the song behind the noise

Your words are hard here,
and here, and here —
but I cannot get you out of my mind

Your words are kind here,
more than kind —
heartbreaking —
and I cannot get you out of my mind 

I couldn’t if I tried
(it’s the fear)
I heard a few sermons about hell
when I was young
so you will always be
at least a question

…but that fear is part
of the cloud
of anxiety and noise
that surrounds my mind
so I’d like not to focus on it

and I’d like not to focus on sin
or pain
or the groaning earth
or shame

I’d like not to focus
on the hatred
or judgement of man
or the Bible beaters
or the politics (on all the sides)
or the rulers who oppress
or the selfishness of lust
(theirs and mine)

I am trying now to focus:
to close my eyes and listen
because all I hear is noise

noise,

noise…

wait!
I remember the violets
in the grass by the baseball field
where my brother played
how bright and purple they were
when I picked them,

and I hear them

and if I am still,
I can hear my mother singing
and my father plucking strings

I can hear the kindness
of shared grief
I can hear, even, the prayers
for peace and healing
and joy

I can hear those believers
who tell me they don’t know
everything

I can hear the quiet song
that persists in this dark world
— a prayer of love
that forgives —

a gift
of secret beauty
that fills the ocean depths
creating great blue whales
and all their friends and foes 

it’s a thread of hungry beauty
that fills the galaxies
and lingers in the footprints 
of all the tiny bugs
— bright
or slight —
whose strange smallness
and diversity
fuel my curiosity

I hear you

…is it You?

“Creative Acts of Kindness”

Let the making begin…

I recently decided to embark on a project. Not sure how long it will go on. Maybe a few more months. Maybe a year…maybe the rest of my life?

Gee, that would be cool. I hadn’t thought of that. The rest of my life. Hmmm. Well, I won’t commit to that, but I will tell you about this idea I have. It’s pretty simple, really:

I am making little things (little enough to fit in an envelope), and I am sending them to people. I am choosing the people. They can’t ask to be included. It has to be a purely from-me, me-initiated sort of thing. Not that it’s all about me, but it will always start with me. Otherwise, I think I’ll get worn out pretty quickly. I’m going to see how long this pulse of creativity will radiate from my heart toward the world.

(I know a whimsical lady who will smile at this sweet ballerina…it has a tie-thingy so it can hang up wherever she wants to put it. I don’t know why she is closing her eyes. Maybe real ballerinas don’t do that, or they would run into stuff. Oh well. She’s not real, so there!)
(I have an odd hobby of making paper dolls. I get to pretend I can design gorgeous clothing. Paper dolls fit in envelopes, so they qualify for this project.)

So far, I have created 10 pieces of creativity to send in the mail. I haven’t sent them yet. When I get through the list of names and addresses I currently have written down for this project, I will take them to the post office and send them off. Just to make people happy.

Because, why not??

(Beads are one ingredient to the Creative Acts of Kindness project.)

As a special offshoot of this project, tonight I am putting together tiny drawings for my coworkers. I work at a flower shop, and this is the time of year (Valentine’s Day!) when the floral world goes full-on crazy, delivering flowers to all besotted heroes who want to woo their loves.

Anyway, I am probably projecting somewhat here, but we are all getting more and more stressed in preparation for this madness, so I thought I would sprinkle a tiny bit of goodwill around the shop. Tiny drawings…nothing much. But a hell of a lot of fun to make (why do I love little things so much?!). And maybe it will make them smile. We’ll see. 🙂

(Here are the tiny drawings. Each one is based on a conversation or two I had with the person who is receiving it. I have an idea of which flowers or plants most of my coworkers like most, but I did have to guess for some of them.)

I initially wanted to send out ten “Creative Acts of Kindness,” but then I had the wonderful realization that I don’t have to stop there. I am just going to keep going until it isn’t fun anymore. So far drawings, poetry, paper dolls, and necklaces have materialized with a specific person in mind for each one.

We’ll see where it goes………..

to the owl on my street

You are always asking,

“ Who? ”

Who do you want to know?
Me?
Who am I?
I am small,
I have long hair,
I have green eyes,
I have a pretty ring
around my finger and I live
in that attic
up there

...with whom, you may ask?
With a man 
who has hazel eyes
and a great laugh
and a deep voice
and a hunger
for a living we are always
working for
searching for
Maybe we’ll find it
one day

“ Who ? ”

I hear your call again
as I blow a puff of frosty air
and walk
along this uneven sidewalk
in the night

“ Who ? ”

Who do you want to know?
Who made you?
Goodness,
I want to know that too!
Is this maker real?
Good?
Crazy?
Full of artistry and magic?
Full of thoughts of things like you:
your feathers,
your eyes,
your hunger
and your wistful 
“who...?”

“ Who ? ”

Who is your next meal?

Who is your mate?

Who
will catch a glimpse of you
haunting the night air?

“ Who ? ”

I want to know “who” too
Who
are you
?
Are you magic?
Are you mystery?
Are you brown or white?
Are you young,
are you old?
Are you happy?

I am turning toward my home now
You can always know that here
There is someone watching for you

You know who

An old longing

32…an age of maturity and youth. Of established surety and bright future. Of purpose.

That is my age. Are those the expectations of society? That in the early thirties you have bright plans and steady hands? Maybe. Then again, I am a millennial. Society has mixed opinions about us. We are maybe too slow to be established. Maybe, though, we are all adjusting our expectations.

When I was young, maybe 12 or so, I looked at my Bible with curiosity, fear, reverence, and hope. Hope that one day the grace they spoke of would outweigh the fear they gave me of hellfire and shame. Hope that grace would win in my mind, that I would know the Jesus of the gospel books, the gentle but fearsome Jesus who braved the cross out of love. Hope that maybe when I got to be this age I would know grace through and through, that it would make my hands steady and future bright and sure.

Here I am, the echo of this hope and the fragrance of this grace forming a fragile architecture in my mind. The doubt, fear, confusion and sin of the past couple decades have cast a shadow, making it hard to remember the grace that hangs around, so fragile.

It is a new year. I will be 33 this year. Perhaps it is a year for growth again. For hands to work toward steadiness, for faith in hope, for bravery in this crazy world. This is a fast-turning world with genuine objections to what it views as the tyranny of Christianity, a world that bursts with hopes for grace and vibrant color and joy. Perhaps those beautiful things come from other things – not religion, but air and sun and laughter and dancing. But then, maybe those things are religion too. Maybe those things are inherent in the grace that unfolds in Scripture. Maybe this is a year to lean into the questions and objections of a millennial age. Maybe this is a year to open the Bible again, to read the news again, to read and read again and to listen to my neighbors as they tell me their stories.

Maybe this is the year for steady hands.

Maybe this is the year to pray:

Creator, give me more grace: let me brave the ideas, open. Let me learn more. Let me find You. Or not find you. Maybe let You go. Maybe find You again. Lord, help me know something this year. Bring me to my knees and help me stand up again. If I cannot be brave in this life, why do I dare to live? As I lie awake in bed next to someone whose heart belongs to me, I feel in his breathing the call to have a basis for living, for loving him, for breathing myself. Lord, help me learn. Help me be brave.

Give me grace.

Give me steady hands.