Dark | Sit with It

Sunflower from Arizona

I am sharing a piece I wrote just a few moments ago during a writing circle session. I chose the prompt “I wish” for the group, hoping that a fanciful tale of unicorn dreams and butterfly wishes would fall from my pen. Instead, after being unable to write about my feelings for weeks, this spilled out:

I wish I could take this darkness that has settled into my being over the last few weeks and kick it straight into oblivion, into the abyss from which it sprung. It has robbed me of sleep. It has taken my calm. It has driven me to consuming way too much chocolate and to long-overcome habits of rolling my eyes and sucking my teeth and impatience with the world. It has made me so unlike me. I wish I could pull myself up to dance on clouds and sing on rooftops and never, ever apologize for being too joyful. I wish God would release me from the grips of darkness. I wish He hadn’t invited me to let it steep. To let it all rise to the surface—the grief and vile feelings, the suppressed hurt and trauma that I have stuffed too far down because I don’t have the energy or capacity to deal. I wish I didn’t have to confront the darkness. I wish I didn’t have to do the hard work of grappling with it and wrestling with it. We know Light wins. Light always wins, so why not skip the drama and just win already? Ugh! I wish I didn’t have to sit with the darkness, especially when just a flicker of His light is enough.


About the Image: My sunflower-loving, Wildflowers: Blooming in Community friend, Jamise L, sent the beautiful photo-card to me shortly after my father’s passing. Having lost her own father five years ago, she is well-acquainted with the journey. Her note offered comfort, love, and a shoulder to lean on. Thanks for the sunshine, Jamise!

My Golden Reminder to #facethesun

Golden Hour 1-B

Today is the fourth anniversary of my sister Lori’s passing, so, predictably, I woke up in the grips of sadness. I wanted to spend the day in quiet contemplation, perhaps, dreaming in purple, but Monday means necessary work. I was not exactly looking forward to a long “working meeting” day and wondered how in the world I would get through, but God reminded me that work is sacred and that as long as I continued “working for Him,” He would do His part in helping me feel safe, focused, and strong enough to get through. 

After a gloomy weekend, the sun is shining brightly, an invitation for me to glow in the moment. I am thankful for this moment. Though grieving the loss, I am grateful for Lori’s beautiful life.

I crafted the sunflower in today’s post for the Week 36: Golden Hour prompt for 52Frames. Unable to find a good “golden hour” to shoot in, I spent a figurative golden hour with this sunflower. It is just the image I need to have in my mind–a sunny reminder to change my focus or #facethesun [the Son of God] when I encounter the unpleasant moments of life.

Musings from My Younger Self | Crucified

Cross-3 wm

Today, I am sharing two short poems, both written when I was 16. The common thread is their reference to Christ and the crucifixion. One is written from the perspective of a witness to the crucifixion; the other underscores how we participate in his crucifixion over and over again. 

I Remember
Chandra Lynn
(Age: 16)

I remember His face and His questioning eyes.
I remember the tear stains that streaked His face.
I remember the last words which He uttered.
I remember Him lowering His head to die.

Crucified, My Lord
Chandra Lynn (Age: 16)

The blood that spilled from His side
and from His piercéd hands
was more agonizing
than it was the first time—
I’d crucified Him again.

I don’t remember the context of my writing “Crucified,” but I do recall that “I Remember” was written for a creative writing class my junior year in high school. The assignment was to write a short poem, in which each line began with the words, “I Remember.” 

Be sure to tune in tomorrow. I’ll share one more “musing from my younger self” before moving to another topic in my effort to post every day leading to my blogiversary.

Ciao!

Sunny Blossoms | The Ultimate Kindness

“Kindness” by Martha S.

Today’s Kindness blossom came from my pen friend, Martha S. She painted the sunflower [with a nod to the Ukraine] for International Women’s Day/Women’s History Month. It was refreshing to see a card that simply reminded us of kindness. 

If we think about it, it all comes down to that. Doesn’t it? If we were more compassionate and thought as highly of others as we think of ourselves, women’s rights wouldn’t need to be a thing!

I know that sounds simplistic. Social structures/constructions are complex, and for some reason, humans have an almost innate suspicion of those who are not like them; furthermore, in many cultures, men have been conditioned to see women as inferior to them. These attitudes seem to be at the root of all unkindness—even in our “smaller” interpersonal interactions.

I wish I could pinpoint the moment where [some] men decided that women were inferior to men. Some point to Eve’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden or Scripture in general, but the argument is not supported in Scripture. What Scripture does uphold is that we are created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27); we are part of a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9); and God desires an abundant life for all of us (John 10:10b). And, the best part–His mercy, grace, and salvation are available to all!

That is the ultimate kindness. 

Seven Favorites from World Watercolor Month | Magnolias and Faith

Watercolor 20-2022

World Watercolor Month 2022, Day 20 (July 20, 2022)

Always pray
to have eyes that
see the best in people,
a heart that forgives the worst,
a mind that forgets the bad,
and a heart that never loses faith
in God


The words are from a plaque given to all University employees [this week] by the chaplains to display in our offices–a daily reminder to pay attention, know that everyone has a story, and exercise compassion.

Sorrow | Lessons from Grief

Butterfly-2 wmLoss and grief are inevitable parts of life. We know this, but that doesn’t make it easier to manage. In fact, the inevitable is often a source of anxiety for some. Despite how ab-so-lute-ly awful it is, grief teaches us many lessons about life, love, and ourselves. Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned.

  1. Love is more powerful than we can ever find words for or even imagine. We continue loving long after the person is gone.
  2. Grief is a journey for one. Others may grieve the loss of the same person, but not the same loss. Every loss is personal and the journey to healing individual.
  3. There is no “getting over” a loss, but eventually the wound will heal. As with all wounds, there will be scars.
  4. Grief stays with us. It morphs and shape-shifts until it settles into our beings.
  5. Eventually, we learn to live with grief, but our hearts may never stop aching.
  6. The gaping, person-sized hole inside never gets filled. We miss the person for the rest of our days on earth, but mingled with the pain will be fond memories and laughter.
  7. It is important that we find space to express ourselves and talk about our loved ones.
  8. We should never apologize for grieving, even if it makes others uncomfortable.
  9. The Divine draws closer to us when we grieve (Psalm 34:18).
  10. We learn how to sit in the dark and still believe in Light.

What lessons have you learned from grief?

Photo Poem | A Blazing Light

Light2 wm

I opened Facebook this afternoon to find a suggested post featuring Jeff Foster’s poem, “How I Became a Warrior.” I loved it instantly. It felt like an expanded version of Emily Dickinson’s “Pain Has an Element of Blank” (Poem 19). Whereas her poem speaks of the all-consuming nature of pain, Foster’s shows us how to embrace and move past pain, trauma, and darkness to get to the other side. His poem points the way toward Light. Foster and I probably have different definitions of Light [or the Source of Light], but that is the beauty of reading poetry. The author isn’t the only one who creates meaning. 

I integrated the last seven lines in the photo-art above. The full poem is below. I hope it fills your soul…

How I Became a Warrior
Jeff Foster

Once, I ran from fear
so fear controlled me.
Until I learned to hold fear like a newborn.
Listen to it, but not give in.
Honour it, but not worship it.
Fear could not stop me anymore.
I walked with courage into the storm.
I still have fear,
but it does not have me.

Once, I was ashamed of who I was.
I invited shame into my heart.
I let it burn.
It told me, “I am only trying
to protect your vulnerability”.
I thanked shame dearly,
and stepped into life anyway,
unashamed, with shame as a lover.

Once, I had great sadness
buried deep inside.
I invited it to come out and play.
I wept oceans. My tear ducts ran dry.
And I found joy right there.
Right at the core of my sorrow.
It was heartbreak that taught me how to love.

Once, I had anxiety.
A mind that wouldn’t stop.
Thoughts that wouldn’t be silent.
So I stopped trying to silence them.
And I dropped out of the mind,
and into the Earth.
Into the mud.
Where I was held strong
like a tree, unshakeable, safe.

Once, anger burned in the depths.
I called anger into the light of myself.
I felt its shocking power.
I let my heart pound and my blood boil.
Listened to it, finally.
And it screamed, “Respect yourself fiercely now!”.
“Speak your truth with passion!”.
“Say no when you mean no!”.
“Walk your path with courage!”.
“Let no one speak for you!”
Anger became an honest friend.
A truthful guide.
A beautiful wild child.

Once, loneliness cut deep.
I tried to distract and numb myself.
Ran to people and places and things.
Even pretended I was “happy”.
But soon I could not run anymore.
And I tumbled into the heart of loneliness.
And I died and was reborn
into an exquisite solitude and stillness.
That connected me to all things.
So I was not lonely, but alone with All Life.
My heart One with all other hearts.

Once, I ran from difficult feelings.
Now, they are my advisors, confidants, friends,
and they all have a home in me,
and they all belong and have dignity.
I am sensitive, soft, fragile,
my arms wrapped around all my inner children.
And in my sensitivity, power.
In my fragility, an unshakeable Presence.

In the depths of my wounds,
in what I had named “darkness”,
I found a blazing Light
that guides me now in battle.

I became a warrior
when I turned towards myself.

And started listening.

NPM | Black and White | Eternity

orchid everything beautiful

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. —Ecclesiastes 3:11

Ecclesiastes 3:11 is one of the most beautiful verses of Scripture to me. On the heels of the popular “To Everything There Is a Season” poem of the first eight verses of Ecclesiastes 3, this verse reminds us that everything serves an ultimate purpose and happens when it should.

I’ve spent many days wrestling with God over the the whys and why nots, so I understand this knowledge is not always comforting, especially when we face horrific circumstances. The last part of the verse acknowledges this limitation of our humanity—our inability to comprehend God’s ways–and gets us off the hook of trying to explain the unfathomable. We need only trust His providence, long-range divine vision, and Sovereignty. 

I find the middle of this Bible verse most potent. God has set eternity in our hearts. This explains our thirst for water from an unearthly well. For we were never meant to have all our yearnings satiated in this life. We were created in the image of God, created to commune with Him “in the garden,” and, therefore, with the innate desire to spend “our always” with Him.