Sunday, October 28, 2018

a view from a point

Looking out the window from the 14th floor of the Federal Courthouse I saw something unexpected ... the Gateway Arch from the west side, the mighty Mississippi a narrow strip of water in the background.

In respect for the solemnity of the event -- the sentencing hearing of a friend -- I had left my cell phone behind, in a car parked on the streets below. I could not digitally capture the image.

Searching today for a photograph that represented what my eyes had briefly observed, I discovered how rarely the camera lens captures this view. Most of humanity photographs the arch from the east; the vast majority from at or near ground level. 

I am reminded of a new-to-me concept from Richard Rohr's "The Naked Now"

a viewpoint is a view from a point.

Like the view from the 14th floor, an unfamiliar viewpoint occasionally surprises me. More often, though, it is an event that impacts my viewpoint -- when life-as-I-know-it is altered by death or birth, unexpected illness or the restoration of health, the tension of chaos or the tranquility of shalom, the earthly consequences of sin or the arrival of healing grace.

In the days and weeks preceding the sentencing of my friend, my heart and my prayers sought grace and peace for her. 

I found my heart pondering God's justice and grace against the backdrop of our legal system. I wrestled with the great potential for injustice, knowing that though the U.S. is ranked 19 of 113 countries globally, our legal system is a poor substitute for justice.

I struggle with the incarceration response to financial crime and the probation plea arranged for life-threatening choices. 

I pray seeking grace and justice for two friends. One, in 2018, is accompanied by her defense attorney and the other, in 2011, is a witness for the prosecution. 

And, even as I write, I am convicted, my bias exposed

my viewing point is my seat in the courtroom.


Photo credit: 20490869
U.S. Ranking: WJP Rule of Law Index 2017-2018 

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Clinging to the Echo

My prayer wasn’t answered. 

On my knees in the bedroom, the paramedics working on my husband in the basement workshop below, my prayer for a Lazarus death-to-life miracle was not answered.

True or False? Did God answer my prayer?

God answered my prayer.

The answer was not what I wanted. 

My deepest desire was for the miracle, for my husband to return to life, to be fully restored and returned to me—returned to me in that moment—now.

The earthly miracle vs. the eternal miracle.

My needs vs. God’s plan.

The now vs. the forever.

The cynicism hides within me. Do I know God knows? Do I seek God’s companionship, grace and healing? Or do I cling to the echo of once was?

I want it now is earthly.

God comforts those who mourn. God knows.  

“God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Rev 21:4

Sunday, May 13, 2018


I am watching Under the Tuscan Sun for perhaps the fifth or sixth time, having purchased the DVD used, from VStock. There is something about this story that is soothing at this time, the season of being out on my own, having moved from my son and daughter-in-law's guest bedroom to a studio apartment a couple of miles away.

I babysat the grandchildren this morning. It is Mother’s Day and my son took his loving, adorable wife golfing. That’s important, spending time together as a couple, without the kids. Returning to the apartment, my dog (Harley) and I took a nap, and I did a batch of laundry. The pool—I walk by it on the way to the laundry—is turning from dense green to an inviting clear. New patio furniture appeared this past week on the terrace below the deck of the welcome center. I am looking forward to swim days with the grandkids at grandma’s cool pool house.

Despite this, I remain lonely.

Recently the social worker who leads the grief support group sent a link to an article on mourning. Following a couple of the links within the article I read something I hadn’t thought of before:  prolonged grief or sadness or depression may alter how the brain works. The pathways of thought potentially become ingrained, habitual. In the nearly two years since my husband died, is the time spent in extended grief-sadness-depression day-after-day changing the pathways in the brain from joy and a sense of belonging to sadness and a sense of hopelessness? Yes. This feels true—a “new normal” if you will.

I find that I do not wish to love again, that “brick walls” surround me and these walls are just high enough to keep distance between me and possible new friends. These walls are not the 30-foot-high stone walls with guillotine gates that I first discovered within myself after reading Allender’s Wounded Heart and beginning to explore the my own story, my strengths and weaknesses. Nor are my current walls the sturdy fences with gates which let things pass through like sunlight, moonlight, breezes, rain and humanity.

If today I were to describe grief as it relates to the loss of my lover, my husband, my friend, it is a hole within me that looks and feels frighteningly like a brown recluse spider bite, the skin continuing to die and pull away from the point the venom entered, forming  a crater in the flesh. Yes it can and often does heal, though healing takes a long, long time.

Meanwhile there is pain. Not every-moment-of-every-day pain, but unexpected and often unwelcome occurrences, as though someone has snuck up behind me and pushed me down a steep hill or a flight of stairs. Then, every so often, there is the decent into the abyss, when whatever pushes me and its timing, hurls me endlessly downward.

God meets me there, in the abyss. God is not surprised. 

God knows and rescues me.


Friday, February 23, 2018


Silence. Lament. Rage. Hope.

Four paintings adorn the wall behind the dinner table. A woman weeps at the base of a birch tree. Her face is hidden. Her back is sheltered by the trunk of the tree.

The woman and the tree trunk do not move as my eyes drift from painting to painting and back again.

Silence. Lament. Rage. Hope.

Hope. Rage. Lament. Silence.

Behind and above the woman ...

     ... the canvas is painted white. Silence.

     ... the canvas is painted a gray and stormy sea. Lament.

     ... the canvas is painted a vibrant and angry red. Rage.

Behind and above the woman ...

     ... yellow and orange displace the vibrant and angry red. The tree has pushed forth leaves, rich and green. Hope.

I am drawn to Lament.


Photo credit: Image 64239214

Thursday, February 22, 2018

The Cross

It surprised me -- the Cross.

I had approached the beautiful, sturdy, enticing chair from the side, with an air of self-absorption. I was seeking a peaceful place to calm my inner self, to meditate, think, pray and wrestle.

My decision to travel here to Victoria TX was impulsive.The training offered by Quantum Circles was secondary to the opportunity to engage the healing essence of human friendship, to see and hear my friend teach, to discover the passions of her heart, to reveal my struggles and let her healing words wash over me.

God surprised me. God was already here, in the chair, waiting for me like a trusted friend ready to share whatever was on my heart. On my friend's porch, God offered friendship, the Cross inviting me to leave my burdens here.


Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Quiet Space

A foggy morning follows the thunderstorm that blew in Tuesday night. Deer graze in the pasture near the house across the street. The birds are singing, celebrating -- does the moisture refresh them too?

I fold a boldly colored blanket across the base of the guest bed, adding the books I am reading which refuse to conform to a neat pile.

There is much work to be done here.

Not in this guest room, this space, but within me. Old patterns of speech and thinking need to fall aside to make way for the new-to-me concepts, processes, skills and tools of Restorative Justice.

My heart is heavy and quiet with anticipation, like a woman's womb before childbirth, engaging both apprehension and excitement at the wonder of what God is unfolding.


"My heart needs a quiet space in the stillness of time." -- Widowspeak


Tuesday, February 20, 2018


This morning I woke up in a city new to me. Opening my eyes I take in the pasture that rests beyond the windows at the far end of my room -- in a camper. The comfort of the queen size Sleep Number bed is tempting and I need to muster myself just a bit to come out of my cocoon. The warm morning air greets me as I open the camper door, then step into the house -- a dear friend's house, a sanctuary for her and her husband. I make my way to the guest bathroom and turn on the shower. The soft gray paint of the walls is soothing. The warm water flows over me. I reach out to touch the row of tiny brown tiles, the beauty too much to resist.

The day will officially begin at 8am with training: The Language of Shalom. Today is day one.

Tears form at the corners of my eyes. There is a deep knowing sensation that Victoria TX is where I am supposed to be, that this is somehow connected to healing the deep crevice of sadness and disconnection I experienced these past months in the wake of my husband's death. [more]

The sound of cars arriving signals a need for transition. I gaze one more time across the pasture, then open the camper door. The day begins.


Victoria TX image by: