Saturday, May 06, 2006

Outside the Taberacle

(It's another poem, folks, since Little David was foolish enough to ask and I am foolish enough to oblige!)

Jim got me to thinking today with this Thomas Merton quote from his post:
“Life is this simple: we are living in a world that is absolutely
transparent and the Divine is shining through it all the time”.
I mentioned to him that sometimes we miss the Divine shining through until we are past the event and looking back. Such was the case outside the tabernacle with a little girl named Sinclair...

Sinclair came alone to camp that year, having just finished kindergarten. Technically she was not supposed to be there until she finished first grade, but we never were much on minding that technicality. She arrived with a lot of baggage for such a young child. Mom gave us our first clues-- make sure she drinks her water, make sure she goes to the bathroom, make sure you get her to the nurse's station to take her meds, and oh yeah, sometimes she sees things...well, she did not tell us that last part, but it would have been helpful if she had. When I took her down to the nurse's station, the nurse filled me in a bit (bipolar disorder) and reiterated that I did not want to miss any of her med times (sheesh, I have been coming to camp for ten years, don't they think I know that?) It would not have made any difference to me how many times we had to traipse down to the nurse's cabin, I was already hopelessly in love with this little brown-eyed girl who landed in our cabin alone and with baggage.

Sinclair made friends among the girls in spite of her sometimes strange ways. I made sure she drank her water and we had "tinkle races" to make sure she was tinkling. (We raced to the bathrooms and listened to see who was going to make the first "splash". Sometimes you have to get a little creative. That's all I'm saying.) I took her out to sit on the porch when the crowd in the cabin got to be too much for her, or when she "saw something".

Sometimes, in the tabernacle for worship service, the noise of 400 girls clapping and singing and squealing (that was all before the preacher began to speak) got too intense for her and she I would go out to a pavilion behind the tabernacle and sit quietly. It was during one of these times that she started counting the "lightening bugs" and then became fascinated when she heard a bird singing in the darkness.

Watching the Brown-eyed Girl Count Fireflies
(for Sinclair, sometimes she sees things)

She has seen spiders in her breakfast bowl
where mother saw only grits,
and terror in her daughter’s eyes.

Snakes slithered forward,
threatened to swallow her whole
as mother moved to offer comfort.

Moments later, the child
asks for red jelly.
To make a smiley face on my grits.

Tonight she counts fireflies, their stochastic blinks
dancing in unsteady rhythm
with the neurons in her brain.

Music breaks the quiet, and her attention shifts.
She searches to see what kind of bird
sings in darkness, why

her notes tremble and swell.


  1. Annie, you make me smile. I've found God on a star-lit night, speaking to me from the depths of the universe. On a sunny day at the top of a bluff nearby with the breeze on my face and the horizon laid out before me. In a quiet corner of my house with some worship music gently in the background as we talk. But it is often the Sinclairs of this world, not the world's great theologians, who sit there with me. When I do not understand myself and the nonsense of it all has become too heavy, He draws us unto Him and gives peace.......

  2. What a beautiful story and poem.

  3. how lovely and beautiful....and what a metaphor.....that the bird sings in the darkness...hmmm....beautiful, Annie.

  4. Thanks for obliging, annie. As you can tell, your stories and poems have a receptive audience.

  5. Beautiful story and poem. Thanks for sharing. You have a wonderful heart that shines through :)

  6. Well that was wonderful. Hard to find a truly GOOD poem. Thanks so much for the description of Sinclair. It resonates.

  7. YIKES!! I realized I never came back here and said thanks to each of you. I am glad you enjoyed the poem. It only means I may have to find a few more to pull a few more out of the files and bore you with!

    I wish I still wrote's been a long time...

  8. I now read three blogs. Two stir the pot and make me look at what is inside. Yours makes me realize that it is soup that I need to feed the world.

    BTW - is the title deliberately misspelled?


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