Monday, August 20, 2012

love is watching...

One of my grandmother's favourite stories to tell me was of a stormy night in September.
It was the earliest I'd been for anything -
two weeks too early -
and she found herself
in the wee hours of the morning
in a gown,
in a delivery room
the day I entered the world.


Today I sat beside her bed
holding her hand in mine,
singing the words to an old hymn
as I received the parting privilege
of watching her exit that world.

 I was reminded of a lyric to a song
"...love is watching someone die..." 

I cannot even begin to tell you
how difficult it is
to sit beside someone you love
and watch them struggle with every breath.
To observe their mortality
knowing you are unable
to reverse the cycle or ease the journey.

And yet love sits.
Watching.
Waiting.
Amidst the suffering.
Inconvenienced.
Uncomfortable.
Comforting
while quietly grieving.
Because love
is not afraid of death.

I hold dear
the gift of the last nine days
fresh with memories...
reading short stories,
scripture,
singing,
praying,
dutch cheese,
cactus fields,
cologne,
armchair naps,
that last game of scrabble...


It will be a while
before her warmth
fades from the memory of my fingers,
and her laboured breath
falls silent in my thoughts...

but what I will hold forever
is that final moment
where I felt God compel me
to sing over my Beppe
that it was well with her soul.
To watch her,
in the final phrase of the song,
turn her eyes heavenward
and be face to face with eternity.
To see her earthly body
finally find peace
in a slow exhale...
it's battle over.
The race, won.


And, Lord, haste the day 
when my faith shall be sight, 
the clouds be rolled back as a scroll; 
the trump shall resound, 
and the Lord shall descend, 
even so, it is well with my soul.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

the art of waiting


I have spent the last week,
hour after hour,
through long days
and sleepless nights
listening to fleeting breaths. 
Watching the woman who first saw me enter the world,
exit it.




Her chest rises and falls in laboured effort;
humanity battling eternity
to its bitter end.

And as I sit,
holding the hand
that first held me,
I watch the strength
dissolve from her being.
The warmth of life
fade from her limbs.
Her earthly body
prepare for her heavenly one.

There is a wealth of years
collected in this fragile frame.
Her intensely blue eyes
that have witnessed
days of war,
immigration,
prosperity,
hardship,
love,
sickness, 
death -
gaze out at the world
with weary finality.
Her silent lips
that have told many a story.
Her heart,
slowing its pace in expectation,
that has held many a story back.

I have witnessed
that death is no respecter of persons.
It doesn't play to our schedules
or conveniences.
It is not easy.
It is not pretty.
It keeps it's own time.

I have realized
we are trained for expediency in our life.
We're uncomfortable
with the struggling.
The waiting.
The dying. 

I have learned
the challenge of shutting out the busyness of life
to be still
for hours…
days…
weeks…
and wait in the presence of death.

I won't pretend to understand the suffering,
but one thing I do know:
the journey has given us time
to share,
to grieve,
to walk through this season
together.
It is not always about the easiest pathway…
it is about the things you learn along the way,
and the gift of time spent with loved ones.

God is perfect in timing.
Even if it's not our own.

And so I pray…
For the patience to wait.
For the strength to persevere.
For peace that passes understanding.
For mercy in death.
For the promise of all things new.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

finger painting my life

There's nothing more beautiful
than a fresh canvas,
awaiting a masterpiece
to be held on its fibres.
 


This past weekend
amidst the chaos of dramatic productions
and all things Pan, 
I had lingering moments
to reflect on life -
over three years of life -
spent in a small fort
down by the river.

My life has been a bit of
here
there
and everywhere...
and there are many places
I have been privileged to call home.
Fort Saskatchewan is one of them.

The one thing that makes a home for me
has never been the location,
but people.
Altho Alberta
has not always afforded comfortable temperatures,
it has never been shy
on the gems of it's populace.

There are people that will pass
in and out of your life
without a trace...
and then there are those
that will leave their fingerprints
imprinted all over your memories,
your thoughts,
your heart...

The friend crazy enough to road trip.
The student that hugs you every day.
The farmer that fixes your car.
The nites of coconut shrimp,
movies and sleepovers,
coffee runs,
mache
and tissue paper poofs.
The legends
of people falling out of trees,
oversized porcupines,
and missing felines.
There are so many things
that have burrowed their way
into my heart.
My soul.
My mind.
My memory.

This weekend we grieved the loss
of a husband,
a father,
a humble servant in our church community.
His fingerprints were etched across my canvas
in simple service,
and in pondering his life,
I looked around a room full of people
that have branded my life
with their own.




In the rareness of that moment
I felt the overwhelming reality
their fingerprints
have forged on my life.

And I cried.

That "tear in my eye"
finally fell
at the thought of how much
you all mean to me.
How much I have taken for granted
the time we were gifted with.

The boxes have already begun
to pack themselves...
and as each shelf is emptied,
my heart grows heavy.

Because I don't know how to say good-bye.

Because "thank-you" couldn't possibly cover
all we've walked through together.
All we've shared.
The memories.
The laughter.
The tears.
The chaos.
The vent sessions.
The ridiculous.
The exhaustion.
The vast amounts of life.

And as a fresh canvas begins to unfold before me...
I'm left with nothing to do
but trust,
in the God who led me here,
and is now calling me to new things.

But a new masterpiece 
has made it's way onto the hallways of my thoughts.
It is hung with over 3 years of memories...
of doing life together.




So for lack of a better word...
Thank-you.
For sharing your life.
For walking through mine.
For giving me your friendship.
You will always hold a special place in my heart.
You will never be forgotten.
Your fingerprints remain.

And I love you all.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

a near drowning


I died the other nite.

For those of you who forgot to mourn
or half-mourn,
tuck your tissues away.
It was only a dream.
A dream,
and yet it continues to draw me to the question,
"Why are we given the capacity to dream?"

More often than not, 
my nights are filled with the unleashing of a mind
into vivid colours of the subconscious playland...
There are some I refuse to wake up from,
and some I can't force myself to wake up from.
Some twisted,
some coherent,
some that fade with awakening,
and some that penetrate my thoughts
and inspire me to peruse
the purpose of it
in the days following.

This was such a dream...

I remember in my dream
standing at the edge of the pool
with a group of faceless loved ones.
For whatever reason
we were enjoying the competition of diving.

I dove in,
stretching for the deep,
not satisfied until my fingers grazed the bottom...
but as soon as my legs tried to push me up to the surface,
it was like they were filled with lead.
Despite my strength as a swimmer,
I was trapped below.

I remember hearing the conversations of those above...
She's such a strong swimmer.
She doesn't need help.
Look at how deep she can go.

I remember thinking to myself...
I can do this.
If I can make it to the ladder
I'll be ok...

And with fingers almost within grasp of that ladder
everything went black.

For those who know me,
I love swimming.
I'll spend hours crossing lakes this summer.
Despite several near drownings in my life, 
I am not afraid of water.


(sidebar - the proper location for water wings is on the arms, not the ankles, as properly demonstrated below...)


But what does my dream mean?
Through hours of pondering it, today I asked God His thoughts.
In His grace, He walked me through my dream...

So often we stand at the pools of our own strengths.
We dive in, expecting them to keep us afloat...
and yet they become the very things that suffocate us.
We often like to dive deep into our personal will-power
so that we don't have to rely on the help of others...
and yet we can find ourselves hidden behind our very defense mechanisms,
our vulnerability lost to the mask of strength
at the bottom of our self-made pools,
alone and unable to help ourselves.

As loved ones, we fall victim to fixing our eyes to only see the surface.
In one's reflection of external strength,
we can often overlook the desperate view of internal weakness and struggle.
Our conversations become casual,
non-evasive,
and we can miss the cry for help
that lies muffled below the surface.

And in a humbling moment, 
God reminded me of my response.

can do this.
If can make it to the ladder
I'll be ok...

I chose to focus on myself.
I didn't ask for help.
Despite the desperation of the situation,
I relied on my own strength to get me to the ladder,
and it didn't work.
Not only had I robbed myself of the help of others,
I had denied the One who is my EVER PRESENT HELP...

And with all these ponderings,
God reminded me of a psalm I memorized
to a funny, obscure little tune when I was younger...

The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right; His ears are open to their cries for help. The Lord hears His people when they call to Him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed. Psalm 34:15,17,18

Thursday, April 12, 2012

i


i inhale
you exhale
two natures
one frame

mirrored features
in twisted duplicity
splinters
we are two
yet one

where can i run
from the consumption
of a presence
that hollows me
from the inside out
whispering
in lonely moments
the reality
of who i am?

where can i hide
from myself?
for
i am you
and
you are me
and we?
we are one
yet two
desiring
with each breath
the death
of the other

you feed on my thoughts
and quench your thirst
on unshed tears

you devour each hope
that falls prey
to your darkness
abandoning my dreams
to decay
in skeletal frame
picked dry
by your wilderness

you desire all of me
and still
none of me

perplexing
pressing in
on every side
seeking
to crush
to destroy
relentlessly
weighing my soul
with
the depth
of your despair

overwhelmed
dwindled faith
i lift my eyes
a casted glance
toward a hill
and
with One Word
you fall silent
broken
powerless

It is finished.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

where is God?

Where is God when bad things happen?

This question stirs such controversy
between the natural and the spiritual realms
and spirals thoughts
and faith
and belief.

How can I believe in a God who allows horror and injustice to transpire in my life?
My world?


The irony of these words
is that they spill from the mouths of those
who advocate for free will.
The freedom to make our own choices
and control our destinies.
For in forming these questions,
are we not backtracking
on our human desire
to be independent?
To cut the puppet strings?
To be free?


How is it that the freedom of choice
is a matter of personal convenience?
Yet when the impact of choice
penetrates the depths of our thought and soul,
our first glance casts blame at the heavens?
Looking for a cosmic correction
when the consequences of our choices
ripple with devastating affect
through our lives
and the lives of others?

In one breath we mock the idea
of a god that micro-manages the course of humanity,
and with the next breath
we demand a higher power
to mediate the moral compass of choice
between the dictator,
murderer,
pedophile,
drunk driver,
thief,
cheat,
as if certain decisions
or decision makers
warrant heavenly intervention.

Whenever I hear the question
"Where is God?
How could He allow this to happen..."


to the orphan?
to the widow?
to the hungry?
to the exploited?
to the oppressed?
to the broken?
to good people?

I hear the echo of His response...
"Where are you?
How could you?..."

Sunday, February 05, 2012

oh my soul...

Ever have one of those days
where the weight of the world
seems to settle
in layers of silty indignation
in the depths of your heart?
Where even the sun,
awakening the world to spring,
cannot coax a soul into it's warmth?

The papers have been served
that will splinter my family
officially.
Legally.
Permanently.


and the faint murmurs of an ancient hymn
reach my heart...

O my soul,
why art thou grieving?
What disquiets and dismays?
Hope in God...

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

linger


Ever feel eaten alive by the rat race?
Consumed by the fast pace of schedules and commitments?
Our culture has been switched into fast forward
and it's all we can do to hold on.


We fast track school.
Food.
Correspondance.
Dating.
Research.
Information.
Friends.
Everything is at the touch of our fingers.
Portable.
Accelerated.
Efficient.

And the irony is that despite all the time we save,
we have no time...


The downfall of the convenience of expediacy is

we

no longer

know

how

to






wait.




In life.
In lines.
With our plans.
With people.
Relationships.
It's now or never.
And if it doesn't come in 5 minutes or less
we fidget.
We sigh.
We leave.

There is a beauty
that can only be found
when you linger.
When you choose to shut out everything
and stop
in a moment.
In space.
In time.
When you allow something
the time to develop.


Linger.
This was the word that came
in a moment of reflecting on God.
With God.
It came inconveniently,
in the pull of all I needed to accomplish
with the limits of time.
Isn't that always the case?
The wrestling of investing our time
in what we will lose
over what is eternally ours?
The temptation of unbalancing our priorities
in the favour of our "To Do" lists?

Linger.
It's invitation came quietly...

Don't rush to your schedule.
Don't rush through this song.
Linger.
Choose Me
over all you have to do
and all that overwhelms...
Your responsibilities.
Other's expectations.
Your meager efforts to try and hold things together.

Let Me meet you here.
Give Me time.
Time to heal.
Time to comfort.
Time to speak.
Time to move.
Time with you.

Good things come to those who wait.
Wait for Me.
Wait with Me.
Wait to see the plans and purposes I have for you
unfold.
My gifts come wrapped...

Linger.
Do not rush from My presence.
Allow it to work it's course in your spirit.
To renew.
Rebuild.
Restore.
To accomplish the infinitely more
that you hope for.
Be changed in it.
Be changed by it.

I will not beg.
I will not force.
The invitation is open.
The choice is yours.