Thursday, July 30, 2009

What the Blue Couch Meant

Barbie and Pine

"Does the poem lead?" she asked me, in the comment box.

I traveled on over to her place and said, "Yes, the poem leads." I told her I needed to trust this truth, even as I was facing my self-assigned task of writing a poem about the living room. I didn't have anything to say about the living room. I didn't. At all.

But, as it turned out, the poem did...


The first time
I entered
this living room,
it was
a dying room.

Evan, propped
on the narrow blue
couch, the life
nearly sucked out
of him, turned

to me and smiled,
lifted a trembling
hand to touch
my warmth, my
life. I did not

know I would
buy this house
a mere year later,
nor that I would
sit under the pine

he planted out back,
rescued from up
the street when
the bulldozing
began. I did not

know what it meant
that moment, my hand
touching his, in
this living dying
room, with its

brick hearth, old
ashes, glass doors
closed against the day.

Maybe you have nothing to say about your living room either. But might you trust the poem to lead? If you do, post by August 6th and let me know about it here in the comment box. Links for all at High Calling Blogs.

Barbie Looks Out at Pine, photo by Sara. Used with permission.

Excerpt of Glynn's words about Stone Crossings: It's like you've been lost in a forest looking for water, holding on to the compass you've owned for years but thinking it's not doing you much good, and then suddenly you stumble into a small clearing with a spring-fed pool. Stone Crossings is that pool. The story she tells is searing, honest and vulnerable. At several points, it brought me to tears... continue reading

High Calling Blogs RAP: Message in a Bottle
Erin’s Stir Constantly Until Well Blended
A Simple Country Girl’s Gather Round
Deb’s Tables are for Eating Too
Prairie Chick’s Kitchen Window
Cindy’s Favorites
ELK’s seven thirty
Suzy’s Infused Memory
Jim’s I’m Really Glad
nAncY’s The Counter
Mom2Six's Heritage and Riding
Claire's Souls Reflection
Sara and Sonia's Going for Ice Cream
Monica's Missing
Liz's Home's Heart
Laura's Kitchen Prayer Alter
Joelle's God on Vacation
Lance's Communion

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Monday, July 27, 2009

The Gift: Rebel in the Museum

Dress 'n Palm

Dress in Art Room


If you don't like to get in trouble, put it on your mental list never to visit an art museum with me. I have this crazy philosophy that art is for our enjoyment and participation. I don't just "ooh" and "aaah" over art; I photograph it (no flash, okay?), get too close for the guard's liking (just looking, not touching), and sometimes talk and laugh loud enough to get a hearty "shhhhhhhh..." in my direction.


It's my humble opinion that many art museums have somehow gotten off track by acting too protective. Maybe they've had some bad incidents. Still, Lewis Hyde's words about scientists who horde their ideas seem like a good parallel. He notes, "The ends of science require coordination." And when scientists forget this, they end up isolating themselves. The result? "Seen from the outside, trade secrets... inhibit the advancement and integration of knowledge. Each trade may be its own community, but there will be no 'community of science'; there may be pockets of expertise, but there will be no mechanism whereby a group mind might emerge, nor a body of theory be drawn together." (p.105, The Gift)

This past week, I was fortunate enough to have my twelve-year-old artist daughter respond to an exhibit she'd seen, by creating the dress sculpture at the top of this post (Yup, photos of exhibit to come. Shhhh, don't tell the guards). Anyway, my daughter was generous enough to let me touch and photograph her work in different settings. What began with her vision and touch continued in mine. I hope she'll keep this rebel generosity long into the future; I'll be sure to show up, laughing and talking, marveling and responding.

chiffon & feathers

Dress Sculpture, by Sara. Used with permission. Chiffon & Feathers Cape in the museum. Used. :) Photos by L.L. Barkat.

High Calling Blogs The Gift: All Our Kin
Laura's Gift of Community

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Gift: Can You Compare?

Weighing Things

Who is worth more? Her or me? You or him?

These kinds of questions are extremely stressful to consider and virtually impossible to answer says Lewis Hyde in The Gift, because "we tend not to assign comparative values to those things to which we are emotionally connected." It is why things with market value must be "detachable or alienable" so they "can be put on the scale and compared."

This reminds me of a poem I once read, from a mother's point of view, in famine time. She's trying to decide which child to give food to. Should it be Sonya who is weak and small, or the eldest boy who has a fighting chance, and so on. Reading that poem was a pivotal experience for me, causing me to make some permanent alterations in my lifestyle, as I considered the role of global forces in the lives of mothers and fathers around the world.

If a gift economy is what enables us to feel deeply connected to others, so that we find it more difficult to assign greater or lesser value to certain people, what does this mean in a world that increasingly functions at the level of "market exchange" rather than "gift exchange"?

I don't have any great answers to that question. But I do have a giving-poem. And it seems I'm still stuck in the kitchen. Which gives me an idea for our next prompt, or series of prompts: let's begin in the kitchen (since that's where I am) and trace our homes in poetry; next week we can choose a different room.

Simply describe the kitchen, or choose a particular item, the way I chose a broom last week and a cup this week. Post your poem by Thursday July 30, for possible feature and definite links at High Calling Blogs. Leave your link here in my comment box.


I am just
a simple cup
on counter
bare scrubbed
scoured of day’s
too sour lemonade,
catsup fingerprints
hints of cream
loss of dreams
in coffee sipped,
dripped past
crumbs ‘til day
is numb with
stars. Pick me
up, sweep into
me the dregs
of play. That’s
what I’m for
when empty

Doll Photo by Sara B. Used with permission.

High Calling Blogs RAP: Emotion's in the Details
LL’s Longing
Sara’s Universe
Jennifer’s Thin Place
Claire’s Boxed Being
Cindy’s In Our Mind’s Eye
Jim’s Hot Summer Night
Milton’s It’s Just the Way My Mind Works
Dave’s The Cold Season
Monica's Leather Bible Cover
Deb's Orange Glow
Lance's Equation

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Taken to Colorado

Stone Crossings by Jen

There are places I've always wanted to visit. Colorado is one of them. The mountains, the wild places, the clear air. In a way, I finally made it...

Thanks, Jennifer for taking me to Colorado.

To let me know I'd been taken, Jennifer left this sweet note in my comment box...

Lovely, L.L.

A bit of you went to Colorado with me last week... I took a photo of my "tent and altar," which includes your book, and posted it on my blog. Thanks for your ministry here and also in Stone Crossings. The questions at the end of the book have prompted me to dig deep.

I read that and was encouraged enough. Then I read the comments on Jennifer's post. Lo and behold, another gift awaited me in HER comment box. This, from A Simple Country Girl...

I first went into that tent one night, standing near the dim light of the stove top. I was just going in for a glimpse. I ended up there for hours. Planned tent-time with a proper light or some time snatched in the night, both will be rewarded with His rest. Her book snags you in, but is woven with The Book that sets you free.

[sigh of author contentment]

Stone Crossings photo by Jennifer.


Friday, July 17, 2009


Gladiator broom

Take me in your hands
hold me tight,
I will dance across
this kitchen floor, brush
away the crumbs, the cares
of day, help you face
the night.

Gladiator broom photo (again! :) by L.L. Barkat.

High Calling Blogs RAP: Sonnet Makes Grown Man Cry
A Simple Country Girl’s Raspberries
Monica’s Dinner Table
Joelle’s The Beginning of the Path to There
Claire’s Wind-Tossed Paper
Laura’s Tumor [for a friend]
Yvette’s A Daily Prayer
Sara's Night
Eric's Image of Man, Image of God
Elk's Dusk Understood
Lance's Every Broken Thing

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Why Do You Write? (tweet, blog...)

Fairy Forest

The path meanders upward, embraced in shadow. A red-winged blackbird lights on the underbrush where pearl-orange berries hang. Further on, red berries dangle too, like liquid glass. Poplars and firs give way to bamboo, and through a gap I see fields of roses, pink and wild. The air carries their scent, even as it moves cattails now full with ivory cotton swelling.

A single cardinal punctuates grass, turns his head to the side, just after the pond. Oh, the pond! Brown fish like blunted chopsticks sit motionless, while powder-blue dragonflies whir and dip. A naked branch, dead to the year, becomes a landing dock. Dragonflies, dragonflies, like blue-powdered leaves, clutter the skeleton branch. And here is a cluster of golden brown mushrooms. Or there. Look! Yellow flowers like banana bunches, and lavender too. Banana flowers. That's what we called them as children.

My girls go before me, biking through time, past creeks and swamps. They like the tunnels, shady and cool. I hear them up ahead, whistling in the dark.


Why do I write this for you? Tell of my Sabbath biking? I write because I suffer.

Suffer? you say. What have cardinals and red berries got to do with suffering?

Lewis Hyde, author of The Gift has an interesting observation about gratitude. It is, he says, what we 'suffer' between the time we receive a gift and the time we pass it along.

So, yes, I write of girls on a path, of wild roses and dark tunnels... because I have suffered gratitude. For these Sabbath gifts. And now I find relief, in passing the gifts to you.

Fairy Forest Painting, by Sara B. Used with permission.

High Calling Blogs The Gift: Generous Elves

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Thursday, July 09, 2009

The Gift: Sometimes You See


Sometimes you give a gift and that's the end of things. Well, the end for you. The gift leaves your hands and you don't know where it travels, what the increase is. But sometimes word gets back... just a small picture of a tiny part of the "increase," and you are heartened. Thank you, Reluctant Homefront, for giving me a glimpse of your experience...

The other day I received a gift in the mail. I had stumbled on a giveaway held on Billy Coffey's blog, and as it turned out, mine was the name picked out of his hat by his children. I was excited to find L.L. Barkat's Stone Crossings in my mailbox only days later, and immediately settled in to read. I'm not sure what I expected when I first cracked the pages, but what I received was certainly beyond my expectations...

read the rest here...

On another note, here's my offering for this week's poetry celebration:


Boxed taped paper
flapped folded fitted
sealed kissed sent felt
burst open
let me

High Calling Blogs The Gift: Hike With Me

High Calling Blogs RAP: Make Me Human
Lorrie’s Tambourine
Monica’s Wedding Gown
Liz’s Gone
Simple Country Girl’s Wild Daisy
Jim’s Take Jonah, many do
Mom2Six’s Cavern
Laura’s Paint
Joelle's Animals Know Better

Stone Crossings photo by The Reluctant Homefront.

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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Speaking of Silence

Old Chest in 'Palace'

Of late, I've been feeling silent. Life has been full— among other things... writing, writing, writing, to finish my second book... and now cleaning up messes before I send it off.

One of the ways I try to achieve synergy in such moments is to use one platform to explore or sustain another. So when I began working on my book's 'Silence' chapter, and I had a speaking engagement on the book of Esther, why naturally I chose to delve into the silence of God.

[if you think you'd enjoy the irony of a talk on Silence, why, have a listen here]

Similarly, in the past few months, I've often used my prayer and devotion blog as a way to pre-write about the various spiritual practices that will show up in God in the Yard.

Sometimes people ask me how I get it all done. Blogging, writing books, home educating, public speaking. It is this kind of synergistic approach that makes things work. Well, and the willingness to sometimes descend into silence.

Old Chest photo, by L.L. Barkat

Bradley's approach to summer blog silence

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Friday, July 03, 2009

Fourth of July (what else?)

Ceiling Like Stars

Last night we went to see fireworks— stunning art that traces the sky, then is gone. Ashes to ashes! But the lights played in my dreams. How to capture the loveliness of such ephemeral beauty? Poems seemed just the thing, but they did not come easily. No matter, I offer them to you anyway, as a response to our prompt and as a gift from my little life.

"Fourth of July"

Would that the night
could preserve this
sight of stars
and stripes, red green
fuschia blue and spirals
too like Goldilock's
curls all strung with fire,
explosions that launch,
piercing our hearts,
bang! Shots in the dark
expire in less than
a beat of forever.

"Storm During Fireworks"

Up go rockets, burst!
Sizzle, sizzle, consummation
in the clouds. Rain has come.

"After Fireworks"

I gather my girls under black
umbrella. Two sparklers at my
side, I slip into the night.

High Calling Blogs RAP: Andrew Kippley is God's Poem
Carole’s poetry: the poor
Carl’s Torching all my Idols
Cindy’s Living Waters
Jennifer’s Ring of Hope
Jennifer’s ode to Andrew Kippley
Andrew Kippley's Through Dying Eyes
A Simple Country Girl’s Wanting Out, To Run Free
Monica’s The New Me
Joye’s Star Outside My Window
Mom2Six’s Poetry
Marcus' Garden in Drought
Yvette’s In Memory of Freedom
Joelle’s Mowing the Labyrinth
Laura’s Rain
Megan's Stubborn Bluebonnet
Emily’s Walk in the Woods
Ann’s Old Love
Milton’s handmade life
Claire's a pair of crutches
Tony York's When Poetry Goes Bad
Suzy's Rain Drops and Finger Prints Upon My Window

Alhambra Ceiling picture, by L.L. Barkat.

NEXT WEEK's PROMPT: Post your offering by Thursday, July 9, for links and possible feature at High Calling Blogs. This idea is from Susan Wooldridge's Poem Crazy. 1. Find an object and name it 2. describe what it looks like 3. ask it to bring you a quality it possesses. For example, I might choose the fireworks from last night and write...

red and blue rain,
bring me your laughter,
tossed again to the wind.

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