Siloam. We can’t see through the tears. Prayer poem for those affected in Conneticut.

Siloam

 

Lay these tears

over each other.

 

Let them roll

and fall on down

like a five year old.

 

May they collect

and form a pool of Siloam

while we wait for angels to stir.

 

Lay these tears

over each other.

 

Let them magnify

our crippled hearts

in the reflection.

 

May Jesus help

us into the salt water

of our own weeping.

A Wail of a Good Time. The Breathe Writer’s Conference

Really? …Yup. I just returned from a day and a half of getting doused with like minded introverts. Writers. The 2102 Breathe Writer’s conference reminded me again that any story worth paying attention to has conflict in it. In fact, no conflict, no story. While listening to plot points and points of view I found a pointed question on the fringe of it. It started as a whisper. “You are disappointed with me aren’t you?” We asked the question simultaneously. The finger pointing ensued in the middle of a Christian writer’s conference between God and me.

Talk about conflict. Yes, I was disappointed with God. I reminded God about when I made a delivery a few weeks back and I looked up and said, “It’s not your fault.” I didn’t blame God then and yet I slouched and pouted through the first few sessions of “Breathe.” I grumbled under my breath. Leave me alone. I don’t want to talk about it. Why can’t we just go our separate ways? I’ll just hide behind this gift of writing you gave me and I will go back to talking about you. You know; that non-engaged talking head thing that Christians have a knack for. I will sip on glasses of whine in the privacy of my own privacy and when the headache wears off mid-mourning I will prostitute this writing thing again. I will use this gift as a pontificate pacifier and suck on it.

“Really?”

“No,” I said, “Maybe I’ll just hang up the keyboard.”

“Are you really trying to manipulate me? That saddens me, but it is your choice. That is why it is a gift. I gave it to you, no strings attached. Whether you write or not I haven’t changed my mind about you.”

I was afraid to ask God what was on his mind concerning me. It was 2:00a.m. and a friend suggested getting my Bible out. So I sat on the toilet, lid down, and headed for the Psalms. Psalm 42 always comes to my mind first. The ultimate answer of 42 from the movie The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy had some sway I suppose. But I didn’t feel like a deer panting after God. So I jumped back a few Psalms.

“Take a deep breath, God; calm down—

don’t be so hasty with your punishing rod.

Your sharp-pointed arrows of rebuke draw blood;

my backside smarts from your caning.

 

I’ve lost twenty pounds in two months

because of your accusation.

my bones are brittle as dry sticks

because of my sin.

I’m swamped by my bad behavior,

collapsed under gunnysacks of guilt.

 

The cuts in my flesh stink and grow maggots

because I’ve lived so badly.

And now I’m flat on my face

feeling sorry for myself morning to night.

All my insides are on fire,

my body is a wreck.

I’m on my last legs; I’ve had it—

my life is a vomit of groans.

 

Lord, my longings are sitting in plain sight,

my groans an old story to you.

My heart’s about to break;

I’m a burned-out case.

Cataracts blind me to God and good;

Psalm 38 The Message

I swallowed the words like dry wine over a parched tongue. Out of my arid soul poured tears. First a pat pat like raindrops on sun baked asphalt, with steam rising above each landing. Then the deluge unleashed, with stifled groans because my bunk mate was sleeping. It was a good wail which took a good while. Sitting on top of the toilet lid my system was flushed. I felt like God was sitting next to me on the side of the tub rubbing my back and crying too. Jesus wept.

There was a full day of conference left and with the cataracts removed, the eyes of my heart were open to see God again.

It started with a devotional by Elizabeth Stickney which was sprinkled throughout with poetry. Words sifted down to their essence handed to me just the way I like them. God was on the give. He always is, but I was graced again to receive with a grateful heart.

Elizabeth ended with one of my favorite movie quotes. It was from the movie Chariots of Fire. Before she uttered a word I knew exactly what the words would be and my heart started weeping again.

Eric Liddell’s sister was concerned that his passion for running would take him away from God’s calling to the mission field. He answered her concern.

“God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast, and when I run I feel his pleasure.”

I bought Elizabeth Stickney’s book which she co-authored with Gary D. Schmidt

entitled Acceptable Words, Prayers for the Writer. She signed it with the words “So that when you write you will feel God’s pleasure.”

God let me know throughout the rest of the day how he felt about me. God wasn’t disappointed with me. My friends weren’t either. They told me I am a writer, and I will continue to run with that.

What about you? Do you have a passion or a dream which if you pursued you would find God’s pleasure in?

 

The Way I See Sometimes. It Ain’t Pretty.

I misplaced my rose colored glasses.

The world is in a hand basket on its way somewhere.

The world is all that it is cracked up to be.

Cracks, cracks, cracks, and the humans are racing

to tape and mud and sand and prime.

 

He’s got the whole world in his hands

and I wonder if it is getting a little too heavy.

God so loved that an only Son came

to carry the weight on his shoulders.

It broke both of their backs along with their hearts.

 

At times all I can see is from Solomon’s perspective.

Oh, I am not wise. I am not even that smart.

If you will please open your Bible to the book of Ecclesiastes (Insert preacher voice)

you will see it is not a song of Solomon.

It almost sounds like a solemn dirge though.

 

I think maybe Solomon, for a moment misplaced his glasses too.

All that talk about vanity and vexation.

“To everything there is a season,

a time for every purpose under heaven.”

It is under heaven alright, because the list gets heavy.

 

Death isn’t rosy.

Pluck is a take away.

Thou shall not kill.

We all have our breakdowns.

Even Jesus wept.

Mourn.

Casting stones.

No hugs.

Loss.

Throwing away.

Tearing, rending.

Shhhh.

Hate? Really?

War. What is it good for?

 

Okay, okay, those are only the dark seasons.

Did you forget that my Elton John rose colored specks is missing?

Maybe I should have my U.V. shades on anyway under all this sun;

The kind people wear to funerals dressed like men in black.

 

If all I see is reactive attachment why would I want a clear view, really.

If all I observe is moral breakdown and despair, reserve me a padded room.

If all I blankly stare at is dis-ease and patients while I put a compress on compassion, please forgive me.

If all I look upon are sacred hearts broken beneath a cross, go hug your mother while you can.

 

It’s all under the sun and it is vexing.

Faith, hope, and love are naked without sunscreen.

Without Son glasses I squint and see men walking about like trees.

I Picked Up My Mom. The last time was a month ago.

She was in a thick Tupperware like container.  Black.  The black box.  I thought of the NTSB.  Was this the size of the unit found after an accident?  If I were to plug it in would it give the reasons surrounding her death?

I reached to pull her out of the funeral home gift bag.  There was no crinkly paper sticking out of the top.   How heavy are ashes?  The box was heavier than I imagined. The thought must have been the influence of too many movies.  I remember scenes where ashes were dusted on gardens, into oceans, and over cliffs where particles spread in the breeze.  It took both my hands to lift her.

In the end a full hug embrace helped her stand.  I felt bones under her skin.  Now she was contained.  Were these the remnants of the skeletal frame which was once upon in time?

Marge asked me how I was “doing.”

The black box sat between us like a punctuation mark.

I asked Marge how she was “doing.”

She showed me the giraffe material.  It was the spotty skin of a giraffe like the spots I counted on my mother’s arm.  Her ashes would be poured into cloth skin.  No Tupperware.

I thought of all the tears.  It was a small room that couldn’t contain them.  Now, a month later, I regret not sealing those drops in Tupperware. They have since evaporated.  Oh, to pour them in over top of my mother’s remains.  All our salt water sprinkled to help preserve her memory a bit longer.

 

“You have seen me tossing and turning through the night.  You have collected all my tears and preserved them in your bottle! You have recorded every one in your book.”  Psalm 56:8  The Living Bible.

“Sorrow, like the river, must be given vent lest it erode its bank.”  Earl A. Grollman

 

Monday Mourning, After the Sun Went Down.

It is another Monday.

Most of the out-of-towners

have gone back to their life.

 

My son and I watched

a blood orange sun

disappear beyond the edge

of the earth.

Near the end

it appeared bigger

and sunk faster.

 

It was like the death

of my mother.

At the end we stared.

We counted her

freckles and wrinkles

and the rise and fall of her chest.

 

At the time it seemed like eternity,

but now the memory is a short journal entry.

It is like taking out a granite tablet

and jotting down her life in a sentence.

 

The beauty was fleeting

and we wanted to touch it.

There was once a big moon

as big as a get-well balloon.

There was a big sun

as big as a farewell.

 

© Gerald Allen Barrett and parentheticallyspeakingin3d, 2012.

It Is A Quiet Mourning

It is a quiet mourning.  Even the words stopped their breathing.  The hospice nurse kept checking her fingers.  They were bluing.  The fever, that was making a last ditch effort to rescue her body, broke.  When I laid my hand on hers it was cooling.

My baby sister held that hand a few days ago.  She and her mom agreed it was comforting and then tears.  She was my mom too, but at that moment she and her were they.

“We are the you and I who were they whom we remember.”  Wendell Berry

Ellen, my older sister read that aloud.  It is a sentence which requires more than one reading.  Its truth applies not just to Wendell’s decades love for his wife, but it applies to any long term relationship.  I witnessed this truth over and over again.  My siblings would all rotate around my mother’s bed and it would echo a book from younger years.  “Just Me and My Mom.”

It was grace upon grace.  We knew when to let another into the country chair with the cushion.   We took turns to sit close enough to count the freckles on her arm.  There was no positioning, no “saving a seat”, no arguing over whose turn it was to ride “shotgun”.  It was grace on grace.  Our mom became my mom to each of us.

Our Mom moments are tucked into the breast pocket of our hearts.  No longer is there a seat close enough to catch her breath.  We will “sit still” as she so often sternly said.  We will sit still with each other now.

 

For my siblings as we process the next days, weeks, and months.

 

© Gerald Allen Barrett and parentheticallyspeakingin3d, 2012.

Sunday Rest

The sun yawned it’s roundness.

The cardinals sung unto the Lord,

and the stars faded into the brighter blues.

Another dark night of the soul receded.

 

She lies sipping on air

and rolls ice chips with her tongue.

A foot tapping and arm twitch

under linen veneer.

 

She, in her bed,

can’t even get up on the wrong side.

But she whispers sweet everythings

in our ears.

 

She sleeps in pieces

and heavenly peace will come.

Time stutters and mumbles

while we circle her.

 

The waiting room cools

as the mourning star moves over.

Evening vespers settle in

and we tuck her in again.

 

 

For My Mother.

 

© Gerald Allen Barrett and parentheticallyspeakingin3d, 2012.