on the inside (i am outside).

i wish that i could say

that i have

all the answers.

.

or perhaps,

. just a few.

that would be good.

.

that i have

. somehow,

grown fat with wisdom.

.

i have neither.

.

. all i have in my hands

are words.

.

. and none of them are smooth.

.

they are hungry words

that know how to search

when the lights have gone out.

.

they are strong words

that know how to break down walls,

one stone at a time.

.

they are brave words

that know how to open windows,

when all the doors are locked.

.

they are tender words

that know how to soothe what is broken,

because they remember.

.

. because,

i remember

. what it is to need water

and hope.

.

and i have

somehow

stumbled right into the middle of my life

still carrying a bag of questions.

.

. rebellious ones at that.

or, so i have been told.

.

not fit for one who stands in the shadow of the cross.

.

. my coat,

is too bright

or too faded

or too there-is-something-not-quite-right

and

we can see right through that cloak

and

she does not fit in,

. here on holy ground.

.

i know.

. i know.

.

but i can pour shame

onto paper

in

the

shape

of grace.

.

and i can string words into lights

that stubbornly lead the way out.

or up,

. if you believe.

.

and

this relentless unmasking

of flesh

and

bone

and

heart

and

soul

into words,

. is all that i have been given

in exchange

for

all

that has been taken.

.

and still

it is not enough?

.

.

—on the inside (i am outside).

.

.

© Liezel Graham 2019.

on letting go of what is gone.

the silver birch

and

the oak,

called me into the woods

today.

.

.

i carried with me

all the things

that i have ever lost

.

. and never let go of.

.

.

and the weight of it all

was counted

in fear.

.

.

and

i sat beneath

the bare arms of the birch, reaching up.

.

.

. always up,

despite her season

of nakedness

and loss.

.

.

and we sang a lament

together.

. an ancient song

of letting go.

.

.

and it was hard.

.

.

loss,

can scrape the joy

right

out

of your bones.

.

.

and that,

which i never wanted to give up,

.

.

brought life,

. in the end,

like

. dead leaves

on the woodland floor.

.

.

and the silver birch

and

the oak,

sent their roots down,

.

.

deep

. deep,

down

into

the earth,

.

.

and asked for more.

—on letting go of what is gone.

.

.

© Liezel Graham 2019.

.

.

Photograph by Skitterphoto.com

a new year’s song.

the year is dying in my hands

and

. i am filling my apron

with a feather

. for hope,

and

tiny bits of tumbled sea glass

. for courage.

.

.

when the waters rise,

. they will not wash over me.

.

.

a pinch of faith,

. you only need a little,

and

a quilt of mercy

to warm my heart

.

that

at

times

has

loved

so coldly.

.

. i will guard the spring.

.

guard it fiercely,

so that only

love

will

flow,

. but i know

that i am cut from rough cloth

and

grace

is the bread that keeps me alive,

.

and you.

.

so

i will give

. and give

. and give,

until

we cannot see

who we once were,

. for all the love.

.

that,

is how they will recognise us.

.

.

the broken ones.

.

not the knowledge.

not the perfection.

not the raised eyebrow,

.

but

the

love.

.

it’s how i recognised you,

when

all

i had known was failure.

.

you loved me first,

and

never

stopped.

.

and i will not worry about

my hips

or

my wrinkles

or

my yesterdays

or

my tomorrows.

.

i am held.

.

and because i am the one,

.

that

one,

.

who deserves an entire parable.

. yes.

.

the one

who wanders

and

strays .

into thickets

. and

thorns,

where others see the danger,

i will remember that i was searched for

. over and over,

every time

and

i too will

. search

when others get lost.

.

i will not be the pointing finger,

but

the open hand that says,

. here i am.

.

let me be

a light in a glass jar,

. shining

in spite of it all.

.

.

—a new year’s song.

.

.

© Liezel Graham 2018.

.

.

Photograph by Martí Pardo.

.

.

Friends,

.

.

I wish you a peaceful, spacious

new year.

.

.

Know that you are held

and that though they may rise,

the waters will not wash over you,

.

.

liezel

this story, ends well.

in the late afternoon,

i light

a candle in my kitchen.

the visible hours

are

few

this time of year.

my eyes

and

my heart

both

struggle to see

clearly

in this season.

there is so much

in the air

that

hides

the ache

inside

and

this longing

for

all is calm

all is bright,

is overwhelming

at times,

and

perhaps

your

star is hidden

this year?

and,

when children sing,

you,

only

have

the memory

of

what

once

was,

to unwrap

and

the edges are frayed

and

the past

is

all

that

still

breathes.

and the past

might be

your (only) present.

and,

the nights are silent,

and

dark.

sometimes.

yes,

some seasons

are not

always

merry

and

bright.

i know.

but

we

keep

moving

and

clinging

to

the

hem

of the one

who heals.

so,

i carry this small flame

through

doorways

and

heart-spaces

and

i watch it

soften

the every-day

scratchiness

of the hallway

and

heart-ways.

ready

to welcome

anyone

who should knock,

seeking.

and,

tiny lights have done

this

deep

work,

forever.

this,

keeping the dark outside,

and

holding the night at bay.

bravely.

this little light of mine

flickers

and

sometimes,

fails,

but,

it fights.

oh,

it does.

turning fearful places

into

a place of hope,

high

on

top

of

a hill,

and

you can trust

that

your light

is still

enough.

enough

to

warm

hope

so broken

and

grief,

so fierce

it would rip the fabric

of

your

being.

but it won’t.

it won’t.

although it will try.

and

we will light

(our)

tiny flames

and

we

will

breathe

in,

and

out.

in.

and.

out.

until

we return

to where we

lost

the precious thing.

where we lost our hope,

and

in the end

we will

be ok.

our stories might be

broken,

but,

stories full of light,

always

end well.

just keep burning.

— this story, ends well.

© Liezel Graham 2018.

Photograph by Inna Lesyk.

Amidst all the lovely chaos of family and Christmas preparations, some of us

get lost and get tired from trying

to hide sadness and grief.

Your story might have broken bits written into its chapters,

but hold on — stories full of light, always end well.

liezel

when (your) winter is too long.

sometimes,

much like the frozen soil

in the valley of winter,

hope,

might

appear

to be dead.

do not be afraid.

it is just sleeping,

and

soon the light will fall on it,

and

snowdrops

will

gently

birth themselves

in front of your eyes.

fragile white hope,

strong enough to push through

frozen soil.

and

your

heart

will heal

once more.

— when (your) winter is too long.

© Liezel Graham 2018.

Photograph by Simon Matzinger.

Sometimes, everything seems dead.

Hope, dreams, relationships and even faith.

But, I was reminded this morning when reading about the daughter of Jairus, how often what we call dead, God calls sleeping.

Take heart.

Spring is coming.

liezel

on being jabez.

she named you jabez.

when

wave,

after wave,

of searing heat

had

ripped

through

her belly and skin.

and she,

exhausted,

could finally hold you in her arms,

she looked at you and said,

i gave birth to him

in pain.

call him, jabez.

he makes sorrowful.

he causes pain.

and i often wonder,

why?

a mother forgets

the pain of birth.

usually.

forgetting can be a lifeline.

but you — born in misery.

a maker of sorrow.

your name.

your very being.

you carried

that

with you.

inscribed on your heart.

through the years,

every

time

your

name

was

called.

a reminder.

(i caused) pain.

(i was born from) sorrow.

dear one,

born

in

strife.

did you ever wonder, why?

did you silently long

for the ordinary names of your playmates?

yes.

i see you.

i see your heart determine

not

to

fail.

i see a young man

steadfastly refuse

to give in.

refuse to give life,

to that

which crushed his mother’s heart.

that,

which longed to crush him,

too.

i see you fight.

fight,

to

not

settle

for the destiny

that you were named for.

knowing,

that there is more.

knowing,

that words have power.

great power.

if only i realised how much,

and

that

life

and

death

lives

in

my

mouth.

but,

there is one

who breathes

hope

into a tired spirit.

one,

who speaks

life

into dry bones

and

dead hearts.

i know.

jabez.

honourable man.

thousands of years after your name was written on a scroll,

i see you.

and i hear,

what the words do not say.

defiant one.

you taught me

that i too,

could shrug off a

hand-me-down cloak

too

small

for my shoulders.

you showed me the way to say,

no.

no,

i

shall

not

settle

for sorrow,

though i might be

named for it.

and,

there are many ways

to name a child.

i shall not be satisfied

with misery.

though it might have been a companion

for all the generations

before

me.

i shall not,

forever

carry

the bitter disappointments

of another.

though they know my name.

it is not my load to carry.

i will never be enough,

and

it will always be too heavy.

and,

this life has more.

always, more.

because there is one

who

is

enough,

and

i can go

with outstretched hands

and ask for more.

jabez.

the broken dreams

of our mothers,

were never meant

to guide

us

home.

there is hope.

there

is

so

much

hope.

stand up.

lift your head.

take

off

that

cloak.

it was never yours, to begin with.

— on being jabez.

‘Jabez was more honourable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying,

“I gave birth to him in pain.”

Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.’

1 Chronicles 4:9-10

© 2017. Liezel Graham.

A re-post of one of my older poems that I have polished a wee bit and that I feel so strongly to share today.

If you are not familiar with the story of Jabez, I can summarise it as follows:

a baby is born to a mother, who remembers only the pain of childbirth and names her son for that pain and that sorrow.

As someone who has delivered a few babies I know that there are as many different mothers as there are grains of sand, yet most forget the pain of labour and rejoice in the gift of the child that they have given birth to.

Unless, the child is not wanted.

Or, carries the weight of a mother’s broken dreams, and

we all do.

Sometimes.

But, this man story has always shown me that there is more.

Despite what you have inherited.

Despite what you have been named for.

Names,

can be changed.

And, misery and sorrow and pain

do not have to be your defining companions.

Even though they might be familiar.

Let them go.

Change your name.

Change your heritage.

xx