taste

The body was felled,

the tree of life broken at last,

the fruit we tasted his bitter last supper.

as always, redeemed

again, returned

to this blank desert of horrors

to prove that there was a Promised Land

somewhere. Our forty years has not ended.

so we are pulled in two,

reeled in by the death, the inner evil

just to whet our lips with glorious water

that is blood, from the slain Rock

we drown in his death/we savor his life.

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return to me

they were grinning like the rain, each footfall

hits in the crowd with a subtle two-step beat

a bit of a drag on the right, but the white noise hides it.

Everything a perfectly panned shot, narrated

quietly to myself.

In a jacket, which I have been told

is very Wes Anderson. I have just enough yellow to be indie.

Every day is a planned script.

Every day is a short film I will never shoot

for anyone but myself and God

these light cells

as the earth groans and arcs

we, in pain with her, hang

in that starry void and can only believe

but still remain alone, for we have not yet died.

each shadow, offspring of a much lighter creature

must hold true to Laws which are (pain).

I would climb, slash-tear open the sky

rend it from horizon to horizon (sever skin)

to open up unknown freedom

and know God is delighted with me.

Lexapro and me.

Someone once told me that I was incredibly selfish for not taking God’s creation as enough for me to be happy. That, to be a good person, I had to be joyful all the time every day and the fact that I wasn’t just proved how ignorant and lost I was.

Another person told me that I “didn’t need” medication, that the drugs were a waste of time and bad for me. They assumed I could make it since they had gotten through life just fine without – they’d even been to counseling!

I’ve heard all these and more. That my life isn’t hard enough to merit medication – what have I gone through, really? Blank stares, awkward silences, whatever stereotype they’ve heard or the name of someone they know on meds for depression/anxiety – something SERIOUS, unlike my situation.

The truth is, I am incredibly weak. I can’t handle a single day without feeling like my heart is being crushed by my ribs, I can’t force myself to smile, and I am convinced that I am the single most pathetic and useless person on this planet – that the world would be better off without me. There are times when, out of the blue, fear washes over me to the point where I am physically paralyzed. It is beyond my control, and that makes it all the more terrifying.

I know, your life is not like this. You are stronger than I.

I would do anything to stop these feelings – everything that convinces me that I am worthless, and will never be able to overcome it. It’s like drowning in shadows and darkness, suffocating sorrow not directed from any specific source but overwhelming nonetheless. So yes, I am ashamed of Lexapro and my dependence on it. I wish I didn’t have to take it. I feel unbelievably pathetic for doing so, but not as pathetic as I feel without it.

There are some people who are like glowing pure light in my little dark world and being with them chases every evil away – I will do anything to be as close as I can to them to keep the dark running so I can finally sleep….

All I ask is you not run away from my struggles and stand by my side so that I may have the strength to fight on.

the seat of scorn

Unable to detangle myself from my form, 

what is my function?

I am the mocker. I am the fool. 

(I can’t even remember to be compassionate.)

This narcissistic modernity, our newest delight

is in finding ourselves within ourselves, 

teach the children to find food in their skin!

(God is not loud enough for us, we will eat the people)

Friends are really just mirrors, their voices 

are fuzzy behind the glass, so we will

just tell stories about ourselves over and over and

play with our hair. Maybe we’ll hear it

if they say we look nice today. Glamorous laughter rings.

And yet, inside these cubes of glass, fists are pounding outwards, 

desperate to be truly known and to know.

So many a teary eye is turned inwards again and again, 

spiralling to pieces, rather than

reaching out and anchoring up and down,

finding roots in rot and glory

nourishment through decay and refining. 

to my future kids.

There are a few things that I want my children to understand.

Now, I don’t have any children of my own. I don’t have any plans to have any in the foreseeable future. But kids have always been a significant part of my life, and I believe that one day I will have a house that is full of loud, crazy people and pets, since I have always gravitated towards such chaos. I really really want to raise children to love things that I have come to love – not force their interest or anything, just sometimes I get really excited when I think about the possibility that one day I could share these amazing pieces of my life with them.

I want these kids to understand why swimming in the river out back of Natedewai village is amazing. The river is not always there, since it’s dependent on the seasonal rainfall, but when it is it is full of mudfishes and bugs and sand. Swimming in it this past summer was unbelievable. Floating along in the current clinging to a capped jerrycan, with eddies of latte-coloured water twisting about my limbs, the thought struck me in an almost desperate way, as thoughts sometimes do when I’m afraid I’ll forget the meaning behind them: My children need to understand this.

I want my children to understand the feeling of free air, open windows, and why riding in the back of the pickup or motorcycle is the best place to be. In the western world, climate control always has freaked me out. You move from bubble to bubble, where everything is perfectly adjusted and culture whispers that you are the center of the universe. At home, my favourite place to be was always in the way back of the pickup, with my hands to the sun and my hair being thrashed about my face in the breeze – NOT perfectly straightened and sculpted to look a certain way, free to just be. They have a saying in Uganda: “be free”. Not just “feel free”, the way Americans say, BE free. That really makes me happy, for I think it says a lot about the place. I want my kids to be free within and without, to understand the love of warm and cold weather, and to value the untamed in nature and in themselves.

I want to teach my children the love of music. Not in an academic, theoretical way, necessarily, just the warm comfort that I now feel when I listen to my “parent’s music”. Now, it’s not the typical mom-and-dad kind of music. No cheesy love ballads or awkward annoying pop songs. Rich traditional Irish music that never ever ever grows old, that I listen to when I’m feeling sad. My parents taught me a real love for that music – even though I don’t understand it completely, I absolutely love listening to the dusky voices of Dick Gaughan and Paul Brady, the violins of Altan and Kevin Burke, and so on. There are some things that should never grow old, and this is one of them. Irish music is just a tiny facet of the world of art they introduced me to in a way that encouraged me to explore it for myself, though I am a paltry musician at best. I want my children to understand a love for the artistic creations of humankind – not in a fluffy pop sense, but a real deep love that will never leave them even if I do someday.

I want to love my children with the love of God. I want them to understand that love and be filled with it. I wish with all my heart that I could meet them now and just hang out and talk about life, but that’s not how the system works, so I will love them all the way from the beginning of our relationship to the end. I will pour the spirit over them in every way I can and work ceaselessly to build for them a foundation of family love that is rooted in the Lord first and foremost. For nothing is more important to me than this.

I cannot wait to meet them.

falling too fast.

I swore off clothing stores this year. For I know I deserve to be dead, and the least I can do is practice being responsible with money by reconsidering what it is that makes me feel pretty or want to get up in the morning.

Another step: I am desperate, truly desperate, to add an exclamation point to my life, bringing my heart and mind to ultimate heights of love and understanding of The Lord’s purpose in my life, so I will also not eat for a while.

I am emptying myself of all but my baptism. I only know that I am deep in sin and frustration, desperate for guidance – not art, not music, not any major decision can save me. I must stop living with this darkness, chase it free with true focus that will be brought with this fast.

In the Lord’s time, I will that I live another day. I read nothing but your Word, I am desperate. I listen to naught but songs to you, I am dying. I eat nothing, drinking only water, I must have your peace and joy.

I must sound insanely crazed. Know that I am truly serious about this. My spiritual walk has weakened, I found myself sitting by the wayside rather than running. So onwards I sprint, carried by prayer and dedication. I know I am more than this and I must be more than this.

transfer

I have two words written on the back of my hand –

“AYONG LO.”  – “I AM HE.

What he said when he accepted me.

when he chose to stand up. Those words inspire me and move me

to stand up and be recognised for what I am and where I need to be.

Regardless of this, however, it seems that my diaphragm

has dropped out and I am melted,

hanging loosely in the frame of bones, my spine is slackened

and everyone says just pray. Just trust. Maybe

I am not spiritual enough, not a good enough

follower of God, maybe if I just knew

how to hear the voice of the spirit

or speak in tongues

or lie on the floor, wave my arms in prayer

maybe then I would be real enough to be recognised

by God?  I do not think this is true. I believe

in more than what we can do or understand, and

these words just cause me to sink lower, feel

more unacceptable and forgotten

am I more of a failure? I know you

mean to encourage me, but the dark

I am battling every day makes it harder

for me to hear you. Please have patience

with my weakness, or stop pretending

and let me curl into the floor

which is God’s heart, where I hear nothing

but the beat of truth.

yesterday’s biology lab

Our professor walked us out to the forest trails on the edge of our campus and hands us each this:

IMG_2303This lab was all about appreciating and respecting that which surrounded us as much as it was about learning the names and technical terms of everything. This poem is rather long, but I would ask you to have patience with it and take a few minutes to meditate upon this ancient, beautiful work which so aptly characterizes my personal feelings about the woods.

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The groves were God’s first temples. Ere man learned
To hew the shaft, and lay the architrave,
And spread the roof above them,—ere he framed
The lofty vault, to gather and roll back
The sound of anthems; in the darkling wood,

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Amidst the cool and silence, he knelt down,
And offered to the Mightiest solemn thanks
And supplication. For his simple heart
Might not resist the sacred influences,

IMG_2379Which, from the stilly twilight of the place,
And from the gray old trunks that high in heaven
Mingled their mossy boughs, and from the sound
Of the invisible breath that swayed at once

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All their green tops, stole over him, and bowed
His spirit with the thought of boundless power
And inaccessible majesty. Ah, why
Should we, in the world’s riper years, neglect
God’s ancient sanctuaries, and adore
Only among the crowd, and under roofs,

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That our frail hands have raised? Let me, at least,
Here, in the shadow of this aged wood,
Offer one hymn—thrice happy, if it find
Acceptance in His ear.
Father, thy hand
Hath reared these venerable columns, thou
Didst weave this verdant roof. Thou didst look down

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Upon the naked earth, and, forthwith, rose
All these fair ranks of trees. They, in thy sun,
Budded, and shook their green leaves in the breeze,
And shot towards heaven. The century-living crow,
Whose birth was in their tops, grew old and died
Among their branches, till, at last, they stood,
As now they stand, massy, and tall, and dark,
Fit shrine for humble worshipper to hold
Communion with his Maker. These dim vaults,

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These winding aisles, of human pomp and pride
Report not. No fantastic carvings show
The boast of our vain race to change the form
Of thy fair works. But thou art here—thou fill’st
The solitude. Thou art in the soft winds
That run along the summit of these trees
In music; thou art in the cooler breath

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That from the inmost darkness of the place
Comes, scarcely felt; the barky trunks, the ground,
The fresh moist ground, are all instinct with thee.
Here is continual worship;—Nature, here,
In the tranquility that thou dost love,
Enjoys thy presence. Noiselessly, around,

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From perch to perch, the solitary bird
Passes; and yon clear spring, that, midst its herbs,
Wells softly forth and wandering steeps the roots
Of half the mighty forest, tells no tale
Of all the good it does. Thou hast not left
Thyself without a witness, in these shades,

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Of thy perfections. Grandeur, strength, and grace
Are here to speak of thee. This mighty oak—
By whose immovable stem I stand and seem
Almost annihilated—not a prince,
In all that proud old world beyond the deep,

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E’er wore his crown as lofty as he
Wears the green coronal of leaves with which
Thy hand has graced him. Nestled at his root
Is beauty, such as blooms not in the glare
Of the broad sun. That delicate forest flower
With scented breath, and look so like a smile,
Seems, as it issues from the shapeless mould,
An emanation of the indwelling Life,
A visible token of the upholding Love,
That are the soul of this wide universe.

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My heart is awed within me when I think
Of the great miracle that still goes on,
In silence, round me—the perpetual work
Of thy creation, finished, yet renewed
Forever. Written on thy works I read
The lesson of thy own eternity.

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Lo! all grow old and die—but see again,
How on the faltering footsteps of decay
Youth presses—-ever gay and beautiful youth
In all its beautiful forms. These lofty trees
Wave not less proudly that their ancestors
Moulder beneath them. Oh, there is not lost
One of earth’s charms: upon her bosom yet,

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After the flight of untold centuries,
The freshness of her far beginning lies
And yet shall lie. Life mocks the idle hate
Of his arch enemy Death—yea, seats himself
Upon the tyrant’s throne—the sepulchre,
And of the triumphs of his ghastly foe
Makes his own nourishment. For he came forth
From thine own bosom, and shall have no end.

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There have been holy men who hid themselves
Deep in the woody wilderness, and gave
Their lives to thought and prayer, till they outlived
The generation born with them, nor seemed
Less aged than the hoary trees and rocks
Around them;—and there have been holy men
Who deemed it were not well to pass life thus.

IMG_2359But let me often to these solitudes
Retire, and in thy presence reassure
My feeble virtue. Here its enemies,
The passions, at thy plainer footsteps shrink
And tremble and are still. Oh, God! when thou
Dost scare the world with falling thunderbolts, or fill,
With all the waters of the firmament,

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The swift dark whirlwind that uproots the woods
And drowns the village; when, at thy call,
Uprises the great deep and throws himself
Upon the continent, and overwhelms
Its cities—who forgets not, at the sight
Of these tremendous tokens of thy power,
His pride, and lays his strifes and follies by?

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Oh, from these sterner aspects of thy face
Spare me and mine, nor let us need the wrath
Of the mad unchained elements to teach
Who rules them. Be it ours to meditate,
In these calm shades, thy milder majesty,
And to the beautiful order of the works
Learn to conform the order of our lives.

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– William Cullen Bryant, 1824