If I had Flowers to Lay On His Grave…

FlagNote: This began as a vision Memorial Day morning.  I was so moved by the Holy Spirit that I was prompted to act out the vision of presenting the American flag to God, our Father as a prophetic act.  I even woke up my oldest daughter and asked her to take the above picture.

I stepped into the field surrounding my home, the hem of my jeans drenched in dew.  I carried the American flag high, careful to not let it touch the ground, as I stepped through the high grass.  Cloaked in mist and early morning, I knelt in the rain soaked field.  I thought, and remembered how my father fought in the Vietnam War, a war so few talk about.  My father is still alive today and I have honored him before by giving him tulips which bloom each year.  I remembered my grandfather and how while I was in high school, he would speak in French with me because he fought there during World War II.   If I had flowers to lay upon his grave, he would probably grin and wish they were his chocolate cigars.

Then my thoughts returned to a dream I had in 1999, a dream I should have shared much sooner than this.

I was walking in a long line with a group of refugees.  Our clothes were brown, gray or colored that way from being unwashed and soiled.  Our faces were drawn and skinny and we all looked tired except for a flicker of something in our eyes.  To me, it looked like hope.  We were being led to a large ship that looked like a cargo ship or a barge that carried large equipment across the sea.  We were granted safe passage across the sea.  We were herded suspiciously gently by a group of soldiers.  As we walked, the sun was warm on my back and I passed people from my present.  They did not go with me, but faded like vapor.

Time shifted and I was now out at sea, the night and the cold pressed around us.  I was no longer a person on the ship, but a supernatural observer watching as a ghost.  Many of the refugees were standing in groups along the edges of the ship.  A whistle would blow and groups would be taken into the center of the barge down to the cargo holding floor.  The ship smelled like metal in my dream and was cold the way metal and the sea are cold when they are together.  I was on the upper level of the ship.  In this place the wives and family members of some of the soldiers traveled comfortably on small couches or chairs.  I noticed a young woman, plain in appearance, wearing a long petticoat, protectively guarding a young boy who looked the age of three.  She appeared to be trying to hide him with her petticoat.  The boy was not Polish, he was Jewish. 

Her anxiety increased as her husband, one of the officers, came to her and sternly eyed the boy.  She spoke fiercely to her husband and I understood that she was keeping him to raise for herself.  He turned on his heel, having lost the battle, but not before cautioning his wife to keep the boy hidden.  Strangely, they spoke Polish but I understood them.  Then a piercing whistle shattered the image and I was simultaneously jerked down to one of the levels overlooking the cargo floor.  Soldiers lined the second and third levels and aimed and shot their firearms, killing the refugees on the whistle blow.  The refugees were piled up like trash and heaved over the edge into ocean graves.  I watched as one woman was roughly shoved over the railing and understood her to be the mother of the child I had just witnessed.

Then I woke up.

In my awakened state, I rose from bed and went downstairs.  I knew this vision was more than a dream.  I lay prostrate before God weeping and crying out for his understanding.  He then revealed to me that the Polish woman who took the boy was one of my ancestors.  She had raised the child as her own after the Polish army fighting with the German’s had killed his mother and his people.  The boy was Jewish.  Then I heard God say,

“Three times your life was spared when you lived with your German step-father.  Your life was spared because of this woman’s choice to save the boy.”

Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true.  I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.” John 4:37-38

I wept, openly with remorse.  I repented for my family and relatives I never knew.  My face pressed to the carpet as I sobbed in anguish and grief for the lost life of those Jewish lives and the salvation of my own.  I thanked God.

When I got up from my prayer, I had an unusual desire to look at the calendar; unusual because it was a Sunday.  The day revealed that is was Holocaust Remembrance Day.  I sat shocked, weeping yet again at my Father’s mercy and attention to detail.

Time stopped and the hour was redeemed.  My times were redeemed (Psalm 31) because of a choice a woman made generations ago.  This is a season when God is calling forth that which was sown from generations past.  Is God that particular?  This is a place where I see the Lion of God and the Lamb, Jesus, resting side by side; redeeming one life for another, yet exercising profound judgment.  It is bold to say that God may have allowed my abuse as a youth in the German Satanic occult so that I might understand the pain and suffering endured by another tribe and nation.  I ponder this often, knowing because of the Lamb that was sacrificed for me, that I am fiercely loved by that same God.

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.  And they cried out in a loud voice:

“Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.”  Revelation 7:9-10

Sometimes redeeming the time is pulling from the past that which was planted so that it may produce life now.

I would never consider providing this perspective to someone who was young in their healing.  This is not about blaming oneself for their present circumstances; it is simply about  understanding why such a thing would occur with so many obvious connections.  It is conceptualizing the fear of the Lord on a personal level so that on a national level or tribal level one might consider what has been sown before.  Think of the winter seed.  It lies dormant for many winters, and might emerge only when the sun is warm enough and the rain, abundant.  It pushes through the earth when all of the season’s provisions proves ready to sustain such a seed.

Why does this matter today?

We have forsaken God as a nation.  We have become proud.  We have boasted our self-reliance.  We have taken the matter into our own hands (whatever that matter may be) and God has honored our request and left us to our own powers, our own strengths, our own conceptualizations, our very own and individual folly.  There may be grace from the prayers and godly actions of your ancestors to draw upon in this hour of judgement.  There may have been grace even from the prayers of our founding fathers.  I wonder… Can that grace run out?

Early this morning, Memorial Day, after contemplating such things, I saw myself standing at attention, carefully folding our American flag like the lieutenant who had once taught my Girl Scout troop, carefully paying attention to each fold and its meaning.  In my spirit, I knelt before God, and solemnly presented Him with the American flag.  My heart felt heavy as His sadness infiltrated my heart.  He longs for us to remember Him:

 

No sooner had Gideon died than the Israelites again prostituted themselves to the Baals.They set up Baal-Berith as their god and did not remember the Lord their God, who had rescued them from the hands of all their enemies on every side. They also failed to show any loyalty to the family of Jerub-Baal (that is, Gideon) in spite of all the good things he had done for them. Judges 8:33-35

I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. Psalm 77:11

They remembered that God was their Rock, that God Most High was their Redeemer. Psalm 78:35

Remember today that your children were not the ones who saw and experienced the discipline of the Lord your God: his majesty, his mighty hand, his outstretched arm…. Deut 11:2
Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past. Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you. Deut 32:7
He remembered that they were but flesh, a passing breeze that does not return. Psalm 78:39
“On that day, I will banish the names of the idols from the land, and they will be remembered no more,” declares the Lord Almighty. “I will remove both the prophets and the spirit of impurity from the land. Zechariah 13:2

Hosea 9:8-10

New International Version (NIV)

The prophet, along with my God,
    is the watchman over Ephraim,[a]
yet snares await him on all his paths,
    and hostility in the house of his God.
They have sunk deep into corruption,
    as in the days of Gibeah.
God will remember their wickedness
    and punish them for their sins.

10 “When I found Israel,
    it was like finding grapes in the desert;
when I saw your ancestors,
    it was like seeing the early fruit on the fig tree.
But when they came to Baal Peor,
    they consecrated themselves to that shameful idol
    and became as vile as the thing they loved.

 

If I had Flowers to Lay upon His Grave

 

I would sit barefoot

tuck my skirt around my legs

and try not to pull daisy petals

to prove He loves me

 

I would notice human tears

like glass drops suspended on each blade of grass

try not to look away

from heaven’s diamonds

 

I would sigh

sing a hymn

that sounded suspiciously like

a ballad

 

I would want to dance

 

when no one was looking

I would inconspicuously twirl

smell your woodsy aroma

sun drenched hands cupping my face

 

my smiling face

because I know you dance

on grassy heaven hills

where no tomb reminisces

no epitaph summons

 

living, I wait

impatiently pacing earth

with paper wrapped flowers

crinkled and  faded

living to let go

catch your hand midair

lace our fingers together

and never let go again

 

 

 

 

 

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The Convergence

The Convergence

Hoarfrost clings to treesSnowy Woods
offering holy hand prints upon branches
evidence of waiting
morning snow-mist
cloaks my form in sunrise shadows

This world sleeps as we walk
upon prayer mountains who shake off
nightsleep like too heavy woolen blankets

Time falls suspended with each carefully constructed snowflake
a message in a bottle within a million tiny crystals

more than a message
an act

Each icy star lives but a moment
words breathe through icy coldspeech,
winds hum psalms,
while unseen angels twirl unaccompanied upon mountain landscapes
as a single snowflake
falls
rests upon my mouth
speaking
love.

 

The Week Before School

Morning quietly lengthens holding sleepy heads in her lapschool board
like three week old kittens

This, my favorite hour, because everyone is safe
and dreaming

Summer dreams retreat into early fall shadows kept crisp
like newly pressed wild flowers

Clocks tick without school bells
or rushing
Deep sighs

I want to remember sister disputes, games and new-to-them ideas
I want to hold the memory of big hugs, hand holds and tickles in my skin
and wear them like a new fall wardrobe

This will be my favorite summer
when we refused the amusement parks for
nights cuddled on the trampoline beneath a
magnified star filled sky

We each believed we saw more stars than anyone

when we dreamed and made up stories on
the big cheery red couch, or read books quietly beside one anotherBri and ti school
sprawled out on the floor

Coffee with the chickens and morning talks, my new favorite ritual, in nighties
and muck boots
legs crossed like princess farmers

My heart is ripe with love                                                                                                                                                                       my branches heavy with the fruit of our summer

Fall stirs, tossling the hem of my gown
promising

the week before school.

Darcy Downing © 2013ImageSchool

Her Ireland

A song awakens the voice
An ancient voice
And somehow her air reaches me
Cool, mist and breathing
Living without land
Ireland

Voices haunt me
I long to know you
how you loved him

In my spirit
I am certain evil slain you
Because you were so close to Love
Prayers whispered the night you died still linger in my soul
Though I never knew you
My blood does

You are great and grand to me
A mother to my soul

Songs come to me in night
Though I am woman
Scripture escapes my lips
As I preach through song
In the night
By the light of the drink
I weep for your sons

Never before have I yearned to know this past
Until tonight
Seven sons and a Methodist minister
With a strong Irish name
What kind of curse has visited your post
And did my own love of One
Break it?

©2009 Darcy Downing.  All Rights Reserved.

The Revision

The Revision

I opened the book
tucked between Suppression and Conclusion
It read like a novel
Even though it was a romance entitled How To

The pages contained pictures
Intricately drawn, some old, some new
The dichotomy of good and evil
Visible throughout its pages
It made me want to skip to the end

But I didn’t

Visible to the eye was a pop-up-perfect woman
Beyond the overflow of woods and swords and men
I wanted to touch her, speak with her… be her
But I couldn’t get in
Until I was furnished with a special pen,
a quill with red ink, old but never used
And without trying to sound cliché,
The ink smelled of roses

I noticed a change in the pages
The more I wrote
And I tried to invent the perfect word
A magic word that would give me power
And not acerbate the new life flowing through my
Paper skin

As I made room for my story, writing between the margins
I flipped to and fro from the story to the woman
I took great thought and consideration as I wrote
And somewhere between the pages of good and evil
I found myself
kneeling,
writing on a stone
The book still with me

I stood stepping
on moss and leaves, some old, some new
And gazed into a pond
An actual woman peered back through its waters
Glaring at me, angry and dark at the
trap I’d set with words
she became the underlying meaning
now buried in waters and myth

I stood tall
Taking my place as the pop-up-perfect woman
Beyond the overflow of woods and swords and men

©2008 Darcy Downing. All Rights Reserved.

The Drawing

Feathered lines penciled in on white hillsides she walks
snow falls like tears down the cheek of a woman
her wing, broken and mended too many times
drags in snow leaving behind
nothing
but broken lines

maybe an angel will come this time
lift her from cold and ice
hold her
say nothing

her heart is swollen with Winter
words can’t get in
if you look into her maybe she will weep this time
and spring will come

Between the Bookends

One more book filled the shelf

tired, old, worn

antiquity framed the pages

gilded like so many lover’s shields

and this on pages

 

Rhymes float from one to another

a dialogue of love and hate,

perhaps new

only phrased differently,

dangerously

like the words we should not have spoken

 

Even the written word can sound loud

 

But always is the apology

in each book, novel, journal

of why we write

what everyone is thinking

 

Pictures portray themes

slices of reality shaded then faded

not accurate really

only, hopeful reality

 

Questions remain

answered or unanswered

still I return

looking for more

flipping through pages

of you

 

So many books of reason

lit dimly by my reading lamp

but titles become clear at daybreak

its own table of contents.

Hand-me-down Love

I am my Beloved's...

I have often thought the Bible should begin with, “Once upon a time….”

Heaven’s celebrities walk on asphalt streets

Unaffected because their shoes are

40 year-old desert hand-me-downs

Passed down from Israelite ancestors

 

Royal Blood, they swagger under the influence

Of some power

They sing and smell incense prayers

Burned by Poverty’s barrels

Lit up in street corners to stay warm

 

He is there

Warming his hands with them

Studying faces of passersby for a glimpse of her

His love has become a caption

Beneath the picture of a dusty tattered fairy tale

 

 

 

 

The Horizon

Here I have found Grace and Gentility
carefully mixed with vibrant Bold
like the oil and water three dimensional paintings
eternally framed and swirling

You have become the ocean you love

In you lies my most favorite storm
the one that fights for new
and future sunsets
You are a ship still forging through
white capped waves
undaunted by myths of serpents and monsters
because you believe

You believe in the sunset
that whispers love at dusk
You believe in the power of each darkened wave,
unafraid of its destination
You believe in sunlight beckoning on surface waters

Even when you dive deep into ship wrecks and reefs
You always find the rippled light above you
Rising and falling with ocean rhythms, treasures to your breast

You—we—have traveled this ocean, this sea together
Weeping, drinking, singing… laughing
Collecting storms like ships in a bottle
Reaching for day’s end
When the sunset falls like angels
envious
because we have traveled
beneath the sea
where sunlight cannot go

for Anne