Black: A Poem About Hiding

It’s National poetry month, and I’ve resisted posting any of my poetry mostly because I’m don’t consider myself a poet. But as I reread this poem, it opened my eyes to a path I was tempted to walk again…this week. Even as I head into surgery in a few days.

Some explanation is in order, but I’ll be brief. This poem is a part a series based in colors. I pushed off saved the colors black & white until I’d done a host of others. Knowing myself, I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised, when the two starkest colors produced dark poems (Seriously. Who writes a dark poem about the color white?!). But I am surprised at how easily I fall into the habit illustrated here:

Black: A Poem about Hiding

Warm. Safe. Contained.
.      In the dark corner
.             I can’t see them,
.                   hear them,
.                          think about them,
.                               or deal, cope, hope.
.                                    I am mine
.                                                               Alone.
.                                    Narrow band of light
.                               from them
.                          peaks through,
.                    reaching.
.              Golden in promise,
.        deadly in delivery.

But I’m hidden
behind folds and corners.
Breathing darkness
the warmth of my own breath.
Hidden
Alone.

 

This poem’s sentiment is something I adopted as a kid and fight against as an adult—hiding from people. But I’m beginning to learn:

People aren’t always safe, but I miss something when I hide my true self. Tweet This

As I’m headed into surgery later this week, the desire to go into hiding is strong. I want to pretend it’s all okay, that I’ve got it all together. I’ve even cracked jokes and then went home and cried.

I promised myself I would be honest here. So I’ll say that putting myself out there has  been a successful experiment in some regards. The light from the other room fulfilling its golden promise. I found folks stepping up to help that I did not expect.

But boy, did it ever confirm what I’ve suspected in other places. And it hurts…and makes me want to find the nearest closet.

Here’s the thing I’m learning. Folks don’t know what they don’t know. We’re all hanging around in life—heads down; doing what we need to do. Those folks I expected to be there, they’ve got stuff. Just like I’ve got stuff. And you’ve got stuff.

And sometimes the stuff just gets all up in the way.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m just as guilty (if not more so) than anyone else. I’m truly not blaming them.

But it’s still there:

The desire to hide is all mixed up in hurt and hope.

So what’s a girl to do?

At the moment, my stuff (surgery prep and eventually post-surgery pain meds) prevents me from driving; lifting more than 10 pound; and doing, writing, or saying anything coherent. But part of coming out of the darkness is opening the door to the light of another’s presence.

So here’s my door open wide. Hoping the light will move from me to you. And that, my friend, is a beautiful thing.

Ode to In Between Places

Oh the places between here and there.

It’s not quite spectacular white winter or lush green spring. It’s that place where you’re not young or old. Neither starting nor finishing. We’re neither here nor there, but on our way somewhere.

If only I knew where somewhere was.

Continue reading “Ode to In Between Places”

Funneling Light


This little curl of colored wood broke off my front door wreath when I took it down. I set it on the windowsill intending to throw it away. But I couldn’t help noticing how the deep red captured and focused light.

The frayed edges nearly glowing under the sun. This everyday bit of junk, under the light, became something sacred.

And so it is with life. It isn’t a question of how much time I spend doing sacred, special things, but how I practice the mundane, boring, daily grind—the “secular” if you will. Do I focus the light?

Beautiful Thanksgiving

beautiful-thanksgiving

A few years back, on a whim, I read One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. While it might sound drastic, the book changed my life, and set me on a path that led to me starting this blog—finding beauty even when it isn’t pretty.

I’ve spent the last year studying beauty, looking for it in the most unlikely places—a friend’s horrific divorce, a sink full of dirty dishes, the death of a friend’s dad, arguments with my daughter—and mostly finding it hiding underneath life’s debris.

I found that our differences (political, ethnic, religious, etc.) are critical to creating a beautiful tapestry.

I found beauty in nature, in my own failings, when I wallow, and even in coffee.

Fact is, I find beauty nearly everywhere I look, and I am thankful.Tweet This

And that thankfulness truly has led to a better life, even science confirms it.

In the last year, I’ve watched the world shake under the strain of terror attacks, political disagreements, and war. I’ve seen people polarized against each other, and watched as darkness seemed to win. In those times and places, I’ve become more desperate for thankfulness.

And as I’ve searched and poured out thanksgiving, I’ve found it easier to see beauty, and easier to be thankful…and it’s a beautiful cycle.

So this Thanksgiving season, I’m hoping you’ll join me in searching out beauty. It may not be easy—my sink is currently overflowing with dishes, I have to run to the grocery store (again), and my friend’s cancer is still there—but perhaps together we can add just a touch of beautiful Thanksgiving to the world.

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Emerging Butterfly—Beauty of Struggle

butterflyWe live near one of the most beautiful places I know, Frederick Meijer Garden. It’s a world-renown sculpture park and botanical garden.

Every March and April this organization bring in hundreds of butterfly chrysalis and moth cocoons and allow them to hatch within the confines of the tropical garden. The visitors walk inside a dreamland of fluttering color.

Awhile back, I took my daughter early specifically to watch a different display than the flying butterflies. We came to watch the butterflies emerge from their chrysalis.

It’d been a rough not the night before. Emotion overflowed my senses and my girl and I needed the retreat. Continue reading “Emerging Butterfly—Beauty of Struggle”

Beauty Defined

beauty-definedI suppose if we’re going to discuss beauty, it’d be important to be sure we’re all talking about the same thing. Definitions are slippery things…especially when you’re arguing that the thing you’re defining is of life and death importance, which we’ll get to next week.

Let’s start easy. I think most of us can agree on the first aspect. Continue reading “Beauty Defined”

Just Breathe

BreatheThis summer was a little crazy, and left me feeling a little like a 300-pound gorilla was sitting on my chest. Not quite smashed to death, but gasping for air.

Survival included an increasingly large vat of coffee and an embarrassing amount of sugar. All of which left me irritable, twitchy, and still gasping for air. Not a nice look.

When my joints started hurting enough that I had was limping around the block, I realized my body needed a break.

Enter the dreaded detox (cue the evil music—Dah, dah, dah…).

I’m not sure how I decided that detoxing the first week of school is a good idea. Detoxing means I can’t have caffeine (despite the 5 am alarm) or sugar (despite the afternoon lull), and a huge list of other foods.

I found myself saying to a friend, “I can’t have coffee, but I’ll bring my homemade green tea chai.” As if I pretend really, really hard, it’d be the same thing. Continue reading “Just Breathe”

When There Are No Words

No Words

As I writer and editor, my life lives and breathes letters, words, sentences. Pictures, scenes, emotions, flow from my brain, to my fingers, to the page. It’s what I do.

But sometimes…sometimes the river of words runs dry. I’m left without a way to respond to circumstances.

I’ll admit I’m tapped out right now. I have no words. And it’s okay for me. I know I my writing hasn’t been my best, but it’s okay for now. I’m not actively writing a novel…just editing.

My stopped up word-river is even fine for my family for the moment. We’re okay. Really we are (and I’m not just trying to convince myself of that).

My world is surviving without my words, my connection to something bigger…until I got a phone call from a friend who’s always been there for me. Until I didn’t have words for her.

I’m not sure I even followed everything she said through her tears, but I do know this: Her daddy died, and it was hard. She was trudging in the valley of the shadow of death, and I had such paltry words to give. I couldn’t even point her to comfort.

I know that sometimes it’s okay to not say anything. Sometimes it’s better even.

But oh how I long to speak into the dark spot left in her dad’s place.

And so I bring a meal, I pray for her peace, I scour the Internet for funny stories to send, and I might even buy a card with someone else’s words or I might haul out my paints and paint her a picture.

See I may have no words, but she can still hear me…and that’s okay with me. Tweet This

Perhaps it’s here, where our words flee, that we find action. In this wordless place, we set aside our daily tasks, roll up our sleeves, and communicate in a bigger way.

Broken Barn Philosophy

Broken Barn PhilosophyThis last week we traveled up and around a million back roads in Northern Michigan. Gentle turning through hills and miles of meadows tucked between towering evergreens and unblemished white sandy beaches.

As we took time to breathe as a family, thoughts and words tumbled out of me like a fountain. Snatches of beauty took up residence in my heart. The snippets I took hold of might just last me weeks.

But one of my favorite sights were the leaning-sideways barns—the ones that were red, but have slowly slid into grey.

What is it about a broken barn, slowly overcome by wildflowers, that’s so beautiful? Or that one fence post nudged over in tall grass that catches our eyes.

We take pictures of the not quite right. But when it comes to our lives, we hide the things that are not what has been deemed good by . . . well, by whom? Continue reading “Broken Barn Philosophy”

Not the Best

Best

We were becoming desperate for rain, and the hot weeks have sucked the flowers dry. But along the highway, a sneaky beauty grew. The grasses glowed golden, backlit by the horizontal sun peeking out from the storm clouds.

Who would have thought that mere dry grass could be beautiful?

And yet it is so. The moment the world is dry and hard, it isn’t the flashy obvious flowers that persevere. It’s the overlooked, underappreciated beauty.

Catching snatched looks at that hidden beauty as I drove, I thought, Good for you…

You don’t have to be THE best to be beautiful.

And my fingers tightened down on the steering wheel as if doing so could lock down my heart and fight back the tears.

As a writer, mom…as a woman, I’ve compared myself to everyone around me. It’s a dangerous pastime where I ALWAYS lose. Either by looking down my nose at someone else, or realizing I don’t measure up.

I’m beautiful in my own right….except when I’m not.

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See the grasses were dry and brown, rather like I am right now. I’m not only not THE best, I’m not even MY best right now. I’m as brittle as the grasses, feeling boring, tired, and taking it out on everyone. I’m up against some physical issues . . . again, which have me channeling a rabbit in both what I put into my body and what’s coming out. And I don’t even care if that’s TMI.

There in the car on the way to the next doctor’s appointment, the light trickled across me, falling on the grasses. Highlighting failures and at the same time beauty.

Not only do I not have to be the best, I don’t even have to be MY best, to be beautiful.

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And neither do you.