Sunday, April 19, 2009

in haiti

i'm in haiti this week with some friends of mine. wanna read a page from my journal?

les cayes, haiti

Usually when I write I'm at my computer. The words come and go and when I don't care for the shape or flow it's easy to change it. I backspace or delete. I cut and paste. All of these adjustments leave no trace of themselves, and I'm left with a thought that is clean and satisfying.

In Haiti, I go back to pen and paper and this is fitting. Corrections require something more radical, and a kind of scar is left behind. Once the ink touches the fibers of the paper I can only change my mind by scratching out what's already there. It's a violent act in a way, at least for a writer. And sometimes what I'm left with is a confused and rambling tangle of thoughts.

Everything is like this in Haiti. The simplest act can demand extraordinary energy and effort. Here, we say, "de gaje" on a regular basis. It means essentially that you just make do with what you have. Most of the time you don't have much so you leave behind a tangle of your good intentions, scars of what you wanted to say or do, scribbling hopes. The landscape is covered with the ink of things scratched out and rewritten over and over.

So I'm writing these words here in a journal and giving it to God. He knows what I wanted to say.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

weeks four and five and then some...

it's been a while and some of you might be wondering where the last couple of weeks worth of poems are. well, you can go here and you'll be able to download an animate booklet which not only has the last couple of poems, but also contains five weeks worth of individual and group exercises in imaginative prayer all written by yours truly. if you want to follow the sermon series that goes along with this, it will start the weekend after easter. go here and you'll have the choice of downloading audio or video files. and it's all for free. how's that for making it up to you? don't ever say i never gave you anything.


Thursday, March 5, 2009

week three (finally)

your feet

lately i’ve been thinking of
your feet-

tender little baby toes
in the filth of an old manger-

dusty, calloused feet
walking all those lonely miles
in the punishing heat of the desert sun-
to bring good news-

your feet that skimmed the surface of
the sea,
taming dark choppy waves
to calm my fears-

feet pointed towards jerusalem
anointed with tears and oil-
prepared for the grave-
still taking each step with that knowledge-

and those same feet
with spikes driven through them
holding up your body to take the weight off your beautiful, pain-filled hands-

all for me.

i love your feet.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

week two


i’ve been trying to reach you
climbing a tower of words.

babbling words-
dead ink-

my heart
cannot speak this language,
so it smiles politely and nods its head,
and pretends to understand.

but your words are not like this.

you opened your mouth
and creation said “yes”
and appeared from nothing-
day and night
oceans and land
and me-
all this with a few words.

i want to hear you this way.

i want to hear you in
flesh and blood
and blinding colors
and music that carries me to you.

can you carve your meaning
into my heart?

will you say to the motionless ink
“rise and walk”?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

poetry anyone?

Sarah over at a warrior princess and a set of wings wrote the best poem the other day, and it inspired me to post some of mine. I've been writing a workbook for our church that will be used for a five week series on imaginative prayer. Cool project. And for each week, I wrote a poem to accompany the exercises. The poems are all prayers. So, for your reading enjoyment (and hopefully also for your spiritual nourishment), I give you the poem for week one:


i am here.

i’m in this place, waiting for you.

i’m waiting like those wise men,
following a star like a fool.

i’m waiting like jonah
covered in the slime and scale of the sea,
deep in the belly of darkness
hoping for a rescue.

i’m waiting like your mother
pregnant with fear and love.

i’m waiting like our first parents
in the stillness of the garden
listening for your footsteps.

i’m waiting like you did
on the day I was born and
you spoke my name into the world
and said I was good.

what a surprise to find you
already here
so quiet-
waiting for me.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

a letter to anyone who cares

Hello Friends,

I've received many emails and comments asking how I am and letting me know that you miss this blog. I appreciate that so much. I thought I would try to update you all, and let you know what I'm thinking. Hopefully, as I write this, my thoughts will be more clear to me as well.

First of all, I want to acknowledge how amazing it has been to get to know so many of you. I think that I began this blog as a way to discipline myself to write and organize my thoughts, and the relationships that developed completely surprised me. I always was a little mystified by people who seemed to have meaningful internet relationships. I guess I was kind of skeptical that such a thing was even possible. I stand corrected.

Related to the relationships I've developed, I also have loved reading all of your blogs. You may think that I haven't been reading any of your thoughts since I fell silent, but that's just not true. I haven't been vocally present, but I have continued to stop by regularly, and I continue to be blown away by what you have to say. It has shaped me in ways that I don't think I can even fully appreciate myself. When I think about the direction my life has taken, I realize that I owe you all a huge debt of gratitude.

Another really valuable thing that came out of this blog was that it provided an outlet for some of the things that were floating around in my brain. I learned a lot about myself. I don't think I can adequately express how important that has been for me. I've written more in the last year than I have for probably the last ten years. I'm so grateful for that.

So, why have I stopped writing here?

Partially, the answer is that I don't really know. Have you ever just known that you had to do something (or not do something) but you couldn't really articulate the reason? There's a significant slice of this whole thing that I don't quite understand...I just know.

But there are some pieces of this that I think I understand pretty well.

First of all, I think I was a little too attached to the attention I got from this blog. I would post a blog, and the next several days would be an obsessive stake-out at my computer waiting for comments. I felt a little like I was in junior high waiting for a call from a boy. I'm kind of embarrassed to admit this, but I'm hoping some of you are out there nodding your head in recognition. Anyway, this was just not good for me.

Another negative thing that developed for me is that I felt more and more pressure to maintain all of the virtual relationships, to the point where I noticed that it was interfering with my ability to really be present to the people around me. I was always a little distracted and anxious. It was taking more and more of my time and attention. This is not anyone's fault, and it's not anything that anyone was demanding of me. It's just a personal vulnerability in me. (I tend not to notice my limits until I've crossed them...or obliterated them.)

I guess the last thing I'll mention is that I was feeling a very strong need to organize my life in radically different ways. I was feeling a need for much more space and quiet. I needed to find ways to descend into my inner life and really listen with patience to what God seemed to be up to. I needed to attend to the structure of my days and nights and notice what that structure was letting in and what it was keeping out. I'm still very much in process with this. It's been very, very good. And it's given birth to all kinds of challenges and possibilities.

There's more to this, but I can't possibly make all of it understandable here. There have been health issues and enormous family shifts and changes in my job and my significant relationships, all difficult to put into categories of "good" or "bad", so I'm resisting the urge to characterize things that way. It's life. It's what is here in this moment right in front of me. I'm trying to show up for it in ways that move me forward.

I hope that helps anyone out there who is wondering about what happened here or who is worrying about me. I'm still here. Thank you for caring.