Snowfall

I tended to be that kid who knew too much and nothing at all. Who snagged information with sticky fingers and wandered on without washing her hands. Who collected a dossier of business cards and phone numbers and scraps of background, because these were the important things. Information was safety, was power, was protection against surprise and, thus, fear. Information was important.

It’s snowing outside. The first snow of the season. Big, white, puffy flakes, tumbling down between rust-red bricks and clinging to scuffed concrete.

I tended to be that kid who loved puzzles and did them too much. Who disappeared into a world where all things fit just right and even the missing pieces were fine if you knew about the blank spots. Who did the same puzzle over and over again, because these scattered pieces would go back together the same way every time. Puzzles were safe, for no matter the shape, they all fit together, and, thus, so could life. Every piece had a place.

The snow was unexpected. I think it likes to be unheralded. Let the weatherman say to expect something, and then laughingly blanket the world in white. Somehow it is both lazy and scurrying, plummeting down to collect in fluffy piles. There are footprints in it now. No snow angels yet, but we didn’t dress to play in it today.

I tended to be the kid who knew things too early. Who collected words like rainwater and then looked them up in the dictionary. Who heard a line in a phone call and an adjective used and added siding to the house everyone had been told was only a blueprint, because these things just allowed a sneak peek behind the curtain. Knowledge was confidence, was confidential, would be worth knowing later, and, thus, worth knowing now. Everything could be known.

The snow is still falling. The students are having a snowball fight in the plaza. Some slide across the sidewalks to class, a few tiptoe, too many grumble. Someone threw a snowball against the window of our classroom. Out of joy or spite, I don’t know. Maybe it was done because that’s just what you do when there is snow on the ground. The snow doesn’t care. It just falls and paints the world white. If you stand still long enough, you can taste the bits of cold and become paint-speckled, too.

I tended to be that kid who did a lot of internal construction. Who heard one word and collected five. Who received an explanation and held it in her hand while digging through the pockets and memory banks to pull out the rest of the story. Whys and Whens and How-Tos were more than loose change for the vending machine of what actually happened. Whys and Whens and How-Tos could be re-used over and over again, because the picture could always use a little more focus and, thus, you were never quite blind. Or blindsided. It all always made sense.

It did not snow that night. We walked in with the lights dim and heard diplomatic words like “strategic” and “re-positioning” and “trends” and “reductions.” I’ve never seen us so silent. Afterwards, we didn’t scuttle across the plaza and make snowballs out of the unexpected matter that fell into our laps. We stood and held hands and prayed over all the words behind the words and all the lives behind the lives and all the undone things behind all the things we could-would-should have done.

The snow is slowing down. Perhaps it’s almost done. Still painting, still careless. Perhaps careful. Perhaps it’s deliberate, the way it settles into corners and the folds of a scarf. They’ve salted down the plaza, so now it’s slushy walkways and a slippery path of almost normal. It isn’t quite, though. It snowed. It snowed, and we tasted it, and it was good. It was beautiful. It is beautiful.

I tended to be the kid that thought too much and not quite enough. Who said too much and only sometimes the right things. Who thought about all the scraps of knowledge and pieces of information and wisps of knowing, because if I knew, it would be enough. As if I could patch the world together with just enough thought. As if I could suture a wound with just the right words. As if I could understand the bruise with just a little more knowing. As if all the information in the world could have kept the trends and predictions and funds and enrollments and reductions and calculated words at bay. As if all the information in the world could have told me how to sit at the back of the room and know what to say or what to do when I actually knew what I had already known. The pieces were all there. The curtain had been hung ajar for a long time. The pocket of loose change had told me, dollars and cents, what I could get. They just didn’t tell me what I could do.

It’s stopped snowing. The first snow of the season. Slushy, slippery, melting between the cracks in the rust-red bricks and scuffed concrete.

They won’t be coming back next year. Probably. Those professors who taught, those mentors who listened, those teachers who lived alongside us for a few years or perhaps a few decades or maybe just a few times a year, baton in hand. I don’t know many of them. I don’t know the what-when-why-how of their lives and losses. I don’t have those pieces. We’re all missing a lot of pieces, walking around with gaps. Some of them are tiny gaps. Some of them are not.

It’ll snow again, hopefully. I love the snow. I love the way it paints the world, and me, too. I love the way it turns dirty corners into white alleys, leaky roofs into bleached canvases, scraggly trees into dusted masterpieces. I love the turning of the world, even for a moment, into something new.

I will always be that kid who thinks she has all the pieces and doesn’t, actually. Who has read all the books and written all the notes and done all the puzzles twenty-six times. Who has heard all the conversations and seen all the signs and noted all the warnings each and every time. Who has actually done less than all of that and will never quite be ready for the actuality of things. But today I stood in the snow and stretched out my arms for the chance to taste something beautiful. But today I knew about the snow and was still astonished at the way it made things beautiful.

There’s a newness here, too, in the holding and the praying and the singing now. And there’ll be a newness there, too, when there are fewer people to participate in the holding and the praying and the singing. But praise to the Maker of snow and life: He still makes new, all things. Maranatha.

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Rest, Truly

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Dear refuge of my weary soul,

Bastion for this tired heart

Outstretched arms that wait for me

Is this true? Are You not?

 

Come home, all ye heavy laden,

Wandering feet, stumbling tread

Painted on these signs and songs

Yet unsure of this path and end

 

Dear saints, I will give thee rest

But truly rest, from this, from You?

Is this burden from your arms

Or these sleepless hours gifts undue?

 

Jesus, I am resting, resting

Restless in the hands of rest

Hands that give and take and reach

How can these thorns be Your best?

 

Nearer O my God to Thee

Against these that would woo my soul

Out from under, up from below

Wondering, waiting, yet unwhole

 

And yet, How Long, O Lord?

For weary souls to wander home

And will they, Lord? Will they surely?

Will we find Your rest alone?

 

Be Still, my Soul, truly still,

Still in arms of wrathful love

Quiet in a spacious place

Waiting for He who does

 

Before the Throne of God above,

Though we did not ask to come

Footsore, forlorn,

Learning of the love of One

 

O Love that will not let me go,

Incarnate Lover, Severe Mercy,

Wrath of God, Son of Man

Joined to us, the too-long weary

 

It is well with my soul

Well and good and healing yet

Knit with Spirit, flesh and blood

Marked as His toward final rest

 

When the shadow lands are done

When the saints come truly home

When my faith shall be my sight

When my flesh shall seek the light

When this pain shall have no grip

When these feet shall never slip

When these hands shall be remade

When this crown at His feet laid

When all is right and all is new

When this soul knows this as true

 

To You, O Father, let us come

Joined to Jesus, heirs with Him

Marked by Spirit, paid by blood

 

This is rest; life within

This is rest; love undimmed

This is rest; truly Him

12 DEC 2016 [safe journey, little brother]

Safe journey, little brother.
Hand high, head higher
Tall with things promised
Tall with self to prove
Sworn to be selfless
To bear and defend and
Become less of one
You will yet bear more weight
Than the promises you swear
While the things forsaken
Forever weigh heavy

Safe journey, little brother.
Firm stance on yellow footprints
Firm feet on solid ground
Heart flag staked
To God and country
Or country and God
Where is your heart?
To Whom are you promised?
To us, to them, to all
That you truly love?

Safe journey, little brother.
With sun and sand
Water and wind
Overcoming with struggle
Easy, someday
Less so than words
Unrelenting and seeking
Your heart and soul
And body. All.

Safe journey, little brother.
While Christmas comes
We will make snowmen
Melting shapes, making cheer
With sticks and stones
You will be remade
By words and men,
Sticks and stones

Safe journey, little brother.
We will pray and write
Pennies and postage
Sending words, just words
Pieces of our days
Words that you will not hear
There, until home again.

Safe journey, little brother
Keep your oath
We will keep ours
Prayer for your journey—
In Whom do we hope?
That you might be kept

Safe journey, little brother.
These words and prayers
Threads between coast and heartland
Will not spare you
From the breaking of self and soul

Safe journey, little brother.
Come back as new
Remade as a man
By God first, country second

Safe journey, little brother.
In losing self and all else,
Do not lose Him

Safe journey, little brother.
Hand high, head higher

Safe journey, little brother.

Autumn Movement

 

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I cried over beautiful things knowing no beautiful thing lasts.

The field of cornflower yellow is a scarf at the neck of the copper sunburned woman,
the mother of the year, the taker of seeds.

The northwest wind comes and the yellow is torn full of holes, new beautiful things
come in the first spit of snow on the northwest wind, and the old things go,
not one lasts.

“Autumn Movement” by Carl Sandburg

photo: mine; what once was.

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I want to write. I want to write to make me feel the way I do when I read. The words change me. I can do anything. I have done everything. I have fallen in love, walked the world, touched the sky, and laughed with the taste of freedom in my mouth. I have been braver and better and loved more deeply than ever before. I have wanted and cried and it has always been the words, the words, the ones that others write and the ones that I want to. Words heal me. They make me feel complete. I want to write, to keep that warmth alive.

I don’t want to write. I don’t want to feel the way I do when I read. The words change me. I have been torn apart. I have lost, myself, my soul. I have fallen to my knees, grieved for the world, ached for the sky, and lived with the salt of tears in my mouth. I have been seared and burned and bled more deeply than ever before. I have wanted and cried and it has always been the words, the words, the ones that others write and the ones I can read no longer. Words have broken me. They have shattered me into emptiness. I don’t want to write, to feel their knife of pain ever again.

9/11/2001

O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight
O’er the ramparts we watch’d were so gallantly streaming?

And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there,

O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?


Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream,

’Tis the star-spangled banner – O long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore,
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a Country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution.


No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand
Between their lov’d home and the war’s desolation!


Blest with vict’ry and peace may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the power that hath made and preserv’d us a nation!

Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto – “In God is our trust,”

And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

The Star Spangled Banner” by Francis Scott Key

Going Dark

There’s something about maintaining a blog that is very freeing to me. I love the freedom to write about anything, to gush about writing, to fangirl about things, and to give and receive support from fellow writers. You all are the best.

But there’s something about a blog that is also quite deceptive. It’s easy to feel like your “internet life” doesn’t have any overlap with your “real life”. It’s quite possible to form opinions and make comments and share stories that are at complete odds with your “real life”. You might be having a sucky day, but you’re cheerfully commenting on someone else’s status. On the flip side of things, you want to be real, but you don’t want to overwhelm someone with your “real life”.  There’s a disconnect and a balance that walk hand-in-hand.

I think that’s one of the things that I’ve enjoyed so much about Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk‘s ‘What’s Up Wednesday‘ posts. There’s a good balance of finding the positive, sharing the real, gushing about the hobbies, and challenging each other. I’ve enjoyed every minute – thank you!

But, especially within the last week, my “real life” has been creeping up on me. Okay, so maybe shouting and waving red flags. There’s been the usual busyness, but sometimes things sort of jump out and grab you by the ankles and freak you out.  At some point, you have to stop and take the time to get things sorted. And quite frankly, doing that right now is going to involve letting this blog “go dark”,  Too many small emergencies left unattended can become one giant catastrophe, and right now, circumstances are handing me about six giant catastrophes. A few are personal, a lot involve other people, and one specifically needs constant focus and, as a side effect, almost zero “internet life” communication.

So, for now, this is me saying adieu. I’ve updated my Feedly, so I can try/still would be able to stalk y’all from afar. Maybe, even after this long and winded spiel, I’m still in denial about the limited opportunities I’m going to have to actually do that,

I don’t know if I’ll still be able to hop on and comment, or how soon I’ll be back to actively participate in this blog and get to be a part of this community again. Until then, thank you for everything, and I’ll still be cheering you on.