Here I am.
How did I get to this place at this moment? How did I end up sitting at this cracked pine table at 5 a.m. on a May morning in 2014?
Did I choose this place?
Or did it choose me?
Did I choose to work through Dave Harrity’s Making Manifest: On Faith, Creativity, and the Kingdom at Hand?
Or did the book choose me?
Think of all the things that emerged in your experience that led you to this room–all the love and tragedy you’ve lived. Gain and loss. Peace and chaos. All of it so real and present here.
Think of all the people that once occupied this space, their lives . . .
You’re part of a history that you can never know . . .
This ground is holy . . .
The history of the present is burning all around you . . .
from Day 3, Making Manifest…
The Keurig sputters its final drips of coffee where it sits on the Hoosier cabinet that’s had a long family history. Above the kitchen sink to my right hangs a sign, like an oversized license plate, that reads, “Forestdell Farms, since 1854.” I’ve always wondered why the farm’s name is spelled with only one “R” when my husband’s grandfather spelled his with two–Forrest.
I’m in this place because my parents married and birthed me. They bought primitive log cabins nearly 200 miles away from where I sit–on a lake, on U.S. 27, the same road I’m gazing at out the window at this moment.
I’m in this place because I went to a nursing school instead of a university. And because afterwards I moved to Ann Arbor and eventually worked in a doctor’s office–where I met my husband who was a pharmaceutical representative at that time. Who’d grown up on a dairy farm.
In this place.
I’m in this place because after several moves out of state, several heartaches and joys, we returned to Michigan in a move that seemed God-ordained and God-orchestrated when we “redeemed” my husband’s childhood home, the one his parents had sold years before.
How did that happen? It wasn’t even for sale.
The house is quiet except for the flow of water in the cat’s fountain, the hum of the refrigerator, the tinkle of dog tags, and claws clicking on vinyl.
The small of my back hurts, and I hunch over like a cat, stretch it, sigh as I remind myself of my age and how I’ll one day be history. I remember that Mother’s Day is coming up, and I have not had a mother for two-and-a-half years. She was only 20 years older than I am when she died from a brain tumor.
I don’t want to die from a brain tumor.
I don’t want to die within 20 years.
I glance outside, past the bell that used to hang at the centennial house across the road–the house that’s dying. Past the birdbath and the basketball net. I “see” my inlaws’ Tow-Low trailer and the green John Deere tractor and remember how I sat in this same place 43 years ago (this month!) when Dennis brought me home for the first time, and his mother served me lunch.
In this place.
I gaze out the same windows she did.
I miss my mother-in-law.
The sign above the kitchen sink reminds me how I’m part of a history I can never know except, of course, for the stories. Yet I’ve become part of that history.
Tell about a time you felt a vivid sense of awe–when you were speechless, frozen, or dumbstruck. Remember, dig deep. And don’t necessarily go for the first thing that pops up.
From Day 4, Making Manifest . . .
The first things that pop up are the time I saw our daughter for the first time and when our adoption caseworker told me they had a baby for us, already pre-named with the only (and secret) name we’d chosen.
But then there’s an oriole with polished feathers that shimmer in the sun. He’s eating jelly from our new feeder…
“With our words,” Harrity tells us, “we bring realities into being, we track our history, we polish our present, and we carve out the direction of our future; we renew, awaken, and build toward redemption.”
“Practices of words are practices of being . . . ”
“Being is where we enter. Creating is an open door.”
Here I am.
Opening a door.
On Day 7, Harrity asked us to create a 10-line poem titled “Awakening,” created from words and phrases that stand out from the week’s writing.
I remember the way you used to speak to me
in those grape jelly days by the hem of the woods
while we hunkered down in a green fern fort
or floated in a rowboat amid a horseshoe’d lake.
Then you wrapped me with a soul-safe sense of simplicity,
but now? Now I am distracted and dis-tracked by many things,
shredding a bit around the edges like an oriole-nibbled orange half.
But here I am, awake in this one silent moment.
Speak to me the way you used to.
Now it’s your turn. If you’re journeying through Making Manifest this month, feel free to link up a post below. If not, maybe you’d like to share your day 7 poem in the comments.
And here’s a question for everyone: What do you like or dislike about poetry? Why? What experiences have shaped this opinion?
Also linking with Jennifer and Emily