Dandelions


Once we gave my Nana a daisy-chain of dandelions
And she tied flowers in our hair with ribbons 
from her mother and grandmother,
New wisps and old strands entwined,
And we sang a song in all our grandmothers’ voices,
"Aren’t our granddaughters wise and so joyful!" 
"Aren't our grandsons so loving and kind!”

More Than

I am more than that small thing I did
And smarter than that dumb thing I said.
I'm wiser than the bad choice I made,
And stronger than the weak me you see.
I am truer than the faithless words that passed my lips,
And I'm braver than the easy path I took.

I was anyway.
Do you remember? Do you recall that me that I was going to become?

Do you remember when I sang a song of easy grace inside my heart
And I offered help with no strings or words attached?
Do you remember when I was so joyful that it made you smile
And I stood up when sitting down was small and mean?
Do you recall when I was so kind that it made you glad
And so loving that you loved me even more?

Oh God, please restore the bigger me.
Because the smaller me is taking all the room.

Policies and Procedures

  • Always stop at lemonade stands 
  • Smile when you make eye contact
  • Hold the door even if it takes a little longer
  • Sing in the shower and in the car
  • Apologize out loud
  • Follow your first instinct to help
  • Go out of your way more often than is convenient
  • Tip more than you should
  • Give anonymously
  • Be the first to laugh at yourself
  • Share without expectations
  • Forgive
  • Compliment on character
  • Thank others for their gifts
  • Indulge your generous impulses

Did You Ever Want a Friend Like You?

Did you ever get tired of people watching everything you did?
Tired of teaching grace 

To people who should have already known?
Tired of forgiving 

People who had failed and would surely fail again?

Did you sometimes want to be smaller
Than you were made to be?
With less expectations
And demands for your attention?
 

Did you ever long to just be one-of-the guys,
and have a friend like you? 

Or wish to be a sidekick,
With a smaller part that might cost less?


I know at least one time when you did.

Could I have been your friend?
Would I have tried to defend you,

absorb a blow, or carry a load for you?
With the force of my will, could I have
Saved your head or back or hands or feet
Or side?

Can I now
When you are publicly lashed because of our self-righteousness,
Mocked because of our weaknesses,
And crucified again because we fail you still?

You Bring Me Back

Oh God,
You have given me so much, I am filled beyond the top!
You love me even when I run off.
You chase me down and bring me back.
You give me back.
You hold me up and out,
And fast.

You keep me from falling into darkness.
You light my way and pull me up.
You are the top of the mountain and
My biggest admirer, reminding me
That I cannot lose your love,
Even if I slip or run again.

You make it OK for me to try too hard.
You calm my quaking voice
And still my knocking knees.
You whisper inspiration in my ear
And wait for me to hear it.

You put a tune on my lips before I rise from my bed and
Join me in song as I walk through my day. 
You ride beside me, singing as I sing along.
Your voice keeps me in tune
To your ears and with your heart.

You surprise me with unexpected grace
And sweet kindness
And remind me to keep it going.
You bring me back
And give me back.
Oh, how I love You, My Lord!

Insomnia

I move in the corner of your eye.
You turn to look.  Can’t see me.
I’m the sound you hear in silence.
I’m the prayer you can't get out 
I’m what you didn't do today. 
Don’t think about me.
I'm the knot in your stomach.
I'm the lump in your throat.
I’m everyone watching you.
I’m no one to talk to.
You created me.
I made you.
I'm the hope for change just up ahead.
I’m ugly truths you won't admit to.
I whisper speechless things you dread,
I'm the weakness you submit to.
I’m the shame you feel 
When you’ve done wrong.
I’m the fear of facing up.
 I’m the darkness all around you.
I’m the light escaping from you..
Just close your eyes.
I'm waiting.

Just a Speck



A Psalm of Light and Breath

How I want to praise you with all the talents You put in me.
With written word and happy song I will declare
Your countless gifts and
All the times You rescued and comforted me.
When I felt alone in the darkness, your light shined on me,
and came through me.
In that light was born the path unto my feet.
In your light, I cannot fall into darkness, even
if it pursues me unto death.

But whenever I stumbled into the dust of my earthliness,
You breathed your breath on me and re-created me in your image
Again and again
Making me to rise from the dust to be more like You
and less like the one who fell.

Today and every day, with your breath I want to sing and praise your name,
Yet I fear an unknown darkness,
which may silence my voice tomorrow.
Illumine me, that in your light
I become brighter than the darkness I most fear.

All of yesterdays’ joyful praises and shadowy sorrows,
I now roll into a beforehand prayer of plea and thanks
For these still unearned blessings,
and my eventual survival of suffering yet to come.
Let that cup pass, I ask, oh Lord,
or,
Breathe on me again,
when I lose my breath in sighs too deep for words.

Another of Life's Riddles

There's something you can get or give away which can't be borrowed nor be loaned.
It can't be saved for later as it's gone when it’s postponed.

Sharing it’s the best thing, while losing it’s the worst.
Giving it can bless the world, but taking it is cursed.

They're mostly oddly average-sized, and though big ones draw our gaze,
More modest ones are greater still, and earn the truest praise.

Yours cost you nothing; It can't be bought, though its value grows with time.
The oldest ones are those most sought, but the new ones are divine!


But however old or big yours gets tells little of its worth.
Its value's set by how you let your gift give back to Earth.

 

It was the first gift that you ever got and the last thing you will lose,
And in between, what it becomes, is up to you to choose.



Seeing Invisible Things

When I am full of your fullness, Oh God, I can see invisible things.

When I am full of you, I can see what you see,
When you see things which I cannot,
When I am full of myself.

When I am full of you,
I see beauty and grace,
fullness and needfulness,
and the hope for joy around me.

...in the chatty cashier, talking while I wait my turn to pay.
...in the crying dog tied to a post, wagging her tail and waiting.
...in the too-busy waitress who forgot about me.
...in loved ones who need my attention.

Full of myself, I can only see myself. 
And I am annoyed!
Reacting pridefully, dismissively,
I blind myself to their possible need, beauty, grace,
or any potential joy to share in passing,
Gouging out my would-be eyes till I hollow out my heart.

And in my own fullness, I become needfully empty.

But, when I am full of you, and see these invisible things,
I find that I am full of gratitude, affection, and love.
And responding with your patience and your kindness,
I discover countless bits of beauty, grace, and that hoped-for joy,
Refilling me again with such overflowing love that won't be quiet!

Is this why John said that You are Love?

Oh God,
I am often needful of your fullness.
Always, really.
Always really needful.
Please empty me of me,
and fill me up with You,
so I can see what you can see,
and do what you can do.
Amen.

Roll My Stone Away

Like a pharaoh filling his tomb with riches,
Mine is filled with diversions and comforts,
Put there to ease my life in limbo.

While I lie there, reposed and yet not restful,
I soothe myself with un-healing remedies
That indulge me and distract me from truly living,

And make me deader still.

Once before, you rolled away my stone.
You raised me up from the dust,
And breathed on me,
And made me feel beautiful and powerful
And wise enough and strong enough
To do what I was created to do.

Then I wasn’t too tired or overwhelmed,
Too afraid or distracted.  I acted
When I was called to act,
And even when I wasn’t.
Jumping into the waves
Like Peter, without thinking,
And swimming or sinking were all the same
and it didn’t matter which;
It only mattered that I moved,

Because all paths led me to You.

Oh God, too often now second thoughts check my forward motion,
And my steps become so slow
That I stop moving altogether.

Like a lonely child sucking her thumb,
I comfort myself with static distractions,
And lie waiting for someone to roll my stone away.

Please wake me up and breathe on me.
Please raise me back to life.

There’s much to do and I should get started soon.

Amen

Grace Acquired

I pretend I don't but I've been holding onto grudges
that rarely see the light of day,
Living on, unspoken, in the woodshed of my heart.
Regardless of repeated punishments
For their very existence, 

I keep them alive by nursing dreams of recompense.
 

How many times have I wished I could take back
all the times I tried too hard,
and return the disdain I received
with the same apathetic breath?
Or imagined that your desire for my affection
would fill your thoughts, and I could withhold it,
or hold it out like a carrot on a stick?
That a new hope for my forgiveness
would catch in your throat like a fearful prayer,
And my goodwill might become your unattainable goal?

This won't do, for every time it felt like someone took a little bit of me,
Someone bigger gave me something better.

So, whether you know about my grudge,
or even desire my forgiveness,
I give it and release you from any guilt or obligation
that I assigned to you before.
I am thankful for the blessings you brought me
and the lessons you taught me.
Right now and ever after, I will try to remember you
with gratitude instead of grudge, and will
send up prayers for joy in your life and in mine,

And for forgiveness for waiting so long to do so.

My Most Recent Reckless Wreckful Word Regret

I am not a wallflower, however much I ought to be,
Or wish I had been, in the aftermath of my outspokenness.
Prideful words have led me down many regretted courses,
or discourses, to be precise,

In which what I wanted to say was lost in how I said it,
Or should have remained lost,
In the better-me-unspoken-space-inside-my-head.

So I try to follow my mother's advice, to let the cat get my tongue
and stay quiet although I really want to speak up...
But I don't, so I do,
And how many times will I learn this lesson, anyway?

And as I reflect on recent regrets, in which my tongue
was loosed along with the cat,
out of the bag and into curious trouble,
Which might not have killed us,
But needlessly wounded my friends and scratched up my character,
I think, "Only trolls burn their own bridges just to prove their might."
GRRRRRRR

Oh God,
Please fill me with humble wisdom so that
instead of speaking prideful, pointless words
that shame my heart,
I only ever do grace-filled, loving kindnesses
that make you smile.
Amen

In Things of Love and Leaps-of-Faith

Oh God,

Why did you fill me with ideas that seemed like good ones at the time,
Then let me be afraid to raise my hand?

What a crazy-making spirit that instills such desire to live out loud,
Then the whispers “Shame” the next breath after!

Dueling voices announce a better me – more loving, generous, and joyful all-at-once,
Then remind me how ridiculous I am.

In things of love and leaps-of-faith, what's the difference between

insecurity and good judgment? 

And why doesn't my good judgment kick in
BEFORE I'm in the throes of something awesome or embarrassing,
and quiet my insecurity or shut my mouth?

Is this a test?

Amen

The Thing

So many of my days have been full of that joy I used to hope for.
And there aren't enough happy adjectives to describe
the blessings in my life.
It's more than true; it's obvious.
And still, I must admit I often wish
For just one more thing to fill in just one more hole. 

Repeatedly, I drive myself onward
without direction or specific goal,
except toward another hope
for another thing,
as if the blessings I already have don’t count, won't last,
or aren't enough to fill me up.

And along my way to get somewhere fast,
any breakdown is a deniable distraction, an obstacle to avoid and disregard.
So, instead of stopping to help, to heal, or amend my path,
I dig a new hole and shove in all the broken pieces.
Because every pause feels like I lost a turn,
or a red light that left me stuck behind the cars ahead,
whose lights are always greener.

And rather than catching my breath and looking around hopefully
at where I am now and and how to get home,
I impatiently look sideways, hoping only for my turn to go and keep on going
away from all my holes and towards the thing I hope will fix them.
And although I'm getting tired, I can't stop
until I figure out where I'm supposed to go.

Please God,
Stop me from endlessly yearning for the thing  
that will stop me from endlessly yearning for “the thing.”
Hold me.
Still.
Amen

Sleep Required

Weary  breaths count off the hours
Of  sleepless nights and silent prayers
Never  answered or always
Being  the wrong questions; Too
Good  to be the whole truth, or not truly good
Enough  to speak out loud.
While  other shameful whispers
Always  seem to be me,
Wanting  something more
To  get or
Give  away or give
Up  and go away
And  float up up up till I can
Sleep  without looking down
.


If I Shoud Die Before I Wake

I remember the many times I felt You there when I was a child. In fact, I never doubted that You were paying particular attention to what I was doing. I heard the stories of You talking to Samuel as a boy, calling to him as he lay in bed, and I would listen for your voice, afraid of missing your call when it came. You were there. I knew it, so I was listening.

In my childish understanding of atonement, at night I confessed each sin I'd committed during my day.  I had to confess, so You would take my soul to heaven, “if I should die before I wake,” which seemed disturbingly likely since I was told to pray about it every night:

Now I lay me down to sleep.
I pray the lord my soul to keep.
 If I should die before I wake,
 I pray the lord my soul to take.
God bless Mommy, and Daddy, and, ...


But then came the mandatory part of my prayer: Confession.
That listing of all the sins I'd committed which would cause me to burn in hell for an unfathomable eternity. Unless I confessed them & asked to be forgiven before I died.

In 3rd grade, I remember confessing that I smoked candy cigarettes with my friend Georgia (well we tried, anyway, lighting the ends till they smoldered, and holding them like movie stars).  In 5th or 6th grade, I confessed to You about showing a boy my underwear. Other than those 2 great transgressions, I only remember in general... things like lying, fighting with my sisters, disobeying, saying forbidden words, like “butt,”  “stupid,” or “poop.” 

I often wondered what would happen if a person, if I, tried to live a good life, confessed my sins nightly , tried to follow your rules, then died suddenly without confessing my very last sins.  Like, what if I was crossing the street against the “do not cross” sign, (breaking the law), and got hit by a car.  Would that last sin, un-confessed, send me to eternal damnation?

Silly, right! I know. Sorry.  But what if my last word was a curse word, or if I had just shoplifted a piece of bubble gum moments before my death? Wouldn’t confession be required in order to clear the debris, all those sins, barring my way to You, God? So without that last clearing of my soul, would I be separated from You forever? It was heavy thought to carry into adulthood....

For a long time after I met You as a young adult, I resented those nightly confessions. I mean really;  Saying “poop” behind my mother’s back would send me to hell?!!! And, how I'd agonized over that underwear incident, asking for forgiveness over and over.... Why didn’t they talk up that Grace stuff You gave to me as much as they did the scary bits?

As an adult, I came to believe that failing to confess each sin wouldn’t send me to hell, or even separate me from You, but defending my selfish, wrong, or hurtful actions using self-righteousness and self-serving excuses would keep me from the the full life, and the fullest eternal life, which You have called me to, and promised to me.  

Looking back now however, my hellish misunderstanding notwithstanding, I believe my nightly confessions became a great blessing in my life;  What a wonderful habit to develop: In conversation with You, I recount my day, review my thoughts & deeds, and rate my actions against a much grander scale than the one that I was born with.

My human scale teaches me to view my behavior, even my very worst behavior, in the best possible light, protecting me from blame and my conscience from blemish. Genius really; It allows me to feel guiltless, or even justified, when I can't admit to being guilty or in the wrong. It's a downward sliding scale using fuzzy math.  Using this curve, I take a bushel of rotten apples, find the least-rotten one, then compare it to all the other apples. It sounds like this:

“I was bad, but the other person was worse.”
"She hit me first."
“He got what he deserved.”
"I only cheated a little.”
“I lied, but no one was hurt by it.”
“Everyone does it.”

Using this scale, “good enough” becomes the high-bar, just above, "could be worse," and "doesn't really matter." But your divine scale, your measurement of my actions is curved in another direction. It doesn't compare me to the next-worst or next-best person, an in-vain exercise of vanity, nor does it compare me to You, to Jesus, to all the saints, or even my sister, against all-of-whom I will surely fall short.  Your scale compares me to my own very best potential. 

Your scale holds me up against the lovely person that I could become.  Someone I've heard about, dreamed about, and who already feels familiar.  Night after night, You introduce her to me, drawing us closer together through honest reflection and soul-clearing confession, raising me up to kinder, more loving, far-greater actions than my own nature would require.  That’s the scale that I want to aspire to ascend.

Then, at the end of the day, at the end of all my days, nothing will prevent me from hearing your voice calling me to You.

Amen