Friday, October 7, 2011

Autumn Awakening

Upon my autumn carpet,
its beauty stops my journey.
My thoughts turn from what was to what is,
as I stoop to behold the ruby at my feet.
Red, vibrant, burning with fire,
its fall from grace not long ago.

My fingers slip beneath its delicate features
and I stand holding it gently.
It’s soft within my grasp,
still breathing life from a branch
stretched far overhead.
To my eyes, I lift my perfect treasure,
ready to admire its boastful beauty.

Behold, its ragged edges,
the small scars upon its surface!
Its velvety skin is torn and tattered,
bruisings of brown have begun their assault.
My treasure, thought to be perfect, is,
upon closer inspection, far from it.

My mind slows, and my vision yields.
Beauty lies not in our perfection, my heart whispers,
but in our flaws, by which our vulnerabilities are exposed.
It is in our weaknesses, that our strengths are revealed,
and our strengths shall carry us upon the breeze.
Though we fall,
our beauty does not end.
For all that lies within us, becomes one
with that which catches us,
that which is waiting,
to welcome us home.

Saturday, September 17, 2011


It's time...
I did something two weeks ago, that I've been waiting a long time to do.
I got a tattoo.
I'm sure it was a surprise to some when they saw it, and maybe a disappointment to a few others.
Or maybe not so much a disappointment (at least I can hope), as that maybe a few were just left wondering, Why?
I didn't do it to provoke reactions. Though the reactions I have been given have been varied and somewhat interesting. Those in my life I expected more from, gave less. And those I thought would be closed off to the idea, actually threw their arms wide open and celebrated with me.
Begin. It's always been a favorite word of mine. To begin. Today. To be the person I hope to someday be. To begin. Today. Breathing a bit deeper, praying a bit longer, and dreaming a bit larger. To begin. Today. Picking up the pen and putting it to paper. To begin. Right now. From where I am. With what I am. In hopes of uncovering every last ounce of all that I am.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Water for the Soul

Recently, I finished reading the most amazing book--Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen.I have to say, this is the best book I have read in a long--LONG time.
The author's writing seemed to seep inside my very soul. The vocabulary was so rich and warm, you could almost taste the words upon every page. They fed my writer's spirit, and I found myself wishing I could write with such passion, such detail, such pull. I'm not one to write fiction....but, oh to be this good, if I could! How thrilling it would be to move the very hearts of my readers, the way my heart and soul were moved by reading this book.
Most of you know by now the setting and story line of Water. But here's the thing....I don't even like circuses. Clowns, big tops, the sight of all those animals cooped up together in un-natural surroundings. No. This has never been a scene for me to seek out, let alone spend time in.
Yet the world of the traveling circus, circa 1930, opened up in such a way when I opened this book, that I was immediately pulled in and loving the life of a stowaway carny. I only had to read the prologue to be completely captivated. After that, I found it physically painful to have to set the book down whenever "real" life demanded that I tend to those pesky duties and responsibilities that kept piling up, while I whittled my days away reading.
I have Hannah to thank for my reading this book in the first place. Without her, Water would most likely have sat upon the living room bookshelf, totally overlooked, and gathering dust indefinitely. Neither the front cover nor the back, with its short description, ever intrigued me. The book had been a gift given over a year ago, and I for the life of me, I couldn't figure out why.
But alas, my middle daughter pulled forth its spine from the collection gathered around it, one day during her spring break. She asked me what it was about, and I said, "I have no clue. I've never read it." Within an hour, she was gushing over the story that had been hidden within, and to my surprise, she had a hard time describing the beautiful prose she had unexpectedly uncovered....."Mom. The writing. The writing is"
Her breathlessness dumbfounded me. What was so powerful that it so completely captured the attention of my 17-year-old daughter? I found out two days later, when I too, picked up the book and cracked its cover. The author made us feel like we were the ones jumping on that circus train. I could feel the leathery skin of Rosie, and I swear I could feel the sting from August's cane. It was a ride I wasn't expecting--but when it was over, I realized I was better for the journey I took.
The best part was walking alongside Hannah through it all. We were able to share our experiences, our questions, our discoveries, and our disbelief over the turn of every page.
And when the story came to an end, it was better to have Hannah by my side, as I said goodbye to Jacob, Marlena, and Rosie.....and all the rest of our newly formed circus family. I will miss them terribly in the days ahead, but their memories will last forever.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Sew Alone

     I sit here in my quiet room, at the top of the stairs, inside a house that is equally quiet.  No one has come to move me; I am still nestled against the wall, directly beneath the window, whose shade was drawn many months ago. I miss the sunlight, the noonday rays, which used to warm my weathered and wooden exterior. Perfectly-cut squares of material rest upon my table, pieces of a well-patterned quilt waiting to be stitched. Together, we sit in our darkened state, wondering what is to become of us, confused by why we’ve been left alone for so long.
It wasn’t always like this—dark and quiet. Back when the curtain was raised, life was busy and so was I. For forty years I sewed inside this house, purposely stitching together pieces of fabric, large and small. Not by myself, of course. Her hands were there to lead and guide our work. Her fingers were steady and skilled. She also had a gift for color, texture, and pattern. In her mind's eye, she envisioned the endless possibilities a bolt of fabric could become, and together we created them all.
  In the early days we made clothes.  Dresses for the girls, vests for the boys. The house was alive, children were everywhere, and life moved faster than the whirl of my needle. Laughter bounced off the walls, as feet padded up and down the stairs. Those footsteps, I remember so well. They were timid and slow when the feet were young, but before long they grew solid and strong. Eventually, they became bold and brave enough to bound the steps two at a time. The house was happy. She was happy. I was happy.
  Time continued to pass, however, and one day the footsteps faded. All too soon, it was just her and me, spending quiet days inside the house, sewing uninterrupted as each day unfolded. She loved to sew, though. I could tell. For she sat with me in the morning, the afternoon, and sometimes late into night if the man of the house was still not home. Her fingers would fly with perfect precision, as she threaded two pieces of fabric together. With each dip and rise of my needle, we worked side by side--silent partners, weaving bits of material into masterpieces, day after day, year after year.
  Of course, there were times when the laughter returned and small (but grand!) feet once again pitter-pattered past me. When they were here, she didn’t have time to sew. But, that didn't matter. The joy that filled the house filled me as well. Their laughter was contagious, their energy rejuvenating. Besides, I was never over-looked completely. Small hands would eventually find me, and slowly skim across my wooden surface. Little fingers would carefully inspect the colorful spools of thread, tucked neatly inside my cabinet door. The hands were curious, but gentle. It was like they knew how important I was to her. But I also knew how important she was to them. They would call to her from the top of the stairs and she would come, to play a game or look through a box of old people in old pictures stored safely on a closet shelf.  At night she would climb the stairs to tuck them in or chase away an invisible monster, who had somehow come to hide beneath their bed. They were so young, and she was growing older, yet age never seemed to get in their way.
  It was then that we started making the quilts, and we became quite good. We sewed large quilts to cover beds, and small quilts to cover babies. Together, we made quilts of every color and pattern. There were three, however, that I will never forget, and I knew they were going to be different from that day she came upstairs. In her arms she carried not crisp and clean store-bought packages, but three brown grocery bags, with a hand-written name on the outside of each one. When she reached inside the paper caverns, it wasn't purchased folds of fabric that she pulled out, but the tiniest of clothes, instead. They were pink and white, soft green and sky blue. She looked them over carefully, fingering each one, as her eyes seemed lost in faraway places. Then she picked up the scissors, and as I caught my breath, she began to cut. The shapes that emerged were odd and mismatched. No two pieces were alike. And yet, when she began to shape them together, like one would do a puzzle, they fit perfectly. It was like they were meant to become something new all along. What’s more, each quilt seemed to tell a story, a story about the joys and possibilities of life from the very beginning, and the pages that had already been written. When we finished those three quilts, we didn’t say a word. We just sat in silent awe, staring at the mosaic of memories laid out before us.
  Those quilts were among our last pieces we created together. One day she went down the stairs, and just never came back. I think she meant to, for those squares of fabric are still here upon my table. But it’s been too long, too many days have passed. I have a list of growing questions, which I may find have no answers. Memories keep me company, now, as I sit here in the quietness of my room. There are pieces of her sewn inside me, stitched forever within my heart. I will never forget her. But I wonder if I will be. Yes, my days have darkened, but my hope remains, that someday, someone will come back. Perhaps the hands that pulled the shade so long ago, will return to lift it again.  And if so, then maybe, just maybe, I might be cast in a whole new light.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


I stand strong and tall, amidst an ocean of green. Yet I am weak, defenseless, against the waves of destruction you roll towards me.

My years upon this land are many. More than yours.  More even, than all those who came before you.
Yet you are the one holding the number of my days.

Preserve me, and I’ll preserve you.
Cut me, and the bonds that tie us will forever be severed.

For my roots run deep—as deep as your own.
Beneath our surfaces, they intertwine.  
That which nourishes me, nourishes you.
Can you really see where I end, and you begin?

Braided together, entangled, by the hand of the Great Designer--our connection has no beginning, but I fear its end.
Preserve me, and I’ll preserve you.
Protect me, and I’ll protect you.
Live with me, and I’ll live for you.

Honor me, and in return, You will find you have honored yourselves.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Taken for Granite

A Place of Peace--Blissfield, Michigan
     It’s been a long time since my last visit. There’s not much here for me, except a cold black marker reminding me of all that I have lost.  When I come to this place, I don’t hear her voice, speaking words of wisdom or sound advice.  When I step softly in front of her stone, I don’t have powerful memories break the surface of my mind.  And when I crouch to trail my fingers across her name carved in granite, I don’t feel her presence sweep up and settle in beside me.  Actually I don’t hear, see, or feel anything when I come to this place.  Yet, here I am, once again.  Is it out of duty that I stand before this sacred stone? Guilt? Or requirement? 
     No.  I’m here only because of a small, slowly dying, sliver of hope.  A hope that someday this place will have something more to offer me.   I hope to find answers to long-ago asked questions. I hope for messages that will soothe my broken heart.  And I hope for clues that will finally put an end to my endless cycle of pain. 
     Today the sky is overcast, adding nothing but further dullness to both my world and senses.  The only color I see is the painted plastic flowers flanking the hard reality that sits before me.  Why is it these store-bought floral stems always seem a tad too vibrant, a shade too bold?  Why can they never match the true color of their living, breathing counterparts?  Are their qualities overstated in a vain attempt to parallel the joy and beauty of a real bouquet?  The wind stirs, ruffling the uniform-shaped petals, and upon its breeze I am startled by the warm, whispering sound of a voice I had almost forgotten.  I catch my breath and strain to listen, leaning myself forward into the heavy air.  Her words sweep gently past my ears, and I find myself suspended if only for a moment.  “Be careful,” she says.  “Do not become like them.  Be not cold, plastic, rigid, or less than.  Your life has purpose—live it.  You have gifts—use them.  Your dreams are credible—don't deny them.  There is a world anxiously waiting for you.” 
     Her voice fades, and my eyes drift from the plastic flowers to her name etched in stone.  Dark, embedded letters identifying the woman who still pulls at my heart, yet whose passing has left it cold and empty.  My mind suddenly opens the vault of once-happy pictures, pictures of long-ago and put away.  I thought by locking them up, the pain of losing her would lessen.  I thought my world needed living pictures, walls filled with today’s snapshots, for me to heal.  I was wrong.  Closing the door to her memories, closed off a palate of hues my heart so desperately needed.  With her images now slipping back in, color begins to seep back into the grey-shadowed landscapes of my life.  Her memories bring beauty, give beauty, to all that I see.  They are gifts. Her pictures splash against the stark white canvass of my heart; I can see her eyes, her smile, her tender face.  She is here with me—in all her beauty—once again. 
     As my heart refills, the soil of my soul begins to stir.  The roots she planted there so long ago push downward, as tiny shoots of inner strength stretch upward.  I take a deep breath and tilt my head towards the heavens, praying for healing water to come.  The grey clouds above me, concede, break open and a soft rain begins to fall.  My face rejoices in the cool wet drops.  I have cried a thousand tears for my yesterdays, and today I find there are no more to give.  The rain, however, is willing to do the weeping for me.  I stand there open, exposed, the dryness of my soul soaking up the restoring graces of life-giving water.  My body shivers with the chill now dominating the air, but I feel a warm blanket wrap around my shoulders.  I feel the soft touch of the hand placing it there.  Her presence is strong, undeniable.  She is everywhere, enveloping me in a layering of her love.  She is doing what all mothers do best—she is comforting her hurting child. 
     Today I heard her voice.  I saw her face.  I felt her presence.  This place—which had been cold and lacking—finally released the one gift it knew I truly needed.  It wasn't an answer to a small human-size question, nor a clue to some long-standing mystery.  Instead, I was granted peace. True peace. Peace which will surpass all understanding—given in a place never to be taken for granite again.  

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Are You Awake?

“You’re stalling your life change.”

These words were catapulted at me from across neutral ground today. They held no trace of malice, only intention.

To hit their target, dead-center.

My shield of self-denial, shattered with the unexpected blow. Exposing a fragile truth, which had been deep, down, dismissed.

Instantly, all air vanished from my lungs, and the earth quaked beneath my feet.

I fell, breathless.

But in the deafening silence that remained, I felt a new wind brush fresh upon my face.

With a fragrance strong enough to awaken the sleeping dream within my soul.

And as I bowed to push myself upright, I found my feet rooted in the soil of determination.

Yet fluid with forward motion.

Ready to move me, once again, towards the change that patiently waits to become my life.

Powerful Words

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable. ~Kahlil Gibran