The way you make a bed

So precise.  

Sheets and blankets at hard angles, 

taut to the edges, everything  

tucked within an inch 

of its life. The way 

it is supposed to be, the way

your mother does it.  

I tug up the sheets and pat

down the bulges

trying to hide  

what I was too lazy to actually do.  

Hiding me.  

Then I go and look  

at how nice your bed is made

How rumbled is mine.  

But your bed is my bed and we make

it our own ways. One day mine

one day yours.  

Others, we forget and meet across

a swarm of sheets a damp towel 

a curled up cat  

and still each other.  

The precipice of Silence

I need some quiet.

Need? I know it's a need, but I treat it like a luxury, like something "distinct," as my five-year-old says. Like dinosaurs.


But for a couple of years now--that long--which is maybe a little scary to me, I've spoken about and listened to others my age long for quiet places, for breathing room. Our pastor once preached a sermon about margins, about leaving space in our days not just for rest but for room. Such truth in that, it resonates today.

Such truth in that, I can't seem to make it happen.

Because really, the truest things are often the simplest, starkest actions. Breathe, sit, listen. That's it, no other directive needed. And because it's so simple, the world's got to go and complicate things.

I want to write you and tell you that because I can't seem to find quiet anywhere and I desperately want to listen to what God has to say. I want you to think that I've tried being quiet through guided breathing, yoga practice, solo hiking. But that's not true. I haven't tried lately because I want to be good at it right away. I haven't tried it because I know that it's going to be hard and that the first thing I'm going to step into is a well-built, murky muddy wall of lies I believe about myself.


I just read that there are three parts of a dark night of the soul, and within these words I see that there's a way through this wall I've crafted. Not a light, but the promise of light one day. Maybe that's enough. 

Saint Joan of the Cross wrote this in the late 1600s, and over hundreds of years it breathes new and fresh as if she emailed it to me this morning:


"These three parts of the night are all one night; but, after the manner of night, it has three parts. For the first part, which is that of sense, is comparable to the beginning of night, the point at which things fade from sight.

And the second part, which is faith, is comparable to midnight, which is total darkness.

And the third part is like the close of night, which is God, the which part is now near to the light of day."


I enter into night, into quiet, into His presence through total darkness. I leave behind what I've crafted as truth, what I cling to as distraction...and slog through not even seeing the hand in front of my face, not even knowing what the hell I'm doing.

Which is the way it should be.

I want to leave behind the way things have been, I want a new thing. I want to find a dwelling place and immerse myself in it. Not in work, or perfection, or beauty, or love. But this unlike thing, this quiet where He waits.

So as most things of the spiritual life are, I first have to realize that I can't make silence happen, I can't create stillness, I often tease myself into thinking that if I just made a space or read a book or lit the right candle I'd find quiet.

I have to shed it all, I have to enter in and slowly watch as what is familiar and comforting slips from my shoulders.


But then there's this: as I stand at the cave's entrance--at a precipice of darkness and unknown and cling to this: at the darkest point comes the dawn. When I cannot see to the point that I've forgotten what's in front of me...there He is, there Love is.

It's not a stepping off place, it's a stepping within.

Rising

I've been baking bread. Sourdough bread, to be more exact. And the tending to and process of have whispered to me over the past weeks. Truths, simple and quiet. The truest usually spoken so softly that they seem to be our own thoughts, just stranger. 

So as I feed the starter, knead the shaggy dough, watch the miraculous rise, smell the baking, and taste the final product, I'm in a bit of a daze. Awe, I guess you'd say.  

See, bread is a simple simple thing. Flour, water, yeast (this one from the air! Wild, all around us, unseen and so strong). And time. A lot of waiting between steps. I tend to it, then wait. For the starter to "activate" and bubble, for the dough to rise, for the loaves to form. For the bread to bake, it's scent so warm and appealing. It's humbling, really, because I don't have a lot to do with it at all, but I take credit. 

Maybe here I'm saying I don't want to take credit, but instead speak to the little nourishing miracle of watching bread rise.  

It's come to be a holy thing, this bread baking, and I feel Him speaking to me as I measure and watch and taste. 

There's so little you have to do to understand, beloved. Come with the bare minimum, offer it to Me, wait--there's a lot of waiting, you might turn your patience into forgetting sometimes. This will leave you with a mess.  

Begin again.  

Mix, get your hands in there, be still and quiet.  

Wait again.  

Then, with your hands and Mine and time, a new thing is created.  

Warm, wholesome, so good you can't help but share.  

It's only bread, yes--that's what you want to disclaimer this wonder into.. But remember, beloved, it's my Body. These quiet, small elements, this wild air all around you--it's all working and rising up within. 

Taste. See.  

Cycle back again and again. Tend to it, feed others with it.