Thursday, July 26, 2012


My feet ache, the heel tender from meeting the linoleum daily in an attempt to preserve the harvest.  And this is just right.

The blackberries release their juices about twelve minutes into the stirring and once the sugar is added, there will be another 20 minutes until it thickens, so I close my eyes and practice leaning forward on my toes, distributing the weight I usually ask my heel to carry forward and across the entire surface of my size 9 1/2, and there is a sudden lift, a lightening, and I feel as though I've lost 20 pounds.  I lean my arm across the cabinet above the oven, rest my forehead against my arm and close my eyes.  I distribute the weight of my vision across an interior landscape.  The silver ladle dipped into the purpleblack berries moves against the clock.  I rewind.

You were a girl with a red second place ribbon once.  How important is winning to you now?

Not at all.  Closed eyes.  I hear Nora in the living room talking her quiet make-believe into the inanimate forest creatures she loves.

Tom is 900 miles away, and I try to bend the distance as one would fold a piece of fabric in half.  My life, now opened, encloses me in these "conditions."  No rain for the flowers, and I finally let the grass die.  The garden bursts green above the dead yellow that surrounds it, watered every night for two hours, my oasis though the heat has kept me out of it for longer than 20 minutes at a time.

I'm afraid that I sound like I'm complaining.  I'm not.  I'm recording:

Moments that surround me like a gift even when they seem to stretch on forever.  

And this is the mystery of the answer:  "I am that I am."

Saturday, July 14, 2012 will be more glorious because of the waiting...

Approach the page.  Lift the words as you would a broom, one that has become a sacred vessel, more necessary for your journey than the expensive, decorative item sitting on your shelf.   I use the broom.  I use the Word.

For me, beauty can only be found in the functional.  I think of Shug talking to Miss Celie in The Color Purple.  It stuck with me when I first heard it as a ten year old, what she said, and I thought about it today driving down 34 to my mom's house to be present to something I needed to make right.  "You know what, Miss Celie?  I think it pisses God off when we walk by the color purple without noticing it."

Now, dear reader, don't be thrown off by the language here.  I think Shug says it this way for a reason.  Sometimes, and I find myself doing this, we turn a fancy phrase or couch something simple in big words in order to poof it up, make it more beautiful.  I don't think Alice Walker wanted to do this to a statement that means so much to her, and I'd like to learn a little more of this courage, too.

Like the other night when Nora walked in and said, "I get all of my wisdom from my heart."  Simple as that.  No explanation needed.  She moved me.  And that's what good language does.  It MOVES us.  As in, it repositions us in such a way that we become more in tune, more attuned to the moment of presence in which we find ourselves.

For example, the color purple.  I don't know about God getting angry when we don't notice the beautiful things being grown out there by that divine Love.  I think it has more to do with saying, "You want life abundant?  Well, take a look around you.  There you go.  Purple.  Stop your belly-aching and get to paying attention.  You have everything you need.  Now what are you going to do with it, and who are you going to give it to in return?"  (Or "to whom are you going to give it."  More fancy talk.  Don't let the technicalities stand in the way of your saying it.)

Then I start to think about the "purple" things in my life:

Nora's wisdom late at night.
Tom's willingness to carry me over my own storms.
Mom's honesty when I'm being stubborn and selfish.
My sister's potato salad.
The honest tears in my stepdad's eyes.
The words I write after a couple weeks of contemplation, afraid I couldn't "capture" it.  (Oh, forgive me for my inclination toward ownership of anything these hands are given to make.)
The broom (fill in the blank with anything you used today to move your life along) I use, the sacred vessel, that helps me along on this journey.

I think my prayer is something like this tonight:  Help me recognize those people, the colors, the sounds, the small and everyday objects that assist me on this human voyage.  Help me see beyond the way they assist me alone, so I might remember the Purpose of All Gifts Given by the One with the most Generous Spirit, to return to the world its own lost heart.  Let me be a part of this movement.  Continue to teach me how to be loved and how to love.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary, How Does Your Garden Grow?

When the broken cells in your body, and the long and lonely moments in your life are rearranged, there enters a necessary silence, one that allows the re-membering to take place safely, securely, root deep.

I observe the same cycles this summer as I did last year:  pickling the radish, blanching the beans, weeding the same flower beds, trimming the same stubborn saplings that appear under the hummingbird bush.  I move around the place in the same scuffed boots and the same dirty jeans.  I come in sweating like always and drink from the same jar of sun tea, the one that leaks into the crisper underneath it.  I wash my hands and forearms in the same well water and stand under the same ceiling fan in the kitchen letting the mechanical breath of it cool me.

Even though there is the appearance of sameness on the outside, I am entirely new under the shelter of this love.  I know all of you have felt the same transformation, the one that gives a certain intensity and depth to the creative act of being alive.

Eight pounds of peaches are sitting on the kitchen counter, soon to be spicy, sweet preserves, and there are two loaves of zucchini bread on a wire rack, evidence of a late night of baking.  Together we're finding the delicious things, vibrant things, the things of life that speak and feel and risk and give and love.  The amnesia is wearing off.  Thank you.

I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you...

We are moved toward newness, loved kindly, cultivated through attentiveness, handled gently.  In the same way, wobbling children learn to walk, moving away from what is "safe" in order to touch that which asks us to grow.  (We're all just wobbling children in so many ways.)

And as the earth is reformed into climbing vines of heart-shaped leaves and the flowers find their color in the sun, Nora's cells are rearranging, too.  Her legs are so much longer this summer, though her skin has found the same rich shade as last year, the kind that speaks of hours at the local pool.  She knows new words.  Her heart is still wise.  She still invents brilliant contraptions and speaks with the kind of wisdom I know comes from the way God has been speaking to her from the very beginning, the same way a younger version of myself heard the still, small voice that whispered into my cells as I peered over the edge of the mesa, watching the grass move in waves that made it possible to see the Silent Breath I heard inside me, the kind that rearranges you.

Every morning, I still pull out my stacks of books, the blank page of a notebook and a mechanical pencil, and I study, and sit, and think and pray.  And I am beginning to understand more and more each day that I'm not trying to "get to the bottom of things."  How deadly.  How impossibly small.  I am simply trying to be brave enough to allow my cells, my soul, my life, my self to be rearranged, to be willing enough to release this person into the space of a life with her heart beating strong into the lives of those around her, her hands working good into the hours given to her.  

The garden continues to give itself over to me, and I give myself over to it on my knees in the prayer of labor pulling the dead leaves and greedy weeds away from the living stuff.  And I am doing the same work inside of me.  Or I am allowing this work to be done to me, through me.  Healing is a kind of mystery that occurs when one opens to the moment of being loved even as far as to the seemingly unlovable edges of yourself, near the border spaces where you've been sitting too afraid to call it home.  Perhaps it is the space of the margin where I sit looking in and out, perhaps this place is just as right, too.