The Horse

News last week triggered a tailspin, the white-knuckle kind that leaves a burn in your chest and grit in your teeth.  Black Hat Fear has been lurking and my heart is weary from moonlit porch vigils, hours of shotgun-toting snarls into the dark, “Get Off My Land.”

Sometimes I need to change scenes and get dizzy on purpose.

Hem in where Fear holds no ticket.  Hear the gate clink behind me, pick my horse based on lane and favorite color.

Wave and wave and wave at my people, who thrill to see me happy, dimples finally showing.

I’ll ride ’til I realize I’m no longer pretending, feel the peal of the pipe organ coax out wild Hope, and lean into the lure of certain Joy — all of these bright bells and whistles just for me.

***

Watch here and smile wide with me today?

Credits: Photo 1; Photo 2

*Joining Amber C. Haines at www.therunamuck.com as she leads a group of writers through her Concrete Abstractions series, writing out spirit through concrete things in life.  Today’s word, HORSE. 

The Chain Letter

The unsuspecting bite down hard
on cheap content strung together like
fake pearls from a hawker’s duffle;
A back-alley transfer, pony up
and you’ll be left alone.

The promise is a saving purpose,
a one act play on sympathies.
Join Crusaders for the non-existent,
hook verbal chains around your soul
and stamp it out, forward march.

The generous enlist,
clamp on hearts dear,
lend credence to the lie, drag
down in cheap trade for
costume jewelry peace.

Break link and earn dishonor,
red carpet roll out for a seven year plague.
Even skeptics calculate,
tuck letters flat in low dresser drawers.
How old would I be?

What if we called it Bluff,
yanked Just from just in case
with word power brave and sharp?
You can’t be bound! Love does not barter;
You, yes, YOU are necessary.

Copy, paste. Pass on letters
unscrambled over light,
a misfit chain gang for the King,
a mass recycling
of exponential Grace.

Photo Credit
*Experimenting with poetry and joining Amber C. Haines‘ series, Concrete Abstractions, at www.therunamuck.com as she explores writing out spirit through the concrete things of life.  This week’s topic, CHAIN.

The Table

olive tree

Mara bent over the table and raised the saw in her trembling hand as tears poured down her face.  Night had fallen in Nazareth and, except for the animals, she was alone in her house.  A warm heaviness blanketed her; still, her skin crawled with unwelcome goosebumps.

She was really going to do this.

She watched the shadows of moonlit branches strike chords over the brown and yellow streaks of olive wood.  A dozen years ago, Jesus had built this table for her, right inside this room.  He had carved the branch of a thousand-year-old olive tree, fit it right into the stone wall beside her bread oven.  When Mara first glimpsed its breathtaking polish and engravings, she panicked.  Surely she could not afford something so extravagant.  But Jesus had assured her it was a gift.

And now she was going to chop it in half.

Memories flooded back from the day she and her husband, Simon, had clamored into the synagogue with the rest of the village to hear Jesus teach.  How hometown pride had morphed into rage, and her people spat, screamed and shamed.  She had grabbed Simon’s cloak so he could run fast after Jesus with a mind to murder.

Mara remembered another day when the herald had announced that Jesus of Nazareth had been crucified, but that three days later his tomb had been found empty.  She had vomited on the spot.

Now, seized with foreign passion, she took the blade to her table.  The oil lamp danced as she cut.  “It’s what He’d want,” she prayed as a mantra with each pull of the saw.  For Mara had since met her old neighbor boy for the first time.  She knew what to do.

A dizzying, sweet aroma filled the stagnant air as the dense olive wood slowly split, shavings mixed with flour mixed with sweat and tears.  Her head spun as she wrestled with the gift given by her Lord.  She said goodbye to the altar where she pounded out her daily rhythm, the pressing in and pushing down, the kneading, waiting, grinding.

By sunrise, the table lay in four jagged pieces outside her narrow door.  This new day, and every thereafter, she dragged them into the courtyard where she laid them over rolled up mats, picnic low.  Sometimes banquet style, sometimes as floating islands to accommodate more.  Mara offered her bread for free and spoke forgiveness to those who once tried to push her Savior off a cliff.  She prayed for her brothers and sisters out loud while looking straight into their eyes, in Jesus’ Name.

People came hungry; Truth poured out.  They sang and prayed with palms open, calling out miracles and receiving Grace.  Here, at the table over rocky terrain, they served, listened, shared and sacrificed, rich and poor elbows bumping, young and old hands gripping.  Here, together, they gathered ’round their new daily rhythm, the lifting up and breaking off, the needing, waiting, rising.

One hot night after the gathering, Mara assembled the table in its original form outside her house so she could sleep under the stars.  She laid down on top, breathed in the sweet smells of olive wood, life spilled and eternity glimpsed.  She breathed out, and Jesus of Nazareth welcomed her Home.

At sunrise, a merchant found her with her hand resting near her heart, over an engraving made by the table’s Builder that Mara, having no formal education, had never been able to read.

In royal lettering, it simply said, “Broken for You.”

Image Credit: ePublicist

*Experimenting with fiction and joining Amber C. Haines‘ series, Concrete Abstractions, at www.therunamuck.com as she explores writing out spirit through the concrete things of life.  This week’s topic, TABLE.  You may read the account of Jesus’ rejection at Nazareth in Luke 4:14-30, and mention of church growth throughout Galilee in Acts 9:31.  Thank you for reading.

The Boy

He slipped in the front door like the mild December air, a silent rebellion.  We settled on the low, blue couch in the den.  My parents pretended to be busy.

He had ended it over the phone ten days before, with no real explanation.  My young heart had given out.  Plus, he’d stolen Christmas.

We stared at our hands not touching while the tv buzzed in the background.  He had no words left; I had words on lock down.

So we made up new ones.

“I should have asked you to marry me a long time ago,” he lied.

“I would have said No,” I lied back.

Later, I learned he only came that night because my mom had called.  He was her One That Got Away.

Turns out you can build an Ebenezer out of bullets dodged.

*Joining Amber C. Haines at www.therunamuck.com in her new study, Concrete Abstractions.

Living Books

In the beginning, books were my friends.  Now the reverse is true.

Here are some of my favorites.

She is trendy and popular.  I wonder why she hangs out with me.  She takes me places I’d never go alone.  She pulls me into the crowd where we line dance with a dozen copies, eyes wild, until our cheeks blush.  We cluster round, snap our Chiclets, and flap about Hermes bags, platinum cards and New York brownstones, the trappings of modern day Babylon.  I nod in agreement, glance over my shoulder.  We snicker like the female side of a seventh grade dance, hands over mouths, and it feels so good to belong. I get home too late, drop my shiny jacket on the floor, and sleep off the nagging knowledge that you are what you eat.

She is always within reach.  I never regret making time for her.  We stake out the comfy chairs and curl up in the corner, knowing in a blink the gust from the next several hours will flip over that “Open” sign.  She draws me in and I rest in her presence, drink in familiar stories.  Her words are slathered in butter.  She Cross-references me and tells me the ways of wise women.  I want everyone to know what a friend she is, but I mute my reviews because, really, I want her all to myself.  She has stayed with me through dark chapters to remind me that this is not the end.  No, this is not how it will end.  She lets me take my time.

They are a sticky pile, covered in marker.  Crumbs hide in their creases.  I kick away Legos, settle into my spot.  I tuck them in tight, bend back corners and smooth covers.  He whispers of secret passages.  She bursts with color and song.  We blend together until Jesus and Noah sail off to the Goodnight Moon.  I lose myself in their scent of peanut butter and lavender, which I want to bottle in a sippy cup so I can rediscover it ten times over.  I notice my inscription all over them, still awed by how it got there.  They are bite-sized pieces of poetry in motion.  I memorize their words, their art.  We share giggles and tears, then more giggles — always ending in giggles.  I linger long after they are finished.

He is rough and unpolished, fully dedicated to me.  He is the co-editor to our work in progress.  We meet barefoot over wine and hot dogs to trade stories from a day of meetings and meeting needs.  We discuss the friction between our developing characters and, in grace, strike out whole sections.  We laugh as we trade new quotes and rehash old ones.  Sometimes a lot is accomplished; other nights we just sit and mull it over.  His eyes are always on the goal, and I can trust him to make the close calls.  We make a good team.  Still, I try to imagine the earlier drafts of his life story, before I entered the scene.  He knows, but does not hold it against me.

I ponder these relationships as I sit with the “Word became flesh” and search for meaning.  How would these dear ones describe me?  Which version of myself is closest to the truth?  How much is lost in translation and does it even matter?  There is already One, Word undefinable, who knows.  And His Story, praise God, is not all about me.  He is the Author of all mystery; the already but not yet.  So I spin in this holy reversal where down is up, last is first, and end is beginning, ears piqued for the trumpet blast when we will burst free of time and place, falling up like gilded, paper-thin confetti into white space — the shimmer of divine celebration.

*Inspiration sparked by the weekly writing prompt so generously provided by Amber C. Haines as part of her Concrete Abstractions series at http://www.therunamuck.com.