The snow lies still

The snow lies still upon the rooftops.

From a few houses

smoke rises in a misty haze

and the streetlights blaze

like midnight suns.

All is silent

except the steady breathing of my toddler

whom I’m rocking back to sleep.

In the upper bedroom

across the street

insomnia reigns

and the blue lights of the television

flash out a noiseless dance.

But the snow lies still upon the rooftops

and silence greets my sleepy glance outside.

Solitary Light

Suffering friend,

your brightness bursts

through the dark like lightning.

People are awed by your strength and beauty.

They do not hear the cry of your pain–

your anguish always swallowed up by thunder.

They see only your power,

blinded to the pain that rips

your heart in half with such terrible violence.

They do not realize that you yearn

to be a candle–a warm light

shining in cosy concert with others–

the same simple joys lighting up your face.

Gorgeous, devastating lightning bolt,

strike no more alone,

surrounded by the cold empty air

that crashes through your lungs in suffocating silence

while your tears invisibly drown in the storm.

Reach for me,

let me feel the sting of your pain,

absorb some of the shock,

connect with the current coursing through you.

Illumine my ignorance.

Unblind me so I can see with you

the world from the eye of the storm.

Image from https://ignatiansolidarity.net/blog/2015/10/06/student-voices-thunderstruck-by-pride/

Confidence Comes From a Place of Quiet


We live in a society filled with experts. There are specialists who are eager and willing to tell you how to do just about everything. Want to clean out your closet? Feed your kids well? Wear the right colour for your hair? Thrive in the workplace? There are likely dozens of e-courses, books and podcasts to teach you how. Let’s just hope they all agree…lest the conflicting “experts” cause more confusion and give you even less clarity. 

While the abundance of information is potentially enriching, I wonder what it does to our confidence to feel we need to consult an expert or extensively research every decision. Who are we, after all, to decide for ourselves? And are we actually doing anything right??

This kind of insecurity can rob us of peace. It’s impossible to follow everyone’s advice, in the same way it’s impossible to wash your hair with every kind of shampoo that claims to be best. It would make you crazy to try. So we have to calmly make choices and stand by them.  Nobody else knows how to be you. Remember this, and don’t go against your gut because something is currently trendy or thought to be essential. These things change all the time anyway. 

But to shut out these clamouring voices, we need to seek a place of quiet. To turn off all our many devices and remember what it’s like to hang out with ourselves. With no add breaks. No interruptions. Just our own thoughts, and if we listen carefully enough, that still, small voice that guides our heart. The company of the one true Expert, the One who made us and knows every fibre of our being…who knows what challenges, graces, and gifts we need to be truly happy. In this place, we can remember who we are and what’s really important. 


So as the busy fall season approaches with all its potential activities, try to ask yourself quietly: “Which of these will actually contribute to the well-being of my family?” “What do we actually feel called to do?” “Which of these would maybe look good on a resumé, but lead us to being overbooked, overstressed, and short on time to enjoy being together with those we love?” 

If you ask such things quietly, peacefully, and in an attitude of listening, chances are your heart will guide you. And acting from a place of quiet, you’ll have the confidence to stand by your decisions, despite the storm of “expert” opinions ever swirling around you. In that inner quiet, you’ll find the freedom to be you. 

The Persistant Insomniac

Late at night

her eyes are wide open

as two full moons

beaming out in the dark.

Inside fires burn

flames flicker and refuse

the stillness of sleep.

 

She gets up

grabs her book

a sweater

a snack

and keeps a late night kitchen vigil

with insomnia…

–this date with quiet–

delicious silent solitude.

 

She feeds her soul

with bread and words,

then rubs her fingers together,

lights the surrounding gloom with sparks

and writes fire!

Rain Murmurs Gently

Rain falls on the gazebo roof
and murmurs gently 
in the surrounding forest

I sit here with the stone lion
who gazes with undivided attention 
into the nearby woods
as if expecting Aslan 

I admire his silence
and try to cultivate interior quiet
attuning my ears to the soft sounds
of bird calls and frog chatter
sounds of my youth
unchanged and immortal

The baby sleeps warmly on my chest
snuggled beneath the nursing cover
I sigh and he echoes me
heart to heart
imitating me even in his sleep

A tiny spider throws his rope onto my iPad 
and hangs out with me while I write
Today even a spider
is delightful 

Belly Laugh

I blow on your bare baby belly

and you chuckle those first precious laughs

as you cling to my hair.

My heart aches with bittersweet joy

for the giggles I never heard,

the solemn silence of your big sister,

born still. 

Yet I am so relieved you are here safe—

that you are laughing and alive.

On an impulse,

I lay my ear on your warm little chest and listen:

“Badda -boom, badda-boom, badda-boom!”

Thank God, thank God, thank God! Goes your little drum. 

I fight tears as your pull my hair with your chubby little hands

into your sweet, warm mouth. Thank God, thank God, thank God!
  

  

Wendell Berry’s “How to be a Poet”

Poetry as a gift of silence…Here is a poem which spoke to my heart like a familiar breeze ruffling through the forest, bringing new life and resonating with joy. It is from author Wendell Berry’s book New Collected Poems

  

HOW TO BE A POET (to remind myself)

Make a place to sit down.

Sit down. Be quiet.

You must depend upon

affection, reading, knowledge,

skill — more of each

than you have — inspiration,

work, growing older, patience,

for patience joins time

to eternity. Any readers

who like your poems,

doubt their judgment.

Breathe with unconditional breath

the unconditioned air.

Shun electric wire.

Communicate slowly. Live

a three-dimensioned life;

stay away from screens.

Stay away from anything

that obscures the place it is in.

There are no unsacred places;

there are only sacred places

and desecrated places.

Accept what comes from silence.

Make the best you can of it.

Of the little words that come

out of the silence, like prayers

prayed back to the one who prays,

make a poem that does not disturb

the silence from which it came.

Nothing to offer but silence

Rummaging through the cupboards of my soul

I find I have nothing to offer you.

Where is the spiritual nourishment I want to share?

The refreshing tidbit of wisdom

to savour on the tip of your tongue?

 

Looking, looking, I come up empty…

 

All I can offer is a bit of space

for you to lay down your burdens,

a bare shelf in my heart

you’re welcome to fill with your sorrows

or joys.

 

I will sit with you, friend,

and offer the silence your story needs

to come out and dance.

 

Some Things the Broken Heart Knows

There are some things the broken heart knows. It knows them in a way not unreasonable, but beyond reason, deeper than it. I know that love is not limited. We don’t run out. There are people who would say that because the baby I lost was my sixth, she didn’t matter as much. That it wasn’t such a terrible tragedy, because I have the others. That perhaps I didn’t need to love her all that much, because I already had enough.

But I can tell you something, from the depths of my soul, that each child is worth all the love the universe can contain. And they do not earn it. Do not need to. A mother’s heart loves her child because that’s what it was created to do, because that’s what it must do, the way we must breathe in order to live.

I love Josephine even though she never took a breath. I love Josephine even though she never once had the chance to smile at me. I love Josephine even though she will never say “Mama,”until I reach the pearly gates. I love her simply because she is my daughter and always will be.

And I want to share with you through my tears, what came to me in prayer: that each one of you, each one of us, myself included, is one of those precious children who is infinitely and unconditionally loved by God.

Perhaps many of us find this hard to except. We think we need to earn love, we think we need to deserve it. But our Father God loves each one of us with all the madness of the heart in love, with all the tender awe of a father holding his newborn child. He loves you simply because you exist. He loves you because he created you and you are his own, and he will love you forever. No matter what. Despite everything. Because the nature of Love is to love.

Every child is a universe unto themselves, it is said, and every child is a unique creation with a unique mission. We should have such reverence and respect for every single person. Created by God they are sacred; loved by God they are precious. In fact so precious that God, just like a human father, so willingly gives his life for each one of them.

I understand this better now. If there is anything I could have done to save my daughter, even at the cost of my own life, I would do it. A parent’s love doesn’t count the cost. God’s love doesn’t need to be earned because a parent’s love doesn’t need to be earned. All it wants is to be returned. And across time and space, from the throne of grace where she sits curled up on our Father God’s lap, my little daughter’s love reaches me.

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