Sometimes a Choice

Front row, ground level.

Around me, behind me, above me,

one thousand of my peers

do just what I do:

stand, listen, sing.

On my right,

my left,

two girls in their second year.

Wonders whose smile brightens mine,

whose friendship sometimes I wonder

how I was so blessed to receive.

We’re worshipping,

here under the towering ceiling.

Lead by one man,

one piano.

Music taking us right into the presence of God.

I suppose.

I don’t feel exceptionally worshipful,

I find myself telling God.

Less a prayer and more an observation,

a casual conversation.

But like most conversations,

there’s a voice back,

and I feel my mind pause, steady, as I consider.

It’s sometimes more of a choice.

Because I’ve had scant time to sit, to ponder,

to find myself in awe lately,

and life is a rolling landscape,

I’m scrambling to stay upright,

and yes, there have been few moments to pause,

to feel worshipful.

But there is always a choice.

Because God is always the good and the grace

and the truth and the joy

and the strength

that I’ve known Him to be in my most

peaceful, reverent of moments.

This I know.

So I choose.

And I sing.

And I do worship.

Because it’s all true, what we say,

what we sing.



Life Right Now {#60}


Run along the lake,
Really more of a walk.
Stop by the beach house,
Can’t look away.
At least, not for a little while.


The Jump

Miss Na-ta-lie! My name is three syllables, enunciated long and clear, and he’s said it three times by the time I look over, catch his gaze. I’m sitting on a red playground mushroom- balanced two feet above the springy outdoor flooring. Twenty other six year olds surround me, filling the playground with their playing, their yelling, and their energy.

He’s standing on the playground equipment, feet rooted, knees bent, ready to launch himself onto the monkey bars. Last week, his classmate begged that I help her cross the bars. Her weight on my arm, she melted to a puddle of defeat, and exaggerated helplessness next to me. Temporarily laying aside my insistence that they Practice! Give it a try by yourself! You’re getting better already! I had stepped over to the blue bars, allowed her to wrap lanky legs around my waist as she passed her small hands from one bar to another, all the way across.

This week, she’s next to me here on the ground, taking turns “dunking” with three other boys. They run, jump, slam imaginary basketballs through the raised playground equipment. Sometimes they take turns and sometimes they don’t, little bodies in green and khaki school uniforms colliding, falling together to the sound of my cautionary statements and vague questions as to their welfare.

And above them all, he calls my name, standing there on by the monkey bars.

A scream rings out on the other side of the slide, and I’m temporarily distracted as I watch the other teacher console, then send the injured party on his way once more, tears still streaking down his face as he runs off. Over by the monkey bars, though, he knows he’s lost my attention, and I hear my name once more, over and again.

I have to nod three times, my eyebrows raised in eager anticipation, before he’s sure I’m watching, sure that I won’t glance away in the moment of his glory. I force myself to ignore the screeches around me, the chaotic sounds of twenty children releasing the movement they’ve restrained during their seven-hour school day. I forget them, don’t hear them, tune them out- just for this moment- and I watch him.

He jumps then. Hands outstretched, strong, lean legs launching him into the air. My heart races, in the split second that he dangles in the air, and I barely stop the call of Careful! that lodges in my throat. But then he’s grabbed a bar. The fourth one out, his jump has landed him in the exact middle of the tall blue obstacle.

His hands wrap firmly around the bar, fingernails glowing pink-white with the effort. He hangs there, legs swinging under him still from the force of his movement. He looks over at me, then, and I’m so glad I haven’t looked away, so glad my attention’s not been pulled from him, rushed away to the solution of the dire emergencies that frequently befall the youngest of children.

He looks over, and I like to think that the joy, the accomplishment, the thrill of the jump, that I see in his face is reflected in my own. He’s grinning, open mouth revealing spaces where four teeth should be. He’s happy, his contentment untainted by the bubbling chaos that surrounds us both. I laugh then, a laugh that is happiness in sound form, and nod my approval of his daring feat.

Good job, smart boy! Well done.


Dock Start


There was a time,

August morning,

Parents away.

We crossed the winding asphalt road,

Descended miniature switchbacks

In the dirt,

To the dock.

And they wore pink swimsuits,

Grabbed their life jackets,

Tossed haphazardly on the hot wood.

And I said yes to their bold request,

Then sat in the bow of the docked boat,

Watching them jump,





Not Time

I’ve some thoughts, ideas, things I’m considering.

Stored in my mind, ruminating in the corners of my heart.

Because there’s a lot to see

and a lot to think about

and a lot to tell you

(and a lot to treasure, to remember alone)

about a month at school; one month of my last four

at this downtown concrete haven.

But, it’s been a very, very busy month. It’s been a race of

homework, assignments, obligations and choices.

It’s been fun and challenging and stretching and rather exhausting

and I’m learning- oh, am I learning.

But all these stories and lessons

and those rolling, moving moments

take time to tell.

It takes time to weave together in words

the strands of narratives that I know criss cross across

the pages of my life.

And right now, in this very moment;

in this week, this day, this night,

I don’t quite have the time.

So I’m still here, and I’m still running the steady sprint of a race

that’s been three years in the making and is nearly done.

But for now,

just for now,

the stories remain mine.

Until I’ve time to tell you.

And when I do- don’t worry.

You’ll know.


Another School of New

To the east, behind us, the lake laps easily against the rocks that line the shoreline. Long, powerful waves roll gently up to the huge boulders, sending white foam washing over the lowest rocks. Over and over the waves roll, mimicking the even rhythm of a breath; in and out, over and away, again and again.

To the east, beyond the rocks, the lake gleams wide, dark, immeasurably expansive; an ocean of movement as far as the eye can see. The sky above is dark, amorphous grey clouds revealing a star here, two others over there.

Here, looking west, the lake is at our backs. Over the green rise of manmade peninsula, beyond the manufactured breakwater of rocks, lies the lake. Here, before us, is the pond. Protected from the wind, the wide movement of water with water that creates waves, the pond’s surface ripples- barely- in the September breeze. Tall bushes, scratchy yellow grasses, line the perimeter of the pond; their withering blossoms sway in the same puffs of wind that moved across the water’s surface.

Above, a pine tree with long needs and bunches of fat branches that look like hearts obstructs a full view of the sky. Leaning to one side, then the other, I watch airplanes slowly glide across the velvet sky. There are buildings- classrooms, offices, auditorium- beyond the pond, and their white lights bleed into the night sky, painting the horizon a deep purple. The planes, one wing lit on color, the other, another, stream between the pine branches above me, before disappearing from view in the purple skyline.

Walking to this strip of wonder, through city, residential, and then campus areas, we walked around, through, behind, posses of freshmen. It’s their first weekend, their first days of campus living, and they’ve a schedule of events, games, sessions, to attend.

There are no freshmen out here on the Lakefill, but their silhouettes shadow the windows across the pond. Backlit bodies cross in the windows, revealing snapshot of profiles and not a sliver of the uncertainty, doubt, nerves that feel so intrinsic to freshman year.

Later, as the lights illuminating the soccer field to the north click off, we cross the bridge once more, stepping around the broken asphalt of a campus that’s seen much construction in the past years. Later, we step into a building teeming with faces new to campus, teeming with lives that have changed- are still changing, will continue to change- dramatically in the coming weeks.

Later, we walk through the building. Quickly, but not in a rush. We weave between booths intended to welcome, and yet somehow vaguely overwhelming. We pass a photobooth station, snack tables, long, low seating areas heaped with give aways and grab bags; welcoming students to campus with too much stimulation and a false sense of the frequency of free stuff distribution.

Then, moments after, we’re in the unpredictable shadows of the cloudy moonlight once more, and the sudden hush of leaving the new students behind feels almost eery. And we walk, move, talk, more, stepping north, then south, across campus, but in the quiet moments, as the trees above turn mottled under the cloud-covered moon, I think about the freshmen. Think about the beginning of a four-year education. Think about challenges no one knows are coming, adventures not a soul could predict, for each of them.

And there are 2000 of them, here on this lakeside campus, and they’re starting classes next week, along with the upperclassmen who’ve not yet returned. And when those classes start, when the late nights are no longer by choice, but by dictates of the syllabus, when friendships are weird because people are both complex and broken, I’ll be downtown, speeding haphazardly through my own education.

But I’ll be thinking about them. Because school is big, new, and sometimes overwhelming, but there’s a lot of good, and a lot of growing, and I’m excited for them, nervous for them, cheering for them.


Life Right Now {#59}


She appeared in my open doorway suddenly, and was gone almost before I could process her presence.

Here, she said, setting a container of gum and a miniature card on my desk.

You’re wonderful, she said, disappearing back into the hallway.

And I open the note, still a little mystified, and I read the encouraging, kinds words in her flowing cursive.

And friendship is such a blessed circle, because sometimes I’m the one whispering encouragement, sitting in the back of class, talking about worries, doubts, stress.

But then other times, I’ve a note on my desk and my favorite gum besides, and it’s a wonder how much God provides,

how much He cares.


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