We walk into my padded room
and – yes – there is the pachyderm.
Of course it’s there, all grey and trunky!
‘But what the heck is smelling funky
from that corner?’, folk exclaim
as they exit, in disdain.
I stay perched upon the stool –
I will not run, or lose my cool.
I’m well aware that the steaming stench
makes teeth and hands and buttocks clench –
for fear of clearing up the mess,
for fear of what shit’s in their heads.
Out in the garden, folk relax,
and smell the roses, just kick back.
They may poo-poo my hefty creature
and be repelled by its excretia;
But the soil out here is fertile now
after years of work with my compost, and my trowel.
I stand, as prophesied – long pausing
ushers us to what outpouring?
Yoked launches looming, juxtaposing
how our stories keeps unfolding.
I once saw myself leaning against a hard rock wall, achingly tipped slightly forward so my forehead would maintain contact. It was imperative that I kept that connection, no matter what. That immovable impenetrable rock eventually crumbled to dust before me. Something from deep within me was drawn up, something that gifted restoration to the mess before me. I have learned and relearned to not be afraid of constructive destruction.
Darkness is part of God’s creative intention. Out of what is dark, formless, and void comes beauty and order. Out of death comes resurrection. Death and birth are holding hands. It always was, and will be.
At this point of impending transition, I am daunted yet focussed on the good purpose to come. This has always been much greater than I, and I can only stand within it all by grace far beyond myself. It’s the hard-standing of dust and clay that we will be reformed from.
What stands upon your landing?
What fear looms dark astride
your courage? Come, step up – you’ll find
you’re armoured beyond pride.
‘Are you man enough?’ The question empowers as much as it taunts. No matter what steps we face, what edifice lies before us, defiance of our own disquietudes – by faith in what is beyond us – is both crushing and courageous.
We are more than enough and never enough. We are only ever enough when we embrace that we have had enough of how our prideful fears constrain and restrain us. The sacrifice is only really in giving up ourselves in the truth of our helplessness, for the possibility that our downfall will be overcome by something greater than the sham we’re futilely projecting.
Whatever scary monsters lurk around the corners of our minds, man!- they can grow when we daren’t look them in the eye. Come on up, you have it all within you you know. Take the step. Enough’s enough.
Rooting from a broken branch
regrows the yew.
Steadfast standing sentinel
Tumoured overgrowth of pride
pricks anew –
sap me once again, my friend,
you’ll regenerate too.
The yew tree is well known in churchyards. It stands for longer than might be expected. It has unusual qualities; bearing needles yet not being coniferous, arcing into new life by apparent brokenness, being feared as poisonous yet providing treatment for certain cancers.
It stands within boundary walls but firmly outside the door. It stands and it endures and it thrives. The fruit borne has prompted dire warning -‘ stay away! – Do not be consumed by a toxic harvest! You’ll be buried by those berries!’ But a more appreciative inquiry of its worth will lead to an antidote for the metastasising mass within us.
Fears must be overcome, and the healing properties within tapped into. Walk out the heavy door and face the dark silhouette that looms over in constant view. Hidden within, it has a means to new life to bestow and share with you.
Much work against
the grain has lent
a bite so spent and worn.
Yet spits again
sweet dust and then
fuel for the fire is formed.
My husband spends many an hour harvesting wood for our wood burner. He will not fell a living healthy tree, but rather transforms what is already diseased or fallen into logs to heat our home. He has a deep respect and love for both trees and the wood – he tracks the grain with his fingertips and breathes in deeply the fragrance exposed by the rending of a trunk.
The chainsaw is a powerful tool, and it needs maintaining to keep it sharp and effective. Oil lubricates the action, and the occasional attentions of a sharpener hone the teeth. It’s use can seem a brutal reduction of a once majestic structure, and yet it is a process that re-purposes, and so honours, all it has to give.
Sometimes I hope that cutting across the way of things, when the sap has secretly stopped flowing, will eventually be seen to change and re-invigorate a structure I have much loved and respected.
And new shoots may be discovered in the spring season, arcing up from the old stump.
Contracted space inverted –
we may enter but we bring
the choice to be expansive,
space of possibility brims!
I’ve been grateful for those close to me, who have transformed a place of constriction within my heart and mind into one of expansion. I, of course, must also be mindful of how my demeanour and assumptions affect the spaces I move into.
Stories of contrasting characters in situations of conflict have risen before me many times in recent months. David, Saul, Solomon, Joseph, a tyrant king and mysterious mystics have all laid out their patterns – within and without. Attitudes and atmospheres intertwine, and outcomes may be redirected and reframed. Overcoming the instinct to simply defend our own interests is aspirational, but gritty realities can be so deceiving and constraining. What is beautiful and alluring though is the wonder of what might be, beyond the moment’s limited perspective. It invites us all to be courageous and generous.
Expanding my boundary has been promised to me. My capacity to cope with the discomforts that imposes on me is ever pressing back. The extent to which I choose to allow the possibilities is open before me. I hope I will step into that space more often.
No shadows, no shining,
‘neutrality’s’ prime on
not character – chosen.
It took a number of attempts to get a photo that passed the criteria for my passport renewal. There was so much rejection, followed by further attempts to conform! It needed to be ‘me’, but only within certain parameters. What I recognised was that sometimes security is encapsulated in too narrow an image; in community we may demand this of ourselves and others, and it is a false idol. I am made in the image of one so multi-faceted and free. My snapshots will reflect that wild truth, and will take me far.
for which I mourn.
Light of dawn
pierce like a thorn,
draw grace there-from.
I made a decision recently which hangs heavy within me. In the news this week, again, has been much about toxic cultures which flourish and perpetuate because of bonds of silence and cover-up. It is only when someone finally uses their voice that restorative justice has a real chance, and healing may truly come, in time. It is a daunting thing to do, but may be a catalyst for change that would not otherwise come. It strangely protects.
I do this while very mindful that compassion is needed for all parties. ‘Hurting people hurt people’ isn’t always true as imagined – and it isn’t always the most obvious ones with sole purview on this playing out. I ache for the hidden wounded ones who need immense understanding and care. I ache for a tending of their wounds too. I yearn for the patterns and undercurrents to be changed.
I await the gasp and wince from the harsh prick of enquiry. We may bleed some more, but I will keep vigil for a flow of good purposes to begin seeping through.
I’m razed-rebuilt upon the rubble
(reconstruction’s not so terrible)
Abiding clay not crumbling mortar
constructs new purpose as it ought to.
Being taken apart is frightening. A sense of fear and failure can overwhelm when only seen in the present.
We are told that we were made from clay, that from the earth we came and to the earth we’ll return. Our essence remains though the form changes.
I’ve allowed so many temporary things to hold my life together, to define its shape. I’ve been afraid when those things have been torn down in my life. But like a city razed then raised again, I see the essence repurposed even as the old constructs fall away.
The good bricks have been salvaged and a new build has begun.
Dark confines of that veil entrapped
my being and suggested that
my form and purpose were amiss.
What lies! Truth splits the chrysalis.
Change can be hard and much misunderstood. Disassembly of what was may invite lament, it may provoke derision. What is to come may be unexpected and unenvisionable. Only waiting will bring us to revelation.