First Light

image by Rebekah Choat

image by Rebekah Choat


Watching riverside
for first light reflected in
early-still water.

~ Rebekah Choat


My heart is like a swinging door

My heart is like a swinging door
that fronts on a well-traveled street.
My heart is like a wooden floor
that bears the marks of many feet.
My heart is like a front porch step
where friends may gather as they will.
My heart is all of these, and yet
there is another chamber still.

Build me a courtyard hidden deep;
plant it with herbs and flowers fair.
Set unicorns to guard the keep;
summon a griffin to mind the stair.
Lay seven spells upon the gate;
veil it, that only one may see.
When last he comes for whom I wait,
then let my love come in to me.

~ Rebekah Choat

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)

from the depths of unknowing

image by Rebekah Choat

image by Rebekah Choat

Keep writing in the dark:
a record of the night, or
words that pulled you from the depths of unknowing,
words that flew through your mind, strange birds
crying their urgency with human voices,

or opened
as flowers of a tree that blooms
only once in a lifetime:

words that may have the power
to make the sun rise again.

~ Denise Levertov

A Circle in a Drought


image by Joel Brotzman

Somewhere in this country
of dry furrow and hard hill
the scabbed ground cracks
to a deep blade of shining,
a bright upwelling,
mud, rush, mess, hurry of voices,
the run, the flood, the telling.

I walk forward, careful.
The forked switch leads me.
Surely it will dip, leap
there at the end of the field
where dead stalks rub each other,
or there in the dry creekbed
where rocks tell the tale of torrent.

I must learn to live drily.
What to carry. What to leave.
What to drink instead of water.
What to wash the dust away with.
What to listen to. Wind
will tell me what to say.
Stone will lead me to beginning.

~ Ursula K. LeGuin

A Prayer on Waking

Dear God, I cannot find the breath to pray.
Words wheel in silence but won’t be pinned down.
I don’t know how to face this dawning day.
I can’t walk; I can scarcely stand my ground.

I haven’t anything to offer you
but all I am:  a fragile, empty man
waiting for you to fill me up anew,
to feel your Spirit move in me again.

It seems like I’ve been waiting here forever –
I wonder, Lord, do you remember me?
Why are your hands closed, bountiful gift-giver?
Am I to wait here through eternity?

If so, give me the strength at least to stand.
Let me reach through the dark and find your hand.

~ Rebekah Choat