Sunday, January 29, 2012

midday moon

Sometimes when I see something unexpected or out of place, it shakes me out of my sleepwalk way of living. I love a midday moon. It reminds me that there's really very little difference between the night and the day. The sun and the moon are always there. They don't really disappear. It's just a matter of perspective and location. 

Hello moon. Isn't it a beautiful day?

Friday, January 27, 2012


A light snow is falling outside. There is no quiet like the sound of snow. It's almost like God is saying, "Shhhh. Listen." Everything that was brown and dirty becomes gradually bright and clean. It's like redemption. I'm listening in the quiet and inviting the bright whiteness inside of me. It came just in time, just when I was beginning to think there was no way to see the world as beautiful.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

as night falls

It's about a half an hour before dusk, when God is tucking in the world, covering me with night like a blanket. Today was beautiful and warm and I've been thankful for the light. Now the darkness is coming.

I got some word today from some friends who are far away. They are experiencing some very frightening circumstances. I can't go into it in detail, but I can say that my heart is breaking for them today and I'm praying that all will be well soon. I'm praying for their safety.

It's easy sometimes to get caught up in my particular concerns and problems. And then, just as easily, the sky opens up and cheers me. It doesn't take much for my mood to be carried in either direction. But when I hear things like I'm hearing today my heart is pulled in both directions at once. I'm so grateful for the safety of my loved ones. I'm so grateful for my life and the freedom I have to create and explore and move around and see the sky. AND I'm so sad and scared for my friends. I'm so frustrated that the world is cleanly divided between the fortunate and the forgotten. I'm grieving violence and sickness and poverty and despair. I'm putting myself in another part of the world and imagining myself there.

I will not waste this sunset for the heaviness of my heart. I will dance and move and love because evil is clawing at my soul and trying to swallow up the last scraps of goodness in the world. Night is falling, but there are still some slivers of light. I want to wrap my arms around my friends and remind them. Even in the most penetrating darkness the tenderness of love will light a candle. I'm holding a candle for my loves so far away.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

remember this

I've spent a lot of time writing today and that always makes for a good day. Dave is sleeping and no one else is home so I've had the benefit of lots of quiet. I originally had an appointment for this afternoon but the person called to reschedule yesterday so I had the whole day open to do some creating. I love this. And it makes me wonder, "Why do I avoid this so much? In fact, why do I avoid a lot of things that I know for certain will make me feel wonderful?"

I'm a big procrastinator and a perfectionist, as you know, and these two qualities combined (I wonder if they're not always combined, like conjoined twins?) make for quite a bit of misery for me. I'm working on cutting myself just enough slack to settle for something less than perfect, while encouraging myself to just dive in without too much in the way of expectations. And I'm working on remembering how good I feel when I just do something that I've been putting off. Or at least start. Starting is the hard part.

So, today I got my breakfast and drank some water and put on the coffee and wrote. And I'm still writing. I'm actually taking a break from writing to write this. Funny. I have all kinds of other tasks waiting for me like grumpy little trolls tossing the furniture around. That's OK. Everything else can wait. (Maybe the trick is to just choose wisely among procrastination choices.) Right now, the keyboard is warm and my fingers are nimble. I can't think of anything I'd rather be doing right now. I feel good.

Remember this, Terri. Remember this.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

the grace of a wide open sky

It's 11:30 am and the temperature outside is -6. My fingers are stiff and red from taking these pictures, although I was only outside for a few minutes. There's a stark beauty in this kind of cold. Even though the trees are sleeping and bare they look like they might be praising God in spite of themselves. But it is difficult to stay in the freezing temperatures long enough to actually see what is here.

I'm thinking of things that have defined me in my sleeping past. There is sadness and betrayal and loss. There is fear and bewilderment and loneliness. There is unfathomable cold.

But these are only partial truths. My memory sometimes plays tricks on me. My mind wants to both hover on the pain and ignore it at the same time. It neglects the elements that are bright and holy. But when I take the time to look around carefully, I'm amazed at the stark beauty of my history.

There is survival and laughter and grace. There is healing and friendship and forgiveness. With stiff fingers, I'm framing a view that is surprising to me, the sun shining so brightly that it's hard to see what I'm capturing.

I'm noticing the frozen fingers of the trees demonstrating how to live in the grace of a wide open sky, carrying the memory of every Winter that has given way to Spring.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Why love if losing hurts so much? I have no answers anymore, only the life I have lived. Twice in life I have been given the choice: as a boy and as a man. The boy chose safety and the man choses suffering. The pain now is part of the happiness then. That's the deal.
~Anthony Hopkins playing C.S. Lewis in Shadowlands.

Thanks for all your comments and for coming out of hiding for me. I've been thinking a lot of what this blog is (for me and for you) and what I would like it to be. More than anything, I want it to be a true place and an inspiring place. I'm warmed and encouraged that so many of you find it to be such a place. It's good for me to practice seeing and feeling and living in the presence of others.

I'm reading a book right now in preparation for a training I'm doing regarding grief-work for counselors on Monday. My friend Kirsten lost her newborn child last year and has talked a lot about her journey. She's a very wise and gifted writer so I pay attention to any recommendations she makes regarding resources that are helpful to her. She has frequently mentioned one book in particular that was meaningful to her as she struggled through her grief. A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows Through Loss is a book that particularly spoke to her, so when I started to prepare for this training I knew I would want to work my way through its pages.

Sometimes I think that learning to make your way through grief is the most important work that one can engage in. I've suffered devastating loss throughout my life and I clearly see today the ways that it continues to affect me whether I like it or not. Everyone responds to loss in their own way, and I tend to try to stuff it and avoid its invitation. I do this to my own detriment, but it's become a habit that I don't usually notice. Reading this book has forced me to wake up to this work once again. Generally speaking, when I realize that I have more work to do in this area, my first response is anger. I want to be finished and I don't want to have to look at it anymore. I feel a sense of dread and become easily overwhelmed.

But something I've learned from this book that I never really comprehended before is that grief is a lifelong work, something that presents challenges and opportunities as long as we're breathing. And rather than feeling dread this time around, I'm actually excited by what this might mean to me to welcome grief to do her work on me once again. Here is an excerpt that makes me particularly excited to dive back into my old wounds in a new way:
Deep sorrow often has the effect of stripping life of pretense, vanity, and waste. It forces us to ask basic questions about what is most important in life. Suffering can lead to a simpler life, less cluttered with nonessentials. It is wonderfully clarifying. That is why many people who suffer sudden and severe loss often become different people.
I want so badly to move in this direction, and the old path of grief seems like the only way to get there. I want to become the person that my loss has invited me to be. I don't expect to be finished anytime soon or ever for that matter. But I do expect that it is good work that will change me in ways that are important. Surprisingly, I also don't expect that it will make me morbid or depressed. In fact, I'm looking forward to greater joy and simplicity and an awareness of what really matters to me. Sometimes that's gonna hurt really bad. That's OK. That's the deal.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

who are you?

I was thinking about you today. I'm wondering about the people who read this blog. I know who many of you are, but I also know there are some of you who read and never comment. I get that. I like being invisible too. But today I'm hoping you'll come out of hiding for just a moment.

If you'll leave a comment here or on my Facebook page I'll say a little prayer for you. You can just say "hi" or you can tell me something about yourself if you like. I promise I won't stalk you or contact you or sell your name to a telemarketer. It just helps me to write and stay connected if I know who I'm talking to. It would be great if you'd tell me what you look for when you visit here. But "hi" is fine too.


Thursday, January 12, 2012

embrace the suck

back yard path under ice
I was visiting Haiti a few years back with some dear friends and one of our team members was a man who spent a tour with the military in Iraq. He shared a saying that has stuck with me to this day. He told us that when his friends were having a particularly bad day (almost every day), one of them would say, "Embrace the suck." We said that a lot while we were with him in Haiti. Your attitude towards the suck is frequently the only thing you can control in a place like Haiti or Iraq (or Minnesota). It's actually a great way to live. Embrace the suck.

It's freezing cold and windy and dark today. I'm grateful that it's mid-January and we haven't really had very much of this kind of weather yet, but it looks like this will be the norm for a while. And I'm cool with that. I'm embracing the suck. When I start with this attitude, I find that I can breathe a little easier and I am more aware of the goodness buried under the ice and gliding on it's white surface. Today I'm noticing the warmth of my home and the company of my animals as they curl up in my lap. I'm noticing possibilities just beyond my sightline. I have projects that I've neglected for a while and I'm ready to dive back into them. What a perfect day to drink a lot of water and coffee and write in the quiet.

Today, I invite you to embrace the suck and everything else that comes with it. See if it doesn't provide the perfect surface for you to skate and play and love.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

hello winter

a light dusting of snow on my garage roof

Today was the first day in a very long time that actually felt like winter instead of spring. It's been a nice ride while it lasted. Yesterday it actually got to 52 degrees and it was sunny. I swear I thought it was April. Whatever winter brings from this point on, I feel that I can handle it. Before anyone knows what happened, it really will be April. I would never want to taunt winter, but whatever she throws at me from this point on is OK with me. All is well.

*Deep, chilly breath*

*Big, satisfied smile*

Thursday, January 5, 2012

to smooth the stone

The finest workers in stone are not copper or steel tools, but the gentle touches of air and water working at their leisure with a liberal allowance of time.
Henry David Thoreau

Today is day four of drinking more water for me. I half expected to feel better immediately, but I've actually been feeling kind of ill since I started. I suspect I'm flushing out some nasty toxins, and those things never leave without some kicking and screaming. Plus, I'm spending an inordinate amount of time in the bathroom. All of this is fine with me. I know my body needs this badly and I'm in it for the long haul.

There's something about drinking a lot of water that forces you to face up to the reality of having a body. Every time I take a sip of it and every time I visit the bathroom (way more often than is convenient for me) I'm reminded of my physicality. Especially when I drink cold water, I can feel it's coolness traveling all the way to my stomach. When I forget to drink for a while, I can feel the dryness shriveling me up ever so slightly, leaving a desert-like landscape in my throat. Yep, I have a body and it responds to what I do and don't do to care for it.

I'm confident that if I continue walking in this direction, nothing but good can come of it. I just have to be patient and allow the water to do what water does. I trust that "the gentle touches of air and water working at their leisure with a liberal allowance of time" will smooth the stone of my health and my heart.

Monday, January 2, 2012

the gentlest of changes

Isn't this sheet of ice beautiful? It's right outside my back door. We had a very wet snow storm on New Year's Eve and this was the effect after the cold set in. It reminded me of how lovely water can be in it's various forms. It's a little miracle, really.

After all of my crazy-eyed beasts settled down a bit and I was able to take a calmer look around, I noticed a particularly needy little creature in the corner. I think I know what change I'm going to be inviting into my life: I'm going to focus on drinking more water. It might sound kind of trivial, but it's desperately needed and I think it will open the door to a lot of other kindnesses in my world. I'm sipping a glass of water as I type this, and if I listen very carefully I can hear my body saying thank you.

Even as I settle into this choice, I can sense all of the other areas of need in my life getting restless. I'll have to be careful to reassure them as I move forward. Good things are's ok to wait. I'll also have to be careful to practice gratitude for every drop of refreshment that the water brings to my thirsty body. It doesn't have to be a chore to reach for something new. Just this one moment is a little miracle.