Sunday, October 26, 2014

Marriage poem after almost thirteen years

Thirteen years ago my frog prince and I paraded out of the church hand in hand as husband and wife. 

Here's a little poem to celebrate:

children sleeping
dishes drying
laundry folding
summer planning
my family
          your family
                    our family
pin points on the map
we can not please or be with them all
our words begin to hurt
voices rising
time to brush clenched teeth
sheets rustling
children whimpering
I say they peed
You say they’re fine
talking in circles we get no closer
upstairs the girls are wide legged frogs
dreaming soundly on wet lily pads
you carry them down and peel off the wet
then slide on the dry gowns
and lay them on our bed
I strip urine soaked sheets
breathe in a kiss of
damp hair on sweaty foreheads
we stake a claim
to either side of
these sleeping proofs of love made
washing machine fills and agitates
I ask if I can warm
my cold feet on you
and you say yes
 as always
our feet touch
I say
I love you
I do

Thursday, October 23, 2014

This path towards becoming a writer

Last January Helena called and asked if my son could spend a week in Canada with their family in the summer.  Helena had allowed me to write the story of their son Adam who had died in a farming accident. It was the first piece I ever published (outside of newsletters).  Our families have stayed in touch through letters, phone calls and prayers.  We wondered over the phone on how we could get our family to Minnesota so that they could meet us there and bring our son back to Canada.  I started to plan a road trip from Georgia to Minnesota.....if only I could find a way to buy only one plane ticket for him and get a free plane ticket home from Minnesota.... and something for me to do for a week....

In February there was a small blurb in Conspire magazine about an all expenses paid writing workshop led by Jonathan Wilson Hartgrove called "Writing to Change the World" in, you guessed it, Minnesota.  Well, I thought, I want to learn more from Jonathan and I want my writing to change the world and I want my son to spend a week in Canada and this could get me to Minnesota.  So, I applied.

In April I was accepted!  The Collegeville Institute is a gem of a place that has nurtured writers like Kathleen Norris, Parker Palmer, Laura Winner, Krista Tippet and now little old me.

We spent May and June planning the road trip: camping at Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, visiting friends and  family reunion in Chicago, staying with my husband's extended family in Minnesota, planning for my mom and dad to care for our daughters in Ohio and for Michael to drive back to Georgia.  We got our son a passport and signed and notarized a letter for our friends to drive him across the border.

In mid-July we took the trip which is another story in and of itself.

All that planning so that for one week in August I could sit with 12 other writers and say, yes, I want to keep paying attention and listening and adding my voice to the conversation.  I want to be a writer.

What brought me here?  I wanted a way to get to Minnesota so that my son could go to Canada for a week.

My son and daughters and husband all had wonderful times scattered across the continent in Manitoba, Ohio and Georgia respectively.  For one week they managed just fine without me doing their laundry, cooking or telling them what to do.

That week may not have changed the world but it changed me.  It might only be an hour or two a week, but I have resolved to keep writing.  I want to write to figure out what I think and hope that might help others along too.  I want to write even if I don't have all the answers.

It connected me to a wonderful little community of people that want to write too and they have invited me to share in their conversations.

Many of our workshop folks have written or write for Red Letter Christians. Jonathan Wilson Hartgrove, Paige Cordial Brtiney Winn Lee, Joshua Hearne, and DL Mayfield have all written really beautiful and though provoking things in that blog to help us along in following Jesus. Here are my posts on the long term psychological impact of police misconduct and the humbling work of parenting.

Danielle Mayfield (who I admire immensely and I can't wait to read her new book) invited me to write in her blog about "The Book That Changed My Life"  Since I wrote this essay I've thought of many others like Beyond the Rat Race by Art Gish, Left To Tell by Imacculee Iligabiza, With Our Own Eyes by Don Mosley 12 Marks of a New Monasticism by Jonathan Wilson Hartgrove, The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin,  Celtic Daily Prayer the list goes on... Maybe I'll write about them another day.

Because of my community's work with refugees from Sudan I got to attend a preview of the film the Good Lie this summer and I wrote a review about it. Danielle encouraged me to offer it to Christ and Pop Culture and here it is.

Lydia Wylie Kellerman started a blog called Radical Discipleship and invited me to write for that.  I have gone back and forth about what I think regarding gay marriage and the church.  Meeting Lydia really pushed me over the fence. When I met her I instantly valued her voice and saw her as a fellow mom and sister in Christ.  Then I realized that she is married to a woman and is part of an affirming Christian community.  That friendship  has pushed me over the fence.  This is what I wrote about going to a revival and hearing a pastor preach against gay people and Christians that love and welcome them.  Walter Wink was a genius and I appreciate his liberating read of the Bible.

So, there it is.  I schemed a way to get a free plane ticket home from Minnesota so that my son could go to Canada. In the process I've decided to go ahead and keep writing and see where it leads me next!