Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The irony of peace (#SmallWonder)

I nearly laughed out loud when I saw it this evening. The beautifully rusted ship anchored alongside the shore, it's side bearing the painted name: Angelic Peace.

Yeah, right?

I'd fled here in a state of desperation bordering on anything but peace. More like the thirst for peace. Or even a sip of it, a whiff of it... or, the sight of it painted on an old metal ship.

Ok, sure. I'll take it in whatever form I can get it.

So I came, bearing all the names that press in with their paint brushes to define me at any given moment these days; many of them, part of the process of healing, transition, becoming; others, names I barely give a nod to, hoping they'll not stick around.

Weary. Impatient. Overwhelmed. Anxious. Alone. Grieved. Numb. Disconnected. Distracted. Not enough. 

And I sat down on a fallen tree, in the presence of an offshore Angelic Peace, and soaked from a distance, breath by breath, its invisible strokes across my skin.


Peace be with you.

Peace be in you.

Peace anchor you.


I watched a flock of coots, their black bodies peppering the water around the ship. And the few stray cormorants, bobbing and swimming and fishing, alighting in a propellant of ash colored wings. It was this sight that finally did it, bringing me to tears at the end of the day.

How they flew with such grace and freedom and skill, the way they always had; the way they assumed they always would. And I thought of the 11,000 like them in Portland that may soon be shot from their nests, shot in flight, because of humans refusing to assume responsibility for human error. And those birds have been marked to pay the fine.

Still, tonight these cormorants swim and fish and fly beneath a beautiful, rusted proclamation of peace while the weary-hearted world goes on and cars inch along traffic-clogged streets and humans plot violence against each other and all manner of created things.

And still, peace hovers close by, anchored in the waters.

Let it be, I whisper. Let it be so.

Linking up with Kelly and the Small Wonder community.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Cathedral yoga (#SmallWonder)

We start by setting our intentions. To be kind toward our bodies. To be gentle. To withhold judgment or expectation in favor of observing where we are in the moment and supporting ourselves where needed, in the weaker places. 

I imagine my body, unbalanced in its distribution of strength, the stronger parts coming underneath and alongside to aid the weaker, working together instead of fighting against.

And then come the breaths.

As always, yoga flows from an awareness and direction of breathing. Slow and deep, lower-bellied, rib-expanding inhales, pausing to hold, then drawing-belly-back-inward exhales. After we've directed our breaths, we inhale and push out a resonant aaaahhhhh  oooooo  uuuummm in unison, three times. It's a gutteral, primitive song, unlike any we humans utter in social interactions, but here it is escaping now, soft and vibrant and liberating.

Our bodies flow with the minutes through this hour, inside this vast sanctuary. Stretching, holding, sitting, bending, rocking, balancing, lowering, lifting, opening, closing. Not only bodies, but spirits, too, flow and hold, rock and rest. I feel the tension in tight places, one side of the body weaker than the other, learning to lean in at gentler angles and roll out of positions slowly. I recognize different parts of my spirit as strong and sturdy, others as tender and tired, not yet capable of bearing my full weight. I'm having a difficult time concentrating. My eyes roam the stone floor with its beautiful cracks and up the walls toward the expansive canopy of wooden beams. 

Near the end of our hour, we're holding a balance tree pose and I'm wobbling on one leg. Our instructor gently calls out, "Find a focal point that is not moving or changing," and my eyes latch onto the cross directly on the wall in front of me. 

I breathe in. Yes, this

And just following yoga, my eyes focus in on the table where Eucharist is spread and we all are invited to come.

I breathe out. Yes, this, too. 

Let this be my unmoving, unchanging focal point in a swirl of faith upheaval and shifting of balance. None other than this God-feast, this table where all our invited as we are to come and dine on Love. To bring our unbalanced strong-and-weak selves, to taste of kindness and gentleness, to find ourselves in the flow of a more beautiful song. 

Joining Kelly and the beautiful community of Small Wonder.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Wind-whispered secrets (#SmallWonder)

I fled here Saturday morning on foot, as I would to a quiet cathedral midweek or the living room of elders not prone to many words but whose presence speaks volumes. Because for an introvert in the throes of change, people do not often feel the safest place to run. Conversation can easily dishevel the heart.

And because, some days I am drawn into the company of giant old trees and their wind-whispered secrets. So I come. 

I found a large tree, downed some time ago, pointing up like the bow of a ship in the lake, and climbed aboard. In the middle of the trunk, a resting space beckoned me to sit and lean back against its branch. No one needs to teach a tree the gift of presence; they instinctively know, even after they have fallen. Without words, I knew this was God answering an unspoken plea to be held. And so, the tears came, sweetly.

There is something healing, too, in human skin to tree skin contact. It is not only humans that know how to hold the weary.  

I left this tree, reluctant and grateful, heading to the forest. As I wandered deeper in, my skin tingled with the holiness of their presence, with the radiance of life itself, and my heart heaved a holy hush. It is oxygen for my soul, the breath of God pumping healing through my veins, here in the woods.

The birds covered the air with song, far enough removed from the ongoing soundtrack of city. And I thought, awash in wonder, God is in this place. I never want to leave.

Joining Small Wonder, the community at Kelly's, where we weekly reflect on moments of beauty and wonder in the everyday.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Gathering courage (#fmf)

She gathers courage in
strands of silken thread.
Thin, translucent fragility
spun filament by filament into walls of strength,
one and then another 
and another.

This season of cocoon spinning unfolds
without end,
as she also unfolds,
even as barren trees shift before her eyes
from death to life.
Her colors remain hidden,
her life hidden,
herself, hidden.

She is tucked away, inside this 
solitary cocoon of hope,
awaiting her resurgence.

Joining with Kate and the Five-minute Friday community to the prompt of "Gather." 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

For a love older than the earth herself (#SmallWonder)

I found her thrust deep into my heart
last August
from somewhere, someone Divine.
Because had I known what loving her would entail,
I’d have balked at the unknown.
I’ve have settled for something
less foreign,
less challenging,
less costly,
than her.

But she came all the same and I’ve found
of a soul as I finger trace
the etches of her shell,
ripples on a pond of bone.
And I awaken to mystery
in the deep beaded pools of her dark eyes.
And I connect with a life,
with imprints of God,
outside my human skin
as I stroke each tiny scale of her leathered
cobblestone legs.

And Love, yes,
I’ve found this, too.
How it gathers in my throat and bunches
in the pockets of my eyes,
as it did the other night when I stood over her new home.
The one my husband and I constructed for her,
our hearts on a singular mission:

make her happy.
With the silent streak of a thousand falling stars
I knew we did this not for a pet,
nor for a project,
nor to indulge the sentiment of “spoiling” a creature in lieu of a child.

We did this for love.

For we do not own her any more than we own the
desert from which she was stolen,
And out of some deep human shame
covered by some redemptive love deeper than shame,
we did this because it’s right and good.

And that is a wonder, small and full and deep,
older than the earth herself.

Joining Kelly and the community at Small Wonder