Whom Shall We Trust?

During the season of Lent, the worship materials for the Mennonite Church suggest a more ritualized confession time, not particularly about confessing sin, but expanding it to confess what we believe. As part of the ritual, a few people each week are asked to come forward and bring their confessions in the form of a poem or a piece of art or a story or a reflection of some sort. Today, I have been asked to be part of the ritual, answering the question: “Who will trust in God today?” Here’s my poem:

Whom shall we trust?
When hurricanes and charlatans
destroy the weak?
When the meek are set
to inherit a world laid waste by greed?
When human need bats last,
long after lust for money, sex, and power?
Whom shall we trust
in this hour when so much has been lost?
When the cost seems too high
for such a simple thing
as resting in belief
that the Holy One has time
for grief about our trials and tribulations.

The pillars of the past no longer hold.
They’ve had feet of clay all along,
and wrong upon wrong upon wrong
has brought the ancient houses down.
There’s no more room here for illusion.

How, then, shall we trust?
Shall we just ignore the lancing fear
that tears our sense of safety from its moorings?
That bears us outward into territories
we’ve not known before?

Perhaps it’s not a matter
of ignoring what we face,
but rather an attempt
to place our anxious thoughts
within the context of the Greater Power.

I will put my trust in Mystery,
in that ineffable presence we call God,
in the Knowable Unknowing,
and in the One
who put on shoes like us
and trod the roads we walk,
and spoke as one who knew
the course of human suffering.
I’ll trust us to the Holy Wind of Spirit,
who hears our songs and knows our fears,
who causes us to rise, though we resist;
in our resistance fills our sails,
the wind that pulls against the kite
and makes us rise to higher height.

Perhaps nothing can be truly known,
no comfortable future gardens
sown with seeds of certainty.
But we can trust the certainty of seed,
the trusty breeze of Spirit
and the rains of the Creator
on these fields we bear within us.

Gratitude List:
1. The Little Sisters buzzing for pollen among the crocus and anemones
2. A fun afternoon of pond play yesterday with my kid
3. This man who makes the most amazing birthday cakes
4. The opportunities for my soon-to-be-teenager to learn to do the tech things he loves
5. Summer break is on its way

May we walk in Beauty!

Into the Dark, December 13

Every year at this time, I feel the anxiety and restlessness begin to rise within me, and the cold settles into my bones. Every year, I need to consciously ease my spirit into the season. This year, from the beginning of December until Epiphany, I will set it down here on the blog. May we journey into the darkness with intention and tenderness.

Today, one of my best beloveds is having surgery on his heart. I cling to words like “routine” and “basic procedure” although I know that anything involving that particular mass of muscle is anything but simple routine. Still, I trust that there will indeed be something normal and uncomplicated about it all, that my beloved one will come through this fine and healthy and as twinkly-eyed as ever. 

Trust seems to be my word of the day. Trust in the uncertainty and unknowing. Trust in the medical folks, in the procedures, in the body’s ability to respond and heal. Trust in time and spirit and the doctor’s good, good hands.

Such an Advent moment, these coming hours of uncertainty. Waiting. Praying. Focusing my heart. Trusting. Today, the words of Julian of Norwich will accompany me: “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.” 

Gratitude List:
1. The doctors and nurses and medical staff who are tending to one I love.
2. The heart. 
3. St. Lucia Day. We carry the light.
4. Tenacity
5. Small, busy birds

May we walk in Beauty!

“Everything is holy now.” —Peter Mayer

“I too have felt despair many times in my life, but I do not keep a chair for it.” —Clarissa Pinkola Estes

“The only door out is the door in.” —George MacDonald (Lilith)


My daughter
wouldn’t hurt a spider
That had nested
Between her bicycle handles
For two weeks
She waited
Until it left of its own accord

If you tear down the web I said
It will simply know
This isn’t a place to call home
And you’d get to go biking

She said that’s how others
Become refugees isn’t it?

Terry Tempest Williams (from Red: On Passion and Patience in the Desert): “I write to make peace with the things I cannot control. I write to create red in a world that often appears black and white. I write to discover. I write to uncover. I write to meet my ghosts. I write to begin a dialogue. I write to imagine things differently and in imagining things differently perhaps the world will change. I write to honor beauty. I write to correspond with my friends. I write as a daily act of improvisation. I write because it creates my composure. I write against power and for democracy. I write myself out of my nightmares and into my dreams. I write in a solitude born out of community. I write to the questions that shatter my sleep. I write to the answers that keep me complacent. I write to remember. I write to forget,,,, I write because I believe in words. I write because I do not believe in words. I write because it is a dance with paradox. I write because you can play on the page like a child left alone in sand. I write because it belongs to the force of the moon: high tide, low tide. I write because it is the way I take long walks. I write as a bow to wilderness. I write because I believe it can create a path in darkness…. I write because I am not employable. I write out of my inconsistencies. I write because then I do not have to speak. I write with the colors of memory. I write as a witness to what I have seen. I write as a witness to what I imagine….I write because it is dangerous, a bloody risk, like love, to form the words, to say the words, to touch the source, to be touched, to reveal how vulnerable we are, how transient we are. I write as though I am whispering in the ear of the one I love.”


That’s today’s prompt: swing.  I think I will try a lai with this one.  Nine lines, aabaabaab rhyme scheme, and the a lines are 5 syllables, while the b lines are 2.

I need you to know
how strong you will grow.
This thing
cannot keep you low,
will not stop your flow.
You’ll swing
while the wild winds blow,
you’ll pass to and fro
and sing.

I wanted to write a longer and more in-depth piece to someone, about unconditional love and being deserving of love, but this will hold the place for that, and hopefully say a little of what I want to get across.


Gratitude List:
1. Being trusted
2. Trusting
3. Safe places
4. Glory clouds
5. Forsythia, forsythia, forsythia

Take my hand.  May we walk in Beauty.

The Social Contract

How can I trust that you are who you say you are?
How can you know I am who I represent myself to be?
Don’t we all have several selves that we show to the world?
Aren’t we allowed a few secrets?

Sometimes in my life I have felt the burden of social expectation, the claustrophobia of sitting in a box not of my own making, because people expect certain behavior from my particular subsets.  I carry so many labels, as you do, and they can become burdensome.  There are expectations for the Mennonite Girl, the Missionary Kid, the Wife, the Mother, the Teacher, the Organic Farmer.  In some of my earlier decades, as I was wrangling my own vision of myownself from all these labels, I deliberately set out to break the rules, to be an iconoclast about the boxes that threatened to silence me.  I think I’ve been a late bloomer, only really starting to realize somewhere in my 40s that I don’t need to be the box and I don’t need to explain the box, and I don’t need to break the box.  I just need to live who I am and let people figure it out the best they can.

But there’s another side to this idea of the social contract, a good side, a really redeeming side.  While I don’t want you to assume that I am a certain person based on the many labels that mark me, I DO want you and I to both be able to make certain assumptions about each other, to be able to trust that unwritten social contract.  I want us to believe that the other one will do her best to keep her promises.  I want us to be able to assume that each other’s children are cared for as lovingly in private as they are in public, that we’re true to our spouses and partners, that we’re not playing fast and loose with people’s hearts, that we’re people of honor and faithfulness.

Yes, you need your personal private space, and I need some secrets of my own.  Yes, I am a slightly meaner parent in private than in public–sometimes.  Yes, I may hope that you think of me as an adventurous spirit even though my adventures are mostly vicarious, through the medium of novels that I read.  Yes, I sometimes feel like I am enacting some sort of con when I call myself a poet.

If you are a pious and thoughtful spiritual person, I promise not to be shocked by the tattoo of a dragon on your back.  If you are someone who speaks kindly and lovingly in public settings, I promise not to gasp when you get a little snarky in a moment of rant. Let’s give each other a little leeway.

Still.  I hope we can balance that kind of looseness in our social contract with some higher ideals.  Let’s expect of each other that we will be kind to our children and the other people and animals who share our space.  Let’s expect fidelity of each other, in friendship, in love and marriage and partnership, in our work.  Let’s expect each other to be honorable.  I know that I will likely fail your trust in some of the little things, as you may fail mine.  But holding each other to the basic principles of honor and fidelity and kindness seems to be the heart of the social contract.

If we want our words to have power and meaning, then I think that actions and aspect, words and behavior, need to rhyme in some way.  If I can’t keep true to who I say I am, I let all my personal power leak away.  If we lie to each other, we decrease our ability to be effective in the world.

Gratitude List:
1.  Good friends.  True and wise and faithful friends.
2.  Boundaries
3.  Iron ore and magnets
4.  Concentric circles
5.  Trust

May we walk in Beauty.