It is full Spring and our first in this house. I experience every bloom like a surprise. The bush out front just exploded in pink and white and fuchsia blooms. The dogwood in front is struggling, but even it’s hanging on is beautiful — delicate as it frames our little home with white petals. The two dogwoods in the back reach high, speckling the sky with rosy pinks. Spring’s sparkle. Does nature choose to be beautiful? It seems to just happen, despite its own battle against itself. Is eternity in there somewhere, too? Isn’t everything imprinted with eternity because God breathed its first life?Read More
If the chairs in our dining room are pushed against the wall, it means I’ve had a go at the food scraps and broken crafts underneath the table. I’m sure I’ll host a middle school dance someday, but for now, the chairs line the wall because my kids are entertained or sleeping or throwing things down the stairs and I have a minute to really sweep.Read More
Maybe I feel most alive when I can taste the “not yet” part of being human, when I can get inside my soul and wrestle specters like they’re real — like their teeth are tangible so that believing they can be beaten means something more than an abstract run-on sentence.Read More
I can see her eyelashes, all of them, when she says that last word. We heave breaths together, sweat mingled on all the arms. Yes, sweet girl. When there is ugly anger inside us it is incredibly hard to be kind. Almost, even impossible. She ducks into my skin, curls up and whispers, "I'm jealous." I know, I say. And I hold them both like two wiggly fish on my lap on the floor in front of all the front windows.
It is broken to be human and it is human to be broken.Read More
Her legs dangle down to my knees. I catch my breath, from both her weight and her new dangling reach. I guess I never thought her limbs would get this long, never thought her body would stretch out of the folded-up position under my chin. I never thought kissing that precious spot on the bridge of her nose would be a rare treat.Read More
"I love you and I want you to come here and I don't want you to die," she said, "write that to her." I filtered. I decided it wasn't the kind of uplifting message we wanted to communicate to Zella's library teacher, Miss Lisa. But as her crazy, fly-away (three day old) top knot bounced with her squealing excitement to deliver the message, I knew I would have to tell Miss Lisa the whole thing. Zella does not want her to die and that is a wonderful thing to want for a person. A beautiful and pure and human thing to want for a person.Read More
I have tried to conquer weakness all my life. At times in small, subtle ways and at other times with great flair and volume. Something about the daily lectionary reigns over my whitewashed importance and anchors me in a Strength I will never attain. It is slow, steady work that calmly lives inside the liturgical year - absent any flourish or marketing savvy and present a faithful plodding toward the most important Easter season.Read More
Yesterday, I was bad at being alive. I transmorphed after those early, solitary moments of apartment sunshine into a turtle snail, a snurtle... or something that could escape inside itself without explanation. Except that I was in almost constant motion - in my mind and with my hands. I jostled household chores early and made plans for midday, but everything played like a private concert of dischord - all the notes were wrong and only I could hear the sound.
I guess that was death - the awkward and cold angles of it - keeping me aware of my mortality and making me a human I did not recognize.Read More
It started like a subtle uneasiness, bubbling somewhere between my bulging belly and my disappearing collarbone. I am not nervous, exactly. Lost, treading, hidden, furrowed, heavy... but not exactly nervous. Whatever it is, beats in the blood stretching out toward my fingertips.
"I am alive," this baby reminds me with a flutter. I watch the rise and the fall, the ebb and the flow of the new life hidden in me that is starting to hide my toes when I look down. It must be so dark in there, like the sea or outer space or the deep underground. Someone once told me that my emotional state affects the babies I carry. But then, I was pregnant in grief and birthed a joy child. So, even if this baby is perceiving my emotional waves or my pregnant negligence, there must still be hope.
Can this baby feel my strange worry, hovering just above the first home God is building around his/her life? Or maybe the refuge inside this womb is absolute - a formidable, soft fortress against whatever ails me on this side of birth.Read More
"I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind." Ecclesiastes 1:14
She clung to my shoulders with her arms and knees, her neck wrapped on mine as the fountain misted our backs and absorbed our squeals. As soon as the wind changed, she anticipated the next mist and around the Bailey Fountain we went - a blurred, bouncing spectacle for the tourists posing in front of the mysterious, mythological scene. The sun beat down just as the mist dewed our faces and there are no photos of our delight. It lived so perfectly in that moment, just after 12 noon on a Tuesday.
Her little, tumbling giggle surprised us both. It was almost too generous - too full and wild. And, if I was guessing, I would say this is a little bit why little children can come to Jesus.
This full and wild generosity of a child is unrestrained - like their Maker, ready to unleash lavish goodness in response to beauty and in the middle of delight.Read More
I stretch out my limbs and too quickly my fingers reach the walls of our apartment. The cluttered cubic space shouts for thrown open windows and, in Brooklyn springtime, the windows shout back. Zella Ruth is sleeping now, so I have a chance to splatter thoughts on this page while the busses whir and that persistent man sings on the corner. His voice almost convinces me, six floors up.
But, back to these walls - these boundaries of our existence and mine especially as I newly articulate the bold title of "at home work." The sun splashes against the wall of our kitchen - a hot, glorious reminder of a Spring long come and I stand in it awhile before clearing the remains of fresh salsa construction from our tiny countertop. I remember Zella's scurry steps into the bedroom to babble very seriously about a broken something in the kitchen... and her pained brow when I found a special bowl in pieces on the floor. "It's okay, Mama! It's okay! I'm sorry, Mama. I'm sorry."
Oh, this light. If only I could bottle it up! This patch travels up the kitchen wall, another climbs the bedroom above our bed, and a generous warmth makes a wake across the living room in midday. Windows are beauty and ours are giant, stretching almost floor to ceiling.Read More