The Noticer

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The Noticer

It was in the fall that I noticed. Again. But it was different this time. The yard had been raked in a suburban monochromatic sweeping. Overly antiseptic. The way the neighbors might  approve. But in a way that appears boring. Void of creativity. The kind spilled out from heaven. Released, unfurled by the hand of Artist God.

And it was then that I noticed. The brushing aside. Made manifest in my yard. A physical representation in the form of dead leaves. Brittle. That heart of God on my yard. The mosaic, the fallen tapestry of gold, sienna, burnt orange pieces had been raked up. Msn moved the art of God. There on the canvas of my autumn day, a mosaic laid in love was moved in uncaring haste. To sanitize. To bring man-made order.

The leaves had fallen just so, placed, by a holy hand. The Creator had, was it by design, offered a masterpiece of autumnal muted hues, surrounding me with glory come down. And we, in an effort to re-create our own standard of beauty, had brushed it aside. It was then that I noticed. What a mistake the rearranging might have been. I saw, what it feels like to be invisible.

To be brushed aside.

And I am touched by holy noticing, once again.

Thankful for the nuances of ordinary life. The subtlety of beauty. And the generosity of the Giver. And the gentle reminder, to notice.

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Joining Jen at SDG

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Hyperbolic Love

Hyperbolic Love

If I stretch the chambers of my heart
As fingers of a child do
At play
I do
With silly putty
It is work
Laboring in love,
We wrap blood and muscle
Round and round
Till death
If I part the seas of raging water
Between us
And calm them
With a tender word
No man nor woman
Indeed no one at all
May put  asunder our fragile love
That which is joined by God
Mark, Matthew, and
The Methodist priest
Proclaim
I stretch the proclamation
In sacred acts of faith
Embrace
A holy mystery
For I have been
The rusty gate
And I have
Been a wrecking ball
Into the wall
Of his beating heart
And yet
The Patient
One
And I would
Call it no small feat
Though war analogies are old and tired
Cliches of power, yawn sigh yawn
Show strength ad infinitum
And so
We must claim a form of victory
In this joining of two souls
And with all of Webster’s
From which
To choose
A word or two
There is no stretching
Of this truth
That what we have is
Hyperbolic love
Running on the holy fumes
And thus far
No asundering looms
On love’s
Next
Quarter century mark
Stretched
By grace
All four chambers filled
With what sweetly smacks
Of
Miracle,
Mystery,
A wholly, holy
Regenerated life in love
And if you were to ask
By two hearts stretched by hyper-extended grace.

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Joining Laura

The Narrowing

dolphin duo show offsWe discuss the newlyweds in Spain. Their picture has just popped up on Instagram. I confess now this is something I could really long for. I might even really want to do this, go there. They are sitting under a shade tree, white linen table spread like a banquet with olives and wine and cheese and the cured meats. And they are smiling relaxed newly married bliss-filled smiles.

We are riding down the salty creek in our little boat when we stop to visit with friends sitting up on the top deck of their house boat. They are breathing in salt and watching the old lady dolphin swim, rising up above the surface now and then, she smiles at them. And they exhale the stress of their long work week in a thriving restaurant business. Owners never seem to sleep. I tell her “I hope you have a wonderful sunset tonight”. And her response is Elizabeth, you know, I really don’t care. Her cup is full with all that is there. There is nothing lacking in her dusk date with her husband.

And they tell us they are celebrating ten years of being in business with a really big trip. They are going to Scotland for three weeks. I exhale, ah Scotland.  And remember my two trips there. Lovely, they were. Good memories I have. And it creeps up again, this hazy desirous emotion and longing. Should I stay or should I go. In my inner parts, into my day dreams. Into my internal wish list.

There is a well-aged and well-tended friendship in my life. I believe I tell her everything. She has the enormous responsibility of listening to me spill it out, beat it to death, and wallow in it. My stuff. I confess, I complain, I confess some more. I doubt. I dream. And I drop off all my innermost parts at her feet. I am safe with her.

And in her wisdom she reminds me that no matter what we do or where we go we always have fun, in the simple. She reminds me of this truth. We have discovered the journey into extracting maximum joy from some of life’s most simple activities. We are four. We are two couples who though we have had our passports stamped a time or two, are happiest now in the execution of a simple plan. One of discovering that life explodes with God beauty in the trips down the African Creek, the one right here in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. And life is beautiful when we pack a sandwich, even bologna, or especially bologna, and kayak out to the wooden cross on the shore of the Waterway.

He came up to me yesterday with the heart of a child. Laid out all of the shells he was collecting on the kitchen table. They were all so shiny. There is a scientific term for the shimmer and sheen, the particular sparkle and shine. But the child in him just saw the shiny. And he pulled out a light and shined it on the splendor and everything glistened in this moment of ordinary.

And then he brings me his two special ones. He is not a mid-Fifties adult, he is a child, wide-eyed discoverer of beauty.

These he says, these are my special ones. Please don’t move them. He has found extraordinary beauty in these two found objects. Because they are imperfect. They are perfect. Barnacles and a  combination of shells have been molded together by the sea  to make a hybrid of beauty. And this is all we will ever need.  This sacred simple.For we are learning to go into the land of discovery of the God simple. The natural wonder of the unexplored. Exploring what is under our sandy toes and sun-burned noses.

We cut the motor on our favorite part of the creek and it seems that all we can see is green lush marshgrass, oystershells and sky. There is so much sky. Have I forgotten how large that canopy of unending sky is.  How could I forget the shades of blues so life-giving even on a cloudy day. And water. We are surrounded by water, sky, and wonder. And then the pod of frisky dolphin show up and we are all children. Each one of us in our human pod of four, is a child filled with a spirit of  fresh discovery.

And we are narrowing. And we are traveling. And we are home.

Oswald Chambers writes:

“If you ask for things from life instead of from God, ‘you ask amiss’; that is, you ask out of your desire for self-fulfillment. The more you fulfill yourself the less you will seek God.”…seek, and you will find…” Get to work-narrow your focus and interests to this one thing.”

Our conversation, the one with my friend Harriet,  turns to Him and any desire we have to “go and do”. It is our term for living. Unless He plans the trip, we decide we don’t really want to go after all. Because traveling on the outskirts of His will, is less than each time. And isn’t seeking Him as children the better way. And isn’t seeing His world as children, with the impressionable spirit of a discovering child the most tender way.

Our conversation, the one with my husband, turns to an older couple who are no longer walking out this earthly life. He reminds me of their routine. He says do you remember how they would get into their boat every night and ride out to see the dolphin play in the surf.  And they died not long after that.

I wrap my mind around age and living simply and death and heaven on earth, the glory in the sacred daily wonders.

And realize that there is beauty in the narrowing, in the simplifying.

We are soaking in the wonders of our Sunday, a day that we marked as family day and prayed would be the beginning of the best summer of our lives. This house we are renting to “test drive” this new town, to see if it likes us and  if the feeling is mutual, has a wonderfully small kitchen. We are bumping into each other preparing our summer supper. And my husband yells, Look, Come See This is Classic.  When he calls out wonder and beauty I have learned to listen, to stop and look. He means business when he sees moments of grandeur.

I walk to the glass front door and see the neighbor’s chickens are out running around  her neighbor’s yard. And we laugh at the sight of chickens out of place. And the variety of the brood, there seems to be one of each. The silkies might be my favorite. And we laugh some more and find surprise in the spontaneous wonder of chickens running around the green lush lawn of a neighbor who carefully maintains a beautiful yard. She just happens to be out of town this night.

And who needs wine and cheese in Spain after this. This most perfect day.

Of ordinary. Of extraordinary.

The vision is wide in the narrowing.

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Joining Laura at The Wellspring for her Playdates  and Jen for SDG and Emily and Jennifer

Beginnings, Middles, Ends – A Trilogy

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Beginnings

One day in the middle of May
Some of the broken things lined up
And raised their hands and asked for a turn
To speak, step up to the mike and say their peace
And if history is any indicator of anything
Which she decided it was
She decided to listened.

On the day in May when the broken things spoke
Sharing autobiographically of course about the cracks and such
She bent an ear and heard them out
Let them air out their laundry
And hang some stuff on the lines
Full disclosure clears the air
And truth blows nicely in a Mid-May breeze.

After the rains come, the rain-air freshens the stale.
Companies bottle and sell the scent of new, after the rain.

In May, there were dances around the pole and piano recitals and
The broken got to say what pressed heavy on their minds.
They spoke of renewing and renewal.
And she learned a thing or two about tossing out the perfectly good things
Which only needed love.
Wasn’t this the way of the Saints, which was forgotten.
She longed to oil the creaking gate and quiet the banging cymbals
When the greatest of these was flushed, kicked to the curb
Cast aside, it had grown loud
Love come quiet, love come heal.

Simply loving the broken smelled different after the rain.
Regret proceeds reconciliation.
If you stand in the right direction, facing due north
With your compass set on mercy
And your heart prepared to forgive
Yourself
You can begin again.

A friendship saved is no small thing
Ask the circle of the broken, banged up and bruised
Women who have lost a few
To bad decisions, pride and myopic sight
Tunnel vision
And a short sighted heart.

She just never knew then what she knows now
But she can tell you if you have time to listen
That after the rain stops and the flood waters receed
You too may find beauty where there were ashes.

And you may raise your white flag and color it joy
That a friendship has come back around.

In the middle of May
Blooming blessedly on the bush
Where the pruning of pride and prejudice
Took place
The bloom is on the vine
And restoration looks beautiful
On a friend
As we begin anew.
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wheatfields leaving birdfestThe End

We drove side by side
It was a leaving kind of drive
Where the sad drips down the windows
And it is not raining yet
But it will.

We drove
Quiet settled in like deep fatigue in the bones
It moved through the muscle, ached with a deep soul
Fatigue
And yet the quiet had life.

We barely spoke
After all these years you can read a mind
Or you can read a mood
Of quiet content
And soft remembering.

We packed a bunch of memories
In sardine can sized moments
Enough to dip down into and draw up from
This well, stocked well
Smell a few, sip a few
When life is dry,
And the soul is parched
Remembering wets the edges of the brittle
With a faint recalling
Of dancing in the rain
Round the corner from the wheat.
We hit pothole and sinkhole

Deep ruts in the road
Of leaving.
As the rear view mirrored memories grow small
The sound of mandolin and fiddle
Still hang in the Panola air.
One note hangs in the cool May sky.
The note held long and low

The one that played for you.

We thought all good was left behind
In the tired and fatigue
But on the way home it waved
Goodbye
This field of wheat
And I knew this bookend
This book mark of beauty was a telling
Waving wheat promising more
Whispering this was not the end
But a field of beginning
Gold-leafed fields tell stories
Of glory
Glorious more waits
More than was ever left behind.

Held on the fingertips of memory
Grasped in the hands of the hopeful.

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The Middle

In the forming
In the blooming
Lives the Beauty
Caught in a state of unfinished
Unfurling
Unknown stories
Untold futures
Held by hope
Trusting in an ombre
Beauty mix of then and now
Joy and pain
The middle whispers now is
All
Now is life
Suspended in the shades of unknown
Mid-ways, half-ways and on-the-ways.
Beauty in the living
Now.

Joining Laura and Jen