Wednesday, July 16, 2014


The part of my life I'm most apt to share is the half-full glass.

But I know you're no fool. Nothing is as straight as it seems around here where the sidewalks jut like busted teeth and the train cuts each quarter hour like a hundred broken hearts.

We're all just human, walking through the pitches and dips of life. The pulse doesn't change even if the skin around it does. This is what we signed up for when we put down our nets - a little ebb, a little flow. Right?

So I won't sugar-coat, and pretending makes me nauseous. When I say I love this life, that I'd never go back, I mean it.

But the flip-side is that I sometimes choose silence. It's safer. Easier. I don't trust myself to speak the hard truth well. People will misunderstand, or the weight of my words will pull me under for good.

Like a wife encamped in the truth that the love hiding in shadows will find its way back out, I know the boundaries of my belief. I've learned the angles and I've lived on every side.

Mine is a soul that pleads for beauty. It's a visceral need, a longing cast far past wishful thinking. I have to track it down. When I do, I fold myself inside it, a shawl for the colder nights.

This is what's necessary for me to exist between the cracks of a life I never asked for, one I was too naive to hope for. I must see the good. I have got to believe this right here is holy.

The waterline inches up the glass, its delicate weight like a clipped rose, a ripe peach, a snoozing infant in my hands. This is what I want. I want this glass to be filled. If it sloshes over the sides? Even better.

But sometimes it fills by the drop. Some weeks I'm left pacing the smudged floors, my eyes darting to gauge where we're at. Is life good right now? Is it on its way?

Now and then the glass slips from my hands and I can't see hope for all the mess we've made. Those are the days I choose to start over in quiet.

But maybe there's a place for the barren words, stripped of all the good-looking graces.

Tonight, life glitters on the floor in pieces, not so much the victim of a single tragedy but of the pound and blast of an ordinary Tuesday followed too closely by a Wednesday.

Tonight, nothing we do seems to be enough.
Tonight, everything we do feels like far too much.

The words seep through my shards and I know the truth before I even punctuate their end: It's not about us or what we do or don't do. It never was. 

It helps, but only a little.

Is there beauty here, where mothers don't cherish their children? Is there loveliness among dirty toddlers who speak in grunts, too alone to cobble together a first language? Where kids are passed and passed and passed along?

I stand surrounded by people who assume all the wrong things about my life, and as soon as I get close enough to touch theirs, any commonality we've crossed gets lost in translation again. We retreat to our separate corners. My head beats the wall and I love these people while I resent them. I defend them and I judge them. I believe them and I ignore them.

I love them and I love myself more, far too often.

This cannot be beauty.

I sit at the tracks while a train screams by. The gates lift and I'm swept back into our neighborhood, where nothing makes sense at all.

I can't explain why I exhale, I only know I do.

A family on bikes races across the street with smiles as wide as the low-sinking sun. I don't know a thing about them, but maybe they're enough right now. This is where God made my home, and beauty lives here, even when my eyes can't see.

Somewhere, a leaky faucet drips. It drips.

Before I know it, I'll be filled again, promising that every inconvenience matters, in my life and in yours.

I won't say it until I mean it.

And in the end, I always do.


  1. wow. your heart. and your way with the written word. wow.

  2. "This is where God made my home, and beauty lives here, even when my eyes can't see."
    someone put that on a print. heck, i might put that on a print.

    1. Yes! Definitely quotable and a much needed reminder.

    2. I so agree… Mind if I quote you, Shannon? Such beauty and authenticity in these words… A lovely post, through and through.

  3. You have a gift with words lady, no pinpointing what it is, you just do. This life is hard, good, but hard. When we invited a world into our lives that was so different from our own through adoption over 20 years ago we had no idea what we were getting into to. "Is there beauty here, where mothers don't cherish their children? Is there loveliness among dirty toddlers who speak in grunts, too alone to cobble together a first language? Where kids are passed and passed and passed along?" I know that world now because my girls lived the first five years of their lives in it. Sometimes the glass does tip over half full but a lot of times it shatters and empties itself right in front of me. But, you are so right, there is still so much beauty. Hold on to the beauty. Thank you for keeping it real. It's why I come back here every time you post.

  4. Beautiful! You have been blessed with a wonderful talent, your writing, that touches hearts, as you speak from your own heart.

    Love and hugs ~ FlowerLady

  5. It's like your heart was made to remind my heart. I'm going to wear my necklace tomorrow, my necklace made by the African mamma who cares for the orphans where a friend was adopted. I'll wear them tomorrow and ponder on why the two of us aren't in Rwanda. Even more, I'll thank God we are here today. To see what God is asking us to see. And I'll pray we remember there is always more than enough at God's table. He is so dope. ;)

  6. A. M. A. Z. I. N. G.
    Like it's been boiling so long inside if you that each word is necessary.
    Never apologize - we love these posts.

  7. Every time I come here, I think on how different our lives are and yet, how much they're the same. Broken and beautiful live everywhere, don' t they? We just need the eyes to see.

  8. You've spoken for a lot of us here. Beautifully and rightly said. Thank you Shannon.

  9. thank you for your words and vulnerability. and somehow YOUR words and heart make MY words and heart not feel so crazy and jumbled. your words bring clarity to my heart. thank you.

  10. me too. everything in pieces yesterday and today, from the small, insidious, everyday cracks that finally shatter me whole. love you.

  11. Beautiful words + beautiful images. The raw honesty in this post was moving.

  12. You are a beautiful writer. I jotted down a sentence of yours to read over and over again when I need it. Thanks. Michelle from Canada. instagram...michellerich31

  13. the honesty in your words was beautiful. God has a plan we may never fully understand, but we must still live each moment as he would want us to!

  14. You have a way of lacing the bad days with poetry that somehow seems to make them bearable. Lately, I have had some resistance to circumstances that I cannot control, circumstances that are only going to become worse with time, but yet I know God has a plan. Your words remind me that I can still embrace the beauty of my life. It may be different that I had planned, it may mean I am giving up some dreams, but if I hold on to the faith that there is beauty behind the pain, then I can find the poetry. Thanks for your honesty in your writing. There are too many people out there lily-coating their life. It is refreshing when someone dares to live their truth out loud on the bad days as well as the good ones.

  15. yes yes and yes. sometimes the ugliness is more beautiful that's when we can see things so clearly. thank u for that reminder!

  16. So, so good. I love every bit of it.