Love, Lent, And Letters From The Village (Day One)

After an unplanned sabbatical from writing, I am beginning  anew today  with a series dovetailing the Lenten season. I hope you will walk with me through these days leading up to Easter as I write in the form of letters. Both poetry and prose. But each day a letter expressing prayers, deep searching, mediations of the heart, wonderings, wanderings and an exploration of grace. Grace in the everyday. 

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I have become increasingly drawn to the beauty of the art of letter writing. Its intimacy, its romantic vehicle for reaching the soul of another calls me to seek and know more.  The beauty found in writing tender thoughts from one to another intrigues me. And so I want to explore the art form here in a series entitled “Letters From The Village.”  Happily, I am spending some time in a small shrimping village. This is a place I have known and loved for a long season of my life. Hidden here are memories of marriage, raising three children and celebration upon celebration with friends. Tucked away. Folded in. Wrapped in the salty soil of this place. And so there is deep meaning and significance in beginning these letters to you from “the village.”  That you will open and read, break the wax seal on each is gift. The first is penned on Valentines Day and  is being written from the heart of this place. 

It is my hope and prayer that the art of grace will set the tone as we walk through the holy days of Lent, preparing for Easter and the sacred days waiting for celebration in Holy Week.

There is a thinness, sparseness woven in these days. A dignified seriousness to the pulse and cadence of these moments. The beat is sacred. The breathing measured. Breathe deep the grace of Lent.

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Dear Patient One,

I write to you on Valentines Day, a poem, the first in a series entitled “Letters From The Village.”

May others discover more of their story in reading some of ours.

Love,

elizabeth

Waves of Grace

We washed up here years ago
Its been years since we first
Drove up and saw that Hugo water marked wall
And fell in love
It was potential we saw
And knew a life could be built

We came back here after tears before them too
And fell for it and each other
We kept coming back
Wave on wave of worry
Left at the entrance
We rocked under the moon and stars

You drove a nail and held that hammer
And we drove kids down
We packed a bag
And fled the mundane
To discover the extraordinary in this ordinary
Life has a way of repeating

Like the scavenger gulls that cry
We have 
And laughed and lost our way
On that sea
A time or two
And now only
A year or so remains they grew

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Joining Emily and my community at Imperfect Prose on Thursday’s for today’s word prompt LOVE

There Is Light In The Dark

Today my words are drawn from the inspiration of my niece, Caroline, who is seen and heard in this video. As she paints to the music of Mat Kearney, Breathe in, Breathe Out, I see the beautiful. And so I write.

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There Is  Light In The Dark

You know my every breath
The shallow breathing times were the hardest
And the times I held my breath in fear, the stronghold, grip, on me
But fresh the air you gave, new the winds  blew in
Restoring peace
You knew the tension, knotted, held, locked tight the lungs
You saw the rattling, ratcheted up-beat of the racing breaths
Too, many, too often
Many times you caught and captured the release in the exhale
Went deep into my lungs, with love
Air of Hope
Breath of Life
Whisper new breath into my deepest places
Make new the stale air
Form new, Your spirit in me
Freeing me to breathe deep
A life which
Hopes
All things
Through and by the very breath you give
Breath of Hope

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Joining emily today for Imperfect Prose. Today’s prompt is Light.

(Postscript – This post was originally published on January 18, 2013. When I go back and listen to music, watch Caroline paint to the words and melody of the artist and interpret I am deeply moved. And as I re-read the poem I wrote in conjunction with Caroline’s painting and Mat’s art, I choose to submit this offering to the  Imperfect Prose community  today. May the light shine bright in my eyes as I look to live in love, write of grace, and make art that honors Him. The original post title was Breathe Hope. I have changed it to  There is  Light In The Dark.

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When You Speak

Emily Wierenga asked me to join her Imperfect Prose team late in 2012. Honored, humbled I responded with an excited “yes”. Today is my first time leading off the Imperfect Prose community. I chose the prompt, encouragement. And then I struggled  to write. The fog settled in and the walls came up.

 But before you go there …

 So, I emailed Holly, a member of the Imperfect Prose team of writers and asked for prayer. Later I gave Emily glimpses into my wrestling spirit.

Immediately this word became real. It wore flesh and bones and had a heart.

The possibility held in the word encouragement became manifested through their actions, their very words.

It seemed I couldn’t draw from the well on my own. They undergirded and strengthened me.

But the process I went through of fog  and uncertainty were  necessary for working out true understanding.

There is a mystery in why. But on the other side it felt needed.  The struggle strengthened.

In the middle of my struggle, a bird flew into the glass door through which I see the world while I write.  Injured and broken, lying on my porch, I felt viscerally, the injury along with him.

He couldn’t fly. I couldn’t help.  He lay wounded. I ached.

There was so much imagery in this crippled bird for my soul to soak in. I left for a bit and when I returned he was gone. There were no signs of death, no stray feathers. My heart hopes there was recovery for him.

I choose to think he flew away.

And I think of  how encouragement is poured out. Where it starts and stops. What transpires in our struggle, in the times when we feel on our backs in defeat. And yet the Saints intercede and pray.

And speak words of encouragement into our souls.

And we too can fly again.

Please join me as we explore encouragement.  See you at Em’s.

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Create In Me

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We worked together shoulder to shoulder for a season and I found her wise. She, a bishop’s wife and mother of three. And she would spout gently like a mother dolphin. She’d spout jewels of wisdom and I, younger wife and mother would catch the droplets of sparkling gems.

We worked together in the lab of the creative. And we enjoyed fellowship of two business partners, entrepreneurs in a business for the home.

The words she said that day were one’s I thought I would never forget…the verbatim of her phrases of mini-teaching. I, the student she, the teacher, we workers in the field of creativity with meaning.

But I have forgotten though I have tried to remember. There are many years between that time and this. But the core of what  she said  I caught and held the heavy weight of wisdom in my hands. My heart vowing never to forget.
What I have not forgotten  is the sweet fragrance of her words. I smell the fragrant offering of their meaning.  The words she repeated often like a loving metronome, ticking off in repetition only to help with learning. And more importantly, the beautiful art she created for the home, from the overflow of her heart.

We create an environment in our homes. We create a place for God there. We create and make – environment.

And it wasn’t to justify  our work. It was to realize and recognize the importance of the work of creating. Aren’t we more like Him when we are creating, making, forming, sculpting, molding. Doesn’t He long for us to make, offering back to Him from what we have, the what He has given.

Doesn’t it matter. Our work as mothers. And the whispers from our home into the lives of others.

I look around at the turquoise and brown sofa with piles of pillow, square art on a rectangular sofa. And my daughter studying her vocabulary words there. She is comfortable and she is safe. By a fire in a fireplace with an old mantel which my husband chose from rubble or an antique thrift shop or a reclaimed wood store. These are the places he looks for treasures for our homes.

And my husband says is there anything better than this…and this was my dinner last night. I created nourishment, but it was more. At my hands I cooked up statements of love from my kitchen. It conveyed Comfort through the foods, chosen, prepared.

She was right you know. The books they speak, the art it speaks softly hanging on the walls. Each piece says quietly constantly it has a story to tell, are you listening. Of beauty, of another time, of a mother and daughter together in an embrace, a woman thoughtfully lingering in thought by a window.

We create an environment in which our families learn and live and love. And it’s important work. At and by our hands we create a world within the world. A place of peace and love, a place of mercy and forbearance. Of joy, pure joy and comfort by the things we set out and set before.

But most importantly by what we create with our words and arms’ embrace. The tenor of the home sets the stage for the actions of the heart.

All the pieces come together to form an environment. The blank canvas that was is now brushstroked by our very hands, as creatives, as mothers, as wives and women.

And our very lives, a blank canvas, wait and long for the touch of creativity to mark the white space with meaning and beauty and love.

To launch children out into service, out into a world in need of hope and mercy, in need of grace.

Our homes, a launching pad into the world. A place for recharging, reigniting, re-energizing, reconciling, rejoicing, and re-connecting. For regeneration.

First marked by His touch. First created by His hands. First breathed on by His holy breath.

Created in love by Him. Created in love for Him.

Created to create.

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A  Prayer For All Creatives

Recreating and creating daily, endless opportunity. Unfathomable possibility.

Releasing our hands and hearts and art over to Him.

But please first. But please preface all my work by making a new creation in me. Take my old and take my dull, take my tired and take my weary and create in me a living new offering to a world that needs art and beauty and newly born lives, relationships and attitudes of the heart.

First before all else, please cleanse me and re-create all that I have and all that I am.

Mold me first.

Shape me in your image.

Make me more like You.

Take me in your hands, making me pliable, moldable, shapeable, bendable.

Make me something you can use.

Before I create, create in me.

Before I offer up art and words and a gift back with the gifts you give, first.

First, change me so I reflect, more.

So first, I reflect You. So I am the servant and the artist and the creator of the beautiful message you desire.
Create in me so I can create for You.

First, make me new so that I can make new..

Words for healing, words of hope, words of  grace…because of Your creation in us, in me, in this world.

Thank you for the fabric you give, that we may give back. Thank you for the gifts you give that we can turn into art and worship.

But first, we offer all the gifts back to you.

And thank you for the canvas, our lives, the tools, your gifts, and the desire to create alongside You, in partnership with you, humbly by your side, and in Your Holy Shadow.

Amen.

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Joining Emily and others for Imperfect Prose. (So privileged and honored to now be a part of the Imperfect Prose team. Thanks Emily for the opportunity.) Today’s word prompt is Create.  Join me over there, won’t you.

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