Thursday, October 31, 2013

These are the days of dust, the days of sand-
paper sack-cloth scratching off the skin
of flesh to dust, dust; the days of ash,
of burning hallelujahs withered dry.

Remember when the words poured out like water?
When you opened up your mouth and your tongue just moved?
Life bubbled from the hidden springs within;
the water was like wine, and there was was healing.

The wind blows where it wishes. You hear
the sound. And when you don't, the stagnant air
suffocates. The wind blows where it wishes, the murmuring
leaves cry out. You wait your forty days.

Your throat is raw, your lips are parched and swollen
shut. In the burning sand, you still take off your shoes.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Teaching of Kindness

Big families are complicated. With six kids in the family, there are fifteen different sibling relationships to figure out. Which is quite a lot, even before you take into account the complex ways in which those individual relationships affect one another, even before you add in the twelve parent-child relationships and one marriage. As my kids (and family!) grow, I've had to grow a lot too, and I've been scrambling to keep up with the challenge.

As I reevaluate my parenting strategies, I've been mulling over the book of Ephesians lately. I'm trying to practice the counter-instinctual, grace-infused rhythms of Christ-centered authority; the nourishing, self-giving, if-I-your-master-wash-your-feet-then-how-much-more authority of Jesus. The kind that doesn't come from threats or force, but teaching and up-drawing and the washing of water and the word, word, word.

So many words, and they can be so hard to find, buried in all the clutter and confusion. So many times, all I want to do is send everyone to separate rooms, put a quick stop to all the ugly words. Sometimes that's all I can do, and sometimes that's okay, but mostly I'm called to show up with the right words. The good words, the true words, the life-giving words of love and joy and peace.

And washing through my soul like water, I keep coming back to the words my wise husband repeats to me over and over: "the teaching of kindness is on her lips."

The teaching of kindness.

Teaching them kindly, teaching them to be kind.

Teaching them to use their words to offer healing and redemption. Teaching them to "step under the waterfall of God's grace," teaching them to offer that grace like water, until it soaks us all and transforms our family into a twenty-eight-fold image of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Reduction: On the Art of Self-Medication

There's drugs for this, I'm told.
Trial and error calibrate the dose.
There is no eros, only poisoned darts,
doting potions and their antidotes.

All the syntax of our synapses
has been distilled, boiled down and swallowed
whole, or divided, as circumstance requires.
Trial and error calibrate the dose.

This poem won't pretend to diagnose
treat, prevent, or cure any disease.
Always consult your doctor first before
embarking on a verbal regimen.

Perhaps I ought to pop a pill or two.
Maybe then I wouldn't have to write. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Seven Quick Takes and Four Burning Questions

One... exhaustion is a way of life.
but the burning questions never stop to wait.

Two... the laundry pile and questions both
multiply with each new kid you add.

Three... with clothes to fold and poems to write
and questions to answer, still I can't let go of

Four... burning questions of my own.
Why is the earth's orbit an ellipse?

Five... if Sol is one of two foci
of our squashed orbit, what on earth's the other?

Six... the music of the not-quite spheres:
why is it so nearly--not-quite--tempered?

Seven... without answers to all this,
can we really still believe in math?

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Monday, October 14, 2013


Before you shake the dust, you have to let
it touch your beautiful feet. You have to salt
the mud with your trickling sweat. You have to dust
the earth with flecks of skin awhirl with wind,
spinning through the narrow shafts of light.
Listening for the pathway to their ears,
you have to walk a mile inside their words,
blisters on your feet, until the turn.

You have to wait for the turn. You have to trust
that maybe they've been listening as well,
slogging with you through this common mud
to earn the right to show you something strange.
Hands clasped together, gasp at the good news,
the clear pure streams, the firm and solid ground.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Seven Quick Takes and Nine Lives

One... We have a cat. For now at least.
Stray kitty needs a home. It may be us.

Two... she's gentle, but the two-year-old
is scared of her. That's probably just as well.

Three... we've had a lot of training sessions
on proper cat-stroking technique.

Four... he's scared to try them on the cat,
but he pets his baby brother beautifully.

Five... subtle differences matter.
Litterbox =/= sandbox, and vice versa.

Six... I'm glad for human cleverness.
Lidded litterboxes are good things.

Seven... thank God the baby hasn't yet
figured them out, but the clever kitty has.

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