How to Cling to Summer

Summer dips low her golden strands behind the hills of our little valley home and we bid her stay—shine her light-filled face on us a wee bit longer. She leaves us slow like the sweet wilting of a cone filled with ice cream—like the way a smile spreads across his face.  It’s the way she moves slow that we will miss, but it’s not all sad, for she leaves us with a promise–we know she’ll come back around. So we pack up our summer things to spend one last slow day with summer.
 

So long summer, you gorgeous gal. I know we haven’t seen the last of you.

With my sweet friends Jen and Jennifer: 
 

A Whisper-full of Grace

The moon is a rounded doily in the eastern sky and its lower half disappears into blue as the sun dips across the way. Most every evening one goes down as the other goes up and tonight I witness this slow passing—these two sky-sisters hang almost parallel and the shy moon seems to disappear in the glow cast by the other’s light.
I look close and watch as those threads of light weave over and around this marbled earth and she-moon’s pale face—how she becomes lace…invisible. The mist of her hovers in air and the still small whisper of her makes my breath catch and it’s the looking close into the sky that speaks beauty to me tonight—such diminutive grace.
And no matter what this moon does she cannot change who she is in this moment. Outshined. And don’t we know that when she tries to stand too close…this is when she disappears entirely?   

I stand with my back to the setting sun—to all that sky-fire—and I watch grace ride out the light. Not just anyone can see this beauty…it takes a discriminatory eye. A looking close. It takes wise eyes to see that she is exactly who God intended her to be. And in just a while, she will continue that slow rise until she is crowned queen of the night sky. And all who see her will feel her pull.
But me? I like her best all soft with lace…a whisper-full of grace.
Sharing with my friend Laura L. Barkat today: 

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Playdates with God: Lonely

These shortened days are full and we have been at church or with our church friends a lot lately. God is always there and He loves us through their hands, with their words. We eat together and it is holy, we sing together and His joy takes wing, we sit and He sits with us. God is always there when we gather in His name.
But it has been in these dark and densely quiet mornings that I have felt the Holy Hand the most this week.
When I look out the window into darkness, despair fills my heart and I am emptied out. The white sky dawns, masking out the winking stars and I am hollow inside. This kenosis leaves me lonely. C.S. Lewis said our best havings are wantings and I feel this truth as I stand on the edge of darkness.
I miss my sister on these dark mornings. I long for the days when we would whisper in the night, sharing heart-secrets and dreaming. I want to call her but too many long years have passed since the hush of our voices gave comfort. I think of my friend—the one who moved away. The one who loved me in all my weird, who understood my crazy. She knew the ways of a heart empty and filled.
I stare at the phone and turn away.
I know these things won’t soothe. I know this ache cannot be sated. I accept this empty for what it is. And even in this loneliness I feel the truth.
I am not alone. 
How about you? How do you embrace the God-joy? 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. And come tell us about it.

Grab my button at the bottom of the page and join us:

Sharing with L.L. Barkat today also: 

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Garden Dreams

I spent most of yesterday afternoon in the flowers—cutting back, pulling up, raking out. I’m late this year—the frost already thick on the grass in the mornings. But my mother-in-law told me to wait; let the birds glean what they will, she said. And they did. The coneflower is dry as straw, the Black-eyed Susans blink. All the color is gone from the garden. The brittle browns and faded rusts shushed me as they rubbed together in the wind.

I raked the leaf confetti out from around tubers—their subtle reds and golds like scattered gems. The thick bands of iris greens broke easily with fingers. I smoothed around their fibrous heads, let them breathe. Already the leaves have started to make a rich compost–the soil underneath fragrant and dark. I breathed deep its heady scent, closed my eyes and dug fingers in the cool moist.

I cleaned my bed and dreamed. I dreamed of what would come in the spring.

When I was in the seventh grade I wrote an essay about what I wanted to be when I grew up. Mr. Kovalan, our English teacher, assigned us a theme every week. It was my favorite thing about school. Each week I looked forward to discovering what topic he would put before us. Mr. Kovalan never said much, but his comments on my themes always encouraged me. This is very well written, he might write. Or: A very good story. There wasn’t much I was good at, but Mr. Kovalan helped me see that telling stories was something I could do. But this one? What do I want to be? I thought long and hard about it. Finally, I wrote about my dream of becoming a hairdresser. The most beautiful women I knew were beauticians–it seemed like a good choice. Besides, I’d never thought I could be anything. Girls like me didn’t have those kind of choices. Girls like me rarely left the hollow.

When Mr. Kovalan graded my essay, he left me with few words. 

Your choice surprises me.

That was all he said. That dear, dear man.

It was the first time I thought that maybe I could be more. That maybe…maybe there was more than what I know.

When I was in seventh grade I could never have dreamed the life I have now.

This afternoon the robins are in a frenzy over my newly cleared soil. I watch from the window as they hastily march back and forth amongst the stubby remains of my garden. I smile at the cleanness of it. The mulch around the dormant clumps of green holds so much promise.

I have plans. There are things I still dream to accomplish. But I don’t want to hold these things too tightly. Who knows when God will change the plan? And I’ve already seen the beyond anything I can ask or imagine.

Yeah, sure, I feel a call on my life. But the call is not an endpoint. It’s a journey. A walking together. Walking through all the seasons…the spring, the harvest, and the raking out.

I’m trying not to hold on too tight to all these hopes and dreams that rage inside. I try to remember seventh grade. I try to remember that acorn that is growing into a tree in my garden.

The surprises are the best.


Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.—Prov. 19:21

The Beauty of Mucking Through

We are giving up summer. All week, as the hills outside slowly wink color and the wind grows uppity; I have been going through the boys’ closets—putting up the shorts and t-shirts, dragging out the jeans.

Every year when this time comes around I must look long and deep at these two boys who own my heart. Could they really have grown so much in such a short span of time? The answer, of course, is yes.

I pull out a pair of jeans that are far beyond the flood stage.

Did you really wear these last year?
I ask Jeffrey. He shrugs his shoulders.

The goodwill pile grows into a mountain, and it seems like I am giving away memories. This is the Pat White Jersey that’s been in his closet for two years. And this? A favorite tie-dyed shirt—the one his school picture was taken in.

He wants to keep it.

What for? I ask.

I don’t know...

When he tries it on and reaches to the ceiling his bellybutton stares at me.

No.

It’s an arduous task and getting them to try on the questionables is something akin to asking them to volunteer for torture. It makes me grumpy and sad all at once—this upsizing. If I dig deep enough in the drawers I wonder if I will find the outfit we brought him home from the hospital in—the one that was too big with the lamb’s face on the front.

My boys are growing up. I try not to be too sentimental about these things—it makes them squeamish. But in moments like these the passing of time stares me bold in the face and brings me to my knees.

Last night the storms came. I watched lightening flash across the sky and felt the cleaning of the rain pelting the window…stripping away pieces of me, layer by layer. When I opened the door I could smell the turning of the seasons—could taste the decay of mossy leaves on the wind.

This morning, I ran in a cold rain. My nose was leaky and my shoes were wet and big trucks kept driving by and spraying me with waves of dirty street water. The sky was spreading white–no sun, no stars. Just a bleak sort of gray. Suddenly, in the headlights of a passing car, I could see the sheets of rain falling. Each individual pane of water shone like glass in the air around me and it. was so. beautiful. Time seemed to slow and my breath came in long and deep. I was aware of beds of fallen foliage deposited here and there…sometimes a lone leaf would flutter to the ground before me or get caught up in a swirl of car draft.

I made up my mind right there to love this life. I promised God to see the individual threads of falling rain sparkling like diamonds on a sunless morning. To see the beauty in changing seasons and cold gray days. To see the transforming nature of the mucking through in every day—laundry, work, traffic, love.

And I just kept going.

Time does that too. Marches on.

And it is a beautiful thing.

My boys are growing up. I’m paying attention to the details. I don’t want to miss a single droplet of life.

It’s just way too good.