Do you believe in love at first sight? Some may dismiss it, But I’ve fallen for so many women that way. Been swept off my feet by deep feeling females each brilliant in her own light. Lyndsay who gifted the courage for poems, Lauren was definitely love at first sight, Lacey, my very first friend at the red table closest the door. Amy, so wild, so creative, Andrea who prays and reads like she means it, Katy, who laughs when kids pee on her floor. Haley and Emma and Alisha and Layne on-call regardless of gravity or pain. An actual secret sisterhood I can’t mention by name cause they’d literally kill me- funding my funeral with their own pocket change. Internet friends, Fran, Anna, and Sharon, go-getting and knitting yarn and backyards, memes and machines, nothing and everything in between. There are countless comrades I can’t even name. More yet I don’t know, haven’t met, but will soon each face familiar on the broken-heart news. And they’re all so consistent. Lifting up, cheering on, lingering wings waiting, breath bated, hearts beating, saddled up, ride at dawn, ready to roll, to kick ass and cherish, to cheer and console. Ride or dies knotted together, a bracelet woven from threads of time, common ground, common love, common purpose, each one attached to the girl come before her, pulling behind her the girl further down. So forgive me for falling so deep and so quickly. Forgive me for not mentioning each one by name. You see, they are Limitless, Infinite, Eternal. Impossible to not fall for, to not love each the same.
3/8/22 – International Women’s Day
I have not yet met all of the birds here, nor been introduced to the squirrels. The trees are lovely acquaintances, but we haven't progressed much past small talk. I wonder how long it will take to stop feeling like a foreigner. There's the promise of many social engagements come spring: the hydrangea and that mysterious plant out front. But for now I am the new girl at school, waiting to be asked -finally asked- to sit at their lunch table, Waiting in the meantime for them to sit up and take notice of me. At least I have the light, steady companion from birth, the kind of kindred beloved at first meeting, like Lauren from the library eternally validating, each morning it pours reassuring warmth into my soul and gosh, it is so good.
Yesterday the most incredible thing happened to me. I don't know why it landed in my lap. I fear telling you, speaking it out, may weaken it. I saw a woman sitting stock still, pure and holy, motionless as I was, both of us transfixed by a crisp flock of crimson cardinals, the most I have ever seen in one spot. For five minutes I watched them before even noticing her. A mystic right under my very nose so still, so very still on the opposite creek bank that I'm still not convinced she was real. To share knowledge of her is to profane some holy mystery. And yet I am compelled to tell you she exists Crosslegged in the snow under a grove of bamboo, a basket in one hand, the other upturned. The cardinals swoop closer and closer and I saw one almost brave enough to land.
Recommended eating at Fuddruckers. This was after she told me about The decision to put her grandma Into a nursing home. There had been a "loud discussion" Regarding medication. Comments made about Negligent use of prescription drugs. Grandma, herself, shuffled To the airplane lavatory. "I hope she falls in the toilet." My nausea set in As we bounced over River, junk yard, Past, future. She filmed the take off To show her mother But not the landing.
Gosh and golly gee, it has been an absolute minute since I’ve written much on this old blawg. We’ve moved from our beloved Cleveland to the Hershey, PA area and so many things are in flux.
When I flew to Harrisburg in November to look at houses, I randomly picked up a book of Mary Oliver’s poems at the airport. I couldn’t stop myself after that, poems just poured out of me. I’ve shared quite a few on Instagram, but I’ve got a few more in my pocket that I’m planning to share in this space.
The Debbie Downer part of my brain says that no one reads blogs anymore and even fewer people are interested. Probably true. However, I’m learning that much of the writing process is less about engaging an audience and more about getting pen to paper. The writing process is cathartic and valuable even if no one reads it but me. Getting it all organized and typed in one spot (rather than scrawled all over the world and in my phone Notes) will give me an opportunity to practice editing.
So, all that to say, welcome to my new project. If you’re subscribed to new posts via email, you may get quite a few blasted at you at once…apologies in advance, haha! If you’re not subscribed via email and you’d like to follow along, be my guest!
My plan is to organize poems by months written, which will serve as a journal of our first year in our new home, this kooky little house on a hill. Thanks for joining along and for growing with me.
As always, you are tremendously loved!
What does abundance look like to you?
A friend posted the question on Instagram over a picture of gold wrapped Reese’s peanut butter cups.
The light in this new house hits differently. And so, I have found myself struck by ordinary things lit up by Pennsylvania sunbeams and made beautiful.
A feather that went through the wash.
LEGO figures battling on the worn tabletop.
Mushrooms and rainbows and the dog.
For me, in this moment, abundance looks messy.
Muddy boot smudges on the bathroom door.
Abundance should be “poured into your lap, a portion overflowing,” and yet I’ve found that abundance doesn’t always feel like enough. In fact, a lot of times abundance feels like too much.
An abundance of worry. An abundance of stress. An abundance of chirping babies to feed.
A sink full of dishes, a dryer full of clothes, a overflowing life of abundance. To he who is given much, much is expected, and I am often left feeling like things are too much and I am not enough.
Abundance is depth and breadth. It is everywhere, emptiness echoing through the spaces where I used to feel fulfilled, opportunities so abundant they scare me.
It’s easy to see abundance as too much and then the gift becomes a burden. I wonder how much abundance I view this way, how many gifts I resent.
In truth, abundance is too much. Of course it is. All is gift, after all. All is grace.
In our catechism lesson yesterday we defined grace as, “a supernatural gift of God bestowed on us, through Jesus, for our salvation.”
All the abundance, the gifts light as feathers and the heavy hard ones, all of it is grace meant to draw me to salvation. All of it exists for my good and, while I don’t particularly enjoy the struggle of scrubbing mud from doors, or spilled detergent from floors, or sin from my heart, I know that the abundance is an invitation to draw closer to the giver of all good things.
One look at my phone shows me abundance, friends I haven’t seen for years reaching out, sharing life across the chasm of the internet, huddling together in text threads to celebrate and mourn abundance.
Babies born, divorces, new jobs, good hair days, funny memes, pep talks and ass kickings. Abundance.
Perhaps I have found myself drowning in abundance over the last years, months, weeks, but I haven’t carried it alone. The grace upon grace is that my abundance might bury me, but I’m given an abundance of friends to shoulder it with me.
I can’t say for sure, but I think I’m feeling my heart shifting, settling into the newness of life after a move, viewing the overwhelming abundance of change through the lens of gift and not burden, or at least seeing it as good medicine that will make me better even though it’s hard to swallow.
What does abundance look like for you these days? Does it feel more like gift or burden? Both are valid, both are allowed. Mister Rogers said you can feel your feelings, after all. Perhaps the bigger takeaway for me is that, as with most things, abundance is both/and. The beautiful is sometimes wounding and the hard is often holy and a willingness to be broken and grow is the best way forward.
Here’s to a life of abundance and the grace to take none of it for granted.
A dear friend sent me a note in a Christmas card and I can’t get it out of my head.
May Christmas be extra special as we celebrate our nomad Savior who was always beginning again.
Maybe it’s just my little corner of the internet, but it seems like many of us are struggling. We’re weary, wounded, numbed, and needing. We’ve been through a hell of a lot in the last couple of years and the shreds of hope many have clung to have revealed themselves to be just that: shreds, not solutions.
Progress these days might feel like one step forward, two steps back. Many of us are lonely, lying in the leftovers of relationships that didn’t ride out challenges the way we expected them to. Or maybe we’re finding ourselves in new beginnings, drowning in imposter syndrome and wondering if everything we’ve done is a big mistake. If we’re a big mistake.
Christmas brings birth. It’s not the birth of the New Year with sequins and confetti and sparkling promises. It’s the birth of sacrifice. It’s the blood, the doubt, the sweaty brow, the smells of humanity and straw. Birth is not shiny and perfect. There are fluids and animal-like noises, effort, and pain. There is an immaculate form drawn open, widening to the point of breaking, through which newness enters, the fragile newness of a slippery baby sent here just to die.
The birth offered by Christmas is raw and ridiculous. After all, who ever heard of a king being born in a barn, much less God Himself? It’s so absurd that the Creator would want us so badly, desire us so deeply that He’d take the form of a wrinkly baby with a face (most likely) like that of Winston Churchill. And yet He did.
This refugee King, working with His hands, humbly knocked the world on its ear and continues to this day.
Guys, I know things seem dark. I know that we’re all exhausted from the arguing and the anxiety. We’re worried for our countries, for our families, for our freedoms, for our faiths. We feel so deeply and struggle to understand our neighbors and to even want to love them.
But I keep coming back to the Christmas card. We celebrate a nomad Savior who was always beginning again.
If, this Christmas, you feel homeless, so was He.
If you feel misunderstood by the people who are supposed to love you most, so was He.
If you’re navigating a road that requires bone deep sacrifice, so was He.
If you’re wandering in the desert, wrestling temptation, so was He.
If you are unsettled by the way things are and the systems of power, so was He.
If you are misjudged and misrepresented, so was He.
Our nomad Savior, the wandering healer who found belonging nowhere miraculously belongs to us all.
And so we begin again.
Our circumstances may be less than ideal this Christmas. Our world is broken now just as it was at the very moment of Our Lady’s final push which thrust Divinity into our wounded world. We cannot fix our situations. We cannot wish our worries away or secure an easier path for ourselves or our families.
But we can begin again.
Every misstep, every sin, every failing is an opportunity to return to him. Every sharp word or resentful sigh is an invitation to cradle the Baby to our chests, to breathe Him in and let the soft Newborn held against our broken hearts teach us how to submit ourselves to the Father.
We begin again and again and again as many times as it takes to get us to holiness, daily chipping away at the things that rebel against Him.
We begin again and take comfort in a nomad Savior who knows all about new beginnings.
We begin again taking comfort that we already know the ending.
Today my oldest son turns 8. It is also the 25th anniversary of the death of Henri Nouwen, hands down my favorite spiritual writer of our time.
As I contemplate the birth of my son and the death of my hero, I circle back to a truth that rarely escapes me: birth and death are inextricably connected. There’s so much more death to birth than I think we realize.
Death is part of a much greater and much deeper event, the fullness of which we cannot comprehend, but of which we know that it is a life-bringing event….What seemed to be the end proved to be the beginning; what seemed to be a cause for fear proved to be a cause for courage; what seemed to be defeat proved to be a victory; and what seemed to be the basis for despair proved to be the basis for hope. Suddenly a wall becomes a gate, and although we are not able to say with much clarity or precision what lies beyond the gate, the tone of all that we do and say on our way to the gate changes drastically.Henri Nouwen
Every birth I attend as a doula cements this truth in my mind. As I prepare my clients for their labors, they confide their worries, their fears, their anxieties to me.
“What if I can’t handle it?”
“What if the pain is too much?”
“What if I’m unpleasant/too loud/too demanding/not able to speak up?”
Each prenatal visit finds me steadying them, reminding them of what is true, reinforcing their purpose in this event, reminding them that this is sacred work that they do not have to do alone.
And every birth finds my clients face to face with those worries. Looking those anxieties straight in the eyes, nose to nose with the very things they fear will overcome them…and every time, they conquer.
What seemed to be the end proved to be the beginning.
What seemed to be the cause for fear proved to be a cause for courage.
What seemed to be the basis for despair proved to be the basis for hope.
I have seen so many walls become gates, so many women die to themselves, their very identities cracking open to let in new life. I have experienced the despair of transition that signals the imminence of breakthrough, of birth.
Women and men do not walk away from their births unchanged. The person they were before that baby enters the world is not who they are when the midwives finish up and the lights go back down. Birth requires death. Death requires transformation. Transformation becomes a gate to higher levels of holiness and a new understanding of the human experience.
Today I’m pondering all this as I celebrate my newly minted 8 year old, my biggest baby and most peaceful birth. I’m pondering his birth as I think of all the ways we’ve cumulatively died over the last couple of years: so much suffering, so many disappointments, and looming monsters that have forced us all to face fears we never even verbalized.
Our labor is long and hard, fraught with complications, progress alternatively piercing us to the core and seemingly stalling out. If we only view our life experience as hardship and pain, it’s certainly tempting to medicate ourselves with whatever will numb us out. There’s plenty to try: shopping, porn, hidden stashes of cookies, crime dramas that drown out reality. endless hours of scrolling. Of course epidurals and medications aren’t inherently bad. In fact they’re a very effective tool. However, if our motivation in using them is total avoidance of the experience, they’re less of a help and ultimately disappoint. A good epidural takes the edge off while allowing the patient to actively participate in her labor. I fear that many of us would rather feel nothing at all than engage in the dirty work of living. I fear that of myself, most especially.
If we neglect to view our labor through the lens of eternity, we hug up against the wall without ever allowing it to become a gate. The temptation is always there to focus on the hard stuff without letting it transform us. Yes it feels unrelenting, but each contraction brings change, each pain brings progress, each ache is an opportunity to allow ourselves to gradually open up and birth new life into the world.
I don’t know what God is calling you to bring into being. I’m not sure if you’re living in the expectancy of a growing baby, a growing dream, or a growing desire to commit yourself to hard work worth doing. Perhaps you’re living in the static of just honestly not knowing. I don’t know what your fears are, but I’d guess they have something to do with not being good enough for this thing you’re being asked to do. Maybe you’re afraid you’ll fail. I hope you do. I hope you fail and fail well. Maybe you’re afraid of change. Transition is definitely the hardest part of life and of labor. It’s that point of no return when we find ourselves just done with the job at hand, but too far in to turn back now. I’m sure there are nagging doubts and imposter syndrome and feelings of inadequacy. There are for me. That’s why I write as infrequently as I do, even though I know this is the hard holy work I’ve been tasked to do.
There’s no way for me to know where the gate leads for any of us. I can’t predict what horizons lie on the other side. But in all the haziness, I can remind us of what I know is true. I can remind you of what I know without a doubt. You were chosen for this purpose. You are the only one who can birth this child, this idea, this dream, this product into the world. You are necessary to this specific labor. This will be incredibly hard, but it will not overcome you because it comes from you, from a place deep inside you that is fed by the Holy Spirit and sustained by the communion of Saints. If you approach this birth through the eyes of eternity, you’ll see that you will never labor in vain. If you allow yourself to be transformed, the Lord will use you as co-creator, you will be a channel through which newness enters the earth.
Birth is death is birth. One requires the other. One begets the next. Each is heartbreaking, good, and beautiful. Both will wreck and ruin us in all the best ways.
So my prayer today is one of humility and obedience.
Lord, let me do this work not for what I will gain from it, but because it is what you have called me to. Help me to be faithful when strength is failing and humble in my pursuit of holiness. Let me submit myself to suffering, use it all to transform me into the person you created me to be. Use me as an instrument of your grace and help me to truly desire all these things I pray for. Let each and every death bear forth a birth more spectacular than the last. Grant me eyes to see it and the courage to run tirelessly towards every dead end that leads to you. Amen.