Light and Loveliness

Reflections of Emily Sue Allen

Browsing Category Poetry

Poetry / Thoughts

Through Glass and Fingertips

hollowed out, a log fallen
flat on the forest floor, a collection of ruins
heaped and spread, beyond repair

sand settled low in the funnel, time through glass and fingertips
the sum of years, sunk
treasures lost in shuffled lives lived facing different directions

different eyes see different things, but not the others
walls up, hearts held back
to hide in neutral, uncontested space

but love.

Love is bold, to break through
new life in the hollow
the promise of beauty from ashes, sprouted

************

There was momentum, success in writing some of the most precious stories of my heart, and then radio silence for two straight months. A series half-finished, and a heart consumed with other matters…in many ways shaken awake to responsibilities and realities that beg my attention more than my need to keep up appearances that I am a writing machine. I am not a writing machine. I am a busy mother in a season of living family adventures and challenges. I meant for it to be a momentary pause, but on occasion, moments stretch into months, and when the lungs I’ve been willfully holding breath in for many years finally exhale a swoosh of release from the need to always strive, always outrun the fear of tumbling blocks…well. The blocks have tumbled, and I have happened upon some of the most important personal discoveries of my adult life these past few months.

I have limits, and I rarely live by them. I swallow an elephant and look around for dessert. I shove some things to the side if they happen to be something I don’t really want to deal with at that time or anytime soon, and I try to fly with several overloaded satchels hitched to my wings.

It hasn’t worked out. I mean, I gave it a good run for a long stretch, but I’m halted, and wonderfully so. There is nothing especially dramatic. Just a wind of change. A hope for a healthier balance of life. I have every intention of finishing my series, it will just be on a looser timetable. I guess since I’m the boss, I can do that.

As I plunk the stories out, I will share them. Thanks for reading, and thanks for patiently waiting.

1401. The victory of a half-finished series, 1402. the quiet, but pivotal changes at my door, 1403. soul-swelling music that streams from my kitchen cupboard (via bluetooth speaker), 1404. rearranged rooms for kids, 1405. seeing the beauty of small, certain steps, 1406. the freedom to set down burdens, 1407. how words illuminate, 1408. toddler cuddles, 1409. the delightful taste of fresh oranges, 1410. embracing where I am

Poetry

The Beauty of Dust

worm that i am
in the dirt
gulping more of the earth
as i go

do i know what i am?

grit of the ground
thought worthless and wanting
still i eat and writhe, wandering
low against my will

do i know what i am?

i don’t want to see
don’t make me
acknowledge i am
what i am

do i know?

pressed on all sides
in the dirt

a mess of dressing myself with laurel
a lie to try to be more
than i am

do i know what i am?

yes, i know and i tremble
there is no dressing dirt into lovely life
on my own

i know what i am

is not possible without breath, without love
careful to conceal
but i see, yet in slivers
small bites i can handle

what i am is

dirt in the Hand
that regards not the proud
but the humble who see

the beauty of dust

 


“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’ ” Genesis 1:26-28

1376. blissful Seattle summer temperatures, 1377. beach day and the sunburned feet to prove it, 1378. time with my pops, 1379. healing conversations, 1380. seeing the thread that weaves, 1381. new pegboard visual organization for homeschool, 1382. circling back to simplify, 1383. freedom, 1384. homemade lemonade made by friends (yum), 1385. 12 years in a week

 

Life & Faith / Poetry

The Form of Love

to be young, eager, chase what allures

to be old, wise, long-savor morsels of joy in the bleak

to twirl and sing quiet so nobody hears

to stand, speak strong truth nobody wants

not the achiever, not the laissez-faire

not anyone save the desperate soul

who pines for rescue from boggy mire

 

to be convinced, certain, questions checked outside

to be open, but not wide. well within a boundary

to grip unstable characters ’til sand succumbs to sea

to surrender, to die and not die, surprise gift easily missed

not striving, not despairing

not anyone save the yielded soul

who sees light in the dark, inside itself

 

to be beautiful, slick and debonaire

to be simple, fuss not for temporary promises

to mirror circular pride, the see-more, want-more always

to lift eyes up to hills that rumble value to

not the adequate, not the falsely-humble

not anyone save the honest soul

who reaches wide to take the form of love

*****

“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name.” Philippians 2:5-9

1366. writing time, 1367. stories of God’s faithfulness, 1368. finding my way, 1369. a successful zoo day, 1370. sons working together, 1371. the fall-asleep station (mama’s bed) for two toddlers, 1372. a new dish scrubby, 1373. little daisies, 1374. summer fun with friends, 1375. dreaming big

Life & Faith / Poetry

The Surface and the Center

examine close with fingertips
the raw feel of faith
dip and edge and crevice
touch rough, touch tough to tell
what lies beneath the surface

solid gold? cannot say
rarely looks of what it truly is
bravado hiding brokenness
or meekness shrouding wisdom surely there
the surface cannot tell the center’s tale

will it live in fire
or wash with rain?
will it flex or bend or break?
will it grow or hide away
in winds and shakes and pains

the slow drip of grace must make it in
to breathe and grow and leap
outside the skin that holds it fast
or holds it down
or holds it in

may it be true
may it be found among the weeds
or in the sand
wherever planted, springing up
to sing of freedom with no fear

awake, sleeper
now the time to trade in
all temporary treasures
for truth alone, the bridge

however surly or uncertain seems the surface
the center gives away the tale’s end

*****

“Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” Ps. 85:10 KJV

1251. inclusion on an unlikely team, 1252. coos and gurgles, 1253. cookie dough ice cream, 1254. victories in pacing the day and tuning my heart to right things, 1255. car conversations about cosmic things, like what it means to be made in God’s image? 1256. chocolate walnut banana bread and a 10 year old that puts all the ingredients away, almost ten anyway, 1257. to see a child succeed at something they struggle at, 1258. editing the most adorable newborn photos of a longtime friend (we’re talking 20 years), 1259. a husband who missed his bus to take out the trash, sweet guy, 1260. God’s unending, gentle, overwhelming grace for me

Creativity / Poetry / Prayer

Paris

They spill
Tears like arms flung out
Desperate to console, comfort, understand
Where tears fall short, prayers move and maneuver
Going quick where tears and arms cannot reach

It howls pain, the city of love
Torn deep at the hands of evil men
Whose hate compels them to hurt; to wrestle violent for power
With the banner of widespread fear

They will not find what they seek
For love cannot be quenched
Love cannot be banished, or imprisoned, or stamped out
For it lives and springs from ashes in tears and arms and prayers
That refuse to let darkness be the pen that writes the end of the story

We raise a banner of love with prayers for the broken
The ones wronged, and the ones wrong
May love ever have the last word

Prayers for Paris

“Evil will not deliver those who practice it.” Ecclesiastes 8:8b

“Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” Amos 5:24

Creativity / Life & Faith / Poetry

Poems from Abide Retreat

As I mentioned in this post, I wrote some poems as part of a few of the workshop exercises. The first was a spinoff of Pied Beauty by Gerard Manley Hopkins. We borrowed the first and last lines, and filled in the middle with our own poetry.

Trust

Glory be to God for
Plentiful peace found on paths of fleeting sorrow
Soul spoken awake to dwell in artful rest
Bright wings to bear skies beyond a bristled nest
Take flight to follow forth on trust no longer borrowed
Praise Him!

The second poem is a pantoum, which is a particular form that builds on repetition in a particular pattern. I find this style to be most enjoyable being read aloud.

Glory, a pantoum

Too wonderful to comprehend at once, in full
Shrouded mystery kept from bare sight that would surely blind
Light in firegolden trees and shimmers on water
Moss clings tightly to a rock that does not move

Shrouded mystery kept from bare sight that would surely blind
Glory restrained, revealed in small ways for simple hearts to understand
Moss clings tightly to a rock that does not move
Invited to experience glory in still and solemn peace

Glory restrained, revealed in small ways for simple hearts to understand
Light in firegolden trees and shimmers on water
Invited to experience glory in still and solemn peace
Too wonderful to comprehend at once, in full

Family / Life & Faith / Poetry

Nothing

One sibling photo a week throughout the year. 32/52

i say yes under my breath, yes
i know this truth
yes, with eyes closed and a knowing nod
pain and purpose
ache and honesty
longing and love that remains near in every season
every season
even when it feels far

**

low times hang hard in the back of the throat
struggles and searching for reasons, relief
desperate days turning over every last stone
looking for promised peace
a way out
a light ahead
waiting ever so long
losing bits of hope
a trail of broken pieces i feel will never be gathered

i can hear nothing except a tiny voice
in the core of my heart
whispering, ‘don’t give up’
‘trust Me’
‘I have wonderful things in store for you’
‘keep walking’

i shake my head
surely not me
surely not wonderful things for me
how will i ever hold wonderful things
when i am so full of pain
what room is there for wonderful things?
rivers of sorrow, a force going out
others bewildered by my inability to smile
even a little bit
for years

i wrestle and struggle to set my face forward
to pick up weighted feet and soul
to journey on to where i will taste and see the Lord is good
not just hope and pray it is so
one tiny step after another
through darkness and fear
each one a step in faith as i hope in God
not yet seeing what is promised
but knowing that God does not lie

**

dear heart, it is true
God is good, so very good
and He is with you in the darkness
in hardship, in shame, in valleys, in waiting
in loss, in longing He walks with you
gathering the broken pieces
that will one day be restored to life
to fullness, wholeness
dancing and joy
by the remarkable power of His love
which cannot be kept from you
by any means in the universe

for nothing shall separate us from the love of God
nothing at all

———————-

“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

“If you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for He will never fail you.” 1 Peter 4:19 NLT

So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time He will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you…In His kindness God called you to share in His eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, He, Himself, will restore, support, and strengthen you, and He will place you on a firm foundation.”  1 Peter 5:6-7, 10 NLT

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Update on goals for week 32:

1) Run/walk at least 10 miles per week. Week 32 ~ 13.5 Run/Walk miles traveled, 361mi in 2015
2) Write 10,000 words weekly. Week 32 ~ 5100 words completed, 96,100 words in 2015

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951. new-to-me maternity clothes, 952. the great bedroom clean-out, 953. seeing baby on ultrasound, 954. little spitfire’s haircut, 955. some rain and some sun, 956. first pre-season hawks game, 957. pizza with g & g mac, 958. my ultra-handy blue tooth speaker, 959. planning some timeline activities for fall, 960. moving message at church

 

Family / Life & Faith / Poetry

Quiet Life

One sibling photo a week throughout the year. 28/52

“Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands.” 1 Thess. 4:11 NLT

I wouldn’t say that I set out to live a quiet life. In fact, looking back just a few years, I think I was trying to live as loud as possible. I threw every ounce of energy I had into learning, strategizing, doing, maximizing…completely convinced by the messages that had be coming at me since high school.

“You can be anything you want to be.”

“Live out loud and make your mark on the world.”

“If you can dream it, you can do it.”

“Pull yourself up by your bootstraps and make your dreams come true.”

“There is no time to waste. The time is now!”

“Do whatever makes you happy.”

“When opportunity knocks, open the door, or you just might miss the chance of a lifetime.”

No pressure. And there are probably hundreds of other lines that belong with this list.

It was a whirlwind ride; exhilarating and frightening at the same time. I threw all my eggs in risky baskets, hoping and believing that if I just worked hard enough, or did the perfectly right things, I would one day ‘make it’. All the while, I bumbled along, tossed all about without an anchored vision for my life’s greater purpose. I noticed at a young age that the ‘heroes’ of our culture are typically the ones who show some outstanding amount of skill, success, notoriety, or accomplishment, and for a long time, I wanted to be that kind of hero; someone ‘important’. I was immature, and confused about what really makes a person important in the world. How easy it is to elevate some with esteem for what they have to show for their lives, while completely overlooking vast numbers of honest, hard-working, everyday people.

There was not an identifiable moment that my perspective changed. It has been little by little, over time, and through deeply personal challenges. A chisel to stone, deep and shallow cuts, shaving away the unnecessary things and re-fashioning me altogether to recognize the real beauty in life is not at all what I imagined it to be in earlier years. I would be lying if I didn’t acknowledge that at times it has been extraordinarily painful, and yet, it has also been extraordinarily good.  It’s the tension of both/and, as a good friend says. Beauty is found in unexpected places, and all life is valuable.

I have learned that not every inspirational line is true. There are a lot of things that sound great to a young and eager heart, things that drip with gratifying and promising honey….but at closer inspection, sell something empty. What happens when you learn that something you’re in love with eating is both nutritionally bankrupt, and seriously unhealthy for your body? You might still eat it in a moment of weakness (hello, sugar addiction), but on occasion, you will probably think about it a little more carefully before slurping it down. In the same way, we should be discerning about the messages we internalize and use as our compass for life. Some will be bankrupt, and may send us down a path that at the end, looks nothing like it did at the beginning. This whole discovery has me searching for ways to tune out the noise, and push out the busy.

“Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands.”

Maybe we need more quiet so we can hear a little clearer when the Holy Spirit whispers to us. Maybe we need to mind our own business because minding others’ only serves to make us feel inadequate, or make us feel superior, when we are neither. Maybe we need to work with our hands, because only then can we understand what it means to toil, to labor, and eventually reap a harvest.

——-

The Chisel*

You hold the chisel to sculpt the stone

Command the rock to crack and let the water flow

Carve Your way like a river through my soul

A pebble on the sand is sculpted by the tide

The same way You whittle down my pride

Wash over me, I long to be refined

In spite of all the edges that are rough and plain

You hold me like a jeweler holds a gem

You are etching in the lines of righteousness

With a skillful hand, and perfect artistry

Make something beautiful, something beautiful of me

*from a poem/song I wrote in 2003

——————————-

Update on goals for week 28:

1) Run/walk at least 10 miles per week. Week 28 ~ 13 Run/Walk miles traveled, 297mi in 2015
2) Write 10,000 words weekly. Week 28 ~ 3200 words completed, 80,300 words in 2015

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901. bedtime question hour, 902. my little olaf (warm hugs), 903. watermelon on a hot day, 904. organized bookshelves and purged toy bins, 905. divine protection in a serious situation, 906. crisp romaine, 907. sweet 9th birthday party, 908. mini-me sewing buddy, 909. health and well-being, 910. anniversary cards in the mail

Life & Faith / Poetry

Carrying Wind

carrying wind, gentle swell
blow loose the knot in center
bring down the heart from anxious peak
to calm, to still, to settle

carrying wind send comfort near
to troubled mind and soul
breathe long and banish fearful thought
for truth to conquer all

carrying wind, the help You give
to any who should ask
be swift to anchor, swift to move
with wisdom in the dance

carrying wind, the hope of life
kept safe in rocky cleft
though worn and weary through the storm
in every way is blessed

“See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority.” Colossians 2:8-10

846. silk flower bouquet with a playdoh center, 847. bedtimes gathered ’round, 848. inspiring stories, 849. freedom from fear, 850. wise counsel, 851. homemade splash-pad playdate with friends, 852. downstairs bedrooms in the heat, 853. hard-won miles, 854. very full fridge and freezer, 855. watermelon birdies

Creativity / Life & Faith / Poetry

Sails

nature-0004

the ship i sail crashes the rocks

sharp water lashes

striking stones scrape

thunderous fear claps overhead

reverberations of brokenness

from lifetimes ago

 

revisiting aches, once put to rest

insides churn and boards buckle and

i wonder how long i will last

 

i am tender of heart and strong of will

 

i hold with white knuckles and pray nothings

and thrash

fearing not reality, but memory

 

i struggle to live now what is now

and leave then what was then

 

to let light touch my eyes

to make bright what i often forget

 

i am not the sailor, only the sail

stretched wide to catch wind

to catch breath

the promise that only surrender and trust

can bring up from the deep

peace

————–

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“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 4:6-7

531. a rescuing husband, 532. new tire, 533. two year old negotiations, 534. six year old tooth-holes, 535. sweet party plans, 536. help, 537. miles journeyed on foot, 538. the smooth day before the bumpy one, 539. silent-night squeaks, 540. light-ups