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Back in Ireland

Some days the gray wind wraps itself tight around our house and we wrap ourselves tight in blankets and read books and drink tea and go to bed early. Some days the sun emerges slow and golden for a few hours and we emerge from our shelters to soak it in.

Some days the dear and familiar pull hard at me and there is nothing but a sense of duty and my own feet that hold me here and Ireland feels like a thief who has taken away so much that I loved. Other days the brisk air fills my lungs and the green of everything fills my eyes and I am glad to be here in this strange and wonderful land of narrow winding roads and blooming gorse hedges and soft green hills.

Just over one week has passed since I left the land of frozen white and piercing blue I’d learned to love. Idaho was a good place — a place that grew on me, slowly but with a strength I couldn’t resist. It was a place of belonging, a place of good and honest and dear people, home cooked meals and wholesome conversation around the table, structured school days, delightful and demanding small children, bright and bitter cold, rugged and magnificent mountains, wide flat valleys, and someone I can’t forget.

Worlds change and we start over. Now I drive on the left side of the road and bake and sell things instead of teaching children. There is much to learn yet. We are strangers to one another, this world and I, though not as much as we once were. We are becoming acquainted. A year will give us time to become comfortable friends. Meanwhile, I have far to go and little to build on, but I keep going forward.


Many people write about the contrasts and contradictions of life. It is something we all try to reconcile with.

There is so much pain and failure and loss around us and in us. The world is caught in the cycle of trying and failing and trying again.

An old worn out year and a brand new one merges at midnight. Life is so full of happiness and heartache.

Shouldn’t the world be either all good or all bad? Shouldn’t the good redeem all the bad or the bad pollute all the good? Yet both exist and are at war with one another. The evil is reigning but the good is the quiet Power that will one day break forth; will one day drive all evil away, and good will reign without rival.

But until then, we fight for the good while the evil fights for us. We need to struggle or we die inside and lose to the evil. But the struggle is so hard and we sometimes despair of it. It faces us every day and we must face it as well. We must fight. Even if we are tired and lonely, we must put aside ourselves and throw our energies into the day. It is good for us. It makes us stronger and wiser and kinder and grows our hearts and minds. But while it gives us much, it demands much. And if we retreat and settle for a life that requires little of us, we settle for a life that gives little to us as well. Many people do. You could. I could. But it soon becomes empty and meaningless.

We need the struggle. But when all is struggle, we wear out. We become weary of time and days and routine. To live is to struggle. We struggle with managing our time and concentrating and letting go of what we want so bad and leaving what we love and being intentional and giving when we want someone to give to us and trying again when we’ve failed.

But life is pleasure too. There is so much pleasure in life. Good wholesome pleasure like laughing people and hearty conversation and deep quiet and wild mountains and exercise and new adventures and comfort zones and rewards.

We need both.

It’s the price we pay for a full life and it’s worth it all.

And it was so

I was a babe
and was born into light
as one bound by darkness
is pushed from darkness
into the light,
because darkness cannot live
when God says “Let there be Light.”
And it was so.

I was a youth
and darkness had crept into me
as one who hides in shadow
becomes filled with it.
Then God came to the void —
darkness was over my face—
and He said, “Let there be Light.”
And it was so.

Four Seasons in. . .

. . .Four Places.

Winter: Arizona

Home, where my family lives (or most of them). The desert, where the nights sink cold and the noons rise warm, even in winter. The valley, where the winds lick the dusk and drape the mountains about with white. The winters are bright and barren with only the mountains baring the glory and wildness of the season.

Spring: North Carolina

And I dive into a world of daycare. I am new to everything and everything is new to me, except my sister and cousin. For more than two months I spend my days herding and hugging children, working a few weeks in one section, a day or two in another, and a month in another. I try to learn flexibility. I try to give what I have even though I know I will leave soon. A lot happens inside me and outside me. Spring is lush and green and beautiful. The ocean is calm and blue and heaving. Spring leaves and so do I.


I am getting the best of all the worlds it seems. Ireland has the rich green and warm sun without the wearying heat. The light of day wears long into the night and is beaming through the window long before you wake. Seas and lakes and rivers are all about. I spend 7 weeks reveling in the excessive beauty of this green country. I feel alive.

Fall: Idaho

Last of all (at least until now), I grudgingly leave Ireland to fulfill my duty to a school where I promised 3 months of my precious life away. You catch my enthusiasm. I want to be elsewhere. I am scared. I don’t want to go. Why did I say yes? Pointless. Three months. For what? When I could go back to Ireland. But the family van carries me here, drops me, and leaves again. Two months have gone by. I am baffled and amazed that I am so happy to be here; that what felt so wrong turned out to be better than I could’ve asked for. I may be here only 2 more months, or 3, or 7. I don’t know and it’s ok.

And so it goes

We leave what we love to go where we know nothing. The world turns around and time falls away while each human life goes up and down, at once too full of good and love to comprehend; at another, too empty to feel— always trying to learn what it means to live, always forgetting what we learned, always learning again, and always getting closer. We try new things and overcome fears. We love and lose and love again. We hope and are disappointed and receive something we didn’t want, but find it is far more beautiful. Our hearts break and repair. We give up things we thought we couldn’t do without and do things we never thought we’d do. We react and say things we regret and are surprised by people who forgive. We hold onto things that are not ours and are hurt when they are taken away. People we never met before enter our lives and become part of us. People we’ve taken for granted pass out of our lives and into the distance. We go places we’ve never been before and can’t get them out of our heads afterwards. Other places are beaten paths but hold little appeal. We are born and we die and the small space between we call a lifetime. We run to God when we have no one else and wander off when we have enough without Him and His love chases us down again and again. It is tireless, like the sea. We dizzy ourselves with questions and strategies and still it pursues us till it has overcome us and undone us. We look for one thing and are surprised to find another. We are amazed by things that are too good to be true and devastated by things too horrible to be true. We are startled when pain comes back to back with joy. We plan out our days and weeks and months and years, and are surprised and disoriented when things go differently. (Really, I don’t know why we are not more surprised when things go like expected. There are so many possibilities it is more miraculous when they do.) And so it goes, and so do we—so many of us so preoccupied, so lonely—like islands. We all exist, but we don’t all live. It is a choice we make again and again, all our lives.

Heavily drugged with memories
To ease the pain of leaving
Too ill to sleep
Too sick to stay awake
The chill of the present
Seeps through the thick blanket
Of the past



We are always between.

Between hope and despair.

Between longing and satisfaction.

Between questions and answers.

Between earth and sky.

Between yesterday and tomorrow.

Between one world and another.

Home has become a between place for me.

I have become a between person, going here and there, filling in gaps.

I don’t even keep people up to date on my life anymore. If they want to know they can ask. I won’t tell them I sometimes get tired of answering. I will only joke about how I am uncommitted and shiftless and know they are wondering what is up with me, living such a transient life. One person actually asked the question—did you choose this life because you like traveling or is this just how it happened? It’s just how it happened. I’m glad you asked. But yes, I love traveling. Sometimes I am surprised at where I am. Surprised at how much change and short term and unknown there is in my life. Surprised at how ok I am with it. How much I can love it despite. Because this is not how I planned my life at all. But I think it is better. I was going to find a job I loved and stick to it for a while. I was going to find “my world” and live in it and grow in it. I was going to grow myself some roots in a place. I thought that would be best.


I am doing what I was so afraid of and never wanted to do. I’m going to new places. I’m staying only a few months or a week. I don’t know what I’m doing next sometimes until last minute ( well, last week). At every place I am new and know nothing or very little, whether it’s people or skills.

And it’s good. Really good.

I am in my between place for a week. Then I go to Ireland for six weeks to learn how to work in a store there and to live with people there. And best of all, to be with my sister there.

But I am not like you

I need quiet times

And winter nights.

I need the pain of

Unmet desire

To keep me alive.

I need hard things

And disappointment

To make me see truth.

I need to be alone

With myself at its worst

To teach me peace

And gentleness.

Stopping to think

I’m beginning to write. I don’t know where or how to start. I don’t even necessarily know why I am. 

Just one month ago I was wandering about wondering things like What and Where and Why and How?

But a small shift in the air may cause a whirlwind. 

There are wildly exciting wirlwinds that fill you full and light your eyes and flood your veins and take you into new worlds.

And there are jarring wirlwinds that jerk you here and there in a most uncomely manner and force you into uncomfortable situations that make you feel stupid and then drop you down right back where you started.

That’s how I would describe the last month, if a bit dramatically. 

But just now I am on my home doorstep, halfway between cool shade and hot sun. That’s Arizona for you. I am home for bit but in a few days I’ll be back in NC, continuing the process of becoming less new and in-the-way and more comfortable and helpful in the daycare where my sister works.

But it’s temporary, like everything. And I keep telling myself that’s ok. Because it is. I suppose I could just stay at home and go nowhere. But I am called beyond. So if that means going here and there, never finding home, I will go. I will go back to NC and know that it is only for two months. And then it will change again.

But right now I am tired of change, even though I know it’s not for nothing. I see small reasons even now. I have small piercing realizations that I feel if I could get a hold of would change the way we think; would heal the world. But they slip from me and I reenter the cycle that humans are drug into — work, disappointment, stress, longing, pain, dissatisfaction, hope. Why can we never break it once and for all? Why can’t I? I fight and for a moment think I am free, I have found it. But the whole world runs by it. To be free is to struggle and question and think and still I am not free because as soon as I rest I have lost the battle. And I have been asking myself, how do I win?

But in the quiet dark of a roomful of blanketed heaps of unconscious humans completely at rest; while I sit on the floor listening to soft snores and the steady gentle thump of hands patting babies to sleep, I can almost believe there is a thread of real life left. All is calm. Even these yelling screaming spoiled babies are overcome at last with peace and rest. Maybe this is the answer. It is only a bright piercing realization and I am not able to capture it before, like a shooting star, it is extinguished by the dark. But I have seen it just for a moment. And for the rest of naptime I wonder if that is rest. To love God and others with as much as is in me, to live in peace, to seek God in all things, to know that everything here is temporary, and to ask myself often, what really matters?


The desert dries in the wind and sun. But there is light and warmth beneath the cold and wind and sky. I am tossing, trying not to die.

The fog around my thoughts settles close and clings. I blink. I brush the dusts that gather on my eyes and hold back the heap of questions leaning over me. I am a shadow one time, then a rock. I tiptoe about in moments, squares of time all about me, empty. And I am to fill them. But how? My thoughts grind deep and weary me. The limp afternoon wilts slowly away and I am left wondering, to where? And what was it for? I chase down restless thoughts and hold them fast. I stir my heart and wake my soul and pray. I hold to hope, hold to what I know is true. 

A mountain lies out ahead, and who knows if I will ever climb to sit upon it’s knee. Who knows if I will brave it’s roughened heights to gaze below and understand. Will I be forever left to pace the desert floors and look in longing fear at what I’ll never reach? Is all water a mirage to parched lips? Does all ground fall lower under hungry feet? 

A day a thousand years ago visited today as I walked. The loneliness and strangeness of this place broke my complacity to bits. The air was heavy about my shoulders. Today grows less and less and it is only sleep that waits for me. And thoughts. They never end. But deep inside, sending roots through the maze of my being, there is one whose name is Hope. And to Him I reach my empty hands, and am found. 

Paper thin

Paper thin

It wasn’t sense that let you in,
thou Lover of my Soul.
It isn’t chains that hold you there —
my soul is paper thin.
I’ve fallen hard, I can’t turn back —
there’s none to whom I’d go.
And yet my soul is paper thin
and gathers dust and wind,
But I have found in Him my Life
and must return again —
For on my soul (it’s paper thin)
He’s written I am His