Friday, May 16, 2014

Sailor Moon

Maybe because I'm currently reading Moby Dick, I want to call this one a sailor moon. The air is crisp tonight, the wind fresh and sharp. I can imagine this moon sailing over a vast dark ocean, presiding over the battle between the seasons. Yesterday the heat seemed to be winning, but today was grey and continually cooling, until tonight when the moon checked in, the tide was definitely withdrawing from sunny beaches, sandals and sunblock. Back we slip into sleeves and sweaters for one more shining evening. The moon's brightness promises barefoot walks with dancing black shadows and glowing white breakers, but not tonight; it is a promise for another moon, next month perhaps. This moon is the messenger, hurrying on over rolling waves whipped into foam by the last whispers of winter, carrying the news of summer coming soon, just over the horizon.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Grateful? - Five Minute Friday

Last Friday's prompt for Five Minute Friday was "grateful." I was surprised by how difficult it was for me to write on that. Finally, today, on Wednesday, I was able to find words to respond to the prompt. Five minutes; here goes:

Grateful? Gracious, I hadn't thought of it recently. Grace - we say thank you for our food.  Daily grind; grin and bear it; don't lose your grasp. Grateful? Grr. Grumbling does no good. Good grief. Grateful. Grimace.

What happened? I've been thinking all week about this word, and I can't write a cohesive sentence about gratefulness without getting angry. I don't like to gripe. I don't want to be UNgrateful. But I've been gripping so tightly to hold on to joy through some grim realities that I don't FEEL grateful. Just exhausted.

Not so many months ago I could have extolled the virtues of the mundane or celebrated the wonders of simple existence. I could have written pages about things that moved me to feel grateful. It would have been an uplifting exercise to meditate on being so. But not today. Not this week. Not this month. Not this year.

Not yet. I'm still hopeful.

I'm remembering to see the beauty. I'm reminding others to look for it. I'm encouraging those who falter. I'm honoring the weaker members. I'm structuring plans for improvement. I'm hoping this will all lead to . . . something to be grateful for?

I'll lay aside the grateful challenge. I'm grateful for grace to minister where I am sent. That'll have to be enough for now.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Unclean Lips

I heard a sermon based on Isaiah 6:1-7.

Isaiah was ashamed of himself, of his people, of his king who was dying of leprosy. Specifically he was ashamed of his lips, and God specifically healed him there.

Lepers lose digits, limbs, even lips. Their wounds fester and do not heal. In Isaiah's day, there was no reversal of the process other than divine intervention. It was a life sentence, punctuated only by loss, terminating only in death.

Isaiah felt acutely the disgrace of being part of an accursed nation. With its leader suffering under the punishing wrath of God, Judah was despised among its neighbors. In this low and outcast place, God chose to speak to His prophet in a special way - by giving him a glimpse of heaven itself. Conscious of his unworthiness, Isaiah cried out, "Woe is me!" but not because he had dusty sandals or grimy feet; that was normal in a desert country. He did not cry out because he hadn't washed his hands and face before coming to the throne room of God, or because his hair was unkempt. Much worse than that, Isaiah could barely speak, aware that even his lips, which we would generally hope would be clean, were filthy in comparison to what he was being shown. In his flesh, Isaiah knew he was as unclean as a leper and as deserving of being cut off, isolated, separated from the family - not to mention the very presence - of God.

This is the One Who comes even now to speak to us. Instead of letting us rot, decaying from the accumulated wages of sin, the leprosy of the spirit, He looks upon us, touches the painful places, and makes us whole. He has come that we might have life, and have it more abundantly than we could dare to imagine.

Make me clean, Lord.


Today I remembered to link to Just Write - The EO. If you enjoy reading - or writing - check it out!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Mess - Five Minute Friday

Mess is an artificial construct, an implied judgment that reveals more about the speaker than the situation. That's my fancy way of saying there's no such thing as a mess unless you want to call it a mess.

My mother didn't like to bake bread because it was too messy. She baked biscuits, but that was a small, contained, short-term mess. Baking yeast bread required more mixing, more floured or oiled surfaces, more time - and ultimately more cleanup. I, however, prefer baking the slow-rising bread that requires more interaction, more tactile experience, more . . . relationship? With yeast? It can feel like that, yes. I don't mind the cleanup.

I wasn't sure I could help my children be artistic, because, you know, it's messy. Paint and Play-doh and bits of colored paper all over the carpet or the floor or the table or the clothes. I got over it. Watching them be creative was worth the price of wiping up a spill or doing an extra load of laundry.

I didn't think I could have people over to visit because my house was too much of a mess, until I finally realized I wasn't having people over to visit my house, but to visit me. Since I got over that hesitancy, I've had loads of people over, and never once has someone left in shock or refused to return because of the mess.

So I've stopped calling myself, my things, my place a mess. Mess implies less - less neat, less orderly, less self-controlled, less organized, the list can go on forever. Instead, I'm choosing more: more attention, more connection, more community, more relationship. And sometimes the peaceful folk who frequent my place even help me tidy it up.

Thanks to Lisa-Jo Baker for the weekly writing prompts. You can see more thoughts about messes over at her Five Minute Friday page.

Jiggity Jig

Back on familiar ground, dancing familiar steps. I have a newly stiff back, a still-sore knee, and a slightly off-kilter internal clock. I've hugged some children (and exactly one husband), sorted some laundry, fed some pets, emptied some trash. It's bedtime but I'm not ready. I'm the one who used to hide in the darkened bedroom floor, reading by the light that came under the closed or barely open door. I have to spend time with words to unwind my mind.

This was not an afternoon for unwinding. Quite the opposite. Exercise, snack, pack; visit a college capstone presentation; ride to the airport; eat a salad at an airport restaurant all by myself (what, no chicken nuggets?); fly home through apparently tornado-infested skies, though our able pilot and air traffic controllers kept us on a very calm course. That's where the stiff back came from, though - the flight was an hour longer than scheduled, and my feet barely moved from their place against my under-seat carry-on bag for all that time. I don't mind. Flying is worth it.

I saw serpentine rivers and oxbow lakes and rice paddies and cattle pastures and mountains toasted on the southern faces. I saw every shade of green and several of brown. I saw most of the cloud types I've learned to identify, and I saw sunset from above those clouds, then rain below them - but not on my window. I thought about living near a river, about how unpredictable life is when even a big river can change its course unexpectedly.

So here I am. Full of new stories, happy to continue the old ones. Expecting the unexpected, comfortable and still surprised by joy. Home again!

Jiggity jig.