COMMON GROUND

By Lisa Huddleston

Look!

Listen!

Have ears that are open

Have eyes that can see

The signs of the times

And the voices from our pasts

Are all around

 

Ancestors

Our very own

whom Mr. Trump would trump

whom Mr. Bannon would ban

Immigrants, slaves, and disenfranchised

Oppressors and oppressed

Our very own

Call and are calling to us from their graves

 

Remember the wars of the past

Of the present

The ways your people our people all people

Died and are dying for being in the wrong skin at the wrong time

 

Do you hear them

Can you see their faces

In the bleeding cities

In the mirror

From potato fields and

killing fields

From long journeys and

Trails of tears

How can we turn away from

Turn our backs on

Turn our faces from

Those who cry today

For help

For love

For justice

 

The signs of the times

Of all times

Of what has been and will be again

If it must be–let it not be

These signs are all around

 

With clear eyes and unstopped ears

Listen!

Look!

 

And act to stop the unstoppable

EVERY DAY IS A GIFT

By Lisa Huddleston

My favorite gifts!

My favorite gifts of 2016!

It’s been said that every day is a gift. And I do believe that’s true. But did you ever get a gift that didn’t fit or that you simply didn’t want? You’re sitting in the family circle around the tree and the youngest cousin is handing out the presents and you’re watching each present being opened and the receivers are smiling and thanking the givers and all you can think is, “Why the heck did I get this?” Of course, you paste on a smile and say thank you like all the others in the circle do, but inside you hurt a little. How can your own people not know you any better than to give you this? Do they really see you this way?

And then, of course, you wonder how many of your specially chosen gifts have been received with the same internal consternation. Did everyone like the gifts you gave them? Did they feel as though you did or did not know them? Ugh.

Gift-giving is hard. Gift-receiving can be even harder.

The past few weeks have been full of difficult days. Yes, they have been gifts, and I have received them, and there have been many I would have returned had they come with a receipt, but that’s not the way life works. We get the days chosen for us, and we learn to live with them. We find a place on a shelf or a table where they kind of work into the décor, and we manage to squeeze them into the tableaux of our lives.

Yesterday was a hard one to find an appropriate place for, but it will come to me eventually, and someday it will look just right on that shelf. Just not today.

This is the day that the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it [even if we can’t be glad with it]. (Psalm 118:24)

 

 

SILENT NIGHT, HOLY NIGHT

By Lisa Huddleston

She sits one row ahead of me in the darkened Christmas Eve service
I notice how happily she points out two rows of visiting family when the pastor stops to exchange greetings
He kindly gives the required response, smiles, and moves on to shake another hand
She sits tall in her chair, graying curls cut close to her happy glowing face
Pride fills her eyes and her heart and she can’t seem to stop touching her grown daughters
A hug here, a gentle scratch there
She is so glad to be able to hold her granddaughter for as long as the little girl allows
All too soon the candles are blown out and the sweet gathering comes to an end
It is a holy night and I know this mother one row ahead will treasure it always in her heart

A POTHOLE IN THE ROAD

images-3By Lisa Huddleston

Yeah, I had that happen to me only it was much worse, because I was all alone. You’re so lucky to have help.

You just need to make yourself get out of the house more often.

Have you been going to yoga? You know, exercise makes you feel much better.

I read this great book all about how depression is a spiritual problem. I can loan you a copy.

If you suffer from clinical depression, chances are you have heard many statements like those above. People equate depression with laziness or sadness or lack of willpower. Depression is much more than that—it takes the energy from your life. You can’t read, you can’t create, you can’t clean, you can’t get ready to go out, you can’t carry on conversations, and sometimes you can’t even sleep. It isn’t situational, and there is little that a depressed person can do about it other than to depend upon mental health professionals and wait it out. But the waiting can feel impossible at times.

I called my doctor’s office the other evening, because the waiting had become just that. Because I have drug resistant depression very little has helped me when the dips in the road swallow me whole and without warning. I can’t help thinking about the “easy” ways out. (Again, that’s what peoppotholele call it.) So this time I called. And now my husband is home for the next couple of weeks at my doctor’s recommendation watching me and handling my medications and worrying about letting me out of his sight for too long. He knows I am smart and stubborn. I am sad for him and for me. I don’t like seeing him as my keeper or my adversary. I don’t like being treated as a child who cannot control her own medical care.

In January, hopefully as soon as possible, I will begin Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. My doc says it’s the gold standard, and he has seen great recoveries in other drug resistant patients.

Until then I’m stuck waiting and listening to well-meaning advice and faking it when I can. What do I want to hear from friends and family?

I’m really sorry you are feeling so rotten.

 Is there anything I can do to help?

 Sometimes just breathing is a good day.

CHRISTMAS LIGHTS

By Lisa Huddleston

When I was a little girl I believed in the magic of Christmas. I believed the red light on the neighbor’s porch really was Rudolph’s nose. I believed that Santa really did know if I were naughty or nice and that he rewarded my behavior accordingly.

I took delight in the once a year showings of Charlie Brown and The Grinch and Rudolph and Frosty the Snowman. I wouldn’t miss them for anything! I loved lying on the carpeted floor in the dark in front of the tv cabinet eating popcorn and basking in the multi-colored glow of the real Christmas tree.

images

The church pageant on Christmas Eve was always the same but that only served to make it just right. The angels and shepherds and Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus, the brown paper bag with bon bons, nuts, and oranges that each of us kids received at the end of the service, and our handheld candles lighting the small sanctuary with mystery and expectation as we headed out into the cold Michigan night.

unknown

My grandmother sent a cardboard box full of Christmas cookies to our house every year—again always perfectly the same. Sour cream animal cut-outs with pastel icing and lebkuchen and pfeffernusse and springerle. Hopefully a visit from Gangi and Papaw, too, and my sisters and I loved jumping into their bed in the morning to wake them up and giggle together.

springerle

springerle

On Christmas morning the presents around the tree covered the entire floor of the room. I think I always got everything I’d asked for: Chatty Cathy, Nancy Drew books, new pajamas (always opened on Christmas Eve), clothes, bicycle, and more. My mother was a generous Santa Claus to say the least. Now I know how hard she worked to make that happen.

I was pretty young when I realized Santa was a myth. I remember asking my dad to confirm what I was almost confident of including the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy for good measure. Dad, ever painfully honest with me when I asked a question, told me the truth, but added that did not include Jesus and God. I thought “duh” since I had not included them in my list anyway, but I’m glad Dad tried there. He was not a religious man, and I remain impressed by his effort. I was angry with my parents for a time. I felt lied to and betrayed, but I got over it.

I swore not to handle Santa the same way with my children one day, but I did it anyway. They were not as angry with me when they discovered the truth, but I felt terrible.

Although a lot of the magic is gone and I struggle during this time of year, I continue to love the beautiful lights of the season. They add a magical glow to the ordinary spaces of life, and winter’s darkness really benefits from them. Lights shine brighter in the dark.

I wonder if the magic will still be there waiting for me when children are once again in our Christmas. Maybe their belief and wonder at it all will stir the embers of my soul and let the light shine in the darkness once again. Thankfully their parents will have to decide about Santa, but I will comply as always.

images-2

Until then I am thankful for the joy that remains–both present, in my memories, and on into the future. Sparkling lights, opportunities to let people know you love them, and as Dad reminded me, the true story our myths celebrate, Immanuel, God With Us.

I pray you’ll have a merry, magical Christmas and keep your eyes open to the lights in the dark: Rudoph’s nose, twinkling trees, and a star of wonder in the winter sky.

MNI WICONI

By Lisa Huddleston

 

In a world where dead toddlers wash onto uncaring shores

Where men brag about their power to take a woman’s body

unknownWhere unborn children are discarded as so much refuse

And treaties mean nothing when oil is the goal

 

Why does road kill still make me cry?

 

Stiff possums and skunks and misplaced cats and dogs

Once fluffy and soft but now dirtied by death and hard

Buzzards feast and flop away when my car drives near

No road kill in their kind

They are the eaters, the takers, the clumsy clearer-away-ers

 

The woods are raped of ancient trees

The fields are bush-hogged and rolled

Subdivisions are named Rolling Hills or Deer Trace

But all that is left is just a trace

 

unknown-1And now we fight the black snake

Striving to keep it in the ground

To protect the great waters of the river

“Water is Life” for today as well as for tomorrow

 

Oil can’t be drunk

Oil can’t be eaten

Oil can’t make the grasses or the vegetables grow

But oil can kill the water

 

dakota_access_pipeline_protest_standing_rock_siouxEverything once had its place, and it was very good

Fish in the rivers

Deer in the woods

Buffalo on the plains

Snakes in the grass and under the ground

 

And the road kill multiplies as we do

Feeding the vultures of the world

Coaxing the water of life from my eyes

To let me know I am not numb

I am not dead

Water is Life

 

 

 

WATCHING AND WAITING

By Lisa Huddleston

Some days feel exceptionally raw as though you are being forced to walk around on sharp, pointy gravel in your bare feet. It hurts, so you have to walk gingerly pretending you are lighter than you are and are in no hurry to get where you are going.

Fall days are (sometimes) like that. The sun is over bright, and the colors hurt your eyes. If you are driving down a wood-lined road there is a good chance you’ll get a migraine before you’re even halfway to your destination. If you are riding in the passenger seat, you can close your eyes and cover them with your hands to block out the light. That can be a good thing.

Today I am definitely in the passenger seat, but I cannot block the flashing light. I am doing my best. I have watered the mums and other beautiful fall flowers. I have turned on the sweet sounding waterfall in the birdbath. I have opened all three doors between the screened-in porch and the inner sanctum of the house. And it is an absolutely wonderful day. Golden-lit, water-splashing, wind-chiming, dog-snoring, perfectly-perfect day. And I am trying to feel it all. To cover my overly sensitive eyes with creation beauty and to prevent the spiritual migraine I sense hovering in the waving periphery.deer-master1050

But last night while driving home in the dark my eyes were peeled. Deer with death wishes stood just outside of my headlights’ glare. They probably didn’t really want to die, but they just didn’t understand how fast and heavy my Outback was. I had to drive very carefully on the roads home. It would kill me to kill one. Death wishes all around.

Just last week, Chuck stood at my bedside in the early morning dark and said, “Lisa, I need to tell you something.” My heart jumped to just one million conclusions before he said, “I hit a deer by Miss Millie’s house. My airbag went off, and I came back home. Should I go back and look for the deer? He actually got up and walked away. He was huge! I hate that I hit him.”

I told him no. I held his head against my chest. I felt his deep sorrow and fear over his close call. But I knew we’d never find that deer and that there was nothing we could do if we did.

For the past week we’ve both seen deer everywhere we go. Dead ones lying on the sides of roads. Live ones standing at the edges of woods anxious to leap into traffic. Worst of all, deer you never see until you hear the thud and feel the bag against your chest.

Chuck said he thought about shrapnel from the bag. Was his one of those? Had the metal pierced him, and he was too shocked to feel it? Thank God it was just a thought. But the deer was real. At least a six-pointer. Beautiful and wounded. He probably died alone in the woods.

And so we keep our eyes peeled, knowing all along that another one is coming and knowing just as well that there’s nothing we can do about it. Raw, tender, we keep tip-toeing down the gravel road of life.