Day 27 (Tribute to Shell Silverstein)

I wonder what happened

To the boy in the hat

After he sprouted those wings

And flew up in the sky

And flashed a bright smile

As he waved a goodbye

And his mother shrieked loudly

It sure hurt my ears

And she ran down the street

In those heels

Drenched in tears

As her dear baby boy

Decided to fly

And just left

Because

Frankly

What is there to say

When she pinches your cheeks

And corrects your bad grammar

Dresses you up

And forbids you to play?

So Mikey took off

Never did see him again

And us other kids wondered

and pondered

And dreamed

Of growing some wings of our own

And fly, freed.

Day 26

Before the sun rises

My dear one

My darling

Before the sun welcomes the blue back to the sky

Before the the dove coos

From it’s nest in the rafters

Before you open your eyes

Limned with laughter

My prize

Before the dew gathers

While the wind travels north

Before the sea wakes the gulls with it’s churning

And tendrils of seedlings are dazzled by morning

Let me whisper a secret

Let me invoke the last rite

My dear one

My darling

My ends of the earth

Love without scruple

Let me bid you goodnight.

Day 25

The world keeps turning.

3There’s a fire going in the living room (in the fireplace), and we don’t have any working alarms in this house. There’s a magnetic strip above the stove that holds all our butcher knives, and I can’t help but think it gives the impression of being too…convenient.

Details, details. They’ll get you. Like the scent of your grandmother’s living room when Sam, the labrador, was still alive, and when your grandpa still bowled. She used to keep the dog biscuits in a canister, letting you take two out every day to help encourage a sit or  handshake.

The view from the upstairs window of the house where you lived for two years.

Talking to the neighbor girl through wire fencing in the back yard.

Onion paper Bible pages. Fanning through them, creating a current of wind across your face.

Life.

I’ve got a piece of advice for you. Stop whatever your doing to get through life. Please. Stop waiting to go to college. Stop getting up to go to work everyday. Don’t count the days till retirement. Don’t forge ahead toward a career or position. Stop trying to get there. Stop it. For a while sit down, and think about what you’re doing. We’re dying. No matter your religious affiliation, you will be dead someday. You’ll keel over, or you’ll get pierced through the heart with a spear, or cancer will start eating you, or you’ll just get old and your body will give  up.

We’re going to die. Are you helping people? Is that how you feel good about your life? Well they’re going to die too, sooner or later, no matter what. Forever compared with 70 years, and that’s if you’re lucky. Forever. 

This is no fire and brimstone sermon, this is the irreducible fact. Death has no scruples. You graduated summa cum laude from Harvard Law, established a non profit firm and bettered the lives of countless minorities? You’ll die, and so will they.

I never thought about it that way. Ever since I was a child I knew my body wasn’t the only journey I was designed to take. But my Christian faith aside, this fact hit me: I’m going to die. Just because I’m washed in the blood and forgiven doesn’t mean I’m incapable of missing the point. So many times I do things for here, not for later. 70 years. And I marvel at the hoards of people who populate successful jobs and prestigious universities, the people who try so hard.

The bum playing video games is the one being honest; if you don’t have a reason to thrive, why should you?

What makes you do what you’re doing?

I have a friend who’s a prophet. Sincere, talks to God prophet. I remember a time when the peak of our excitement involved silly putty and my little ponies. She made a comment recently – “It’s funny. I’m walking down the street and people don’t even know who I am- a prophet.” My immediate mental response to that was, What’s even funnier is when I walk down the street and realize people don’t even know who they are. They don’t know what they have been made for.

Who are you? Why do you try so hard at life? What is life to you? Everything is dying, and you’re trying to so hard to live before time runs out. Most of that comes from lack of reference- it’s harder to remember life is fleeting when you’re young. 69 is a bit different.

This is stuff that pokes at my brain at night, or while ordering dessert, riding in the backseat of the car after a movie. I’ll look up to the stars and remember how small I am, because no one can see me from a gazillion miles away. Go read Ecclesiastes, preferably in the King James; Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.

I remember when my cat caught a pheasant, and I grasped the skin at the back of his neck and watched as vibrant plumage of golds and browns and reds burst forth from his sharp teeth. Memories of life. Why do we hold on to it? Why did that bird flee to safety?

Man, I’m so tired…

Day 24 (…Yep.)

Day 24. 6 more days and then I’m free. I think I’m running out of material…or perhaps I’m too tired to think of anything inspiring or original. How do people do it? Be amazing. Sometimes I feel so–you know what? I’m going to stop talking like this and write; there’s already enough sniveling on the internet.

*Deep breath*

There was once a blind girl by the sea

Who lived completely alone and blithely

In a bucket collected

Beautiful things she selected

And handed them all out for free

.

Day 23

I have to wake up in 5 hours and I’m trying to feel good about it. I mean, I ironed my shirt. I even threw my pants in the dryer to make them look clean.

I made an unexpected trip to church today. Usually I don’t work Sundays, but my boss gave me the ‘you must like taking vacations all the time’ talk after all the tim I’ve had to request off from work, because of missions training, weddings, and voting for the president. So when they asked me to work Sunday, I said yes, then I said yes again. And they think it’s weird that I like church, but that’s okay because they’re not Christians, so they don’t have to understand why it’s everything.

It’s hard to explain what happens when you get a group of believers together and start singing. Some would blame emotionalism, but I’ve attended concerts, watched speeches and rallies, the movie Braveheart. There’s something different about Church. We sang amazing grace, and while we recited the famous verses there’s just something… like living in a world where everyone claims the sky is green, and we finally get to sing about the sky being blue. The unadulterated joy that settles in your heart even though your throat aches from singing so  loudly.

And nothing compelling us other than the fact that He, the God we serve, loves us. It’s so simple. We strain and struggle with sharing the Gospel, us Christians. Books have been written and forums have been stuffed and documentaries have been shot depicting our failures and triumphs. Some think it’s nice that we’ve found our niche, but to leave theirs alone. Some call us silly and irrational, unscientific. Some actually seek us, but only because they admire Christ, not because they understand the fact that He died for them. The news is stiff with opinions and noise about religion, the big question “Is God real?” And how suffering and omnipotence could ever coexist. How could every other religion be wrong? How do you know that you possess the ONE truth, the needle in the haystack? Paul said in Romans that creation itself speaks the declarations of it’s maker. And Psalms:

The Heavens declare the glory of God,

The firmament shows His handiwork.

Day after day utters speech

And night after night shows knowledge.

There is no speech nor language, where there voice is not heard.

Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.

And us Christians, we try so hard to tell people, to make them know. And we forget that it’s simpler than that. Benjamin Zander was once told that only 4 percent of adults enjoy classical music, and they were wondering how they could push that to 6. Zander smiled as he said, “96 percent of the population loves classical music, and they don’t even know it yet.” And that was a stroke of wisdom. His words sunk deep, deep into my soul.

Everyone has heard the voice of the Lord, they just don’t know it yet.

And that short Ted Talk changed my life. Zander isn’t even a Christian, and he’s showing me the ropes. The beautiful thing about serving the God who created time and space is that He makes things work like that. My entire perspective changed. Now every day I see it. I see the line running through the earth, and there is only one. For no other reason than that He loved us. Loves us. It’s not about playing defense or offence in the verbal scrimmage of religion, it’s about pointing to the line. It’s already there.

Day 22 (Sonder)

Sonder

“n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.” (Courtesy of The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows)

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Waiting at gate A26

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Like this instagram, I’ll keep it simple (or heartrendingly complex?).

I was sitting in the Denver airpot, messing with my ipod; covertly resting it on my knee, I had pressed the capture button. As I kept staring at the photo that appeared on the screen, I realized I was their coffee sipper. I was their blur of traffic, their lighted window at dusk. Those people in my periphery– was their periphery. In a mere moment the faces in this photo grew starkly independent from me, and I loved humanity. It had not been the first time, nor will it be the last, that Sonder possessed my heart and wrenched it from the familiar, the narcissistic.

And I find I can no longer walk a crowded street without imagining elaborate passageways.

Day 21

I just spent the day in Seattle, with one of my best friends. We rode the light rail into downtown, hit up this place:

 

Brass pig. Fish throwers. Street performers.

 

Ate at this place:

 

World’s best mac n cheese. And the flagship cheese they use in their sandwiches is sinfully good. Tillamook, I’m afraid my heart’s affections have been displaced. It’s Beecher’s or bust.

 

Hit up this place:

 

(Sara decided it was definitely not worth betraying your family for. And thought it was hilarious she was eating turkish delight with someone named Lucy. Perfect.

 

Totally stopped by to say hi to the mermaid at her very first store:

 

Best Hazelnut chai I’ve ever tasted. I love the hardwood floors in this place, and that they have a friendly and female employee directing waiting line traffic.

 

And after that we just walked around Seattle talking and this Guy…

 

It’s hard to stop talking about someone your in love with, so we just didn’t stop.

 

Sara brought me a dress for me to wear into town, and I noticed I was getting noticed by men. I’m not used to dressing up nice, but I definitely understood the look when I saw it. We laughed about it; I think I like my sweats. It felt like I had a weird, feminine superpower that I never tap into. I just want to live on some mountain. Life is simpler there.

And we rode the lightrail all the way back, drove home, and just sat on my bed and talked a bunch more about life. Shasta the kitten hopped up into my lap, and for a few moments everything was perfect. Then we got ready for dinner and went to a nice restaurant on the harbor, where we feasted on happy hour delicacies. Server was nice, food was beyond tasty, and my company choice. Right now she’s asleep in the living room, curled up on the couch by the fire.

Tomorrow we conquer the space needle while dining at Sky City restaurant. Mhmm.

 

Day 20 (Cookies)

I have commaitis.

It’s when you use so many commas you barely even see them anymore. It’s quite terrible. It makes you sound like you’re trying too hard. It’s like putting too many walnuts in your chocolate chip cookie. It’s like that horrible mound of crisco frosting Cosco smothers their cupcakes with. It’s like when you wake up covered in sweat because you’re buried under a gazillion blankets. It seemed to be a good idea at 10pm; 2am is a different matter. Perspective.

So I’m going to make it up to all of you who have weathered the storm.

Bam. My very favorite cookie recipe. I’m the girl that has spent hours perusing the internets looking for that perfect recipe. I found it. Now it’s yours.

Enjoy.

Day 19 (The Batwa Dance)

Do you remember what I wrote last night? While I was in my post-work stupor, feeling sentimental and wistful? I said I wanted to write beautiful things. I wanted my writing to point to beautiful things. I want to write little Batwa boys dressed in oversized, violet blue sweaters in Africa, dancing to the music of his tribe. If I could choose to write something, I would write this. But things like this can hardly be written. It makes my heart skip a beat to fathom all this entails.

Music, God created that. And He created family, and made our bodies capable of dancing, and made our hearts glad at the prospect of doing all of it together at once. He made the desire to know other peoples, the desire that provoked that man to travel across the ocean and film a remote pigmy tribe in Africa.

He made Africans, and He loves them, and I love Him and them.

And every time I think I’m over it, that I’m finally done with the heartache, I discover a rock. So I turn it over and find things underneath. Like this:

Day 18 (I’m tried and I know it)

I’m so tired right now.

I worked a catering shift, which means pushing your body around for a solid 7 hours until they let you off early. 10pm. It was some sort of convention for the Latino community. There was a live mariachi band, and salsa dancing. Wine. Lots and lots of wine because it was an auction so us servers were instructed to let it flow.

Something else happened tonight that made me feel weird. No, not weird….just different. A tall, handsome man told me that I had captivated his attention tonight, among other things. Usually I don’t take events like that too seriously, but the look in his eyes denied triteness, and he gave me a number on one of his business card. I might have blushed, I don’t know, because I’m shy like that.

Do you love Christ with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind? That is how you will win my heart.

But I didn’t say that. I just slipped the card in my pocket and continued serving. Shame on me.

So the night ended well with me not screwing up and everything going smoothly, and I came home and spilled my Arnold Palmer all over the floor, but that’s okay because I still had my Indian curry that I made a few nights back. My mother gave me her favorite recipe and now I am queen of the curry realm.

And I’m sitting here, exhausted. And all I want to do is bury my face in my palms because I want to mold something beautiful out of words, something that sings and glows. I don’t want to want to write beautifully; I want to write about beautiful things. I want my words to provoke minds to see beauty. There’s a difference. Too many have proved that raw talent is not enough. It is, but not for what I desire.

And you see what happens when I sit down to write?

When I scribe thoughts of impossible things and dreams without waking,

diminished in shadows,

born yearning for morning,

craving the light.

So you see. Words catch in my throat and make them ache, but so many times I am caught rendered speechless. My tongue refuses to cooperate when I am asked a question, or when I desire to speak now, not tonight or the next when I’m awake in my bed, trying to sleep. I have this irritating tendency of stuttering when I’m at work, and I feel like an idiot. It’s not like I spend hours meticulously fine combing my writing. I just…let my fingers type. So why is talking to difficult? I don’t even know where half this stuff come from. Maybe all those Patricia Mckillip books I read growing up. They captivated me, I remember. Heart and soul.

So sweet dreams. Goodnight night. We have another morning to face, or to glory in. Take your pick.