Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Kentucky Journeys

We’re here for a wedding, but it is so much more than that.

It’s closure on adventures beginning eight years ago, when three farm girls moved to the big American city of Chicago. It’s saying goodbye to the woman who went with me to Africa. And it’s opening a new chapter, as she marries the man God made her for.

It’s hot, sticky, then cool and breezy; brewing storms by night and painting warm scenes by day. I can’t capture the view with camera, and can’t sort the impressions with soul.

So it’s a gift to have a friend nearby, to hash our struggles, unburden our souls, and just share the quiet musings of this journey.

We go to a river boat for rehearsal dinner. We sleep under wooden paned window, on real wooden floored rooms, in a house built more than 100 years ago. We steal down servant staircase while everyone else sleeps, to sit close on porch swing and watch the whipping storm. We talk soft of thunder and lightning, while fenced bulls beside us wait out the rain and wind.

We walk down quiet off-roads, musing over life in all its grandeur and intricacy.

Our souls open to the wonder of God’s providence, and it is just better to be in company on this journey.

It’s an end and a beginning. I don’t know what to make of it all; weddings are so stressed and urgent while marriage is so permanent. The moments are complex while the journey feels simple. Savouring, lingering, then rushing about: all mixed in a symphony conducted by mercy.

The delayed trip home lands me in a detour state, where kind friends give me one of their beds to spend the night. Our souls reconnect in as we share where we’ve been, and my heart rekindles in this unexpected gift.

I’m grateful for this journey, because it reminds me of truth I have known, and promises goodness to come.

“Your mercies are new every morning.”

“You satisfy the desire of every living thing.”

“Your lovingkindness is better than life.”

“You are good, and do good.”

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Farm Spring

Inside, the men bore holes in cement foundation, suck excess water from the house’s lowest level.

Outside, the women bore holes in soil, sprinkling potential into plots made ready.

Inside, men arrange field rock and yard gravel around drainage ports.

Outside, fields nurture dying seeds, bringing life from boring insignificance.

Everywhere, family and field, cultivated and wild, wake in the wetness and warmth.

We look out, broad and wide, and look close, wondering at the intricate.

The paradox of life invites us, to groan and glory in this mystery of hope.

Monday, May 23, 2011


Sometimes, life muck seeps through crack and crevice, through foundations we thought were thicker, right through our protection and construction.

Funny, sometimes, it happens when things are the best they’ve been, when water is plentiful and wind is quiet, when harvest and seeding are done.

This abundance cannot insulate us from stark reality: we are helpless. We are needy. We are beggars.

Life is a mess. Life reveals our mess. And life spurts up mess—constant trickles or volcanic heaves.

It needs cleaning up.

It needs repair.

It needs deep help.

And the heart is saved from despair by worship, because God is good in all of this, through all of this, regardless of the outcome of “this.” God is here now, in this moment; and He is beyond now, transcending the seconds of sorrow and perspiration.

We must clean up life, we are not safe from it. But, we are safe and happy in it, when He holds us.

So we can sing in the muck.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


19 May 2011

Sometimes our journeys bring us round again, to vistas familiar. Our vantage new, scenes before us recognized, and the heart remembers what it felt the first time it saw.

The higher ridge means haze and thin air; soul must rest frequent, and monitor constant to live up here, listening for song in the wind, keeping simple in the extremes.

And the low valley means suspenseful quiet, taut senses; and soul must hush pounding heartbeat to listen for whispers of hope.

One day we wake, and realize our surroundings: makeshift shelters, impossible panoramas, unfamiliar territory. We’re in a caravan, and we forgot. I’m a pilgrim, and I must remember.

Because the wilderness is wide, wild, brutal. And the oasis can suffocate and mislead. There is no location impervious to danger, because internal hazards outweigh external threats.

Sheer awe, the overwhelmed soul, and despair’s haunting companionship bring us silent, gaping, cognizant of our relative size in this vastness. We are vulnerable. We are small. We are undone.

But we are not alone. I am not alone.

And we will not be utterly forsaken, because God has committed Himself to us, because He chose to, because we belong to Him.

The only good thing about being a sheep in this wilderness, is having a Good Shepherd. Many leaders call for our adherence, but only God is good.

He is God, and I am not.

And He is good, and I am safe.

What is your only comfort in life and in death?

That I am not my own,

But belong body and soul, in life and death,

To my faithful Saviour, Jesus Christ.

-Heidelberg Catechism

Friday, May 13, 2011

Beauty will Rise

Trees burst open their joys, spraying the ground with seed and blossom and stickies. Virgin greens peek shy from sombre brown boughs. Soon they will dance and flutter and clap in the summer winds, fully alive. But now they wake slow, and it is beautiful.

The incremental advent of Spring touches all of life, heart and soul and mind come alive again, and dream of a beautiful life still unexplored. This is the beauty of resurrection.

We can’t believe it: life from death is unbelievable. Perhaps that is why Christ stayed forty days after He rose; so we could see and know and question and ponder, and let the awe work transformation in our soul.

And we own Him as Lord and God, as Thomas did, when we see Him and know He is real, and He is good.

He lifts the veil, the dank and dark and frozen shell of winter, and melts us into spring. And this is the power of resurrection.

He renews the face of the earth, and revives the soul—in the moment, for the moment, through the moment. He pours forth life all the time, in every way, despite every horror and sorrow, a strength beyond us. And this is the wonder of resurrection.

So, wake our hearts, Lord, to see and feel and know You, and dance in the light of Your life song!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Travels of a mother heart

She walked a long road to get here, from basketball court and university track, through wolf-infested north cattle country, into hog shed and school bus driver’s seat, finally to a 900-foot bunk house. Here, her hands made house into home, cultivating garden and field, punching and caressing dough. Here, her womb swelled three times, with kicking, squirmy, thumb-sucking daughters. And she carried us gently.

Her first girl journeyed far too. She too, was 25 when he found her. And twice, her tummy has ballooned, two giggly, soprano daughters of her own. And she holds them just like she was held.

And we love better and feel deeper and fight braver and reach further because we stand on Dad’s wide shoulders, steadied by Mum’s long arms.

She embraced the mantle of motherhood, adding substance and weight, strength and beauty, with her life. And now, we pick it up with joy. It is heavy. And it is beautiful.

She plays with us, and encourages us to be imaginative; and we play with others.

She shows us how to work, and we learn to labour in things that matter.

She nourishes us, and we feed others.

She loves loyal and fierce, and we learn to love and hope better.

She lives, and teaches our hearts to live.

And this is the angst, and joy, of motherhood.

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