Here is Joy.
Look, right here!
See her in the slippery soap suds puddling around the soap dish?
And in the far corner of the deepest cupboard you're cleaning,
Back, back, back until you can just dab the dirt triangle with the corner of your rag?
Do you hear her bursting through the speakers of your car stereo?
Or in the grunt of an awakening work computer?
She's here on the supermarket shelf, coming along free in the celery stalks just because.
Do you see her?
In the scuffed magnet that pins a child's artwork to your refrigerator?
And in the orange flame waltzing on the tip of a match as you light a candle and open the front door?
She's whisked into the batter and adds just the right nutty note…or is it woody…or just plain sweet?
She's here. Always here.
Even when your neighbor tells you never ever to add cinnamon and now you've ruined it completely.
Yes, sometimes Joy tastes a little like hot noodle soup during a head cold.
Or enlivens an aroma with a world of redeemed memories.
She's more than a good tiding at Christmas.
She's now. Today.
Riding along on the eternal breeze of faithfulness.
Look for her.
It’s easy to forget
I turn to wave,
his kiss still wet on my cheek.
I can, in these moments,
forget that dogged darkness from the womb,
the dark that swallows him now.
Life feels so much like life
when his eyes still glitter hope.
So it's easy to forget.
Or not to remember.
And then I do,
and I want to run back
and snatch him
from what his family and his god
demand of him.
Because who will he be
when he reaches the end of his hope?
The end of his life?
I turned around again
to see him looking over his shoulder
as his mother's hand leads him away.
Photo credit: Scott Szarapka on Unsplash
I wish I knew you
Maybe you think I don’t notice that bruise on half your face. You light the room with a smile and a dignified calm.
But I wish I could grab him by the throat and not let go until I know that he will never touch you again.
Except with love.
But how can I know unless you tell me? And how can you tell me unless you trust me? And how can you trust me when you just met me and he calls your phone and you need to go before we even know each other?
We say goodbye with an embrace, two kisses, and a few besides.
Then I stand and watch you walk away, wishing I knew the you behind that sparkling smile.
And that black eye.
Photo by mostafa meraji on Unsplash
You tell me I am half Or maybe even less When I don’t dream your dreams Of how my life should be. But while you count my flaws And give advice, of course, You are the one who’s half By never knowing me.
I wrote this poem for one of the writing prompts my sister and I are doing this year. The inspiration? The countless North African women (and the few men) who have told me, whether directly or indirectly, that my worth is determined by my marital status and number of children.
But this poem is only part of the story. The sting of being under-appreciated for not ticking the “right” boxes has motivated me to find my worth in my Savior. I’m still learning; meanwhile, God has brought many others into my life who value me for being me.
Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash
For He is mine & I am His
Creator of the craggy cliffs
Dotted with plump trees,
Creator of the rippled floor
Of the restless sea,
Creator of the overhead:
Sky, gauzy clouds, & gulls on wind
Wants to marry me.
For He is mine & I am His.
“My beloved is mine, and I am his” (Song of Solomon 2:16a)
It’s not that we don’t believe You’re good because we know You are. It’s not that we don’t believe You can heal because we know You can. It’s just that we ask ourselves if You have her best in mind, And by association, our best. Not doubt exactly, but frozen waiting for Your next move Even while begging You to take this cup from her. Can we yield to the nevertheless-not-our-will And trust Your goodness without knowing Your plan? Because it’s not our understanding of her good, But Yours, O Restorer, Redeemer, that’s tucked into Your promise.
Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash
The Hammer Holds
May you have a blessed Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday.
Even though we live on the Spanish coast, this year we don’t plan to watch the sunrise on the beach… perhaps because we have approximately one morning person on our team (and it’s not me). We still plan to celebrate Christ’s resurrection for most of the day through worship, fellowship, and food. What are your plans?
This week, I have been buried in research and I’m not taking time to write anything original. Still, I wanted to share a piece of the song “The Hammer Holds” from Bebo Norman, a deep, poetic work that tells the story of a piece of steel as it is shaped into a nail to be driven into the Savior’s hand. You can listen to the full song here.
The hammer pounds again, but flames I do not feel. This force that drives me, helplessly, through flesh, and wood reveals A burn that burns much deeper, it's more than I can stand: The reason for my life was to take the life of a guiltless man. So dream a little, dream for me in hopes that I'll remain, And cry a little, cry for me so I can bear the pain. And hurt a little, hurt for me, my future is so bold, But my dreams are not the issue here, for they, the hammer holds. This task before me may seem unclear But it, my Maker holds
from Ten Thousand Days 1999, Watershed Records.
Photo by Glen Carrie on Unsplash
Broken shells, worn smooth
We are desolate homes, Nature's has-beens,
Trapped in waves ever crashing
Then spit, fragmented, on the stony shore
Broken shells, worn smooth with wounds.
It’s quiet here
It’s quiet here.
Above, the sun comes and goes
More going than coming
Behind stubborn clouds.
Below is small but grinding
With a today of
Abuse and addiction
Suffering and slavery
In our own town, in our own people.
But it’s quiet here,
Here in my heart:
A mountain reaching up from a dark sea
To that sun swallowed by haze.
In a world gone mad
But we live following.
Because behind a cloud
The sun is quiet like the moon,
Photo by Timothy Dykes on Unsplash
Alive and snapping air Orange, yellow, red apples Orange, yellow, red trees And unraked piles of leaves From terrific prairie wind Whistling through brown stalks of corn. Is it possible to be so alive In a season that’s dying?