Finding focus in these times.

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I went to the field of sunflowers to live deliberately.

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At least that’s what I’d tell Thoreau.

But really, I went to capture the bent and spindly yellow necks arching in unison towards the sun rising up and over the field, over the chaos of rapidly agin’ old roads and new ones no one can seem to find, and though I want to lend a hand to all the changin’ I can’t bear the red veins of pain running through it all.

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Never mind the rhubarb or tomatoes.

Never mind the kale or bib lettuce.

Never mind the pole beans or rows of corn.

They can do their own sweet thing, ’cause see in the old days they used to tell writers to come and prophesize with pens, to keep our eyes wide, for the chance won’t come again to see what’s being planted. But I don’t got eyes for much right now. Maybe that’s not the right way but it’s the only way I know to survive the growing waters drenching my bones.

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All I know for sure is what the sunflowers know,

to follow the sun.

To soak up warm Truth shining down

and follow.

Follow the sun.

*****

“Don’t get sidetracked…” Proverbs 4:27 (NLT)

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The order is rapidly fadin’
And the first one now will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’
-Bob Dylan

second servings.

sweet tea

Shame sticks

to folks like sweat on a glass of iced tea on a hot summer day,

the condensation of cool, sweet hope as it

slams

up against thick and humid heat of pain.

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No one asks for shame

and the folks who dish it out don’t know any better. Better to assume they don’t, because the alternative would be that they shove the blame of their pain onto someone else on purpose, the recipient simply collateral damage of a load,

indeed a pall,

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no one was meant to bear.

Do you feel shame,

your shoulders aching from the weight of it, your frame bent and caddywampus from the way it makes you lumber through the days?

A sack of salt blistering your tender palms?

Because as much as we want to give up the shame we carry, most of us want to own it. If we’re honest, flat out honest, the shame feels good, and we appreciate the applause of those who notice the hunch of our tired backs, who inadvertently encourage us to hang on to the heavy instead of releasing it like the only One in history

His-

-story

who was able to say–and mean it

forgive them, Father. They know not what they do.

Here, Abba, take the shame. Because the double portion isn’t only for the shamed, but also for the one who’s dished it out, the one who piled the double portion of sorrow on the plates of others and for whom grace

oh, elusive grace

grace says the shame-throwers deserve a double portion, too. The ones who roll the dice at our feet and fight over the shredded aftermath of our soul killings, they’re captives, too, after all. They just don’t know they are.

Which is worse

Than letting go.

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Drop it, then.

A double portion waits for you and waits to overflow, runneth over, pour into the brokenness of the shame-throwers’ empty hearts.

Feels like lassoing stars, this business of dropping our beloved shame bags and sharing double portions but somehow the Gospel can handle this sort of greed and apparently joy and freedom are two of the few feasts where even in our gluttony we’re never filled.

We can’t receive even a single portion when we’re clinging to the thing we can’t give up.

But when we do, we

you

even me

even they

will be

radiant.

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*****

Instead of your shame
    you will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace
    you will rejoice in your inheritance. (Isaiah 61:7-8)

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Those who look to him are radiant;
    their faces are never covered with shame.
 This poor man called, and the Lord heard him… (Psalm 34:5-6)

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The Harlan family struggles with emerging from generations of shame in the novel How Sweet the Sound. For a limited time, you can order the e-book version of the novel for only $2.99 (or even less at some retailers). Click here to choose from your favorite e-book retailer today.

And see why folks like Rachel McMillan at BreakPoint are saying How Sweet the Sound is not your grandmother’s Christian fiction (click here to read her gracious article).

 

Yesterday’s game to play. A poem.

Yesterday

the teacher asked my middle
son what do you want to be when you grow up
and he replied in the usual fashion of one
who believes
there is a world to grow up into
where souls don’t have to flee to mountains
and days are not filled with reminders of how things must have been for Noah
And so I smiled and nodded trying
hard to believe in growing up
and peace under
darkened suns and moonless nights

Today

I fled to my garden where mounds of hydrangea blooms cool
if only for a moment
the low grade fever of sadness spiking within me
Truth be told I’m hot and shaky and my head is filled with news flashes and the

thud

thud

thud

of boxes of food and diapers–diapers!–as they land on hills
trembling from the cries of the least of these and
despite the hydrangeas my soul screams
where
are the Bonhoeffers and Niemöllers and
why
didn’t we listen to them in the first place
but still
the bright yellow cross painted by my oldest son years ago stands steadfast beneath our river birch
and the Still Small Voice moves me like a
trumpet call and I choose
not to grow weary but to

go

keep watch and
live.

*****

Yesterday, love was such an easy game to play
Now I need a place to hide away

~The Beatles

*****

cross