Wednesday, December 4, 2019

5. DARKNESS





Let it be dark.

Sun dips. Dusk settles. Black opens her mouth. 

Before bed, I unlock the door and tiptoe out onto a frosty deck. It’s December. No moon tonight. 

Listen to the deep-grey of far-off highway noise. Past the rumor of clouds, I search for a glint, insistently search as if I must find something to challenge the night. O wise men . . .

. . . it must have been tricky, following a star. Donkeys stumbling along. How does one prepare for traveling to a star? Do you think they started months before?



Surely not the shepherds, also keeping watch for what lurks in the dark. The sheep settle, the shepherds lean back, and there’s the starry host encouraging the repetition of epic tales, magnetic compass points, leading someone else.

How did shepherds explain that star? Shrug? Were they a little afraid?

Did their wonder begin with a sigh, something like wind; or maybe it was like the highway noise, there but not there, easy to ignore but now that you mention it, yes, it’s louder now and what is that, WHAT IS THAT SOUND, that light, leaning over them, sonorous, a murmur lilting, like musicians tuning toward A. 



Was it an A? Or something else? Was there a tap out of nowhere, while the whole world blushed at the massive wings silenced, a hush, then breath gathering and 

GLORIA 
GLORIA IN EXCELSIS DEO

flooding the sky.

Maybe those shepherds fell to the ground. Such is the way of surprises in the dark. 

And what about the magi? Weeks, months, a year out what did they hear? Oh I hope they caught it and memorized the echo, that chorus they found themselves humming; tapping their toes inside their shoes, faces damp with tears.

The shepherds. The wisemen. Me, out in the dark of night. We close our eyes and listen then oh-so-carefully peek through our lashes. Imagine the singular beauty of angel-song igniting the heavens. 



I’m squinting. Watching how they could have waited a moment... then must have come a running. 

A King.  

Surely the last thing they could've imagined coming out of the darkness of a virgin womb. 




*

Isaiah 9:2  The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light, they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.

*

  

Monday, October 14, 2019

4. WHY THANK YOU




Let’s say I thanked you for something. Anything. Giving thanks, transforms a gift. 

The gift is enriched. The warm breath of gratitude instills life, sentience. 

There I am, my gift looking back at me.



I can tell you are thinking of a treasured gift and being thankful all over again. 

My momma did not dish out compliments. Yet, one day she gave me the gift of telling me I had unusual common sense. Thank you, Momma, I’ve remembered that one compliment my whole life. It’s still making my brain feel valuable.



My beloved named a fear of mine one day. That sort of gift. He then told me "stand a little taller and step a little closer and don't forget Who is standing behind you." I think the intended gift was courage. Ok. Thank you for that double-edged sword. 

The gift looking back at me was…

…silence. 

Unblinking silence that exudes strength

or silent desperation. Despair. I’m talking about the phobic silence of a panic-attack crushing any try at gratitude. Sarcasm’s incessant, internal, name-calling blots out anything close to courage. The power of this to cripple a soul cannot be exaggerated.



Unintentional and debilitating gifts. Can thanks mend that?  

I don’t know.
I’ve tried using gratitude like a magic potion. 

Doesn’t work. Seems fake.

All I know--at the exhausting end of myself, at the end of fears & anxiety & night-terrors, Something good is there. Jesus. He calls my name like He is still glad for having made me.  Making me--a gift to Himself.

Can I say He is Thankful?

I want to say so because of the way this changes me. It lays joy over me, a sentience indescribable.



The Lord promises to give a white stone to each of us in heaven, a stone with a new name on it. I wonder what your name will be. Just imagine!

Let mine be Endless Anthem of Thanks.



***


Oh and something to think about: 
Perhaps “It is good…” is the sound of God giving thanks.


**
  

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

3. LEAD BOOTS



Have you ever gotten something, had a stunning moment of great longing finally arrive? And while it unloads its baggage in your margins, you have a caving moment of clarity. Monumental and heavy expectations are making themselves at home.

It’s the disconnect between ego that can do anything and reality where you no longer can hide the lack. 



And what are these lead boots? But no one mentioned there were lead boots—meaning you DO have to DO the hard things being stacked in the guest room.

You’re obligated.

Have you ever tried to fix yourself via book or blog or podcast? Looks good, sounds good, worked for at least one other person AND OHMIGOSH those people at the top are waving at you. 


Snort.

The tradeoff is sand. Now I have to run through fix-it-yourself sand. Trudge an endless beach of deep loose grit. It’s hot from the sun, burning my feet and just as filled with uncertainty as before. Stopping is worse than shuffling ahead.


And yet. 

This is a shore. Sand is firmer where waves roll over it. I go for the water, but the pull of the tides washes the sand from under my feet, taking any possible balance with it. 



I wade in deeper; all in now. It’s cold. I think about giving up but there are others, people on each side of me saying prayers.



But I do give up--all I can and cannot be. I slip under, releasing my will entirely to God 



. . . and they pull me up. 



Not my will but thy will be done, floods me with

 I need you.

Hope doesn’t exactly fill me.
It frees me to be enough.

Enough

to not be afraid to ask you for help.



Letting go. It's hard. Humiliating. Freeing. 

Tell your story of lead boots in the comments. 

The stories give courage. 

We need courage. 

We need God.

We need each other.


*  
  





Monday, July 15, 2019

2. JUMPING FROM BALLOONS







 In 1957, David G. Simons rode a helium balloon up 19 miles...

...tucked inside an aluminum capsule. 

Just to see if it could be done. And peek out from on high.




He recalled the experience this way:

“I had a ringside view of the heavens, where the atmosphere merged with the colorless blackness of space … the sky was so heavily saturated with the blue-purple color that it was hard to comprehend. Like a musical note which is beautifully vibrant but so high that I lies almost beyond the ears ability to hear, leaving you unsure whether you heard it or just dreamed of its beauty.”

Indescribable beauty.




Aug 16, 1960 Captain Joe Kittinger... 

...rode a helium balloon to 102,800 ft and stepped off the gondola. Free fall. Almost 20 miles up, or shall I say DOWN.... 




...with only a small drogue parachute to prevent a flat spin, he fell at over 600 mph. He managed to open another chute at 18,000 ft. 

He recalls the fall this way:  
“There's no way you can visualize the speed. There's nothing you can see to tell how fast you're going. You have no depth perception. If you're in a car driving down the road and you close your eyes, you have no idea what your speed is. It's the same thing if you're free falling from space. There are no signposts. You know you are going very fast, but you don't feel it. You don't have a 614-mph wind blowing on you. I could only hear myself breathing in the helmet”.

No miracles. No markers. 
Neither man received much renown for these incredible acts. 




Isn’t this the quintessential portrait of faith? 

Nameless and invisible acts of courage. 

Signposts invisible, unknown. 

Eyes closed or eyes open,  
all I hear is me breathing into the helmet. 

Extremes of danger and of all things BEAUTY.

Ever feel that way? 
WHAT ABOUT FEAR? 

Have you been to the purple-blue place?
Jumped with only the net of prayer?

Oh, please share your story in the comments below! I’ve had some trouble with comments not posting. Please message me on FB if you have trouble. 








Just before jumping from the balloon gondola Excelsior III at 102,800 ft, Captain Joe said, “Lord take care of me now.”

Twenty miles down, 614 mph. There it is, the miracle of no flat spin. And a view beyond words. Wooden Woman says, sometimes that’s all we get.

*






Monday, July 1, 2019


1. BEGINNING AGAIN...




Wooden Woman here. Hello again, yes, it's been a while. Sometimes one has to take time to live before there is anything to say. 

So there was last weekend--Wooden Woman and her beloved went downtown because there was a happening. A spectacle of three on three basketball. World's largest they say. Masses of sweaty humanity milling the entire blocked-off downtown area. Every age, shape and vocabulary you can imagine. 

And Wooden Woman.

Let me just say Wooden Woman does not play nor has ever played basketball--it's not her thing. No matter. Sometimes you join others different than you, for no reason or for any reason at all.


Apparently people love this. Competition. Rules. Stay here, don't go there. Whistle means stop. Nothing needs to be said. You just know. Everyone knows. 

The players and the watchers. Unspoken rules for each.




Don't be fooled there was nothing really passive about roosting or playing.

Through the park and streets or makeshift courts the throngs shifted and surged, searching it seems. For points. For food. For good game. Hoping for something to grab their attention. Ohhh there! Point a finger and all around people turn or lean or lunge for the opening. 


And that was it. 

Astonishment.

A stunning wonder, a miracle actually, walking among thousands an entire afternoon and making it back to the car without touching one person (other than her beloved). 

Wooden Woman wonders if the gyre of humanity is after all as beautiful as a murmuration. (Thanks National Geographic for the video link).  ASTONISHING. SUCH BEAUTY. 

Even if reality looks more like this:


In starling's need for a safe place to rest for the night or humanity needing to play win-or-lose, oh let there be unexpected good, we cannot see or understand. 

Isn't that what we hope for--that somehow every bit of the whole will find a place in redemption? 

And sometimes keeping a little distance is exactly what is needed. Hah.



*

Tell me your astonishments. They hide in the ordinary. 

*

Monday, April 21, 2014

11. HIDE AND SEEK




Wooden Woman takes in a long breath.
This is where she takes off her shoes.
Between the toes of Engineers boots and hers
it’s dusty. Long hairs have migrated
under the shoe tree and merged with
grey-coated carpet. Wooden Woman remembers




house dust is mostly skin, cells shed like snow.
Within seven years every cell is replaced.
Constant renewal. Yet we grow old. Her toe snags




a bag
of almost-ready-to-give-away clothes,
past indulgences one could almost forget,
but not quite.
The dirty things and
hanging things whisper the lingering scent
of sweat and perfume,
the truth and the cover.





Go into your closet and pray.

Wooden Woman is a literalist.
And a closet figurative -ist.

She closes the door and
thinks about Holy God
kind of like a first and last name.

What does your name mean?
Wooden Woman means Graceful Lily.
Graceful Lily is laughing

unable to conjure a face to go with Holy,




feels like: All heads down.
Mustn’t peek,
even in a dark closet

with the door closed. Wooden Woman
presses her palms against her eyes,
bits of light whirl and sift.
Wooden Woman imagines this as an entry
into eternity,




shoe boxes and shelves, walls
fall away and openness reels outward,
gathering yesterdays and calling tomorrow,
the way the strike
of a church bell
announces beginnings and ends
and endless calling of the name...




Holy. Holy Holy 
and there seems nothing else
worth saying
so she chimes in
Holy Holy Holy and Holy

Holy




And she understands sorrow
because she is not
Holy

or even holy

and the closet is her cover.




And comfort. For a long long time…
was it time, or just being

with I AM?




She rises,
takes what she imagines to be
the hand
of he who drove her home
on a dark night,

turns the palm up and places a kiss.
She opens the door with...




...thank you.

   




    
 

  
  

After a few steps she pauses,
shivers… and looks back… nah, nothing there…




…“Surely goodness and mercy will follow you…” 

 –Psalm 23:6