Michigan Avenue 3am March 21

It was
the bare collar bones
that made her shiver.
Not the fingers tickling short hairs
Not the accommodating stretching
Not the sobbing similar rhythm
that would not leave her body.

It must have been
the shimmering skirt
that caused the shaking
Beyond bone-deep, soul-deep
quaking that did not stop
for a week

or two or she’s lying
and she still cannot stop.
Stop. STOP.

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The Day our Men were Taken from Us

Nobody blinked an eye.
We walked out as if
the ground weren’t littered with
corpses.
We didn’t think of the
graveyards where the fight is
real and injustice
wins.
We went to a coffee shop
and researched pubic hair
and cat memes. We
forgot.
I know that the bodies weren’t real
this time.
I know that there was a
good cause.
But I pray for a soft heart
nonetheless;
in a country where soft hearts are
scarce.

White as Snow

It covers the colors of the world
to bring light of a new sort—
the reflection of rays which blind
and cleanse. It smooths the rough
to make room for death,
without which there could be no life.
It is the lent in which we lament
in expectation of hallelujah.
Our song is deepened by the
mingling of love and grief.

Oh, precious is the flow
that makes me white as snow.

Reflections on the First Snow

As I walked down the road in the darkness of midnight, I noticed that the light of the street lamps was dispersed by the sheer number of particles in the air, making it easy to see my path. The world had been darker at 5:30 when the snow was not falling!

Psalm 139:12

Even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.

I never understood this verse. It seemed logically impossible to me that darkness could not be dark. God cannot make a round square, so how can He make a bright darkness?

But now I think I’m beginning to see how this could be true. When God looks at our dark world, He sees snowflakes. Snowflakes which carry His light even in the dead of the night.

My prayer today as I look upon the wintry landscape is that God will make me a snowflake, unafraid to reflect Him in the darkest of times.

Matthew 5:16

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Being

I have always been told to
be whoever I want to be.
I thought this ridiculous once,
as I knew a specific skill set is required
for each job and a talent for each role.
But I’ve been thinking.
I cannot do whatever I want to do,
but being is different.
Being is the soul of a person.
Being is
noticing sadness in his smile,
bringing her soup on a cold day,
trying to wrap your arms around the world.
Being is
crying yourself to sleep,
speaking those dreadful words,
locking your quivering heart inside you.
Being is something no one can escape.
You have never been anything new;
billions of people have been the same as you—
loved, betrayed, understood, ignored, lost.
But no one has ever been those things
quite like you.
So take heart:
you are a compilation
of the world’s best and worst moments.
you are between
those who have and those who will understand.
and you are extraordinary
because you have been you.

Do you believe in beauty?

Do you believe in beauty?
I do.
Maybe you do, too, but you think it’s not you.
You think the model on the cover of Seventeen—that’s beauty. The girl in your English class with her flat stomach and soft curls—that’s beauty. The attractive man’s girlfriend. The twenty-something grocery store clerk. Not you.
You’re too fat or too skinny or too young or too old or too tall or too short or too dark or too pale or too loud or too quiet or too strong or too weak or too flippant or too serious or too you.
But who told you that?
Was it the eyes of the girl outside the dressing rooms? Was it the scoff of the boy in the ice cream shop? A coworker? A friend? A parent?
Where did they get this idea?
Someone scoffed at them first. And at the scoffer before that. Our idea of beauty is defined by a series of scoffs.
But you don’t have to be.
You don’t even have to write a definition, because it’s you. And the girl next to you. The one who has it all and the one who has nothing.
Beauty is your hair and your skin and your weight. It’s your hands and your freckles and your collarbones, your voice and your passions and your burdens. It’s the way you express yourself. The way you fit into your community. The way you love people, near and far.
You don’t have to do anything to be beautiful. You simply have to be.
Is the cultural ideal beautiful? Yes. So is its opposite.
Because beauty is so much more than one standard.
I believe in beauty because I believe in you. All of you.

Excess

Open to a page in the middle
and compose a poem
to no one at all
before writing one
for the world.
Wrestle with an angel
before leading a nation.
Find the aching in your soul
before searching for
the eloquence on your tongue.
Drink deeply of life,
and let the excess be
your poetry.