Once Upon A Time


March One, 2018pexels-photo-886470.jpeg

Dear Ones:

There is a sacredness and intimacy about this art of letter writing. A beautiful tenderness of one me speaking to one you—though the you is multiplied. Perhaps that is why I have saved so many letters over the years. A hunter green metal foot locker hides under the bed in my office—a repository of memory and mystery. In it rest decades upon decades of letters. I have saved them—like a memory hoarder, sometimes not even knowing why. As if one day there might be a grand revealing of important plots and sub-plots. As if the aged smell of paper and stamp and glue would give up clues to my past. As if one line might contain a piece of my bigger story that longs to be heard, one that needs remembering and re-telling. If I would only pull the thread.

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Wait With Me

“One of the greatest strains in life is the strain of waiting for God.” Oswald Chambers

I sift through the most difficult times of my life, draw circles around painful periods, connect the dots between each hard part, every challenging chapter. As I take inventory of my almost sixty years, I find that in some way every important page holds a story of waiting.

Often my waiting felt like wading through the weight of heaviness and fear mired deep in murky waters of questioning. How long would our adoption take? How many years of infertility would we face? How long would momma battle dementia? When would we know healing and restoration within our marriage?

From birth to grave we are asked to wait. It is a necessary requirement, a prerequisite for living. We often feel most human, most vulnerable when we are made to sit in a holding pattern. Like a plane low on fuel, asked to circle while it waits for its turn to land, we become dizzy and impatient.

Our course is altered, outcomes are on hold, as we hang in the balance of action and pause. We are a people on the move. And waiting goes against our “on the move” grain. For a generation or two we have become a people who are accustomed to instant gratification—a concept out of sync with waiting. Have we forgotten how to wait?

This “great strain,” of which Oswald Chambers writes, offers us beautiful opportunities for deeper dependence on God. Isn’t this where the growth comes, from strain and tumbling. We are the diamond in the rough. We are the pearl at the mercy of the oyster’s grit. We are the waiters. And yet, if we pay close attention,  remaining awake to possibility, we will witness the miracle of His mercy laden timing unfold. Every time. We become like the pearl.

We encounter it on a deeply personal level when we rub up against anything that stops us from moving, acting, creating, and doing. All the “ing’s” that fuel our living. And yet, to wait in faith, to wait with trust, to wait wholly dependent on a God who holds me in the darkness of uncertainty—this is my spiritual challenge. And perhaps it is also yours.

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Winter White



Winter White

It came as if
on cue.
It came as if the Earth called out in weary whispers, pored out its solution for a deep soul cleanse.
Ambushed by icicles, pelted by flurries.
Like the red button on an Etch-A-Sketch, the sky turned shades of gray on grey, opened wide, released its powdered flakes—quieting what was loud—blanketing what was gauche with fresh-start fairy dust.

The Earth, turns the dial  and quiets the world anew.

Frigid gift wrapped in void of color monochrome.

Why would it not. How could it not.

Wise is the One who blankets us.
Quiets us and calms us.

We rest under its inconvenience.
Wait for the weight of worry to lift.
That we may lose our power. That we may be muffled by just a few inches of flakes.

Rest for the weary comes in the quiet, white, cold.
How inconvenient to be loved like this.


Hearing, Listening, and The Poetry of Simon and Garfunkel




The well-timed pause in her story. The cough and the yawn. The lyrics to a Simon and Garfunkel song. A sentence of honest revelation expressing words I would rather not hear. They dig into me, and I ache with their sting of truth. Or a version of it.

Stretch me. Open me. Give me all you have to give, world. I am a receiver. A receptacle of grace and grit.

Because I am learning to listen, I now hear the fire, the burn, the crackle of the ash, the fragrant rising up, the sound of the unsavory too.  I am stilled by the quiet and stirred by the poetry. Every sound in the school of stop and hear the world comes to me and I am a pre-schooler once again.

Slowing down, being present and dedicating all of the senses to a moment opens the world up— to wonder, discovery, to what was once unknown. If I am here I want to be all here. There, all there. But I encounter the both and the and of the present. I compromise and meet it all. This is the risk of diving in. This is what I am learning. Both and. To seek beauty is to meet pain. To be open to delight and extraordinary intricacies of the micro-world is to be open to both comfort and joy and hurt and pain.

Bring me all the things I missed on those days when I was too tired, uninterested, too busy, and preoccupied with the unimportant things of life. Dump them at my feet and watch me weep. Noticing now is my redemptive act. It is compounding my joy. For I can’t go back, but I can move forward looking and listening and living well in the moments I have. As a note taker and as one on a journey to discover the joy of noticing, I must listen with the eyes of my heart. I must hear with a deep sense of listening. The pitch is high. The echoes and reverberations bring elation and chords of depression, but grace out yells the grit.

On Sunday I drove down Highway 26, traveling from the Upstate to the Low-country. This is a drive I know well. I could drive it blindfolded but I wouldn’t recommend it.  As I was channel surfing, I stumbled on a fantastic radio show which was featuring music from The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, and other classics. The featured music was primarily old demo versions of popular songs, something other than the easily recognizable recorded hit.

It had been years since I had heard the song “A Hazy Shade of Winter.” Music, like nothing else, has a way of stirring memories. That song you danced to at a high school dance, or didn’t because no one asked —that song you sang to alone in your bedroom with a hairbrush mike—they resurrect memories that both remind, awake, and make us want to forget.

After nearly 50 years from the time it was first released,  I heard the song anew in all its simplicity and complexity. It is a poem. It was a gift. Here are the words:

A Hazy Shade of Winter

Time, time time, see what’s become of me
While I looked around for my possibilities

I was so hard to please
Don’t look around
The leaves are brown
And the sky is a hazy shade of winter

Hear the Salvation Army band
Down by the riverside’s, there’s bound to be
a better ride
Than what you’ve got planned

Carry your cup in your hand
And look around
Leaves are brown, now
And the sky is a hazy shade of winter

Hand on to your hopes, my friend
That’s an easy thing to say
But if your hopes should pass away
Simply pretend that you can build them again
Look around
The grass is high
The fields are ripe
It’s the springtime of my life

Seasons change with the scenery
Weaving time in a tapestry
Won’t you stop and remember me
At any convient time?
Funny how my memory skips while looking
over manuscripts
Of unpublished rhyme
Drinking my vodka ad lime
I look around
Leaves are brown, now
And the sky is a hazy shade of winter
Look around
Leaves are brown
There’s a patch of snow on the ground
Look around
Leaves are brown
There’s a patch of snow on the ground
Look around
Leaves are brown
There’s a patch of snow on the ground

(written by Paul Simon)

And so I am listening. Because the world is full of beautiful lines of rhyme and wonderful expressions of what is heard, seen, felt, and lived. And sometimes it all falls on deaf ears.

And sometimes it doesn’t.