The Memory of God

oakleafhydrangea

rainyhydrangea

Our memories are, at best, so limited, so finite, that it is impossible for us to envisage an unlimited, infinite memory, the memory of God. It is something I want to believe in: that no atom of creation is ever forgotten by him; always is; cared for; developing; loved.
~Madeleine L’Engle from The Summer of the Great-Grandmother

homepristinerose

lilyyellow

He of strength and hope
loves and knows us down to our atoms ~~
the weak, the broken, the undeserving.
His infinite memory causes us to burst into bloom.

gerbera

wwuyellowrose

The Moment of Balance

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pinknightclouds2

What follows the light is what precedes it:
the moment of balance, of dark equivalence.

But tonight we sit in the garden in our canvas chairs
so late into the evening –
why should we look either forward or backwards?
Why should we be forced to remember:
it is in our blood, this knowledge.
Shortness of the days; darkness, coldness of winter.
It is in our blood and bones; it is in our history.
It takes a genius to forget these things.
~Louise Glück from “Solstice”

 

Today we stand, wavering,
on the cusp of light and shadow~
this knowledge of what’s to come
rests in our bones as we struggle
to untangle our feet of clay
from sinking like a stone, mired and stuck.
As darkness begins to claim our days again,
we seek to rise like a full moon illuminating the long night,
burnishing our readiness for eternity.

 

sistersmoon

sunrisesolstice

Beginning an Uprising

purplepetunia

 

Whatever happens. Whatever
what is is is what I want.
Only that. But that.
~Galway Kinnell “Prayer”

redhydrangea

To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world.
~Karl Barth

spirea2016

Prayer is easiest for the youngest among us.  It can be amazingly spontaneous for kids — an outright exclamation of joy, a crying plea for help, a word of unprompted gratitude.

I’m not sure at what age I began to silence myself out of self-conscious embarrassment, but I stayed silent for many years, unwilling to put voice to the prayers that rattled in my head.  In my 1960’s childhood, prayer in public schools had been hushed into a mere moment of silence, and intuitively I knew silence has never changed anything.

Nothing can upright this tipped-over disordered world until we are right with God, talking to Him out of our depth of need and fear.  Nothing can upright the world until we submit ourselves wholly, bowed low, hands clasped, eyes closed, articulating the joy, the thanks, and the needs filling our hearts.

An uprising is possible when a voice comes alive, unashamed, un-selfconscious, rising up from within us, uttering words that beseech and thank and praise.  To kneel down is to rise up with hands clasped together, calling upon a power needing no weapons, only words, to overcome and overwhelm the shambles left of our world.

Nothing can be more victorious
than the Amen,
our Amen,
at the end.
So be it and so shall it be.

Amen, and Amen again.

begoniagold

…the room was filled by a presence that in a strange way was both about me and within me like a light or warmth. I was overwhelming possessed by someone who was not myself.  And yet, I felt more myself than ever before.  I was filled with intense happiness and almost unbearable joy as I had never known before or never known since.  And overall, there was a deep sense of peace and security and certainty.
~C. S. Lewis

emmagibson

portrait of Dan’s mom, Emma Gibson, praying, by granddaughter Sara Lenssen

When Sad Comes Untrue

weepingrose

Is everything sad going to come untrue? What’s happened to the world?
~J.R.R. Tolkien from The Return of the King

The world is indeed full of peril and in it there are many dark places. But still there is much that is fair. And though in all lands, love is now mingled with grief, it still grows, perhaps, the greater.
~J.R.R Tolkien from The Fellowship of the Ring

Yet again unspeakable terror strikes down ordinary people living their lives–once again our soil is soaked with the blood of our sons and daughters, our sisters and brothers.

In our minds, we want to rewind and replay the events of a tragedy in a way that would prevent it from happening in the first place.   We want to bring the dead and injured back to health again.  The major devastating earthquake becomes a mere tremor, the flooding tsunami is only one foot, not over thirty feet tall, the terrorist hijackers are prevented from ever boarding a plane, the shooter changes his mind at the last minute, lays down his arms and calls someone for help with his overwhelming distress and anger.

We want so badly for it all to be untrue.  The bitter reality of horrendous daily suffering and sadness all over the earth is too much for us to absorb.   We plead for relief, beg for a better day. What has happened to the world?

Our minds may play mental tricks like this, but God does not play tricks.  He knows and feels what we do.  He too wanted to see it rewound and replayed differently so He came to us to know our grief and sadness, to weep with us, to suffer for us, to die to end such evil.  And because of this, because of a God who came to dwell with us, was broken, died and then rose again whole and holy, we are assured, in His time, everything sad will come untrue.

Our tears will be dried, our grief turned to joy, our pain nonexistent, not even a memory.  It will be a new day, a better day when love is greater than anger, dissolving our grief – as it is written, trustworthy and true.

May that be a day when we can no longer overwhelmed with evil but we will overcome evil with good.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.
~Revelation 21: 4-5

drizzleweed2

God’s Cloud Temple

clouddrama61016

sunset6616

We must go up into the chase in the evenings,
and pray there with nothing but God’s cloud temple between us and His heaven!
And His choir of small birds and night crickets and booming beetles,
and all happy things who praise Him all night long!
And in the still summer noon, too,
with the lazy-paced clouds above,
and the distant sheep-bell,
and the bee humming in the beds of thyme,
and one bird making the hollies ring a moment,
and then all still – hushed – awe-bound,
as the great thunderclouds slide up from the far south!
Then, there to praise God!

~Charles Kingsley

coastalsheep

beeweed

Heaven and earth are only three feet apart,
but in the thin places that distance is even smaller.
A thin place is where the veil that separates heaven and earth is lifted
and one is able to receive a glimpse of the glory of God.
~Celtic saying

sunsetkids

Oh, the floating clouds and the thoughts of a wanderer!
Oh, the sunset and the longing of an old friend!
We ride away from each other, waving our hands,
While our horses neigh softly, softly . . . .
~Li Po from “Taking Leave of a Friend”

clouds101143

sunset611161

An evening of subtle softness in the sunset clouds~
just enough illumination to imagine
heaven must be just beyond.

aprileveningnorth

sunset69161

A Sweet Abandon

cherrybounty

cherry615

royalanne2

 

A stone’s throw from an abandoned homestead foundation leans
an ancient cherry tree, bent by countless storms,
its northern half bare,
from the southern half
dangles clusters of sweet century old promises.

Once orchard lifeblood of this farm,
its fruit picked for farmers’ market
an early dawn hour’s wagon ride to town;
now broken down, forgotten
until this week of fruitful surrender.

Already, but not yet finished,
roots still reaching deep for one more season;
a faithful cycle blooming forth
with budding life from gnarled knots
to yield glorious from weary dying branches.

Hundreds of glistening amber globes of rosy sheen
cling clustered on crooked lichened limbs,
to be gathered up heaping into bowls of gold,
awaiting ecstatic burst of savored perfection,
fulfilling an old promise of sweet abandon.

 

cherries6615

royalanne

Bleeding Hearts

hearttears

Whatever he needs, he has or doesn’t
have by now.
Whatever the world is going to do to him
it has started to do… 

…Whatever is
stored in his heart, he can use, now.
Whatever he has laid up in his mind
he can call on.  What he does not have
he can lack…

…Whatever his exuberant soul
can do for him, it is doing right now…

…Everything that’s been placed in him will come out, now, the contents of a trunk
unpacked and lined up on a bunk in the underpine light.
~Sharon Olds from “The Summer-Camp Bus Pulls Away from the Curb”

whitehearts

This is the season for graduations, when children move into the adult world and don’t look back.

As a parent, as an educator, as a mentor within church and community, and over twenty seven years as a college health physician witnessing this transition many times over, I can’t help but be wistful about what I may have left undone and unsaid with the generation about to launch.   In their moments of vulnerability, did I pack enough love into their bleeding hearts so he or she can pull it out when it is most needed?

When our three children traveled the world after their graduations, moving way beyond the fenced perimeter of our little farm, I trust they left well prepared.

As a school board member, I watched students, parents and teachers work diligently together in their preparation for that graduation day, knowing the encompassing love behind each congratulatory hand shake.

When another batch of our church family children say goodbye, I remember holding them in the nursery, listening to their joyful voices as I played piano accompaniment in Sunday School, feeding them in innumerable potlucks over the years.  I pray we have fed them well in every way with enough spiritual food to stick to their ribs in the “thin” and hungry times.

When hundreds of my student/patients move on each year beyond our university and health clinic, I wish for their continued emotional growth buoyed by plenty of resilience when the road gets inevitably bumpy.

I believe I know what is stored in the hearts of graduates because I, among many others, helped them pack it full of love.   Only they will know the time to unpack their heart when their need arises.

irishroad

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