Leaving Egypt


I want to stand
on the edge of the hour
and, raising my rod,
part                          time.

I want to see
tired thoughts,
burdened eyes,
heavy limbs,
tumble over themselves
and heart beats surf on holy swells.

I want to see
the impending rend
between keen moments,
morning roll back on mother-warmth,
evening break on fading breath.

I want to stand
on the edge of the hour,
and then

when I’m ready

when I’ve passed through

turn and watch Pharoah drown.

Baptizing Babies in the Birdbath

girls pencil ch matte

Baptizing Babies in the Birdbath

We were baptizing babies in the birdbath,
me and Beats,
plastic pouty babies
with hard dimpled bellies
and yes or no eyes.

I baptize thee, Betsy Ann Wetsy
(in my most Godly voice)
I baptize thee
in the name of the Father,
(pouring water over sculpted hair)
and of the Son,
(swishing clicky head in basin)
and of the Holy Ghost,
(pressuring bad bubble spirits out of
off-center hole in bum)


Having fulfilled requirements
for all our grandparent’s denominations
I held Betsy by rigid foot
and rained blessings
on the sidewalk.

Um, said Beats.


You blasphemed.
You said Holy Ghost.
You committed the unpardonable sin.


My life for yours, Betsy.
You take that kind of risk sometimes
for babies you love
when you don’t know all the rules.

When I was a child it was easy to believe that God was angry with me for doing something I didn’t know was wrong. I don’t know where the idea came from, but I know that it was strong enough to leave me fearful that come the great judgment day I would be rejected for failing to keep all the rules and having unconfessed sin in my life (because I didn’t know it was a sin.)

This poem seems light-hearted, but it is about a real experience. I was about five-years old. Beatrix and I had just come from enduring another sermon we didn’t understand. (My grandson defines a sermon as “when people talk about God but don’t let you ask questions.”) All we picked up was that there was an “unpardonable sin.”

For years I didn’t have the heart to tell Mom and Dad that all their efforts to send me to Sunday School and Bible clubs and camps were in vain because I was already damned.

It took a long time before I realized that Jesus is the perfect image of the Father. He absolutely loves children – and adults. He doesn’t set them up for failure. He didn’t come to condemn, but to rescue us and restore our relationship with a loving Father.

I needed to let go of the lie that God is angry and capricious and impossible to please before I could see his eyes of love for me. It wasn’t easy; I struggled to let go of the only security I had known – keeping rules and striving to be good enough. But setting out on a journey to search for the real God has been so worth it. He healed my heart, took away my fear, and created in me a place to hold on to his love.

I decided to post this poem today because I know there are others who, for whatever reason, have the same picture of God – and you are tired and depressed and ready to let go. You’ve tried about as hard as you can try. You’ve gone through rituals and attempts to meet man-made requirements but are still afraid it’s not good enough.

I met someone who was old and ill. He was busy “covering all the bases,” going through all sorts of religious rituals and donating to several denominations. I saw in him the same old familiar fear. What if I am too bad for God to accept me?

I told him all God required of him was to let Jesus do what he came to do – love him just as he was. He found it hard, but the last time I visited him he sang, with steady voice, an old Kris Kristofferson song.

Why me Lord what have I ever done
To deserve even one of the pleasures I’ve known
Tell me, Lord, what did I ever do
That was worthy of you or the kindness you’ve shown

Lord help me, Jesus, I’ve wasted it so
Help me Jesus I know what I am
But now that I know that I’ve needed you so
Help me, Jesus, my soul’s in your hand.

I believe Jesus heard him.




I hear you

IMG_4158 rain cloud at sunset

I decided to re-post a poem I wrote several years ago. The day I wrote it I was sitting outside writing a letter to God. I couldn’t quite talk to him yet, but I was daring to write down my feelings and mail them to the fireplace. My page was full of angry accusations. In places my pen tore right through the paper. While I was crying a sudden squall blew in. I was so utterly at the end of my rope I didn’t bother moving. It felt like the storm raging in me was now raging around me.

The sun broke through while it was still raining. When the shower stopped I picked up my strewn papers and my wet Bible. It fell open to Psalm 18 where David writes about God wrapping himself in storm clouds on his way to deliver justice to his child. “Wrapped and hidden in the thick-cloud darkness, his thunder-tabernacle surrounding him, he hid himself in mystery-darkness; the dense rain clouds were his garments. Suddenly the brilliance of his presence breaks through...” (The Passion translation) And verse 19 “His love broke open the way.”

I’m publishing this again because this week I’ve read several excellent blogs by people younger than I who ably describe their frustration with church experience that involved competition, consumerism, hypocrisy, political manipulation, performance-oriented faith with impossibly high standards, dogmatic theoretical faith without power, and lack of demonstrations of love.

Yes, I know the saying that you get out of church what you put in, but change means admitting there are things that are not working for everyone. Many people are happy where they are, but there are also a lot of hurting people out there who feel no one hears them. They are expressing their disappointment with their feet. To those young people who are walking away I want to say, I hear you.

I think the largest “mission field” in North America is among those who have known spiritual abuse, from mild coercion to dastardly deeds worthy of criminal charges. I define spiritual abuse as the act of exploiting a vulnerable person’s longing for connection with their Creator for the purposes of acquiring  personal power -usually by a person with some degree of authority or responsibility for nurturing them. It is far more prevalent than anyone wants to admit. Repentance means to change the way we think. And we do need to repent. All of us.

The first step toward healing involves admitting there is a problem. If you have been a victim, express your pain, but don’t park there. Keep searching for the God who loves you as you are. He is not disappointed in you because he understands human frailty. He sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to show you what he is really like. He never expected you to be good enough to earn his love. He is the One who heals our wounded hearts and showers our lives with loving kindness.

We are incapable of loving God until we know his love. When you know you are loved and forgiven you can afford to take your hands off the throats of those who owe you. That’s when the world will know we are Christians – by our love.



I cry, Oh God! Oh Christ! Oh Jesus!

Where are you when the ones who say
they speak for you –those who squeeze us,
press in on every side, demand
that we respect authority,
obey their rules, come (cash in hand)
to hear their words, as only they
have got the regulations straight at last?
Where are you when the weak are hurt,
aggrieved and stumbled in your name?

Don’t you see what they have passed?

I sit entangled with the chords
of bitterness around my feet.
A plant blows over on the boards
that fence me off from outside world.
The petals scatter on the grass
and now the gust of wind that swirled
their frail wings in electric air
becomes a greater blast of rage
that showers ashes in my hair.

Flash tears the sky –breath rent apart,
and splits the veil of one who mourns,
with lightning striking to the heart.
Deep groaning rolls across the vale
from craggy peak to worn down ridge
and rains pours down –beats down in hail.

The sun withdraws beneath a cloud.
and saplings hang their weeping heads
as thunder rails against the proud,
who dare to claim the earth their own,
–and in the woods from hill to hill
creation echoes back the moan.

My tears obscure the sky from view.
Oh God! I cry. God! Where are you?

My child, I hear.  I weep with you.

(written during the struggle)

This Now Place

frosty forest creston ch 5x7 IMG_0446This Now Place

The fog wraps itself around me
like soft flannel encircling a child who twists to see.

Mystic air muffles the crying crow,
the howling wolf.

Damp cloud strokes my cheek
and covers my brow.

I catch a glimpse of mountainside
floating like a memory of the future in the sky.

Then silence.

mountain peak clouds fisher ch IMG_8592

Beside secret stream,
as in a dream,
I walk on wood chips,
sainted cedars,
lives laid down
to cradle my steps.

The shoulders of giants hush my footfall.

DSC_0037 turquoise stream ch kootenay park

Between fervent moss clinging to rock
the fountain flows, in unexpected joy
between somewhere and somewhere,
beauty colouring only this place,

this now place,
this here place.

I settle my soul upon Your breast and breathe Your love.

The mountains stand
shoulder to shoulder
like guardian angels around the valley.

Whether I sleep or wake,
whether You hide Yourself
or gently wake me to see Your glory.
I trust You.

radium hill cloud mountain ch IMG_4538



The Teacher

schoolhouse ch

The Teacher

Teacher, tell us,

they say,

clutching rulers and texts

against their chests.

Teacher, tell us.


Sun-scorched hands loose fettered bands.

Stigmata stretch to gather hatchlings

squabbling over foreign coins and spousal deeds.

Sand-ground feet tread foot-ground trail,

Stone pillow nights await grey dawn cleft.

Weeping flute unravels dancer’s shroud.


Broken bread,

water jug wine,

a table spread valley-wide

for open-eyed children.


Offered flesh receives frightened flail,

Honest heart meets jealous scorn,

Molested shoulders bear run-away shame.


Love, he says, sweating anguish.

Love, he says, bleeding sorrow.

Love, he says, opening arms.

Love, he says, dying.

Love, he says, rising.

Love, he says, pleading.


Teacher, tell us,

they say,

tightening robes

against the winds of his breath.


Teacher, tell us,

Will this be on the exam?


For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. (John 1:17)

The people were amazed at his teaching, for he taught with real authority—quite unlike the teachers of religious law. (Mark 1:22)

Crazie Glasse

IMG_0292 stained glass window knox

Lord, how can man preach thy eternall word?
He is a brittle crazie glasse:
Yet in thy temple thou dost him afford
This glorious and transcendent place,
To be a window, through thy grace.

(from The Windows by George Herbert (1593-1633)

It’s amazing that silicon (the dust of the earth)  ground, fired, broken, pounded, fired again, and fashioned into shapes which make no sense when seen in isolation, can become a message of beauty in a Master’s artist’s hands. But in the dark it cannot been seen.

It is the light that makes glass glorious.


strawflower blur

It’s hard to touch my eye without flinching.

It’s hard to open my suspicious eye

to receive the lens on finger inching

toward the center of the light that my

unyielding lid wants merely to protect.

I know without the help of lens to mend

I can, at best, perceive an imperfect,

blurred version of what You, my clear-eyed Friend,

can see without deform. I steel my nerve

against the fear of rumoured pain which all

my disappointment says that I deserve.

I want to shed the doubt that makes me stall.


Forgive me when I shut You out. I think,

in time, that when You touch me, I won’t blink.

strawflower 3DSC_0201

My child, do not ignore the instruction that comes from the Lord, or lose heart when He steps in to correct you;  For the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He corrects each one He takes as His own.   (Hebrews 12:5 The Voice)

I Was Nominated for an Award! or How to Encourage the Entire World in Seven Steps

Photo: Bouquet

When I received my first blogging award nomination my reaction was kind of like this –if you can imagine a very plump middle age woman in the place of this talented child. Well, perhaps this is not the best visual, but still:

I didn’t post it right away because I was just so humble (ahem) and also because I couldn’t figure out how to get the pasty link thing to work. So I dropped it to contemplate the gravity of the honour. Then there were some more very flattering nominations, which I truly appreciated.

Then I read the rules on some of them. Pass the award on to 15 other bloggers? As I often say to my husband, I said, “Husband, I am an English major. You do the math.” So he did. He figured that if everyone receiving an award passed that award on to 15 other people the very next day and they did the same, in little more than a week we could pretty much encourage the entire world –at least several billion of them.

This relates to my post On Being a Descendent of Royalty. Just because the designers of rules for receiving blogging awards were exceedingly generous doesn’t mean that they are not of value and that some kind people out there took the time to read my blog and nominate me for an award. I am truly grateful. I thank you. I am honoured.

So to catch up on some inexcusably overdue acknowledgements I would like to thank the following bloggers for their generosity and kind words:

Admin at Pure Gory

Deborah at “Ye shall know me by my fruits”

Victoria at Made for Victory

Melody at Meanwhile Melody Muses

Gracie at Frames and Focus

I highly recommend their sites.

Now, the obligatory seven things about myself list:

1.            When I was in grade three I rode my imaginary horse, Ginger, home from school every day. The neighbours thought I was seriously gimped.

2.            I’m usually in the process of reading at least six books at the same time and I often start in the middle.

3.            I can’t dance or remember the 7 times table, but I always have music in my head. It can be annoying.

4.            Between my husband, my children and their spouses and myself we have about 49 1/2 years of university education (so far). Some of it is paid for. I’ve done umpteen year’s worth of courses in music, education, theology, art, and English, but I don’t have a degree.

5.            My parents were told I was dead.  Mom had a caesarean section to deliver a stillborn, but some friends gathered all night to pray for this young couple and their baby. God must have heard, because I am here. Still.

6.            I am seriously in love with Jesus Christ. So is my husband. It’s a magnificent threesome.

7.            I published my first poetry at 12, sang in my first opera at 14, performed in a nightclub when I was too young to get in, dated a politician when I was too young to vote, learned to fly a kite at 45, went through adolescent rebellion at 39 and started splashing right through the middle of puddles at 55. It’s not just that I have a tendency to be ahead of the curve or behind the curve — the curve and I have never met.

The point of awards is, I think, to bring attention to worthwhile blogs, so rather than contribute to the devaluation of awards I choose to bypass the whole system and get to the point of saying check out these blogs. I shall try to do this on a more regular basis. The following bloggers may consider themselves winners of Charis’ very own first I LIKE YOU award (if I could figure out how to make an icon I would):

Check out these blogs:
Edited to add: after 25 edits on this post I think this is as good as it’s going to get. Click on the URL and not the name of the blog and you should get there. sigh.)

Admin at Pure Glory   http://pureglory.net –prophets Gabriel and Hazel bring strong words of encouragement

Deborah at Ye Shall Know Me by My Fruits   http://girlwiththepen1118.wordpress.com/  incredibly talented poet who writes the most evocative sensuous real stuff. She really should be famous. Seriously.

Victoria  at Made for Victory– http://madeforvictory.com/an over-comer of epic proportion

Melody at Meanwhile Melody Muses–  http://melodylowes.com/ fellow lover of words, flowers and hope who is not afraid to pump up the colour

Gracie at Frames and Focushttp://graciebinoya.com/   a sensitive, talented photographer with a gift of holy discontent that keeps her striving to be even better

And some others that have really touched my heart:

Quilla at Ruach333   http://ruach333.wordpress.com/–photography and poetry from a quiet but deep, deep man of faith

Disciple Gideon at Disciple Gideon  http://disciplegideon.wordpress.com/ -an honest humble man with a listening heart and a gift for being profound

Janelle at My Men and Me  http://mymenandme.wordpress.com–a pure soul who loves the Lord, loves her family, loves her farm, and loves her readers

Stephanie at The Potter’s Hand –  http://thepottershand2011.com  -a worshipping Singaporean who sees the glory of God all around her and captures it with her camera

Trina and Micheline at Whimsical Publishing  http://whimsicalpublishingblog.wordpress.com–a writer of children’s books and an illustrator/artist/photographer team who are much too lively and fun to stay in a box

Mirjam at Mirjam Aldolphi Photography  http://mirisphotos.org  -in Ukraine -a woman whose love for needy children needs no translation

There are other blogs I enjoy, of course. I’m just starting in order of when I first started reading them. If I forgot an award, please remind me, so I can make an excuse, and then acknowledge it.

Blessings on you all. You have enriched my life!!

The Reservoir

Painting: Reserved

(The stream that flows out of this reservoir is called St. Joseph’s Creek. It flows through the town below, out into the countryside and across a First Nations Reservation where it joins the St. Mary’s River just before it’s confluence with the Kootenay River. After a brief sojourn across the border, the Kootenay turns north, back into Canada, and waters a wide valley where fruit is grown commercially.)

Reflection on the Reservoir

Idle in the wild

the waters

reserved by earthen dam


Welling up over the wall

the outpouring spills

to thirsty valley

surging gushing rushing

on its pilgrimage

to freedom

babbling ecstatic companions

overturn hapless pebbles

and undercut established banks

between soccer and tennis scores

beside disciplined lawns

through sweet barbeque smoke

under red painted bridges

inside covert culverts

behind rainbow-puddled gas stations

over destitute shopping carts

past sitting walkers

around rusted wrecks

amid static mobile homes

Without reserve they flow

through Reserve

until St Joseph pouring at last

into St. Mary’s joy

is carried by her abundance

to greater confluence

and wide hillsides of heavy orchards

In the reservoir

the congregation of waters

held back in saturated bed of clay

deep in stillness

dark in secrets

ceases striving

and reflects

ruby opulence

in golden autumnal glory


I have watched


in saturated bed of  tears

eager for my turn

to burst over damming reserve

to bring tribute to tributary

to whirl and dance in eddies of joy

to shout the songs

of sky-glittered brook

to journey to ripened fruitful fields



subdued in the secret depth

where you make

your thoughts known

still my heart

that might I reflect

your glory


Knowing what to leave out

Photo: Tam O’ Shanter Creek

So much of art, music, and poetry

is learning to leave spaces,

observe rests,

and reserve words.

So much of maturity

is learning to leave spaces,

observe rests,

and reserve words.

So much of faith is learning

abundance is

not needing to eat the whole feast


In the Kingdom of God

there is time

to savour his goodness.

His loving kindness endures forever.