Be with me among
The unintentional words;
They are your silence.


Life and death

For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. (Matthew 16:25)

I have come that they might have life, and life more abundantly. (John 10:10)

Some err pursuing pleasure at all cost;
I sometimes err pursuing death instead.
If gaining life requires life be lost
Then let me miss no chance for getting dead.

What consternation, finding death brings life;
Does it not mean life must be lost again,
Again, again? How does one cease this strife?
This winless cycle’s not what Jesus meant.

He also came that life abundant be.
Not all that feels like death does death require.
Not all that feels like life should make me flee.
Not death nor life the rule; let my desire

Be all to follow you who are the Way
Through death and life; with you, find peace and grace.

Close enough

A distant Pharisee has heard of you;
Is stirred, bewildered: anger, longing, fear.
Beside the multitude he pauses; few
Words reach him; how can he get close enough?

The blind, lame, lepers, paralyzed, you healed;
Raised Lazarus, and welcomed Mary near
To learn of you. Then to the three revealed
Yourself transfigured. Were these close enough?

At Simon’s house she cried right on your feet,
Made her untowelish hair absorb the tears;
She came as far as daring faith could lead.
You met her eyes, addressed her; close enough?

John sighing leans upon you unrebuffed
And yet can even he get close enough?

John Heart of Jesus (Subiaco) detail


Lord Jesus, my King,
I am not yet holy;
Disordered in will,
Affections, desires;
Fears, shames, loathings.

Looking to you,
I come to you; falteringly
I rest myself in you
As fully as I am able —
Frail daughter of dust,
And feeble as frail —

And find that I
Am wholly welcome,
Entirely safe,
Even as I am.
There is no wrong way
For me to approach you,
Nothing I must leave behind.

In your consuming fire,
The bright passionate flame
Of your love, all the dross
Held with me in your embrace
You will consume —
And I will arise.


I carry a storm inside me;
I am sorry that it is so.
I cry the rain, thunder the fear —
If I shed these, the storm might not grow.
But I can’t quite seem to cry enough
To let the storm go.


Emotional work is a long and messy process. I am doing better than the last two weeks; the waves have been less overwhelming and frequent. (Hours after posting about my intentions for Lent, panic attacks kept me awake all night.) Joe taught me to expect that the pain of old wounds never goes entirely away, but crops up here and there in new situations* or challenges. He and Steve Shelby taught me to expect that the pain of unfulfilled longings likewise never goes entirely away. With practice, with mindfulness, with openness, with radical acceptance, with prayer and faith and trust, with support, one can reduce the power of these things and grow more in grace, freedom, and gratitude.

“I will arise and go to Jesus, he will embrace me in his arms; in the arms of my dear Savior, O there are ten thousand charms.” ~J. Hart

*It is fascinating how a glimpse of kindness can evoke the old wounds and longings. Reminds me of my experiences on a short term mission trip in Africa. A few weeks of great stress in one situation, with few or no tears, and then a new situation with a very kind couple, and the tears come out in a flood.

Hand in Hand Parenting talks about how, when a child feels more safe and secure with her parents through such things as special time and play-listening, she’s MORE likely to erupt in tantrums and big cries and big fears — she feels safe enough to let them surface. The acts of tantrumming, crying, trembling, and so on, shed the feelings and the stress hormones with them. With time, the tantrums and cries and fears are less dramatic and resolved faster. The same is true of adults; crying and so on in the warm presence of a safe friend or partner is healing.


At the risk of wearing out my welcome
At the risk of self-discovery
I’ll take every moment
And every minute that you give me
~ from “Every Minute” by Sara Groves

Jesus said to her, “Stop clinging to me…” (John 20:17 NASB)

Oh Orual,

I think I have largely avoided
Your error with Psyche —
How in delusion about love
You tried to mold her
And weld her to yourself
Or at least I am not too slow
To recognize it when I’m doing it

As for your other anguishes,
Bitter longings, spiritual bewilderments,
They resonate — I understand them well.

But today I am thinking about Bardia.

Captain of the troops, married,
Faithfully serving you, his queen;
He said it were a pity you were not a man.

How hungry and thirsty you were
Not so much for his good advice and service
(Although of course you valued those)
But for the warmth and steadfast attention
Of his solid presence.

Campaign after campaign, or at home with
Kingdom concerns piled one on another,
Late nights, keeping him with you.

Until you visited his widow
And she informed you what a shell
You had made of him — what dregs
You sent home to her each day.
She basically said you’d killed him.


And I wonder whether I, too,
Am in danger of devouring those I love —
Whether my hunger and thirst could be so great,
So criminally insatiable —
Whether, taking every moment, every minute given,
I might wring it raw, bleed it dry, and still
Remain unsatisfied…

Whether I might hear, not
“Nothing you do, say, think, or feel
About me or about anything else
Will change my availability and love for you,”
But “Stop clinging to me.”

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