Archives for May 2012

Redeeming the Time

It was a Monday out of the routine.
No childcare responsibilities.
No church responsibilities.
No family responsibilities.
Don’t get me wrong – all of those are good things in our lives,
things we treasure and are grateful for.
But occasionally,
it’s a very good thing to have a day
to ourselves.
A day set aside for nothing other than dinking around.
It is my firm belief that there is not enough dinking
happening in this world.
There is far too much busyness,
too much obligation,
Once in a while, it needs to stop.
All the noise, the inner grinding of gears,
the siren call of one more person to check in with.
The computer needs to be closed,
the phones need to be silenced,
the calendar squares need to be left blank.
Blank, I say.
Because when there is ‘free’ time,
that’s when the good stuff happens.
The really good stuff.

The this-is-me-at-the-heart-of-it-all stuff.
The let’s-do-something-spontaneous-
and-see-what-happens stuff.
The take-off-your-cloak-of-ought-and-
should-and-must-and-look-at-life-without-it stuff.
Our children gave their father a gift certificate for his birthday.
His birthday was at the end of March.
The end of March.
Each week when he dropped off Lilly at our house,
our son would ask,
“Have you used that certificate yet?”
Well, no.
We hadn’t.
It was overdue for redemption.
And so were we.

They gave it to him so that we could select some large pots for our living room,
pots to house the very large orchids 
my husband has been tending for a number of years.
This is what they looked like this winter – 
from just after Christmas until about a week ago:
They were stunning this year,
a daily reminder of the creative genius of our God.
And they are contained in some very ugly black plastic things.
So…some good-sized, good-looking pots.
And our kids knew just the place to look, too.
It’s in Carpinteria, up against the foothills,
about 10 minutes from our home.
So Monday was the day.
And what a day it was.
Seaside Gardens is simply amazing.
Nursery supplies displayed creatively,
covered areas for pots of all colors and shapes,
and behind and around it all?
Gardens – fully planted with trees, grasses, color – 
representing a variety of different 
South African, Asian, native Californian,
succulent, Bioswale – all laid out for the walking,
for the looking,
for the re-charging,
for the dinking around.
And it was all free.
Yes, we found two matching pots,
in a soft green to sit quietly in our living room.
They’re lovely and we’re so glad to have them.
But, it was the walking,
and the looking.
The oohing and the ahing.
The did-you-see-this-one’s
and the what-the-heck-is-that-one’s
and the oh-my-such-glory one’s —

that’s where the redemption truly happened. 

Each of us could feel it.
Each of us could hear it, too.
The soft sound of the soul, opening.
Opening to the beauty,
the orderly chaos,
the flamboyance,
the brilliance of living things.
Opening to the shared creativity
of a good God and a few greatly gifted human partners.
It was only a couple of hours,
but it was exactly what we needed.
A blue sky,
a warm sun,
a shared space.  
We followed our time at the gardens with an early
dinner near the beach.
Sitting where the sun could warm our backs,
watching a few young ones playing in the outdoor sandbox,
eating fish tacos and sharing a milkshake. 
 Redeeming the time, indeed.

Joining with Michelle, Jen and the sisterhood, Ann, Laura and L.L tonight,
grateful for their invitation to nurture gratitude,
to have a playdate with God, to write about place,
to talk about Sunday blessings made real in the rest of the week.
Yeah, I think most of that is in here somewhere.

True Confessions: The TSP Book Club

 Okay, it’s time for the weekly check-in.
We’re reading Julia Cameron’s, “The Artist’s Way”
over at TweetSpeak Poetry,
under the fearless leadership of Lyla Lindquist.
then you already know that I am
a Rebellious Resistor
to this methodology.
Which, I am told – as I read further this week –
is actually to be expected as one tries to
free one’s inner artist.
So much for originality.

 I am still resisting the Morning Pages part of this experience,
or as I referred to them last week, ‘the dang pages.’
I believe I did them exactly once. 
I am totally embracing the Artist’s Date concept.
I think  you might even say I’ve gone a bit overboard
in that department.
The floral pictures in this post were taken during the second
(or was it the third?) daytime treat experience of
the week just past. They were taken at a local garden,
a wondrous place called “Seaside Gardens,” 
where our kids had given their dad a gift certificate for his birthday.
Oh my, did that light my inner creative fires!
(Or course, I had to break the rules a little – 
I didn’t  go alone.) 

I did, however, take myself out to eat at a favorite restaurant,
with my book in hand.
AND I squeezed in a visit to a grandson’s kindergarten
play, where he played the role of:
The Big Bad Wolf
The Three Piggy Opera.
(here he is rubbing his hands together gleefully while
singing, “I wanna big, fat pig to eat…”)
 The scary thing for me in all this is –
I am beginning to see a pattern.
A life-long pattern.
And it’s nowhere near as pretty as the one
that showed up in this Norfolk Pine at the Seaside Gardens.
No, it’s not pretty. At.All.
I’m beginning to see this thread,
a twisty, unattractive thread
that weaves through a lot of my life.
And it goes like this:
I get scared of something or someone 
who threatens me in some way.
Or…I get tired/frustrated/overwhelmed
by expectations – mine and/or others.
Step Two? 
I get angry inside.
Pitiful, really.
Sort of carpy, cranky, testy,
defensive, self-righteous,
You get the picture.
Not a lovely one, is it?
And thirdly? I try to hide what I’m feeling
or what I’m frightened about.
And you want to know how I’ve done that for most of my life?
By eating too much.
By covering myself in layers of insulation.
By hiding all the fear and all the anger
beneath a protective covering. 
(Did you notice that I went out to eat for my Artist’s Date?
And that my grandson was singing about eating??
I jest…but only a little.) 

I’ve had some success in the last year or two with 
shedding pieces of that covering.
But I gotta say,
this book is bringing out the worst in me.
How childish is that??

I mean, really.
What have I got to be angry or defensive about?
She asked us to make a list of favorite things we like to do
and then to write down when we did them last.
And almost all of them I’ve done in the last week,
3 or 4 of them as I was making the list!
And my ‘Life Pie,’ which one of our chapters this week 
asked us to draw?
Aside from confirming the fact 
that I cannot draw a pie to save my life,
my six areas are in pretty decent balance.

And the list of 10 small changes we’d like to make
in our lives?
Perhaps this says it all:
Item number 10 on my list?
“I would like to wring Julia’s neck.”
I wish I could report that I’m making great progress,
leaps and bounds kind of progress,
in letting go of this resistance.
But as you can see,
I’m not leaping and bounding anywhere,
except perhaps straight into the Slough of Despond.
One tiny ray of light, of hope this week?
I did enjoy writing down 5 childhood characteristics
that I like about myself.
I share this with you very hesitantly, however,
 as it probably tells you more about me
than I really want you to know.
But here they are:
1. Inquisitive
2. Bossy 
(bossy? who puts bossy on their list?)
3. Responsible
4. Lighthearted
5. A voracious reader 
Truly, dear reader, do you think there is any hope for me?

Joining once again with the gang over at Tweetspeak, hoping they will not give up on me just yet.
You can check out the other posts in this collection by going here:
ts book club no border

Again and Again – Soaking in the Beauty with People We Love

A Photo Essay
Kauai, Hawaii 

We went there first in 1980. And we left our kids at home for the first time ever. They were 8, 10 and 12 and my parents came and stayed in our home, schlepping them hither and yon for two and a half weeks while we flew across the Pacific to check out the 50th state.

That time we went with another couple, island-hopping to get the lay of the land. But we knew from the very first touchdown on that northernmost and oldest of the islands that we would be back in that place, kids in tow, just as soon as we could possibly make it happen.

And two years later, we did it. All 5 of us sharing a 1-bedroom condo, air mattresses on the floor, mosquitoes buzzing, frogs chirruping by the thousands. 

And we loved it.
Every single inch of it. 
It’s hard to say enough about all that we love in that place.
 From the 150 year old wood frame or volcanic stone churches…

…to the thrilling drop-off above the Napali coastline,
as viewed from the overlook…
 …to the waterfalls and colorful striations of the Little Grand Canyon on the road up to the overlook…

…to the windswept Tunnels Beach with it’s conical-hat Bali Hai in the distance…
 …to the richness of local taro fields lining the sides of the Hanalei River…
…to the sweeping panorama of the beach at Kalihiwai Bay, whether a sunny day…
 …or a cloudy one – complete with rainbow.
  Of course, I would have to tell you about that solitary lighthouse across from the bird refuge…
 …and certainly, the lure of the jungle-rich roadway driving north…until there is no more road to drive.
 One consistent siren call is most assuredly the sounds of local bird-life. The distinct cooing of Hawaiian doves,
the worried call of the bright red or grey and red cardinals,
 and – of course – the early morning cri de couer of hundreds and hundreds of these guys, wandering wherever they please,
thank you very much.
I would have to include the singular beauty of entire groves of palm trees, swaying in the breeze.
And of course, one of my deepest loves:
the wide variety of beautiful flowers, colorful and fragrant.
 Anthurium, pink and red.
 Every shape, size and color of orchid.
It’s not called the Garden Isle for nothin’.
Wonderful wildflowers, too. 
 Red ginger, and sometimes pink.
My personal favorite – and the first thing I buy at the local Farmer’s Market – is the white, heavily scented tuberose.
And these wild bird-flowers are fun, too.
Golden shower trees abound – and of course – the state flower can be found everywhere, in every shade of pink, purple, orange, yellow, white and red. 
The glorious-for-one-day hibiscus.
 But as breathtakingly beautiful as it is,
as warm and welcoming as we find it every time we come,
as lovely and relaxing and refreshing as our time there always is – 
it is the people we share it with
 that make this place memorable.
Setting aside time, money and commitment for vacationing 
is a very high value for us as a family.
In fact, after commitment to growing in discipleship,
loving one another well,
learning our whole lives long –
I would have to say that re-creating is among our top four family values.
My husband and I began our married life by traveling halfway around the world together – to serve, to explore,
to grow together as our own family unit.
And every year since then, we have saved for, 
planned for and enjoyed time away from the regular routine.
We seek beauty,
learning about new places,
meeting new people,
and enjoying one another 
in a setting that is removed from the demands of daily living.
So we’ve been back to Kauai 
(or to Maui, our 2nd favorite) 
about 15 times in the last 30 years.
And some of our richest family memories are 
part and parcel of that small northernmost island,
the one with all the greenery and all the family lore.

Each of our parents invited their children and grandchildren to Kauai in celebration of their 50th wedding anniversaries.
We’re making plans to do the same in 3 years time, when our own comes around.
We took each of our children’s spouses with us on family trips to this place – two of them before they were officially members of the family.

And four years ago, we planned an extra-special trip, 
one that became even more so in retrospect.
Our middle daughter and her family of 5 rented a house in Princeville for a month.
Dick and I rented a house on the edge of Kalihiwai Bay for the same time period.
We were 10 minutes apart by car and each of us entertained parts of our extended families over the course of those four weeks.

My mom and my youngest brother came for one week and stayed with us. Within two years, he was dead and she was blind, frail and losing her memory.
The treasure of this time together 
is something I carry with me just about every day. 
 My husband’s mom and his incredible sister, whose marriage of 38 years had just ended, came and stayed for a different week. 
Today, four years later, 
Mom is on hospice care; 
Dick’s sister is preparing for a very different life 
once her mother is gone, most likely moving across the country to be nearer her daughter for half of each year.
Life just keeps on changing, you know?
And the gift of time away together?
It cannot be measured.
Since our initial visit 32 years ago, the islands have changed, too. Some of that change is welcome (like a wonderful Costco near the airport); some of it not so much (like increasing development and numbers of people) – but the essentials of the place remain the same.
It is beautiful.
It is marked by a much slower rhythm of living.
It is far enough away to feel removed 
from the lure of life on the mainland,
but not so far away as to feel isolated.
I cannot possibly put into words how deeply grateful 
I am to have spent time in this grace-filled space. 
I think it’s about as close to Eden 
as I’m ever going to get this side of heaven – 
and I KNOW God lives there year ’round.

Joining in the Community Writing Project for The High Calling, put together by Charity Singleton and edited by Deidra Riggs, two of the finest women on the planet.
You can read other vacation stories at Charity’s place:

Quiet for the Weekend

Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, 
and the seventy elders of Israel went up 
and saw the God of Israel. 
Under his feet was something like a pavement 
made of lapis lazuli, as bright blue as the sky.  
But God did not raise his hand against 
these leaders of the Israelites; 
they saw God, and they ate and drank.”
Exodus 24:9-11
One week ago today, we returned to real life after a week on St. Thomas. This often overlooked biblical reference to being in the presence of God spoke to me today, reminding me of the ‘bright blue’ ‘something like a pavement made of lapis lazuli’ experiences of this week away. A little exploration yielded these other quotes more specifically tied to the ocean and its healing, renewing qualities.
May you each find a way to meet God this weekend, dear friends. Looking for a bright blue pavement beneath God’s feet might be a way to begin. 
“Why do we love the sea? It is because it has some potent power to make us think things we like to think.”
– Robert Henri

“When anxious, uneasy and bad thoughts come, I go to the sea, and the sea drowns them out with its great wide sounds, cleanses me with its noise, and imposes a rhythm upon everything in me that is bewildered and confused.”
– Rainer Maria Rilke

“The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach–waiting for a gift from the sea.”
– Anne Morrow Lindbergh

“Total physical and mental inertia are highly agreeable, much more so than we allow ourselves to imagine.
A beach not only permits such inertia but enforces it, thus neatly eliminating all problems of guilt.
It is now the only place in our overly active world that does.”
– John Kenneth Galbraith

“I could never stay long enough on the shore; the tang of the untainted, fresh, and free sea air was like 

a cool, quieting thought.”
– Helen Keller

“The waves of the sea help me get back to me.”
– Jill Davis
Joining with my sweet, smart, kind friends Sandy and Deidra today.
And I cannot for the life of me get Deidra’s button to transfer to the new blogger format! 
I copy and paste to no avail. I even tried typing the HTML code by hand – nada. RATS.
Here’s the URL for Deidra’s fine site, to which I cannot subscribe, either.
Time to take a class in computer code?


Five Minute Friday: Opportunity

For the first time in a very long time, I’m joining with Lisa-Jo at The Gypsy Mama for her 5-Minute Friday link-up. Five minutes for free-writing – no editing, no over-thinking, no re-do’s. JUST WRITE.

Today’s prompt? OPPORTUNITY

 A recent opportunity came knocking in the form of a week on St. Thomas with our son and his family. Glad we heard that one!


They say it only knocks once – but I remain unconvinced.

Seems to me, it comes ’round the door on a regular basis.

Question is: Do we hear it?
                       Do we see it?

Sometimes I’ve been paying attention and I grab onto it for all I’m worth.

Like the time I met this brown-eyed guy at a college mixer and said, “Yes. Yes, indeed.”

Or the time that same brown-eyed guy said, “Hey, I’m heading to Africa for two years. Wanna come along?” Oh, yeah, that one was definitely not to be missed.

And then there were those three surprises – well 2 out of 3, anyway. Each of them the most golden of all the opportunity-knocking I had yet encountered.

Then there was this weird kind of soft tapping that began somewhere inside my gut and gradually spread to my heart and my brain. A tap-tap-tap that said, “Come with Me, dear one. Test your wings – try seminary. You’ll like it.”

And I did.

And then maybe the scariest one of all came while I was enjoying the student life after 22 years. This one came gently, in the voices of others, in the words of scripture and finally, as an almost visible LED readout across my forehead: “I want you to be my minister.”


And now, even now, I hear that tapping from time to time. Opportunity keeps showing up.

May I have the wisdom to see, to hear. And the courage to say, “Why, yes! I’d love to.”



Resistance & Rebellion – Living with My Inner Artist

She went with us to the Caribbean,
in all her multiple-quotation,
call-to-creativity glory.
And I dutifully read all of the introductory
material and chapter one,
learning about such things as 
the brains we all juggle
the principles of creativity 
and why we need to live by them;
the powerful voice of the Inner Censor.
And most appropriately,
I learned about the Creative Block.
Why appropriate, you ask?
Because at the end of it all,
I found myself in the middle of
a big, fat, nasty one,
 that’s why.
I was on vacation.
And Julia asked me to commit to
Morning pages,
an Artist’s Date,
Weekly Check-Ins,
a timeline look back at my life,
in search of Monsters who might
have stifled my budding artistic genius.
But here’s something you may not know about me:
I am, at heart, a Rebel.
I know, I know.
I don’t look like a rebel at all.
I am a ‘good girl’ 
(if people of my age are allowed 
to refer to themselves as ‘girls’).
I’m a pastor, for pete’s sake.
I’m older.
I dress conservatively
(except for the occasional wild and crazy color 
and a whole lotta jewelry).
I take care of others.
Yes, I do a whole of that last one.
I take care of others.
I read the Bible and I do so
because I believe that I meet God there.
I am a centrist theologically.
I am a centrist in most things.
I resist following the rules.
I resent being told how to do things.
I don’t tolerate what I perceive to be ‘fluff’ too well.
My eyes tend to glaze over when
I read the words ‘affirmation’
or ‘ creative recovery.’
Imagine my response, then, to this volume.
Oh, I’ve underlined it aplenty,
I’ve even got stars and creased corners on
lots and lots of pages.
I actually liked a lot of what I read,
agreed with it, too.
Until I got to the part where I had to do something about it.
Yeah, that’s when the Rebel showed up.
Don’t know if she’s related to the Inner Censor,
but I have a hunch they’re kissin’ cousins.
Because once I started reading about what I
needed to do to release my Inner Artist –
I started to push back, HARD.
First of all, I don’t do longhand anymore.
Never was good at it 
(yes, that’s the voice of the Inner Censor – 
but it’s also the voice of reality), 
I hate doing it and can’t really read what I write anymore.
(Of course, we’re not supposed to read this stuff.
We’re just supposed to write it.)
And I’m not a morning person.
And in my dotage,
I indulge my non-morning-ness whenever I can.
So the two times I actually did write the dang pages,
it was well into mid-day. 

The Artist’s Date?
Now, that’s something I can wrap my mind around.
In fact, it’s something I actually already do, 
although I’ve never called it that.
I seek solitude, often at the beach or a favorite restaurant,
and I look for beauty wherever I go.
That one was a cinch.

The timeline I got to today.
And here’s what I discovered –
the biggest Monster in my story is…
Yup. I get in my own way more than anyone else ever has.
Sure, my mom (and my dad) had hopelessly high
expectations for me when I was a child.
They were both artists in their own way
and my small muscle development was lousy
(remember what I said about handwriting earlier?).
So I just quit trying to do anything with my hands.
And I quite trying very, very early. 
I couldn’t play piano like my dad or my brother.
I couldn’t draw or create beauty like my mother,
so I didn’t do it.
Until I went to college and no longer felt the weight of my parents’ abilities pressing in on me every single day.
And when I began to venture out a little here,
a little there, it turned out I could do some things
acceptably well. 
Not great, but okay.
But the real, true chicken-heart was inside me,
not my parents, not my teachers, not my friends,
not my employers.


Now I’m facing this HUGE block.
No ideas.
No desire.
No sense of call.
No sense of giftedness.

Think maybe I’m just the teensiest bit resistant?

The Rebellious Resistor.
Pretty much my middle name.


Joining with Lyla and the gang over at Tweetspeak Poetry for the interactive posting about Julia Cameron’s classic book, “The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity.” As you can tell, I have a lot of inner work to do. Oy vey. Lord, have mercy.



Beauty in the Backyard

All my life, I’ve been a reader – – all kinds of books. And some of them have been formational for me, sometimes in ways I didn’t fully recognize at the time I initially read them. 

Today, I’m talking about one of those books – over at Sheila Seiler Lagrand’s place.

This one I read almost 50 years ago – can you imagine? 

And I just downloaded it to my Kindle and read it again. 

Come on over and find out why it was such a key piece of my own story. 

Sheila is a most gracious hostess and I’m sure you’ll find lots of other interesting stuff to read while you’re there. You can find her by clicking here.

Lessons from the Vineyard

“I am the vine,” he said.
“You are the branches.”
We live in vineyard country here in Santa Barbara County.
 It has not always been so.

For hundreds of years, the rolling hills around our county
looked like this. They were covered with oak trees, 
 singly or straggling down the hillsides by the dozen, 
creating a landscape unique to this part of the world. 
Then the trees began going down by the hundreds, 
bulldozed to make room for 
vineyards that look like this.
Miles and miles of vineyards. 
Espaliered grape vines began to sprout out of the ground, neat rows replacing the random gorgeousness
of oaks and wildflowers.

For many, this felt like an assault on nature,
beauty and 
the central coast way of life.

For others, it was evidence of a dream come true.
About a dozen years ago, county supervisors decided to stop the wholesale destruction of native oak groves,
insisting that any new vineyard acreage be built around
the natural habitat instead of through it.
As the vineyards matured, those of us who live by and drive on these highways and byways began to take note of the new beauty around us, enjoying the contrast of
planned and unplanned vegetation.
Now we can follow the seasons by paying attention to what’s happening in the vineyards.
The brilliant, lush green foliage of summer,
the red-gold shimmer of fall,
as the harvest begins.
The increasingly bare branches as December approaches. 
 It is when the branches are at their barest that some of the most important work of the year happens:
That good work of shaping, sorting, sifting through the vines for the best, preserving only what will produce good fruit the following year.
Winter is the time for trimming and cutting and neatening things,
making space for the plumpest of red, purple or green grapes, grapes that will grow heavy and rich as harvest time approaches.
 It’s during the pruning season that things are made ready.
Dead wood is removed,
unproductive sucker growth is tossed into the fire.
And sure enough,
when March rolls around,
new growth starts to shoot,
reaching for the sun, growing strong and sturdy,
ready to support the heaviest of clusters,
the richest of harvests.
I wonder, what season am I in?
In terms of my lifetime, I know it is autumn.
And that means the fruit should be ready.
How has the Master of the Vineyard pruned and shaped
and trimmed and cut back the branch that is me?
Have I consented to the shears?
The ones that want to cut away the lies?
The lies I tell and the lies I believe,
the dead stuff that weighs me down
and keeps me stuck.
Have I invited the Husbandman to trim away the compulsions, the anxieties, the addictions – however they may reveal themselves in my life?
Have I said ‘yes’ to the Gardener, the one
who sees what is full of life and promise and potential,
the one who can see what will yield the sweetest of fruit?
And have I allowed my soul-tendrils to sink firmly into the Vine,
practicing those things that will help me to dwell,
to stand firm in, 
to steady myself, 
 For much of my life, I feared this word of Jesus in the gospel of John. 
Taught that bad branches would end up in the fire, I wanted to work ever-so-hard to pump out those grapes!
It is only in recent  years –
these years that I’ve been driving through vineyard country – that I’ve begun to realize that ALL the branches on the vine are pruned.
And that kind of pruning is a good thing.
Everyone of us has stuff that needs to be cut away,
thrust into the incinerator,
moved aside 
so that there is more breathing room for good things,
sweet things,
rich things,
nourishing things…
for FRUIT.
It sounds so scary, though, doesn’t it?
Painful, too.
And I suppose sometimes, it is.
It’s painful to let go of habits,
compulsive behaviors,
and all those things we fill that interior space with,
day in and day out.

But… here’s the thing:
it all needs to go.
All of it.
And for good reason, too.
It’s hard to produce
when the branch is laden down with all that other crap.
So…as my own winter draws near,
will I allow the Vineyard Owner to do what needs to be done?
I hope so. I really do.
Because a well-pruned branch,
lovingly shaped and carefully trimmed –
well that’s where the good stuff grows.
My thanks to Don Johnson for his reflection on this passage in worship this morning.
And special thanks to Bob Gross for his wonderful musical setting of an obscure old hymn, bringing words to life in new and fresh ways. 
Joining Michelle for her “Hear It on Sunday” gathering,
Jen and the Soli deo gloria sisterhood,
Laura at “Playdates with God,”
and L.L. with “On, In and Around Monday”


Weekends Are for Quieting

Sitting in the yard for the first time in several weeks,
I was struck by the bright colors of the trumpet vine that covers our fence. I looked with the camera and snapped this shot of the light bouncing on the flowers and leaves.
And then, I looked again – and this is what I saw. 
 We have a pair of orioles who visit our yard every spring.
They are very, very shy, coming out carefully to sip the nectar from the hundreds of red flowers all around our yard.
This is the male, who is of course, much showier than his mate. I was about 30 feet away and was struck, as I often am, at how the birds teach me about life. This boy had a job to do – suck the nectar out of that flower – and he did it with gusto, sitting in the fading afternoon light with no desire to call attention to himself.
Nevertheless, I paid him a great deal of attention – for the 10 seconds he allowed me to peek at him.
He was most definitely the brightest and most beautiful part of my day yesterday, doing exactly what God created him to do – every second of it shedding God-glory like tiny flecks of glitter as he flitted across my line of vision.
“As you learn more and more how God works, 
you will learn how to do your work. 
We pray that you’ll have the strength 
to stick it out over the long haul—
not the grim strength of gritting your teeth 
 but the glory-strength God gives. 
It is strength that endures the unendurable 
and spills over into joy, 
thanking the Father who makes us strong enough 
 to take part in everything bright and beautiful 
that he has for us.”
Colossians 1:9-10, The Message 

May the rest of your weekend be layered with glimpses of the bright and beautiful things God has for you.
Joining with Sandy King for her Still Saturday
and Deidra Riggs for her Sunday invitation.

When to Write…

As a matter of principle,  I seem to be late a lot. And I am very late in joining Lyla over at TweetSpeak Poetry for their book club reading of L.L. Barkat’s wonderful small volume on the craft of writing and the life of the writer. It’s called “Rumors of Water,”and I cannot encourage you strongly enough to read this one through. Mark it up, read it again, live with it a while – if you ever have occasion to write anything at all, ever, her words are wise and truly helpful. This is the last week and it’s on the last two sections of the book: “Glitches” and “Time.”

I am wrestling today with this whole idea of time.
When is it time to tell certain stories?
When is it too early?
Or too late?
How do we know when the time is now?
I’ve had this blog for a number of years.
It was initially an assignment,
a strong request from my boss,
who had a blog himself and 
he wanted others on the church staff to have one, too.
I’ve loved to write ever since I can remember.
I’ve had teachers encourage me to do more of it.
I’ve even had a ‘call’ to do it,
an almost audible voice asking me to
‘write my life down,’ primarily for my then newly-born elder granddaughter.
She is six years old now.
And I still haven’t done it.
I’ve made a stab at it here and there.
I’ve written some of the stories.
But about five years ago, I came up against this extremely painful reality: 
parts of my story may be mine, 
 but they impinge on the lives 
and feelings 
and experiences of others. 
So maybe they’re not my stories to write after all?
Let me explain a bit more about what I mean.
In the right hand column is a list of the archives of this blog. You’ll note that I wrote about 20 times the first year – 2006. And about 10 times the next year.
And not at all in 2008.
Not one post.
From summer 2007 until sometime in 2009,
I stayed away from here, 
badly burned by a most difficult experience:
I wrote a story before its time.
It was a difficult post to write because I had just spent a pretty rough week watching someone I loved suffer terribly. 
I wrote, without names, about that experience.
About how watching others suffer,
wondering, “How long, O Lord, how long?” – about how
that is a particular kind of pain straight from the bowels of hell itself.
My boss was thrilled with the post.
He thought it was powerful,
true and necessary.
However, someone else who was close to the situation 
was deeply wounded by what I wrote.
And you know what?
That wounding far outweighed my boss’s appreciation.
FAR outweighed it, if there are some kind of 
cosmic books being kept of such things.
That post was ‘live’ for a total of about 12 hours, 
and then it was sent into cyber limbo, 
never to be seen again.
But the repercussions from it reverberate 
right into the present day.
So I am left wondering.
When can this part of my story be told?
Maybe so.
And that’s a hard reality to look at.
I am hoping Ms. Barkat is right.
“There is no hurry. 
The things we cannot write about today, 
we will surely find we can write about tomorrow.”
Perhaps time will tell. 
A patient reader of this blog will also notice 
that from 2008-2010, 
almost all posts were strictly work-related – 
prayers and sermons I had written for corporate worship. 
It was not until I retired at the end of 2010 
that I began doing 
regular, reflective writing once again. 
And I do it very, very gingerly still. 
The last thing I want my writing to do 
is to further complicate or make painful the lives of others – so I’m learning 
(very slowly) to dive beneath the surface, 
to put some of my observations about life 
and death 
and family 
and faith 
out here in print. 
I’m not sure I know the answer to the questions 
I’ve raised, 
but I’m trying to do what L.L. suggests: 
“Trust the process and move on.”