Poetry & Words

POETRY & WORDS :: That’s the one thing you can’t do, when you’re a sojourner

The one thing you cant do when you're a sojourner (a post on #grief from the Oaxacaborn blog)

When you’re a sojourner, you miss milestones. You miss friends’ graduation open houses, you miss engagement parties, you miss their weddings. You see the highlights, but you miss all the late nights. You miss the unsung moments that expand gloriously to fill the spaces between each infrequent occasion we mark with a long distance  text, or an even less-frequent card.

And then, as time passes, you start missing something else, too.

You miss the funerals.

Your friend dies, and you can’t be there for the funeral.

Your friend’s mother dies, and you can’t be there for the funeral.

Your friend’s baby dies, and you can’t be there for the funeral.

It is not true that distance makes the heart grow fonder. Distance actually makes the heart swell with grief, makes ones whole being ache deeply, wearily, at the realization that

you

can’t

be

there.

Distance  means you can’t be there

to silently hold,

to cry alongside,

to weep together.

They tell you nothing is the best thing to say in the face of grief.

They don’t tell you how impossible it is to fill a blank card with mutual tears, fold it into a stiff envelope, and drop it down down down into the unknown darkness, where it will sail away, carried by unsuspecting hands, and finally land in a faraway box, alone and a bit worn around the edges.

They tell you just to be there.

And that’s the one thing you can’t do, when you’re a sojourner.

Poetry & Words

POETRY & WORDS :: Five Months Ago, She Slipped Away

photo (16)

Five months ago, she was met with the loudest hallelujahs.

I didn’t hear any of them.

Five months ago, she slipped free from this realm.

I’m still earthbound.

These five months have been the longest, and the shortest.  It feels like I should be able to walk backwards, at any time, and fall right back into where I was when we were all a decade younger and a decade louder and only a decade away from the day when she’d fly home, right there, in front of all of us.

Oh, if we would have known then that those Friday nights were once-in-a-lifetime, if we would have known then that’s all we were given on this side of the sky. But we didn’t know, of course; we never knew and we still don’t know. Today we might very well be sitting inside the same kind of golden moment that will we’ll look back on from the next decade, the same golden moment that we will look back on through the fading edges of time. We’ll want to grab it; but we won’t be able to.

But we can hold on to this moment we’re sitting inside of now.

We can hold onto it now, and hold on to our people, and hold onto it all while we can, hold onto it with open arms and wild abandon and the kind of joy that’s poured out of heaven’s lap itself — we can hold onto it all until it’s time to let go. And then we’ll hold onto our God, and he’ll hold onto us, and he’ll hold us there in the storm so we won’t fold over when the winds grows fierce and the winds rip up the roots and the winds change it all.

And in the quietness and in the roar, through the tears and the laughter and the journeys that make up everyday living, I can sing —

— it is well

it is well

it is well with my soul.

 

Poetry & Words

POETRY & WORDS :: In death, life becomes everything

Death, in all its soul-wrenching grief, gives perspective

When there is a death, it rattles you.

The very fact of life, previously neglected beneath the raging urgent tyranny of tasks, grows larger and larger until it fills the room and becomes the one thing you see coursing through everything.

And in the grieving silence that’s followed Holly’s death, I’ve never been so aware of my ability to see and hear and feel the heartbeat of everyone in the room. Life never seemed so obvious, so mysterious, so frustratingly completely and entirely out of my control.

In the faces around me, over and over and over again, I saw only this: he is alive, she is alive, this one is alive. The very existence of life, once overlooked, became everything.

Death has reminded me that the frustrations and irritations which raise our ire and make us indignant — all those situations which cause us to lash out and speak out and act out — precious few of those things actually matter. Death, in all its soul-wrenching grief and sorrow, shows us perspective.

While the wave crashes over me and I can’t see the sky for the watery canopy, I grasp snippets of this: others over pride. Others over self. This moment, because you’re not guaranteed the next. This child, because she’s on loan. This man, because our days are numbered and written in a book.

I want this to be her legacy in my life.

I want to listen more than I speak, and I want to stop jumping up so quickly, boxing gloves donned, ready to fight.

Like my friend Andrea says, “I can say what I want about theology, doctrine, justice, right and wrong and so on, but at the end of the day, when the fires are dying, it’s clear we were all created by One and placed on one earth, under one sky, on one planet. …There is only one man who came to this earth, and was not entirely made up of the stuff of this earth, and it’s Him that I want to get my fire from. It’s His light I want to see in the stars; his stories that were told fireside that I want to find in my own.”

It’s life that matters, it’s people who are alive, and this earth is where I am.

I want to make it count.

Poetry & Words

She’s outside of time. We’re in it.

One week and three days. That’s how long it’s been since Holly left this earth. Thirty years she lived on this side of eternal life.

“We are not alone / We are more than flesh and bone / What is seen will pass away / What is not is going home…” –Andrew Peterson

Donations to Ethopian school  Ziway Adami Tulu in memory of Holly Lutterman[Donate in Holly’s memory to the The Ziway + Adami Tulu Project]

And now, she’s home.

She’s dancing in the pure Light, healed. 

She’s outside of time. We’re in it. She’s free, and we’re trapped, feeling deeply the ebb and flow of new grief, constantly aware of life’s frailty.

The thing about death, you know, is that the living keep on living.

“The living can’t quit living,” Wendell Berry writes. “They can’t because they don’t. The light that shines into darkness and never goes out calls them on into life. It calls them back again into the great room. It calls them into their bodies and into the world, into whatever the world will require. It calls them into work and pleasure, goodness and beauty, and the company of other loved ones.”

And so we can’t quit. We don’t. We keep on, changed. Our perspectives shift, our priorities shift, our vision is altered. But we don’t quit.

We mourn, but not without hope. We grieve, but not without hope.

Hope is the anchor.

Hope points me to the “holy shores of uncreated light“, and the One who lights the way.

“‘Praise, Praise!’ I croak. Praise God for all that’s holy, cold, and dark. Praise him for all we lose, for all the river of the years bears off. Praise him for stillness in the wake of pain. Praise him for emptiness. And as you race to spill into the sea, praise him yourself, old Wear. Praise him for dying and the peace of death.

…Now that I can hardly walk, I crawl to meet him there. He takes me in his chilly lap to wash me of my sins. Or I kneel down beside him till within his depths I see a star.

Sometimes this star is still. Sometimes she dances. She is [Holly]’s star. Within that little pool of Wear she winks at me. I wink at her. The secret that we share I cannot tell in full. But this much I will tell. What’s lost is nothing to what’s found, and all the death that ever was, set next to life, would scarcely fill a cup.” -Frederick Buechner

Poetry & Words

POETRY & WORDS :: It is early in the days of new grief

The grief will change usIt is early in the days of new grief, and the sorrow comes in waves, tidal, like the roaring surge of surf just before the crash, just before the sea glass scatters, rearranged, just before the shelled critters scurry backwards into the sand.

I lie awake in the stillness, awake until just before the periwinkle dawn. I’m afraid to close my eyes because I don’t want to forget. In the morning, I blink, I sit up, and for eight fleeting, transitory seconds, I’ve forgotten. Then the grief crashes in, then I remember, and the flood of tears roll down.

Maybe the grief will always come like the ocean’s tide, glistening like December topaz, glistening like the salty water that rearranged the Klamath coast every year. The river ran through it, always shifting, always flowing, always shaping the earth around it. Some years the driftwood arranged itself into gentle patterns and the sands fell smooth, sloping down gently into the brackish river. And some years the dunes rose high, and the winds whipped, and the gnarled branches of petrified wood were tangled in between the constant rise and fall of frothy waves.

Like the river against the stones, the ocean against the glass, and the mouth of the ocean against the changing shore, the grief will change me.

It will change us.

Every year, it will look different.

The river will continue to ebb and flow, the shoreline will be carved and smoothed, the waters will rise and fall, the glass will be broken and polished, the winds will breathe in and out.

He makes all things beautiful in His time.