Friday, November 26, 2010

tree art

i really wanted to write a poem today. about a Thanksgiving tree. but when we tried to string the lights we discovered small branches on the bottom and big ones on top and i barreled into the present with a stomp, as branches flew out of the tree onto floor order.

abandoned by all but two stalwart tree artists, I guided the branches into a mathematically perfect tree and stretched out each arm ready to receive. then i giggled and thought perhaps the tree should have been left as it was, decorated to be a robot or some such thing. maybe next year.

then the little and the not-so-little hands placed the ornaments and this is where I must find my place to come in, in harmony, as keLi so beautifully exhorted. sometimes my heart despairs about the things that I do that have not meaning. like I want my tree to be ALIVE! and just like the substance of things unseen is the most precious thing, the things placed in these reaching arms can be precious, because it is precious to him.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Turkeys, Stuffing, and Immersion

We drove down Lincoln Drive on the way to Taekwondo. What met our eyes brought disappointment to me, and excitement to the kids. Lighted wreaths and candles illuminated the drab drive, while darkening my brows.

Was Thanksgiving to be ignored once again? Were we to travel at light speed from fabulous fall to Christmas with nary a turkey to gobble in between?

My daughter rescued me when she pointed out the blown-up turkey in a yard up ahead. He was large, round, colorful, and cartoonish, but O, how my eyes lingered there! As his brown body smiled and swayed in chubby contentment, I was infected, and my peevish concerns evaporated. At least for that moment.

On Monday I made the decision. Store-bought stuffing was not an option for me this year. (Nourishing decisions have become easier to make over the years.) So I began the familiar process of making bread, with one inconvenient addition: I mixed 15 cups of the flour into five cups of warmed buttermilk, and left it to soak for twelve hours. Yesterday morning, the final three cups of flour were combined with the yeast, honey, water, oil & salt and then carefully mixed in with the soaking dough. Really, it was just a matter of retraining; the soaking of the flour is only slightly more time-consuming than my prior routine.

But why? Why go to all the trouble of soaking the flour? Well, according to my research, there is something called phytic acid which is found in the hulls of nuts, seeds, and grains. Phytic acid is the principle form of storage for phosphorous. There are two problems with phytic acid. The first is that important minerals, like calcium and magnesium, adhere to phytic acid, and when they do so, they become insoluble and unable to be absorbed in the intestines. The second problem is that phytic acid is itself unable to be absorbed due to our lack of an enzyme called phytase.

This is where the soak comes in. When nuts, seeds and grains are soaked, the phytic acid is broken down, and the minerals are once more bioavailable. When they are soaked in an acidic medium, such as buttermilk, kefir or yogurt, the breakdown is much more effective. To rephrase: soaking removes the binding power of phytic acid (aka the anti-nutrient), which would suck away life-giving minerals necessary for all body-functions.

My need hit me then, square between the eyes. I needed a good soak. And certainly not in buttermilk. Songs began to flit through my mind...

"It's beginning to ra-ai-ain, hear the voice of the Father..." and

"Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, like the fra-grance after the ra-ai-ain...".

Just as the minerals needed for all body functions were bound in the phytic acid, the peace, needed to guard my mind in Christ Jesus, was bound in the peevish acid of unthankfulness. And surely there is only one solution.

Suddenly Elise's Heavy Laden tree took on new meaning for me. There is a poem stirring here....the applause is almost deafening!

But first, the soak.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Better Resurrection

Most of my kids have "The Caterpillar" by Christina G. Rosetti memorized. How surprised I was to find this poem from the very same author, in a poetry devotional a few years back. It touched a chord in me, as I had been in the desert for quite some time, and the tears spilled freely.

Truly, I'm still there. And my heart still cries out with Christina.


by: Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

I have no wit, no words, no tears;
My heart within me like a stone
Is numb'd too much for hopes or fears;
Look right, look left, I dwell alone;
I lift mine eyes, but dimm'd with grief
No everlasting hills I see;
My life is in the falling leaf:
O Jesus, quicken me.

My life is like a faded leaf,
My harvest dwindled to a husk:
Truly my life is void and brief
And tedious in the barren dusk;
My life is like a frozen thing,
No bud nor greenness can I see:
Yet rise it shall--the sap of Spring;
O Jesus, rise in me.

My life is like a broken bowl,
A broken bowl that cannot hold
One drop of water for my soul
Or cordial in the searching cold;
Cast in the fire the perish'd thing;
Melt and remould it, till it be
A royal cup for Him, my King:
O Jesus, drink of me.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Death Hoped

This morning I awoke to the crack of a rifle. And, rolling right along, I noticed the thump of the dogs tail, more subdued than usual, and how she peed with alacrity. And the trees! When had the masses of orange-brown delight turned into dead sticks stretching, reaching to reclaim their former glory? And this was the backdrop for my crisp Romaine, attached to the hope of fresh salad next to yesterday's turkey.

Fall has always been my favorite season, because of the stunning colors; the beauty. It is enough to shake the introspection right out of this branch. I have to see! To live outside of myself. Emily Dickinson writes "because I could not stop for death, he kindly stopped for me." For some reason her mind and the mind of Dylan Thomas are intertwined for me right now. It is as though this awesome beauty is one last 'hurrah'! Or a burning against the dying; a refusal to go gently "into that good night."

My children have skeletons hanging downstairs on the bulletin board. It's part of our homeschool project to make the human body out of paper. So far, my four-year-old is the biggest fan. He simply adores cutting and pasting and putting stuff together. Typical, eh? Well, we've moved on and begun creating the digestive system, starting with the face. And without fail, each child decided to put their face on their skeleton. They look rather comical, hanging there. My oldest daughter drew hair around her face before she cut it out, and it looks a little eerie to see it resting against the clavicle. And what is time? Surely it is slipping through our fingers. But it is not lost.

The leaf who falls like rain upon the wind
Has left a bud that winter can't rescind
The flower withers, falling from the sun
Yet sinks or scatters...newness is begun

The creature left with nothing to exhale
Installed another; death cannot prevail
In deep, or nest, in grass or in the womb
Unfolding from the shadows of the tomb.

The patterns from His hand they always tell
Of who us through the cycle will impel
The threads allotted treasures to be sought
Wonder life to brimming will be fraught!

Until the soul of man would gasp in awe
To realize that death has lost her claw
Seeing her from on the other side
Even though with her you still abide.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


I just made cookie dough. To eat. I said to my husband: "I am sure that the reason I am not dead is because I ate cookie dough so much growing up." Perhaps you understand my reasoning - I scoff at salmonella! Because so much of life is "touch not, taste not, handle not." Here, we'll take it. We'll eliminate the risks, so that you can live in safety.

But they didn't tell us the truth. There is a reason that God has chosen to let the tares grow up with the wheat. Kill the tares, kill the wheat. Mow down the just with the unjust. And so, need I say? We like it raw. Milk. Eggs. Sometimes meat.

Once we visited a public pool nearby. The sound of whistles greeted us as we approached, and continued to agitate throughout our stay. At one point I was standing in the wrong place. I remained unaware despite the whistles blowing around my ears. Their very constancy rendered them null and void, as they shreaked through me transparently. After this I began to say "no" less often to my kids.

Change is hard and ruts are deep, but miracles do happen. I want

To roll and give
And jostle and spill
Ignoring bygone cups unfilled

To turn and hear
And smile ... attend
Evading grooves long penned

And when laughter tips the scales
In the wholeness of reality
Then they will surely know
i am free.

....Only because He has made me so. One of my favorite movies is Luther. And for some reason, I am thinking of this line, which always jumps out at me: "All my life, I have seen a world that hates evil more than it loves good." O, the WAY we see! And Paul says, "Be not overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good." Speak to me. Change the WAY I see.