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The sun is streaming, like strands of melted sugar,

the light twists in the air, warm and bright

I can almost taste springtime today,

that’s how beautiful it is.

The band starts playing and all the kids run to the front.

They grab rhythm instruments, shaking and tapping

out of beat. They laugh and sing.

I sing too, hardly able to stop the smile on my face.

And I swear, my soul is shouting so loudly,

that everyone around me

must be able to hear it through my chest.

Like having been underwater too long and

taking that first big breath of air,

joy is filling every inch of my body,

both a sense of relief and a rush of excitement.

My feet tap and I can barely keep still.

I want to dance.

I want to write.

I want to pick my way over boulders and climb to the top of a mountain

and yell until my lungs burn and then

laugh until my stomach hurts.

Joy.

Joy because life is beautiful.

Joy because an earthquake rolled a stone away from a grave

and in doing so

made the walls I’d built up in my heart come crashing down.

Joy because of Jesus.

Joy because of little kids who struggle with English

but seem to have no problem laughing at my mistakes in their language.

Joy because I can feel breath moving in and out of my lungs

Joy because I am alive

and I will sing to prove it.

Let’s Talk about LOVE

We have corrupted love.

Previously a weightless ray of sun,

we have tied it to an anchor

and drowned it in the sea.

We have taken a word as strong as iron,

heated it with the fire of our indifference

and twisted it until it broke

into pieces

not useable for much.

 

We love Starbucks

and our hipster clothes.

We love driving fast in cars.

When did love start applying to

momentary satisfaction?

And why do we have such a shocked reaction

when God says love

is forever?

 

See we in our simplicity have taken

four Greek words and translated them as one.

But God had a single intention

when He sent his son

to earth.

 

Agape

No, it’s not a new flavour of smoothie

This

is a little foreign.

A little out of place on my lips

and a little startling

to the ears.

This is the love that we have lost

in the shadows of a world that is drowning itself

because it won’t let go of an

artificial emotion.

 

This love

comes with no terms and conditions

because we all know

nobody reads them.

Our father

already skimmed

and found the loophole.

 

Our father

can’t be discontinued because

eternity will always be in style.

 

Our father

doesn’t watch us be carried away downstream

and throw a paddle.

He jumps in

and pulls us out because

he’s not afraid of ruining his hair.

 

Our father

doesn’t cheer us on from the sidelines.

He will run every uphill mile

and piggyback you when you twist your ankle

or get a cramp

in your motivation.

 

Because He is Agape

 

And Agape is not a love that is stagnant

It doesn’t have an ending

Agape is a love

in the business of sending

us out

to find more people to Agape.

 

Agape asks for nothing in return.

Agape will give you it’s jacket in the rain.

Agape and love are not the same thing.

 

But we don’t use the word Agape.

Someone was too tired

and accidently spelt it

L-O-V-E

when transcribing.

 

But we are children

learning by example.

 

I will start liking Starbucks

but loving people.

I will stop expecting an “I love you too”

I will reclaim the word “love”

 

Because language is defined by the people who use it

 

I like to get my meaning across,

use precise diction.

So I will use action

to remove ambiguity from my words.

I will make

love mean Agape.

 

And you.

I will pull you out from the depths

and into the sunlight

because

God

loves

you.

And I want to be the dictionary

He gives you to define it.

I will remember

This time last year I was off on the greatest adventure of my life so far. I learned so much while I was in Switzerland. Not only did I become proficient and confident in my second language, but I also grew as a person and saw a part of the world that took my breath away. It gave me a yearning for adventure, a love of airports and a joy of stumbling through conversations as I force my tongue to make new sounds. I know wanderlust is an overused term but this was my view of it. This is my wanderlust. I want to truly experience the world not just see it.  

I stood at the foot of the mountain pictured on the wrapper of a Toblerone chocolate bar.

Also

known

as

the Matterhorn

It’s one of the most well-known sites in Switzerland

An icon,

my camera roll is full of photos

but as I stood in it’s shadow

I come to the realization

pictures

don’t do justice.

And I remember thinking.

God. Please make this stick in my mind. So I can go back and play this day over and over like a home video, the film rolling through my brain, the images tumbling clearly as if I was seeing them for the first time. Please. Tattoo these memories, engrave them on the inside of my skull.

I want to remember

I know now

I don’t want to be a tourist

with nothing but a few photos of a

half remembered family vacation and a sunburn that disappears after a week

I

want a backpack

I want upside down maps

I want language barriers and

I want native speakers with not a word of English on their tongues

I want dirt roads

and I want to make the kind of friends who welcome you into their home

A stranger one day

and a friend

still five years later

I want to get lost in unknown cities

and find Sam in the process.

The world is wide

and it can be scary

and I know I won’t get to see it all

But I want to collect as much of it as I can

like the smooth round pebbles I used to pick up as a kid

I will slip memories into my pocket and feel

their weight as I walk,

remembering brown faces with crooked smiles and eyes

as wise as the mountains,

warm spicy scents that burn my nose

in the best possible way

I will pretend my skin still carries the dust of a country I miss

even though

it’s long since washed away.

And when I have children I will teach them

to carry backpacks

and draw their own maps

and let them get lost in the backyard to find themselves.

When I have grandchildren

I will reach into a pocket

almost forgotten

and pull out a stone.

Worn smooth as sea glass from the rubbing of fingers over the years

I will hold it like the Aboriginal chiefs

hold a totem pole to help remember the details of a legend

I will speak

let the memories rise up

smells and sights from long ago faded coming rushing back like

a river thawing in spring

I will tell them about standing in the shadow of the Matterhorn

I will tell them about a song sung round a campfire in a language I barely understood

I will tell them how I sang anyway

I will explain that I found part of Sam in a village in the south of Thailand

and another piece of her in the sand on the beaches of Peru

I will explain how bits of her were hidden in places I hadn’t expected

like the hallway of my high school

and a box

in the corner of my mother’s basement.

I will tell them I found Sam spread all over the earth

like Isis found Osiris in Egyptian times,

I will tell them to get lost

When they ask to see pictures I don’t have, I will describe

the smile of a girl whose name has long been lost and buried in the filing cabinet of my mind

but who’s smile I will never forget

or  the sound of a crowded street, people rushing about , strangers

who were really just friends I hadn’t yet met

I will describe the smell of an ocean.

I will give them a Toblerone bar

I will tell them to make friends with everyone they meet

The world is wide

I know I won’t see all of it but

I’ll try

I will collect cities and people and languages and love and I will hold them close in my pocket

And I will use them as touchstones

To remember

God. Please. Make this stick in my mind like a home video, I will rewind the tape over and over and pray I don’t wear it out. Help me to decipher the carvings I once made but now can barely recognize. Please

I will discover

and then

I will remember

Monday Morning

This poem was inspired by a TED talk given by Shabana Basij- Rasikh filmed at TEDxWomen

MONDAY MORNING

It’s Monday morning. My alarm clock crackles to life, filled with static it begins to play the latest pop hit. My eyes open. Okay, one eye opens. I squint at the numbers, shining much too bright, much too early. It’s 6:52am, if I don’t get up I’ll be late for school. I hit snooze and roll over.

It’s Monday morning and in Afghanistan, a girl who looks nothing like me opens her eyes. She needs no alarm; she rises with the sun and starts to get ready. She doesn’t want to be late for school.

The radio clicks on again, it’s 7:17, I’m definitely going to be late. I roll out of bed, throw on my uniform and glare at my reflection in the mirror. It’s Monday morning and I’m not “feeling” school today.

She wraps a scarf around her head, letting only her eyes peek out. You can’t see underneath but, she’s smiling. It’s Monday morning and her fingers are crossed that today she can go to school. Last week it was cancelled; she’s not sure why.

Mom drives me to school and I half listen to her lecture about not missing the bus, half wonder if I’ll be able to get away with a nap in English class. It’s Monday morning, I’m too tired to even consider trying to do any work.

She is led to school by her little sister…or little brother depending on who’s asking. She can’t leave the house without a male escort; this way they can both go to school. It’s Monday morning and they take a different route than last time, avoiding suspicion.

I arrive in first period, find my classroom in the long hallway, sit down with 20 other students. I barely hear the lesson and chat through the work period. It’s Monday morning and even the teacher doesn’t really care. I count the hours until I can go home

She arrives at a one room house, sits down with 80 other girls, each of who know that what they are doing is forbidden. She keeps both eyes on the teacher but one ear towards the door. It’ Monday morning and whispers are flying that their secret is out. She stays because she wants to learn how to solve the math equation on the board.

The other girl and I go through our day, same earth, different worlds.

The worst part of my day is when the café is out of chicken salad wraps. The worst part of hers is when the soldier enters the room. I complain to my friend while eating pasta instead. He puts a gun to her head. I mutter “School makes me want to die”. He pulls the trigger.

She just wanted to learn to solve the math equation on the board.

I won’t hear about her on the news, no one will know she’s gone, she’s just one Afghan girl. But if I did, if I saw her face maybe I wouldn’t say she looks nothing like me. Maybe I would see the sparkle in her eyes and know that we both love to debate, love to sing, love people. Maybe, maybe not. But I won’t know because I won’t see her. And I won’t know that she’s gone. I won’t know that she died for something I take for granted.

It’s Monday morning. The other girl is gone. I am still here, wishing I weren’t. A girl who looks nothing like me was still just a girl. She just wanted to learn how to solve the math equation on the board.

Tomorrow is Tuesday morning. I will get up and moan about school again, she won’t get up at all.