A Dappled Presence

Today, I found this. Wrote it last May. And it feels like a breath of hope...

Now that the leaves are full and present, the trees have a softer sound, a whisper instead of clacking, and the woods are filled with dancing shadows, a tenderness, a gliding of dappled presence.

A little brown bird is in the prickle pines. Climbing sideways up the tree, pecking. Life out here... travels upside down and sideways, pure vertical and horizontal, under the darkness of a needle blanket. It seems there is no direction that is off-limits in this place.

The mourning dove flutters in with her chirruping. What used to surprise and awe me has turned to the sweet comfort of familiar sounds — I find a deeper rest in the stability of this place and its attendant characters.

Two dark gray birds just "kissed" — a peck from beak to beak... I could lie here all day and never be bored or restless.

"Give me your lantern and compass, give me a map...So I can find my way to the sacred mountain, to the place of your presence."
Psalm 43, The Message translation

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Under a Milk-White Sky

Feeling sad today. Out in this moist little woods, that is newly slicked with the rains. All is fragrant, revived. But I come and cannot take it in. Bells chime in the distance and a light breeze tickles my chin. My tea is warm, peachy in fragrance. I have everything I need. But I feel empty. A bit lost. Swung off in the opposite direction, outside the orb of the Dance, just beyond the electric feel of Your fingertips. The sky is milk-white. Opaque. The pine trembles. The ivy holds, yet, some remnants of the rain's passing. Who am I, and where am I? It was good, really good to talk to T. last night. I felt, in those short hours, that I knew who I was and where. A gift! The tenor of Your Voice easing through the voice of a too-long-forgotten friend.

We have sought the LORD our God; we have sought him, and he has given us peace on every side. 2 Chronicles 14:7




After a week in the courts of an ancient cathedral, it is hard to step back into this little chapel that clings to a winter-barren hill. I close my eyes and listen to a soft "t-thick, t-thick" beneath the hemlocks. I lie back on my red sled and look up into the pine.

No towering priests here. Just the same old sights of dogwood in the dying sun, and wood-winged bushes reaching skinny fingers to the wind. I breathe deeply and try to catch some sacred scent that will enliven me. Try to catch something on the breeze that will compare to that place of grandeur and mystery. Nothing new is in the air.

My chest feels heavy, as I try to squeeze back into this small place. It feels like coming to a makeshift altar after some kind of pilgrimage to Jerusalem's temple. Quaint, familiar. Too little to be God-sized. Too old to my senses to make my soul feel new.

Still, I feel You try to come to me. The buds of the wood-winged bushes swell. Life pushing through.

Quicken my fingers. To feel the pulse again.

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Mind Reader

I drive across town, alongside the river, and I think...

My life is changing, with the force and volume of the Midwest floods. How can I see the landmarks anymore, drowned as they are in the passion of the water?

I feel like it would be easy to be carried away, lose my bearings, end up downstream in places I cannot understand or navigate. The pace of my heart quickens.

A little thought comes that maybe it is time to find a priest of sorts, a place to talk, to be, to find anchor — rather than resorting to burying myself in some safe spot underground. What credit is it to you? I can almost hear You saying, if you burrow and deny? That too causes darkness, isolation.

Okay, I say. But where do I begin? What ears, what heart, what hands can I trust to handle my soul, save You?

When I get home, You have answered me in my in-box. A friend has, for reasons unrelated to my silent struggle, recommended that I find a spiritual director. And she's given me a trusted name, a place to start.

Mind-reader God, how dear You are to me.

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I'm off, tomorrow morning, to the redwood forest and meetings and a chance to hold my new book. It is all very exciting.

And then.

Then there is the reality that I am leaving my lovely family in this little house. To eat the food I bought with care, the meals frozen ahead of time, and who knows what else. They will look at the same moon I look at, walk the same earth, but we will be miles away from each other's touch and voices. Do You blame me for crying? You know all about letting go of your Child. Releasing Him to the hands of time and circumstance.

Teach me this day to be as You, who could see beyond the moment into eternity.




On days like this, when two guys from two different companies stand in my garage and declare the spring that lifts that old, heavy door, irreparable. When one good friend weeps inconsolably to me about all that is irreparable in her life. And when I think of all those sick and dying and fighting...

and the whole world

seems irreparable...

I ache for You. Close my eyes
to the wind. Listen to the scritch scratch
of dry oak leaves and little thsk thsk
sounds of squirrel's feet
and a soft chrr chrr in the pine
and the rush of air
against the landscape.

And I remember that dark place
when the earth was formless
and void and Your Spirit
was a wind blowing across
the waters, whispering to the
chaos your deep conviction

that it was not


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Charity for Charity, II

It is cold in the little woods. My eyes shut against the day. I fret in darkness. Make lists of all the things undone.

And then, what feels like an invitation. "Come on, open your eyes."

I do.

I do, only to see bright red berries on the thorn bush. An embrace of golden-red light laid 'round the base of the pine. How can I tell You what this does to my heart? It is a moment, a warmth, a comfort, perhaps a promise before dusk.

Lord, send such promises to my dear Charity. Give her strength to glance, and take it in. Charity for Charity... Your Presence made real in some simple moment. Your comfort in embrace.

Charity for Charity, I

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