on playing around

God skips across the morning sky

in front of my windscreen

trailing streamers and blowing a party horn

(you know, the kind that unfurls from pursed lips?)

Makes me think of husband-man

pulling faces and speaking in foreign accents

looking to crack a smile as I pull on my boots and check my mail.

Reminds me that this too is the Creator,

playing silly buggers,

trying to be the center of my attention.


NaPoWriMo Day 6 – Dis-aubade

Today’s (optional) prompt springs from the form known as the aubade. These are morning poems, about dawn and daybreak. Many aubades take the form of lovers’ morning farewells.

If I would lift my heavy head
drag it from my soft-warm bed
perhaps I’d catch the morning light
driving back the sacred night
I guess I’d see the dawn arise
reflect her curves in faithless eyes
I might marvel at the way
darkness morphs and turns to day
I’d be in awe, I don’t doubt,
of sunshine’s candor, early scout
But all this wonder soon would fade
as I with longing turn my gaze
to where my body ere laid.


NaPoWriMo Day 3 – Poem of negation: a poem that involves describing something in terms of what it is not, or not like.

is not the kind of poem
that rails
nor the kind that reflects
It is not the kind of poem
that describes wonder
nor the kind
that defends justice
It is not the kind of poem
that tells truths or half-truths
It is certainly not the kind
that speaks to untruths
This is not the kind of poem
that dreams or hopes or fears or despairs.
Not the kind that rushes to tell itself
nor the kind that wrestles in its telling
The words of this poem
don’t trip over themselves
nor do they labor
This poem is not the flashy kind, the stand-up-and-notice-me kind,
the deep-and-meaningful kind, the change-the-world kind,
the shouty kind, the take-home kind, the must-be-told kind.
This poem
is not the significant kind
This poem
is not even the particularly good kind
In fact
this poem will be remembered for nothing more than that it was written.

on 29

This is the year of my Shalom.

In just a few months husband-man and I will launch into yet another major life transition – but this time one that we hope and trust leads us to a season of restful waters. I hope to find in it Shalom – the incredible earth-shattering presence of wholeness, health, welfare, safety, soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, and harmony.  A dazzling display of life to the full, complete and perfect.

So as I leave 28 and head steadily to 30 this year. Here are some of the things I want to fill my days with. I want to..

1. Learn to Surf

2. Learn to cook Indian food from scratch

3. Perform an original spoken word piece

4. Learn to code in HTML (I’m open to being persuaded there is a better first language to learn)

5. Learn to do my own makeup

6. Ride a motorcycle

7. Redo my FirstAid training

8. Learn to dance

9. Learn how to service a car and change a tire

10. Grow a salad

11. Read through the whole bible

12. Learn to play hockey

Some of these play to my core passions and some drive me far outside of my comfortability. Some are practical skills and some are  extravagant. Some use my mind, some my body, and some my spirit. Some will be learned in solitude, and will take me inside myself; some will be learned at the feet of friends and family, and will draw me out of myself.

They demonstrate in small and perhaps insignificant ways my desire for shalom in how I am with those around me, with my physical self, with the Creator, with nature, with culture, with technology, and with my own creativity.

Here’s to looking forward to 30 with anticipation not apprehension. Here’s to revelling not regretting.

Here’s to Shalom – life to the full.


on learnings

Sometimes you learn things and know them only as long as you need to – until the exam. Sometimes you learn things and you get lazy about remembering them because we all know Uncle Google can help with a casserole recipe, or working out what percentage 20 is of 85 or how to spell wierd/weird. Sometimes we learn things and only remember them when we suddenly really need to know that thing – our learnings lie dormant beneath the surface, but not forgotten. Sometimes we learn things in such quick succession that we never really integrate those learnings into informing our actions, beliefs, or attitudes. And sometimes we have to keep reminding ourselves of the things we have learnt, and to re-learn them in each evolving season and context, for them to really stick. For them to move from things we’ve learnt to things we KNOW.

The last two years have been the steepest learning curve of my life. Recently, Husband-man and I carved out some time to reflect on the myriad things we learnt during our time with The Simple Way. Here are just a few:

1. We learnt how to Live Present. By the time my parents had been married for 21 years they had already moved 27 times! I am a child of the diaspora – used to uprooting and moving and forming quick (if often shallow) relationships.I am prone to boredom which rears it’s ugly head every 6 months or so – sometimes the fix is easy: move all the furniture around. But I often find myself caught in a chaotic struggle, wrestling within myself to stay put, sitting on my hands even as my legs twitch to be up and out, to be PRESENT even if only for today. For me, Learning to Live Present had to express itself in tangible and intentional acts – painting our bedroom even if we were only going to be in it for 11 more months; gathering beautiful things even if I had to get rid of them again; and investing in friendships even if only for a season. My greatest learning in this regard came from our boss-man, Darin: “Always unpack your suitcase at a hotel, fold your clothes, and hang up your jacket, even if you’re only there for one night. Be fully present where you are”.

2. We learnt how to Make Space for Interruptions and Disruptions. Husband-man wrote a bit on this one here and here. Our days seemed to be full of Interruption – folk knocking on our door needing everything from lifts to a blanket to food. Children stopping by to borrow the bike pump or sidewalk chalk or just to chat. A friend needing help getting a family member into rehab. Interruptions were those things that gave us temporary pause – required us to lay down our forks or our books, to get up from our sleep, to close our computer for a moment. Once dealt with though we could generally pick up where we left off and continue on our previous path.

Disruptions were a whole different game. These were the things that threw us into confusion or disorder, impeded what we were doing and threw us off course – redirecting our energy time and resources into fundamentally different directions. Disruptions took us to places and situations we often didn’t know how to deal with. Fights broke out and we stopped what we were doing to call the police or pray or intervene or stand helplessly by. Emergencies reared their head periodically. I found myself on the way to eat lunch one minute and chasing a friend down the main road after she jumped out of an ambulance the next. Disruption was the drugged, beaten and abused woman sitting on our front step – interruption would have been cleaning her up and sending her on her way; disruption meant figuring out how to care well for her today and tomorrow and next week because now she was a part of our lives. I like to think of disruption as the face I haven’t prepared my face to meet.

We learnt the value of making room for both of these – and we recognized a key dimension of Christ’s interaction with those around him. He was constantly being interrupted and disrupted – the running refrain seems to be “He was on his way from a to b, when…” We learnt to leave home earlier and walk slower – taking 20 minutes to walk the 2 blocks to the office – to create space for the interruption. We learnt to only answer the door when we felt able to respond with love and grace to whatever was on the other side – and if we couldn’t, to rather not open it at all. We learnt to invite someone to walk alongside us as we navigated the disruptions. To invite an extra set of eyes and wisdom. I am still learning how to let go of the disruptions at the end of the day because they can be heavy and burdensome even in their richness and opportunity.

3. We learnt the value of Rhythms. We learnt that rhythms are a great way to establish habits of presence – ways of being rooted even during chaos and transition and in spaces that are temporary; and that rhythms are a great way to sustain healthy interactions with interruption and disruption. Our weeks followed a similar pattern of morning prayer; work; connection with neighbors; spiritual formation; connection with housemates through shared meals, games, and house meetings; date nights; play and rest. No, we didn’t stick ritually to these; but we did find that carving out specific times for these things meant that they happened and didn’t get consumed by the ever present interruptions or derailed by the periodic disruptions or overlooked by a sense of finite presence. These things helped us to Live Fully Present and to Make Space for Interruptions and Disruptions. They kept us grounded, kept our focus and priorities straight, and allowed us to invest deeply in relationships and experiences and life in Kensington.

I know there’s no exam on these, and Uncle Google wouldn’t be able to help us if we forgot them. So all that is left is to keep reminding ourselves that we learnt these things until eventually we KNOW them.

on slipping

i don’t have words to spill this life over into your lap

to shape with ee cadence the timbre of the street

to strut the interruptions and disruptions of a kingdom-journey for your reading pleasure

i don’t have words which paint a million pictures

or even one

i don’t have pictures which sing a million words

or even one.

i can’t string letters and intonations able to evoke the fears and despair i live into, die into, when i walk these streets of pain

i don’t have rhythms of language able to invoke the freedom and hopes i break into, breathe into, when i dance in these fields of gold

i can’t wrap words around me (or you) to cover the nakedness of the shadow

which shames between the motion and the act

i can’t sing lullabies which settle the heart locked-up or sooth the soul that holds the key

i can’t share names of the faces of the several-stories i’ve just shared that caught you unaware


i’ll see-saw you through this, your fingers like sieves, these words like sand

gunshots and giggles.

a bottle in a hand and a head-hung-low

and a hand on a bike and a sure-secure guide

both called mother.

blood-shot eyes and bright-eyed hopes.

destruction and chaos and a time to build and a time to heal

violence and a time to kill

sitting on a front step, laughter and shared meals, and a time to be born

darkandlightanddeathandlifeand a hundred irreconcilables waiting to coexist

so i’ll speak in riddles and spin tales in rhymes and

i’ll stumble with allusions

side-step illusions

and know that He who sees, sees

and one day this dim reflection

will be understood

even as i am fully known.

on dislikes.

I LOVE living in this neighborhood. But there are some almost-daily occurances that get me. My top ten dislikes in no particular order are:

1. Mice that live in our stove (and an almost-constant sprinkling of mice poo on our counters, on our shelves, on our stove and behind the sink)

2. Car alarms that are sound-activated in a community that lives loudly on the streets – music blaring almost non-stop, sirens several times a day, kids out till 11pm and intermittent fights, parties and across-block conversations make this a BAD idea.

3. Cockroaches that live behind the LED time-display in our microwave.

4. M.F.er music

5. Dust that NEVER goes away

6. Trash

7. Long lines and one cashier at Walgreens

8. Hands-down-pants as a general cool-don’t-care-bout-nothin’-or-noone look. Pretty much like the crack-baggy-pants on steroids

9. Wolf-whistles and proposals almost every time I walk to or from work

10. Tiny square-inch packets that lie around – discarded remnants of a life-sucking high.

on integrity

A couple of months ago I wrote on creativity. I grappled with “the micro/macro split in the church’s approach to social problems and social justice. On the one hand we tend towards taking the moral highground on many issues and become known more for what we are against than for what we are for.” In conclusion, I wrote, “I desire to see the church at the forefront of creative strategy and engagement with the concerns of society. We have a God who is more than able to provide solutions that fly in the face of conventional wisdom, and which transform society, people groups and culture. How to tap into that creativity and those strategies is the question…” https://valanderson.wordpress.com/2010/04/26/creativity/

But perhaps we already have the creativity, but have just not been implementing it with integrity. Perhaps we have  been doing ‘social justice’ or seeking ‘social change’ without seeing consistency between it’s ideals and it’s practice. Morton, more than ten years ago, wrote this:

“The thin versions [that is, versions that lack integrity] may take the forms of paternalistic or self-serving charity that imposes servicecs on unreceptive others; projects that magnify or institutionalise inequalities of power, produce outcomes that are worse than the original problem, or lead to unrealistic and unsustainable dependencies; social change work that is only rhetorical , narrowly selfish, and against a wide range of offenses without offering alternatives” (Morton, 1995, The irony of service: charity, project and social change in service learning. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, Vol 2, p. 28).

The question is why? Why do we lack integrity in service? And how do we implement the creativity which we have been given in a ‘thicker’, more integritous, manner?

I don’t know.

on tragedy…

To: A mother

Re: Her Two Children

Called in for help

From Toronto, Central

Your son, 17, sits behind bars

Your daughter, 14, (lies in hospital)

Behind horrors

Surviving – barely

You lay on her a Joseph cloak

To cover your Jacob love

He’s clothed in the orange smoke

Of a Cain sacrifice

10 minutes too late



You see him, flesh of your flesh,

For 30 minutes you abide

Blood of your blood

Spend 23 hours and 30 minutes

By her bedside

And wonder not to judge

Support him but never sympathize

Console her but never accusize

With words

But with your eyes

Do you condone and let her die,


Or disown

and let him wither that you have birthed

tended, defended, rendered


Heartful – mother only