Saturday, November 26, 2011

sore spot

I don't know where you are.  And sometimes I am overwhelmed, looking through the crowd, hoping I'll recognize your face.  Hear your name.  Meet your gaze.

Deepest parts of me know you are here.  Walking, breathing, laughing, learning.

I wonder what it is you're doing.  Where it is you're being kept.  The story you're telling with your life that will, one day, dovetail with my own.

Because the deepest parts of me know it will.  These stories.  I know they'll intertwine.

Even now I smile, knowing perhaps the intertwining has already begun.  In the most obscure, unannounced ways.

A quiet prayer of mine is I will not have to be the one to call your name.  I will not have to be the one to vey for your attention.  I will not have to, on any level, convince you of my worth.  One day I will walk through the door and you will look up.

And you will see me.  For who I am.


I used to close my eyes and imagine you.  At the end of an aisle.  Arms folded.  Waiting.

Your very self was blurry.  But I would project others into your space and they would waver and flicker, unable to fill the void.  No one fit.  No one fits.

Years have passed since this first vision.  And I even forget about the vision itself sometimes.  I forget the vision was a promise, a foreshadowing.  On overcast days, I disregard it as a wishful thought.  A false hope.

I also used to know what I wanted you to be like.  I thought I was sure.  Then life happened.  In all it's fury and all its pain and all its change.  And I wasn't sure anymore.  

I changed.  The woman walking towards you.  I transformed before my very eyes.  Burned to ashes and rebuilt.  Shredded by the wind and reconstructed.  Narrow shoulders walking towards you carried a weight and began to strengthen.

In my ear, words are whispered.  Be, not look.  Become, not find.

So I've been becoming.  Inefficiently.  Poorly.  Haphazardly.  Chaotically.  But still...  I am not the same as I was the first time those words sunk into my heart.  I know what they mean now.

I envision myself now, walking towards you, carrying it all.  The mistakes, the burdens, the dreams, the passions.  Explanations sit heavy on my tongue and desperate hope hovers behind my ears.  You will love me, won't you?  Me and this patchwork story I've written.

The evolution of your image in my mind only comes to the forefront when my heart is tired.  When disappointment cracks and reality becomes hard to swallow.  When my defenses are weakened so the oldest, consuming dreams can surface.

The constant is that I have always known you weren't here.  Not in this place.  Not on the streets I roam.

But I haven't been allowed to leave yet.  Regardless, I could never bring myself to leave just to find you.  You need a whole.  Not a part.  And until recently... so many parts were missing.  So much was missing from me I couldn't have carried myself to you if I'd tried.

Particularly the part of me that would have thought I'd be worthy of you.

Any day before this one, you would have met a woman who couldn't even fathom her worth.  Who feared the mirror and despised her voice and groaned with empty arms.

Cold is coming.  Cold seeps into the seams of my bones and illuminates the parts of me, hurt.  Then I think of you.  Not because of the pain but because of your absence.  Though strangely present.  As if I already know your voice by heart.  Which is why my ear is tuned to hear it.

But I haven't heard it yet.  Your voice say my name.  I know this.  As surely as I can.

This already, this not yet.

I almost gave up on you.  Please forgive me.  

I pretended not to believe, to the very extent I convinced myself.  I persuaded myself into thinking you were not real.  That you were not promised.  That this image forming behind my eyes of you -- big, dark, gentle, smiling -- was a figment of my most betraying imagination.

But in this whole heart, finally whole, beating behind my bones, there is this spot.

This sore spot where you belong.

Not a hole you will fill.  Not a void you will consume.

But a spot, sore from the waiting.  Tender from the hoping.  

There is a sore spot in my heart where you belong.


After all these years, I feel a gentle unloosing.

I stare around myself, bewildered.  At the ends untied.

A quiet beckoning draws me to a new place.  Laced with permission.  Subtle in its approval.

I stand planted, suddenly afraid.

Paralyzed by this allowance, never before offered to me.

I crane my ear towards the first Voice, far more familiar than even yours.  You know His voice too.

The same Voice whispering to you to wait for me.  However vague.

He is cupping my heart in callused hands.  Breathing something, akin to resilience, into my veins.

I resist.  Knowing full well what this strange gesture is.  Remembrance.

But I had forgotten about you.  Buried you deep.

Until just now.

Until just this morning as the same Breath poured over me as the sun rose and He gently touched the seal.

I miss you.

Save a place for me at your table.


My prayer is you will call my name.  You will walk into my line of vision, in a noble effort to win my attention.  A quiet, desperate prayer that you will know what I am worth.  To you.  To the world.  To our Father.  That when you look up and see me, we will know.

And that I will fit under your arm.  On your finger.

That I will be a healing balm to a sore spot in your own heart.

In the becoming, this day will come.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

who i am

reality sets in.
the story unravels, pieces disintegrate.

franticly i reach out to retrieve.
to salvage.

but this will take rebuilding.
this will take reconstruction.

one look, one turned back.
a beginning and an end.

as far as it depends on me.
restoration is what i seek.

i know who i am.
the disparity causes stress.

i know who i am.
but the world can't see it.

for the exhaustion.
for the defeat.

offense is weak.
defense is my mechanism.



in your eyes i see truth.
truth and pain i cannot shake.

but i am not the answer.
and you are not mine.

push through.
the mess pulls at my feet.

bogged down.
by my own volition, destroyed at my own hand.

words remind me of His expression towards me.
knowing eyes I have to fight to meet.

what did they say,
"just because I'm losing, doesn't mean I'm lost"

just because I'm tired doesn't mean I'm gone
rest.  rest in Me.

like a film, drawing you to the edge of your seat
here is the climax, the inciting incident

here is where it changes.
here is where I demand it stops.

whatever "it" is
cannot stand against who I am.

Whose I am.
And the plans He has for me.

The way He will redeem this story
the paths He will gently lead me on.

The mountains He will pull me up.
The rushing waters He will carry me through.



we call this the development of character
the way muscles grow

He hands me a hammer.
We will rebuild.

And where a wall was once, destroyed
up will rise a fortress

"You didn’t think joy could change a person, did you? Joy is what you feel when the conflict is over. But it’s conflict that changes a person... You put your characters through hell. You put them through hell. That’s the only way we change." (DM)

Friday, November 18, 2011


The house was dark.  We knock on the door and no one answers.  Turn our backs, walk back to the car, as my eyes catch a sliver of light as the same door opens and she sticks her head out.  Looking for us.  Inviting us in.

I hear their voices.  Upstairs in the darkness.  I see the tiredness in her face, sharpened by shadows.  I turn and literally crawl up the stairs, finding his old, dark face halfway up.  I open my arms and he throws himself into them, prying himself away only to go get the other two.

There is nothing in this world, which can compare to a sleepy boy.  Eight or twenty-five years old, no matter.  He appears at the top of the steps, eyes half closed, warm from napping.  He mutters something in a voice still choked with sleep and collapses into my lap.  Arms around my neck, face on my shoulder, he keeps murmuring as I rub his back.

There we were.  The five of us.  More family than I've known in quite some time.  Sinking after a long, cold day.  After so many days in a row, which have felt like defeat.  There we were, clinging to one another, because love has found a permanent home in our hearts.  We belong to each other.

I sit there, in a brief moment which feels like eternity, holding my small one.  Wishing two things, simultaneously.

First, that one day I would have my own.  My own child, son.  Who I would not have to put down, but could rock to sleep at night.  Who would share my name.

Second, that someone would hold me this way.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


In my house growing up, we talked a lot about the microevolution of the human psyche.

Fancy way of saying, people don't change.

I remember always disagreeing with Larry.  Fighting hard against this seemingly fatalistic mentality.  I so resented it, I chose a profession, which banks on the opposite.

I will spend my life requiring people to change.  My profession will require me to believe people even can.  Believe the work I have done, do, and will do is not futile or in vain.

As I get older, I understand this statement more and more.  I see its truth more in the faces of the grown men in my life than anyone.  It helps me make my decisions.  It has helped me walk away.

One day it may even help me stay.

Today it has helped me recover my hope.

Because this theory, this theory applies to me too.

This somewhat pessimistic, but realistic theory, explains my resilience.  When applied to my life, it explains my ability to bounce back.  It explains my hope.

I have changed.  The shape of my body.  The capacity of my lungs.  The length of my hair.

My very outlook on life has changed dramatically.

My level of education, my wisdom, my story.  Everything.  Everything has changed.

Yet when I look in the mirror, when I sit down here to put words to paper, when I kneel down to talk to a child, I am the same woman.  Dare I say, just better?

At my deepest, I am the same little girl in the hospital bed.  The same young woman in Africa.  The same older woman in Haiti.  The same as I was the first day of college.  The same as the day he first said I love you.

I just know more.  I am wiser.  More mature.  More experienced.  

I kicked my horrible social anxiety.  But in lonely moments, driving to get an oil change can incite a minor panic attack.

I learned to be extroverted.  How to interact with people.  How to survive a party or a bar.  But on bad days, I still never open my mouth in a crowded room.

There are days when I don't talk to Him.  When I don't open His word.  And until recently, I hadn't stepped foot in His so-called "house" in half a year.

And yet, because I am His child, I can walk down the side walk and find myself communing with Him.

Being literally knocked off my feet by His breath -- come as wind.

As quickly as it left, however, hope is here.  The courage and strength to face tomorrow have risen up and bolstered me.  Because that is who I am.

I have evolved on a micro level.  Significant, important, life-altering changes.  The kind of change I want to see in my clients, in my children.  Changes, which can be the difference between dying of an overdose and landing the job.

Not fatalistic.


And ironic.  Because, we're really not in the business of changing people at all anyway.

That's not our job.

No.  My job, my life's calling, is to look at a man.  A woman.  A child.  And see who it is they are at their core.

And fight for it.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

pinky promise

Rocked.  Swayed.  


Tired, leaden feet, approaching a crossroads.

Symmetry.  An end, mirroring the beginning.

Gracious tying of loose ends.

There is a hunger.  An ache behind my eyes and pulling at the corners of my mouth.

Empty arms, bare finger.

Not the waiting.  But the hoping.  Wearing heavy on my shoulders.

Yearn to trade yokes.

For a dramatic, deep change in plot.

Like my small one, I lean forward, extending my pinky.


Imploring eyes.  Just promise.

Beauty sought, protection found.

My weary self aches to lean back into You.

Afraid of regression.

Afraid of lonely steps forward.

Breath is hard for my lungs to find.

Tears, five months of them still unshed.

Our bodies mourn for us when our hearts are too weak to grieve.

Crave safety.  Shadow, in it I cower.

Hide.  I'm tempted.  To kneel and cover my head against the onslaught.

Out of sight.  Withdrawn.

Or to once again be in the security of a fortress.  To see the army with my own eyes.  Ward off flaming arrows and sly words.

Wind tousles.

Move me.

Get me to that place.  Deliver me there.

To where Your Glory dwells.

The begging of my spirit.  The unveiling.

I see the scales at my feet, fallen.

New eyes avoid direct contact.  The wounds are fresh.  I do not recognize myself.

Wind rocks me.  I sway.

And then there it is.  The paradox of growth.  A foundation, strong and solid.  Truth is this: I am not lost.  In the reflection I see the green.  Vibrant.  Striking.


But stronger.  In those many broken places.  Weathered.  Conditioned.  Arms out, chin back, eyes closed.

I am enveloped.

Apprehensive.  Unsure.  Bold.

Upon the foundation, despite all the rubble, a fighter has been built.  Out of the very ashes.

Over strengthened shoulders I take one more look at from where it was I came.


Desire propels.

I pause.  Implore.  Extend my pinky finger.


Saturday, November 12, 2011


I felt it begin last night.  Rising to the surface, a deep unsettling.

An acute awareness of a desperate lacking.

This morning I woke up, bound and determined.  There was an ache in the deepest part of me.  To find beauty.  

I haven't created in quite some time.  Haven't held a camera in my hands, looked through different eyes, attempted to capture the beauty of the world with a quick blink of a shutter, an adjusted aperture.  Today would be different.  I would find this beauty my heart was longing for.

I got in my car and started driving.  I stopped a few times, but the camera felt heavy and awkward in my hands.  Beautiful colors everywhere.  Trees, fences, barns, leaves.  Fall is in full force in Kentucky.  Surely I could find this coveted beauty on the back country roads.

I turned onto Russell Cave and drove.  A red sports car cut me off in traffic.  The driver was wearing sunglasses, and I heard in my heart Someone say, follow me. 

I just drove and drove.  Following the red car.  The scenery was beautiful, breathtaking, pure, and unadulterated.  But eyes were not satisfied.  There was an ache in my heart, and each mile made it worse.  Throbbing.

And then the red car disappeared.  Over a hill.  I crested the same hill and could no longer see the red car anywhere.

So I pulled into a driveway and sat for a minute.  This was not where I was supposed to be.

Like every epiphany I have ever had, it bubbled up within me until I was smiling like a fool.

I knew where I needed to be.  I knew where this quest for beauty was calling me.

I drove.  Turned left then right then left again.

Even as I pulled up to the curb I could hear their voices.  Screaming my name, running out from their yards and driveways, waving their arms.  Little girls jumped into my arms as I got out of my car.  Bigger boys swaggered over and pretended not to care.  I hugged them anyway.

I began to take pictures.  Of their sweet faces.  In between hugs and kisses and the constant bickering and running around.

The joy in my heart bubbled up into my eyes.

But I didn't stay there long.  The call for beauty was intertwined intimately with a demand to be brave.  To seek it out where others fail to acknowledge it.  To go deeper, to get closer.

So I drove some more.  Through the familiar ghettos and four way stops.

I tried to cheat.  I knocked on a few doors, looking for children to take with me.  I couldn't do this alone.

Could I?

I heard them before I saw them.  The thump of the basketball.  The yells of boys older than I am used to.

I saw their shadows and their piles of clothes on the sidelines.

I meandered around.  To a dilapidated playground.  Covered with too much dirt and too many chains.

And then, with one deep breath, I approached them.  Knowing full well this was where I was supposed to be.

That in the pounding of the basketball, the soles of the Converse and Nikes, the sweatiness of high school boys, I would find what I was looking for.

They saw me.  After a few minutes they stopped playing.  I waved at them and told them to keep going. They laughed and I shouted after them to impress me.

Soon they were hovered over my shoulders, looking at images of themselves, which I'd captured.

Beauty, my friends, is in the eye of the beholder.

In sweet hugs and kisses.  In dark, dirty faces.  In unsullied moments of pride and youthfulness.

Anna, quit looking for beauty elsewhere.  Quit looking in all the wrong places.  You are wired to find beauty in people.  In children.  To dig out art from what is broken and forgotten.  Go get it.  And remind the world. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

in the morning


Heart beating.  Match the rhythm.  Rise and fall of chest, I find cadence.

Quiet.  Words are futile.  Self deception blinds.  This feels new.

But it is not.

Remind me this isn't new.


Rest.  Heavy.  Pressure.  Still.

Very, very still.

All the world.

Except my mind... fighting.

Scarred, tired.


Laughter bubbles beneath it.

Sun rises.  Shadows cast.

Sweat dries in the heat.

Fatigue rocks to sleep.