When Your Workout Includes Wait Training

I want to fly these dumbbells

up, down, up, down

quick! The momentum of each

lift rising at my side pushing past

perhaps what’s safe or wise

in the name of what? Speed

or yes, the checklist-exercise-

done! When I slow instead,

face the window and raise

these weighted arms slow,

slow, slow-up; slow, slow, slow-

down-the strain increases but the

work muscle-wise is longer lasting.

I feel the wait and wonder if speed

is highly overrated. Aware of the

answer, I rest into the process

lifting again, lowering at my leisure.

Repeat.Relax.Rest.Return.

And find a lesson in these weights,

an exercise written over taut skin,

reaching to my soul.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I’m heading to the Cascade Mountains of Washington for a weeklong writing project (first draft of my little book!). I covet your prayers for this process–I’d like to speed it up, but God keeps reminding me He’s with me while I wait on Him for the words.

Why Creation is a Messy Process

It all began with my suitcase.

I recently returned from a five day trip to Texas to see family and friends and attend a writer’s conference in the Austin area. I packed way too many clothes and shoes. And books. (One always miscalculates the amount of ‘free time’ to read while on a trip.) In fact, when I checked into our airport in Seattle, my suitcase was three pounds overweight. I had to do some quick reshuffling to manage everything. Sigh. Out with the laptop, out with the pillow (yes, I travel with my pillow). Out with the shoes. Buy new shopping bag to sling over my shoulder. Sigh again.

Besides gleaning some nuggets of truth from the folks I heard at the three- day conference, I also began mentally gleaning my wardrobe. Weird, I know, but God often uses my physical life as an object lesson to illustrate what he’s doing inside me.

One of the gifts of getting older is finding out what you like and don’t like, what you love and what you can live without. Not only with words but in this case, with my wardrobe. I was processing new discoveries about ways of looking at my writing, adding them to the mix of my current mindset, but my mind was over-full. My overflowing suitcase matched my over-stuffed mind.

Some things needed to go to make room for these new ideas.

One of the conference speakers relayed the ideas of looking at our writing through orientation, disorientation and reorientation. I love learning about words and their root meaning. When I got home I looked up the word ‘orient’–from the Latin, ‘oriens’ meaning ‘rising sun’. When we are facing ourselves in the right direction—towards the Son—Jesus—things feel right. But when God is doing something new we feel disoriented.

We often dislike the feeling of being disoriented, so we try to pass over it too quickly to eliminate the uneasy feelings. But God is often there in the mess. In fact, He is always there in the mess. Maybe we need to take time to process and work through what’s there so we can learn from it.

******

I returned from my trip on a Saturday evening. The next day I thought about rushing off to church to be with family and friends in worship. But something pulled me towards dealing with my overstuffed suitcase. I needed to get rid of some of my clothes; most of my clothes. My husband kissed me goodbye and left me to my project.20170219_154157

I was determined to go through two closets (two!) and two dressers (seriously?), keep what I knew I loved and would wear again and get rid of all the rest.The process took me most of that day and little of the next. By the time I finished I had two big plastic blue Ikea bags full to the brim.

It’s hard to explain how much lighter I felt. Not only did I have more room in my closets, I could actually see what I had.  Clearly I don’t need anything new to wear, what I have now is the ability to put things together in a new way that feels right to me. I felt reoriented, creative.

*******  

Creation is like that, whether we’re writing a poem, planting a garden or building a piece of furniture. It often begins with the mess of feeling disoriented while things are undone and all over the place. Stuff needs to be moved around, thrown out, cut down, laid all over the floor.

I think we need the disorientation process more than we know. The song ‘Simple Gifts’ has the lines about ‘turning, turning, til we come out right.’ Our lives are a continual turning towards the Son to see what needs changing, throwing away, cutting back. When we embrace the disorientation process we’re better able to see what new and beautiful creations God has to give through us.

What mess is God calling you to make today? What have you gone through that’s led to something new? Please share in the comments.

_ _ _ _ _

Simple Gifts” is a Shaker song written and composed in 1848 by Elder Joseph Brackett. You can hear Judy Collins singing it here.

* * *  linking with Jennifer Dukes Lee for Tell His Story

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What Really Matters {it’s not the envelope}

The snow comes, unexpected like

grace after a fall (yours, mine,

ours) a quiet wool covering missteps,

mistakes, messes.

This white-soft gift leaves an expanse

of peace, pulling my eyes away from the

ground, these humble, human feet,

to the misty, gray horizon.

Heart now centered, sheltered, still

while Creation whispers my thanks.

****

I don’t know about you, but this Monday morning leaves me feeling a little undone. Did you watch the Oscars? Did you see the mess-up at the end, the snafu that has never happened before with the envelope announcing Best Picture being the wrong one? How would you like to be the person that did that? 

I’ve other things on my mind–a convalescing husband who’s post-surgery demands are taxing my self-centered flesh, a messy kitchen, incomplete projects, inside & out.

I’m in the middle of living through being disoriented. The root of the word ‘orient’ is from the Latin-‘oriens’, meaning rising sun. Well, of course. When I turn my heart and mind and self towards the East, towards the rising sun–Jesus–I can see things in the right perspective. I feel oriented again.

I don’t like to live with being disoriented, but that’s where I am right now. I’m grateful for God’s word and presence that keeps me looking up in the right direction, shining light on what really matters.

Where are you today? Feeling oriented, disoriented or are you in the middle of reorienting?

Leave your thoughts in the Comments.

When Poems Beget Poetry

“The day is done and all the fields lie fallow,

One thing is needful, one voice calls your name.”

From the Sonnet “Pilgrimage” for Kate Gross, by Malcolm Guite

Selection from “Parable and Paradox”

#1

What if, plowing, the farmer

should find finished

the fields, sheaves all in

and bewildered, be turned

towards home to hear,

“no more, no more?” Sowing

done, Earth’s floor is

Heaven’s now, seeds have

sprouted, bloomed, grown.

Every soul planted in

Heaven’s soil is gathered in.

Home.

~~~~~~~

“Pray that we learn the lost arts of our past/The arts of letting go and sowing seeds,

That secrets of the lowly and the least/Might save us from the dreadful things that last.”

ibid. “In Praise of Decay”

#2

Let things die.

Their death is fertile soil

for what will be birthed behind.

Why do we cling so strongly, hang

on to life, fearful of sure death?

Perhaps it is our own transitory nature…

we have eternity knit in our hearts–

we will live forever–just not here.

~~~~~~~

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For Friends Too Many to Name

Years and miles evaporate

like the season’s new-birthed fog,

leaving the strong, bright gleam of

friendship lighthouse true.

Holding true like the trees weathered

through decades of sun as we

weathered our own wearying

waves of life, lapping at the edge

of our friendship, threatening

to erode the years of tears

and laughter, the space and distance

breakers in between.

In between we hold on, reach

out past the yesterdays touching this

day as we raise high our glasses

crystal etching the air, the glittering sound

noting the miracle we are still here.

(you can read more of my poetry Here on my poetry blog.)

~~~~~~~~

Culling through several decades of cards and letters has put me in a pensive-yet-thankful mood; thankful for lifelong friends from the beginning of time. This poem is for all of them; they know who they are.