wait reservoir


sometimes feels a four-letter word

‘dirty’ with discipline.



Might it be – an invitation


to be a reservoir

and fill with hope and expectancy




to still one’s breath

and behold a miracle,

as it


wait cactus 1


wait cactus 2

jfig    11/2017




Yesterday was a real blackberry wrangler. The Himalayan variety is considered a noxious weed in Whatcom and Skagit Counties. And they are gnarly; grasping and scratching, and tearing out one’s hair. But after donning my hazmat suit, I kinda like those blackberry days… the gnarly things refuse to be ‘managed.’ Yesterday’s session turned out to be a little like church.

The blackberries spring up in seemingly devastated landscapes – clear cuts, vacant lots, abandoned farmhouses. In our case, they jumpstarted when we thinned the upper canopy; filling in where the undergrowth was traumatized by falling alders and cottonwood giants. In an uncanny way, they have allowed the elder- and salmonberry to flourish as well, and recreate habitat for small creatures. Preserving that habitat was part of our intent, but the blackberry invasion not anything like the method we had imagined.

As I climb and crouch among them, they seem almost desperate to grow, to reach the light. Their crowns are both hidden in the dark, and lurking in plain view. I used to be afraid of desperate people, afraid that something of the trauma that had ravaged their landscapes might rub off on me. But after half a century of trying to grow by cautious and thoughtful management, experiencing desperation myself with just a glimpse of the extent of trauma in our world; I am mostly impressed by their resilience, and in awe of their knowing to seek the light. I could cross-examine the foundations of what that means – to seek the light. But I know who spoke sunlight into being; and that seeking interface is enough to give me hope.

jfig  7/17

the waiting light

The light o’er the ridge


near still, waiting

to ascertain dawn

fully in place.



it cast down both slopes;


on each

still finding their way.


Rivers and streams

pummeled their way


echoing still.

The light did not abandon its care-filled watch.


Ponder the light:

all seems so clear, in the visibility.

Now that it is day. This day…

Did not the stream change its course?

Who would know?


But in the night, that other light

cast its beam on some

yet unknown, unseen

fragile beauty.



for it is difficult

to navigate the terrors of the night

or the cold. It is near impossible

e’en to wait.


Wait in the darkness…are you mad?

Hold, my breath. Hold…and wait

for a prayer to breathe itself.


There is beauty hiding there, holding also its breath;

I am certain of it.

Just as I am certain we would all come to harm

to wander aimless, unguarded in the darkness.

Or racing unhinged… worse still.


Unhinge my fear…

and bring the light.


























tuesday mornings…prayers in the valley of despair

When we are too long in the darkness, it is easy to despair. Despair comes at the loss of self, for one perpetually in the shadow of someone or something else. Despair comes from the persistent, active threat of evil. Despair comes from our own sense of failure to be who or what we had hoped.

  • Jesus, will you come into the broken places of our hearts and minds, the empty reaches from having pursued hope and help until we have nothing left to give.

Psalm 143: 3,4 (1)

My enemy has chased me.

He has knocked me to the ground
and forces me to live in darkness like those in the grave.
I am losing all hope;
I am paralyzed with fear.
  • Jesus, you are a God of compassion, hope and power. Unlock the resources of your love to renew strength in those cast down by fear and hatred.  May those impoverished by the slow trickle of sin’s poison see you afresh today. May their fingers, reach the hem of your garment, and find a handhold there. May they find themselves in the great company of the needy, instead of stranded alone; and may the fellowship of comfort begin today.
As we despair at the threat of death to anyone, may we be reminded by the Psalmist, that death, for those in Christ, is but a shadow. The promise of eternity marks tomorrow.
  • Jesus, you have shared our suffering; the suffering knowledge that we all face death. And you have carried that burden to the cross. Death is no longer final. New life in you is. May we, even in the very presence of our enemies, experience your tender ministrations, the anointing of your regard. Remind us that you are present with us. (Reference Psalm 23)
Finally, empower us to trust, that you who laid the earth’s foundation (Job 38-40), have not forgotten justice. That you have answers, the problems for which we cannot see. That you are everywhere present, and just because we cannot see you in momentary work, it does not mean that you have lost your way.
  • Jesus, in the midst of all that seems tragically wrong, continue your rescue of us, into the peace of knowing who you are.
Footnotes: 1)  “Psalms 143 (New Living Translation).” Blue Letter Bible. Sowing Circle. Web. 9 Feb, 2015. <;.


Some years, our family has been privileged to collaborate in crafting a Christmas carol. As we move from Thanksgiving to Advent, I am thankful for a God , who sees, and knows… Here is this year’s rough copy, based on Isaiah 61. When all the musicians get here, we’ll work out the transitions.


I have come…to find the lost, you lonely

Lend my truth, to light the corners of your mind.

I have come…to help the broke and hurting

Mend your hearts: I offer to you mine.

Let the little children come – the orphaned, lame, forgotten ones

Climb into the reaches of my heart.

Let the weary, burdened see; there’s rest in doing life with me

The blind, the poor – in seeing what I see.


I have come…to loose the chains that hold you.

You’re free to soar, unfettered by a past.

Beauty’s hope, in trade for broken dreams and burned-out ashes,

Joy will rise into a kingdom that will last.

The valleys and the hills made low, an easy path for us to go

Let the echoes ring, of the joy I bring.

I have come.

I have come.


(SPOKEN)   I have come, image of my Father’s glory.

HERE I  AM…  to offer you his love.

I bring strength for your trial, power for your struggle,

The gift of wisdom, and a peace that will not end.


(SING)   Let the children come…

Let the people see…

Let my kingdom come

When you believe.



Midst December’s relentless march into longer.. hours… of darkness…, we introduced a series on hope, with the metaphor of a crevasse  reverberating with the echoes of need and plenty, have and have not, in an effort to find light in the darkness. To somehow bridge the gap.  Here’s a spring perspective, dedicated to Miss t. and fam, for their resilience.

In FEBRUARY of 20__ (who can keep track anymore) I stared at the puddled floor of the Firs Chalet drying room, at my children’s boots. Heavy fans thrummed steadily in some attempt to stir the heavy air, but nothing stirred the moisture-laden boots (and sopping socks) that lay miss-matched and askew in the middle of the entry. We were at the chalet for a homeschool ski retreat, with a variety of families, many of whom had more children than we, and better established plans of training them up than we. These were lovely people, with lovely children. I’m totally serious…l.o.v.e.l.y. I held in one fist, my aspiration to be a good parent and in the other the big question, “How?”   My mesmery (I know it’s not a word, but it should be) was broken by one small voice crying, “Mom, you pick them up…” as a wee body darted past and clumped up the stairs. I’m not sure in what, because I had the boots… I replied in a loud, pained voice, “I am not your servant” And midst the ongoing thrum of the fans, the stillness on the stairs, the as yet unanswered, ‘how’ in my head, I heard the echo, “Oh, yes…you are.” Oh, yes, you are; yes, yes, you are… a servant. It was clear to me, that it was not in the act of picking up boots that my children were responsible for themselves; nor in having exactly the same parenting style or plan as these other successful couples, that I was to serve; but in laying down my expectation of parent, to pick up their need as child. Everything from love that dares to discipline to clean socks to reassurance in the dark falls under serve. Oh, yes…I am

It is finished… A brilliant friend surprised me the other day, by asking me to pray for strength; “strength to make wise decisions; ones that you would encourage in your 14 year-old, like going to bed at a reasonable time instead of staying up late to watch a movie, when you know what will be asked of you tomorrow.” I knew exactly what he meant, because as the years lengthen, I find my capacity thinning (too bad it’s not carried in my…hmm). It occurs to me , that it may not be the capacity in which we serve, so much as our willingness to find it a privilege, whatever the task, that fills our cup for the next effort. Some people seem to naturally overflow with this enthusiasm for service, but not me. I wanted to be SOME.Body; not just anybody. As the years went on, and I became less impressed with myself, and more impressed with what God was working in my kids and in and through other moms, that left-handed fist started to slip its grasp a little. I realized that it was going to be pretty difficult to carry the cross, if my hands were full of, well, ME. Gradually, the cross became a place, not to launch myself from, but a place to drink life from, because every time I let myself die there at Jesus feet, God filled me up with something he could use. Wow! And if I got stuck looking at the crumpled up remnants of the old me, He quietly echoed, “It is finished.

Last Sunday, I got to visit our stunningly beautiful daughter Laura (someone else’s words) for Mom’s weekend @ WSU. The homily at church was about Peter. Poor Peter… who got tangled in the circumstances, like so many of us do, and denied knowing Christ. Well, he outright lied, didn’t he??? After rereading the Gospel accounts (Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22 and John 18), I wonder if there was not an echo of truth in Peter’s words, “I do not know him;’ an echo that we share in the passages of life in which we cannot see Christ. For he did not yet know the Risen Christ. It seems obvious that we deny Christ, if we remain in our sin, with no attempt to move forward into his redemption. But perhaps as believers, it is often not the dying Christ which we deny, but the risen one. I do not know him, in the places where we have not yet allowed the same power that raised Jesus from the dead, to pull us up out of the grave clothes. Voluminous grave clothes, in which we sometimes hide with our failings, our fears, our weakness, instead of allowing Jesus to gently fold them away. What are we afraid of, when it is finished? Peter, who had limited success walking on the water, ran undeterred through it, to get to the Risen Jesus; to see who this was that he did not yet know…And Jesus commissioned that thrice-failed Peter, by the same power that raised him from the dead, to feed sheep. Love me, Peter, and feed my sheep.

The echo of Jesus’ coming, rolled across the hillside from his birth, to his resurrection, commissioning shepherds with a message – an echo from the chambers of God’s heart… may it find a home in yours.

Lest you be snXlowed by Lent, or other seasons of life

Great Aunt Ruth…I call her that because it’s fitting, even though she is officially just, “Aunt Ruth,” by the branching of the family tree. I called her this morning to ask how she was getting along, given that she lives in a retirement community and I hadn’t talked with her in awhile. By some over-inflated sense of my place in the planet, I thought it might cheer her to hear from me…given that she lives in a retirement community, and per her calculation,has most recently celebrated the 5oth anniversary of her 39th birthday. I wanted to make sure she was doing okay, given that she lives in a  retirement community – ALONE – and travels with a walker.

On first try, I missed her. She was out to lunch with her book group, which was attended by the author of their latest read. When she returned my call, she informed me that she had been compelled to be on her best behavior because she disliked the book. Immensely. The chairman of the book group had exacted the behavioral promise days before, given that the author would be in attendance. But I got the full story when she returned my call. The book choice, for this group of octogenarians, was one in which the heroine (there are no main characters for Aunt Ruth) had been a lesbian who had attempted suicide but been kept alive for the birth of an ill-conceived child. Aunt Ruth found the author interesting, and not one to judge prematurely, will now have a  friend at the retirement center save his newspaper so she can read the author’s weekly column. She got right down to that, and the first column featured zombies. I called her because she lives in a retirement center, and I though she might be feeling a little, out of touch….

The next conversational topic was the projected family reunion, which she assures me is on her calendar. (I don’t have the dates yet.)

The third topic was the paring  down of her schedule, which has been hindered by an invitation from the activities director  to join the education board of a summer theatre program. This is not at the retirement center, but for school aged children: “I just could not say, “No.” They have, upon you-know-who’s suggestion, named the program, Gettin’ the Show on the Stage, since the program focuses upon the staging aspects of theatre production.

She has also thinned her schedule by going to inactive status in a parish ministry. (She still gets together twice a month with her most recent client, for lunch or an outing – she just doesn’t do meetings or paperwork anymore.)

Her taxes aren’t in yet…she has about 1.5 hours prep work remaining. She is admittedly dragging her feet due to frustration with current policy.

By this time, I was beginning to feel ‘updated.’ She asked about my children. We voiced concerns over the demands on another family member.

And last but not least, in true Aunt Ruth from, she brought up Lent: “When a friend asked me the other day if I had considered giving something up for Lent, I told her I had given up thinking about, giving up chocolate for Lent. Furthermore, it is working very well.”

With a shared round of laughter to bolster our quiet  ‘I love you’s, we said good-bye. Updated + cheered: Aunt Ruth is more than  ‘okay.’

jlf 2/13