Tag Archives: hope

Reflections on Volunteering at a Homeless Shelter

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dull plop
of
hard crusts
and mashed pasta
spooned onto
cold pastels of
plastic trays
white plastic spoon
white plastic fork
pale hands
with smooth skin
perfectly filed
fingernails
trembling
smiles
pass the hard tray
out the
window
bitterness,
gratitude,
fear,
loneliness
in tired eyes

children
thin bodies
thread bare
flannels
faded
jeans
rough hands
big smiles
large hearts
tight hugs
but
tired eyes
I hold you
in my lap
I smile large
laugh loud
but inside
I cry
and so do you
we try to be strong
for each other—
the world
if only
I could hold you
forever
but impossibility of humanity
prevents it

so instead
I whisper sweet words of
Jesus
in your ear
and
sing you happy songs
and hold you
for this moment

 

My Love

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I tell them of you, my love
of your beauty which haunts my dreams
of your warmth which awakens my possibilities

I try to describe how I first fell in love with you
how we met in a crowded city
filled with a thousand new memories
and how, in a moment,
you touched me
and your fingerprints have forever been
tattooed on my heart

words tumble from my lips
searching to describe your children
stunning, intelligent, loving, hopeful
with those deep, brown eyes which hypnotize me

I tell them how I am coming to live with you
packing everything I can fit in a few battered suitcases
flying halfway around this spinning planet
to share life with you
because I love you
because I love the God who led me to you

I speak all of this, my love
with all the joy and compassion and love in my heart

And often they smile at me
wish me well
but secretly they wonder

how I could love you
how I could hold you dear
and wish for a life with you

And it pains me to tell you this,
but too often their minds have been clouded by perceptions they have been given of you
by so many others who have not known you as I have
they have learned to mistrust you
to hold you at arms length
sometimes to hate you,
but always to fear you

And they fear for me—
for my life with you
they are afraid that instead of cherishing me
you will hurt me
leave me lonely or in pain

But do not fear, my love
still I will come to you.
For once, many years ago
I feared you too
but some divinely ordained plan took me to you
and once I had met you,
looked into your heart
I fell hopelessly in love
and I learned how wrong all my prejudices had been
and I hold out hope for the day when they too
will share my love

 

The Hourglass

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My job is simple
I wake up and grab a spoon
after downing my shredded wheat
I wipe the spoon clean
and step outside
in front of me is an expanse of sand
I bend down
dig in my spoon
and gather it up
moving it to the giant
hourglass
behind my house
one teaspoon at a time
I move an ocean of sand
months on end
I pour into the hourglass
Until one day it is full
and the god I have constructed
knocks it over
and points to a new timepiece
and I grab my spoon
and begin my journey once more

But at night when the rain clinks on my roof
I look out and I wonder
What if this dry, grainy mission
was my own invention?
And I dream of a God who calls me to
Play with him on the beach
Instead of hauling sand all day
And I wonder if there’s more truth
in my dream than my reality.

 

Return

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Please.
Tell me there’s more than this,
that there’s hope for me.

I’ve been poured in concrete,
no matter how I struggle
I’m still in the same place
longing for you
waiting to see your face again
but the distance is dissolving my memory of you,
and I find myself trapped in this endless moment
clinging to wisps of smoke from your fire
longing for the passion which once filled me

I’m holding onto trinkets
symbols which are cheapened without your presence
and I feel cheap
hoping like this—
waiting for you,
knowing I’m powerless to
conjure up your love
like a witch doctor who has found out the utter
uselessness of my spells,
yet still reciting them
longing for the magic to
return.

Wide Open Spaces

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wide open spaces
in my soul

walking through an
aisle of trees
on a path of stone
you could catch a
glimpse of my naked soul

laying my Isaac on the altar
of sacrifice
weeping for my
hopes, dreams, plans
I was giving to God.
and then feeling so
empty
of me
filling the
wide open spaces
in my soul
with Him.

and then He gave me
my Isaac back

why is it that
after my mountain-top experience
I keep falling back into the
slimy ditches of this life
cluttered by all these
pieces of me
I’d rather lose

how do I get back to
Yahweh
His plan
my desire
wide open spaces in my soul

 

Living Without

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we’d been living without
hope
faded away like the mists that cloaked Eden’s garden
that day paradise evaporated, we buried hope
hid it in the darkest cave
in the pursuit of survival

and then he entered our wilderness
journeyed with us through our desert
and we began to dig
to retrieve that forgotten treasure
hope tiptoed into our vision
began to color our world
and then, like a cheating fox
it snuck into our souls

that dark Friday
they nailed up a man
but we knew it was our hope
hanging on that cross beam
we wept as despair crawled back into our souls
and we took it down
and buried hope that day
convinced we’d never have the courage to retrieve it again
we locked it up
walked away

until we heard it creeping up behind us
wrapping its warm arms around us
filling every place of fear and emptiness inside us
and we were lost
in the mystery of it all
how hope climbed out of that grave
and relentlessly stalked us down
captivated us with the sense that it would never leave again
never again hide in the ground

Dreams For Your Children

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I dream of you
with your round, brown eyes
which are always
looking past the sand in your hands
I wish you could focus
on the well in your midst.

I dream of your children
embracing life with both hands
running
with the eagerness & trust of children
towards a peace you can’t
(buy)
(create)
IMAGINE

I dream of your
freedom
when you learn of a love that
overcomes all you’ve been
(lied to)
taught.

You, my sisters and brothers,
may not now see what I see
but I will dream it for you.

 

Metamorphosis

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two dimpled knees bend unsteadily
while the space between her small body and the dirty sand decreases
her hand reaches out and tentatively brushes the strand of pale hair away from her face
it moves to the pile of pebbles at her left
unsteadily it closes the tiny fingers around a shiny stone
cautiously she balances her weight as she sends the smooth gray object into the vast expanse of water
concentric circles form in the clear pool
fascinated, her perfect hands clap in delight
and in another world:
a beautiful lady gracefully brings her hands to this same pool
their delicate fingers forming a perfect  cup
as her neck slowly bends to accommodate her sleep-swollen lips
they earnestly find the sweet water
and somehow the clear substance fulfills a deep need
slowly the corners of her beautiful mouth rise forming a smile
and in another world:
two figures are running across the land
finding the way to this  same pond by following the drumbeats of their hearts
and while socks and hastily tied shoes come off, the tinkling of soft laughter vibrates through the valley
and the mother and child splash their feet in the cool water and  raise their confident voices to heaven
in resounding thanks
and in another world:
a black-clad girl makes her way to the pond
her bruised feet climb the rocks above the pool
and as she sits on the hard mass of granite she clutches a black urn which is absorbing the tears that fall from her face
and as she reaches her hand into the jar and sets the ashes free on the water,
she sings the song her mother taught her
the song her mother sang when her two dimpled knees bent unsteadily

 

Hunger Games, Nanny Diaries, and a Father’s Love

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Tonight I enjoyed an awesome girls night watching The Hunger Games.  We tried to go last night at midnight, but apparently even in a small town like Fredericksburg, all ten showings were sold out days in advance.  One person in our group hadn’t read the book, so everything was fresh for her.  Afterwards I asked her what she thought and she told me that she wasn’t too emotional until the famous scene with Rue and Katniss.  (Just in case any of you haven’t read the book or watched the movie yet, I’ll leave out which scene.  But for those of you that have, you’ll know what I’m talking about.) Anyway, she told me that when it got to that scene she was OK until she looked over at me and thought about me and my kids.  (As I affectionately call all the children who I am blessed to minister to.)  What would I do if it were one of my kids?

It is a really powerful thought– what would you do to protect the kids that you love?  I remember a time when I was working as a nanny.  Little Zach, who was about two and a half, was supposed to be taking a nap.  But he didn’t want to sleep–there were monsters lurking in his closet.  Or maybe he just wanted to play, and the monsters were his fall guys.  At any rate, I lay down next to him and began to sing him lullabies until he fell asleep.  And as he lay there, curled in my arms, I realized just how powerfully I loved him.  I thought about all those mothers whose baby boys were taken from them and slaughtered back in Egypt at the time of Moses’ birth and again in Palestine at Jesus’ birth.  What would I do if someone broke down my door demanding Zach?  All my strongly held pacifist beliefs were getting a run for their money.

And I wonder, what if that same fierce, protective love is the way my Heavenly Father feels about me?  About all of us.  Surely my love for Zach is not stronger than the Father’s love for him . . . or for me–as baffling and hard to believe as that may be.

So today, for Poetry Friday, I offer up this poem for everyone who offers a fierce love to their children.  Whether as a parent, a pastor, a nanny, or a Father.  And I offer this poem to all the children in our world — may you always be aware that there is someone who fiercely loves you.

 

I Hold You

I hold you
sweet child
in my arms
I hold you
whispering lullabies
in your ear
I hold you
in my steady arm
fighting off
the monsters that lurk
in your nighttime

Fear not
sweet child
in my arms
Fear not
I watch over you
wreathing flowers
in your hair
Fear not
you are not alone
in the shadows of this pain

Take heart
sweet child
in my arms
Take heart
I cradle you
singing peace
into your soul
Take heart
there is a hope
stronger than fear

Fly away
sweet child
in my arms
Fly away
you are secure
in my embrace
which breathes new life
into your brokenness
Fly away
into the freedom
that breaks all chains
and births creation anew