Reprise

Father, forgive me,
For I have forgotten once more,
To trust You.
Not
The promises I think You’ve made,
Or the desires I dream You’ll fulfill,
But You, alone.

Help me, Father,
To trust
You
To be enough for me.

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Long Ride Home

Currently returning from a trip to New York City visiting my friend Emily. The night before I left, I was tired and not terribly enthused about departing from home, but I had purchased bus tickets when my spirits and energy levels were high, so I was going regardless of my current feelings on the matter.

I stepped off the bus into a sea of humidity and grey rain clouds, and was greeted by Emily’s smiling face. My initial hesitations over the trip vanished as we embraced and began making plans for the rest of the day. We began by walking through the gardens of the High Line. The sun came out and a breeze whipped up, clearing out the humidity and the clouds. And then began the dominating activity of the next three days: exploring and imagining myself living an everyday life in each new spot.

I chose the bench on the High Line walk where I would take my journal to write in as I looked over the water. I made a list of the restaurants in Chelsea Market which I would systematically work through until I had tasted all the flavors it had to offer. I saw the bookstores I would frequent and the farmers market from which I would walk home with wildflowers and fresh vegetables. I picked the apartment rooftop where I would host lively dinner parties, and the fire escape where I would sit in the mornings with my coffee. I eyed Emily’s apartment and determined where I could make space for my KitchenAid mixer, and made plans for how I would store my Christmas decorations. My fantastical New York self would fit right in here; I was sure of it.

Best of all, this life had no complications. Faceless friends would populate it, but as I didn’t know who they were, there were no worries about finding them and no danger of their leaving afterward. I had all kinds of time in this picture– never a dull moment but never one too busy either. My bank account obviously would stretch to accommodate all the things I wanted to do and try. In this life I was always happy and carefree.

I’ve gone through this exercise often enough to see the escapist tendency that lies behind it. I know my ideal picture is truly a fantasy–expanded and overblown to the point where it is entirely unrealistic and unattainable.

Riding back to D.C. forces me to remember that my fantasy has no real bearing on the reality of my day-to-day. I’m attempting to avoid thinking about the slow drains in the bathroom, or the headlight out in my car, or the loneliness I felt last week. At least, I’m trying not to focus solely on them, these reminders of a less-than-perfect life. There are other glad things to return to as well: my own bed, my overflowing bookshelves, my deck with its herbs (hopefully) surviving the rain, my church with my Scottish pastor, and my very real friends who have faces and who love me in my weaknesses. The Good, Very Good, and the Less Than Ideal are all joined together into a real and concrete state of blessedness.

 

Details

In the new leaves growing boldly in the sunlight,
Drifting just far enough through the window
To shine across your shoulders
And through your glass of iced tea.
The rain sounds creating quiet–
That song playing on the radio,
Evoking a particular sight-smell-feeling memory.

Most of all in how
Saying I love you
Can be so ordinary
And yet mean so much all the same
If you will only pay attention.

Held Together

The things great and glorious are all a jumble
In the start-stop-go-stop-go-go-breathe
Of a busy week;
The both/and of a full life.

Yet waiting still stretches endlessly here.
I have only specks of patience to my name,
And sometimes my prayers
Are just desperate stares at the ceiling.

The good is folded in with the painful,
The beautiful with the ugly.
I’m held together with tape and glue
But at least I’m held together.
And I have eyes to see and ears to hear
The words and whispers of a Creator
Woven within a tangled and magnificent creation.
The grace of living, again.

Table

How do you describe a space
That is the same regardless of location?
This plane we seat ourselves before
Wields an enchantment,
Capturing us in conversation,
Building families of all kinds.
Each time, we leave different than we came–
Full in stomach and in heart.

All I know: we’re invited to a feast,
Which I know is a symbol,
But also a means for achieving itself.
We drink the living water and we eat
Solid food and
Suddenly we’ve found You
In our midst.

 
1 Oh, all who thirst, come to the waters,
and the one who has no money,
come buy and eat,
come buy wine and milk without money and without price.

2 Why do you pay money for what is not bread
and labor without satisfaction?
Listen carefully to me: eat of good things,
and take delight in abundance.
Isaiah 55:1-2

Letting Go

When I was five, it was easy to give You the reigns.
I was small and weak,
And I held so little in my power,
It seemed such a simple request to satisfy.
I gained Eternity for a pittance.

But I began to grow up
And Responsibility and Privilege
Well, they grew with me.
I learned to love Independence
And Self-Sufficiency was my friend.

Suddenly control mattered more than faith
And my childhood offering became distasteful
In the face of grown-up fears and worries.
Giving You what You wanted
Now seems like too much.

This stumbling began at five years old:
I never had even the smallest thing to give,
You want Everything and yet Nothing.
You would have me let go of what was never mine,
That your Love might fill my empty hands.

“I have held many things in my hands, and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that I still possess.”
-Martin Luther

Immanuel

עִמָּנוּאֵל

I’ve been whispering it for years,
Sheltering in place:
God with us, God with us.
Immanuel has been my comfort
In dark places.

But this sign grows still greater:
Immanuel, Immanuel is a promise,
And a battle cry.
Immanuel
Is my sword and my shield.
Whom shall I fear?
God is with me.

Mandatum Novum

Unleavened bread shall be eaten for seven days; no leavened bread shall be seen with you, and no leaven shall be seen with you in all your territory. You shall tell your son on that day, ‘It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ And it shall be to you as a sign on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that the law of the LORD may be in your mouth. For with a strong hand the LORD has brought you out of Egypt. You shall therefore keep this statute at its appointed time from year to year.
Exodus 13:7-10

Remember me, O my God, for good.
Nehemiah 13:31b

Act One:
Blood and darkness and small bread.
The narrative for centuries
Closes with a cry:
Remember us, Lord.
Remember.
Don’t forget.

Intermission:
Six hundred years of silence.
Did you forget us? Will you remember?

Act Two:
Glorious in-breaking of light
As heaven comes to earth:
I remember you.
Now do this in remembrance of me,
(Oh my children who are bound in time,
Who are bound to forget so easily)
Remember me with wine and bread,
With small portions and shadows.
Eat and remember until the final act
When all is revealed and you will know forever
The table and the glory of the resurrected King.

And when the hour came, he reclined at the table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
Luke 22:14-19

Washing

The new-white sheets billow on the clotheslines of my neighbors,
Gracefully proclaiming the dirt washed away
From a multitude of places.
My own line seems empty by comparison:
One sock and a pillowcase
Leaving everyone and mostly myself to wonder
Just how much laundry has been left undone.

The Smell of Friday

Coffee. Black.
Dew-watered grass breathing into the air.
Exhaust fumes from a truck labeled Rocket Rooter.

Coffee.
Fruit Loops in a plastic bag,
Birthday donuts,
Sneaky chocolate bar.
Coffee.

Afternoon sunshine,
Wind filled with leaves and grass.
Sweat. So much sweat.

Soccer cleats in sports bags falling from lockers.
Eraser dust,
Felt-tip pen: lime green.
Crumpled homework pages.

Sigh of relief.
Freedom.