Monday, August 30, 2004

There Goes

This weekend, my daughter met boys in a band in the basement of her neighbor friend. The boys who roam around here are not enough, I guess. Now, boys from different parts of the city are finding out about our cul-de-sac. Em learned a couple of new guitar chords, a strand of 'Dust in the Wind' (of course!), and the boys who are juniors gave the girls their concert schedule (downtown in a local cafe, at a festival). The next day, they called and wanted the girls to come to their basement for band practice.
"Can I, Mom! Please!" her friend flanked her with also begging eyes.
They know I'm a bit cautious. Her righteous mom had already checked them out, though, with intuitive talking and discernment, and so I agreed slowly.
Yet, the whole time ....God, you must protect my daughter. Please! Please! Please! Quite the royal beggar these days.
It's just ... I can hear the Kenny Chesney song "There's Goes My Life/Everything", and I'm tearing up in major ways at stoplights (this morning!). That song fits so well with everything her. Embarrassing!
It's just ... she and I are close. We laugh all the time together. We only feud a little. And now she's pretty and vulnerable and in high school.
These things just happen quickly, don't they? Soon, she'll be married with baby (hopefully in that order). I've only recently thought of myself as grandma material. Am I getting a sparkle in my eye for some little one? God, no, not yet! Keep that one up there sliding, wahooing, in the clouds still. I am much too young for granny spectacles. I barely have any gray hairs. I still can run

Alright ... no more band boys. No more boys circling our house. She's grounded!

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Anarchy in Dillards

I saw one of my favorite students this evening in Dillards. He's a scraggly artistic teen who rode his skateboard to school and loved the word "anarchy." He's intelligent but barely scraped through our class with a D-. On the last day of school, I tromped around to find him to force him to take his oral final on the five themes of developing civilization. Otherwise, he would have failed our class even though he was a high-level verbal participant. He was worth the extra effort.
Anyway, I was worn out when I saw him. Cody was on hyperactive duty and kept jumping up in front of me to try to get his hands higher than my head. He kept yelling (his normal talk is very loud) and complaining about waiting for his dad to finish looking at clothes for work.
I could barely talk to this student without fading. I managed, however, to find out that his new, junior English/history class is with my former co-teacher. Good. Sad. I'm not there.
And, now, I'm up late early morning thinking about my former blog. Hyper-dependency upon people is a bad thing; however, when loneliness strikes it's difficult not to have that desire for communication. I would love to know what's going on at school, yet I can't force someone to change (be communicative) and tell me, even though promised. Move on. This is the most difficult part. An unanswered inquiry remains. That might be that.
And, I could have found out more from my student, but my own capacity at the time was limited as well. Let it go. The flux happens.
I took the keys to the car and led Cody out of the inciting atmosphere. We sat and waited. I felt pushed into a small corner of the world, blocked out, relegated to coping, trying to be a patient person. Deep breath. My husband returned and took over.
And, now, I'm awake, vulnerable to those earlier thoughts of being shut out. Yes, being independent-of is not easy. Unmet need or desire can flare up quickly.
One side advantage to faith, though, is the awareness that there is more than only this. My cornered state of self can find an out in devotion to what's greater than my own capacity. I'm so incredibly grateful to that Spirit of largesse and understanding. Without it, I wait in the car and melt entirely. Reassurance becomes personally active, and I feebly submit to its good work. And submit, and submit. It'll be alright. Deep breath .... deep breath...
I think I can sleep again.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

The Untangle

It's the worst time to write. Biscuits and rosemary potatoes brown in the oven. In the living room, my son and I have lined up our plastic war figures for marble battle. Soon he'll finish with his front, and he will call, "Time for war, Mom!"

However, in these few minutes/seconds, I feel the need to express briefly the content of two very similar conversations: one today, one yesterday at the same coffee shop with two younger women.

The theme: the need for affirmation from others. The need to extract ourselves from its weight so that we can live unencumbered, apart from approval needs. For me, this has been a huge, long, and often painful process. I don't have it right yet; however, for once, in these last 2 or 3 months, I feel and see a difference in my reactions, in my ability to move out in independence. Thank goodness. Bridget Jones, move over (although I love your pathetic, human traits too!).

This last year and a half have been a refining process for me. I found myself in situations at work and in ministry which helped me confront and battle codependent characteristics. The need for approval. The desire to not be rejected. A need to be valued. An unhealthy dependence on someone else's reaction. I had those traits before, but these situations pushed it again to the forefront.

Ideally, of course, I love and value my reciprocal relationships. Of course, I see complements as highly favorable. However, I've come to realize that these are gifts that exceed the norm and are not to be demanded, and, often, not to be expected. Especially not because 1) I can do it or 2) because I need it to continue or 3) to control someone else. I value those people who can do relationships well. However, the benefit of a gift is not the same thing as a necessary requisite to my functioning. Wow, big stuff. Major.

Might I be going somewhere now? Perhaps I'll be able to handle difficult situations better if I can stay focused on what I've learned. Time will tell. Yet, at least I have some awareness and hope.

These two young women were struggling in a tangle of unmet need. I could see it on their faces. I heard it in their voices. A couple of trusted friends of mine have seen me across a similar table. It's hard to untangle yourself from others. For once, however, I felt seasoned enough, and strong enough, to assist them through the humility of my own failures. I'm appreciative that we can learn on the way.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Now isn't that special?

Three noteworthy things happened in church today:
1) A Carl Jung quote was used on the big screen to connect to the message.
2) A Friedrich Nietszche quote was used after that.
3) An associate pastor agreed to don a lacy dress for a skit that I've written for a large women's group. He said something like, "Why the hell not" right there to the side of his Ephesians class! I admire that!

I love my church. It's not staid or conservative. I can be creative, loved, smart, and unique to the Big Author's design. Merci, le Dieu encore!

Returning to church six years ago after a long absence gave me huge shivers. I imagined that they would manufacture me into the legalistic Church Lady that Dana Carvey spoofed on SNL.
Being reconciled to the dance [see leapin' in the cow lot] after my twenties by an injunction at work in an office caused by a question posed by a co-worker, I knew I'd need to devote time and focus to develop a trust again. A faith. An active imagination which encompassed more than the seen. A dependence. A letting go. A return to community.

I wrestled (a good biblical verb), and It wrestled, stumbling, falling, shrieking, submitting until I took my weakened will to church. A church that at least had excellent guitarists rivaling anyone at the Blue Note. A church that could apply a Cheryl Crow song to a sermon in an intelligent way.

One Thursday morning, I decided to go one step further then the occassional weekend service. I sank into the driver's seat and drove straight to T2, the church's women's ministry. I needed women friends desperately. For some reason, I had become friends with mainly writer type males. Nothing wrong with that. But, still, time for a change was in the air for various reasons. At the church, I sat in the parking lot, thinking frantically, "I didn't bring a Bible! I forgot my Bible! I can't go! They won't have me! Turn around! Drive away! Now's your chance!"

However, I challenged myself to walk in. A Lisa greeted me, helped me choose a class (out of eight), and I found myself circled by real women who didn't seem like Barbie or Church Lady.
One person, in particular, must have read my journals, in which I wished for a new female, intellectual, fun, skeptical friend who could talk books and philosophy with me. She was completely delivered to specifications in this new class of seven women. And, just her appearing like a gift of good will comprises one of my more 'tangible' reasons for a belief in a caring higher being. I was being baited to be taken care of.

My new friend and I forged ahead questioning everything and tuning it to what we needed: specific commitment; evidence of personal care, intelligent functioning. Goodness. Trust. Love. Our first 'get-together' was at the library, and she knew all the thinking Christian authors which I knew nothing about. She is a Catholic which also gave me a broader view of experiencing God.

For me alone, there was more wrestling with the idea of church and Christ-following, but I finally agreed to give it a try, to not be narrow-minded, to open myself up to a possibility. And, its been incredible since then; I've continued on the path, looking upward and inward to someone, unseen and alive. A cool peel of sight and sense. The community I've become part of is full of talented, smart, imperfect people. I have so many wonderful, interesting friends.

Now, I am in the leadership of the women's group. And guess what? Last year, I put on Church Lady's clothes (pieced lovingly together from Salvation Army and antique store supplies)and strutted around on stage, doing the self-righteous dance for laughs during a skit. There is a divine sense of humor to reckon with. Another proof of a metaphysical reality. Very cool.

Saturday, August 21, 2004


The corn boils on the stove. The corn sits in the sack. The corn waves in the air. As one might surmise, we've been to the corn farm where my husband was raised. He remembers detassling. He remembers combining. He remembers row upon row. Maybe that's why he excels at math, and I don't; it's hard to calculate trees in a woods -- saplings simply spring up with no official line-up to salute to the sun, or the overhead, overlord farmer who quantifies the kernels.
My country mother-in-law differs from my mother. She says what's on her mind. She used the word "bitch" today which her grandson quickly chided her on. Over lunch, she talks about an acquaintances' 'swollen testicles', a health issue he's battled for a while now (my daughter and I can't help but giggle). She generously makes poor pie. However, she's a worker too like Ilene and jumps up with the slightest encouragement for a task. I feel like her great-grandmother. The farm lulls me into deep relaxation, while she sprints around on her barefeet to fetch things. She hugs easily, grabs us, pulls me in tightly too. She used to date the gay preacher in her parts; now she has a boyfriend named Dale who just passed gallstones. They're a giggly pair and went on vacation together recently (Lutherans allow that if'n there's two rooms, or at least two beds). My husband's father passed away about three years ago, so she can have her fun now with Dale out in Wyoming.
Corn. Corn. Must boil more and more corn tonight since I'm freezing it for the winter.
That's my job to boil corn. I'm all about corn. Merci, le Dieu, pour le beaucoup corn. It's corn time here in my house. Why did I get a college degree to boil corn?
C'est la vie. The busy ant stays fed during the winter terrorist attack. Now, what happened to that duct tape? Got the corn. Husks can be used to start fires in case the heat goes out. Corn husks can be fashioned into loin cloths in case the clothes get blown off. Corn husks can be used for weapons, writing instruments, coinage units, stew, diapers, palmpilots, guitars, toilet paper. Use your imagination.
Yes! I do believe I have a bona fide corn calling tonight!

Friday, August 20, 2004

Future fodder

It's the last free week day before school begins on Monday. Downstairs, I hear gun clicks, Playstation, Cody talking typically nonstop in a loud voice, and other kids. Lots of kids. How many are down there now? I think I only admitted four from the neighborhood. There is an extra basement door, though, to admit people (as my teenage daughter has observed). There could be twenty. I hear one of the kids saying, "Cody, I'll give you $5 if you will just sit down and stop talking." Another one is saying, "Cody, don't! Cody, don't!" Commotion. Ah, parenting ......
I am walking around, wiping things down, and slipping into my bedroom (door shut, fan on) to read our next book club selection called "Naked" by David Sedaris. Yes, he's encouraging me to see all of this chaos as normal, as fodder for future jokes. I should write down all the nitty gritty for storage when life gets hard.
For instance, this morning, Cody forced (he's incessant!) me to rate the girls in his third grade class according to how pretty I thought they were. Later, I was forced to answer jokes like, "Why did the toilet paper run down the hill?" "I dunno" "So, it could reach the bottom."
"What's yellow, brown, and hairy?" "Hmmm...." "A grilled cheese sandwich that dropped on the floor."
My daughter is at a neighbor's house whose little brother is bearable, has a paper route, doesn't squeal still, doesn't own a book called "The Grossest and Yuckiest Jokes" and can be touched without a return punch. Her friend's parents are probably more organized and together than me too. They make lunch instead of scrounge. They draw posters commemorating a birthday child. They don't invite stress over carpet lint (hey, that's not my stuff). They know what papers to bring to a school meeting. I'm sure her van is cleaned.
I have the pie edge, though; I must remember that. On Wednesday, 17 women came to my house for a women's ministry leadership meeting. I brought out five of my pies. Lots of exclamation: chaos was controlled in a forkfull. It's a wonder that I'm not obese because of that last statement.
It is quieter now downstairs except for a few, "Cody!" They're tolerant probably for about 10 minutes and then I'll be soothing some tears.
School begins on Monday.....

Inside glow and outdoor rain

Good evening. Is Bo jumping haybales somewhere in this rain? Chances are it's "dry as a bone" down there on the farm. Here, it's raining. It sounds lively, full of thoughts, memories, longings. I want to sleep aware/awake in it's music. Half in-half out. Both young, both old.
I noticed the rain tonight after exiting the Blue Note, a famous live music bar here in town. We followed two women with low cut back blouses and tight capris. They were drunk and old and hanging onto one another, shielding off the rain with stylish purses. A man called after them, "Where's my woman? Where's my girl?" They managed lipstick-upturned wrinkled replies in the rain, "Probably in the bathroom." And, then we all ran to our cars. I walked because I had wine in me to make me slow and thoughtful.
Ah, the Blue Note. I remember long ago wearing a ruffled skirt with long underwear showing underneath (a la Madonna) to see a band who handed out a Roadkill calendar. They stirred me, though, like usual, and I hung on to every note, every run up the guitar necks. I grew up in the middle of music (my dad plunking on various instruments at all hours, having the boys over until late), and it was my language. During a break, my boyfriend told me that one of the bandmembers whispered something in my huge 80's mane, but I didn't hear anything. Caught up in something else. An impression that didn't occur on the farm. A feeling of being swept along. Excitement. Rush.
Tonight, many years later, there was no band, just a community fundraiser. Lots of people with money were present. With glued smiles, we communicated confidence, fun, interest. I made two easy commitments within the dim glow to two women to go shop and to be accountable in exercise. Yes, it's easy to enter into those obligations while in the glow. We smiled, we skirted everything in the interest of the immediate feeling of pleasure, of wine, of money. We have it.
However, I've heard lots of stories of the other side. My work with women has shown me that impressions within dim glows are never, never the reality. That's what I'm interested in. That's why I'll probably go shop and be accountable to my stockbroker friend.
Ah, the Blue Note. Lucinda Williams, I hear you, honey, still as I did during your show. I was caught up, swaying, wondering, feeling your lyrics. Life can be harsh, yes, amen, sister. The glow extinguishes itself, and we are left alone. Alone. Feel it now. Yeah. Sing another one.
Or, are we left alone? That has been one of my driving questions too.
Thank you, Blue Note, for giving me contrast and clarity and, of course, Johnny Cash, back in 1991.:)
And, now, for sleep in the rain. Good night. Sleep is needed for commitments in the morning.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Glovebox stash

I met my mother at the mid-point again to retrieve my daughter who demanded more summer country living on the 500 acre cattle farm in the Ozarks. After drinking coffee with little Ilene, my sweetie Grandma Cora (89), and my daughter, we drove north again while my daughter excitedly remitted a country cousin report on my brother's four teenage sons. She and the boys all "walked around together" at a community picnic in Skyline. The boys knew everyone. Everyone knew the boys. Here's a couple of things my city-slicker daughter incredulously observed:
"Mom! A boy said 'hi' to me, and Shawn said 'Don't mess with her, she's my couzin'!'"
"Mom! There was a girl at the picnic, and they [the cousins] said, 'hey, did you hear that she's goin' to college?' 'Yeah, why does she want to go to college for?'" -- This conversation was repeated over and over again.
"Mom! Wade has $500 in his truck's glovebox from working at the fireworks stand, and he leaves it in his truck, without locking the door at all! He uses it for gas money!"
"Mom! I asked when the picnic would be over, and they said, 'When everyone leaves' and looked at me like I was crazy. I hate it up here where every one has to know what time things begin and end!"
"Mom! Grandma made us 'move into the light' when we were all sitting, talking, on Wade's tailgate in the parking lot. He's my cousin!"

That's the country cousin report .............:)

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Leapin' in the Cow Lot

Through the film "Big Fish", Tim Burton has me thinking more about stories and their role in our lives. I loved how the son learned the trade in the end, and how the father's eyes were bright with fulfilled purpose and love after (and during) his son's story. He had made a believer out of him in the power of myth, the reality of myth. His experience became his son's. He was, therefore, ready for the river and for the goodbyes. That is so cool. I want to be ready too.

I have a story that I've only shared this morning to a new, smart friend who loves C.S. Lewis. I kept it inside for over 20 years as a private secret. But, as I was constructing the story for her, self-consciously, I became released again to release it. And, now, I think, "why not?" The people who know me already know that I'm a little strange. Why not add more to the stew?? I love this story which is factual to my experience. Yet, I could easily be made fun of for it! Resist the temptation! :)

Anyway, in my earlier years, I had an experience which was a touchstone of faith for me. Actually, the experience always makes me smile to think of, and I'm sure God smiled and laughed while observing it. In fact, I feel that when I bring the event up in recollection, that we're both smiling again at the fancifulness (and the rural innocence) of it.

I had a Jesus-with-fangs upbringing, what with my Preacher Grandma Fay sneaking up behind me all the time with apocalyptic news flashes, what with me despising my "mean" sister, what with walking that thin, shaky line of heaven and hell in every waking moment. When I turned 16 and was able to drive to church consistently on my own, I accepted the love of God, yet the church and my inner habit were still promoting the "sinners in the hands of an angry God" mentality. Therefore, I tried to be perfect for the Big Man. Man always meant dominant too in my background. Uneasily dominant.

When I enrolled in college, I took a CS Lewis class. My h/s boyfriend had already introduced me to Lewis' wonderful space trilogy, and we had read Mere Christianity in a 101 type of college class. I knew of CS Lewis just a bit. Well, in class, we read his "Chronicles of Narnia", and the characterization of God through Aslan floored me. Here was a God who rescued, who allowed the kids to bury their heads in his mane, who romped, who roared ... an untameable beast whose love couldn't be subdued, even by their bad deeds, even by evil powers, even by facing it head on with expectation. Wow! It was a new picture, a better version, of God which released me in a very, very therapeutic way from the tighthold of ill-defining, controlling people who thought they knew what He was about. (They didn't and still don't.)

I must have been home when I finished reading the series. At the time, we lived on a 60 acre dairy farm. I was always the Thoreau/Wordsworth/Annie Dillard type who loved walking outside in our woods to think. With a small old two bedroom house (three kids and two parents),the outdoors was expansive and necessary.

This day, I remember going outside to think and walk, but the sight of my dad's new dairy barn and the recently-poured cow lot drew me from my customary path. The barn offered something clean and new, like a big house built just for us (and soon the cows). So, I walked through the barn, admiring the bright new tank, the pit with the stalls, the clean concrete floor, and I climbed the back stairs to go out into the lot. And, there, in the manure-free, brand new cow lot, I was sheltered by weedy growth and a mulberry tree for a private stage.

Only a farm girl has such an opportunity to express in her spirit what Lewis' new revelations about the characteristics of God meant to her. I felt a fullness and an approachability that I never could conceptualize before. It made me so happy. And, so there in the cow lot, I began to twirl around, pretending that I was at a wonderful dance, where everyone was laughing and not caring that I was in a shoddy t-shirt and cut-offs, but where everyone else knew that God was a spirit of happiness and generosity and love.

I danced and danced, going back into my earlier childhood of ballerina pretension. I remember leaping and moving my arms back and forth. And, I remember smiling and laughing, and, finally, with humble love, crying that I was special enough for this dance with the Creator of me and everything that had movement around me. I especially felt a reconciliation with the memory of the sixteen year old boy who gave me my first kiss. The boy who died three months later in a car accident. God was comforting me at the same time He was celebrating life in its diverse forms.

I'm even crying now as I remember it. That dance was special, it shone, even though it was a bit strange!

Afterwards, I remember feeling a bit self-conscious, like I was hoping my mother wasn't hidden behind the weeds watching! But, it became my secret communion which a church would never allow, one that only God allows in private, invitational moments that needed simply my response, and my feet, and my waving arms, and my heart, and the brand new cow lot. :)

Later, unfortunately, not much later, I became forgetful of that encounter of freedom. Three or four years later, I became tangled up with lots of depressing philosophy that I encountered. I gave into a sort-of fatalism, one without relational, lasting dances. One that allowed the idea of love to become archaic, fantasy, not my reality, and I gave in to manipulation and abuse and dark years. Those were my twenties.

Without going into much more of the story, I can say now that I found the path to the river, that lovely archetype of freedom (especially when it looks like an Ozarkian river). And, I can acknowledge that those leaps in the cow lot were mine to keep and hold on to and re-establish contact again with. The dance (and the partner) were always waiting once the belief in love could be untangled again inside of me.

For that, I'm very grateful. Thanks for the story.....

Sunday, August 08, 2004


"Ooooooh," she moaned.
"What's wrong?!" I asked. Was there a call from the hospital that I didn't hear about yet?
"I forgot to dot with butter!"
"On my pie," she moaned. Little Ilene (my mother) always freaks me out with her moans. Even when she calls weekly, her voice sounds like she's going to tell me someone has died. I just want to blurt out, "Is it Grandma Fay? Is it Grandma Cora? Quit whimpering and tell me the awful, sad, inevitable news!" Yes, I'm ready to bawl.
But, usually, it's a kitten that's temporarily missing, or a coon that damaged the corn, or an old tractor part that broke down again, or someone I knew from high school that she saw at Wal-Mart. I should learn not to overreact.
I'm remembering the butter moan, though, this morning. It's a beautiful Sunday morning; it feels like September. I hear grass rustling outside (grass?), and a 'caw' or two. My loyal wind chime melodies away, and so, of course, I felt like baking pies.
Pies are an attempt at reaching the high-up Ilene standard. She excels at pies ... the crust, oh, the crust, and then the filling! My, the filling! Apple pies are my favorite. We don't put ice cream on them to take away the pure pleasurable voluminous taste. No, we sit, and eat them quietly, slowly, with land-reverence, with idol-adoration.
Therefore, this morning, the daughter attempts to imitate within the confines of the cul-de-sac. I've decided to make four pies and freeze them (yes, freeze them!). Three apples and one blueberry (which is reserved for Charles in exchange for computer work). It's exciting and scary. Bowls lined up, flour strewn, Ilene's crust recipe closeby, apples being peeled. My husband left, looking nervously behind him. I'm always creating an uncomfortable mess ~~to be fair, he is the one who recently mopped and polished the hardwood kitchen floor. And, unfortunately, he doesn't even like pies. However, I can imagine pulling out a pie from the freezer for a multitude of events, people at my table, a gift of community, a book club arrival. Me, smiling, me replacing Martha Stewart in prison one day because of the fervency and ego and the greed for recognition that the pies have propelled me towards. No, honestly, the pies will be an offer to friends, and they typically always exclaim to help me relinquish the pies with satisfaction.:)
Wow, I'm looking at all the work still for me on the counter. Three pies to go. Three crusts to roll and pray and despair and excite over if they turn out. But, at least, I'll remember to dot with butter since Ilene says it must be so!
Bye friends. Below's Ilene's recipe for pie crust:

3 cups of flour
1 tsp salt
1 cup shortening
1/3 cup water
rub milk on top of pie crust and sprinkle with sugar

mix above ingredients. pastry blend flour and shortening. add water, toss with fork until it sticks together, roll out on waxed paper, lift and put in pan.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Ignorance of glory

My son returned from Bo's land today. Grandma met mid-way in Rolla, told tales of community picnics, and pesty ticks, and released him back to me. Summer vacation is almost over. School with all of its challenges will be here soon. My son, Cody, has the triple diagnosis of adhd, Asperger Syndrome (a mild form of autism), and language disabilities. I don't do nearly enough to help him. I should be modifying his diet, working with him daily on academics, forming a social learning plan for his IEP, and guiding him in self-help skills for further independence.
The guilt is intense. Yet, I know I provide love, although it sounds flimsy at times compared to the task. I know I provide smiles and hugs, yet where will he be in 15 years on those?
He becomes so lonely at school because it's difficult to relate to others. He acts out; he forgets everything; he's upset; he's in the principal's office .... When I pick him up after school, a lot of times he cries to me about his day. He wants his brain to work better, he says. Why do others think he's so annoying? Everyone says that he's annoying. Why did God make him like he is? Cody has the ability to penetrate with his questions. I've asked these questions as well through the years, because I've seen him struggle, seen us struggle as a family to know what to do. My anxiety for Cody's future is great. Last year, while teaching, I became fairly depressed for a couple of months because I had no answers, just questions, and a driving need to figure it out. Many medical professionals can't figure it out. Through the help of a couple good friends, I finally released the huge personal responsibility of it. But, the anxiety sneaks back on me. School is only a few weeks away.
I came across this poem that I wrote while in the throes of my son's situation a couple of years ago. It had been misplaced for about a year, and I'm glad to find it, and glad to record it here in case of loss again. I may need the discovered perspective to help me cope as a parent through the next year.


Like a rock that
Spreads green moss on
A pond, your thoughts
Leave me looking at what
Hides underneath. My son,
The shrieker in my quiet, the
Friendless boy at a party, the
Wrong soccer goal kicker, is
Entrusted for me to appreciate
His blazing light of blue eyes,
His wild smile, an energy that
Speaks purely of yours. Spark.
Ignition. Virtuous purification.
I confess an ignorance of glory.
I receive your zeal in the form
Of first grade inquisitions and spills
And zany limb dance convulsions.
Receipt -- Joy -- Realization,
I kiss your blessed, our small
Wooly lamb, in return celebration.


Friday, August 06, 2004

On the road

I am up early because of a disturbing dream. Have you noticed that if you cry very hard in a dream that you wake up with a certain inner disquietude? Perhaps it has been the busyness of the week, the return to the nonsimple life of town that started the current that began the dream. But in it, I was crying and walking down the road due to a misunderstanding with my husband. I kept watching for him to drive by and retrieve me, but he never came. I encountered teenagers at a juvenile delinquency center (usually I'd want to stop and talk to teenagers since I've worked with and enjoy them), but I kept going, waiting for him. I met my cousin and her mother, and a guy who wanted to hold me (until he saw my cousin), but my husband didn't come. Finally, I called him on someone's cell phone (maybe I'll change my reluctance now to own one; I know I'm backwards!), and he said that he had driven by already but never saw me. He would hop in the car and return for me. A relief. He never intended to cause me pain, we were just both somewhat careless. A bit sobering, because it was wrenching. We all need someone to look for us when we're on the road amongst strangers. But, the lesson of being alone, the willingness of dependency is valuable, compelling. Leaves a lurch in the stomach.
The word compelling is compelling, isn't it? I heard a phrase recently that I like. It's called "the compelling idea of God." I like that Chambers called it an idea ... like a baby in a parents' eye, like a possibility for an inventor, like a danger on the road. I want to always be compelled towards further movement. Age can help us do that, naturally. We learn, we adjust ...
Yet an image of a couple of old, despaired by life, faded women (one was a stranger who sat on my couch recently; the other one stared at her drink at her kitchen table, barely able to say goodbye to guests) has made me sad for the possibilities of people not allowing movement or change within themselves. I could be vulnerable to that as well. May the compelling God move us forward from all ends and despairs and certain knocks in life that we can't overcome as we answer them. May we trust in love on the road.

Monday, August 02, 2004

to whittle

In my last post, I left you with the image of a scroungy white farm dog leaping from round bale to round bale in a corner lot. I think I compared that to us, and the beauty of leaping, from one thing to the next. Yet the periphery of Vietta and lil' Ilene's farm world, across or under the barbed fence into the big yard, appears a bit more constant, although pretty soon Ilene might leap to where Vietta is, but I can't think about that at all now. The speed matters really. I want to slow it down sometimes and make them all stay with me. But, there goes Bo leaping, and it's only natural to love the movement, to flow, and to ebb. Yet, it often hurts, the transition.
All this sounds melancholic now thanks also to Tim Burton (thanks Tim for matching moods tonight) as we watched "Big Fish" here in town, in the cul-de-sac, down in the basement. Amazing stuff, the archetypes, the river, the comment "because you know church folk drive slow" .... it's true; there is a river with slow church folks driving to it! "Slow and steady now; we ain't got supper on the back burner." I can hear them now. Voices of the stodgy, but sure.
The stories, though, convey that imagination matters. What is truth but imagination in a way (now, that comment doesn't dismiss reality)? I am always amazed at the ancient eastern earliest-known religions imaginative spin. What turned that in such fanciful ways? Fear? Love of the earliest inventor? Knowledge? It fascinates me, and although I "know" through an embrace, itself mysterious, I want to explore more and acknowledge something of it in my life. Acknowledge how that creative force with all of its images and stories has worked throughout time. It's important and urgent. Shouldn't we all be learning?
Yet, the two sides (studious,active) combine, and I become busy and distracted. I boil-can pepper jelly and such so that I can, oh yeah, give the "scent of farm" to townies. :)
Well, I'm just glad that movies and dogs and church drivin' slow people bring me back into thinking. Now, if I had something to whittle with here above my laptop on my modern kitchen counter top....

A jar full

Bo of the Bales readers,
Conjure with me an image of a farm ... farms are often pastoral-reflective even if you live within street signs and errant car alarms and roaring subways. Imagine a farm nestled, like a chirping chick, in swath-bolts of green. In green which roars with fertility after a humid spring. Imagine daisies in a field, naturalized jonquils, rosibud flora gone wild due to a supposed conservationist error, summer Queen Anne's lace waving in a breeze, bold purple-fisted field thistles. Imagine a little country woman, petite, strong-legged, bowing to her grandmother's memory who once also planted, reaped, molded her life to the land's rhythms. A woman who, undoubtedly, felt a desire for meaning amidst the green, the field flowers, and the bales of hay. A desire exacberated by a diabetes disease which eventually took her sight. A desire passed on to her grand-daughter (the little woman above) and great-grand-daughter (me) and to whomever else encounters the spirit of the farm which rests in the acknowledgement/confrontation with the seasons where ever they (you) are located, where ever they (you) interact with the what-comes-next in the cycle. I like to imagine the farm as my epi-center of the search because it's where my greatgrandfather settled back in the 1800's. When I visit my parents there, my little mother and big bluegrass-playing father, I search constantly for traces of what is, was and what comes next in my life. Do you have such a place? Do you even understand what I'm talking about? Perhaps I'm being vague and dreamy. I just returned, you know, from a visit, and it was good. I learned Vietta's, my greatgrandmother), trade ... canning over a hot stove. My first! I canned green pepper jelly; the entire old home, her original still intact within modern additions, smelled like the garden, like pepper spice. She would've been happy, her long brunette hair swept up, her nice eyes smiling. I often envy ancestral worship because it's so easy to make "your people" legendary, an ego-extension, if you don't know their skeletons, their issues. Yet, why not embrace that too? Why keep those hidden away when they speak of what we experience as humans? I wish that she had kept a journal, a blog ...
Anyway, now I'm back, inspired, in my large town, in my cul-de-sac, with Kerr jars of jelly. I've already given five away, along with sacks of tomatoes, to other bound-within-town seekers. And with the gift, I'm able to give a scent of a farm nestled in green ... a part of Vietta's heritage ... an older type of community which relied upon seasonal longings for sustenance ... a natural search for natural signficance to life's question. All of that in one jar! Perhaps I should've called this blog "a jar full" ... a subtitle, I reckon.
Bo of the Bales, though, is more fun and doesn't involve hot cooking, boiling, which is what it is despite idealized ancestral spirits. When I write, I'd rather imagine Bo, the farm's white-puppy lab stray, bounding upon the clustered huge round bales in a side-lot. It's a happy sight because Bo does this for pleasure whenever he gets the urge to do some air scaling. A country dog's adrenaline rush. During a visit once, my nine year old son and I raced Bo across the bales which are about 90 feet by 60 feet (?math?). Ever since then, Bo has adopted this type of entertainment for himself. When we return, we race, and Bo shows off his practice. I like to image Bo jumping without us, Bo being pulse-of-life, Bo wagging his tail and scratching, Bo being alive and real, like I need to be more. Therefore, this blog is named Bo of the Bales in recognition of the farm in the green, the women and men who search for meaning in life's interactions, and the act of leaping from one thing to another. Welcome, readers, kinfolk, country and city bumpkins alike!
I love to write, so stay tuned for more reflections....