The Gifts No One Wants

Patience and perseverance.
Patience and perseverance.

I’m repeating those two words to myself.
I’m repeating them here. 

Patience and perseverance.

They do not roll off the tongue as other words do – words like success, blessing, ease, triumph, happy ending.
How ironic, then, that “perseverance” and “patience” are the very words that lead to all those other serotonin-inducing words. 

Perseverance isn’t popular,
Which is problematic,
For it is a potent pathway to progress.

These are chaotic times. The world is in transition. I know you feel it. Here are two takes I have on the matter:

Patience and Perseverance. There you go.
{Another take I have is The Art of Conversation}.

Between here and there, between now and then, in the middle, on the way, before the arrival…is this thing called real life. So much of real life is about patience and perseverance.

I’d prefer utopia.

I planted some Bee Balm in the garden in late April, and it’s only about 6″ tall. Nowhere near flowering. I’m thinking that maybe in September it will be full grown? I’m not sure. I just keep tending to them as best I can. So much of gardening is about patience and perseverance.

I started writing a novel about 7 years ago. I finished it late last year, and am now in the middle of the second draft…seven years later. To me, that’s a lot of waiting. A lot of miserable edits and postponing and delaying and self-doubts. I recently heard of an author who spent ten years just doing the world building for his novel, before he even started the writing process. So much of writing is about patience and perseverance.

Ideas and hopes and dreams take time.
Lots of time.
Lots of hard work.
Lots of patience and perseverance.
I don’t like that. 
I like “immediately if not sooner”.

But it’s the perseverance, 
the steady determination, 
and the patience 

that propel me into the future. 

Where Few Want To Wander

If there is a way
To life
     True life
          The happy kind
          The kind where we are embraced
          And safe
          And fulfilled
          The kind where hope is not buried
          Too deep below ground.
If there is a way to life like this,
It must be
A passageway 
Too thin to stretch my arms out,
A margin
Not meant to be exclusive
But avoided by most,
A periphery
That empties you out
One long egocentric breath at a time.

The sun drops below the horizon
A mist settles
A light scatters
Among shadows.
For a few easily ignored moments,
We have dusk.
Thin, narrow, brief,
But crammed with meaning. 

When I’ve experienced the richness of life
Every path taken to get there
Has been narrow.
Narrow like dusk,
Narrow like dawn.
Easy to miss,
Easy to curse.

The narrow way is an unexpected visitor
When your table is not set.
The narrow way is an unpaved road
Next to the highway.
It is the ancient wisdom
We are too proud to hear,
And the love
We are too biased to show.

Narrow moments are upon us
Born in the dark and in the unknown
Where few want to wander.

Without Fire

I saw a falling star tonight
It was beautiful
We admire the beautiful things, you know
But did you forget?
This star
Falling
Lighting the sky
Was also burning,
Dying.

We crave beauty
We crave glory
We crave the gasps we make
When stars fall from the sky.
We rarely realize
The cost
The pain
The fire
The death.

We want our path.
Our path wants mystery.
Mystery wants faith.

Faith without fire
Is no faith at all.

Beat Down

I don’t have much to give.

My heart, though

Is wide open.

Wilted, you see.

Ready to receive

Some love

All the love

Any love.

Patience and Pain and Anti-Mediocrity

Edits for first draft of my book came back.
I crawled into a ditch of  “I’m A Worthless Writer, This Story Is Garbage, And I’ll Never Write Anything Ever Again.”
I stayed in the ditch for several days.
Ate pizza and ice cream sandwiches.
Watched movies. 

And then, I crawled out.

Art takes time.
Growth as an artist—or a human being for that matter—is painful.
Beware of rushing. 
Beware of ego. 
Beware of greed.
These three things push us to produce something that is not ready to be released, and to deliver mediocrity to the world.

Will we embrace the pain and the time it takes to make something that is more than mediocre?

Do we realize that mediocrity is everywhere?

Are we really ok with that?

When The Light Comes Through

When the light comes through the window, I love it.
I love it when the light comes through.
When the light shines in the morning, first thing, I love it.
I love it when the light comes through.
When the light is alive because the clouds don’t block the sun, I love it.
I love it when the light comes through.

I love the magic and mystery of the night.
I love the slower pace offered to me by the night.
I love the silence of the night.

But I love it when the light comes through.

Now.

I don’t have the beaches of Kauai, but I have the hills of Pennsylvania. I don’t have a quaint, historic village in England, but I have the small town of Mechanicsburg. I don’t have the life of an “important” person who travels and speaks and is invited places to receive compensation for the great things they have to offer, but I am important. 

My life’s value consists of more than mere productive output and top 40 charts and social media followers.

 I get to take walks with the best dog in the world. I get to pray for the Earth as I tread gently on her skin and admire her miraculous growth in every season. I get to have the space and time for interacting with God in all the ways God wants to reveal God’s self. I get to distance myself from the nauseating neurosis of achievement and self-effort that is so prevalent in society. I get to go deeper into the things that really matter because I’m not caught up in the whirlwind of self-promotion.

I am not where I thought I’d be, but I’m somewhere. And somewhere is where God is.

I thought I’d have accomplished more. Produced more. Become more well-known. Experienced more. But I think every human thinks this. Our metrics are stupid. 

I don’t want to miss what’s now,

But when I close my eyes and dream,

I dream of finer things.

I want to mine the depths of the present moment,

But my feet are ready to step into the future.

I live here.

I like here.

I still want there.

I regret all I haven’t done,

And I crave redemption.

My hope extends into the past

And into the future.

The starting point is

Here and now.

The Art of Conversation

It is much more difficult

and costly

(to our ego)

To invest in the lives of those around

by asking them questions about their life,

by inquiring of their opinions on things,

and by listening without prejudice,

instead of monologuing,

or dispensing advice

that no one is asking for.

The art of conversation.

Me and you.

Two.

Equals.

Two ears to listen.

Two mouths to speak.

Everyone has a voice.

Everyone deserves to be heard.

One More Chance

The sun carves its way again into the expanse above me, around me. Even more miraculously, it gets inside of me. Another day with the sun means another chance at life. 
Not the kind of life you “do”, the kind you receive. The kind that gives you another chance at being – connected to God, learning God’s love, swirling into God’s rhythms. 
This kind of life. The relationship. The connection. The sun always reminds me.

Light of all lights, thank you for this light.

Without Prejudice

Colors. There are so many. They are non-competitive, I guess because they have no soul. I wish we could each be our full selves, without striving or envy or competition. Just like colors.