selling the world

The family joke goes like this: My children ask me what I want for my birthday. I tell them that I want them to write me a poem. Sometimes it has even worked, this birthday request of poetry.

Yesterday I received a gift. Aware that my heart is sore from the pain of my little sister’s beloved son in intensive care and knowing that my heart is sore from the bruising of this election and life, my eldest daughter sent me a poem.

I share it with you because it was balm for my soul and perhaps it will be so for yours.

And, would you loft a prayer for my nephew Miles? He is a paramedic who flies through the air on a helicopter to provide healing for others. His medical helicopter crashed early Saturday morning. He is in critical condition. We are not meant to fall from the sky and live but live he does and so we give thanks for good bones and the ways in which beautiful is made.

Good Bones
Maggie Smith

Life is short, though I keep this from my children.
Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine
in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,
a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways
I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least
fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative
estimate, though I keep this from my children.
For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.
For every loved child, a child broken, bagged,
sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world
is at least half terrible, and for every kind
stranger, there is one who would break you,
though I keep this from my children. I am trying
to sell them the world. Any decent realtor,
walking you through a real shithole, chirps on
about good bones: This place could be beautiful,
right? You could make this place beautiful.

so much

Gratitude takes up space.

Gratitude swells and transforms and it is alive alive.

The kindnesses of my life sprung from the heart of human grace are tender mercy. Love lives in my home and it visits in the form of children who share life and laughter as well as questions and ache. The tender goodness of thick coffee and attentive hearts are ground for the stretch into the unknown of each day.

The artistry of the Holy pounds in the power of the Great Lake outside my window and it spangles in the still of night and the need to stop and pay homage lives in every “thank you” breathed on every day. Two bald eagles dipped blessing over our heads yesterday. Two.

Where is the space for so much gratitude?

kin

I’ve had plenty of opportunity to think about kin these past months.

I left a church that had woven its heart into my own. We became Spirit kin and moving from them left me wobbly.

I arrived at a new place of making life, soul and ministry and have found kindreds who share hunger and thirst for hope and grace. We are making ourselves known to each other in the breaking of bread and the sharing of song and story. I preach and lead worship with pores open, seeking to hear their hearts and feel their questions. We are learning what it means to be kin.

My children by birth and by marriage have been surrounding their clergy parents with support and love and ground during this time of transition.

Cooper and I are learning a new town and new topography and a life without traffic jams and abundant concrete. The land here speaks in cadences of corn and curve.

We are listening to our lives.

On this day my children by birth are gathering at our cabin. They are celebrating a “sib fest”.

In their midst will be my eldest daughter’s dog. Chela came into Leah’s life in Denver after having roamed the streets. She has been Leah’s steadfast companion during times when her dog heart grounded my daughter in ways life saving. Sometimes I felt like Chela was my heart, able to companion and ground my daughter when I could not.

Said dog is very sick.

I pray body wisdom for my Pit-Bull granddog and heart ease for her mother.

And on this day my heart is sounding wonder about the vastness of love.

Love claims and and companions the making of life and it stretches hearts to the aching place.

We wobble, listen, weep and grow.

We are held by kin who walk on two legs and those who walk on four.

Blessed be.

engaged engaged!

leah and terin 2

My daughter is getting married.

Oh. Oh. Oh.

She who was born bright of eye and wise of soul has found a companion who shares the light and the deep of it all and this, this is momentous.

She will cleave to another. While it has been years since she last shared home with me her home will now be established around the nucleus of the heart they share and tend.

What courage it takes to love, to say “yes”, to open to learning life in the company of another.

They have that courage, do Leah and Terin.

We who love them will bask in the power of what it is they become in each other’s keeping. They are good together. The shine and ground of their love is blessing to creation.

And this mother, this mother is feeling the cellular surrender that began at Leah’s birth. It has long been such wonder to behold the world through her being.

Now I add another to my heart and apprentice myself to learning life through him and my daughter is getting married.

I who have died

Eleven years ago I moved to Minneapolis a newly divorced woman with three grieving children.

We were all nuts.

Somehow we lived, one day to the next. The eldest left for college. The two youngest endured finding their own new ways in a new place, as did their mother. Life was marked by train rides to see their dad and sometimes visits with the Chicago-dwelling eldest. We were careful around each other. We grieved. Oh, we grieved.

And we lived.

Friends were found and life made and gradually it became easier to breathe.

We lived:

Pick ups to and from college for three. A”bonus dad” and “bonus sibs” to acclimate to. More friends, explorations, band concerts, leaving and returning and growing awareness that the bond of love is a rare and precious thing.

Graduations from college and jobs won and left. Partners welcomed and woven into kin fabric. Hearts passionate about healing and justice and beauty and community and the splendor of the earth. Pastor’s kids adept with people and open to life.

And now the youngest graduates on Saturday. There for his walk will be his deepest and most tenacious fans: his mom and dad, his step-Coop, his sisters and their partners and on the next day a raucous cloud of witnesses present to mark the good of it all.

It will be the last big party at this house that has known many parties – some I knew about and many I did not. We will be together, we who have been so blessed to walk from a world saturated by grief into a world near too-full of gratitude.

I can’t speak it fully. e. e. cummings comes close:

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
wich is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday;this is the birth
day of life and love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any-lifted from the no
of all nothing-human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)
e.e. cummings

We are alive.

I thank you God for most this amazing.

dogs and houses

We are readying our house for sale.

This house energetically reached out and grabbed me from the moment I first entered her front door.

Home for the last nine years is a grand old foursquare Victorian. She has gleaming wood and stained and leaded glass windows and she has held us with such grace. Parties – those I know about and the many I do not – to celebrate graduations and weddings and college leave-takings and returns and room to settle when life threw curves and coffee pots drained and cards dealt and meals shared and flotsam and jetsam accumulated through nine years of merging and setting out; all these things live in this place.

We are readying her for her next work.

And we are having to do our own work of celebrating and marking and mourning that which was and that which will be no more as well as that which will always be.

It seems I tell my life through dogs and houses.

I mark my days and ways of being according to the dog love and the house that conspired to hold me.

This house has held me and mine with such grace.

It is the house of Zoe, Mick and Ball and an Olm Wiggen Macaulay clan made flesh under her roof.

Good work.

gingerbread

The ground keeps shifting.

For awhile shifting was something that felt important to resist. With change comes loss and grief about that loss. Letting go of what was in order to live what is felt somehow wrong or disloyal.

I spent precious energies trying to recreate what can never be again and in that insistence upon constancy I forgot the core constant: The ground keeps shifting.

Anything that cannot change will die. Biological truth is making its way to my heart.

Around the table at Thanksgiving were beloveds. Some were missing. Those not present were joining other families or they were doing what felt important to them. Next year the same will be true. There will be those who are there and those not there and rather than lament or rail or whimper about what is not my heart was and is so full of what is.

I am able to set a table and there are those who come.

The wonder of it.

At church, in my home, and through my heart I am able to set a table and there are those who come.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.