Playdates with God: The River has Many Voices (a poem)

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Once a year, the canyon calls our name. We let go of the heavy things and heed her summons; gather in our lonely arms words and music and beauty and fine conversation instead. There are long hours spent watching light play on water, listening to bird-magic, opening up to the stars.

These moments nourish, just as much as Tim’s baked oatmeal or apple cobbler. Maybe more. Seeds are planted that will not break the scrim of our soil-hearts, sometimes for years to come. But we feel the roots begin to tendril, feel our thoughts like soft clay, bending to make room for all these new things.

This morning, I sit in my usual with my Bonnie-girl sleeping on my lap, and I remember the words of one of our speakers. “You don’t make a poem happen,” Marilyn McEntyre said. “I really do believe they come through another channel. You craft it; you craft what you are given. But you don’t make it happen.”

Yes. And so, this is happening.

 

Wise Counsel

inside the river are many voices;
they speak their stories with cobwebbed tongues,
like slow-waving grasses
lifted by ebb and flow
of the tide until

they settle into the soil of our hearts
as the moon pulls the glassy waters;
and sprout from our throats
like a slow-turning vine
waiting to fruit

a part of our own story now

i shed my shoes and step gingerly,
break the surface like a dream
and bend to peer
deep beneath
a rippling pool

silence is the tinkling sound
of trickling water, the many voices
the river gives;
wise counsel
for days to come.

**The winner of Ann and Charity’s lovely book On Being a Writer is KJ! And the winner of the book set of For the Love of God: A Woman’s Guide to Finding Faith and Getting Grace and Jesus Daily: 365 Interactive Devotions is  Shelly Hendricks. Congratulations! I’ll get those out to you ASAP.

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:

Laura Boggess

Playdates with God: When Your Heart is Full…

 “It feels weird after being gone for a while to step back into the same old, same old,” I tell the boys this morning as they eat their breakfast.

I’ve packed the lunches, unloaded the dishwasher, taken the dog out.

“Welcome to the real world,” says my little one—who seems to have grown a couple inches since I left him five days ago.

And I smile as I wipe toast crumbs from the counter. Because I know that he’s partly right. But this—the “real world”—I often miss so much of it. It’s the going away and coming back home that opens my eyes to the beauty. I don’t know why it is in the stepping away that the everyday ordinary becomes the everyday extraordinary.

“I missed you,” I say, planting a kiss on the top of his head and breathing in the smell of cinnamon boy-skin.

I want to hold on to this, savor the sweetness of the happy that I feel when I look at the mess of this life that is my “real world”. And later, when they are off to school, I load the washer, unpack my suitcase, and wonder why it slips away so easily.  I sigh as I pour another cup of coffee into the mug that Marcus gave me and stick my nose down to smell the hint of spice.  I brought some of Tim’s coffee home with me—that blend they call Taste of San Antonio—and it takes me back to the canyon.  I slow, let myself walk through all that joy in my mind.

God used water hands to carve stone into one of theloveliest places on earth; but these past few days, it wasn’t so much about location as it was about people. What a gift to wrap arms around ones whose hearts I came to know before their faces. I read recently that the Greek verb splangchnizomai is the word the Bible uses to describe Jesus’ compassion for his people. It refers to the splanchna—the entrails of the body…or the guts—the place our deepest emotions are felt.

I wonder if there is a word for love that deep. That’s the love I’ve felt these past few days—deep in the inward parts of me. That’s the kind of love I find when I return home. In the going away, there’s always the returning.

Welcome to the real world.

My friend Jennifer Lee getting goofy with me as we drive through the Frio River on our way to Laity Lodge.
Dan King, aka Bibledude; aka The Unlikely Missionary and Jennifer Lee, caught in a fistbump moment.
Our hiking group
At Blue Hole
The Monarchs were migrating and graced us everywhere.
My workshop group

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:

On In Around button

What Does a Writer’s Retreat Teach? Or, Hobnobbing with Madeleine and Eugene

We were sitting around a table overlooking the Frio River, listening to Jeffrey Overstreet talk about how artful story invites the reader inside—invites the reader to discover what the story has to say to them—when he paused and had us go around the table and introduce ourselves.

My friend Marcus was seated to my right, Claire to my left, but the others were new faces. There was a retired photographer, two persons of the cloth, a young college student, an elderly woman, and Jeannie.

When it was Jeannie’s turn, she spoke about the nonfiction books she had written over the years, about coming to Laity Lodge to write, and about her dear, dear friend Madeline L’Engle. Immediately, my shoes felt too big.

We all tried to pretend like it was nothing but all the while, I’m thinking…Madeleine L’Engle! When I was a girl, this dear woman’s books opened up a whole new world to me. A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet … Jeannie’s casual namedropping sent me into a reverie of wistfulness, remembering the joy of discovering a series of books that aroused a deep awakening in my young self. How I loved Charles Wallace and Meg. They taught me through their story that anything is possible. And who wrapped science around fantasy in such a way? I’d never read science fiction before. I didn’t know people wrote like that.

We took a break and I went to the restroom and was startled to find Lauren Winner washing her hands and Ashley Cleveland exiting the stall. What’s more, they greeted me casually, engaged in a bit of small talk before going on their way. Back at our open-air table, I tell Marcus.

“I can’t believe she referred to Madeleine L’Engle as her dear, dear friend!”

He shrugs his shoulders.

“And Eugene Peterson writes here all the time.”

“Eugene Peterson? Really?” I am a bit star-struck. “But that makes me feel so … small.”

Marcus laughs.

Why? I don’t understand that. That should make you feel special not small. You’re here too. Laity Lodge is for everyone.”

I tell him about running into Ashley and Lauren in the restroom.

Right,” he says. “Because they use the bathroom too.”

We laugh but I am quieted a bit inside. Later, I walk down the road with my friends Verbieann and Ann (who has since become a New York Times bestselling author) and tell them the story. I turn Marcus’ words around in my mind.

Am I special? I mean, just because I haven’t held court with writers like Madeleine L’Engle or Eugene Peterson…does that mean there is no value in the words I share? My friend Elaine was recently at a conference in which the speaker posed the question, How do your words help solve the problem of pain? I’ve been thinking about that. Wondering. And I remember the young girl I was—wrapped in the pain of a broken family, uncertainty of self—and I know the question goes deeper than it appears at first glance.

Though Madeleine L’Engle’s story about a young misfit girl and her brilliant little brother and how they rescue their father using a tesseract and all the amazing things they encounter in the process…though these words may not appear to address the problem of pain directly, they surely helped to save a young girl who was drowning in it when she first encountered them.

I think about these things all these months after my conversation with my wise friend Marcus. I am learning to embrace myself as word-giver. It still feels fragile—I’m still self-conscious and clumsy. But when I look back, I see that time at Laity Lodge as a pivotal step in this acquiescence. Because Laity Lodge is for everyone. My time there was like a warm embrace; I was cradled in that canyon. Everyone there was someone special. This is because that riverbed and those canyon walls are saturated with the presence of God. Dan Roloff told us that the place was built to provide a place where people can encounter God. While there, I felt the breath of my Creator, I felt loved as a favorite child.

The truth is, we should feel this way no matter where we are, no matter what we do. But sometimes, gravity gets in the way and our earthbound nature blinds us to who we truly are. Laity Lodge is a place of transcendence for me.

We are gearing up for the retreat again this year. I’ll be there. Won’t you consider it too? There is a chance you could go for free. I’d love to meet you there. Would even share that table overlooking the Frio with you.