Thursday, September 25, 2008


Wannabe photographer
I want to capture through a lens
What I see with my eyes
Make it real to you
Just like it is to me.

Wannabe writer
Turn a love into something more
That reaches further
And reaches back
Like doodles never do.

Wannabe chef
I want to make it because it sounds good
To do it well
To know by what I see, smell, and taste
What it needs to be just right
And share it because you're here

Wannabe information junkie
I want to be the go-to girl
Because I want to know
What makes it tick, how it works, why it is how it is
And share it with you because you asked

Wannabe organized
To be ahead of the game so the game doesn't play me
To know where it is and what it is before I need it
To be ready when surprises come
And never be taken prisoner by my own lack of foresight

Wannabe tidy
I want to keep it clean
Safe and healthy -- a place of rest
Not to apologize for the way things are
Because they are always ready for you.

Wannabe frugal
I want to be just the right frugal
Who is wise and cautious
Who lacks nothing because she wastes nothing
With freedom to be generous whenever the opportunity arises

Wannabe gracious
I want to be aware of the abundance of Mercy
To always have a kind and gentle answer
Slow with sarcasm, cautious with wit
To receive you whenever and however you arrive

Wannabe true
I don't want the gap between what I know and what I do
To be a yawning chasm
Out of reach, and hopelessly so
Making a liar out of me

Wannabe good
The girl who does what she should because she should
I don't want to fight the rebel in me
To be contrary for its own sake
And let it be because my heart is so inclined

Wannabe brave
I don't want to be afraid to speak, to act, to wonder, to pray
I don't want to jump at shadows in the corners of my vision
Don't want to startle at voices in the night
Just want to be at peace, whether in darkness or light, silence or tumult
You're here -- I need nothing else

Wannabe clear
I want to think! To be of sound mind
Clear reason, never never overwhelmed
Not reacting in fear or because my hand is forced
But acting in wisdom and the surety of the faithful heart

Wannabe warrior
I want to be the girl who hits her knees
Because she knows just how to pray
For you -- with you
To uphold you now and shore up your faith for the days ahead

Wannabe woman
Not a child, but a woman
Of God, of Husband, of Family, of Friends
Of dignity and grace
Of steady temperament and gentle spirit
Not tempestuous and impetuous

Wannabe supermom
Pack lunches, birthday cupcakes for your class
Read you a story and say your prayers
Spit-shined and polished, combed and mannerly
Never short, always gentle
Inspire you to your best

Wannabe trophy-wife
The real kind -- not just arm candy
Crown of honor, joy of your heart
Humble, respectful, noble of character
Loyal servant to you and your household
Always, as unto the Lord

Wannabe me
Not a shadow or a shell
Not a facsimile of a model this or that
But me -- mind, will, and emotion
Wit, wisdom, curiosity and sentiment
Free to laugh and cry, think and feel
And know it's all okay

Wannabe, wannabe
Ever gonnabe?
Gotta wonder when the sun comes up
If today will be the day
And find hope when the sun goes down
That tomorrow will come in new mercy
Fresh with promise kept and abiding love
Enough, and more
Always more, beyond imagination
Gonnabe someday what I wannabe
Because You Are

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

While the World Slumbers On

Sleepless nights are rarely what I would call a blessing, but tonight is just that. I am awake, but it is not unrestful. I am still immersed in the peace of this place. The house is still. I can hear the faint, whiffling snore coming from the pile of little boys on the floor. I can hear the hum of the refrigerator and the steady tick of the clock on the wall. It is dark tonight; the clouds are hanging low over the trees, making invisible the fabled stars of a northern Michigan sky. The only light outside is the single one on the dock across the lake, and I wonder what tale could be spun about it...if perhaps Mr. Fitzgerald saw a night like this one and was inspired to take up his pen, as well. The deep thrum of bullfrogs' song drifts up from the lake as the world rolls on in peaceful slumber.

In the quiet, my mind wanders to people who have blessed my life with their presence: family, friends, teachers, the friends who invited us here. I can't help but be warmed with gratitude. They have all left imprints on my life, and that they were divinely ordained to do so is undeniable. Oh, what manner of love!

A Day in the Life

It's morning. The dock and lake are awash in breaking sunlight as it skims over the tops of the trees. They are fresh, washed clean from last night's storm. The day has dawned clear and bright. There is the distant putter of a fishing boat in the distance and the gentle lap of its wake slapping against the bottom of the boat docked here. Fish are dimpling the surface of the lake, taking their breakfast from the insects skating among the lily pads. There is a gentle breeze stirring among the pines whispering their morning greetings, softly rejoicing: "the storm has gone -- the world is new again and we stand witness to the mercy of another sunrise!" The songbirds trill in the trees, sweeping from branch to branch calling out the fresh joy of a new day. After breakfast, the children scatter to the beach, joining their merry chatter with the sounds of the morning. The world is awake again; the day has begun.


It's evening. Clouds have rolled in over the lake again, but there is sunlight and patchy blue yet to be seen. Perhaps they are less ominous than the ones that brought last night's storms. The lake is calm, but after a long day on the water, I find the gentle lull and ripple of the water creeping its way into my perception. As I rock with my body's memory of the water, my mind drifts back to the sights and sounds of my adventure downstream in the kayak. A lone gull cries in the distance as he dives to his rest, and I wonder if his name might be Jonathan. My awareness wanes with the sunlight, fading into the oblivion of peaceful slumber....

Itinerant on the Water

I never thought about kayaking as something that I wanted to do. The opportunity presented itself, though, and I took it. Why not? It was vacation, the boats were there, so indeed, why not?

A bit downstream from where I put in, a dock, fallen into disuse and disrepair, stands in the water. No longer is there a boat moored there; no children leap into the water; no sign of human passing is there except the dock itself. But it is weathered, the dock. The wood is grey and porous. Several of the boards near the end have fallen away completely. And after her relentless habit, nature has worn away at it until is has come to look as if it truly belongs -- not like a mark of man's intrusion, but rather like a unique formation of logs, only vaguely reminiscent of some visitor long since forgotten.

There is something indescribable about the calm of drifting noiselessly through a shallow river.The water is so clear, the river bottom leaps up as though truly near enough to touch. You can see the nodding, swaying fronds of grey-green, schools of minnows darting to and fro, the occasional silvery flick of a bluegill's tail as it pops to the surface to snatch a skating bug. Lilypads roll on the surface of the water. Each moves, tethered to its own stem, but the collective motion is like scales of a fish: each indiscernable from the others. Water lilies dot the surface of this aquatic garden, each in different degrees of bloom. I am afraid to breathe -- afraid to disturb the scene around me, yet each breath draws me further in -- blurs the boundaries between me and the native life. They all know I am here, but they seem unperterbed. It is as if they know the grand truth surrounding and consuming us all: I will glide over the water, and it will part before me. I will perhaps disturb a plant or an animal with my passing, but it will be just that: a passing. My presence here is, in the grand scheme of things, irrelevant. I will pass through, and nature will, in her gentle and irrepressible fashion, erase all evidence. She will consume all traces of my passing, making it all her own again. My mark in this place is transient at best, but the mark of this place on my soul is indelible.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Long Road North

I can't say that I've ever considered Michigan to be a great vacation paradise. I think of automobile factories, the occasional cherry orchard, and that football team that we won't discuss here. I've had a couple of friends from Michigan, and a couple move there. Beyond that, it's just the mitten up there...the place I-75 disappears to on the other side of Toledo. And then, on the generosity of friends, we vacationed there. Michigan will never strike my ear, my mind, or my heart the same way again.

Just north of the state line, Michigan looks pretty much the same as Ohio. There are cities, suburbs, and small spans of trees lining the highway. Bypassing Detroit, urban life fades into the distance, bringing farmland rolling up to meet the highway. The cities gradually return, but in smaller scale. But then, you notice something about the trees. Small clumps and sparse stretches of deciduous trees are replaced by darker, denser woods, evergreens gradually becoming the norm rather than the exception. Against the dark green of the summer foliage, an occasional stand of birches appears, gleaming white against the heavy underbrush climbing to meet the lower branches of the trees. You begin to feel as though you are passing deeper and deeper into a forgotten time and place -- as though the trappings of the modern world are garish intrusions on the world that has taken hold here in the centuries since the glaciers receded.

There is another recurring feature that punctuates the wall of trees. Whether affected by some disease, or by the emerald-ash bore that has invaded in recent years, there are a number of trees dead or dying that reach out with baring branches, grasping to hold their positions among their still vibrant companions. It seems odd...there are some who stand, straight and true, as though offering their life and their strength upward in encouragement and support of the newer trees and vines below, even as their leaves wither and drift away. But then, there are others that are bent and gnarled, even out to the tips of their tiniest twigs. They reach down toward the ground, not with the graceful sweep of a willow, but like an old crone's fingers, reaching to touch the soul of the earth below, and either be drawn in completely and consumed, or revived by some sorcery that eludes the minds of men. It all unfolds in silence, and they ultimately wait to be taken by the wind. They will fall into the waiting arms of the vigorous young beneath them, and then to earth, and she will receive them back in silence.

Just south of Grayling, the forest shows yet another lilting step in its delicate dance; a fire has run through. High in the pines, the needles still glimmer silvery green against the sky. On the ground, dense ferns fan out, almost unnaturally verdant, carpeting the rocky earth from the highway's edge to the fields beyond the trees. Blackened trunks span the blue sky between the layers of green. They are deceptive; such a scorched bridge must surely be too weak to bear life. And yet life indeed rolls on. Fresh greenery above and below the fire's fingerprint gives shelter to all manner of small creatures. Birds still nest, small animals scurry among the roots of the trees, and deer delicately pick their way among the ferns, grazing cautiously as they mind the strange visitors that roll and growl along the stone ribbon that winds through the woods.

It's always the same, but it's never the same. It has ever been. It may continue, but it may be snuffed out without a moment's notice. It is a paradox, but it can be no other way than this: Life and death in intimate dance among the trees.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

A Prayer Upon Rising

This was originally begun in the fall of 2001, when my grandmother was first diagnosed with Alzheimer's. I didn't know how to finish it until she died 5 years later

A Prayer Upon Rising


As she drifts away memory by memory, remind us that her memories are brought back to you, the author and perfecter of our faith. Let us rest in the knowledge that you have authored her faith in days of reason, and perfected it in days of confusion. Remind us that even as her uncertainty has tested and tried our dependence on your grace, it has tested her even more.

For every piece of her that has slipped away, you have touched her with grace, guarded her steps, and watched over her.

She who showed us how to grow to maturity has also shown us how to be childlike. She who has encouraged us to sing our songs has found the freedom to sing her own. She of firm and steady steps has now the wisdom to dance.

Thank you, Father, for the opportunity to care for her who has so selflessly cared for us throughout our lives.

Thank you that the love she invested in us has borne fruit to sustain her in her time of need…that she could be surrounded by it when others might have found loneliness.


And now that the journey has closed, we find joy amid sorrow, laughter amid tears. For the joy in this journey is now borne in our hearts, the laughter in our memories; the songs live on our lips and the dance beneath our feet. All that she was here now rises to you, perfected in glory.

Thank you, Father! for this precious treasure that will go with us all until we, too, rise.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

from 5/21/08:

Of course it was a dream. One of those almost-time-for-the-alarm-to-go-off dreams...when you don't want to wake up just yet, and you're in denial about the grey light beginning to seep in through the window. But today, I really wanted to hold that moment, and it wasn't until I was fully awake that I realized what had just slipped through the fingers of my consciousness. I'm pensive about it now, because the words don't really make sense, but I'm also acutely aware of a sadness -- a desire to go back and just relish the moment for what it was.

It was an embrace. I was bound in her arms. I was aware of her hair falling over my head, my face nestled in the hollow of her shoulder. There was such sweet comfort there! -- a familiarity that replaced all of my longing for her wisdom, her counsel, her simple, peaceful presence in my life.

And then she said the strangest thing (for her!): "You'll feel so much better with this extra weight gone." Taken literally, it makes very little sense. If I look for spiritual depth, well, then...that's a whole new journey.

Trying to analyze what she could possibly have meant by that is what actually woke me. And then I could have kicked myself for not just saying "Okay, Mom." and holding on to her.

What I wouldn't give to hide in that embrace for just a little while longer....