Enough

A kitchen clean up diatribe and its aftermath
Reminds me why flesh – mine or any other’s –

Is only good as far as it goes (which isn’t very far and not necessarily good).

Even if one who’d listen is faithful for a moment,

There’s loneliness at the end of the day.

But-

This may be the best news there is.

When I stop putting faith in these who are limited

I’m left with still needing to have faith in something.

All laid bare and unattached and independent

I’m left with You.

You who ought to have been sought outright and first.
First and last and always, YOU.

But there’s also you… and you… and you… and you… and you and

You, darling, loving husband.

And you too, there on the fringes and who-knows-in-what-form-of-needy needing helping.

There’s all these, Lord,

Who You seem to think I’m fit to care for, and who 

I expect You’d like very much for me to care for like You care for me.

I don’t get it, and I’m so inadequate to the whole crazy thing 

(Which, [see Moses] means nothing in the world of God’s capable Providence).

I fail you both: You up there and heavenly, and you down here so searching and lovely and trying and earthy still with all your own heavenly potential.

You – none of you – need me, I know.

And yet, here you all are, and I’m in your midst.

It occurs to me to stop wondering at this position I’m in and whether I’m up for it

And instead, 

Just meet the whole damn thing intact, unapologetic.

Pray and try and fail and repent and pray and try again and repeat.

Empowered in the power of being and present and loved and capable of choosing all these as enough and more than enough because You are. 

You are good and enough. 

Enough for light and love and life.
Enough and more than enough for them and me and here and there and everywhere…

Enough for all this.
Enough for light and love and life.

Enough and more than enough for them and me and here and there and everywhere…

Enlarge

Eternity stares down my borders.

Why hide my face

From such loving scrutiny?

All these dehydrated papery wrinkles

Need withering’s reversal.

Need filling with warmth and light and living water

Away from all this self-induced winter.

(Not the crisp, clean, bright, light, renewing sort of winter,

But the gray, damp, bleak, worse kind of winter void of snowy open spaces and full of miry pits, thorns, and sloughs.)

The strongman needs bound again:
And we both need reminded of

Who’s power reigns supreme.

Instead of diminishing,

My inheritance (wonder of wonders, gracious God) is an enlarging.

Though I’ve been showcasing my smallness by

Giving free reign to my less-than-bests, it’s time to look

Upward and outward,

Extend and unfurl in all this spring.

Though surrounded by yesterday’s life-made-today’s-dead-patches,

Life courses through:

Ready for the realizing,

Suspended in anticipation,

Poised and ready for animation,

Radiating in slow simmer,

Spurred and graced with remembrance and thankfulness,

Restored to mirror, channel, vessel, servant, and

Resurrected in the power of

Chosen.

—————-

Praise and thanks, great and gracious God.

A Soul’s Dawn

Those expansive desolate saturated monoculture February fields Might tempt me towards gray and soggy. That dissonant electric guitar wail  Could draw me closer to fear or discomfort or distrust. But I know what’s above the clouds and beneath the surface.  There’s plenty of evidence of what’s not seen too.  A smidgen of belief catalyzes right […]

An Ocean

It might sound cliche, simplistic,

Pseudo-poetic

But – and I know I’m not supposed to swear –

But I swear it was real –

There was an ocean and 

It was in me and around me and with and in spite of and in comfort of.

So much water and moving waves that it was

An endless surface and me tiny upon it.

The ocean – 

I just got to be there with it, on it, in it.

An ocean – but no scary – and

It all rose and fell in a landscape of clean.

I was alone – in a way – but also held

Amidst this continuous, absolute, consumptive presence

Not my own.

Weeping, 

Love

(That I don’t deserve) 

Pours out and over my vessel’s rim.

I offer nothing but

Ears to hear

Eyes to see

Asking through belief and

(Sometimes out of desperation and by tenacious, teeth-gritted faith:

Also gifts, these)

Gifts of grace

He shares a whole ocean of love.

I am absorbed, carried, cleansed, filled

To overflowing.

Offering nothing, 

Grateful, overjoyed, so pleased to be HIS.

What else is there?

Where else would be better to be 

Than submerged, cleaned, carried on a whole ocean of love?

Thank You and 

Glory!

I’m a Fool, and other Glorious Truths


As soon as I put something “out there” I want to retract it, or I feel like a fool. “Do not presume to be teachers” rings in my head if I say anything with any degree of certainty. It’s a miserable way to live, constantly second guessing everything.

It’s tempting then to want to shrink back into oblivion, not take the risk and just do my best to stay out of everyone’s way. But there’s this glowing ember of a start within me. One that would burn away all that insecurity and self loathing, years of feeling defeated and stupid. 

At first glance I thought the doubt was evil – and maybe the accuser’s always at work trying to get us to undermine our value – but when I ask God to order my thoughts, to tell me what’s true He whispers that all this unknowing can mean freedom. Not being able to nail anything down, not ever getting to a place where I feel I know anything? This can be a  glorious place, and a perfect place from which to begin. Doubt doesn’t have to result in frantic scrabbling or overwhelming defeat. It can return me safely to the one and only thing that I can know and from which everything else may stem:

You are good, God. The remembrance of that, the looking to that, the basking, seeking, celebrating of Your goodness is all that needs known. May our eyes be good in seeing the goodness that then the whole body be full of light… Flowing out to all the spaces, beating back the dark and the the unknowns and the devaluing, useless questions. 

Praise God, He is good.

“For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.” Psalm 100:5

Being a Housewife is Hot (or, Blog Post titled by your husband)

Recently as I was putting clothes in the dryer, I found myself  basking unexpectedly in domestic bliss. During the previous few minutes I’d scooped stray Legos into my shirt pockets (the domestic uniform has to include pockets as one’s hands are inevitably full of one’s charges’ stray bits, laundry baskets, errant shoes, homeless papers, and the like), deposited them in the Lego bin, put the 8 loaves of cooled bread in bags and put them in the freezer before getting the dinner’s meat out of the freezer, given instructions for dishwasher emptying, tidied the dining room, wiped the counters, stopped to listen to and then cogently answer the 8 year old’s question, and put away the ironing board and cooled iron from the morning’s wrinkle-eradicating. In the ruminating I enjoyed a measure of satisfaction that I seem to enjoy only occasionally in midst of my work. I am more often thinking about the next thing, worrying over the last thing, wondering over done or undone things. NOT basking in the present or remembering the Divine-in-it thing. 

 That such contentment may be had as a stay-at-home, homeschooling mother of 5 still surprises me. In younger days I fancied myself a Peace Corps worker, author, orphanage builder, professional musician, college professor, hippy, rock climbing instructor… You get the drift. Whatever my aspirations were, suffice it to say they could be construed as slightly  more dynamic than my present station.

Now. It’s hard to say whether such moments come as a result of something I’m doing or as a result of an “up” mood swing, but at that moment, the good feelings in my work felt to be the result of better working. The rhythm of things and my functions – unremarkable though they may seem in this endless cycle of maintaining/restoring order – felt in that moment like they’d been choreographed, practiced, and then executed with epiphany generating precision. The moment was profound enough – and I’d had it before – but this time it translated to something potentially tangible as something worth sharing. Improved ways of doing things after 18 years of cooking, cleaning, mothering, wife-ing (new verb?), living, seemed worth sharing all of a sudden. So my bright idea was to start a new blog called “What Works.” It could include any day to day helps I may enjoy in the hopes that such bliss wouldn’t be lost on just me but extended to others. It occurred to me that maybe others struggle too to enjoy strings of domestic bliss. That it pleasantly surprises me when I’m pleasantly surprised amidst the day-to-day functioning… I don’t know. Just seemed/seems worth talking about, worth improving upon.

Somebody has to do the mundane. Not everybody gets to be the Pope, a professional athlete or an actor. Somebody has to go to work and  collect a paycheck to support the missionary who has all their bills paid by somebody else. Somebody has to turn the 6 year old’s underwear right side out, sit at the desk and answer the phone for a mind numbing 8 hours, teach the thankless students in a classroom day after day, pound nails in the sweltering heat or freezing cold. And though many of our spaces may not seem big, bold, or beautiful, I hold that there are enough tinges of quality that we can tease out beauty. It’s everywhere. It’s my eyes that don’t see often enough, and I’ve noticed that how I see translates directly to how I live

And I live forgetful. I live like I haven’t tasted beauty, and it both shames and frustrates me. And then I just give up trying like the Sesame Street guy banging his head on the keys bemoaning, “I’ll never get it! I’ll never get it!” or distract or anesthetize myself away from fresh starts. I want to see better. Be better that I may then do better. This sounds like an inside job, and one in which I have not historically succeeded .

I got to thinking that maybe domestic – or any – contentment has less to do with mechanics  and more to do with my state of mind which I also tend to think is inextricably bound to the state of my heart, er, soul, if that word’s more comfortable for you (I think they mean the same thing?). What I mean is, it occurred to me that the world does NOT need another blog about homeschooling or how to remove soap scum from the shower. These things are constantly evolving and being improved upon by others waaaaay more capable than me. But living better from being better.. This extends to all. It’s the red satin ribbon that weaves through all the muck. 

Not everyone has the eyes or the inclination to hunt for it. God gives that. For any and all the improvements I may enjoy in terms of my day to day functions, I still struggle woefully and tragically to live a life free of regret and full of joy and overflowing with love. But God has given me Himself – wonder of wonders – and I want to honor His gift better. The only contribution of mine worth sharing is that He’s chosen to share Himself with me. And that means everything.
I have not posted much in recent months, and though perhaps the reasons matter, what’s been matters less than what will be. Maybe what I’m going to try is in honor of the new year, or maybe this is a tiny step toward maturity. I’m (for once) actually acting on an idea. I am notorious for enjoying great flashes of light but am woefully poor at follow-through. So in honor of the new year, and in honor of trusting Him more in it, I am going to try something of an experiment. 
I’m going to keep the notion of “what works,” but under the old umbrella of wordskeepmesane. Because in the telling of my struggle with desolations and enjoyment of consolations, words may do just that: help to keep this otherwise struggling person a little more intact, a little more effective, a little more joyful, and hopefully, a lot more loving. 

In past years, around January 1st there’s been a word that’s stuck out as something needful for me to grow in, understand, be a little more aware of. This year, and in keeping with the above, that word is… Jesus. The word that keeps us sane. As models go? None better. What works? Jesus. I can’t imagine a more worthwhile pursuit than trying to more wholly follow Him, be like Him. He’s the only person ever to have been above reproach by pretty much everybody. (Except the religious uptights which no one takes seriously anyway.)

If you’re a person who finds yourself frustrated too often, dead-ending, not living a life you’re proud of or satisfied in as frequently as you’d hoped, I hope you’ll join in the conversation (with me would be great, but I just hope you’ll join in with anyone!) about what it might look like, this “how-to of better being”, so to speak. It’s a new day/It’s a new dawn/It’s a new life for me/and I’m feeling good” as Michael Buble croons (maybe a little more lightheartedly than I mean, but I’m not opposed to that).

So wordskeepmesane will remain true, but the delivery may look a little different. Thanks for being here – ever. And may we all improve upon that which matters most. I hope you’ll walk with me as I desperately try and walk with Him… And I hope you’ll enjoy your own steps towards the light that’ll purify all the spaces.

All Help Is Here

“Prayer should take up and turn towards the spiritual order all the powers of our mental, emotional, and volitional life. Prayers should be the highest exercise of these powers; for here they are directed to the only adequate object of thought, of love, and of desire. It should, as it were, lift us to the top of our condition, and represent the fullest flowering of our consciousness. For here we breathe the air of the supernatural order, and attain according to our measure that communion with Reality for which we were made.” Evelyn Underhill

Look at the empty, wealthy night

The pilgrim moon!

I am the appointed hour,

The “now” that cuts

Time like a blade.

I am the unexpected flash

Beyond “yes,” beyond “no,”

The forerunner of the Word of God.

Follow my ways and I will lead you

To golden-haired Suns,

Logos and music, blameless joys,

Innocent of questions

And beyond answers:


For I, Solitude, am thine own self:

I, Nothingness, am thy All.

I, Silence, am thy Amen!           

Thomas Merton