Cast Down

Damp paper pots, seedlings standing resolutely within,

Nestled into deeper dirt, room therein to sink their reaching white roots.

Sixty degrees under overcast skies; gray in the greenhouse.

Agitation, or just plain grumpiness, anyways

“Lord, help me find You, sense You, see You”

Watering can heavy against my palm, tilting and pouring

Currants, lemon, peppers, onions, radishes, lettuces, promise.

Into the house where the vacuum is humming and the mop is swishing across the floors

Johnny Cash on the record player and a board game spread out on the table

And my spirit a bit lighter, the day remaining gray.

Sometimes the soul casts about, feeling a want, a thirst, feeling bereft of a something, or a Someone.

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God; for I shall yet praise him, Who is the help of my countenance, and my God.   Psalm 43:5

They’ve said that God never distances Himself from us, but that we distance ourselves from Him

Which may be true or perhaps

He withdraws to teach us to miss Him, to thirst aright, to feel the chill of gathering dark, when the Light recedes

As a parent pauses, the children struggling at this thing or that, not rushing in as heroes

Allowing roots to press deeper and for faith to find an answering

Can I trust the One on the other side of my hopes

Are You there and unabashedly loving, closer than my breath, every atom of me held together because You are?

The day continues gray but outside the birds are singing.

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This Is Love, Here.

I want to see it the way it is

And push the sunglasses up, resting them like skylights on my parted hair.

I’ll take these colors, these ones, unfiltered, un-pink and un-amber.

This is love, here.  I will face colors un-borrowed.  Murky blue of dusk, grays laying over oranges.

With that, this voice, this synthesized, smooth coiling of sound?

The singer

Never sounded that way, not two inches away, not three.

There is no breath, only vocal cords made of shiny vinyl; tidy, precise, liquid, limber.

Mom says it like a truism, I can’t sing

But her breath-born songs lifted me gently into sleep

With the rhythmic creak of the rocking chair and her warm arms encircling

I am so safe here.  This is love, here.

I carry it yet, the warmth and the quiet safety; it’s a slow burn inside.

This is love, here.  Realest mother and realest voice singing and the soul alight with fire.

Now and then I rage at myself, my stupidest self that cringes when

Every way I fail is thrust, clattering, onto the stage, an awkward pile

A silent audience.  A heckler calls out:  Missed appointment!  Lost library book!  Overgrown lawn!  FAIL!  FAIL!  FAIL!

Face flat upon the floor, my words echoing back in tight syllables, lips moving feverishly against the wood, wet with words-become-vapor.

My explanations rise and fall back around my head, too heavy to fly.  I try, I try, I try.

I turn my head, rolling it on that hard floor, my cheek resting in the dampness of my words.

His eyes meet mine, where he lays beside me like a twin starfish, limbs akimbo, eyes waiting.

You try, I see you.

His eyes crinkle at the corners; his eyes smile.  The warmth flares and I feel higher than the floor.

This is love, here.  Seeing me, down here with me, lifting.

Let me step out of this, this ever-tidy shell and farce

If I am loved I can unmask

I can un-cringe and un-explain

I can fail without despair.

This is love, here.  Naked and poor.  Smiling.

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Once, Twice

Pushing swings

One, two

My sons grinning and

The light falls spotty.

A lump rising in my throat

At the beauty and the swift passing

Of time, which always plunges ahead

Undisturbed by our own scrambling

Our yearning for it to slow a while

So we can breathe that flower in

Once, twice, once more.

We could rip the hands off of the clocks

All the clocks stripped bare of their ticking arms

And yet, still time would march

Undeterred

Seasons obeying, dropping leaves, dropping snow, dropping rain, throwing flowers up and out of the ground, inexorably forward.

I take my child’s face in my aging hands

I claim this moment before it hurries away

And kiss it once, twice

And once more.  IMG_4065

Make The Soap

Dig deep the spade, coconut oil mounding

Measure it ounce by every ounce, exact

Olive oil, ladled slip and splashy

ounce by every ounce, exact

Be it palm oil, orange and greasy, be it tallow

Rendered by hand, not easy

Be it lard, creamy and bright white

The fats, the oils, are heating

and ready.  Shea?  Okay.  Castor oil too.

For bubbles, for lather, for this and for that,

There’s a science here, for utilizing fat.

Hold your breath now, don gloves and goggles

Lye

the Instigator, the chemical catalyst, the danger in it all.

Bringing that pure water up to 200° lickety-split,

Caustic enough to eat through metal, to blind on contact

There’s always a hush of awe and

much respect and caution,

Time to make this new thing.

Lye water poured into warm oils

Sliding down across the bottom of the pot like an underwater river

See it turning white?  That’s saponification and

never was such a big word so fun.

Yeah, we hang our be-goggled faces over the pot and watch the chemical reaction.

We ooh and ahh like we’re watching fireworks.

We’re seeing the molecules being stripped and the oils turning into salts

and glycerin and this is soap’s beginning.

All that clear fluid turns creamy white and I can’t help but smile,

my cheekbones lifting my chemical goggles.  Adjust.

Stick blender whirring, we give the chemical reaction

a huge shove forward, molecules crashing, soap happening.

It’s like a thin pudding now

Essential oils are dribbled in, herbs, root powders, seeds,

honey from our lovely bees.

Blend again and we have fragrant, beautiful pudding.

Pouring that mass into molds of all shapes and sizes,

some big slabs

some round columns

and we can’t stop smelling the air

and smiling.

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*our soaps are available for purchase here:  lancastersoapco

Dear Church

There were men made old by time only

Thoughts and eyes clear and seeing

And soft wives sitting beside them

Their whole form a delicate sigh.

They’d talk and life moved in ordered ways

And no one refused a piece of cherry pie because of gluten.

Their lives had breathing room

Twinkies didn’t bear a load of guilt, bad parenting, toxicity, nor politics. They were a dessert.  Go figure.

You could be sure when the new dad proclaimed “It’s a boy!” that it was a statement and not a guess.

Every pillar hadn’t been rattled yet

Every ancient belief hadn’t been shouted down and reviled.

They didn’t know the darkness their grandchildren would know

But they see it now

Their breath catches

and they see it now.

How the public square isn’t a square at all, no straight lines, no corners,

A circle, a smooth circle where the idea can echo back to itself forever without a stray hit nor odd angle.

All edges were curved, see, by force, see, and the corners bashed inward.

It took time but mostly we were asleep, the church snoring loudest.

We awoke to the circle and some cried out

and the man and his wife shake their gray heads

and watch Jeopardy.

Well

I am angled,

I am not easy, and I am not asleep.

Dear church, Go and sin no more.

Sleep no more, die no more.

Be shaped by the cross, by the Word made flesh

Or

be shaped by the world,

by the circle that will smile on you and pat your ever-yessing head

but

give up the name then;

don’t drag that beautiful, loaded name through that mud. Christian, little Christ.

Be honest,

fully, if you’d rather be smiled at than mocked

Please

give up the name.

Bread, Butter, Coffee, Joy

broken4It never takes all that much

to fill the soul to over-brimming

spilling joy

if levels be near the top; if the depths have risen.

But to that one

with empty cavern yawning

all good things fall soundlessly

to an imperceptible bottom.

Swallowed without digestion.

Oh, dear one

here I glory in my bread

butter

coffee

and baby’s sounds

while your tears fall on a sunny day right steady.

I would tilt my overflowing heart

and spill it into your famished one

but it doesn’t work that way, does it?

No.

Knees hit the floor and the ache in them is a holy pain.

“Fill, Father, where emptiness

and misery

and darkness reign.”

When He fills, dear one

you’ll know it

from

the startling green of an everyday leaf

the song that water sings meandering into the gutter

how the wind glides over your bare arms

as a caress

the shock of joy over simple bread and coffee

Almost like an assault upon your senses

the world in all it’s common beauty

smells, scenes, faces, all

is lit within, see it?

We were meant for such living, even

East of Eden

Even through a glass darkly.

Such is His signature, see it?

Joy.