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Allow Me to Introduce Myself

 

Scrambled Eggs? Well, it’s not what I’d hoped for but if you have ever attempted to name a website or blog, you’ll understand. Whatever subliminal urge prompted that name, ( the breakfast dishes abandoned on the counter ) it was accepted and I embraced it. Mine. It feels appropriate and freeing. I can discuss anything under that rubric.

So, who am I and why am I here? I am the second eldest of six, widow of one, mother of three and grandmother of eight. From childhood I believed my name did violence to my character. Lois – stodgy and serious where I was quick and funny. And Ann – without an e. Dead boring. But immaturity aside, the significant journey of my life has been discovering who I am as Lois, daughter of the Most High King, created in his image to reflect his glory and to serve his purposes in advancing his kingdom on earth. Boring? How could life anywhere in proximity to the very creator of the universe be less than amazing!

Life holds so many delights, a dizzying, dazzling panorama of joys to experience: family, food, friendships, gardening, birds, and poetry are a few of mine. ( Yes, I know, there’s pain too.)

But the primary passion of my life would have to be seeing captives set free. 

Hence my appearance here. We were created by God for freedom, love, joy and peace – all within the context of relationship  with him and our fellow man. Just a brief glance around shows how few lives are thus characterized. The words themselves almost seem a mockery of 21st century reality. 

Although born into a home where faith was scorned, I found myself believing in God from childhood onwards. To my unjaded eyes the order and wonder of the natural world not just spoke, but had stamped on every surface, Handmade by God.  How could anyone think otherwise? Indeed.  My poem ‘Believing is Seeing’ in the Poetry category speaks of this journey.

I’m new at this. I hope to improve the site as I get more familiar with the format and the possibilities. Right now it’s under construction and I’m working on the foundation. I’m excited for the adventure.

Naked and Unashamed

I used to aim high. I enjoyed a challenge. Knitting? Here’s a funky Kafe Fasset sweater with 20 different colored yarns. Sewing? Yves Saint Laurent has some great patterns. Hey, Martha Stewart’s wedding cake only takes a week to make. And I did manage to accomplish some of the challenging things I attempted, (the cast-off sweater recently became a funky cushion).

Likewise when I became a follower of Christ. Who were the heroes? George Mueller, Jim Elliott, Francis Schaeffer? I read their biographies and fully expected my life to bear similar fruit. I was deeply disappointed when it did not. I was neither a great preacher, evangelist nor theolgian. In fact, I was having trouble being a halfway decent wife, mother and friend. This despite reading everything I could lay my hands on, seeking, studying and striving. (The unrealistic expectation I had of others, especially family, I’ll leave for another post).

It was years before I realized that God created me to be – me. In His hands my gifts, my passions, my personality dovetailed to glorify Him. The God whose creativity birthed the diversity of the universe – just think for a moment on the glorious array of birds, fish, flowers – that same God – created me – you – them – in His image – and He delights in us. (And like any father is most happy when his children get along.)

There has been so much freedom and joy in that revelation. After a lifetime of feeling that I didn’t measure up, wasn’t good enough, had no worth or value, couldn’t get it right – to discover that what God really wanted was for me to be me, created in His image, was a huge relief. Lots had to get stripped off and chipped away to get to that place. The masks discarded, idolatries cast down and a new identity – in Christ – embraced.

This title ‘Naked and Unashamed’ is a phrase describing Adam and Eve in the garden before the fall, from the book of Genesis.

.

Naked and Unashamed

The pieces are falling in place.
This morning, I remembered what Robert said that chill fall night 
we huddled on the mountain top, looking for Andromeda.
I followed the directions, “About half-way between
the last star in Cassiopeia and the upper-left star in
Pegasus,” and he could see it easily.
He said. “Don’t try so hard. Don’t look straight on.
It's just a blur. Look left or right, you’ll see.”

I cursed the old binoculars, the cold that made me shake,
but never my intensity, my need. 
It had been my idea. 
It wasn’t fair.

I sighed, “Eureka!” this morning in the shower.
Because something is niggling in the corner of my spirit,
and I think that it is you.
I have been trying to find you for ever so long,
reading books, learning rules, being ever so good.
Practicing my righteousness before men.
And you weren’t there.

 But something is niggling 
in the corner of my spirit 
and I think that it is you.
This morning, I thought I heard you laughing.
You weren't holding a subpoena,
or a copy of the law.
Your arms were open wide, to me 
your foolish girl,
and I’m sure that you were laughing.



 

Do I sound like I think I have it all together? I sure hope not – because I don’t. Half the time I can’t find my glasses and lies still come at me daily. But, bottom line, I know my Father’s love. I am forgiven, accepted, loved, strengthened, at peace – and above all, grateful to be in Christ.

My aim these days is love – still high, but by His grace, a possibility.

Something’s Fishy

My earliest childhood self awareness was realizing that I could gain attention by making people laugh – a helpful trait in a large family. I like playing with words and sounds and I have a quite a collection of silly verse – usually written for birthdays or events. There’s even a password protected folder entitled Not Politically Correct which I may publish when I get really old to shock my grandchildren. “Grandma!!!”

Years ago my husband gave me a book of verse by Robert Service and I thought it would be fun to attempt a ballad along the lines of “The Cremation of Sam McGee”. (I don’t fish -so I may have some details about the subject wrong.) Apparently Mr. Service could pump this kind of thing out easily and I agree with his assessment – that it’s not really poetry, merely verse. I did add an epilogue full of deep thoughts.

Fish Tales

There are fish you should steer clear of; 
there are some fish you should shun.
There are fish that darn near break your heart. 
This fish was such a one.
I knew he was endangered, 
but my days and nights were haunted
with desire that made me disregard
 the rulebook that I flaunted.

I tried every bait and every lure to get him on the hook.
I watched the experts carefully;  I studied every book. 
This fish was wise and wily. Why, he made me look the fool.
He played me for a sucker in our twenty-year long duel.

We fought it out for decades to see who'd be the winner.
 I knew the day would come when I would have that fish for dinner.
'Cause you all know I don’t back down. Did you ever see me beat
by any critter, big or small? I don’t know the word defeat.

But this old guy, well I guess to him I'll have to tip my cap.
It started at the fishing hole when I woke up from my nap.
I’d had a beer or maybe two, to quench a powerful thirst
and then I stopped to eat my lunch, a sandwich, liverwurst.

My line was dangling in the river, floating kinda lazy.
I slept a bit — the sun, the drink, the sandwich made me dazy.                                                                                                      
Then the reel was spinning wildly, the rod near bent in half. 
I woke up fast — the fight was on! I shouted out a laugh.
I could almost see the picture with this monster at my side,
the biggest cod in fifty years and me puffed up with pride.

We had us quite a battle but I’d hooked him hard and good,
and I reeled him in with strength and skill till I had him where I stood.
  I just bent down to net him when I heard a dreadful yell.
“You touch that fish and you will spend eternity in hell!"
                                                                                          
"I've worked for three long years on this. The subject of my thesis
is The Survival of the Macculochella Ikei Species”.

Well I nearly lost  my lunch at that. I turned and there she towered –
five foot tall and flaming mad. Hey, you guys know I’m no coward.                                                                       
I can stop a bear with a dirty look, a cougar with a knife.
(Once or twice I’ve nearly won a battle with my wife.)

But in this wee thing I met my match, the reason ain’t too strange.
She was holding up a shotgun and I was in her range.
 She glared at me like the enemy, an evil incubation.
“What we got here,” she said to me, ”is an awkward situation.”

“I'd hate to have to injure you, but I will unless you vow
to leave off fishing the Maccullochella Ikei species NOW."
 I tried to bargain with her but she simply shook her head.
"There ain't no way you can have him – I'd rather see you dead."

"You know that they're included on the endangered species list”
And I knew my name weren’t on it - so how could I resist?
I shook my head at the irony,  then I swore to quit the chase.
That crazy kid  just stood there, with  a smile upon her face. 
 

It broke my heart to see her with that wild triumphant grin.
It broke my heart to know there was a fight I couldn't win.
 With trembling hands I cut the line but I don't know what to think.
I swear as he swished away from me that I saw them share a wink.

I wondered if that clever fish had somehow tipped the scales -
if there'd been some fishy deal cooked up to make a fella fail.
Is it possible, I wondered, for a fish to hatch a plot?
Can they ever be that clever - do they have that sort of thought?

 
 I cry to I think that I almost won our battle fair and square.
 I cry to think I've been beat by a girl. You know that just ain't fair.
Then it hit me really hard like a shot to my solar plexus –
the only fight I ever lost was the battle of the sexes.
Do you think that I've gone soft, a sloppy sentimentalist?
These tears are for my daughter — that crazed environmentalist.






Speaking of fishing, several of Christ’s disciples were fisherman. Jesus called them from mending their nets and said, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men,” Matthew 4:19. Having had my life so transformed at the age of twenty -five, from darkness to light, depression to joy, anxiety to peace, I longed to see others set free from those bleak places. I’d wanted to be that – a fisher of men.

My experience of fishing was that it was mostly a solitary activity. When you went fishing you used bait – something to lure the fish into taking the hook. But though I have shelves full of books on apologetics, (making a case for Chritianity) I am really lousy at arguing a case, almost any case. I get flustered and never say whatever it would take to convince someone of the truth of Christianity. The class clown rarely goes on to be a lawyer.

Lure and bait are not words of integrity – both have implications of trickery – the con, not the real thing.* So imagine my joy when I learned how first century men fished – and I saw this in action in twenty-first century Africa. The men went out at NIGHT with lamps that they hung over the water! If there were fish around they would swim towards the light and into the nets. Fishing that way, pit lamping, is illegal in Canada – it’s hardly sporting when the fish can’t resist the light. Who can? There’s a whole world of difference between just being light – in any given situation – and attempting to ‘hook’ someone with bait.

Jesus called himself the light of the world and these days are every bit as dark as the days he lived in, under Roman occupation. “The people who lived in darkness have seen a great light,” reads Matthew 4:16. The Wuhan flu, isolation, financial stress, potential economic collapse and violent unrest in much of the world leaves many in a legitimate place of fear and uncertainty. It seems a rational reaction and foolish not to be afraid.

Yet, in God’s word, we are called repeatedly ( at least 300 times) not to fear. God is not surprised by any of this. He is still in control and his plans will not be thwarted. Let’s go about our daily lives and reflect His glory. Let your light shine as the days grow darker. If we shine they will come.

* Writing this made me think of real ‘cons’ and my favorite con-man movies. I lost my copy of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels – a movie that made me laugh until I cried. So your freebie for reading this far is a link to ten of the best ever con movies. If lockdown is keeping you home, a good laugh may be just the thing to boost your immune system. But, (and here’s a reverse example of bait and switch) if you are looking for longer lasting joy and peace, I suggest Jesus. He’s the real light in a dark world.

10 of the Greatest Con Artist Movies of All-Time

Mountain Laud

Hi. It’s been awhile and a few friends have wondered what’s happening. Well, it’s spring and how can I be inside writing whilst up to my elbows in dirt? One glance at the touchscreen on my laptop would trigger any virologist these days. Though apparently bacteria in the soil is good for the immune system – so I am staying healthy – outside in the dirt.

I am popping in briefly today to introduce a young poet, Anna Elzinga, whose extended family I have known for more decades than I care to admit to. Her proud grandma, MaryAnne, posted this poem on Facebook. I was stunned by the images Anna’s writing conjured and I feel confident her writing will impact many. I’m sure I’ll never view a mountain the same way.

This is the brief bio she sent:

Anna has been writing stories since she was seven, but has only recently discovered her love for writing poetry. She has enjoyed learning and improving her craft over the last couple of years. She writes from her forest home in the Kootenays where she lives with her husband, Casey. Much of her writing process consists of staring out the window at the stunning Steeples mountain range.

mountain laud

You stoic priestess
wrapped in your untarnished
robes of snow
bathing your feet in 
jade lakes of galacial
holy water
with the pines as your 
headpiece
and the pallid 
skies your altar

What secrets do you know?
What mysteries
has the sharp wind
whistled to you
in your sun haloed temple
so close to heaven?

you sage, seraphic mediator
your rocky switchbacks
guide us
like pilgrim roads anointed
straight to the blinding face
of God.

Isn’t that lovely! I have a few more of hers that I’ll include in a future post.

Anna’s grandparents, Ray and MaryAnne, are dear friends who spent 17 years in Bujumbura, (a small African country which nestles between Congo and Tanzania), where I visited them several times. Ray climbed Mt Kilamonjaro when he turned 60 so just for fun I’ve included a touch of Africa. The video triggers lots of great memories.

Stoneboat

Like all families, mine had its share of secrets, some of which I became aware of as I grew up. As I journeyed with other people in the recovery process, I recognized how destructive secrets can be as often people were left wondering why they struggled as they did and what the roots of their issues were. It’s hard to make sense of the picture when you are missing some of the pieces.

I always loved algebra and I can reduce one of my favorite scriptures to an equation. https://www.biblestudytools.com/1-john/passage/?q=1-john+1:6-10

Honesty and vulnerability + repentance and forgiveness = fellowhip and freedom. You’ll notice there is no room for shame or guilt in that equation; those were nailed to the cross 2000 years ago.

I bought a house 4 years ago after living in my last home (with its lovely gardens) for nearly 40 years. The new house was workable but it was the location, on the side of gently rolling hills, opposite a rugged rocky cliff, with views of both valley and lake and the nearby orchards and vineyards that captured my heart. As soon as I stepped on the property, I said in my heart, I want to live here. And with a little help from my friends, I do.

When I look back now at the before pictures I am stunned at my willingness to take on the task. The nearly 1/3 acre yard was simply an undifferentiated mess of weeds masquerading as grass. As we were remodelling the first summer there was no time to landscape. The next year a good friend offered to help with hardscape and with one pass of a backhoe (and 2 weeks work) gave it structure, shape and a way forward.

I had never worked in rocky soil before – every attempt to dig was met with a resounding clunk and jarring resistance. So it’s been small mountains of wood chips, manure, compost and top soil, and four years on the soil is rich and friable (in places).

I wrote this poem about the struggle of life taking root in rocky soil when I was dealing with some of the stumbling blocks in my life. I am going to visit Harvey and Karen’s farm this weekend so I thought I’d post this in honor of their incredible hospitality, generosity and decades of hard work that cleared a place for life to thrive. And boy has life thrived – with three kids and sixteen grandchildren almost within a stone’s throw! On behalf of many, I bless you both.

STONEBOAT

 Part I   Harvey
 
I was city born and bred –
 didn't know a heifer from a steer -
but every spring we visited  
Harvey's farm at calving. 
 He’d make us sweat, 
had no use for slackers, 
Uncle Harvey. 
There'd come a day, perhaps, 
 "Too cold to plant, too wet to plough,"  
and he'd get out the old stoneboat  
and hook it to the tractor. 
We kids would shuffle after  
with crowbars and raw hands. 


It almost seemed that's all 
that low field grew.
Stones. 

He said, "Frost heaves and erosion
 work 'em to the surface," and "Root crops 
don't grow so good in rocky soil."
and "You could break a plough on them stones."
That's all. 

He said he used the stones 
for fences and foundations.

Part II  Dad

If I could spend an hour with him
now,
I'd ask him why 
but since I can't,
I wonder.

The rock had been there longer than the farm.
Too big to shift,
(big as a shed my sister said),
and every year
they ploughed, sowed and harvested around it.

Perhaps the furrows -
farther and farther off true,
bothered him. He liked 
the symmetry of straight, 
the purity of parallel.

Perhaps the inefficiency annoyed him, 
farther and farther off true.
And perhaps it was just a practical joke –
the sly fun of watching the farmer's face 
when he got home from town. 

Whatever the reason,  Dad 
dug a hole and buried it.

I wonder if it ever surfaced, 
what grew there,
and how well.



Part III Reunion

It happens 
every time we get together: 
at Christmas, 
at Thanksgiving, 
at every family do.

The aunts are
in the kitchen slicing peaches,
on the porch shucking corn
when 
someone drops a word 
and conversation falters.

A quick glance round the room, 
a who knows what  inventory,
an arched brow,  
a tilted head, 
an imperceptible nod.

“Look at these carrots, Martha.
Ain’t hardly fit for pigs.”
And the ghosts of Christmas Past
are howling still. 



The master storyteller Jesus began a parable with this lovely line – “A sower went forth sowing seeds”. God as gardener is one of the most common metaphors in the Bible. As a gardener, made in His image, aside from the sheer joy of working in the soil, my main goals in gardening are beauty and harvest. Likewise God is looking for a harvest of righteousness and beauty in our lives. 

When I look at my life I realize there have been examples of all 4 types of soil that Jesus was discussing in that parable: impenatrable, rocky, weedy and  receptive.   As gardeners of our own souls we can make the choice to get rid of rocks and weeds, we can ‘break up our fallow ground’ – we can make the choices that allow our hearts to be fertile ground for seeds to grow. 

If you have a few minutes here is a lovely reflection on God as gardener by Jill Carattini, a writer at Ravi Zacharias Ministries. I just heard that Ravi went home to glory today. I can only imagine the reception he will get there. I doubt there was a square foot of fallow ground in his life.

https://www.rzim.org/read/a-slice-of-infinity/god-as-gardener

Come back tomorrow for a special treat as I introduce the first of my guest poets, Anna Elzinga.

Net Worth

I lived in my last home for 38 years – and I delighted in my kitchen. It was a place to nurture friends and family – to feed body, soul and sometimes spirit – to create community. There’s something about sharing a meal that knits people together: our common humanity expressed in hunger, shared pleasure in food and setting, and proximity – our feet under the same table. All these serve to break down barriers and forge bonds. Lonelieness is epidemic in our culture and community is the cure.

When I downsized four years ago I had to leave the buffet and china cabinet behind (ouch) but fortunately the table – which can expand to fit six comfortably, eight snugly and ten intimately! – made the cut. That table has its own story (I love things with stories) – I acquired it in 1973 in a trade for my trusty little Volkswagon beetle – but that’s another story for another time.

Financial wealth had never been a value of mine – I recognized early that none of the important things could be bought with money and wearing oneself out to attain it meant you had to be willing to sacrifice the really valuable things. But beauty comes close to being a necessity. Simple beauty – a line of poetry – a rose bud – a perfect omlette, a trusted friendship (which has sometimes, like the omlette, required breaking a few eggs). So, while not rich I have been grateful for what I have and have never in any way felt less than both wealthy and privileged.

  Net Worth 

 I have wealth that others only dream of –  
a kitchen where nobility may dine.  
Warm red quarry tiles underscore the scene,  
a worn table nestles between corner  windows   
where morning's gold pours in.   

The treasures on the shelf befit royalty; 
 a feather (He sees the little sparrow fall),  
a perfect, filigreed, Chinese Lantern,   
a thumbnail of emerald moss,  
 half  a robin’s egg -  just because. 
 
Wildflowers on the table whisper,
“Welcome.”  Coffee is on.
 Won’t you stay?  

Yesterday a king came to tea.

 

And the fact is, He did. Regularly. In tears, in joy, in struggles, sorrow and laughter. I worked though many difficult issues at that table, fought many battles ( and surrendered – not always graciously but ultimately gratefully) – confronted many enemies and discovered many life altering truths. I look at it now, scratched and scarred – the original French polish a distant memory – it’s a pretty good life metapor. The challenge continues – to make my heart a welcome home for the king.

I’ve just discovered and am loving this group, Sounds Like Reign.

My worth and my unworthieness – wonderful truths.

Incredibly, Jesus says to the church in Laodicea, in Revelation 3:20, that He stands at the door and knocks, and if they open it, He will come in and dine with them. Imagine the conversations around that table!

Try Unity

Recently a friend and I were discussing how our childhoods and our fathers had shaped our lives. Our homes couldn’t have been more different. She was the daughter of missionaries, raised in a legalistic home – whereas I grew up in the frequent chaos of parental alcoholism. Her father had been distant, distracted, difficult to please – she felt she never measured up. So she found herself struggling with the most common image of God in the Bible: Father. She was burdened always with a sense of unworthieness in her attempts to relate to Him.

Though far from perfect, in the midst of a party- central-anything goes home, my father somehow managed to convey love and strength to me. I always found it easy to relate to God’s fatherhood. On the other hand, I did have trouble navigating a relationship with Jesus – the man – when I hadn’t always felt accepted or safe with men. And as for the Holy Spirit – well that took some understanding. Holy rollers were the subject of many a joke in my home.

Two of my grandaughters enjoy writing and I thought it would be fun if we each wrote a poem on the common theme of remembrance. It was not quite fair, I have so many more decades to work with than they do – but this was the first memory that came to mind; it had loomed large in my early life .

Foundations

  I remember the scene, I remember the fears,
  Then the horrible howling  complaint of the  gears
  As in anger she swiftly departed. 

 I remember the comforting scent of your skin, 
 The mingled aroma of Old Spice and gin  
As I sobbed in your arms brokenhearted. 

 I remember your 'hush' as I leaned on your chest
The sigh as you put my anguish to rest, 
    And the image of God  you imparted. 

      

I’m not sure what God makes of gin – but Jesus’ first miracle was turning about 120 gallons of water into wine. My parents had been alcoholics for years and I had been married for 7 years when they turned their lives over to God. They both quit drinking instantly and finally with no apparent symptoms of withdrawl. A minor miracle before their children’s astonished eyes.

The change in their lives was so pronounced, sincere and sustained it forced me – and several siblings – to examine the truth claims of Christianity by reading the Bible. Though I had always believed God existed I’d never given a thought to either His holieness or my lack of it. To my shock He was much more than a celestial Santa Claus or a feel good force. As CS Lewis wrote, “A young man who wishes to remain an atheist cannot be too careful of his reading.”

Although I’d never been an atheist, I wasn’t enamored of the idea of being a fanatical Christian. I had rather liked my benign imaginary God who made no claims on me. The word God carries some large implications…which is perhaps why so many avoid it, preferring to focus on the here and now, as if by denial you can delete Him. As the old joke goes, ‘The trouble with God is, He think’s He’s God.’

One of the signposts that points to the trinity of God is the bold statement that God is love. For if God is eternal, outside of time – then, before time – before the universe existed, He could not have been love without there being an object of love. Love does not exist in a vacuum. But the God of the Bible is both relational and loving and the picture of Father, Son and Spirit loving and honoring one another eternally is beautiful. Out of that love and relationship flows both creation and the hope of family. Although I don’t completely endorse its theology, the novel The Shack by William Young does a wonderful job of portraying that relationship.

A big part of my spiritual journey has involved growing into loving and being loved by all three members of the Trinity – for which I am glad – it was always a tad uncomfortable not trusting the one who had redeemed you from death and the power of sin. And I can’t imagine trying to live a life pleasing to God without the help and strength of the Spirit.

If, like my friend, you have found yourself hurting and unable to relate to one of the members of the trinity – it’s quite okay to approach God from a different angle until those issues can be resolved, that pain healed.

The Seventh Hole

I like to hang out on Twitter. Yes, it’s a madhouse,  but there are some sane people to follow. What I’ve noticed though is the number of people who are very afraid right now. Especially when it comes to issues like financial security and the well being of those they love.

 I experienced fear as a debilitating force in my life for years. It wears many masks and can even hide behind a few others (denial for instance). One of the exercises I completed in the 12 Step Program is to identify how much you are controlled by various habits and emotions: anger, resentment, lust among many, and to rate their impact on your life on a scale of 1 – 10. Good thing I’d used a pencil. I was confident fear wasn’t much of a problem for me but as I started getting healthier I realized what a huge impact fear was having on my life. 

It seems right and sensible to be afraid when there are so many things we are powerless over – which is why the command not to fear is stated over 300 times in the Bible. Fear is a big enemy and I’m so grateful to have been (mostly) set free of it. 

The opposite of fear is not, as you would assume, courage, but faith. If I have to depend on my own resources I’d be foolish not to be afraid. But when I trust that there is a sovereign God who loves me as He loves every human on this wild and crazy planet then I can rest. Do I think that means I may not face great hardship – not for a moment especially in this moment. I feel like the whole country is collectively holding its breath waiting for the other shoe will drop. As it will.

But these two things ground me: God’s ultimate goodness and God’s sovereignity. I haven’t always liked what God has allowed into my life. In hindsight I can always see the purpose – which has always been for my good.

This poem is dedicated to two groups: the golfers who have struggled like I have with the chasm on the 7th hole at the Royal York and any of you who might be wrestling with some fear in the current circumstances.

The Seventh Hole

On the first six holes my club carves a carefree arc
that sends the ball skyward in an echoing parabola. 
All the truths I’ve learned are proved. Physics –
elementary physics. Distance equals rate times time, 
give or take a few degrees.
I rely on these rules like old and faithful friends.

The seventh hole starts at the top of a small steep hill,
an easy par three - a hundred fifteen yards
if the pin is forward.
You tee off 
on the lip
of a chasm
to the green 
hanging on the opposite lip.
No room for error here, nor mercy for the faint.

The chasm foils me every time.
 It gapes 
between me and the smug green –
its greedy gullet   
sucks the ball out of the air -
again. 

The chasm is a constant. 
It’s no surprise to find it here;
it crops up everywhere.
I have seen it in my dreams,
just as daunting, taunting –
You can’t get there from here.

Fear skews the equation,
exerts a negative force that nullifies the rules.
Rate times time plus fear goes nowhere.
David’s stones would have landed, 
lamely, at Goliath’s feet. 
The laws engraved on my hands 
and etched on my mind are impotent  
in the face of my foe.
A greater power than fear must rule me.
Love Himself must come and free me.


I absolutely love this image. The jeering giant, the mocking masses and the boy with nothing but belief in a powerful God. The contrast in size, strength and light – wonderful.

If you find yourself struggling with fear right now there are many on-line Bible apps and a search for ‘fear not’ might be helpful. To quote an old expression, “He’s as good as his word”.

Nates (Natez)*

I think right about now many of us could stand a bit of comic relief. Once, in a writing course, the instructor handed each of us a page that she had just RIPPED out of a dictionary . Really! Our assignment was to find a word new to us and write a poem about it. I was glad to find one I could have fun with. I love playing with words and creating a bit more laughter in my world. (And now I’m having fun with adding color to my blocks.)

Natez
Natez: a new noun I now know is plural.
You find them in places both urban and rural.
They differ in color in shape and in size
As much as our mouths or our noses or eyes.

Historically natez have had a rough time,
Most often ridiculed, rarely sublime.
Natez have oft been the butt of rude words.
There is something about them that's slightly absurd.

In Africa's heat and along the Euphrates,
You're likely to see a plethora of natez.
But here in the north where the weather is chilly,
The exposure of natez is just downright silly.

Some natez are rounded; some natez are flat.
Some dimpled and darling, some pimpled and fat.
Some natez quiver and some natez quake.
If you take them out dancing they shimmey and shake.

Some natez are naughty, most natez are not.
Most natez behave in the way that they ought.
Some natez are subject to lingering stares,
And some are the object of withering glares.

When you are playing a game you can say to your maties,
"Come on you guys let's go out and kick natez."
Though I suppose in Quebec it would be only fair - 
Donner un coup de pied a la derriere.

A peach can be natiform, so can a plum
That's simply to say it is shaped like a bum.
My discourse on natez is over - I quit
And on my own natez I'm happy to sit.




Now here’s a chance to take a fence if you are thus inclined.

I’m sure a writer more clever than myself could find a way to spiritualize buttocks. I think I’ll just laugh.

* A friend just called me to say she’d love to use this as a Scrabble word but couldn’t find it in her dictionary. It’s in my Oxford as nates – and I’m not sure from which version the desecrated page was taken. How horrid to think the whole poem should legitimately be corrected. I’ll let it stand – imperfect like its author.

Fragrance or Miasma

It’s still here. The miasma. 

I staggered out to the kitchen this AM and my nose confirmed the fact. It’s too cold outside to keep the windows open for great lengths of time so this stench  may linger for a bit.

A few months back our youngish pastor Landon was sharing on Sunday morning. He has a wonderful way with metaphors and draws pictures that stay with me for a long time. Landon is such an afficenado of  coffee that he roasts his own beans.

 Recently a friend visited him and said, “Oh, you’ve been roasting coffee again.”   As there were no visible signs of the process  Landon asked, “What makes you think that?”  “Easy, I can smell the aroma of coffee on you.”

Later that week, while Landon was preparing his talk for us he thought of that. How wonderful it would be if  people would be able to say, “Oh, I can tell  you’ve been spending time with Jesus.. You’re wearing his fragrance.” 

That has stayed with me – I do so want to carry the fragrance of the Lord into our often divided, hurt and lost world. My husband once bought me a bottle of my favorite perfume Pure by Alfred Sung. Just a little dab of it and the scent wafted around me all day. My hope is that as the church spends time in the Lord’s presence we will increasingly become a fragrant offering. 

As for the scent in my kitchen, well it’s a bit of a story. There has to be some sort of upside to this Covid 19 enforced downtime. I’m using it as a way to better get to know some of the neighbors, who are now off work.  Although I was in the middle of trying out  a new recipe  I thought I could nip out to the mailbox and post a letter. A neighbor was on her deck and we started chatting. It was lovely to get to know her a bit better. Until I remembered the bacon. 

I opened the door to a cloud of choking grey smoke. The grease in the pan was probably seconds away from bursting into flame.  The dog would no doubt say, if he could, “ Tis an ill wind that blows no good.” He spent half an hour happily gnawing into the charred remains. Back to aromas. I’m not sure what inspired this. It’s usually an event of some sort or just a thought or phrase that pops into my mind.  In this case I think it was these 2 verses in 2 Corinthians 2. 15 & 16.   Some people, possibly legitimately so, are hostile to any idea of a God who might be in charge of the universe. So what inspires joy in me can inspire fury and contempt in others. Thus, this.

Banished

I am banished from the garden
by an angel with a sword,
that he brandishes to keep me
from the presence of the Lord.

I have tried a hundred potions
sweet incense and sacred lotions.
Yet nothing takes me to the place
where I can meet Him face to face.

And you have the gall to tell me
only blood will please your God,
from a pure and spotless lamb?
That seems primitive and odd.

And yet, if I am honest
I will tell you that I smell
a stench of death about you
that is either heaven or hell.
.
The stench of death surrounds you,
my flesh and soul recoil,
but I also catch a faint whiff
of a pungent bracing oil.

Like a breeze that carries memories
of a sweet and fragrant place,
where God and man were intimate
conversing face to face.

Upstream

Greetings from the bunker on Crosby Road where I hunker down drinking coffee, writing and listening to a message on Youtube. Well, bunker’s admittedly a bit dramatic. But I am aware that for many many people this is a very difficult time of financial insecurity, social isolation, confinement and fear.

My intent in writing is always to encourage and offer hope so this poetic offering may seem a bit off to some of you. I wrote the following poem at a writers’ seminar when the instructor gave each of us a visual prompt – mine being a salmon leaping in a river. And, of course, the end of that arduous journey is death for the salmon.

I did lose a very dear friend this week – a friend whose physical and spiritual life were very much centered around a river – and though I have no doubt we will meet again, the loss is real and painful. The more so as I cannot get together with mutual friends and share our memories, grief and consolation. And I know for her family (who loved her dearly) so much more so. Fortunately the Holy Spirit is in no way limited by quarantine or lockdown but is able to reach people wherever there is a need for his grace and comfort.

I

Called

There is higher ground to gain
and a purpose to my pain.
There is an end to this hard task,
and quiet pools in which to bask – upstream.

It seems sometimes a futile fight
against the foe, this constant flight.
But for now I only know
a growing urgent need to go – upstream.

For there’s a voice that urges on
when my resolve and strength are gone,
and deep within a powerful force
compels me to complete my course – upstream.

So, on through danger, fear disdained,
the ground that bears my name I’ve gained.
Seed sown, I spent and bloodied lie.
The race secured, I live not die – upstream.





If you listen to the end of this, it moves into Down to the River to Pray. We can’t get together to celebrate her life. This is my small tribute to a life well lived.

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