Seeing with New Eyes

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I had cataract surgery done a week and a half ago. I chickened out last year–something about a knife near the eyes bit! But I was getting desperate, so I did not read any contraindications and just went for it. I had not been able to drive at night for over 2 years, and even daily activities were becoming a strain. I probably should have asked more questions, though, because rather than a piece of cake, this “routine” surgery was more like liver and onions–more uncomfortable than I thought it would be.

I am very chemically sensitive, so having gotten through the procedure with fairly minor and endurable hiccups, the worst part became the reaction to the steroid drops which are needed for speedy healing. This is a five-week process, and I have quite some time to go, but I hope the worst is over.

That was the bad and the ugly. The good part is that somebody turned on the lights! Whites are whiter and colors are brighter, not to mention that everything has distinct edges and not fuzzy, ever-changing ones. The green in the traffic light is . . . well, green green! It is almost like a different color. It is not preferred by me to undergo any surgery, but given the positive change in my sight, I think it was worth it!

My eyes are blue blue again. Haven’t been like this since forever! You don’t think about it because the discoloration and hardening happens slowly over time.  Even my own photographic work is brighter and more colorful. And I have discovered I am a much better photographer than I thought. 🙂

We don’t become aware of the hardening process that alters so much of what we see because it happens bit by bit, year by year. And only when it cannot be ignored any longer do we even recognize it is something to be dealt with. I am thinking that is kind of like what happens with our hearts. If betrayals and loss, disappointments and disillusionment build up, then over time the hardening becomes something to radically deal with. It interferes with our ability to prosper and see life and mission clearly. But it starts small, and it builds layer upon layer. I am not sure how to prevent that from destroying my joy, but my desire is that I would become aware of the hurts that bind and settle down into my spirit.

May I hold lightly to pain and hold tightly to renewal is my prayer.

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I Was Once a Thief

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I was once a thief, deliberate, conniving, and unrepentant.

Sort of.

I got twenty-five cents for a weekly allowance, and it was the good old days when that kind of coin really meant something. Well, . . . not really. It didn’t buy a lot even then. And hence the devilish temptation.

Between the one-room school and home was the general store where everything from gum to gum boots smelled like the owner’s cigars. There was cold soda pop in the cooler and a variety of gum and sweets under glass. Nothing was as good as an Orange Crush or Hires Root Beer after a grueling day of study under my teacher Aunt Luella in elementary school. But my twenty-five cents never lasted long.

Every evening, Daddy had this habit of emptying out the change in his pockets and placing the coins on a little ledge that ran along the bathroom wall. Those shiny silver quarters called to me something fierce. To be honest, I also heard the call of the tarnished ones just as clearly; and one day, I anesthetized the prickling of my delicate conscience with the anticipation of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit and a pop.

Having crossed the dark line, the second time was easier, and the third easier still. I got to the point that I did not even wait to see the money on the ledge. I would rifle through Dad’s pockets in the closet.

My larceny progressed day by day and week by week from one coin to two or three, and I stored them on a convenient little shelf inside the metal box spring that supported my mattress. I had found in the trash can this handy little cardboard box, which had a drawer that slid in and out—the perfect size for prepubescent contraband. As it happens, it was also the perfect size to house new condoms, but I did not know that at the time!

I was cautious not to let my candy spending sprees attract too much attention, typically only spending a quarter at a time; and if Mama ever asked where I got the money for that treat, I would just tell her I had not spent my allowance yet.

Sadly, my mom was much better at math than I was, and eventually my pernicious ways were found out. There was also the thing about my face turning red any time I tried to lie, which was a real deterrent to the life of crime I was bent on. When confronted, all my dark deeds came tumbling out in a sobbing, wet confession.

I fully expected a spanking and a repayment plan that would last into high school, but a fifty cent fine, a prayer, and a hug was all that was required to set things right. It was rather a relief to be caught since the cold, hard cash chaffed my sensitive conscience and never quite gave the satisfaction promised.

As it turned out, no sweet was as sweet as a pure conscience and the soft forgiveness of my parents and my Lord.

My Book of Uncommon Prayers: Have Mercy

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A p r o n h e a d -- Lilly

Oh, Lord of the broken and heartsick,
of the world weary and tumult tossed,
have mercy.
Oh, Lord of the fractured and failing,
of the wounded and flailing,
have mercy on us.

May our beliefs align with Your truths,
and may our weakness not hinder Your kingdom work
here in this battleground
between earth and heaven,
between the cross and the crown.

Oh, Lord of the blind and beleaguered,
the willing but wanting,
have mercy on us here below.

May our hearts break for the living lost
and our hands be quick to holy tasks
here on this hallowed ground
between world and wonder,
between sacrifice and song.

Oh, Lord, have mercy on us here below we pray.

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My Book of Uncommon Prayers: Once Again

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These witchy trees, bare and lifeless, cold and leafless:
One might wonder where life has gone and if all hope is gone,
receded into the dark earth. But
in one moment, that gifted second,
a nub of green sprouts, a speck of promise appears, and the sleeper rises,
stretches to the sky. Renewal happens once again—
from death to life.
That these dormant praises in me would rise again, unchained.
That these sleeping sermons once more would reach my mouth that I may speak of Your wonder,
once again.

 

My Book of Uncommon Prayers: Have Mercy

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Oh, Lord of the broken and heartsick,
of the world weary and tumult tossed,
have mercy.
Oh, Lord of the fractured and failing,
of the wounded and flailing,
have mercy on us.

May our beliefs align with Your truths,
and may our weakness not hinder Your kingdom work
here in this battleground
between earth and heaven,
between the cross and the crown.

Oh, Lord of the blind and beleaguered,
the willing but wanting,
have mercy on us here below.

May our hearts break for the living lost
and our hands be quick to holy tasks
here on this hallowed ground
between world and wonder,
between sacrifice and song.

Oh, Lord, have mercy on us here below, we pray.

 

Upside-down World

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When what was and now is not happens in a wisp of a moment,
when friends become foes, exchanging their trust for biting and isolating words,

then it is plain to see that we are living in an upside-down world.

When conversations meant to break down barriers instead erect the worst kind of walls,
when what I see and what you see suddenly are
oddly at odds
to the vision once shared,

then it is pain to see that we are as much a part of this upside-down world as everyone we have observed from afar. Tut, tut, what a shame it was. And is.
We are in it, of it, and yearning for all to be made right.

What makes it worse is that the reflection is somewhat like what we hope for; but
in its rippling distortion and ever-changing color, what’s hoped for seems like some cruel illusion.

Far off, unattainable, yet present enough to hunger the soul.
======================
Proverbs 13:12 (NLT)
Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.

 

These Carnal Threads

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I look down at my hands and know that within those tissues and cells, blood is coursing,
coming from,
going to,
minute after minute, circuit upon circuit. But where is my soul in this pink, freckled flesh? Where is my spirit in this troubled, pondering life?

Is the soul hitching a ride on red blood cells as they careen by the white?
Is my spirit holed up in one of my vital organs? My brain, maybe? Concentrated in a command center, overseeing all my worldly cognition.
Perhaps soul and spirit share space, intertwined in the four chambers of my pulsing heart.

But when the soul is gone, the hands are still there, and even the blood; but what stops really when we say life is gone? As the flesh cools, lying motionless, is the me-part that is really me immediately absent,

or hovering, waiting for further instructions?

It is said to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord, but I am wondering when the absent happens. What changes in that one fragile second to another when what was thought alive is now

dead
and these carnal threads release their hold?

 

 

Sunday Stranger

A p r o n h e a d -- Lilly

The man at the entrance handed me a bulletin from the top of a large stack.  He gave a vacant smile—a smile saved up all week long for Sunday strangers.  His eyes focused somewhere just above and to the right of my forehead.  It made me wonder if there was a fly caught in my hair.

The music grew louder as I crossed the foyer and entered through one of the sets of heavy double doors to the sanctuary.  Slipping into a back pew, I glanced around.  The church was old with dark mahogany and stained glass, the pulpit a million miles away.

The congregation was in the middle of a song, led by a golden-robed choir with bright faces and sure voices.  At the close of the song, a smile in a suit encouraged the people to spend a few moments greeting those around them.  The lady in front…

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The Peace That Doesn’t Come

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I swallowed up your fictions, building great thoughts and paradigms on them to support the framework of my soul’s integrity—because
I thought they were true. Really true. Truer than the dusty time-tested, grime-infested mores of another lifetime. Rusty religion.

And why not?

Everywhere I looked, the narrative thrived, as those in power connived to reel in the more, the many, the misled. Those in university demanded my allegiance and my reason. Media demanded my modesty and my shame. And the more connected I became, the more infected—yet still alone. The more I embraced plurality of thoughts and values, the more I felt this swirling nothingness of the all crowding out the any,

and the new flourished, silencing the drumming and thrumming of the old, what all people have always known—that there are true trues
and right rights, and
the fight is to cling to those when delusion and evil conspire, but
I swallowed up your fictions, wallowed in illumination,

waiting for the peace that doesn’t come.

When You

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When you can’t cry, or will not because your heart is hard,

I will cry for you—tears to seek the cracks, a way in.

 

When you can’t listen, I will be your ears

to hear the hope in a flower, a bird, a melody.

 

When you can’t speak, I will whisper words your heart would say

in unguarded moments, if it could crawl from beneath the dead weight.

 

When you can’t believe—when your faith lisps with fragile emptiness,

I will believe in the darkness for both of us.

When you can’t pray, I will pray.

When you can’t,

when you won’t,

I will

with hope.