writing. these days.

“I know you love words,” my co-worker said the other day as I struggled to properly pronounce a particularly long and awkward medical term.

I do love words.

My earliest memories of words are of pouring over storybooks and McGuffy Readers and learning to pronounce words all on my own.

Learning to write words was even more fun, balancing pencil lead between headlines and baselines, forming circles and script, dotting “i’s” and stringing them all into sentences and paragraphs and poems and papers.

Now words feel scary to pen.

Words have become weapons.

Words are cancel culture and damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t, and what once was a means to painting the world with a pen has become a tightrope of should I or shouldn’t I and if I do I’ll get it all wrong.

Even a poem about the ethereal green of my backyard seems precarious, these hard and awful days.

Virus of hate

Virus of color

Virus of the lungs and the world and

the heart

make everything a risk.

These days.

Storytellers and poets, painters and dreamers, those of us who tread between the real and imaginary, the ideological and the broken, we are the hearts that long to battle and bridge the warring world,

and now

words are hemmed in

by the righteous and self-righteous, and the freedom

to explore

feels like a trap no matter

the heart-

intentions.

And so I am left spent to say,

Lord

Jesus

come

into this mess

like You do best.

Create

in us a clean heart.

search us and know us when we don’t

know ourselves or which way to go.

Show us

the blackest smudges that need erasing in our souls

and wash them clean as new ruled paper,

plain and empty and ready

to write

what the world needs to heal.


“Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. God’s righteousness doesn’t grow from human anger. So throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage. In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life.”
‭‭James‬ ‭1:19-21‬ ‭MSG‬‬

Quarantine journals: April 18

I stopped putting a tally in this space.

All numbers do is smear and blur the pain and fear.

All numbers do is feed the enemy’s lie that it has the power.

Today I took my dog on a long walk

in the woods. Deliberately,

of course. And just to see

if there’s any marrow left in the world.

For a time

when we were out there alone and all we could hear were birds of all kinds and the swish of still bare tree limbs in the wind

I almost felt

normal

again.

Just me and him

like the good

old days—when was that?

Oh. Yes. A handful of weeks ago.

I almost couldn’t remember

the before.

Or is it just that it hurts too much

to think of all we’ve lost so

fast? “Front only the

essentials,”

Thoreau said,

“living is so dear…”

Indeed.

Quarantine Journals: April 11

I’ve always liked Holy Saturday.

Is that what it’s called?

The in between.

Good Friday and Easter get a lot of attention, and then there’s Saturday when nothing happens.

Silence.

Can you imagine being one of the disciples back then?

Abandoned.

Confused.

Hopeless.

Bewildered.

Utterly disappointed.

The One who was supposed to save was gone.

Dead.

Buried.

But then…

We know what happened.

We know that Sunday’s comin’.

We know that.

And yet,

we’re living in the middle

of one of the great *Saturdays* of our generation.

Death and despair surround us.

We feel frustrated. Afraid. Anxious. Lonely.

Defeated.

I imagine that Saturday some 2,000 years ago, Jesus wanted more than anything to tell his despairing disciples to lift up their eyes, to remember that He had not and would not fail them.

I imagine that if we quiet our trembling hearts long enough to listen, truly listen, we will hear Him again.

We will feel the tender touch of His nail-pierced hand under our chins, lifting our countenances.

We may feel that we’re surrounded, but

we’re surrounded by Him.

Saturday is deafeningly silent, but oh the sound when that stone rolls away tomorrow!

Sunday is comin’.

It always does.

Look up, dear friends.

Not to the hills. Not to the government. Not to hospitals or banks or experts or pundits. Not to our own feeble ways of coping.

Look up to His faithfulness.

Look up to His Word.

Look up, dear friends.

Because Sunday.

Because Sunday is a-comin’!

What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you’ll have it all—life healed and whole.

I Peter 1:3-5 TMV