West Virginia Morning: Hidden (and a giveaway)

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‘As if you could kill time without injuring eternity,’ Thoreau wrote. You don’t want to kill time but to welcome it, to pick off its leaves and petals one by one, second by second.” ~Frédéric Gros, A Philosophy of Walking

It’s the time of year when I can’t go outside without getting caught in a spider web. I no sooner walk out in the yard and I am wrapped in bands of light, clawing at my face and limbs to wipe off the sticky threads. I cannot be irritated, though, for the spider has long held my admiration. What beauty she gives us on these dewy mornings. This is the best time to go out and see—star shards left behind in the night, captured in the silken webs.

I found her hiding place this morning while filling the finch feeders. Black oil sunflower seeds dropped down plastic tubes and out of the corner of my eye I saw the morning breeze exhale across silken threads. One does not usually get to enjoy such artwork before sunrise so I padded over to gawk, wet grass clinging to bare feet.

She wasn’t home but I made myself comfortable anyway, let my eyes linger on light-studded gossamer as a cardinal complained noisily in a nearby tree.

There it was again—faint ripple in the design and as the toile-work lifted and fell it was as if an invisible string joined my soul to its gentle rise. In your light, we see light, the Psalm I read this morning said, and I can feel eternity stir inside of me—the place that beauty always touches.

Things are changing around here. Teddy decided not to come home this weekend for fall break and the emptiness of these rooms echoes deep in my heart. I wonder what he is doing with his time, long for a text that says more than, “hi,” feel this new kind of mothering like being caught in a spiderweb. Flailing.  But there is something else, too, in this restless season. The fire of expectation burns the empty into promise. The earth models for us how to handle these transitions with grace and my hungry eyes seek its tutelage. Autumn whispers on the edges of the days and last night I noticed the fireflies have finally made themselves scarce.

“From now on we lose two minutes of daylight every day,” my friend Frankie told me yesterday at work. “And in November, we lose an hour.”

Later today I will pull up my ramshackle beans, what’s left of the tomatoes and squash. Then I will plant the fall crop of greens. I texted my mother-in-law this morning, “Am I too late?” And she said, no, there is still time.

As I wait for the spider to appear, the sun burns off the morning dew. I feel time move over me—my shoulders, my neck, the curve of my cheek. I have a million things to do today, my only day off from the day job. It’s like that, I try to crowd too much into this one small gap of time. And yet, here I stand, lost in the wonder of a light-studded web.

An allowance for unbridled joy through playdates with God on Sabbath can provide the same result as a quiet, meditative retreat.” Shelly Miller says, in her lovely new book Rhythms of Rest: Finding the Spirit of Sabbath in a Busy World. “Extravagant wastefulness with time might prove the most productive thing you choose for yourself.”

As I read her words I am feeling seen, for the first time in a long time, perhaps. And I know this tender ache of missing my boy is something beautiful, something to be celebrated, just as is the coming of light each day.

Slowly, sweetly, the light saturates the morning, and my unseen spider friend’s hiding place becomes invisible once again.

To celebrate my friend Shelly’s new book release, I’m giving away a copy of Rhythms of Rest: Finding the Spirit of Sabbath in a Busy World. I’m also including a copy of my book Playdates with God: Having a Childlike Faith in a Grown-up World, which Shelly so graciously quotes in Rhythms of Rest. But wait! There’s more. Also included in the gift pack is a copy of Francine Rivers’ new devotional Earth Psalms: Reflections on How God Speaks Through Nature.  Simply leave a comment for a chance to win. I’ll announce the winner Wednesday, Oct. 12.

This post is a partial reprint from the archives.

Playdates with God: Quiet Season

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The first Sunday of Lent was Valentine’s Day, and Scout Sunday, and also a day we recognized the many years of service to our church of one of God’s everyday saints. There was a reception following worship and then Jeff and I went grocery shopping amidst all the other church people. At home, we opened cards and candy, exercised, took the dog for a walk, and then made ready for a concert we had tickets to celebrate this day of lovers. We were invited to a friend’s house for dinner before hand. We dined and laughed and touched each other’s hands under the table. Then, the music, oh sweet music, and in my heart I felt the beauty of being in love. When the show was over, the snow had started. We drove home through a blinding white, no snow plows in sight, creeping at 30 miles per hour until arriving safe at our destiny. I fell into bed, bone-tired but happy and this morning our little valley feels like a snowglobe, entombed in white.

As I sit here in the wee hours of dawn, I realize this is how most of the days go by lately—a blur of so many good things. I have been feeling God calling me to a quieter place for some time now. You may have noticed I haven’t been writing much here in this space. There are days when, in angst, I fear I’m losing my voice. I pray for words and eyes to see the bigger story, but the moments go by unrecorded. As most in-between places, this has not been a comfortable place. But it has been a place of growth.

I tell you these things, dear ones, by way of explaining that I will be letting this Monday morning practice of sharing a playdate go for a season. This community of seers has given me eyes for the holy for many years now, and it is a bit frightening to say “the end.” But I know we will always be connected and this is not an end to our friendships. I will still be chasing the blue flower, just in a lower profile. I’m not sure what that will look like, but I am trusting it will be lovely.

I want to share with you some other linkups that you may like to participate in during this quiet season here.

My friend Kelly Chripzuck has a sweet community called Small Wonders. She says, “That’s my proposal – that we gather here each week to share one moment of Wonder from each of our days.”

Lisha Epperson has a Sunday Community of sharers she calls Give Me Grace. She says, “Link up like you always have with images, scripture, art, a video, a song, one word or many. We’ll wrap it in grace and present it as an offering each Sunday.”

Lyli Dunbar’s Thought-Provoking Thursdays is one of my favorites. She writes, “Have you written something thought-provoking, challenging, encouraging, or inspiring lately? Link it up here!”

Sweet Jennifer Lee is Telling His Story.

There are always Five Minute Fridays.

And every month, Emily Freeman asks her readers to share what they’ve learned that month.

gift of friendshipThese are some of my faves, but would you share of any places you love to link up to in the comments? Also, I must announce the winner of Kristen Welch’s book Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World. The winner is … Marci! Congratulations, my friend. I’ll get the book to you ASAP. Also, I have another book to give away this week. This one is by my beautiful friend Dawn Camp. It’s a collection of essays by various writers called The Gift of Friendship. The stories are accompanied by Dawn’s gorgeous photography. Leave a comment here for a chance to win. I’ll announce the winner on Friday, 2/19.

I’ll still be writing in this space, just less often. In the mean time, I’m praying this Lenten season brings some quiet blessings your way too, friends.

Cicada Song (A Makes You Mom Post)

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The little valley where I live is finally melting under the crust of the two or so feet of snow Winterstorm Jonas dumped on us. Warmer temperatures leave the sound of trickling water in our midst; the earth is sipping deeply to sate an unquenchable thirst born from a core made of fire. But still, in cul-de-sacs and on sidewalks—any space deemed “inessential”—mounds of dirty snow remain, discarded by desperate snowplows. So much of the valley is still impassable.

I’m sharing a story about transition and transformation over at Makes You Mom today. Will you join me?

 

Black Crow (For Jeffrey on His Seventeenth Birthday)

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“You’ll never be sixteen
again,” I said, words misting
like white doves in the air.

I don’t remember
what the weather was like
on the day you were born.
this morning, it snows—
tiny, frail flakes, drifting

I drive away, you still
sleeping

it’s hard to know when
a boy becomes a man,
switching out smooth stones
in his pocket for car keys.
you used to leave the kitchen
table smelling of syrup and
milk; now you enter the day
clean-shaven, all soap
and mint

what do you remember
of the days gone? Do you
recall when a maple seed
held all the world in its
wingspan? when a pine
cone was the grandest prize?
a flat of frozen creek, hoisted
your victory dance? the
trophies you seek now
I can’t hold in my hand.

one black crow in the parking
lot when I arrive. he pushes down
on the air with wings longer
than his body, languid in his
escape.

“where will you go?”
I ask with my white-bird
words.

Image by Dennis. Sourced via Flickr.

Christmas 2015

On Christmas Eve’s eve we grilled burgers and sat out on the back deck late into the evening. I looked up into the night sky and wondered about Mary, about that star, about the night sounds in Bethlehem. As we wait for the swaddled one, our Advent has been swaddled too—in family, quiet moments, books, and home. I’ve been reading about Sabbath again, and this week these words jump out at me:

Sabbath is a fiction, true and sure, the promise of peace. ~Dan Allender, Sabbath: The Ancient Practices

I have been living a fiction these past days, dreaming within a dream—a woman come back from the dust. How wonderful to know only the warmth of kith and kin, to be formed by the waiting, and let my ardor for God be stirred by love.

I pray the same for all of you, Beloveds. I am wrapping you in the swaddling clothes of my love.

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