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.
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Proverbs 13:12 (NLT)
Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.

 

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An Unforever Friend

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It could have been a lifelong friendship,

haven’t-seen-you-like-forever-but-everything’s-the-same kind of friendship.

 

We shared tight, little secrets that only capital F Friends should share.

We pontificated over politics—all the things we could never change.

We wept over children—all the heart-pains that only mothers know

and only Friends can share.

We shared meals, split tabs, told jokes, prayed prayers,

taking time to just be

and sometimes read each other’s minds.

 

But the shared whispers have disappeared.

The warm hugs have been replaced by unreturned phone calls

and occasional hurried-life passings–as life is passing.

 

I have grieved your loss as one who died;

but your life is so full

you don’t seem to notice I am not in it.

 

I thought we would be friends forever,

capital F Friends, unshakeable Friends,

but forever has come to an end.

 

My Book of Uncommon Prayers: There is a line . . .

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There is a line in the sand, and I dare not cross—
but funny thing about sand and funny thing about lines,
they wash away with beating waves, leaving a skimming reflection where surety used to be. So maybe instead of lines in the sand, I should head into the surf and just ride out these waves.
But some days I feel more infidel than faithful.
When the press is great and rescue far off, help me not to fail
but to fall
into you.
Without You, I will sink in the undertow and be lost.
Are Your arms bigger than my sorrows, Your view wider than my narrow vision, Your heart tougher than my doctrine, Your compassion deeper than my loss, Your love hotter than my tears?
If there is a way that I must walk, can it be a yes-way, a water-walking way—a path of fullness and yeses.
So often I walk in these in-betweens, chained to an accumulated load that fills my soul with the hollow No.
Piercing doubt, filling, spilling. Knocked sideways. Sinking in the swells.
But I am ready for the Yes, Lord, not a way that seems right,
but is right.
No variance to the right or left, but straight-ahead trust
to joy, unspeakable peace, unbreatheable, that just is.
When the press is great and rescue far off, help me not to fail
but to fall
into you.

 

My Book of Uncommon Prayers: Pain and Hope

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I woke suddenly in the wee hours, the dark hours. Was it the weird dream I was having? Maybe. But aside from that, I immediately was aware that I had passed the anniversary of my first child’s death and had not remembered.

That was what kept me awake.

I stopped hearing the heartbeat with my stethoscope on Nov. 18, ’74. The doctor confirmed my full-term child was dead on the 18th, and I gave birth to her on the 19th. Every year at this time, whether I say anything or not, the loss rises up. And though time has healed the rawness of the wound, the grief has always been there.

But not this year.

The loss of Noelle colored my whole life. It framed my internal dialogue with God about what is just and right, and what is love in His eternal economy.  I wrote a lot of songs. I wrote a lot of poetry. And I journaled the highs and lows of grappling with loss and disappointment. I processed a lifetime of questions. I railed and returned to the knee time and time again, knowing that He was there to meet me in my anguish and questioning.

Though it hurt to turn the grief over and over in my mind and art, the reality of it, in a strange way, is what gave me hope. There was the expectation that something so horrible would be made right at the end of all things. All the hard things would not be for nothing.

Pain and hope link arms, and it is what keeps you pressing on. It kept me pressing on.

To stop feeling the pain is to forget. And to forget is to become numb.

If I forget, I don’t care.

If I don’t care, I lose hope that things will ever be right.

The steady drip drip of loss joins the stream of all the other pains in my heart and in this world, and it would flow on and on unabated, swallowing up all the cries of us, the anonymous, if not for the glimpse of promise. I must believe that even if I stop feeling, His promise is stronger than my exhausted unbelief.

“Lord, I believe; help thou my unbelief.” ~~Mark 9:24

Lord, of the faithless, the weary wanderer, though I am apt to complain more than praise, don’t let me stop feeling the pain that reassures me I am connected and hoping for your kingdom to come. Be near me in the silence of my heart; speak love to me. Help me to not stop caring.     

 

 

 

Darkness Moves

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The darkness moves toward morning—sun and moon in their cycles,

and I in my bed lie awake with the constant thrumming of words in my head.

My body tosses and turns; my words toss and turn, and

sleep is an enemy, crouching far off, taunting.

Pain is magnified in the dark with no distractions. And

the aching in my head beats rhythm to the beats of my heart and the beating that I am giving my soul for regrets as

darkness moves toward morning.

Letting Go

 

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It’s like déjà-done this kind of thing—walked this path before, spouted this script before, destined to repeat over again

attachments and letting go,

hoping and hurting,

again and again,

pushing my rock to the crest only for it to slide back.

Is this punishment for choices made or just the way of things in this place?

Perhaps it’s just part of the deal, so we keep going,

keep trying,

trying to find our way out.

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Shadows Fall

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When dark shadows lengthen and pathways clash, we fight our way through,

each on his own,

but not,

bumping others, helping others, avoiding some; and

the destination is beyond this black—beyond these mere pinpricks of comprehension, beyond corrupted flesh, this plaguing weakness, this battle of Hyde and seek.

Shadows fall.

And we press on because there is no going back.

We press in to companions who are sure, until they

are not.

We press out, palms lifted to the One,

begging for a way through.

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Psalm 31:1: In You, O Lord, I put my trust;
Let me never be ashamed;
Deliver me in Your righteousness.

3: For You are my rock and my fortress;
Therefore, for Your name’s sake,
Lead me and guide me.

14-15a: But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord;
I say, “You are my God.”
15 My times are in Your hand;