Gilt Gift {a #poem}

Sometimes I guilt myself right out

of joy. Like the surprise of an iridescent

butterfly from an unsightly cocoon,

who would expect this shimmering

show in morning sunlight?

Eyes are trained on Northwest firs

framed in blue, frosted feeders,

feathered presents hidden among

the trees.

I’ve held my breath, wondering.

Did my mother ever ponder stilling

herself, take a moment with the

birds in her California garden? Gaze

restful at morning fog carried

in on marine air? Was she ever at ease

in her troubled life, as she parented

us alone?

I will never know.

I cannot ring her up to ask, there

is no email to send, no letter to write.

She is gone, stolen far too soon.

I consider this feigned injustice.

How wildly unfair I should gather

such beauty as surely she never did,

then abandon my thoughts. No.

I will not leave reason to balance the

ledger, steal this away, too. Feathered

hum of heat, filigreed pane, frosty view.

I drink in sleeping green, hear her

whisper over my shoulder,

Breathe in the brilliant morning.

Surrender second guesses and leave

logic to the philosophers.

I startle to the present, welcome with

wonder this gilt gift, nothing to ponder

but my thanks.

–From my new book “Hearts on Pilgrimage-Poems&Prayers” 

****

I share this poem coincidentally on Mothering Sunday, an observance in the U.K. to honor mothers. Mothering Sunday began as an explicitly religious event of the 16th Century, with no connection to mothers at all. The word “mothering” referred to the “mother church”, which is to say the main church or cathedral of the region. It became a tradition that, on the fourth Sunday of Lent, people would return to their mother church for a special service. This pilgrimage was apparently known as “going a-mothering”, and became something of a holiday event, with domestic servants traditionally given the day off to visit their own families as well as their mother church.

If we find ourselves returning to our “mother” church, we may similarly find ourselves returning to Christ, the bringer of joy and restoration in our lives, regardless of our life experience with our own mothers. That was the intent with my poem, to mirror God’s grace to us, His care and love that he so lavishly pours out on us as a parent. Our days are all gift.

Unwrap yours today, friend, and receive it with joy.

-Jody

My Favorite Poem From my New Book

Drawing from my son Aaron, circa 1981

What My Grandkids Will Say About Me on Oprah

When my grandkids talk to Oprah
    about their Nana, the famous writer,
they will say words were my oxygen–
    to read, to write, to share,
and that I spent way too much money
    at Thrift Stores on books by dead authors–
Emily Dickinson, George Herbert, LM Montgomery
    and Keats.

They will also tell her I loved to sing–
    another form of breathing–
and how I embarrassed them in public
    by belting out the “Tomorrow” song from Annie
or grabbing their elbows in the mall
    while shouting “We’re off to see the Wizard!”

They will announce to the world,
    in front of God and everybody,
that my profession as a teacher was their   
    greatest undoing;
constantly coaching them about penmanship,
the correct formation of the letter “a”
    or while reading, pointing out misread syllables in
    a favorite text.

They will oblige Ms. O’s prodding by adding the death 
    knell~
that I couldn’t help myself when it came to learning,
    revealing in hushed tones I often resorted
    to using an encyclopedia as torture 
    (the 1956 World Book edition).

My grandchildren will remind her, however,
    (before the commercial break)
my best qualities were the way I delighted in the world,
    showing them wonders in the garden,
surprises in the grass, the avian miracles of
    chickadees and juncos in the branches 
    or robins in the birdbath.

Most of all, when my grandkids talk to Oprah,
    they will tell her my lungs longed for the breath of
    Heaven, the Word, and how its oxygen proved
    my greatest life support throughout my livelong days.

Tell me friends, if you have grandchildren, what would they tell Oprah how about your life? I would love to hear in the comments.

Also, you can get a copy of my new book by clicking on this link HERE. 

And if you think a friend would enjoy this poem, you can click on the Share buttons below. Thanks!

Plating the Bread of Life {a #poem}

Bed askew with straw, rummaged      

leftovers of the menageries’ last meal.

A stone space quarried like the heart of a 

small ark, opening just enough 

to cradle the straw.

The stall, open planks no match for the midnight 

chill, gaps lasering light, streaming in on stone.

Mother draped in simple cloth, teenaged

hands trembling as she lays her infant 

in the place of the animals’ meal.

Suckling sounds as He stares, still, into the sky 

where the host of Heaven lift voices 

through the spheres

Announcing His presentation, 

which, as the young father recalls, 

would at last be everything.

Merry Christmas, friends.

Anna Waits {a #poem}

Light is coming
she’d heard and read,
and widowed, she had
nothing calling her name
but His across the years
like an echo from The Garden
so long ago.
She’d been seeking
(was He hiding?),
steadfastly determined,
for what else was her life
but this–an always looking
in the temple courts,
trusting the doorway would
be darkened some day
when Light came into the room.

(sharing from the Archives)

Contemplate {a #poem}

I’ve no chisel but this pen
chipping at paper like stone,
carving words, not to build but bend
graphite like steel, curve the bones

(Dear God, not break) but lay in place and then
form a space to hold a new edifice,
sculpt and rest and tap some more
while You hand me bricks to begin, restore.
***
The word contemplate is from the Latin, and literally means to carve out a temple, from the two parts-‘com’ and ‘templum,’ i.e. an “intensive space.”

Words are swirling everywhere lately and the voices are l o u d. Seems no matter where I turn there is something to fear whether it’s danger, discord or disease. I feel helpless and wonder if my words will matter, whether what I have to say makes a difference when people are actually dying. 

Then I pick up my pen to pour my heart out on the page. God’s quiet whispers remind me to use what’s in my hand. So I “chisel” away the best I can, carving out time and space to hear Him in His temple, this world right where He is.

Five Haikus for Spring

Blue Door

Sapphire welcome says hello
at the start of day
I walk and wonder.

Wisteria

Dropping amethyst

Translucent emerald trailing

Reflected treasures

Haiku for Spring

Drops of see through gems

moisture gift drips slowly down

Silvered honesty.

Accompaniment

Devoted songbirds

Daily raise their melody

No maestro but Spring.

Aerial

Hummingbird sips blooms

From windows I spy each zoom

Birds in lilacs appear

I’ve been writing poems throughout this season of #lifeinthetimeofcorona and very grateful for the sure thing provided by Spring, which listens to its own Maestro, Creator God. Regardless of ‘lockdown’ everywhere else, His presence is not isolated inside.

The familiar form of haikus–3 lines with syllable counts of 5, 7 and 5–is a way to distill all the noise when I’m drowning in words. I tend to ramble; writing without borders allows for that. When you have to be succinct and word choice is intentional it seems to strip things down to what’s really important.

*****

If you’d like to read more of my poetry, you can click HERE. And if you’d like to receive my bi-monthly-ish newsletter, Random Acts of Writing, you can sign up HERE.

Accompaniment {a #poem}

pexels-photo-414181
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Birds, their tones both winged and bright
Harmonize from branches out of sight
Know their parts, score memorized
Flash and zoom before my eyes.

Soprano, alto, second, bass
Throaty praises from branchy place
Echo, float, reverberate
A pause, then celebrate

Mornings’ rise first slow and quiet
Against dull backdrops now a riot
Their songs a span of treble and bass
Background my day, this hallowed space.

*****

The daybreak song of birds seems brighter and more clear than ever before. Have you noticed? I tried to to capture their music ((impossible)) by playing around with meter and rhyme. I hope the joy comes through the verses.

{{Also? I’m working on my second book, a self-published volume of poetry. Working title: “Hearts on Pilgrimage~a Poetry Collection.” Stay tuned & in the meantime, you can click HERE to read more of my poems.}}

Celestial Bodies {a #poem}

My weary eyes need reminders to
view the galaxies aright. Focused on
the sliver of moon, they forget an
entire orb hides in the dark.
I gaze at dull concrete, traipse
around the observatory, past
an entrance where God stands in the
doorway beckoning me to peer,
Galileo-like, past roofs, across
trees, into velvet sky.

As feet pause on sure ground,
a whisper beckons to dream
above, beyond to distant beauty.
Consider the immeasurable
heavens inside, reckon my
need as I’m handed a telescope.

Brightened eyes rest and remember.


This poem was written as part of Poems for Ephesians, an online project of D.S. Martin at McMasters Divinity College. I was particularly taken by Eugene Peterson’s rendering of these verses in Chapter 1: 17) “I ask the God our master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory – to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, 18 your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for Christians, 19 oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him – endless energy, boundless strength! 20 All this energy issues from Christ: God raised him from death and set him on a throne in deep heaven, 21 in charge of running the universe, everything from galaxies to governments,” 

How appropriate this passage is for these times, #lifeinthetimeofthecorona, where we cling to the truth that God is “in charge of running the universe, everything from galaxies to governments.” And, that as believers in Jesus, we would be urged to “grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life.”

I want to reckon my need as I’m handed a telescope, to rest and remember the power of Jesus in me and on display in the world, from the particular to farflung planets. He is over it all.

Advent-Waiting {a #poem}

shadows smudge on the wall
beside me, gray on red
as I look up, pensive,
pen in hand to write.
how to right this over indulgence,
too full of my own
bloated worry?
I’ve buried my prayers, fed one
saturated heart with cares
not meant to be carried.
fasting from the thoughts that also
fill my brain seems a lifeline
in this season where we’re
drowning in too much.
I shut the door, shutter the blinds
and feast on silence, making
space in my waiting for the
gift to arrive, though it tarry.
it occurs to me, that like
the Christ child’s birth,
answers may look far
different than I expect.
so I make room in the welcome
dark, waiting for the light,
which will surely dawn.

Conversation {a #poem}

IMG_20191027_153436What did I do to deserve this? is the wrong ask.

Because you didn’t.

Do anything.

There is no quid pro quo/cash economy in this wide

invisible, Kingdom-filled world. The sunlight searching

between oak leaves, the slant of green on the birdbath,

chime of silver in the breeze. It’s all gift.

Like the sloppy kiss of a two-year-old or an unexpected

letter in the mail, you are worth surprising.

Don’t quibble with your questions, paint your Creator

God as an if/then Saviour. He is a because/when God.

Because you are mine, I will pour out my gracelings

when I want, to whom I want.

Just look up from time to time and say thanks.

That is always the correct answer.