Sunday, July 29, 2007

Writing Prompt 12

Play with time. Some ideas.
-Begin your writing with Time is...
Write about learning to tell time or your first watch.
-Write about a significant time in your life.


Time is Cinderella in a round case fastened to my wrist
with a powder blue leather band.
Time is my father holding his alarm clock in his big hands
with me at his side, Cinderella on my arm, explaining.
Time is when to get up, go to school, take a bath, fall asleep.
Time is hands, circling, circling, in a forever dance.
Time is the big hand, thinking it can tell everyone what to do
but it’s only there for a minute and always always
it has something to say about the little hand.
Time is never the big hand by itself
even when Cinderella drowned
in the bathtub still buckled to my wrist
and even when my father said it was time for him to leave us.
Time is to write Cinderella a brand new fairy tale
one that doesn’t require rescue, a prince or a happily every after.
Time is someone else’s until you learn to tell it.

Time is to lose track of her––her hands, big and little
and even the sweeping fairy wand of the seconds.
Time is to drag around like a pull toy every day every hour
thumping through the house behind you.
Time is as incessant as a baby’s cry.
Time is not to waste, but to ignore
to stop keeping her prisoner fastened to my wrist
when my hands are always underwater, in the sink, in the bath
in the kiddie pool, holding on to mother-daughter time.

Time is to hear my children say remember the time…
and half the time I don’t.
Time is told by bodies—crawling, walking, dancing, graduating.
The hands of time play tricks.
Endless yearlong days later seem like minutes
a pile of sand in the bottom of a timer
I’d like to turn over and live through again
understanding this time that no time lasts for all time.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Writing Prompt 11

Find a scripture you've always thought strange––Ezekiel in the valley of dry bones was my choice––pull on the thread of theme from the scripture and allow it to appear in poetry or prose in an entirely different setting.

Zeke Can't Dance

Zeke borrows a trick from God
Puts on a record
Makes dry bones dance
In my living room

Zeke divines blood
And bone between us
When what exists
Are brittle fragments
Best left unexhumed

He tries to strip us
From love's grave clothes
I want to believe he can

My flesh and bone
Long to dance
In the living room
Sinewy breath
Pulsing blood
Revived by Zeke's bones

The record skips
The beat is off
Zeke's sharp elbows
And bony protrusions

We fall
Flesh away
Revealing the valley
Between us
Prophetless and bone dry

©Cathy Warner

Monday, July 16, 2007

Writing Prompt 10

Listen to a non-human object and write down what it has to say to you.
Taking a lead from Peggy who trained the AWA method with me–––the object can have a secret or confession, e.g., "I burnt the toast on purpose."

Say What?

It's amazing what we can hear when we tune into the noise and input all around us, rather than attempting to tune it out. Do you listen to things? I do and my husband is just a bit worried that non-human objects are speaking to me--my feet, medicines, cats, and more! Really, I don't hear voices, it's definitely a non-verbal communication. If he'd admit it, my husband has it big time too-- we'll call it intuition in his case--just an example, the fan belt on our old V.W. told him it was going to break, but he didn't get a spare in advance. Oh well, we live and learn. Here is some communication from my world:


The jackhammer in the street
pierces, tears, breaks
what was solid
what seemed permanent
to repair the thing that lies
broken underneath
or to rip it away
all together
start over on raw ground
pour a new slab
a foundation built
on something better
something meant to last
this time around

violent this construction
this creating
and recreating
whoever said
the hand of life
would be gentle

Let Go

Let go, let go, let go
is the message of the labyrinth
Not let go and let God
Not let go and trust me
simply let go

Hot purple geranium petals
litter the path beneath my feet
The bush too has let go
as all things must

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Writing Prompt 9

Imagine your suitcase, your baggage if you will. Describe your luggage and what you need to pack and what you need to leave behind--things, thoughts, etc.--in order to be sent into the world to do the work God calls you to. What is your work in life in this time and place?

Sent Out In Jesus’ Name

“Not what you do for God but what God does for you—that’s the agenda for rejoicing.”
––Jesus in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 10, verse 20 of Eugene Peterson's The Message

What you do for God, you do every day. Every time you step out of your door and into the grocery store, the office, the classroom, the doctor’s office, the employee break room, the teacher’s lounge, the senior center. While you’re waiting in line at the pharmacy, the DMV, the movie theater. When you pick up the phone and call your sister, your mother, your child. When the phone rings and it’s your best friend, a bill collector or some campaign volunteer.

Every minute, every day, you’re on the spot with and for Jesus. Some days, you’re peaceful and punctual, witty and wise, world’s best ad for the Christian life. Other days, you’re snappy and stressed, worn-out and worried, wishing you’d stayed in bed, covers pulled overhead, embarrassed to call yourself Christian.

We can’t avoid being sent out in Jesus’ name. Even hermits have visitors, and the world around us is full of people, full of hurt, full of despair, and full of opportunity for God to appear on doorsteps with more life changing tools than the Fuller brush man.

How then do we venture out? Back then, Jesus sent out seventy using the buddy system. “Be careful, this is hazardous work,” he said. By all means, take a friend, especially when you’re not sure where you’re going, or how you’ll be received. Fill up your gas tank, check your tires and fluid levels, get a GPS if being lost bothers you, but try to leave the baggage behind. Unload some of your suitcases first, examine your past, keep what’s good and toss the worn-out shirts, tapes and attitudes that don’t fit anymore. If you don’t have enough Good News in your own life, it’s hard to share it with others.

When you’re ready, hit the freeway, the frontage roads, the city streets, the suburban subdivisions. Don’t be afraid to be who you are, warts and all, scars and all, quirks and all, opinions and all, with thoughts about God and Jesus, the Holy Spirit and all, that aren’t perfectly formed or expressed.

Spend time with people who are drawn to you, curious about your life, wondering how it is that you have hope and a certain inner peace when the externals of your life are just as mixed up and frightening as anyone else’s. Get to know these people over coffee, over sack lunches, over yoga poses or college classes.

Listen to their words and to the hopes and fears behind and below the words. Listen to the things they cannot say aloud or even to themselves, see how they are hungry for something that can satisfy the gnawing in their souls? Invite them into your story, into your faith, into prayer, into the church.

If they decline, accept the no gracefully. God isn’t through with them, or with you. Relax; you didn’t fail a test. The friendship is still worth cultivating. Knowing someone at a deep level is always worth it, even if, or maybe especially if, you can navigate your differences with respect and acceptance.

Don’t waste your time with people who want to quarrel with you, prove you wrong, who seem invested in tearing apart your faith out of their own self-righteousness, fear or past hurts. This isn’t a race to win souls, there’s no blue ribbon, no heavenly trophy for the person who lands the most challenging and cantankerous converts.

You don’t need to drag yourself through the dirt, in fact clap it off your shoes and move on. Take it from Jesus. Being the person God intends you to be is hard enough without being torn down by difficult people or know-it-alls.

And here’s the thing, every time you’re out there in the world, every time you’re brave enough to risk sharing who you really are, and who God is in your life, you’re the one who grows in faith, who comes to know ever more deeply God’s presence in your life and God’s welcome authority over you.

That, as Jesus says, is the agenda for rejoicing. That is the motivation to keep at it, to keep plugging away, to face those fears of being pushy or too Christian, of being ridiculed, or rejected. When we are treated and received well by others, that’s a bonus. When other people’s lives are impacted by our words, actions and lives, that’s a bonus too.

But the real payoff is God, God with us, God in us. That is why we are sent out in Jesus’ name.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Writing Prompt 8

Respond to this quote by Henri Cole:

To become one's self is so exhausting.

Catching Up With Myself

All year I've been looking forward to my fourth of July pancakes. Even though I'm gluten intolerant, even though I have a massive headache now, there's nothing like lining up on the sidewalk in downtown Boulder Creek early in the morning for the volunteer fire department's annual pancake breakfast.

After savoring golden pancakes with syrup and real butter (no wonder they taste better than any I've ever made), my family waddled to a balcony and watched the parade. Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, random people in red, white and blue, local dogs, and the Jazzercise class pushing patriotic shopping carts. I knew I was home.

I need to be home, to catch up with the laundry and myself after two weeks of being filled to the brim with stories of people and churches in ministry, with soul-sparked writing, with ideas for leadership, ministry and bringing hope into this world so in need of Good News.

Tonight I will sit in a parking lot with my husband and watch fireworks explode and cascade from the sky. I never imagined my life would be so vibrant, filled with light and color!

Here is one of the pieces I wrote at last week's Amherst Writers and Artists training, dedicated with gratitude to all of you sharing this life journey with me.

“To become one's self is so exhausting.” --Henri Cole

It’s the best kind of exhaustion, knowing that we are listening to the leanings of the universe, the desires of the creative force that surrounds and sustains us. I call it God because that’s what I do—name things, and in doing so, name and claim myself.

Woman––Wife––Mother––Daughter––until recently, Granddaughter––Writer––Writer––Person in Ministry––Writer––Writer––now, Leader, specifically AWA leader.

There are moments when I ask, “Can’t I take a break from the journey, sit on a rock by the side of a trail, eating gorp?”

The answer is, “Yes.”

But then, because the world conspires for good, someone walks toward me. I rise and begin walking again. This time, I have a companion. We lead. We follow. We learn. We rest. We become who we were born to be.