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Heaven

  • When you sort of feel like you don’t belong

    On Wednesday, May 29 th, 2013
    Someone has to be that Mother. That mother who drives a full 3 hours to the border with a packed mini-van and anxious kids and creeps through a 20 minute traffic backup under the hot, beating sun, only to rifle through her wallet and look up feebly to tell the custom’s officer she doesn’t have birth certificates for 2 of her children. So that would be me. “Do you have any ID at all — for either one of them?” The custom’s officer asks it gently. Like he doesn’t want to push the flustered and flailing over any imagined or very real edge. He glances back at the long snake of vehicles behind me, waiting. In the sun. That’s not moving either. “Um… no.” I shuffle through my wallet again. “No, sir — I don’t.” Does the earth open up and swallow the Abiram of mothers? “I’m so sorry, sir. If I can just turn around?” I close up my wallet and I can feel it up the neck, the face — the mother shame burning like a red-hot brand. How in the world? What kind of mother…. ? I’m already cranking at the steering wheel, trying to get this mess turned around, thinking that when you can’t swallow down any grace, you turn yourself back from the land of the free. “Just a moment, ma’am. Open up the door here.” He waves my passport in the direction of the van’s side door. I fumble behind me, try to unlatch
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  • when life leaves you with more questions than answers

    On Thursday, September 06 th, 2012
    Only a few more weeks left now. That is what the Farmer says at dinner, what he says as we clatter dishes off the table, the enamel plates all stacking and clapping for the cook. Only a few more weeks left and August will dip the beans fields bronze and the leaves will reluctantly fall off the beanstalks and just the pods will then dangle, the only rattling ornaments hanging off the naked fields. And by then it won’t matter. It won’t matter then if the nights lay in thick and close and humid, won’t matter if the mist lies down in all the hollows, rolls itself out, a shag white carpet around all the woods, bridges the the hills in long planks of fog. By then the mist come with the dusk can’t make mold in the bean fields. Only a few more weeks and then fall plucks off all the green and the white sky tufts can’t sift in under the leaves and grow white fungus tufts. Just a few more weeks. Will we make it?  Tonight again I sit on the porch. I rock in the swing. The fog drifts in. An endless sea rolling in soundless. The children have dragged quilts and pillows and stories across the dewing lawn and out to the tent. I had heard Kai talking of owls in woods and Levi interrupting with wolves and the ow-ow-ow-howl of coyotes and Shalom had only had big eyes. We’ve already prayed, but I wander
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  • When You Feel like You Don’t Belong?

    On Wednesday, June 13 th, 2012
    Someone has to be that Mother. That mother who drives a full 3 hours to the border with a packed mini-van and anxious kids and creeps through a 20 minute traffic backup under the hot, beating sun, only to rifle through her wallet and look up feebly to tell the custom’s officer she doesn’t have birth certificates for 2 of her children. So that would be me. “Do you have any ID at all — for either one of them?” The custom’s officer asks it gently. Like he doesn’t want to push the flustered and flailing over any imagined or very real edge. He glances back at the long snake of vehicles behind me, waiting. In the sun. That’s not moving either. “Um… no.” I shuffle through my wallet again. “No, sir — I don’t.” Does the earth open up and swallow the Abiram of mothers? “I’m so sorry, sir. If I can just turn around?” I close up my wallet and I can feel it up the neck, the face — the mother shame burning like a red-hot brand. How in the world? What kind of mother…. ? I’m already cranking at the steering wheel, trying to get this mess turned around, thinking that when you can’t swallow down any grace, you turn yourself back from the land of the free. “Just a moment, ma’am. Open up the door here.” He waves my passport in the direction of the van’s side door. I fumble behind me, try to unlatch
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  • A Prayer for Your Home

    On Thursday, February 16 th, 2012
    Bless this nest, Lord, of fragile things, encircling the breakable and broken in grace, in the ever warmth of Your wing, in the sheltering shadow of Your face, us the clinging ones, You our clutch of hope, singing to us the song of home.     Resource: Bless Our Nest
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  • How to Grieve What You’re Missing

    On Thursday, July 22 nd, 2010
    She would have walked me all around to see the foxgloves. We’d have talked of how the hydrangeas had overwintered and how profuse their white blooms are this year under the spruce and she always had you meet her flowers first before welcoming you in, sitting you down, cutting you up a piece of pie. Today I bring the pie. Peach. Her recipe. The kids and the Farmer carry it into the house, in past the for sale sign, into his dad at the table. I tour the beds alone. It’s three years ago today. Three years ago since I was at her bed, held her hand, sang “His Sheep am I,” mopped up her fevered brow. How many Sundays is that now without her petals arranged up by the pulpit? How many Sundays has she not heard the wind in the lilacs out here? Three years her husk’s been buried, three years her remains overwintering near a row of spruce in the 8th Line Cemetery. I can’t find one foxglove. No clumps of phlox. She had this flaming violet coloured phlox that I loved. The hydrangeas predictably flop about in happiest abandon under the spruce shade. And that is all. Where are the daisies, the bee balm, the lilies? I don’t know where everything’s gone. The forget-me-nots seem to have taken over everything. My mother-in-law wouldn’t believe there was a red root pigweed in the planter at the back door and I can’t either, really. The aluminum screen door
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  • How the Kids & the Neighbor-Next-Door Might Really Become Christians?

    On Wednesday, April 28 th, 2010
    I‘m brushing my teeth, flecks of white spraying the sunny mirror, confetti celebrating new morning, when she crawls up on the toilet, leans into the mirror to find my reflection and ask me straight up, “How do you become a Christian?” I’m Crest-foaming. Which is slightly less than conducive for a theological treatise. I rinse, wash the pearly whites clean, swish again, decide the best way to answer the curl girl’s question might be exactly the Jesus answered questions. With another question. Aren’t the answers that strike the deepest the ones our own unlikely lips discover, pull out of thin air? “Shalom,” I tap the toothbrush dry on the side of the sink, porcelain knocking at today. I still haven’t found my glasses amidst the teetering stack of books on my bedside stand so I have to peer into her face, her one shake of seven freckles peppering her nose. “You tell me, Shalom… How do you become a Christian?” I want to think I’ve fulfilled my parental calling, that she knows this one and this is a test more of my own mothering than of her four-year-old mind. But nose to that sun-kissed nose, I’ve got to concede: “Do I even know?” What is it to become a Christian? Aren’t I still, even now, always, becoming Who I really am? Whose I really am? What I used to think of as a four-line prayer on the back of a Billy Graham tract I now see as oceanic, cosmic, a
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  • weekends are for the light-seeking

    On Saturday, November 14 th, 2009
    The way Your light dances, the way it plays the strings of the woods the chambers of this heart, who cannot believe in the realest, purest magic, that sang the world into being that sings of the crystal streets and a coming mansion in the sky? May your weekend wanderings, kind friends, lead you into Him who is our Light and Who will one celestial day be All our Light. All’s grace, The sun will no more be your light by day, nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory. ~Isa. 60:19 Photos: light captured shimmering in our woods this weekShare your thoughts?…Would you like Holy Experience delivered to you quietly via email?…
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  • Daze of Grace

    On Friday, February 06 th, 2009
    “The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning….” He murmurs it to me in hushed tones every time we find ourselves waiting in line at a funeral visitation, and I’m nervous, twisting my wedding band, slipping it on and off. I don’t breathe well in rooms with coffins. He’ll gently rub my back, calming. He can recite the verse from memory and softly does: “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart.” I don’t like taking it to heart. What living person does? Morbid, depressing, disconcerting. Isn’t the driving function of our entire culture to distract us from the brevity of our lives, the inevitability of our earthly end? Give me something pretty, happy – soothing. Please. And yet Psalm 90:12 urges: “So teach us to number our days, that we may get a heart of wisdom.” Why? Because in God’s upside-down Kingdom, going to the house of mourning leads to the abundant life. Numbering the days till our dying adds up to days of more holy, wholly, living. When we deny death, we deny life. It is only in embracing the limits to our earthly existence that we embrace the life within those limits. Socrates had a phrase for it, how we should engage our days: with “the practice of dying.” Benedict exhorted in his rule for life, in the section
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  • Make Pearls

    On Thursday, February 05 th, 2009
    I sit with remains of the dead on Tuesday morning, them under snow, earth, me under hat, coat. February whispers between granite markers of faces gone. And along headstones of Webers and Husseys and Gibsons, winter carves transitory monuments, flakes of the heavens. By cemetery’s edge, a line of bared maples stand with greyed limbs raised in salute of lives lived, some well. Kneeling, I run a finger along stone trench of a name, a date. These stones are only the oyster shells scattered behind; the pearls, precious to Him, have long since been gathered. I close my eyes, see. Days shape around irritants, time forming jewels, lives of spherical iridescence. I’m stilled at a headstone, the broken oyster left behind. Nothing moves but the wind and the wings of a crow flying south and my lungs rising and falling, filling with now. Lord, I have today, now. What do I make of it? Part of a series this week on death and dying… Looking death square hasn’t been easy, light. I’ve struggled, wanting to move on. My thanks for lingering where we’d like to deny. Final piece tomorrow, Lord willing.
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  • Live Ready

    On Wednesday, February 04 th, 2009
    1 Samuel 3:18 So Samuel told him everything, hiding nothing from him. Then Eli said, “He is the LORD; let him do what is good in his eyes.” Psalm 116:15 Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His godly ones. Deuteronomy 32:39 “See now that I myself am He! There is no god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal, and no one can deliver out of my hand. Job 42:2 “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.” John 11:25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.Do you believe this?” 2 Corinthians 4:16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. I can’t remember the exact words he used, but I know where I was on the gravel road into town when he said it, how the morning sun was slanting across the fields. How his words, now nearly a decade past, grabbed me, shook
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  • Healed Release

    On Tuesday, February 03 rd, 2009
    I touch him before sleeping. In the dark at day’s end, I draw close, lay head on his chest, press ear to the soft sounds of life swooshing through him. His heartbeat reverberates through me, and we breathe, one, rising and falling. The thought always comes, always jars: someday this won’t be. Someday…. one day …. too-soon day, one of us will lie cold. One heart will stop. And the other pump on alone, wild with grief. How can half a heart survive? My fingertips trace along his chest and our warmth bleeds together. Dare death divide one skin? Then it comes too, us lying here close, him sleeping, me listening to the beat of now: memories of a day of dividing, skins separating. She left my body in the dark of June, the alfalfa heavy and ready for cutting under spherical moon. And with each tightening and shortening of the uterine muscle, the largest muscle in the body of a woman, the delivering muscle, I had swayed myself through the contracting waves with murmured refrain, “Every one is one closer.” So life births, skins separating. And life dies, skins separating. Every one is one closer. Like steady contractions releasing babe from womb confines, each day we’re one day closer to releasing from earth confines. Nine months of quiet, dark gestation, then a body pushing through the canal to life. Ninety years of living, less, then a body pushing through the dark to light. There is time to be born
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  • Eyes up, Eyes up…

    On Monday, August 25 th, 2008
    It’s Monday morning, and as so often happens, I tend to forget who I am, Who has named me, where Home is, how to get there. I only see the list. The tasks, the calendar, the obstacle course ahead. I get lost. And then, comes the whisper… “Lift up your eyes! You are… a pilgrim traveling to the celestial city. I read some years ago of a young man who found a five-dollar on the street and who “from that time on never lifted his eyes when walking. In the course of years he accumulated 29, 516 buttons, 54, 172 pins, 12 cents, a bent back, and a miserly disposition.” But think what he lost. He couldn’t see the radiance of the sunlight, and sheen of the stars, the smile on the faces of his friends, of the blossoms of the springtime, for his eyes were in the gutter.There are too many Christians like that. We have important duties on earth, but we must never allow them to preoccupy us in such a way that we forget who we are or where we are going.” ~John Stott It’s Monday morning and, yes, pressing duties this week. But why live with bent back? Eyes fixed on the gutter? Can I walk out into the week with eyes not down, but lifted up? And so find the Way. To who I am, and where I am going, and the wonder of who He is. The way ahead is too important to forget.
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