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

Questions in the Margins: Color Puddles



I’m told there is a color line

in my head.

It’s no surprise, really,

having done most of my growing in one field of wheat.

We were, however, encouraged

to cross the street toward


Truth be known, the backlighting

black, ‘gainst white

highlights the beauty – does it not?

music… work…

the fashion of cloth or phrase

turning my head

toward muddier hues.


At home

where I live

those muddier hues have left

a cloud.

Perhaps I have a color puddle;

Does everyone?


Krista told me

there is a poverty line, too.

I sometimes mistake the two

wrestling in the dark

like Jacob.


Wrestling, with

words like labor

and choice, and… opportunity.

Charity has been struck from my vocabulary

but kindness jaywalks, or at the least,

maps a 2-way shortcut

around the backyard fence.


I never liked them.


What divine kindness, then,

will erase these lines that remain,

without hiding a gene’s grandeur

or penciling a different lie?

My head is hurting with all

the questions.

One could hope

for a small fracture

in the line…












just a quick note…

Little Miss Sweetness climbed aboard the bus to greet a new-old friend, and the dog looked at me pitifully to ask if we could go for a ‘real’ walk. He waited patiently, good man, but his eyes begged. So head to the lake we did.

“Breathe, J, breathe. Breathe in the muffled quiet of the still dawning morn. Breathe in the fact that I, your God, am here. All through the toss-turn night. Keeping watch.”

I had awakened still carrying the angst of an ‘unfulfilled’ yesterday, and the questions of a lingering nightmare: I had to work hard at  the unravelling to determine  if it was real. In the dream, someone accused me of being promiscuous; and the day yesterday was ‘unfulfilled’ not because it didn’t have fellowship, and fun and hope wound through it, but because I refused to rest. And the ‘promiscuous’ became, “Jenny, you are chasing after everyone but me. Here I am.”

Here I am in the pre-dawn wispy splendor of the lake. Here I am in the shishing of the pebbles. Here I am in the burnt orange  color of stone. Here I am in the direction of the neighbors who always have  a cheerful word. Here I am in the laughter of this small child, you call burden…see me. Here I am in the criss-crossed veining of the  stones – stripings that cut through, like sin cut through me. Like my blood runs in a cleansing stream through yesterday’s angst, and loss and sorrow and pain; not just rinsing mostly over the top, but running clean-through till it’s clear. The water of life running through you is clear. Rest in me.”


In his introduction to Hebrews in the Message, Eugene Peterson fronts the book of Hebrews as a caution against too much religiousity, to the loss of clear-visioned faith, faith unclouded by too much mirror-checking. In reading it last night, it was such a relief to be reminded that it’s not about me, or how my performance has generated “likes” or “dislikes” from those around me. It is about Jesus, and that slow, sometimes stumbling hike toward the cross-turned-throne, with my battered crown in hand. I hope it is battered: beaten-up almost beyond recognition, by service to the saints and saints to be; but today…my rest is in Him, and tomorrow’s outcomes lie in his gentle, all-engulfing hands.

One of the admitted challenges of caregiving of near any kind, is that it consumes time; time that one often thinks could be invested efficiently elsewhere. I am reminded that Jesus, though he remained on-call day and night, went away to quiet places, to rest, to be renewed in resolve, to pray. As a caregiver, it feels like grand theft to pluck those moments out of a day, or week, or even month (you know you are there, when dishwashing becomes your haven). I think of all you new-baby moms, living in the twilight zone of sweet baby cheeks, and deprived sleep. Breathe Jesus when and where you may, in the new…that scent that is woven of days-old skin, and hope and promise. And you weary companions to dementia’s slow waltz: hold the gnarled hands, and feel Jesus  engrave thank-yous, and kisses of balm into your grieving heart. And you Gal-Fridays, who run the office, and the homestead, and the wife/helper depts.; hear Jesus say, “I know your secret longings, for love, and adventure, and significance. I know.” Rest in me.

I’m just going to let this one go, and hope that Jesus will keep speaking to you in a way that you can hear and treasure. Selah