Better than any argument is to rise at dawn and pick dew-wet berries in a cup. ~Wendell Berry

Friday, October 19, 2012

To Eric For His Birthday

My beautiful man gets sad at times, mad at himself
and tired of being human. I do too.  And sometimes I
think its hard to see it all at the same time...all that we
need to see...all the
ins and outs of us that must change and the
tinges of sin of us that makes us not quite who
we are supposed to be.

So love is really an amazing, thrilling thing that
doesn't get stained by the unredeemed parts of us,
that works hard to get at the important, deep stuff of our
lives and won't let the beloved lay in the mire and mirror rank
reeking things that rot and replay pain.

Fully looking at fear, naming it, will make a man out of you, for
there is no man that doesn't feel it. Something without a name
is allowed to lurk in dark places and leer at the one who 
won't look it in the eye…that’s what courage is, looking a thing in the eye.

So smile, my beautiful man, and know that I feel honored to
lay in your life and sleep deeply next to you at night.
Smile because you are not alone, my light joins yours to
clean out your dark places and plant beauty and strength and
joy there. Claim your strength, name it and find peace there. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

“When you realize how perfect everything is you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky” Buddha

Lately I have been thinking a lot about what author Ruth Haley Barton calls “sacred rhythms”. My life in general has been very reactionary, swinging from one wind gust to the next without really paying attention to where I was going. I think I thought I was always supposed to be waiting for God's will.  I was taught in church that you can't let your plans get in the way of God's voice. I was also taught that if I liked my own plans too much that something bad might happen to me or someone I loved so that God could get my attention. 

One time in college a girl very directly and accusingly asked me when I was ever going to stick to something and see it though. This comment has haunted me over the years. In essence, she was calling me unreliable and irresponsible. Maybe I was. Then again, maybe I was figuring out my own sense of rhythm. Life is full of stops and starts and do-overs. This has to be OK to some extent because it is unavoidable. Perfect constancy belongs only to God.

So maybe I was in the process of learning what was an appropriate beginning or ending. Perhaps I was trying to do things I was didn’t actually enjoy doing, or have the skill set for.  It is difficult to differentiate between quitting and sensing it is time to move on. Knowing when to come and when to leave might be the beginning of wisdom.

I think there is lot of comfort in these sacred rhythms: The four seasons.  Life and death. Even youth, middle age, and great age each have their unique gifts. Our modern culture (of which I am a fan in many respects) fights these rhythms with electricity, needles, face creams and health food fads. I am not really against any of these things. But I am learning that there needs to be some measure of acceptance to sacred rhythms in order to have peace. To surrender to what we cannot control and to change. If we pay attention we might even enjoy what comes with each turn and twist God or life or the universe offers us.When nursing a babe for two years does its damage and crow’s feet appear, when I quit a job to start a new one, begin a creative venture or end it-maybe there is a purpose. To sleep then wake, to live then die, to be cold then hot, anxious then at peace- I think it may all have meaning and there is nothing wrong with living in the moment and not seeking to change what “is”. If we can see the big picture, it may be that we are exactly where we are supposed to be.

As a mom I am always looking ahead. I also am a little manic about creating constancy in my children’s lives. I want them to be responsible and reliable. It is good to be resourceful and  raise well adjusted kids. But maybe there is a point where planning is just anxiety and training to my children to be pleasing to society is a projection of my own insecurity. How lucky are people who know exactly who they are and what they are supposed to be doing. Is there anyone out there who does? Other than Oprah, I mean. My kids will have their paths as I have mine. 

I have been reading Buddhist authors and poets lately. I am a Christian but cannot help being deeply moved by Buddhists’ connection to nature and their own sense of personal rhythm. I find a sense of this also in the church calendar. I don’t live in a place where ending something is respected but Jesus knew when to preach and when to rest. When to heal or when sickness was part of a person’s path. He knew the scope of humanity’s suffering but could still sleep. I don’t think His peace came from disconnection or apathy. Any man who can get so pissed off at merchants in the temple or sweat blood when stressed is probably pretty engaged. I think his lack of anxiety came from his deep connection to God and knowing His place in the grand scheme of things. It’s kind of a paradox, but I am starting to believe that when you know yourself and your purpose it is a lot easier to role with life and mark time by its milestones. Change isn’t so scary so it is easier to be at peace.
As a mom who loves her family and tries to serve Jesus by changing diapers, sleep deprivation and not being a bitch to my husband when he doesn’t pick up his towels in the bathroom, it might behoove me to think beyond weaning and potty training. Those things are really important and part of my sacred rhythms. But they are temporary. This life's rhythms are melodies that need some percussion.  I would like my base line to be God. At the moment, they are more likely the fall’s new TV schedule, but I am working on it.  

Friday, August 17, 2012

Almost Middle-Aged Lady Rant

Dear Teen-aged Girls:

I am going to sound like your mother, and no one is more appalled by this than me. I hate being the grown-up. Here I go... Your jean shorts that are cut like bikini bottoms- the ones that show how your nether- regions move when you walk- they make you look slutty. I am just telling you because I think you should know. Maybe no one told you. They are not flattering. Daisy Dukes don't actually look good in real life. And even if they did, even if you actually look like Daisy Duke in Daisy Dukes, some mystery is good. For real. Your nether- regions are none of my business, and I am tired of seeing them at the mall and in parks and in Walgreens. Save some stuff for intimate moments, and leave the rest of us in blessed ignorance about your bodies. Maybe I sound stuffy. Maybe I am old. Then again, maybe no one is teaching you how to be a lady. So I am taking it upon myself. Put some clothes on, please.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

(no wine)

I think that maybe I am not alone.

I think I have a dear friend's prayers

and that everything I used to know about God

came from other's experiences.

Not my own. And life was traveled in footprints that didn't quite fit.

So this Jesus, I don't know him personally. I know him
quite well impersonally. But that doesn't help in the middle of the night.

Or when life disappoints or when love fails. When bodies fail.

When entropy wins.

So. Let's start over Jesus. I will be me and you will be you.

Hello. Its nice to meet you.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Ode To Anxiety

Stretched too thin
  Skin and bone are leather
    Gift wrapping stone
       A smile too tight a pulled
          Rubber band ready to fight
             With words bitter and strong
                Like coffee brewing since the
                   Day before yesterday. The
                       Rungs on the ladder of my
                           Spine are broken from the
                              Pressure of this giant
                                 Climbing up to my brain
                                    Making it ache making a
                                        Stain on my feelings I
                                          Just can’t bleach out.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Pearl

The furies follow me hungry
for my hope and You
Seem to thinks it funny that
I’ve invested my fortune
In a treasure that
Just won’t be found.

I’ve searched within and without
For that pearl of great price
Willing to pay with my soul.
Really, if You wanted me to find it
You might have buried it shallow and shining
So my blindish eyes would have a chance
At the peace You proclaim passes all understanding.

Well I understand plenty
And I have had enough of the secrets
Within your book, the words will not open
For me is there a magic phrase
An unknown prayer to utter that will let
Me into Your cave of riches?

Yes. I know I hail You with heresy
And expect You to bestow hope
To revive my fainting faith. What I understand
To You is nonsense. If I must be a fool make
Me a fool for Your extravagant love
Let me know it so brutally that it
Crushes all doubt, all despondency, all despair.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

My name is Jennifer Gray and I am a Co-dependant.

Your breeze blows warm when it wants to.
Cold when you’re consciously cruel.

Your leaves are waving in that wind, I am swaying in
Their rhythm. When I close my eyes I can feel you breathe
See your passion seethe
While I fall asleep and dream you want your night to be over.

My words fall fresh while I shed your tears
Feel for you the hot flush of released despair.

You claim you’re an addiction, a bad habit to break.
So if I breathe you in and regret it, only my life is at stake?

When did love become a drug? A bliss from which to recover?
It seems yours is the only heart worth your time to discover.

Do you think my eyes are bound when you look
At me the way that you do (that look reflects the eyes of many saviors)…all I know is that I want to see you through…

Sometimes light is more painful that darkness
Truth more deceptive than lies.
Beauty can put nails in your heart, create longings
No mask can disguise.

Close your eyes quickly now sing softly of your sorrow
Sift through seasons of darkness and discover
Sounds of joy that stand in bold relief
Against the back-drop of your grief and be at peace…
Sleep deep… dawn will come if you let her.