Rainbow Desires

As I was looking across some poetry I had filed away, I came across this poem, written about 3 years ago (3 years already?!). I was reminded again at how much things I have written in the past often mean more to me later than when I wrote them. I needed this tonight.

 

Like rainbow colored playdough in childish hands

Are all our deep desires

Sent from the Father of lights, Father of all

Kindler of all dream fires

 

Left on our own, we shape our dreams

And in our desires delight

Not knowing that what we have done is done

Through unskilled blinded sight

 

We mold and shape with fumbling hands desires

What we think our destiny

Till our Father in love reaches down and whispers

“Child, child, give it to me.”

 

But no, I wail, I cannot; it must be mine, mine!

These desires belong to me

My Father’s hands are inexperienced; he cannot know

How I want it all to be!

 

What if my Father drops my dreams?

What I he waits too long?

What if the colors lose their hue?

And life its rainbow song?

 

Through a rain of tears I look down in my hands

At the feeble dreams I’ve made

And wonder who could better- Creator or created?

Bring glory from rainbow shades?

 

“Delight thyself in the Lord and He will give thee the desires of thine heart.”

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Still a Child

Little baby girl, in the dark night

Deep dark night without any light

Fear of the blackness creeps on the wall

Fear of the night closes in like a shawl

 

The boundless outside, beyond her small world

Presses deep  on her as she lies curled

Helpless she stares, pulled taut at Fear’s touch

The shadows on the wall are too much, too much.

 

She cries and the sound is harsh in the night

She whimpers in the darkness, longing for sight

Then, coming through the darkness is her mother at last

Warm, pulsing presence, understanding what has passed

 

Gulping down sobs, she rests with a sigh

Listening, oh listening, to the sweet lullaby

 

“O Jesus liebt mich

O Jesus liebt mich

O Jesus liebt mich

Die Bibel sagt mir so” *

 

Little baby girl grows up over years

Still scared of the shadows, fighting her fears

Scared of the darkness, the anguish it bears

Hard down upon her and the pain that she shares

 

She cries and the sound is harsh in the night

She whimpers in the darkness, longing for sight

Then coming through the night is her Jesus at last

Warm, pulsing presence, understanding what has passed

 

Gulping down sobs, she rests with a sigh

Listening, oh listening, to the sweet lullaby

 

“O Jesus liebt mich

O Jesus liebt mich

O Jesus liebt mich

Die Bibel sagt mir so.”

 

*”Yes, Jesus loves me

Yes, Jesus loves me

Yes, Jesus loves me

The Bible tells me so.”

 

-October 2012

 

14 Ways…

to know you’ve been living in Thailand for an extended period of time and are home on break. When….

  1. You enter a new bathroom, and you feel around on the outside of the bathroom door for the light switch, forgetting that in America they put light switches inside bathrooms.
  2. You stand in line while going through immigrations at the airport and munch chocolate, then feel bad for not sharing it with the person beside you. But you don’t want to share it because they would think you are weird.
  3. You cringe when people use their foot to motion or perform a task.
  4. You find yourself staring at dark haired people on the street, wondering if by any chance they might be Thai.
  5. You drink water out of the sink, simply enjoying the novelty of doing that again.
  6. You motion people to come with your palm down, and then feel really weird for doing it.
  7. You find yourself sitting on the floor more than on chairs, because it really is more comfortable.
  8. Just opening the fridge and looking into it is an adventure and feast for the eyes.
  9. You feel like a shadow of your old self, coming back to old haunts and realize that the haunts changed. People are fatter, thinner, older, more stooped, happier, sadder…
  10. You can sit down at the table to eat and not have to swat at mosquitoes.
  11. You feel funny when you think about the fact that you can speak another language. Like you just made up that language and no one else knows it. Or that you have some secret power inside of you that really is of no use.
  12. You realize that you actually do like Americans.
  13. You realize that since you live far away, you have become a neutral, “safe” person to others. People tell you things they never would have years ago.
  14. And you can pull off your clothes in one fell swoop instead of having to peel them off in a sweaty, sticky mess.

Airport Reverie

I wonder

If the chameleon ever fears

The melting into another shade,

The switching from brown to green

Fearing it can never reverse the change?

Or if it welcomes the bleeding of color

The concealment from probing eyes?

I wonder….

 

I wonder

If the chameleon ever wonders

If the blending in dulls its senses

And robs a something from its life?

Or if it blithely obeys the commands of instinct

And finds shelter in the safety

Of being same?

I wonder…

 

I wonder

If the chameleon ever tires

Of the constant change of outward identity

And wishes for once to be normal?

Or if it always embraces

The new pigment without restraint

Unthinkingly?

I wonder….

I Spy

My world is on my desk, defined partially

By items that pull spaghetti thoughts to encompass

Not quite the whole of my life, but a three-fourth bowl of it:

Two nails leftover from attaching northern Thai instrument to the wooden wall

Of my new room that is perched atop the wobbly outdoor stairs

That are so slippery in the mornings when I creep down in my stocking feet;

Acer Service receipt from my Alpha Switch 12 that died in its sleep

But arose again Lazurus-like under warranty covered repair.

Playdough that helps spaghetti brain concentrate in composition class,

And 3 empty envelopes that were intended for repaying friends for bills

Incurred in the moving into said new room.

Note and a card from two kindred spirits living in the same house,

And hot chocolate from a friend who left the tropics of Thailand for the snows of Minnesota.

Scrap of paper with a half-finished poem about hunger,

Which reminds me of the half-finished coffee with milk on my desk that the ants have found,

Which makes me wonder if ants on a coffee high can sleep at night.

A glass bottle from short lovable friend with contagious laugh who teaches K2 students,

Passport that enables me to go home in a few days (which makes me wonder

If they remembered to trim the hooves of the donkey with the long ears that waits at home),

And “to-do” list of things to do before I go.

Tablet full of college notes from friend that says on the front, “Say ‘yes’ to new adventures,”

The electric bill that needs to be paid by the 30th and I wonder if the new Seven Eleven people

Are as friendly as the ones at our old house.

White phone with the Thai number 9 on the back to represent the late King of Thailand,

Sticky note with new password for gmail, Kindle with leather cover, and 4 pens,

Easy to read version of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” which I used to teach English to little Thai boy with the laughing eyes,

Who liked to use Donald Trump as his subject when making up sentences for practice.

Journal to my future husband who hasn’t shown up yet to read it,

A plaque from a friend who moved to Malaysia that reminds my soul to be still, instead of constantly tracing spaghetti;

A hammer for problems that need hammers, duct tape for something I cannot remember,

Cheap sunglasses from the SanPathong market man on the day we went to see the buffalo and cows,

And Breaking Free, a book I should return to the church library after having it for 3 years;

A Thai Bible that I still stumble through as I read, in the rare times I read it,

A book called “How to Study in College” that hasn’t been read because I am too busy studying,

Article by Toshi Yamamoto at his presentation at Payap, which helped restore my hope for modern Christians,

And a cup from Pong Horse Park that previously held green tea, (and I wonder if they got my message about tomorrow).

A receipt of money withdrawal, a candle that has been lit only once or twice,

And finally a tiny glass ball with dandelion fluff to remind us to follow our dreams. I lift it high.

Watch it spin in the air.

And wonder.

 

 

Picture credit: Pixabay

 

Matthew 5 Rewritten (NTV)*

It seems to me like the Bible ought to be rewritten. It’s outdated isn’t it? Because it certainly seems as if many Christians are ahead of the Bible in their religious beliefs.

Especially the sermon on the mount. I mean, come on, who believes that anymore?

Because we are becoming so passionate in living out our religious beliefs, I hold that especially Matthew chapter 5 should be rewritten to reflect our passion.  Especially after the latest marches and protests in Poland. We are on fire! We want God!

Here is a new version of what it should look like.

“Blessed are the those who glory in themselves and love a famous name, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who rejoice in the death of our enemies for they shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are those who are proud and patriotic, for they shall inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who seek revenge with lawsuits when attacked, for they shall be comforted with millions in settlements.

“Blessed are those who hunger and seek for a country of pure Aryan blood, for they shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are those who desire the purity of a white Christian nation, for they shall see God.

“Blessed are those who riot and march and slander others, for they shall be called the true sons of God.

“Blessed are those who persecute other religions and cultures for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when you revile others who are threats to our country and our way of life and call for a Holocaust on them and utter all manner of evil against them on the account of God! For it is true that they are the essence of evil. Rejoice and be glad for your reward is great here on earth for so did they do to those who were before you.

“….If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, give him an uppercut in the left and let him meet with fire and fury!

“…you have heard it said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say unto you, hate both your enemy and your neighbor.

As you can see, this is sarcasm. This thing sickens me, this perverting of the name of God to further political agenda. There is nothing more detrimental to the true kingdom of God, which is not of this world, than the twisting of the holy name of God to further agendas that are far, far from the heart of God. Whatever you do, whatever kind of evil you perpetrate, don’t drag God’s name into this!!

Dear God, help me forgive!

*New Twisted Version

The Language of Silence

There is no voice that touches my heart

As much as no voice at all

The silence of sky on mountain peak

The whisper of snowflakes, winter wind’s call

 

So many times have I stood on a street

Lost in the teeming mobs of man

When the depths of my soul are muffled and mute

Breathless for the silence of a far off land

 

Where silence is the language everyone speaks

Where it rises like mists from mountain sod

Where it cloaks me with peace; while I sit and cry

Because silence for me is the voice of God.

 

-October 29, 2017

photo credit: pixabay

The Way We Walk

I like going to the park. The sunlight there filters through giant aged trees, and the grass grows and gives a nostalgic smell after it’s been cut, and there’s room to move and swing your arms and breathe in, and in, and further in the scent of nature. I like going on Sunday nights so I can talk with the old missionary who comes every Sunday night to pass out tracts and talk to the people walking in the park.

But most of all, when I go, I like watching people run and walk. Some people walk slowly, swinging their arms while relaxing. Others walk with purpose and a marching stride. Others run. One man raises his fists above his head as he jogs, punching the air as if he were fighting off imaginary barriers. One woman runs lifting her feet high off the ground and her knees jabbing the air, like a Dutch Harness horse cut loose from the shafts. One large man lumbers along like a bulldozer, each step forward a slight victory, while others seem to float along. My favorite person to watch is a slightly built man who looks like he could be an immigrant from neighboring Myanmar. He does not run; he skims above the sidewalk, with his feet merely tapping the earth in a rhythmic tattoo, circling the park uncountable times.

But the man I admire the most is not one who runs effortlessly. This man is tall, rather heavily built, and only walks. His walk is the strangest gait I have ever seen, with his knees twisting back and forth as he goes, almost grotesquely. Each step is almost painful, an effort of concentration. He does not look around to catch the stares of the onlookers, but he looks ahead and focuses on the path before him. I watched him as I walked, and I wondered.

I wondered what his motivation was to walk those laps around the park, when he could have more excuses than anyone else not to walk. I wondered if he ever thought that since he couldn’t run, he shouldn’t even try to walk. I wondered if the stares of the people ever bothered him, or if he ever thought bitterly to himself that no one understood what his life was like. But most of all, I wondered if I could walk like him.

Because I feel like him. My walk, my spiritual life, is not a smooth effortless skimming along, powerful in faith, a woman of prayer and wisdom. My walk is not even a steady moving along, strong and slow, like a bulldozer, or one of courage while fighting the unseen elements. My walk is a slow, crippled one, riddled with doubts and questions, tossed back and forth by waves of a hundred voices shouting in the world and the underlying question: is God’s love really big enough to encompass the whole world?

My walk is not one of resounding victory and hallelujahs. The easy trite answer spurs me to cynicism, and the smallest word can send a knife of doubt through my heart. The questions that come at me I don’t know how to answer, especially those of friends who are hurting or angry.

What if I could walk the way the man does in the park, no matter what happens and no matter what others say and no matter how crippled I am? What if a walk like that could be a testimony of God’s grace? What if there really is beauty in the struggle, even if I am not seeing it right now? What if in the brokenness, in our inability to walk gracefully, God hears a hallelujah even when our mouths cannot utter it?

The lyrics from this song written by Twila Paris keep on coming to me again and again.

“Lately I’ve been winning
Battles left and right
But even winners can get
Wounded in the fight
People say that I’m amazing
Strong beyond my years
But they don’t see inside of me
I’m hiding all the tears

They don’t know that
I go running home when I fall down
They don’t know Who picks me
Up when no one is around
I drop my sword and cry for just a while
‘Cause deep inside this armor
The warrior is a child”
(Paris, 1984)

 

There really is a Father standing there, reaching out for us when we finally let those tears fall.

 

Works Cited:

Paris,Twila, “The Warrior is a Child.” 1984. http://www.lyricsfreak.com/t/twila+paris/the+warrior+is+a+child_20347634.html. Accessed: 5 October 2017

Roads Go Ever On and On

Sometimes life takes the strangest twists and curves.

Five years ago, I would never have dreamed of doing what I am doing now. Even a year ago it seemed impossible.

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College.

After spending close to three years as a volunteer teacher here in Thailand, I realized how important it was for me to finally get my degree if I wanted to be here long term.

About 8 weeks ago, I walked up those 4 flights of steps to room 417 for freshman orientation at Payap University, Chiang Mai, Thailand. Those 4 flights of steps took what felt like ages on legs made of jelly.

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Outside I may have looked confident. Inside, far from it. But it’s been a good, good 8 weeks. I’ve been stretched and challenged in more ways than one. I’ve made new friends, learned new things and gone new places. It has made me dig deeper into the foundations of why I believe what I believe. Studying in these classes feels like sinking my teeth into a juicy sub-sandwich after not eating for two days. I know that the time will come when I’ll be sick and tired of homework, but while that enjoyment lasts, I plan to soak it up as much as I can.

It’s not been easy, this college thing. You are challenged. You are usually the strange one out. You are stretched. You meet people who do not always handle situations in a quiet firm manner. For a sensitive, relatively sheltered Kansas girl, this isn’t always easy.

Yet, I have been blessed with learning to know understanding people, helpful professors, and many new friends.

I’ve become friends with people I never thought I would be friends with: the friendly Thai girl I met the first day, the quiet introvert who loves to draw cartoons, the middle-aged Japanese lady in my department, the silent loyal IT student, who after I struck up a conversation with once, always greets me, the shy Kachin student from Burma, and many, many others. In the international program at Payap, there are over 30 different nationalities represented. I study with people from Japan, India, Vietnam, Burma, Thailand, Germany, China and more. We become friends despite cultural and religious differences. I am grateful for their acceptance.

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Above: enjoying ice cream together after a school outing one evening.  The friend taking the picture does not study at Payap, but was along for the fun.

Sometimes I feel an awe when I see the hand of God moving in my life, bringing me from place to place. Sometimes I feel scared. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed at some of the opportunities and responsibilities He gives me. Sometimes I shy away from facing some of the deep questions that arise in my heart that need to be answered. Sometimes I am unsure about what to do about the desires that pull and stir deep inside.

But this I know. I am glad that God has brought me to this place in my life. Very glad.

Song of the Outdoors

And I must go down to the river again,

Where the Ninnescah weaves its way

Like a silver band through the lonely land

And I’ll hear what it has to say;

Then we’ll stand on the bridge (my horse and I)

Gaze into the waters below

And listen to the song that is ever so long

That grips me and never lets go.

 

And I must go down to the bottoms again

And find myself once more

In the rolling plains with its sweeping strains

That sing to my inmost core;

Then we’ll ride to the hill (my horse and I)

And listen to the gypsy wind

That plays its cry to notes in the sky

And clings to something within.

 

And I must go down to the creek again

With its secret glens and glades

Where the sunlight hints with dappled glints

Of light beyond the leafy shades;

Then we’ll ride through the prairies (my horse and I)

Through the whispering grass that sings

To the muffled beat of my horse’s feet

The song that within my heart rings.

 

-written by Lori Hershberger, October 2010

 

First published in Echoes of Eternity in 2013, this is one of my favorite poems.  To order a copy of this book, click on the title.