looking through me

Tag: words

fierce

Framing my desk is a wall of poetry and three quotes—one from a friend, one from a book and one from Shakespeare. They’re words that stretch my field of vision on cloudy days.

But the Shakespeare one has been nagging at me lately. Is it true? Should it be true? Would I want it to be true of me?

My answer used to be automatic. Yes. Absolutely, let it be said of me: “And though she be but little, she is fierce.”

It conjures an image of strength and feistiness. A scrappy soul.

And that seemed like a good thing. A resilient, little fighter.

But . . . when did life devolve to battling, to winning, to success being reduced to not failing?

The language started chafing when my grandma was journeying her final nineteen months. Why was she pushed to “beat” pneumonia? Why was a “fighting spirit” the highest praise? It rubbed me wrong that instead of celebrating her nine decades of grace and humor we championed a war against aging.

And as countless people I love—and people loved by people I love—are diagnosed with cancer or face other progressive challenges, the language is instantly one of battle. But isn’t life more than fighting death?

The line ran through my head again this morning as a friend prepares for a double mastectomy and another friend’s dad is imprisoned overseas and my own dad is confined to a hospital bed. No, I thought, I don’t want to be boiled down to ferocity. Unless the sentence continues.

May I be fiercely truthful, fiercely compassionate, fiercely loyal.
May I be fiercely present.
May I be fiercely hopeful and fiercely prayerful.
May I be fiercely courageous in locking arms with my people in the good and the hard.

And though I be but little, may I be fierce . . . in love.

 

 

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slice of life

Five years ago, March 2012, I attended a writing workshop. I hadn’t written outside of grad school or work in ten years. I was excited . . . and nervous. Our assignment after the first session was to return the next week with a 350-word “slice of life.” I did, and I haven’t stopped writing since. To commemorate the gift writing has been to me these past five years, here is that first assignment that loosed the words inside of me:

With barely a glance at the clock I slip out of bed in the darkness. I pull on pants and a sweatshirt. Quickly I start brewing a pot of coffee, impatiently keeping one eye on the window. I carefully select my favorite mug and pre-pour the half-and-half. I don’t even bother to comb my hair. Grabbing my coffee in one hand and a blanket in the other I quietly slip out onto my balcony.

The sky is still middle-of-the-night dark. And it is quiet. No, it is silent. And still. Perfectly still.

I wrap the blanket around myself and slowly sip my coffee. The stillness encircles me with comforting fingers of peace. I feel the pent up tension and anxiety lessening as I study the dark eastern sky.

And then I see it: the first glimmer of grayish pink sneaking around Sunrise Mountain. For more than an hour I lean on my balcony railing and watch the sky proclaim the sun’s arrival. I can’t take my eyes off the masterpiece as the colors shift and intensify. The first birds of the morning joyfully pierce the silence.

The remnants of my coffee have long since grown cold, but for the first time in weeks—maybe months—I feel calm.

Nothing’s changed. The feelings of failure at work still lurk on the outskirts of every thought. The fear I’m more of a disservice than a service to my students is inescapable. The questions still outnumber the answers. Every circumstance is the same as it was while I futilely tried to sleep just hours ago.

Yet, everything has changed. The One who ushers in the morning in such easily-missed majesty is here. I breathe deeply. The sky is quite ordinary now, but my soul is settled. The God of the sunrise is the God of the everyday.

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