Shades of Graying

Featuring fifty shades of farm gray




I could weep for a quiet love like this, the kind of love they don’t write movies about, but the Maker writes down in a book of His own.
It’s not the kind of flashy that makes any red carpet, but it’s the kind of unforgettable love that runs red.
It doesn’t matter one iota what the checkout glossies tout: Sacrifice is the most attractive of all.
And boring love is what touches the deepest– our lives boring down deep into each other’s hearts.
And I have loved you as the hero-of-few-words who has rescued me day in and day out, without any fanfare or flash.
You have lived and bore the weight of it —- I am far worse than I ever dreamed.
And yet you have loved me beyond what I could ever dream.
You have lived Gospel to me.
~Ann Voskamp  from






On a day celebrated for honoring Love,
I grieve that women — mothers and daughters
who know nothing of slavery,
who know nothing but freedom,
seek out and pay out
for a fantasy of seduction,
blinded and bound by books and movie
that have nothing to do
with honor or love.

Give me boring gray love rich in so many shades:
love that bores deep into the other’s heart
and stays,
before, throughout and beyond the gray.

The shades of gray in my life
will not be covered with dye and make believe,
but celebrated as reflecting
love not forsaken,
not for any one
or any reason.

We declare it to all who are to come after.






Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God,
till I declare your power to the next generation,
your mighty acts to all who are to come.
Psalm 71:18






































Ordinary Sunday




Sometimes I have loved the peacefulness of an ordinary Sunday.
It is like standing in a newly planted garden after a warm rain.
You can feel the silent and invisible life.
~Marilynne Robinson from Gilead


As I am covered with Sabbath rest
quiet and deep
as if being planted in soil
just warming from a too long winter~
I know there is nothing ordinary
about what is happening.

I am called by the Light
to push out against darkness,
reaching to the sky
touched by the Source of all
that makes me thrive.

Nothing more extraordinary
than an ordinary Sunday.




Shatter Me



As through a long-abandoned half-standing house
only someone lost could find,

which, with its paneless windows and sagging crossbeams,
its hundred crevices in which a hundred creatures hoard and nest,

seems both ghost of the life that happened there
and living spirit of this wasted place,

wind seeks and sings every wound in the wood
that is open enough to receive it,

shatter me God into my thousand sounds.

~Christian Wiman “Small Prayer in a Hard Wind”


May I,
though sagging and graying,
leaning perilously,
be porous enough
to allow life’s gusts
through me
without being pushed over
in a heap.

So the wind
makes me sing
filling my every crack
and defect,
shattered into pieces,
a mosaic of praises.
~E Gibson

The Shadows of a Moment



I hated waiting.
If I had one particular complaint,
it was that my life seemed composed entirely of expectation.
I expected —
an arrival, an explanation, an apology.
There had never been one,
a fact I could have accepted,
were it not true that,
just when I had got used
to the limits and dimensions of one moment,
I was expelled into the next
and made to wonder again
if any shapes hid in its shadows.

Memory is the sense of loss,
and loss pulls us after it.

~Marilynne Robinson from Housekeeping


Winter weather has a way of exacerbating loss, reminding us over and over what it is we’ve lost and still waiting for — the sun’s warmth on our cheeks, the feel of cool breezes in our hair on a sweaty day, the presence of color when numbed by the sky’s constant weeping of whites and grays.  We keep waiting for that next moment, and then the next, looking for when we may settle down and stay, however briefly, content.

We are pulled through the shadows of each emerging moment, losing what we just had to mere memory:

Last night, my husband and I attended our children’s former high school’s winter musical production, as we had done for over a decade while our three children were among the actors and actresses on stage.  I sat in the audience for two hours, emerged in the music, the singing and the dancing, the beautiful costumes and sets,  allowing each wonderful make-believe moment to carry me to the next and the next.

Only after the bows had been taken, the applause and whistles quieted, and we made our way to the lobby to greet the performers, did I realize my loss.  My memory of our children overwhelmed me:  not as they acted a role in the lights and shadows of the stage, but after the production, in the lobby as themselves, albeit costumed and overly made up, greeting grateful audience members.  But where were they last night?  Not here, I realized through my tears, not where I was so used to seeing them stand a bit apart from the crowd, smiling and laughing, waiting my turn to hug them.

Gone and moved on to other roles and other stages, far far away.

They have each left the magic and the hard work of high school musical productions into the magic and hard work of real life.
And we are left waiting for each next moment, remembering and accepting, filling and emptying,  wintering within our hearts again and again.




Embarking on a Voyage



new year’s eve-
in the echo of fog horns
another voyage starts
–  Keiko Izawa

I grew up on a small farm located about two miles from a bay in Puget Sound.  When I awoke in the morning, I knew it was foggy outside even before looking out my bedroom window.  The fog horns located on coastal buildings and bobbing buoys scattered throughout the inlet would echo mournful moans and groans to warn freighter ships away from the rocky or muddy shallows.   The resonant lowing of the horns carried miles over the surrounding landscape due to countless water particles in the fog transmitting sound waves so effectively.  The louder the foghorn moan heard on our farm, the thicker the mist in the air.  The horn voices would make me unspeakably sad for reasons I could never articulate.

Embarking on a voyage in blinding foggy conditions, like starting the second month of a new year,  portends both potential adventure and risk.  Of course I’d prefer to see exactly where I am headed, carefully navigating with precise information and expert knowledge,  eventually winding up exactly at my intended destination.

The reality is that the future can be a murky mess.

We cannot see what lies ahead: we navigate by our wits, by our best guess, but particularly by listening for the low-throated warnings coming from the rocky shores and shallows of those who have gone ahead of us.

I am still too easily lost in the fog of my fears of the unknown – disconnected, afloat and circling aimlessly, searching for a touch point of purpose and direction.  The isolation I sometimes feel may be my own self-absorbed state of mind, sucking me in deep until I’m soaked, dripping and shivering from the smothering gray.   If only I might trust the fog horn voices, I could charge into the future undaunted, knowing there are others out there in the pea soup prepared to come alongside me as together we await the sun’s dissipation of the fog.

Now, almost sixty years into the voyage,  I recognize the fog does eventually clear so the journey continues on.

Even so, I will keep listening for the resonant voices of wisdom from shore, and raise my voice to join in, not to echo the moans and groans of my  misty childhood mornings,  but to confidently sing an anthem of hope and promise.




Gone Underground



…times of dormancy and deep rest are essential to all living things. Despite all appearances, of course, nature is not dead in winter–it has gone underground to renew itself and prepare for spring. Winter is a time when we are admonished, and even inclined, to do the same for ourselves.

Our inward winters take many forms–failure, betrayal, depression, death. But every one of them, in my experience, yields to the same advice: “The winters will drive you crazy until you learn to get out into them.” Until we enter boldly into the fears we most want to avoid, those fears will dominate our lives. But when we walk directly into them–protected from frostbite by the warm garb of friendship or inner discipline or spiritual guidance–we can learn what they have to teach us. Then, we discover once again that the cycle of the seasons is trustworthy and life-giving, even in winter, the most dismaying season of all.
~Parker Palmer


Why has “Let It Go” from the Disney movie “Frozen” resonated as the universal pop anthem of the past year for people of all ages and backgrounds?
Maybe we heed the call to emerge from our dormancy, to reach out in our God-given ability to overcome despite everything the outward and inward winters blow at us.

I trust, from all I’ve learned in His Word  —  I have only gone underground temporarily and will soon emerge in renewal.

The cold never bothered me anyway?
Yes, of course it did, but it is not the end of the story.




Prepare for Joy: Dissolve My Hard Heart





My love is weak,
my heart imperfect,
so I have great need of You.
I need your strengthening and your comfort,
your instruction and your freedom.
Let your love dissolve my hard heart.
Let your love lift me up.
Let your love reveal to me joy beyond imagination.
Let my soul exhaust itself in singing praises of your love.
~Thomas Kempis “A Prayer of Need”

As we gently transition here in the northwest to March, with backlit sky and buds opening to the new light, there are plenty of places around the country still deep and frozen under feet of snow.  The hardness it takes to outlast winter can weaken the the most enduring loving and warm heart.

And too there is a hardness in the hearts of people of faith when we watch our brothers slaughtered while singing praises of their love for God, captured children placed in cages, women sold into slavery.  We want to somehow rise above such senseless violence and not resort to it, not become one with extremism yet feeling helpless to stop it.

For this our God died, carrying man’s terrible burden of sin and selfishness to the grave, burying it deep and leaving it there.  We still weep and lament, we still suffer and groan, whether near the rolled-away stone, or for the 21 kneeling Christians on a far-off beach two weeks ago.  We can respond with joy that we recognize Him when He calls our name.  He knows us, each and every one.

We may be exhausted, but lifted up and dissolved by the gentle softness of His love.