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Saturday, February 25, 2012


a sudden, unexpected storm of anguish. little face twisted in pain, tears gushing, wordless wails of pent-up grief howling out of that adorable little mouth. i hold her, rock her, hum softly and whisper the name of "jesus" and that's when she begins to cry so hard she almost chokes. i wonder what to do...but i know what to do.

i continue to hold her. i rock. i hum. i pray. i feel her little heart pounding as she writhes and twists in my arms with the onslaught of emotion she's held in for so long. she doesn't try to escape...she clings after a while, while i wipe her face with cool water and stroke her hair. i let her cry. it's got to come out.

grief in a child is a terrible thing. i remember my own storms as a child- i remember the abandon with which i entered into the grieving and the pain. i remember the confusion of not being able to stop crying. i had no one to hold me most of the time either...i let her cry.

for about 15 minutes it's just her and i and this storm in the bathroom (the only quiet place). gradually the sobs slow down and she breathes easier, but the hurting and the tears and the wailing are still there.

so much pain for one little girl.

so much abandonment, so much loss, so many years of self-soothing with no one to hold her or whisper quiet prayers and assurances of love. such a tough little one, needing to have a thick skin- so many wounds and layers of pain that she covers well- but somehow, today, some little thing burst the dam.

finally, she is calm enough to sit quietly on my lap and rest, and then after a few more minutes, return to her activity...the rest of the day her eyes are deep and shadowed, and i can tell the emotions are just below the surface...but we get through the day. she is weary. i am weary.

so hard to watch a child weep with no way to tell what's wrong. how does a 6-year-old explain a broken heart...

all i can do is hold her.

and maybe, for today, that is enough.

Monday, February 20, 2012

building bridges

it's true.

love can build a bridge.

today i start building one- between cultures. meeting with moms of a different culture and language. (ostensibly my task is to teach english, but it will be so much more.) the only thing we have in common is that we have children in the same school. they do not know my little one so much, but i know some of theirs...i teach their kids, and i love them.

my heart aches for the barriers that hinder their little ones from learning and thriving in an alien environment. i want to help. i want to be the one who hugs them when they walk in the door at school and helps them to enjoy the classroom. and i am that one.

but, when the moms drop them off and pick them up from school, and even the dads, i see the hesitation and fear on their faces. "will my child be happy? will he be lonely? will he understand what's happening?"

cultural barriers hold these parents back from integrating into our culture here. it's a private, proud old culture that has been almost decimated and is now striving to find total cohesiveness and strength. they are confronting a way of life so different from both the country they are ministering in and the school their children attend. home life clashes with school and public life.

i want to build bridges. i will find a way to help these mothers- who love their little ones so much- dip their toes into both english and the way of life here without losing their identity.

i'd appreciate your thoughts and prayers.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

the watcher

the wind flattens me
on the wooden curve
of the boat
pressing its wild fingers
on the rolled up blanketed watcher-
that is me

i'm watching
the close sky
full of stars

moon's face so near-
comic crinkles
in his grin-
his silver mouth spewing diamonds
along the water
like the sun is not

familiar points of light
wink and beckon
the watcher-
that is me-
only hungry eyes peeping through
my blanket

too cold

too near

too beautiful

but the constellations
bend and call
and i'm lovestruck
watching watching waking and watching
orion chases hour by long hour
across the black-
until he fades
at the wounding paleness
of dawn

-written years ago after a night on 'serendipity', our old boat...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

the love day...

ah, the seasons of life.

back when we were young and infatuated, this day was critical. "will he buy me flowers?" "is he going to ask me (the BIG question) today?" "does he like me, even?"


once married, and securely settled, more or less, it became..."is he going to forget?" "should i ask him if he wants a special treat (ahem)?" "should i get  a babysitter for the kids and we go out?" "can we afford to go out?"


with teenagers in the house, it became even weirder. from the kids perspectives: "would you guys stop being gross please?" "who bought these stinky flowers?" "can i have money to buy something for this girl i like?" "i just wanna die. he didn't get me anything for valentine's day. sob sob."


then...the empty nesters' valentine's day scenario: "you want to go out to eat? not there, i got sick going there last time..." "sorry i'll be out of the country, dear, on valentine's day...we'll do something nice when i get back" "can you leave me some extra money so i can buy myself something for valentine's day?"


and now, to the present day scenario.

morning calls on the cell phones: "sweetheart, i'm sorry, i forgot to say happy valentine's day! happy valentine's day...i'm on the highway and can't talk..." "hi dear, where are you now? i forgot to give you the card, it's on my desk..." "are you still up? i thought you'd be asleep. i did the 3 k legs hurt...goodnight..."

ah, life.



i can't believe it. the house is gone. burned down. burned up. 
nothing left of our old home but smoke and stones and memories.

my first memories are in that house. i was a baby in that house.


how can a thing made of wood and stone- oh, and beautiful old fieldstone it was, too- 
be so precious?

how can rooms be remembered so fondly...

how can a green lawn in summer and a white wasteland in winter have so much meaning in our lives?

how can a staircase scarred and worn by little feet be gone??????

how can those lovely french doors that mom loved so much be burned up?

the veranda- always felt 'new' to me- dad worked so hard on making that beautiful sunroom for mom- gone?

the kitchen where geraniums bloomed in the windows all winter long
 and mom's lace curtains swayed in the summer and winter breeze ...

the beds and closets and butterfly wallpaper and green paint and handmade quilts and ...and...


hard to believe.

dear little house.

it seemed so massive when we were little.

the front door slammed with every child rushing in and scattered on the entryway landing...

the fireplace chimney, they say, is standing, but will be torn down.

those beautiful old stones, thrown out again into the field from whence they came.

perhaps they are happy, those old stones- perhaps they are saying to themselves, 
right now,
 "well, it's been a good century, but it's time to go back home now", 
and they allow themselves to be tossed 
or bulldozed 
or smashed 
back into the black earth of those manitoba fields.


goodbye, dear house.

you sheltered us well.

we will never forget you.

the children.

Friday, February 10, 2012


yes, i am the designated driver.

of my dear little daughter.

to school...3 days a week.

normally this would not raise eyebrows.

but given the fact that this is metro manila, and we live a minimum of an hour away from school, on an optimum day (love those two 'mums so close together), it's quite a feat.

i see some interesting things as i cruise along in my trusty dusty ford everest.

i see the sunrise.

i see birds on the river at dawn.

i see little boats and little bikes and tricycles and trucks.

i have, sadly, seen death twice this year. once a single motorcyclist...another time a carnage.

driving miss emma to and from school is not for the faint of heart.

therefore, i gird up my loins so to speak and with grit and determination, head out onto the highways and byways.

and occasionally, i see something i just have to video.

this traffic cop made me laugh. it's a horrible one-handed video because the road is very very bumpy...but it gives you an idea of what i see and experience every day on the roads going to and from faith academy, cainta, rizal.

good job, mr traffic cop.