Tuesday, May 31, 2011

An Ode to Madelyn

I am not inspired by anything specific this evening, but I've seemed to don that jovial air that skips along while I'm alone. I just need to write a little.

I met a man today whose air was 1951, and whose countenance breathed dignified humility. He was handsome, with unaverted, aqua eyes. There are men who use the depths behind those globes to captivate and seize women, but this man was not so. His eyes engaged -- but as they were designed! I was startled by the direct simplicity he communicated, and the purity of his conduct and conversation. He was in his military attire, and I learned he was an army chaplain returned from Afghanistan and had a hankering for some lamb. I was blessed to serve him. Our brief encounter tripped me to my humble posterity, and the imagined rooms in my dear loved one's lives. My great grandma Flossy McNulty was a stern Irish woman who had birthed five girls under the age of six when her husband bled to death in her arms. She raised my grandma and her sisters in real poverty, and with a tenacity that embosses these memories I've never had. My grandma has spoken of the little apartment that housed the six females, and that the littlest one slept on top of a cabinet, as there was no other space for her tiny body. They baked breads and pies to sell, and after many an obstacle, they each grew up, and out of that life, and into more sorrows that were wrapped in the joy of expectation.

My grandma inspires me, to say the least, but I've not always felt this way towards her. She's been prickly most of my life, and has offered encouragements in the form of word slaps; she's been removed, distant, aloof. Much has changed in the past few years. We write letters to one another, and as yesterday was her 85th birthday, my heart clenches to think of an empty mailbox. She opens every letter with "Hello beautiful," and concludes with an Irish poem or jingle she thinks I'll like. Our discourse is always about the seasons, fields, wildflowers, recipes, or the animals she's seen on their daily rides. She is enamored with the Potter County beauty that has held her all her life, and while few would perceive her beauty, depth, and love, I'm struck by her. It's a wonder I can think of little more than paisley earth tone prints, barefooted children, canned pears, or a ham and leek "supper" known only to a few. I am thankful for the daughter she had who birthed me, and for the simple, frugal ways I've only known by which to live.

She was weeding the back beds yesterday when I called, and while osteoporosis has all but swallowed her body -- sorrow has gripped her soul -- and pain has hampered her all -- that stubborn bitterness -- as familiar as the day, is gone. Her voice smiles, and her letters sing songs of passing days that were once lamentations of the unspoken woe of leaking life. My grandma has found new joy; Joy itself, and while it is spoken in clasped couplets, it is impossibly mistaken by my searching gaze.

Shame has long-tossed and furled itself around my life regarding my family. Those tawdry old taunts are growing dim though, as the banner of love spreads back out on my simple Pennsylvania heritage. I dug through the dumpster tonight with a frenetic zeal, as I rediscovered the origin of my frugality, and the delight that must have buoyed those women when beauty and hope was not waving itself about. I see my Grammies doilies on old tables, frayed fringes of her exhausted little pants, and the sweet wrinkles that are set upon a face as regal as marble, and as simple as cotton. She'll never read this post, and I'm a little glad; it's almost shameful for us to enjoy the things housed in my musing memories. I move along to the basslines that would stir her, and as she relishes a polka, I am lulled by lifted guitar glides, fiddle slides, and the cherry pairing of undulating bass and creamed vocals. I am full, and I just had to share with you all.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

So this cordial of corrective wisdom has induced a great many lapses into contemplation and consideration, but so very rarely am I able to stay here, and allow for the truth to penetrate my most stubborn regions of understanding. As I walked and picked flowers the other day, I thought of my "door" into the world I believe to exist, and the strange diversions I take as I doubtfully approach that other reality.

I just dozed some, and in my half sleep I slipped into a most delightful reverie. I thought on one of my favorite souls, and our first mingling together. The little pumpkin was nine when we were entwined, and in the ensuing months, I saw the life flight of a child's soul believed in, loved on, and lifted up, and out of our little, brittle world. We were driving home one night when she unrolled the window, smiled mischievously in my direction, and yelled to all the passerbys. Her liberty startled her mind, and with a blushing shame, she waved at those whose attention she caught. I laughed, smiled deeply, and wondered how much love my heart could bear without bursting. She grabbed my hand as we rolled down the canyon, and I thought much of childhood as I watched this little person grow. Straddling the desire to be older, and the wonder she was able to embrace and enjoy as a child, it seemed she viewed me with a confusion that beckoned an answer. She saw how I too could feel the ticklish tremors of life lived here, and how I could also be 26. I had no answer, and we just stared and smiled, while a chord as thick as taffy tightened around us. Our lives parted some time ago and few words have given voice to the sweetness experienced over that year. When I saw her last November, her little fingers hesitantly reached out across a nearly two-year silence, and clasped what might well have been my entire being.

These snippets are not unrelated -- at least in my mind -- and I hope they might be brought to you all somehow. Let's braid these three together: we have the short story, the call in Thessalonians to a simple life, and the precious, childlike love with my little friend.

Various offshoots of these themes have plagued me this year as I perceive subtle contradictions to abound regarding the country behind that "door" to the other world. The gospel I know speaks of the least being the greatest, and the first -- last, but as I've lived more, I've come to love less. I've no accolades to list about my life, and while Scripture condemns this, Christian culture seems promote it, and so I flounder. I've been making choices for my life according to what seemed most "noble" for this cause of Christ, and while I love and adore all people of this world, I know not where or why I'm proceeding as I have. I've been pressed and pushed, and ashamed to delight so deeply in pie-baking, hammocks, seeds, and simplicity. I've sought to seek the "greater" things, and with this I've adopted a shame and condemnation I simply cannot shake. My ambition's are not as all the other folks at my school, and just this week I accepted this.

I drank 1 Thes. 4:11's powerful tonic, and with an abandon I've missed, I plucked all the little wildflowers from about the roadside and skipped in my soul. Scripture says that I am to make it my ambition lead a quiet life and to work with my own hands... I can do this, for I was created for it. I am to live simply as I was designed, and as we are further implored throughout the whole of Scripture, I am to LOVE others. Greatness often follows a love of goodness, and so instead of seeking greatness, I will take again to delighting in Him who is goodness complete.

As for my little friend, it goes like this: our little isolated encounters speak to me of my true country, and the exchanges present there. They speak of a freedom and controlled wrecklessness to love uncovered, and with the hesitancy present here to cover and hide from the other. There is a smiling exposure and delight, and a mingling of souls present seldom in our lives and homes.

These three profundities (they are such to me) have convinced me of the essence of the life I am called to live. I have been wooed and lulled into a love relationship with a living God, wherein the treasures of heaven have been offered to my feeble heart through His word, and communicated [delightfully] daily through His Creation and people. Because of this love, I am compelled to love as well, and with an abandon present as my heart is forever held and protected in Jesus. This love drives me to the things He has given me to love, and because of His love for me, and my love for Him, the vaccuum that is a life without Him, is filled, and unknowable joy is given to do the simple tasks of this earth with -- and for, others. I may stay in Columbia, SC, rock on to Niger --or return to PA, but if I am delighting in my God, I am quite positive that He will bring all the good works out of my life without my even considering them! Hallelujah -- I am free.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Something has been happening to me, and while I am quite aware of some things, others have caught me unaware. I've compiled mental notes that could fill drawers, and just this week I decided that many of my observations might just be true, and the result of believing them could be rather liberating. I'm reticent to proclaim my broad generalizations, but it's seemed that with these severalfold revelations has come the compounding realization that silence is what has bound me up, and is what often keeps me [and others] down.

Our sweet little ladies book club begins this Monday, and our first short story has been like a fence row hemming in a reality I've just come back to reconsider. I have been distracted, friends, by many things. In this little tale, the author beckons continually to the kernel essence of a man, and his method of enticement is in portraying a door, behind which lies all manner of perfection, contentment, love and bliss. Throughout the story, his true seeing eye darts from clarity to malignancy, and shutters more often betwixt the two. At times he recalls this door with such obscurity that he is unable to discern whether his memory has served to betray of bolster him, and his mind richochets herein for the entirety of our time in the pages. The story is somewhat tragic, and altogether enigmatic, but as I said, its posts have bordered and closed me in in a fantastically unexpected way.

Congruently, I've been in 1 Thessalonians, and while I've skinned my knees on several painful passages, 4:11 has been the canopy atop the shelter I've been missing. It reads: "and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we have commanded you." I tell you, as this verse has seeped in my soul, so many nagging, unrelenting thorns have been loosed and withdrawn by this healing tonic... To be continued tomorrow...

Friday, May 20, 2011

I returned south after a short respite in Pennsylvania, and realized quite quickly that I was here for some strange reason. I know not what I'm to do any more than when I came, but as I rolled down the street, my mind took to its word arrangements, and those sweet, sorrowing, baby-mama's ellicited a tenderness I wouldn't have known otherwise. There is history here, and amidst the sorrow I feel and perceive, there are greater strands of faithfulness that lace and tighten me to the things I cannot see.

It seems I can become enamored with anything that inspires, and thus, the quasi ghettoes and racial blends of this place draw and keep me still. I spin into such anomalies, and study them until I am able to trace eternity therein. I am consistently struck by sorrow, and the untamed driftings of humanity. It seems they are set always upon the foreground of harmony and order, and I am ever-stunned by the paradoxes that are wed in every scenario of this life.

Evermore, I perceive the proclivity in myself to slip in this sorrow, and akin to my kind, I allow lies to burrow and attach themselves in the created crevices where hopes oozed and evaporated in their want of expression and consummation. The fight is fierce, and this dogged youthfulness rises up and attacks despair, while being knocked down with the same sort of bullheaded tenacity characteristic of youth. I am aging though, and it seems disappointment, sorrow, and despair ought not malign me with such a ferocity as they do, and yet I find myself kicked by them, and as inspiration would have it, I am drawn in, and held here...

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Views Beyond

My best days seem to be when a memory dislodges and ascends to the forefront of my mind, where it then fills and nourishes the present with all the joy and fulfillment of the past. I tarry in memory as a vagrant takes on towns.

It seems the present never supplies time enough for reflection, and while we're seeking to savour and enjoy it, we are hardly ever able. I think this is okay, for I love little more than this type of retreat. It seems that the glance within acts as autumn sun, which takes the verdant shoots of summer, and infuses them with a gilding that adorns the more permanent landscape of winter. Memory allows us to bedeck our lives with the presence and acknowledgement of God in them, which takes simple circumstance, weaves sovereignty and truth within them, and casts the temporal into the eternal. Our hearts yearn for this, and we were Created with this in mind.

An ache is present which I cannot identify, and while my pen has been absent from the page I've been trying to sort this all out. A few weeks back I was walking the trails, and the scent of pine was so very strong, that it knocked me clear out of my senses. I imagined unrolling the mantle of earth and crawling under that great blanket of sod -- just to be nearer. I wanted to scale mountains and sleep on top of them -- just to feel. I needed more closeness, more intimacy, and His Creation beckons with a most powerful magnetism that draws me closer still, and yet never close enough. He satisfies, always give more, and yet it's never enough. I want -- I need so much more of Him.

I read this morning in Romans 8. I was struck deeply that the Creation is groaning and longing to released to the glory of the Sons of God, and while my flowers smile and arch with joy toward their Maker, they too long to be released. With the continual dawning of more "natural disasters" and catastrophic events, I question little that Creation indeed is churning and moaning to be set free.

Further down in Romans 8 we read, "In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words." I say thank you, Lord, for I know not even what presses me down, and know that only You will raise me up.

My dad wrote an email yesterday on the day of his 32nd wedding anniversary. He spoke of those years ago, and how he could have never imagined what would have come out of their union. He spoke of time's fleeting, and how he could see that he'd aged, but he couldn't really recall when it'd happened, or even what he used to look like. It was so very beautiful to me, and taking it all to heart, I ask my heavenly Father what it is He'd have me to do while sojourning briefly on this earth. This theme leads me to Moses...

I visit psalm 90 often, and it's lessons always reach me in my throat. I am likened to the withering grass, a three hour watch in the night, and all my finished years are exhaled in a sigh... My life passes as dandelion seeds in the breeze, and if fortunate, some love may linger as perfume on one's sleeve. I am a vapor and I live as if an eternity. It is toilsome to consider, and yet the answer is simple: "Let Your work appear to Your servants and Your majesty to their children. Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us; and confirm for us the work of our hands; Yes confirm the work of our hands." (vs. 16, 17).

Very little matters but a clearer picture of this. The present, with all its claims and boastings, too will pass away -- and so very quickly! In every sphere we seem to live out of what we do, and accomplish, instead of who we are. We've abandoned the unseen, and set up camp by sight. I spend more time pining over what I don't know, instead of doing what I do. I forget that when I don't know the big picture, I am to simply do the next thing. Spring has never not followed winter, and as surely as unseen life pushes through frozen ground, so too will my life continue to sprout and grow in the care of a benevolent and loving Creator. So, like Moses, I ask the Lord to "teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom." (Vs. 12).

Monday, May 2, 2011

"I will wait for you" by Official P4CM Poet JANETTE...IKZ

Green Pastures ~ Audio Only ~ Emmylou Harris

My heart is biggest when Creation is in view, a raspy (and strangely melodious) voice instructs, a mandolin plucks out my shiny loves, a guitar fills in my days, the bass plays out my sorrow, and a fiddle binds them all up in memory. All loves rise, and all things savory come to mind as those green pastures come in view. There are sparkly loves, and atriums reserved for piano and cello, but in my simple, land-loving heart, I am most enamored with imperfectly perfect songs such as these. I cannot wait to go on home to green pastures.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Trio : Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt : To know Him Is...

I grew up on this song, and when I stumbled upon it tonight I just had to post it. Three greats here, only perhaps in a questionable fashion era... Nevertheless...