for mom

We will all shout for joy when you are victorious

we will lift up our banners in the name of our God

There must be some things

that the heart understands

when the mind does not

well of course we know that

I think that is why I cried when I saw you

over the phone tonight

and all the

(is memorabilia the right word?)

the precious things

the mile posts

the rewards

the symbols of struggle

the art produced through it all

it may be you would never have produced such

ART

had it not been for the darkness

sorrow

tears

wailing

pain

which seems horrid

and some people would look at that and ask…

does God really exist then?

surely God would not allow suffering like thisĀ 

but you have looked at it

boldly

or sometimes shaking

between fingers-covering-eyes

but looked at it all the same

all the time

every time

and asked instead

where’s Jesus in this story?

because you know

Jesus is always right there

in the story

with us

with us.

and that’s what I’m learning

from your story

to look for Jesus

every where

when

how

and even though I don’t know many details

that’s why my heart cries

when I see the

ART

which is, to borrow dad’s word,

glorious

in the truest sense of that word.

Glorious because it points my heart

straight back to

the real Glory

because

seriously people

have you seen what God can do?

So

well-deserved congratulations

on anniversaries

on victories

and on beginnings

and may God grant you

many

many

many

years

to tell this story of His victory

your victory

and even a little bit our victory.

(and now I think there’s a favorite song your granddaughter would like to sing for you…)

(59) anniversary (letter to a dear man, far away)

There is just one little thing that I cannot get over
And that is going to sleep without you.
I anticipated this, remember?
Muffled and not so muffled tears into your back, night after night
“I just don’t want you to leave.”

And now you’ve been far away from me for a whole three almost four months
And I’m still sometimes surprised at how cold the empty side of the bed feels.
I still occasionally find tears waiting for me here, alone in bed
After making it okay even happy through another day.
I wonder if this is what the grief would feel like
If you die before me someday and I’m really left without you.
It might be different though
I hope we’ll have lived many more years together
And I imagine we’ll mean even more to each other by then.

Just recently I’ve started sprawling across the whole bed
Instead of staying on my side
And I imagine you coming home and teasing me like you always do
About commandeering your side of the bed
But the truth will be the same as always
I love being close to you.

It’s our anniversary next week
Two years, can you believe it?
So little, and at the same time, so much.
If these first two years have been so full
Of everything, really
I can hardly imagine what the next years will bring.
Let the adventure continue.

And God willing, the adventure will include
Many, many simple nights
Of falling asleep in this bed
Beside you.

(34) grace

When your name is Grace, you’re bound to have the old tune Amazing Grace quoted and sung to you one time too often. But tonight was so truly amazing, that the over-quoted simplicity of that phrase is the only means of doing it all justice: Grace is amazing. And so is the little-g grace, which overwhelmingly spilled over through it all.

The music itself was thrilling, drawing an eager audience into Ravel’s valley of whispering, then clanging bells, alongside an anxious Beethoven seeking solace in the outdoors, into a Venetian gondolier’s lyrical evening. My favorite is Liszt’s arrangement of the wedding song Schumann wrote for his wife. I’ve never heard her play it better and it brought tears to my eyes. And afterward, she told me she had played that sweetest part of that favorite song thinking of me.

And then it was overwhelming to be surrounded by so many others, by so much love. Her three piano teachers were there, from the one who got her started at 7 to the one who is still her teacher. Our parents also, who persisted in encouraging her to practice when she really didn’t want to. And there were many others who came to hear her music. We gather to hear more, to listen longer, because we have all already heard just enough of the music of grace to whet our appetite for more, in laughter, in stories, in care expressed, in tears shared. Look at how grace brings us together.

I’ve heard grace defined as “undeserved favor.” Maybe that’s why these sweetest, most precious moments feel so overwhelming, as if the joy and love and amazing-ness want to spill out and make a mess everywhere, like it is all too much to contain. Hearing the music is a gift. So is playing it. And all in the presence of so much community, so much love. All so undeserved. All so much grace.

Congratulations my dear sister. You are an undeserved gift in my life and I am inestimably proud of your victory tonight.

This post was written 11/29 following my sister’s senior recital for her undergrad degree.

(26) letter to my niece

Image

Hello there baby girl,

You are nice and cozy in your mama’s (my sister’s) belly, aren’t you? We were all expecting you to emerge yesterday, but you preferred a November birthday, it seems. Which is actually completely okay with us. You’ll find that your family prefers November to October anyway.

It’s amazing all of the commotion over one tiny person. But then you’re not just any tiny person, are you, sweet one? You’re the first child of my generation in this family, making my sisters and I aunties (and parents), making our parents Grammy and Pops, names chosen (partly) in honor of some very special adopted grandparents you will hopefully know and love also.

This world is a bit of a crazy place. I could understand if you felt apprehensive to join us here. Big storms stir up chaos in our big cities and lots of people are hurt. Around the world, people like us are suffering hunger, thirst, poverty, war, sickness. Some mommies aren’t even able to feed their babies. Many people who follow Jesus also suffer. One of our faith-brothers was killed in Syria just last week and you were there on Sunday when your church celebrated his memory. Perhaps you will even bear a version of his name in honor of his sacrifice and faith. We have to say goodbye a lot here, amor. And we feel some unhappy feelings at times.

But Jesus still decided to bring you here to be with us, which I take to mean he is still hopeful about us, his people. You are being born into a safe and loving family. We aren’t all pulled together all the time, we do get angry and make mistakes, but we already love you so deeply even though we hardly know you yet. I get the special privilege of being a live-in sister and your live-in auntie next year. I can hardly wait to hold you, little one. Your mere existence gives me such joy and hope.

So come on out anytime, little love. Your Grammy and Pops are there waiting with your mama and daddy. Grammy even brought you the quilt she’s been working on for months, just for you. And your aunties are spread through 3 different states, eagerly awaiting that text message, that first picture. It’s going to be amazing. Don’t be afraid. You will still be well taken-care-of on the outside.

With all my love,

Auntie Anna