Reds – Guest Post: Michelle Ortega

Welcome. Today’s offering is wrapped in beauty from my writer friend Michelle Ortega. Her heart and her art are bursting with loveliness. And love.

Michelle and I first met at Tweetspeak Poetry, a community and online trove of treasures for poets and artists and lovers of beauty, merriment, mirth and laughter. And all things poetry.

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Reds

when my longing

to belong

protests my need

to be free

the fracas

that ensues

impedes peace

I dream

this tree

branches high

above me

unsure how

to proceed

I look up

to see leaves
of fire
overhead
pentecostal reds
limbs stretched
wide
to meet
to greet
the beat of
autumn
wind’s
swirlingflutter
roiling dance

in the moment
holding fast
all too soon
the seasons pass

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About The Writer: Michelle Ortega IS. Her passions include mothering, loving on the meek and outcast, writing poetry and photography (in any given order as opportunities arise).”

Why I Long For Nothing Or Why I Want Intangibles This Christmas

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I ache for intangibles. I am longing for a filling in of the void. I am craving, in my empty hollow pit,  change and love come down and hope cracked open. Hope poured out. A drowning out of pain. I limp like the war wounded, dragging a limb with chronic pain. I limp with a ghostly pain for Love to seep into the cracked and bleeding places. Heal as aloe on our weary souls.

I look for The Healing Balm with the eyes of my Advent Heart.

I want with a weary wanting.

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And God is good to allow the empty hollow hunger. For me. I am moved. Pushed in my spirit by the Spirit to a place of chronic pain. To seek the unseen. Covered by the fog of self. Love wide open love Divine all Love out-dwelling. Love indwelling. Love Incarnate. Wash over us. This soul ache means I am made for more. For serving man and other.

If you wrap your love, which I too will do. Whisper prayers over paper and bows. Breathe the breath of prayerful change over boxes and bags of packages wrapped in love and lovely. Look out and in. And help me look in and outward too. To find the intangibles in their walking flesh and bone. And breathe new life. To heal the hurting. Calm the storms. Be the love lived out. Hands and feet multiplied. Oh Multiplier of Mercy.

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Oh but I am in my comfort. With the companion of my ache. And I am with my passion, words. I am not there. The Liberia’s with my serving servant friend. Or Haiti. Where the others that I know are walking. I am here. Longing for nothing. But a Christmas with an overflow. From the heart. Joy jumping high like hot grease in the frying pan, cooking up the Sunday bacon. Hope cracked open like the farm fresh egg, yolk of yellow nourishment. Healing spread like the salve of a mother’s kiss on a wounded blood-soaked knee.

Great tidal waves of salty seas. Of grace. Grow feet and walk up on our shores.

And mark the world with Love come down at Christmas. Love. Unfailing Love. And leave us change. By grace. Leave us changed by Grace. Love the battle winner. Love the conqueror. Love the healer of all ache.

Amen?

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Scenes From A Day In The Life Of A Woman Longing For Christmas Joy

Titles should be short, pithy and easy to skim. Oh well. I grant myself grace in the area of this rule, this day. And I am hoping you will too. (Says the poet to herself and to her patient readers).

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The birds come to the feeder late. I know how they feel. Hunger strikes out of the shadows of the gray. And there is comfort by the window sill. I watch them feed as they befriend me on the warm side of the cool pane. I wonder if I bring them even an ounce of the comfort they bring me.

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I am unpacking boxes. They come, thrown my way like confetti. That which is left for the street cleaners at the end of a seemingly unending parade. I cannot not look. I cannot not clean. I press on. Each box a memory. A yearbook from 1944. War was. War is. Change comes. And we still hunger after peace. I open the musty navy blue leather and peek. It is all I can do. My skin and bones and flesh and soul can only feel so much of the memories I must unravel. How can I not honor the dead. How can I bear the stories that are only half way laid to rest. How can I hurry by the legacy of the buried. The dead. Pausing I nod. Pausing I acknowledge. The pages are a hiding place for more. Someone has tucked a dozen black and white photographs inside. And I must look all the way back. It is 1940 something. It is 2014 or something.

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The music plays loud. Then dolce. Then deafening. I do not dare go without. It is my mana, my sustenance, my companion. It mirrors the wait. It echos the longing. It speaks for me. It whispers, even loudly, the reminders of hope. I pluck songs out of the airstream and swallow them. Hungry for the phraseology of hymn and song and poetry of each tune. Without the music these days, I feel I may starve my soul. Hungry am I for the notes to wash over me. Hungry for Christmas in every line. Hope rides on the backs of the black and white sharps and flats. And I find comfort. While I wait for the joy.

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The books can entangle me the most. We have hidden things within the pages. We have used them as a repository for our lives. We have documented our living with their titles. There are series and seasons of titles that remind. Of craving organization and longing to steward well. Of birding and birthing and boating and raising our children. Preparing them for flight, on the other side. To the other side. Away. There are books we read. And books we never did. I grieve. And among them a book from a friend. Written in french. I look for room. I am running out. Of ideas and room. Of patience and space.

But I crack the spine and find her words written in 1978 to me. I cannot weep. For if I start, I may not stop. I am battling emotions which come and go. My heart, it longs for Christmas. It is 1970 something. I went to Paris without her. I remember it well. I cannot weep.

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I cannot escape the banging. The clamoring. The sounds of nails driving into the wood. And I remember the time, 33 years, from my creche with the baby in the manger. Until the cross. And I wonder if the people building this home, know the cost. They do. Monetarily. But every day the nails are hammered. Hundreds. And I hear nearly every one. The work. The patience. The hours. The noise. The sacrifice. Why do they need a home so grand. It looms. And is large. Maybe they, like me, have memories to house. To store. And the books. With no where to go.

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I go back to my unpacking, my music, turning up my favorite carols and hymns. They help buffer the hammers and nails. And I excavate. And unpack. And long, really hunger for Christmas. And pray that the old cravings for more subside. Pray that simplicity will invade my living space. And hope that this weary world will prepare Him room, as Heaven and nature sing.

And I trust with all that I am and all that I have, that Love will come down at Christmas.
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Joining Beth at just be beth dot com for Unforced Rythms

The Gift Of Words – Guest Post: Charity Singleton Craig

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Charity Singleton Craig has been and continues to be a gift to me and to my life as a writer. What joy and delight to discover her words here include a reference to an online workshop (which she lead with Ann Kroeker. Those twelve women and twelve weeks significantly impacted my writing life. Welcome my friend, Charity. She is a jewel. And so are her words and her newly published book (order it on Amazon for the writer friends in your life.)

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As I held a copy of On Being A Writer in my hands for the first time, I thought about all the years of hard work that culminated in this book. The stories told, the lessons learned, even the words on the page: these were born out of struggle and perserverance. Books aren’t born easily, I’ve learned. Just as lives aren’t lived easily, either.

But as I ran my fingers over the smooth cover and flipped through the tight, crisp pages my prevailing thought turned on this one word: gratitude. On Being A Writer is a gift.

Not in the logistical sense, of course. This book began with a contract and has become a commodity, something you can buy on Amazon, a product we sell at events. Publishers, editors, printers, bookstores, authors: we will all recognize some small profit from these words on the page.

But the process of seeing an idea come to life, the investment of friends and colleagues nurturing a project that began with a “what if?” in an email: that is a gift.

The twelve women in twelve weeks who workshopped together over the book’s central themes and in the process helped form it: that is a gift.

The excitement of family and friends, readers and colleagues celebrating the launch of this singular book into a world already full of ideas: that is a gift.

Working with a co-author whose experience and perspective turned vague ideas into specific stories with practical application for readers: that is a gift.

The support of a husband who joined his story to my story that ended up as our story on the printed page: that is a gift.

The remarkable thing about this book, however, is that the gift didn’t end at publication. When people buy the book and read it, that is a gift, too, of course. But even the conversations that result from talking with people about their writing lives, from engaging writers of all levels about a life of words, that, too, is the gift this book keeps on giving, even if the transaction is less financial and more relational.

As we enter the gift-giving season, what gifts of words can you give? How can your words become the gift that keeps on giving?

When you pay your restaurant bill, leave a big tip and write a big compliment right on the check.

When you head to a holiday party, wrap a note of appreciation around that bottle of wine you present to the hostess.

When you check off your children’s wish list, write your own Christmas list of the hopes you wish for them.

When you mail out your Christmas cards, write blessings and poems and knock knock jokes along with your name.

And when you are shopping for something to wrap and place under the tree, think books, magazine and newspaper subscriptions, and bookstore gift cards.

Because though words can hurt and maim and paralyze, words can also bring healing and hope and life. And I want my words – the ones spoken as well as the ones written – to be a gift to those who hear and read.

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Charity Singleton Craig is a writer, bringing words to life through essays, stories, blog posts, and books. She is the coauthor of On Being A Writer  (T.S. Poetry Press, October 2014), and she has contributed essays to three books, including Letters to Me: Conversations with a Younger Self. She is regularly published at various venues, including The Curator, where she is a staff writer; The High Calling, where she is a content and copy editor; and TweetSpeak Poetry, where she is a contributing writrs. She lives with her husband and three step-sons in central Indiana. You can find her online at charitysingletoncraig.com, on Twitter @charityscraig and on Facebook.

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Joining Laura today.