Wednesday, January 30, 2013

On an Anniversary

30 January, 2013

On this anniversary day I find myself considering anew the reflection I wrote last year about the importance of my ring and cross… It is still a valid reflection, and yet as time passes and as things go,  there are new feelings and nuances I notice…

The covenant they represent has become ever more alive with experience…as though the bond is both loose enough and strong enough to accept the contours of my experience, incorporating them into its embrace and taking on new characteristics… This relationship is created to grow, to shift, to take on new shapes, new colors, shimmers, and bends…

In that way, my ring has become something less of an external symbol, though it obviously remains as one…it and what it represents have become a part of me in ways I didn’t ever imagine it could or that anything ever would…  There is a smooth stillness to it…and that stillness settles deep within me, steadying and warming my center, blooming and rising again and again and again as the love of God that motivates and consoles me, challenges and invites me.  There is a strength to its wholeness, to its edge-less-ness…that is a strength I walk with, that I try to share and live from…but its strength, while undeniable, is not a harsh or brute force…rather it is more of a solidity, a groundedness…and it is tender, and vulnerable in its own way…

The covenant is also embracing, as the ring embraces my finger…reminding me of the goodness of touch, of being held in so many different ways… held in God’s love, held in the arms of a friend, holding the hand of a child, being held in buoying laughter, held in the heart of someone who cares, held in the listening of someone who understands… and it speaks to me of the grace of holding others, too…of how many people fill my heart, dance with my spirit…how many people I surround and who surround me…  the cloud of “firefly saints” who light my hills with their glory, who surprise me in wonder…

Now more than ever I am aware of how these things, these gifts, markers, graces, are alive in me…with me…not external or internal…not here or there…or now and then…but YES.

And that YES is in the cross…it is a yes to community and freedom, to challenge and giving, to loving and releasing and seeking and teaching and noticing, touching…the human and the divine within me, within creation…A YES to the open heart, a heart that gives and receives and lives and moves and has wondrous, mysterious, being… and to which I have given my YES…

My yes that grows and changes and deepens and takes on the shape of my experiences…my yes that is loose and strong and embracing and ever growing into a fullness of Becoming.

On this anniversary day I am grateful for the journey and wonder at what will come…knowing that light and love will be a part of it all as it has been, since the first invitation to recognize God deep down things.

Monday, January 28, 2013

The poetry of place


And so I take my final sips

amidst the papers, pen, and books

strewn about my thinking space, amidst

the groupings of fours and sixes

laughing within the steamed windows

of this warm spiced haven where

the company one keeps matters,

where the feelings that arise

are born of the deeper joys,

the lasting nourishment of friendships

wrought of a life shared as freely

as the coffee flows into mugs raised

to this simple glory.

c. MperiodPress


Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Sanctuary of the Kitchen

In the Kitchen

I returned to the gallery where I heard Matisse paintings
call to me in verse of texture and color and feeling
as I lost myself in the harmony of contrast,
yolk to grain to pan.

While the nutty steam leaned in,
softening the edge of feta’s concern,
I said yes again and danced in the curved invitation
of arms that first led me in that fluid joy.

And my shoulders dropped in deep relaxed praise
as when I heard the choir notes bloom...

alone in the sanctuary, alone in the kitchen,
God and I, alive to the deeper beauty.


A number of years ago I had a chance to go to the Met and see a phenomenal exhibit of Henri Matisse paintings that were displayed alongside the fabrics from his collection that in some way influenced each work. Sometimes I could see the material outright on the canvas, and other times I could see the hint of texture or pattern or colors that moved from threads to bristles to the observing eye. I was drawn in and thoroughly captivated by the way Matisse brought the two mediums together, allowing them to inform one another...the paintings extended the dimension of the fabrics and the fabrics provided a foundation of ingredients for the painting...

What I discovered, too, was that I understood this drawing together in terms of a line break can add texture to a sentence or phrase, how the sounds of words sliding into one another or overlapping one another or contrasting with one another provide color, how encorporting environment into word choice brings poetry to where I am writing and extends my writing place onto the page or screen and into the space where the work is being read or received.

The other day I awoke ridiculously early and spent quite a while in the warm and permeable space bridging night and day. There, where ideas can be experienced with delicate intention, it occurred to me that flavors and ingredients are another medium for interpreting the pleasures of art and language...flavors can soothe, invite, pique, or intrigue...ingredients can harmonize or dominate, underline or intimate...

What and how I cook or write or what art I find pleasing is based on many things...working with what is available, sometimes...finding something that inspires, sometimes....the desire to stretch and try something new...caprice, the invitation of someone I trust, the need or desire of another, the motivation of God...

It seems to me that creativity, whether with paint, fabric, voice, pen, perhaps another gently twining in-between place...a place that accepts feeling readily and allows the passion of its expression, a place where the yield can be shared to feed others, feed the self, feed the soul...

So too, and most readily of all, God accepts the intensity of my feeling and allows its expression, invites it, even...what else, then, is prayer?

Put another way, the discovery in an act of creativity leads to revelation... And what is revealed in the expression of the essential, however it is presented, but something of what I know and experience of God?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Lentils and humility

I have had grand conversations with friends over these last days that wound their way round to the idea of humility and how we understood it... To get there we passed through the village of cultural understandings about "Lord I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof," and the hills of those things, qualities, abilities, that are rights, those that are deserved, and those that are inextricably bound to Living.
My take on humility is that at its best, it is a steadying integration, a conscious center of gravity, and actually both emboldening and freeing. To accept that there is nothing, nothing, that can separate me from the love of God is astoundingly liberating to me. And to be able to accept it truly, for the gift it is, I need also know my capacity for causing hurt, for fearing, for turning from hope. I find that walking with the synergetic fullness of both of those realizations a humbling steadies me...motivates me to walk on, arms open to whatever is ahead, aware of both myself and God, fearing neither, loving both, grounded in holy reality.
This conversation came back to me in the kitchen about two hours ago while making lentil soup. Does it get more humble than a lentil? Alone, it is ordinary, simple, rather earthily neutral in taste...yet packed with healthy benefits and the potential to become much more. With the help of chicken broth, onion, garlic, thyme, bay leaves, cumin, and tomatoes, individual lentils joined in purpose and became a flavorful meal for six.
With the help of God and of others, I too come to see a greater fullness of who I am called to be. I see what needs tempering, what needs complemented, what flavors I bring to a group, what I am capable of that I did not know before I was not only called to enter in and offer myself, but before I accepted, not knowing, uncertain, but hopeful.
There is no reason for a lentil to shirk the glory of its becoming. Nor any human.

(Image from

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Empty Bowls, Spoons Licked Clean, or, My Birthday, 2013

It is the end of the day and my hands alternate between tikky-taps on the keyboard and wrapping around a deliciously comforting mug of hot peppermint tea. I am tired and full and newly 43 years old. Today was my birthday.

I spent the day preparing for guests who were going to join us for supper. Over the week I had decided on the menu...sort of a tapas approach...diverse, light-ish, with multiple textures, temperatures, and flavors. To that end, we began with crackers, carrot slices, hummus, and a hot feta/artichoke spread. After that was a warm and citrusy couscous salad with edamame, zucchini, mushrooms, pearled couscous cooked in orange juice and water, and a green onion/juice of a lemon and lime/pinch of salt/two of sugar/olive oil vinaigrette. Then, a crusty multigrain sourdough with a warmly spicy tomato soup. The cake, made by a community member, was angel food, a tradition for me, topped with a blop of whipped cream and diced strawberries.

There were those who wondered why I was making my own birthday dinner, as custom dictates that it is generated by other means. To be honest, it is the first time in my memory that I have been principle cook...but I knew it was what I wanted to do this year. I wanted to make a poem-meal to share.

The time in the kitchen was precious joy...feeling the edamames slip through my wet hands, giving an even thin slice to earthy zucchini, smacking open the treasure chest of a garlic clove with the flat of a knife, watching the emulsion magic of oil and acid uniting, swirling milk into the spice speckled red pool of tomatoes and chicken broth, freely editing tastes and textures throughout the process...all the while deeply content in knowing that this would be shared by others over laughter and conversation.

It would turn out that I was not the only one who had been planning a menu for this day. God too presented ingredients for me to consider in my hours of contemplative composition. The quiet joy of a developing friendship; the tender, understanding, words and love of an amazing friend thousands of miles away and as near as my heart; news received yesterday that needs time to find its place within me about a family member; the six and a half year old daughter of a cousin who was recenly speaking to her grandfather, my uncle, about the little tiny woman who lives in my pocket--a story I told her the last time I saw her--three years ago; the singing telegram another friend left me on my voicemail; cards received from people I love around the country and the world;  the fond memories brought about by sipping bottled root beer while I stirred and sampled.

It was a beautiful coming together, those hours...history, present moment, future...acts of creation, acts of love...flow and challenge...the invitation to grow and appreciating the path already journeyed...silence and thanksgiving.

As we ate and shared in the different stanzas of our meal, our stories and the food itself began to come together as tastes sparked the syllables of memory and curiosity. Questions begat questions and bowls, plates, and glasses were refilled.

...until quiet came upon us, dishes were emptied, and spoons licked clean...

                     THE BEGINNING 

Thank you, God, for the life you have given me...precious, vulnerable, sometimes piquant, and always extraordinary.