Monday, November 4, 2013


Psalm 139 has been one of my favourites for a while now. I relate to it so strongly that when I am lost for words and struggling to pray for myself, the psalmist seems to speak for me.

I'd been carrying an unidentifiable burden for about a week, and a few days ago, something finally triggered a total lock-down in my spiritual system. My body didn't want to cooperate either. And of course the judging little devil-voice told me it was sin: I must have done something wrong to feel this way. So I ran to the psalms and stumbled into chapter 32.

While I kept my silence, my body wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.
Then I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not hide my iniquity;
I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,"
and you forgave the guilt of my sin.

So I confessed. I got down on my knees with my face to the ground and prayed and confessed and prayed and confessed and begged and pleaded with God to take the trash away from me. I know the categories: sins of commission, sins of omission, known, unknown. You name it. I thought I was doing a pretty good job of cleansing myself.

Of course I'd forgotten we inevitably fail in that. Nothing changed. I went back to my good ol' 139 and started reading.

Now a lot of us know lines 13 and 14:

For it was you who formed my inward parts;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made..

I mean, I've got it underlined in purple in my NRSV and all. But what caught my eye that morning was 15 and 16:

My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes beheld my unformed substance.
In your book were written all the days that were formed for me,
when none of them as yet existed.

Now I don't know what this says to you, but suddenly, I realized that I am not some flawed piece of God's creation that He was making with His hands while watching TV or something. He wasn't just practicing on me. As He made me, I was not hidden, His eyes beheld me. He observed, very carefully. And He appraised and approved every intricacy of my mind, every weave of my emotions, every line and molecule of my body.

And then you know what? He even wrote it all down before it was, just to make sure everything was perfect.

Oh look at me! Trying to fix it, trying to make sure it goes right. Dancing around in the gooey muck of my life, trying to hold it all together. And so proud of my shoddy work.

I didn't clean my life up that morning and I didn't suddenly see the light either, but I had a revelation. I am still struggling on my own strength. I don't still completely trust the man who made me. And I still have much to surrender.

I keep forgetting the latter part of 14:

Wonderful are your works;
that I know very well.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

God is breaking the box that I've been trying to put Him in.

I've tried to close Him up between a number of walls: prayer, worship music, bible reading, animated discussion and sermons. I seem to have decided I will not hear Him or see Him in any other situations, and that if I don't "feel" Him in the situations I've laid down, then something is wrong with me.

But He is breaking through that.

He is speaking to me, despite my lack of discipline. He is speaking to me through my illness. He is speaking to me in "sensible" thoughts. He is speaking to me.

He is telling me I have become religious. I have a system I've developed for myself. A system of rituals like prayer, worship, bible-study, cell and rules like not swearing, not listening to secular music and not dressing a certain way. They are drawing me away from Him because He is love and grace. And there is neither love nor grace in rituals and rules.

Sometimes, it really is about letting go. And that's why love and grace are so important. We let go, and by His grace we don't fall. We let go, and in love, we are saved.

How terrifyingly simple.
How God-like!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

We know not what we do

I lie, knees folded, my
Face to the ground
While I, knuckles clenched white
Cover my head, my
Spine exposed.

I pray,
I cry, knees folded, my
Face to the ground
While I, knuckles clenched white
Cover my head, my
Spine exposed, screaming

“Do I not hate those who hate you with a perfect hatred!?

Knees folded, my
Face to the ground
While I, knuckles clenched white
Cover my head, my
Spine exposed,
For your wrath as it flows,
River, sea, storm grows
Waves rising, reaching for the sky, scraping, screeching, screaming as
Thunder roars
Pours walls of fire
Devouring everything in its way.”

I am safe, knees folded, my
Face to the ground
While I, knuckles clenched white
Cover my head, my
Spine exposed, whispering not but
From the depths of my being

“And in the eye of the storm I will be still and know that you are God.”

And the whip
Not still, quivering dried skin
Is raised, flung
 And I, knees folded, my
Face to the ground
While I, knuckles clenched white
Cover my head, my
Spine exposed,
Grit my teeth, waiting.

And the wind
Is flicked over my back
And I shudder knowing
That I felt nothing
Because it did not fall.
On me.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Fight in Me™

Can be wrong..

When there must be struggle,
Pulling, calling, instigating.

But silence.

What bugle calls then?
What trumpet? What drum?
What sentinel on the city wall
Never resting nor taking rest
until, Lord, you establish Jerusalem?

Only pounding.

Pounding silence
in the heartbeat
turns the prophecy into silent crashing
as the walls fall down

Diamond shields underneath
Fortress of the Broken Queen
Glittering hardness

But the voice of the Lord causes the oaks to whirl,
and strips the forest bare;
and in his temple all say, ”Glory!”

Send the fire.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Promise

Twenty thousand feet above you, my children
Five a.m. and losing time
Everything is dark.

The haze is blue and grey and murky
Deep, where is anything?

But far, far away that pale strip of orange grows
Glows clearer into open blue

Only moments since it bathed us red
Deep and painful like
Coagulating blood.

Do you see? Do you see?
Do you understand?

The Son is rising on your night!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


In the deep heart of the morning is that moment of unknown
Between sleep and waking on the edge of a dream
The fragile border of transparency
Between black and white

The storm swirls and the dawn will smudge in
The sun might seem not to shine
But in the deep heart of the morning you are there
And I will hold the hope.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Soul Food

The thing you’re not going to forget about this kitchen is that it has a lot of yellow.

Not the kind of bright yellow we usually associate with kitchens, but a deeper, almost ochre shade. It says something about how she loves: happily consuming all, yet deeply, committedly.

At the table against the wall is where we sit long after meals or tea, talking, laughing, teasing, arguing. I often accidently take the old man’s wooden stool before he gets there, and he will improvise. He and the two boys are gracious in this, making allowance in their home for people who don’t have a claim.

They share space and love like the sunlight that streams in, all day long, through the window framed by white-blue-green curtains. It glitters, bouncing off the floor, lighting the place up.

In the late morning and afternoon, when there’s work being done, the place is like a factory. Sizzling, bubbling, aluminum lids tapping against pots, constant chatter and worship music on the radio.

Sometimes it gets so hot that someone must go round the back door to let the bamboo blind down on the outside. This is the only time I am glad to be barefoot, when the cool cement tiles soothe our bodies, from the soles up.

Those already passed on are missed, their padding through, mewing, zipping between the table and stool legs as they get to bowls of food against the other wall.

Funny there were never any ants in their food but always some in ours.

In the cake cooling on the stove, in the ceramic jar of sugar, in the juice, with the cookies, the chocolate. There is obviously too much sweet stuff here, tempting the ants. I keep spotting them, like the boys sometimes joke they find funny stuff in the food.

“Oh, it’s alright to eat,” she says. “I pray over it as I cook.”

The old man laughs, his voice booming, and the table erupts.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

[diary entry]


Today is the kind of day that it doesn’t matter where you are. It never matters where you are, but today is especially so.

It’s cool out, the bench is chilly, but the sun is gently laughing at the cold.

I just shook hands with Bertis Downs. If you know who that is, “Wow!” cus you’re almost as cool as me. If you had to google him, now you know how cool I am. If you’re happy not knowing, your loss.

Athens, in my last few months here, is becoming more and more exciting. I am finally doing not just what I hoped to do here, but much much more. Now, the prospect of finding work here (let alone NY or Boston) is starting to look brighter and brighter.

How fickle the little brain up there!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

In the Dark

In some distant
Neglected part of
Somebody's brain, an
Organism throbs,
Mulching fear and
Against her desire