Playdates with God: The Bravery of Poetry

I keep putting the honey in my oatmeal each morning, waiting for that sweet amber to drip into all the empty places, soften all that is brittle and dry. And I remember what the beekeeper told me when I visited his apiary—how he eats a spoonful of honey every morning and it has helped him be rid of the seasonal allergies he used to have. I’m still sniffing the remnants of a cold from last week and I think about how this viscous syrup is made from riches gathered, purified in the abdomen of the bees. I have nature’s gold coursing through my body and I close my eyes as I spoon it into my mouth, imagine a field of thousands of wildflowers inside of me.

My playdates have been small lately. I’ve been tethered to home by a leash made of worry. Yesterday, I preached at a church I’d never been to before and I almost left out the children’s sermon. But when it came to me in tiny upturned faces sitting on the front pew, I was glad. Because we talked about the birds and the things we can learn from them and it was a lesson I need to hear over and over: how Jesus said that God cares for the birds so why wouldn’t he take care of us? As I shared those words with the children, I believed them, yet here I am again awakening at four o’clock in the morning with thoughts spinning like planets through my head. I can create entire worlds out of worry in the wee hours of the morning.
I am pale and wan before the morning fully settles into the horizon. I press my forehead to the window and watch the sun announce her arrival with glisten over the diamond-studded grasses in the meadow behind our house. I’m still reading Matthew in the morning and today Jesus is eating with tax collectors and sinners again. It is the sick who need a doctor, he tells the Pharisees, and I keep reading, looking for the cure.
This morning my flagging spirits are set sail by another book, one I’ve been pairing with my morning Bible readings: Love, Etc.: Poems of Love, Laughter, Longing & Loss.It’s my friend Laura Barkat’s new book of poetry and it seems a good companion to the holy. Though she told me when we were talking about it, It’s not for everyone. It does have some bold stuff in it, you know. Which, of course, made me want to read it all the more.
So I finished up the book while the robins sang to each other outside my window and the sun melted the icy crust of morning. And I can’t help agreeing with Glynn Young when he says, “…I’m struck with how closely connected love, laughter, longing and loss truly are.” It does—have some bold stuff, you know. But I felt God in it, because I believe he’s in all good art. I think about how bold Jesus was, how he broke with all convention and spoke truth in ways never heard before. Poetry does that too. And I marvel at how all these worries I’ve been having can make me want to flee my life but a small book of poetry can give me courage to stay in it, to face it with love and desire and a fast-beating heart.
I’ll leave you with one of Laura’s poems from Love, Etc.:

We call them to the world
before we even know their names,
before we understand
what it will mean
to lean beside their beds
on breath-thin nights.
They teach us
how to hold their hands,
shut the lights,

pray for dawn.

The winner of Jennifer Lee’s book Love Idol is … Peggy! Peggy, I’ll try to track you down but if you read this first, send me a message so I can mail the book out to you ASAP. Congratulations!

Every Monday I’ll be sharing one of my Playdates with God. I would love to hear about yours. It can be anything: outside, quiet time. Maybe it’s solitary. Maybe it’s loud and crowded. Just find Him. Be with Him. Grab my button at the bottom of the page and join us:

The Playdates button:


  1. says

    ‘I can create entire worlds out of worry in the wee hours of the morning.’ Yes, Laura, I hear you on this. Oh to be able to reconfigure those spinning wheels into heartfelt prayers …

  2. says

    I think we can all relate to that anxiety-filled world that intrudes on our rest, Laura, especially after an anxiety-producing day. It’s interesting that you are reading about Jesus confronting with the truth. I’m doing a group study that is focused on how to speak the truth in love and gives Jesus as the example. So I resonate with your words here today as I eat my muffin made with sweet honey! “Wildflowers inside me.” Love it!

  3. Jody Ohlsen Collins says

    Laura, I told (the other) Laura how constantly surprised I am about this book. “Proof”, for instance, the kitchen poem….just proves how gifted and creative LL is. I am amazed at the breadth that love, longing and loss poems can cover. But it’s especially the ‘etc.’ part that is making me stop.
    I enjoy your Playdates:-)

  4. says

    Unfortunately, I know that place where you are right now. It requires so much discipline to put the mind in the right place…even for a few minutes. We (my husband and I) live in this ‘in between’ where everything is not normal. I trust with you for a mind “stayed on HIM.”

  5. mamaabby says

    Dearest Laura,

    I am wishing we could have a coffee and share heart right about now. I am wishing that we could walk and pray together…In the quiet places and heart searching I think we share much in the journey. I am praying for you as you have so faithfully for me…right now, in Jesus, with the heart of God and imagination of the Spirit. much love…abby

  6. soulstops says

    Dear Laura,
    Hearing you exhale as you write and as you inhale God’s words and the beauty of Laura’s poetry…sending you a hug and prayers for God to hold you close and to continue to give you those glimpses of His love for you, my friend 🙂

  7. says

    Oh, Laura…how I have related to this post and some of your other recent posts of the last few weeks and I too have “been tethered to home by a leash made of worry” and just yesterday morning feeling like Jesus cut that chain and the sun pouring into my heart reviving and a smile spreading and my heart resuscitated finally after a LONG, gloomy winter’s hibernation. Joy bursting, possibilities unfolding, with great love in the air and “a field of thousands of wildflowers inside of me.” My Michael and I have been camped out in Matthew 6 and 7 and watching the birds that come to our deck each morning for seed lovingly dispensed and letting this speak to our hearts, banishing worries. Sending you hugs and love…

  8. bluecottonmemory says

    I enjoyed the image you created with the honey. One day, when my grandaughter is eating honey at my house – I am going to tell her what you said – about her stomach being full of fields of flowers – and I think she will feel those flowers tickling her tummy on the inside – and she will laugh a big laugh!
    Poetry is my first-love – in genre terms. I wrote my first book when I was 6. I think it is a language I am more fluent in than debate or even stories. – The now is hard to live in – isn’t it. It’s like we each have a ninja to battle throughout every day. Right now, yours is the challenge producing the worry. Challenges might me different, sweet friend – but the battle techniques are not. Standing with you in prayer as battle!

  9. says

    “… while the robins sang to each other outside my window and the sun melted the icy crust of morning.”

    That’s a poem in itself, friend, and a multisensory image that I’m going to hang onto for a while.

  10. Alyssa Santos says

    Oh, sighing. I soaked in every word. My youngest said to me this morning: mom, my devotions said that God uses suffering to encourage us. Why did he choose that?
    We spoke of gardening and turning soil and removing the old – a violent process, to be sure. But the seeds to be planted… ah, new growth, new vision and new seasons… To be couraged, encouraged. It takes deep tilling.

  11. Sharon says

    Laura, I’m arriving late to the Wellspring this week – but my arrival is just perfect timing. I so related to what you said about wee-morning worries. I have also been plagued with them lately.

    When I read that verse in Matthew about the sick needing a doctor, it consoles me. You know why? Because I am rather grateful that I recognize my need for a physician – it makes me long for The Healer even more.

    Beautiful post – touched my heart.


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