Food, Fellowship and Healing – Letters From The Village

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mcvl sunset after rain

We sat down and it all began. The flow of life, the pulsing heart beats of woman, of writer, of friend, of fellow Christ-follower. And the synchronization of all the labels and titles and banners we wear meld into perfect harmony. And we are just two souls. Hungry.

We begin a marathon of interchange. And food may be the anchor but there is a long thread which forms a tether between her vessel and mine.

We have stories that are untold. Don’t we all. Life can find you storing up more than you know when you walk out your days at a decidedly quiet pace. Hours of parenting and wiving and mothering and living can fill a soul with much to peel back. Processing is an act of revealing. Sharing a meal can set the stage for sharing a life.

And food is our anchor.

When she brought it sur table it was if a painter unveiled the master’s most recent canvas, her soul work. Or that of the chef. Art as food. Food as art. Our beautiful anchor was photo-worthy. Fried green tomatoes and shrimp from a stone’s throw away, the bounty of the sea, from the very village where she and I meet for more than nourishment for the body. On a bed of greens, the pinks and greens laid out in perfect symmetry surrounded by slices of sun-burst orange slices dancing along the rim of the plate. And diamonds of pineapple slices popping up here and there for sweet delight.

The senses are delighted and the heart follows suit.

And this could be the story of a writer’s lunch. And it was. Or this could be a story of a girl’s lunch half-way between our island home and Charleston, the holy city, the port city, the city of stories and a gourmand’s haven. The heavenly delights of that place. (I met the Patient One there back in the 80’s. You should know this important piece of my story if you read here. Writer’s sigh inserted here.)

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But this is a story with chapters of mother’s at lunch breathing words of their children between and over bites of fried green tomatoes. And one with pages of writers chewing on writing and words and the passions that stir line after line on blogs and beyond. Of poetry, story, redemption and grace. 

Of poetic prose. And of dreams cast with nets that reach beyond blogging.

But I know well that the only real story which I can rightly tell is the one which is mine. The one which I live. So  I will not speak for her. She does that well daily in her exquisite voice of redemption and story, blended and baked up with perfectly timed phrases, going heavy on heart.

So I bookmark the chapters that tell of healing. And I highlight the parts which taste like restoration to the delight of my tongue. I savor that we who have come from a storm, a schism and a breaking can come in peace. That we, who found ourselves on opposite sides of a whirlwind in our church community, can break bread over the table of wholeness. No strife. No division.

Simply lovers of Christ, lovers of words and lovers of life, lovers of peace.

Building a friendship and walking around the frayed edges of the broken places. Seeing the common ground and overlooking the differences, whatever they are. 

Tasting and seeing that He is good indeed. In all seasons. That the God of our lives is a lover of relationship. That wholeness and healing are good and fill the soul with nourishment of grace and mercy. 

That the fruits of the Spirit may be the most delectable of all there is to bring to the mouth of the soul for growth in Him.

So she and I hug and part ways and promise to do this more often. We lose track of time and lose track of more than that. All that division. And we focus on the hungry parts of all woman, the need for friendship, relationship. A longing for a listening ear and a shared understanding of the joy and the struggles of this messy living.

And we plan to come around the anchor again. The one that keeps us decidedly in community. See clearly that need to break bread, to feast on fellowship. To heal relationships.

The anchor of love.

wall of windows when love is hard

Joining Jennifer Dukes Lee  and Emily Wierenga today. The community of writers at Imperfect Prose of Thursday’s is writing on the word prompt, food.

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Dear Poet, Writer, Artist, Friend – Letters From The Village (Day 4)

Art is not what you see, but what you make others see

–edgar degas

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I understand a little better now.

Than I ever did before. About how you stare off with a wondering, wandering mind. How beauty is captured in the net of your imagination. Stored up and tucked away. For a moment while it grows.

Your gift, God given, gifts us all, the receivers of your art. You give us a lens through which to view the world in ways we could never dream. We see through eyes of artist you. And it is beautiful, indeed.

You, artist, writer, poet, friend, are co-creators with the God and creator of all, making beautiful new and offering it into the world. 

Using your eyes, hands, soul and heart you render offerings, take the stale and make it new, breathe new life into the dull, blow the dank and dusty off the weary, light us up with life-giving beauty.

Dear you, don’t stop. Pick up your pen and write us stories. Make us cry or laugh. Cause us to feel human in our loneliest moments, lowest times.

Inspire us when we lie in a place of uninspired repose. Blind to beauty, numb to life. Point us, lead us to every particle of God-beauty. Grace us with your art. Show us Him with paint and words.

Walk us to the very edges of creation and frame His glory with your artful gift.

Pick up keyboard, write a poem, one that aches as it tells of love and loss and life. Whisper into our souls and say I know, I hear, I see, you are not unto yourself, living on this side of Glory.

Pick up your palette and release the paint until it becomes a masterpiece of ships wrestling on the sea or children nestled on a mother’s lap. We will wait for stroke on stroke to flow from your finger tips, tips of brush, the very soul-notes that only you can sing.

And frame it as only you can frame, this life, with the singular vision of your soul. You, you turn kaleidoscope and slant and tilt us toward your art.

The earth is whispering to you sweet things that I cannot hear. Will you share with me?

I am missing out and missing much, but you redeem my blindness with your art.

You see it slant, so beautiful, will you write me songs of all that sailed right by when I was sleeping, lost at sea.

Will you write me love songs of this life, so I can sing and dance and sway my hips into the night.

We are hungry for your special gifts. Would you wrap them up in love, release them into this world. We are dry and brittle to the core and long to read your poems and listen long into the night to stories that you tell so sweet.

And if we fail to say thank you, can we tell you now how truly grateful we are for your art.  The tender workmanship of your hands. When you were flying high or sinking low or seeing life as only you can see, you created, offered your very self to your fellow man.

And we are changed. We are touched. We see life, anew.

Dear poet, will you write as only you can write. And wrap it, send it, share it please don’t hide it where it’s dark. Let light shine on it, in it’s radiant release.

And poet, songwriter, story-teller you, please let your words truly breathe. Then exhale in the light of day where we may smell the fragrance of each syllable and note. Each phrase and fragment of your word choice, the cadence of your heart.

You photographer, our eyes would miss so much if not for brave and beautiful you. You walk soft up on beauty, click in perfected rhythms as the earth breathes in, breathes out.

Dear artist, hold your pen, grasp your brush, hover over keyboard, piano keys, journal pages, canvases for all the art and lay your gift, your offering out before for a very grateful world.

The human heart receives your art and off the lips of all man rolls a chorus of sweet thank yous.

Now artist go make art. Now artist go use your gift. Go find your voice. Go create. We wait.

I understand a little better now.

new fave for art quote

Joining Laura, Heather, Jen and  Ann

What I Am Working On

When that word showed up on my doorstep that day, I embraced it and said it was mine. At least for the year.

And there are many different mediums and forms and formats. Suddenly being flat and one dimensional as a writer and as a struggling poet has reached a restless place.

I cried out to a fellow blogger and shared with her my heart’s desire to produce my first video blog post (VLOG) and she spoke back.

A community is a living breathing being. And we are in community together. She reached out to me and said “I can help you.”

At the simplest level of our humanness is that desire to be heard and cared for. For a cry to have a response.

And as an artist and writer we may need to have someone come alongside as a fellow writer and say, I can help you with your craft. To develop it in a way you are dreaming about. Hoping for.

I am flat, with an avatar and only written words to the readers of my blog. I have a longing to put my voice and my clumsy hand gestures and my southern accent to my poetry. I want to be a  “three D” me, if only once. Or maybe even more than once.

So this is what I am working on. A short little vlog post with my voice quivering and my poetry shaky wobbly on my lips. My accent revealing a bit of where I am from and my heart coming through in my word choices.

This is me now, in a flat screen back lit world. But this lover of words longs to give them a different vehicle. And send them off riding into the arms of her readers.

So I am off to work on my project and to pick a poem to read.

Have I told you lately how you bless me?

May you be encouraged today in all that you are lead to do, in work, in love, in relationships, and in service.

encouragement the girls

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(Photo courtesy of Laura Hutto, Shades of Gray Photography

Telling The Story In The Middle: A Study in Wait & Pause – Living In The Waiting

If there is a protocol for blogging or a template for writing blog posts or a committee of oversight for writing, they may tell me this one is coloring outside the lines too much. Well at least the long and winding title. In which I tried to say too much and didn’t opt for the pithy. The brief. The succinct.

And who has time to read through a long title? Today things should be brief and catchy and short and simple is always better, right?

How incredibly ironic and frustrating and so very timely is the spinning chrome ball forcing me to wait as I write a post impatiently on waiting. Pausing.

There would be no reason to write on waiting and patience and finding myself in the middle of much if I didn’t know in my deep down places that it is  a core human struggle.

And in the writing, in the sharing, there is  a collective group sigh or exhale or head nod— I know this place too. Or there could be. If you can make it through this long post. If you feel up to waiting for the end.

And yet in the middle of it all  are such deeply personal and individual lessons from God for me that it feels like a sacred tutorial. He is  sanctifying my heart and soul in a season marked for me. A something I need to really get and embrace and be challenged by. And grown by.

So who tells stories in the messy middle before there is closure and a neat and tidy ending? Who leaves the reader hanging, saying why did you tell me this if you couldn’t also tell me that?

I know only that I write from the heart what I feel lead to share.

And there are things upon which I wait. And it feels like a first world problem, and yet I know He cares to speak to me in all of my living. And He cares deeply about all the details of all of our lives.

As I wait for a return to a call and an email and a text from a woman, I wonder why the delay. The Patient One says I have made her mad. I can’t think how or when or what caused the quiet from her end.

So I will tell you how it ends when I get the return from my call in which I said I need to apologize to you. I don’t know what I have done but please tell me so I can say I am sorry.

I don’t know the ending but I know the peace in the middle. I told her I needed to hear her voice. I hope she calls. I have a measure of peace. I want complete peace. Don’t we all.

I have a child with a desire to be accepted to a specific college. We wait. I pray. We feel like there is a pregnant pause in the air. And God and I are tethered to One another in a way we would not be if a child’s future didn’t hang in the balance. He knows me well. He keeps me hanging. He keeps me waiting. And I know these periods of waiting well.

Of waiting for long cycles of infertlity to end. And being lead to adoption and receiving the gift of  another biological child, a daughter after the blessed adoption of a son. He meets me in my waiting. I should long for periods of waiting with Him. They have marked my life with the beautiful. Building my family through waiting, just the way He intended it to be built.

One of the most precious people in my world, my inner inner world, is going through a painful divorce. And I want it to end. I want the pain to stop for her. I want closure and finality and decision. I long for her suffering to end.

She is in the messy middle and she texts me and calls me and I hurt for her. But God will sustain her through the dark period. I reminded her yesterday to hold on to her Joy and not to lose sight of her “what is good”. She has four beautiful children. She texted me thank you for reminding her not to lose sight of the Joy. I wasn’t sure she heard me through her pain. I should listen to my own advise.

We wait for healing in our church family and  in my small community. For a new day and a rebuilding of our body after division.

I long to receive a letter from my Compassion Sponsored child in Peru. There are, I believe, long delays in correspondences between Peru and me, typically normally. This will be the new normal through the years of corresponding with her. But much more importantly, she must be waiting on me. I am overdue a letter to her. It saddens me to think I have left her waiting. I have caused her to wonder where the letter is from me.

And I wonder if God is waiting on me too. I want to be obedient in my living and in my writing. I wonder if I haven’t heard Him clearly. What does He intend for me to do and when with this writing. I am working with a friend on a poetry project, Adagio. And we wait to discuss the next season for this our fledgling poetry project. We wait a little.

My daughter wants her room redecorated. Its in process, unfinished. A stark reminder of the physicality of waiting. I walk in to make the bed and its a work in progress. And that is it. That is really a large part of it.

We are in process, we are a study in waiting, we are unfinished business and unfinished creatures and souls daily. God is refining us. And working things out through us and in us.

I lean into the understanding of this and seek to know it all better. We are unfinished until we are perfected by Him. And the right here is full of things to embrace, to learn, to hold to, to study, to enjoy, to celebrate.

On my porch sits a Christmas tree, our second tree. I received a gift which I want to unwrap and use, a box of ornaments from my parents. But there were so many they needed their own tree. And a wide eyed teenage daughter said I really want to decorate the porch.

The tree is lopsided and propped up. I can’t figure out how to “install” the tree in the newfangled tree stand. It is a mess of beautiful. A mess of white lights waiting to go up on the horizontal tree. Maybe the tree could lay on the ground and I could color outside the lines. Hang the ornaments from a laying in wait tree. Maybe that would symbolize the waiting.

We wait for Christmas Day.

But  isn’t so much of the joy in the days leading up to the day.

Fining joy in the right here right in the messy middle.

The tree on the porch and I have a lot in common. We wait.

I want to be beautiful in the waiting. And learn from the pauses.

Wait with me, pray with me, learn with me.

It would make the waiting even richer. To wait with one another, in community. As we work through and work out the days of our waiting.

The chrome colored ball has gone for the moment. But I know it will pop back up and make me pause. I hope I rest and pray and find peace in the pauses.

And the disposal is broken and the sink is clogged up and I am waiting on the electrician. Maybe I can spread some Christmas cheer while he is here.  While I am waiting for him to fix my brokeness.

Amen? Amen.

Joining Ann, Emily,Emily at Chatting At The Sky, and Jennifer

imperfectprose

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