Posts Tagged ‘Thin Places’

maybe someday I'll paint it


It’s not that he’s dumb, he’s just, well… a cat.  He wants to do things his own way, in his own time.  If you were to tell him to jump off a bridge because all the other kitties are doing he’d say, “you’re not the boss of me.”


Lately I’ve done a couple of special things for him, thinking they would be things that he would enjoy.  I watch him all the time, so I feel qualified to make that assessment.  He, on the other hand, would beg to differ.


A couple of months ago he was out on the balcony.  He likes to go out there, lay in the sun, sniff around, and lick my bike tires.  Weirdo.  Anyway, I left him unattended out there — after all, he’s not an infant or anything.  Next thing I know, there’s some odd scratching sounds and some unearthly meowing coming from the balcony.  I went out there to find him dangling over the wall, between two posts, but under the top railing.  He was trying to snake his way around one of the posts to get back in, but needed to spend more time doing yoga in order to achieve that.  It didn’t seem to occur to him that he could back up and land on his back legs.  He was particularly panicked because he’d just found out that he was three floors up.  I actually had a hard time pushing him back through the railing because he was clinging to the wall so tightly.  As he scurried back inside, I hadn’t remembered ever seeing his tail quite that bristled.


Not long after that, I assembled some patio chairs that have moved around the country with us and put one right by the wall.  It’s the perfect height for him to sit on and see through the railing, and if he stands up on it and puts his front paws on the wall, he can see a lot more.  And there’s a lot to see.  Besides the backside of a grocery store, there are lots of birds and squirrels.  Hours of entertainment.


But he wouldn’t get up on the chair.  And anytime I picked him up and set him on it, he’d immediately jump down.  It was the longest time before he’d get up there on his own.  “See, Cyrus, I told you it’d be fun.  I did this just for you!”


And then a couple of weeks ago, I built him this way super-cool playhouse.  I found the pattern for it a couple of years ago on Martha’s website, but had never gotten around to making it.  Of course, he wouldn’t go in there.  I tried putting him in through the top, but he’d just slink down to the bottom and dart out the front door.  I tried putting the towel that he sleeps on in there, to give it that homey, lived-in feel.  No dice.  I’ve even tried lining the inside with kitty treats.  But he sticks his head in just far enough and then uses his paw to scoop the treat out of the playhouse before he’ll eat it.  I’ve tried cutting off the doors, because those used to freak him out when they moved.  I’ve made the opening bigger (because he’s a little “husky”).  Alas, all in vain.


This morning I realized that if I ever want him to come to me, all I have to do is get his attention, then hide.  He comes running every time.  He doesn’t realize I’m waiting there for him, just around the corner, ready to scoop him up and love all over him.




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You’re probably getting tired of hearing about my hibiscus — the one I found in a dumpster, the one that limped through the winter, the one that is my mascot for Lent.  (Yes, those would all be the same plant.)  I’m sorry.  I just can’t help it.


I’ve been watching these tiny leaves emerging on the plant for weeks, and it’s been a slow process, like watching – er — grass grow…  And then finally there were a few little buds. I’m still dying to know what color the flowers are.  But looking at the plant from a distance a few days ago I suddenly realized that it was top-heavy, with big leaves at the end of almost spindly branches.  And I knew.  I knew I had to prune it.


Why hadn’t I seen it sooner?  I was raised by a father with not one, but two whole green thumbs.  It was a tradition for us to prune back the roses every New Year’s Day to a third of their size.  Come spring they were bursting with new growth, and by summer the whole plant was sturdy, healthy, and full of perfect blooms.  I know well the power of pruning, and yet I couldn’t stand the thought of taking a pair of shears to my beloved hibiscus.


After a few days I conceded to myself that there was no way around it.  I was going to have to do it.  Those buds that held the unknown petal color?  Lopped.  Gone.  Nada mas.  It was probably only six inches all around that I trimmed off.  All the old leaves save one or two were nixed.  In the end, the plant looked like some sticks in a pot with a few green polka dots on them.  It was a bit pitiful looking, but I knew it was the right thing to do.


Only a few days later, and all those little green dots are actual leaves – and that’s even with it having spent a good chunk of time indoors due to all the thunderstorms we’ve been having.  There are even more buds now than there were before and it is much more balanced.  I wonder what it will look like next week.


Don’t fear the shears.



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A Stark Place



Last week I saw a man shot and killed.


I wish that was a metaphor, or that I was being poetic or something, but I’m not.


A woman ran into the store where I was shopping, shouting to call 911, that someone had been shot.  From the self-checkout area, we looked up and there he was just outside the doors.  I stood there dumbly, refusing to believe it was real.  He’d probably just tripped, or fainted.  I hadn’t even heard the gunshots.  This wasn’t happening.


I’m a person who looks for meaning in every little thing, but my mind has been unable to latch onto anything meaningful.  And I don’t have the stomach for a trite moral to the story.  He deserves so much more than that.


My questions in the wake of this experience, and in the face of mass-scale tragedies like the recent earthquake in Japan and ensuing tsunami in the Pacific, have changed.  Rather than asking what it means, I’m asking where God is, and I’m looking for God ferociously.


And looking for God has been painful.  It means that I have to go back and remember where I was and what I saw.  It means I have to sit with those memories, and ask God to sit with me.  God, who felt so absent.  God, who let this happen.


Though I’m still shaky when I think about it, and my voice cracks when I try to speak of it, this is what I’m beginning to see:



God was the two young men who ran to the back of the store to get ice.


God was hysterical woman who couldn’t peel herself away from the doorway.


God was the man on the cell phone with one hand on the man who’d been shot.


God was standing at the self-checkout area, too horror-struck to move.


God was the employee who stayed at the customer service counter to help customers.



And God is still grieving with the family and friends of the dead man, whose name I wish I knew.





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When I go out for a walk I am often arrested.


Struck by some sight.


Sometimes my jaw even drops.


Two trees, growing close together.


One with a branch around the other.


This is how we should grow.




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Sometimes there’s a silver lining where you wouldn’t expect it.




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Hahn Woods, Atlanta



It is coming.





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How Leaves?



Sometimes I can’t believe there are still leaves out there, pale golden yellow,


hanging on.  After all the freezing weather, the snow and ice, the wind and rain,


they should have fallen by now.




What are they waiting for?


How is it possible that they’re still clinging to life on the tree?




Sometimes I can’t believe they’re still there.





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