Thanksgiving Challenges

To be thankful for:

ToDo lists that never get done
a God I’m not sure is there
the sun shining on dusty furniture
young dreams that never became
wet clothes I forgot to dry
life lived, sometimes well, sometimes not

a marriage betrayed
one time too many

a family broken
in ways that can’t be fixed

friends left behind
when I let life move me on

the winter of life
when the bright leaves have fallen

These are the challenges.
All the rest is easy.

Comfort My Age, O God

Inspired by Isaiah 40: 1-8

Comfort, O comfort my age, I cry to my God.
Speak tenderly to my years,
for I have served my term, my penalty is paid,
I have received from life double for all my sins.

My voice cries out:
“In the wilderness of age prepare the way of hope,
make straight in the desert time of life a highway for grace.
Every valley of despair shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill of discouragement be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
Then the glory of living long shall be revealed,
And we shall see it together,
for joy speaks still to us.”

God’s voice says, “Cry out!”
And I answer, “Do you want to hear my cry?”
All people are grass,
our lives are like the flowers of the field.
We wither, the flower of our youth fades,
when the breath of life blows upon it;
surely we are grass.
Yes, we wither, the flower of our youth fades;
but the joy of our faith can stand forever.

The Simple Truth

Four loads of laundry
Bleach with the load
Of bedsheets
Spot removal
On tea towels, napkins, washcloths
One load after another
Into my washer
With multiple settings
None of which I change

Three loads hung out on
Two clotheslines
Clothespin holder shaped like
A pioneer dress
I feel like a pioneer woman
As I lift the poles
To raise the well hung clothes lines
I feel strong and noble
Like I am personally saving
The plant

But one load goes in the dryer
As I pick herbs
To use in the Italian herb bread recipe
I found on the internet
And am bravely adapting
To stuff the bread
With our own cherry tomatoes
Sautéed in olive oil
That splattered across the electric stove
As I hung out the second laundry load

In the kitchen I killed a fly that persisted
In buzz bombing me
Until every smallest shred of Buddhist
Inclination vaporized
I thought of my Christian images
Of God
As I cleaned the kitchen
While my handmade bread rose
In my oven
With the setting for proofing bread

Some days
Even the simple life
Seems complicated
Much less my attempts
To commune with the divine

I wish I could wish
That I had not killed that fly
But I’m glad I did
And that’s the truth of it

His Earth

The earth itself is his natural element.

Perhaps some god graced his parents
With foreknowledge
To name him Elwood
Perhaps some imp tickled his friends’ fancy
To nickname him Woody
Because this son of a sharecropper
Grew up
Past his horticultural degree
To become a tree farmer

More hobbit than Ent
He understands dirt
And weather
And lifespans

His strength weathers like his trees
His smile blooms like his flowers
His love endures like his perennials
His steadiness nourishes like his vegetables
His generosity flows like his stream
Into the carefully built pond of his friendships

He rests in the sunshine
On the porch he built
As he rests in my heart
On the love he planted there
And tends so carefully
With his gardener’s sure hands
As though I were
His earth itself


I turn into the driveway
Negotiating easily
Thanks to 12 years practice
Between mailbox and side rock garden

I pull the car halfway up the driveway
But can go no further
My way blocked by the pile of sweet smelling
Wood chips
Higher than the car
Filling the top of the driveway
Waiting for our shovels and wheelbarrow
To disperse them
So they become
Once again
Part of our garden
Lying low on our pathways
As their parent maple tree
Once towered over all
Despite the hollowness in its trunk

I pause in the driveway
Sitting in the driver’s seat
Staring at the wood chip pile
In front of me
And I laugh aloud at the thought
Of plowing the car into that pile
Burying steel in wood

I reach for my purse
Take out my phone
That is also my camera
Open the car door
Step out, putting my
Starbucks grande mocha decaf latte
On the roof of the car
So I can take a picture
Not of the wood chip pile
But of the small brave yellow
Blooming amid the rocks
At the side of the driveway
Blooming as if spring
And not autumn
Were just now, just here
Blooming their yellow promise
Of another spring
Right around winter’s corner

Between wood chips piled high
And Sternbergia blooming low
I am immersed in joy.


My head is loud with words
Too loud
Too often
Too many words

(I never learned the knack
Of wordless wonder)

Who was I, do you suppose,
In my mother’s womb
Before words conquered me?

Who am I, do you suspect,
In my secret soul
Where words delight me?

Who will I be, do you suggest,
In my lifeless grave
When words desert me?

Will I be?
Can I be?
Do I want to be?

Without words

Beyond A Word

A word can bounce around in my
Almost knowing just barely
Scarcely avoiding

A word can fly from my
Almost stopping just barely
Scarcely parting

A word can echo echo through my
Almost joining just barely
Scarcely muttering

But I have yet to find
A single word for
That bird’s shadow
Swinging just barely
Scarcely across our green lawn

Seen, not said, through
My kitchen window
My hands warm in soapy water


from Psalm 113

God is higher than our deepest depths are low

God is brighter than our darkest day is dark

God raises us from the rubble of our troubles

God lifts us from the ashes of our destruction

God comforts our minds, our hearts, our souls

So that we can feel secure and honored, loved and protected

Just when we need it most

When fear and sadness,
Danger and divisions
Threaten to overwhelm us...

God fills our emptiness with Her grace, 
God blesses our sorrows with Her comfort, 
God mourns with us,
With all of Her oft troubled people

Praise God! Amen


All of my friends are mysteries to me.

Wendy’s steady gentleness
That can still speak hard truths when needed

Ann’s proud self-assurance
That hides her too-real insecurity

Norma’s thoughtful faith
That welcomes my many doubts

Carol’s urgent caretaking
That out-strips her diminishing strength

Their lives, their souls are ever mysterious to me
But then so is my own

My writing, my praying
My fractured relationships
With my children and
My sometimes God

No friend is more mysterious to me
Than that God
Whom I am never really sure
Even exists

But whom I talk to daily
Not to seek favors
Or even salvation

Simply because
As mysterious as it is to believe in God
It is impossible not to.

My Heart

My heart wears sundresses
And swimsuits
Biking shorts 
and gardening gloves

My heart wears Woody’s kiss
And Mom’s creeping walk
Texts with my daughter
And Facetime with my grandchildren

My heart wears Afghanistan
And Texas
The unvaccinated 
And the arrogantly ignorant

My heart wears God
That old gray man of my childhood
That gaping hole of my young adulthood
That graced Jesus of my middle years
And the bountiful Lady Wisdom of my old age

My heart wears life
Beating steadily
Through fears and tears
(I remember the panic attack
In the shower
Two days after Bob left)
Through joys and jumbles
(I remember how it leapt up
Watching the puffin’s awkward landing
In the almost arctic waters off Kodiak Island)
Through the mundane and the miraculous
(Right now, this moment, my heart happily wears
My mouth's pleasure in
That golden cherry tomato
Picked this morning)