Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas hope (for Amanda)

snow falls slow and cold, like death
upon the barren ground;
white, like an unwritten story;
soft, without a sound.

bells of crimson ringing hollow --
gifts cannot replace --
Christmas carols echo heartless --
feasts can't fill the space...

womb now empty; expectation
stolen in the night.
glowing-growing body, crumpled.
hope snatched out of sight.

two thousand years ago, heaven
watched with wondering eye:
only Son, earthen maiden,
broken lullabyes...

her womb had swelled with Godhead-fullness
tipped from heaven's throne.
He grew up; she looked up:
saw Him pierced and all alone.

untimely death had robbed this mother
of her first-born Son.
yet, His sacrifice had left
no good thing undone.

a mother's tears, a spilled-out cup,
unleavened wafer crumbs;
a bloodied cross, an empty grave,
veil torn top to bottom.

the emptiness of Christmas calls
to hearts broken and true:
wrap your love -- womb Him here --
let Christ be born in you.

feel the sting of death, and hope
for victory and for Home.
lean hard, dear soul, and let Him wash you
white as fallen snow.


sharing this imperfect prose with friends
over at emily's place... http://canvaschild.blogspot.com

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

playdoh therapy

in a world where prism-puddles
and sprinklers on lawns
make children squeal in ecstasy,
there's something rather wrong
with little hands that love to open
cups of coloured dough
but fear to squish them up into
a beautiful rainbow.

see, when i was a little girl,
i was afraid to mix it --
afraid to muddy up the hues
so that i could not fix it.
i never formed a marble,
a guppy with pretty fins,
or anything else that would be doomed
to land in the garbage bin.

the other day, my three sons pulled
cups of coloured dough
from the cupboard to the floor
and stacked them in a row.
i turned from my computer screen
and sprawled out with my boys.
we opened lids and turned dough into
messy blobs of joy.

i built my four-year-old a pumpkin,
then i watched him smash it.
my five-year-old mixed red with black.
(it felt so good to mash it!)
pretty sure my jellyfish
would go as jelly goes,
i let my two-year-old subject it
to digestive throes.

well, the mess we made together
cannot possibly be
sorted back into containers.
still, it's plain to see
that coloured dough, like all such things,
is by no means eternal...
unless you use it up -- waste it! --
for memories supernal.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

coming down with something

with flushed face
i cheered my kindergarteners --
paddling pool water in ecstasy

with shaking hands
i held my toddler steady --
climbing plastic rungs with abandon

with heavy arms
i wrapped my sometimes-daughter in a towel --
tasting shea butter lotion like a connoisseur

flesh strangely warm,
back slightly stooped,
voice a little shaky...

shutting doors against winter's storm,
wiping and kissing rounded cheeks,
singing songs...

and they prayed for me,
those precious souls

and i longed to kiss my husband

for grasping my hand while he drove,
for feeding me slices of clementine
and rubbing my back while shepherd's pie baked

we laid on the couch
and finished a movie
(our third installment -- that's the way it is around here)

and i let the housework slide
while i felt the ache
on the outside. just the shell of me.

because
inside,
i feel great.

chicken soup for the proverbial soul: http://canvaschild.blogspot.com/

Sunday, November 28, 2010

children

if there had been no mother
in all your childhood days,
who would you look to for the grace
of teaching you her ways?

if there had been no father,
no tender, calloused touch
upon the pictures of your life,
would you look at them much?

if no one knelt beside the tub
while on her arm you leaned
to trickle water down your hair,
would you care to be clean?

if no dad stood with open glove
to catch your first t-ball,
would you stand a sporting chance
of shaking off a fall?

if you had no mother
to stroke your face at night,
would you know how to fall asleep
under soft moonlight?

if you had no father,
would you be afraid to dream?
with no one stronger by your side
to hush your fevered screams?

if you have a mother,
please pass her loving down.
just hold a hand, the way she did
when worries made you frown.

and if you have a father,
you've got a job to do.
the world's in need of helping hands
and strength to listen, too.

(thanks, mom and dad, for loving me.)

children, gather here: http://canvaschild.blogspot.com

Sunday, November 21, 2010

a meditation

thirteen men going violently:
blazing sight across blind eyes,
lurching lame feet into a run.
searing feeling through leprous limbs,
terrifying funeral-goers with movement...

"...and the poor have good news preached to them."
what miracles!

"go tell john," said the Christ,
"what you hear and see."

john had been heralding a coming Kingdom:
all camel's hair and leather,
locusts and wild honey,
neither eating delicacies nor drinking wine.
it was too much.

and so, this herald had been taken by force,
would soon bleed out and fall

upon the whim of softly-dressed men in kings' houses:
reeds shaken by the wind.

"blessed is the one who is not offended by Me,"
said the Christ,
sending word to His cousin.
He surely loved this man,
surely knew his time was up.

john heralded a Kingdom he'd never seen --
had been in jail doubting -- to what end?

"we played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn."

and i'm a gluttonous king
drunk on my own religiosity,
hating john for abstaining
and the Christ for eating and drinking.
"yet wisdom is justified by her deeds."

and it will be more tolerable in the Day of Judgment
for the cities of sodomy than for me:

wrapped in soft cloth and shaken by the wind,
knowing of His mighty works but not repentant

so unlike a little child:
at liberty dancing through the streets,
weeping hard at soul-death all around.
reading to know my Father's gracious will,
wondering that He has chosen me.

until i hear it:
"come to Me..."

and i feel it:
"all who labour and are heavy laden..."

and i want it:
"I will give you rest.
take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me,
for I am gentle and lowly in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls."

it's so unexpected:
"for My yoke is easy..."

and so free.
"My burden is light."



























read what i'm talking about at: http://www.gnpcb.org/esv/search/?q=matthew+11

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

my love song

i remember me,
twenty-six years ago,
so assured of Love.
on the top bunk singing and making sure
that my song was heard in Heaven.

"Jesus loves me, this i know..."

i never had alcoholic parents,
but my dad did,
and the pain drew him to girls,
and to drugs, and pride,
before it spit him out in humility at the Throne.

"for the Bible tells me so..."

and the King has been prying at the fingers
that clutched bloodied rags --
my dad's childhood attempts to wipe up the pain
that foamed up into apathy,
that rooted into bitterness.

"little ones to Him belong..."

we spent a generation,
me and my dad,
feeling hurt and keeping silence
and trying but not understanding,
yet sharing a Love so deep and so true.

"we are weak, but He is strong..."

when my dad let go --
placed my hand inside my husband's --
he started to breathe a little more freely,
and to bless our Father for grace,
and to become my friend.

"yes, Jesus loves me..."

and i, too, am reeling at this grace
that sends my own children
running back into my arms
after i've been harsh --
my dad understands this.

"yes, Jesus loves me..."

and as i grow, i am shocked by the freedom
that whirls good gifts --
food, drink, sexuality, song --
in a dance around me,
a child loved by the Father of lights.

"yes, Jesus loves me..."

and i am rocked by the responsibility
of using these gifts to love well,
of learning my Father's character --
for He is free, and in His hands,
every gift is a tool of love.

"the Bible tells me so."

and i hope that everyone --
from my dad, who makes me laugh,
to my hurting friends, earth-wrung-out,
to my children, whom i tuck into bed with this song --
will hear me singing.

we're all singing at http://canvaschild.blogspot.com/

Thursday, November 4, 2010

a different kind of darkness

silk tie adjusted around neck
leather shoes tied snugly

crouching in hiding
under fluorescent light

mouse pointer taking aim
right hand pulling the trigger

credit card number prostituted
memory raped

it's a different kind of darkness.


ninety-dollar hoodie over cap askew
size-thirteens measuring sidewalk

pace quickening
as fluorescent lights buzz orange

right hand tossing bottle to the curb
sweat beads worsening the chill

memory molested
body shaking in fear

it's a different kind of darkness.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

breathing in

i think
that when i get to Dad's place
i'll get to ask
how the loon got its spots

white on eumelanin-black
dripped across barbs, barbules, barbicels

and
when i get new eyes
i'll be able to tell
what colour "dusk" is

sun hidden six degrees down
scattering prism-rays into a sky-puddle

and
when tears are wiped away
i'll be greeted by
my eldest son or daughter

broken chromosomes made whole
Father's timing understood

and
when earth's labour pains are over
thorns burned, curse lifted
work is gonna feel so good

imagination soaring, creativity forming
strength full, backs straight

and
in those days
(because you can't have Matter without Time,
and both Body and Spirit will find Home there)

and nights
(because there will be no more Night in the City,
but why shouldn't darkness be redeemed, too?)

when Aurora Borealis and martyrs
sing the song of the Lamb,

when all my questions
meet their Answer,

when faith and hope
become love's sight,

then,
like the song says,
i'll be breathing in.

http://www.downhere.com/

Sunday, October 24, 2010

the bubblegum preacher

missionaries came to town today,
with shells and teeth and books.
they scattered them 'cross folding tables
so we could have a look.

we asked them lots of questions and
they shared with us their hearts.
with power point and words in red,
they urged us to take part.

such a monumental task:
to reach this whole wide world,
to see the banner of the cross
from sea to sea unfurled.

and all this talk of going forth,
fields white and labourers few
left me feeling very small,
not knowing what to do.

then, as i headed for the door,
i turned in time to see
a little girl from sunday school
looking up at me.

"do you want a piece of gum?"
she asked with blue eyes grand.
she then proceeded to lavish me
with what was in her hand.

her very own treasure, paper-wrapped,
the brightest shade of blue:
three-quarters of a cubic inch
of cotton candy goo.

i popped the morsel in my mouth
and suddenly understood
the child-like faith it takes to share
a gift that's oh so good...

when you've got something wonderful,
sweetness that's true-blue,
all you need to do is ask
a friend to taste it, too.

Friday, October 22, 2010

a silly little heartfelt prayer

i cut his hair,
his crazy hair,
his fuzzy einstein hair.
i sat him in the sink and snipped it --
he didn't even care.

i picked him up,
i wrapped him up,
i pajama'd him all up.
he smelled so good and looked so nice
draining his sippy cup.

i laid his head,
his fresh-trimmed head --
his fingers found his head.
he tried to grasp the hair i'd cut
while sinking into bed.

he always did,
my baby did,
hold hair is what he did.
but now his fingers slipped right off
the short locks on his lid.

"oh no!" i cried,
this mother cried,
whose baby never cried
at having lost his infant grasp
on comforts he had tried.

i squeezed my eyes,
i touched his eyes,
as prayer poured from my eyes.
then, as the blur gave way to sight,
i saw, to my surprise,

he held on tight,
to short hair tight,
to my heart oh! so tight.
my baby's little fingers held me
up with all their might.

they slipped away,
he slept away,
to dreams he tripped away.
and i thanked God for answering
the silly prayers i pray.


Monday, October 11, 2010

joy

is it in the sparkle of a diamond ring?
that shimmers through vow-making,
that's appraised through vow-keeping?

joy

is it in the smell of fresh paint?
that settles upon stair creaks discovered,
that crackles along kitchen counters gravy-splattered?

joy

is it in the cry of worship choruses?
that rise and fall with sunday congregations,
that ring campfires, guitars, and fireflies flickering?

joy

tonight, there are those who bleed
and burn
in the dark
and in prison
alone
or in the presence of their enemies

who know a bit about it. joy.

tonight, there are those bruised
and used
on the streets
or in bedrooms
alone
or huddling together for warmth

who have a little of it. joy.

and tonight, there is a God
who sees
and knows
and weighs justly
and counts riches oh so differently
than i ever have

and who wants to give me joy

in abiding (John 15:1-11)
and in hoping (Proverbs 10:28, Romans 15:13)
...in His judgment (I Chronicles 16:33, Proverbs 21:15)
...in His keeping (Jude 1)
...in His return (John 16:22).

and as i praise Him for being so great
in spite of,
above,
beyond
anything,
everything

He gives me joy.

Friday, October 8, 2010

taking heart (for Jo)

"be of good cheer!"
i've heard it said
from mouths of well-meaners
who patted my head

and walked away slowly
and closed their car doors
and sucked in relief
that the funeral was over.

"be of good cheer!"
i've seen it in red
on thin, crinkly pages
spread over my bed --

but those words weren't spoken
by my Lord to me
while i tossed and i turned
in dark misery

of good men gone cold.
of memories, lost.
of grace, unaccepted.
of linen, unwashed.

no, but what i do find
is Adonai, who says,
"I've no pleasure in death.
turn back from your ways!"

then, if my Master grieves,
i must be allowed, too.
i'll pound on His chest
like a small child would do.

but what of "good cheer"?
or rather, "take heart"?
throughout these pages,
it's always a part

of a word straight from Heaven
(so we know it is true):
not so much, "chin up,"
as, "I promise you."

Monday, October 4, 2010

castle news

three beds topped warm with rumpled fleece and limb-flung princes,
breathing gently;
two counters toppling high with backpacks, lunch sacks and sippy cups,
drying sticky;
one hallway strung with bathing suits and little sandals,
chilled and soppy.

one cinderella in slippered feet moving among the messes -- all for those boys,
all for them;
one handsome prince pacing green, grassy lines in front of his childhood home
(yes, in the dark);
two bodies swaying tired, plodding toward the nine o' clock finish line
of today.

a mental tally:
one little pair of ice skates, wiped dry.
two pairs of school shoes, tossed to the mat.
friend's apartment, scrubbed hard.
grocery store receipt, stuffed into purse.
swimming lessons, aced.
dad's lawn, cut.
showers all around.

our losses:
one nap, missed;
one china saucer, shattered;
one yogurt tub, busted;
one punch to the face in the pharmacy aisle
(although i dealt with that one really well, so it's not actually a loss);
three small sets of teeth, unbrushed.

all in all:
one Kingdom, advancing.


nobles and peasants, we: http://canvaschild.blogspot.com

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

answering emily

"you sounded sad.
everything okay?"
emily tapped on my heart today

and it's not that i'm sad,
but i find it strange
that traditions always take so long to change

why so many buildings
dividing our force?
why so few workers? why so many chores?

and why empty pews
every wednesday night?
why doctrinal, peripheral, preference fights?

but change is coming.
it's starting to start.
i see it in these words, straight from the heart:

"'if the Son makes you free,
you are free indeed!'"
jessica is learning to walk what she reads

"God gave me a thirst,
and i want it to grow!"
charlie will reap what leah now sows

"let's change the world.
where do we start?"
dan's friend dan is doing his part

and so many others
who know it is true
that what you believe is just what you do

i love them so much,
my dear family.
and the more we believe, the more you will see...


we're not Home yet.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

learning to be Mom

















they say my love's not fickle.
they say my heart is true.
they say there isn't anything
i wouldn't do for you.

a mother's touch is soft, they say,
her eyes are always bright.
she'd throw away her days
to sit and watch you through the night.

it's true, i've never loved so sweet
and yes, my whole life changed
the second your lungs filled with air,
the moment you filled my gaze.

but child, you and your brothers are
a telling lot to me.
you rip apart my insides
and lay them out for us to see.

laziness here, impatience there,
selfishness all around.
so many words i've said when there
should not have been a sound.

you drop your stew. you fling your cup.
you squeeze the cat with vigour.
sometimes, when i pick you up,
you bite me on the finger.

you run to mischief. dance at midnight.
fall asleep in your supper.
you laugh at the corner i've put you in
for throwing all the Tupper-

ware and everyone who knows me
knows i'm cranky when i'm tired.
i know that this is good for me,
that this is how you're wired...

and so, i pray for mercy
as i chase you through each day:
that i'll grow up before you do,
that we'll learn to obey.

then, tiny rainboots run to me
and little hands lift up,
and as i warm them on my face,
our Father fills my cup.













going over to emily's to share a cuppa... http://canvaschild.blogspot.com/

Thursday, September 23, 2010

trying for greatness

you shuffle down my sidewalk
cut-off joggers
and sandals with gray socks
and i love you

smoke wafts into my air
mouth full of four-letter words
heart empty of affirmation
and i love you

you stop on my lawn
child peering out from stroller
child peeking out from behind your legs
and i love you

but do i like you?

i can love you with my smiles
my time
my conversation
even some of my money

but can i like your family
with my family?

isn't there some line
in the schoolyard dirt
that separates the moms in blazers
from the moms in pajamas?

aren't there rules about
hockey/soccer/dance/voice lesson/
tropical winter vacation/summer sport camp moms
versus other moms?

and i know i'm none of those great things,
but couldn't i be,
if i tried?
should i be trying?

but as you stand on my lawn
with your stroller
you speak of what you know:
family.

and as you stand on my lawn
in your cut-off joggers
you show me what you do:
sacrifice.

and as we stand together on God's grass
with our children
becoming family
you teach me to ask:

what does it mean
to gain the whole world and lose my soul?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

little things

it's the little things --
fly on the picnic table,
pebble in the shoe,
dust on the dashboard
-- that get to us the most.

and it's the little things --
smell of mom's granola baking,
sound of skates on ice,
glow of buttercup under chin
-- that we remember best.

and it's even little things --
sparkle on third finger,
ink upon page,
arm around shoulder
-- that we use to testify love.

so why,
why

would we ever think ourselves
too small

to make a difference?

a few little things --
letter to politician,
hour in nursing home,
casserole for neighbour
-- could change people.

and a lot of little people --
people who pray,
prayers who love,
lovers who help
-- could change the world.

so, next time you get a paper cut,
remember,

it's all about the little things.

changing their small corner: http://canvaschild.blogspot.com

Sunday, September 19, 2010

seeing light

if i sinned
long enough and hard enough
to deserve nothing
-- no light, no grace, no peace --
well, it would only take a second, really.

and if i realized it
tripped upon a star in the dark
fell into light of holiness
-- revealing, stabbing, terrifying --
well, i would try to run for cover.

but if a hand
were to reach out from that star
shield my eyes graciously
-- the warmth, the scent, the almost-touch --
well, that would awaken me to love.

and i would stay
there on the edge of light and shadow
so dirty-ashamed, so peace-thirsting
-- calling, glancing, faltering --
well, just hoping against hope for the light to take me

to make me
light

and if i
were to learn that the light
had once become darkness-cursed for me
-- uncomprehended, reviled, soul-scourged --
well, that would rock me to the core.

and if only
i could believe hard enough
to accept the gift freely offered
-- light, grace, peace --
well, that would change me, wouldn't it?

make me
light


"Transgression speaks to the wicked deep in his heart;
there is no fear of God before his eyes.
For he flatters himself in his own eyes
that his iniquity cannot be found out and hated.
The words of his mouth are trouble and deceit;
he has ceased to act wisely and do good.
He plots trouble while on his bed;
he sets himself in a way that is not good;
he does not reject evil.

"Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens,
Your faithfulness to the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mountains of God;
Your judgments are like the great deep;
man and beast You save, O Lord.

"How precious is Your steadfast love, O God!
The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.
They feast on the abundance of Your house,
and You give them drink from the river of Your delights.
For with You is the fountain of life;
in Your light do we see light.

"Oh, continue Your steadfast love to those who know You,
and Your righteousness to the upright of heart!
Let not the foot of arrogance come upon me,
nor the hand of the wicked drive me away.
There the evildoers lie fallen;
they are thrust down, unable to rise."

- Psalm 36

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

sharing some gleanings

here, two days after my 30th birthday, is my least poetic offering to date.
take these tips for what they're worth.

skincare:
rub your wet face up and down with your bare hands,
and you won't need to fork out money for soapy cream with gritty bits in it ("exfoliant").

dating:
(to girls:) waiting for someone to pursue you might seem risky,
but in the end, it'll land you a man who knows how to take the lead (a good thing!).

shaving:
(also to girls:) if you shave with a fresh razor while you have goosebumps,
you'll stay smooth a day longer (i learned this from my sister).

peanut butter:
get used to the just-peanuts kind
and ditch a lotta junk from your mornings (and, if you're like me, your afternoons, evenings...)

intimacy:
saving sex for marriage makes it a big, precious, exciting deal.
but don't forget that it can also be plain ol' relaxing, too.

pregnancy:
strengthen your core like a madwoman,
and the last two trimesters won't make you wish for a walking epidural.

c-sections:
if someone tells you that she had one,
ask her, "how do you feel about that?"

sleep training:
if you enjoy cuddling your kid to sleep each night,
for pete's sake, keep doing it.

discipline:
if it doesn't hurt you more than it hurts them, you're probably doing it wrong.
it's about producing godly character, not making your life easier.

the Kingdom:
"child-like faith" does not equate to "blind faith".
from watching my kids and reading the Bible, i'm guessing it means "faith that produces action".

love,
bethany ann

p.s. get ready for some imperfect prose! http://canvaschild.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

awakening impossibilities

i just walked next door
to the building, empty on a tuesday
where sermons are spoken on sundays

i unlocked the door, went inside
found paper, a pen and two chairs
and sat down to cry

and sorrow gushed out
as questions filled paper
and silence filled the church

then the lady next to me began
to cry and to pray
and to preach

for mothers, elders, children --
lonely, tormented, abused --
needing faith, hope, love -- impossibilities.

"the world is no friend of grace," said she,
tracing the spot where she'd written the name,
"Richard Dawkins," another impossibility

and she led my heart to love
and she led my prayers to hope
and together, we asked in faith

because God has shown us
a universe, created;
Himself, wrapped in flesh

we have faith that is founded in reason
and faith is substance
and so faith began in that empty church this morning

as our prayers turned us
toward a God who delights to be asked,
freed to do the impossible

first, in us

then, with us

Friday, September 10, 2010

finding the Way

we're walking with broken feet
upon a path worn deep
where tears form mud
and mud fills fingernails
that cling to the slope

like mad

and we're climbing with tired feet
into the clouds of doubt
where comforts go cold
and light and shadow blur
but the echoes still call

like crazy

dare we believe our ears?
was home really hearth left behind?

dare we believe our eyes?
is there truly no up nor down?

dare we trust our hearts?
will this all get easier as we go?

we're plodding with blistered feet
along a trail laid painfully
through ages and pages
and nails and wood
where our leader hung

like a fool

and we're following with calloused feet
toward the hope of rest
with promised wisdom to guide
and promised adversity to try
all who thirst for mercy

like the sick

the sinners
called to repentance

the self-living
called to a cross

the sons and daughters
called to ask and receive

the wanderers
called Home.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

camping

six filmy walls
sighing with the breeze

and here, within
is everything:

all our hopes and dreams and plans and prayers
all our deepest questions yet to be answered
the best secrets we've ever been told
the true stories we've started to learn
all we wish for this world
the best of me
the worst of me
and the small space between

oh, how our stars twinkle!

and on the other side
is everything else:

the campfire smouldering against the dark
the neighbourhood of flat lawns and boulevards
people doing whatever it is they do on labour day
all i fear is wrong with this world
all i know is right
all the adventures we will ever have
all the bullies we will ever face
and the small space between

and oh, the stars twinkle!

and our stars breathe lightly
as our six walls sway

and we sigh deep
then maybe, we'll sleep.

linking up with emily's friends tonight: http://canvaschild.blogspot.com

Thursday, September 2, 2010

fostering growth

high horizon dark before sunrise:
predators weighing the odds
black fur wet with dew
little life desperately calling
searching for familiar warmth,
thirsting for milk

so in need of help.

shapes taking form on the edge of earth:
ponytailed trucker bleary-eyed
steel-toed boots damp on grass
rough hands tenderly reaching
searching for the crying one,
thirsting for time

so wanting to help.

september sun climbing the sky:
daughter's mother-heart soft to the story
red van billowing dust
children hoping with abandon
searching for meaning to share,
thirsting to give drink

so humbled to help.

low horizon sinking into shade:
baby bottle making do
grandsons loving with eager hands
three weeks of life wrapped in a towel
finding warmth in human arms,
drinking to tomorrows shared

so helped, all of us.

and the ponytailed trucker smiles,
strokes his beard,
shares this meditation:

"Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking,
as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby,
if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious."
- I Peter 2:1-3


(introducing Super-Winston Little-Einstein Snot-Muffin!
once we have nursed him to strength, we will return him
to my parents' farmhouse, where he will obtain many
cuddles and many mice, i'm sure!)

















(oh, and my dad will call him "Boots".)

Monday, August 30, 2010

leaping over tall buildings

we all wanna be Superman
to whip off our glasses
and rip open our shirts
and look hot in spandex

we all wanna be Superman
with x-ray vision
and super-sonic hearing
yet totally trustworthy

we all wanna be Superman
hated by bad guys
loved by good guys
and instantly knowing the difference

we all wanna be Superman
rescuing weak little snot-noses
and beautiful newspaper reporters
with muscles to spare

we all wanna be Superman
because when you're invincible
nothing's a sacrifice
you just give and give and never run out

but what's up with Superman
saving all those weaker, uglier, stupider people?
that kind of heroism doesn't jive with
a naturalistic, materialistic, humanistic, relativistic

live-for-yourself-on-this-spinning-orb type mentality

Superman keeps reminding us
of Good and Evil
and the battle between the two
that wages within us every day

maybe that's why we pulled out the Kryptonite.

and why we keep bringing Superman back to life...


...Home is calling.
(and i don't mean Krypton)

Friday, August 27, 2010

growth in brokenness

sometimes,
like now-times,
i can't feel it
don't want it
won't have it

but then,
crack me open,
with a poem
or a glance in the mirror
at wet-on-skin

pain i caused myself
by hurting another,
wounds i inflicted,
pride i crushed,

the everything i'm not

by the hand of God

and i feel it
and i want it
and i have it
and i've needed it

and these eyes
look back at themselves,
and underneath
the hull of hollow
is a green of growth

and beneath the shell of hard
is a sprout of soft,
and i know
that i know,
and i'm okay.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

quoting Three-year-old

today we goed at a hike.
we drived over here, right?
on da road, on da road, on da road,
going going going going going,
and corn,
den we got dere!

on the rocks,
we hiked.
we walked in da woods
and we goed on a tree.

then we goed to da water.
we goed and tried and fish for fish.
we goed near da water,
and took my cwoes off.
my unnerwear, unner my pants --
i didn't take my unnerwear off.
i not sure.
i weaved dem on.
and we goed in da water!

we goed back.
we goed home, right?













...now that's what i call "imperfect prose"! http://canvaschild.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

i love...

the way the sunrise glows ruby through
an opened grapefruit,
squeezing between each juicy little crystal,
warming the cold-from-fridge
and revealing what's been under wraps all season long.

the way the noonday sun glares down upon
the maple tree,
filling thirsty veins with chlorophyl,
shivering down through layers of jade
and encrusting my painting spot in emerald shade.

the way the sunset skips topaz across
Lake Huron,
plating swimmers in liquid gold,
forcing hands to brows
and waking tired bodies to the end of day.

the way the otherworld-shining sun finds
the moon,
smiling at silver-faced friend,
filling us with peaceful resignation
and reminding us that tomorrow is a pearl to be found.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

i'm for you

hey you,
whistling through the kitchen window at me in my pj's
i know that whistle
it's belonged to me for nearly a decade

hey you,
remember that weekend playing spoons and sledding
you know that wipeout
was totally on purpose and i still wanna spill with you

hey you,
slamming that basketball under the parking lot light
i know that footwork
you can't dance until you're on some kind of court

hey you,
remember those little boys you taught to hack
you know you loved it
that was one of the ways you grabbed me

hey you,
loving on your family with all your might
i know you're tired
your true self shows when you're worn and it's good

hey you,
remember that first kiss in front of, like, everyone
you know it was awkward
a lot of our love has been that way but we're learning

hey you,
i'm for you.

Friday, August 20, 2010

teaching bedtime

i am
pressing down on the floor, i am
pressing my back against the wall, i am
pressing my forehead against the trim, i am
praying and waiting

and i feel the weight of this home upon my little-girl heart

i am
breathing slowly in the twilight, i am
rocking between my feet, i am
closing my eyes to listen, i am
quiet and serious.

and i remember being the little girl not quite able to keep herself in bed

i am
peeking into a darkened room, i am
hoping it will soon be over, i am
dreading it will soon be over, i am
sick with sentiment

and i learn the sting of discipline, taste the sweetness of song

i hear
the heart-call, tiny voice, i feel
the floor creak, bare toes, i see
the bright spot, blond hair, i am
stern.

and in a few minutes, i will have laid another stone upon the Foundation

and then, we will sleep.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

finding Caiaphas

bones -- cry out.
Caiaphas -- witness.
shake the dust and
speak the Truth.

dry, hard, dead -- enliven us,
rip off our blinders,
help us to see
history:

washed linen, filthy.
leather straps, rotten.
holy scrolls, burned.
majestic temple, destroyed.

Law fulfilled. duties overtaken. sacrifices null. veil torn.

your righteousness, inadequate.
your cover, blown.
your enemy, risen.
the grave, conquered.

bones -- speak!!

uncover more truth with us: http://canvaschild.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

keeping on

the lunchtime visit at my mom's workplace,
that went too long,
that ended in peanut-butter-smeared, poopy-diaper-stinking
sweaty headache.

the suppertime barbecue we'd planned for all of our son's schoolmates,
that no one came to,
that ended in a hot, muggy july void of playdates and a big brother needing
some space.

the day's end decaf-coffee date for two trusting mamas,
that happened only once,
that ended in one artisan returning to city roots and another
with freezer food.

the highschool friendships of wide eyes and foolish faith talks,
that were only experiments,
that ended in, "see you later" and, "facebook me" and,
"i'll call you".

afternoon sky whooshes through the porch screens
and spills into the hall,
silhouetting a baby and a tricycle.

they fall with a bang,
and a grunt,
and he's back on top,
riding those three wheels until he knows how.

he feeds me hope, warm and fragrant, in little fingers outstretched,
as i try to unclasp some crumbs from my own fisted soul.
and this is how we will grow together...

















hoping, hoping, hoping.

Monday, August 16, 2010

speechless

"For God has consigned all to disobedience,

that He may have mercy on all.



Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!

How unsearchable His judgments and inscrutable His ways!"



- Romans 11:32,33



...sometimes, there's just

nothing left

for me to say.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

glossy

Cover Girl
you know i know you
want to be you
spend some of my time judging you
Lucky Dog
how do you do
your hair like that
your breakfast bagel from New York
All Star
i watch your moves
catch your grooves
follow your vapour trail across the sky
Mover Shaker
i'll pay your way
you make my day
when you donate to my favourite charity
Most Beautiful
skinny, wrinkle-free
poked and plumped
and never, ever good enough
Rocker Roller
riffs and rhythms
angst and pop tunes
do you still feel it like you used to?
Sweet Heart
your lovers trading
your kids waiting
your neighbours who don't need you

i just
wish i could do something
for you
don't know what to do
with you
hope you're okay

Thursday, August 12, 2010

3 wishes

oh, my son, your heart:
unripe and tender and wide open
like a field of grain standing tall.
we run together there
and if you should trip,
you curl up and look up
and wait for me to cry with you.
and i come, but
with lots and lots of praise for your courage.
for you are so very soft,
and my footprints change you.
and you must start to learn a little now, dear big boy,
about the difficulties of this road you are choosing in hope.
so i wish you hard times of waiting,
to establish your roots and to prove your faith...
ripe and bowing abundant.













oh, my son, your eyes:
huge, dark puddles i fall into daily.
your lips. tiny rosebud things -- so cliche, but so be it!
your mind. the things you say!
the way you turn every step into dance,
whether or not anyone sees.
you nourish yourself in my embrace:
sweet and strong when i am yours;
bitter and strong when i don't bend.
and i know i'm not the only woman who will love you,
for you are wise and cunning and beautiful.
and so, my son, my dear middle boy,
i wish you failure.
just enough to secure your reliance
upon the hand that formed you...
wise and beautiful.













oh, my son, your feet:
little and smooth
and twitching with anticipation!
you jump and are fearless,
you fall and you bleed, but pain can't keep up.
you run to greet new faces
like the earth runs to each sunrise.
your cries, short and desperate, are comforted so quickly.
your days, bright and brimming, are lived with abandon.
to be the one who tickles your tummy,
who fills up your cup so you can dribble love --
this is my honour and my joy!
you're feisty and you barely hear "no".
and so, baby boy dear, i wish you pain.
to temper your steps and to callous your feet...
quick and steady.

















listen in on more wishing: http://canvaschild.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

re-learning love

lying there in still-mostly-darkness,
beside my little boy
in his bottom bunk
in a room full of toys
and books
and guppies
and a light with a switch
and an mp3 player that sings "la-la" and "honey",
all for him,
i could understand why he'd be excited.

but i didn't really want him to be,
lying there in mostly-darkness.

that's just the way it is with children:
their excitement bubbles up at the strangest of times.
it's letting it fill our own hearts that's the hard part.

like when we were at the mall,
and our baby leapt from the toy boat,
landed on his diaper, jumped to his feet
and tore outta' that play centre like his pants were on fire.
like, who is this kid?
-- one for whom the future holds no limits, obviously.

and later, sharing subs for supper,
our oldest boy fixed his gaze behind our heads.
"dad, look." and there was the pointer finger,
demanding that we ogle the guy behind us,
who was wearing a turban.
"blue. your favourite colour." and he ate another chip.
-- he's got none on his shoulder, evidently.

and then, while darkness crept up
on two of us in the top bunk,
i gushed, "you've been so patient with your baby brother
these nights. i'm so proud of you."
batting lashes, he cooed, "i'm vewwy patient!"
i rolled eyes. we rubbed noses, blew kisses.
-- he blew some patience my way, too, i think.

that's just the way it is with children:
their love bubbles up at the strangest of times.
it's letting it fill our own hearts that's the needful thing.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=MbrY_fcmeKU&feature=channel

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

trading spaces

drop the kids off at gramma's.
drive home.
pull food from the fridge,
inhale.
better drink 8 0z of water --
don't want to get dehydrated this afternoon.

scoot down to the basement.
grab the empty rubbermaid bucket.
toss in the cordless drill, a phillips bit,
those funky lamps,
and those two new ironman posters.
don't forget the packing tape.

dash up two flights of stairs,
bucket on the floor -- push it aside with my foot,
start stripping the beds.
remake them: spiderman on top bunk,
transformers on twin bed,
4x4 on bottom bunk.

re-arrange the stuffies -- polar bear, panda, elephant --
will he miss his heart-shaped pillow?
click the bottom-bunk bedrail into place.
spill clothes into a pile, drag dressers down the hall.
sort and re-fold clothes --
gotta get dan to put this drawer back together.

plug in those funky lamps,
take down that cross-stitched birth announcement,
slide it under my bed for now, remove the screw from the wall.
tape up an ironman poster in its place.
"war machine" -- is this a good guy or a bad guy?
ah, to my kid, it's a super protector. good guy.

back to the bunk-bedroom --
the red ironman poster goes up top (this one's definitely a good guy).
overturn the toy box,
fill the rubbermaid with small-parts toys,
close the lid, carry it to the no-more nursery.
sort socks and sweaters and cubbie vests.

look around.
i did a pretty decent job vacuuming.
sprawl in the big-boy-room chair.
whoa. what just happened? this is a teen-ager room!
i just turned my five-year-old into a teen-ager!
what was i thinking??

change it back!!
our baby won't sleep through those highway noises!
our middle boy will resent the baby waking below!
our big boy will feel ousted from his best friend's room!
am i wrecking my children??
it's fine. we're all fine.

tired this morning, but happy, and fine.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

i like my kids

a toy plastic castle stands on the crate beside my chair.
i move it aside so i can reach my hot chocolate.
no superheroes fly out to attack the intruder.
castles aren't quite so majestic when our five-year-old is in bed.

we took over the beach tonight.
our twenty-month-old chased a seagull clear across the sand,
foot-printing fast, screaming the whole way.
if he's anything like i was, he'll keep trying until he's about thirteen.

our middle son -- oh goodness, he's nearly four --
found a trench dug just right for a baby water worm.
that's what he decided, and that's what he was,
but he got himself all sandy, so i had to dunk him.

baby water worms sure can yell.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

walking with wonder

i didn't even feel like drinking coffee,
hadn't even wanted to change my nightly routine.
yet i dutifully kissed the air around my boys,
dropped a toonie into my pocket, slipped on my flip-flops,
and drove uptown.

i scanned the coffee shop and found her,
back toward the door, watching whatever was on the big tv.
"hey, you!" we greeted each other with a hug, i bought a coffee,
and as the evening air wrapped lovely around us,
i realized i felt happy with her.

side-by-side we walked along storefronts, around parked cars,
beside tourists, past landscaped properties, under boulevard trees
and to the park. and we talked about music and we sat on a bench
and she asked me about me and i told her a few things,
but i was thinking about her. i wanted to know.

and she told me -- oh boy, did she tell me.
with face unflinching and voice sweet, she spoke words
that should never be spoken. of grandparent-hurt and mother-wrong,
of father-ugly and brother-fierce. of lover-enemies and of children-pain.
of no home and no hope -- these were the cards she was dealt.

the depth of her misfortune cannot be measured.
i cannot possibly understand, for i grew up with love that she never had.
the beauty of her soul cannot be measured.
i cannot possibly shine as brightly, for i have never lived through such dark.
she is, quite simply, a wonder.

she will never wave from her own storefront -- or even her own car.
she probably won't travel far or even landscape her own property.
but as she walks under boulevard trees and rests on park benches,
i hope that you will have the chance to meet her,
for she shines.

and, glory be, she's not Home yet.

Friday, August 6, 2010

mercy triumphs over judgment

tiny, little people
scurrying about in the dark.
thinking murder. practicing deceit. decorating ourselves self-righteous.
taking our ease. wanting wanting wanting. playing it cool.
sitting pretty.

Otherworld-Apartness
blazing holiness. piercing brightness. shocking purity. shining heat.
hating murder-thoughts. raging against deceit. tearing through "righteous" rags.
punishing ease-taking. devastating covetuousness. spitting out lukewarm.
burning the fences so we have nowhere left to sit.

the one, life-long instant.
me, laid out for God to see.
filth, waste, shame.
my inevitable demise.

an Interceder.
sinless blood, covering me.
Jehovah Tsidkenu - the LORD our Righteousness.
the verdict: Not Guilty.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

returning to Eden

i've been hearing a whisper.
i''ve been feeling a tug:

return to Eden.
return to freedom of feeling.
return to purity of heart.
return to submission.

remember Adam: man of dust,
communing with God of Life-Breath,
billowing with potential, swirling energy.
so utterly lonely.

remember Eve: water-woman
carried by Hands of Image-Maker,
dripping with beauty, shivering warmth.
so utterly Adam's.

and Adam needed Eve.
and God made sure he knew it: let him search sky-to-sea for a completer,
until, finding none, he wandered back to his dust pile. alone.
aha, this was it: the moment to form woman.

you know that feeling you get when you make something
really, really special for someone you really, really love?
how you set the stage, clear the table, turn off the noise,
fix your eyes straight upon theirs, and then... present the gift?

i bet that's how God felt when He brought Eve to Adam.

water to dust.

and they were naked, and they were not ashamed,
and they were joined together, like clay,
and God named them "leader" and "follower", for He knew them,
and He walked with them.

and then everything shattered.

and now i chafe for dominance
as we all chafe for dominance
and i resist the Spirit
as we all resist the Spirit
and i step on people
as they step on me
in our fight to the top --

trading innocence for fig leaves of pride,
shattering vessels of clay.

turning submission into an ugly thing,
when it was meant to be so beautiful.

so, Lord, turn my heart toward this man you've entrusted me to.
enmesh us, water and dust,
and make of us something beautiful.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

in a new light

cheap pigment sat hard in plastic trays
as little brothers dipped imagination into water.
"swirl, swirl, swirl" we said, and water softened paint
and paint stained brushes
as brushes wiggled a rainbow dance.
and little fingers learned gentleness
and little minds learned art
as we turned red, yellow, blue
into orange, green, purple.
and mommy learned gentleness
as mommy taught art
and a family saw cheap pigment in a new light.









baby girl sat soft in dusty sand
as her sometimes-brothers dipped bravery into water.
"rain, rain, rain" we cried, and light shone from diamonds
as diamonds became lake
and lake became gray sky.
and dancing rippled across the shore
and skin shivered gladness
as thunder echoed distant
and lifeguards emptied lake.
and babies squealed delight into mommy arms
as mommies delighted at squealing babies
and a family saw gray in a new light.


find more diamonds at emily's place: http://canvaschild.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

being little

my children, you are stars. you each blazed into my existence with a shock and a cry -- stung my eyes into awakeness in this long, dark night. pierced holes of light straight through my miserable tapestry of selfish contentedness.
please, burn me up.

my children, you are creatures. you each shook my flesh with unborn rolling -- cramped me into shivers of sweat and cold at the urgency of your aliveness. nuzzled warmth into my breast, trespassed into heartbeat-near spaces, collapsed my soul upon your need.
please, soften me.

my children, you are mine. you were each pulled away from my prostrate body with surgical cuts and gasping cries -- ended my stories of you to your earthly father so that he, too, could hold you. keep holding my hand, kissing my eyelashes.
please, never let go of me.

my children, you are borrowed. each belonging to the One who made you -- triune beings, body-soul-spirit, of mud and of mind and of eternity. each destined to return to your Maker, each awaiting final judgment, each preparing me for mine.
please, redound with joy.

forgive me, dear boys, for my failure. failure to jump heart-high at your early morning calls. failure to crumple my days into a swaddling blanket. failure to let my back ache hollow over the form of faces-sleeping, the feel of hair-silken, the rhythm of breath-soft. failure to love unconditionally-sleepless, to rock-a-bye hours-long.
please, learn mercy from this.

my friends, do not grieve the Spirit. do not underestimate your depravity. do not neglect the gift -- perhaps not yet given -- of children brought into your trust. do not overwhelm them with the burden of growing up...

instead, be little.

Monday, August 2, 2010

growing pretty

i remember a little girl, sitting in a grade four classroom.
eyes lowered, she sucked in her nine-year-old tummy.
pushed her glasses up her nose.
blushed with shame.
so unpretty.

i remember an eleventh-grade girl, sitting in the backseat of her friend's van.
breasts small, she noticed hair on her toes.
tucked them underneath.
blushed with shame.
so unpretty.

i remember a nineteen-year-old girl, sitting on a couch in a student lounge.
i remember a tall, dark, handsome boy going to sit beside her.
i don't remember at all how that girl looked, now.

i remember fingertip touches, cheek kisses and hard hugs good-bye.
hours on the phone, a box full of letters.
a diamond ring.
a question and a promise.

i remember a gorgeous white gown, lip kisses and no more good-byes.
golden rings.
vows before God and a church full of friends.

i remember feeling so pretty.

i remember four blue lines.
one miscarriage.
one belly, rounded three times.
three precious baby boys.
three scars, intertwined, straight across my belly.
three little stretch marks.

right over the spot i still keep trying to suck in.
but it's different, now.

now, a tall, dark, handsome man
and three short, blond, beautiful boys
will scan a crowd and burst into smile when they see me

because i am, after all, pretty.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

asking Dr. Frankl

dear Doctor Frankl,

i read your book, Man's Search for Meaning.
you are a very good writer, sir.
i am glad you wrote that book.

i am sad it had to be written.

you marched my half-willing imagination straight into a concentration camp.

there, in the cold and dim, huddled on wooden bunks,
we feared and dreamed
and struck out fear and clung to reality
and shared our search for meaning.

you said, quoting Nietzsche,
"he who has a why to live can bear with almost any how."

you spoke of our evolution as a species,
contending that those who find purpose in life
are the strong, the survivors.
you shared your fight to survive.

your observation on page 19, though, so stark and deadly-true,
is what haunts me:

"...there was a sort of self-selecting process going on the whole time among all of the prisoners. On the average, only those prisoners could keep alive who, after years of trekking from camp to camp, had lost all scruples in their fight for existence; they were prepared to use every means, honest and otherwise, even brutal force, theft, and betrayal of their friends, in order to save themselves. We who have come back, by the aid of many lucky chances or miracles -- whatever one may choose to call them -- we know: the best of us did not return."

how, sir, can you crown such men --
the meek, the humble, the self-sacrificing --
the dead --
"the best"?

such morality is not consistent with your worldview
of Natural Selection.

you have borrowed from Another:

"And He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:
'Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
'Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
'Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
'Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
'Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
'Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
'Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
'Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
'Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on My account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.'"
Matthew 5:2-11

Saturday, July 31, 2010

learning faith

"faith is atonement," said Abraham.
then he planted a tabernacle,
altar bloody and veil thick,
to teach us to yearn for Greater.

"faith is life," said Habakkuk.
then he planted fear in his heart,
knowledge of the Holy,
to teach us humility.

"faith is a Branch," said Yaweh.
then He planted the God-Man,
walking divinity,
to teach us how to walk straight.

"faith is a seed," said Jesus.
then He planted miracle-seeds,
deeds we could not do,
to teach us Whom to trust.

"faith is sacrifice," said Jesus.
then He planted Himself upon a cross,
the Lamb slain,
to teach us the sting of sin.

"faith is resurrection," said an angel.
then he planted himself upon a stone,
a useless, unsealed stone,
to teach us how to hope.

"faith is adoption," said Paul.
then he planted a thread,
from body of death to Spirit of life,
to teach us to cry, "Abba! Father!"

"faith is patient," said James.
then he planted perseverance,
amid trials and popular opinion,
to teach us loyalty to his Brother-Master.

that faith will lead us Home.

Friday, July 30, 2010

smelling sweetness

i just stepped onto this old, rented porch,
just to put something away --
and it caught me:

that old-porch smell.

wood stained gray
by years gone by,
fresh air filtering through
childhood excitement...

it grabbed my feet,
planted them.
it welled up in my throat --
i exhaled deep, anticipating
another sweet, smoky pull
on that old-porch smell...

leaving our Ontario driveway in morning darkness;
Doobie Brothers,
Loggins and Messina,
Paul and Linda,
Chicago;
early-evening arrivals at New York;
staring out van windows so as not to miss that Maple-lined road:

Grampa Ben's Farm.

soft Gramma Violet's lap,
aunt-kisses and uncle-tickles,
kitchen-stool Maple-buttered toast.

elbow-leaning between pillar candles melting spice,
lining up with cousins behind ice cream churn,
playing dress-up in Spare Oom.

loving/hating Christmas-new footed pajamas,
wiggling in double bed beside little sister,
wondering at the Sugar Shack.

Grampa Ben rests in maple shade, now.

Uncle Lee collects sap,
distills syrup -- thick and sweet like memories
of my mother's childhood home.
Aunt Kim divines treats in her Cakery
and in Gramma's kitchen,
sweetening the visits of brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews.

i hope to take my family to that dear old porch,
come spring.

and here,
a little girl-in-footed-pajamas-turned-mom
will try,
on this old, rented porch,
to collect and distill sweet memories
into treats
for her three sons.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

pondering Matthew 7

i've been

judging

finding specks,
missing logs

flaunting pearls,
wallowing in mud

standing,
silent,
waiting and waiting and waiting
for a door to open,
for an answer to shout,
for heaven to drip milk and honey.

i've been all wrong.

"If you then, who are evil..."
(that's me; i'm evil)

"...know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things
to those who ask Him!"

so all i have to do is ask?
really. just. ask?

yes, it's true,
but please don't miss the analogy, bethany.

my Father who is in heaven
made me,
nurtured me,
felt me desert Him,
saw me fall on my face,
picked me up,
reclaimed me,
and now expects something of me:

that i act as His daughter.

trust His judgment.
judge Him to be trustworthy.

ask Him, and wait on His answer, and take it.

and then remove the log,
get out of the mud,

and save my pearls for Home.

to read Matthew 7, click:
http://www.gnpcb.org/esv/search/?q=matthew+7

for more ponderings, visit:
http://www.canvaschild.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

finding a home

"home is where you feel safest," trent read to emily.
"i feel safest with you. you are home," emily answered trent.

now it's my turn to answer:
my turn to tribute the man who is
my home.

i remember patchy green grass lit sideways by sun setting on the East.
back then, home was still sun-bright West
and i wasn't there.
but in that New Brunswick softball field,
some clown hung between heaven and earth, horizontal
like his life depended on catching that ball.

secretly, i was impressed.

then it was my turn to clown around outfield,
for i knew nothing of the sport
and nobody had fulfilled their vows to teach me.
i felt uncomfortable,
far from home,
and now, i was without a glove.
some clown with grass stains on his shirt
handed me his glove -- worn in all the right places.

secretly, i was very impressed.

softball clown became after-class chit-chat clown,
dining hall newspaper-lingering clown,
chapel side-sitting clown.

and i was his fool,
and i found home.

today, his grass-stained shirt has baby boogers on it, too.
that glove sits in the basement --
it will be handed to a new generation of softball-divers.

today, the man who is my home
hangs between heaven and earth, striving
like his life depended on fulfilling his vows.
he loves me with every little self-sacrificing decision,
until his mind is blown
and his back is busted
and his eyes droop shut.

then, his hands -- worn in all the right places --
scoop me up
and we fall asleep
and the sun sets
on our home away from Home.

http://canvaschild.blogspot.com/2010/07/with-you.html

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

getting mindful

i read in a magazine yesterday that i need to start Thinking Mindfully.
i got tips on Walking Meditation
(focusing on one aspect of walking, such as
my feet touching the ground,
whilst walking in slow circles),

Body Meditation
(focusing on the sensations in my toes,
right on up to my head, and
imagining my breath reaching in to each part
and then out my nose,
whilst lying down)

and even Raisin Meditation
(observing a raisin,
and everything it causes me to feel,
before and while tasting, chewing;
making a conscious decision when to swallow).

these, the article claimed, will help me to alleviate stress,
improve my immune response,
avoid over-eating,
bring Balance,
and generally Improve the Quality of My Life.

now. being a Comfortably Christian Girl, i must admit that a part of me
automatically rejects anything marked "Meditation".
still, the article had a point.
if we were all Mindful about the way we walked,
talked, moved, felt, ate,
we would all be Better People.

so, tonight as i did my little Broom Dance,
i thought and thought.
that word, "Meditation", was sticking to something in my heart.

"In the way of Your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches.
I will meditate on Your precepts and fix my eyes on Your ways.
I will delight in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word."
Psalm 119:14-16

God wants me to meditate, all right -- but raisins are just peanuts!

"I am speaking the truth in Christ --
I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit --
that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart.
For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ
for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh."
- Paul, Romans 9:1-3

"Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this:
to visit orphans and widows in their affliction,
and to keep oneself unstained from the world."
James 1:27

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,
let us also lay aside every weight, and the sin which clings so closely,
and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith,
who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame,
and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God."
Hebrews 12:1,2

Jesus: Temple-cleanser.
Jesus: leper-lover.
Jesus: sinner-sitter.
Jesus: Man of Sorrows.

can we really be a bunch of stress-free, toe-sensation-focusing people?
maybe -- but hopefully not at the price of an outward focus.

i'm not sure that Balance is the first thing Jesus is asking me to strive for.

because i'm not Home yet.

Monday, July 26, 2010

catching magic

this afternoon,
before supper,
our boy pushed the loveseat in front of the couch
to make a boat-bed
with a door on the side,
topped it with pillows, blankets, brothers,
and magic,
filled sippy cups with fresh water,
and called us adults over.
he wanted to have a party.

there we sat,
for just a few moments,
chatting,
until suppertime,
when we all left the room,
each needing to prepare something or other.
i returned and tidied up,
removed the magic.
he returned and cried.
he wanted to have a party.

there we sat,
on the very un-magical couch,
and i comforted and encouraged
while he blinked and sniffed.
i'm sorry, i said,
we can fix this.
we will have a party after supper.
and that little magic spark started to catch.
he wanted to have a party,
and now, so did i.

this evening,
after supper,
we pushed the loveseat back in front of the couch.
there we sat,
chatted,
watched him drink from his sippy cup,
prevented his baby brother from jumping off the back of the loveseat,
and had a party.
it wasn't much,
but it was full of magic.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

living in-between

we wake to a faint cry
push off the heavy duvet we sleep under
in the thick of summer
filtered through air conditioning

and i sigh at our circumstance

little one grabs his fuzzy blanket
i hoist him onto the change pad
which has lasted through three babies
thanks to a layer of duct tape

and i chuckle at my ingenuity

i fix good, hot mush for breakfast
stir in blueberries from the freezer
shake dinosaur sprinkles on top
so the boys will love it

and i smile at their luck

the boys become super heroes
in our toy-filled living room
learn the alphabet electronically
grab the sky on their trampoline

and i wish every child had it this good

i flip on the basement light
dodge cobwebs, wires and pipes
stuff clean laundry into the dryer
without dropping any onto the dirty floor

and i am struck by the contrast

and there's more:

shiny laptop screen
to rippled, single-pane windows
dressed in made-over curtains

stainless steel fridge
and imitation leather couch set
to lifting tiles and bowing hardwood

shiny red minivan
and hammock swings
to weedful lawn...

it's funny, this spot our family occupies
on a rung that hovers in-between:
a decadent poverty, if you will.

in a lot of ways, it's easier:
not having to maintain straight hedges
or dustless windowsills...
knowing there will never be a reflection
on my rented floors...
it frees up time and energy for other things.

and a lot of the time, it makes me think:
about North America,
its sacrifices and its ideals...
about the third world, about developing nations,
their sacrifices and their ideals...

about hurting people everywhere:
those who keenly feel it
and those too rich to know they're in pain.

it's where we live,
here in-between.
our home is always open.

because we're not Home yet.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

summer walking

sidewalk slapping underneath flip-flop feet,
toes brown on top and pink on bottom --
summer!

buggy bumping over chalk pictures,
ice cream painting chins and elbows --
summer!

air swirling moist around bare knees,
sun heating white sky without shadows --
summer!

head bobbing heavy as soother flutters,
salt licking lips as front door opens --
summer!

baby sprawled across cool blankets,
big girls sipping watermelon slush --
summer!

Friday, July 23, 2010

thanking

to rebecca:
blue eyes beholding what can't be seen,
teacher hands scooping up hope
so many can drink,
just to wander your summers --
just to wrap yourself in happy friends --
thank you.

to jen:
blue eyes seeing every tiny wrinkle,
mother hands fixing every manner of hurt
for two honey heads,
while planning for tomorrow --
while hoping for sunshine and family --
thank you.

to carly:
brown eyes dreaming candles and white,
missionary hands building a future home
for two ragamuffins,
full of faraway heart-calls --
full of music and light --
thank you.

to leah:
blue eyes watching life become real,
girlish hands striving and reaching out
to family and friends,
so genuinely alive --
so gifted with beauty and praise --
thank you.

to rhonda:
gray eyes filled with scars and stars,
purple-nailpolished hands
speaking love,
for glimpses into a world of watchers --
for blue blanket hugs and every precious memory --
thank you.

to emily:
blue eyes surveying a world of cares,
artist hands finding holes
to fill with grace,
weaving life-stories into triumph --
weaving canola fields into a home --
thank you.

to kristy:
blue eyes studying depth,
teacher hands marking the way
that must be followed,
still feeling baby softness in your prayers --
still waiting for that blessed hope --
thank you.

to virginia:
green eyes gazing down new roads,
counsellor hands itching to create
a life that satisfies,
making me remember --
making me watch and pray --
thank you.

to sherri:
brown eyes glancing at precious faces,
wife hands holding a daughter
and learning the balance,
always innocently loving --
always gifting this world with mercy --
thank you.

to dayna:
brown eyes seeking wisdom,
potter hands smoothing ugliness into beauty
for the love of your sons,
speaking truth that doesn't fade --
speaking grace and laughing faith --
thank you.

to lisa:
blue eyes seeing purpose and order,
chef hands spinning sugar into memories
that boast of love,
sharing time and strength --
sharing your most precious gift with me --
thank you.

to amanda:
brown eyes wishing for simplicity,
frugal hands sewing love
into your children's very being,
never is the road too steep --
never have you faltered long --
thank you.

to jessica:
hazel eyes cutting through the haze,
sister hands holding and knowing
without a doubt,
singing songs of childhood light --
singing to rid your world of fear --
thank you.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

searching the Face

You spoke in times past through the fathers.

You gasped newborn breath --
cried at the pain of using lungs --
suckled, slept
...through a baby boy.

You learned to roll over,
learned to crawl,
learned to walk --
tiny toes roughening with every step
...through a toddler.

who taught You to walk?
on water and into sickrooms,
beside funeral pyres and through deserts --
You stank of everything that soils a human's flesh
because You walked
...through a man.

and yet You changed everything:
water into meeting-ground,
sickrooms into holy ground.
funeral pyres emptied, deserts filled --
even human flesh is now different.
salvaged
rescued
washed
renewed
enlivened
even glorified.

because of You,
the God-Man.

i have met You in Your Word,
in Your world,
in Your people --

You have begun the change in me --

how i long to meet You
face to face.

for more wonderings, visit http://canvaschild.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

ten o'clock waiting

it is ten o' clock.

my eyes blink hard with haze of hours.
my back aches tight from arms of children.
my mouth tastes old of decaf coffee.
my neck creaks stiff with bend of concentration.
my cheeks flush red with stare of sun,
with stare of heart-eyes.

they've been here,
near,
asking and scrunching faces
and waiting and scrunching hearts

and i've been
asking
and waiting
and writing
and hoping
and pleading heart-sick

for the Answer.

and i blush
and i believe
and i need to go to bed,
and i, i...

i'm not Home yet.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

dancing

it is night.
three beds --
top bunk, bottom bunk, and a twin --
are all laid over with sleeping boys.

i step softly into the hallway
and listen for the nothingness
that tells me it's time.

time to pick up my broom
and begin my night dance.

not a dance of romance or passion, this,
but a dance of rhythm, yes,
and of order.

i start in that hallway at the bottom of the stairs
and carefully, so as not to dislodge more paint from the trim,
and quietly -- well, as quietly as possible on this floor --
the dance begins.

now i am sweeping tramped-in outdoor dirt.
next i am in the living room,
removing snacky remnants from the edges,
breakfasty runaways from the trail worn through the middle.
then comes the dining room,
and the kitchen,
then the art room,
that green landing,
and finally, the back steps.

it's the same every night.
i could sweep this pattern in the dark --
to be honest, i often have.

"good job," dan says as i finish.
and, if he doesn't say it, i know he'll be thinking it sometime soon
as he surveys his humble kingdom:
rolling on the floor with a prince or three,
throwing impromptu feasts,
entertaining dignitaries.

he loves me, his cinderella,
and his love inspires me to dance

with a broom.

Monday, July 19, 2010

introducing Five-Year-Old

this morning, i made breakfast for my three boys:
fruit smoothies
and peanut butter sandwiches topped with whipped cream.
that's right: Whipped Cream.

Five-Year-Old, arms crossed, scowled at his sandwich:
"there's no banana on it!"

this morning, we picked up our three boys from child minding:
a room full of babies
and little girls playing with pink toys.
that's right: Pink Toys.

Five-Year-Old, wrapped around us, pleaded to return:
"the puppets need us!"

this morning, we took our three boys to the park:
five Davidsons
clamouring to fill one teeter-totter.
that's right: All Five.

Five-Year-Old, holding tight to the sky, beamed:
"i'm loving this!"

this afternoon, we divvied up lunch into bowls for our three boys:
omelet, cottage cheese
and a spinach leaf.
that's right: Green Stuff.

Five-Year-Old, open-mouthed, watched a cartoon duck:
chewed and swallowed the vegetable without a word.

this afternoon, i tidied up while my three boys played:
filled the space behind the loveseat
with every toy and blanket they could find.
that's right: Every One.

Five-Year-Old, button-shirt stuck around neck, streamed tears:
"i was trying to have a pajama party!"

this evening, we tucked our three boys into bed:
softies, sippy cups, books
and freshly-shaken flashlights.
that's right: Battery-Free.

Five-Year-Old, all set for sleep, grinned a whisper:
"i could use a cuddle."

and, do you know what else?

yesterday, i sat at the table with my three boys:
they wanted to see pictures
of the aftermath in Haiti.
that's right: They Remembered.

Five-Year-Old, mind made up, informed me:
"you know that ten dollars i have in my jar? i want to send it to those people."

so, we'll make that happen,
and it will cause ten dollars' worth of change in this world,
and no one in Haiti will know who sent it.
but now you do.

https://www.compassion.ca/donationtype_popup.asp?intid=29

Sunday, July 18, 2010

living our part

my toddler is in time-out
for smacking a boy on the head.
the boy adds "bbrr" power to a truck
while big sister hides behind the comfy chair
where mommy nurses baby.
another baby naps.
it's Church in a nursery.

my voice is starting to crack
for singing to the hard-of-hearing.
my husband hands a song book
to an old friend who enters the room
where another old friend is rising to speak.
one gentleman naps.
it's Church in a nursing home.

my bottom is hurting
for sitting on a jagged walnut hull.
by brother-in-law plays the guitar he built
so we can sing a few choruses
and then have prayer time.
do ants even nap?
it's Church in the back yard.

my vision is blurry
for squinting at the contact lens in my palm.
dan talks around his toothbrush
of conversations with friends
and our prayers and God's answers.
our three boys nap.
it's Church in the bathroom.

everywhere, in every way, those who claim the Name
are the Church.

because we're not Home yet.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

family in a farmhouse

family in a farmhouse
watching soy grow,
listening to quietness
with auntie jo jo.

family in a farmhouse
watching boys grow,
drinking purple jungle juice
and slurping green jello.

family in a farmhouse
watching shadows grow,
laughing at each other -- oops --
i meant "with", you know.

holding onto memories,
letting mercy flow:
family in a farmhouse
watching love grow.

Friday, July 16, 2010

loving my neighbour

i don't walk past boxes --
recycled homes

i don't keep my gaze up --
poverty staring

i don't step around feet --
wandering hopelessness

i live in a small town --
neat, quiet, tree-lined --
the prettiest in Canada!

but i cannot escape the reality
of men, de-humanized.
of women, brutalized.
of children, raped.
of people, chained.

they live in pretty towns, too.

their stories can barely be told.
their past cannot be erased.
their bodies can hardly be salvaged.

but their pain can be shared.
their burden, eased.
their voices, heard.

and this is what we're called to:

"Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them... But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for He is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful." - Luke 6:31,35

for real? "give to everyone who begs from you"? no provisos, no qualifiers, no loopholes?

Heaven help us.

we're not Home yet.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

gathering

air laughing,
table laden,
floor scurrying with children --
our children!
children who've sung
and given
and prayed
and listened
as we told the stories...

stories of Truth.

of the void
and of darkness,
of water
and of Light.

of fathers who walked hard
and of sons laid to rest,
of daughters who clave hard
and of mothers who laughed.

of water and of wine,
of fish and of bread.
of tables and of crumbs,
of grapes and of vines.

of temples and of whips.
of crowds and of stones.
of friends and of kisses.
of hills and of crosses.

blood.
death.
torn veil!
life!

people who died
for what they had seen,
touched,
loved,
believed.

stories of Truth.

we fill our bellies,
we pass the time.
we scoop up our children,
we drive them home.

how we long for Home.

we're not Home yet.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

undoing

Stress.

the string that tugs at my brow.
knots a lump inside my throat.
draws my back to ache.

it's not stress; it's

Pride.

the string that is wrapped tightly around my heart.
pulls every thought self-ward.
clenches fists against service.

hardens my husband's questions into blows.
sharpens my children's curiosity into intrusion.
speeds up the clock,
lengthens my to-do list,
shortens my attention span.

enthrones Me, crowns Me with tears.

i close the dishwasher.
lie down on the kitchen floor. it is cool.
my boys have laid out their best blankets. they are soft.
my fingers brush past dust and crumbs, which twinkle away
as a little voice calls,

"mom? hi."
"forgive me."

we smile, hug.
the string unravels.

i'm not Home yet.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

resting

i wake late.

dreams finished, linens twisted, sunshine calling.
breathe, roll, blink, stand.
eyes crusty, throat parched, back stiff.

it's a sad kind of magic, this sleep-in.

out my window, a stooped old woman in pressed slacks prunes shrubs.
down the highway, transports roar by, shake the foundation of this old house.
somewhere, my boys tumble into another adventure together, older.

paintings unpainted, groceries unpurchased, table unwiped.
but i have tasted needful rest, and i feel it:

i'm not Home yet.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

learning to walk

i just found out that a believer-artist-friend and her family are moving away. we bumped into her husband on our way to her pottery booth on the square. and he announced the news. the second time this year i've heard such news.

i walked away and sobbed under a tree. the sausage man brought me a milk crate to sit on.

i cried for my sons, my husband, myself. we are all saying good-bye to loved friends.

it's baffling. i just don't know God. i know Him, but i don't Really Know Him. His will is clear, but so cryptic and strange. the trail of our wanderings looks so random sometimes. why did God bring me such wonderful friends, so close, so recently? and why are they so far away now? i have no complaints. but sometimes i have tears.

from what i can see, i'm coming up to one of those times when God removes His hand. it was there, and i was grasping it, and it was pulling me gently along, and now it's moving ahead. not far, not harsh, but not here. and if i'm to follow it, if i'm to catch hold of it again, i'm going to have to take a step on my own.

i'm not Home yet.