Poetry & Words

POETRY & WORDS :: And I’ll Sing in the Land of my Sojourn

And I'll Sing in the Land of My Sojourn by Gina Munsey on Oaxacaborn, with quotes by Rich Mullins and Frederick BuechnerIt’s quiet, at least as quiet as an afternoon can be on the second floor of an apartment building, perched at the edge, where the gully dips down into rain-soaked grass and back up again to meet the ragged blacktop edge just before the toll booth.  This little corner of earth where residential and interstate meet is not a destination or a landmark, but I think Rich Mullins would have sung about it [1].

I think he’d have seen the gold in the way the sun fights for light here, like a farmer sees hope and life in the tiniest green shoot.

Maybe he’d have heard a melody in the rumble of the trucks which coast and pull their rattling brake just before the bend in the road, like he did when he sang “And the coal trucks come a-runnin’  / With their bellies full of coal  / And their big wheels a-hummin’  / Down this road that lies open like the soul of a woman…” [2]

He saw beauty, somehow, where others only saw the tired corners, where others only saw the afternoon traffic jams and the faded street signs and the plodding of sojourners down the cracked and uneven sidewalks. When you know everything around you lies in shadow, waiting for the great awakening, when you know we’re all living just on the very cusp of seeing clearly and not through a glass dimly, well, then, there’s beauty in everything broken. Because as soon as that Star shown down into the stable and as soon as He was born, well, redemption was set in motion and that was “When the old world started dying / And the new world started coming on”. [3]

There have been sojourners as long as there has been time itself, mendicants wandering [4] yet wandering with purpose, through the dredges that are made holy with that same purpose. Sojourning is different than drudgery. Drudgery is repetition without hope on a horizontal plane. But sojourning! Ah, sojourning takes the repetition in which drudgery despairs, and views it with eyes opened by the God of Wonder Himself.

“If you think you are seeing the same show all over again seven times a week,” Frederick Buechner writes [5], “you’re crazy. Every morning you wake up to something that in all eternity never was before and never will be again. And the you that wakes up was never the same before and will never be the same again.”

And so, in the midst of the traffic chorus outside my window, and the unwashed laundry and  the unanswered emails, in the midst of confronting evil and doubt, in the midst of working long into the night and consoling a child’s fever and answering unspoken fears, in between the lost moments of sleep and the sunrises awash with new mercies and endless grace, in the arms of everlasting love, “I’ll sing my song / and I’ll sing my song / in the land of my sojourn.”[6]

Homeschooling, Life in Photos, Poetry & Words

POETRY & WORDS :: A History of Weather

Life in Photos :: Sonlight Science A :: Biology, Botany and Physics :: Homeschooling on the Oaxacaborn blog

Life in Photos :: Sonlight Science A :: Biology, Botany and Physics :: Homeschooling on the Oaxacaborn blog

Life in Photos :: Sonlight Science A :: Biology, Botany and Physics :: Homeschooling on the Oaxacaborn blog

Life in Photos :: Sonlight Science A :: Biology, Botany and Physics :: Homeschooling on the Oaxacaborn blog

We spend the mornings together, side by side, she a constant inquisitive spirit, eager, joyful, full of wonder. We sit at the table together, the sun casting shadows through the curtains and across the stacks of books. Sometimes she slowly exclaims “Wow!” and sometimes she shrieks “Tell me more about it!” But always she wants to know more.

I read, she listens. She reads, I listen.

Civilizations.
Atoms.
Voyages and discoveries,  light and darkness.

We turn the pages together. We marvel at the lines in the paintings of the masters together.  We look up into the vast distance of the galaxies together.  We talk of good and evil. We talk of beauty. She asks for more about Moses, more about Joshua, more about Sarah, more about these men and women who walked before. Her voice recites truths, her fingers are just beginning to dance across the piano keys, her little self is flying through books like there is no end to adventure.

Because there is no end to adventure.

Life in Photos :: Sonlight Core A :: An Intro to World Cultures :: Ancient Romans :: Homeschooling on the Oaxacaborn blog

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Life in Photos :: Sonlight Science A :: Biology, Botany and Physics :: Homeschooling on the Oaxacaborn blog

 

Life in Photos

LIFE IN PHOTOS :: Perfect[ly Imperfect]

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Have you seen the new photoblog Sham of the Perfect? It’s so beautiful.

Life as it is, life as it’s lived.

No need to make a scene. No need to impress.

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That tangled head of hair, morning’s first light, the one brown crinkled leaf that catches that light….

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…the pent up energy on the afternoons the rain falls down around us, the mismatched pajamas, the out-of-focus blur.

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“What scene would I want to be enveloped in
more than this one,
an ordinary night at the kitchen table,
floral wallpaper pressing in,
white cabinets full of glass,
the telephone silent,
a pen tilted back in my hand?

It gives me time to think
about all that is going on outside–
leaves gathering in corners,
lichen greening the high grey rocks,
while over the dunes the world sails on,
huge, ocean-going, history bubbling in its wake.

But beyond this table
there is nothing that I need,
not even a job that would allow me to row to work,
or a coffee-colored Aston Martin DB4
with cracked green leather seats.

No, it’s all here,
the clear ovals of a glass of water,
a small crate of oranges, a book on Stalin,
not to mention the odd snarling fish
in a frame on the wall,
and the way these three candles–
each a different height–
are singing in perfect harmony.

So forgive me
if I lower my head now and listen
to the short bass candle as he takes a solo
while my heart
thrums under my shirt–
frog at the edge of a pond–
and my thoughts fly off to a province
made of one enormous sky
and about a million empty branches.”

-Billy Collins

Poetry & Words

“What Does Mercy Mean?” How to Answer a Child’s Question

What Does Mercy Mean? How to Answer a Child's Question | How can I explain to a three year-old child the concept of mercy? I don't feel like I can reduce these mysteries to a sentence.  I'm worried I'll go wrong somehow.

“Do you love Bible?” She looks up at me with those big eyes of hers. “And does Papa love Bible too? Because I love it. So much.” It’s spontaneous, this declaration of hers. She keeps talking, looking up at me as she pushes her unruly honey-colored hair out of her face. “Where’s God now?” “What is a soul?” “What is mercy? Read more Bible, mumma.”

We just returned from seeing Fernando Ortega in concert, and she is humming the songs as she asks me these questions. “Why,” she asks earnestly, “Why did dat man say dat song about da fire of angels is sad? Why is it sad, mumma?”

I sing to myself before I answer. I think of all the nights I fell asleep with this melody in my soul:

“I never knew the dusk could seem so sad,
an empty aching in my soul.
In this bright hour I speak your name in the wind,
the shining world outlasts us all.

Even the mountains seem to know you’re gone,
the foothills shimmer where they stand.
The sky is still and much too beautiful,
and I am missing you again.

Lift me over the San Gabriels, leaning into the southern sky.
The foothills burning in the afterglow, an angel fire passing by…”
[Fernando Ortega, Angel Fire]

At three, her tender heart knows nothing of the aching in one’s soul. “It is sad, baby, but it’s beautiful too, though, isn’t it, that song?” I can feel the tears begin to burn. How can I untangle these questions, when even I don’t understand why people slip away and leave behind the empty foothills, burning in the light?

How can I explain to a three year-old the concept of mercy, when I still can’t wrap my head around the marvel of it all?

And what is this intangible thing inside me, this soul of mine?

She stands in front of me, eagerly, waiting for answers.

What Does Mercy Mean? How to Answer a Child's Question

I don’t feel like I can reduce these mysteries to a sentence.  I’m worried I’ll go wrong somehow. But I know Jesus told us to learn what mercy means [1]. And I know love and mercy is how everything — all of this, this big, overgrown mess of earth and humanity — is made whole. Death is swallowed up[2], and the old system of law is fulfilled [3, 4].

So I tell her what I know. I tell her about His love.

My words aren’t perfect, but it doesn’t matter.

“We must try to speak of His love. All Christians have tried but none has ever done it very well. I can no more do justice to that awesome and wonder-filled theme than a child can grasp a star. Still by reaching toward the star the child may call attention to it and even indicate the direction one must look to see it. So as I stretch my heart toward the high shining love of God someone who has not before known about it may be encouraged to look up and have hope.” [A.W. Tozer, Knowledge of the Holy]

And when it comes right down to it, it’s that high shining love and mercy He crowns us with [5], not rules. The rules can never redeem, transform, make whole. And so I point her to that great Love, toward Him, and I take her hand as we run toward the rain.

…[she] grew up in that Florida rain
They were carried along like leaves on a river of faith
They’d float
All the way home…
And they walked in the rain of His mercy
Let it soak them down to the bone
And they splashed in its puddles
And danced in its streams as they’d go
And, oh, they walked in the rain of His mercy
All the way home….”
[Andrew Peterson, All the Way Home]

What Does Mercy Mean? How to Answer a Child's Question

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Inspiration, Poetry & Words

INSPIRATION :: Mary Oliver on Writing

“I want to write something so simply about love or about pain that even as you are reading you feel it and as you read you keep feeling it and though it be my story it will be common, though it be singular it will be known to you so that by the end you will think— no, you will realize— that it was all the while yourself arranging the words, that it was all the time words that you yourself, out of your heart had been saying.”

Mary Oliver, that beautiful poet soul, expresses exactly how I feel about the words I weave. I want to give wings to the secret voice you, the reader, cannot — or are unable to — utter. I want to weave these threads together so you can hear your unspoken words in mine.

I want to write something so simply about love or about pain that even as you are reading you feel it and as you read you keep feeling it and though it be my story it will be common, though it be singular it will be known to you so that by the end you will think —- no, you will realize -— that it was all the while yourself arranging the words, that it was all the time words that you yourself, out of your heart had been saying.” -Mary Oliver

Poetry & Words

POETRY & WORDS :: We were created to know beauty beyond what our senses can take in

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We see it in the burst of green which sprouts up from a thick, decaying layer of broken leaves in the spring. It fills our hearts the way of vase of daffodils fills a room, like a smile brightening every line of the face of the one you love after a long, long absence.

This is beauty.

And mountains and sunsets and the magnetic tide, beautiful songs and lilting poetry, and laughter, clear like bells; these are beauty. These things lift our spirits. They buoy us; they bring happiness. We’re created to see this, to breathe this, to be enveloped in this.

We were created to know beauty beyond what our senses can take in.

And all of this earthly beauty — a fire-tinged sky, the quiet breathing of a sleeping child,  velvet buds on a tangled vine — all this great, overwhelming, everywhere beauty is reflection of the One, the author of good, the divine Creator of all things bright and beautiful.

Inspiration

INSPIRATION :: “Every day do something that won’t compute”

Jesus Storybook Bible

“So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. …

Ask the questions that have no answers. …

Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.

…Practice resurrection.”
-Wendell Berry

Poetry & Words

POETRY & WORDS :: I sit, wrapped in my thoughts moreso than anything

Poetry on Oaxacaborn - I sit, wrapped in my thoughts moreso than anything
tonight,
wrapped
in the blanket of red
and green
that only sees use on those
rare days when
the temperatures deign to lower
themselves to us,
i sit.

i sit,
wrapped in my thoughts
moreso than anything;
wrapped in the memories
of thanksgivings past
of home and laughter
of tall pines and
rivers
of turkey leftovers
always finding their way
into a tortilla
on a bed of
cilantro.

tonight,
i ate my leftovers with black beans
and kimchi
and laughed.
everythingandnothing
has changed.

i sit,
wrapped
in the glow of tiny lights,
next to a toy elephant and
three dozen crayons
and a hula hoop.

i sit,
wrapped in the sound of endless
automobile engines, humming
outside
through the exit ramp
like messengers
announcing
they will not sleep —

but i will,
wrapped in words
and thoughts
and near-silence,
enveloped in this warmth
and this home
and this hope
and this light,
tonight,
wrapped
in this old blanket of red
and of green.

“Sometimes our life reminds me
of a forest in which there is a graceful clearing
and in that opening a house,
an orchard and garden,
comfortable shades, and flowers
red and yellow in the sun, a pattern
made in the light for the light to return to.
The forest is mostly dark, its ways
to be made anew day after day, the dark
richer than the light and more blessed,
provided we stay brave
enough to keep on going in.”
-Wendell Berry