Of fruit and tree

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. There is no law against such things.” Galatians 5:22-23

The fruit of an apple tree is an apple; as the fruit, so the tree.

So then:
God is loving and joyful
God is peaceful and patient
God is kind and generous
God is faithful and gentle
God is in control

With God:
I can be loving and joyful
I can be peaceful and patient
I can be kind and generous
I can be faithful and gentle
I can let God be in control

Let this be my law
Let this be my life

Sunlight & Shadows

In the back seat
Not much of a view
Beyond the two I love
Poking each other playfully
Father and daughter in an old rhythm
Andi drives
I imagine earlier years
Woody would have driven
And playfully poked his young daughter

(I remember my now 40-something son when he was about 3 and angry with me saying,”When I’m big and you are my little girl, I’m going to be mean to you.” I laughed then…)

On the narrow road
Over the mountain
We drive curves
In and out of sunlight
Through tree shade
Poking and sitting
Then and now
Dark and light

(I remember Julian of Norwich and John the Evangelist and Gerard Manley Hopkins and Kathleen Norris and I feel blessed by the simple and the complex, by having loved and loving and being loved.)

Thoughts on God, Good and “Bad” Feelings

Here’s something I always find hard to articulate: We are used to the idea of “mountain-top” experiences, finding God in ecstasy and peace. But we do not write or talk about finding God in despair. We reject despair and death and depression and disease (dis-ease, unease) as being anti-God, as being a sign of the devil’s work in this world.

And yet, didn’t God make us to experience the good and the bad? The negative as well as the positive emotions? Jesus prayed with something close to depression and despair in the Garden, Jesus called out to a God whom he could not feel close to him on the cross. Jesus was fully human as well as fully God, but he was without original sin. So the “negative” emotions are not just the result of original sin and the distortion of God’s good creation.

That means we can find God in the negative as well as the positive. We can accept the negative as well as the positive. We do not have to find our way out of the negative to find God.

It was easy for me to recognize and treasure God’s presence at the time of my husband Gordon’s death. There was a timeliness even in the untimeliness; there were many, many small and large mercies; there was a peace that passes understanding, and there was gratitude for the life of a good man.

It was not easy for me to recognize and treasure God’s presence at the time of my unborn twin grandaughters’ death. And yet, when I read what I wrote at the time and later, when I consider what it has led me to become, to value, to release, to feel, then I know that God was there – not in any way that I wanted, but there.

He is there with me no less in my anger with Him than in my peace with Him. And I treasure that immensely. I can never seem to get that point across when I try to talk about it. I lose it in expressing my anger.

So I love God for the peace that He blessed me with in Gordon’s life and death and I hate God for taking the twins from us before we had a chance to be blessed by their lives. I love Him for the Scripture and I hate Him for how messed up He is allowing this world to be. I love Him for all He has blessed me with and I hate Him for what He has withheld from me.

And, most of all, I love that He is OK with all of that. He does not ask me to have a peace that I don’t have. He doesn’t ask me to accept quietly Madeleine and Lorien’s deaths. He doesn’t ask me to stop fighting against Him. I don’t have to accept without questioning or rest quietly in His peace. I don’t have to believe in order to teach, or have a faith that moves mountains in order to love His Scripture and the fellowship of His people. I don’t have to feel blessed and confident in troubles and problems and disease. I can be angry and resentful and I can yell at God just like I used to yell at Gordon when I was mad and frustrated. And God will keep on loving me just like Gordon kept on loving me. And, just like I kept on loving Gordon even when I was totally angry and frustrated with him, I can keep on loving God even when I am totally angry and frustrated with Him. It’s a mystery, but love and hate, peace and frustration, gratitude and anger are not incompatible opposites with God – at least not to me.


(At Andi Cumbo-Floyd’s Writers’ Retreat last weekend at God’s Whisper Farm, Kelly Hausknecht Chripczuk led us in several meditation times. For the first one, we gathered in a circle in the barn and were joined by Meander, one of Andi and Philip’s hound dogs.)

We sit in careful silence
He lies in easy silence
We consciously seek silence
He luxuriously lives it
We, in our noisy brightness,
Need to seek silence
He, in his restful brown-ness,
Seeks only us
And sunshine when it’s cold
Cool shade when it’s hot
And the occasional cucumber

We gather, facing each other,
To sit just inside the open barn door
Grateful to be here together
Stretching out –
Purposefully, effortfully –
Out to ourselves, the poem, the quiet
The possibility of stillness beyond words

He comes, uninvited but not unwelcome,
To lie just inside the open barn door
Grateful to be near us
Stretching out –
Easily, lazily –
Out to the grass, the tree, the sky
The possibility of cucumber in the garden

God, Drip Lines and Feeder Roots

Something that Woody taught me a few days ago has stuck with me and finally came to life in something of a prayer/poem.

“A tree’s feeder roots extend beyond its drip line.”

Sometimes I stand
Grateful and aware
Within God’s drip line

Sometimes I crouch
Exposed and afraid
Outside God’s drip line

Sometimes I sit
Peaceful and secure
Over God’s deep feeder roots

Sometimes I lie
Exhausted and dull
Beyond God’s feeder roots

Always I move
In and out
“There and back again”
Through God’s drip lines
Over God’s feeder roots
Scarcely aware
Always nourished