Mizpah {On Loss}


Have you ever watched those old Looney Tunes shorts with the coyote and roadrunner? Just when the coyote thinks he’s finally caught up with it, the bird disappears so quickly he leaves a puff of roadrunner-shaped dust at the coyote’s side.

That’s what loss feels like; the disappearance of someone or something so suddenly that you still feel their lingering presence, an outline of their dust, yet all the while faced with their undeniable, permanent absence. You hear their voice in a crowded room, see their retreating back on a busy street, go to tell them something, momentarily excited until you remember that they aren’t there. After a while the dust settles and you adjust to the absence. But never, perhaps, to the vacancy.

{I wish I knew how to write what I mean!}

What do you do with the memories?
Sundays in Central Park, “c’est quoi en francais?” pictures in the Met, phone conversations a country apart, all the ways we fought to stay alive despite ourselves.
We’re 857 miles apart but I’m crouched in front of you on your kitchen floor, staring, shaking, into your face, willing you to wake up. How do I tell you that I’m sorry, that it’s my fault I failed you and I don’t know how to carry the weight of that guilt? That I lied when I told you everything was going to be okay. That I don’t know how to sit with the grey dog grief this time and let it pass, that I’m not ready to.

I could describe her to you in a hundred different terms of vividness and life without once mentioning her demons, but she could never seem to see past them.

There is an element of paradox to the process of grieving; a clinging as well as a letting go, a sitting still while moving on. Suicide leaves an ugly scar, but there is grace in the reminder that the lingering burden of sadness need not be borne alone. There is a peace in knowing that it is not death to die, that while Heaven beguiles the tired towards a far greater thing we must still run the race in its entirety, and that we do not run alone.


Scripture has become so beautiful to me. Not that I didn’t understand the beauty of scripture before, I merely am beginning to appreciate it. Of all the things I may say for a Christian university or Bible college experience, the tools with which it equips you to actually understand God’s word, to explore its roots, to learn the original languages, to read within context, to enjoy the words themselves and the complexity of the message, to value the variety that different translations each have to offer,  is one of the greatest. I no longer take for granted the intangible value of this tangible book, and for that I am truly grateful.


It’s one of those picturesque autumnal mornings– grey and damp, the mist so heavy it begins to form into a drizzle, the trees aflame as if set to a slow burn by some invisible dragon, their blazing orange and red leaves littering sidewalk and lawn, fallen sentries to the season’s change.
I should be studying, or reading, or working on my script, or any of the hundreds of other priorities I have clamouring for my attention.
Instead, I’m thinking about rain.
About walking, running, dancing in sheets of it as it falls, utterly soaked to the skin and perfectly happy. Of standing arms outstretched, face turned up, attempting to catch it all, and being overcome with a divine, perfect sense of peace in the midst of a chaotic beating. Of dripping my way indoors from the street and into the warm arms of home, sitting on the kitchen floor, swaddled in a towel, hands wrapped around a cup of tea; “you have not known true joy until you have waltzed in the rain.”
I’m also thinking about the deluge of God’s love, the torrential downpour of His mercy and grace and even the storms of His righteous wrath. I am thinking about the constancy of His inescapable presence, His nearness despite my feeling far, the cleansing peace of His perfect promises.
He will come to us like rain, causing streams to run in the desert and dry bones to rejoice.
He will come to us like rain, making all things new.
He will come to us like rain.



Sunday-paper comics, hard-wood floors, a tall vase of fresh flowers, and the smell of clean linen; a tea mug stain on old paper, an oversized sweater and thick socks. The rush of an early Manhattan morning– the push and pull of people, the steam that rises from the sidewalk vents, the passing smell of roasted peanuts, the crisp fall air. Soft paws and deep-throated purrs, the clinging warmth of the blankets after a long night’s sleep, a long, standing embrace, the sound of rain on the world beyond the window. Abandoned buildings, vines growing up and over the sides, through broken panes, and across derelict tiles. Orchestras tuning up and symphonies in empty rooms, waltzing in the dark. Counting clouds, the smooth coarseness of sand, the crash and spray of the salt-sea. Eye contact, comfortable silence. An old book. A new one too. The sincerity of prayer.

These are a few of my favourite things.



There is a house far and away that collects the things lost in time–letters never sent, tattered pages fallen from books, and toys abandoned in play and kicked under the bed, neglected. The basement shelters boxes of memories long forgotten, the attic houses dreams deserted by their sehnsucht minds.

The floor, a once smooth surface, is now scraped and dented, worn with grooves by the years of passing feet and dragging chairs. The walls still echo silently with the laughter, the arguments, the whispered secrets that once filled a million other rooms. The building itself stands forlorn and sentry-like on a mist-covered hill, the only landmark for miles. It’s callers are few, but those who visit find either moments of nostalgic delight or hours of dissatisfied solivagance and regret.

It all depends on the length of your stay.



My rings have been breaking.

It started with the pinch of a broken band, an unexpected and alarming discovery that wouldn’t be fixed after several applications of superglue. I continued to wear it-a traditional heart held by two nontraditional Celtic knots-taking care not to stress and play with it in my absentminded habits, until it snapped into threes this morning.
The second happened all at once, the floss-thin silver immediately destroyed beyond repair.

I had four, now I have two– these carefully selected, sterling-silver bands invested with meaning and worn so long that they’ve perfectly formed to my hand, and I feel oddly naked without them. It’s amazing how easily I attach symbolism to objects and occurrences, second only to how alarmingly attached to the items themselves I then become. I’ve struggled over the line I feel I sometimes ambivalently straddle between iconoclastic idolatry and mere figure, how inhibited I become by the meanings I sometime endow, and the question of sin that traces its black mark indelibly throughout. I’ve also begun to understand that my preoccupation with the past is largely fueled by my blind refusal to move on. The two issues meet in the middle over things as small as the four covenantal promises to never forget that are housed on my left-hand fingers.

Covenantal promises that began to break in the midst of so much that was already shattering; questions I haven’t wanted to ask with answers I don’t like to accept, adopted apathy for the sake of self-defense, and roots grown in the ground of fear, based on limited, painful experience and shame. All things bound up in the symbolism of two rings that have just as symbolically begun to pass away, as all things will. And when the dust and broken pieces settle there remains the realisation that my identity is not in the things of my past but the One into whose image I am being (slowly, painfully) transformed. That I’ve already been set free from it all, and there is no image and symbol in breaking but that of Christ and His body that can truly convey the depth of this release.

I threw away my broken bits of silver in a random school rubbish bin and thought about Judas’ thirty pieces on the floor of the temple, the irony of tangible symbolism, and my remaining two rings.


All effortless,
Dancing peace.
Dipflow of brush,
Inkswirl of pen,
The reincarnation of emotion onto blank page;
The imperfect interpretation
Of tangled lines that tie
The head to the heart
To heliophilic soul,
Peering into eternity and yet,
Bound to the present.
The thought
The action,
And the shadows in between.

{Darkness over the surface of the deep,
And the Spirit of God hovering over the waters}