God

Take me to church.

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Last night I attended the church of the kitchen floor.

It was me and a handful of my girlfriends all curled up into one another. The episode of the "Bachelor in Paradise" stood paused in the background. We had managed to move 6 or 7 boulders out-of-the-way before we even pressed “play.”

Admittedly, this is why we have gathered for the last year. We have gathered— all thirteen of us— every Monday to watch girls and guys pass out roses. It’s cheap television but we’re still hopeless romantics. We laugh. We crack jokes. We let no other occasions touch Monday nights on the calendar. This is sacred— not because of the roses, but because of the community it took us two seasons to build.

We built community after every episode. Between every commercial break. Within every group text. And now, a year later, we gather on Mondays for one another. We wear sweatpants and we don’t bother putting on makeup if the day wiped it off. We are unapologetic when we get to one another and we are ready to admit bruises from the last seven days. Sometimes nothing heavy happens beyond a few guys getting sent home in a limo. And then sometimes church spontaneously combusts on the kitchen floor.

It’s a beautiful and hard thing when you are able to look around from grief-stricken face to grief-stricken face and realize that this is church. This stuff is church. At the end of a Monday that has sucker-punched us and won, we are a bundle of questions. We are a thread of unanswered beings. We are anger. We are misunderstanding. We are resentful. We are pained. We are wanting someone to drive home. We are hoping someone else will come back to life.

We’ve invited God into this place on the kitchen floor. We are reading promises from Isaiah with tired voices. And this is church. This is the church I can attend without feeling like I need all the answers and all the perfect things to say within a world that is hard. Often too hard to stand inside of without falling to the kitchen floor.

I am a regular attendee of the church of the kitchen floor. Admittedly, I sometimes sit there more than I sit in pews.

Monday beat me yesterday.

It wore boxing gloves and it managed to ravage my insides before noon.

I worked as much as I could. I went home. I sat wrapped in a sunshine-yellow blanket, crying to my mother, and read pretty words on grace. I wondered if my heart had fallen from my chest in traffic and I would have to go search around East Atlanta Village for whatever was left of my left ventricle. I ate french fries that I wished would grow arms long enough to wrap me in tight and spoon me.

My mother is 16 hours away from me. But she is still the constant I’ve needed her to be. She waits. She lets me bellow. She lets me curse about adulthood. She answers me simply, “Less words, more work.”

That’s what she tells me: less words, more work. Cry your tears, pick yourself up, and go back to work. She isn’t talking about spreadsheets. She isn’t talking about articles. She means the kind of work that is expected (but not actually acted out by all humans): the work of being Jesus to people. The work of being the church.

This is why I love my mother. One of many reasons. She is never going to preach Ben & Jerry’s ice cream at me. She’s going to remind me, “If God breaks your heart then hallelujah. Hallelujah— you’re finally relatable and not so puffed with your own pride that you miss the others.”

...

Just a day earlier I agreed to participate in a survey about the Western church.

The qualitative research nerd inside of me swooned. My undergraduate years were crammed full with research. I was ready for this person’s questions up until I wasn’t.

With a microphone dangling next to my lips, I didn’t have nearly the amount of answers about church that I thought I would have.

I’m sure the individual conducting the survey meant well but the questions asked were invasive. They were blunt. They carried an agenda that I could not quite put my finger on. They pried into dark rooms. I would argue that half of the questions had very little to do with church and maybe that’s what they were going for. I don’t really know.

But when it was over, when they stopped recording the conversation, all I could do was get into my car and weep as the lights turned red and green all the way to the Westside.

I cried out in pain, screaming “what the hell” prayer on God over and over again. What the hell. What. The. Hell. What. The. Hell.

Anne Lamott believes there are three essential prayers out there:

“Help,” “Thanks,” and “Wow.”

I’d add one more: “What the hell.”

What-the-literal-hell.

"Why?" Better yet, "I can’t even."

I feel like I could pray the “I can’t even” prayer seven times before dinner.

There are so many instances in the world today that permit the “what the hell” prayer to be used. It’s my way of saying to God and the ceiling, “I don’t get it. I don’t understand it. I don’t know what’s the point. The point of this pain. The point of our ignorance. The news we watch. The cruel things we do.  I can’t even, sweet Jesus. What the hell do you want me to do?”

God is big. I think he can handle the moments when all I want to do is scream and cry and sniffle and say, “God, if you orchestrate apologies then I hope you are planning a big one.”

My doctrine doesn’t say that God apologizes. My doctrine has a lot of questions that leave themselves unanswered. And where I think it all goes wrong? When we start looking for answers more than we sit in the questions— and all the grey of them— with others.

I don’t care how much black and white data you want to gather, life starts when you can no longer fill the grey area of someone’s pain with your faulty existence.

Maybe that person will get all the data they need but I see too many broken hearts on a daily basis, too many people already bruised by church, to know that tactful answers to the culture’s questions won’t help or heal a soul.

...

If someone you love dies, you are never going to thread through your issues on abortion to make it better in that moment.

If someone you love leaves the family without a note, you are never going to need a debate of sexuality and the church to mend your heart.

The church was made for the broken-hearted.

The church was made for the ones of us with different questions: How do you put your faith in God? How do you pray? How do you know God is even here? Or good? I need a church that teaches me to say, even when I don’t fully believe it, “And if not, God, you are still good.” If not, you are still good.

If you take this away from me, I will still follow you.

If people beat me down, I will still follow you.

If I am left broken and broke, single and alone for the rest of my life, I will still follow you.

Teach me how to follow something— when life kicks me to my knees and makes me cry out “what the hell”— and I will actually stay. Teach me how to follow, and I will stay and figure out how to be your light.

...

The year is 2015-

We have enough questions and angry Facebook rants. Enough anger. Enough pain. The media is full of wanting the church to answer questions. We all get a little cray with our megaphones and character counts. And I rarely ever speak up but I have to say this- the God of the Bible didn’t grill people on their political stances. The Jesus of the Bible didn’t sit and wait for someone to sit and hash out their sins to a jury of their peers. The Jesus I read about had one simple question and one command to follow it:

Do you love me?

He asked that three times to Simon Peter.

Do you love me?

Not, are you perfect? Do you never sin? What is your view on sex outside of marriage? What is your view on homosexuality?

These questions will never lead us into an answer that can actually help a hurting world where people feel scared and unsafe and already not belonging.

Do you love me?

That’s the simplest and question: Do you love me?

And if you love me— if your answer is “yes”— then feed my sheep. That was his command: Feed my sheep. Show up for my people. Listen to their stories. Cry when you need to. Step away when you have to. Give until it hurts. Until it breaks you. Until you think you can’t go on any further. Stay in the mess. Stay in the trenches. Look for the holes. Dig in the deep end.

Feed my sheep. Stay up through the night. Get them breakfast. Meet them at diners. Sit in their questions. Give them your shoulders and your tired arms. You are not the answer. And you cannot save a person from their darkness but please don’t ignore it and act like it does not exist.

Stay up. Wait for them. Just wait. Be a light that is still on when they finally come home.

Everyone comes home eventually.

We’re all just wondering if someone will leave the light on for us when we finally start to find our way back.

Do what it takes to make me your gold.

descanso

He’s been talking lately.

Like a boy who goes radio silent for weeks before his name starts showing up on your screen again, God has been talking in that way.

I guess I should state the facts: he’s probably been talking all along. He probably has been whispering and trying his darndest to yell above the noise of my life and I just haven’t heard him. That’s usually the case-- I am running, and doing, and pulling, and prying, and trying my hardest (my absolute hardest) to make life move without him. And that’s just the second fact: I like to be in control. I like to know the elements around me. I like to know what follows after Step 1. And so the idea of a God of the universe has always, sort-of rubbed up against me like sandpaper because I don’t want to let anything in that might make me unclench my fists and give up control. 

 

Give up control.

That would be the anthem of my life these days. Give up control & let me work.

That's the first thing I heard when my car pulled onto the campus of the retreat center I was staying at for four days last week. I only had to speak one of the days. The other three days were like God’s perfect, compact entryway to tear into my life and show me all the parts of me that he could stand to change. It’s like he had a list. A List of Things to Change. 

I think that’s the part of God I’ve always resisted. I think maybe that’s why a lot of people resist God and try their hardest to disprove him, or hitchhike away from him, or make him a sliver of their life but not their whole entire life.

I used to think the people who made God the center of their orbit-- the sun within their solar system-- were crazy. I didn’t get it. I didn’t understand it. I thought, “Don’t you want control? Don’t you want to hold all the cards?”

That was God to me. God and I, we’d talk every once in a while. I didn’t look for him in the trees. I prayed when I needed stuff. God was like Santa Claus-- I came to him with lists and I wanted him to leave presents for me while I was sleeping. I remember being really clear when I told God, “Listen, you get parts of me. You get very tiny parts of me but you don’t get all of me. Sorry. Not working that way.” Like I said, control is my thing.

 

The world has constructed a lot of gods out of God.

We live in this culture that does a really good job of taking one characteristic of the God of the universe and blowing it out to proportions where it smothers all the other characteristics.

I mean, it’s easy to believe in a God of Wrath. It’s easy to believe in that Leviticus kind of God. He’s the dude that ruins the party. He thinks less of us already. He holds his measuring stick high to our chins and whispers, “Just try, if you want. You’ve already fallen from grace in my eyes.” He points fingers and names names. And we throw up hands and curl in corners because this God never fit us. And this God failed the already failed ones.

When that is your own perception of God then it makes it so much easier to walk away from him. It’s easy to be free from the dictator God. It’s a perfect opportunity to bash him in circles and find common ground among the people who also have been hurt by a God of Wrath.

And similarly, it’s easy to believe in a God who is lukewarm. A passive little God who fits smug in your back pocket and you get the chance to pull him out whenever you need him to fight your battles. He's like a Pokemon. I mean, it’s convenient to believe in a God who will always be smaller than you. It’s convenient to worship a God you get to play god over.

And then there is the God who showers you with praise. And the God who winks and nudges you at when you notice the bible verse on the bottom of the Forever 21 bag. It’s the God who doesn’t ask you to change and just exists to stroke your ego and tell you everything-- every little thing-- will be more than okay. He’s the God we plaster the quotes of on coffee mugs and journals. He's sunshine and roses, always. Always.

But it gets uncomfortable when you meet the God who could stand to change you. The God who says, “Yes, I made you but I never had the plan of keeping you this way.”

This is the God who wants to morph you and mold you into something better. That’s supremely uncomfortable to believe in because the molding hurts. And the morphing hurts. And it would be easier-- so much easier-- to just stand in one place with the God of Wrath, or the Passive God, or the God who never needs you to dig deeper beneath the surface.

 

I met the God who could stand to change me.

I met him the moment I drove onto that campus and wheeled my little, red carry-on into my bedroom, the one with the rooster lamp and the strange farm scenes playing out all over my blue bedspread.

You see, I’ve been to this retreat center before. I’ve stood in this bedroom before. I know that if I walk to the closet and open the door, I will be met with all sorts of Sharpie marker scribblings all over the walls. The scribbles are from people who came to this retreat center with marriages crumbling and holding on by threads. Hoping God would move. Hoping God would pulse. I knew when I stepped into that room that, if I opened my closet door, I would find redemption stories dancing all over the walls in red and blue.

I left the suitcase at the door and I walked into the bathroom. I remembered the bathroom from the year before because the tub was massive, it was the type of tub I really hope I have one day. The type of tub that makes me think you’re a real adult if you have a tub so big.

I stared at the tub for a minute or so before stepping inside-- clothes on and shoes on-- and sitting down square in the middle of that tub. I am serious, I laid in the tub with my Nike pumps kicked up against the porcelain and I just closed my eyes. And I opened them. And I closed them. And the silence was deafening and I hated it so. I hate that kind of silence you can’t escape from, the kind that encloses all around you, because you know God is going to speak eventually. And you are afraid of what He will say. You are so afraid of what he will want of you.

I just stayed. Right there. I didn’t reach for my phone. I didn’t look for a way to push into some new distraction that would take me away from him so I easily. I stayed. And I started to pick at the polish of my nails. Flecks of red fell off and all around me into the tub. And as I chipped, he spoke. As I chipped, he spoke. And I was torn between interrupting. Interrupting to say, “I’ve missed you. Where have you been?” But I know his answer already.

I know he would have said right back, “I never left you. I never leave you. You’re just busy. You’re busy and you’re hustling and you are doing all these things that allow you to stay distracted enough that you never need to come to me. 

But haven’t you felt empty, child? Haven’t you missed the feeling of being full? Child, child, put your armor down. I never left you, you’ve just been trying to get away.” 

 

He’s right, I’ve been trying to get away.

Because I am human. And that’s what humans do. I pack and I flee away from the light. I look for the answers in the world all around me. I think I steer better and own my dreams better. But more than that, I have not stopped convincing myself yet that I am a better keeper of my own emptiness. I think I am really so good at guarding my own emptiness and letting no one near enough to touch and tell me, “You could clear this all away if you really wanted to.”

"Fine," I whisper in the depths of that tub. "Just do it. Just do your work."

Chip. Chip. Chip. The paint continues to fall away.

"Just make me into gold. All those bible verses, they tell me that I could be your gold. Do what it takes to make me your gold."

Chip, chip, chip…

I feel him doing his work. Whispering into the old parts of me, “Done with this. Over with that. Gone goes that ugly part of you.”

Chip, chip, chip…

“Never again will you find your worth in this. Darling, aren’t you tired of holding this? Don’t you want to just let it go?”

Chip, chip, chip…

And then the quiet. I stay still. I close my eyes. Open them. Close them. And the voice comes back, the one that sounds like silver and victory. It rushes in to stop my sobs for good, “You, I love you. Gosh, it hurts so to express how I love you because I know you don’t see it. Somehow you don’t see what I think of you-- you only see yourself through the lens of a world that wants you to get so small that you disappear altogether. 

I want so much of you. I am so jealous for you. I love you bigger. Bigger than your little mind can ever know. And that is why I can never leave you this way.  Sitting in the tubs of your own emptiness. That is why I can’t keep you here, clutching old garments of your past.

I have so much new for you, little bee. I have so much new for you. 

Baby, baby, all will be well. But you have to let me take it from here. You have to let it go and let me take it from here.”

This ain't no pretty Christian story.

I grew up finding delicacy in feeding troughs.

In stories where wise men lined up perfectly in a row and they didn't emerge until "We Three Kings" began with the drums. Where bed sheets upon the heads of hungry children itching for candy canes. And Jesus, he was plastic. Pearly, perfect plastic.

My Christmas story was rigid. Scripted. Leaving no air for error. My Christmas story was Act 1 meets Act 2, communion, go home, open presents, and forget there ever was a crying soul in a manger that night.

Growing up and into a classical Christmas story that has been tied with the twine of "Christianity," the tender cracks and imperfections exposed themselves as I got up closer. As I dug in deeper. As I questioned God and His realness. As I wondered, why would you ever come to save us in this way?

Mary, she was a judged woman. And Joseph was a proud man, ready to abandon his fiancee for her crime of infidelity. The feeding trough was filthy, a lowly space for animals to drop their waste and heavy bodies. The baby, he was screaming. The night was cold. And the two must have wondered, as they shivered and prayed and waited on their savior, where is the miracle in all of this?

 

A messy, little story with no edits made along the way.

Not the kind of thing fit to be tied pretty and bound into story books for the eyes of sleepless children.  But isn't that much of life? Isn't much of this whole me-standing-beside-you thing  just a bunch of clutter and chaos and the coming of great light? Hope. A finally silent night after endless hours of hot tears pouring through.

And then a miracle--in a broken, tired, heaving world--a miracle. A baby and the birth of God's most beautiful characteristic yet: His ache to save us. To take heavy loads off from our shoulders. To deliver us. To give us a kingdom in a poverty-stricken existence. To say unto us, with His birth into flesh, "Hey, you messed up yesterday. And you, yea, you'll mess it up tomorrow. But I kind of, sort of, absolutely love you with every ounce of my being.  And nothing you ever do, bad or good, could change that. And I needed a way to prove this to you. So I sent something to you, a gift of sorts, to take away your blame. And your guilt. And your shame. And your anxiety. And your suffering.

So would you take it? Would you take the gift from me?"

I feel sort of silly (I can admit that best) telling people that I think my God came into the world through a 14-year-old virgin, and kings bowed down to him, and He learned the skins of poverty, and he preached but never lavished in the riches of kings, and he died in the most embarrassing of ways. At the age of 33. With folks spitting upon Him. And he, crying. Crying all the while.

What kind of God is that? A lowly, pathetic attempt of a God? Or is it a God that knew, before the whole story even found beginning in a manger, that the only way to bring deliverance to a hungry, hungry people was to deliver himself out into a world in the fleshiest, messiest, most imperfect of manners. No royalty, just poverty. And the whole thing upside down. And that it would take pain, and atrocity, and little to no resolve while treading on this broken earth, to bring a love to us so great that it never learned no limits. Never needed training wheels. Came real & raw & bulging just to envelope a broken thing like me. Maybe that is the act of a God who never sought to prove his ranking, his status, or his capability. Just his love. Just His Love.

 

This ain't no pretty Christian story.

Not prim. Not pixy. Not perfect.

Not the manger. Nor the virgin. Not the myrrh.

Not made for the ears of Christians alone. Not merely for the ones used to bending their knees and bowing their heads.

This is a story for anyone, and any heart, who has ever needed a savior. Someone to swoop in and convince you with a confidence that you are not alone and that just. you. wait, because even through the unfavorable odds-- a virgin, a bitter fiance, no shelter, no crib--the miracle arrives. And the music sweeps in. And the fog of the night clears. And a star shines so bright that it hypnotizes men to leave their fields & flock to follow.

No, this ain't story for weak hearts and Christian knees.

This is a story, a Christmas story, for any soul that ever needed to know that God can make really beautiful things out of messes. And that He remembered us enough to come down and prove it so.

And he's been waiting on my return to load the shingles with icing and guard the doors with candy canes.

We construct God out of the things we know to be true of humans. So He becomes a conditional lover. He becomes a gossip among angels. He strikes tallies against us on chalkboard in the sky. He rips the winged petals of daisies off, "I love you, I LOVE YOU NOT..."

You were made for mighty things.

Darling, darling, hear me good: The dark has stars that poke through the sky and the light, the light that pours on through, is thicker than you know.

I wish you could have been there. In the Chelsea church with me.

I took God back through a spoken word poem.

I'm sure I never told you that. It's been 16 months since we last spoke (19, if I'm really counting) and I thought you should know that I took Him back. And I've learned to capitalize all the He's & Him's that hold His name because He's been good to me in a way you never knew how to be.  But I don't blame you for that. We're all broken, so I don't blame you.

But I wish you had been there. Beside me on the balcony as a girl down below poured Perfect Pearled Prophesy out from her lips, like no Poetry I'd ever heard. Never, never, never, did I know things with more Sweet & Tang than Sunny D could exist on the lips of people so human. And I thought, that's God. He's shining in her.

And I lifted my arms up to the rafters as I imagined the nightlife creeping up with laughter outside the walls of my church tucked close to the bedside of Chelsea Market.

And I took Him back.

Like the man who stands outside the car whose tires have just lent themselves to screeching, vowing that he won't walk away til' morning. Not til' she rolls down her window & lets him in. I took Him back in that way.

The girl spoke of a car crash. Not a literal one. But the one in her soul that resembled the Crashes where the caution tapes been drawn and the mother has had Five Minutes of Holding by the stranger wearing the blue police uniform who questions God too. She spoke it and called it by name, this place in her soul: Ugly. Hurt. Crushed. Untouched. Tainted. Deceived. Messy.

And I thought, I know that place. The places we could never talk about together cause you always called it moving on and I stayed back wondering if I could handle to gather more pieces.

The dark places. That places that never gets the flashlights or the lanterns or the Christmas bulbs. No, we just keep on trudging to find other pockets of happiness, forgetting we were battered. Bruised & Broken. Wronged.

And sitting on your bed, with a barrier of experience so thick between us, you asked if I would ever go back. To God. To prayers before bed. To Bible in the morning.

"Probably not... I don't know... I'm just so hurt..."

One-syllable kind of words was all the conversation could hold-- breaking like that game we barely ever played because there was so much damn assembly required. With the penguins. And the tissues. And the marbles. And the water. Don't Break the Ice, wasn't that the name?

And we took to separate corners of the earth when I really should have told you I was more hurt than I had words for... and I still needed a Savior more than ever before. And it would never be you. I'm so sorry dear, it would never be you.

I wish I could have found the words to tell you then that I still believed in God. & prayers. & healing. Even when Religion had Indian-burned my wrists like fifth graders on the bus rides to school. When Religion left me thinking maybe I would never go back there... Bury it in the dirt and move forward, for its Bibles & Condemning & Preaching had hurt me too badly.

I wish you could have been there. In the Chelsea church with me.

Like a 5-year-old waiting in the wings for her father to stroll down the aisle of her ballet recital, I wish you could have been there. To see me take Him back. How easily it happened. How effortless. How much grace poured in to water the limbs of a girl who had become like a Tin Man. Needing a wizard. Needing a new heart.

Maybe then we wouldn't have ended up on bar stools.  Dry liquor between us as you told me you decided that you didn't believe anymore. In someone who could clear away the crash. In an Abba within a world that failed us yesterday. That God was now sitting in an abandoned waiting room, locked up inside you, beside a woman who collects baby teeth at night and an obese man who devour cookies before filling up the bottoms of our evergreens with wrapping paper.

I didn't have the courage then to tell you I'd never lost the faith.

I didn't have the courage to share with you a Gospel that felt so foreign and strange on my hands.

I didn't have the words yet to tell you that no Tomorrow would ever hold a day when I didn't need a savior. A higher power. A God who caught my every tear in big ol' basins made on the angels' pottery wheels.

Because if I don't have that, then what? Then what? Then what?

I'm sorry I never told you... about the spoken word poem. About the surrender. About the God who showed up in the rafters to handle my junk like fine china.

I'm leaving these words here.

And if you still read me, like the days when you promised you always would, then maybe we'll talk again soon.

Maybe you'll find my number.

Maybe you'll dial.

 & ask me why I believe in Him now more than ever.

I'll answer.

 

The parts & particles of Me made to believe in someone like You.

I chose to believe in God the night my best friend and I fell out of Love’s gloved hand at the very same time.

We ran off to her dance studio with candles & love notes & tissues in tow, turned off all the nights, and just laid in the center of the floor for a very long time.

I remember a lot of silence. The kind of silence that hung her pain on coat hangers in the hallway.

And then the sniffles.

The occasional reading of an old love note or two.

The “Why is it like this?” and other questions we couldn’t answer.

And hot tears.

Hot tears that made no noise but still took every bone inside of you not to plug your ears and belt out Mariah Carey just to make it all feel more normal. Not so crazy. Not so miserable.

So this was it… the ending to a dizzying several years packed crater-full with First Kisses & sweaty palms at homecoming dances. Nights of no sleep, wrapped tight in the squiggles of telephone cords during the times when phones still stayed attached to the wall. Secrets sneaking into the crooks of 1:02am. Giggles piggy backing the 3am hour. The first I. Love. You—said in a hurry—until you realized you could say it again & again & again. Without ever stopping.  No one would make you stop.

I chose to believe in God that night as our hearts sizzled side by side like bacon strips basking in the heat of the pan. Cracking in a way that made you say, “I won’t have words for this thing for a very long time.” Your daddy couldn’t prep you for it. It carried no resemblance to the ice cream falling off the cone.

And she and I-- we lay there-- Crying. & Unashamed. Because it hurt. & when you were a little girl you let the tears roll in when something hurt you. & we prayed to be little girls once again when all there was to cripple your spirit was Sticks & Stones & Words, but never boys with sweatshirts cloaked in cologne as they pulled you in by the waist before geography class.

I chose to believe in God that night even though just days before I had told my mama I thought maybe we were all just particles. Particles without purpose. Formulated from the sea the way the science books illustrate. Evolution without a God. Bodies just crashing into one another with no real beginning or end. And we’d go to the ground without angels.

She ignored me. Ignored me as if to say, just wait… just wait for the day when you are sitting Indian-style on the floor of a Brooklyn apartment, tasting the sweet butter stirred deep in the take out clam chowder while she sits in the chair before you and reads poetry off pages because it is the only way she knows to cry out to you. You’ll feel God and the might of His peppermint breath as it blows in the sacred pockets of that time when you are sharing pain like playing cards with someone who just wants to disappear for a while.

Just wait to realize that God is everywhere in those Kinds of Moments that carry no nobility or pay stub for your listening, where you don’t have the right words and your arms are so tired. And your heart is chipped. And the Pain has Pummeled the Parts & Particles of You.

Just wait for when the world gets Too Heavy and your heart gets Too Broken and you’ve got to believe in something above roofs & ceilings. Skylights & Billboards. Something more than particles rising up from the foam of the sea.

Particles. They ain't the kind to get up in the morning to the sound of church bells & sip mimosas & share croissants with strangers as some kind of strange communion for the humanity we lost in our iPhones.

Particles. They’re not the type to still believe in music even when the tuba player has headed off for the circus and the pianist ran off with the drummer.

Particles.  They wouldn’t have reason to yearn to be a Part of this. To give Parts of themselves. To never want to be Apart. But to want to do their Part. And Sometimes on Some Days, still, fall Apart on dance room floors with broken hearts strewn beside old love notes and tissues, crying upward to a God who never believed in Ceilings or Skylights or Limits anyway.

“Welcome to your Chisel Day… Little One, Welcome…”

Yesterday was a Chisel Day.

Absolutely a Chisel Day.

You’ve had them too. I am so sure of it. You just may not have known to call it that.

A Chisel Day? Oh, you’ll know it by the kind of Tired you are when you crawl into the last hours of the night.

Releasing & Gripping.

A lot of releasing. A lot of gripping tighter, knuckles turning white as the last names of princesses who take to little men and poison apples.

Releasing & Gripping.

One of the two, sometimes both, is bound to happen on a Chisel Day.

...

Chisel Days.

They begin on those mornings when you wake with the sun and spend the entire time that there is still coffee in your cup convincing yourself that your God has Shirley Temple hands. Small Hands. Delicate Hands. Hands Far Too Tiny to Clasp Big Problems. Illness. Drama. Hurt that doesn’t wash away with the blouse stains.

But you tell me, if we’ve got a God with Shirley Temple hands then how will we ever let Him carry us? Our issues? Our baggage? The Suitcases of Lord, Lord, I Just Cannot Let This Go and the Hat Boxes brimming with the Past & the Future. All the baggage that keeps us from the Here & Now & Right Now & Yes, Yes, Right Now.

“Imma walk out this door and hold it all in,” you’ll think on a Chisel Day. Meetings in one hand. Conversations in another. Tough Stuff balancing on the tips of your shoes. Things you really need to say today—no matter what—resting on your knee caps as you buckle your seatbelt.

And God? He’ll just smile from his wicker arm chair in the clouds and say, “Welcome to your Chisel Day… Little One, Welcome…”

...

I’m an unreliable source though. I’ve got no proof of His Shirley Temple hands. In fact, I hear stories about how we are just fractions of a fraction of his fingernail. And that he is a God with a good reputation. They call him a Creator, not for a macaroni necklace He made during snack time but for an eternity’s worth of being elbow deep in the glitters and gold of the craft bin. Daffodils. & Puddles. & Crooked Smiles. & Callouses on the Tips of Men’s Fingers. & Wrinkles in the Faces of Women with Epic Love Stories.

And all this scenery? Well, it’s for us. All this laugher? Yup, you bet. All this goodness? Don’t you doubt it.

But on a Chisel Day you won’t see none of that. You’ll just stay fixed on a running to-do list, a Mind that is balancing Anxiety on her hip and bouncing it like a baby.

On a Chisel Day, there is something there. Something Bigger than the dishes that need to be done and the conversations that need to be had. There is something standing there—big and frumpy and about as cute as Big Foot birthing the elephant in the room—and you won’t be able to stand it much longer.

Release it, He’ll whisper in a voice that sounds like silver. Let it go, He’ll coax in a voice that first breathed into the lullabies of the field mice.

...

Yesterday was a Chisel Day.

Absolutely a Chisel Day.

I crawled into bed at 7pm and answered Him.

I can’t. I can’t, God.

Because if I really can, and I do, and I let Him in… He’ll grow closer with chisel in hand. And chip, chip, chip away the things that I don’t need. The things He never wanted for me. The things I hide behind, like curtains in the bathroom when your sister is sniffing you out for a game of Hide & Seek.

I wept. Cried. Felt it falling on my chest. Curled. Curled fingers. Curled torso. Curled toes. Curled inward to listen to the slow heartbeat of the Inventor of Heartbeats.

Fine, I whisper back in a voice that aches to be silver. Do it, I surrender with a voice that cries out to be a lullaby to the broken of this world.

Surrender. Surrender. And let Him chisel my heart into fire. Let Him chisel my life into gold.

But use me? I ask through the tears. Please, will you use me?

Whoosh, like the wind. And the peace rolls in.

Chip, chip, chip…

Gone with this old way.

Done with that.

Chip, chip, chip…

Never again will you find your worth in this.

Together, we can stop that.

Chip, chip, chip…

And then that voice of silver.

"Little One, I love you. Bigger than your Little Mind can know. And that is why I can never leave you this way. Holding onto hurt and brokenness and the past. Little One, my Little One, all will be well. But you have to let me take it from here."

Your shoes belong by the door, coat in the closet by the stairs, and you-- You belong Here, don't worry about another thing.

I’ve been body-slamming God onto notebook pages a lot these days.

Rolling God up into a ball as if he were one of the Fat Little Stories doused in cinnamon before set onto a cookie sheet to flatten under the heat of editing, scrutinizing and redrafting.

I’ve been perplexing Him like a math problem, as if I were back in the skins of my 14-year-old self, my brain on tumble dry as I tried to understand how a series of numbers clustered on page would somehow equal 6. Six.

I ache to understand Him. I ache to be in a position where I would never think to abandon Him. Where, when Life gets crazy like the New England forecasts, I won’t think that I can go ahead and stand without Him.

I want no legs without Him. No thumbs, no knees, without Him, and yet I want to make sure I can trace Him-know Him-get Him in just the way Helen Keller pined to know the water in her well. The feel of water. The way it leaked through the cracks in her fingers.

She could not hear it rushing, could not see it running, but she ached to know it better than anything else. I want God in that Hellen Keller fashion.

...

Tomorrow I might board a southbound train, headed into New York City, and watch a businessman stroll in two stops after me and sit down beside me.

He might have a tousled grin and a set of blues that make my hands sweat. He might plug into the same Pandora station as me—lips mumbling lyrics to Dispatch and the Frey—and he might ask to see me beyond the Westport station that finds me at the door. We might unearth some kind of Happy & Ever & After tomorrow and I won’t ever think to understand it or try to figure it out. I would just trust it. When you believe in something, you trust.

So what I am really trying to say here is that I wouldn’t seek to figure out the odds and ends that brought a girl with black combat boots and grey ruffled knee socks to sit beside a boy with all her favorite slow dance songs in the palm of his hand but yet I am needing to figure out a God I’ve prayed to all my life, as if every other prayer hinged upon my knowing Him.

...

I’m thinking lately that God is like the night that held me when I was fifteen years old, a teenager at a time where Taylor Swift was just a little girl pushing cassette tapes in Nashville and had not yet begun singing her ballads to a generation of other girls like me.

Perhaps God is like the nights where August hissed her humidity into the ringlets of my hair and I sat beside best friends with a boom box between us, an extension cord snaking the patio and plugging us into Delilah and her Love Songs at Night.

Perhaps God is like the nights we listened, hummed loudly, sang boldly to all the songs that would one day find a heartbreak or the greatest love story of our lives to weave their wadded words within.

Perhaps God is like those nights, one after the other after the other, where we asked no questions—in fear that the perfection of it all might slip out from under us, that the glowing thing we couldn’t understand—the friendship of four girls, their boom box, and their love songs—was the very thing that kept us coming back & back again.

Perhaps God is the simplicity that waits quietly as the complexity tries to steal our attention and catch our hands for every dance of the night.

He is the one who stands by the punch bowl, hangs his head and hates to watch us standing in the middle of the floor, abandoned by the dates who brought us there. “You’re more beautiful than the corsage on your wrist and the puffs in your dress,” he says below his breath, though he knows we won’t think to hear him until we get too thirsty to go anywhere but the punchbowl.

Perhaps God is the exit 9 off of 91 Northbound.

He is three rights and a veer left at the fork in the road.

He is the lights turned on in the kitchen and the kettle steeping on the stove.

He is the coming home after we’ve been gone for so long.

He’s the home that needs no signs to tell us what we already know: Your shoes belong by the door, coat in the closet by the stairs, and you-- You belong Here, don't worry about another thing. 

Tales of a God Who Knit Her So That She’d Never Need to Knit a Cape.

“You aren’t a superhero,” he said, and lingered in the doorframe for a moment just to see what she would do.

To see if she might find the courage, within a chest pumped full with pride, to admit she knew it too.

For she really was no superhero and her heart did far more breaking than her arms ever did holding. She scaled the sides of conversations that never invited her in but she could not scale a building.

She, well, she was a girl who got all tied up in the saving—tightly wound like the cop that meets the robber in the old cartoon shows—too tied up to remember she was really just a human being.

A human being. How peculiar. So small. So fragile.

No Superman. No Batman. No Wonder Woman, just a Woman prone to Wander.

Just a girl left to find out, after all the wreckage had fallen from her shoulders, that even heroes need something far more super than them. Something greater to hitch prayers to at night. Someone far greater than a silly man in lycra pants to handle the swinging and swaying of the Milky Way, as it has no choice but to rock the world’s sorrow to and fro. Back & forth.

And the hurt was in her hair that day. All up in her hair like yarn strung into braids. The hurt was on her face. It lived in her toes. It paid rent to her elbows and made roommates with her kneecaps.

The boy could trace the hurt in every crook of longitude and latitude of the girl he’d known since the days when chocolate milk and grape Pop Rocks could heal her.

He turned—foot to foot—and found solace in a space where the girl wouldn’t find him. He closed the door and uncovered his knees. His prayerful knees that were made to kiss the floors on days where girls take off their Heavy Superhero Capes.

“Papa, Papa,” he cried to the sky. To a God who thought that ceilings that concealed Him were nonsense. “Help her to discover her hands. Her terrible, unreliable hands. The ones that want to hold so bad, even when they know they must be held for a time.”

Hold & Be Held.

Hold & Be Held.

“One requires more surrender than the other, Papa.”

Hold & Be Held.

One asks Control to curtsie at the door.

“Let her hands Be Held so that she might Behold someone as wonderful as You, someone who stretches far beyond the reach of her Tiny Little Hands.”

The boy believed in a God who kissed frostbitten fingertips. Who whispered in the morning while his children still pulled sleep in with both arms. A God who wept to see his children struggle and ached to say, “That world on your shoulders does not fit you. Let me take it. Here, let me take it.”

The boy believed in a God who hated to see His children in capes. For children in capes forget the ones who made the capes for them, the ones who knit them before the cape and packed a heart tight so carefully with all the ways they would learn to soar one day.

One day. One day.

The girl knew the boy. Though not all the longitude and latitude of him. She never knew the way he crept into closets and found ways to place her at the front of his prayers. Because she was worth it. She had always been worth it. 

The girl did not know the God who kissed the frostbitten fingertips, who took worlds off of shoulders and hated to see His children in capes. But she wanted to. She wanted to.

And so how does the story begin? How then, oh, how does the story begin?

The girl waited for the boy who had known since the ways when chocolate milk and grape Pop Rocks could heal her. She found him lingering in the doorway. She patted the ground beside her and motioned him to join.

He did, for he loved her so. He loved her so.

And together they began—with trembling fingers—to unknot the cape tied so tightly round her neck. And let the heaviness fall down. Let the heaviness fall down all around them.

And all the while, through every knot and tremble, the boy whispered tales into the ear of the girl. Tales of a God Who Knit Her so that She’d Never Need to Knit a Cape. 

"Evey, Evey, I'm sorry it took so long."

It took me fourteen years to accept Adam & Eve.

Fourteen years not to cringe when someone ushered the first couple in the entire universe, the design model for Brad & Angelina and Elvis & Priscilla, into a conversation.

The pair irked me. Made me itch. Bugged me in a way that only the first human beings ever to be created are capable of bugging a person. Nothing like the 76th human being. Nothing like the 10 thousandth being with Ten Fingers and Ten Toes.

I wanted to rip them from the felt boards in Sunday school. Pull apart Adam's paper limbs. Bury Eve somewhere in the garden. Throw them both into the lions' den. If you are gonna be a sinner then you'll be a lion's dinner.

I think I thought they were boring, a Mom & Pop story. A yawn coaxer for the front of the mammoth book I now read most mornings on a southbound train. Why not some action first, Cain and Abel? Why not a real juicy love story, perhaps Samson and Delilah?

Why, oh why, did God rev up the engines of creation with two naked people who screwed up all of history five minutes into paradise?

Adam & Eve were on my target list until about 10 months ago when I read backing thing, there must be something beyond the First Light, the First Raindrop, the First Furious Clap of Thunder & a Butterfly Shimmying Out from the Cocoon.

And then it hit me, square in the face. You get this picture of God making Adam probably in a Geppetto & Pinocchio fashion. Except Adam was a real boy, and his nose didn't grow when he lied...

And the world was probably really cool for Adam for about a day.  I can imagine if I were the first human being to ever be created I’d be like, “Heck ya, I am going to do the world’s first push up. The world’s first vine swing. I’m going to learn to doggy paddle… HA HA HA! Whooooo is that stunning human being in the water? Oh, tis’ me! HA HA HA! I’ll call that a reflection.”

Yup… that would be cool, to play all by myself, for about 5 minutes.

So then I’d probably say, “Hey God, can you beam down a friend?”

“Ehh,” He’d boom down from the clouds he just formulated from his massive Craft Store in the Sky. “ I’d rather teach you your very first lesson instead. How about a job?”

"A job?"

"Si," God would say (because God is absolutely bilingual).

I can picture Adam, slunk over on a tree trunk calling out names to animals as they roll on through a conveyor belt. "Cow.... Chicken... Moose... Antelope... Come on, God, are we done yet? UGHHHHHH. Hippo. Crocodile. Kangaroo. Seriously, this is getting old. Chimpanzee, Spider, Dog... no wait, Cat! Definitely Cat!" And that story went on & on until Adam realized, not a single one of his creatures had the capacity to pull up a tree stump and ask him about his day. Offer him a cold drink. Whisper a secret into his Brand New Ear.

If I were Adam, I'd be a little devastated at that point. A little hopeless. I'd write sad Pablo Neruda poems and talk about darkness all the time. Even with the newly created Sun, I'd talk about darkness a heck of a lot of time.

And I'd look up a lot and ask why. And I'd quit somewhere between the octopus and the sea urchin. I'd think it was not fair. To watch each animal trot & slither & jump & skitter off with a companion, a Somebody that Knew Their Skins. Their Quirks. Their Little Mysteries & Unsaid Wonders. Like the elephants and how they cradle. Like the spiders and how they spin.

I'd want myself an Eve at that point. A perfect, little Eve to hold when the sun dropped down to rest behind a hill. A perfect, little Eve to get tangled up in my Adam Head.

And if I were Adam, I'd already be creating a playlist for Eve: Hey there, Delilah. Angel. Hold you in my Arms... Or at least I'd say to God, "Hey, could you beam down Ray LaMontagne, Jack Johnson and Frank Sinatra a little early? I'm going to need my buds when it's time to serenade this Eve girl. She's a special one, I already know it. And God, you can keep Hanson... no need to ever beam that boy band down."

And I mean, I am thinking it was a Titanical moment. Minus the Grand Staircase. Minus hunky 3rd class Jack Dawson all dolled up in a suit. Minus Kate Winslet looking gorgeous like always. But something like that where Adam saw Eve for the very first time and even though he had found the names for tens of thousands of animals, he needed a moment to catch his breath and name her: Beloved.

And maybe we can edit that part into the Bible... that moment where Adam found Eve. And God said, let there be butterflies in the stomach. And so there was. And God said, let there be heads over heels. And so there was. And God said, Let Him Know Truly. Let Her Know Madly. Let Them Know Deeply. Unconditional. Everlasting. And So They Did.

And I think they talked for maybe a few hundred years. And they said to one another, “When texting comes along, let’s never do it. When email shuffles through, let’s hold off. I always want to know your voice… and the way it sounds when you say my name out loud.”

If I were Eve, I hope I'd have some kind of First Woman Courage, to ask my Adam, "What was it like? Before a Me? A We? An Us?"

"You know, Evey (The World's First Pet Name). It was me and God. And He's stellar and bilingual, but he's on a whole different level. And he wanted someone to level with me. And so he brainstormed beside a vase of lilacs and daisies and you were conjured up. I think he knew it all along, how perfect you might be... But he made me wait, and wait, and wait until I really understood it: That I was made to have you and hold you for my entire life, all through the sickness and all through the health. Eve, he needed to teach me that you are the kind of girl who I can never take for granted. Evey, Evey, I'm sorry it took so long."

Meet Adam, Ladies. The first  Heart-Throb.

And Eve, Eve, Eve... I can only imagine how it might feel to be the Eve stepping on Adam's toes while dancing. To show up, and know instantly, that he was mine and I was his and we were somehow made for one another by a Man in the Sky Who Already Wrote a Love Story Among Comets & Stars.

And that he & I, WE would be that way forever. Not some yesterday kind of dust. No, no, it would be reliable like a blue dress, reliable like a recipe for banana pancakes, that he would be mine and I would be his and he was going to love me into every morning not for who I was or am or will be, but because Someone loved Adam enough to make for him an Eve. And that was very special.

Oh, NBD, it’s just the dude who knows every hair on my head chillaxing in the back pocket of my Seven jeans...

I’ve thought long and hard about this and I’ve decided, if you show up in my kitchen tomorrow morning and ask me to how I am feeling about God lately, I am going to teach you how to use the Keurig coffee maker.

Step by step, we will stand in my kitchen and make coffee together.

It seems only natural. Only right to explore beside you the fine, fine contraption that hisses and rolls me into Monday morning commutes and Tuesday conference calls.

Maybe you already know the simplicity in all of it. You understand the ease of inserting the K-Cup, clamping, pressing the power button and then waiting 30 seconds for the morning’s elixir to purge into the yellow ceramic cup below as we scan “D1” of the paper for the forecast and decide on rain boots.

I’ll pull a chair out from the kitchen table and let you slurp in that first taste of light roast blend before telling you the little that I know about the God I illustrate with kitchen appliances.

Real cute, you might think. What’s this girl going to do next, explain the art of falling in love with a frying pan?

I’ll tell you, now gripping a fine caffeine buzz, how very obsessed I’ve grown with complicating this God guy. He tells me to trust and follow the steps he's laid out for me... I whine. Complicate. Demand. Stray. Do Anything But...

I'll tell you how I am enamored with jamming the Creator of the Universe into my own compartments.

“Oh, no big deal, it’s just the dude who knows every hair on my head chillaxing in the back pocket of my Seven jeans until I need him again.”

How, even though I know it is impossible, I still insist on trying to figure out every square inch of my existence without Him, as if it were a game of Clue and I am hinging on knowing that Colonel Mustard went on a candlestick-swinging spree in the study.

Totally say it... totally pin me down and tell me the truth: God is Not a Back Pocket Jeans Kind of Guy. And then ask me: Why are you trying so hard to make Him work for you?”

Make Him Work for You. Make Him Work for You.

Your statement convicts me as I choke back my pumpkin spice because I know, I know, I am guilty of it. Of some days liking God better when I think I can fit Him into my time blocks and schedule. Of wishing He’d be the kind to give me slight pats on the wrists and never ask me to change a bit for Him.

I could flail my arms and prance around the bonfire while worshipping a God who never asked me to look inward and rearrange, scratch that: refurnish, the wicker furniture of my soul. The good that we both could stand to see better. The bad and downright ugly that we could polish new with some time & energy.

These days I am learning, I am the one made for God’s back pocket, deserving of His back pocket, and yet he always keeps me out from the denim and placed squarely in the palm of His hand. Me (aka, a faulty creature prone to wandering astray), I am His little K-Cup, a single-serving flavor designed to be processed, changed and transformed into a brew fitting for His purpose. His plans. His masterpiece.

I don't know about you but I want to be a K-Cup so badly.

I can admit that freely and openly to any person who sits in my kitchen and sips coffee with me. I want to be wringed out and used so badly. I want to know and understand better that I don’t grow closer to Him in cluttering the directions, or making my own instruction manual. I only grow closer, draw nearer into His right side, when I let Him use me. Squeeze Me. Process Me. Do a work within me.

Not by my own strength, or my own know-how, but by the grace and fact that He knows me well enough, as a flavor that he adored enough to create. He knows exactly when to press the power button and let me brew….

“Look,” she told my mother. “It’s me and Fred dancing.”

I wonder how we’ll dance. All of the time. I wonder if we’ll fox trot or side step. Shimmy or Waltz. If the music will come endlessly. If the record player will turn.

I picture a pearly floored ballroom. Mozart revived and stunning on the piano. God showing off his hidden talents with the strings of a cello. Mr. Blue Eyes Sinatra himself, captivating all of heaven’s dance floor with his debonair swagger and the alto roar of his voice.

But, if I want to talk about Heaven and the epic chance to finally toast my glass with Billie Holiday, I need to rest my fingers on this keyboard and tap out what comes first, the very thing that we may never come to understand for as long as we sink our feet into earthy ground.

Death.

I’ve thought a great deal about death lately, as he seems to be coming up in conversation more than I would like. Linking arms selfishly with people I believe still needed more time.  I don’t even like typing the word "death" because it seems to come weighted down with all sorts of tragic connotations. As if Sadness & Stuffiness & Discomfort are all sitting down on my keyboard, refusing to get up.

It is always when I see someone pass away, someone who seems too young or too needed in this world,  that I find myself attempting to slip into God’s shoes. Try as I might, my feet don’t even take up an inch of space in his massive Converse sneakers. I cannot even pretend to clunk around for a mile in his shoes as if I were back to the days of being Little and Girlish, playing dress up with Grandma’s night gowns and chalky, burlesque lipstick.

But, ironically, it is also always when a beautiful soul takes her leave on this earth to swoop across clouds up to Those Gates that I feel God coming up behind me-- clomp, clomp, clomp--in his converse sneakers, to whisper in my ear. “I made you for many things, child. Understanding the way my world operates was never one of them.

And once again I fall back under His Unmistakable Power. Knowing little. Understanding less. But still wishing I could explain why several Grandmas get pulled back up to the clouds before lunchtime.

I'll never know why God plants the best grilled cheese makers and advice givers all over the planet. I don’t know why he sews us into daughters and sisters, lovers and friends. Why he pulls us off this earth when our work is done. It’s a glorious thing, but it leaves holes in the human hearts, of those who loved us all the days of our lives; the ones who seem to need us here on earth, sitting beside them, holding our hands. Seeking our shoulders.

A dear member of our church passed away this week. Sitting in pews on Sunday morning, a thick layer of sadness rose up to the rafters and rolled down the aisles. Suddenly there was no denying that the world gets heavier with one less mother, one less grandma, one less distinct laugh to fill the space that calls us all to worship.

My mother visited her in the hospital a few days before her passing . She showed off her favorite photograph.  A picture of she and her husband diving and dipping across a dance floor. “Look,” she told my mother. “It’s me and Fred dancing.”

She passed two days later. Some believe she was a victim to a broken heart, her husband passing away ten months prior, but everyone knew for certain that she was ready to dance with Fred again.

Ready to dance. Beyond this world. Because standing here in heels that hurt my feet by the end of the day,  I have no choice but to believe that we were made for something more beautiful, beyond this. That, up there, somewhere over those Rainbows and all that Judy Garland once sang about, exists a place for us to dance. And jig. And wear the best red shoes. And take the hands of ones we loved and lost to finally be found over & over again. For all of eternity.

And perhaps this is the reason, poking up like sunlight from the cracks of tragedy, for being here. Maybe God shuffled us down here so we could do our best, and learn the etching of our own footprints in the sand. So we could stumble and fall and lean on him when we lose all stability. And search this life all over like blind men on the boardwalk, looking for dance partners to know our steps. Know our shuffle. Our hop. Our skip.

To practice dancing on the ground. To learn the hands and eyes that we'll go searching for long after we've parted on this earth when we get to that pearly dance floor. The piano cuts. The crowd clears. And finally, the word “forever” will exist like we have never known it before, as we are reunited with those familiar hands. They'll clasp our cheeks and pull our faces close to theirs and dip us down to touch the ground, whispering softly, "I told you darling, we'd be dancing again."

I’d string the trees in Central Park with Yellow Bows for you.

She was fidgeting with the elevator buttons when the tears for you rolled through.

I knew upon the first slow trickle, down blush-applied pink cheeks,

that the herds of salty soldiers marching from my eyelids

were all for you today.

Untamable tears. Terribly Untamable, Mysterious Tears.

They might be my only offering to this world.

They might be just the start.

I let the tears scamper for a moment,

like restless children tumbling to see the first gleam of spring.

Propelling down over humps that were once

the bane of a chubby cheek existence.

Searching in my mind for ways to turn

Each Drop of Salt into Characters that sit Metallic in Blank Word Documents.

Because crying doesn’t solve anything,

(my mother taught me that one)

but words can do some good.

You held up a piece of cardboard two days ago and I knew it then.

Homeless. Veteran. Iraq.

These three words would call me to my knees one day soon.

Black Tights on Tile Flooring Praying for Men with Foreign Soil Beneath Their Boots.

My mind left stirring over a cup of coffee we never had.

Envisioning you taking me from start to finish.

Tell me the story of how a young man,

waking only to lie down for his country,

encounters that same sleepy-eyed country when its time to cradle him home.

When he fights well. Does Good.

Shouldn't "thank you" be a phrase that

Drops Endlessly Off Our Tongues?

Thank. You. You. You.

I’m no politician. No picketer. No rebel.

My combat boots are all for show. Fashion, really.

No agenda. No protests. No Crude Words for Magazines.

I cannot talk Libya or Japan when I just want to talk humanity.

I cannot banter over military industrial complexes

when I simply want to know, adding sugar as you speak:

How did the air feel in your hair over there?

Whose arms folded you inward during tented dreams at night?

Whose laughter are you longing for? I know it’s not mine.

When did you start missing it?

Tell me the pitch.

Verbalize the tone.

You'd speak and I'd categorize your eye color into the

running concordance in my mind. Maybe the Blue Files.

Perhaps the Ambiguous Hazels.

Scripting you deep into the front line in the notepad memory

of a Syllable Seamstress with Untamable Tears.

It’s not much but sometimes we need that:

for someone else to remember our eye color.

Remember something about us.

And let their minds return back to it after longer days.

I’m going back today.

If I see you, I will ask you out to coffee.

Knees sunk into the floor of a 43rd street office space.

Turning tears into syllables for you. Asking words to be

brave enough to speak for a hero like you.

Wishing those Words Would Unravel into

Miles Upon Miles of Yellow Ribbon.

I’d string the trees in Central Park with Yellow Bows for you.

Fresh Yellow Bows. To remind the World that a Foot Soldier Came Home.

That a Foot Soldier with Blue Eyes Came Home.

And so who will fetch the water to clean the mud from his tired boots?