Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Cancelling the week

Last night I thought it would be good to cancel the week.  Nothing bad, really, just, well, it seemed to need a do-over.  But before calling and emailing the world to call everything off, I went to bed at 10.  This morning things look more possible, doable, even more sunny and warm.  It is interesting to me how such things grow in the dark.

Last night I decided
To cancel the week,
All appointments with the world,
Even though
It is a low appointment week.
This morning I think
If I*m going to do it right
I should wait for a week
Highly scheduled.
After all
Why waste a cancelled week?
This morning the cat
Is sound asleep in his patch of sun,
No snow on the ground
Anymore.
It is the end
Of January.
Even so
Spring threatens
To come early.
Maybe winter was cancelled
This year.
I missed the memo.
If I cancelled this week
I just might miss the start
Of spring.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Snowy owl

You can tell I*m not a real birder, though there is much bird blood in my family.  My great-grandfather, Thomas Sadler Roberts, wrote the definitive Minnesota bird book in the early 1940*s (appropriately called Birds of Minnesota).  When I first heard the term: Little Brown Birds (LBBs), I was bemused until I learned that it was a classification for all those small brown birds that are so hard to distinguish, one from another.  Not so the snowy owl.  With a wing span of four to five feet, they are huge and white and unlike any other bird.  I understand they*re even eating seagulls and rats   (When in Chicago...)  
I may have to seek one out this winter, even though I am not a power-birder.  They will be bird number one on my first ever life list.

I love birds but
I do not keep a life list.
I do not go out on January 1
To see the first distinct
Little Brown Bird (LBB)
Of the year.
I am not a power bird-er.
I do not utter
Power.
and.
Bird.
In the same sentence.
I thrill to juncos.
I am awed by cardinals
Brilliant against the snow.
The first robin back in spring
Means the season has finally arrived.
Trees full of redwings
Make my heart sing.
Now I hear
The snowy owls have made their way south
From the tundra.
There are simply not enough voles
In the North
To feed them.
I am not a power bird-er.
I do not keep a life list.
Still
I would love to see a snowy owl
Soaring
Perching
Hunting voles,
However he chooses,
However she chooses.
I am not a power bird-er but
I know I will recognize him,
Recognize her
When we meet
At last.

I need more pieces of sky

I remember when I began therapy and the therapist likened the beginning sessions to dumping out the puzzle pieces.  In my jigsaw puzzle days,  I learned to find the edge pieces first.  Today I am working on the sky.  Of course it*s entirely possible my sky plans may defer to the black sticks of the elderberry bush in the garden bed.  Sky may come tomorrow.

Puzzle pieces on the dining table.
From time to time
The cat bats one or two under a chair.
I am in need of more sky
A cloud or two,
A particular shade of blue,
A hint of gray to match
The hint of gray
On the piece I hold.
By this time
The edges are pretty much
In place:
Boundaries.
Today I work on the sky.
It bleeds from steel gray
To blue
To white.
The sky goes to ground
Blends with the snowscape.
There is no picture on the box,
In fact
No box anymore.
Just the Tupperware container
In its place.
I need more pieces of sky.
This morning I work
On the sky,
Unless of course it goes too quickly
To ground:
The elderberry bush
Black sticks in the garden bed.
It may be green
Come spring.
Today I need more sky.
There must be more pieces
Of sky.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Picture

I*ve never been one for pictures, so it*s not a surprise that I forgot it was clergy picture day.  I hang on the clergy edges at St. Mark*s, so it*s not a surprise that I am the one on the end of the row of clergy, six of us.  That*s me on the end in the bright red sweater.

Today was clergy picture day.
I had conveniently forgotten
Until I got to church.
That*s me on the end
In the bright red sweater,
No cross
No collar
Next to five white albs,
Green stoles.
That*s me on the end,
Hanging out on the end,
Incognito
In the bright red sweater.
Can*t miss.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Snow frosting

As I lay in bed this morning, a cozy Saturday morning, I heard snowblowers down the block.  Now I look out the window at the backyard, the front sidewalk.  I wonder what those snowblowers were doing.  There is barely a shovel*s full out there.



Enough snow for frosting,
Maybe half an inch.
It blew in last night
Coated one side of the tree
Out back,
Covered part of every single tree branch.
It deserves to remain
Where it is:
Tree frosting
Yard frosting
Sidewalk frosting.
Today it will melt
In the sun.
It does not require
Removal.
Half of inch of new
Frosting.
Only half an inch.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Brownie points

Part of this week*s theme seems to be the difference between women and men.  This week I*ve had at least three conversations about the differences.  This was one.  

When the women meet,
The men who are not
The topic of conversation
Get brownie points
For good behavior.
I like this.
Everyone gets his turn,
Her turn.
We move in and out of synch
Our whole lives,
We women,
You men,
In and out of synch.
Sometimes it*s minute by minute.
Sometimes we go days or weeks or months,
In
Or out.
I do not have an inkling
What happens
When the men meet.
But the women,
Ah the women.
We give brownie points
For good behavior.
I like this.
Of course…
I would.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Mist on the windshield

I like the days I am not worried about what is next.  It allows me to focus on what is here, right now.  And maybe do things I rarely do, like rearrange the Fiestaware in the cabinet, so different colors are on top.

There was mist on the windshield
After the workout.
It signaled warm
Or warmer.
Maybe more of the snow
Will melt today.
Today I am not worried
About what is next.
I notice the few moments this morning
When my ears unplug.
The breakfast dishes give an opportunity
To admire the clear colors
Of Fiestaware newly clean,
Orange and green and gray.
I rearrange the dishes
So we will eat off different colors
Tonight.
I will scrub down the shower later,
Maybe notice other small things
As it all comes clean.
I am not worried about
What is next.
There was mist on the windshield
This morning.
We will eat off different colors
Tonight.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Presence

I watch and learn so much from my daughter.  In part I learn the things I missed growing up.  It is probably the way with mothers and daughters, maybe fathers and sons.  She is able to be powerfully present to people in a way I wish I*d learned a whole lot earlier.
  
There are lessons I did not learn
As a child,
A teenager.
I learned them late.
My daughter has different lessons,
Attends a different school.
The curriculum
Is not the same.
Still I hope she learns
That simply being present
To someone
Transcends the differences.
There are not always words
To speak,
Problems
To be resolved,
Things to be fixed.
Sometimes there is no agreement
Possible.

Still I hope she learns,
Early on,
The power
Of her presence.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

So many ways to measure time

Some days it is easier to be hopeful, some days:  despairing.  Both are reality.  We are in the middle of Epiphany. We are halfway to Lent.  A young person we know faces a bone marrow transplant.  A widow we know grieves.  Depression hits others. The children still sing outside my door.  The sun has almost melted the snow.

So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom. Psalm 90:12, BCP 1979

There are so many ways
To measure time.
The snow has almost melted
Again.
The grass shows green underneath.
It is almost the end of January,
The middle of Epiphany,
Halfway to Lent.
There are so many ways
To measure time,
So many ways to construct
Our days.
Today I hold the sunlight
It melts the snow.
Today I hear the children
They laugh and thud outside my door.
Today I consign so many
To God*s gaze,
Doctor*s care.
I contemplate those I love:
They fight or embrace
Depression,
Bone marrow transplants,
Grief.
So many ways to measure time.
So many ways to see our days.
Today I hold the sunshine
It melts the snow.
I hear the children.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The count

Some days the count matters more than others.  How far along am I?  Have I reached some magical time when everything counts (or I don*t have to count anymore?).  I thought by now I*d have it straightened out.  I think I*ll be counting in some way, somehow, for the rest of my life.  It seems I need constant reminders that it*s all been counted already.  I*ve been counted already and the gift is mine in abundance, and so I can give.    Not count.  

This is for all my friends
Who count hours,
Paid and unpaid,
Supervised
And Un.
We are still in training.

This is for friends
More distant now,
Past any official count.
More distant now
You still count
Other things.
On the other side I know
You still count
Other things.

The letters after all our names
Line up like ducks.
Like the ducks across the way,
The ones who squabble for corn in winter snow,
We wait for spring
When feed will be abundant.
We wait
For the promise of spring,
The promise of grain given,
*A good measure, pressed down,
Shaken together, running over.
Put into our laps,
As we ourselves have given,
As we ourselves know the gift
Given already
Before we even began
The count.
We know the Gift.

*”Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”  Luke 6:38 (NRSV)

I could do that

Sometimes I suspect that not being able to drive is a way to get me to sit still.  I could do that is the catch phrase of many of my female contemporaries, particularly those of us ordained in the early years.  It is probably the catch phrase of other women and minorities as well.  I suspect so, but I only know my own particularities.  It continues to be a rich life, but I know I could do that is different from I am called to do this, sometimes, often? very different.  

I could do that.
I was brewed and steeped in the mantra of
I could do that.
I suspect among women,
Maybe especially older women,
I am not alone.
I could do that.
There is a vast company of us
Who will round off our edges
To fit into all those round holes
Which perhaps do not suit
Anyone.
It is good I cannot drive
Right now.
I might re-do my resume
To round things off
To fit perfectly.
I might find the best and worst way
To orient myself
To fit that particular round hole.
I could do that.
I could.
Yes, I could too.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Clear glass

I look forward to new kitchen windows.  But really, I look for the time when I will see more clearly, all the way around.  Whether it is my eyes seeing more clearly, or windows without condensation, or the removal of all the things that get in the way of my seeing things as they truly are, I think about finally seeing through to the Truth.  Now we see in a glass dimly, or a mirror darkly.  The promise is that Then...Then... we shall see Face to Face.

Today I wait for clear glass,
The clearer
The better.
The day already moves to dusk
At four in the afternoon.
It seems I don*t worry so much about clarity
At dusk.
Come morning light
The clouded glass
Will show itself dim again.
I will move to think
What might possibly be
On a clear glass day,
Sunshine through clear glass before life
Has had its way with it,
Scratches on the double pane,
Water caught and condensed over years
Of use.
A bright hint remains:
What might possibly be the light
Direct and clear
As it was
At first.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Kitchen window

As we contemplate a new kitchen, I realize I am most excited about being able to see the outside clearly.  While the kitchen conversations are around counter tops and cabinets and universal resale-ability,  I dream of being able to see the birds clearly in winter.  

In the new kitchen
We will be able to see through the window
Over the sink.
We will not have to guess at birds,
Dim blurred images
Of themselves.
Now the color red
means a probable cardinal.
The ducks across the way
Look possibly duck-like.
The lady in red
Is barely a lady.
She has no recognizable face.
In the new kitchen
There will be clear glass
Distinct birds.
We will be able to see
Our neighbors.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Deadlines

I catch myself thinking that when this happens, or that happens, then everything will work out right.  I know this is not true.  I set deadlines or meet deadlines and find myself on the other side saying : Now what?  I passed the CADC (now what?).  I will be able to drive again on March 15 barring no new seizures (looking more and more likely) (then what?...)  It*s not magic, Catharine, I say.  Funny, I know this.  I don*t believe in magic or knocking on wood or lining everything up just so everything will go well.  It*s amazing to me how strong the illusion is that I*m in control.  The crocus and the redwings are small signs I*m not.  

Deadlines are not everything
They*re cracked up to be.
They*re anything
But magic and I don*t believe in magic
Anyway.
When the ducks are all lined up
In a pretty quacking row
Talking in turn,
Eating in turn,
Taking off one after another after another,
Then oh then each and everyone and all
Will know his place
Her place.
The ice won*t trip me up.
My brain*s electricity will travel
In an orderly fashion
From synapse to synapse.
I shall remain upright.
At 8 AM on March 15
I will drive and make appointments in distant places
Without consulting
My very patient driver.
Serendipity shows its face
In wonderful surprising ways.
There may be crocus peering
Through the snow.
The redwings may return,
Trees full of redwings.
Still
Deadlines are not everything
We were told once and long ago.
Serendipity enters in fits and starts.
It does not fit prescribed order.
It dances with the deadlines.
Sometimes it brings unwanted things.
We have to figure out
How to grab them on the fly
Wrestle them to the ground
In the dark.
Win or lose it doesn*t matter.
They too are not magic things.
I am told we don*t believe in magic
Anyway.

I love metaphors

I just finished Richard Rohr*s Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life.  I think I will read it again.  It is difficult to describe.  Probably not a book to discuss one evening in a book group.  It helped me name a number of things I have been experiencing, including the lack of a need to box and label things to keep them in order.  I was delighted to hear my daughter declare a love for metaphors this week.  Another connection.

I love metaphors,
She says,
Fifteen and learning
There is more than one way
To describe anything.
I am in the second half of life
As we know it.
I love metaphors as well.
The book on the second half of life
Speaks of rafts and shores,
Finally landing in a place
And staying there.
Me?
I am a desert island
No raft adrift on an endless ocean
Seeking shore.
It is an endless ocean but I
I am somehow not adrift.
I do not need to travel anywhere.
I discover where I am.
I know shore connects to shore
Under the water.
I know shore connects to shore
With the water itself.
Sometimes new land emerges in a place
Never imagined
Underground oceanic volcanoes
I have never seen,
Seismic activity on the Richter scale
If I measure.
New unclaimed land.
I am connected there as well.

With my daughter
I love metaphors
We discover there is more than one way
To name anything
And everything.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Possibilities

We are always seeking answers.  This seems the nature of being human.  We watch things move around us: the clouds, for instance.  This morning they were in an odd ripple formation.  When we had the conversation around what caused the formation, I came down on the side of ice crystals, and my husband said: winds in the upper atmosphere.  I heard him say:  the upper atmosphere wins.  Older hearing... it makes for interesting arguments.  Particularly when we both have almost exactly the same knowledge, which amounts to very little on this subject.  
Knowing little, we prepare for alternatives by having the pile of boots and shoes by the front door.  

The temperature moves up and down
The Fahrenheit scale.
The snow comes and goes and threatens
To come again.
We watch the clouds form
Unusual patterns,
Openly wonder what causes them.
My husband says the answer is always
Winds in the upper atmosphere
Or ice crystals.
I vote for ice crystals.
He favors the winds.
We each have exactly
The same amount of knowledge.
We watch the temperature move
Up and down.
There is a threat,
Perhaps a promise,
Of snow tomorrow.
The pile of shoes and boots
By the front door
Stands ready for all possibilities.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Ice skating

Interesting I should be thinking about ice skating.  There is hardly any snow on the ground.  The temperatures don*t allow for ice to stay in anyone*s backyard these days.  Even in Minnesota, where I grew up.  Ice skating is a metaphor for a lot of life.  I have never been one for fancy spins and leaps.

Years ago I learned to ice skate
In the back yard.
I held onto a kitchen chair
Pushed it in front.
There was a tree stump in the middle
Of the yard.
I skated small circles with not so straight ankles.
They flooded the park playground every year.
The ice was frozen all winter.
We walked down the hill
To the warming house,
Learned to skate backward.
Nothing fancy
Forward and backward and circles
Was pretty much it.
I still skate.
I still skate plain.
The outdoor ice now does not stay all winter.
Now there are indoor rinks.
Forward and backward and circles.
Now I don*t even need ice.
I can move forward and backward
Even circles
Without skates.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

I write every day

I used to send reflections to a particular list of people.  Now I blog them.  I write every day.  Sometimes what I write is helpful to someone.  In this I rejoice.  I have learned that what I think is eloquent, often, isn*t.  Sometimes the most obvious things to me are not so obvious to others.  I am not a good judge of eloquent or plain so I have stopped worrying about it.  

I write every day.
Some days it is harder
Than others.
Some days I write eloquent.
Some are so plain
I write the overwhelmingly
Obvious.
Sometimes I find the obvious
Isn*t.
Most days I don*t have a clue
Really
What is eloquent or obvious.
It*s all been said before
Really
It*s all been said before
Or thought before
Or someone else has found the path
I name
Eloquent or plain.
I write every day.
Some days it is harder
Than others.
Some days it flows.
I still have no idea who thought of it
First.
It doesn*t matter really.
I write every day
Plain
Eloquent
Sometimes I find the obvious
Isn*t.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Truth has that particular ring

I have a singing bowl my children gave me a few years ago.  It is a beautiful thing.  When I do it well, the ringing continues long after I have stopped circling the edge with the wooden mallet.  Today I think about Nathanael recognizing Jesus for who He is with such little evidence.  Today I also think about Martin Luther King, Jr., another singing bowl.  His reverberations continue as well, though I believe he would say he was echoing Jesus, as we are all called to do.

Like the singing bowl,
Truth has a particular ring,
Reverberations long after
The circles have stopped.
Nathanael heard truth
From Jesus;
The singing bowl
That was Jesus.
You are a man in whom there is no guile
Jesus said.
I saw you under the fig tree
He said.
Nathanael heard the truth.
It had nothing to do with figs.
It had everything to do
With Jesus.
Nathanael heard Jesus
Clearly.
Truth has that particular ring.
When we hear it
We are called to name it
For what it is.
We are called to be part
Of the reverberations
Long after
The circles have stopped.
Like Nathanael:
He heard
He spoke.

Truth has that particular ring.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Search me out

Psalm 139 has always been a favorite of mine.  I love the poetic language, and the picture of God who has had me in hand from the beginning, even knit me together in my mother*s womb.  In reading and praying it this morning, I realized anew that we often skip verses 18-23 in our corporate worship.  In these last verses we move past the poetry of description, and into petition and surrender.  Surrender is not quite so easy to take as the image of God knitting us together in our mother*s womb.  Try me and know my restless thoughts... indeed.

Search me out, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my restless thoughts.
                                                Psalm 139:22 (BCP, p. 795)

When I listen more closely,
The beautiful words are much more
Than poetry:
You trace our journeys
And our resting places.
If we take the wings of morning,
Or dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
You are there.
You are the One
Who knit each of us together
In our mother*s womb.
It is so easy to be lulled
By the poetry.
You are the God who knows everything
Sees everything
Hears everything.
We have no secrets from you.
When we look more closely
The poetry carries beauty, yes,
Accountability, yes,
And
Surrender.

Know our hearts, God.
Know our restless thoughts.
They are plenty restless.
Try us.
We are trying
To surrender.

Almost time for church

Maybe I*ll get to more than a haiku today, maybe not.  We slept through the middle service, and the other two have 10:30 nursery duty.  I stayed home.  I love the lessons for today.  How could I not love Samuel*s call in the middle of the night?  Then there*s Psalm 139, God discerning every single part of every single one of us?  What*s not to love?

Almost time for church,
God discerns me in my chair,
Next week in the pew.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Kitchen table

I have been introduced to the comic strip Coffee with Jesus on the Radio Free Babylon website.  I like it.  Tongue-in-cheek, yes, but it gets the point across.  It brings me back to that wedding sermon I heard years ago.

Once I heard a wedding sermon.
The preacher spoke of inviting Jesus
To the kitchen table
For breakfast
Every morning.
Not to worry about
How you were dressed
For the day;
Not to worry about
Whether the dinner dishes
Had been left in the sink
From the night before;
Not to worry about
How He took his coffee:
Black?  With cream or sugar?  Both?
My friend,
The one who got married that day,
Thought the sermon
Very odd.
I have thought about it
Ever since.
This month my husband and I
Began the process
Of kitchen renovation.
We will open it up
To the dining room.
There is no room
For a kitchen table.
I see Jesus sitting under the cat clock,
A cup of coffee warm in his hands.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Angel time

Snow calls for haiku  :)

It might be time for
Angels in the snow, not just
Shoveling the stuff.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Some went down to the sea in ships

I should have known.  The line Some went down to the sea in ships rang in my head all afternoon.  I did not know from whence it came.  So I googled it.  Then I read the rest of Psalm 107 and found the line nestled in the middle.  Unlike the others mentioned in the Psalm, the mariners already beheld God*s works and wonders, but still needed to be reminded his mercy.  They still needed to realize God was responsible for their being brought to safe harbor.  Me too.

Some went down to the sea in ship
And plied their trade in deep waters;
They beheld the works of the Lord
And his wonders in the deep. 
                                     Psalm 107:23-24
1979 Book of Common Prayer

God spoke to the complacent.
They plied their trade,
Amidst his works and wonders.
He tossed them high on the waves of the sea,
Crashed them down to the depths.
They too found the need for deliverance.
He stilled the storm in a whisper.
He brought them to safe harbor.
They too found themselves,
Despite themselves,
Delivered home.

There is no place God cannot find me,
No place I have put myself,
No place I find myself,
That God does not pour mercy,
That God
Does not do wonders,
That God does not remind me,
Even when I know I*ve seen it all
There is more mercy coming.
Despite myself,
I have seen nothing yet.

Yes, it*s winter

We do this every year when the snow begins.  Come to think of it, we do it whenever the weather changes.  It*s as if we haven*t experienced weather before.  Maybe it*s those old survival genes kicking in.  I am reminded how much we have in common with those ducks frenzy-ing for corn across the way.

From inside
I watch the light snow dust fall;
Imagine the roads:
The people who have not driven in snow
Since last March;
Remember the long lines for snow shovels
Yesterday.
The ducks across the way
Frenzy for corn
Quack mine mine mine
They have forgotten
How to share.
The grass is barely covered.
The weather people predict
Two to four inches.
It*s coming
They say
It*s coming.
I watch the snow dust
Through the window
The ducks* frenzy.
Imagine the roads this morning.
Oh why couldn*t it stay warm and spring
All year?
We say.
What*s this about winter?
Why snow?
Why does there have to be snow?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

What*s next?

No one ever said I would know what*s next when I passed the CADC exam.  In fact, I didn*t know that was what I was expecting until the letdown came.  Sure the women behind the desk in the testing center cheered for me.  Now what?  I thought when I saw the passing score on the computer screen.  No, I was not expecting a blazing star in the East.  Though I was kind of hoping for more order somehow.  A clear light shining on the next step, maybe.  A hint?

Passing the test meant
It was finally over.
The Next Thing
Well
The Next Thing
Did not manifest itself.
No star in the East.
No star in any direction,
Just the regular sun.
It set as usual that evening
Still in the west.
We had Chinese for dinner.
How many times do I think:
Now it will be clear
Now
I will know
The order of things.
Now the way is cleared.
I wait for the Next Thing.
And wait.
Today the sun set as usual.
Snow is promised (again)
For tomorrow.
The snowblower is ready in the garage.
I had leftover turkey soup from Thanksgiving
For dinner.
The cat is asleep
He wheezes in the chair.
The moon was bright and full last night
A few stars shone.
They may shine again tonight.
Tonight
They may shine again.

When I have no idea what Yes might mean

Some days it seems God has cleared my plate to encourage me to consider things I usually wouldn*t consider.  No.  Encourage is too nice a word.  Today it feels more like bully.  Today I am in the vertigo stage.  

When I have no idea
What Yes might mean
It seems easier to say
No.
The fall
The dive
The spin
 Into the idea of Yes
Gives me vertigo before I even begin.
I close my eyes.
I hope
When I open them
There will be meadows of lush green grass
Fields of clover
No bees or burrs or brambles.
Peculiarities (Yes)
Possibilities (Certainly)
Even Considerations.
They might bring me
To something
I*ve never encountered
Before.
Something good.
Still
It is much easier
To say No
When I have no idea
What Yes might mean.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Base ten creatures

What is it about our brains working in increments of five?  Today a friend mourns and celebrates her husband who died fifteen years ago.  December and January bring up Dad and Mom*s death (15 and 5, respectively).  Wedding anniversaries are celebrated at the fives with precious stones.  What*s so special about fifty?  And what makes us all think the goal of life is to live to be 100?

What is it about the fives and tens?
Five years since Mom died,
Fifteen years for Dad.
My sister says
He still visits her and sits quietly
Like he always did.
She says he still visits me.
Maybe so.

I think sweet sixteen,
Twenty-one as the age of maturity
Were named to get us
Thinking differently.
I also thinK
They are a diversion.
We are base ten creatures.
The five year anniversaries zap us
Like no others.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Business as usual

Sometimes I wonder who determined green for the seasons between The Big Ones (Christmas and Easter).  We get lulled into complacency by green.  Nothing big happening here.  Business as usual... at home, in the church, in our lives.  Of course this begs the question of what usual is.  The stars are still shining.  We still need to pay attention.  Surely regular life continues.  In this meantime, Life Continues.  

The church sees fit
To mark these days in green:
Epiphanytide
Part of the long green season
Of summer and fall
As if this is part
Of business as usual.
The holidays are fully over.
School has started up again.
Ordinary time
Has begun
Or simply continued
From before,
No beginning,
No ending,
Just more of the same,
Business as usual.
Yet even now
Smaller stars shine.
The Child will grow up fast.
Soon enough he will astound
Those who listen in the temple,
Vex his parents,
Climb the mountain with friends.
Soon enough
He will be sent back down the mountain
To the valley below.
Smaller stars shine now
Even though it looks
Like business as usual.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Wise men, returned

Sure we know they returned home a different way to avoid Herod.  But what about when they got home, wherever exactly home was?  I*m willing to bet home wasn*t the same, either.

Home will never be
The same, returning into
a different door.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Ornaments to be mailed

The tree is folded and put away.I have looked at the straw ornaments every year, knowing they belong to my son.  He is almost 25 and on his own.  It is time to send them.  We have never done designer Christmas trees.  Our trees carry ornaments from years and years of collecting, and with them are the memories.  The plastic shoebox will carry some of those memories north. 

Day five of clearer vision.
Maybe it will stay.
The tree is down,
Branches folded and tied with twine
For next year.
There is a tree-sized space
Between the bookshelves
Where it stood.
The cat mourns the bells
That hung
From every lower branch.
I have packed a plastic shoebox of ornaments
For Minnesota,
For my son,
For next year;
Ornaments
They are really his:
The straw ones in a metal Christmas can,
A wedding gift from the priest
Who married his dad and me;
The  yarn Santa made by his cousin;
The red plastic bell
From the set he bought
At the sidewalk sale,
Age five,
Ten cents for more plastic ornaments
Than anyone ever saw,
Ten cents:
A proud purchase.
And others:
Samples of the family set
Of bells,
Of snowflakes,
Of handmade sparkly pipe-cleaner creatures
(one a dinosaur
He loved dinosaurs).
Two new ones from Peru:
Knitted sheep: black and white.
I have another day
Of clearer vision.
I have the Christmas plastic shoebox
Ready to be mailed
Next to the tree-sized hole,
The cat, now asleep
In the sun.

Friday, January 6, 2012

One of those days

I hate those days when there is nothing bad to point to, but it is still one of those days.  I have to work to notice the good stuff, even when most of it is good, really good, not Pollyanna-good.  I have to work to notice it because if I don*t I will sabotage the outward goodness of the day.  This is hard work, this noticing. Sometimes a good night*s sleep brings a different day.

Yesterday was one of those days,
The kind I had to force myself
To notice
The sun shining.
For the third day running
I saw clearly.
I passed the credential test.
Still
My supervision was more like
Therapy.
I left irritated,
Ready to quit
The whole thing.
Yesterday
Was one of those days.
I slept on it.

Today is day four
Of clear vision.
It is Epiphany, after all.
The sun is shining,
Not hard to see.
The lady across the creek
Feeds the ducks as she does all winter,
Every winter.
Today is another day,
Brighter, crisper, cleaner.
The wise men stand at the manger
In full Starlight.
It is time
To dismantle the Christmas tree,
Time
To move on.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The exam

I admit to being frustrated at showing up for the CADC exam, and no-one having the password to get me into the exam itself.  I was surrounded by younger women and men taking placement tests, and from the sounds of it, not doing very well.  Reading, writing, math, the three r*s they used to call them.  Me?  I was the age of all the women behind the desk.  When I finished the exam and ok*d the results to be printed, they*d all seen the results before I left the testing room.  If they*d had champagne, they would have popped the cork and served it then and there.  Yep, I might frame the paper if only to honor those testing center women.

If I*d thought about it
I would not have chosen
The week before classes begin
To take my credentialing exam.
The computers were filled
With young men and women
In their late teens and twenties
Placement testing
For reading,
Writing,
Arithmetic,
The three r*s
Which are barely that.
The air was thick.
The women behind the testing center desks
Were my age.
They could not find the password
To get me into my exam.
I waited.
And waited.
And waited.
When I finally took the exam
And passed,
The women were there waiting for me.
They waited to congratulate me.
Five women
Sitting in a circle behind the testing center desks
Waited to hand me my printout,
Almost a diploma.
Five women
Found the stamp in the drawer,
Stamped it in red with date and place.

I may frame it.

Today woke up clear

My eyes have been significantly clearer the last three days.  Jeff and I sit at the table and try to figure out why.  Maybe we can replicate the circumstances and make it stay.  Our latest conjecture is that it*s the cold and the lack of humidity.  All I know is that today things are clearer.  I am grateful.

Today woke up clear.
The day is clear.
My eyes are clear.
I am trying to notice
When things come clear.
Heaven knows I*ve written enough
On blurred vision.
I never knew exactly why
It was blurred.
I am reminded today
That I don*t know why
The last three days have been clear.
I don*t know why,
But I am grateful.
Maybe more so.
I hope I remember.
Today woke up clear.
The day is clear.
My eyes are clear.
I hope I remember.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Sharing space

My office is next to a morning preschool.  They have been on winter break.  Today was their first day back.  There is something about sharing space with other living creatures.  There is something about presence and absence... both are important.

The children are back.
They fill the lower level
With joy.
It has been quiet
In their absence.
Very quiet
In their absence.
He says that he finds God
With the deer.
When he goes out quiet
In the morning,
Maybe with a camera,
Maybe with nothing in hand,
He knows the presence of God
When the deer share space
With him.
When they leave
The deer carry away
His worries.
He is clear and clean.
He is ready to be with family
Again.
The children are back.
The essence of joy remains
After they are gone.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Clearer sight and lunch

I am used to working out in a blur these days.  Today I saw more clearly for at least half an hour.  Good vision has continued.  I am grateful for whatever reason this is true.  Clearer sight and lunch with friends... what could be better?

I am curious what today
Will bring.
Today it is colder,
A spit of snow on the ground.
The sun shines and for once
I am seeing more clearly,
Longer than usual.
Maybe it*s the temperature
But I worked out this morning
With less blur.
I am curious
What today
Will bring.
I am dressed for the staff lunch
Rescheduled for today
The lunch I could not attend
Before Christmas.
Clearer sight and lunch with friends.
What could be better?