His Promise Is Enough

Up to regions high and light
I go when I release my tight grip
On managing my earthy home.
My open hands can join the
Angel band, busy in praise!
Sacred lyrics, angel-sung,
Storehouse treasure, proclaim that
When He says He’ll supply
All my needs,
He knows exactly what those are,
To the finest accounting.
And that He has already provided them.
And that I did not even need a sign –
A hummingbird or a rainbow –
His promise is enough.

Tapestry owned by Carol Wildeman


First Hummingbird of Spring and other Exclamations

The brevity of the hummingbird’s
Was promise fulfilled and
Faith extended.
An “It is finished” and an
“I can do all things . . .”
Causation in the order.
Exclamation mark!
Then, oh! the contemplator
Becomes the
Psalm 119: 1 – 8, back porch study

The Gentle Now

This morning’s
Back porch prayer
Is a sigh –
Not a sad sigh,
Or a happy sigh,
But a sigh sigh,

A wordless prayer to
The One Who Hears,
Agreeing to wait.

Perhaps, He suggests,
There is more joy here,
More sigh solace,
In dove woes and
Tin roof rain,

In sugared flow of life beneath
What you can see,

Than in the triumph of
Your hopes.

Perhaps you already have
What you are waiting for.
His gentleness owns me whole.



Nurses: A New Appreciation; and Happy Graduation, Anna!

I recently had the privilege of nursing my dear niece back to health after a sudden simultaneous onset of pneumonia and another life-threatening condition.

I’m an English teacher, not a nurse. So the role was new, and, though brief, it afforded insight into a nurse’s world. Big thanks go out to nurse Katherine at Parkridge Hospital in Chattanooga who did the real work.

First insight: A nurse enters instantly into the intimate, physical world of another human being, body and soul. Nurses reading this say, ‘Duh.’ But for the rest of us, non-nurses, that takes a moment to absorb and get used to. The patient is beyond knowing or caring about finding the proverbial fig leaf. She has different priorities at the moment. The fig-leaf urge does return, but in the meantime, the suddenly-nurse must overcome her own unexpected Victorian sensibilities and be the one to preserve the patient’s dignity.

Second: A nurse assumes responsibility for this particular human being. It is a solemn task given by God, and the nurse knows it. ‘This one is mine, from liquid intake and output to encouragement and hope,’ the nurse pledges, and she feels that weight constantly. Because my niece’s parents live in Wisconsin, I was the closest relative and the de facto point man for the recovery phase. I was called up for such a time as this. For such a time as this is a nurse’s daily life.

Third: Because God is so good, when He gives the nurse the solemn charge for this particular human for this set season, He also bestows on finite caregivers a special wisdom, a trustworthy intuition, a set of eyes that see this person and what she needs. I have zero medical training, but a voice told me, among many other promptings, that weaning off the spirometer was ok once the patient was upright, mostly out of bed, and moving. I chose to trust the God-given voice rather than Google. And I loved the name ‘Incentive Spirometer’! The ‘incentive’ part seemed to be this ball that was supposed to float halfway in the little chamber if the pneumoniac breathes lustily enough. And I guess the measurement lines were incentive too, to get ever higher and higher. We marked ours with a sharpie and tried to top the mark each day. So yeah, incentive.

Fourth: If the nurse is the patient’s aunt, that is the perfect dynamic. An aunt has all the love of a mother, but not the same emotional weight, so she is free to touch the patient with a mother’s hand and also to say, ‘We’re going to walk a little bit after you eat and take your pill.‘ And the patient who feels weak and miserable and free to collapse if her mother said all that, says, ‘Ok.’ She feels loved by an aunt and bossed by a nurse, and that’s perfect.

Fifth: Charting! Even a non-nurse knows that the bane of a nurse’s life is charts or records or keeping track of what all. But, oh what a help a chart is; a chart well and truly tells the tale (which is a fascinating thought for a literature lover). I kept a log, down to the fact that I gave the patient Angela’s Ashes to read which was not exactly a sunshiny, recovery-encouraging memoir, but my niece loves New York, so it worked.

Sixth: The goal is independence. Isn’t that interesting? Who knew? From the moment we drove away from the hospital exulting in the sunshine, oddly enough, I understood that the goal is to work myself out of a job at the precise moment. It is threading the needle at its finest. It is ever moving that person through the stages of illness, readying them to take up their own care right when they are ready. I imagine determining that moment is tricky and permeates the whole of the caregiving process for each patient. But it is also challenging and exhilarating.

It was a happy moment when my niece reported that at her follow-up appointment, the pneumonia was all gone and the doctor was pleased with her progress in recovery.  I felt like Nanny McPhee.

To God be the glory, and happy graduation, Anna!!

A Different Kind Of Darkness

It is work to pause
In the darkness,
To stay here waiting
While death takes its toll,
And the depths are plumbed
Without protest.
I am a
Spectator, not a
Participant, in this clash,
Receiving all the spoil
And anticipating the
Coming moment
When the Heart of love
Will take its first victory beat.
And the stirring under the linen will
Signal mountains to sing and
Molecules to dance.
And the shroud will have been merely
The birth blanket,
The darkness only that of the secret places,
Pregnant with hope and glory.

Darkness Among The Dogwood


Mourning dove on a front porch,
Says with her eyes,
Her implacable, light-ringed eyes,

Yes, I made a mess
Building this nest.
The pangs were upon me, and

My nest-mess is the herald
Of Easter,
Of passion and pain.
In a corner of the cornice,
I hide my life,
Against the roaring of the foe,
Who stalks like a blight,
A darkness among dogwood,
A hatred complete.

This piercing is a deep breath
Inhaled for the victory shout.

I am the covering;
I will die for life.


Come Up Here To Me Awhile

Take a deep breath, girl.
Fill those lungs;
Relax your shoulders,
Your neck,
Your jaw.

Be still,
And know that
I am God.

Open your hand.
I’ll hold it now,
And sit beside you,
And care for every little thing
That you care about.

Your babies . . .
Their babies,

I’ve got them.

Look at Me.
Hear Me.

Every single word
In My Book,
Is a love song.

One word of Mine,
One word,
Is a feast worthy of a
Great Hall.

Deep in My Word,
Find Me
All you’ve craved,
And all that satisfies you.

Find Me . . .
Delighted with you.

I hear you when you fear
That you might be the one
I forget,

The one
I don’t
Have an answer for.

Ask for Me.
I promise you,
I promise you,
I AM your answer.

I’ll show you a mystery:
Walk with me in love,
And your eyes will see,
Your feet will tread,
A straight road,
Where hard-hearts stumble crooked.

Straight roads are not
Easy roads.

I know this.
John cried Me a straight road –
Valleys raised
And mountains leveled.

I set My face on a
Straight road

To the cross.

And when the straight road
To the end of all things,
The abandoned grief
And naked shame
Became the womb of

That’s what I do
For you.

For you . . .
You are dust.

I held your body in My hands
So gently.
I put my face to yours
Breathed a rushing wind.

And you came alive.                                                                

I did this first on an Eden morning.
It was Adam I held, but
You were there too,
In My heart.
I knew you then.

And then I breathed on you another time,
You and I know when.
The day I called your name.
Do you remember?
And you heard My voice,

Oh, I sang that day.

What I breathe to life
No power can kill.
Your deliverance

On your
Nights can be dark,
There is always the third day

When Joy bursts like
The rising of the Morning Star.

Child of Mine,
Come up here to me awhile.
Written for the women’s conference at Christ Covenant Presbyterian Church, Cullman, AL, March 1 and 2, 2019.