Mercy


A powerful light shines in the dark.

A powerful light shines in the dark. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When boys carry bombs in backpacks

Lord, have mercy.

When cancer empties inside out

Lord, have mercy.

When mothers give in

Lord, have mercy.

When death drives by

Lord, have mercy.

When foundations fail and floods come and evil is on the move

Lord, have mercy.

When it’s not just on television

Lord, have mercy.

When we are burdened and sorrow filled

Lord, have mercy.

When darkness falls

Lord, have mercy upon us and

Lord, send light.

 

Prostrate…


Left knee-joint from behind, showing interior ...

Left knee-joint from behind, showing interior ligaments. (Lateral meniscus and medial meniscus are cartilage.) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I fell on my face, then my left knee. My hands were entirely unhelpful. It seemed to happen slowly. I felt my head bounce. I stayed very still, assessing damage.

My friend, bless her heart, began to immediately ask questions. Can you sit up? NO. Can you move your leg? No. Are you OK? How do you feel? Not sure. Do you want me to help you sit up? NO. I was having trouble saying much of anything with my face up against the asphalt, my fingers finally moving into action to feel around my face a little bit, push myself up a little bit… enough to see blood on the ground. There’s a lot of blood, I said. And, after holding my position for several minutes, holding my breath for what seemed far too long, I moved my body into a sitting position and was cared for by my friend, by her friend now also now my friend, and a security officer who was involved at this point. This was also difficult. Humiliating. Humbling. Involved water, ointment, Hershey’s chocolate, frozen peas, conversation, love, rest, time.

Involved aftermath, like walking around with my face bruised and scraped and obviously damaged. Noticing eyes averted, unspoken questions, looks of pity, need of explanation.

I am fine. No broken teeth. No teeth through lips. No broken bones. Minor lacerations to eyebrow, lip, chin, cheekbone, and knee. I thank God. Three weeks later and there’s really no proof left that I fell, other than a twinge in the soft tissue of my knee when I kneel. But I remember.

Being a poet, I think about what this means, a lot. To lose control. To be out of control. To fall. Down. Prostrate on your face. To be humbled. To be hurt. To be helpless. To be fully reliant on someone other than yourself. How I’ve heard that pride comes before a fall. How might a life position of surrender be related to a physical position of being prostrate. Before God. A heart position that echos a physical position seldom chosen aside from sleep?

It’s been a busy Lent. I began with high aspirations. To set time aside. To be intentional with spiritual exercises. To write a poem a day… I haven’t written much at all. Palm Sunday is this weekend. Good Friday 5 days after that, and then Easter Sunday. I’m on choir. My heart needs to catch up with this, and I’m reminded that I haven’t kept my promise to watch “Passion of the Christ“. I wonder why I need want to lay myself down? To consider again what it all means…falling…down…

SDG,

Lesley-Anne

A surrendered life


Seems I’m a master of melancholy and melodrama and start ups, but not necessarily finishes. At least that’s what the voice in my head says as I sit at my laptop and consider putting into words what may or may not be 100% true for me, 100% of the time.

I’m often tormented in my thought life around how I live vs how I should live. While I hunger for real relationships and depth and breadth of conversations,  I withdraw from my close friends and let the phone ring and texts go unanswered. I hide. Sometimes I don’t check my phone at all. For hours, for days.

Oh, I want to do good. I want to be good. I’m just not very good at being good. I want to love. And I don’t know how to do that in a sustained way. Sometimes I am absolutely unloving. I shared some thoughts on this place of living in the tension of wanting one thing and doing another HERE. But there is more…

Thankfully, this Sunday’s talk (at the church with walls and a roof at Springfield and Spall) is about a way of finding release from living in torment/angst/tension/legalism and living in the freedom of non-performance and  without condemnation (you know, those voices in your head saying awful things about you).

Romans 8 is all about living in the gracious, wide open spaces of spirit focus, spirit life, where I can stop should-ing and could-ing on myself, stop questioning my every move and every pause, and simply walk ahead into whatever God has for me. Believing God will go before me. Believing there is a way to walk somewhat blindly into something you know nothing of, yet do because… it’s intriguing, drawing, compelling, offering more than what simply is the mundane superficiality of life, most days.

This way involves SURRENDER, and I don’t entirely understand what that means in a practical, rubber hits the road, type of way. I want to know. I want to live a SURRENDERED life.

On Sunday morning, after the talk part, we are each given a piece of red paper (blood red, valentine red), and invited to write down something we feel we might leave, deal with, acknowledge before God, something standing between us and the simple and profound way of spirit surrendered living.  And I know what it is, right away. I scribble down not good enough, and take my red paper up to the communion table, to the shredder provided, and push that paper in, and listen while the machine pulls apart the words I’ve been living. I surrender these words to the shredder… and at that moment, surrender to God…

Not good enoughnot good enough… not good enough.

And then I gently take a small piece of bread and a tiny cup of wine in my hand, and go back to my seat, and silently pray to, in the words of John Terpstra, “the one who won us over,” who says with his last breath, I am enough. His life for my freedom. His life for my spirit surrendered life. Jesus, who turns it all upside down and asks me to stop keeping score for myself and everyone else. Jesus who wants me to empty myself of me so he can fill me with something better. I say these words without knowing what they truly mean. What this really looks like in my real life.

Boy with cross

Boy with cross (Photo credit: Eileen Delhi)

I will be thinking on this for a while. I want to live this simple yet profound truth. Not to be great. Not even to be good. But to take the focus off me entirely, and put it back on the one who won me over. I wonder if I can really do it? Can anyone really do it?

Can I capture the wonder of a simple crumb of bread and wash of wine, surrender what hinders, carry significance into Lent, find sustenance enough for a new way of living?

Are you with me… is it possible?

SDG, Lesley-Anne

begin with ‘j’ words…


446. judgement, jealousy,  justification… mine to own, my sinful nature to recognize, mine to gain freedom from. Naming them, and asking God to forgive. Again. Often. Again.

447. finding a jewel beside the bench by the lake, recognizing the metaphor in the single cubic zirconia in a cheap, rusted setting… seeing myself as tarnished, vintage, yet priceless in God’s sight.

448. that behind the heavy lowness of grey clouds, vapour that we cannot grasp or touch or break through often for weeks at a time, there is a glory of sun and warmth and potential for growth, within a vast blue of sky. That this is a season of waiting, perseverance, rest… and more.

449. wind crisp against my face, icing my skin, and the rush glow in my cheeks when I get back inside the warmth, teens and dog welcoming me home.

450. steam rising from a cup of hot coffee with milk and sugar, the warmth expanding.

451. son asking how my walk was.

452. that God can be found outside the walls of the church.

453. son studying hard for his finals.

453. daughter kissing me.

454. finding there is unity in marriage and creating new ways to get there.

455. deer nibbling shoots on orchard trees… following their tracks along my street.

456. iris poking up out of the snow as the mercury announces the possibility of Spring.

457. open mics, music and poetry… blessing God for creativity in all its forms.

458. the profound simplicity of my husbands words, “just breathe.”

459. telling God everything. Yelling sometimes.

460. remembering the naming of the gifts. Re-visiting this way of gratefulness.

461. that this world and these people are wonderland, the fullness of God’s glory, the echo of his voice, that my eyes become dull and my heart crusted over and my ears deaf, and I need to take time to remember all he has given.

That confession and turning is the restart button… that God’s grace is always waiting… and action always follows.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Lesley-Anne

Vintage Disney Posters

Vintage Disney Posters (Photo credit: cattias.photos)

Do not lose hope…


Crying - گریه

Crying – گریه (Photo credit: HAMED MASOUMI)

to all who mourn the loss of beautiful and innocent life, I weep with you…

In the face of the tragedy and evil of this past week, I’m choosing to shout out for HOPE, for LOVE. I’m shouting out to a GOD who deeply loves in spite of all the vile and devastating messes we, his creations, leave in our wake. In spite of who I am, imperfect one, least of all of these, one capable of horrible things, I am SHOUTING OUT to God for all my Buddy Breathing buddies ~ because I’m thinking you, like me, might be feeling a little jaded, burnt out, alone, overwhelmed, sad, helpless, angry, and may be in desperate need of a breath of life? And I know I am surrounded by millions of souls who ask the same questions with a profound sense of helplessness. Others, like my friend and fellow blogger Rob Rife are writing, asking, shouting, crying out…

God, please help us.

Who of us doesn’t feel the oxygen sucked deep from within as news reporters tell of another kindergartener placed to rest? When we hear details of unspeakable cruelty, when we put ourselves in their place, when we shake our heads in disbelief… who of us doesn’t clench our fists and scream inside… WHY!?!? WHY!?!? And what I can offer may not be enough for you, but it’s ALL I’ve got.

God, please rescue us.

You see, I don’t believe there is any hope, any gift, any point, outside of God and his love. After all the pain and suffering is over, after the devastation, after all of it, in the end GOD’S LOVE WINS. I cannot fully explain the why. I believe what we see is the result of a force of evil at work in our world, but even more than that I believe in a God who wins out in the end. GOD is STRONGER than any evil.

God, please overcome our pain, our questions, our loss.

The message of Christmas is that Christ came for us. Jesus became a vulnerable little baby, so that 33 years later he would choose to die a horrific death for us, to sacrifice himself and make a way for us to right ourselves with Father God. (the Easter Story is the rest of the Christmas Story).

Emmanuel ~ God with us now, in our time of deepest need.

We each get to choose God, or not. We each get to decide for ourselves if we want his gift of loving friendship. We each get to gather up our big doubts and our little faith and choose to believe that God does love us and he will always love us, no matter what happens in our lives here… no matter what. God offers us a healing HOPE, JOY, PEACE and LOVE, that starts now and goes forever.

God, please touch us and heal us and restore us.

That’s all I’ve got. That and all the questions that remain around the events of this week. That and all the unresolved emotions.

God, please show your goodness to us, we are desperate for HOPE.

As this youtube video suggests, may we see evidence that there are still good people in this world. May we know in a real way that GOD IS GOOD.

Hard pressed on every side, SDG.

Lesley-Anne

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

midweek random ramble 022


It’s been a long time since I’ve rambled here… ranted, yes, but not rambled. So here goes, with seasonal thoughts of Christmas and snow and cold and inside warmth and preparing and stressing and singing and holiness and awe and wonder and sweet and varied moments with family and friends, all on my mind:

Frosty Footpath - winter snow

Frosty Footpath – winter snow (Photo credit: blmiers2)

1. overheard in the front hallway, “Well mom, are you trying to be in style, or to have your own individual style? hmmm… was there a commentary in there somewhere?

2. overheard in the car, “That’s just my old man strength.”

3. overheard on the airwaves through out the house, 24/7 Christmas tunes coming at us on the net… have you ever checked out the abundant free music available online?

4. so the local soccer supply store burned down the other night. We have had such great service from the manager there who always finds us the right fit and a good deal. I sure hope they find a way to open up again before too long. We’re so sorry Soccer X-Press!

5. sent out my first Christmas package by mail to family back east… but I still feel slightly disorganized and lacking in ideas… perhaps a little pinterest coupled with a good google search might inspire and help me with some new and creative gift ideas? After all, no stress, it’s still November right?

6. trying to increase the amount of veggies and fruits and reduce the amount of meat and carbs isn’t easy in a family where teens are hungry every 2 hours… just what do I feed them to fill them up?

7. loving the way Okanagan College offers personal attention to it’s students.

8. mandarin oranges, japanese varieties, miniature varieties, chinese varieties… many varieties are in stores now. Yummm!!!

9. Advent, meaning “arrival’ is something we have adopted into our family tradition. Four Sundays leading up to Christmas are rich with potential for celebrating the Advent… the pending arrival of baby Jesus, the promise of the returning Christ, and the incarnation (the God with us) in our lives. Did you know that Advent historically involved fasting, doing without in varying degrees leading up to the 25th, so when the big Christmas feast came at last, there was a renewed appreciation of the abundant favour and blessing of God.  I like that. The tasting and seeing that God is good.

10. seeking ways to inject my life/our lives with meaning is something I am always on the lookout for… so do you have any ideas for meaning-filled Christmas activities, any stories to share?

Christmas Season 1941 in Worthington, Ohio

Christmas Season 1941 in Worthington, Ohio (Photo credit: dok1)

11. planning and anticipating carolling with family and friends… and the faint possibility that it just might snow while we are walking around the neighbourhood from door to door. Yep, I’m sentimental.

Peace, abundant peace,

Lesley-Anne SDG

Raging at God


The Grey

The Grey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Note to self: Know that what you are about to write might be misunderstood. Know that this is about intentions, about being honest, about talking about elephants in rooms. Know that when you have finished this blog, you will always wonder if you should have posted it. Write and post it anyway.

Last night I watched a very disturbing movie called “The Grey starring one of my favourite actors Liam Neeson. The language in the movie smacked me around. A bunch of northern Alaskan oil workers made up of ex-cons and blue collared real men really do talk that way. They use the f-bomb like salt… every sentence liberally sprinkled. There were times when I wanted the bombing to stop… my ears hurt.

The Grey was over the top, emotion packed, a thriller of a movie with amazing cinematography and great acting. No spoilers here, hopefully. Yet what struck me most were the underlying spiritual aspects of the story, which came to a head here in this scene where Ottway (Neeson) has just lost another companion.

WARNING, THE FOLLOWING SCENE CONTAINS INTENSE EMOTIONS AND EXTREME LANGUAGE THAT MAY OFFEND:

The reason why this scene gets me, why it is so raw and powerful and punches me in the guts, is because I recognize it. Because I have raged at God. Because I’ve recently heard words very similar to those in the movie from someone I dearly love, and I stayed silent and let them rage on.

I have said, “F*%k it… I’ll do it myself.”  Maybe not in those precise words, but close enough. I’ve railed at God, told him how disappointed, how mad, how frustrated I was with his lack of showing up, doing this, doing that, answering this, working this out, and not understanding me. I’ve thrown tantrums. I’ve thrown stones. I’ve crossed my arms and raised my fists. I’ve grown tired of waiting for him to do what he says is going to do.

What do I expect from God anyway? Do I think that if things don’t go the way I’d like them to, or if there are difficult times, that God is against me? Do I think he doesn’t hear, doesn’t see, doesn’t care?

And if God (the same one who I believe made, knows and loves me) is completely OK with me being completely me, then is my raging-out-of-control-verbal-tirade OK with God as well? Can I be that honest with my God?

I’d like to think that even though my perspective goes off the rails and I’m overwhelmed by emotions/hormones and lack of understanding/self-control, that God is OK with that. I’d like to think that God hears my pleading through my profanity.

I can think of at least one example of a Hebrew guy who God called “his friend” who raged, bargained, begged, cried out in self-pity and isolation and pain. A guy named David (of the Goliath killing kind of David) comes to mind. So if David, why not me, why not you?

Still, there has to be a turning point somewhere, where I stop being angry at God. A point where I am just like a child whose had a face-turning-blue-planked-body temper tantrum, and is worn out in a limp sloppy mess on the floor. When I’m done with all my raging and railing, and my ego/anger/will is spent, there must come a time where I choose to surrender to God. Even if I don’t get it, or don’t get what I want, or don’t ever understand what God’s doing. Even if I can only muster up a speck of faith that says something about God being in charge and not me. Even then…

The Grey teaches me perspective on life and death and how I relate to God in tough places. I will probably never be hunted by wolves, or have to pit my white suburban survival skills against the wild of Alaska. My wild places are closer to home, like in relationship struggles, or in health issues and the crushing challenges faced by those I love. Packs of wolves called depression and loneliness, low self worth, selfishness and jealousy relentlessly hunt me. They chase me down in my marriage and try to tear out my throat. I find myself worn out, cut off, facing eminent danger, and then I rage at God because things aren’t turning out the way I thought they might. It’s true. That’s how I am.

But when the emotional storm passes, I quiet myself down, and allow poetic words like these to wash over my ravaged mind. Ancient words; a reminder of the primary directive and focus of my life, a reminder of my place in the scheme of things. When the raging is over, I go and lay down trembling and wait on God;

16 I heard and my [whole inner self] trembled; my lips quivered at the sound. Rottenness enters into my bones and under me [down to my feet]; I tremble. I will wait quietly for the day of trouble and distress when there shall come up against [my] people him who is about to invade and oppress them.

17 Though the fig tree does not blossom and there is no fruit on the vines, [though] the product of the olive fails and the fields yield no food, though the flock is cut off from the fold and there are no cattle in the stalls,

18 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will exult in the [victorious] God of my salvation!(A)

19 The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds’ feet and will make me to walk [not to stand still in terror, but to walk] and make [spiritual] progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering, or responsibility]! 

Habakkuk 3:16-19, Amplified Bible (AMP)

Shivering in the cold and muck. Still, as one character in “The Grey” says, “I am not afraid, I am not afraid.”

Lesley-Anne, SDG

Remember me…


Remembrance Day

Remembrance Day (Photo credit: Lauren Cathy Turner)

386. Remembering… the human ability to call to mind that which lingers and which has meaning

387. Remembrance Day… November 11, the eleventh day of the eleventh month at the eleventh hour… silent thoughtful remembrance of sacrifice of others for my good

388. The Remembrance… The Lord’s Supper… Eucharist… I am taking and breaking and eating and finding good and grace-filled and filled with meaning, because of Jesus sacrifice for me, his body broken for me, his blood poured out for me

389. Memory… the capacity to experience over and over again…

390. remembering to be grateful

391. remembering sacrifice

392. remembering love

393. the silence and sensibility for all this and more

394. leaves surrendering to chill, lack of sun and production of green, the swansong of colours, the final fall to earth and death

395. the things placed upon our hearts as they spill over with thanks

396. beauty

397.  words that last long after we do

398. husband reaching

399. whistle of a son

400. the goodness of all things, the goodness of Papa God

So I receive, remember, respond with thankfulness for all things,

Soli Deo Gloria,

Lesley-Anne

Surprise Communion

Adding extra to ordinary…


india kerala boat people

india kerala boat people (Photo credit: FriskoDude)

Part of me longs for extraordinary… while the other part feels rather comfortable with things just the way they are. But the first part, the one I often censor or squelch or call names, it’s the part that is most alive when I watch movies and read books and listen to people talk. It’s the part of me that holds it’s breath, that makes my heart beat just a little stronger than comfort ever will. That deep part of me has a voice that whispers over and over and over until I have to pay attention. I believe God may be calling my name.

What I’m trying to hear and trying to understand is this… that I need, or my heart might need, a jump start… an experience that would be like strapping on those ER cardiac paddles and yelling ‘CLEAR’ and holding my breath and feeling that whomp in my chest, as something big and electric and jarring and different and nothing near ordinary changes something in me. And how that change will effect my writing… as a witness,  writing about things that really matter… all this and more…

I’m a pretty ordinary gal. I’m not much of an adventurer, I’m an artist. I’m not very flexible, resilient, crowd saavy, travel saavy, or extraordinarily brave. At least, I don’t think I am. I speak one language well. So, I’m good with ordinary most days.

And maybe it’s because of my recent birthday, maybe it’s because I just promised my husband that I’m going to live to 100 and I want to make the very most of the next 50 years that I’m thinking I’ve got to bust out and figure it out and get out there in a new way that might change the trajectory of my life… or not. You know what I mean. Talk is… well, just talk.

Last night was girls night out. We went to see The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel… yep, a sweet movie with more than a hint of introspection/perspective on counting our days, measuring our choices, and experiencing a life of joy to the end. Made me wonder if I could be doing things a little differently, a little more focused/purposeful/passionate than I have been so far. I mean, my life in Canada is so… privileged, so…vanilla, so… expected. And it’s not that I can’t do good things at home, can’t impact the world/my world from here, but still it’s awfully safe and sane and sanitized… can you relate? Still I’m not convinced… still not certain if this is real, or my imagination.

When I got home last night I spent a couple of hours online investigating India…and today I’m thinking some more about it… and I’m wondering what will come of all this? What is this all about?

India - Kids - 092

India – Kids – 092 (Photo credit: mckaysavage)

God, what are you trying to tell me?

God, I’m opening my ears, my eyes… to what is

India… far far away, crowded, hot, humid, beautiful architecture and people, deep poverty, intensely spiritual, rich in culture and history,

india calcutta bookstore

overwhelming humanity… India.

and I’m paying attention, God,

Lesley-Anne