A Time for Everything

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1) The frost really did it this time, came and touched the tenacious flowers, made them wilt and nod their heads to say good-bye. It’s hard to see them wither, but now they won’t be needing so much of my attention. A few days ago, I pulled up the dying marigolds that had greeted me all summer long, every time I drove up the driveway. It reminded me of a poem I wrote after a fairly long dead-heading session toward the end of July. I hope it makes my readers smile, just like the marigolds did for me.

To Marigolds Mid-Season

I snap off your frizzled, faded heads

with a subtle crunch

like garden-crisp green beans.

As the last embers of a crackling fire,

your spiky seeds,

brown and black and beige,

splay out into the air

and float away.

Tossing another handful into the breeze,

I wonder where your offspring

will sprout next spring.

You stain my thumb a golden hue,

Line my nails with smudges of musky brown.

Even after washing,

the pungent earthy odor lingers on fingers and palms.

Not a scent

to delight my senses,

but your cheerful yellow spheres

brighten the landscape,

so I forgive you for that.

You are hardy,

and profusely bold,

yet humble with

amber beauty.

I will bargain with you.

If I deadhead your brown crowns,

and deliver water you so savor,

please stay abloom

till your counterpart, the sun,

slowly slips down autumn’s sky.

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To Be “Like One Being Taught”

The other day I came across a note card that a kind and helpful colleague gave me on my first day as a college freshman composition and creative writing teacher. She wrote, “As English teachers we are blessed with unique opportunities to touch our students’ lives – often when we are not even aware of it.” Then she included this verse, “The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught.” (Isaiah 50:4)

This verse holds a paradox, like a coin with two different sides. On one side is the “instructed tongue,” someone who’s been given wise words that will encourage and sustain others. On the other side is a person who is awakened every morning to listen and learn more. Teacher and student at the same time. Most days, I sense myself flipping back and forth between these two roles. And I like that. Even as I’m teaching a student, I am learning. About who they are, their unique learning style, about best ways to communicate a concept. In many of life’s arenas – the workplace, parenting, relationships – maintaining that balance between instructing and listening is absolutely essential.

I’ve been rereading parts of Luci Shaw’s “Breath for the Bones.”  At the end of chapter one, she explains how we are conduits for creativity. “In art and creativity, we make visible to others the beauty and meaning God has first pictured, or introduced, into our imaginations. In that sense we may each think of ourselves as a small extension of the creative mind of God.”  As He wakens us to listen “morning by morning,” we use our “instructed tongue” to help others. What we give is evidence of what we’ve been given and what we do, the result of what God has done in us. This is both humbling and honoring.

Whether it’s with actual words, spoken or written, or the work of our hands, we do have unique opportunities every day to touch others’ lives.  I am grateful to teach as one who is also being taught.

How do you see yourself as an instructor and as a learner as well?

Forget the Past. Do Something New!

Isaiah 43:18 "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new 
thing! Now it springs up. Do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and 
streams in the wasteland."

November is familiar to many writers as national novel writing month, or a poem-a-day month,or NaBloPoMo, blog posting month. I was trying to decide whether to attempt this again and 
was sensing the familiar angst about my writing inconsistency and previous lack of follow 
through. And then I read Isaiah 43:18, "Forget what happened before. Don't dwell on the 
past." (My paraphrase) That helped me make the decision. So I am committing to a new thing. And I look forward to looking forward. 

November isn't typically the month for new beginnings, not like January and New Years Day, 
or April and the start of spring, or September with its new school year. But we are 
beginning a new season, a time for more thankfulness, more giving, and hopefully, more 
contemplation and reflection, a looking inward as we spend more time indoors.

It's hard to narrow this month of writing to a specific focus, though, so my blog entries 
might sometimes be poems, following the prompts of the poem-a-day challenge on the Writers 
Digest Poetic Asides site, or maybe a commentary on the Word a Day entry, or maybe the 
lyrics to or background of a favorite hymn, or even about some new craft or food I make. 

I'd like to be super organized and do something clever, so that every weekday has a specific
topic, but seriously? That extra pressure might take all the fun and spontaneity out of 
writing. The experts say that your blog should have a consistent focus and that you should 
build a platform so readers know what to expect. But irreverent as it sounds, what comes to mind is "don't should on yourself."

My platform right now? Simply to write something new every day. I won't be writing a novel 
this month, or even a poem every day, but I am committing to a blog post at least 5 days a 
week for November. 

The One who is speaking in Isaiah 43:18 is God; He is the one who is doing a new thing. My 
goal is to have eyes to perceive it, to follow the way that He opens up in the desert and todrink from the fresh streams He provides. 

I love these lines from the song, 10,000 Reasons, "The sun comes up; it's a new day dawning. 
It's time to sing your song again."  

Every day is a new day. A new opportunity to sing His song again.