It was blizzardy when I left class early. The wind pelted the few exposed centimeters of my face and jabbed at my eyes as I followed the other wayfarers into the warm refuge of the bus terminal. Still half an hour before departure—I thought I’d spent more time at the drug store than I had.
The grime accosted me the first time I had to wait inside—months ago; but now it seems normal, inviting even.
I walk around and look through windows at nothing in particular. I watch the others without trying to be obvious or ill-mannered—people make me curious. I check my phone to see if my daughter messaged me and take a seat along the back beneath the window; that way I can catch what’s going on. Also, there are a few empty seats in a row.
Mostly it amazes me. The cacophonous quiet. That so many people could be in such a small space and only a spattered few are engaged in some kind of conversation. There’s a double row of seats facing me like someone set them up to play musical chairs. People slip in–trying not to make contact with the person next to them, as though they might detonate. Some are pacing, some passing through—but almost all are busy button pushing or scrolling across the lighted screens of their gadgets. I’d like to blame technology for our lack of horizontal contact, but if I’m real honest, I don’t need technology to keep me from not striking up a conversation with a complete stranger. Still, there’s something surreal about seeing so many people hooked up to the heavens—completely oblivious to what’s going on around them.
I think about what I was reading in computer class—about networks. They can be hierarchical or peer-to-peer; and all the devices connected to them are nodes. A woman walks by in front of me looking like an angel, her face glowing from the notebook device she’s looking into as she goes. She’s a node, I think to myself with a smile. We’re all nodes, connected to something.
I enjoy being here today; watching people go by, waiting for my bus. Sometimes I listen to sermons on my Mp3 player, but for the moment I’m contented just holding God’s hand with my heart. His is a secure connection–hierarchical and peer-to-peer at the same time. And I’m just a little node… learning to be content, even when the ride (as it often will) takes me places I’d rather not go.
So I’m sitting outside the other day with Loco and one of the neighbour girls who often comes over to visit, and she turns to me and asks, “Can I have your dog when you die?”
Ah, I’m thinking to myself, the innocence of children. She thinks my little Loco (who’s already nearly ten in people years—making her eligible for Old Age Security in dog years, if they actually paid it out to dogs [I’ll have to write a letter to Peta]) is going to outlive me.
“Oh,” I say, “Loco’s ten years old.” But she keeps looking at me for an answer, so I continue, “She’ll most likely only live to be about 15.” She continues to look at me as I rock back and forth in my porch chair, feeling now like I should be knitting socks and pulling a shawl over my shoulders.
“Um, do I actually look to you like I’m going to die before that?”
She nods. And with childlike sincerity adds, “Yes… well, except for your hair.”
Definitely not getting the dog. And, although I did enjoy the rest of our time together (I have THE most darling neighbours), all I could think about was getting back inside so I could look in a mirror and scrutinize the latest attack the aging army had launched against me unawares. Should I have invested all that money in a good straightener when a set of curlers was more my speed?
Suddenly, how old I looked to the rest of the world mattered very much to me.
I have to admit, though, getting older isn’t the struggle I thought it was going to be—it’s those other areas of my life where people’s opinions have either validated or demeaned who I am; those areas set in stone, cemented into something sculpted by what others have said about or to me–and I find the Christian life is somewhat of a perplexing paradox at times.
We have within us an inner witness to the forgiveness, life and promises of our Creator—while outward circumstances bear down with such force they threaten to snuff it all out. And, if that isn’t bad enough, those looking on can threaten to annihilate us completely by their erroneous assessments—judging who we are by our situations.
True, we sometimes bring the storm on ourselves, and often we’re just reaping what we planted—but even then, when our hearts are repentant God is with us, and we must hold on to that truth without ever letting go, because that, alone, is our lifeline to getting through. We must learn to swim against the onslaught of opinion.
A man who’s fallen overboard and is floundering to keep his head above water in the middle of the ocean does not worry about how his hair looks as he clings to the lifesaver tossed out to him. God is not concerned about how well we impress others as we ‘work out our salvation with fear and trembling;’ clinging to what His Word says about us as the umbilical cord keeping us securely connected to the womb of faith.
Joseph had to do it. So did Job. David did it, too. All of them looking pretty insignificant in the eyes of their contemporaries—suffering scorn and contempt. One thing they didn’t do, though, and that was listen to popular opinion, not even their own. They believed what God said about them; they chose the path less travelled—and that, like the famous poet said—made all the difference.
Feeling a little boxed in by other people’s opinions? Don’t give up, God has a lot to say about who we are…
even when the rest of the world has our days numbered.
I love me a good egg.
I love dipping my toast in a couple almost every morning. I love them over easy, in a salad or whipped in heaping piles atop a lemon meringue pie. I love the way they line up neatly in the carton and stack conveniently in the fridge. I like that you can even put the ground up shells in your compost.
They’re bursting with heart healthy nutrition, low in saturated fat—and have very few calories.
Recent studies reveal a plethora of reasons to include eggs as often as you can in a healthy balanced diet. Turns out they’re not just good for your heart, they’ll help you have the right kind of cholesterol. They contain high quality protein, and all 9 essential amino acids.
They’re good for your eyes, brain, nervous and cardiovascular systems, and are one of the only foods that contain naturally occurring vitamin D. They lower your risk of breast cancer, promote healthy hair and nails, and may actually help prevent heart attacks, strokes and blood clots.
Not bad for such a humble little powerhouse of provision, who’s had to stand up against a bad rap for so long. They’ve had to fight incredible odds against the barrage of misinformation assaulting their good reputation.
But truth is always truth; and once the air clears and misconceptions are shown to be what they are, truth stands as it had all along. It doesn’t cower to consensus, and it doesn’t blush with shame at the false accusations–it is a pillar planted in the roots of eternity past, present and future by God Himself, who will bring all truth to light in His time.
And in the same way you can’t put a good egg down (pun intended), eventually lies and deception will give way to truth in our own lives.
Sometimes I buckle under the weight of misconceptions, slander and half-truths–thinking it has all obscured me even from God; that He either doesn’t see what I’ve been buried under… or He doesn’t care. But often, in that obscure place He shines the light on my own misplaced motives, judgments and accusations of others–and I wonder if it’s all scrambled eggs from His point of view.
If I fail to see the ‘good’ in those who harm me, am I doing the very thing they have failed to do, as well? What a mixed up carton of eggheads we can be sometimes.
And, from this place of improved perception, I am learning to release, one by one, all the hurtful and damaging things, real… and imagined, maybe–and finding the benefits of a few good eggs in my life is very much worth the weight of any harm done in the process. And the hard shells of past offences?
They make for a richer soil to grow in when I grind them all up and toss them away.
This is a cleave poem. I was first introduced to them while spending a lot of time on a writing/reviewing/critiquing site. This genre, created by Phuoc Tan-Diep, was introduced to the site by a very talented writer. I’ve since discovered that the art of combining more than one poem (I read one that had four poems in total) goes back well before cleave poetry. But, since that is how I learned it this is what it will always be to me.
I also like the ‘cleave’ concept–that each thought leans into and is dependant on the other. We are left with a tapestry of words to wonder over; woven works of art having something truly unique to ponder depending on which way you look at them. And when you read one all together it is like taking a step back to gaze on the complete picture.
Last night I was thinking of Job, and how much better his life was after his suffering was over. God blessed the latter part of his life more than the first. Sometimes we forget that suffering will end, and that, if we are truly trusting it to a faithful heavenly Father, our lives can only be all the better for it. That’s what inspired this one.
Read it through first as one complete poem; then read each side separately. There are three distinct poems or variations of thought in this.
If Job became blessed
more than he was before are
the cruel arrows of those who
plunder wasted, should we mourn for
the suffering, despair? Knowing— they
rise up now and shall
in the end be comforted
Part of today’s message at church was about taking off our old selves and putting on the new. Sure sounds easy enough up in the balcony, praising with the angels. But, I know this week I’m probably going to get stuck in my old ‘me.’
I’m not really the ‘button-up-the-front,’ dress shirt kind of self you can just slip in and out of on a whim–more like the smothering, ‘too-tight’ turtleneck type that gets stuck around my shoulders while I’m trying to wrestle me over my big, fat head. I might need someone else to grab an end and give me a good yank.
I was thinking about this on the drive home: how changing isn’t always easy. Getting rid of some of the old things is… well, it’s hard. For one thing, I can’t always remember where I’ve left the new self, and sometimes I feel like–at least the old me’s got me covered.
You know what I mean: it’s hard to stop being angry at someone when you feel like it might leave you naked–exposed and vulnerable again. So, I just want to hang onto that outfit a little longer while I rummage through the house and find that forgiveness jumper. And, anyway, I like the way it enhances my curves. Oh!–you said it gets on your nerves.
I had no idea it was going to be like ‘Groundhog Day,’ either. You know–the movie where he keeps waking up the next morning and starting the same day over? No matter how many times I take myself off–I’m all wrapped up in me the very next morning. When I was young I had some friends who carefully laid their clothes out every night before they went to bed– I also had some friends who stuck my head in a snow drift till I thought I was going to faint–I just can’t live up to trying to be like my friends anymore.
This is why I’m glad the pastor reminded me that I have to let God change the way I think about things–by getting into the Word. It’s all by grace–I can’t earn it, or be good enough to do it, or feel bad enough to get it right. God does it–but I have to ‘co-operate.’
And, BOY, do I really want to learn to get it right. God is forgiving–this I have discovered with great delight–but, people? Honestly, sometimes sitting out in an arctic snow bank in my birthday suit with a pack of ravenous wolves seems more appealing than apologizing for a sudden slip of the old nature. Especially if my ratio of old to new days is one in ten, and no one even notices the other nine. Dressing to the ‘Nines’ doesn’t always cut-it with other people–which is probably a good thing because putting off ‘falsehood’ is right at the top of the list, anyway. It’s the first thing to go.
I was thinking about that, too, because, let’s face it–we’re all a little deluded about ourselves, and sometimes we’re just the last to know–wouldn’t it be easier if we could rip off each others’ outfits, instead? Cause I sure wonder if some people aren’t getting dressed in the dark… What’s that? Did I get this log suit at the lumberyard?
Lately, I’m back in poetry mode.
It just happens to me out of nowhere–all I want to do is write poems and be very deep about everything. If I don’t succumb I’ll be completely miserable, so I’m learning to go with it.
This is what came to me this week after encountering someone who seemed terribly cold. This person’s coolness was so tangible it was chilling.
I was thinking about the way that is–that when we have a cold heart we feel somehow justified; like it’s our right. Even if we knew how it affected those around us we wouldn’t care–we couldn’t care, really.
Once coldness sets in, only the warmth of God’s love can deliver us–I know.
Communicable Deep Freeze
A cold heart is contagious:
creeps like osmosis
through the air;
seeps like silica
into the senses,
arteries of faith,
cell, by steely cell.
A numbing invasion
seizing unsuspecting souls
till every beating
heart is congealed
in the bloodlust of trust.
At my age, getting a love letter in your mailbox doesn’t happen every day.
Okay–it actually never happened… ever.
Which is why
when it does happen
it is a
Especially when that love letter
comes from a
Children have a way of giving us days to write home about.
The best part of yesterday was raiding my friend’s rhubarb patch (I’ll bake a pie tomorrow that we won’t eat–we’re just not big pie eaters) and picking buttercups at the creek with the neighbor girls.
The best part of today was finding some really cool yard sale treasures–like this photo box–for just $1.50,
Meeting Max (who lives a few doors down),
planning this really cool idea I have to paint the stairwell to the basement black with daisies on it,
and saying ‘sorry’ to my son for getting upset and yelling at him earlier.
I had this extraordinary friend, Sophie. I met her in Montreal, at a bus stop on my way to church one morning (she’s from Egypt and makes the best baklava known to man). I ended up going to her church instead that morning, and she ended up becoming like a second mom.
“Heather,” she told me one night while I was visiting. “Always keep a short account with God and everyone else.”
I haven’t always been able to do that, to be honest. But, at times like this I really have to wonder what’s up with that.
noun: an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident.
I can’t believe my washing machine broke down again. I tried to fix it on my own so the local repair guy doesn’t think I’m sabotaging it just to get him over. I went down armed with screw drivers of different shapes and sizes, but I couldn’t even figure out how to take the spinner off–and that’s the problem, the spinner doesn’t spin. So, now we’re washing-machine-less till Tuesday–when he comes to fix it, again.
Which is why I was washing my clothes at the centre today. But after scrounging through various change reserves throughout the house I came up three quarters short and wondered where I was going to get the change for the last load. That’s when I remembered I’d taken some out of the machine the other day after doing a load of my son’s work clothes.
I’ve always been a ‘no change falls out of the wash without me knowing about it–and therefore having to carefully determine, by every means possible–including, but not limited to forensic testing, mathematical deliberation and possible interrogation, because I don’t want to live with the guilt of taking someone else’s money, or worse–giving my money to someone else’ kind of mom. If there are too many pairs of pants in the machine, and no way to be certain whose pockets the money fell out of–and if everyone is pretty certain they had change in theirs, nobody gets it. I can’t even bring myself to keep it, or consider it a tip–it gets given away. So that’s why I’d put the change on his bed with the clean work clothes.
I am well aware that no sane person would think twice about going back and getting that money for the wash. But we’re not talking someone whose mind has been fully renewed yet. We’re talking someone who is insane enough to still be washing and folding her son’s work clothes and setting them neatly on the bed so that he can toss them onto the floor with the rest of the previously folded clothes that he rummages through when he needs to find something fresh to wear, when it’s time to get into it.
We’re talking someone who took, quite literally, the words of that Nobel Peace Prize winning book by Robert Munsch I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living my BABY you’ll be (oh, it didn’t win a peace prize?–well, it should have). Someone who really has to learn to do a little less thinking about things before doing them so she might finally move ahead with the really big decisions. Someone who has to do a little less for her grown-up kids so they can get on with the business of growing up.
And, so, I wondered if going back and sifting through that change to see if there might be any quarters was the right thing to do. And, as ‘serendipity’ would have it, there were three! Three tarnished quarters to finish the wash with. And then began the debate, because on matters of such extreme importance one must carefully consider the ramifications of one’s actions.
Should I merely take the quarters? Perhaps I should just borrow the quarters. Maybe the quarters really weren’t his in the first place, anyway–but, how did they get in the machine, then? And that would beg the further question: what would I do with the remaining change? Would it be right to keep it for, let’s say, laundry purposes? As opposed to giving it away?
Mind you, the rest of the change amounted to two pennies, but that’s not the point. It’s the principle of it. If taking two pennies today with total disregard as to who they actually belong to could become an easy thing to do, then maybe tomorrow it wouldn’t be all that hard to nab that little old lady’s purse; or pull off that bank heist–do you know what I mean?
But time was running out (I had to get back to put the fabric softener in the rinse cycle). I took the money. The money that was, as ‘serendipity’ would have it, at the right place at the right time in the right amount. From the dirt it was taken, and to the dirt it would return.