it leans on me like a rootless tree

Too many mean words.  Too many mean not-words.  Too much mean, all around.  
The whole world is mean.  
I don't know if I can be strong enough to love it all away anymore. 


Thunderstorm Hymn

sits on bed
strums guitar softly
thunder plays the timpani

tap-tap of rain
swells of the wind
drown the strings in glory

a girl and the elements
only one song
Creator and creature in symphony


Sunday Afternoon

Low on gas
Throws coat in back seat
Rolls down windows
Skips exit
It’s the first warm day of the year.

Drives slow,
Doesn’t care. 
Drives fast,
Doesn’t care.

Doesn’t sing along,
Just listens,
Just drives…

Semi-trucks and
SUVs and
sports cars,
Any just driving?
            She wonders. 
            Breathes deeply. 

Twenty-three miles (one for each year)
And exit eighty-three
To nowhere.

Windy roads and
empty fields and
small-mountain hills.

Smells manure,
Doesn’t mind.
Feels familiar,
But different enough. 

Deserted cemetery.
Pulls in
Drives the circle
Sees familiar last names
and crucifixes and flowers. 
Sees a fat goat watching her,
chomping grass.
Feels no death
Feels sunlight
Feels good.

Low on gas
finds her own way home.


Everything Looks Perfect From Far Away

And who can say what it is? 

Financial stability, an empty schedule, and no responsibilities… so I’ve heard. 

But maybe it’s lotion on cracked winter hands—stinging, healing.  The endlessness of open roads.  Music and art.  Maybe it’s the release that comes with cussing, the solitude of car-crying, or the last moment of worship in a sanctuary about to be destroyed. 

Maybe it’s nothing.  


On Existing

I had a good day today.  

I slept in and woke up to a warm house because Larry the furnace-fixer paid us a visit late last night.  I spent some time reading, took a hot shower, and had spaghettios and salt & vinegar chips for lunch.  I had brownies for desert that my mom made me for Valentine’s Day.  My roommate helped me push my car out of the snow, and then I went to a coffee shop, ordered a soy chai latte, and spent four hours writing and downloading music.  I stopped at home for dinner and a chat with my mom before heading to the church where I played Catchphrase with middle-schoolers, talked my little cousin out of “starting something” with a girl who was spreading rumors about her, and practiced music for our 30-Hour Famine concert.  Then I went home and had quality roommate time girl-talking, cuddling, and watching American Idol and The Bachelor on DVR.  Now I’m curled up in my bed, writing this blog. 

In Haiti, people died today.  People mourned, people searched for their families, and people begged for food.  People laid in hospital beds.  People roamed the streets.  People sifted through rubble and uncovered body after body after body.  People drank dirty water and ate trash and cried and bled.  People prayed, and maybe their prayers were answered, and maybe they weren’t.   

I had a good day today.  

I am not ok with this. 


Our Fall (A Photo Scavenger Hunt)


after a long journey of out-of-focus horizons playing trick-or-treat with our eyes,

at the end of that rocky path to discovering the tools to harvest things bigger than our own selfish crops,

we look back and discover that the tottered, once-bright detour signs we followed were intended to be our way from the beginning.  

We have harvested our souls.  
The treat was in the trick.  
What a delicious trick.  


The Responsibility Of A Christian

To blend all of a hospital’s blood, vomit, and tears into masterpiece murals. 

To conduct a city’s sirens, car horns, and coins tossed into tin cans as orchestra.  

To collect a culture’s foulest, most offensive words and spell them 

And you thought it was all doe-eyed Jesus portraits, praise choruses, and “s-a-v-e-d.” 


Newspaper Word Cut-outs (Part 2)


I didn’t have a seventh-grade sweetheart, nor did I ever receive or send a circle-yes-or-no love note.  “Dark Blue” wasn’t the song I said I’d remember--it was “Hide and Seek” by Imogen Heap.  I don’t know what type of cigarettes Bethany was smoking, and besides, she didn’t light up inside the car.  

The sky wasn’t dark blue, it was black.  We’re all too old to be innocent.

Last night I went to bed clothed and woke up naked, and I remember nothing in between (except for half-waking around 6:00 and suspecting that my clothes were gone.)  

Well.  I wasn’t completed undressed... I was wearing underwear and socks.  

But I felt naked.  The majority of my body was naked.  The memory is naked and the term “naked” is general enough to allow for a couple little inconsistencies, a couple little socks.

Truth: The moon made a halo in the clouds.  

We did listen to Dark Blue at some point that night, and Bethany did smoke--just not in the car.  But... my memory was in the car.  The frozen moment of youth was in the car.  The sudden, unexpected nakedness was in the car.  

Our memories always wear underwear and socks.   

Truth: I went to bed clothed, woke up naked, and I can’t find my sweatpants anywhere.        


We Were Boxing The Stars (Part 1)

Last Wednesday night at two thirty in the morning the four of us drove home from dancing.  Our ears were ringing from the the pounding music and the swirling of the heat made us drowsy.  Julie dozed with her head on the backseat headrest and I rested my forehead on the window, staring at the crescent moon that made a halo on the clouds.  Heidi drove in silence, flipping off her brights when we passed a stray car.  Bethany sucked on a Marlboro and sang along with Jack’s Mannequin.  

I told them all, “For the rest of my life, every time I hear this song I’ll think of this moment.”     

Four girls in a car at two thirty in the morning.  Just us and the moon.  Just us, the moon, and the road.  Going home to sleep.  

But I’ll keep the moment in a shoebox under my bed, like the circle-yes-or-no love note from a seventh-grade sweetheart.  Because you don’t throw away innocence.    

“This night’s a perfect shade of dark blue.” 


Today I Like Purple

Red for the city (Chicago is burgundy), blue for staying here, yellow for depending on other people, white for I’ll-do-it-myself-thanks.  Green makes marriage and babies.  Orange makes home-sick.  Pink makes freedom or lots of mistakes, depending on the lighting.  Purple... can’t exist.    

So many shades.  So many rainbow promises.  So much beauty, if you blend it all together right. 

And everyone thinks they're a damn art critic. 


Here's To Feeling Fragile

An “it’ll be ok” promise is all it would take, or maybe an “I believe in you.”  I could send up an eyes-closed-knees-bent bedtime prayer or just listen, listen, listen to you talk, vent, purge.  These are the things for you, and I’ll do them all.  

But I’ll give it more:

The kind of comfort that comes from a twin bed cradling two, from a hug that turns into a hold.  The peace of a let's-be-lazy afternoon or the relief of “we’ll escape this all soon.”  The things that are secretly for me, too.  


One Of Those Days, You Know The Ones

One of those days where there’s just no reaching glory. No music is loud enough to rattle your bones. No speed is fast enough to chap your skin. No oxygen is dense enough to quite fill every part of you.

One of those days where if you were an explorer you would be repelling into volcanic craters to discover new species. If you were a surgeon you would be saving lives and pulling forty-eight hour shifts because that’s just what has to be done. If you were a cop you would be kicking down doors and swinging guns at bad guys and maybe taking a bullet for your partner.




People dying and living, but only one or the other -- nothing in between.

One of those days that doesn’t leave you breathless, doesn’t leave you wanting more. It just leaves you.


What Heaven Might Be Like

A little bit like this, but stronger. A fragrant B flat chord, a dandelion tasting like “I love you.” Red feeling smoother than before and vibrato growing much taller. A little bit of everything working as one. Some heightened humanity. A pinch of art, a dash of hallelujah, and all of it coming together to be very, very good.