🌿If

A Saturday Caesura poem

If we can join together to

stay apart and

stay at home to

keep each other safe and

flatten the curve

a pandemic has thrown at us —

Can we also band together to

stand up and

stay aware that

“safer at home”

is a cruel mocking illusion

for too many people and

we need – we must –

break the cycles

systemic violence has caught us in,

keep everyone safe.

Every day.

🌾 Rumble and Chug

In this prairie place where I live, old farm machinery testifies to the tenacity of generations beyond our ken. Forget regal statues and impressive monuments to mark history. Give us some rusted metal contraptions of various sizes, shapes, and purposes and we can find our roots entwined in there somewhere.

While the massive combines and specialized equipment of modern farming are impressive, what I am most fascinated with is the cockeyed arrangement of gears and chains and wheels and belts that somehow all worked together to make this old threshing machine rumble and chug and separate wheat from chaff.

That this unglamorous, boxy, metallic conglomeration even had a useful function seems unlikely. That its functioning depended completely on the contribution of even the tiniest gear cog speaks to both its ingenious design and its vulnerability.

The metaphors for living in family and community are not lost on me. As ungainly and disparate as our interconnectedness may seem at times, we need each other: a simple truth with all the complexity and intricacy of an old threshing machine. This, too, speaks to ingenious design and vulnerability.

But oh, the grain-like goodness we can thresh, the chaff we can winnow out, when we all cog and sprocket and pulley at the speed and rotation we were individually designed for.

Let’s rumble and chug, shall we?

22. Doxology 2

To the Faithful One who caused the sun to rise…

and shine bone-penetrating afternoon warmth
on friends whose hands cradle cups of hot tea
while conversations steep in grace and hope
and broken-hearts-still-healing drink whole-heartedly
the reminders to faithfully pursue truth and trust…

be all glory and praise, honour and majesty.

Amen.

Reclaiming the Kitchen Table

I just did a search on Pinterest for kitchen tables. No shortage of images here – everything from rustic worn farmhouse tables (totally ‘in’ right now) to elegantly decorated masterpieces (seasonally appropriate, of course) to instructions on how to paint, build, refurbish, or repurpose them as flowerbeds or doormats – well, maybe not those last two, but you know Pinterest – it’s not impossible.

NOT ONE of these images included any people at the tables.  I found that profoundly interesting.

I have recently had two very un-Pinterest-Perfect experiences with kitchen tables.

The first involved a well-used oval oak pedestal table with a veneer top badly in need of refinishing but easily disguised with placemats. There were people at this table – five adults besides myself, empty-nesters realizing that the Freedom 55  thing was never more than an ad gimmick. There was food, too – a potluck-style prime rib dinner. And candles.

The second involved a large rectangular table, quite new, with white cushioned chairs. It was a table worthy of Pinterest for sure, except for the fact that it also had people around it, munching on mozzarella poppers (with or without jalapeño) and pretzel chips- five adults besides myself, ex-teens realizing that the adulting ‘thing’ is actually harder than it looked. No candles.

Other than the food, which is quite common at most tables, there were other things being served at both of these tables: memories and ‘catch-ups,’ laughter and possible puns, comfortable conversations flowing from shared pasts now reclaimed to fortify the present. Interspersed with and undergirding all of the light-hearted camaraderie were the real reasons why these kitchen-table scenarios were beyond Pinterest-worthy of recognition.

At each table, every single person regardless of age, occupation, gender or hair-colour, brought something more: heaping containers of grief and confusion next to the pretzels, various bowls laden with hurt and discouragement surrounding the jar of sour cream for the baked potatoes. This is where the real feasts took place – not to gorge on the bitterness of these dishes, but to come together and season them liberally with honesty and genuine listening and caring and loving and fresh insights and perspectives, so that when we finally step away from the table a sweetness lingers long and deep. That the conversations spill over with tears or overflow into the living rooms only enhances the feast.

May they continue to spill and overflow into our lives – those spaces we literally and figuratively inhabit each day.

May we reclaim our kitchen tables for this kind of open, honest, searching, burden-sharing, praying-caring feasting that nourishes lives that are too often starving for purpose and clarity and hope.

May we sit around our tables and truly see and hear one another above the noise of daily living, the lies of depression and loneliness, the aching of loss and discouragement.

May we unapologetically fill our tables with the messiness of life because we care more about each other than some ideal of perfection; we are doing life together and Pinterest Fail episodes come with the territory.  We’re okay with that.

May our tables become places where grace is lived, extended, and embraced, not just said before a meal.

Let’s reclaim our kitchen tables for conversations that truly matter.