Saturday, November 24, 2018

Acquainted With the Night

"You were up a lot last night," my husband said to me this morning as I describe my feeling of out-of-it-ness and of having cotton balls in my eyes. His saying made me think of Robert Frost's poem "I have been one acquainted with the night", and despite my head-numbing sleep-deprivation after being much up with a stuffy nosed infant, I felt the need to write my own version of the poem, with matching meter and rhyme scheme. Maybe better than a cup of coffee? The muse was awake if nothing else is.

Here is Frost's poem, and here is mine:

I have been one acquainted with the night
I've learned to change a diaper with the dark
To spare bleared eyes the glare of night time light.

I've loved a hungry baby in the dark,
Though dull with weariness and ache of sleep,
Love's joy in giving kindle's strength's dim spark

I have been often tired enough to weep
Until the sweetness of small velvet life
Cradled to me, a tiny charge to keep --

All this, to be a mother and a wife
And further to be held in Heaven's sight --
I could not ask for any better life

Than what is given to me. It is right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.

Sleeping Mother with Child by Christian Krog, 1883

Friday, August 17, 2018

A Mountain Adventure

This morning, our 4 yr. old son insisted that we are going to the mountains and began packing the car with essentials such as golden books, rubber balls, a cooler with freshly picked oregano and a picnic blanket . He has previously insisted that we were going to run a hotdog stand or go to the beach, which I had to convince him was not happening - but since we live in West Virginia, I thought this wish wouldn't be too hard to gratify. A little Google-mapping found us North Mountain - 20 minutes away, but we had never gone there before, so we hopped in the car and headed for I-81 North. On the way up, I returned a call from my neighbor who wanted to give me some hosta bulbs she was dividing and told her where we were going. "I was born on that mountain" she said. Knowing her childhood history of mountain pentecostalism and its accompanying strangeness added a touch of eeriness to the adventure.

We drove west through the quaint little overgrown town in the valley, then through farms with grassy fields running into the deep leafy green forest of the mountain side - then up, up to the junction at the top and then with several back tracks to the junction, took all the different routes in turn.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

One Stranger

On our way home from church today, we picked up a stranger holding a cardboard sign by the road "No Gas, No Food, No Money".  It's a common sight when you live near a state line truck stop, but since we were all together heading home for Sunday dinner, I asked Caleb if we could take the man home with us, and he being more than willing to do that sort of thing, readily pulled over and picked the man up.

His story was sad - he was traveling to Maine for a new job when his wife, who was suffering from bipolar disorder and postpartum depression had left him in the hotel, taking their five sons and all his things and money.  She had run away before, but usually ended up with family. This time she couldn't be found anywhere. He had a job waiting in Maine, but just needed to get there. It sounded almost too much of a tearjerker to be true, but we figured we could give him dinner and some gas.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Looking Forward

This past winter has been hard in all the ways that winters with little ones (and my own struggle with Lyme disease) are hard. My relief that it is over is so great that I want to hug every tulip and daffodil, drink the air from open windows like wine, and already sigh that the leaves are out because the end of the beginning marks a few days closer to the next winter. I shudder at the memory of the dull skies, illnesses and seeping cold and never want to see it again. The whole earth seems so right. The deadness of winter so wrong - must it ever come again? 

But in the midst of the long, dark winter, God sent us that which that makes the end of this summer a thing to anticipate with hope At first we were overwhelmed in the midst of our weariness, but the hope is growing, and, oh, God-willing, the end of October will bring us new, warm life - a baby. I'm growing hungrier for small fuzzy cheeks and velvet head and a new face with a new name - hungrier than I was for warm skies and violet-studded grass. This is a gift. We never know if a growing baby in the womb will live to see the light of day - all life is in God's hands. But my heart wanted something to anticipate and God granted me a growing belly and sleepless wee hours filled with crazy baby-name conjuring, and midnight snacks and outdoor time with children that leaves me weary to the bone, and the overwhelming reality that a life is in our charge to love and give ourselves to keep. 

In all of this, the Word of God has been near to sustain and teach me. I am learning that when I cannot see the good of life's hard things (and even pregnancy has been a hard thing), their hardness itself is the gift of Him who said "You have need of endurance" to one of his children who would have all things made light and easy. If I could have all things easy here, how would I be kept from the dangerous love of this world? To be weary in the way is to long for the end - final redemption in Jesus' consummated kingdom. Ease does not push me there. "The testing of your faith develops endurance". Whatever motherhood brings, life will not be easy if my God loves me well. He wants me to be as hungry for His kingdom as I have been for spring, as eager to see His face as I am to meet our baby (no, much, much more). He wants me to raise our children to hope in the triumph of King Jesus, and look for redemption outside themselves just as I must daily do. And He is helping me to do want He wants of me.

If none of this makes sense, blame it on my pregnancy brain, but praise the Lord with me, because He does all things well.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Airing Day

This deliciously spring-like February day with its fresh breezes and happy children watching the laundry waving on the line put all kinds of poetry in my head. A happy wind blew it right into me and here it is. 
[Confession: I did not put out to air all of the items listed in this poem!]

The Airing Day

Sweet wind from the southwest the rain mist is sweeping.
Bold blackbirds awaken the sky from its sleeping.
The chillied new year a fresh spring cloak is wearing –
It’s time for the house to turn out for an airing!

Bring out your doilies and tea towels and cosies,
Hang out your pillow shams, blankets and duvets,
Pull out the rugs from the bugs and the dust,
And beat them in league with the wind if you must!

Bring out your mattress, your couch and your foot puff,
Drag out your latch-hooked rugs, all of the floor stuff.
Clear out the nooks and the crannies and closets,
Eradicate all the dust bunny deposits!

Pin pillows to clotheslines, hang bath mats on porch rails,
While breezes turn all of the bedsheets to boat sails.
Old quilts from the closet come out like brave banners,
Exhibiting brisk, unconventional manners.

All of the linens, grown dusty from living
With winter, are waving a giddy thanksgiving!
Fresh air, flood the windows, thrown open to greet you
Spring day, the whole house is delighted to meet you.

- Alyssa Bohon, February 2018

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Multiple Layers of Protection

I've been slowly reading Jonathan Leeman's excellent book, The Church and The Surprising Offense of God's Love, and keep landing on statements that seem to deserve more than the 11-pt. font paragraphs in which I find them. This afternoon, I came upon a paragraph in which Leeman briefly outlined the protections the believer has in the New Covenant, and I copied it into my notebook, thinking how huge these are. Protections. New Covenant. That is, all the ways I am safe because of something that is sure outside of me and in Christ. As someone who catches myself worrying too often, having someone tell me that I am ensconced in five layers of safety is quite reassuring. I need to type these out big.

Leeman points out that in the old covenant, obedient covenant members were promised a safe and prosperous life - 'Keep the words of this covenant and do them, that you may prosper in all you do' (Deut. 29:9). Of course, this depended on their success in keeping the covenant, which dependence itself was a threat to their security, because they weren't very good at keeping the covenant, and therefore not very safe. A new covenant, ordered in all things and sure through Jesus Christ gives us so much more! And, it "affords multiple layers of protection":

First, it provides protection from the wrath of God because sin is forgiven.
Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. - Romans 5:9-10
Second, it protects the soul against those who can harm only the body. All the protections promised in the Psalms essentially become the Christian's, albeit in a reconstituted form.
Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place—the Most High, who is my refuge no evil shall be allowed to befall you,no plague come near your tent. - Psalm 91:9-10
Third, it protects us from ourselves and our inability to fulfill the requirements of the old covenant.
I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me. - Jeremiah 32:40
Fourth, it protects the Christian from the enslavement of sin, since sin no longer has mastery over him or her. 
For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. - Romans 6:14
Fifth, it welcomes Christians into a domain where authority is exercised to create rather than to steal, to build rather than to tear down, which means that the Christian can know the protection of God's people (Matt. 20:25; 1 Pet. 5:3).
- from  The Church and the Surprising Offence of God's Love, chap 5, Scriptures my addition 

Safe from God's anger and eternal punishment, from the devil and all the enemies with him, from my very self, from sin and from ever being really alone.

"A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing."