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Bring your hands nearer – I’m blind and go by feel.
The things I see are fleeting, only you are real.
Uphold me and walk with me, you are my deepest peace.
Let my spirit calm, my trust in you increase.

Bring your face closer so I can see your eyes.
I need to see your love and be reminded of the prize.
My years slide by as water, but you’re age to age the same.
I cannot help but wonder why you call me by my name.

Bring your arms around me and keep me in the light.
For me it’s far too easy to sink into the night.
Bear me up beside you and never let me go;
let my one consuming need be to know you here below.

Bring your cross to go before me and remind me of my sin:
It’s the only way my hardened heart will let your mercy in.
Break this pride within me that leads me far from you
and let me be a child whose heart is soft and new.

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We’re alone when we walk in the evening,
we’re alone when we take to our beds.
We’ve paid our dues to rest easy,
to hide what goes on in our heads.

We smile and think nothing of it,
exchanging our words as cash,
as if we’re the wealthy and famous
paying never to clash.
Layers are building between us,
protecting our private silence
which lies beneath our banter
waiting for our defiance.
While it waits, peace remains:
Our hearts stay safe and sound.
As long as we keep paying it out
our lies will never be found.
Safer to keep our distance,
safer to have no debts.
Safer to keep our own balance
than rely on anyone else.

We’re alone when we wake in the morning,
we’re alone when we rise to the day.
We’ve guarded our fears and failures
and have all the right words to say.
If we all consent to be lonely,
it won’t matter what is lost.
This way we know to be easier –
but God, think of the cost.

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Still Life #1

There are a few moments burning
behind my eyes, set as anchors
between the muddle of everyday memories.
Most blur into each other and meld
into this impression of life
as I lived it, but a few moments remain,
hooking me back to their time.

I laid my baby in his crib.
His forehead was pressed into my chest,
one hand between my arm and ribs,
the other in the hair at the back of my neck.
It was dark but light from the hallway
lit his room in a long rectangle.
I heard his determined breaths in their sleep rhythm
over the heater and humidifier. He gets so
warm right when he falls asleep –
a sudden spike in temperature
right as he turns boneless in my arms.
His foot twitched against my hip.
I laid him in his crib and knew
deeply that surge of heartbreak that comes
every night, my last glimpse of him
in this day’s light. Tomorrow he is a new baby:
one more tooth, new consonants, one more step
closer to crawling and walking. While he sleeps,
my heart misses the baby he was.

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Fully Man

He lived his years as one of us,
skin reddened by sun,
hands full of splinters,
footsore with strength spun
out and worn away by work.
He knew colds and aches,
cuts and sprains, wore hunger daily
and felt wrenching heartbreaks.
Fatigue, sleepless nights, itching
and sweat were his to share
with those he joined on Earth.
Born who-knows-where,
grown into a cracking voice
then a man who angered all
who did not know him well.
A man who pressed into his call
regardless of the cost, and still
he lost his very life.
What reward, to die in pain –
to die bearing all the strife
he never caused, hearing
mocking voices calling for his death.
He who formed mankind from dust
was slain, and his mortal breath
committed his spirit to God.
Yet that damning loss
was how he claimed us:
our instrument of death, the cross,
his instrument of life.
Those hours of suffering
were when he named us
each as his, offering
us life to live abundantly.
This his greatest act of love:
While men were killing God below,
he reigned supreme above.
Extending to us freedom
as we stripped life away,
he triumphed over sin and rose,
and death is held at bay.

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When you sum up my entire life in a paragraph in print,
please get all the dates right and say how well it went.
I never meant to die someday, but always thought I would,
So I’ve done my best to make it fair, and I expect it to be good.

I thought you’d start with baby years and how I was so cute,
but given my reflection now, the point seems rather moot.
I won a lot of ribbons next, in spelling bees and pools,
but would rather be remembered as the reigning queen of cool.

No, that sounds somewhat petty – I’d hate to be thought shallow.
Make it funny, but profound, so I seem smart yet mellow.
Write about my college time, my flawless GPA –
or better yet, my great first job, and why I moved away.

But on second thought you might just mention this in passing:
“Her sparkling wit! Her spinach puffs! Their fame is everlasting!”
I know that all my many friends would quickly nod their heads
if they were asked, “So really, do you miss her now she’s dead?”

And then again, I love my friends, but I love my family most –
their daily life is so absurd, it’d be fun to be their ghost.
If it wasn’t for my husband, I’d be long dead of boredom,
and my kids I love so dearly I would die for them and then some.

But there’s anything life taught me with its roller coaster ways,
it’s to cling to every moment without counting down the days.
It’s by His grace I breathed at all, though now my breath grows still;
and in the center of my soul, He reigns, and always will.

Maybe you don’t need to write my obituary at all;
but on the tombstone, carve this deep:

“She listened to His call.”

Don’t waste any words on me, just write of Him who gives.
For though my bones lie ‘neath the grass, the One inside me lives.

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This heartbreak is not yours
alone to bear. Lean in closer for
the light of hope, the whisper of
simple quiet love.
Blood flows free so truth can clean
the wound, and silence brings
a still small voice teaching
joy and love, reaching
in to clean your wounds and strife
and offering instead a life
of walking into healing.
Betrayal’s unyielding
grip is all you have to lose.
Love’s clever ruse
will cover all you thought
you had to offer, all you brought,
and pour over you its grace.
Bitter rites have no place
with me, the lover of your soul,
the only god who makes you whole.

~ November 2011

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Be At Peace

Be at peace, because I AM.
This suffering and grief was shouldered by the Lamb
before your birth. All that you have faced
is known to me, and never has my grace
run out or failed. Your life is precious,
your soul yet more! These fires rage but bless.
How could you know the depth and width of love?
I closed the Garden’s gates but reigned above.
I walked with you from Garden’s cool
to the searing desert and murky pool,
where you burned and drank of all that made you ill.
I walked with you through valleys deep and still,
and upheld your face when cancer leeched
through your cousin and reached
your grandfather’s spine. I walked with you
when you turned and fled when you found you could not do
anything that mattered. I have claimed you as mine
and held you close, and this is my design:
To be the love and strength you cannot show,
and the glory you cannot know,
and the justice in a world that groans
for mercy’s healing. Struggling to walk alone
in death’s relentless march can end: Come and rest.
The bitter work of payment has made you more than blessed.
Child, do not curse your life in fear –
Be at peace. I am here.