We Dream Again

What is it about the year-end? Makes us face our fears and disappointments, and count our hopes again like pieces of treasure in the palm? The seasons herald change as they fold into one another, but the calendar shows us we don’t cycle in place. We wheel forward—birthdays, anniversaries, “three years since” all touchstones across memory and longing, markers of time that leave no one unaffected. The Eve of all is a live wire between the past and future and with the turn of the year, we cross a mental threshold.

For some of us it’s simple math, only so many grains of sand left in the hourglass. We seek to balance the equation, weigh our dreams against the run of time. But it’s more than a race with the clock. No matter our age or station or story, the height of the new year holds out a second chance. We hope for better, of our life and of our self, because to be human means to grow. In character, strength, achievement there is room for more and we seize fresh opportunity. So we turn our feet toward our dreams, reset our compass to the hope of our winter sun.

Prague Astronomical Clock

Prague Astronomical Clock

But He, Being Poor, Has Only His Dreams

TapestryWmMorrisHe Wishes For the Cloths of Heaven

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,

I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

Published 1899. William Butler Yeats, Irish poet.

 

Contour
The poem runs line to line, one long thread, on patterns of sound and rhyme. The single period shows we are not meant to stop at the end of each line until the end. The first cloths physically slides right off the tongue onto the enwrought. (Try it.) The silver light finds its rhyme mate night one-and-a-half lines down. In other words, Yeats is embroidering his words. He breaches a vigorous dictum of mine, to avoid word duplication, with a masterful reiteration of rhymes and words like light, feet, dreams. They unfold in a rhythm that carries us one line to the next as they intone a lover’s yearning.

Shape
The stanzas take on the shape of their metaphor: rectangular patches of cloth. The lines average nine syllables. Though soft, the embroidery is tight.

9 Had I the heavens’
9 Enwrought with
9 The blue and the
8 Of night and light

9 I would spread
9 But I, being poor,
9 I have spread my
10 Tread softly

Texture
This poor man could have declared, “If I had the heaven’s embroidered cloths…I would spread [them] under your feet.” But opening with h builds the poem upon a sigh, the sound of breath. We feel the dreaminess in the echo of soft consonants.

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,

The sounds knit smooth, silken cloths.

Attribute
The repetitions accentuate the simplicity of the poem that reflects a man with only hat and heart in his hands. Without means, he offers his beloved his best. An embroidery of words, as delicate as his hopes.

My Obituary

When she was young, she lived on her last dollar and books and dreams.
She worked as though her life depended on it.

She watched and smiled, said yes I’ll marry you.
She died and birthed her boy.

She played her heart on that piano and her husband heard
and loved her again.

She questioned, ate disbelief. She wept.
She prayed and prayed. She received.

She slow danced with ideas,

She was frail, a leaf the wind turned over, and
a rock you couldn’t move.

She sang blues and hymns and dreams.
She struggled to get off ground some days, and
wrote her way into clouds and drank their rain.

She asked God for one more day because she erred, wounded, and grieved.
She loved deeply. She didn’t love enough.

She hoped her life was enough.

 

Comments all yours if you’d like to write your own here.

Oh, How We Worry

What do you worry about? Am sitting on the like button but feel free to confess what keeps you up at night.

PS: Friends, I said I pulled the button. Means I don’t want your like, right? Please STOP it!! You got me woRRying this won’t turn out to be the rich, meaningful post I had imagined. You’re derailing me!

It’s Happy Hour

It happened after yoga one night. The April air was crisp as we hadn’t fully settled into spring. My family waited for me at home, dinner on the table. My eyes filled with tears of contentment. I had come through years of debilitating anxiety and was fortunate to be alive.

Average Yogini

So here are my picks to the prompt: Tell me about a moment when you were happy, so happy you could hardly see straight. You couldn’t have been happier if you’d won the Lottery. Go ahead and visit one another, make friends. Enjoy.

————————

Tough choice: Is it the day I completed a 10,000-mile bicycle ride and met Peggy; or the night California voters approved an effort I had initiated to reduce tobacco use? One led to happiness; the other has saved an estimated one million lives. I’ll go with love.

Wandering Through Time and Place

One year sober last month, I got to meet eight other ladies who had become friends via the sober blogs and communities. Sunshine, tea and cake, good conversation with great people who made me feel heard and understood. I didn’t feel like a freak anymore.

A Hangover Free Life

It was my husband’s birthday. We were hoping and praying for a celebration. We waited in the surgeon’s office for my pathology report on the breast cancer. I scanned the mumbo jumbo of the lab summary for any sign of good news.

Relief and profound gratitude. Healing had begun.

Snowdrops for Faith

I awoke to a machete death just outside the Nicaraguan church. It rattled me. Where was God? Under a lone tree someone sang and then another.

I had come cynical and empty. But with the gift of song came a rush of assurance. God was here.

Middlemay Books

“What a big penis!” We were stunned. Our practitioners had all guessed a girl. But it was his heartbeat, strong on the screen. Our boy actually drew a smile as we watched. I had longed to give my husband a son. I was wild with joy.

A Holistic Journey

Happiness is climbing a tree, catching a firefly, setting him free.
Happiness is playing the drum in your own school band.
And happiness is walking hand in hand.
Happiness is being alone every now and then.
For happiness is anyone and anything at all
That’s loved by you.

You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown

— know?

 Geese3

He dressed the day with clouds
   and spilled a sea of stars
      into the night
         calling each by name
  The night's aria declares 
      His deep pleasure

The universe is intoxicated with glory.

    The Autumn wind gasps
the surety of Winter

The geese, one giant wing
   a moving geometry
      that angles into the wind

How do they know? 
   where to go
   when to stop

Trees give up leaves like paper hopes
    swept into the slumberous season

The gray whale pursues the southern waters of Baja
    to warm her heavy womb

How does she know?
    how to birth
    what to eat

Spring forgives the freeze
    and laughs to live again
       in the resurrection of color
before the ferocious Summer

The dolphins' dance is
   a cadence of instinct
      in waves wooed by moontide

The Earth sounds a symphony of reverence.

We build skyscrapers and businesses and poems
   and the tides rush up and claim
      the sand castles of our dreams

      i, the crown of creation
    trifling, a mark of punctuation,
   know less than the beasts
that play and live as they ought.

Single at Sixty

Most of the time, my relationship with my God and His grace are sufficient for me. I know I am loved eternally by Him. He hears my prayers and has opened my ears to hear His voice. Yet because I am human, there are times I feel like an outsider because I am a single woman in a culture that values couples and family. I suppose I have felt like an outsider my whole life.

Upon completing fourth grade, I was advanced two years. The unwanted achievement placed me two years younger than my classmates through the remainder of elementary, junior high and high school. I graduated high school at sixteen. I was also short (4’7”) and timid, which made the experience difficult at best, horrific at worst. Social awkwardness, teasing, bullying, puberty, an abusive father, and coming of age in the 1960s all contributed to my never knowing who I was or was meant to be. They placed me teetering precariously on the edge of friendships, social and emotional maturity, political awareness and sometimes, sanity.

The discovery of the vast hole in my heart at some point in my 30s led to over a decade of exploring ways to fill that hole in the attempt not to feel like an outsider. I experimented with Eastern religions, self-help seminars, drugs, clothes, men (lots of men) and only found temporary relief. The feeling that I belonged somewhere, to somebody, faded as soon as the fog on the mirror cleared.

Years later, when I found the One Man who filled me – who loves me unconditionally, whose vocabulary doesn’t include the words abandon or unworthy or unforgivable – the mirror cleared for good. Most of the time, I feel His arms around me, and I know I am an adopted daughter, friend, bride.

Then there are those other times.

My social circle is centered within my church. I’m part of a weekly women’s Bible study group. Eight of us have been meeting together for nearly three years. These women are married with children. I love that we are an intergenerational group. We are close – we pray for each other. We get together outside of study. As the conversation naturally turns toward marriage or motherhood, I feel on the periphery.

Church functions are organized around families, so I often retreat. When I attend Sunday service, I sit alone, aching for those I know to ask me to sit with them. I suppose if I were bolder or more outgoing, I might ask if I could join them, but Sundays seem sacrosanct. It is the Sabbath; it is time for families.

There is a singles group that caters to those 20-50. The object is to encourage and help them to form families. I am sixty-three. While I occasionally miss the nighttime snuggling of a marital companion, for the most part I enjoy the solitude of my own space. I am comfortable in my own skin and content with my own company.

So I pray to remember that I am not of this world, I am of it only for a time. Someday, I will not be an outsider. I will be face to face with my Redeemer. His very own. An insider for eternity.

Susan Irene Fox at www.susanirenefox.com

Calling

old-door-handleWriter Elisabeth Elliot has said God’s NO is His mercy.  In this posture of trust I have seen that the doors that have shut on me have only led to portals that would swing wide open.

I have always felt barred from overseas missionary work. The door to service abroad that I tried and tried wouldn’t budge. In 1996, I set foot in California for the first time on a working vacation as a guest contributor to a Wycliffe Bible Translators magazine called The Sower. Through the research and writing, I was in part scouting the missionary landscape for my place in it.

Fast-forward about ten years to the night a church leader came over for dinner. I had gotten the sense that this man who was passionate for overseas missions, knowing nothing of the many challenges I’d faced, thought me complacent in my little world. He never cared to probe, to discover anything of the work abroad I had pursued but that had never panned out for me. That night, he picked up a copy of The Sower that happened to lie on the coffee table, and flipping through, caught my byline. Taken aback, he seemed to see me in a new light.

A deep, sweet realization emerged in a talk with a friend last week. When she expressed pleasure over my writing, I pointed out that my hands don’t have her creative touch and that I lack the verve and strength to serve people the way she does.

Then I suddenly got chills.

I saw that while the harvest of the Gospel is eternal, many things I arguably could have accomplished as a missionary would have remained limited in scope. But the words I have put down, here and in global publications, reach more people than I would teaching English or laboring to build a hut somewhere. I heard God’s answer to the judgment of the man who had wanted more…activity out of me. I don’t have to be going and doing – not the way God made me. My writing is my art and the art, my worship.

My worship, my calling.

These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. Revelations 3:7