Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Christian Faith

heaviness of years past

It’s Monday morning
I’m still trying to
Find myself

Not lost
Perhaps misplaced
Somewhere back there?

Yesterday in church
I wept for the heaviness
Of years past

Wounds and scars
From a thousand misfired
Bullets

Invisible reminders
Deep within of tales not told
Or understood

The most difficult thing I’ve done as a follower of Jesus is to step out of my hiding places. Not primarily to face my friends or foes, but to face myself. In my family of origin, hiding was the best way I could cope and survive as a child and teenager.

As a young adult and later as a professional, I carried a weight of fear in my guts. Fear that some grand tribunal would subpoena me to testify against myself.

Sadly, I thought this process would be about my small and large transgressions, as determined by their eyes. In my worst fears, I would be shamed and punished before an audience of my peers plus strangers. They would make an example of me, much as my father tried to make an example of me as the eldest of four daughters.

Instead, as a 40-something, I found myself in Al-Anon groups of women and men struggling as I was. Listening to them helped me listen to my story. Maybe I didn’t need to fear some unknown grand tribunal.

These new friends didn’t absolve me, and they didn’t try to fix me. Instead, they listened, and showed me how they worked on their own wounds and scars. By honoring themselves, they honored me.

So there I was in church yesterday, weeping. Realizing that no matter what I do, I will be welcomed with open arms when I die.

Where will I go? I don’t know. Nonetheless, I believe I will be in the presence of The Only One who understands me fully and loves me from the inside out. I’ll also be free of wounds and scars. Free to be the beautiful woman I am.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 4 March 2019
Photo found at fromthegrapevine.com, Flowers on a tombstone, Czech Republic

One inch short of war

Howling winds
Rattle doors and windows

Random bursts
Of unseemly fury
Hurled through air
Turn lashing trees
To toppled dreams
Caught off guard
By one lone ranger
Unleashing havoc
One inch short of war

Pointing out the faults of others, especially those of POTUS, is dangerous business. Some say we should cut him a break. After all, doesn’t our own uncontrolled behavior make us as guilty as the next party?

Perhaps it does. Nonetheless, national leaders are held to higher standards because of the number of people who depend daily on their decisions and actions. Especially, but not only in situations of national emergency. A wall on our southern border is not cause to declare a national emergency. Hurricane Maria was. A test of our readiness to do the right thing. Together.

So yes, POTUS is rightly held to higher standards. And yes, my ability to see fault-lines in POTUS likely means I’m all too familiar with this set of behaviors. In myself and in others.

It brings to mind my history with self-confident men and women who believed themselves ordained by God to keep me in line. In my place. Voiceless and without power. One inch short of being used and abused in a subterranean war fueled by abuse of power.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 25 February 2019
Photo of Hurricane Maria damage in San Juan, Puerto Rico; found at nbcnews.com

The coming storm

Silent as snow
Trees stand motionless
At attention
Scarcely breathing
Gray chill air
Of the coming storm

These days it’s difficult to read or listen to the news without descending one step deeper into the eye of a coming storm.

Nature’s weather events regularly point to the chaos and destruction of large, uncontrollable storms. Especially those that enter lashing out in one direction, and exit lashing out in another direction.

As it happens, today we’re in the leading edge of a large weather event coming at us from the south and west. The signs are all there, just outside my kitchen window and on countless weather updates .

So what’s it all about?

I can’t help thinking about  our nation. Especially the rapid deterioration of discipline, trust and good will we witness daily, beginning at the top and flowing out and down. As a young nation among older nations, we don’t seem ready to weather future storms that grow larger and more inevitable each day.

When I looked out my kitchen window this morning, I saw the trees. They were standing at attention, calm, silent, waiting to see what this storm will bring. For some it may spell disaster. For others, it will blow over and life will go on as usual.

Right now snow plows are going up and down the road outside our house. The snow is beautiful and heavy with moisture. Sleet and freezing rain will come later.

In the end, what I saw outside my kitchen window challenged me to be what I’ve often longed to be — a poem lovely as a tree. Vulnerable, strong, graceful, able to weather storms, and willing to die. No matter what happens next for me or our nation, and no matter who happens to be in the White House.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 20 February 2019
Photo found at elizabethatkinson.com

An evening prayer

Today I got a little lost
Until You found me
In the hymns I played
At the end of the day

I’m weary and it’s late

Last night I had a hard time
Getting to sleep which
Made this entire day feel
Off-balance –
already behind and unable
to catch up with myself

This night – sing me to sleep
And wake me with joy
Alive and ready for another
Day – found and grateful

From my journal yesterday evening.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 29 January 2019
Photo found at unsplash.com

Gifts of old age

Gifts of old age
Come slowly sifting
Decades of memories
Through a heart
Converted to truth

Soft and pliable
It weighs the years
Discarding self-contempt
For self-acceptance
And understanding
Of what and why
And wherefore these
Shadows are nothing
In the end but
The reverse side of
Life interrupted and
Redeemed at great cost

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 27 January 2019
Photo found at artistsnetwork.com

Why Mary Oliver’s words matter

A few years ago a friend introduced me to Mary Oliver via one of her books of poetry, Thirst. Spare on words and extravagantly beautiful, her forty-three poems grabbed my heart and my imagination. The collection focuses on her grief after the death of her longtime partner, and her struggle to find words that capture the reality of her faith.

Mary Oliver challenges me in ways similar to Emily Dickinson, with one exception. Oliver’s poetry, also heavy with meaning, is remarkably and painfully direct. In each poem she invites me to enlarge the way I see, experience and respond to what seems everyday and ordinary.

Since her death on January 17, scores of visitors have visited this site looking for posts about Mary Oliver. At the top of the list: It doesn’t have to be the blue iris, a poem about prayer.

In the last week I’ve read and listened to multiple tributes to Mary Oliver. Her poetry is stunning; her challenge to us as human beings is direct and piercing: Wake up, Observe, Report. Not simply about nature, but about this world and its creatures as part of God’s great poem. A reality we ignore to our great loss.

Here’s one of Mary Oliver’s shorter poems. I love the way it makes simple what isn’t always easy.

Musical Notation: 2

Everything is His.
The door, the door jamb.
The wood stacked near the door.
The leaves blown upon the path
that leads to the door.
The trees that are dropping their leaves
the wind that is tripping them this way and that way,
the clouds that are high above them,
the stars that are sleeping now beyond the clouds

and, simply said, all the rest.

When I open the door I am so sure so sure
all this will be there, and it is.
I look around.
I fill my arms with the firewood.
I turn and enter His house, and close His door.

Mary Oliver, from poems in Thirst, p. 38; published by Beacon Press (2006)

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 24 January 2019

Lost in an internal maze

Brilliant winter sun-rays
Filter through frigid air
Endangering darkroom eyes
Unaccustomed to light

Blinking he looks away
Unwilling to sacrifice
Hazy unclear sight for clarity
Or the fine details of truth

Better the sweet comfort
Of blurred lines mixing
Facts with fiction or
Reducing them to nothing

Stumbling blindly
From pillar to post
He makes his lonely way
Lost in an internal maze

I didn’t set out to write about Mr. Trump, yet it seems I have. So now I’m sitting here wondering what’s going on in me. Have I given up on his presidency? Disengaged myself from caring anymore?

That might happen if I believed that whatever he does, I will likely weather the storm. Yet I don’t believe that. His actions put us and others at risk every day.

More likely, I wrote this because I lack visible power over what’s happening in Washington. I voted. Now it seems there’s no more I can do to make a visible difference.

Nor can I say I hope for something better from Mr. Trump. I don’t. I’m an aging citizen, with limited time and energy. I want to know how to make my voice and my concerns heard.

Though I could perhaps feel sorry for Mr. Trump, that isn’t an option. He has openly chosen his way of doing business, and is following it regardless of intended or unintended outcomes for our nation or our allies.

What now? If I remember right, Jesus rebuked those who paraded their supposed righteousness before everyone’s eyes. Instead, he recognized with gratitude and admiration the widow who, almost unnoticed, gave from her heart the bit she had.

I want to find my bit, and offer it from my heart. Not to Mr. Trump, but to this world God already loves — the same world I’m learning to love in spite of our differences and blurred visions of reality.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 21 January 2019
Photo found at freepik.com

the sound of nothing

Blush-pink morning clouds
Paint the sky peachy sherbet
Fresh from last night’s raucous rain
Now gathered in mud puddles

Outside my bedroom window
Venus shines in the east
Birds soar through chilled air
Graceful trees sway to and fro
Freed by the sound of nothing

This morning’s quiet was welcome, especially given the bluster and chest-thumping offered up daily by our news feeds. Huge plates overflow with hand-wringing, fact-checking, posturing and dissecting served up fresh, minute by minute. Starvation diet. That’s what it feels like. Even the best scenarios aren’t enough to sustain us.

Nature isn’t God. Nor is Nature a meek little lamb. Nonetheless, when seen through eyes of faith, Nature becomes a vast, open, accessible tutor about life.

My daily challenge is to stop, look and listen. Though the music isn’t always beautiful, it always points to truth. A welcome respite from today’s clamorous voices, and a reminder that we are all finite. This current state of affairs will not last forever.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 9 January 2019
Photo of Venus at dawn found at flickr.com, taken by Joseph Brimacombe

A Fond Farewell to 2018

Dear Friends,

The last two months I’ve been barely alive on my blog. That’s partly because D and I have gallivanted with family members almost nonstop.

In November we enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner with our son, his wife and their three children. It was our last family meal in their big old house plus barn and meadow. We were surrounded by boxes waiting to be moved to their new house (minus barn and meadow). Not in the middle of nowhere, but in the middle of everything—with no big yard or outdoor animals to keep up.

Then we were off to Portland, Oregon for ten wonderful days with our daughter and her husband. It was our first visit to Oregon in over two years. I posted photos here. We did nothing but rest, talk, and eat good food plus some of the other stuff. Fabulous!

Then just before Christmas we spent Sunday in western Pennsylvania with David’s sister, her husband, two adult children, their spouses, a couple of grandchildren, and our son. Lots of good food, lively conversation and catching up with relatives we don’t often see.

Finally, back to our son and daughter-in-law’s new house on Christmas day with their three children, their second set of grandparents, two big dogs and two small cats. There were still boxes to be emptied, and everyone was feeling his/her way along. Nonetheless, they were excited about their new neighborhood and neighbors.

In addition, I talked on the phone with my two surviving sisters, and thought a lot about our sister Diane, and our Mother. I still tear up and grieve their lives and deaths. Both were in their last months during and after Christmas. I’m grateful for the opportunity to visit with them before they died. Mom in 1999; Diane in 2006.

Yet the bottom line isn’t morose. I’m more upbeat and less anxious now than I’ve been for the last few years. Hopeful about many things, but chiefly about my health and well-being, no matter what happens next.

For now, I’m grateful for the opportunity to write from my heart, and belong to the WordPress community. Thank you for all your visits, likes (or not), and comments.

Though things look bleak at the top (speaking of politics), it seems the best place to live is at the bottom. With love and acceptance, without malice, reflecting the light that entered our world at Christmas – one small flame at a time.

Happy New Year to you and yours!
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 31 December 2018
Photo found at fpctyler.com

pennies from heaven

pennies from heaven
lie scattered on moss-crowned stone
beneath curved aspens
dancing in autumn splendor
yesterday’s green burns golden

This morning’s wallpaper. The kind that makes me all weepy in a happy/sad way. Life is short. Every passing season reminds me that our days are limited, and that life is beautiful as well as harsh. I pray for each of us a week filled with gratitude for little things, little people and small acts of kindness that grace our lives each day.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 19 November 2018
Photo of Aspens in the Rocky Mountain National Park found at wallpaperup.com 

%d bloggers like this: