Sunday, February 25, 2007

few words

i am
but that beautiful kind of tired
that makes me glad
for this

the moments it

Saturday, February 24, 2007

writing with pictures

still paying attention to the little details.

i'm thankful for the delightful things blooming in my yard today.

Friday, February 23, 2007


I noticed my first iris bloom of the season today. It's stunning, if I do say so myself. Plus, our California poppies are starting to bloom, so that orange makes the iris's purple even more beautiful.

We starting putting our old chunks of concrete back in the ground, as stepping stones, this afternoon. Our garden is starting to look more, well, garden-y. (The gnome helps.) I love the things that are growing.

I keep trying to look at my yard with an outsider's eyes, but never really succeed. I have the same problem with our house.

Probably, to someone passing by, both still look pretty ragged. But I see all this progress that we've made. Even some of the bits that seem to look messier than when we started--like our lack of trim on windows and doorways, or the bits of missing siding where we re-plumbed the kitchen sink--are signs to me of progress we're making. Making this house our home is a long, messy process. And I'm proud of our ragged attempts at progress. (My messy garden is SO much better than the concrete that was there!)

Which seems like an apt image for lent; certainly, for Ash Wednesday. To get to Easter, first we cover ourselves with messy ashes. This probably makes us look a lot worse off than we seemed on Mardi Gras, but the ashes mark a pretty important and big step.

I only participated in morning-time Ash Wednesday worship once or twice, so I'm not sure how I feel about wearing my ashes around town all day, announcing to the world that I need repentance.

But I'm definitely going to try to get more details from anyone who looks ragged or messy. They might just need congratulations for making it a good, long way toward being whole.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

More little things

I'm not generally good at mornings, so it wasn't altogether surprising that I had to drag myself out of bed and rally to get to the the weekly Bible study I lead in a shelter program downtown this morning. Lately, it seems like changes in the community of residents there has meant difficult and disjointed conversation about whatever passages we're reading.

Which makes the conversations I got to be a part of today seem even more wonderful.

In the midst of talk about a bunch of other things, one woman told about her childhood--about words a neighbor shared with her on the porch of her house. In faithful detail, she recalled the message that had been shared with her: an invitation to a better life in God. A God who has dreams for our lives.

She said she'd never thought about there being anything other than the world she knew--anything beyond drinking all day. As a child, this neighbor's words opened new possibilities. And even though it would be years before she really chose to follow God's dreams, she remembers beginning to know of their possibilities on that afternoon on the porch.

I wonder how many kids this neighbor might have said such things to. And I wonder if she has any idea what powerful memory she was creating in this then-young girl.

I suspect we all have more effect on one another that we're aware of.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Lenten practices

So, it's Ash Wednesday, and I get to bask in the memory of worship on my favorite church holiday.

This year, I decided, I like that it's repentance we do together.

Too often, we waste too much time pointing out personal sins. (Our own, and others...) On Ash Wednesday, though, we all take on ashes.

It's making me feel better--even a little bit hopeful--in the midst of too much that's going wrong. (According to Matt, the world's going to hell in a handbasket.) If we're all willing to take on ashes together, in church, maybe we can begin to think about what it would look like to repent of the things we do together, sometimes without even really meaning to: starting wars and continuing them, denying the worth and humanity of children of God, persisting in systems that perpetuate sexism. And racism.

Maybe reconciliation can be possible.

It always feels really weird, putting ashes on other people's foreheads. First off, there's the worry about getting the right amount on your finger, so it makes a mark that's sufficiently visible to seem truly repentant, without showering their nose with little bits of ash.

Then, there's the awkward way the ashes make us confront our mortality. "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return." The same words to everyone.

In my mind, they're words of comfort: we are all of the same "stuff," and, ultimately, it's not even what makes "us" "us." Dust.

And, remembering that we're all dust somehow makes all the little stuff more meaningful--the dust of the earth matters, since it's what we are.

All of which Ellen Ott Marshall said so beautifully in her talk at church tonight, as she invited us to practice hope this Lent. Hope in attentiveness to the little stuff, even as it sits in tension with so much that's wrong and difficult and hard.

SO, I'm resolving to accept the Lenten challenge Karen gave me: to write. And I'm gonna try to be attentive to the dust and other little stuff that gives me hope.