Monday, September 29, 2014


Decisions pondered at night are best made in the light of day.  Sometimes, then, we find they are not even our decisions to make.  It's amazing what a little sun will do.

At 2 A.M.
I realize I have settled
Too soon
On a decision.
It is not even
My decision
At 2 A.M.,
In the dark,
I think of so many
Different decisions,
Even permutations
Of decisions.
All this energy
On a small decision
In the middle of the night,
But really early morning.
A small decision fills the space
At 2 A.M.
It is not even mine
To make.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Promises of blue jays

I love opening my eyes and knowing it will be a good day.  On a day like this I can hear the promises of blue jays for the winter... and believe them

I know the day will be good
Or mostly good
When I open my eyes
And think
Oh a new day
I have plans
For this day
So I get up
Open the doors
Hear the geese honking
Getting ready to fly south.
They too have heard
It will be a harder winter
Than the last.
The flicker
Makes his flicker noises
As he loads up on bugs
On the dead branch
Of the ash.
The blue jay promises
I will stay here
In his raucous blue jay voice.

Oh a new day
I think
A new day
And promises of blue jays
For the winter.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Singing bowl

Morning meditation.  Glad for it.

I watch the early morning sun
Through still green leaves,
Doors open to hear the birds,
I hear lawnmowers instead.
I find my finger circling
The top of my dinosaur coffee mug,
Realize almost anything
Can be a singing bowl,
Faint singing
But singing nonetheless.
Now I hear the birds
Under the sound
Of the lawnmower.

Thursday, September 25, 2014


Before winter sets in, I am charting what "mostly fine" looks like.  I tend to remember the good days and delete the bad ones.  I am relatively new to figuring out depression for myself.  I think birds will figure in somewhere.  They always do.

While everything
Is mostly fine,
I put my moods
On paper.
I think a collage
Might be more appropriate,
Bits and scraps of colored paper
A flower here and there
A stone or two
Certainly some birds.
I have never
Been easily categorized.
Last night hope
Settled down around my shoulders
Rather like the soft blue prayer shawl
A friend made for me.
Dickinson said “hope
is the thing with feathers
that perches in the soul”
I knew birds
Would figure in here

*Emily Dickinson's poem may be found here:

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Next step

Off to meet with clergy colleagues in a few minutes.  One I have not seen since 1983.  Wow.

The next step
To anything,
Is always
Right now
Right here.
Even when I sit
Completely still.
Even when I work out
Or not.
Even when I finally
Clean out the car.
The next step is always
Even here
Even now.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

I remember the owl

There's something about owls... all owls, really.  Last night the great horned owl (and, I think, his mate) hooted as the night came on full.  I left the back doors open, put on a sweater, until they went off to do other things.

This morning:
I remember the owl,
His hoot
As the dusk paled
To dark
Last night.
This morning:
The passing faint smell
Of skunk,
The freight train
Rolling rolling rolling.
This morning:
The morning birds
Are quiet
I remember
The owl
In that fading light.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Not so empty

Everyone gets his or her own experience:  parents, children.  This nest is not defined by its emptiness. It is not so empty.

How’s the empty nest?
They ask
Not so empty
I respond.
There are traces
And texts
And the occasional phone call.
These tell me
Which updrafts
My not-so-baby bird
Is catching;
Which trees
Provide shelter;
What the flock looks like;
Where she flies alone
But still
Not too alone.
Empty nest?
But still
Not too empty

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Exactly the same

Jesus told wonderful stories.  He hoped that we might hear.  He hoped and prayed that we might have ears to hear.

Once more,
Yet again,
The Gospel for the day
Is about counting,
How we count,
How Jesus counts.
Once more
Yet again
We hear everyone is paid
Exactly the same.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

More of us

This reflection was launched when I read that Holy Women, Holy Men might instead be labeled A Great Cloud of Witnesses.  It captured what I sometimes forget, yet somehow always have known: There are indeed more of us.

It seems there are more of us
Than I thought,
More of us
Who pay attention
To the birds;
More of us
Who pay attention
To the sun,
As it moves through
The day,
As it comes in and out
Of clouds,
As it slants its light just so
On the backyard lawn
Before it sets,
Only to rise again
There are more of us
Who notice
Such things.

Friday, September 19, 2014


I am grateful for oh so many things.  Today I am grateful for time and experience among charismatic and evangelical folk in whose company I learned what being asked for a "word" might mean.  This may or may not apply to you.  If it does, Amen.  If it doesn't.  Amen.

This may apply to you
Or not.
I realize I wonder
About the reader
Before I begin writing,
Just like I used to title things
Before I began
The reflection.
I thought I knew
Where it would go.
This may or may not
apply to you.
My client asked me
For a word,
One word to carry her
Through the month.
I considered the request.
Sure enough
The word came.
The word was delivered.
This may apply to you
Or not.
Here it is.

The Carolina Wren

Thank you, Karen Husby-Coupland, for sharing your Carolina Wren witness this morning.  I listened to a range of Carolina Wren songs and I swear teakettle is not in his vocabulary.

Only male Carolina Wrens sing—a series of several quick, whistled notes, repeated a few times. The entire song usually lasts less than 2 seconds and the notes are usually described as three-parted, as in a repeated teakettle or germany. Each male has a repertoire of up to several dozen different song variations. He'll sing one of these about 15 times before changing his tune.

The Carolina Wren
Sings teakettle teakettle
Except when he doesn’t

Thursday, September 18, 2014

He is sleeping in

Speaking of rising colors, I am now off to work out.  Perhaps I should feel virtuous, whatever color virtuous is.  I would rather be in bed.

In five minutes
I leave
To work out.
My beloved
Has gone back to bed.
My beloved
Will not accompany me
I envy his sleep.
I am blue
I am green
With envy
Ok really
I am pink
With pissedness..
He did not tell me
Last night
So we could cancel
And I,
I might have slept in

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A reflection written at 5 in the afternoon

Too much to fit into a reflection.  Too much to separate out.  I will start again tomorrow... earlier.  Much earlier.

A reflection written
At 5 in the afternoon
Bears no comparison
To those written
With a hot cup of coffee
In hand,
The sun sliding golden
On the living room carpet.
A reflection written now
Carries almost the whole of the day
Within it
Or not.
The sun slants
Toward evening
At the back of the house.
The conversations of the day
Include the easy and the hard
And a whole lot
Of things
Which defy
Any category.       
They remain to be seen,
Remain to be understood
Some even remain
Just outside my hearing.
La la la
I sing,
My hands over my ears.
I have enough to consider
For now.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


I find myself deep breathing, often out of nowhere.  It's almost as if I had forgotten how to breathe, and now I am remembering.  The exhalations take no effort at all.  They carry certain colors with them in the sunlight, like bubbles.

They rise. Memories.
Like oh so many bubbles
Rise. Catch the sunlight.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Nice warm bath

She is eighteen now.  We have stopped thinking a nice warm bath will calm her down.

We used to hope
A nice warm bath
Would calm her down
At the end of a long day.
She seemed
The only four-year-old
Revved up for bedtime
By a nice warm bath.
Of course
It didn’t stop us trying
This time
This time
It might be different.

Sunday, September 14, 2014


This was supposed to be a poem about the splinter in my foot.

I think I know
The title
Before I have even
Whole books
In their richness.
Now that I come to it:
Our lives
Defy summation
In anything
Like a title,
In a neat package;
Words that say
Come read the rest;
Words that say
Come hither
A crooked finger
A door opened just a crack
With light
On the other side.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Oh she says Oh

When they ask me how I am handling the empty nest, I think:  This baby bird was born in flight.
Oh she says Oh
Now I get it. 
I must leave this place
Next to the mountains,
Take Spanish,
Listen to the words
Of Mother Teresa,
Now dead,
But still wise.
She says
I must bloom
Where I am planted.
She says
Now I get it.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Everything needs company

Turtles live forever, it seems.  This one has been with us since my son was five.  My son is now 27. Felix, the turtle, is still going strong.  He likes company.  He likes blueberries.  He likes his water changed on a regular basis.  He likes the lights on in his tank.  Time to get up he says this morning.  Turn on my lights, he says,  Now... blueberries... he says.  Clink  Clink  Clink.  Turtle Morse Code.

Everything needs company.
We wake to noises
We fed the turtle blueberries
On a ceramic saucer
Last night.
Now the saucer,
Firmly gripped in his mouth,
Against the glass.
For a mostly quiet creature,
He has found a voice.
Everything needs company.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Exciting announcements

Today's email seems particularly uninspiring.  Even the email I have asked to receive on a daily basis... the inspirational kind.  Then there is the email that promises exciting announcements, or the one that offers me a special deal on a haunted corn maze.  OK.  I know.  Grumpy.  I am clearly not in the mood for exciting

The email subject lines
Are anything but exciting,
Even those
That declare themselves so.
I have no desire
To purchase a walk
In a haunted corn maze.
Pictures of the movie
Children of the Corn
Come to mind.
Exciting announcements
Are exciting to those
Who send them.
I exercise the delete function.
I figure if it’s truly exciting
It will come back around.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Sighs too deep

 I am not the family sigh-er.  Somehow my beloved and I have switched roles.  I sit and breathe and sigh.  These sighs have been stored a long time.  Beautiful even in a spun silk kind of way.  Perhaps I will weave them into a scarf.

Sighs too deep for words
Silver gray yet somehow light.
They rise.  They rise.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Still I try

I started this with a title.  Then tried to write something to go with the title.  So often, more often, the title comes last.  So I changed it.

This is the way
I can title
This portion of my life
This portion of which
I know
No beginning
No end.
Really no label
Is enough.
No title
Captures it,
Even partially.
I unearth a label,
Try to live into it
For a time,
Then find words
Are not enough,
Never enough.
I climb to the top
Of the mountain.
I sit in the blue chair.
I go to work out with my beloved
In five minutes.
There are no words
No real words
To describe it.
Still I try.

Monday, September 8, 2014


More change.  I find comfort in some things which stay the same.

Next door
A woodpecker seeks bugs
On the neighbor’s garage
The cat commences
To tip his tail
In the sun,
Seemingly asleep,
He raises and lowers
One front paw.
Do cats dream
The way dogs do?
The windows are open today.
I take comfort
In some sameness
Even as the world entirely changes
Around me.
Now the cat
Is upside down,
The woodpecker gone,
A blue jay,
Distinctive color and call,
Arrives different
Yet somehow
The same.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Community is vital

We slept in the morning.  It is start-up Sunday.  Balloons and the hot dog man and his wife between the 10:30 and 1:00 services.  If we'd planned far enough ahead, we might have attended the service at 8.  We didn't.  We pray with the birds outdoors, and the cicadas. 

We were going to go
To church this morning.
In times like these,
After all is said and done,
Is vital.
We were going
To go to church this morning
Instead we are home
Praying with the birds
Praying with the cat and turtle
We think we will attend
Next week.
In times like these,
After all is said and done,
Community is vital.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

It is difficult to wonder

We dropped her off a week ago.  The conversations and texts continue,  in a different way

It is difficult
To stand aside,
Wonder what is happening
On what seems
The other side
Of the world.
But really
We are only separated
By some prairie,
A whole lot of sagebrush,
Endless fields of corn.
The same sun
Rises and sets here 
No matter the geography.
It is difficult to wonder
What is happening
Beyond the sagebrush
The corn
In full view
Of those mountains.

Friday, September 5, 2014

A quiet day

Today is a day of rest, God willing.

A quiet day.
Classes chosen
To the West.
Flowers on the front table
To remind us,
Life continues.
Sometimes it continues
The way we have planned,

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Sudden mountains

Driving into Colorado we wondered where the mountains were.  We knew they were there.  We had the advantage of maps.  Still we wondered when the mountains would appear.  Then... there they were.

Hot and humid
Here in the lower elevations.
I would like to add a mountain or two
To Illinois.
I would climb to the top
And stay awhile.
We looked for the mountains
As we entered Colorado.
Then suddenly
They appeared.
We wondered about
Those who walked or wheeled the plains
Only to be startled
By those mountains,
Those sudden mountains.
I think how such sudden mountains
Might improve

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Pain assistance

Caller ID has helped us know what calls to answer.  Most often my beloved answers any call and has conversations with strangers regarding how we might invest our money, or who we will vote for.  Neither one of us has answered the Pain Assistance calls, but curiosity may win out tomorrow.

Since coming home
We have received five calls
Pain Assistance.
Caller ID
Is a wonderful thing.
We have not answered
The call
Five times now.
We speculate
About who or what
It might be,
What pain
They mean to address.
We think for now
We will not answer
But perhaps tomorrow
Curiosity may win
We will see then
How we got on their list.
We will see then
What pain
They promise
To address.

I face

Home again.  The cat is happy.  We text and call back and forth with our daughter. Today we clean out and return the van to Enterprise.

I face
My daughter’s first days,
As I remember
My own:
The speed of new life
With new people,
New possibilities;
The draw
Of the old familiar,
The old comfortable shoes
In the closet,
The pile of kitchen floor tiles
On the back patio;
The tiles we now use
As a table,
Of sorts,
For garden tools.
These are her first days,
I remember my own:
The swiftness of new life;
The learning how to breathe
With new people,
New possibilities;
The draw
Of the old familiar.

Monday, September 1, 2014

What to share

Our daughter shares a room with two other young women.  We watched the beginning negotiations yesterday.  Impressive.  We know our daughter... will be fine.

What to share.
What to keep private.
We watch the beginnings.
Of course
We only see
The beginnings.
The rest will be worked
Out of our sight.
It has been that way
Of course we know
It has always
Been that way.