Thursday, October 31, 2013

All that Is

The last weeks have been swirled with thoughts of what was.  The month has been filled with wonders of what could have been. 

This past weekend the four of us piled in the car headed west to climb the snake roads to the mountains.  We passed by orange carpets of fallen leaves and weaved through naked trees freshly exposed until we arrived at a little cabin held between slopes like cupped hands. 

We pulled the last apple remnants from the orchards during the day and gathered skinny sticks to top off with white puffs to hold over the fire at night.  We hiked the woods with roots popping up on the trails like arthritic fingers and the boys laughed from their bellies as they jumped over each gnarly knuckle.  “He stuck the landing,” Jeff shouted while throwing both arms up in the air.  I marveled at how a little boy jumping and landing could swell such pride and how a man encouraging his son could heat such love. 

There is something about the mountains.  I find them both mystical arrows pointing upwards and weighty anchors grounding me down. I cannot leave them unchanged.  And maybe it was the black sheet of sky pulled taut between the clouds, and the million needle pricks of lights poking through.  Maybe it was the afternoon sun blasting through the smudged cabin windows, catching the rising dust like the dome of a shaken snow globe.  It could have been how the stream waters splashed up against the rocks like the quick snap of hand bells or the way the tree trunks swayed like a secret waltz to a silent beat.  Perhaps it was simply that each of us seemed so ourselves, individually and together, comfortably sinking into the furniture of God’s first house.

I’m not sure, but I think that it was all of creation framing the picture of a family becoming and a family renewed.  A family learning to kiss the ground and touch the sky. 

Thoughts of what was and wonders of what could have been will likely always stand in our shadows.  But their chill is ever so slowly beginning to melt.  And I feel the thawing from the light of the beauty of all that is.  

Thursday, October 17, 2013

October Stirring

It’s been raining for days.  The ground, cold and wet, ushers autumn in with its slippery welcome mat.  Fallen reds and browns slouch beneath my feet and stick to the bottom of my tall, green boots.   The back seat of our car piles high with fleecy layers peeled off, and the beans and tomatoes swirl hot on the stove to the lead of a wooden spoon.  October silently elbows its way between summer and winter, and before I know it, before I have had time to brace myself, I am wedged in the middle of all that it holds.

I always loved October.  It felt safe and sandwiched, unhurried and set apart, like I could hunker down and peer over the edge at the coming train of holidays and birthdays without yet feeling the wind from its speed.  But now October is grounded and thick in new ways.  As the day that marks two years since Webb last plopped into my lap crawls closer, treasured and tragic memories and images resurface with sharper colors and vivid realness.   And I feel myself rolling up the sleeves, widening my stance for stability, and preparing for the waves that will come. 

So much of life is lived in the anticipation of what’s on the horizon, the baited breath and the drawn inhale.  There is such fear of how the unfolding may knock things upside down that were finally settling, and the hurried business of making sure that all the pieces are quickly gathered and arranged.   And I wonder what all is missed, what haggard and imperfect pieces are discarded.  I wonder what October gifts I might miss if I keep my fists clinched on ten and two, eyes fixed on simply making it through.  Yes, October has snuck itself into being and it takes just about all I’ve got to loosen my stance and let down my sleeves, to sit criss-crossed right in the middle of the bathing and the beating that marks two years.

I guess we can choose whether to grin and bear or to release and lean.  I guess we can close our eyes and grit our teeth, just waiting for the time to pass and the wave to roll.  But this October, with all its slippery colors and sharp memories, I want to feel the wave, to open my eyes beneath its cloudy waters, to float with fingers spread as I ride through it.  Because I know that there is a time for bearing down and for getting through.  But then comes a time for embracing, for feeling and remembering all of it, the painful and the beautiful, and for falling freely into all that is awakened by the gentle stirring that October brings.      

Thursday, October 3, 2013


Sometimes I like to give a year or even just a season of life a name or a word, to mark and claim it.  The naming helps me find an anchor and an inspiration, something to which I can return and for which I can strive.  My word for this season is “Rise”. 

I have a writing teacher and friend who encourages the use of acrostics to serve as a base and guide for scraping beneath the surface to find meaning in words.  

Reach up and wide, and always return
Inside, remembering to
Stand and see in all things that
Eternity is at work.