A Fragile Citadel

nest2…And I think
They know my strength,
Can gauge
The danger of their work:
One blow could crush them
And their nest; and I am not their friend.

And yet they seem
Too deeply and too fiercely occupied
To bother to attend.
Perhaps they sense
I’ll never deal the blow,
For, though I am not in nor of them,
Still I think I know
What it is like to live
In an alien and gigantic universe, a stranger,
Building the fragile citadels of love
On the edge of danger.
~James Rosenberg from “The Wasps’ Nest”

It hangs undisturbed from the eastern eave of the old milk shed, away from view from the house but its busy citizens visit our picnics, greedily buzz our compost bin, shoot bullet-like out of the garbage can when I lift the lid.  This nest is their nighttime respite for a few more months before a freeze renders the them to slow motion.   Winter hibernation will be a tenuous business for this paper home, as it faces battering from northeasters, likely to be soaked, torn and shredded in the harsh winds.

Yet for now, their fierce hold to security will remain undisturbed.  Let the winter deal the blow.

As I am not in or of them, I cannot cast the first stone.
Still I think I know what it is like to be hanging there waiting. hornetnest1

Anger is as a stone cast into a wasp’s nest.
~Pope Paul VI

The Permanence of Light

photo by Nate Gibson
photo by Nate Gibson

….a lesson about the permanence of light, finding its path when every course would seem blocked, and when even its source has long faded… 

An older woman comes upon a child looking at the stars. She tells him that it’s taken eons for the light to come this far. The boy asks if you can tell which stars are dead and which are living.

“No,” she answers, “it’s impossible. Still, what a beautiful mystery that is.”
~A. J. Harmon from “Good Letters” on patheos.com

photo by Nate Gibson
photo by Nate Gibson

The stars come up spinning
every night, bewildered in love.
They’d grow tired
with that revolving, if they weren’t.
They’d say,

“How long do we have to do this?”
~Rumi

 

The Heart’s Throne

1069375_10151757689246119_1606886087_nTrue worship can only take place when we agree to God sitting not only on His throne in the center of the universe, but on the throne that stands in the center of our heart.
~Robert Colman

Last night we had the joy of worship on the hill on our farm for a summer evening of Wiser Lake Chapel‘s outdoor church.   Together we came from far and wide: from Japan and Myanmar to South Dakota and Colorado– sixty five people ranging from a 5 week old premie baby making her church debut to a 93 years young woman who treasures each and every chance to worship with her church family.

Our hearts cannot be empty and longing when God sits at the center of Who we are. 

Before the throne of God above;  before the throne of God within.  Our hearts are full indeed.

Human beings by their very nature are worshipers. Worship is not something we do; it defines who we are. You cannot divide human beings into those who worship and those who don’t. Everybody worships; it’s just a matter of what, or whom, we serve.
~Paul Tripp

1014170_10151757698971119_1998985476_n

Preoccupied

passion

julytable

Who would have thought it possible that a tiny little flower could preoccupy a person so completely that there simply wasn’t room for any other thought.
~ Sophie Scholl 

This time of year I can’t seem to form any other thoughts beyond appreciation for the beauty on each stem and the fragrance that wafts from heliotrope and roses through an open window.  I might just fall head-long into the dark center of a flower like Alice into the rabbit hole and not find my way back.

Are there other thoughts that matter?

yelloworange

lilycentral

orange

yellow

Against the Hard Edges

photo by Josh Scholten
photo by Josh Scholten

In all the woods that day I was
the only living thing
fretful, exhausted, or unsure.
Giant fir and spruce and cedar trees
that had stood their ground
three hundred years
stretched in sunlight calmly
unimpressed by whatever
it was that held me
hunched and tense above the stream,
biting my nails, calculating all
my impossibilities.
Nor did the water pause
to reflect or enter into
my considerations.
It found its way
over and around a crowd
of rocks in easy flourishes,
in laughing evasions and
shifts in direction.
Nothing could slow it down for long.
It even made a little song
out of all the things
that got in its way,
a music against the hard edges
of whatever might interrupt its going.
~John Brehm “Passage”

photo by Josh Scholten
photo by Josh Scholten

Palmed Off on the Unwary

blackcurrant

Nothing seems to please a fly so much as to be taken for a currant;
and if it can be baked in a cake and palmed off on the unwary, it dies happy.
~Mark Twain

Returning to clinic after time off for a summer break, I worry I’m like a fly hiding among the black currants hoping to eventually become part of the currant cake.  Just maybe no one will notice I don’t quite fit back in.

In thirty three years of practice, even after bearing three children and going through several surgeries, I’ve not been away from patients for more than twenty consecutive days at any one time.  This is primarily out of my fear that, even after a few weeks, I will have forgotten all that I’ve ever known and if I were to actually return to see patients again, I would be masquerading as a physician rather than be the real thing.   A mere fly among the currants palmed off on the unwary.

Those who spend their professional lives taking care of others also share this concern if they are truly honest: if a patient only knew how much we don’t know and will never know, despite everything we DO know, there would really be no need for us at all, especially in this day and age of accurate (and some terribly inaccurate) medical information at everyone’s fingertips.  Who needs a physician when there are so many other options to seek health care advice, even when there are a few flies mixed in?

As I walk back into an exam room to sit with my first patient after my time away, I recall over thirty years of clinical experience has given me an eye and an ear for subtlety of signs and symptoms that no googled website or internet doc-in-the-box can discern.  The avoidance of eye contact, the tremble of the lip as they speak, the barely palpable rash, the fullness over an ovary, the slight squeak in a lung base.  These are things I am privileged to see and hear and make decisions about together with my patients.  This is no masquerade; I am not appearing to be someone I am not.  This is what I’m trained to do and have done for thousands of days of my life.   No need for the unwary to fear.

The hidden fly in the currant bush of health care may be disguised enough to be part of the cake that an unwary patient might gobble down to their ultimate detriment — but not this doctor.  I know I’m the real thing, perhaps a bit on the tart side, but offering up just enough tang to be what is needed.

And I will die happy doing this.

 

 

Bugged

thistlebugsSometimes I’d get mad because things didn’t work out well, I’d spoil a flapjack, or slip in the snowfield while getting water, or one time my shovel went sailing down into the gorge, and I’d be so mad I’d want to bite the mountaintops and would come in the shack and kick the cupboard and hurt my toe. But let the mind beware, that though the flesh be bugged, the circumstances of existence are pretty glorious.
~Jack Kerouac

The little things can bug us.  In fact, like a thistle covered with aphids which entices ants,  we can be bugged on top of bugs. Yet we still bloom.

But we are on notice.  The bugs do exult in our flawed flesh,  a reminder of our vulnerability and short stay on this good earth, bugs and all.  

The rest is all glorious, right down to the roots that hold us fast.  thistleaphids