Friday, May 3, 2019

Filled with Celestial Fire

Dear Aaron,

In the Friday evening gloaming  I sat down with an English supper—toast with butter, cheese, grapes, apples, toasted almonds, and much-less-than-a-pint of stout. As the purple drained from the sky and faded to grey, I picked up a slim volume, mossy green, inked with vines wrapped about a torch or two. It is a poetry book I purchased at a Kansas used-book store that Chelsea took me to years ago. Probably more than a decade ago, somehow. This little book is still my favourite poetry book that I own—though I dearly cherish your copy of Whittier's poems. 

It is apropos that I sat down with this very book; for it was from The School Poetry Book (published in 1911) that I copied out James Russell Lowell's The Fountain, which you memorised and quoted on my voicemail, ages ago. How I wish I still had that voicemail. I can hear your voice in my memory yet, but I miss hearing your voice in my ear.

Another poem, however, was what I read softly in the gathering dusk. This time—of day and of the year—is when I think of you the most. When the birds are making those loud, final calls for the night. The sky is waxing toward starlight, but it is still just light enough to make out the words on the page.

The curfew tolls the knell of parting day, 
         The lowing herd wind slowly o'er the lea, 
The plowman homeward plods his weary way, 
         And leaves the world to darkness and to me. 

I hadn't read Thomas Gray's most well-known poem in years, certainly not since you went beyond where I can reach you. There are a lot of things I haven't read in quite some time, since before. . . Stories or poems I have long-loved for their melancholy, for their grasp of the twilight of this world. Once I read those words with a different ache—a young love crushed, a heart-sore pain. But they stab more deeply and truly now than ever they did before. Now it is not first love for another that has died and been buried in a narrow cell; now Death has marked you, my friend, for its own. You, who, like the village forefathers in the poem, seem little known, cared for, or remembered by the world.

Can storied urn or animated bust 
         Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath? 
Can Honour's voice provoke the silent dust, 
         Or Flatt'ry soothe the dull cold ear of Death? 
Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid 
         Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire. . .

Once the Breath of Life exhales the final YHWH, once we no longer draw another, once the burning heart stops beating, what could re-animate flesh and bone? What could breathe life into dust? Only the Word of God. The ruach, the Spirit, of God (Ezekiel 37.5). You have indeed been "recalled to life"—the Spirit of God has breathed eternal life into you, on the other side. Nothing here can re-enchant those ashes that were once you. I am sick with grief at the very thought.

Yet the lines I rolled along my tongue were those last two: Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid // Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire. Wherever your earthly remnants are finally laid to rest, Ev'n in [y]our ashes live their wonted fires. People may not stream to your grave as they do for Lewis or Chaucer, Wordsworth or Gray himself—yet it will not be wholly neglected. Your heart was indeed full of celestial fire, blazing forth in kindness and generosity, in poetry and song. Even in the ashes of your life, the fire burns on in your family, in me, in others. It is the fire of creativity, of beauty, of largesse, of Love Himself, burning white hot in you.

Here rests his head upon the lap of Earth 
       A youth to Fortune and to Fame unknown. 
Fair Science frown'd not on his humble birth, 
       And Melancholy mark'd him for her own. 
Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere.



Sunday, April 28, 2019

Loving isn't gonna burn us out


Missing Aaron a lot tonight, so I picked up a letter of his from Easter ten years ago... Inevitably, he was quoting Switchfoot songs, which landed me somehow at the feet of this Jon Foreman song. The verses sum up my past four months, the chorus flooded in at Holy Week. 

Thank you, friend, for reaching out to me across time and space; for speaking truth into my life; for the flame of your love burning still. I miss you. So. Much.

YOU ALONE

My soul
Sing the one you know
Sing like a soldier
Whose hopes are running low
I fold
I'm giving up the ghost
I surrender any illusion of any semblance of control

You alone
You alone
You alone
Can heal my soul

It feels like you're running but
you're not getting nowhere
When did your fire get so cold?
It feels you're fading out
Into the jaded crowd
Look to the One who calls you Home

You alone
You alone
You alone
Can heal my soul
Come heal my soul



💔 Johanna

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Vox Populi

The voice of the people raises a cry,
Hosanna! Son of David, rescue!
Rescue us from Roman rule;
the weight of the law; Herod, cruel—
Save us! Says the vox populi

The crowd raise their voice
in unison—a chant, a piercing cry:
Give us Barabbas, this man Crucify!
Crucify the Christ, His blood be on us
and our children. Speaks the vox populi

Insults from every side fly:
He saved others, but Himself He cannot
"Son of Man, save Yourself, and us!"
If You are God, come down, Jesus!
And so it went, from the vox populi

Other voices raised on high:
Do you not fear God, sharing like
Him in death? Remember me, Lord.
"Surely this man was the Son of God"
From lips once found among vox populi

He is not here, He is risen!
Thus, the angel voice raised the cry
I have seen the Lord, Rabboni!
"Yes Lord, You know that I love You!"
These words came not via the vox populi

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Maundy-Thursday





We streamed out of the aisles like tears,
The grim voice in the darkness, clear, 
Had not allayed our fears—
It said, "Go! There is nothing left for you here."

We left the stone walls in silence,
Not one atop the other cried out—
All we knew was darkness and fear of violence,
As one by one we deserted Him on the mount

We set our feet to wandering ways,
Not steadfast pilgrims but scattered sheep—
Scant days ago our mouths were filled with praise,
But this night our eyes are full of sleep

We long to return from the exile
of our own choosing, the darkness bitter
with tears that drop as we toil mile after mile,
Under the black sky, void of stars that glitter

We walk the road of memory this night
that is different from all others,
But darkness is our companion, and Fright
our fiery devotion smothers

We surged out of aisles like bitter tears,
The even voice rang out in the dark,
"Go! There is nothing left for you here."
We went out into the night, silent and stark



_______

Photo by Carolina Pimenta on Unsplash

Friday, April 12, 2019

This is what editing looks like...







Editing from home. . . 

Usually that's a mug of tea. This time it was a milk stout. 
The milk stout was good, but tea is best. 



Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Ashes
























The sky is the colour of ashes—
       White and grey;
The eaves drip icicle tears
       falling away

My life is filled with ashes,
       my mood is fey;
Death upon death finds my heart
       falling away

Across my forehead a cross
      —charcoal dust—
Reminds me that my frame
       will soon rust

Over the shadow of death
       a Cross
Reminds me that life
       can flame from loss

The kernel of wheat
       must die,
Roots of the tree lie buried far
       from the sky

Are these ashen flakes
       the soil
Not of death alone, but of
       figs and oil?

Are these ashes the fertile
       land, unseen,
Until I have God's eyes
       to see the green?

Is this ashy, narrow place
       a birth canal?
Is this dark smothering earth
       life somehow?

Does the thriving tree begin
       as a cross,
Planted in ashes, in death,
       in loss?

From that hollow hole
       comes Tov—
Roots mingled with ashes, whose
       fruit is love

From the hollow grave
       rises Love—
Preparing Earth, through us, for
       the Kingdom above.


______

Photo by Tobias Stonjeck on Unsplash

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Here's to the Firelight



“Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
Arrives the snow, and, driving o’er the fields,
Seems nowhere to alight: the whited air
Hides hills and woods, the river and the heaven,
And veils the farm-house at the garden’s end.

The sled and traveller stopped, the courier’s feet
Delayed, all friends shut out, the housemates sit
Around the radiant fireplace, enclosed
In a tumultuous privacy of Storm.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Snow Storm

_______


We watched the first red blaze appear, 
Heard the sharp crackle, caught the gleam 
On whitewashed wall and sagging beam, 
Until the old, rude-furnished room 
Burst, flower-like, into rosy bloom; 
While radiant with a mimic flame 
Outside the sparkling drift became, 
And through the bare-boughed lilac-tree 

Our own warm hearth seemed blazing free. 
— John Greenleaf Whittier, Snow-Bound


It is snowing down in big flakes from the street lamp circles tonight. There is the hush that comes with it. Kept within my cabin by the drifting snow, there is no radiant fireplace—no flickering flames to 'drive away dark spirits'. The dark spirits of loneliness crowd into  my little house and it feels like all friends are shut out, indeed. There is still a cosy "privacy of Storm" feeling, but whenever I think of Whittier, there is a bittersweet ache. You see, Whittier reminds me of you, my friend.

My copy of Snow-Bound is in a slim green book. A book that used to be yours. A book with your mother's handwriting in the front, inscribed with the year I last saw you. How can six years go so quickly and feel so eternal? So much has changed in those years—especially in my family. Too much has stayed the same—especially in my bad habits. Six years ago last week, I flew to Alaska to see you. I was worried for you. When I finally found you, waiting in your truck, my worry increased. The lack of sleep from many flights wasn't helping, but even so, my panic mode rightly kicked on. Something was desperately wrong with the friend I once knew. He was gone. . . Gone away, leaving someone else in his stead, someone I didn't know.

What I didn't expect was that I wouldn't see you again after our initial time together. You dropped me off with your friends and left me. Though they graciously looked after me that day and the next, dropping me off at the airport in good time, it wasn't strangers I had come to visit. Yet it was only strangers whom I found. You were a stranger to me—not letting me hug you, not making eye-contact with me, not making sense, not feeling safe. You simply left me.

What I didn't expect was to have you cut me off after that visit. You made sure I got home okay, but from that time on you didn't call and you didn't respond to my letters. It would be years before I found out that you never even opened my letters after that point. All because I wasn't someone else. Being myself—your friend—wasn't enough. I wasn't enough. I sat at the airport that February, tears running down my face, feeling horribly abandoned. . .because you had left me.

No one seemed to understand what a devastating loss it was to me, your friendship. So I swallowed my grief deep inside of me. What I didn't expect was to feel abandoned for all those years. You would cross my mind with great frequency, and I felt a wall. . .a barrier that I couldn't cross. And you wouldn't cross it. Or maybe you couldn't cross it either. I reached out my hand again and again—hoping—but yours never met it. You left me to reach out into the unfriendly darkness, alone.

What I didn't expect was how much I trusted your last promise to me. As long as she was safe and alive, I need not fear for your life. But I guess it got to be too much, living. And maybe you forgot that promise. All I know is, one September day, you left me—irrevocably. I didn't expect that the previous five plus years of ache would come spilling out in wave after wave after wave.

In one sense, you died years ago, but I didn't know how to grieve that living death. So, I tucked it away inside of me, because no one else cared, no one understood that aching, living loss. But in your physical death, people cared, they tried to help, they listened, they hugged me. . . At last they understood that I was experiencing a deep, deep loss. Wave after wave after wave of grief left me gasping.

What I didn't expect was to find this gem in abandonment: Abandonment (n.): from 1839 as "condition of being forsaken." In music, Italian abbandonatamente is the instruction to play so as to make the time subordinate to the feeling.

Not the feelings subordinate to the restrictions of time. . . No, time must surrender, be sub-ordinate to the feeling.

The first six weeks of grief were like a hurricane, one pounding wave after another, huge and crushing. Then I finally had a lovely day hiking with a friend, a day where I didn't cry—and I felt so disloyal to you. I visited your family a few weeks later—the time together was both healing and intensely painful. Remembering heals, but it leaves a bigger hole, a deeper ache. I felt like you had died all over again.

Then I'm not sure what happened. . . Maybe it was self-protection, but in December I was mostly numb. I wanted so badly to remember your visit ten years before, but it was like it had been erased from my mind—and not only mine, but everyone else's. There were no photos of our time together, few memories. . . I just wanted people to talk about you with me, but it was like you were gone, like you walked out of our memories. And again, it felt like no one understood why it mattered so much that we were friends, why it hurt like Hell that you were gone. It was still so raw that all I wanted to do was cover up my hurt, yet I wanted to share it, too. . .

What I didn't expect was the waves of loneliness. In my home. At my parents' house. At work. With dear friends who didn't understand. With friends who expected (even more so now) me to 'get better' or 'get over' my grief. I didn't expect this clawing, craving loneliness that nothing can fill. I didn't expect the emptiness, the feeling invisible, the feeling abandoned to drive me to distraction. But it has.

If numbness felt horrible—like fuzz between me and everyone and everything—distraction feels. . .not horrible. It even feels normal. Not exactly like nothing happened, but certainly like I'm pretending on the surface that nothing happened. I am silly at work, I laugh with friends, I flirt with the mailman, I try to reach out to others, I fill too many hours with noise—audible and visual. But in the distraction and in the intense loneliness I have been reckless, terrifying myself. Behind it all, I miss the grief (though it still washes up at odd hours). The steady waves of grief have been my connection. My companion. The distraction hasn't been all bad—it has pointed me outward; it has made me face some things internally; it helps other people feel more normal around me (I think)—I have too often felt like a "death's head" as Lewis described it in A Grief Observed. I don't want people to feel like they need to avoid me or to feel awkward around me because I am grieving. So, I've hidden my grief over your loss yet again. But I feel out of step from God, from others, and from you, because I stepped out of the flow of grief. 

For months I tried to maintain the feelings, tried to grieve well, to the point that I was exhausted. So, I took a break. . .but the break has ceased being restorative (like a sabbath day) and has morphed into laziness (like a month of Sundays). I keep wanting to go back to the grief, but I've changed and the grief has changed, and I can't go back. I can only go forward. . .but I don't know how. I feel lost about how to grieve now, about where I should be at this point. I can't compare my grief to others'—I just want to know for myself where I need to be. I don't know, though. I simply know that I feel lonely like I never have before. I feel abandoned. And that feeling does not yield to time. Six years later, I still grieve that you left me.

Six months later, I grieve that you abandoned life. I don't want to ignore the emotions or push them aside until I can 'deal with' them. I need to know these feelings—not to be ruled by them, but to know them—and I need time to be subordinate to my emotions. It can take as long as it needs to take to grieve. And the grief is allowed to change. There must not of necessity be colossal breakers all the time to prove that I care about you. I don't have to cry every day to prove my friendship and affection. There will always be a hole in my life without you. And there will always be so much of me that has been shaped by you that you cannot be wholly gone. You may have left me, but you also changed me. You shaped me in so many ways.

Distractions can be okay for short stints. By the kindness of God, this season of distraction has had its healing moments, in spite of its recklessness. Still, I want the upcoming season of Lent to be one where I learn to hold grief and gladness together. Not one or the other, but together. I want time to be in subjugation to the feelings. If I need to feel sad, even in front of other people, then I will. I don't have to be 'over' my grief by now. I will never be 'over' the grief that you are gone. There will always be the absence of you in my life. Even if your presence was quiet, and sometimes unnoticed, it was monumental to me. I miss you so very much, Aaron. I pray that the flame of your fire is radiantly mimicked upon the sparkling snow of my life. 


Saturday, January 12, 2019

I close my eyes and go back in time. . .



Dear Aaron,

Sometimes I'm afraid of forgetting... Forgetting the sound of your voice (thank God for recordings). Forgetting the real you—afraid of making an idol out of who I think you were. I've been afraid of forgetting what it feels like to bleed; not that I enjoy the wound, but the pain means I'm not numb.

The last few weeks have been strange. I've been happy and hollow. Lonely and sad for other reasons. I've felt distance between myself and reality. I've been angry. I've been scared. And I've been running from what I want, though I don't know why. I felt like I didn't have permission to grieve. Like I was avoiding it until I was in a safe place. But to avoid grief means it takes time to reacquaint myself with that beast who, it turns out, is also my friend.

In some ways, I feel like I'm near you in the grief. And it comes whirling in when I am alone in my kitchen, listening uninterruptedly to Switchfoot. When I hear someone in a film give voice to what it feels like to lose a belovéd. The emptiness I've been holding at bay rushes in like a rising tide, sweeping over a floodgate. The words awaken something inside of me. . .

Here's to the twilight Here's to the memories These are my souvenirs My mental pictures of everything Here's to the late nights Here's to the firelight These are my souvenirs My souvenirs

How did they know? About twilight being the time when poetry sings the clearest? How did they know about the mental images of the Lodge? Of several of us piled on the couches by the wood stove, late into the night, listening to Dave read about the Old Squire? How did they know about the sharp, brief images of the van ride to Denver, your lanky self on the floor, drinking in all the conversations? Of the crisp picture of you on the trail at the Continental Divide? So many memories have faded, blurred, and been lost forever. . . But the snatches and moments I have still are like leaves of silver and gold.
I close my eyes and go back in time I can see you're smiling, you're so alive We were so young, we had no fear We were so young, we had no idea That life was just happening Life was just happening

This is the part that makes me weep. . . When I close my eyes and go back in time, I of course see you smiling. It hurts that you were so alive then but aren't now. But no. What am I saying? Of course you are so much more alive now. . . How can you be so alive and yet I feel so hollow?
Here's to your bright eyes Shining like fireflies These are my souvenirs The memory of a lifetime We were wide-eyed with everything Everything around us We were enlightened by everything Everything

Remember being both bright-eyed and wide-eyed? Remember the unquenchable thirst for good books? It was like Semester was a salt you could never get out of your mouth—giving savour to everything, and simultaneously bequeathing an unending thirst. And your firefly-eyes lit up at the prospect of those pages yet to be read and known and loved.
So I close my eyes and go back in time I can see you smiling, you're so alive I close my eyes and go back in time You were just a child then, and so was I We were so young, we had no fear We were so young, we had no idea That nothing lasts forever Nothing lasts forever Nothing lasts You and me together Were always now or never

Nothing lasts forever. . .even when it feels like it always will. Like we will always be friends, of course. What could possibly change enough to change that? And in some ways, that is true. Our Semester class will always be family, no matter how many years go by without communication. But some things change the core of who we are. Like Semester changed the core and trajectory of our lives, so does mental illness—so does death.

I wish I had known it was 'now or never' and visited you in Rhode Island. I wish I had made those memories with you that haunt the hollows in the woods and the corners of your parents' home. But when do we know in the moment that it is now or never? We don't, and we take for granted the life we are given. Can you hear me? I close my eyes and go back in time I can see you smiling, you're so alive I close my eyes and go back in time You were wide-eyed, you were wide-eyed
We were so young, we had no fear We were so young, we had just begun A song we knew, but we never sang It burned like fire inside our lungs And life was just happening
(and nothing lasts, nothing lasts forever) I wouldn't trade it for anything My souvenirs

Can you hear me when I talk to you? When I whisper through my tears, How could you? How could you do that to your family? How could you leave me? I think I'm really asking why the brokenness of the world is so particular, devouring my friend. How could something that happens to other people happen to you—and consequently to me? How could someone so alive die?

Remember being so young—facing your fears by driving nearly a thousand miles; by jumping on a table and reciting poetry? Remember the songs you sang to me in ink on envelopes? Remember the dreams and desires that burned inside like fire? I do. These are the souvenirs of our youth. Then you put me in a place to step from youth into depth—into both my own smallness and the largeness of the world. You gifted me dear memories. Sweet souvenirs. Deepest friends. Your very self.

Can you hear me? Because I want to sing thank you. . .with the rest of my life.

___________

Souvenirs by Jon and Tim Foreman

Thursday, December 27, 2018

I Don't Belong Here

"Here's the thing... Home or shelter I have not on this side of eternity..."

Ten years (and a few days) ago you wrote that line to me. It began a flurry of e-mails in which you planned a visit to Michigan and Indiana. And you came! And then on this day ten years ago, you drove away in the spring-like rain. How was I to know that the next time I saw you would be nearly five years later? You would be so changed. Ten years ago when you arrived, you gave me the biggest bear hug. Five years ago you wouldn't look me in the eye, wouldn't let me too near. A hug was out of the question. . .

What happened to the fellow who wrote, "I love you like my wood stove right now!"? The one you stood in front of at midnight, having awakened your dad for a conversation. . . Home and shelter you had, with a wood stove to boot. And yet, I don't think you ever really were at home in this world. I come back to this realisation again and again. No matter how much you studied the world, you weren't really comfortably at home here. No matter how much you loved your wood stove, or me, or your other friends and family, it wasn't enough to hold you in a place you didn't belong.

In a world full of bitter pain and bitter doubt
I was trying so hard to fit in, fit in
Until I found out

That I don't belong here
I don't belong here
I will carry a cross and a song where I don't belong. . .

. . . I'm gonna set sight and set sail for the Kingdom come
Kingdom come

So you did. Like Reepicheep, you set sail for the Kingdom: “While I can, I sail east in the Dawn Treader. When she fails me, I paddle east in my coracle. When she sinks, I shall swim east with my four paws. And when I can swim no longer, if I have not reached Aslan’s country, or shot over the edge of the world into some vast cataract, I shall sink with my nose to the sunrise.” I think Semester was like sailing East in the Dawn Treader, with like-minded friends. Then you flew east to the 'coracle' of your family. Then you swam hard in the Air Force. . . And I believe the last nearly six years were your desperate treading water, your nose above the surface, looking toward the Utter East. 

Do you remember telling me you would be safe as long as the person you loved was? Turns out that promises are harder to keep than to make. Do you remember writing that you would be the last leaf to fall? Turns out you were the first. . .

I'll be the last leaf to fall when
The season comes to leave
Myopia owns me
Loathe to fall
Loading up on the view
Knowing I'll lose my way
When my grip gives way

You shared these lines with me and I didn't see the poetry then. . .but I did later. I do now. I thought it needed to rhyme. I wanted it to end happy. I wanted you to be happy. But life in the intervening years has taught me to appreciate the sadness-laced lyrics, the poems that end with losing grip. Not out of despair, but because reality is bittersweet. Sometimes it is a better thing to be broken and then redeemed. I have learned that 'happy' as I think of it is a curse—emptiness, devoid of the weight of glory.

Blessed is the man who's lost it all
Happy is a yuppie word. . .
I'm looking for a bridge I can't burn down
I don't believe the emptiness
I'm looking for the Kingdom coming down

There it is again: the coming Kingdom. When you've lost it all—love, sanity, the desire for companionship, hope of healing, etc—you cling to the hope of the coming King and His Kingdom. And sometimes, holding on is too hard. You lose your way and your grip. You run ahead to the King's own country—Aslan's Utter East—before it's time to go. But the King is waiting. He knows how long we can hold out and hold on. You, who swore fealty to the King, you have been welcomed in to the Kingdom, to learn its language and its ways. I think your eyes had always seen it. . .or always almost seen something, like Orual almost seeing Psyche's palace; like Reepicheep and Aslan's country. There is something there...the Kingdom is coming. Until then, none of us really have any home or shelter this side of eternity.

Let us "set sight and set sail for the kingdom come" on earth as it is in heaven.
________


— "The Beautiful Letdown" by Jon Foreman
― C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
"Birch Leaves" by Aaron Hennig
— "Happy is a Yuppie Word" by Jon Foreman

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

These Days Pass Me By

Ten years go by in a long hurry. . . I wish I could go back and relive this week in December a decade ago, knowing at least some of what I know now. Knowing what I knew up until September this year. It would be almost enough to make me hold on to those moments that I can't remember. Quite enough, really, though my Switchfoot knowledge would be much poorer. I think the urgency would be present, since I would know that our friendship would disappear in a very short time. 

Maybe I would have remembered to take photos at least once in those eight-ish days. Maybe I would have asked better questions about that girl you liked. Maybe I would have been present a little more. Maybe I would have listened differently, deeply, intently. Maybe I would have made sure I hugged you every day. Maybe I would have driven us to the park to wander in the woods. Maybe we would have read more together. Maybe I would have understood a little better all of those pauses when you were answering questions. Maybe I would remember if we went to Christmas Eve service with my grandma (and I would have hugged her extra, too).

But I can't go back ten years. 

"But. . ." That word is often the volta, the hope in a dark plot. This time it isn't. It is the thud back to earth after soaring on wishes soap-bubble-thin and as transparent.
Th[o]se days pass[ed] me by I dream with open eyes Nightmares haunt my days Visions blur my nights I'm so confused What's true or false What's fact or fiction after all

Is it Christmas time? I can't tell. Am I happy (a yuppy word, I know) since I'm not wasting my eyes with grief? Or have I just been too steadily busy to know the sorrow that leaks out through my eyes so often? Recently I told my nephew that the only dreams I remember when I wake up are the ones that scare me to tears. The nightmares where someone I care about dies. But I don't dream about you. I wake up to find that I'm living the nightmare. I can't reach you. Can't even find you. I can't remember chunks of time I spent with you. Days upon days at Semester. Even days you were at my house. Why can't I remember?!

I want you to be here. I want to hear you telling me: But you haven't lost me yet. . . I'll sing until my heart caves in No, you haven't lost me yet

I feel like I'm someone else when I am at my parents' home. I feel distant from my self. I feel mixed up, like a dependent early-twenty-something mixed together with an independent and interdependent thirty-something. It's hard to process my own thoughts, to separate my thoughts from the here and now of my family. Maybe that's good. But maybe I'm just putting my real thoughts and self on hold until I get home. But when I'm home I miss my family. Is it simply impossible to be fully present, fully myself, and fully appreciative of those I love in the very moment of being together? Is that why I can't remember large portions of times that I spent with you? Was it just too normal, too every day, that I forgot to pay attention? Did I forget that it mattered—all the life we lived together?

Life is short; I wanna live it well One life, one story to tell Life is short; I wanna live it well And You're the one I'm living for Awaken all my soul Every breath that you take is a miracle Life is short; I wanna live it well, yeah

That miracle-breath I take for granted (until I can't suck another in and I choke on fear), it is sweet. Life is short, I wanna live it well. And here is how:

Instructions for living a life: 
Pay attention. 
Be astonished. 
Tell about it.
—Mary Oliver

So I'm telling. . . That the sunset over the farm fields was crimson-orange tonight. That wiggly kiddos with high-pitched squeals might annoy you while you're trying to do something...but you'd give anything to keep them little and trusting and putting their cheek up against yours. That slow-to-speak, blond-haired, elven-friends don't grow on trees—pay attention, visit them, listen, be astonished.

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"Yet" Written By Tim Foreman & Jon Foreman
"Live it Well" Written By Tim Foreman & Jon Foreman