Monday, February 29, 2016

Leap day

I didn't plan on writing anything about the election. I wrote it anyway.

Every four years
We get one of these.
It coincides
With electing a new president
At the turn of the century.
Every four years
We need an extra day
To help get our calendar
Back in order
With the sun
With the seasons
At the turn of the century.
Sometimes it seems
We need more than an extra day
To tackle
What’s before us
What’s behind us.
It’s all a figment
The way we count days
And years
Even seasons.
This year
We elect a new president.
We need more
Than an extra day.


Bird supplies were on sale at the local Ace. That, plus our senior discount, given even though the cut-off is 62 and neither one of us is quite 62, meant we filled the cart. 

At dusk
We hang the bird feeders
With our senior discount:
Thistle seeds
For the finches;
Suet and seed
For the wider variety.
This morning the suet cage
Swings open,
No suet to be seen.
Six squirrels play chase,
Tease a neighbor cat,
Energy abundant.
We think to return
The suet cage,
Demand a new suet cake.
But no
But now
We see the squirrels

Sunday, February 28, 2016


I am reminded of the The Ugly Duckling. Not a duck, but a swan.

Sometimes fig trees
Demand more attention
When they don’t produce
Than when they do.
Give it another year
The gardener says
Give it another year
I will offer it
My full attention,
Perhaps it will even offer
Something more than
Perhaps it is not a fig tree
At all.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Addiction is a metaphor

The term addiction can apply to so many things: alcohol, drugs, food, gambling, sex, work, etc. etc. etc. It is whatever we do to escape life. It promises life, and we believe it. It is not life. We know it is there when we find ourselves saying if only. Addiction is a metaphor. It can delude us, or it can lead us back to life in community with others. Sometimes community begins with one person.

Is a metaphor.
We hide behind it.
We use it
To get help.
We say we are powerless
Over it
Find a company of people
Who help us
Say no
Say no
Say no
When and if
We say yes
Say no again.
We admit change is possible,
Not hopeless.
Now we see in a mirror darkly,
Then we shall see face to face.

Is a metaphor.
We hide behind it.
It hides behind us.
We say no.
Then yes
Then say no.
Begin again.
We hold hands
With our company of people
Begin again.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Abundant grace

Extra hours are sometimes mined from the scheduled ones. Sometimes they appear, like gifts, from the sky. Grace.

An extra hour
Has landed in my lap
I hear from two
Unexpected people.
Grace is abundant.
The laundry difficulty
Is on its way
To being resolved.
The kitten now sleeps
On top
Of the laundry basket,
Fishes socks
Out the hole in the side.
New game.
Is new,
Even this extra hour

Tuesday, February 23, 2016


The local bakery has begun offering Snickerdoodles, a favorite cookie when I was growing up. I found a recipe. It was the wrong recipe. I crossed it out in the cookbook and wrote "WRONG" for whomever uses the cookbook next. On to the next recipe.

It’s been years
Since I’ve made cookies.
Not a surprise
They turned out
Like rocks;
They did not spread
On the pan
In the oven
Like I remembered.
They stayed round,
Cooled like lava cools.
Though not as interesting
As lava
Which begins its life
Streams molten
From volcanoes
Hardens into so many things
These cookies
Were simply

Monday, February 22, 2016

Slow down

For my friend and colleague Suzi as her daughter flies to Uganda to help people slow down. We could use some missionaries to help us do the same.

Today she goes to Africa 
To remind bus drivers
To slow down.
Such a thing
Has proven helpful
In Kenya
So she
Will help expand the notion
To Uganda.
Such a simple thing
To help keep people alive
And well.
Slow down
I say to my clients
Slow down
I say to myself

Saturday, February 20, 2016

At this rate

The weather is odd all over. 50 degrees on February 20. The seed catalogs tell me it's time consider the garden. When to plant?

At this rate we may
Never know the exact right time
To plant the garden.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Room for change

Wow. This one didn't go where I thought it would go. I'd forgotten about the magical order of PEMDAS. Sometimes subtraction comes first. Today I am unsubscribing from a few automatic email sites. Farewell Lands End. Goodbye J. Peterman.

I spend every Lent
In addition and subtraction,
Multiplication and division
Of thoughts and actions.
There is always room for change.
Sometimes I keep it on the bedside table;
Sometimes it rattles around
In my coat pocket.
When I buy a sandwich
The change goes
In the tip jar.
Addition and subtraction
Multiplication and division
There is always room for change.
Change adds pathways
To our brain,
Subtracts others.
We all have different orders
Of operation.
It’s not PEMDAS
For everyone
In that magical order.
But change
Is absolute.
Change itself

Is absolute.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Never all

So often we fish for reasons in the same place we have always fished before. I am reminded of Jesus telling the disciples to fish out the other side of the boat. I know.This is another reflection. Still, so much is connected. There's a sermon in everything. 

There are always reasons
We do the things we do,
We think the things we think.
Sometimes we can’t fish those reasons
Out of our subconscious
But still
There are always reasons.
They become a part
Of who we are,
But never all
Of who we are.
Never All.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Kitten joy

There's something about living with a kitten.

We live with kitten joy:
Ever hopeful
Her milk ring
Will be discovered
Where she found it
Four days ago.
Last night she dropped it
In the open dish
Of parmesan cheese.
Only by chance
We opened the container
Before putting it away.
There it was.
Milk ring
Oh milk ring
Oh plastic milk ring
Such simple kitten joy.
She knew
We’d find it
Where she left it
Just as she knows
There are milk rings
Under every cushion
If we would but only

Monday, February 15, 2016

It's not about me

When someone we care about hurts, maybe we make tea, something hot to drink. Maybe we talk on the phone, or sit in the chair opposite in the therapy office. The urge is to do something. Sometimes there is nothing to be done, except, perhaps, sit in encouragement.

It’s not about me.
I sit in encouragement.
It’s all I can do.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Great Litany

Tradition often means the first Sunday in Lent includes the Great Litany chanted in a pretzely procession around the church. This Sunday the labyrinth is also available at church.  We may walk around the block... later.

This year
The Great Litany coincided
With Valentine’s Day.
We decided to forgo
The Litany,
Stay home.
Sleep in.
Drink coffee.
The labyrinth,
Its pretzely path
Is also available
At church.
We may walk around the block
Hold hands.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Morning writing

All in good time. Sometimes good time is different than usual time.

It is 2:30
My morning writing
Was transferred to this afternoon:
First the toenails
With my daughter,
Then my beloved’s laundry,
Now the cats demand attention.
My morning writing
Comes in second
Or third
But it still comes in,
This time
Around the edges.
My nails are a lovely shade
Of red,
The cats have such soft fur,
The sun shines.
The writing
Is done.

Friday, February 12, 2016

No matter

Children, clients, parishioners, the people in Starbucks. Everyone. 

They arrive, they leave.
No matter your plans for them
They make their own plans

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Mining our hearts

It is tempting to grab an idea from the Internet on how to live a Holy Lent. I catch myself saying What a good idea. I'll do that!

So many good ideas 
On how to live
A Holy Lent;
So many good ideas
Yet the best one
For me
For you
Must be mined
From the heart.
So tempting
To refrain from meat
When one is already
A vegetarian;
So tempting
To give up chocolate
When one does not have
A sweet tooth;
So tempting
To proclaim to the world
Our holiness
When really
We have barely begun
To walk that path.
We have each
Barely begun.                                
So many good ideas
Yet we must each
Mine our own hearts.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Repairer of the breach

Lent begins. The reading from Isaiah 58:12 surprises me every year. Every year I forget, Then I remember:

Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in.


Ash Wednesday
A day to begin again
Repairing the breach.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Woman who walks in wolves

Amazing what a pair of wolf slippers can do.

My wolf slippers arrived.
I am now
Woman who walks in wolves.
They are curiously light
And whimsical
Yet also
In their own

Monday, February 8, 2016

First love

I am tracing my decisions back.

At thirteen
My mother told me
Some women love women
Some men love men
Like your parents love
Each other.
The college handbook
Was on the coffee table
For my sister.
I fell in love
With the Quaker school
In Indiana.
When it came my time
I visited schools
In the East
In the West.
Then I chose to go
To Indiana,
To my first love
Sight unseen.

Sunday, February 7, 2016


I began a long reflection on the "situation" at Wheaton, It got muddled quickly. So... a haiku. And prayer for all involved and all who witness. Sadness and anger and, yes, cynicism. So...a haiku. And more prayer.

"They have healed the brokenness of My people superficially, Saying, 'Peace, peace,' But there is no peace."
Jeremiah 6:14

Pray for peace within.
Let not cynicism prevail.
Pray for peace with-out.

Saturday, February 6, 2016


What's in a name? So much.

It’s a name
But oh so much more.
My life has been punctuated
With Georges,
The first in a long string
Of presidents.
Of course
On the one dollar bill.
But also
My great grandfather
In Napoleon, North Dakota.
Bank president.
We have a family dollar bill
He signed.
Back then
Legal tender was signed
By bank presidents.
It is framed
In my brother’s house
In Minnesota.
These are singular
When my brother and boy cousins
Were born
My grandmother offered a ransom
If one of them was given the name
Of George.
No one took the bait.
Years later she had a dog,
A Maltese,
She named him George,
Drove him around
In her Cadillac.
Since then I have known
Many Georges
They join a long line
Of singularities.

Friday, February 5, 2016


I believe life is a series of realizations (among other things). I admit being tempted to evict the wimp from my existence, I even wrote Begone, Wimp, as part of this reflection... then took it out and added hospitality into the mix,

I come to myself.
I realize the wimp
Has inhabited my body.
She hid in the crevasse,
The abyss.
I stored things there.
I wonder how long
She has spoken for me.
I wonder at her words;
Words that moderate
What I say out loud.
There you are.
I will hold your hand,
Walk with you
Around the block,
I will speak for myself.
I will invite you
To warm yourself
In the sunshine
With the cats
On this winter day.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Making plans

I understand people downtown think there are no resources for alcoholic clergy. Come on, folks. Come on. Really? Of course...there are so many systems that encourage denial. Clergy are notoriously reluctant to seek help. Alcoholics will do everything they can do to avoid admitting they have a problem. A double whammy. And I thought I would get schooling to assist this double whammy category? Really? Whatever was I thinking?

Change once more.
Why be surprised?
Change is our only constant.
We are assured
Today will be something different
Than we expected.
Ah yes
Plans once again
Dashed to the ground
Buried in the front
And back lawns.
Still we make plans
With ourselves
With our companions
With whomever appears
At the door.
We laugh.
We cry.
We say
Of course
Of course
Of course
We make more plans.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016



It’s raining
And thundering.
February 2
Groundhog  Day
Feast of the Presentation.
It’s raining.
My brain
And thunders
In concert.
In the Temple.
In the Temple.
Simeon and Anna
In the Temple.
Rain and thunder
Lightning now
Here we are
All of us together
Once again.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Another confession

Thinking of decorating around the kitten and the Christmas tree,

We never put away
The Christmas tree.
We unplugged it,
Took off the lights,
Put away the decorations.
The tree
Is in the corner
Of the living room,
The top branch twisted
Like something
From Dr. Seuss,
May he rest in peace.
The kitten climbed it
This morning,
Her small calico face
Made it
Almost to the top.
Her scruffy self ,
Fur that goes every which way,
Long fluffy tail;
She herself
Is something Dr. Seuss
Would draw,
May he rest in peace.