creating me [using words]

Archive for the month “July, 2013”

Aim and Substance

In Sunday School, while discussing the practice of spiritual disciplines, Ben asked us, “What would you say is the aim and substance of the spiritual life?” or, in other words, what result would you hope your practices would actually create, or, what the heck is the point of any of this?

I thought this was a pretty crucial question. How would you answer it?

I landed on this, which I will undoubtedly tweak over time: “The aim and substance of the spiritual life is to live fully awake, to manifest love, to walk through the world with an open heart, to care for the earth and its people with respect and tenderness, to develop an expansive gratitude for all that is beautiful and the capacity to grieve all that is evil, to encounter in my very being the restorative power of God and participate in God’s creative activity.”


The Wife of Lot

I want to charge into the new,
to feel the breeze on my face
and not look back,
but my legs, like pillars of salt,
hold me to the evil.
I am planted to it,
like reverse roots;
Sodom drains my life-blood away,
and though my children are ahead of me
and I know I’ve saved them
by coming this far,
I feel tied up by the ankles,
unable to let go, I am stiffening.
I taste salt, like rising bile,
in the back of my throat.
Why would I return
to the men who would plunder my guests
and rape my daughters?
Why would I listen to their voices
calling me back, promising comfort,
saying, This is your home?

My eyes scan ahead, into the unknown
and I am terrified by what I do not know.
At least the pain and abuse is familiar territory
and I know how to be in it.
This new life will require a me
that I don’t know if I have anymore.
I look into my daughter’s faces and I see
that they have it still–
a fire I somehow passed on
though it lay dormant in me. They will survive,
I know, and of this, I am proud.
But the pride in me is small
and sour and hunched over
and the monsters of my past are calling
me back, back to my smallness
and smallness is easier than growing.
I am too old, too tired to grow.

Oh that I might die in my grief,
rather than return to my torment!
Might God have mercy on my weak soul?
Tears stream down my wrinkled face.
I lick them from my lips.
They taste of salt.
I cannot go on.
I will not go back.
I will not die.
God, forgive me!
I will become a monument,
one solitary life-sized tear
for every daughter who did not
or could not
or would not


Gratitude: for all the joys
that fill a day, a life.
They are abundant,
even amidst this sea of sorrows.
I stay afloat, and remarkably
can smile, smile wide
and free and true
like one who wandered the valley
of the shadow and found
a strawberry growing there,
ripe for the tasting.
Miracles are the tiniest things–
too small to spot at all
unless you’re looking
then they pop up like fireflies
in the twilight
lighting a path through gathering darkness

The Lay of the Land

It’s not so much that you ever reach
the Promised Land, but that the sand
through which you plod
with laden shoes and dust-filled
nose wafts a fragrance faint
and the sky is beautiful
and promises blossom
in this very barren land.
As the prophet said:
“The sands become pools,
the thirsty ground bubbling springs.”
This shapeshifting landscape,
always changing, like magic,
like God is here,
the terrain at dance with our prayers,
never safe, never dull,
perfectly imperfect, all is well,
pain is abundant,
joy overflows.
Take all of it straight into your heart:
the scorch, the shade,
the shadow, the sun.
Do not dishonor the mysteries
by explaining them
or speaking of them before they ask
to be spoken of.
Watch them unfold.
Pause long when you think you understand,
When it seems unclear yet again,
leap forward with abandon
and expect to land in the heart of God.

The Color I Am

Normally I am blue-grey
like calm water or sky
but with an element of brooding

Now I am vibrant orange
for a season, ’til my lava cools,
even after, I’ll forever be capable
of re-igniting–just you watch and see–

Orange means coming alive,
also: awakeness, rising,
feistiness, fire, flame, and force
anger, risk, adventure, voice,
erupting, playing, blossoming,
and the flapping of monarch wings


“We are volcanoes. When we women offer our experience as our truth, all the maps change. There are new mountains. That’s what I want–to hear you erupting. You Mount St. Helenses who don’t know the power in you–I want to hear you . . . If we don’t tell our truth, who will?”  ~Ursula K. Le Guin

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creating me [using words]


creating me [using words]