A Warehouse Wall

While looking for a shaft of sunlight
with its shadows bidden to dancing
or the next retina washing hue
to strike at some quickening angle
I saw the bricks of a warehouse wall
having been well observed judging from
the names and inscribed symbols displayed
on the tattooed leather of its doors.
“I’m running out of storage,” I thought
while moving toward what must have been
set props for Juliets, Romeos
to keep from dying somewhere alone.
I’ve learned not to question why I stop.
For all I know this could have been an
unchurched child’s lone plot of Holy Ground
who stacked her shame on pallets backstage
and sauntered free for welcoming crowds
worshiping a God whose real name she
didn’t know yet who had etched hers on
the bricks and metal of his own skin.

File May 31, 8 23 39 AM

Another Poor Man’s Hand

To sit in the dry stream bed of yourself
when life starts to rain like spring-fed fire
sending snow melt and showers from
the mountain’s dark low-lying cloud,
to stand like a craggy earth-clinging oak
after all other mourners have filed past
leaving you to deal with dead day places
only you can see as clods of yesterday
spill into the closing grave of now,
to lie on a cold hardwood floor
when the closest neighbor is you
crying to the calling night wind
with one last hope for hearing echoes
from a song that sings itself of living love,
living, not dying, grace-grown and given,
brooding over the bones of your broken body –
is to be the beggar by the pool who never knew
this world contained the only balm
with power to make him whole
until that day, that word, that blessed touch
of another poor man’s hand.

2016-03-07 06.00.30

All in a Face

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” – Maya Angelou

Last night, our daughter suggested that her mother and I join her in watching The King’s Speech, one of our family’s favorite films. A scene (one of many) in the film defies description. I am going to attempt to decipher its effects on me.

King George VI of the United Kingdom has just given the famous address to his subjects as World War II is commencing, having done so beautifully conducted by Lionel Logue, the speech therapist who liberated him from the life-long prison of a terrible speech impediment. The whole plot has moved to this moment of trial and triumph for the king, to which he has ascended through enticement of the inner voice by Logue and his acrobatic, graceful, sometimes scandalous techniques.

Having made a historic and monumentally important delivery, George (or “Bertie,” the title reserved for blood kin and Logue) entered a room full of relieved and adoring statesmen, family members and advisers a changed man, appearing regal and confident for the first time in the film, already having fought what may have been the most important battle of his reign: that over his own pain, fear and associated disability.

As the light of glory supported the statuesque monarch amidst the admiration of his associates, the camera panned to Logue at his position in the wings. It is this epilogue that I find to be the most moving scene of the story.

Enfleshed in the face of Logue (played brilliantly by Geoffrey Rush) is expressed a most honored and humbling realization that teachers, mentors and parents have described to me, and that I, myself, have experienced. A voice instructor of mine said it best: “My job is to help you to find your true voice,” recounting the pride and gratitude that comes from knowing one has played a role in that discovery for a student.

The skill, humanity, and passion with which Rush displayed and communicated those emotions that Logue must have experienced are awe-inspiring, at least for me. Looking deeply into the actor’s face, however, so much more was to be found. Joy was there, to be sure, but tempered and tamed; a settled rest at the end of a struggle, experienced in a heart that has gone no short distance along the painful, yet valiant journey of a traumatized child crying in staccato bursts through cracks in the frightened, frustrated, stuttering façade of a man.

I am thankful to have experienced that moment in the film, to have seen the light in Logue’s face, moonlight to Bertie’s sun, from the quiet conductor of a stirring concert of speech that bolstered the confidence of thousands, sharing hope and courage from one who may have discovered those qualities in himself through the efforts of an unlikely teacher to a king – one who believed in his pupil – who had heard the still-hidden voice and knew it could sing.

Ironically, then, the most powerful message of the film was communicated entirely without words.

For stories worth retelling, for teachers with the skills and desire to bring out the best in others, for artists who possess the gift of communication, and for the incredible power of human perception, I am grateful, today.

In Gratitude

I woke this morning and drew a breath of clean, sustaining air, stood on legs that held me securely on a floor that I did not build. With eyes that still can see, I made my way down stairs with balance enough to keep from falling. I was greeted by a little dog wagging with joy to be alive, knowing no other way to be, and happy to see me. The melodies of waking birds awoke my ears, and I was able to step outside and feel cool ran drops on my skin. I have the comfort to know my family is safe and protected, as I sit in silence to read and pray. I am relatively free from pain, and I can look at life with a radiant hope because the light of God has risen in my heart, and darkness has not overcome it. I can rise, live this day, and lie down to sleep at night knowing that I am eternally loved and free, and nothing can change that. I have a purpose and a calling that is greater than my weakness and mistakes. I’m forgiven, embraced, and empowered. Pondering all of this brings me to my knees with humility and gratitude for nothing that I have done or have deserved, but for what has been done unto me in compassion, mercy and generosity. A heart so full has no choice but to sing.

2012-03-23 18.32.16

Being Present

Sometimes when you sit
close by in silence
and the still water
of you pools around
these pebbles of me
we go to a place
of most beautiful
clouds and soft sweet rain
and come back laughing
because we can cry.

IMG_0411 (Edited)

A Spring Visitation

I will hear you praying, singing

when the footfall of old man North

leaves one last frost in our fern-clad glens

and dogwoods lift a hundred praising hand pairs

to a blanket of new warm rain.

You are there, among the red oaks

bent low to listen for the rising pulse of earth,

as jonquils tune their trumpets to the sun.

Your voice comes in with a flourish,

filling chords that have been hollow since you’ve gone.

You float through every open window

as long days leave time for love and laughing,

broken bread and story bits the old ones drop

for nests of eager, wide-mouthed young.

And when I hear you lending velvet

to the slick green skin of spring

I’ll bring out the little flattened rosebud

left to hold your place between green pastures,

beside still waters,

in the house of the Lord,

forever.

2016-07-30 14.31.54