Expectations

When I was a very young girl, I remember being frustrated by not being able to have some popular item of clothing. Maybe it was Guess jeans or Tretorns…I don’t recall the exact item. I do recall being intensely jealous of other girls who always had the newest things. For some reason, I remember a singular moment of this jealousy. I was at school, in the hallway with red lockers on either side. I was thinking to myself how unfair it all was and how I wished I could have her things. Why couldn’t I have them instead of her? I don’t remember who “she” was. I just remember thinking that I wanted to have the things instead of her.

After pining and pitying myself a bit, I became aware how selfish and unfair I was. Why did I deserve the things more than she did? What made me think that I was somehow more worthy or more valuable than someone else? Why was I such a wretched and selfish girl?

This moment in my internal life resonated with me so deeply, that I’ve carried it with me ever since. It comes back to me occasionally, when something reminds me of selfish longing. I’m not even sure why my heart considers this moment, of all my many wretched moments, as one of such great import to imprint it so clearly on my memory.

Today, as I gazed out of the window of the train, I saw an ordinary man standing next to his old and badly faded car in a parking lot. I imagined him driving his car home. I imagined his car might be noisy or smoke a little and that his home was a modest and plain place, perhaps near the highway and surrounded by other modest and plain houses. I imagined his neighbors. Generally nice folks, though money is perpetually tight. The children clad in hand-me-downs, the dinner, always a trick of spreading the contents of the cupboard to make do for the family.

This is when I recalled my moment of realizing how wicked and selfish my heart is. Expectations. I had expected that I should have what my classmate had. What does this man expect of his own life? Had he given up hoping and dreaming for a new car because it simply wasn’t worth thinking on? I feel certain he’d started life out expecting more, but where did his expectations lie now that he had experienced how difficult and unyielding life can be? The haves and the have-nots. He’s a have-not. How does that impact his life-experience?

I think we adjust our expectations to fit our reality. I think this adjustment might impact what our reality turns out to be. Then, we are caught in a circle of failing after failing or success after success, as the case may be. Maybe it is important to cast high your hopes. You just have to be wiling to accept disappointment. But you’re probably bound to get more than if you aim lower so as to avoid feeling cheated.

As I sit in my comfortable home, with my best friend and husband in the other room, I consider that I feel quite fortunate. And I consider that I don’t deserve any of this more than the man with the crappy car. Or more than a poor kid living on a trash heap in India. I wonder if that man feels so fortunate. I wonder how hard-scrabble life can be and still be met with a sense of acceptance and joy.

Some Christians get caught up in praying for God to bless them with wealth and believing that they can be wealthy if they pray right or hard enough. But what about those Christians born into a rougher environ? I believe that God does not turn a blind eye to the pleas of people in third world countries. I just think that Americans have a skewed view of Christianity in this regard. I don’t think God’s best for us is wealth or power. These things corrupt us. I think His best for us is spiritual depth and wholeness, healing to the extent that we learn to love all people as He does. More than ourselves. True blessing is getting to the place that you think “she needs this more than me” and gladly give away the thing you treasure. It’s a journey I’m still making.

Happy Memorial Day

An unexpectedly sunny and perfect day in Portland.  With no plans made, we meandered through the day. Took a seven mile bike ride, pruned the rhododendrons and other wayward plants, grilled, and enjoyed the freedom of our democracy.  Thank you to all those who have fought for our right to enjoy such glorious and simple pleasures, unhindered.

Respite

no towers here to climb
only our corner of flat earth
And my flowers
And your fountain
Under the applause of the tree,
Tossed by wind

 Riding Bikes

Cool wind on a carefree day
Spent beneath the gentle sun
Riding our bikes on the streets
And wayside paths
Riding an unwritten route
We cruise through the burning legs
For the rapture of speed
On the hill toward our house.

 

 

On Hold in the Apple Store

Being silent in a sea of a thousand conversations feels like being invisible.  Hands fly in animation and voices pitch up and down in expression, but my lips do not move.  My eyes graze slowly on the scene, lingering nowhere.  I lock no gaze.  I am an island, remote and inaccessible.  I am present and tangible and completely disengaged.  

I am waiting to learn something new.  I watch the learning around me, in starts and stops, hesitant understanding taking shape.  I enjoy the limbo of observation.  I’ve a schedule to keep and minutes to spare, yet I relish the way the voices, discordant and uncoordinated, unite to form a sort of chaotic chorus, a symphony that mimics the rage of a storm on a rocky beach.  Waves crashing on stones and howling winds.  Receding and advancing like the tide.  

 

Propagation

Image

The goslings are docile and soft,
Gingerly pecking at the grass
Because that’s what mama does,
Because the belly makes demands,
Because it will be their life’s work.
To feed and float.
Fly away when the need comes,
But for now,
The flush of youth is blooming.

Month of Poems – Day 27

Love 

Love is not a matter of degrees
Love cannot be measured
Love is present
Or absent
We may falter in knowing how
To express love,
To overcome selfishness,
To defeat our childhood demons,
To be victorious in loving.
But when we fail,
We still love.
If we are wise,
We accept our frailty and submit to Love;
We persevere.
For only Love draws
The best parts
From those we love,
Helps them overcome selfishness
And defeat their childhood demons.
Only Love
Can set us free to love.

 

A month of poems – day 26

For My Friend

Hours whiled in the afternoon,
On a porch beneath
The persistent rain,
On a holiday
Or an ordinary any-day.
Moments spent as legal tender,
Exchanged for the joy of
Rapturous laughter.
Years of knowing
And growing alongside.
Our friendship is a twine
Winding through our fibers
Until our lives are
Unrecognizable without them.
A day is never better lived
Than in the the company
Of my friend.

My sister

She is my sister
I have not seen her face in
Nine years
The sound of her voice
The smell of her hair
Fades from my memory
I strain to retain the details
In vain
Her face and the light in her eyes
Remains imprinted on my soul
She is my sister
Her dreams for the future
Give me treasured fantasy
I could call
She could answer
“Happy Birthday!” I’d say
“I love you,” I’d say
My sister, forever my little sister
Forever full of promise
Frozen in her beautiful youth
Permanent and fading
A light I shall always
Be honored to carry

Month of poems day 23

I must confess.  I have been remiss for days.  I have written a few poems but have failed to post.  Instead I have bumbled to and fro from one thing to another.  Busy, busy, busy.  So here I go.  I attempt to redeem myself for this National Poetry Writing Month.  I vow to post a poem for each day of April even if some are posted in May.

April Showers

Soggy feet
Wading in green.
Heavy petals droop
And drip
And drain.
The earth,
Long past slaked,
Thick and bloated,
Bursting with bounty,
Oblivious
To the drought
Summer will bring.
Content to absorb
And bloom.

 

Month of Poems day 18 – Friend

Treasure

A friend in the chaos
A lifeline,
A light in the fog
A friend eternal
One who knows you
One who sees
From whence you came
And cares not,
Loves you more
For the knowing
Who longs to know more
Than your past
Who seeks you
In your today,
In your struggle
Who knows you,
In your becoming
Who can be
Days and weeks and
Lifetimes apart But is never more than
A breath away from your heart.