Sunflowers and Heaven

Suzette Sunflower

I am dropping in today to share a poem my Wildflowers friend, Kim B, sent with a couple of sunflower photos–shared in a post earlier this year. It’s no secret that I love sunflowers, and this poem touches why they are my favorite. They are my reminder to turn toward our true Source of light in whose presence we see and know and are seen and known.

And that will be heaven
Evangeline Patterson

and that will be heaven

and that will be heaven
at last     the first unclouded
seeing
to stand like the sunflower
turned full face to the sun     drenched
with light     in the still centre
held     while the circling planets
hum with an utter joy

    seeing and knowing
at last     in every particle
seen and known     and not turning
away
never turning away
again

The poem almost feels like an exegesis of 1 Corinthians 13:12, through which we understand our knowledge will be complete only when we meet Jesus face to face:

For now we see through a glass, darkly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; but then shall I know, even as also I am known.

May you have a weekend filled with light and sweet moments in the presence of the Divine.


About the Image: Today’s standing tall sunflower image features the photo-work of my Wildflowers friend Suzette R who captures some of the most stunning sunflower images. This photo was the “main event” of the packet of floral goodies she sent for International Women’s Day.

#ThursdayTreeLove | Late Prayer

5Trees

I drafted a rather lengthy blog post earlier today when I had energy and (a little) time for words, but the evening calls not for my words but for something different.

Late Prayer
Jane Hirshfield

Tenderness does not choose its own uses.
It goes out to everything equally,
circling rabbit and hawk.
Look: in the iron bucket,
a single nail, a single ruby –
all the heavens and hells.
They rattle in the heart and make one sound.

About the Image: Unfortunately, I have been hypersensitive to tree pollen this year, so I have not been able to spend much time in tree therapy. I pulled the image above from last year’s archive. The trees and sky greeted me as I exited a store one afternoon. Of course, I “amped” up the colors a bit to make the sky more dramatic.


I usually join Parul Thakur for #ThursdayTreeLove every second and fourth Thursday of the month. If you would like to play along, post a picture of a tree on your blog and link it back to her latest #treelove post.

Available Now! Musings from My Younger Self

Musings Available

I have been trying to find time all week to drop in and say, “I finally did it!” I finally published a collection of Musings from My Younger Self! [And the crowd goes wild]. 

April has been the “cruel, cruel” month we expected it to be, but I set a goal to release the musings by the time of my presentation at our faculty research symposium, and as I said earlier, I will not let the cruelty win. So, by the hardest and certainly by the grace of God, the book was uploaded to Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) last Sunday—two days before my presentation. I had to settle for a “pre-orders” by presentation day, but. it. was. done. by deadline!

The ebook released today and is available for purchase. The physical book should be in print by Mother’s Day, but if you’re interested in the ebook:

The book contains 170 poems in seven sections: “Muse,” “Ego-tripping,” “Friends, Forever Friends,” “Philosophies,” “Love Is or Love Ain’t,” “On a Sleepless Night,” and “Sweet Nothings.” 

I would not have done this without my son, my student assistant, and the university’s Scholarly Grant Program. The monetary support of the grant (given to accomplish creative or scholarly goals) is small, but it’s the accountability that makes the program worth it.

One important note—read the intro. It matters and makes the poems make sense. 😀

Oh, there are a whole lot more of my youthful writings to share, so of course, I’ll continue to post here on the blog and on Instagram. 

Have a happy weekend!

Reclaiming April | The Gift

gift-548296_1920

What a pleasant surprise to discover late last night another of my pieces was published in Agape Review. I wrote the poem last summer when my son and I challenged each other to write a poem using the word “gift.” It is appropriate for the theme I’ve been working with–“reclaiming April” and learning to let things go.

Find the poem here and let me know what you think: The Gift.

I love the way Michael B, one of my dearest friends (in a Facebook post), connects this poem to Resurrection Sunday and the ultimate Gift God gave in Jesus (John 3:16). May you give the gift of your worries and cares to the ultimate Gift-giver.

Happy Easter!

Flower Power | All That You Touch

Connie IWD 2023

As usual, I received such beautiful postcards for International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month. In fact, the cards are still rolling in (happy mail dance!). For the final days of March we will “glory” in a bit of flower power and womanly wisdom.

All that you touch
you change.
All that you change
changes you.
The only lasting truth
is change.
God
is change. —Octavia Butler, from the Parable of the Sower, 1993.

The spectacular postcard above came from my pen friend, Connie F. On the back of the postcard she added (in a matching orange) the International Women’s Day theme and call to action:

Embrace equity.
Don’t just say it.
Think it. Be it.
Do it. Value it.
Truly embrace it.

No excuses!

Until tomorrow…

#ThursdayTreeLove | O Sweet Spontaneous

Blossom 2023

In these parts everything is blooming–the pear blossoms, cherry blossoms, almond blossoms, dogwoods, redbuds, and more. All the blooming trees are blossoming all at once–in a glorious, spontaneous display of spring.

O Sweet Spontaneous
e.e. cummings

O sweet spontaneous
earth how often have
the
doting
             fingers of
prurient philosophers pinched
and
poked
thee
,has the naughty thumb
of science prodded
thy
        beauty      how
often have religions taken
thee upon their scraggy knees
squeezing and
buffeting thee that thou mightest conceive
gods
         (but
true
to the incomparable
couch of death thy
rhythmic
lover
             thou answerest
them only with
                              spring)

I am joining Parul Thakur for #ThursdayTreeLove every second and fourth Thursday of the month. If you would like to play along, post a picture of a tree on your blog and link it back to her latest #treelove post.

Redbuds and Enduring Grief

Redbud3

Today marks 10 years since my sister Karlette took her last breath. As I showered this morning, at about the same time I got the call, I told myself grief would not win today.

I enjoyed a beautiful church service, had dinner with my guys at one of my aunts’ homes, and took a moment to appreciate the tiny pink blossoms of the redbud tree in front of her home.

Interesting that in all these years, I had not seen the tree in bloom before. I’m certain that God led me to the pink blossoms–especially today.

I had my own notion of grief.
I thought it was the sad time
that followed the death of someone you love.
And you had to push through it
to get to the other side.
But I’m learning there is no other side.
There is no pushing through.
But rather,
there is absorption.
Adjustment.
Acceptance.
And grief is not something you complete,
but rather, you endure.
Grief is not a task to finish
and move on,
but an element of yourself,
an alteration of your being.
A new way of seeing.
A new definition of self.  –Gwen Flowers

Musings from My Younger Self | My Mother

I recently rediscovered a poem I wrote about my mom when I was a teen. Her 86th birthday is the perfect time to share it on the blog. It is a simple poem, but it captures my mom’s temperament, lovingkindness, and character.

My Mother 
Chandra Lynn (Age: 14)

Patience and kindness
make up her face-
always taking her time,
never in haste.

A loving mother of ten,
grandmother of two-
so full of love
she doesn’t know what to do.

A dedicated mother,
a faithful wife-
it’s not wonder why
she enjoys her life.

Yes, we love her
all the same.
There isn’t a thing about her
that we would change.

This past year without my dad has been incredibly difficult for my mom, but God is clearly with her–as He’s always been–walking with her, holding her, and carrying her through the storms. She remains for me a beautiful model for responding to the dramas of life. Love her to pieces!

Happy Birthday, Mama!

#WednesdayWisdom | Some Days and Sunflowers

January Sunnies1

I hope by tomorrow I can unscramble the load of words bumping against each other in my brain. For now, please enjoy the words of Ullie-Kaye. Her poem manages to capture my “some days,” which have been going on for a week or two. Thankfully, though, there were sunflowers.

some days
ullie-kaye

some days are hard. and when they are,
i allow myself to feel whatever it is
that my body asks me to feel and i respect
the time it needs to fumble and flounder
and fall a little. some days i am swallowed whole
by things too big for me to hold.
and so i set them down. i rest, knowing
that even when i cannot slay the beast,
i can lay aside my sword for a moment and
work on protecting my spirit instead.
some days my heart beats like thunder
inside of my chest. it is heavy. and loud.
and relentless. it does not listen to the
part of me that wants to silence the storm.
and so i take my eyes off of the noise and
fix them on quieter places. on music. and art.
and heaven. and trees. and i show myself
grace in the dark. even if i am shaking my
way through it. because some days i still
haven’t caught my breath from yesterday yet.


Note: You can find more of Ullie-Kaye’s work on Facebook or Instagram [click links]. You can also purchase her poems–which always seem to resonate–as 5×7 cards here: Ullie-Kaye Poetry.

The Storm

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I posted the poem above on my Musings Instagram page a few days ago. I marveled at how I sweetly captured my family’s intimate moment with a storm, and I was overcome with a flood of memories of stormy nights: the bunch of us (younger siblings) scared by loud claps of thunder piling into my parents bedroom; years later, my making a pallet on the floor in the hallway just outside their bedroom. 

I don’t mind rain, but I still hate stormy days and nights. 

The poem, written when I was 14, was tucked away in one of the folders in which I kept handwritten poem bits and drafts. Most of the poems were written between the ages of 12 and 15.

It’s funny that I knew long before becoming an English professor or even a writing student the importance of revision. I “preach” this to my students all the time—writing is revising is revising is revising. I’m not sure a work is ever in a final (that is, perfect) state. There are probably some New York Times bestselling authors who will pick up their books years later and see some things they wish they could change. 

I think I’ll have some fun with this poem and see where it takes me—not as a revision but as an adult take on the subject. Wait. Kate Chopin already did that! 😀 For a steamy “storm” story, see “The Storm” by Kate Chopin.

lightning by jplenio