waiting it out…

It’s so obvious I never even saw it until a couple days ago.  A friend and I were talking about how hard things can be, even and especially during the holidays.  He was reeling from the sucker punch of a less-recent blow combined with a fresh jab, I was nursing a new sore spot in a long history of bruises, and things began connecting in my mind in a way they hadn’t before.

I’ve been familiar for years with the problems of undiagnosed illnesses and hidden injuries and the understanding that these things have to be found and examined and treated before healing can begin. But this season I’m learning another aspect of how old wounds continue to manifest. I’m learning, really learning, that healing is rarely if ever complete in this life, and never neat and linear. I’m discovering that even after infected areas are cleaned and bones are set and therapy is done, the aches and pains still flare up when I’m overtired, when the weather changes, when someone unknowingly jars me at the site of an old injury.

Of course this is how it is. How could it be otherwise? And of course it will pass. This flare-up will wind down and all days won’t be so hard and glimpses of joy will surprise me from unexpected places. This is just one of the days when I have to wait it out, drawing strength and comfort from the prayers of friends, and from words I came across in Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation this morning:  “But the goal (in contemplation, in prayer, maybe in just getting through the day) is not success at all, only the practice itself.” (parenthetical statement mine)


Flames and Embers

Sitting in front of the fire again, this Thanksgiving birthday morning, thinking about whom I have to thank for having come this far, I’m drawn not to the leaping flames, but to the gently glowing embers below.

There have been people in my life, of course, who have caught fire in one way or another; flaring into a brief, brilliant brightness for a moment before fading away, or crashing and burning too close for comfort. They’ve left their indelible marks on me, for better or worse.  But thank God, there have been also been those who have quietly, faithfully tended the hearth, keeping a warm, sheltered place for me, and a steady glimmering light to find my way by.

Form and Limits

Malcolm Guite says, in the the preface to his just-released poetry collection, The Singing Bowl, “Both people and poems become more completely themselves when they find their true form, work within their limits, and concentrate their power within what Blake called ‘the bounding line.'”

This phrase strikes me as one of those truths so fundamental that it is often overlooked. Too often, we neglect or even deny our true form in the perceived need to meet someone else’s – our parents’, our partner’s, our employer’s, our society’s – expectations, to conform to the prescribed image of our time and place. We disregard the limits of time and strength and common sense on our work, striving to catch up, to get ahead, to do more than humans can reasonably do. And we far overstretch the bounding line, extending our efforts into so many arenas that our power is diluted to the point of failing to do quality work in any of them.

It is probably a task of years for most of us to let go the habits and the guilt that have driven us beyond ourselves; at least, it is proving so for me. But I’m finding as I learn to be still and find my true form, recognize my limits, and concentrate what power I have within the appropriate boundaries, I am becoming more myself, a person with whom I can be comfortable.

Now I know my ABC’s

first day of school

Malcolm Guite

Summon the summoners, the twenty-six
enchanters.  Spelling silence into sound,
they bind and loose, they find and are not found.
Re-call the river-tongues from Alph to Styx,
summon the summoners, the shaping shapes,
the grounds of sound, the generative gramma,
signs of the Mystery, inscribed arcana,
runes from the root-tree written in the deeps,
leaves from the tale-tree lifted, swift and free,
shining, re-combining in their dance
the genesis of every utterance,
pattering the pattern of the Tree.

Summon the summoners, and let them sing.
The summoners will summon Everything.

I’ll be starting first grade again today, for the fourth time. I’d thought our homeschooling season would end when Baby Girl the First finished high school, but you know what Mr. Burns said about the best laid plans of mice and men…Baby Girl the Second came along just in time for my fortieth birthday, giving me one more opportunity to begin at the very beginning.

When you read you begin with ABC, or summon the summoners, the twenty-six enchanters.  What a motley set of characters – only a couple of them able to stand alone, but let them start joining up, and there they go, spelling silence into sound.  How do they do that?  How do a bunch of little black marks on a white page bring forth purple mountain majesties and amber waves of grain?  And that’s just the most obvious manifestation of their powers.

They bind:  once you know a rose is a rose you can’t very well imagine it by any other name; and loose:  the rose isn’t just a rose, it’s velvet and fragrance and innocence and my luve is like a red, red rose.  They are the shaping shapes:  sometimes they actually do take on something of the shape of the object they signify – bed, for instance, or hollyhock .  How cool is that?

These twenty-six little bits of code are signs of the Mystery – like the Word that is from the beginning, they lend form to the intangible, showing us glimpses of things beyond our comprehending; runes from the root-tree, searching down to the bedrock of our knowledge; leaves from the tale-tree, spreading, reaching, leaping greenly.  And speaking of re-combining, do they mean the things they name, or do they name the things they mean?

In a strange, fascinating book I read a few years ago (Libyrinth, by Pearl North), I came across an alternate ending that I really like:  “Now I know my ABC’s, all the books are mine to read.”  Yes.  They are the genesis of every utterance, the keys that open the books that open the world.  What a joy it is now to watch Baby Girl the Second testing her power to summon the summoners, and let them sing, and see the magic light up her eyes as she discovers how the summoners will summon Everything.

This post was originally published August 12, 2012 on http://www.allninemuses.wordpress.com.

Thoughts for the journey

image copyright Rebekah Choat, 2013

image copyright Rebekah Choat, 2013

Remember when you were a very little child, going on a trip with your parents?  You had no conception of how to drive a car, often no clear idea of where you were going, no understanding of how long it was going to take, and absolutely no sense of how to get there.  And it didn’t even occur to you that you didn’t know those things.  You simply trusted, without realizing it, in the love and skill and knowledge of the ones who had appointed the journey.  1 John 5:19 – “We know that we are children of God…”

Vacation Musings

photo by Rebekah Choat

photo by Rebekah Choat

Photo by Rebekah Choat

photo by Rebekah Choat


I’m just returned from a week on South Padre Island, my favorite place in all the world.  I had thought I would spend a lot of time writing, or at least reading; but as it turned out, I spent a lot of time just watching the sea and the sky, and collecting shells, and wading, and breathing.

Chris Gonzales and Joel Brotzman

Chris Gonzales and Joel Brotzman


It was a week of introductions and reunions and bittersweet memories of those from whom we are parted; a week of new beginnings and relinquishment of old expectations and words from time past whispering into time yet to come.

Camille Rich, Jonathan Brotzman, Rebekah Brotzman Choat

Camille Rich, Jonathan Brotzman, Rebekah Brotzman Choat