Killer Dogs/Beautiful Clouds

As you well know, I have been trying to focus on the presence of signifiers–the feral blender noises the dogs make when they are behind the dark door–the way the clouds pool and furl in beautiful splendor–let us say our daily prayers

Swap the signifiers

Killer clouds for beautiful dogs

This savage world/all ripped to pieces

While the light of one ordinary star is enough to

Remind me

Just how good you are

At holding on to me

All the same.

The borrowed borrowed story about crises

A pastor told a story about a priest or monk whose brother was a fighter pilot. The pilot took his brother to the flight simulator. In the course of learning and crashing in a computerized model of flight, the non-pilot commented on the steep cost of learning to fly, the risks, and what happens when there is a crisis.

The pilot said, people train to a level and in a crisis they revert to that level–to what they know or have already mastered.

Rarely more.

We don’t rise to a higher level in a crisis. We revert to what we have trained for.

That is what the pilot said, I tell myself

When what we have trained for


because they were harassed and helpless

Matthew 9:35-38 NIV
[35] Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. [36] When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. [37] Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. [38] Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

4:21 am

After a solid fudging week of losing thumb wars to the god of grief I decide to change my stance.

Fine, I say, keep me up if you want, but we are going to do this together.

Make no mistake. He is not my friend. He is the quiet satellite tech on the slow train north. He is the Russian student who used to try to beguile me with roses and sweet talk. He is the dark standing just shy of sunset. All these years I have avoided his gaze, pretended I didn’t notice him at the same parties, never wailed and pummeled his dark, cold chest.

You win, I say, snake hole, only to realize he hasn’t, can’t because You have already–no matter how many days to resurrection.

Older Brother

My son tells me his fears and I tell him mine are remarkably similar–fear of the tragic loss of love.

Sometimes he and I get to the end of an ordinary day and he says our crew is still together, Mom.

We are citizens of a dangerous and lonely kingdom.

But only because the true King travels in disguise.

He is this magnetic force–scarred forever by his tragic love for us, hole in the chest and again in each Vitruvian extremity.

Stranger at the party.

You should get to know this guy.  His words and actions may seem either simple or radically divisive, but His gaze is irrevocable.

He is the perfect older brother, fierce in both love and justice.  When I dread this fallen world I turn to Him.

Knowing He will never fail.


We all hope it will turn out ok. We will be the ones–long full life, no pain. We optimists.

You have to be an optimist to foster and adopt kids you already know have problems. You have to believe in miracles.

Our belief in miracles went something like this: yes, we know they are tough kids, but consistency, love and faithfulness combined with God’s healing power will help these kids.

My goal was a picture–all my adult (stable, law-abiding) children gathering with their families for thanksgiving dinner.

So you may imagine what a blow to the gut it was to find out our plan hadn’t produced the picture. Our adopted kids hurt our family, hurt our other children. They committed crimes before they graduated from high school.

I still remember the old me, the believer in the miracle, the picture….

Part 1 of 2

I almost

I see men who resemble you often. Like really close. Sometimes their wives resemble your wife. Sometimes the kids are even close.

Last weekend the impatient fruit seller was a dead ringer for H. H, who is also impatient with me.

I am afraid.

I almost call mom a few times. Just to say

I love you.

Ironically, even if I shouted it in German she would probably still understand.

Ich liebe dich!!!

What stops me is this terrible memory–a night in late summer, an infant and a toddler both held in my arms as I face an unknown accuser.

We now know it was mom. But then all I can think is–

what if they make me stay away from my babies?

I am jittery with an irrational fear. Because mom reported me when M kept running away.

M abused me, mom reported me as the abuser.

And she taught me that all the money in the world was not worth the risk. The labyrinth of her mind.

So I tell my kids about my fear. I tell them about my year in China and the million ways God took care of me.

Then I think of you. You standing on the bus, towering over the Chinese men, like you were their oversized parent or some strange incarnation of Snow White among the post-Maoist dwarves.

Overshadowing them.

Or how stingy and mean I was to you–making you climb the Great Wall with me but refusing you soda for water.

I should have got you the coke.

And while I can see us there together like an old woman watching a perfect movie about her own life…

The truth is I have lost you. Lost you so long ago I wonder if you were ever real.

When did you stop being real?