Poem for the cloud ceiling


dsc_0323

What was

 

truth is dark medicine

with a teaspoon of honey

I swallow hard

keep it down

and it will set me free

 

forget everything, they say

forget what lies behind, run the race

redemption for

a half-life of lies

 

instead I’m mudlarking

hip waders swamped

by stagnant water

sucked into detritus

where turtles burrow

slow and silent in the dark

 

this is the way, they said

I was too young to argue

fight back

hindsight is tree tangled

deadfall

sun hazed and glaring

what have they done to me

what have they done?

 

masters of fence lines topped

in barbed wire, ripped flesh

hung as a warning

this is the way, they said

this is the only way

 

I am not a victim

I was gone

long before

the last word

shun

 

God loves me

God loves me not

God loves me

 

I was a good girl, scars

on fire with holiness

who are you to say otherwise?

 

LAE2017

 

Advertisements

midweek random ramble 023


emmy eyes1. A shout out and blogacious thank you to Robert Rife, author of the insightful blog Innerwoven and frequent forays into poetry at Rob’s Lit Bits (check both out, especially Rob’s transparent and vulnerable life story which he posts in segments, called “From Earth to Sky”). Mr. Rob Rife generously included Buddy Breathing in his list of “cool blogs”. Well, Mr. Rife, you are too cool for school too! And a great big thank you!

2. A beautiful boy named Jordan Unrau left this earth last week to be with Jesus. Jordan attended Kelowna Christian School with two of our kids. He was just 15. I can’t imagine what his family is facing now, what they have experienced in the past year, and yet there is so much more than pain in their story. Here is their blog called Jordan’s Healing, which contains the most profound expressions of faith I have ever encountered.

3. Decking my halls with a girlfriend is a brilliant idea. No more feeling sorry for myself that the family is less interested in the process than the result. No more pity. All light, all joy, all music and eggnog and girly conversation, and a beautiful end product that everyone can enjoy!

4. Started watching “Touch” on Netflix. Becoming attached to the character of Jake, and wondering what the world might look like through his eyes… if there is documented proof of ‘seeing’ in the way that is portrayed in the show? Might wonder only be visible to some? Hmmm…check it out. And, according to this article, Season 2 will be released Feb. 8, 2013.

5. I finally bought my airline tickets! I’m attending a workshop with poet Patrick Lane, on Vancouver Island, in January. I’m feeling a little scared and giddy at the same time. To learn from Patrick will be a landmark and a huge honour. To share my work with him, will take courage.

6. Facebook… I have to say I miss you once in awhile, but not as often as I thought I might. I’ve done great and wonderful things without you. Like, thinking without interruptions to post thoughts, fixing things around the house, organizing things around the house. writing, special projects, seasonal preparations, connecting with real people in real life, and I’m surviving just fine thank you very much. Still, I do like you Facebook, you just have this way of sucking the time out of me. Maybe it’s just me, but I think a little bit of you goes a long way. Maybe we’ll catch up again in January.

In all things, somehow grace enough.

Lesley-Anne SDG

The healing power of creative expression?


full body tattoo

Image via Wikipedia

Last week, I had the privilege of speaking at the esteemed Okanagan Institute Express, on the topic of  THE THERAPEUTIC MUSE CELEBRATING THE HEALING ARTS. I was one of a panel of four artists, each involved in different artistic ventures that have resulted in a particular experience of healing.
The mission of the Okanagan Institute is to contribute to the quality of creative engagement in the Okanagan through publications, events and collaborations. If you have never attended one of their Express events, I encourage you to do so, Thursdays at 5 PM at the Bohemian Bagel, Bernard Avenue, Kelowna, B.C.
This is what I shared with those gathered last Thursday night.
Soli Deo gloria, Lesley-Anne.
Poetry and the healing power of creative expression

Preparing to speak tonight on healing and creative expression, both as a writer, and as a human being, led me to ask several questions;

What is healing?
When we say healing, do we mean physical healing?
I have a friend who is absolutely convinced that her cancer-filled body, is healed. Another friend, with Lou Gehrig’s Disease, believed in a healing miracle for three years before he passed away. I’ve been asked to pray for ‘healing’, and I have to admit that causes conflicting emotions for me.

Healing is multi-faceted, involving our heart, our mind, our spirit or soul, and our body. When we make peace with something, that’s healing. When our hearts finally mend after a huge loss, that is healing. When we change a thought pattern, or still the voices, or quiet the demons, or forgive the unforgivable, all that is healing. And, when we speak of our disease going into remission, or our body being clear after a series of treatments, that’s profound healing as well.

Why do we need to be healed?
To say we require healing suggests we are broken, hurting, imperfect people. This is the human condition. This is who I am, as much as I’d like to project otherwise. Yet, we all desire to be whole people, don’t we? We all seek healing to some degree or another.

And, what is creative expression?
The act of creating anything, whether a dance, or a painting, or a garden, or a cathedral, or a poem, is inherently powerful. This ability to create belongs only to the human race. It is an echo of the divine nature in each of us.

Creative expression is about courageously delving into our inner lives, unearthing or glimpsing something unique, intriguing, transcendent, and then casting our thought, idea, epiphany out into the world, in the belief that what we have expressed has a purpose higher than ourselves.

Creative expression is deeply cathartic. In the process we acknowledge who we are, what we have to give, and then release our creation to leave it’s mark on the worldŠ proof that we were here.

Creative expression allow us to tell a story to someone whom we may never meet. Author Stephen King says in his book, On Writing, ” We are not even in the same year together, let alone the same roomŠ except we are together. We are close. We are having a meeting of the minds.” That’s powerful stuff.

Is everyone creative?
Yes. Although sadly, many have lost touch with that part of themselves, like the free spirited pre-schooler who was told to colour within the lines. Creativity is hard wired within us, and we are more fully alive when we learn how to reconnect and express this part of who we are.
But does developing and expressing our creative nature heal us?
Healing, of the body, soul, spirit, heart and mind, comes from wrestling through, therapy, acceptance, faith, forgiveness, surrender, wise counsel, time, distance, AND creative expression. As difficult as it is to understand healing, it is still more difficult to measure. We look for outward proof about something that is, by nature, internal and personal.

A healed individual may manifest a spirit of peace, grace, joy, hope, resilience, often where we least expect to see it. I recall hearing of a woman who, when pulled from the rubble of Port au Prince, Haiti after 17 days, was smiling and singing a hymn. She was peaceful rather than afraid. I sense her spirit was whole while her body was bruised, broken, hungry, thirsty, and her mind, longing for release.

The creative arts allow us to put our complex feelings about our world and circumstances into word and action, rather than allowing things to fester and grow into something ugly inside us. Peace is a byproduct of creative expression.

Many Kelowna artists are working through their media to express deep sadness over the devastating situation in Japan.  Jody Bruce, an artist friend, woke in the middle of the night unable to sleep, and was compelled to create this beautiful piece called, ‘Hope’, because she just had to do something in response.  She offered her painting of an illustration to us tonight. Another local artist, Carrie Harper, has created a Facebook Group called, “Artists for Japan”, where artists can donate paintings for online auction. All proceeds will go to the Canadian Red Cross effort in Japan.

On a more personal note, last year, when I heard about the devastation in Haiti, and felt immobilized to do anything hands on to help, I worked through my emotions by writing to poetry. It allowed me to let go of my feelings of powerlessness, make peace with the situation, and to empathize to some degree with what was happening there;This is one of those poems; 

Haiti  16:53

What seems like one minute you are chewing on your HB pencil
Staring at the clock and dreaming yourself out onto the dusty street with
Football between your agile feet, and running, running.

The next, you are lying on your back struggling
To breath, through white dust that settles in your mouth and lungs
And you somehow can’t make your hand wipe away what stops your eyes from blinking.

Sounds of moaning, all around you in the dark, burst the tiny bubble of
Hope that, you are daydreaming at your desk, and you will wake up any moment
And the clock will say 16:54.

Have I experienced healing as a poet and writer?
I haven’t always been a poet, haven’t been able to say I’m a poet without choking on those words. I’ve become a poet. It’s taken time, courage, and a healthy dose of faith to stand before you today.

Art, music, design, love of the written word have always been part of who I am.  But my design career as an Architect ended when I became a mom. There were many years when I did not creatively express the deeper things of my heart. And part of me shriveled up and almost died.

Then, about 6 years ago, through weighty circumstances, and the pursuit of spiritual formation, I began to pay more attention to my inner life, to the ideas and desires that percolated around inside me. I began to write, and opportunities came for me to share my writing. I started to listen to people’s positive response to my writing, which fueled my passion further, and gave me greater purpose.

I see a clear connection between Creator God, and the ability to express my creative nature in writing and poetry. I am a spiritual being, and my creativity is a spiritual pathway for me to commune with God. To write is a gift. In the movie ‘Chariots of Fire, the olympic runner Erik Liddell says, “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.” That is how I feel about my writing.

As I write, I find that my words contain a common message of love and longing, wonder and revelation, grief and loss, forgiveness and redemption, this message resonates with others.

Healing happens when I write because I embrace what I was intended to do. I use my unique voice, and add it to the chorus of humanity. Writing gives me permission to ask unanswerable questions, and to speak of unspeakably difficult things. Writing allows me to own living in the tension of not knowing, not being in control, not needing to be the one. I live as a writer who relies on God, and isn’t afraid to be human.  Living out of this new wider place is what heals my soul, a little bit day by day. 

So what is the ripple effect?
Sometimes we don’t expect to be part of a healing process. it happens as a byproduct of what we do. 2 years ago, I created a book for that friend I mentioned earlier who had ALS. I collected stories, letters, emails, poems, bible verses, photographs, and worked with a graphic designer to produce a book called ‘Buddy Breathing’. The most powerful part of my experience, was seeing how written words impacted my friend. I was witness to healing.

Over the weeks and months that led to his death, Art’s bible, and his book ‘Buddy Breathing’ became touchstones of strength, and platforms for meaningful conversations. In hospice, in the small hours of the night, his nurses read to him. He often asked friends to read and re-read certain portions of the book. He would say, “Is this really about me? I can’t believe people say that about me.” He was made stronger in his daily physical struggles through the affirming words of others, through knowing his life mattered. His heart was healed, though his body never was.

Could it be that our experience of healing through the creative process, the healing of our hearts, minds, and spirits, is just a tiny taste of what’s to come? An ancient Hebrew text promises that, “One day, God will wipe away EVERY TEAR from our eyes, and here will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain.” Could it be, that through creative expression, we are being invited to a deeper encounter with  Creator God, the author of creativity and the source of ultimate healing?

A year in review


It’s interesting when I reflect on things, how I feel that I stray far from my original intentions, yet in reality, I orbit around a thought or a thread of one, and come back to it time and time again. Such, I think, is the case with ‘Buddy Breathing,’ the blog and the concept.

When I think of what inspired ‘Buddy Breathing,’ it was for a large part, my friend Art Suke. Art is in the DNA of this place, and never far from thought when I hear of others who have battled ALS and lost valiantly, as he did. There was another battle lost last week. Another man cut down in his prime. Another celebration of a life. It still sucks as much now as it did then.

Still, there were specific ideas percolating in my mind last January when I posted my very first inspirations here, and some of them have flitted away into the recesses of my mind, while others are coming front and centre again. I consider how I have cast my nets in many different directions, and how God has brought me many good things.

Art is gone, and he won’t be back this side of heaven. He remains part of us. Like the other day when Bob and I were talking about a certain situation and I remembered Art saying, “Take the high road,” even though he’d never tell anyone he was taking that particular route. He just chose it. Spoke well of people. Thought well of people. Kept his expectations of people within limits. He taught me things. He questioned my thinking. He is still here, impacting, in so many ways.

I’ve been asked to speak at an upcoming Okanagan Express, about how my writing, poetry specifically, aids in the process of healing and wholeness in my life. So, immediately I began reflecting on how I walked through the final year of Art’s illness by doing just that… writing. Many poems were birthed on the way to or from Hospice, and even though writing was part of my life long before the complex experience of losing Art, it blossomed into something bigger, deeper, and more meaningful during the time of his illness and death. Publishing a collection of stories for Art was the seed for the first ‘Buddy Breathing’, another experience in giving and receiving words of hope. Landmarks, such as my poem, ‘Scotch Mints’ being published in UBCO Lake Journal, were because the depth of my journey somehow magnified my words into something more. Something that resonated with others.

And without getting into the details of what I’ll be presenting on March 17th at the Bohemian Bagel, I’ll be trying to summarize all that has happened in my life since I first discovered the power of creative expression. I’ll be trying to put into words the way that God has allowed, blessed, opened up, amplified, unearthed, worked out, this gift of poetry that continues to shape who I am. He continues to heal me and give me hope through this gift. And in thousands of other ways, God continues to give me exactly what I need. Hope for the moment. Hope enough. Breath by breath.

Thinking… (that’s nothing new!)

Peace,

Lesley-Anne

Peace, at last.


Rest in peace my beautiful boy. I will miss you and all you have done to enrich my life. Some day we will walk again on streets of gold.

I love you, Buddy.

‘Mom’

B U D D Y   E V A N S

Adopted home to live with us Thanksgiving 2005, at approximately 5 yrs of age.

Cancer took him from us far too soon, April 15, 2010

Suddenly…


Yesterday I was presented with an amazing opportunity, and even more amazingly, I said YES! That’s not my usual response, as I’m the kind of person who thinks things over, considers the cost, needs more information, needs to understand the outcome, weigh possible side issues etc. etc. etc., so to get to YES is a lengthy process. But, this time, it seemed providential that I was asked, and so I bravely opened my mouth (well, my FB messager) and said, “Count us in”.

So, in April, my daughter and I will be leaving Kelowna, and heading to Cancun, Mexico, to volunteer at a sterilization clinic for dogs and cats. I’m not a vet. I know nothing about the needs there. All I know is that my friend Darci has dedicated her life to bringing hope and healing to the unwanted and uncared for dogs and cats of Mexico and other countries through her organization CANDI International. Many times we’ve seen Darci with dogs she has rescued from horrible situations, and witnessed her find them forever homes and happy lives in Canada and the US. Now Claire and I get to go along and show our compassion and love to God’s creatures. We get to make a difference with CANDI, as their website says, “one animal at a time”.

Thank you Darci, for asking us to go with you. Now we need to get prepared, and understand more of the details. But all I have to do is look at the photographs or read the stories on the CANDI website to know we have made the right choice.

As I go through what might be the last days or weeks with our sweet dog Buddy here at home, it somehow helps me to know that there are other dog stories still to be written, other dogs that need to be cared for, and the possibility of other happy endings. If our Buddy story has a sad ending, our trip to Mexico might be exactly what God has in mind to begin the process of healing our broken hearts through loving unloved dogs far far away.

The immediate challenge


My dog Buddy is dying living. Although a diagnosis has not yet been made, every sign points to the fact that Buddy has cancer is healthy, and it is just a matter of time before the Vet tells me so. And so I wait for word, and pray that God’s will be done in this. That is not easy, but it is what I do. In the meantime I celebrate, inside my head and in the words of this poem, all that Buddy means to me. I do what I can to fan the flicker of hope inside me into a flame.

I didn’t know you then, so

Blackcurrant breath, speckled coat like velvet

Odd mistakes and chewed fluffy slippers

Were not part of my experience.

I chose you, 30 pounds overweight

Gambled on big, ugly, runaway reputation

And it paid off. You stuck like glue.

Slept at my feet when you came home to stay.

We walked, dropped pounds creekside

Bonded in poplar leaves and one way conversations.

The second half of your life is better than the first. I’m certain that

Couch crashing, nights in Malcolm’s bed, two meals a day

And constant companionship means you are finishing well.

A beautiful dog, they say, stoic, so smart, and now a

Pet’s and People graduate, you visit seniors and share

Yourself in their time of need. We still need you. We

Have more porch time, more walks, more talks in the plans.

We have high hopes for you.

Lesley-Anne Evans, Jan. 29, 2010