Saturday, December 28, 2013

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Violet's Postcards

Violet sat with her soccer coach, Aaron, in the high school cafeteria.  He had asked if she would share her story.  She was scared at first because she thought the Royal Chargers—one of the cliques at school—would overhear and attack her when she opened up.

Aaron stroked his beard.  "If you tell me your story, I can help you," he said.  "I'm here to support you."

Violet trembled as she spoke.  She shared about how the clique members tried to bully their fellow member Jonathan when he told them he was going to take her to the prom.  They didn't think she was suitable because she wasn't one of them.

A few kids pulled their cafeteria chairs closer so they could listen to her story.

She talked about how leaders of the Royal Chargers set up special meetings to inform her and Jonathan it was wrong for them to go to the prom together.  When Jonathan told them he no longer wanted to be a Royal Charger, one of the leaders tore out her heart and stomped on it.

Violet felt safe with Aaron.  She let out all her pain.  Sometimes she threw up into her bowl.  Sometimes she wondered if she was being too open or frank in her honesty.

"You're hating yourself," observed Aaron.

She didn't understand why it was taking so long for her to forgive the bullies.  "I'm mad at myself for being angry at them.  I don't like being angry.  I just want to love them," she said.

The small crowd that had gathered continued to grow as she shared her feelings and stories.

One of the Royal Chargers, wearing a mask of anonymity, protested twice during her outpourings.

Violet continued anyway because she was beginning to recognize her purpose, to understand her worth as a human being, to see that though she was imperfect she had something very good to offer the world.  When she made mistakes, she admitted them and apologized.

The next day, Violet and Aaron sat in the cafeteria again.  She placed a stack of postcards on the table and began to write on them.  At first she wrote all about herself.  It was her way of taking care of herself and Aaron approved of her method.

Eventually she was writing quotes and verses and fun little things so she could hand them out to people in the crowd.  This made her happy.  There were a couple of girls in particular who really loved her postcards and felt they were finally getting the type of encouragement they were looking for.

Sometimes other kids would put their own postcards onto her table.  Sometimes her writings were stupid, but she took comfort in knowing she could throw the stupid ones in the garbage if she wanted.

Then one kid chucked his postcard at her.  Violet thought it looked sort of like her own story so she set it down, but when she did Aaron said, "This one concerns me.  Can you tell me why you're keeping it?"

While she tried to sort out her thoughts, one of the Royal Chargers yelled, "There are three of us getting your postcards and we are totally offended!  The past is in the past, so forget about it.  You are GOSSIPING.  We should not have to stand around and BABYSIT you to make sure you are not doing this bad thing!  I don't care if you're being positive or negative.  You are NOT to hurt us with your dumb postcards anymore!  You are supposed to be loving us!"

"What the heck?" said a guy in the crowd.  "Don't you have anything better to do?"

Another gasped, "That is unreal!"

"Unbelievable!" said another.

Violet blinked and looked at the postcard again, then she stood up so she could observe the kid who gave it to her.  He looked like a clown.  "I think I'll put this one in the garbage," she said to Aaron.

She glanced at the Royal Chargers.  "Well," she said, "I'm still a broken human being.  But there is such a thing as forgiveness.  Everyone needs that."

When she sat down in her chair again, tears were running into Aaron's beard and his fat pink lips curved into a smile.

"The Royal Chargers have no authority over me," said Violet to the crowd.  "Jesus is my authority.  He has given me healing, and I am free."

Friday, December 13, 2013

you're in it

Dear person full of pain:

Your beauty captivates me, these tiny movements you make with such courage.  You're working on opening your boxes.  This journey of letting go is really, really hard... I mean mega hard.  There are so many people who don't understand your pain.

As you continue in this slow process it's imperative to trust your helper.  While you're being helped there will be hits and misses.  It will hurt sometimes, and in certain stretches it might feel like the pain is simply not going to let up.  I don't know why it has to be this way but I think it's intricately related to your sensitivity.

By the way, your sensitivity is one of the things I love the most about you.

Sometimes it will only be your pride that's hurting which will signify some great transformation taking place.

Other times, possibly, it will be as though there were a strong hand firm on your back along with the gentle brush of lips upon your cheek.  Guiding.  At least that's how I experienced it.  Maybe your encounter will differ somewhat.  You can show your helper what you feel along the way, if you like.

There might be times when you have serious doubts about your helper.  That's okay.  I hope you'll stick with your task of opening boxes anyway.  Remember, you're being cared for in a way that's beyond your understanding.

Maybe you won't believe me, but I love you.  And I care about what's in your boxes.

I hope you continue your tiny movements and go on sharing your truths.

Take courage, beloved one.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

the beauty of crazy and slow

Dear person full of pain:

Have you begun opening any of your boxes?  I'm going to guess... probably.

If you haven't found your encouraging helper yet, it could mean there's a specific box in your way that's keeping you from recognizing him or her.  Or maybe you do kinda see, but you're up against a heavy box that's hindering your receptivity.  It will need to be identified and opened.

When dealing with your boxes, your honesty is crucial.  It's important to be truthful with yourself, but it's even more important to be honest with your helper.

The honesty I'm talking about has to do with teeny weeny movements.  I'm guessing that, for you—because you're hurting a lot—communicating your truths feels like a scary idea.  That's okay.  Why don't you start there?  Let your helper know that being honest makes you feel like a crazy person.

I say it's better to be a crazy person telling the truth than a sane one living a lie.  Really, it's the sane people who can be the most destructive.

Sometimes expressing yourself honestly involves fumbling around.  It's hard to know, at first, what a teeny weeny movement is supposed to look like.  Here's one suggestion: share with your helper what emotions you're experiencing at the moment and why you think you're feeling them.

When you fumble around or get confused, I think that means you're facing the resistance.  It's important that you don't keep your confusion to yourself.  Let your helper know when you're experiencing it, so he or she can work with you to cut away some of that resistance.

I think if you're reading this it means you're brave enough to participate in the slow process of letting go.  That's amazing and beautiful.

Never give up, beloved one.


Thursday, December 5, 2013

a case of the squawks

Angela put the red notebook down beside her and got back to work on her chalk drawings.

Caroline approached.

"Hi," said Angela.  She switched colors and Caroline watched her in silence for a few minutes.

"You know what?  A few days ago I threw a piece of chalk at Mrs. Whitehead," Angela said.

"How'd that go over?"

"I couldn't tell because she was behind her greenhouse door.  At the time it seemed like a good idea.  Later I thought it could've been a mistake."

"Why'd you think it was good idea in the first place?"

"Well, it had to do with throwing it in reverse, you see.  But, well, you know my thoughts on revenge and retaliation."


"Later when I thought it might've been a mistake, I drank a coffee and then I felt better."

"That reminds me.  Wes asked me if I could fix him a cup of coffee before I came out, but I forgot.  I'm going to run home and do that.  Be right back."

Peter, the Canada Post guy, paused as he walked by to wave at Angela.  He often strolled by to admire her art.

"Hi, Peter!"

"Hey!  Caroline said not to use that red notebook!  Screw her!"

Strangely, Angela felt warm as if someone had draped a down comforter over her shoulders.  She glanced down at the notebook.  Then, while he walked away, she picked up a piece of black chalk and began to make cloud-like shapes.

But when Caroline returned she started squawking like a savage chicken.  "Please get rid of that black part!"


"If Peter sees it he's going to think it's about him!" she squawked.

At that, Angela's mind seized and try as she might she couldn't will herself to think.  Caroline said something else that she could only register as a series of squawks.


"I don't understand," said Angela.

More squawks.  "He's going to interpret it that it's about him!"

"Well, he can interpret it the way he wants but I think he already associated himself with black even before I drew it," said Angela.

More squawks.

"I'll think about it."

When Caroline left her alone again, Angela gagged and dry-heaved over the grass.  She got up and galloped in frantic circles, eyes wide and nostrils flared. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

inside the tree

Angela's fingers were getting sore from working on her chalk drawings on the sidewalk so she got up and skipped through the grass over to the douglas fir wherein Stanley continued his hiding.

She crouched and knocked on the wooden door.  It opened a crack.  "Hi, Stanley," she said.


"If you come look at my art it's possible for me to show you how triumphalism in a patriarchal system encumbered by fake-feathered birds who have the destructive tendency to keep robots in their clutches is the antithesis of riding on a hinny."

There was a faint rustling behind the door.

"Are you there?" said Angela.

"Yeah," he said.


"You're sitting in the grass."

"Yes.  Yes, I am."

"You're talking with me."

"Correct," she said.

Faint rustling again.

"What are you doing in there?"

"Looking at my dort book."

Angela smiled.  She was positive it was the first time he'd opened it of his own accord in eight years.  "What part are you looking at?"

"The map in the back."   

Wes called from the distance.  "Hey!  I'm looking for my old noodenbaker.  I can't find it anywhere and I'm thinking I gave it to you."

"I don't think so," Angela called back, "But I'll check with Stanley.  He would remember something like that."

"Hey, Stanley.  Wes is looking for his noodenbaker.  He thinks he might—"

"No!  I don't have his noodenbaker!  Tell him to take a hike!"

"He just couldn't remember what he did with it, that's all."  She tried to spot Wes but couldn't see where he went.  "Stanley?  Can you give me a piece of paper?"

He slipped it through the crack and tossed out a pen.

Angela wrote in block letters.  DEAR WES, WE DON'T HAVE YOUR NOODENBAKER.  MAYBE YOU GAVE IT TO THE JENNINGS.  Then she folded it into a paper airplane, stood up, and threw it in his general direction.



"Christmas is coming."

"Yeah," he said.

Angela crouched and inched closer to the door.  "I have plans to decorate your tree.  The one you're in, that is.  I'll use the red garland and twist some green around it and I'll get some little sparkly bobbles that look sort of like stars and then if you'll stick out your telescope I can—"

The paper airplane landed a couple of feet away so she got up off her haunches to fetch it.  Upon unfolding it she read ANGELA, I CHECKED WITH THE JENNINGS ALREADY.  THEY DON'T HAVE IT.  I'M GOING TO ASK JAMES.

She spoke into the crack again.  "Wes says he's going to check with James about the noodenbaker."

At that, there began an awful thrashing and thumping inside the tree.

"Stanley?" Angela said.  "Stanley?"

One of the tree branches looked like it was going to break from all the ruckus.

"Stanley, I don't understand why you're angry."

"Because!" he yelled.  "Why go on and on about it?  Just back off already!  I don't have his f_cking noodenbaker!"

Then the door shut.

Angela lied down and closed her eyes.  When she opened them she wondered if she had fallen asleep because there in front of her was a notebook, a red cover with white lined paper.  When she opened it, there on the first page was a drawing of a black sheep.  When she turned the page there was another.  "Oh!" she said.  "There's more than one."

Friday, November 29, 2013

my grandmother 1930-2013

The sky has shed many gracious tears on this day in which I've been informed of my grandmother's passing.  She died holding the hands of her two daughters, my mother and aunt.

During my last visit with her she was peaceful as she recounted some enjoyable recent moments such as watching my mother and aunt sit on the floor like little girls laughing as they looked through some of her old jewelry.

She offered a small piece of advice to me: "Keep in contact with your siblings.  It's very important."
I managed to snap one last photo of her.  She was wearing a wig because had lost almost all her hair by then.  I'm glad to have this picture.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

the parking space

Emma-Lou was quite certain a man in a silver truck had followed her to Decades coffee shop and she sensed he was going to slip through the door any second.  She was probably right because she had excellent perception.

And anyway, the evidence was there.  He parked two spaces away from her, leaving the one space in between so as not to make himself obvious.

Emma-Lou's date, Walter, rose from the corner table to greet her so she tilted her chin and parted her lips slightly without smiling.  That's what made her look best in photographs.  He only blinked and rubbed his cheek when she did it which probably meant he disapproved.

Emma-Lou giggled and, between her thumb and forefinger, rubbed the tassel on her purse.  They exchanged pleasantries and headed to the till area, but why didn't he compliment her on her sweater?  And where was the baseball cap she had given him on their last date?

The man from the silver truck entered through the side door and came up behind them in the line.  She felt his eyes searing into the back of her head.  He was probably with the FBI, though she didn't know why he would be after her.  She was a good citizen.

Emma-Lou elbowed Walter and whispered she wanted to go to a different place.  Her heart was beating too rapidly and what if he wouldn't go on anymore dates after this?  But she had no choice.  She had to get away from the FBI agent.

"Alright," said Walter.  "Which way is west from here?"

Emma thought it must be some kind of test.  No matter.  She smiled and pointed with certainty.

Walter didn't have the heart to tell her she was pointing south.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

love and longing

i rest my eyes
on a beach's image
the sun-bathed child with hair aglow
sleeping body wrapped in cozy towel
and peaceful in the day

it comforts me in this shivery season
when outside air
smacks cold into my skin
and the sun warmth loses to the biting wind

when a frosty tree branch
juts leafless from a barked body
like an arm unable to throw

oh, love divine, grant health and growth
however quick or slow
in your ways we do not know

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

composition 21

Time keeps moving quickly on
We try to slow ourselves down

Sing, sing, sing a new song
Sing a new song

Music notes fall like rain
Catch them in your palms
And let them go again

Sunday, November 10, 2013

running on empty

Phil laughed.  "You're pissed off again," he said to Sylvie.

He could tell by the way she squeezed the stem of her empty wine glass.

"Yeah and if I'm pissed off it would be in your best interest not to laugh at me!"

"You're just mad because you expect people to be good to you all the time.  Don't you think you'd have more fun in life if you expected the opposite?" said Phil.

"Expecting the opposite would be depressing," said Sylvie.

"I don't know about that," said Phil.  "People are selfish and stupid, myself included.  I expect them to do idiotic things, and because I expect that, I don't usually get surprised when they say something that could be considered offensive.  I can just overlook a lot of stuff and keep on treating them the best I can anyway."

"Easy for you to say."

"I'm just trying to help.  Here you are, all judgy about Oriana for letting some little offhand comment escape from her lips.  But you have to admit that having a crappy attitude towards her is all around destructive, for yourself and her and anyone who is subjected to your complaints about her."

"I have perfectly good reasons to have my crappy attitude towards her!  She's insufferably talented at her stupid guitar playing and public speaking.  Plus, she gets so much attention from men because of her big boobs.  It's sickening," Sylvie said.  "And another thing!  She complains about the teachers at her son's school.  That really chokes me.  If you don't like what's happening, then get involved!  Don't sit there complaining about it.  I mean, here I am working my buns off and she just sits there looking pretty and playing her frigging guitar."

"Well, you see?  If you didn't expect her to always say and do the right things, you wouldn't be so offended and we'd be having a more pleasant conversation.  Your jealousy's not helping anything either.  It's only hurting you and keeping you from having a good friendship with her," Phil said.

"Now you're defending her!  That ticks me off, Phil."  She let go of her empty wine glass and it shattered on the tile floor.  

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Dear person full of pain:

Chances are you're highly sensitive right now.  I don't know how to tell you this without hurting you, but you've been neglecting your moving boxes and I hope you begin the difficult work of opening them soon.

I don't know how many you have, but I think you can't even see them all.  Some of them have been hidden, shoved behind curtains perhaps.  Some of them are strangely blurry to you, others not.  I bet there are even boxes within boxes.

What I'm trying to say is I think most of your pain is happening because of them.  And I don't know if you'll believe me when I tell you I care about what's in them, but I do.  I don't want to force them open, though.  You're in charge of your own boxes.

When you're ready, you can start anywhere.  If I remember right, when I began mine I started with the very box I thought I was trapped in.

There are different ways of opening them, with spoken conversation or pen and paper, song or drama.  They can be tickled open with a paintbrush or seduced by sketches.  You can choose one, or any amount, of these.  And you don't have to be accomplished at any of them because it's about the honest undertaking, not the outcome. 

Opening particular boxes will bring the blurrier ones into focus and that can sometimes make your curtains fall.  It's okay.

It won't surprise me if you're faced with enormous resistance while you go about this.  Are you scared?  It's okay if you are.  Just remember to look for your encouraging helper.  It's probably necessary to ask around.  Put your feelers out.  If you don't know who it is yet, I believe you'll recognize him or her if you're watchful.

Take courage, beloved one.



Thursday, October 31, 2013

anything with sugar

Winona's father had put the pack of matches inside the refrigerator where he knew she would find it.

She did, of course, when she reached for the pickle jar.

"Oh fine," she muttered to herself.  "I'll humor him."

It wasn't just any pack of matches, but one handed down from her grandfather, Cornelius.  On the flap was a cartoon drawing of a robot holding a cupcake with a birthday candle in it.

"You see?" said Winona to nobody in particular.  "Robots like to eat."

"Not if it's kale," came a voice from the bottom of the stairwell.  It was her younger cousin, Silas, who had been spending the week at their house.

"How do you know?"

"Because I had a robot once," he lied.  "It only ate cupcakes and oreos, but nothing else."

"Not even candy?"

"Oh, and candy.  Anything with sugar."

"If you eat only sugary stuff will you grow up to be a robot?" asked Winona.

"I think you become a robot before you start liking only the sugary stuff."

"How does someone become a robot then?"

"By staying inside too much."

if this is football, count me in!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

what i do

i try to hold your silence
at different angles
as if doing so could
make it bend enough to break
and i remember the day
you laid it onto the table

it is still there
and here

so i make things with it

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Big Red Nose

There once was a very short man who had a long beard, and his name was Murphy.

He had a big red nose.

And on his big red nose there was a white bump, and on the white bump there was a fly.

The fly liked to say, "Buzzy wuzzy fuzzo luzz."  And Murphy liked to hear it.

One day he was walking along and a little girl noticed his big red nose.  "Excuse me, mister," she said.  "You've got a white bump on your nose and there's a fly on it."

"That's alright.  I like the fly," said the very short man named Murphy.

And the fly said, "Buzzy wuzzy fuzzo luzz."

Then Murphy went home and washed the dishes.  While he was doing that, he saw his friend Ralph through the window so he waved.

Ralph came closer, tapped on the window and pointed.  "Hey!" he yelled through the glass.  "You've got a bump on your nose and there's a fly on it!"

"That's alright!" Murphy yelled back.  "I like the fly!"

And the fly said, "Buzzy wuzzy fuzzo luzz."

The next day was Saturday.  Murphy was at the park.  Along came a gentleman who was trying to walk his dog.  The dog was jumping around and slobbering.

"Hello," called the gentleman who was still far away.  "Nice red nose!  Is that a white bump on it?  And is that a fly?"

"It's alright," Murphy called back.  "I like the fly."

And the fly said, "Buzzy wuzzy fuzzo luzz."

When the gentleman got closer, the dog barked and jumped up onto Murphy.

The fly flew away and the white bump disappeared!  Murphy's eyes grew wide and filled with light, then he smiled the biggest of big smiles as he rubbed his fingers all over his beautiful smooth nose.

           The End 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

the stroganoff painting

Carl sat on a three-legged stool in front of his easel, a paintbrush in one hand and a cigarette in the other.

Margaret glared.

"Why do you get so upset all the time?" he said.  "My art is not about you, but if the shoe fits then go ahead and wear it."

"Yeah right it's not about me.  Stop sinning," she said.

"You're joking, right?  Just because I sin differently than you doesn't mean it's a good idea to judge me."  He pivoted on his seat so he could see her reaction.

She was annoyed but trying to hide it.

She nodded at his stroganoff painting, the one he had put up near the window.  "You must stop the offensive stuff.  You're not supposed to do it."

Carl took a drag of his cigarette.
"All you do is get offended," he said.  "If you weren't so busy thinking people were out to get you maybe you'd stop it with your usual retaliations and actually try to, you know, do something kind."

"That painting has a silver spoon in it and it's the same one I have in my kitchen drawer, the one I let you use to eat my pea soup."

"So what?" said Carl.

"So, you painted blood and poop all over it.  I'm not okay with that.  And you keep lying."

"Art is fabrication," he said.

Margaret glared.

"What if you tried looking for beauty in my paintings?"

"There's nothing beautiful about blood and poop," she said.

"Look again," said Carl.  "Look for the Something More."

Friday, October 18, 2013

composition 20

From the great Well curiosity may spring,
courage grow larger in tiny, tiny things.

I am villain, so are you
Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy

An empty cup our family brings.
May it be filled with ev'ry good, good thing.

I am villain, so are you
Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

the search

"Who do you align yourself with?" asked Wes.

"With those who like to explore," said Angela.  "And we don't agree on everything, but we're often in harmony."

"Exploring is okay," he said.

"Yes," said Angela.  "There's a promise... those who seek shall find.  But something tells me I'll be seeking until I die."

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


I went to the forest with Trevor today and was reminded of that little red leaf I kissed last year.

Near this forest there used to be a man-made lake.  Now it's an open grassy area with picnic tables and we ran around randomly in there for a while amongst the fungus.  Most of the mushrooms were... I don't know... very proper looking and hard.

Sometimes Trevor tagged me, sometimes I tagged him.

He stepped on one of the softer ones, a puffball that belched clouds of brown dust-like spores.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Facebook Whine

Amelia held a glass of white wine in her hand.

"It's cool that you like Scott," said Jessika.  She held a glass of red.  "He's an awesome guy."

"Yeah," said Amelia.  "But I can't go through with it."

"Why not?"

She turned and glanced at the bottle of red wine behind her.  "There's some fishy stuff going on in his family.  It really sucks, so I say screw it."

"What kind of fishy stuff?"

"The brother-in-law, Lance, keeps whining on facebook about some thing that happened like ten years ago.  It's sort of annoying and I think it would be great for everyone—especially himself—if he could look at things more positively."  She shook her head.  "It's a messed up situation."

"That's too bad.  What's the thing that happened?"

Amelia took a sip.  "Well, from the sounds of it, Scott's parents were all upset that Lance liked football."


"The night he got engaged to Rayanne—Scott's sister—the parents were acting like it was the worst thing that had ever happened to them and tried to call off the engagement."

Jessika took a sip.  "That's rude.  Wait, why would Lance whine on facebook?  Can't he just talk to them in person?"

"It looks like when he tries to talk about how he feels, what they do is get very defensive and argumentative."

"I hate those kinds of conversations," said Jessika.

Amelia swirled the wine around in her glass and pulled an empty one from the cupboard.  "Rayanne was treated like the shit on the bottom of their shoes, all because of Lance's thing for football.  As Lance was doing his facebook stuff I could see his emotional health was going down the drain and I was getting a bit concerned.  But you know what bugs me?"


"Scott's family wouldn't even do anything to help Lance when he was down.  Instead, they got more defensive and blamed him all the more."

"Are you kidding?" said Jessika.  "I'd be depressed, too, if someone ruined my engagement because of something as inconsequential as a sports preference.  Getting hitched is supposed to be a happy occasion, a once-in-a-lifetime thing."

"I hear ya.  And I can't help wondering... why the battle?  I mean, if their family truly cared about peace you'd think they'd do the obvious and apologize to the poor guy.  Why just stand back and watch him suffer on facebook, then pour salt in his wounds?"

"Yeah, that's mean."

"And there's definitely dishonesty going on.  I mean, somebody's lying," said Amelia.  "And I don't want to take any sides, I just want to see this thing get resolved.  And I want them to know how beautiful they all are."

"I appreciate your loving heart, Amelia."

Amelia raised her glass and Jessika followed suit.  They clinked glasses.  Then they poured the two wines into the empty glass, watched the red and white splash into clouds that swirled and glistened.

"Um... Jessika?"


"Is that a dead crow on your porch?"

Jessika turned and followed her line of sight to the sliding glass doors.  "Yeah, it is."

"It has no head," said Amelia.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

at the Jeffersons'

Roger whipped it out and peed on the strawberry patch.  Mama wasn't impressed but Virginia cackled so long we thought she might split her dress.

I could always tell where Virginia was on account of her cackling.

After Roger peed on the strawberries we all walked over to Benny's for ice-cream.  Roger got ice-cream on his nose and Virginia cackled.  It was always him doing the screwing around and her doing the cackling.  As for me, I guess you could say my role was subtle.

When we finished the ice-cream, Mama said, "Now that you've wet your whistles let's go to the Jeffersons'."

Now the Jeffersons had one of them weasels.  No, not a weasel.  What was it?  A ferret.  A long flexible creature that didn't seem to have any bones.  Mama thought it was gross.

Well, Roger ended up nearly squishing the poor thing to death with his big fat rump.  It got away and scampered into the washroom to hide behind the toilet.  Roger and Virginia, they were both cackling.

I could absolutely see the humor in it, but I had forgotten how to laugh.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

book and a hand bell

A few Sundays ago we visited a nearby Anglican church to see what it was like.  We're not looking to switch churches but I want to be in touch with different Christian groups in our area.  Because why not?  We might visit a different church once every couple of months.

We were a few minutes late because I move like a turtle, but that was not an issue for anyone.  We were greeted warmly and quietly by a few standing near the back of the sanctuary and were given a blue hymnal.

Young children gathered around a small wooden table to color while we sat nearby in the back row.  There's nothing wrong with this.

We sang songs about justice, joy, and being a neighbor.

A woman offered a brief message about radical hospitality—how Jesus said that, when putting on a feast, invite the outcasts and the ones who are shunned by society.

Someone wearing a white robe rang a hand bell at the start of communion.  Three times it was rung, I think.  I don't know what meaning the Anglicans attach to this bell.  For me, its timbre and gradually fading tone served to clear my mind and bring my focus onto the love feast in which we were about to partake.

To me it doesn't matter whether or not Anglicans agree with me that the body and blood is mysteriously present in the wine and bread.  I can still commune with them because Grace is sufficient for me—for all of us.  And Jesus is everywhere.

When I sat down again beside Kevin, I turned my eyes to the windows above and was briefly swept away in memories of receiving communion as a teenager.  There would always come that ineffable moment when I'd lift my head by the Spirit and hear those precious, timely words: "May the body and blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ strengthen and preserve you until life everlasting.  Depart in peace.  Amen." 

Now would be a good time to end this blog post.  It just feels right.  But...

I was pleasantly surprised to see a TWU alumnus at this church.  She approached me when the service was finished.  We spoke briefly while I admired her son's tousled, curly hair and during our encounter Kevin rushed out the front doors.  I bid her farewell to catch up with him.

However, I was still hugging the blue book to my chest.

I hurried back in and slipped it onto the shelf.  "Thank-you," said the man who was returning the rest of the hymnals to their places.

I got the impression he wouldn't have minded at all if I had "stolen" it.


Monday, September 16, 2013

The Hidey Hole

"I'm sorry," said Wes, "for hurting you on your birthday."

"It's okay," said Angela.  "I'm sorry, too.  Anything to do with numbers tends to go over my head and I don't remember much."

Wes looked over at the wooden door at the base of the giant fir tree.  "What are we doing now?"

"I don't know," said Angela.  "He's been hiding in there for an awfully long time."

She was referring to Stanley, of course.

"Why's he so afraid?" said Wes.

"Because he's human and there's a lot he doesn't understand," said Angela.  She crouched down and gently moved her hand back and forth across the tips of grass blades.  "I'm sure you'd agree with me we don't have the power to get him out of there."


"But we can still participate in the beckoning," she said as she got up.

"I'm not sure how," said Wes.  "At least he talks with you when you open the door.  When I try that, he says nothing and cowers in the darkest area he can find."

"True," said Angela.  "If he knows you're standing here with me right now so close to his entrance he's probably trying his hardest to pretend he doesn't exist."


She paled.  "Wes!  Your arm!  Your scar!"

He raised his limb.

"It's ripping open!" said Angela.  "What on earth?  You're bleeding!"

"Ugh," he said.  "I have to take care of this, Angela, before I participate in any beckoning."

"Okay," she said.  "Could this be the participation initiation?"

"I don't know," he said.  "It's the unseen that is the most important, so you could be right."



Monday, September 9, 2013

let's play

"Let's play Webtuckin!" said Abigail.

Henry sucked a breath in through the gap where his tooth had fallen out.

"Will knows how to play," she said.

"Yeah?" he said and tapped his fingers on the table.

"Yep!" said Abigail.  She ran into her bedroom, her black converse sneakers thumping across the floor, and returned with the breast cancer awareness scarf she had received from their mother.  It swung from her hand like a bindle.

"Oh, you and that stupid pink scarf," said Henry.

"It's not stupid," said Abigail.  She opened it and let her marbles roll onto the table.

Henry held one to the light and squinted.  "They're clear," he said.

"Not really," said Abigail.  "They're clear but they're cloudy.  Go ahead.  Have them all."
Henry put them into one of the pockets of his backpack.

Will arrived and sat down with an air of importance.  "Okay.  So.  You wanna play Webtuckin.  Let's see your marbles."

"W-what do you need to see 'em for?" said Henry.

"If we're going to do this, you've gotta get your marbles out."

"It's fine," said Abigail to Henry.

He unzipped an inside pocket of his backpack and scooped out his marbles.  They were a solid, shiny red.  He held them over the table, his hands curved as a bowl.

"That it?" said Will.

"Um, I-I got more in th-three other pockets," said Henry.

"Wow, okay, you might as well get those ones out, too."

With great caution, he set down the ones he'd been holding like he expected them to shatter into smithereens any second.  Abigail helped him extract the rest, including hers.

"Good," said Will.  He opened his satchel and grabbed a couple handfuls of his own marbles which were solid green.

"Now it's time for strategy," said Will.  "What we're going to do is put a percentage of yours with mine and put them in the middle like this.  Remember you've gotta think about what's going to happen later in the game.  This is what we're doing now, but later it's going to come together on that end of the table if you want to work your way over there."

Henry nodded.

"Actually, let's change this percentage."  Will moved more of the red marbles in with his green ones then moved them to the side.  "And let's put five of those red ones over here."  He swept them with his hand but accidentally knocked a few off the edge.

Henry was getting angrier by the minute.

"What's wrong?" Abigail said, but he refused to answer.  "If this is just making you mad then you don't have to keep playing.  You can do something else."

He stood and, with his forearm, swept as many red marbles as he could off the table into his open backpack.  "It's over!" he yelled to Will and stomped away.

"I didn't mean doing it like that," mumbled Abigail.

Will looked down and fiddled with the drawstring on his bag.

Abigail pointed to some of his marbles on the table.  "What color are those?"


She pointed to a few of the red ones Henry had left behind.  "And those?"

"Green," he said.

He cleared the table and closed his satchel.  Abigail wilted like a dying plant.

"This is all Henry's fault!" he blurted out. 


Thursday, September 5, 2013


Wen somebunny makes a misteak it means upportonity for me too show how mutch I love them ennyway!

On the other hand, I'll' mention someone's misstake if...

a) Its something that's hurrting me over and over agenn.  I meen, come on, I gots too take care for myslef.

b) I believe mensioning the misstake is part of a reconciliation process

I want to do my best not to point out people's misteaks, though, because I don't want to be a bookkeeper.  Love doesn't take inventory on what misstakes someone's made.  But I'm human so sometimes I make the misteak of pointing out someone else's misstake even if it's only a little one.

But I would rather notice all the awesome stuff about a person than let the flaws make me angry.

I'd rather live in awe and wonder.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

storm in a teacup

"If you have 'your head about you when all the rest are losing theirs and blaming it on you,' it means you don't understand the situation," said Nadine.

Elmer grunted.  "Would you pour me some tea?"

Nadine poured it into his mug, the one with the picture of a walrus smoking a cigarette, and added a teaspoon of honey the way he liked, and placed it before him at the table.

"No, not in that mug!" he said.  "In a tea cup!  It belongs in a proper teacup."

She took the mug back to the counter and poured it into a dainty flowered teacup, then placed it before him.

"What are you doing?!" he yelled.  "Where's the saucer that goes with it?  Get the cream from the fridge and a teaspoon!  Don't forget the napkin.  Come on, woman, what's your problem?"

"Well, I've given it to you in a mug before and you seemed fine with it."

Elmer shook his head in disgust.  "And there's no cookies or anything!"

"Well, no, I haven't done any baking 'cause I've been scrubbing the tile grout in the hallway like you asked."

"I should've married Pamela," he muttered.

"Um... what?"

"Nothing," he said and waved his hand dismissively.  "Go clean my washroom.  It's filthy."

Nadine went back to the hallway to finish the tile grout.

Monday, September 2, 2013

past the appearance

"In terms of statistics the prophets' statements are grossly inaccurate.  Yet their concern is not with facts, but with the meaning of facts." - Abraham J. Heschel

Friday, August 30, 2013

from the side

Different men have different preferences.  Some like the watermelons.  Some the cantaloupes.  Some even like those little kiwis.

And some really need to see the sideb--bs.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

the megaphone

Caroline and Wes crossed their arms and hovered from a distance on their front lawn while Angela worked on her 3D sidewalk chalk drawing.

"You know what Stanley's problem is?  He thinks he's entitled to everything," said Caroline.  "His parents protected him too much so now he thinks the world should be served to him on a silver platter!"

Angela lifted her shirt just then to check on the wound below her left breast.  The blood had seeped through the gauze.

"Oh, good gawd!" said Wes.  "Angela, put your shirt down!  I don't agree with that—displaying yourself where anybody can see you.  You're making me look bad.  Oh, happy birthday, by the way."

"Have you taken a close look at it though, lately?" said Caroline.  "Anyway, as I was saying, the trouble with him is that he was never taught how to work hard like us.  He doesn't understand how much effort it took us to get the farm going."

"Yeah, we were such generous people, letting him have a job and everything," said Wes.  "It took years to build up the farm.  Then he took all our lion souvenirs and dumped them on the driveway!  What an asshole."

Angela put down her yellow chalk and reached for the red.  "The souvenirs," she said with quiet voice.  "He had asked if you could remove them from our dining room table.  We both wanted the space."

"There were much more pressing concerns at the time, what with the farm and everything.  This is what it boils down to: we were giving him something really grand and he couldn't even appreciate it."

Angela turned the red chalk onto its side and made a short, thick line.

"Those yellow strokes there," said Wes.  "They need to be longer.  And that weed growing up out of the concrete is going to ruin the bottom corner of your drawing.  Actually, you'd be better off doing it on the road."

"No," she said.

"Stanley owes us an apology," said Caroline.  "We're entitled to it."

Angela sighed and set her chalk down.  She pulled off her shirt and bra then walked over, breasts jiggling for anybody to see, and picked up the megaphone that had been laying beside the stop sign at the corner.

She put it to her mouth and said, "I'm sorry."

Monday, August 26, 2013

composition 18

Lions gather to feast
On the zebra that they hunted down
They lost sight of the horizon
Where did it go?

May the Invisible open
Somewhere inside of us
And passion rise
Passion rise

The lions roar like thunder
Shaking the ground
Their pride over blood and bones

I will sing lest my voice
Be swallowed by the dark

May the Invisible open
Somewhere inside of us
And passion rise
Passion rise

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

he spoke compassion

the farmer
with tender eyes
entered my view
from the hallway

and kept a closed mouth.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

beneath the water

let's be mindful
of the underwater parts
that join the islands
of our archipelago

let's pray for hard clay
to soften
to yearn again
for what is greater

consider the possibility
it can be molded
into something brand new:
a humble island of noble repute

Saturday, August 17, 2013

aug 17 postcard

I'm quite fond of postcards and so is Marian Call.  She's been taking photos of hers and sharing them online.  Click HERE if you want to see the one she posted this morning.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The House of Hiding

"Where's your lipstick, you whore!" Naylon Fenn yelled as he opened and slammed washroom drawers.  He chucked various items over his head, letting them crash against the shower wall.

Luna stood blinking and silent in the hallway.

When he found it he ripped the cap off and lunged at her.  Frightened as a rabbit, she tried to scamper away but he caught her by the arm and slammed her down.

"Ow!" she said.

"It's good for you," he said.  "It's your discipline."

When he smeared the fuchsia graffiti lipstick over her mouth, she almost didn't notice due to the pain of her shoulder blades pressed against the hardwood floor, his arm heavy like bricks on her chest.

Then came the knocking.

Naylon got off her and snarled, "Go ahead!  Answer the door and show 'em what happens when you cheat."

Luna composed herself best she could and turned the knob with trembling hand.

"Hi."  The girl wore sparkly eyeshadow and jeans torn at the knee.  She flicked hair out of her face and held out a catalogue.  "Have you heard of Integri Lite?  It's a company that makes candles."

Luna accepted the catalogue but didn't respond.

If the girl noticed the violent lipstick job, she didn't let on.

"I could get some products from my car and give you a presentation."

"Oh.  No.  We're not interested.  Our house has enough light in it."

"Okay."  She began to turn, hesitated, then turned back.

Luna said, "Thanks for the catalogue, though."

The girl looked her up and down, then moved closer and said gently, "Hey.  You probably don't want me to tell you this, but... I'm not gonna keep silent."

Luna recoiled and closed the door.    

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

tea, anyone?

by Langston Hughes

by Langston Hughes

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

there is a season...

As with physical wounds, emotional wounds need healing time.  Many seemingly improve on their own with forgiveness coming easily, but others can be huge and deep and complicated.  They need plenty of attention and most likely some help from people who have experience or knowledge of such problems.

The trouble with emotional or spiritual wounds is that other people cannot see them and therefore finding help can be difficult.  Also there's the issue of figuring out the best method for exposing an inner wound.  It can't be cared for if nobody can tell what kind of injury it is.

And, notably, two people can have the same type of wound and recover from it in completely different ways in different lengths of time.

Friday, July 26, 2013

oh, filthy woman

Behold, a stranger.  The color of her eyes, pure gift.
Behold the miraculous movements of her hands, her face shape.

Behold the obscurity of her.

No matter her stumbling or stench, grumpiness or paltry appearance.
Within and amongst that, or perhaps despite it, she is sacred.

Simply love her.
With everything in you, welcome her.
As fully as you can, receive her.

Malign her not for she is presented to you with the Highest of shrouded purposes.

Here she is.
Hold her in honor.

Be gentle.

Christ the stranger, susceptible.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


Alaskan musician, Marian Call, is doing what she refers to as her postcard tour.  You can see one of her postcards HERE and check out her website if you have time.  Artists can always use some support.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Sacred Meeting

"Are you a spy?" asked Jenny.

Dan laughed.  "Not really."

Then silence.

"I'm sorry," she said.  "I would like to be more cheerful for you.  Maybe you've heard the old adage, 'A cheerful look brings health to the bones.'"

"It's okay, Jenny," he said.

She squeezed her eyes shut.  "I'm hurting again."

He looked disappointed.  "Pain usually isn't a very good communicator."

"They say I'm just doing it to myself, and I think they could be right."  She began to cry.

"When I saw your picture I thought you were beautiful.  Now here you are beside me and I can tell you my eyes did not deceive me."

Jenny sneezed.

"Bless you."

"Which eyes are you talking about?" she asked, though she already knew the answer.

He nodded.  "The ones you're thinking of."

"Dan?" she said.


"Sorry about what I told you on the phone yesterday, about it being weird."

He put his finger to his lips and offered a nearly inaudible hush with gentle gaze.  Between the thumb and finger of his other hand, he pulled at brown thread that trailed from the bottom edge of his sweater, and as he did so Jenny's pain traveled to the periphery like a swarm of insects suddenly dispersing.

"Oh," she said.  "The thread.  It's attached to my sweater."

Dan let go of it and took out his wallet.  "Look," he said.  "It's my wonder card."

Her pain became a swarm again.  "I've heard of those cards," she said in quiet voice.  "Give me time."

Monday, July 15, 2013

do you hear what i hear?

Our young one, Trevor, has hearing problems.

Last week I took him to an ENT (ear/nose/throat specialist) for the second time.  The waiting room is decent there.  While Apologize (It's Too Late) played on the radio and my children quarreled over toys, I marveled at the opportunity to parent these adorable, annoying little people.  How amazing is this gift, despite what trials and temptations I've endured thus far in the process.

Next Sarah McLachlan's song came through the speakers:

... we are still innocent
it's easy, we all falter
does it matter?

I looked behind me and noticed a painting of marching trees wearing smocks and stethoscopes around their trunks, and then we were beckoned.

The previous time I took Trevor, the doctor seemed cold and unfeeling inside the windowless room while he used scary-looking, stainless steel instruments to remove clumps of earwax.

Thankfully people are not static!  This time he was warmer and animated with a twinkle in his eye.  "He still has fluid behind his right ear drum," he said.

We decided to book another appointment and, in the meantime, wait to see if it would either clear up or begin to affect the other ear as well.

But later our little guy was up about seven times during the night crying, "My ear hurts!"

The ER doctor thought his ear drum was probably perforated due to the fluid pressure, though it was difficult to tell for sure because of the goop and puss.  Now Trevor's on a regimen of medication and we'll see what happens next.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

fence and feign

The fence along the beach helped to keep Moira at ease.  If someone complained something wasn’t fair, she’d only point to the fence as if it had all the answers.  She could enjoy luxury without worrying about getting close to the ocean’s tide which was what she feared most.  She thought the sea maliciously wanted to drown her, but not before burning her with its saltiness.

Sometimes the surfers got close to the fence and, at the sight of them, she’d recede into her familiar crowd.  Blending in was the very best way to hide, but there were also tons of proud balloons—conventional ones—behind which she felt safe and happy.

Occasionally surfers defied the fence by leaning their boards against it and climbing over.  Whenever she saw one do it, she made sure to withdraw into her crowd as soon as possible. 

However, sometimes it couldn’t be helped.  Sometimes they extended a hand, sopping wet from the ocean, in greeting.  When they did, Moira didn’t know whether to harass them or feign acceptance in the hopes they would venture back to the other side of the fence.  So she did both.  As of late she usually chose to fake reception, but the ocean knew.  Underneath her skin she feared and despised the surfers.


Sunday, June 30, 2013

composition 16

Beyond borders joy flows
Love—it sends trembling birds to the moon
Faithful witness in the sky
Moonlight on feathers caught in the night

Spirit, pour out on all people
Spirit, pour out on all people
We cry for peace
Before the moon turns to blood
Let us gather together
Add to our number

Splatter colours on white walls
Crack the bench on which the "powerful" reign
In our trials we press on
Weak and ill, injured—here we come   

Thursday, June 27, 2013

if the rain wills it

yellow bruises appear on forearms
in the forest
and feasibly
rain washes sneering jokes
away from inky wilderness
into city storm drains

Saturday, June 22, 2013

suggested reading

Hyperbole and a Half: Depression Part Two
"I remember being endlessly entertained by the adventures of my toys. Some days they died repeated, violent deaths, other days they traveled to space or discussed my swim lessons and how I absolutely should be allowed in the deep end of the pool, especially since I was such a talented doggy-paddler."  (read more HERE)

josh barkey: Is the Christian God a Psychopath?
"... I have to be willing to re-examine the way that I am reading the Bible. I have to be willing to go back to my childhood and question if maybe the rigid interpretive framework I was handed for the reading of the Bible is just plain wrong." (read more HERE)

Experimental Theology: The Fence of Matthew Shephard
"People wonder from time to time why I write about the relationship between the gay community and the Christian church. It's not a comfortable topic where I live and work. But the answer is pretty simple." (read more HERE)

Monday, June 17, 2013

This Then That

Gramma, who was still recuperating from her recent surgery, poured red wine into two glasses and sat.  "Before I make a toast," she said, "I have something serious I want to say."

Raymond, who had a napkin over his head, let out a long sigh.  When was she not serious?

"It's important not to behave like a stuck-up brat," she said.

Raymond gripped the edge of the table.

"It's One for all, not One for the 'good' people," she said.

As she began to raise her glass, Raymond slammed his fist down.  "Hey, you're blaming me for causing divisions when you're the one who's so serious and depressed all the time!  It's not only my fault, you know!  I'll tell you what your problem is!  You just don't know that everything is your fault!  The good and the bad... it's all your fault!"

Gramma tilted her head, wishing she could see his eyes.  She paused because of a sudden, incoming headache and said quietly, "I already know I'm not a good person.  You only have to flip through the pages of my diary in order to see that."  She picked it up to show him, even though he couldn't see it on account of the napkin.

"Oh wait, no, that's not what I meant at all," said Raymond.  "Yeah, there's no such thing as a good person.  Look, I just wish you could enjoy your life."

Gramma smiled.  "You know, I'd like to be on your team."

The next day, they were at the table again.  "You forgot to make a toast yesterday, Gramma." 

She got up and shuffled over to the whiteboard on her fridge.  Raymond had a napkin over his head, as usual, but he could notice the faint pop of the lid coming off her dry-erase marker.

She circled an area on her whiteboard and said, "This here is dangerous and futile."

"Ugh, stop attacking me!" said Raymond.  "You're exaggerating and it's getting ridiculous and so much of what you're saying is not true.  I'll even prove it!  I'm actually a really good person!  Can't you see that I'm totally fine?"

Gramma peered over the rims of her eyeglasses.  "I don't think you're fine," she said.  "I think you've been badly deceived."

thanks for the warning

Thursday, June 13, 2013

composition 15

come rest for a while, my love
your shoes look too tight
take them off and spread your toes
here at the ocean's edge
come rest, rest for a while
come rest
come rest for a while
here where the forest meets the water blue

remember the clovers picked by small fingers
pressed into pages beside the faces
beautiful, beautiful faces
love deeply, ever more deeply
love deeper still

does salt water hurt your feet?
lay down here and rest now
though weak i am,
i care for you