip
Before it goes on top
Of the pumpkin pie.

Today begins the Thanksgiving Triduum,
Followed by Black Friday,
Saturday of housecleaning
To prepare ourselves
For Advent.
I told you
Today is the beginning
Of the beginning
Of the year.
Soon and very soon
It all begins again.
In fact
It has already begun.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

In thanks

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  This year we*ll help with the Soup Kitchen Thanksgiving at Trinity, Aurora, and then have a three person vegetarian, diabetic-friendly home-cooked meal with lots of Reddi-Wip and canned cranberry sauce, with the can marks left intact.  Where tradition is involved, detail is important, whether it be particular food, particular songs, or even a roomful of men in recovery offering what they are grateful for every Wednesday night at 6:20 after dinner.

Every year
Thanksgiving reminds me
To name out loud
The big and small things,
The people especially near and dear;
Even the squirrel who sits
In my office window;
The children who sing
The Wheels on the Bus
Followed by
Jesus Loves Me
At approximately 11:45
Every morning.

Every Sunday
Communion reminds me
To hold it all Holy
Bread and wine
Becomes Body and Blood,
Transforms the people gathered
Outside in,
Inside out.

One week away
From the halfway house,
I remember gratefulness
At 6:20
Every Wednesday evening
After dinner.

All of it flows.
All of it echoes

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Squirrel time

I thought I only had to coordinate office use with one other person.  Turns out the squirrel has dibs on early morning.

It is early and morning and wet
Too gray
To be at work
Alone in the stone church
In the office cubby,
Underneath the nave.
My schedule
Would have me here in two hours.
I do not follow my schedule
These days.
Simply I learn what might fit in
With others.
The train leaves from home
When it does.
I am here early enough
To watch the squirrel burying nuts
In my window-well,
Cheeks full,
He stares at me.
This is my time
My space
He says.
At this hour
Early and morning and wet
It is too gray
For you to be at work.
This is squirrel time.

He does not expect to bury nuts
With me looking on.
Of course I did not expect me
To be here

Monday, November 21, 2011

Genghis Khan

I knew that my daughter was in the running for Genghis Khan.  I had not realized she won the coin flip, nor that the trial was this afternoon.  I*m sure the green terrycloth bathrobe will help her personal testimony.

Today I am grateful
For Genghis Khan.
He will be clothed
In my green terrycloth bathrobe
This afternoon,
Placed on trial in World History,
Advanced Placement.
My daughter won the coin flip.
She was not the only one
Who wanted to be Genghis Khan.
She is not the only one
Who finds Genghis Khan
Today I am thinking about
World domination tempered by
Religious tolerance.
I wonder whether Genghis
Will be found guilty
Or innocent.
The green terrycloth may just
Be the ticket.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

I forgot I had wings

Getting my system cleared of the mood-altering medication has made an amazing difference.  I tried to give it back to the doctor... it does not come cheap... but found it cannot be returned like bad canned goods.  There is no recycling program for such medications.   

Anyway, I*m glad I was off the medication in time for Convention.  I was able to witness the Spirit blowing there.  Though the exercise on Friday was to spread out our arms to be open to embrace another, I saw a roomful of people lifted into possible flight, with feathers and hollow bones, and all.  I had forgotten I had wings.

The Holy Spirit blows through.
It provides the lift
Under my wings.
I forgot I had wings.
We all
Have wings
When we spread our arms.

One week out it seems the drug
Is out of my system.
There are more connections,
More possibilities.

But It is so much more than this.
The Spirit provides the lift
Under the wings
I had forgotten about,
Forgotten until I spread out my arms,
Noticed I was held up,
Than air.
Only then I felt the feathers,
The hollow bones,
The Spirit that holds me up,
The Spirit
That lifts me up.
No heaviness here.
Only feathers and hollow bones.
I am lifted up.
The Spirit catches the air
Under my wings.
I learn again what it is
To fly.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


The new medication was making me dizzy.  Finally I stopped taking it.  Halfway through I realized the dizziness was only part of it.  Blurred vision was another piece.  Then I realized the pony had been missing
for weeks.  I didn*t even see the pile, or that digging was a possibility.  I forgot I could look for the pony.  Or that I am a pony person.  Now I hear him again.  And I remember that I forgot.

I am a pony person.
There is always a pony buried
In whatever pile I find.
I only have to dig deep enough
To find the pony
I keep digging
Until I find him.
He is always there.
When he disappeared,
I did not notice
He had gone missing.
Now I hear the soft nicker
When everything is quiet.
I did not notice
He had gone missing.
Now I hear him.


I am married to a political scientist who might beg to differ with me about my being political.  Really I think the political part of me took a hike years ago, but I just noticed now.  

The political part of me
Has taken a hike,
Walks the corridors of the Convention hotel,
Roams the round tables.
I see her across the room,
She looks familiar,
Very familiar,
I know she is related.
I don*t know
Whether she will ever return.
The temptation is to make excuses
It*s age
It*s seizure activity
It*s all the new people
It has taken this long to realize
I am not
At root
Never was.

Friday, November 18, 2011


Diocesan Convention today and tomorrow.  It*s been a marathon week.  A lot to process   Good stuff... but a lot to process.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Last day

Some days the reflection is the day itself.  Few words.  Today is my last day at the halfway house.  I have had no extra moments to write.  Even with no extra words for reflection, I am exceedingly grateful.  Diocesan Convention tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


My office is, shall we say, quirky.  Hot water pipes running underneath and above mean that winter is Very Warm in this space.  At least now I have a window that opens and shuts.  It seems I have the option of Very Warm or Freezing.  Trust me to work on a happy medium.  How much cold air to let in before the client arrives?

So many different ways
To regulate it.
It is in the 40*s outside,
Fully 70 something
My office of course
Is already 78.
Alone in the building
I open and close my window.
I practice temperature regulation.
This office used to go
From warm to warmer.
With the window
It has freezing potential.
I have a client in 45 minutes.
How much cold air
Do I let in to be warmed
Before the client arrives?
How much cold air
Before I close the window
For privacy?
So many different ways
To regulate it,
Before the client arrives.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

No one escapes the wilderness

Ah church school.  I used to do children*s sermons.  I miss them.  Some of the best questions come from children.

No Christian escapes the wilderness on the way to the promised land.
Evelyn Underhill in The Fruits of the Spirit

The second graders were puzzled on Sunday.
Why didn*t the Israelites obey immediately
The first time?
(and who and what were Israelites anyway?)
They could have avoided 40 years in the wilderness
If they had just taken the straight path,
Avoided the silly thing
About walking around the walls of Jericho
For seven days.
Wouldn*t they have obeyed
If they knew they*d get
40 years
Walking through the desert,
Odd things like walking around
The walls of a giant city,
Believing it would collapse
When they yelled.
Odd things like manna and quail,
Water flowing out of rocks.
God speaking and speaking and speaking.
They were puzzled.
Why didn*t the Israelites
Avoid the long trip,
Cut it short.
That would have made sense.

Monday, November 14, 2011


Sometimes, even in the best-conceived sermons, with the best illustrations, the most helpful thing may be our coughing during announcements and asking someone else to help.  Thank you, George and Elizabeth!

This week calls to me
From different parts,
To different parts.
To illustrate the parable
My priest named parts
Of what he had done
Last week.
I remember the sermon was well done,
As my priest*s week
Was Well Done,
Good and Faithful Servant.
I hear the illustration.
It rings in my ears.
For the life of me,
I can only remember the illustration.
I was planning church school
In my head.
I remember all the sermons I have preached
When people only remembered
The illustration:
The rope vine
The grapes.

Today I remember what an accomplished week
My priest had.
This week calls to me from different parts
To different parts.
It is very full.
I do not know how it will look
At the end.
But I do know my priest has weeks
Like mine
And, like me,
Needs help
To make it through the announcements.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Planning for Thanksgiving dinner

There are particular memories of Thanksgiving dinner I carry with me.  Turkey and stuffing, to be sure, though I have never been a great stuffing fan.  Both of my children prefer the cranberry sauce, right out of the can.  One tradition which seems to carry over from my childhood to now, despite the vegetarian/diabetic dynamic, is Reddi-Wip.  Maybe real whipped cream is gastronomically preferable, but it will never be sprayed out of the can into one*s mouth in quite so satisfactory a way.

How do you make Thanksgiving dinner
For a vegetarian and a diabetic?
It sounds like the beginning
Of a bad joke.
The standard menu:
Turkey and stuffing,
Mashed potatoes and gravy,
Pumpkin pie with loads and loads
Of Reddi-Wip,
The kind we used to decant
In our mouths
When our parents weren*t looking.
Now I know
They were.

Thanksgiving dinner plans this year
Cranberry sauce,
Marked with lines
From the can.
Tofurky which never ran on two feet.
Sweet potatoes mashed
With orange juice and cinnamon.
Green salad with cucumber and pomegranate.
Pie of some sort (yes)
But definitely Reddi-Wip.
It will disappear faster
Than traditionally
Perhaps two cans
Of Reddi-Wip.
Thanksgiving dinner for all involved
Has to include
Enough Reddi-Wip.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Substituting church school

I admit it.  I have never been good fitting in with someone else*s curriculum.  But here we are.  Second grade.  Joshua.  One book at a time.

They covered the Pentateuch
With the second graders last week.
45 minutes.
The whole Torah.
The whole shebang.
It blows my mind.
This week I am the substitute.
How do I follow the Torah
In 45 minutes,
When the Creation story alone
Would take me weeks:
One Sunday for each of six days,
One Sunday to rest and bake cookies.
I have determined this Sunday
Is Joshua.
One book at a time for me.
Perhaps we will march around the classroom table
As Jericho
Seven times
Blow our noisemakers on time seven.
Perhaps we will watch
Josh and the Big Wall
But still:
One book at a time.

Next week they can pick up
With Judges.
I hope that Ruth
Gets her own week.
Please tell me that there is at least a week
For Ruth.

Friday, November 11, 2011

We are never paid what we are worth

I write this knowing it may not be heard as politically correct.   I write it as a first level licensed professional counselor (LPC) who has both so much particular experience (as priest) and not enough countable experience (as therapist) to be employed in a system which will only reimburse second level licensed counselors (LCPC).   Both seem to be used as reasons not to employ me.  I suspect, once again, it is, in part, a translation issue.  I may as well be speaking Pakistani.  

But really, beyond the counseling profession, in all of life, none of us is ever paid what we are worth.  

I am coming into my last week at internship.  It has been a blessing, all the way around.... the men in the halfway house, the counselors.  I have watched lives changed almost weekly.  I have paid for the experience.  It is well worth it.  In reality, I could never pay enough.

I have never been paid what I*m worth.
No one has.

A friend worked in Pakistan.
It was customary for foreigners to hire young men
To run errands.
The friend thought it demeaning
To the young men.
So he didn*t do it.
He was brought around by a particular young man.
In Pakistani the young man said
This is how I make my living,
It is an honorable living.
He was hired.
Happily he ran errands.
He was paid the going rate.
Of course
The rate was not
What the man was worth.
It never is.

I have never been paid what I*m worth
No one has.

I am a priest with degrees and licenses,
Soon a certificate.
I have years and years
Of experience.
Every place I go
There are things to learn,
People to learn from.
Most of my experience now
Is not for pay.
Still I need to be paid.
This is how I make my living
It is an honorable living.

I will never be paid what I am worth.
No one ever is.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Fundamental Attribution Error

I am usually not one to focus on the side effects of medication... until I start feeling odd things after I begin taking it.  Then the research starts.  I am thankfully going off of seizure med #2 which was added along with an increase in seizure med #1.  Then the doctor retired that same week.  I realize that perhaps this is an example of fundamental attribution error.   Even if it is... I*ll take it!

It will take two weeks
To stop the medication
It has been three days.
Already I notice myself
Less dizzy
Less blurry
Less moody
More in control.
I am happy to stop the medication
Which I know played havoc
With my stability.
I know all about fundamental
Attribution error.
I know it*s too soon
To notice a real difference.
I am a rational being but still
Not that rational.
Somehow it doesn*t matter.
Three days in
I feel like a rock.
Plymouth Rock.
The Rock of Gibraltar.
I stand on Jesus Christ
The True Rock.
Fundamental attribution error
Or not.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


I*ve had a few of these moments recently.  The moments when I hear what I*m saying and realize the truth in it.  I also realize that I need to hear it, whatever it is, more than the other person.  Once it*s out there, it will most often not allow itself to be put down for a nap, either.

Sometimes I hear the Truth
Come out of my mouth.
Often I did not it know it was alive there
Inside my head
Inside my heart.
I realize those words that land
Between us
Are for me as much
As for you.
Maybe more for me.
Truth sits, stands,
Sometimes shivers there:
Naked Unclothed Truth.
Before I get a blanket around it,
Put it to bed
Out of sight,
It streaks out of the room.
It screams like a banshee.
It simply will not be contained

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

More gratefulness

This is my second to the last week at the halfway house.  Tomorrow is my second to the last round of gratefulness prayers.  They happen every Wednesday night at 6:20 PM.  Today I*ve been feeling almost Buddhist.  Centered and focused and aware.  Today I remember the Buddhist at the halfway house, now in the recovery home.  Like all of the men, I hope he makes it this time.

It all comes around
To gratefulness
In the middle of the week.
Maybe it is the beginning.
It depends on where we start
The count.
The men know it all comes around
To gratefulness.
Maybe it is the end after all.

There was a Buddhist in the group
When I started.
Every Wednesday he would be grateful
For the Buddha.
It often felt like he had to say it
Or Buddha would be forgotten
In this place of recovering men:
Grateful for sobriety
New possibility
Food and sunshine,
Even especially
One more day.
His giving thanks for the Buddha
Felt like the ante in poker:
I*ll see my Buddha for your
Jesus Christ.
The Wednesday before my seizure
The Buddhist gave thanks for the Buddha
And Jesus Christ.
I thought
Now there*s gratefulness,
Now he*s ready
To move on.
When I returned,
He had moved past
The halfway house
To the recovery home.


Some things don*t explain particularly well.  Me?  I know here*s another good  reason why Jeff and I are married.

The silver maple leaves,
Now fallen and yellow,
Stick to the windshield in the rain
And wet.
We sit stunned
In the front seats,
Stare at the way the wet
Outlines the yellow spiked leaves.
We are late to our workout
With the trainer,
Amazed at the outline.
How could we tell her
It was the maple leaves,
The silver maple leaves,
The water that outlined them
Perfectly yellow?
She thought we were late
Because of the rain.
She was right,

Monday, November 7, 2011

Dusted in gold

We run with endurance, with perseverance, the race that is set before us.  Yes.  Yesterday the priest preached about being Christian in the Middle East.  He hearkened back to training for the original marathon, the athletes shining with gold dust.  Quite a picture.  It sticks with me.  I have many friends who run marathons.  This week there was a run in Chicago which ended in chocolate.  Even to a non-chocoholic, that sounded appealing.  All of us run the race set before us.  I think, to God, perhaps, all of us are dusted in gold.

Yesterday the priest from Egypt
Preached perseverance
Dusted in gold.
I shall have to read Paul*s letters
All the way through.
Our guest preached perseverance
Dusted in gold.

I have friends,
They run marathons.
Real 10K, 15 K
They run and run and run.
Sometimes there is chocolate
At the end.
They train continually.
They train and train and train.
They persevere
They sweat
They even make running look inviting
To me.
I sometimes think I should run
Like them.
Really I can only run
Like me.

Today I train for my marathon.
It involves final papers
Due for class.
I train for what is set
Before me.
I am dusted in gold
And sweat
And perseverance.
I run the race I entered
At the beginning.
Probably no chocolate
At the end.
But still
Dusted in gold.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

All Saints Sunday

This morning there were two extra priests in attendance.  One preached, one spoke at the adult forum.  All the regular priests were there too...It is an amazing assemblage.  You can*t spit without hitting one.  Not that I would ever spit.  Not me.  Even without a collar, I am still a non-spitting Christian, a priest, even.

Where I go to church
You can*t spit without hitting
A priest.
This morning we had two extra
From Africa.
They were on their way
To different places.
The roster is so large
I can hide safely
In the pew
Without a collar.
I can bring up the bread and wine
With my husband.
I can drink coffee
In the parlor
With the other gad-abouts
While my daughter is in church school.

Where I go to church
I wouldn*t dream of spitting
But still
I might trip over a priest
In the narthex.
Where I go I can enter through the side door
At the last service
While everyone sings my favorite hymn
I Sing a Song of the Saints of God.
I can comfortably belt out the line
About meeting them in shops or at tea.
Even though no spitting
Is involved
I could if I wanted
And probably no one
Would notice.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


Maybe all the specialists have always been out there.  Maybe there is simply too much medical information to be contained in the head of a simple family doctor.  Maybe I am nostalgic for the good old days. Maybe it*s my child memory remembering something that never was.  Or maybe I*m 56 and it*s simply the time for specialists.  But I miss the time when the family doctor stitched up cuts on the bottom of my feet from going barefoot.  I miss being seen as an entire human being, and a doctor who knew when I would make a break for it down the hall.

By the time I am done
I will have seen all the specialists
There are.
No simple family doctor anymore,
The one who stitched us up
When we cut our feet on clamshells
In the sand bottom of the lake
Up at the cabin.
The one who said
Let*s take a look at this
Here*s what we*ll do
The one who knew us
Inside and out
From the soles of our feet
To the lip we bit through
When we fell running to catch
The ball;
The one who knew how to catch my brother,
Make him sit still for shots,
The one who somehow made penicillin shots
In the kiester
Now there are specialists
Upon specialists,
No one doctor
Who chases anyone down the hall;
No one doctor who says
Let*s take a look at this
Here*s what we*ll do
No one doctor who knows us
From our head to our soles;
No one doctor
Who knows that the person
Who stands before them
Might make a run for it
Down the hall.
Now there are specialists
Upon specialists.
We are eyes or bladders,
Feet or brains.
They have no idea
When we might take off

Friday, November 4, 2011

Before yesterday

When I returned to the halfway house, there was one client who remembered me and welcomed me back.  Like everyone there, he is regularly screened for drugs.  Like everyone there, the behavior goes beyond particular drug use.  Like everyone there, he is in the process of learning new behavior.  Like everyone there, he understands a part of what recovery is about.  Before yesterday, I could say that I cared.  Yesterday, I didn*t.  Today, I do.  

Before yesterday
I could say that I cared.
He was the one who was glad
To see me
Four weeks
After the seizure
When I returned.
There you are
He said
There you are,
I*ve wondered where you were.
I knew I*d been noticed.
Before yesterday
I could say that I cared.
Yesterday he talked about
Dealing with four women
Including the mother of his child.
I listened to the guys
As they tried to show him
Up one side and down
The other
How he was still using,
Even though drugs were not
In the picture.
Using and dealing
Before yesterday
I could say that I cared.
Yesterday I realized I*d been
Used and dealt.

Today I care.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Sign of the ginkgo

When I was a senior in college, years ago, there was a ginkgo tree in front of the house, right outside my bedroom window.  That fall I watched all the yellow leaves drop from the tree in one day.  I understand this is the way of ginkgoes everywhere.  It has become a true sign of fall for me.  I love watching my neighbor*s ginkgo every year.

The yellow leaves are bright against the gray
And wet.
The burning bushes have begun
To burn
In orange and red.
The clematis still offers
Purple hope.
It has been hoping
Since May.
It finally looks like fall.
It came almost overnight.
The ginkgo two doors down
Dropped its leaves
In a two day shower.
We always wait
For the sign of the ginkgo
To name the season.
It is now official.
No snow yet.
Not yet.
The woolly bear caterpillars
Promise a mild winter despite
All the alternative promises
Of snow
Up to our eyeballs
And more.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

To my love

This morning I received a poem in my inbox about marriage being like a bungee jump.  It brought this to mind.  I*ve never done a real bungee jump.  The one at Great America seemed safer, somehow.  Of course it all depends on perspective, like everything else.  

Let me declare this out loud
And in public:
I love you.

Years ago now we went to Great America.
There was a version of the bungee jump,
Only safer (they said).
You agreed to be strapped in with me.
It was not your idea.
When they pulled us up backwards,
I was afraid.
I could not see where we were going.
You held my hand.
When we got to the top,
I pulled the ripcord
So we could drop and swing.
You were afraid
All the way down.
I said It*s ok, it*s ok, it*s ok,
Until we finally went swinging.
I figure we were meant to be
A couple.
When we*re pulled up backwards
You*re there for me.
After the ripcord,
I*ve got your back.
I have no real idea
What this really means
Except I suspect
We were meant
To balance each other out.

I love you
Out loud
In public.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Hound of Hell

There*s something about seeing Halloween decorations, even the most elaborate ones, the day after Halloween, in full sunlight, that makes them lose their scary punch.  I have never been one for horror movies or the like.  Today, walking to Lake Ellyn with a friend, we saw the wraiths strung up looking like a stage set, and we laughed.  Two doors down was a motionless dog, looking as I have always imagined the Hound of Hell to look.   We wondered if he was stuffed he was so still.  No.  Real.  In the sunlight. No strings attached.  He never barked.  Never growled.  He just watched us walk by.  He is probably a really nice dog... who just happens to look like the Hound of Hell.

On the walk at high noon
The Halloween wraiths
Were strung in trees,
Last night*s display now in full sun.
It looked like a stage set.
Two doors down
Full In the sun:
The dog: muscular, short-haired, brown,
Perfectly still.
His eyes were yellow.
He was
A perfect rendering
Of the Hound of Hell.
High noon, we walked, then
He moved, still, silent,
Walked the boundary
Of his yard.
Eyes yellow.
Still, silent, in the sunlight.
The perfect image
Of the Hound of Hell
At high noon.

This I know

There are a number of ways I pray.  One is to notice when I am overwhelmed, and ask God to help me.  Sometimes it takes quite awhile for me to ask.  When I finally do, it is amazing how things gain order, and some even drop out of the picture.  When I listen, it is amazing how much God is in the picture.  Of course He is.  Of course She is.  I forget.  It is amazing how much God is in the picture when I remember to notice and listen and ask.

Some days there are too many things
To carry,
So God removes a few of them
From the plate.
Sometimes I wonder
How He knows,
But of course He is God.
He knows
I sit in my office
With the window open
Sun and cool air blowing,
Perhaps the last warm day
Of fall.
I listen with one ear
To the garbage truck backing up.
With the other ear
I hear the children sing
Jesus loves me
This I know.
They sing this every day
Before they leave.
The garbage truck is gone.
Soon silence will descend
As children are picked up
One by one.
Some days there are too many things.
God sorts them out
One by one.
Silence descends.
New possibilities emerge.
They leave the overlay
Of sun and breeze,
The silent echo of Jesus loves me
This I know.
Of course I know.