Thursday, June 20, 2013

Maybe You are Like Me...

Maybe you are a little bit like me.  Maybe you’ve been carrying shards of glass from fragile things turned broken around in your purse for a while now. At first they were so heavy that your spine turned crooked and your shoulders sore.  But after a while, your back grew stronger and your spine straightened.  Your shoulders loosened to relax, and you grew accustomed to the weight. 

Maybe you are like me, and you find yourself surveying the scene of how things turned out, over and over again.  The scene that is yours looks so unlike the scene that you drew up years ago, but you step through it, sit in it, and make it home. 

You once called the shards waste, could not view them as anything but.  You saw your scene and named it desert, unable to penetrate the barren. 

But there came a day when you dropped your hand into your purse, ready to bleed from the sharp reminders that you carry.  And instead of touching shards, you found seeds.  You rolled them around in your palm, so smooth they almost tickled. 

There came a day when you stepped through your not-how-you-thought-it-would-be scene, the one in which you used to whisper, wasteland, and you saw green breaking through brown.  You touched the sand and it turned to soil.  You called it garden. 

So you scatter your seeds into your soil and wonder what could possibly grow.  You sprinkle a little water with a lot of doubt.  You offer sunshine with a bout of gratitude.  But you keep sprinkling and sunning because if you are like me, hope can look like a lot of little next steps taken.    

Maybe you are like me, and you feel the hurt from growing something with your old shards.  Maybe you and I are the same in that part of you would like to keep broken glass by your side for a long, long time.  Because peering out of hurt is a hell of a lot scarier than staying seeped in it.  But you see those sprouts grown from what has come of not-how-you-though-it-would-be, and they tell you that sometimes hurt is just the pulling tight of loss braiding into love. 

You watch and wait to see what kind of flowers shard-seeds might grow.  You look at the shiny, fresh-cut stems of your friends, arranged in sterling silver vases, on screens and in stories.  A little bit of you wishes that your flowers could fit together so nicely, could appear with such ease.  But you know that you would take wildflowers over store-bought any day of the year.  And when you really look closely at what they have, you see the sparkle of glass in theirs too.  For pretty has to grow from somewhere.  There’s no such thing as store-bought. 

You and I are the same.  I just know it.  Because though I may not see what’s in your purse, I know that all of our spines are a little crooked.  I know that each of us has walked through the land of not-how-I-thought-it-would-be.  And broken glass always cuts, no matter how big or small the shard. 

So let us sprinkle our shard-seeds, the ones that came from one big shatter, or a lot of little falls.  Let us wedge them deep into the garden, the one that we thought was gone for good, or would never even come. Because what we thought would send us to the grave will bring forth the gift of the wildest flowers the world has ever seen. We will bind them up tightly, and these bouquets grown from shard-seeds will be our simple and perfect offering.  

(Flowers from Webb's garden)

Thursday, June 13, 2013


So often I feel like my head and heart are treading water with all the unknowns, and it can wear me right out.  Why? How? When?  But when I look into the ocean, when I gaze out over the sound, I know that I am somehow staring into the answers.  The waters are not beautiful enough to answer all my questions.  No, but they are big enough.  And though they don’t give me the word answers for which I search, I am always reminded that maybe I am just too small to understand the language they speak. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

When I Forget the Words

I tucked two hands behind my head and lay in the grass of my backyard yesterday afternoon while the boys rested.  I bent my knees and closed my eyes as the summer sun poured heat like water.  Craving stillness, but living distracted, my prayers came out like one word whispers: help, grace, more, less, thanks.

I tried to return to the prayer that Jesus taught us to pray.  It’s the one that even my toes know by heart.  Maybe it was the heat or my frazzled brain, but I couldn’t get past the first verse, Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. The rest of what I could remember was fragmented and disjointed.  The whole of it escaped me.  A simple prayer that I’ve known since I was a child, I couldn’t remember it.   

I know a lot of people are tired of the Church these days.  Many have been hurt and disappointed, have become cynical and offended.  I have been there too.  Because it is one thing to be hurt by people being human, and it is another to be hurt by people claiming to speak for God.  Yes, we believers have much for which to apologize.  We have been defensive and self-righteous.  We have used tactics like fear and guilt to lure others to our own agendas.  We have spoken when we should have listened.  We have been silent when we should have been shouting.  The truth is, this bride of God will never wear white on her own. 

But there are many reasons why I will never stop loving this fumbling bride.  There are many reasons why despite the ragged, rough dress that she sometimes wears, I will always be hers.  And those reasons do not include having a heart full of grace or a spirit of incredible understanding.  They do not include a strong belief or a steady loyalty.  No, I have none of those things. 

What I do have is a mind that sometimes forgets the words to a prayer I’ve grown up reciting.  What I do have is a spirit that sometimes can’t muster up the will to say what I know to be true. 

And this is just one reason why I skip and crawl my way back to the sanctuary time after time.  Because when I stand among a crowd of ragamuffin people like myself, reciting the prayer that God taught us to pray, I always know the words.  I never forget them.  My small voice easily falls in step with the group unlike when I am alone.   And even when my spirit blocks my mouth from saying the creeds or when I just have to opt out of singing the hymns … in church, my gloriously clumsy family says and sings them for me. 

No, God’s bride is not perfect.  But on a day in the sun when words I know are out of reach, I want my imperfect church.  I want to stand among believers and doubters, sinners and saints with eyes closed and heads bowed to say it together, For Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory. Forever and ever. Amen.