My Rough Edges

What does it feel like to be alive?
Living, you stand under a waterfall…
It is time pounding at you, time.
Knowing you are alive is watching on every side
your generation’s short time falling away
as fast as rivers drop through air,
and feeling it hit.

I had hopes for my rough edges.
I wanted to use them as a can opener,
to cut myself a hole in the world’s surface, and exit through it.

~Annie Dillard from An American Childhood

I saw a mom take her raincoat off
and give it to her young daughter when
a storm took over the afternoon. My god,
I thought, my whole life I’ve been under her
raincoat thinking it was somehow a marvel
that I never got wet.

~Ada Limón from “The Raincoat”

Mothering is like standing under a waterfall, barely able to breathe, barraged by the firehose of birthing and raising children – so much so fast.  Ideally, nothing rough remains after child rearing — all becomes soft and cushiony, designed to gather in, hold tight, and then reluctantly and necessarily, let go.

All the while a mother does whatever she must to protect her children from also getting soaked in the barrage, knowing one day they will also feel overwhelmed in the storms of life.

Now that my children have grown and flown, I’m well aware my rough edges still can surface, like Godzilla from the primordial swamp, unbidden and unwarranted, ready to cut a hole in the world.  I wish my sharpness gone, smoothed to a fine sheen and finish, sanded down by the relentless flow of the waters of time.

Now from afar, my children polish me even as I try to throw my raincoat over them virtually to keep them from getting wet in inevitable downpours. My reach will never be far enough.

Time pounds away both at me and them. I can feel it ruffing and buffing me every single moment, every drop its own mixed blessing, every drop unique, never to come again.

Hanging Out

clothesline
Continue reading “Hanging Out”

He Sees Us As We Are: Shedding the Fluff


In the morning I take out
most of what I put in last night.

I cross out everything that seems
excessive, every frill and fandango,

anything fluffy—a word that should
never again appear in a poem,

along with blossom and awesome.
Once I have deleted everything

except the title—which now seems
to have been written by a poet

who knows something I don’t,
I delete that as well and turn

the page. All that empty space
is waiting. What will I say?

~Joyce Sutphen “The Art of Revision”

It is shedding season on the farm. Suddenly it feels like everything is being purged, leaving a blank slate, an empty canvas, a wordless page.

Someone who knows something that I don’t is directing all this dropping of the burdensome to make space for the shiny and new.

I wish my own extra insulation could just be brushed out and thrown away like horse and dog hair.  Mine clings to me through cold weather and warm, padding my hips and my middle and a few other spots I’d rather not disclose.  I know I don’t really need all this extra fluff, and I know what I must do to shed it, but somehow knowing and doing are not always in synch.

In fact I hang on to a lot that I don’t need, some of which only makes me more miserable, as it is no longer useful and is downright detrimental.    Some of it is tangible accumulation, in not-just-a-few piles and closets.  Some is not visible but is deeply seeded nevertheless.  The excess hurts to have it pulled out by the roots.

Yes, it is time to revise, start fresh, and figure out what is next.

I have an undercoat that I cling to because it guards my heart,  providing an insulated layer buffering against the chill and sharp edges of life.  I need a good stiff brushing from a strong arm.  The time has come for the coat to blow.  I’ll be smooth and free once again, feeling the breezes right through my skin, all the way to my heart.

I remain fluffy at my peril. It is time to figure out what comes next.

This year’s Lenten theme on Barnstorming:

God sees us as we are,
loves us as we are,
and accepts us as we are.
But by His grace,
He does not leave us where we are.
~Tim Keller

Smoothing Out the Rough Edges

What does it feel like to be alive?
Living, you stand under a waterfall…
It is time pounding at you, time. 
Knowing you are alive is watching on every side 
your generation’s short time falling away 
as fast as rivers drop through air, 
and feeling it hit.
I had hopes for my rough edges. I wanted to use them as a can opener, to cut myself a hole in the world’s surface, and exit through it.
~Annie Dillard from An American Childhood

Mothering can feel like standing under a waterfall barely able to breathe, barraged by the firehose of birthing and raising and loving one’s children, so much so fast.  Few rough edges remain after child rearing — all becomes soft and cushiony, designed to gather in, hold tight, and then reluctantly and necessarily, let go.

I’m well aware, even after my children have grown and flown, my rough edges still manage to surface, like Godzilla from the primordial swamp, unbidden and unwarranted.  I want the sharpness gone, sanded down by the waterfalls of life, and smoothed to a fine finish.

My children continue to polish me, now from afar.  Time pounds away at me.  I can feel it hitting, each and every drop.