I have no words. by Michelle Okabayashi www.learning-grace.com

I have no words.

I have no words; I have too many words. And so I have said nothing.
Parisians. Lebanese. Kenyans. Iraqis. Syrians.
All crafted by the same God.
They bleed the same blood. They weep the same tears.

While others draw lines in the sand.

Hate. Love. Fear. Intermingled, confused.
The enemy and the victim look the same—to some.

Whom do you embrace?
Whom do you shun?
Who is worth the risk?

I am grieved.
I am moved.
Plunged deep beyond an anchor’s reach.

The hate scares me most: irrational and dangerous.
A torch waving too close to the tinder.

When fear overcomes love.
When “Christians” cower and spew hate.
Is this how we were created to be? Is this our witness?

Oh God, let it be not so.
Let your truth rise above.
Let it drown out the cacophony of hate.

Let your love surround. Heal. Forgive.
Shore up those whose lives have been burst.

Send your ambassadors, the ones with your word engraved on their hearts.
Rise up the fearless ones who know your perfect love is the necessary balm.

 

© 2015 Michelle Okabayashi. All rights reserved.

I have no words.

I have no words. by Michelle Okabayashi www. learning-grace.com

I have no words; I have too many words. And so I have said nothing.
Parisians. Lebanese. Kenyans. Iraqis. Syrians.
All crafted by the same God.
They bleed the same blood. They weep the same tears.

While others draw lines in the sand.

Hate. Love. Fear. Intermingled, confused.
The enemy and the victim look the same—to some.

Whom do you embrace?
Whom do you shun?
Who is worth the risk?

I am grieved.
I am moved.
Plunged deep beyond an anchor’s reach.

The hate scares me most: irrational and dangerous.
A torch waving too close to the tinder.

When fear overcomes love.
When “Christians” cower and spew hate.
Is this how we were created to be? Is this our witness?

Oh God, let it be not so.
Let your truth rise above.
Let it drown out the cacophony of hate.

Let your love surround. Heal. Forgive.
Shore up those whose lives have been burst.

Send your ambassadors, the ones with your word engraved on their hearts.
Rise up the fearless ones who know your perfect love is the necessary balm.

 

 

 

© 2015 Michelle Okabayashi. All rights reserved.

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmailby feather

Child, Please Sleep (in Haiku)

To keep myself sane during those hours upon hours participating in the call-and-response of “Mommy?  . . .  shhhhh.” I composed haikus. www.learning-grace.com

A week or so ago, I decided that it was time for S to learn how to sleep in her own bed. We’ve gone through so many iterations of this. About six months ago we gave up and started bringing her to bed with us when she woke in the night. She seemed to need it, and we figured that it was probably just a phase. Plus, everyone got more sleep that way . . . until we didn’t.

Over time her demands have increased. She started crying to come to bed with us earlier and earlier—well before we’re ready for bed. Then, she started kicking one of us out of the bed (normally Ken), and waking in the middle of the night banging me over the head with her sippy cup, or poking me in the eyes, saying, “No sleep, Mommy!” The only way she’d relax was if I held her next to me with my arm draped across her just so. If I shifted or got up in the night, it was game over.

And now I have a pinched nerve in my neck and my arm goes numb when I bend my elbow.

Ken also misses sleeping in a real bed.

It was time for S to learn how to spend the whole night in her crib. It was a very long parenting week, but around the fourth or fifth night she started sleeping through and we all awoke (albeit 5:45) much happier. To keep myself sane during those hours upon hours participating in the call-and-response of “Mommy? . . . shhhhh.” I composed haikus.

These are probably best appreciated after midnight, and perhaps after a glass of wine . . . or two.

 

7:30 PM
Dear God in heaven,
Let my child sleep through the night,
And grant us world peace.

11:00 PM
Already? Listen kid . . .
I should be off the clock now.
This is Mommy time.

 1:00 AM
Mommy!!! No sleep! Out!
Lay down, I’ll sing songs to you.
Please sleep. No crying.

 2:27 AM
Here we go again.
The songs aren’t working. Now what?
I’ll just lay right here.

 3:45 AM
The siege continues.
Can you just sleep in your crib?
I love you. Please sleep.

 4:14 AM
The neighbors are mad.
They are knocking on the walls.
#apartmentliving

6:00 AM
Places I have slept:
bed, floor, hall, beanbag chair, couch.
Where is the coffee?

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmailby feather

Good Enough

O God I am so tired of not being good enough.

Not smart enough, skinny enough, rich enough, patient enough

Not spiritual enough.

O Lord, it’s so hard to be so close, yet so far from the goal.
to not make the grade, to miss the mark
be the last one picked for the team

But that’s where your spirit comes in
and fills the space between
not enough
 and
more than enough

Because I am not good enough
not enough for your love
for your perfect, eternal embrace
Yet, you hold me anyway.
With a love that cannot be erased
by my shortcomings, my falls,
the clumsy way I get around this life

You weep when I weep, rejoice when I rejoice
Calling me daughter
Naming me friend
Claiming me as your own.

For in my weakness you are strong.

And that turns, not enough
into abundance

In this cosmic equation
Your mathematics of grace
my shortcomings
my faults

Are the joints that make me move
Lubricated by the oil of your love
Held by the ligaments of grace
Powered by the fuel of your fire

You equip me to run this race.

(c) 2015 Michelle Okabayashi, all rights reserved.

Seismic Shift www.learning-grace.com photo by Michelle Okabayashi, all rights reserved.

Seismic Shift

What causes this seismic shift?
When certainty turns into a precipice
Some small thing and feather light tips the balance
And doubt looms large

What turns the future into a question mark?
When those things set in stone disintegrate
Some crack appears in the solid plan
And confidence dissolves

What happens when the trap door opens?
When the rabbit hole is long and dark
Some expectation is blown to bits
And true north cannot be found

What keeps the tree standing tall and full?
When the winds of change are unrelenting
Some small rain is yet to fall
And the taproot of faith sustains it

(c) 2015 Michelle Okabayashi, all rights reserved.

The Pumping Room

 

The mothers whose babies were born too soon,
Like clockwork go to the pumping room.
The pumps, they wheeze and sigh,
Keeping the beat to three-fourths time.

And to this rhythm the mommas chat.
We talk about our babies and where they’re at,
What happened, and why . . . if we know.
And we keep making milk so our babies can grow.

On some days it’s all we can do
To make milk in the pumping room.
Our babies are so frail and small,
And they aren’t ready for the world at all.

Yesterday was good, today it’s bad.
May God bless us all for the trouble we’ve had.
And so we go to the pumping room,
To do what we can and cast off the gloom.

We talk of home and hopes and dreams,
Of what the doctors said and what it means.
And on and on the mommas chat.
We remember what’s been said: it’s three steps forward and two steps back.

We count the days, the number unknown,
When we will finally bring our babies home.
While we sit in the room, tapping our feet
As we wait for our families to be complete.

(c) Michelle Okabayashi, all rights reserved.

It took me over a year to few words behind some of my experiences around my son’s birth and his first weeks.  The women I met in the pumping room in the NYU NICU are really special moms.  Most of them have far more harrowing tales than I and they helped me find some fellowship in the very strange and isolating world of NICU.  

 

Redwoods

When the Haiti earthquake struck in January 2010 two dear friends and mentors were trapped in the lobby of the Hotel Montana. They were found after 52 hours in the rubble. Both perished in their rescue. One was my boss, the other a colleague. They were in Haiti meeting with church leaders to work on improving programs there. I was in Muir Woods outside of San Francisco the same weekend as their funerals. While walking the path through the forrest of giants, I saw one old tree that had fallen with circle of new growth sprouting around it. I couldn’t help but think of my friends whose lives were cut short and whose work would continue, even in their absence. 

Redwoods

The trees stood tall and strongIMG_0588

Roots deep
Green limbs reaching to the sky
Unswayed by wind or rain
Living in the fog
A testimony to God’s goodness
God’s creativity

Lightening strikes twice.

The crack, crash, moan of splintering wood
The weight of their being
Plummeting to earth
Clearing a path
Across the stream
Up the mountain

The giants lay in the mossy peat
Their roots, deep below
Still alive
The cords that tied these giants to the earth
That fed them as they pointed boldly to God
These roots give new life
New giants in the making
A circle
A testimony
A remembrance of what they began
Continuing the work to bridge heaven and earth
 
For Sam and Clint 

 (c) 2015 Michelle Okabayashi, all rights reserved.

Poetry

I am an occasional poet. When the winds of life batter me a bit, I work it out with words. These are some that I thought worth sharing.