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2012: A year of transformation

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In about three hours, we say goodbye to yet another year. As is often custom of New Year’s Eve, I have been reflecting on the year that is almost pass. Wow – what a year! I am not the same person I was this time last year. It is hard to capture all that I have learned and experienced in the past year in a single post but I am going to offer a glimpse as I say goodbye to 2012 and welcome in 2013.

Last winter held deep moments of struggling for me and wrestling with my faith. I walked some dark roads and played with fire as I tested the limits of God’s love for me. It was quite a surprise for me to discover that God’s love is limitless, that he walked with me even in the dark roads and that when he said he will never leave me nor forsake me, he really meant it. I experienced the love of faithful friends in a deep way that made me realize that much about my life had to change. And in those days, I realized that I can run as far from God as I want, but whether I liked it or not, he was not finished with me yet.

I tackled my trauma in an intensive 8 week program of about 20 hours of group and individual counselling a week. I am still reaping the benefits of this program. I was affirmed for my keen interest in social justice. I faced skeletons in my closet. I spoke out when I needed to and spoke into people’s lives when I felt I had something to say. Most of all, I emerged from this program with a freedom that was quite transformative.

Up until this point, I had tied happiness and the meaning of life with my family. Idolatry in a sense. But through conversations, a powerful dream and God’s hand in my life, I realized that I do not need my family to be whole, that I could move forward without them and in fact, I was moving forward. This is not to say that I don’t want my family – quite the contrary, actually. I love them dearly and they are always in my thoughts and prayers and as I have said on here before, I long for the day of feasting when wholeness, truth and life is breathed into my family, healing all wounds. This newfound freedom got me dreaming about the future – which was suddenly wide open.

In July, my dad made his formal appeal before a panel of judges asking for a retrial. The darkness in my family was present that day. My hope is that the many people in the courtroom that day – including four of my siblings – will take away at least something from all the dreadful stuff they heard that keeps them questioning and keeps me in their mind, somehow. This day began another period of waiting. Oh how I have hated times of waiting. I will return to this.

I decided to go back to school. Now that has been an adventure of its own taking me to places of thought that still surprise me. I started to see marks that I had not seen before which affirmed that I am capable and I am moving forward. I began working for a family with a beautiful little boy who is now 8 months. Nothing can melt my heart like a smile of a child who is happy to see me. There have been many times I have shown up to work worn and tired and discouraged – but somehow, in the midsts of singing taize songs and him falling asleep in my arms, all was right in the world again.

I also took another job that I once said I’d never do. I believe God’s hand was all over this, especially when I found myself saying yes to working for a church. I thought two people were being interviewed and on the way to the church I decided that they should offer the other person the job. I was mistaken though – two people were interviewing me. I said yes and left the church wondering if I had gone mad! Man, I love my job and thank God each week for it.

There have been many memorable moments. My ‘Anne of Green Gables’ experiment in dying my hair purple (it went green, and we managed to get it to a dark blue), deciding to go red and black, and the added touch of an eyebrow piercing. Cooking Indian, Greek and African meals for my housemates and for friends. Saying goodbye to my grandpa and hearing him call me “darling” and saying he loves me. Watching a beautiful ceremony in which my housemate married a wonderful man. The cottage weekend which was still one of the most beautiful two days of my life. Having the twins greet me (unprovoked) with “Happy birthday Bisbeff” on my birthday. Singing my first solo in many years. Preparing worship and prayer services. The “rave in the nave”. Teaching a class with Bob. Walks with Chris down by the lake.

Ah, so many moments. moments that last a life time.

But when I reflect on this past year, there are three things that stand out to me and are deeply intertwined.

I am utterly loved by God with a love beyond what I am capable of even imagining. This has been a common theme. I have many flaws, have made many bad choices. But the God who created the world loves me. Not with some casual or conditional love that depends on my fickleness. No, a love that loves me warts and all and a love that will not let me go. I had a wonderfully beautiful moment that is worthy of an entire post but I heard God loud and clear that he loves me and is pleased with me.

God’s timing is perfect. I said I’d come back to waiting. I have often joked that patience has never been my virtue. Patience as in the waiting thing. You don’t know how many times I’ve yelled and screamed at God that his timing SUCKS and if it were up to me, this court thing would have been done a long time ago. I often joked, “If this court process doesn’t teach me patience, I don’t know what else”. It was only a half joke. I have to admit there was fear in the midst of my laughter over my lack of patience – because what if this court process didn’t teach me patience? What would? After I finished my last exam, I came home to find a notice that the appeal decision would be delivered the following day. My employer had cancelled work for that morning, the stress of final exams was behind me, and I had an appointment already scheduled with my therapist after the decision would be released. I actually had ‘known’ for about two weeks that that would be the day. How? My only answer is God. He tends to prepare me for things every once in awhile. But what I didn’t know, was that there were others who had me on their mind and in their prayers specifically around this time and that there were others who had hunches that a decision was imminent. Now the timing for my family sucks – being sent to jail a few days before Christmas sucks. But for me, the timing was right. And who knows how God will use this timing in my family’s life.

As I read the judges’ decision, I was amazed at the carefully reasoned words. The words held everything I would want my family to read. I don’t think there was anything missing. And the only way they would have been able to glean that much detail would have been to read through the trial transcripts. This made the waiting period completely worth it. I was humbled by how God had this totally in his hands. I confessed my unbelief and affirmed that God’s ways are higher than my ways, his thoughts are higher than my thoughts and his timing – although not mine – is perfect. I smiled – as I felt God smile with me, saying “you have now learned patience”.

I am in love with my Lord and Saviour. A very good friend of mine always spoke of this deep love for God and how he loved nothing more than to spend his time with God. I was drawn to that, yearned for it but never got it. Well, I do now. God has become my faithful friend – i have yelled, screamed, kicked, complained and then laughed when trials have passed by. People often ask me how I get by with all this stuff – and I’m not kidding when I say a lot of prayer and a lot of coffee/tea. Prayer has become a vital part of my life and I am learning to pray without ceasing. Sometimes God annoys the hell out of me. Other times I think he is taking the hell out of me. Yes, there are still valleys and doubts and struggles. I said to someone recently who is struggling with faith that I think that is what faith is – struggling through life, but holding out that there is something bigger, someone holding us in the midst of our struggles. But man do I love God. I didn’t know such love was possible. I found the picture at the beginning of this post and fell in love with it – it is perfect for what I want to use to sum  up my year.

And here, in the words of Anne Sexton, is another beautiful summary of my relationship with God.

Dearest Dealer,

I with my royal straight flush,

love you so much for your wild card,

that untamable, eternal, gut-driven ha-ha

and lucky love

Pumpkin Seed-Crusted Tofu with Baked Pumpkin and Cranberry Relish

December 31, 2012 1 comment

A vegan alternative to turkey! This was quite amazing… Also from Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz.  … Have you bought this book yet? Believe me, everything I try from it is absolutely amazing.

 

3-3 1/2 pound sugar pumpkin

8tsp canola oil plus extra for deep-frying

1/2 cup cornstarch

1/4 cup fresh oregano, chopped (this is worth the extra expense and time…)

1/4 tsp salt

1 pound extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed, sliced lengthwise into eighths

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup water

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

Carve out the top of the pumpkin with a paring knife and slice the pumpkin in half with a chef’s knife. Remove the seeds and clean them in a strainer under running water. Set the pumpkin aside to prepare as described below. Dry the seeds thoroughly by laying on a paper towel; pat the tops with another towel to remove any moisture. Measure 3/4 cup of seeds and transfer them to a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with 2tsp of oil, toss to coat. Bake for 20 minutes, flipping occasionally. They should be toasted a golden brown to a deep golden brown. Transfer to a bowl to cool. Meanwhile, prepare the pumpkin.

Adjust the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Cut the pumpkin into slices that are about 2 inches wide at the widest point. Lightly oil the slices with canola oil. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for about 45 minutes, until tender and lightly browned.

When the seeds have cooled, transfer them to a food processor and pulse until crumbly; the texture should range from ground to coarse and chunky. In a shallow bowl mix the seeds with the cornstarch, oregano and salt. Place the flour in another bowl, the water in another, and line up your three bowls: flour, water, and the seed mixture.

Heat 1/4 inch of oil over moderate heat in a heavy-bottomed skillet, preferably cast iron. the heat should be between 320-350 deg F. If you don’t have a thermometer test the oil by dropping a pinch of the seed mixture in; if bubbles form rapidly around the seeds, the oil is ready.

 

Dip the tofu on both sides into the flour, then into the water, then into the seed mixture on both sides until the tofu is well coated with seeds. repeat until all eight pieces are ready. Using tongs, lower the pieces into the oil (you may have to do it in two batches). Fry for 3 minutes on one side and about 2 1/2 minutes on the second side. Remove from the oil and transfer to flattened paper bags or paper towels to drain the excess oil. Serve with roasted pumpkin.

Cranberry Relish

2 cups fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup fresh orange juice

1 tsp finely grated orange zest

Mix together all ingredients in a small saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, uncover and let simmer for 15 minutes. Bring to room temperature and serve.

The best sweet potato fries ever!

sweet potato fries

At Camino house, we started to get what’s known as the “good food box” which is an assembly of fruits and vegetables that try to use the season’s harvest. This meant that november through april, we received an abundance of sweet potatoes. We tried many ways to make fries. I was never successful. UNTIL I stumbled across this amazing recipe (it’s actually for russet potatoes but I think the sweet potatoes make it all the more tastier.

One note – when it comes to cooking, I don’t actually measure. But for my many friends who like to see quantities, here you go.

(I can’t recommend enough the vegan cookbook from which this recipe comes…. it is Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. Best cookbook ever)

Baked Cajun French Fries

4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut lengthwise into 1/4 strips

2 TBSP olive oil

3/4 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp dried oregano

1/4 tsp dried thyme (I left this out since I didn’t have any)

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

1/2 tsp coarse sea salt

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Very lightly grease a large rimmed baking sheet.

In a mixing bowl toss the potatoes with the olive oil to coat. Mix the spices and salt together and toss with the potatoes to coat. It’s okay if the mixture isn’t coating every part of each potato; as long as there is some of the spice on each one, you’re good.

Arrange the potatoes in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet; if they don’t all fit use a second sheet. Bake for 20 minutes. Use tongs to flip the potatoes, bake for another 12-15 minutes. The fries should be browned. Serve immediately.

The good news

December 31, 2012 1 comment

This Christmas season, I have been reading and thinking and reflecting on passages and stories behind the traditions and our way of life both as it pertains to Christmas celebrations but also to life generally. I am discovering more and more that Christianity today is so frequently watered down and, frankly, meaningless. The ‘good news’ of Christmas demands far more than a declaration that one will follow Christ and has implications far beyond a mere ticket to heaven.

Today a song that spoke to me deeply several years ago came to mind as I sat in church today. It is a song that made me feel heard – like somebody got not only the pain I have felt as I deal with my woundedness but also my dissatisfaction with the answers I was being given.

In order to understand this song’s significance for me personally, I need to share a part of my story.

As a preteen, I was given a subscription to Focus on the Family’s magazine for girls called Brio (a name that i love – “with flair” – how beautiful!). Anyways, inside an issue was a story of a girl who gave her mother a gift for her own birthday as a way to say thank you for giving birth and raising her. I loved that story. So I went to the dollar store and found two candles and wrote a letter to my mom. I packed them with my belongings, eager to give the small package to my mother. We were going camping for my thirteenth birthday – which just so happened to fall on friday the thirteenth. It was going to be a momentous weekend. Little did I know how much.

One of my siblings had a nightmare that night. We shared a tent together. My Dad came in to settle her. But he didn’t leave that night. Instead he used me for his own purposes. That wasn’t new. But the degree of intrusiveness was. I remember feeling afraid and confused.

I woke the next morning feeling sick and confused. But one thing was clear to me  – my mom could never find out what had happened the night before. I remember presenting my gift to my mom – but not with the innocent child like joy and anticipation. Rather, I had a forced smile that was trying so very hard to not show that I had been spoiled.

I do not remember much else about that weekend. Except that I went into the tent later that day to find the sleeping bag that I had zipped up open and ready for two people to sleep. I knew the fate I was facing. And sadly, I was right.

That was my thirteenth birthday. It was definitely a freaky friday and a nightmarish weekend. It was not the first time I was abused. But it was significant enough that I associate it with the day I became an adult and the day I was spoiled.

Violence demands an answer. if there is to be good news in Christ’s coming down as a babe in a manager in the lowly town of Bethlehem, it must provide an answer to violence. Not an answer of well meaning platitudes that “God works all things together for the good of those who love him”. That is a true statement, but the way it is frequently offered, it is no more than watered down mush.

I’m going to piece together the various stories I’ve heard as the background for the song that has been on my mind. While I’ve written the composer to find the exact details, all that I have heard is indirect and so I apologize in advance if the details are slightly wrong. I think the message holds even if I’ve missed or misrepresented certain aspects. The lyrics are at the bottom of this post and I encourage you to go to groove shark or to steve bell’s website and have a listen.

My understanding is that the composer had a foster daughter who was taken advantage of in her young years. I’ve heard Steve speak of his daughter and I’ve seen his tears as aspects of her story break his heart. I’ve met Steve a few times and know some of his relatives but I’ve never really had a conversation with him about this. But as he speaks from the pain of knowing what she has gone through, I have felt known and loved. For those who know that I love his music, this is why…. he is not afraid to tackle some of the hardest questions of life and to speak beauty into them. Anyways, I know he was quite angry to find out about what had happened to his daughter. The story I’ve been told is he had a series of three dreams.

The first dream, he was standing in front of  the perpetrator, with a gun in hand and ready to shoot. The second dream, he again was standing in front of the perpetrator, with a gun in hand and ready to shoot, though this time, Christ stood in between them. The third dream, he stood in front of the perpetrator, with a gun in hand, and Christ said, “Shoot me instead”.

I grew up with understanding that the wages of sin is death – that my sin required my death and Christ, through his work on the cross, paid my penalty. I think that is true. But I wonder if Christ did more than that.

Violence demands an answer.

I have often been accused by family members and defense lawyers that I have acted in revenge in going to the police. Let me set the record straight – there is absolutely no amount of suffering that my Dad can endure to make up for what he has done to me. My thirteenth birthday was ruined and he spoiled me. Nothing can erase that weekend from my memory. He has been sentenced to four years, which in Canada is considered quite a long sentence despite the fact that he was convicted of 8 years of abuse with the judge admitting that it most likely happened longer as I had claimed. I have been separated from my siblings for 7 1/2 years. There is one I have not met and another who was only 6 months when I left home. Four years doesn’t do it justice. But then neither would a lifetime sentence. I disagree with capital punishment for a whole host of reasons – but in this case, I’m sorry, but capital punishment is an escape, an easy way out.

If I want an answer to the violence I have endured, I cannot look to my dad. He doesn’t have enough to lose. He simply cannot pay the price for the pain he has caused me.

But Christ left His seat on a throne to become a helpless babe who had to learn to speak and crawl. From the moment he entered this world, he was involved in the messiness of humanity. He was born into a family of generations of dysfunction, most notably David who – although considered a man after God’s own heart – committed adultery and then put the poor husband at the front of the battle so that he would be killed. Christ slept in the smelly trough of a stable born to an unwed young woman – the ultimate disgrace. His life was sought and the holy family took refuge in Egypt. This morning we read of the story of when he was in the temple that his own parents did not understand him. His own people were fickle – they loved him when he was in their midst healing and feeding them, but then were quick to yell as a mob “Crucify him”. The prophet Isaiah’s words are poignant and deeply meaningful to me and point to a God who intimately knew suffering:

He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by others, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hid their faces; he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. – Isaiah 53: 2-5

This is not a meek and mild Jesus. This is a Jesus who gave up everything to take on my punishment for the sin that separates me from God. But more than that – this is a Christ who died to satisfy the rage of the losses I’ve sustained by age thirteen. This is a Christ who cares enough about me along with the other orphans, widows and lepers of society to avenge their cause. This is a Christ who answers the cries of the violated.

This is a Christ who chose to pay the price, on a tree, silently and still, just long enough to kill. It is a Christ who sees my pain and anger and says “I can take it, give it to me”. It is a Christ who allows himself to be wounded beyond what my mind can comprehend so that not only can I be saved, but that I can be healed by his wounds and be given peace.

This is not some watered down message.

THIS is the good news.

Somebody’s Gotta Pay – by Steve Bell

Somebody told me about it and burns me up at night

What kind of man would choose to spoil a child?

Who do we call to make it right?

Not gentle Jesus, meek and mild, that’s for sure

Because he won’t fight

 

So I don’t feel guilty about it imagining that I

Could be the reaper grim enough to make it right

Problem is, there’s no one with enough to lose to pay for this

Somebody’s gotta pay for this

Nobody gets away unless somebody dies

And it’s confirmed that there’s been pain

Enough to satisfy the rage

from the losses she’s sustained since age thirteen

Only then can the rest go free

 

I’m still obsessing about it,

Cause it doesn’t end up nice:

Another man, another choice, another child

And who’s gonna pay for all these crimes?

Some dream about avenging mine,

I suppose, but nothing will suffice

 

unless you stumble upon it,

like a dream I had one night

about a man

who chose to pay the price

on a tree, silently and still

just long enough for me to kill

Calling revisited

There is a moment – a conversation with God – that is in the forefront of my mind these days. It is a formative conversation that took place more than 10 years ago. I am a little perplexed by why it is on my mind so much in the past couple of weeks. But actually, I am more perplexed by my own response – that instead of resistance, I find myself turning to God with the words that Mary spoke – be it unto me as you have said.

I was young. I was almost seventeen. I told my mom about the abuse for the first time as one of my siblings had said something. Up until then I had stayed silent to protect my mom from being hurt and with the idea that if it was happening to me, it wasn’t happening to my siblings. The prospect that I had been unsuccessful in protecting my siblings made me unwilling to sacrifice myself any longer. Those were bitter and painful days.

I remember a moment so clearly. I was sitting on my bed, alone in my room, and I finally had the courage to ask God “Why?” Why had he allowed me to suffer in this way?

I was expecting silence.

But I got an answer.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. – 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

I felt God was calling me to work in the church, as an Anglican Priest.

Young I might have been, but I was not naive. I had seen what goes on in churches – the power struggles, the hypocrisy, the gossip.

I told God flat out no. I was going to be a doctor. I loved science. I loved people. But work for a church? no thanks – God, you have the wrong girl.

But I couldn’t shake those words. I tried. I poured myself into the sciences. And while I got marks in the high 90s, I suddenly lost all interest. It was meaningless.

I spent the next few months praying and discerning and fearing what my parents might say. I wanted to be sure this was indeed from God before I dealt with their reactions. And then I had the courage. I was met with a stronger response than I had anticipated – “You are following the devil”.

At 17, I knew that an important question was before me – Would I be willing to follow God, even if it meant that I would lose my family?

How strange that 11 1/2 years later, this moment is ever before me. This past term has been incredible formative. I have gone from having a pretty relaxed schedule to an intense schedule with deadlines. And I have met them and been successful. I’ve been asked by many people how do I cope – and the answer is a lot of prayer and a lot of coffee (although, thanks to my body revolting against me, it is usually tea). This term I have learned to cling to my master and to find hope and comfort in him alone. I have seen that I *am* capable. I love psychology and I have done well in all my science classes seeing marks that I have never seen before. I have what it takes to do a PhD in clinical psychology. And God has given me gifts that could be used in a powerful way, I am sure of this.

But I took a course called Foundations of Community Engagement this term that totally messed up my nice little tidy plan. Truth be told I don’t see myself charging people money to care and to set boundaries that I care within a timeframe. And while I absolutely love psychology, I have yet to write a blog post about any of the fascinating things I’ve studied.

I work for a church. And when I day dream, I am thinking about the people I’ve met and the neighbourhood and how I might get more involved. The five hour a week contract is limiting. But the ideas seem not to be limited. I think of the first year university student who faithfully comes out and I chat with every week. I think of the young families that I have been connecting with. I think about the neighbourhood that is crowded with people and ways to reach out to the community.

I love planning services. I love planning liturgy. We are planning a service that the children will be involved in. My creative mind has been all over this. And I wonder – perhaps I could preach?

WHAT? preach?

so I’ve preached 3 times now. I love preaching. I love the process of preparing the sermon, I love public speaking, I love teaching. I’ve been told by a few people that I should preach more often.

I’ve been thinking of volunteer work as I think about preparing a grad school application. I’ve looked at research positions at mental health institutions, thought about a crisis line. But what am I eager to do? to start a Bible study.

I love nothing more than to sit over a cuppa something and talk faith with someone, or to be present in someone’s suffering. This term I made three trips to the ER to be with people and sitting with them felt right. Not just because they were friends and I would gladly be there for them, but more in an existential way – this is where I belonged.

I’d rather read and write about theology than psychology.

I have always felt a call to hospitality. Having Bob and Peter present for my Christmas was the best thing ever.

I have a powerful and beautiful story of God’s work in me, of his unfailing love, his redemption and faithfulness. That story needs to be told again and again.

I started to tell Chris about my recent ponderings. He listened and didn’t add anything until I said “I don’t know if I could submit to the institution of the church”. His response was wise and well said “Well, you’ve already submitted to the institution of education”

My course load is up in the air for next term. I’ve been on waitlists for a bunch of psychology courses. But unless 100 or so students decide not to take the various courses, I don’t have a hope in hell of taking them. So I added a course by a professor that I really like – it’s a theology course. The other day, just for fun, I added another theology course as I need to have a full load. And I got in. And I’m super excited.

all these things and my recent conversations with God have me wondering if there is something to that call that I felt 11 1/2 years ago. And if perhaps, now is the time to follow.

cause if it is, then – I am ready.

 

Another Poem

Someone posted this poem by another of my favourite authors and I love this one! Makes me want to pull out my collection of essays/reflections by Borges and reread them.

You Learn. You Learn
After a while you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul,
And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning
And company doesn’t mean security.
And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts
And presents aren’t promises,
And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes open
With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child,
And you learn to build all your roads on today
Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans
And futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.
After a while you learn…
That even sunshine burns if you get too much.
So you plant your garden and decorate your own soul,
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure…
That you really are strong
And you really do have worth…
And you learn and learn…
With every good-bye you learn.

Jorge Luis Borges

 

The Big Heart

This is a poem by one of my favourite poets Anne Sexton. she went through a lot of suffering and struggled with depression amongst other things. And yet, she went through periods in which God was very real to her and wrote some of the most beautiful, honest and poignant words on her life of faith.

My heart aches these days with a pain that is too much at times. I ache for my family.  In my victim impact statement, I ended by saying that there is something that makes me more sad than anything else – things didn’t need to  be this way. My dad never should have violated me. My mother should have believed and protected me and gotten me help. When Children’s Aid became involved, my family should have allowed themselves to be helped. There were numerous attempts at reconciliation. My dad could have admitted to the police everything at the very beginning and because our courts encourage early confessions, he would have had a lesser sentence.

Instead, my mother is left with 6 children at home and a harsh reality that either she knowingly denied or is utterly unprepared to deal with. Either possibility breaks my heart.

What makes my heart ache most right now, is my longing to do SOMETHING to help. Oh how I’ve sat with my phone in my hand wanting to call, a piece of paper in my hand to write. I’ve tried to think of ways I can help.

But see – I am the enemy right now. Until that changes, all I can do is pray.

I believe prayer is a gift from God and I believe that God answers prayer. But prayer seems so not enough when you want to reach out and give your loved ones a hug and hold them in their crying.

I am quite blessed right now to have so many people praying for me (and my family for that matter). So many people who care. So many offers of help. So much love. There are people who I do not know who are lifting me up in prayer adn thinking of me at this time.

And I am hanging in there.

But I owe that to a God who never leaves me nor forsakes me and to the many people he has blessed me with.

And so, I offer this poem as a thank you to each and everyone of you who reads this blog, who thinks of me, who has heard my cries and anxious heart, who has believed in me, who has offered their homes and hearts to me. I’ve left Anne’s original names in the poem – but you can read your name into it.

From the bottom of my big heart – wide as a watermelon – there is so much abundance in the people I have – and I want to say thank you.

‘Too many things are occurring for even a big heart to hold.’ – From an essay by W. B. Yeats

Big heart,
wide as a watermelon,
but wise as birth,
there is so much abundance
in the people I have:
Max, Lois, Joe, Louise,
Joan, Marie, Dawn,
Arlene, Father Dunne,
and all in their short lives
give to me repeatedly,
in the way the sea
places its many fingers on the shore,
again and again
and they know me,
they help me unravel,
they listen with ears made of conch shells,
they speak back with the wine of the best region.
They are my staff.
They comfort me.

They hear how
the artery of my soul has been severed
and soul is spurting out upon them,
bleeding on them,
messing up their clothes,
dirtying their shoes.
And God is filling me,
though there are times of doubt
as hollow as the Grand Canyon,
still God is filling me.
He is giving me the thoughts of dogs,
the spider in its intricate web,
the sun
in all its amazement,
and a slain ram
that is the glory,
the mystery of great cost,
and my heart,
which is very big,
I promise it is very large,
a monster of sorts,
takes it all in—
all in comes the fury of love.

-Anne Sexton, The Big Heart