ALL I'VE LEARNED TO SAY

Kaar, Virginia. “January"." 1935/42.

Kaar, Virginia. “January"." 1935/42.

i did it.
i quit that job,
mumbled through
an explanation
of the thread exiting my chest,
pulling me somewhere else,
thrusting me forward.
toward what?
all I could say about it
at the time
was
“i just feel like there’s something
inside me chanting steadily:
create.
create.
make something.”

and to find out who and what and why
i have to obey, to try
to make something beautiful
to say something worth saying.”

so far i think
all i’ve really learned to say is
“pay attention!”
in one hundred and forty three
different ways.
but I think even that
does bear repeating
until we do it
until we look
until we see what’s around us
and sing
and fall to our knees.


Pouring my tea in near dark, I pour blindly, waiting for the glint of light on water which means I’ve filled my cup to the brim. This is how the dark pours into the winter day, until it’s full to the brim at the end of a long twilight. The stars dance, and the world turns its shadowed face around to meet the next day’s sun. Both are experiences best lived paying close attention. Yet it’s also one of the hardest times to pay attention, these glimpses of sun buried in long nights. The sun is in no hurry at this time of year, the beginning of January, the cycle rolled back round toward lengthening, but still brief, days. We lull and luxuriate in these long nights, sleepy and slow to rise. It’s easy to let our eyelids droop when it seems not much is happening in the world outside. Paying attention is hard in the dark; we are forced to turn inward.

Open eyes, internal or external, always get you far; but to stay awake during this season we must stoke the imagination, which is needed for hope to keep alive. We must imagine: seeds resting underground, their fertility preserved and preparing for spring -- animal friends going torpid, living off of stockpiled food and fat -- burrows in the snow and fluffed feathers -- and finally we must imagine the year ahead, arcing forward with all its joys and woes, our mental image frayed at the edges, where inevitably the unimaginable will occur.

As we pour blindly into the cup of 2019, let us live the experience of this year paying close attention, watching for the glint on the water. May we let ourselves rest in the cradle of the long nights, while staying internally aware, feeding our imaginations from our stockpile, living alive in each moment and also dreaming for what is to come.

#WILD: SO THAT WE MAY KNOW

 
Photo: K. Dagen

Photo: K. Dagen

 

do you send out
the ones you choose
into the wilderness -
like john, like us,
searching for zion -
so that we may know
what it’s like to be fiercely alone
(sometimes in a sea of faces)
and feel desperately lost
(sometimes in dark and crowded spaces)
like your son, like jesus?

for the world and
full of love,
but so alone,
your only son.

i love you that
you sent a child
to rescue all these
hearts gone wild.

sometimes i fear
my heart’s gone wild.

#LIGHT: IN THE SPIRIT OF ELIJAH

Photo: K. Dagen

Photo: K. Dagen

“the world is so dark
and we need you again.”
thought john the baptist,
breathing out, breathing in
the desert air, nestled deep in camel hair,
lighting up the way before him;
the paths left behind a little more straight
a little more smooth, and a little less dim.

alone in the night,
how did he feel?
the first of the prophets
after four hundred years
of silence and waiting,
darkness and hope and anticipating?

himself a light
proclaiming the light,
that had already been born that night
some thirty years before, not long behind him,
both sent by the wind and spirit-minded.

before you come again, i wonder
will there be another one that thunders
in the spirit of elijah
to ready us and steady us
and light up this crooked world before us?

but that spirit’s been here
for two thousand years
destroying hard hearts and drying up tears
lighting up cities, illuminating fears,
giving us breath and opening our ears,
until that one day, one final collision,
before this valley of the shadow of death
becomes the everlasting bright-lit valley of vision.

#NIGHT: IT MAY BE A BIT DARK

Photo: K. Dagen

Photo: K. Dagen

it’s hard to write about the night
when the room i sit in is full of peaceful natural light,
and the company i dwell beside
in my home and in my life
is full to the brim with intentionality,
knowing even when i’m in the dark
i can send a call
down the street or down the hall,
and someone will come close to me.

even still, the night comes earlier now,
and i can still remember how
some years it was so hard to get through
the winter because it was bleak and dim
and there was no one to talk to;
awaiting and waiting,
longing to enter
the spring; the hope of life and bloom
and better things.

this year i’m settling in to this space
that may be a bit dark,
but allows for the grace
to rest and expect,
to pause and remain,
and abide in your love.
god, come again.
god, be the spark.
i’ll be the flame.

the world is so dark
and we need you again.



#FOCUS: HE COULD SEE HER THEN SO CLEARLY

le Lorraine, Louis Joseph. “King David Kneeling in Penitence.”

le Lorraine, Louis Joseph. “King David Kneeling in Penitence.”

david came to gaze before you,
both emboldened and afraid,
by all which had been spoken of,
what you had set in place.

looking deep into your face
he wondered, gently, at his place;
speechless yet so full of praise,
considering tomorrow-days.

and he could see her, then, so clearly;
a daughter of future generations,
the mother of the one you promised
embracing a small lover of the nations.

he pondered all this in his heart
just like that girl would do.
“hold her in your focus, god!
sustain her in your view.”

i wonder what could come from me;
by love, grafted in to this great story,
forgiven, and allowed to be
a tiny sprout on jesse’s tree.

david seemed to understand
we’re only carriers of glory
and when david prayed for her that day,
he also prayed for me.


Inspired By: 2 Samuel 7:18-29