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Last night, I tucked my little blond boy into bed
When he woke up in the night, I laid beside him to nurse him
I kissed his soft cheeks and breathed deep his baby scent, still lingering
I gave him his blanket and his snuggle whale
And I left him safe and sleeping again

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Oh, Rehan, you could not tuck your boys into bed last night
You dressed them instead for an escape attempt
Desperate to keep them safe, desperate to get away
You carefully tied on Aylan’s little brown shoes
You slipped his red shirt over his head
The one that would make him easy to spot
In case you were separated, even for a moment
I can see you so clearly as you walked onto the boat
You holding Aylan’s right hand, Abdullah his left
Galip held close to your other side
All of you praying for safe passage, huddled close together
Praying for a miracle that did not come

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Photo Source

They found you all this morning, Rehan
Lifeless on the beach in Bodrum
As I took Benny out for donuts
Oblivious to your story
Tired from caring for my own babies
In my safe, warm, suburban home
Far from the violence and horrors you fled

The whole world saw Aylan’s picture
His tiny body shaped so like my Benny’s
Curled with his bottom a little in the air
The way little boys sometimes sleep
When they were babies only yesterday
His red shirt hiked up a little, showing his little boy belly
His little fingers so still, his little eyes shut tight, pressed in the sand

The way I left Benny sleeping last night safe
While you fled for your lives
Aylan’s shoes, the ones you tied so carefully
Were still on his tiny feet
He really could have been sleeping
Except that his dark head was not safe on a pillow
But on sand in the quiet waves lapping the beach
Where he washed up after your boat capsized

My heart breaks for his loss
For the loss of his brother
For the your loss,
For Abdullah’s heartbreak as he reclaims your bodies
My pain at the sight of your little boy
Curled up like he might be sleeping
Is nothing compared to the terror you must have felt
As you led your boys onto the boat
As you realized it was going down
As the water swept them away from you
As you took your last breath
And we are to blame
We who know what is happening
We who stand by
And we must find a better way
We must find a path to action
So there are no more little boys washing up on beaches

But today, I will cry the tears you cannot
Today, I will hold my little boy the way you held Galip
I will kiss his head like you kissed Aylan’s
Today, I mourn your boys and you and all the others
Today, I lament
Today, I grieve
You, who were lost at sea
You, whose little boys washed up on the shore
Today, I can only weep for you
And for your little boys, so like mine

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Photo Source

One on What Love Is

They asked him to prioritize:
Which was the greatest commandment
And I doubt he even hesitated
Before he threw the gauntlet twice:
Love the Lord your God
With everything in you, he said
And the second beat the same drum
Love your neighbor as yourself
And so when he restored his dear friend
The one who denied him three times
He asked him the same question, over and over
Do you love me?
Do you love me?
Do you love me?
And each time his friend answered yes
He repeated this charge
Feed my sheep
Feed my lambs
Feed my sheep
Greater love, he told them another time
Has no man than this
That he lays down his life for his friends
And then he gave the greatest love
Pouring out his life for his friends
And so the Way should be clear
Love first,
Love above all else
That instruction to Peter
Turns the second commandment into the first
The way to love God
Is to love others as ourselves
To feed them
To sacrifice for them,
To lay our lives down
To choose the hard path
To choose the path of sacrifice
To give the benefit of the doubt
The same way we give it to ourselves
To give grace first
To forgive before the apology
To always always turn toward mercy
Even when we want to put other things first
Truth first
Or Justice
Or Being Right
Even when we think we know a better way
Even when this way seems impossibly hard
Insurmountably steep
Even when it seems we will lose ourselves in the giving
The way is still Love
The path is still clear:
Love like he did
Because he first loved us
The greatest commandment is Love
And the second is like it
Love your neighbor
As yourself
Feed my sheep
Greater love has no man than this

One for the Light

Let the light shine

May we make it welcome

Let its warmth flood

Each place long gone cold

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Let the light shine

All around each of us

Let it dry out pure

All the dank, dark mold

Let the light shine

May it grow us upward

Feeding every seed

Meant to grow and bloom

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Let the light shine

Blazing in its brilliance

May its burning glow

Fill up every room

Let the light shine

Out of each bright vessel

Let it stretch out wide

Across the open space

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Let the light shine

Its beams illuminate us

May Love’s brightness

Fall on every face

Let the light shine

Dazzling as it dances

Drawing every gaze

Toward its holy source

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Let the light shine

Onward toward the morning

As its gleaming guides us

Along the sublime course

it gives me a pit

deep in my gut

when i hear the words of women

harshly cutting

casting judgment

drawing lines in the sand

we war with words

“just a stay at home mom”

“why have kids if you’re not going to raise them”

words that divide

words that wound

words that soak in deep

judgments uninformed

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when we refuse to engage

we lose so much

because we envy?

all that time at home

the giggles and noise and every day together

all that adult conversation

quiet and concentration

the recognition of achievement

because we regret?

choices we made

to go to school

not to go to school

choices to have one more

or a dozen

choices to only have one

choices not to have one at all

choices to volunteer for the PTA

choices to teach our kids only at home

choices to advocate

choices to let them learn for themselves

choices we are making still

some living lives not chosen at all

choices carve caverns between us

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because we don’t take time

to contemplate

to try to understand

to look beyond the surface

we cut ourselves off

from others who live out

a story different from our own

we decline – not at all gracefully

to do the hard work

of hearing each other’s stories

of holding each other’s hands

of being each other’s friends

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well, i am standing down

refusing to contribute

cynicism and suspicion

assumption and criticism

walls between us

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i choose instead

to see the best

to assume there’s more

to listen

to really hear

to firmly put aside

defensiveness

anger

pride

to reach out

to stretch hard

to love relentlessly

women who mother one

women who mother many

women who do not mother

women at home, working

women at work, working

women working it out

every day, laying their lives down

making choices deeply considered

choices different from each other

choices to put our children first

to sacrifice for them

to be our best for them

to call out their best by our example

sisters all

daughters of the king

full of destiny

full of purpose

full of life

valuable and valued

worthwhile – every one

one on encouragement

BTS

compassion, I get
and that’s close
to encouragement – it’s hard
to balance between
noticing good
and nagging for better
it’s in the tone
in the heart
in feeling out
the heart of another

how can i pour courage in?
how can i call courage out?
how can i help courage grow?

i know you can do it
you are so brave
so smart
so kind
so perservering
you did that well
i’m proud of you
i’ll be right here
how can i help?
i knew you could do it

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One on How I Take It

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not every day
not any more
since I endured
an aching head
letting habit go
because my tiny
daughter grew inside

not black alone
not any more
cream and sugar
sitting listening across
from new friends
an old one
someone needing time

not for speed
not anymore now
instead slowing down
to listen better
to really hear
for contemplation’s sake
taking it slow

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(photo credit: Erin Blinn Photography (c)2013)

One on Diving

Starting Blocks

I was a swimmer
Diving only from the blocks
Never the high dive

Which turned the water
An illusion
That might not break your fall

I was a swimmer
Who won by finishing
Without touching the lane line

Persistently, quickly
Churning out laps
Fly, back, breast, free

A tiny girl then
Before puberty conspired
To give me curves

Interfering with my aerodynamics
Aquadynamics?
Slowing me down

I was a teammate
Walking the length of the pool
Shouting encouragement loud

Before puberty conspired
To make me self-conscious
Afraid of what people might think

I have relearned fearlessness
In encouragement
Shouting loud celebration

Of hard work
Of effort
Of overcoming obstacles

But I never regained
My speed off the blocks
Though I can still swim far

And I still won’t
Dive off the high dive
But I will jump

Cheering them on

One for 2013

Simplify
one word for 2013
wherein I have – to start
too many things
taking up too much
precious time
and attention
that could otherwise
belong to my tiny girl
or her big brother
or her daddy, my love
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Simplify
where can we live
with less
what takes up
too much space
in my house
in my mind
in my heart
how can I reduce
slow down
notice
where can I be
more intentional
present
uncluttered

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Simplify
hold on
only to what matters
set free
the things that do not
things least of all
people most of all
resources
carefully allocated

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Simplify
so in the end
we have
just enough
and no more

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The gentle reminders
That I am known
And loved
Knowing not only
Are my very hairs numbered
But the desires of my heart
Are affirmed and treasured
By the One who made and called me

Two words –
One old from a prayer meeting
Years ago
Spoken directly to my heart
Almost forgotten
Bouncing yet another
Not-my-baby
Quietly to sleep
Gently the words:
I will give you your own

And now she grows so quickly
Coming very soon
A fulfilled promise

The second just this morning
A blessing that spoke
Directly to the heart of me:
Grace and motherlove
Giving birth to hope
Gathering in
Holding close
Not only those who are mine
Not only those who are His
But those unloved
Those unwelcome
The motherless in need
Of encouragement
Of being held close
Of hearing even the hard things
Delivered in love

Part of my deepest heart
Gone a bit dormant lately
Ready to reach out again

Saving my life right now
Are two communities:
The echoes
Of the one that grew me up
And the realities
Of the one embracing me now
(Mostly) grown
Places of knowing and being known
Thin places
Where the kingdom comes
Where Love breaks through
To save

Synchroblogging: http://sarahbessey.com/in-which-we-are-saved-synchroblog/

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As I sit and type
Her tiny body moves within mine
More distinctly every day
She runs a hand across my middle
Just above my belly button
She kicks high
One tiny foot
Up near my rib cage
And I know she is running out of room
That her feet will soon find my bones
And all this movement will be far less comfortable
My tiny daughter
Her body
Long promised
Moving within me
Instills deep calm
Even as she stretches out my skin
And tiny red marks streak out
Along my belly
Her daddy and I run our hands
Over this ever-more-prominent curve
Her brother leans in close
To whisper good morning
And I love you
We seek out her movement
Finding unending delight
In this small engagement
And I know I will never
See this body
These curves
Ever less than perfect
In the same way again
Appreciation newly born
Paving her pathway
Her body teaches me
To love my body
A favor I hope I can return
Long before she carries
A tiny life inside her own

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