THE QUIET, FAITHFUL LIFE OF A TREE.

Thursday, June 7, 2018


I’ve been quiet around here lately, and that doesn’t bother me like it might have a year or two ago. I don’t want to speak frivolously, but my purpose for this space and writing in it is not for those of you who read and want more. I covet your time and feel thankful for each strange twinge of human connection it’s fostered. Really, there’s something cosmic about the transfer of experience from being to being, having met or having never yet met. Reading someone’s mail, as it were, and letting it happen the other way. I think we need more of that brutal exchange, and I’ll offer myself up for the opportunity every time.

But if I wrote for you simply because you read and you liked it, this shit would be over. The muse becomes a different thing entirely. It’s no longer art, or rather the manifestation of art as Christ through me. It would look like long-suffering deadlines (the two of these by themselves breed faithfulness but don’t play healthily for me in conjunction), opinion as an idol, and filling inevitable spaces that I was never meant to fill. The minute I start owing anyone anything, I’ll owe everyone everything, and that’s not a white rabbit I’m willing to chase. I hope this makes sense.

Truthfully, it’s been a little of this and a little of that. I’ve had my nose in the dirt, forging ahead in some areas I’d have been too fearful to go for in a previous life. Doing over saying, which is a new concept for me and in some ways a better one. I’m riding the proverbial wave (after a good stint of toes in the sand) and in doing so have felt the kind of pruning that happens when you’re finally ready for it. Some, you know, we stumble into and some works itself out over time, but this kind doesn’t feel sharp as much as it feels like I’d imagine a freshwater rain would after several days lost at sea. Gathering the pails and buckets and empty sardine canisters because here it comes, boys, and please don’t miss it. Patience, open-handedness, a spirit of peace and a gentler one. The pruning that only stings because it would have been nice to have had it awhile ago and now you’re scared you’ve got to ration the miracle because will it stay? And if not, will it come again? I drink with my tongue out wide like my life depends on it and I apologize for the belated invitation.

The idealist in me, though, wonders about the real reason I haven’t written in three months – as if what I said before wasn’t excuse enough. Is it because sometime earlier this year I’d committed myself to put down the pen and to read? I’d make my tiny veins plump with wiser words laid out like a feast before me, ones that had done both the sowing and the reaping and all the preemptive becoming. I’d lay a blanket over mine so as not to collect much dust but to forget its whining for a time so that I might press in to the gleaning. And I’ve done that, some, but it wouldn’t have stopped me. I’d have snuck into my room and plucked the blanket aside, bludgeoning the page until I could breathe properly again. Writing is no discipline for me, although I could make it one. I listen to it and respond accordingly and usually against my will or better judgment.

. . .

I remember being younger, maybe fourteen, and being dubbed “Megaphone Mouth” by Dad. He’d say it sweetly and like he wouldn’t trade it, but the decibels in which I said regular words apparently translated to some ungodly and uncomfortable level for those in earshot. In high school, my health teacher let me hear it. I’m Mrs. Conscientious, never-miss-a-day, star pupil, but I couldn’t seem to figure out my volume. I snapped at her, because the entire class was in uproar, hissing and chattering, which she recognized. She shrugged and said, “Your voice is the one that stuck out louder than all the others.” I had crafted a masterful frequency that outran the rest, maybe due in part to a large family and one that shouted remarks in ladder-like fashion. To keep up meant crawling on someone else’s shoulders and beating on your chest in pride once you reached the top.

I’ve got a strong bent towards feeling unheard or misheard with a lot to say and no real way of getting it across, and perhaps this heightened my perception of “tell something worth telling or you ought not tell it at all.” Words were my gavel for many years. I could make them what I wanted and they would tell me how to feel. I hung my hat believing, in the language of Kim Addonizio, “there is something you absolutely need to say. No one is asking you to say it. You know that, and yet here you are, an army ready to do battle with the forces of silence.” I respect that sentiment still to some degree. Voices of hope, or not even hope – just a voice of anything – in a hollow land. This land is hollow and I have a voice to use. I got real good at taking up my words as a shield, and they’re some of the times I regret most heavily. The Lord’s been kind in revealing to me moments that I’ve used words for senseless battle. He’s been kind in showing me that the forces of silence are often a gift and shouldn’t be fought. And he’s been kind in teaching me how to let the shield loose and wield a new thing, one that might not involve my words at all.

We were sitting around a BBQ joint the other night, most of my family and I. We stammered on over Shiner about the fish that the boys caught earlier. We got on to telling stories of growing up, building upon memories of when we’d laughed the hardest, comparing our separate scenarios with sleep paralysis, and uncovering the phenomenon of recurring dreams, ones we’d each had that were too hard to articulate at the time. The four of us there finally circled back around to birth order and marveled at how different we all are, me from my brother in the middle and even he from our brother that’s the youngest. In a few moments of tender discipline, we called to mind instances we had been hurt by each other and areas in which we were most skilled in hurting.

There will never be a time when that’s pleasant to hear, but I’m more inclined to hear it in the moment, when it’s a fresh, clean sweep up. There’s a scuffle and a flash and then it’s over until the next time. This one was miles worse and far more jarring because you’re at eye level with almost twenty years of your bloodiest battles, ones during which your words did all of the wounding and they’re still talking about how much it hurt. Not anymore, they say, but maybe. Who knows.

I went home and cried in the shower for fifteen minutes. I scrubbed my skin raw and wondered how much damage does it take to equal a wasted life and at what point do you stop hurting people in the exact same way? I was thinking about my husband now.

He’s only been on the receiving end five years, and I’ve delivered to his door enough persecution for this life and two more. Manipulation, fabrication, domination. Shrinking behind plated armor when I have felt embarrassed or duped or misunderstood or unwanted. And as much as he recognizes the hurtful hiss and chatter of the rest of the class, I’m just so scared that he might one day say that your voice is the one that stuck out louder than all the others. And as I fumble my way out of the bathroom, soaking and sobbing and looking for a shirt, he’s there with a blow dryer. He sits me down in the hallway on our floral, hand-me-down chair and combs the tangles in my hair and says that the ones who have every right to run will still outlive the rest. That’s how it works when people love you, he said, and that if it’s not one stupid sin it’s another. We all know, and we’ve all stuck around, haven’t we. Don’t be so hard on yourself and say you’re sorry when you can.

. . .


I will write until I'm gone, because I have to, much like the need to salivate or to swallow. It always comes when it needs to, but just as I’m thankful for the discipline of writing words, I’m equally so for the discipline of harnessing them, sitting on them until they're used rightly. Making them not like a rope of possession or a whip of correction or a leash of control, but making them like a ribbon of comfort and truth and wisdom that brings healing [Proverbs 12:18].

Another writer years ago told me that I’d be doing a great disservice to the world by not exercising my gifting publicly. That it was more prideful and selfish to hold onto my words than to share them. I lived a long time after that thinking I’d better tell something worth telling then. And I guess what I’m realizing now is that I could live a quiet and really faithful life without ever writing a word for you again, though that’s not my hope. I hope that you’re encouraged when you come here, but I pray you don’t depend on it. I pray you depend on muscling your way through your own junk sometime and that he’d wield a new thing in you, too.

I wanted to share a poem with you that I found. It’s about the quiet, faithful life of a tree who wouldn’t speak if given the choice. Let’s you and me care more about sinking our roots into the ground that grew us.

The Life of Trees by Dorianne Laux

The pines rub their great noise
Into the spangled dark, scratch
their itchy boughs against the house,
that moan’s mystery translates roughly
into drudgery of ownership: time
to drag the ladder from the shed,
climb onto the roof with a saw
between my teeth, cut
those suckers down. What’s reality
if not a long exhaustive cringe
from the blade, the teeth. I want to sleep
and dream the life of trees, beings
from the muted world who care
nothing for Money, Politics, Power,
Will or Right, who want little from the night
but a few dead stars going dim, a white owl
lifting from their limbs, who want only
to sink their roots into the wet ground
and terrify the worms or shake
their bleary heads like fashion models
or old hippies. If trees could speak,
they wouldn’t, only hum some low
green note, roll their pinecones
down the empty streets and blame it,
with a shrug, on the cold wind.
During the day they sleep inside
their furry bark, clouds shredding
like ancient lace above their crowns.
Sun. Rain. Snow. Wind. They fear
nothing but the Hurricane, and Fire,
that whipped bully who rises up
and becomes his own dead father.
In the storms the young ones
bend and bend and the old know
they may not make it, go down
with the power lines sparking,
broken at the trunk. They fling
their branches, forked sacrifice
to the beaten earth. They do not pray.
If they make a sound it’s eaten
by the wind. And though the stars
return they do not offer thanks, only
ooze a sticky sap from their roundish
concentric wounds, clap the water
from their needles, straighten their spines
and breathe, and breathe again.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF STYLE AND STAYING TRUE TO THE LAND WE TILL.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

I took a fashion theory class in college because I needed some advanced elective credits, and really, how hard could something like that be. It was the first and only time in my sixteen-year education that I received a ‘C’, and I still respect and revere the feisty New Yorker with glasses who earned that title. She taught us about the history of clothing trends and the social psychology behind our appearances, our outward expressions that tell a good deal. She lectured on about subculture groups and body piercings and female foot binding in Asia. All the cute girls who showed up on day one in stilettos and fur were in for a rude awakening here, but I digress.

I sat near the back with tattoos and slim denim, soaking in from a faraway projector screen this hundred-year evolution regarding women’s style and the strange, cyclical nature of it all. We’ve stammered on for ages about how history repeats itself and often cross our fingers that it won’t, but it was stunning to study the precept so acutely in this one area and for no other reason than just to learn about its trueness. Let me show you.

In the 1910’s, we move from the Edwardian corset – intended to accentuate the breasts and hips and every other curve – to the 20’s right after the Woman’s Suffrage movement. Such provocative, ankle-showing form was forsaken and replaced with modest pieces like the straight-cut and flat-chested flapper dress. The Great War had ended and there was no greater feeling than simplicity. In the 30’s, we see the feminine and sinuous shape return in spite of the Depression, and by the 40’s, women were in the workplace and – for another time – sought function over fashion (as seen in the utility dress).

The 1950’s marked the end of war-time rationing, so materials were used liberally and for the masses, producing in droves your poodle skirts and your frilly socks and every neck scarf in the world. Accessories like pearls and pillbox hats that were once reserved for upper class citizens were now less expensive and married together this dichotomy of class and fun for all statuses of women to enjoy. In the 60’s, we see a swift transition advocating for youthfulness and modernity but unwilling to let go of a scandalous silhouette. We finally reach 1970, and ten years is time enough for a people to feel tied down, choked by politics and an existing state of affairs. And as with any newfound freedom that involves giving the bird, we’ve glimpsed a rare thing on the horizon and want anything to do with it. So it’s no surprise that in the decade of social change there was a generation littered with tiny tops and daisy dukes with nothing but naval and leg to look at. Charlie’s Angels came to be, and Farrah Fawcett, and then Woodstock.

And we have bell-bottoms and billowing skirts, which turn again to pegged pants and shorter skirts, ones that round the waist tightly. Everything will be larger and there will be more of it until suddenly everything is smaller and there is less of it. Star-studded statements eventually must die to the likes of their opposite – a muted palette, looser fits, popular androgyny. If you’re reading this, you know that it was only fair for Fresh Prince to happen before our favorite 2006 Olsen twins could. This has been the pattern, unambiguously.

This is still the pattern, only steeped in ambiguity, because we can’t, of course, see a pattern emerge from all the way down here. Down here, right now, we can see black lives trying to matter and a bent towards minimalism and a president unfit for his time and consistently warmer temperatures. We see alternate forms of medicine and unspeakable tragedies and a lot of people made of opinions. Ones that let us know when we should marry and how not to parent and what’s causing cancer in our foods. Now, read all that over again. Did you? None of it is new. Not one of them special or unprecedented or wild enough for a previous world or the next. The evolution of the garments we wear only mirrors a bigger story which tells of a whole earth built upon existence, death, decay, rebirth, and again.

Here’s a for instance that the Internet’s pregnant with recently. Well, real life, too, but more loudly the Internet: What if progressive Christianity has gone too far? What if we’ve swung too wide, included too many, repented too little. The radical wave that rejected its evangelical upbringing in pursuit of a new narrative, what if by abandoning certain doctrine we’ve abandoned the faith in its entirety? Is it time that we crawl our ways back to a sure set of fundamental theology, or is the mere idea of a universal truth too much a mystery for even that?

In just twenty-four years alive, I’ve already borne witness to three major shifts in which American Christianity hangs in the balance. Not personal shifts, necessarily (albeit some), but cultural ones. We were, at first, too close-minded and then we became “burned out” on the rigidity once we realized that the majority of people were offended by us, and now – after we’ve adopted some science and attended a few protests and advocated for one too many same-sex couples – we’ve lost sight of judgment. Someone tweeted the other day that “progressive Christians like to pretend they are welcoming, inclusive, enlightened, and all those nasty conservatives are hateful, oppressive ogres. But many progressive Christians have become what they claim to dislike so much.” And I think this is what I’m inarticulately getting at.

1) That this is not the first time religion has divided itself in search for the rightest way and 2) That as long as we’re here, we’ll go round and round, too much and not enough, back and forth trying to reclaim the very same thing – what is true. Each of us scrambling for truth and fairness and a soft middle ground to land, none of which will be reconciled this side of Heaven. Since a pattern is only a pattern from up top, we can hardly see that all of this has happened before and cyclically must continue, but be sure, it has and it will. Only it’s not our lot to find an end or a way that is right but just to search for it faithfully.  

Wendell Berry says this: “We cannot know the whole truth, which belongs to God alone, but our task nevertheless is to seek to know what is true. And if we offend gravely enough against what we know to be true, as by failing badly enough to deal affectionately and responsibly with our land and our neighbors, truth will retaliate with ugliness, poverty, and disease. The crisis of this line of thought is the realization that we are at once limited and unendingly responsible for what we know and do.”

And so it goes – ten steps forward and triple the steps back as we taste whispers of the truth and consequently let it down. This side of Heaven will know badness because we’ve known goodness, poverty because we’ve known prosperity, and ugliness because we’ve known beauty. But at least we’ve known at all, right?

Our bodies are designed to live in step with the seasons, archetypal and divine, but we were also marked with an indelible longing for something not here, something finished and whole. And though the Lord made it and called it good, as long as creation is on its feet, it will be moving and changing, living and dying, retaliating against the truth. Some might think it cruel to start us off spinning, chasing a fruit that may never come to bear in this world, but I don’t think so. Because being faithful right now to what is true inevitably lends its efforts to the whole and single truth, coming to bear the fruit of Goodness without badness, Prosperity without poverty, Beauty that cannot also be ugly. I want to know that.

It is quite easy and natural to either separate ourselves from the process entirely or to become so deeply immersed in the change that it sinks us. But I wonder if seeking to know what is true actually involves a holy concentration in both pulling back – recognizing our place on an arbitrary scale – and pressing in, tending affectionately and responsibly to our land and our neighbors while we wait. I’d like to bide my time here in such a way that what I know to be true is offended one degree less in Winter than in the Spring before.
. . .

As is the generation of leaves, so is that of humanity.
The wind scatters the leaves on the ground, but the live timber
Burgeons with leaves again in the season of spring returning.
So one generation of men will grow while another dies
.

- Homer, The Illiad, Book Six

KEEPING ON NODDING TERMS WITH YOUR DEAD DARLINGS.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

It’s two weeks out from my birthday, which marks five years since the day a dialogue began between my now-husband and me. A most elaborate birthday gift if I do say so myself. Still in the infancy of marriage (sixteen months), five years feels like room enough for us to have suffered through five whole lives and five whole separate deaths and that’s probably about true. Hopefully more than that, I suppose, if we’re speaking in terms of “absolute being” and necessary expirations for the ones on their way to it.

(I hope my saying this doesn’t communicate to whoever might be reading that a relationship which turned to marriage is the single avenue for necessary dying. It isn’t. If you’re breathing, you’re sinful and Christ is working to draw you to Himself, and dying will happen, not as punishment but reconciliation. I’m only using this example, because I’ve had more of my sin exposed and survived more tiny deaths over the course of five years and have witnessed it doubly so as I continue to know Ryan).

I was telling him a day or so ago that something’s come over me recently and the something is that I don’t feel scared about real death like I used to. I’m not sure what birthed it, this epiphany, and if this turns out to be a weird, archived premonition, well then, tell my dog I loved him, er – love him.

I certainly don’t welcome the end or wish it, and I’m not unwell by society’s current standards. I only know for sure that it was once my deepest burden – the fear of my time being up with an armful of gifts the world hadn’t yet received – and now it’s not. I practice communion, obedience, faithfulness, and the world needs nothing else from me. My arms are empty and I give only what I have this day and this moment, grateful that the Lord resides in the land of plenty and is not stingy. Perhaps all this earthly dying has laid before me like a hall of mirrors how little each unfinished me has brought to the table. And perhaps it’s this humble prelude that practices us and prompts us to say, “I believe. Help me in my unbelief” as we inch toward its permanent and more comprehensive counterpart, depending on how much stake you have in what’s coming. For me, a people restored of all sad things and no more dying.

Unfortunately, as the world spins and we chug along – passing away and again living only a fraction better than we were before – we’re reminded and painfully about the first one-hundred lives and our heels that dragged in the gravel to be sinful and broken still. If I’m going to die (whether by choice or by grace) let her at the least be gone so I can go on independently unbothered. But she’s there in the funhouse multiplied, wearing the young face of perfectionism and, to my left, an older, fuller one of isolation and cynicism. Behind me, apathy and more of it. Each of them is there, not entirely, but until I’m at last done with the dying, they get to hang around. That’s part of the deal, and I’m sort of glad for it lately.

Christians in church (well-meaning) often stand completely on the coverage of our sins. We accept one new life in Christ and thereby discard each of our previous selves as they produce too much shame and condemnation. “My past doesn’t define me” or “I’m not who I once was before Jesus.” All of these new creation adages are fine and true, but might we be doing a disservice to the coming you and I’s by resenting or avoiding altogether the ones that walked before? I don’t know.

I got really jealous again the other day. Going mad at the irrational possibilities. I felt the train wreck on its way, triggered by a bout of inadequacy or fear of abandonment or my period. Either way, I ended up in the mirrored room at eye-level with the one who died once due to trust in man, and she retaught me about how misplaced or displaced trust is a foundation not built to last.

I speak poorly to Ryan in efforts to make him hear. I feel unheard and severely misunderstood. And then, offered up to me is one who died during another lesson in pride. She doesn’t rub my nose in it – that I had failed him again as a nurturing wife – but cautions me against the manmade and entitled right to be heard and to be understood. It’s only an injection of the Spirit that compels people to understand.

Having these is not a handicap or a haunting. It’s a grace that I’m insurmountably grateful for, to accept forgiveness as a blanket but to also confide in the ones that have failed me. To conspire together about what went wrong and what is being made right at every turn. After all, our greatest teacher is Christ in us, by us, through us. I will not make a name for myself by my sin alone, but I will use it as it’s there until it’s not any longer.

Revered mystic and the first known female writer in English, Saint Julian of Norwich, said this something like six-hundred and fifty years ago: “Sin is behovely (useful), but all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.” None of us here enjoy a thousand sinful ghosts riding our coattails to the next, but if it’s necessary carpool for all manner of things to be well three times over, then I think that’s an alright trade, don’t you?
. . .

Ryan and I started five years ago what would carry on as one long conversation, and in it, a million tiny deaths. In the past year, post-covenant, our exchange has wandered closer to the likes of sex, hospitality, the dog, and bills. Sometimes it’s empty, shallow, sometimes it’s silent, and sometimes we wrestle to fill that space, which is mostly and usually unhelpful. And sometimes, on nights like last night, we wind up beneath the debris of a good old-fashioned fight; letting tears dry up slowly on our faces as we talk about our current death and the mystery of God. The Great Equalizer. The middle sphere in Newton’s cradle. And about how only something genius and good would kill off our favorite darlings and let them cheer us on forward to more abundant life.

Death will happen when we least expect it and when we most expect it, not one time but many, and I’m going to need my whole unruly bunch – until all manner of things is well and until they’re buried for good.

FAITHFULNESS AS A PILLAR WHEN THE CITY WE'VE BUILT COMES DOWN.

Monday, December 11, 2017

This week’s been a bit tough. You know the kind – a proverbial freight train. You clean up street trash from the barreling boxcar with a six-ton elephant on your back and you’ll wonder if anyone on God’s green earth might come to you and say, “enough.” An appropriately timed Advent has me longing for these inside out bruises to be gone for good. Of course, none of which compare to those that plague my single friend at Christmastime or a dear relative that’s been locked away as her mind and her memory betray her, and especially not to the wife whose womb won’t stay full.

I’m immediately convicted as I finish that sentence and am reminded of a million ones like it as of late – ranking in order the greatest and the worst sufferers so that I might have some excuse to keep quiet about my own regular, layman’s grief. Prop it up to matter against the rest or let it go and die. Those are your choices. We all know of the blatant jealousy in comparing our good with someone else’s better. The bitter fruit of discontent. But I’m realizing this season that the seemingly humble (and often unconscious) undermining of our pain in the scope of a neighboring humanity’s is as nasty a disease as any. Taking the enemy in small and large doses, judging his best, most harmful work. You and I will pray for the souls who have it harder and resign to our place in the shadows of less and little suffering. That’s a sneaky version of pride, and we should call it when we see it.

For years I did this, and I do it still now when a stranger offers up their story and asks in exchange for mine. Bumbling around for key phrases that act as a match for brokenness, as if to relate or be helpful, I’d have to be a leper. Perhaps I’ve grown tired of contorting my testimony so that only badness shows through or maybe I’m learning about the gospel as just listening and sitting shiva with a brother. But in any case, my healing looks different than the leper’s, and is healing any less powerful for the normal, old sinner? The pastor’s daughter and product of a saved marriage. A year-old wife who makes coffee to pay the bills. And an anxious one who – without the work of the spirit – is prescribed an entire life of violent mood swings which, on a good day, calm to apathy.

At the beginning of the year, the Lord began unwinding in front of me this concept of faithfulness. You should know that I’m historically leery of these loaded words – the type filed next to Authenticity and the Evangelical Christian. I’ve been let down by them before and I’m not under the impression that I won’t be another time. These words are sweeping and are of the nature to be twined and twisted, overused or misused. Once whole and full, now soiled and stripped bare. Taken out of context and beaten to a pulp. As a lover of words and keeper of them, I feel the heavy weight – a dwindling glow – that comes from a falsified meaning, one intended to be good.

So, he said, go to the corners where you’ve been faithful and find me there.

It wasn’t until a slew of disappointments had incurred an unpayable debt that I would know clearly what that had meant and would see what then remained. And it happens that way, doesn’t it? Wounded by one and knocked down by another and kicked by the next and at last left alone to survey, does anything still stand above this wreck?

I was sweeping my tiny kitchen in the moments before supper, my dog at my feet and a thousand small graces leaping toward me at once. I had arrived from work just hours before. Four and some years I’ve come home from this place. My eyes met my husband doing chores in the room over, a man that I’ve loved for five. My phone lit up with a message from my best friend, and I wondered how long a stretch of those would measure. Miles of messages, twelve year’s worth. Tomorrow, Ryan and I would attend the same service at our same church. The one that held me and grew me and taught me to serve and welcomed me back, and on the eighteenth year is holding me still.

Here’s what I’m learning through a gracious unwinding:

As we are faithful, he is doubly so. He caught me in the middle of preparing a meal in my home that was to be enjoyed by a two-person family - a task so menial and regularly small - and laid before me a feast having to do with forty years of his faithfulness. I’m headed into my twenty-fourth year here, and in the corners where I’ve been faithful, he’s gone and doubled them. It’s kingdom math that I don’t understand nor do I feel right in accepting, but we’ve never had much choice in the matter. He gives to his children freely and lavishly and without reason.

Faithfulness is only faithfulness. A cynic searches the word and will not find in it some ulterior motive or unhappy connotation. It will always be properly construed. Faithfulness, in its simplest form, is the same and is the same. Steadfast. Pillars left standing above the wreck. Not overused or misused or taken out of context by the world. We either are or we aren’t, but you and I cannot be faithful too many or too little times. What good news for a post-Eden people failing to hit their quotas.

Being faithful does not allot us the time, thank goodness, to go around justifying a good or a bad week, scrutinizing the weeks and the lives handed to those near us. But it does generously give us each our mornings, our families, our health and our homes. Our small grievances, our losses, and our suffering should it come. Tending to these is our holiest work.


Richard Wilbur, in his poem, Love Calls Us to the Things of This World, says this – “Let there be nothing on earth but laundry, nothing but rosy hands in the rising steam and clear dances done in the sight of heaven.” This has been my prayer ever since. The sanctity of Christ maturing me, making His likeness my own is no small thing; yet, we find him in the corner, in the collection of small things taking us there. Meetings and due dates, clean dishes and pruned fingers, ordinary and every single day. I said this last month, that it’s the driving of my feet to the ground and my hand to the plow that reminds me about the humble man who lived to sow seeds for no easy reason other than following in the way of his master. Clear dances done in the sight of heaven. Let there be nothing else on earth but this.
 
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