Poetry & Words

What People Don’t Understand About Having an Only Child

What People Don't Understand About Having an Only Child

Five years ago.  I don’t wish time to stop, because if time had stopped then I wouldn’t have today in all its glorious tumbling mix of beauty and brokenness.

No, I never wish time to stop.

This photo from the past is a femtosecond suspended in space — a single transient moment in time’s flight over us.

We’re in my favorite place on earth, high above the sea overlooking Bodega Bay, and the white-bright sunset is casting slivers of diamonds over us, by the handful. My pants don’t match my shirt, and I’m wearing my brother-in-law’s too-big shoes. She’s set to bolt away and grab fistfuls of sand. The sky is molten. We are hands on a clock, dials on the face of the sun.

And time flies on.

The shadows go round, and round, and round. She’s so little here, my third-grader, and my heart sometimes feels like it will split right down the middle.

See, she’s a miracle, you know, I miracle God granted in defiance of what time’s overly-speedy hands had begun to do to my physical body. And she’s light. Can’t you see it here, the light? True to her name, she’s Alenka, the radiance. When she was born, the nurse learned over the bed and asked, in a voice breaking under the weight of meaning, “What have you come to teach us?”

Strangers, won’t you step down and lift your head and open your eyes? Won’t you see beyond the narrow explanation you’ve created in your own mind?

You ask me why I had no more; I reply: no more arrived.

You ask so often. Do you realize how often you ask?

You never see the sorrow in my reply.

You ask at the line in the grocery store.

You ask at the library.

You ask at homeschool groups. (Oh, especially at homeschool groups.)

We’re dependent on God for so much. The thin tissue of our lungs fills and empties, fills and empties, fills and empties. We breath in oxygen; our organs are fed. We do not owe the function of these inner workings to our own righteousness. Our heartbeats, our respirations, the skin that covers these shells — gifts from the Maker, all.

Don’t count and measure and compare.

We aren’t given equal portions in this life, but we are given enough. We are given our portion. It is my sorrow that my arms cannot hold more; yet it is my joy they can hold the unspeakable gift I’ve been given.

Can you look at this life as liquid gold, with me? As chrysolite and as chalcedony? [1] We all walk sacred ground; there are no ordinary places. [2] We are souls inhabiting bodies; we are magic of the celestial kind.

Look to the Light, my friends, look to the Light and rejoice.

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Poetry & Words

What We Lost When Blogging Became a Business

Before page-views were king, before influencers was common jargon, before the time of 5 Reasons my Words are Important Enough for you to Click, I might have opened a tab and written —

you’re impossible to me now
in a sea of lost Novembers.
the periwinkle fog has settled
over Paz, and the velvet chair.

or

the same black-winged bird who used to announce the dawn
now creeps
unbidden
in step with time
leaving his tiny-lined footsteps behind.

or

i never saw beauty
in everything dead
in flattened grass, swollen rivers
and bridges, rusted red —

— when, of course, none of that was true. I saw all the beauty in the world, tumbled up with all the pain, in that breathtaking crumbling bridge.

I’ve been blogging for more than 15 years, and now, times are different. Now, they tell you, you have readers, and your readers don’t come for you. They come for themselves. Your readers are busy. Don’t waste their time. Don’t write unless you have something to offer. Your readers want suggestions, tips, lists. Don’t add to the white noise.

Sometimes, I can do that, you know. Sometimes I can deliver you an orderly Q+A on math or a list of resources for learning Chinese. I can even tidy up the thoughts I’ve collected about morality and epiphanies. I know how to sort my SEO and double-check my keywords and optimize and make it easy for you to pin and share and upvote and print.

But sometimes, I can’t. Sometimes I just write about death.

Sometimes there’s no pinnable image, no list of reasons why, no problem I can solve for you. Sometimes there’s just a tiny glimmer of light I want you to see.

There are two warring worlds here: the world of all the business-savvy ways to make my personal brand soar, and the other world where I quietly scratch my letters in the sand. “Perhaps I write for no one,” Margaret Atwood said. “Perhaps for the same person children are writing for when they scrawl their names in the snow.”

Perhaps I, too, write for no one.

Like Elinor Wylie, there are days I have nothing to offer but a set of scrawling words.

I cannot give you the Metropolitan Tower;
I cannot give you heaven;
Nor the nine Visigoth crowns in the Cluny Museum;
Nor happiness, even.
But I can give you a very small purse
Made out of field-mouse skin,
With a painted picture of the universe
And seven blue tears therein.

I cannot give you the Island of Capri;
I cannot give you beauty;
Nor bake you marvellous crusty cherry pies
With love and duty.
But I can give you a very little locket
Made out of wildcat hide:
Put it in your left-hand pocket
And never look inside.

“I think that almost everyone in the world is looking for something”, Lord Derby tells Michele in the award-winning book Red Sails to Capri.  “I had come to Capri in search of beauty….But [the ugly things] — if I have made you see a bit of beauty in them, Michele, I am very happy.”

Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) says he’s noticed “unembarrassed joy is getting rarer“. That’s sad to me. Isn’t joy of just as much value — of more value — than all the other things we come to blogs to find? Isn’t beauty and joy in in the middle of the ordinary worth it all?

I’m not crazy enough to think my words matter to the everyone. But maybe, these words matter to you. Maybe you saw a little peek of joy in the mist of the mundane, exhausting ordinary.

And if you saw a little ray of light — shining just for you and for no one else, then my words are enough.

“…tomorrow, dawn will come the way I picture her, barefoot and disheveled, standing outside my window in one of the fragile cotton dresses of the poor. She will look in at me with her thin arms extended, offering a handful of birdsong and a small cup of light.” -Billy Collins

Won’t you take this cup of light?

Christmas, Poetry & Words

WRITING & WORDS :: Let My Eyes Always be Open to Your Beauty

There is something in this night that makes it quiet, even though the freeway is just outside my window. Between the time the sun bows down and the sun stands up again, the cars still shuffle past, slowing to pass between the concrete pillars marked with blinking toll lights. The drivers must slow down before they speed up again, driving away from one place and toward another, probably in a hurry, probably unaware that the hum of their car engine is a steady backdrop to my dreams.

Aveline holding yarn looking at tree

I could never have made these dreams come true, not on my own. But you know, don’t you, that the Giver of All Good Things takes these threads, one by one, and gently untangles them. He weaves each shining thread into my life-filled hours, weaving in and out, always with purpose, always with design, always toward a beautiful end, until I’m walking on a tapestry I didn’t even realize was there.

Oh, Father God, Creator, let my eyes always be open to Your beauty.

Poetry & Words

A “more different” start to Thanksgiving week

This is Thanksgiving week, the very first time in which the entire meal preparation falls to me…the very first time it’s just our little family for the holiday.

I was planning to take Monday — this week — by storm. I was planning to finish painting the letters on a handmade Happy Thanksgiving banner, package up another order and head to the post office, then drop off the Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes. Then I was planning to break down the Thanksgiving preparation list into today’s, tomorrow’s, and Wednesday’s tasks, figure out what other ingredients I still need to pick up from the grocery store, and start cooking. Visions of pumpkin pie, orange-cranberry sauce and roasted garlic mashed potatoes were dancing in my head.

Instead, I’m sitting here wrapped in a blanket, coughing and sniffling. The Thanksgiving banner just says “Happy”. Aveline is yelling in an ear-splitting manner while she gleefully beats a wooden spoon on a cooking pot. Maybe I can just toss some ingredients in her pot and hope for the best?

Aveline cooking Thanksgiving dinner

Poetry & Words

Exhausted but Thankful

Aveline during breakfast

I’ve been exhausted this past week. I feel so worn-out, but I suppose know it’s my own fault. (Mom, don’t read this next part). I’ve not been diligent about taking my Floravital Iron, and as a result I’m feeling especially anemic. Bleah. You’d think I’d have learned my lesson by now, but noooo.

But, this morning, I’m thankful for so many things.

I’m thankful Hurricane Irene has shifted away from Florida.

I’m thankful the weekend is just around the corner (we have big plans to watch movies and lounge on the couch).

I’m thankful for the sales I’ve had on Facebook and through Etsy.

I’m thankful for coffee, this news that coffee prices are dropping, and a husband who makes me a strong cuppa every morning before he leaves for work.

And of course, I’m thankful for my wonderful little sweet pea.

I could go on and on — what are you thankful for this morning?

Mustard and Taupe Striped Crochet Hat via Oaxacaborn on Etsy