Category Archives: Adoption

The Lenten Writings: the gift of resistance

Transfiguration

And there appeared to them Elijah and Moses, and they Were talking to Jesus.”–Mark 9:2

They were talking to him about heaven, how all forms there were luciform,

How the leather girdle and the matted hair, how the lice coursing the skin

And the skin skinned alive, blaze with perfection, the vibrance of light.

And they were talking about the complexities of blood and lymph,

Each component crowding the vessels, the body and the antibody,

And they were talking about the lamp burning in the skull’s niche,

The eyes drinking light from within and light from without,

And how the present belonged to the flesh and its density and darkness

And was hard to talk about.

Before and after were easier.

They talked about light.

They were talking to him about law and how lawgiving should be

Like rainfall, a light rain falling all morning and mixing with dew –

A rain that passes through the spider web and penetrates the dirt clod

Without melting it, a persistent, suffusing shower, soaking clothes,

Making sweatshirts heavier, wool stink and finding every hair’s root on the scalp.

And that is when you hurled judgement into the crowd and watched them

Spook like cattle, reached in and stirred the turmoil faster, scarier.

And they were saying that, to save the best, many must be punished, Including the best.

And no one was exempt, as they explained it,

Not themselves, not him, or anyone he loved, anyone who loved him.

I want to believe that he talked back to them, his radiant companions,

And I want to believe he said too much was being asked and too much promised.

I want to believe that that was why he shone in the eyes of his friends,

The witnesses looking on, because he spoke for them, because he loved them

And was embarrassed to learn how he and they were going to suffer.

I want to believe he resisted at that moment, when he appeared glorified,

Because he could not reconcile the contradictions and suspected

That love had a finite span and was merely the comfort of the lost.

I know he must have acceded to his duty, but I want to believe

He was transfigured by resistance, as he listened,

And they talked.

Source: “Transfigured” by Mark Jarman, from Praying the Gospels through Poetry Lent to Easter, by Peggy Rosenthal, St. Anthony Messenger Press, Cincinnati, OH, 2001.

From the Lenten Poetry Companion, Mystic Activists, Neighborhood Ministries

I remember, early in our journey of foster care, the school director made a side remark: “Sometimes love is not enough.” I was taken aback at her “rude” comment; so different from all those who said we were doing such a wonderful thing. The reality is, 10+ years in, I trust her words much more. The platitudes are long gone along with that initial wave of well wishers. The director remains a wise voice in my ear, here for the long journey.

And daily, we choose love. Love for the children, for the bio family, for the community, even for the forces that shaped them. It is a bold YES.

I read this poem through several times. It really turns the story on its head!

Lent is like that. We want to fast forward to the end of the story, the resurrection that we know is coming because we peeked at the last chapter. But Lent says no, read the whole story.

This idea of transfiguration as the resistance of love…

I wonder if there was a time that Jesus realized love was not enough? Sounds sacrilegious, almost, doesn’t it?

Love wasn’t going to shortcut the story. It couldn’t protect those He loved from pain.

And yet, it is enough; it’s a both/and. It is enough for today.

And they talked.

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What is a family?

We are on a branching family tree. Some little branches have been grafted in by adoption. We fostered and adopted within a sibling group with several other families. We have big kids and littles in our birth family. 

We have family of origin and family of choice. There are lots of ways to show up as family. We have family in this country and family in South America and Canada. We have family whose heritage is woven with the ancient people of Mexico. Family with African roots. Family looks lots of different ways. Some of the seedlings are starting family. Family that is rich and diverse. 


  It seems that my ideas of what it means to be family doesn’t  look the way I imagined many years ago. Gratefully. I am learning that family can be more diverse, more multicultural, more challenging, and more precious than anything I could have dreamed. More challenging, and more precious than anything I could have dreamed.

It takes a lot of work to grow family. Sometimes, the intensity is hard to hold. But we are family.

 

 

In sickness and in…

We have been testing out the sickness piece lately. It seems like if it’s almost ready to be 100° that all the viruses should die off. But apparently not.

First one kid then another, then another. Gratefully, I am still above water. I am hitting the immune enhancers hard. My immune system is suppressed from treatment, and I ask for an extra measure of grace.

And so I sit on the porch, listening. And in the stillness of the night, I hear the quiet. The Spirit of God moves over the face of the water. Perhaps this still small voice whispers. As my mind drifts through the day, I notice the soft movement of the wind. There were moments of goodness today. 

Hugs from my youngest, not to be taken for granted. I remember twice a week in attachment therapy, spooning pudding and playing games with M&Ms. We didn’t know if bonding was even possible.  My man cub child came out tonight with a sore ligament after basketball. I rub some essential oils in, marveling that touch is possible for this one, for whom trauma has left a mark of vigilance. He lingers; I notice. Spelling words reviewed on the front porch with a daughter by candlelight bring the pre teen anxiety down. A wee note from a daughter in Nazareth, ironically; reassurance to a mama’s heart. Food was served tonight, fish in a masala sauce. An every day occurrence perhaps for some, but I do not take for granted the making  of meals, as my body does the work of healing. I took little jars of water to the garden seedlings today. There is grace in the noticing. I have had the reputation of killing plants for too long. Recently I decided I am tired of that label. I’m asking for eyes to see when plants are thirsty. I had my hands on a mama belly today, the baby stretching little feet to push back. it reminded me again that the story of the work of my hands is not yet done being written. 

And so, among my every day moments; today, there shimmers glimpses of the Eternal.

And for this moment, in the midst of sickness and healing, it is enough.

 

Lenten writings:  the sacrament of kindness

Sacrament:  “a visible sign of an inward grace…” (Dictionary.com)

I think of the sacraments in terms of big C church.  Things like communion or baptism, sacred things. Baptists like the stream I was spawned in call them ordinances. They save the word sacraments for the Catholics. 

I received a sacrament tonight, from my daughter. She washed my feet, soaking them in herbs sent by an herbalist friend in Rhode Island. Then she massaged coconut oil into my feet and my hands, “so they wouldn’t be jealous”, as the younger kids say. 

It has been a long day, filled with noise and the shrieks of laughter of bio siblings reconnecting.  We have a branchy family tree, complete with grafted branches. 

The constellation of brain symptoms the medical community calls post concussion syndrome were high. They all come together, like so many stars in the night sky. Dizziness, nausea, visual changes, warm pulsing fullness in the ears, zinging in the brain, an inability to process multiple items, difficulty finding words, and an overpowering sense of being on edge…

It is easy for me to go to self contempt. From that place I do violence to myself with my harsh thoughts. “You’re such a…” Or “why can’t you…” Or “how can you even be…” 

Interrupting the barrage of thoughts comes my daughter, drawn home from her grown up world by love. Candles are lit, lights turned off, water drawn, herbs crushed. 

And as my brain begins to quiet, the love seeps in. 

John 13.” It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.”

He loved them. And then He washes their feet. A servant’s job. It was a stretch tonight to receive, for this mother. (Peter thought so too, by the way). But it’s a love deal. And love breaks contempt, drowns it in kindness. 

And in that space the ordinary becomes holy; a sacrament. Just for tonight…

Lenten writings:  breathing

My house breathes children.

In and out, in and out.

The shouts echo, against the backdrop of an Arizona spring. They echo inside my head too, magnified by post concussion syndrome.

The sounds of life; of friends. Breathing in.

Leprechaun houses built with hours of creativity. The boys follow and strategize how to poison the leprechauns when they come.

A daughter here from far away, drawn by love. Here to help things run smoothly. To drive and cook and infuse joy and life to the muted tones of our house post accident.

A daughter gone; close in heart but living on the other side of the globe. I read the news first thing these days.

Suddenly, there is silence.  Breathing out.

Everyone gone.

The waves of pulsing begin to still in my brain. I welcome the silence, yet I miss the sounds.

I wonder if that is what it is like when the children leave? That day still far away for our family, stitched together in a long quilt by threads of birth and adoption.

For today, my house breathes children.

Like breath work, in and out.

“I’m dreaming of a _____Christmas”

What swirls at Christmas time?

The Christmas carols sing of snow, smells of cinnamon and cocoa.  Laughter and memories build like snowdrifts, enveloping the house in a snug blanket of joy.  Red and green are everywhere, candy striped holiday colors.

But this is the desert.  In our house we have children who have experienced trauma.  The memories that swirl may not have words, or even accessible memories attached.  It is more like bumping into furniture in a dark house.  

The grownups carry their own stories around Christmas too.  My father-in-law died at Christmas, on our four month anniversary.  Those muted colors have permeated each Christmas since, with swirls of grey instead of the traditional red and green.  I asked Jesus once why Christmas Eve was so hard, and was gifted with a childhood story of violence.  Not your traditional gift, to be sure; but precious nonetheless.  A memory that is given is now mine to hold, with kindness and compassion.  No more furniture in the dark…

So what does it look like to gift my family with curiosity at Christmas?  Not about the gifts under the tree, but about these other colors swirling in and around.  Is there a place for kindness “in the middle of”?  How do you show up in this way? I would love to hear your thoughts….

Right now, everybody is having a half hour of alone space.  I am hoping there is a “reset” button!  But perhaps not.  Maybe the reset is to live present, today, at Christmastime.  Red and green and grey, maybe with a sparkle of silver.