Life after Forty

Posted on Mar 25, 2016 in In My Words

  Ahead of  me on the journey by a decade, friend, mentor and often guide Marchiene Rienstra told me the other day about an insight that came to her on one of her morning walks in Sedona.  May this poem honor her insight, a way of passing it forward.     Life after Forty That year I turned forty you turned sixteen, beginning to show the curves of a womanly body, turning heads whenever you walked by. You still do – even after this blur of years has raced past both of us. Now you are stepping into forty. When I turned forty they told me I’d reached life’s peak, reminded me to look back down the mountain, see how far I’d come, what I’d done and didn’t do. Paths I didn’t take – and why. I’d see wrong turns, dead ends and the path that led me to...

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Do You Do Well to Be Angry?

Posted on Mar 24, 2016 in In My Words

In this political season so fraught with angry people – it’s worth asking “Do You Do Well to Be Angry?” A question God once asked the Hebrew prophet Jonah, and the title of a message I gave a number of years ago. Sadly – what makes the biblical stories still relevant is that too many human weaknesses never change. We humans need to be reminded over and over, generation after generation, that foundational to our Judeo-Christian faith a call love one another and our neighbors as ourselves.  I read that morning long ago from Galatians 5:22-26, a passage which naming the gifts of the Holy Spirit love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  And then I told – as the Hebrew storytellers might have told – the story of Jonah. From the Book of Jonah chapters 1-4 I still remember how the geology professor from our...

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Put Down Your Pack

Posted on Nov 12, 2015 in In My Words

Margaret Atwood once said – “I write prose to know what I’m thinking. And poetry to know what I’m feeling.” For me too – poetry was the right vessel to convey the emotions that swept over me after my brother called with words I had been longing for – for four long years. Closure on a tragedy – time for healing to begin.

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Posted on Feb 14, 2015 in In My Words

Well – it has been awhile since my last musing post. Life raced by. Full of good things like: Hosting retreats and workshops for Jack Ridl. Delighting in the birth of (now 5) grandchildren. A bit of traveling. And their were also the unexpected bends in the road that send us scrambling – for words that help us make meaning, sense of the senseless. During this time I never stopped “fooling around with words.” I’ve been working a participant in Jack Ridl’s Landscapes of Poetry workshop as well as regularly taking his One-on-One mentoring sessions. All this to explain why new posts will more often be poetry than prose.

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God’s Desire?

Posted on Feb 7, 2011 in In My Words

As I page turn the glossy pages of the art book, one photograph stops me. I look again. The image is of bolts of coarse, white cloth clean as a blank page “seated” on a molded bench in an ultra modern airport. I think – installation art. Cloth, dipped in plaster of Paris perhaps, shaped to suggest the slope of human shoulders, the diminutive round of a head. And jutting towards us, the prominent thrust of knees spread wide, offering a broad, almost welcoming lap. If this were art, I could admire composition and balance. The angled ridge centered across the front suggesting an arm, the rounded protrusion that could be a hand clutching edges of the fabric, drawing it across what might be a face. Though the one aperture where eyes might be is too shadowed, too small, to offer evidence. But she is not art. She is...

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Posted on Jun 10, 2010 in In My Words

“He didn’t mean it,” my father said. And he blushed. The red rising from his neck, a tide of shame rolling upward to those high, prominent cheekbones. It was something I had never seen before – my father, embarrassed, looking away uneasily. We were out for lunch, something I’d been trying to do weekly since the diagnosis. Alzheimer’s they had told us. The reason he could no longer remember the right numbers for the keypad that opened his garage door. The reason why lately, he had gotten lost in his subdivision, not remembering where to turn to find his street, his house. The reason why at night, unable to sleep, he left his bed to check the doors, afraid he had forgotten to lock them. And then lock and unlock them, over and over – to be sure. Who knew how much time we had left to talk? How...

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Eyes To See

Posted on Feb 1, 2010 in In My Words

Meditation delivered on January 31, 2010 at First Presbyterian Church, in Holland, MI.

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Posted on Jun 17, 2008 in In My Words

Flyboy In grainy black and white, you pose on the wing of a plane. A flyboy, they promised free lessons. You saw an easy sling shot ride out of that four corner town, thought high in the sky it would all fall away, the father who played but never won, the mother who grieved the other son. “Free.” they said. Unless the world warred – then, of course, there would be hell to pay. But you don’t know that, standing there on the wing of a plane. Don’t know about hell’s pay. You don’t know about the Water Beast, the carrier deck long as a city block, don’t know how you’ll dispatch planes, signal, scream – “More loft! More loft!” then lurch, watch as the prow plows under one more innocent flyboy. You don’t know how torpedoes aim where you sleep, don’t know the scream, Kamikazes, 12 o’clock! 3...

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Last Mother’s Day

Posted on Jun 17, 2008 in In My Words

The slap of the door is what she heard. Though there was no door. There was no house. There was only that sound. The slap, slam, shutting of a door on years that began with a cry in the night, a Child to be fed, the Mother’s breasts pounding with milk and the Child sucking, sucking until the Mother was dry. Years when Bumble Bees swelled to the size of small whales and hid under the Child’s bed. And when the Child called for help, in the darkest hour, the wise Mother knew the way to throw wide the window so the Bee could fly out. She was Hero then. For years and years she was Hero. Those were the years when the Mother’s knew how to protect the Child. How to cordon off stairs that fell away. How to nod yes, go ahead, try, but as the child...

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Posted on May 8, 2006 in In My Words

Between her kitchen and the front room she leans against the doorframe wearily, watching her son build a tower of blocks. He sits on the varnished wood floor, legs bent at the knees like folded wings. Before him, a small triumph — two blocks, alphabet letters long faded, stacked one atop the other. He hovers a chipped E above the tiny stack, then releases it too soon, scattering all three. Hottest day of the summer and she’s been cooking and canning since dawn. Her bib apron is dusty with flour, stained berry, peach and plum. The faded blue, cotton housedress beneath is blotched with sweat. And the once neat bun at the nape of her neck is unraveling. Wisps of curls, some already gray, halo her face. Lifting the apron, she wipes the sweat trickling down her face, then rests her head against the frame, noting its peeling paint....

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