Wednesday, October 31, 2012


I used to think that I needed more strength, more courage to fight the battle with Fear.  I thought that if I were bolder in my actions and bigger in my faith, I might finally squelch his looming whispers.  I thought of Daniel in a den with lions and David in a ring with a giant, the models of men who did not walk with Fear.  And I knew that I was certainly not big or bold.  I knew that I would surely run from a den of lions and flee from a giant in a ring. So I managed Fear the best way that I knew how – by ignoring his presence and waiting until he was ready to pass me by.

But I am beginning to believe that fighting Fear looks a lot less like battle and a lot more like surrender. And that bravery is not always accomplished in triumphant moments of glory, but in quiet moments of trust.  I wonder if Daniel and David also heard the taunting voice of Fear, if they too knew what it was to feel his arm draped across their shoulders, pressing down, attempting to paralyze.  Perhaps they did, in fact, walk with Fear.  And maybe this is exactly what made them brave. They kept walking, knowing and trusting that their battles were never theirs to fight.  For it was neither the moment that Daniel walked out of the den nor the moment that the giant fell to David’s rock that defined these men as brave.  No, it was in the quiet moments before, when their hearts screamed “Fear” but their lips whispered, “Father.”

So today, as I walk with Fear’s empty threats ringing in my ears, might I have the courage to hear, instead, the full promises of God.  When my heart shakes and my spirit screams “Fear,” might I whisper “Father,” not just once in the morning or right before bed, but a hundred times a day: “Father, Father, Father.”   When Fear comes along side of me and rattles my settled soul, I pray for strength, not to fight but to surrender, again and again.  And when my heart begins to close to protect itself from looming Fear, may my hands begin to open, to receive the goodness of His holy will.  Bravery, for me, may not look like taming lions or fighting giants.  Bravery, for me, may look more like walking and living, moment by moment, with Fear’s taunting voice in my ear, but the Father’s mighty name on my lips.  And as I walk, may the whispers of Fear be not my battle cry.  Instead, may the promises of a good Father be my freedom song.  

Sunday, October 21, 2012


On a day such as this, there are no words, just the joy and pain marking one year since Webb's heavenly homecoming.   

William Webb Monroe
November 28, 2008 - October 22, 2011

Friday, October 19, 2012

October 22

Does the oak tree count the days
With the mother who mourns?
Does he, too, watch and wait
For the Earth’s complete orbit?

Does he look away,  
Afraid of and aching from, the date that looms?
Or does he lean into it,
Accepting and open to what a year might mean?

For he was also cut down, insides exposed,
When the little boy died too young.
Though he has weathered droughts of summer and snaps of winter,
The heat and chill of this death
Was too much for even an oak.
But he keeps growing,
In hopes that he will once again
Have shade to share.

Now as the Earth returns
To its place marking the day,
The mother inside the house
Casts the last of the stitches
Needed to knit together the broken circle.
The tears of the mother wet the yarn,
While the tears of the oak wet the ground,
As they remember all that was.

She stares out her window,
The fire of hell
And the dew of heaven
Still fresh on her skin
From this day, one year ago.
And she sees her mighty oak,
Now just a stump,
The remains of pain that slashed. 

So she counts, and stitches,
In the great shadow of this stump.
For it will take more than a year
For a mother and an oak
To stand tall again.

Mother and oak,
Cut down, but still alive.
Weeping while reaching,
Remembering while rejoicing. 
Crying while counting,
As the days make a year.  

Thursday, October 11, 2012


I stand on top of a mountain in western North Carolina with the ones I love most.  I reach out to touch His canvas and the scene is so fresh, I swear, the paint is still wet.  The same reds and oranges that last week sent me hiding are now curiously hemming me in, behind and before, calling me, inviting me to abide.  So I settle into the colors that I once feared, open to the possibility that even they are from Him.  From this view, the creaking of the cracks and the ripping of the seams from earth’s brokenness are mere echoes swallowed into the beauty He sows.  Up here, the mourner’s groans and the griever’s wails dissolve into the open space of God’s hallowed creativity. Much like grief, this beauty cannot be pinned down with words or expression.  It cannot be tamed to description or tale.  Yet all around I feel the wind of His holy whisper, breathing life into the crooked lines of the cracks that crisscross the earth. 

Too often the screams and the moans of the world are all I hear.  In my own life, yes, but also in the lives that weave around me, lives I know and lives I imagine, so many stories pointing to how far we have fallen. I bleed from the shards of brokenness that I have felt and from the shards of brokenness that I have dealt.  And the wounds seem too deep to heal, too vast to close.  So I walk along the crooked lines that mark the earth’s pain, while feeling and dealing the ache of its unraveling.

Here on top of this mountain, it is not that I am able to make sense of all the pain.  Instead, I am able to make peace of all the sensing.  I have found in His creation a thread to stitch together the pieces that I hold, until He makes me whole.  Maybe it is not explanation or rationality that soothes the wounds of the broken heart and the broken world.  But instead, might it be His beauty that is ultimately the perfect balm?  Perhaps this is why, since Webb’s death, I have so fervently chased after beauty, in poetry and prose, in music and nature.  I have found it to be the only power that can match the pain.   For as I gaze out onto the paint-brushed tops of trees, I am silenced by a magic that presses in on all sides of me.  It rocks me and holds me, sings to me and speaks to me. The echo of the earth’s breaking is a distant whisper beneath the clamoring of God’s creative masterpiece.  I see my own pain woven into the intricate contours of this ancient mountain, a landscape bigger than my open wound and smaller than His mighty hand.  No, I cannot yet make sense of it, the crisscrossing and interweaving cracks of our brokenness.  But as I look out from this mountain at what He has done and all that He has created, I see a fuller picture, a widening light in the cracks, and from where I stand, it is beautiful.  

Thursday, October 4, 2012


A leaf, fire red, lies caked onto wet pavement
Flashing signs of autumn’s arrival,
While orange and brown and yellow rain down
From trees undressing.
Green kale twists and curls
Where the vines of cucumbers once gnarled and knotted.
The sun speaks kindly now,
Hoarse from the rowdy screams of summer.
Gentle and cruel,
Autumn is calling. 
Though I lock knees and dig heels,
October ushers me in with crisp air and warming hue.
Will you be gentler this year?
Will your winds whisper anew or yet again whip?
My words dissolve as leaves decay. 
Yellow floats and mockingbird migrates
While I wait for October’s reply. 
Silently he shakes the trunk of the oak,
Pouring down red and orange and brown.
I stand drenched in his melting colors
For autumn is upon me.  

image from Pinterest