Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve - the Backward Glance

Something old seems new in present circumstances. Do you look back on brokenness? What comes next?

Mary's Ointment

Have I been broken…nothing works.

exposed I try to be good

That was lovely once upon a time

I thought you loved wouldn't

Be safe, but glorious. I never

spitting blood dragging limbs

Dreamed true.

He was smell the myhrr shattered

alabaster. Fool. Spent too much

To tell a dead man scent-gilded hair

she'd mourn. All one: feet or floor,

Puddled perfume mortar won't she

Artist! clean up this

Perfect mosaic of Redemption!

Let me bring the shining shards of ruined

Hopes, of half-made glories

To You whose broken body is my health.

Make me, like You, to show

In glittering tesserae God's grace as I could

Never know or tell

While whole.

Copyright 1996. Kim Anderson. All rights reserved.

Photo of Sonia King's mosaic, "Spinoff".

Seedlings in Stone: Giving Away a Beginning

Seedlings in Stone: Giving Away a Beginning

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Lizard Woman

Well, I'm officially ready for the freak show. The steroids finally got ahead of the burning hands, but now everything that burned is peeling. Aaand the hair is going.

To tell the truth, it does feel like I'm half dead. Nothing tastes right. I'm touching life through a stiff film that flakes off as I bend. Even my eyes fog over like some snake shedding its skin.

"Wilt thou show wonders to the dead? Shall the dead arise and praise thee? Shall thy lovingkindness be declared in the grave? or thy faithfulness in destruction?" Ps 88:10,11.

David thought the answer was "of course not"; he was asking for deliverance. I think that since Jesus' resurrection the answer is actually, "Exactly! Yes." The dead rise to praise Him every day. So will I.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Stories

One of our traditions at Christmas is to tell each other stories, sometimes in person, sometimes in print, sometimes in music or video. We want to savor new aspects of that richest story we enter at Advent. Won't you join us?

An Epiphany

We've never been rich, but we thank God. There really is something about scarcity that sharpens the sensibilities. When it comes to gift-giving times, the desire to be able to gift the ones you love with something of real value is almost a physical ache.

And it brings into clearer focus some of the reasons why Jesus came to us in poverty and lowliness - not only to feel our weaknesses, our miseries, but also to feel that sharp longing to have something to give...

On my birthday near Christmas, three little packages shone bravely from the festive table. The first, urged upon me eagerly by Elizabeth, our eldest, was wrapped in an origami envelope of Byzantine complexity. The shining contents cascaded and clicked sensuously into my hand: a necklace gathered of all the lost and secret bits of the jewelry our sometime princesses have worn in their day. She had even sacrificed a couple of real Venetian glass beads that had been handsome vases in her dollhouse. Together they were a talisman of childhood's delights.

Then Winston, with ingenuous grin and self-deprecating wag of the head, thrust two carefully folded sheets of paper into my hand. "I love you, Mommy!" he breathed. The papers showed a four-year-old's pen and ink jungle inhabited by an ark-full of dinosaur stickers. Just days before, feeling wealthy with the proceeds of her first babysitting job, Elizabeth had bought each of her siblings a small present. These dinosaurs had been Winston's.

With a miserable sigh, Anne pushed her offering closer and handed me another origami envelope. She plopped down next to me, studying my face as I read the careful second grade script, "I didn't have much to work with. Love, Anne". I blinked and swallowed hard. Inside her box was a bird, soaring wings outstretched. It was too large to make a convenient ornament, but its curves whispered, "touch me". Anne alone had seen hidden possibilities in it as it lay in a jumbled garage sale box last summer and had rescued it with her last nickel. Now it wore fairy tale colors and sparkled with a crusting of make-believe gems that would have done credit to the Emperor's nightingale.

Anne glowed like a star next to me, urgent with the hope that I, too, could now see the fabulous beauty in this homely bit of plastic. And those wings arched with a burning radiance, thundering accompaniment to the heartbreaking "Gloria!" blazing from otherwordly throats, the love song of the Bridegroom, argent with the hope that we, His beloved could see our ransom, our resurrection, our Redeemer in a pauper's newborn.

With such gifts, we shall never be poor.

December 1996

All rights reserved.

Kim Anderson

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Advent: Crushed Head, Bruised Heel

Advent invites us to consider - no, to dance - the measure of memory and of longing. Christ has come; Christ is coming. It is not enough merely to think. It might be enough to journey, to wait, to bear the shame to shudder under the angels' song, to labor, to cradle, to wonder. It might be enough to live His coming. Every year He comes into a new place in each of us personally. And He uses the wildest media. The things we discard, disregard, dread.

This year, for me it is illness and humbling. I have cancer. I am not in control. My cells have forgotten their duties. I have forgotten what it means to be human. Judah had forgotten what it meant to be God's people. Surgery at the end of the old Church calendar carved out the deadly flesh that spread still more death. The chemotherapy coincides with the beginning of Advent, the new year of our Lord.

I am looking for Him. Will He "reconcile the violence in my heart"? Will He purge the demons of my past and read, somehow, the longings I have buried under the limping drive to make some kind of a difference to His Kingdom? What kind of new birth can I expect in the stabled darkness?

Surely He will come. Even Time serves Him. I expect to hear the Gloria, to rock the limp weight of new life...something. But I will not settle for a substitute.

Come quickly, Lord Jesus!
Artwork by Kim Anderson. Crushed Head, Bruised Heel. Ink on glass, 1978.


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