Tuesday, July 31, 2007

dawn moments

even as a young child growing up at the water's edge
there was a yearning to be fully present during the dawn moments
and I would slip out of bed to sit at the end of the dock
in the silence during the ending of night
and the beginning of day

now some decades later
that yearning has only intensified
and I still slip out of bed to sit in silence at the end of the dock
to be fully present during the ending
and the beginning
mostly alone
coffee in hand

it remains a deep privilege
there is a sense of holiness in the hush
as the land yawns itself awake
and the mirror calm of the water ripples in its stretch
to my ears this all takes place in deep silence
but I cannot help but wonder if the silence is only in my ears
does this all take place really with a shout and joyous laughter
dancing excitement
is there an explosion of sound as light bursts the fabric of darkness

a friend recently asked why I thought Moses was told to remove his sandals
was it so that not even a thin slip of leather would separate him
from the holy Presence on the land

and as I have been pondering that
sitting on the end of the dock seemed too far removed
from the ending
and the beginning
this morning
in the fog
I slipped into the kayak to sit in the middle of the lake
to feel its awakening stretch
perhaps tomorrow I might enter into the water itself
to remove the separation of the thin slip of the kayak's skin

Monday, July 30, 2007

wisdom moments

The wedding was beautiful—the happy couple joined together in marriage, witnessed by smiling and crying family and friends in a perfect setting.
Next came the reception and the bride, glowing with joy, had just danced with her father.
And now, the tall, handsome groom had taken me into his arms for the mother-son dance.
As he hugged me tightly he said, “Mom, you look great. It doesn’t even matter that you’re wearing a wig.”
Needless to say, all of the tears I’d managed to hold back so far flooded down my face and our dance became a special moment in time that I will never forget—as memorable to me as the moment this son was born.
But, months earlier, neither of us had been so sure—my son had been quite upset when he learned I would lose all of my hair before his wedding and I’d had plenty of misgivings of my own…
As I contemplate going to Kevin’s wedding in a wig I’m feeling kind of melancholy—running my fingers through my hair, looking at my eyebrows and thinking how I will miss them.
But I must trust that there are new lessons I will learn and share with others.
Every hair on my head is numbered—each one may fall out but God will still know exactly what the current count is.
And, when it’s gone He’ll know the follicle count and the number of hairs that will grow back. He’ll know the color and the texture and just as He knitted me together in my mother’s womb, He will knit me back together again.
This whole episode shouldn’t be about how I look—it’s should be about how much glory He can receive out of my life—it should be about how much damage can be done to the enemy as I stand firm in my faith…
And yet, the idea of no hair and no eyebrows continues to nag at me—this is appearance only, so why does it bother me so much?
I imagine it’s mostly because of Kevin’s wedding, and I want to look really nice.
I don’t want him to be negatively affected by my appearance, remembering for the rest of his life whenever he looks at one of his wedding pictures that his mom had cancer…
It’s interesting that it’s the hair that spurs feelings of not being in control—apparently this is normal because one of the cancer web sites suggested shaving it off before it fell out in order to maintain a sense of control.
Is there an issue of control in my life that needs to be submitted to the Lord?
I surrender all Father—I confess my total helplessness to manage any part of this situation—take all of my scars, including the impending hair loss.
I’d like to consider them as badges of honor, signifying that You have brought me through, and that in each incidence of weakness You were strong.
May each scar and each hair that falls from my body be a reminder to me that my life is not about what I look like or how I feel—let them instead be a reminder of how great is my God…Living without fear is one thing, but how will I handle living without hair?
This won’t jut be a “bad hair day”—it’ll be a “no hair day” that lasts for many months!
What is it about hair that is so important?
How can something with such an unglamorous definition as “a filament growing out of the skin” be so significant in our lives?
Click on a television for five minutes and chances are there will be a commercial for a hair product or a hair restoration method; and of course it’ll promise wonderful, manageable results. Walk into any drug store and observe the shampoos, conditioners, gels, dyes and sprays; combs, brushes, curling irons and hair dryers; hair clips, bands and bows—on and on, aisle after aisle.
Or listen to the lyrics from the hit song from the rock musical of the same name, “Gimme a head with hair; long beautiful hair…I want it long, straight, curly, fuzzy, snaggy, shaggy, ratty, matty, oily, greasy, fleecy, shining, gleaming, streaming, flaxen, waxen, knotted, polka-dotted, twisted, beaded, braided, powdered, flowered, and confettied, bangled, tangled, spangled, and spaghettied!
There ain't no words for the beauty, the splendor, the wonder of my...Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair…”
It’s a given that our society sees hair as vital to our lives, but what does God have to say about it?
A search revealed ninety-nine references to hair in the NIV and a similar number in most other popular versions of the Bible.
For the most part, its significance seems to be as a positive image that implies health and beauty, but hair often symbolizes larger spiritual issues as well.
How could I apply these lessons to my own experience?
Time and again I took comfort in the familiar verses of Matthew 10:29-31, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
Another passage in Numbers 6 speaks of the treatment of hair if a man or woman wanted to make a special vow of separation to the LORD, “During the entire period of his vow of separation no razor may be used on his head. He must be holy until the period of his separation to the LORD is over; he must let the hair of his head grow long…Throughout the period of his separation he is consecrated to the LORD…Then at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, the Nazirite must shave off the hair that he dedicated. He is to take the hair and put it in the fire that is under the sacrifice of the fellowship offering.” (verses 5,6,18,19)
By default this would be a time of separation from the world—I was just too sick and tired to go anywhere or do anything except cry out to God—so…
the only way I know how to deal with this illness is to offer it to God—right along with, I now realize, a possessiveness of my hair.
Father, I give you my hair as an offering of faith…
In prayer I felt as if I was at Jesus feet—like Mary—but instead of washing His feet with tears and drying them with my hair, all of my numbered hairs that fell out were mixed with all of my tears and presented as an offering to him.
Hair is commonly thought of as being symbolic of wisdom, so I’m offering Him all of my earthly wisdom—laying it at His feet along with all of my tears and my pain.
And, as my hair grows back, may it be representative of a new level of godly wisdom in me. Every hair that comes in will be counted, just as the ones that fell out were, and my prayer is that my new physical hair will be a physical picture of God doing a new work in my life.
My hair continues to come out—my eyebrows are almost gone.
I admit it’s hard to look at myself in the mirror sometimes.
I also admit that the upcoming 12 weeks with another round of chemo is not something I look forward to.
I can only continue this because of the certainty that the LORD is with me and He has a plan.
I honestly don’t know how people endure this treatment without God.
No wonder there’s so much fear.
But He is greater than any problem and I will continue to trust him.
I’ve been told the worst is behind me and I’ve made it through almost six months of this—another three and my hair should start coming back.
Lord, how I thank you for the bright spot of Kevin’s wedding in the midst of it all.
What grace and mercy—God’s timing is so perfect.
And He even let me keep enough eyebrows to be able to see where to pencil them in!

Barbara Parker

afterglow moments

the sun had already set
with its usual stunning manifestation of wonder
the quiet calm of the approaching night
was shattered by a brilliance
that I had never seen before

all I could do was sit in awe

this was the afterglow of the sun
that had disappeared from sight

and this caused me to ponder:
after disappearing from sight
will I leave an afterglow
that will bring anyone pleasure

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

dying moments

there was a moment
when a spear of accusation was thrust
into a womb of incubating trust and community

although evident for months
something hidden was simmering
the violence was sudden
death the intent
but while yet in the crucible of pain
discernment was needed
about what must die
and who thrust the spear

God sees all
God knows all
and so
at the very least
he allowed this all to unfold

could it be that he also scripted it

could it be he chose the time
the place
the thruster
and the onlookers

did he even design and shape the spear

if so
how then to receive this dying
how to react to it

remain locked in pain and shock forever
trapped in that moment

or allow him to put to death
all that needs to die
no matter how painful
how high the hill
or how awkward the tree

and then possibly grow into the prayer
forgive them Lord
for they know what they do

and even be thankful
for the one
so chosen by God
to do the thrusting

the pain remains so great
there must still be much flesh
not yet dead

there is a learning what it means
to embrace death
to die well
moment by moment
cell by cell
as darkness gives way to light

such an experience
altars one's life

Thursday, July 05, 2007

free moment

our neighour called us at the lake yesterday
to say that there was water spouting high in our garden

nothing to do but drive in
to see what was happening
and it was as we suspected

one of the hoses in the pond
had sprung a leak

the water
instead of recycling through the pond
was now escaping
high into the sky
and very soon
the pond would be emptied
causing the fish to die
and the pump motor overheat
and burn out

and I saw much in all this

not satisfied with simply a pond
a small body of water
I had wished for a waterfall
for the pleasing visual effect
and the comforting sound
of water kissing rocks

and so
several years ago
with the help of hoses
and a pump
a waterfall was constructed

this was not a natural falling of water
but man made
to look natural

water forced to flow
in an unnatural manner
to be pleasing to the eye
and the ear

and how many of us
over the years
have been forced to flow
in an unnatural manner
to be pleasing to an eye
and an ear

after a few seasons
the hose could no longer contain the pressure
and the water broke free

but in its breaking free
there was danger of burn out
and death

and now I struggle
with whether or not
to replace the hose
and force water to again flow
in an unnatural way
to simply bring me pleasure

knowing deep within
the pressure of constraint
the pressure of flowing
in a manner always visually acceptable

I think I would rather break free
and flow high

but first
I must take care of the fish .............

and dwell deep

shepherd moment

2 weeks ago
the shepherds of this region
gathered together
in a neutral pasture

this was a time for family
a time to serve our servants
a time for the shepherds to frolic
in the fields of the Lord

400 or so came
and played
and laughed
and cried
and danced
and sang
and ate
and ate
and ate

faces were painted
and faces were kissed

shoulders that came in heavily laden
were eased of their burden

hearts that came in crushed
started pumping again

feet that were weary
danced their way to freedom

all who were hungry
were well fed

did I mention thay ate and ate and ate

the sounds of laughter filled the air

the kids loved riding the horses
and playing in the inflated castles

the dads and the moms
simply loved being loved

there are some in our midst
who are very weary in their well doing

take a moment
and touch them
with a word of encouragement
a hug of appreciation

they are not perfect
but then
look at the state of the sheep
especially the ones with big teeth

some love to gnaw on the legs of shepherds
not to kill
just to slightly cripple them

for a few moments
2 weeks ago
in a neutral pasture
love flowed
and danced
like the multi colored balloons that floated high
free at last

and my heart soared