Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Dog Days

Yesterday began with an ordinary morning.

I did several chores, a few errands and then carried my books and drink to the yard. I called for the dogs to join me. They know the word out. If we don’t want them to go spastic we have to spell the word.

We spent part of the morning and early afternoon outside. We couldn’t stand being inside with walls and only window holes for the light to break through.

The sun was fierce. I could feel it touch and wrap around my arms and shoulders and face. Later my skin was pink, my shoulders were red because of how long I sat and allowed the blinding orb to kiss me.

There was a faint breeze—just enough to flutter the tops of the trees, but not enough to wave the grass. It was one of Kentucky’s hot, heavy August days. Humidity caused a haze. Butterflies floated. Birds sat very still in the trees. My dogs meandered lazily.

I called the dogs when I got settled. They surrounded me. They knew I had a treat—leftover chicken from making chicken salad and enchiladas earlier. They were eager like seagulls on the beach when you get rid of leftover bait. Birds hover; dogs circle. They know the drill. Henry, the youngest, sits first. Eyes eager, keen but gentle. Zoe waits until I give the command and then sits slowly; her gaze fixed on my face. Molly, the oldest, waits until my command is sharp. She knows I will be more lenient with her, and she takes advantage.

As I settled down to read and study, the dogs went to find places in the shade. They lowered their bodies slowly to the ground. Tongues lolled. They panted rapidly. Their ears were at half-mast. Molly rested under my chair, Zoe sprawled very close by, and Henry (who can’t be still for very long) nuzzled my hand with his damp nose.

The ground was dappled with shade and small green apples. I studied the branches of the tree; they were bent to the ground with the weight of the fruit.

Just an ordinary day.

I sat in a lawn chair in my yard—overgrown and gone toward wild. I have neglected its care for lack of time and knowledge.

Then the wind swept through. An unexpected, quick breeze came cooling the sheen of moisture on my neck and forehead. It lifted the pages of my notebook.

Wind blows where it will. We don’t know when or where. It is not ours to command.

Without warning tears rolled down my face. This startled me. Usually I know when I am going to cry. There are at least ten tell-tale signs. Not then. Tears mingled with the salty sweat, and I became the ocean I love so well.

Prayer escalated in my heart—there was no premeditation, no forethought. There had been no intention for my soul to rise to prayer, and yet it did.

It winged out on the wind.

Words and thoughts I didn’t even know I had been considering rose—lifted by the beauty and the utter simplicity of being outside on a summer day.

I remembered the grace of God. My God remembered me. (To remember in Scripture is far more than simple recall. Another post for another day.)

I didn’t understand the tumult and intensity of emotion I felt. It was bigger than me and came unbidden, but certainly not unwelcome.

And the Wind swept over and around me. I did not move from my chair, but my spirit did.

The Spirit moves and blows where the Spirit wills. Yesterday, the Spirit blew through my yard and danced joyfully around my inhibited soul and caught me off guard.

And my dog day of summer became anything and everything BUT ordinary.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Beloved Chambers

Several things prompted this post:
A conversation with a friend,
a journal entry,
and several Scripture passages (Song of Songs 1:4; 2:6; 2:13b and 2:16a).

I long to be with you in your chambers, O Lord.
To be near you in your inmost places.
I want to hear your voice calling me—
To hear the swell of your voice beckoning me.

"Arise and enter my sanctuary, Beloved.
Come rest in me.
Come abide in me, Beloved.
Join me in the quiet places.”

The ancient doors of his chambers have opened wide.
I cannot resist his gentle, drawing voice.
Until I pass under his banner, the doors will stand ajar.
I will not refuse his gracious, engaging invitation.

In the deepest recesses of his chambers he waits for me.
He prepares the place for my slumbering stillness.

Who am I that the king would attend to me?

Oh, that he might stretch out his left arm,
I would lay down my head and be comforted.
Oh, that he might cover me with his right arm,
I would be embraced with security and strength.

Here, in him, I am safe—
Encircled, encompassed, enveloped.
Here, in him, I might hide—
Concealed, cloistered, captivated.
Here, in him, I will rest—
Restored, replenished, renewed.

Let me be content
in the cleft of your protection.
Let me satisfied
in your sheltering haven.
Let me remain
until you give me rise to move.

Then your right hand will lift me from my slumber,
and your left hand will guide me by the small of my back.

Take me away with you—let us hurry!
Let the king bring me into his chambers.

Arise, come, my darling;
my beautiful one, come with me.

Oh, wait!

Who is he calling?

He is calling me.

I am his Beloved.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Glimpses and Glimmers

This past weekend I visited one of my most favorite places. My destination had nothing to do with geography and everything to do with presence.

My dear friend’s presence.

This visit was filled with incredible moments. Nothing earth-shattering. Perhaps mundane for some. But now, I have some comprehension of how precious and brief these moments really are. This visit I understood how quickly time would fly. I went intending to savor and enjoy my time with my friend and her family.

Because of this intentional perspective, the moments, when reviewed, are stained glass glimmers and glimpses—of the essence of heaven.

A doe and two fawns.
Wary and nimble.
Out of their element
they raced through the backyard.
The youngest child saw them first,
and she squealed, lest we miss them.
For an elusive moment they were framed in the picture window.
We ran from window to window, door to door
Following, watching.
Amazed to see something so out of place—
so unexpected and wild in the middle of domestication.

I stood in the hot sunshine and watched as fat bees hovered
and quarreled over the lavender blooms.
They pushed their furry heads deep in the elongated flowers.
Their wings glistened on their rounded backs.
They hummed and buzzed.
I wanted to pet them.
Stroke their striped backs like I do my Zoe-dog.
And I did.
I reached out my finger slowly.
I smoothed the bee’s head and back.
I did this more than once, and they let me.

Butterfly bush.
Frilly and delicate.
Dew was still on the ground,
and two jewel-colored, iridescent birds
hovered like tiny aircraft.
Their long beaks drank deeply.
They never did alight, but held their bodies aloft.
I watched from the front door.
I knew my movements would cause them to flit away,
And I wanted them to stay.

Blue bicycle.
Simple—no extra gadgets.
Eagerness welled up in me like a geyser.
Too many years had passed since I had been on a two-wheeler.
My daughter encouraged,
You should ride, Mom.
They say you don’t forget; you don’t.
I rode and was surprised my balance was still intact.
As I went around the court and down the long street,
I remembered how to lean.
No hand-brakes. I had to pedal backwards to slow and stop.
I was enthralled with the motion my own body created.
The atmosphere around me was surreal and stretched.

Ballet Lessons.
An outdoor performance.
Lawn chairs and a grass stage.
My daughter, the ballet mistress;
My friend’s granddaughter, the student.
A juiced-up I Love Lucy episode.
Remember when Lucy decides to be a prima ballerina?
This was funnier.
The skit—totally improvised.
Unrehearsed. Unedited.
Stomach in, bottom tucked.
Chin up. Neck long.
Pull knees up. Heels together.
We laughed until our sides hurt.

Eight of us gathered in the street.
And a precious, wonderful young boy—
confined to a wheelchair—schooled us all.
Sweet spots and failed jump shots.
Ribbing and teasing.
A great deal of smack talk.
But the boy’s shots were true.
His long arms snaked out and grabbed the ball.
Broad shoulders and long fingers sent it arching high.
Airborne before any of the rest of us reacted.
I wanted him to be able to stand,
and just for a moment to be like that ball—
free and unfettered.

Two women.
Friends engaged eye to eye.
We know each other.
Twenty-one years of knowing.
This provides comfort and ease much
like a favorite pair of jeans or tennis shoes.
You know they are going to fit.
Through frequent wear they have adapted to our body.
Together we have created this garment of friendship.
Tears and laughter have been woven into the weft of the fabric.
We have tried to listen to what was spoken in the silence.
We have attended to each others lives.

Incredible stills of the essence of life.

Candid photos of the beauty and simplicity of reality.

Glimpses and glimmers of heaven.

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