Author: Kelly Chripczuk

How It Has Always Been

Summer hit our house like a freight train when the kids got off the bus last Friday at 1:15.  It's all good, but intense.  I'm still writing, but with preaching this Sunday and preparing for next week's (!) writing retreat, I didn't get my usual post out on Monday.  In lieu of anything new, I'm sharing this poem that first arrived in June 2014. Enjoy! Also, scroll down for a preview of some of the paintings I've been working on this spring.  How It Has Always Been
The vicar general, shying away from ‘paganism’ hangs back and sits under a tree reading the guidebook.  I am able to approach the Buddhas barefoot and undisturbed, my feet in wet grass, wet sand. – Thomas Merton describing his visit to the sleeping Budhas in "The Asian Journal"
My son comes walking to me, barefoot,
across the wet summer grass. The morning light lays soft around him
and in that moment I see how it is,
how every child is a contemplative,
exposed in every way to the Now.
“This is what you must become,” Jesus whispers
and I see now how it has always been, God
and his children, barefoot, the morning grass
cool and wet beneath their feet.
* I stopped by Infinity Graphics today to get some prints of recent paintings. These bright beauties (the picture is a little dark) will soon be available to purchase as small wooden block paintings. Stay tuned.

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Miss. Ann’s Zinnia’s (The Kingdom of God is Like . . . )

 
Sunday afternoon I left my husband with seed packets of Zinnias and Dahlias and walked up, across the yard, to look for a spade in our overflowing garage.  The planting of those flowers, four packets, was what I requested for Mother’s Day this year. 
I don’t know why planting seems, for me, an impossible task.  Maybe it’s that simple act of letting go and watching the impossible seed fall into darkness; maybe it’s the familiar struggle of facing an unknown future.  Whatever it is, my husband plants the garden each year and I, in time, tend it. 
Walking up from the garden, across the green expanse of lawn, I looked over at our neighbor’s yard.  They have a small, fenced in, vegetable garden and the wife, Ann, has a separate flower garden.  Their garden, like most in early spring, is a miracle waiting to happen – a tilled expanse of soil, a pregnant pause.  My eyes saw the emptiness there, the open waiting space, but in my mind I remembered the Zinnias. 
During our first summer here, we planted a good-sized vegetable garden filled with the practical means of nutrition.  Our neighbors did the same in their fenced-in plot, but around the outside edge of the fence grew large, splashy, red, purple and pink flowers – a fiesta of color that started blooming in late summer and stood strong into the fall. 
Oh how I envied Miss. Ann's Zinnias.  I eyed her flowers hungrily and finally, in September as the flowers were beginning to fade, asked if I might over and cut a bunch.  From that moment on, I was hooked. 
The following summer, I bought a packet of seeds and grew my own riot of reds and pinks.  I cut them and filled our house with vases.  I carried them to friends’ houses.  Everyone loved the Zinnias. 
Then, last year, we made a farm stand for selling fresh, free-range chicken eggs.  I again planted my Zinnias (or rather, my husband did) and, when they grew and bloomed, I started cutting large happy bunches of purples and pinks, oranges and yellows and selling them in old tin cans at the farm stand for $1 each. 
It was a real steal for fresh cut flowers and they flew off of the farm stand’s two tilted shelves.  A friend suggested I should charge more.  But I refrained. 
I was already making a profit, but, what’s more, I know what it’s like to not be able to afford fresh flowers.  I know, also, how beauty feeds the soul.  I also know the feeling of finding a wonderful deal, how it opens our hearts and minds, makes us feel the expansive mystery of goodness and provision in the world that’s so often buried in layer after layer of unmet need. 
I wanted people to feel what I felt in my garden, the sensation of wonder and delight, the absurdity of so much color available for mere ornamentation.
Returning to the garden with the trowel in hand that Sunday afternoon, I thought, the kingdom of God is like those Zinnias.  The Kingdom of God – heaven in our midst – blazes and waves in the place where it is planted.  It attracts the eye, captures the heart, fills those who are awake enough to notice, with longing.  The Kingdom of God is like a packet of seeds, bought for $1.49, that yields one hundred fold.  The kingdom of God is color cut and watered in an old tin can, bright joy on the side of the road bought with a handful of change – a deal too good to be true.

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The Other Virtues

Memorial day weekend plays a dual role in modern America - offering an opportunity to honor those who died in active military service and ushering in the beginning of the summer holidays. [...]

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As Much As There Is

He catapults out of bed in the middle of the night and I hear his bare feet slapping against the hallway’s wooden floor as he hustles through the darkness.  All of this comes to me as sleep’s heavy shadow gives way to a dim and growing awareness.  Then, he stands beside the bed. 
“Daddy,” he says. 
“What?” my husband mumbles. 
“I love you as much as there is,” he says. 
“Ok, Levi,” my husband replies, his voice clearer now, rising to meet his son’s offer of love.  “I love you too.” 
“Ok, good night.  I’ll see you in the morning,” Levi adds. 
“Good night, see you in the morning,” my husband answers, completing the call and response. 
Levi runs back down the hallway and sleep descends again upon our house. 
// 
“I love you as much as there is” is the latest attempt in five-year-old Levi’s ongoing effort to verbalize the depths of his love for us which, apparently, is particularly intense around two or three in the morning.  He’s fascinated by math and, for a while, tried using the biggest numbers he could think of to express the magnitude of his love.  “I love you 100 times 100,” he would say. 
But it wasn’t enough. 
He knows there are bigger numbers and he doesn’t want to undersize his love.  So, for now, he’s sticking to the enigmatic phrase, “as much as there is.” 
Last night, before I fell back to sleep, I saw for a moment the simple humility of that phrase – a child’s willingness to believe in and try to convey that which is beyond words. 
// 
Real love is like that.  God’s love is like that, so real and yet so big it’s hard to explain. 
The apostle Paul, struggling to convey God’s love to the church at Ephesus, put it this way, 
“I pray that you might have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge (Ephesians 3:18-19).” 
Paul tries to sketch out the dimensions of what he realizes is beyond description, he prays for the Ephesians to somehow receive the ability to comprehend the incomprehensible.  In so doing, he invites them – invites us all – to enter into the depths of God’s love which is both measurable (because it exists) and beyond measure (because of the limits of human comprehension and communication). 
Paul’s prayer comes to us like a voice in the night, the words of someone struggling to communicate what he clearly knows is beyond communication: God loves you as much as there is. 
 

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