"As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame; / [ . . . ] Each mortal thing does one thing and the same: / Deals out that being indoors each one dwells; / Selves -- goes itself; 'myself' it speaks and spells, / Crying 'What I do is me; for that I came'." --Gerard Manley Hopkins

03 December 2015

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Saturday.  Sunday.  Monday.  Tuesday.  Rain, rain, rain, rain.  Day and night.  Light rain, heavy rain, misting rain, dripping rain.  Rain.  

Rain is necessary for growth, yes.  But so is sun.  So weary of the rain.  Thanksgiving, but willed against the wet grey of the world.

Wednesday dawned.  Or at least one had to assume it dawned.  Still grey, dreary.  But -- hope: no actual rain.  A slightly lighter tint to the clouds.  A chill wind and the ground still sopping.

Finally, sunlight competing with the rain clouds, visible at last behind them, and spirits lifting a bit.  Maybe it wouldn't really rain forever.

Wednesday night, midnight.  Almost in bed, but seeing light through the curtain.  Pulling it back and there she was -- Phoebe lighting up the cloudless sky and bringing the landscape to life.  Reflected light promising the sunlight to come.

Thanksgiving from the heart instead of the will.

And finally Thursday waking to a clear sky, a visible sunrise, the clarity of hope made real.

24 November 2015

More Gems of Joy

Yesterday, driving home from work as my Thanksgiving break began, I came up to the long curve on the old ferry road and there she was, Phoebe hanging in the afternoon blue sky, nearly full, so lovely I almost drove into the ditch drinking it in.  She's been missing lately, my muse, and I've been feeling it.  Grey skies and more grey skies, and even looking for the beauty in cloud formations and acknowledging the need for bountiful rain had pretty much worn thin.  We've all been longing for sun, and at last Apollos shone out and skies cleared and there Phoebe was, too, celebrating with us.  And just now, alerted by my husband, I opened the garage door and there she was again, very close to the full now, in the darkness of the star-kissed night, a glowing crystal to lift the heart and soul.  Thank you, Lord, for gems of joy and days of rest.

08 October 2015

Fall Break

Fall break is right around the corner, and everyone is feeling the need.  It’s been a hard week for most of us, though sunshine after weeks of grey has helped to raise some spirits.  For me, the old darkness seems merely to have deepened, the fog grown denser, as the skies have brightened; and the sun’s promise just makes the mood worse. 

The promise is real, of course, and it keeps me alive and functioning; some days I do this well and others not so much.  The ones closest to me pay the most in having to endure, and I am grateful more than they will ever know for their love and laughter and the simple comfort of knowing they will now and always refuse to be driven away.  Their reward shall be great.

I’ve written before that the sun can seem too bright, too harsh, despite its gift of life.  “Tell all the truth but tell it slant,” Emily Dickinson wrote; “Too bright for our infirm delight / The Truth’s superb surprise [. . .].”  I am indeed infirm, and the moon eases me more, offers me light in doses I can survive.  And this morning there she shone as I left, in the early still-black sky a lovely crescent in direct line with Venus and Jupiter to bid me good day and remind me of all I am – mere reflected light, and if today is closer to the new moon than the full, I am still His, to do with as He will, to shine if and as He pleases.

Strength for all of us, Father, in facing the various demons that plague us.  Strength to do the next thing, to smile when it hurts, to love and accept love when feelings scream against it, to let ourselves remember and be what we are.  In Gerard Manley Hopkins’ words:

I say móre: the just man justices;
Keeps grace: thát keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God's eye what in God's eye he is —
Chríst — for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men's faces.

Christ in us – all that matters.

03 September 2015

Getting Out of the Way

I have been missing my muse, in more ways than one.  Because I get to sleep late in the summer, I see Phoebe less often and usually only in the midday sky.  A few nights ago, I was up around midnight and thought that the street light was glowing more brightly than usual -- but when I opened the curtain, I found that the full moon was shining brilliantly above the trees.  Yesterday as I left the house for work, the morning star shone brightly above the horizon, and thought I'd missed Phoebe again, but when I arrived at work she shone above me, the light from her waning form as brilliant as at the full, fading out the clouds that tried to hide her.  This morning, almost at the quarter now, she shone in a cloudless sky and lifted my spirit again.  The day had seemed impossible, but no longer.  It's not up to me to create light, just do my best to get out of the way, to reject the clouds, and let Another's light shine.  I hope I can manage it, moment by moment.

23 March 2015

Journeying: In memory of Kara Tippetts

For Kara, in thanks for her inspiring faithfulness, even unto death

White fog blanketed the world this morning, blurring the edges of brokenness and reminding me of beauty.  It seemed a good setting for the bittersweet taste of loss -- sorrow, such deep sorrow, for what the world has lost and the evil of death that forces such loss upon us; and yet, and yet . . . sweetness of hope to know that Kara is fully healed and filled with delight in the presence of her Savior, that her loved ones will meet her again one day, that His grace will blanket them in their now journey through the sorrow.

I never met her, never corresponded with her.  Yet she touched my life in ways I will never forget, and I taste the loss.  How much more the sorrow of her family and her friends!  And yet -- there is her witness to grace, her witness to love, her witness to selflessness for us to carry with us always, the beauty of one who put others before herself even in intense suffering, who strove to live in love in daily faithfulness to the One who suffered and died for us. 

God is real, and He is faithful.  May we all learn to live like Kara, bringing a bit more hope and grace and beauty into the world through our own faithfulness in the mundane tasks of each day -- and thus preparing ourselves to face death like Kara, knowing His grace.

From one of Kara's last posts:  

[. . .T]here is so much about this we cannot understand. [. . .] I hurt that I understand what this greater pain I’m experiencing means. I feel too young to be in this battle, but maybe I’m not in a battle at all. Maybe I’m on a journey, and the journey is more beautiful than any of us can comprehend. And if we did understand, we would hold very loosely to one another because I’m going to be with Jesus. There is grace that will seep into all the cracks and pained places when we don’t understand. In the places we don’t understand we get to seek. And how lovely is one seeking truth. Stunning.

16 March 2015

Saving Grace

The only saving grace of my early hour drive to work this morning after a week of lovely break was the fiery coral above the mountain announcing the sun’s journey and the crescent moon glowing in the dark above. 

This is a day of discouragement, for many reasons from work to personal, and the ever-vigilant depression stirs in wait to rise and encloud me any moment.  These are the days I lose sight of joy, though it too stirs below the surface.  These are the days I hate even more than usual the clichés and perky songs and proverbs, no matter how actually profound they may be.  And those that are mere glibness, that ignore the brokenness of this world . . . those I hope not to encounter in any public forum. 

The worst is “count your blessings.”  I know full well I have innumerable blessings, and even on a day like this I am grateful for them all.  I also know that any and all of them can be taken from me in a split second.  On days like this, counting the blessings I have only makes me aware of their fragility, and more acutely aware of what brokenness has stolen.  But in any case, and on any day, while gratefulness is always in order, it is not the blessings I can count that count.

There is no counting the love and grace and mercy of my God.  There is no counting the mystery of the Incarnation, nor the Cross, nor the Resurrection.  There is no counting the knowledge that the God of the universe deigns to know us at all, much less love us so much that He gave His only Son to die for us, that the Son willed to be separated from the Father by our sin taken on Him.  There is no counting the gift of the Holy Spirit to indwell us, giving us light and life.  There is no counting the fact that He uses us – me! – to accomplish His will, even on days like this.

Because it’s all about Him, not about me.  The announcement of the rising sun reminds me of the fierce beauty of the Father’s love; the moon reminds me I am His reflected light.  And even just a crescent, even barely visible – as she was when I arrived at the college under the sun-lightened sky – it is His work, not mine; His light, not mine; His joy, not my happiness, that counts.  Perhaps this day my light will reflect His less clearly and brilliantly.  Still it is His light only, never mine; I have none.  May it shine as He gives grace.

04 February 2015

His Glory is Now

I’ve been missing the moon lately, between my rising too late and her setting too early.  Yesterday, K told me about seeing her set in the early morning, dazzling in the still-night sky, a snow moon illuminating the neighborhood.  Last night he called me to see her from the window, an icy brilliance between sparkling planets.  Delighted, I expected no more.

Then this morning I woke early, rose reluctantly a half-hour before the alarm’s setting.  And there she was as I turned down the ferry road – full, shining out from behind clouds that blurred her light into a hazy mist but could not obscure it.  Before I reached the highway, I turned onto a little-used road and pulled over to watch her sink behind the ridge, her light remaining a beacon of grace long after she disappeared.

I would that someday I might learn to give over the reluctant thanks for real gratitude, knowing that those moments that don’t feel wondrous hold the seeds of beauty, whether I see them then or later, whether it is beauty seen in the world or beauty grown in us through His grace.  He delights to delight us, in the midst of this broken world.  “Glory be to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and always shall be.”