Mom’s poem this month is too good to miss, even if I’ve left it for the last day of the month. The poem grows from the image of “spring leaves in rain.” So I’ll surround it with photos of life outside our Iowa windows on this rainy spring day.
they might feel after him,…
and find him,…
though he be not far from every one of us.”
—Acts 17:27 (KJV)
SPRING LEAVES IN RAIN
(Acts 17:27 KJV, Prov. 11:28 NLT)
Spring leaves in rain nourish me—
More skin than paper
They hang in soft folds
Of translucent baby green—
The colour of hope,
Draped like a lady’s delicate fan
From the old maple’s branches
Waiting to catch the breeze.
Pulsing with the potential
Of butterfly wings emerging
Flawless and limp
The doeskin softness fits with ease,
An almost transparent glove
Over my hand.
I trace the flow of life:
Through yellow-green veins
From stiff stem to tender leaf tips,
Through sturdy midrib lanes
To fragile feathering netted threads,
To waiting capillaries in weathered skin
To the deep veins feeding my hungry heart,
Blending with my warm blood life-red
To visit every cell that craves a reason to live.
Spring leaves in rain comfort me—
The softness is something I can grow into—
The feel of hope,
A kid-leather glove
Hiding my scarred skin
With a layer as vulnerable as love.
I would hold life as a pale young leaf,
As tender and unguarded,
As knowing as they are, as free of grief—
Fearing neither tear nor fall,
Knowing next year’s leaf already waits—
Winter bud of determination,
The Creator’s caring provision
For life’s scars and seasons.
I too can survive and reappear
Soft as a baby’s cheek,
Demanding no reasons;
Feeling after Him,
And finding Him, not far away, but near;
Tracing the abiding flow of life-sap—
The Sonshine in my veins—
From source to need,
As godly as a growing leaf.
—Elaine Gingrich, June 10, 2013/ February 2015
“The godly flourish…
like leaves in spring.”
—Proverbs 11:28 (NLT)
For the rest of the poems in this monthly series, see here.
Today is Family Day in several Canadian provinces, including my home province of Ontario. On this day I’m sharing two poems from Mom, both expressions of a mother’s love for her family.
Mom initially planned to share one poem this month. Then her prose introduction evolved into a free verse poem in its own right! So I’ll post both poems, in the order in which they were written.
Both poems are written in a parent’s voice, a reflective voice that longs to trust God as children grow up and leave home. Letting go of children often isn’t easy, perhaps especially for mothers. Our oldest is only seven, so we don’t expect our children to leave our nest any time soon. But already we have moments of letting go.
Last spring my wife had one of those moments. While wading at a nearby park, our daughters suddenly decided that they wanted to walk—by themselves—out to the end of the dock. Zonya’s heart skipped a beat; our daughters don’t know how to swim. But Zonya knew what she must do. She told the two oldest to hold hands and walk carefully. Then she let them walk—by themselves—all the way out to the end of the dock…
and return safely to shore. Mission accomplished!
Then our littlest, only two and a half years old, wanted to copy her big sisters! My wife compromised: She walked with her out to the end of the dock—or almost to the end. Just before the end, their hands released. Our littlest took a few steps further on her own, turned, and walked back to her mother. She was so pleased! And as Zonya told me the story, I was proud of my wife!
Here are Mom’s poems. Enjoy!
GOD BLESS THIS ARK
I watch the van pull slowly out the drive,
All my life’s labour safely stored inside,
And think of baby Moses kept alive—
So soon our children are too old to hide.
So soon I stand alone like Jochebed,
All that I treasure moving out of sight,
And pray with mingled confidence and dread,
“Lord, have I daubed and pitched the ark just right?”
So often I have waved good-bye before,
All that I love torn from me for awhile,
And later found them safely at my door.
Could Moses’ mother hide her secret smile?
That first school day, a visit overnight,
A full time job, long trips away from home.
I wait like Miriam, prudent, out of sight,
And watch the ark bob gently on its own.
Is my ark built securely? Will it float?
Only by testing waters will we know.
Show me the time, Lord. I trust to You this boat.
For parenthood is learning to let go.
—Elaine Gingrich, October 1991
AS ARROWS FROM THE HAND
What tender arrows these
From our poor quiver sent
On such a long trajectory
Across the dizzying plains of miles and years
From the aching bow of empty arms.
How can we know they went
The course intended?
Forces beyond the archer’s goals and dreams
Propel the flight, divert the path—
Currents of time and winds of ideology.
Lost in the past the days we spent
When we squinted hard on distant noble goal,
Cradled the bow, steadied the shaking hand and heart,
Pulled taut the string
And shot our treasured shafts,
Such tender shoots,
And watched them take their wing.
What of our roots?
And were our bow and aim both true enough?
Strange weapons these to face a deadly world,
A modern world with weapons once unknown.
Strange archers too, so young, untried, untrained.
And yet we fired them forth—
Our messengers of hope
To find their way
As meteor’s flash, as flaming spears,
To fight the realms of darkness;
Bearers of light,
Resisting the false, the foe.
We trust the Target’s pull,
A magnet for the homing arrowhead.
They may forget the bow
That sprung their flight, but oh!
For archer and for arrow to remember this:
The final Target that we dare not miss.
—Elaine Gingrich, February 9, 2016
For a companion and foil to Mom’s two poems, listen to this song by Chris Christian, “Love Them While You Can,” which reminds children to love their parents—before they, too, leave their earthly home. (I own this Chris Christian LP album and listened to it just the other night, while playing Monopoly with my daughters!)
May God bless each of your families, today and always. And remember, as I often remind my daughters, “God put you in the same family so you could learn to love each other!”
For the rest of the poems in this monthly series, see here.
Good morning, friends! It’s time for another proper update about our churchfunding experiment. Pledges have slowed down after the first three days, but we are still honored by the pledges that friends keep offering, and encouraged to see the total climbing.
Progress Report (As of 8:00 a.m. EST, 10/20/2015)
We are over 1/2 way to our goal of $80,000!
Total pledged so far: $44,239.55 (after tithe deducted) Total pledgers: 66 generous friends (11 more than the last update) Largest pledge: $5000 Smallest pledge: $75 Average pledge: $683.63 Most common pledge: $500 (30 this size)
Remember, once we near $60,000 we plan to ask pledgers to send in the money you have generously pledged. We are only $15,000 short of this initial goal! So this means we could be asking for pledges within just a few days. We will post that request both here and on Facebook, and ask you to notify us to confirm your pledge is on the way.
Note: Figures here will fluctuate just a little after we know what exchange rate Canadian contributions actually receive.
Update on “The House”
Sunday night just before turning out the light I made the mistake of checking to see if “our” house was still on the market. It wasn’t. More precisely, it is currently listed as pending sale to another customer.
This has happened several times before with this house over the past six months. We first spotted the house in early September while making plans for our late-September house-hunting visit in Atlanta. Then its status changed to pending sale. But it came back on the market just as we arrived in Atlanta, so we were able to tour the house while there. Each time the house has come off the market it has come back on, often within about half a month.
So here are several likely scenarios:
The current sale goes through and we continue looking for a different house.
The current sale falls through, by which time we have enough funds to make an offer. Then an inspection reveals some crucial reason why other offers have been retracted, and we continue looking for a different house.
The current sale falls through, we make an offer, and we decide it is still a good match for us. Perhaps repairs will cost ten or fifteen thousand dollars more than we had hoped, but the ideal location of the house (for our unique purposes) will convince us that it is still a wise investment.
I am hoping it is the last scenario, but we are casting this into God’s hands! Perhaps God has simply been preserving this house for us. Or perhaps he has yet to reveal better plans.
Either way, our churchfunding effort proceeds as normal. Whether it is this house or another, we will need funds to make a purchase, and I’m hoping we can find something in the price range of this house. And I would love if funds were in place before this house comes back on the market—if it does!
I admit that last night some dreams were plaguing me for a while, as my mind tried to imagine ways that it was actually us who already had an offer on the house. I’m glad to report that we haven’t spent a lot of time with such worrying.
Yes, waiting and trusting can take a certain toll on our minds and our bodies, so I’m feeling my need for sleep these days. But we haven’t lost all sense of humor. The other night just before falling asleep—actually, I think it was Sunday night after I discovered the news, but I’m not sure—the other night Zonya started laughing. You must realize that this is unusual behavior for her for that time of day. My wife is decidedly a morning person, not a night owl. Why was she laughing? “We’ve chosen to use midwives rather than hospitals for the births of our children, and we didn’t use a funeral home at all for Dad’s funeral, so is it any surprise that we are finding a way to avoid the bank when raising a loan for a house?”
Yes, from birth to death and lots in between, it seems we have a way of finding unconventional solutions to life’s challenges. This time we’re relying on some unconventional friends to help us do so. 🙂
How You Can Help
Pray for the pledger who is about to lose his job (see “One Story” here).
Pray that God will preserve and provide exactly the right house for us.
Pray that we will trust him well, so that he can receive the glory he so richly deserves.
Pray that God will perfectly control the timing of our move from Iowa to Atlanta, and that we will finish well the work he has for us here before we go.
Pledgers, be sure you have emailed all your information to firstname.lastname@example.org. (Your name, pledge amount, mailing address and phone number.)
Spread the word! Your pledge will help us buy a house only if we find enough funds to move forward.
Let me end by repeating our warmest thanks to each of you who are praying, pledging, or otherwise encouraging us in the middle of this faith-walk! One great side benefit of this churchfunding experiment—indeed, it may be God’s prime benefit for us—is to have so many people surrounding us with encouragement as we work towards moving to Atlanta. We feel God’s love through your love. Thank you.