Tag Archive | hope


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churr-churr!  he calls to me as I pick up

my morning paper; again he sings to me

in the afternoon as I begin my daily walk;

a twitter of friendship, kinship in this greening

world of spring;


or maybe not—perhaps a simple warning

to keep my distance from the nest he and his lady  

friend have crafted for their soon-to-be

red-bellied young;



or perhaps he doesn’t notice me at all,

just churr-churrs his two-word poem

for the simple joy of being alive, the brilliance

of his red head shining his delight,

inviting me to sing, churr-churr

with him the sparkling of a world drowned

in a sea of colors spinning out the springtime

hope we share;


hope for tiny feathered souls;

hope for secret nestlings brooding midst the darker

secrets of our hearts; hope for children tented

in crowded camps, tweeting needs and fears against

the noise that shrouds the colors of their world,

colors that yet push out through cracks

in concrete walls, push up through all the carnage

of our wars, colors churr-churring hope that springs

insistent, firm, across our sordid, wearied world.


Packing Up Christmas



I pack it all away,

the lights, the ornaments;

the stress, the crèche, the candles—

tuck it all in boxes crammed with

memories—some merry, others

not so very; make room once more for

ordinary days of all that is to come,

waiting now beneath the frozen ground.


The carols, push and stuff them as I may,

refuse the box; insistent grace notes

dangle in the turning year, echo in the

empty crevices of life, hum through days

icicled with worries, pain, or simply green

with far too much–too much of everything

that clings and freezes up our souls.


“God with us,” the carols sing across

our smiles, our salty tears; “God with us”

through all the year until December

reappears to hang our Christmas lights on

hopeful trees to sing yet once again

that promise old but ever new:

God tucked away in a manger,

of all places, to laugh and dance and

weep with us through greens and

yellows of the year, in the bleak

midwinter days, through all the noisy

bluster of our lives; star of wonder

in all our silent nights; our

silent nights holy, our

silent nights not.


Advent Snow


The wind mere angel whisper on this

cold December day; virgin snow

spreads soft across the fallen

acorns and forgotten leaves.

Sparrow cocks her head to listen to

the solemn silence ringing through the

emptiness of trees; Squirrel stands upright

with folded paws, reverent beneath this

white cold falling from the skies; the world

is washed; the snarls of pain are hushed;

hushed, too, the noise of anxious rush to

prove our worthiness to be alive;

stillness blankets shrubs and rocks,

the railing on my deck,

our fears and greed as well.


It will not last. I know.

Gray slush will soon collect

along the streets; grime will

cling again and crawl beneath

our skin, and war and hate will

clang across the world; but in the

quiet of this winter white, I stubborn

light my Advent-candled hope; await

the Child who will one day unfurl this

pristine interlude of peace until it

fills the whole of space, the whole of

time, beyond the reaches of the farthest star.

Ashy Hope


“Remember that you are dust…” my

bones, my muscles—dust? my

sinews, veins—all dust?

“…and to dust you will return”; words that

sting and push me to a charnel space  

dark with endings, loss, and ash; words

intoned incessantly as friends and

strangers kneel to feel the print of

cross upon our brows; feel with

sinners near and far the weight of who we

truly are—fragile, errant souls with

muddied lives, distorted dreams, and now the

black of ashes marking this, our too, too brief



A cheerless mark, this dismal smudge that

signifies my dust; why, then, this

sprig of joy that’s rooting in these

ashes and insists on pushing up?  And

why this quiet hope persistent at the

edges of this gray?  Perhaps it is the

deep that calls to Deep, this real in me,

unmasked, that hears the Real

beyond, the Real who stirs my ashes,

calls my name, and tells me I am

loved in all my ashiness, that I will be made

clean and whole because of one who

scooped up all our dust and from his open

tomb sculpts from our cinders timeless works of

love beyond the ashes of this too, too brief


“Accomplish in us, O God, the work of your salvation.”

A Song in the Philippine Night

purple flower

“My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.  Deep calls to deep at the thunder of your cataracts; all your waves and your billows have gone over me.

By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.”

(Psalm 42: 6-8)


     Like these fallen oak leaves, the shattered bodies of thousands lie this afternoon across the Philippines.   Waves and billows have crushed scores of lives and have shattered the dreams of scores more, so many of whom were already living lives perched on the edge of poverty and all its accompanying woes.  Devastation stretches as far as human eye can see.

      As we watch the pictures tumbling across our screens, we cannot help but ask the ancient questions that have haunted human life from the beginning of time.  Why, God, why?  And how are we to live and pray, and at this festive time of year, how give thanks in the midst of such chaos across the ocean?

     I don’t have the answers.  I can only lament with the psalmist of old and lift these shattered lives to God in prayer, praying as well for all those who will be offering help and sustenance. 

By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.

     But in the midst of my lament, I want also to follow the psalmist’s lead.  I want to listen in this dark, dark night for the song that I trust God continues to sing.  Listen to know that we are not alone.  Listen to be aware, if only dimly, that God is still the God of our lives and continues to command God’s steadfast love for us.

      I went on the internet a short time ago to do just that, to listen.  To hear any sound of hope that might be coming from the piles of rubble strewn across the news.  And there I heard it—the sound of gentle grace notes rising through the rubble.  A young woman by the name of Emily Ortega, after swimming through the waves and billows of Haiyan, reached a haven of safety and gave birth to a healthy baby girl at an emergency airport clinic in the city of Tacloban.  Bea Joy Sagales.  

Bea Joy Sagales!

Truly a song in the night.

Bea Joy Sagales

A small purple flower sturdily blooming in the pile of dead oak leaves.





Dismay!  Not long ago, I opened my blinds to find that my beautiful wind chimes were badly tangled and snarled after a heavy wind in the night.  Four of the seven willowy strands of delicate silver, blue, and white discs were wrapped tightly around each other.  And what had once been such a graceful elegance outside my window was now a knotted clump—at least part of it was.  Several strands still dangled free, but that entangled clump made the whole most unattractive.         

Not that the chimes themselves seemed to mind.  They seemed to have enjoyed, in fact, their boisterous dance, raucously clashing against each other in their wild tango with the wind.  And now, with calmer winds, the free strands continued to tap each other playfully, tinkling, as always, like stars that sing in the dead of night.  They seemed unfazed by the tangled awkwardness of the knotted strands.  In fact, even the knotted strands still tapped the others and sang along as best they could.  

But I was not unfazed.  Because the chimes are suspended high above our deck, quite beyond reach, I knew these lovelies would simply have to hang there, knotted and askew, their elegance and delicate charm now a mere memory.   Always I had greeted these chimes each morning when I opened the blinds.  I would smile at them.  And they would smile back at me, gaily tapping their shy “how-do’s.”   But now the joy of this simple morning ritual was gone, and my greetings became sporadic.  Too disappointing to see their clumped-together-forever knottedness.

Imagine, then, the sharp intake of my breath some days later when I happened to glance up from a book I was reading and look out the window.  My wind chimes were no longer tangled!  Each dainty strand once again dangled free, twisting and twirling in the breeze, happily tapping out gentle melodies with all the other strands.  Apparently a fresh, strong wind of the previous night had mysteriously blown in to undo the work of the earlier wind, and my chimes were restored.  Elegant again.  Free again.  Swaying and sparkling and shimmering in the morning sun again. 

And I had done nothing to bring this about.  It was simply a gift, a beautiful gift from the wind:

  • to remind me of how much of life is not under my control;
  • to remind me of how often gifts of grace blow into my life, surprising me and giving me a simple joy;
  • to remind me to keep my eyes and heart open so as not to miss a single one of these sudden delights. 



Since that happy day of wind-gift, my chimes have, for the most part, dangled freely and cheerfully.  But every now and again, a wind will take a fancy to them and lead them in another wild dance that leaves a couple of the strands wound tightly around each other.  Not as unsightly as the first time when four strands had formed that clumsy cluster, but tangled nonetheless, and always a bit dismaying.  I am learning, however—slowly, to be sure—but learning nonetheless:

  • to accept this reality, this “brokenness” that mirrors so much of life in so many tangled, knotted places in our world; 
  • to wait for yet another wind-gift to undo its earlier mischief;
  • to live in hope–hope not just for the next wind to free the tangles of my chimes, but hope for that one-day Great Wind which promises to untangle all the snarls of our earthly lives and set all of life free.  Fully and finally free—to be all that Creator Wind intended for us to be. 

Today the chimes serenely dangle in the quiet air.  The sing a quiet calm, and I feel blessed.