Saturday, 30 April 2016

morning prayer :: Psalm 139

Routine looks a little different these days with a newborn in the house. For me, morning prayer has been taking place with my little one during her first morning feeding. I have a Book of Common Prayer beside the bed, and I find it easy to grab with one hand and flip to the psalm selection of the day. It's an honour to share the rich language of the psalms with Ivy. Yesterday's reading was Psalm 139.


There is a small pink person curled up in bed beside me. Her face is smooth with sleep, her hands tucked up to her chin. She is beginning to stir to the sounds of the morning and the brightness of the bedroom. I read the psalm for this morning, and the words "fearfully and wonderfully made" settle over with a hush. She is half hidden in the blankets, barely a speck in this big universe, and yet she rests in the counsels of God.

So delicately knit is she. The very handiwork of God,  a perfect poem formed into warm flesh and kissed by the breath of God. His fragrance lingers on the curve of her mouth, and when I kiss her my own lips tingle with a knowledge too wonderful to attain.

Where does joy come from? From the heart that beats eternal, whose rhythm echoes in all He has made and stops us short to simply gaze at the face of a child. Look and wonder. See what He has done!

"Marvellous are thy works, and that my soul knoweth right well."


Monday, 25 April 2016

Wonder, dirty dishes, and the gift of personhood

It’s been one month since we met face to face, one month since you emerged from your wrappings into my embrace. 

As it stands today, the kitchen is a mess, but there is other work to be done - the work of wonder. 

You are still so very little, and yet you are already your own person, and in this thought I discover the gateway to many others.

Your personhood is a gift. Personhood is always relational. We exist in the image of God, Himself a Being who is eternally relational. In order to know what it means to be a person, we must consider ourselves in relationship to God. 

Your existence is a gift from God. We cannot escape the truth that we are not self-originating. There is no spontaneous generation. Only the generosity of a God who is love, out of whose overflow we come dancing out of the womb, still attached by a pulsing cord to the one who carried us into life. This cord may be cut, signifying fully our free-willed otherness, but the mark remains - the thumbprint of our Maker. 

As the poets have said, “In him we live and move and have our being.” Each breath, each flutter kick, every coo and cry - gifted being. And a glimpse into the Ground of Being. 

Your eyes are icons into eternity. They gleam with the mystery of divine life, at once concealing and revealing its presence. 

And how does one fitly respond to the light in your eye? Oh it comes so naturally when life is so new. (This is another layer of the gift, another analogy to explore.) With free-flowing joy, with a smile of recognition, with deep-welling gratitude, and the knowledge that great revelation is contained in your genesis. 

There will always be kitchens to clean, but I will never again have you so new. I will never hear God whisper the beautiful mysteries of newborn truth like in these swaddled moments. In these days, you are nearsighted, and that so you can focus on what is most important to your survival - the faces of those who love you. And perhaps I can learn from you, and let the stacks of dishes dim in the distance. So I draw near. Perhaps my survival depends on beholding your face. 


Sunday, 24 April 2016


I'm stumbling around in this stupor of sleep-deprived gratefulness, marvelling at the gift on my breast, all the while feeling every ounce of strength leaving my body. One minute I'm lonely. The next I'm pushing everyone away. I don't know whether to laugh or cry, but perhaps I'm too tired for either. It's all so real and omnipresent, and if I think about it too much, it will overwhelm me. 

And I can't escape the reality that it all depends on me. Her energy to keep breathing, her warmth and comfort, her knowledge that there is good in the world. And I want so desperately for someone to take care of me, but I must keep going and I must keep giving. How am I going to make it through the day? Through the night?

There is no such thing as a day, only a shifting semblance of time as I live by the demands of food and sleep, one cycle at a time. But who cares for the clock? Certainly not she, and I will do better to set my eyes on a kinder rhythm, the kind that paces me to a truer sense of life. Lub-dub. Lub-dub.

For I am holding eternity next to my heart. And it is warm and breathing and beautiful to behold. 

And though I could fall off the bed for tiredness, and she has at last succumbed to sleep, I want to hold her for a few minutes more, because God has drawn near in the crook of my arm. All that was and will be is here in this moment, and if I can just be held in it, everything is going to be ok. 

We are going to make it together. One breath at a time. 


Monday, 18 April 2016

The World About to Turn

I wrote this the day before Ivy was born. I could feel the change coming, and the heavens seemed to reflect this sense of being "in-between" one reality and another. 


7 am, and I am alone in the quiet downstairs at dawn. I woke to the subtle glow of pink in the east, and over the river’s source the sun will soon rise. All this I will welcome from the dining room window. Yet in the kitchen and in the west, the beautiful full moon still lingers, suspended round and gold, but whose glory will soon fade and fall beyond the pines on the hill. 

I don’t know where to look. At the fullness of this moon which I will not see again, which lingers as if to bid me farewell and keep me a few minutes longer in its power, or at the changing colours of a sky awakening to new light.

I am in the in-between. Between the setting of the moon and the rising of the sun. Between the calm beauty of winter and the ruddy rush of spring. Present in a world where the two are meeting, yet I cannot see their coming together. I can only look west or east.

Softly now I pace the floor, not wanting to miss either wonder. The moon is falling fast, and soon I will have no choice.

And yet…

It is, after all, the same light which draws me to both. The beautiful fullness of all that has been, now quietly sinking, is lit by the energy of what lies ahead. They are not opposites. Their dance is part of this greater turning, the “marvel” of our blue-green sphere. 

I pause at the kitchen window. The moon is barely visible behind one of the great pines, who will brush it with a final kiss and tuck it behind the horizon. Good night, moon. Well have you shone.

And now the dining room fire is crackling, and another row of pines is shocked into silhouette by a bright patch of light, and I am sitting by the window, waiting, waiting, for the sky to break wide and the sun to fling its beams into the valley.

There are these brief moments in which I can see neither moon nor sun. And yet there is light. There is beauty in this hush of in-between, in the being of waiting.

I am held here, in just the right place, till just the right time.

Ah, here it comes . . . a fire so bright I cannot look, only be seen . . . the day has come. 


Sunday, 3 April 2016

I Speak Joy: A Mother's Blessing

I am delighted to announce the arrival of our daughter, Ivy Joy, born on Good Friday! 

What follows is a blessing I scribbled out on the back of a piece of paper one night a few weeks before she was born. We didn't know whether we were having a boy or a girl, but I had an inkling that I carried a girl. And I had more than an inkling that this baby was somehow connected to all I have been discovering about joy. Her very name is part of my blessing to her, and God's blessing to me. "Ivy" stands for faithfulness, and "Joy," well, it speaks for itself! 

My darling,

I speak joy over your coming. 
Joy as you grow, and bloom to bursting,
Joy as you waken to life in the wide world,
Joy as you are received into the arms of your family,
And joy as our Father laughs to behold His reflection in your eyes. 

I speak joy over our meeting.
Joy as we weave our bonds of love,
Joy as we learn each other’s names,
Joy through the sleepless nights,
And joy as we count each sunrise together.

I speak joy over your future.
The wonder-filled joy of discovery,
The riotous joy of whole hearted freedom,
The steadfast joy of a deep-held faithfulness,
And the fiercely won joy of the sorrowful night.

I speak joy over you.
Unspeakable and full of glory,
Fruit of the presence of God,
Fire bright and blazing beauty,
The strength of a hundred hind’s feet on the heights.

I speak joy as my mother’s blessing,
A gift of words and of heart’s desire,
A beseeching prayer for divine bestowal,
A promise kindled by heaven’s purpose,
And my song of praise overflowing. 

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