Thursday, July 16, 2015

Labor and Delivery

Follow this link for the updated version of this poem. 


Sunday: severing pain and surgery--a thief in the night.

I choose: to scream and to pray, as I lay upon the altar.

but there is no ram in the thicket
no angel stops the knife
that stabs three times
and robs me of all future labors

Monday: salty tears flow freely and often for an empty, aching womb.

I choose: to live, to hurt, to cry:

why lead me by miracles
to the edge of the Red Sea
and part the waters
if only to let them crash upon me?

Tuesday: aching heart and open anger--an impossible maze.

I can't choose: an indifferent God; no God; a cruel God.

I have heard the God who Weeps.
I know of supernal comfort.
I have been embraced by divine love.

I cannot choose: human error.

He called to me.
He asked me open the door.
He provided a way. He healed each loss.
Now he lets the door
sever from its hinges;
lets them stitch it shut?

So call me Mara,
for today I choose to see
the bitter hand dealt to me.

While friends and family choose to give me sweets,
and flowing days of food,
flowers to brighten,
boxes to hit,
words to comfort,
pictures to color
and love
and love
and love.

Wednesday: fatigue and sorrow.
I choose: the forgetfulness of sleep. Forever.

But my husband seeks me, wakes me, cuddles me, cares for me again and again.
So I wake.
I choose to write.
I allow myself to yearn; to understand; to untangle.
I write, I ponder, I rewrite, I pull the thoughts apart; I untangle.
When I cannot see further,
I ask.


The maze falls to pieces as a child
sobs into the Light
caught by hands
stretched out still
embraced by Love
nourished with
sacred Words of

It was not a loss.
It was a birth:
of grief
and pain
and sacrifice--
For this child
now at rest in His love.
As I am.

One comfort is to be found in a God whose power is in His magnanimity as well as His wisdom. These two traits mean that His divine energies are spent not in precluding chaos but in reordering it, not in preventing suffering but in alchemizing it, not in disallowing error but in transmuting it into goodness... God's power and promise is in His capacity to transmute our suffering--and our faithful response to painful predicaments-- 
into something beautiful.

 Terryl and Fiona Givens, The Crucible of Doubt, p.78-79

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Thoughts on a Summer Night

My six-year-old Daysie wanted to read Ruth as part of her nightly tuck-in. So we have been. Then, Samuel was next. Each time, we read a little before she asks me, "So mommy, tell me what that means?" She has this love and trust in the words and messages of scripture and a desire to read them that is breathtaking and beautiful.

Last night, we read 1 Samuel 2 and I couldn't help but read the first ten verses twice. It had been too long since I had read 1 Samuel outside of Sunday School and I had forgotten Hannah's rejoicing was even there. Perhaps it stood out to me because of what I have been reading: Joan of Arc's trial and Julian of Norwich. But there are other reasons, too. In any case, I add Hannah to my list of women of old whose words I am grateful to have access to; words that inspire me and resonate with similar feelings that grow within me. 

And it seems fitting for the coming holiday. For as I watered the flowers tonight and saw the fireworks on the next street over that my neighbors launched in early celebration of Independence Day, I couldn't help but feel they symbolized something new I can't quite explain that connects to Hannah and Julian, and past generations. It has to do in part with a concept my mother often speaks of: the football field of life. I've described it elsewhere in these words:

Forest Gump's mother might have said “Life is like a box of chocolates," but my mother is more apt to compare life to an elaborate multi-generational game of football.  She sees each individual carrying inherited physical and spiritual characteristics onto the field of life, passed to them by previous generations. While they have the ball, their work is to move it down the field. Some generations face heavy interference and lose ground, some drop the ball, others make touchdowns—and there are many to be made. As Joseph Smith explained, “We without them cannot be made perfect; neither can they without us be made perfect.” (D&C 128:18) This resonates with many who, as they struggle to progress in this life, come to recognize the help of those unseen.  They believe we have not come to the place we are at without the work of those before us. Our triumphs are their triumphs; their work is our work. At times, we may even imagine that those from a previous time rejoice with us when burdens we have received from them finally make it to the “end zone.” 

Tonight, I feel like celebrating not freedom as much as the "players" with me on the field in this game of life. I am full of gratitude for all those God has grafted into my tree; those who have influenced me and shaped my world, past and present. Their love reaches out and surrounds me tonight. They are all around me. 

We have watered, pruned, and fertilized the maple tree growing in my front yard since my grandmother's passing out of gratitude for how our lives were pruned and shaped and nourished by her.  I gaze at its beauty tonight and think of her. I step into my home, still filled with much of my great-grandfather's furniture, my great-great aunt's old stoves and their phonograph; memories of their love gently nudges my mind. I think of Martin. Of Sadie. Of Clair. Beautiful souls that are woven with mine. Joan. Julian. My family and friends here and now.

And tonight I add Hannah. 

And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the Lord, mine horn is exalted in the Lord... There is none holy as the Lord: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God. Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth: for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed. The bows of the mighty men are broken, and they that stumbled are girded with strength.  They that were full have hired out themselves for bread; and they that were hungry ceased: so that the barren hath born seven; and she that hath many children is waxed feeble... And the Lord visited Hannah, so that she conceived, and bare three sons and two daughters. And the child Samuel grew before the Lord.