A pattern sermon (2nd place)

Long enough have you dream’d contemptible dreams,
Now I wash the gum from you eyes,
You must habit yourself to the dazzle of the light and of
Every moment of your life. — Walt Whitman

Christ child, by Jodi Hildebrand. Photo contest winners here.

IT MATTERS HOW I pull back the sheet in the morning,
whether I slide my hand over the night’s warmth of Mark’s back.

It matters how I look at him,
or don’t when he hands me my morning coffee.

It matters that I look up from making a lunch sandwich
to Jacob huddled on the staircase warm inside his bath towel
his green eyes shining from his freckled face
and he suddenly yells, “where are my clothes?”
and I take a short breath and say,
“please don’t shout, look in your top drawer.”

It matters that I don’t go upstairs,
that his yell rips back a layer of rest.
that I yell,
“get out of bed, Isaac, I’m not driving you to school,”
and he yells back, “I am up,
I’m going to have a shower.”

It matters that I don’t say, when Kyra, dressed in black, comes down the stairs,
“Kyra your eyes look like you got into some bad fight last night
and your hair looks like it’s decoupaged,”
but I do say, “Kyra, eat some breakfast, you know the stats,”

when Jacob,
flinging the broom around like some man in combat without socks adds,
“Yeh, Kyra, eat some breakfast, you know the stats,”
and she huffs and tells him he’s such an eight year old
and I tell him to get some socks on
and she tells me she needs a ride home from school cause of French club
while Jacob yells from his bedroom, “I have no socks,”
when Isaac, hair still dripping wet from his shower,
plunks himself down at the table
and tells me he forgot to do his page of math
when Mark, who comes in from doing chores,
asks if there’s any bread left for toast.

It matters that somewhere in all of this I leave
to put laundry on the line.

I don’t notice a breeze whisper through jackpines,
nor the sun warming this east deck,

but I see the bath towel cutting a red window into the sky,
a forever blue frame, such a perfect blue.

I pull out orange pants from the laundry basket,
the thin cool ones Jacob would wear every day if he could.

I pin on Kyra’s emily strange t-shirt,
‘bad kittie’ in red letters beneath a cute kittie,
an orange t-shirt Mark’s designated for barn work,
Isaac’s swimming trunks.

Flung into the wind,
arms and legs lifting, buoyant as wings
into the light
into the company of birds.

I pick up the empty basket,
turn towards
the door.

The turn of the handle and a push on the door
lingers between
this moment and the next.

Recently, someone said,
what is a life
except one habit after another piled up into the morning
piled up into a day.

When my life becomes one habit after another
piled up into the morning,
I immerge from the pile all right:

a sharp word snapped like a twisted tea towel into the skin of my little ones.

you always lose your belt
laundry, a mountain that covers the couch
you forgot you had a french test? What did you do last night? MSN?
a trail of mud and gravel through the entrance
if you don’t brush your hair on your own, I’ll cut it

One thin layer over another over another
and none of it starts to matter
that it makes a day.

Someone once said:
The patterns of our lives reveal us. Our habits measure us.

Yes, go ahead, reveal me, measure me,
but please, it matters that you take me
every little layer of me and
lay me down into a basket of hope,
fling me into the wind,
lift me into the company of birds and light
where a hand on the night’s warmth of his back,
a clear sharp word
undo me.

I open the door —
we all open the door —
habbitting ourselves
back into our homes,
into each other.

This time into “the dazzle of the light
and of every moment of our life.”

Bonnie Loewen lives on a turkey and grain farm in rural Manitoba with her husband and three kids.

Issue 10

This article first appeared in Geez magazine Issue 10, Summer 2008, 30 Sermons You'd Never Hear in Church.

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Issue 10, Summer 2008

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