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My new daily spiritual discipline for 2016 is doing lectio divina with my book of Mary Oliver poems; this one is called New and Selected Poems, Volume One, 1992.

I read, meditate, pray and contemplate on one poem or part of a poem in the morning after the kid cloud has evaporated and my two point breakfast has fulfilled its promise .

Three times so far, what I have read that morning has reconstituted later in my day.  I know it could be attributed to the concept of attention; where what you notice changes based on you noticing it.

But it feels is a little strange.

On the day I found six snake skins in the Mississippi cabin, was the day I read “The Forest.”

At the back of the neck

the old skin splits.

The snake shivers

but does not hesitate.

He inches forward.

He begins to bleed through

like satin.

The next weekend, my Mom is texting me about two friend/family members who died, and I go to the wake of a cousin by marriage where my Dad’s first cousins guilt me into planning another family reunion.  (“We’re letting down Louis Joseph’s legacy”, uuggghh, twist twist).   That morning’s no-brainer lectio…  “When Death Comes.”

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life

I was a bride married to amazement.

Yesterday afternoon, playing on the playground, I notice the 8 year old laying face down on the smooshy surface.  He tells me he is sad again about our dog that died 6 months ago.  We resolve to write a letter to God and see if we can pet one of the many dogs cavorting at the nearby dog run.  I don’t remember until this morning, that yesterday’s poem was “Her Grave.”

A dog can never tell you what she knows from

the smells of the world, but you know, watching her, that you know

almost nothing.


This morning’s poem is “Goldenrod.”

they bend as though it was natural and godly to bend,

they rise in a stiff sweetness

in the pure peace of giving

one’s gold away.


Sshhh, don’t tell Jim.



This is a little gross story about my nieces that I forgot about already, but wanted to save here to remind them later…because family.

My brother tells me he was pretending to be asleep one night recently, because he heard his wife hollering at their two daughters and didn’t want to get involved (aka get out of bed).

It was 11pm and the girls had already been in bed for awhile.  The 7 year old got a pocket mirror as a prize at school.  Her mother found her sitting on the toilet looking at her anus (“butthole” is what he said) with the mirror.  Her 5 year old sister was also in the bathroom.  “She was looking too!”  When asked why she was doing this at 11pm; her reply was so sweetly 7 year old Calvin & Hobbesish:  “Because I never saw it before.”

Also writing to those who say boys are grosser than girls. (and my one reader, hi Shokufeh!) It’s not boys, it’s kids.  And this isn’t really gross to me (maybe because of my two), but just funny.

Years ago, I was walking with my friend behind her two young daughters who were running their hands along the wooden rail as we strolled along the boardwalk.  She broke me out of my fond reverie by saying very seriously, “They get worms, you know.”

I want to pull this out of my back pocket when she’s a teenager and says things like she can’t possibly spend her vacation with her family, or how unfair it is to share a bedroom with her sister, or she can’t even wear non-designer jeans, etc.

“Oh, and this from the girl who used to look at her butthole with a pocket mirror.”

So many applications.

I want to be like Denzel Washington’s mom, as he talks about her here.

When I was young and started really making it as an actor, I came and talked to my mother and said, ‘Mom, did you think this was going to happen? I’d be so big and I’ll be able to take care of everybody and I can do this and I can do that.’”

“She said, ‘Boy, stop it right there, stop it right there, stop it right there!” he continued.  “She said, ‘If you only knew how many people been praying for you.’ How many prayer groups she put together, how many prayer talks she gave, how many times she splashed me with holy water to save my sorry behind.”

“She said, ‘Oh, you did it all by yourself,'” recounted Washington.  “‘I’ll tell you what you can do by yourself: Go outside and get a mop and bucket and clean these windows – you can do that by yourself, superstar.’”

Go Lynne Johnson!  Superstar and inspirational mom!  This is family – lifelong unconditional positive regard and support  and then a perspective smack when the culture of this world skews your view around to their shallow, materialistic, shiny space.

So to my nieces, nephews and kids, always know I am here for you for support and perspective!