Learning to Dance

Learning to Dance

A little leaf hitched a ride in the door on the bottom of my sock. It’s one of those days when the sky is just gray enough to make the rusts and yellows of the trees look a bit other-worldly, and I couldn’t make myself pause to put my shoes on. It wasn’t long ago that it was honeysuckle and fireflies pulling me outside, and before that it was dogwoods uncurling their petals like victory flags. Every day it’s easier to trace the branches that are letting go of their leaves, bare and unafraid and standing just as tall as ever. They settle in for another time of rest, because that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Nature swings and sways its way through the rhythm of seasons like it’s slow dancing to a melody we can’t hear yet. It’s my fortieth November, and maybe I’m...

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Falling Into Hope

Falling Into Hope

Somewhere along the way I lost my grip on hope. Maybe it was during those days that I leaned, with a baby on my hip, to adjust my mama’s IV line and put balm on her dry lips. While she drew near to the edge of glittering eternity, maybe it was then that I began to draw away. I didn’t know what to do with a God who would answer desperate prayers by letting cancer steal the rest of the days we wanted to hold her here. When God didn’t obey me, I wanted to punish Him by closing my eyes to any of His work that would make me feel. I didn’t know that’s what I was doing. But I was. I didn’t want to trace the fingerprints of Hands that would let death pass through them. The Christmas before my mom died, it started snowing just as the sun went down. I nursed my newborn and...

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Wrestling Stones

Wrestling Stones

I remember the smell after flood waters start to go down. It’s not something you can forget. We had floods almost every year where I grew up in the Philippines, and they usually did nothing more than turn low lying fields into muddy lakes around houses perched on tiny green islands. But when the water receded it left behind a decaying film of brown on whatever it had touched. Sometimes a storm changes everything. When the wind blows and the water rises, the landscape becomes unfamiliar, and whatever isn’t destroyed may never be the same again. A storm can roll in and out like a freight train, leaving us just grateful to be alive. It’s afterwards, when the losses start to pile up and the smell of uninvited change makes it hard to breathe that the weary plodding...

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Why We All Own Charlottesville

Why We All Own Charlottesville

I’m trying to find words for the images on my newsfeed of the mob of hate-shackled bullies darkening the streets of Charlottesville, VA, this weekend. Nauseating. Terrifying. Hellish. Infuriating. Convicting… Not because I’ve ever agreed with any of the poisonous, white supremacist garbage they stand for. But because the root of their sin and mine is the same. Pride. How many times have I elevated my humanity above someone else’s? How often do my actions show that I value myself over another person? Racism, at its core, is unchecked, profound, toddler style self-centeredness. Me. My kind. Us first. It simmers and spreads, dressed up as politics, tradition, culture, even religion. Its stench runs deep and wide in American society, but it isn’t until it marches...

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Please Don’t Get Over It

Please Don’t Get Over It

We sat with our friends exactly two weeks after they buried their firstborn son. Baby Ollie’s bouncy seat was empty by my feet as we looked through pictures of his gorgeous almond eyes and rose petal lips, and his daddy told stories about the two days they were face to face with him. Ollie’s daddy talked and his mama smiled gently, and their faces looked changed from the last time we saw them. They’ll never be the same again. Time heals, yes. Life will continue and even be sweet again. They know this. But their eyes will always hold shadows that weren’t there before. As if they could be anything but different after laying a part of their hearts in the Indiana soil. There are things about this world that knock dents in the core of us. Broken, terrible things like...

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In All This, Grace

In All This, Grace

Our friends suddenly lost their beautiful baby boy this morning. Just two days old. Big, with lots of hair, they said. We were going to make the trip to Indiana to meet him next month. My eyes are red and swollen. I can only imagine what theirs are like. And somehow the sun still makes its trip across the sky and another day dawns and sets, and this is grace. Somehow a sweet young mama is still breathing, even though the breaths sometimes feel like fire, and her hand still finds her husband’s in the dark. And this is grace. There’s no way to understand why things went the way they did. But there’s freedom to ask, to yell it, to groan it. Why, Lord? Why? And this. This is grace. There’s grace in the night falling as the crickets sing their song announcing that...

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