Hutchmoot

Hutchmoot

“…I am trying to get at something utterly heartbroken
and therefore utterly heartbreaking.”

– Van Gogh, to his brother Theo

This week post-Hutchmoot has had me in every kind of direction — stretching, compressing, bending, and breaking.

I’ve had fine days, dazed days, and days where I lie weeping on the studio floor.

And I haven’t been able to explain it, I’ve barely been able to put into words the swirling storm clouds and raging seas inside of me. I’ve pushed through the pain to paint, only to forget my thoughts when I would have the time to gather them. I’ve lain awake late into the early morning, soaking my pillow with tears, and waking to no memory of the words that wrecked me. So here I sit, hoping to draw out the truth that has broken me.


The easiest place to start is at the first HM dinner. In conversation with strangers and new friends,  I reflected over the story Andrew shared of the Wailing Wall, and his hope that we all would press in, and long for that which/Whom awaits us on the other side. I realized, and quickly shared with the inquisitive acquaintance across the table from me, that I’ve been standing at that wall for a long time now. Easily 5 years I’ve stood, head pressed against the stone, sobbing, whispering, sometimes screaming for the wall to finally break and the light to come through. I’ve been looking back to those gathered behind me, beckoning them to come and see for themselves. To ache and long with nature for the adoption of sons. To catch glimpses with me of the coming Kingdom; to rejoice at His nearness and yearn for even more. Some have taken me up on that, standing watch with me, refilling my oil lamp, and taking turns keeping one another’s hope alive. But over these years, many have refused my offer, perhaps turned off by the obvious ache the wall burned within me. And recently, more than I can bear, who had stood by my side have stepped back, hands off the wall, distancing themselves from the struggle of belonging to another homeland. Longing for those behind, and for the Kingdom ahead, has left me torn in two. Staring off into space, seeing nothing and feeling less, I’ve slowly dropped to the ground, back to the wall, stuck in the middle, and feeling the hollow, echoing chasm. I told this new friend, the one with a present heart and seeing eyes, that what I was most hoping for from this weekend was a renewed hope, that others too stand at the wall with me, that not everyone has lost heart, that it’s all still worth the fight.



On the drive down to Nashville, my brother and I spent a lot of time processing personality types — our own and others’. I had recently realized that I likely have always been an INFJ, even though I seemed far more extroverted in late high school – early college. This apparent extroversion, that has so confused me, was easily explained by the fact that I was surrounded by a safe group of people, who knew me as I was and loved me there. Life changed that, and with all of the disillusionment of recent years, I’ve had only a few breaks in the clouds — few times where I felt safe enough to be myself and trust that I could be loved.

I’m sure many of you who met me this last weekend would be surprised by my Introverted label. I was surprised by myself — how extroverted I was, and how it left me filled, thrilled, and content, instead of drained and afraid. It didn’t take me long to realize why — I was safe with you all. Every deep conversation I had with a new stranger, every laugh and simple act of camaraderie, opened wide my heart to I find I was still loved. It didn’t take long to dive headlong into that, and every time I began to fear that I’d crossed a line, that I’d shared too much or gone too deep, you dear souls leapt that chasm with me and took it even further, or at least welcomed my heart with open arms. The Lord had tilled that earth within me, and the seeds you sowed and watered with shared tears and knowing glances grew up a garden of life.

We didn’t all agree on everything. We weren’t all in the same phase or stage of life. We didn’t have the same testimonies, church backgrounds, theologies, or “spiritual experiences.” We didn’t all read the same books or listen to the same preachings. We shared a few musicians, authors, and artists in common, many of whom were with us, but none of us were defined by our similarities, or confined by our differences. For a short while, I thought that would make it easier to leave. I even made the horrible remark to my brother that, “It’s not like these are my people. I’m thankful for that or I don’t know how I’d leave tomorrow. It’s been wonderful and sweet and I’m so thankful for them, but I’ll be okay to go back to normal life.”

I was really, really wrong.


When we walked away from the group at Breakfastmoot Monday morning, I immediately knew how wrong I had been. I felt like my heart was stuck behind, and every step onward was pulling it out of my chest. In the car, Sower’s Song began playing, and I wept as I drove because I had finally seen you all as my fellow coworkers in the field, following Him together.

The next 5 hours passed without incident, until I started falling asleep. We turned on the Les Miserables soundtrack because we could sing to it for the last 2 hours of our trip. As we pulled off the interstate I thought to myself, “Wow, we have almost made it to the end and it hasn’t made me emotional. Self-five!”

Wrong again.

Pulling in the driveway, as the epilogue song begins it’s conclusion, it hit me all over again. Crossing the threshold of Heaven, the priest who introduced Valjean to grace sings:

And remember
The truth that once was spoken
To love another person
Is to see the face of God.

Which, of course, showed me all of your faces, and the way I know more of God’s face because I know you.
And then, standing on that Heavenly Barricade they begin to sing together:

Do you hear the people sing
Lost in the valley of the night?
It is the music of a people
Who are climbing to the light.

For the wretched of the earth
There is a flame that never dies.
Even the darkest night will end
And the sun will rise.

They will live again in freedom
In the garden of the Lord.
We will walk behind the ploughshare;
We will put away the sword.
The chain will be broken
And all men will have their reward.

Will you join in our crusade?
Who will be strong and stand with me?
Somewhere beyond the barricade
Is there a world you long to see?
Do you hear the people sing?
Say, do you hear the distant drums?
It is the future that they bring
When tomorrow comes!

And I wept for the last stretch, as we pulled into the driveway, “home,” and yet not quite.


Many of you have shared lovely stories and sentiments since coming home — how you’ve been able to be thankful for dirty dishes, been more present with your children, and approach your lives in your hometowns with joy and anticipation. I’ve rejoiced with you, and yet your words have filled me with more torment because I have not had that same experience. The first day was a haze through which I floated. The next day I kept hurting those I love, left and right, lashing out without intention and not knowing why. The third day I spent crying, oscillating between anger and crushing grief. Then I dove back into chores and life and giving my time to others, forgetting the struggle — until it caught up to me at the doors of Chick-fil-a. As I walked in, I had a twinge of nostalgia, and then my heart sank as I figured out why. I realized, in this first large crowd of people, I was expecting to look up and see all of you– see the faces of those I’d come to love. I expected to be surrounded by kindred souls with whom, even if we didn’t interact, I was safe. Instead, I saw strangers; strangers with whom no such safeness was promised, and I remembered again my loneliness.

That night I laid awake in bed, writing out in my head the post that needed to be written, that captured the full-breadth of my emotions, my grief and my anger. The tears I cried as I eloquently and passionately dumped all of my thoughts, lulled me to sleep. I woke to sit and write, but the words and feelings had escaped me.

2 days later, life has smoothed some of the edges of my anger and left it smoldering embers, hushed by the normalcy of life around me. I don’t want that rage again within me, at the same time, I don’t know that it is supposed to die passively. I think it had something worth saying, something worth being heard.


When I first recognized my anger, I was painting and listening to the Hutchmoot Spotify playlist. The heavy emotion left my brain hazy, making it hard to do the thing that naturally gives me such peace.

I was angry at the battlefield of broken bodies in which I was standing. I was angry that life has to be this way — that the ones who were supposed to be healers were the ones wounding; that they put a burden on men’s shoulders that they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to carry. Then I was angry at myself and those close to me; that we’ve let the enemy have his way as he torched our churches and relationships. And it feels like we haven’t put up enough of a fight, even though that’s the work we’ve been about for years now: fighting his schemes as best as we know them. I grew angry at this accuser of the brethren, wishing for his end with every fiber of my being, for the poison he has leached into our bones. But soon that anger turned. I found myself wanting to storm the halls of Heaven, push away the accuser, to point my finger at the High King.
“Why have You allowed him to do this to us? We, the children in which You have made Your home. Will this torment ever end?”

And I knew that was wrong of me.
I couldn’t even think past that thought.
My shoulders slumped, and the tears came, and I couldn’t reach out for the comforting arms of my Abba whom I had just accused. So I balled up on the floor of my studio, the same way a babe lays in her mother’s womb, and I wept. I wept for Jerusalem, for the Coming King, for the day we get to sit across the banquet table from those we loved and lost to this battle of life. To again say, “You too?” because there is no longer a yawning chasm between us. To be safe again. To be loved and to know it.

And I wept for each of you — for your faces, and stories, and hearts that have been etched into the fabric of my soul as beloved sisters and brothers.  And the groaning of my spirit interceded with the words I didn’t have– that you would be built up and steadfast, that God would protect your hearts, that the enemy’s poison would have no hold on you, and that I would see you again.


Now, in hindsight, I can see my tears and prayers echo the same longings of Apostle Paul in Philippians 1,  2 Timothy 1, and so many other places. Thus, then, is it the “curse” we all must bear in the body, that we can only taste communion together, just enough to rekindle and maintain the longing, until we all are finally Home?

I don’t have answers. I don’t have a happy ending to this blog.
I wish I did.

But I figured, if there was any place where I could just be wrecked and grieved, holding out the tiniest flicker of hope to keep on, it would be here with you all. And maybe one of you knows this feeling too, and maybe our flickering candles would be enough to keep us warm through the night, until the sun rises anew and we can see the white fields ahead of us. Maybe we’ll share a smile as we see the Sower call us on, and we’ll walk behind the plowshare, humming the same song.

We kneel in the water
The sons and the daughters
And we hold our hearts before us
And we look to the distance
And raise our resistance
In the face of the forces
Gathered against us
And we dream in the night
Of a King and a Kingdom
Where joy writes the songs
And the innocent sing them
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Oh, there you are!

Oh, there you are!

“God not only says, ‘You are My Beloved.’ God also asks: ‘Do you love Me?’ and offers us countless chances to say, ‘Yes’. That is the spiritual life: the chance to say ‘yes’ to our inner truth.” – Henri Nouwen, Life of the Beloved

“Do you love Me?”

“Yes!” I gladly and thankfully exclaim, and You lean in to whisper with a wink,

“I know.”

But then immediately that guilt creeps in, faster than a spider skitters across a shadowed floor, “And what a lousy lover I am afterall.”

All the playfulness drains from Your face, replaced by a slump in Your shoulders, and a pleading in Your eyes as You try to find mine, now firmly planted on an uninteresting patch of floor. “Who has said this to you?” You ask calmly and sadly, metered with importance, as you grasp my shoulders with sincerity –and give a squeeze to say You mean it.

But I don’t have an answer for you. My shoulders attempt a shrug under the weight of Your grasp — my stare is stayed.

I expect You to put Your finger under my chin and turn it to Your gaze. I expect You to pull me in and put a stop to the ticker-tape that’s worn with condemnation and plays evermore into my heart’s ears.

You don’t do these things. Your hands drop to Your sides, and with a sigh You take a step back, away from me. My shoulder immediately long for your grasp again, and my heart drops even further. This it it, here’s where it happens, where He finally decides I’m a lost cause, not worth the effort. What a worthless child who cannot accept the love of a Father.

“Do you want to be healed?” His voice breaks the silence and immediately tangles up the tape with a parade of questions and confusion. My eyes shoot up to His with indignation, and I can feel a slight warm anger rising in my chest.

“Of course, Lord. Why would you ask that?” I spurt out, with furrowed brow, and a surprising amount of snob-ish-ness in my tone.

“Then love my lambs.” Ah, I can see where He is going with this now. But it hurts a bit. He knows that is a point of constant condemnation in my mind–a doubt of my own love and affection for those most dear to my heart. My eyes roll to lose the tears at the edges, and find their familiar place on the floor. But the spot is no longer empty. A girl sits there, small and frail, hugging her knees to her chest. At the fall of my eyes upon her, she lifts her face to me and I can see her cheeks still soaked with tears. But her eyes — the pools of life and eternity in them — catch my breath. The red, puffy skin around the edges has only drawn contrast to the new life they hold, each tear threatening to pull that world over the lids and down her face to puddle on the floor and pull me in. I feel like I stand a mile above her; she seems nearly like a doll on the concrete floor. But where I expected to see insecurity and fear in her once she knew she was seen, I watch her chest swell, and fire fill those pools of seagreen eyes.

“You did this,” she says clearly and well-pronounced so I can hear every ounce of accusation. My jaw drops and stands ajar, eyes popping nearly out my skull at the shock.

“I-I..” stammering, “do I know you? Why do you say this to me?” Suddenly she’s nearer, still on the floor, but no longer a mile below. I see her skin, her bones protruding, straight hair in mats under the combed top-layer. She’s real alright, and her eyes still bore through me. There’s something familiar about them, and she scares me.

“You know. You know I have to explain everything to everyone. I shouldn’t have to explain anything to you.” I blink rapidly as I look away, knowing what I already know, and searching for a way to not have to say it. Finally, with bated breath I ease onto my knees in front of her, terrified of the fireball of a girl before me, but knowing no other way out of this.

Lacing my fingers in and out of each other as I avoid the piercing eyes before me, “you’re me, aren’t you?” I breathe out. She doesn’t answer, so I look up, making contact with the girl now on my level. Some of the fire in her eyes has gone out; the smokey tendrils now playing at the edges of her lashes as the embers dance below. And despite the heat of her anger, the trails of tears still make wet sidewalks down the edges of her face. Her beautiful, freckled, ivory face–I can see it now. My eyes roam around it, taking it in, not finding the imperfections I’d seen before.

“I’m not you as a kid, you know,” she says, and I’m lost in the melody of her voice before I catch the meaning of her words.

My brow has now re-furrowed itself, “You’re-you’re not?”

“Nope. I’m you now.” And now my brow’s furrow is completely locked. My stomach tightens some. I’m not sure I like this answer. I didn’t see this coming. What does this mean? I’m not a girl. Not like this anyway. I don’t like where this is going. I quickly stand up and turn, ready to remove myself from whatever this is and go back to my conversation with You, or back to normal life in general. It’s time for dinner, the family’s home, I really don’t have time to sort this out.

“You could set me free, you know,” she says cooly, with a surprising lack of condemnation and sarcasm.

I don’t turn around to face her, but I stop walking away. “What would it look like, for me to free you?” I ask, testing the waters. If this isn’t just a figment of my imagination, she’ll have an answer that I can’t grasp on my own. If she doesn’t, then I know she has nothing worthwhile to show me.

“Well, for starters, you could see me,” again, with no harshness in her tone, just–pleading, no, wait–hope. I turn and for a moment I see myself the way I typically do; a mirror image of the passive, easy-to-please, tired, smoothed-out, woman. The image flickers and is replaced again by the girl, sitting cross-legged on the floor, elbows propped on her knees, fingers laced casually.

“It is you.. I mean, me. You’re me.”

“Yes, and you’re not.”

What??

I can hear your thoughts, too, you know.

Stuttering and stammering, I finally get out, “Then uh, what am I?”

“A distortion. A perversion. The shattered-glass refraction of a beautiful life. You carry within you scars that were meant to heal you, and lies you were meant to leave. You grapple for the purpose you once tasted and you choke on the crumbs of what you once feasted,” she’s standing now, my height and looking me directly in the eyes, though none of her posture is as attacking as the words pouring out of her mouth, “You’re a lie, a fraud, a protection and a poison. You’re lonely and alone because you belong to your father, the father of lies who’s every word you have hung on until he has spit you out of his mouth to shatter on the floor and cower in fear. You’ve lied to life and death both, and now they are calling your debts, and you have no hold on me any more.”

I fall back a step and blink, but when I open my eyes, I’m no longer where I stood. Standing instead where the girl had been, I see before me a writhing pool of a thing, black and oozing, expanding and contracting, laboring over every breath in agonizing pain.

You have to deal the final blow. The girl’s voice is inside me now, and as I look down at my hands I can see that they are hers as well. And though I can’t see them, I can feel I have her eyes as well. Eyes that pour forth fire and life, truth ablaze. You have to finish him off now, I’ve laid before you all the truth you need to take up freedom. Now choose.

As if he could hear her voice in my head, the black oozing form quickly turns his face to me with eyes of searing flame. I’ve seen these eyes before, boring through my wandering thoughts in the dark hollows of my mind, in the deep recesses of the night, he comes. Echoing off my voice and reverberating his own tune, he has poisoned every story of my heart, turned everything to blackened, evil, stone. And now I can see his eyes, his voice, his hands has had grips on every other hour of my days, deepening my depression, giving volume to the lies and dreams I had let die, resurrecting their spirits from the grave to torment my remaining weak and limping life. He’s been there, this whole time; hiding under rock and shadow, tainting all the light and good in me. And at his worst, his deepest blow, he has taken up my reflection as his final mask, parading within me as my own being, causing me to fear every shadowy pool within myself and despising the life I once tasted.

“Ahh, now you ssssee me, don’t you?” His squeaky, shrieky, syrupy tone fills the chasm of this chamber, and without an echo, pierces straight into the forefront of my thoughts. “Now what, dearie? Think you can actually do me in?” And he lets out a cackling laugh that ripples through him in chortles.

“I do.” It comes out of my mouth without any hesitation or pause, without any fear or compromise, without any pondering or insecurity. “I could take you down right here right now, without another word.” His eyes are wide, wide enough to see the only white space he possess. I smile spreads across my face. A calm, sweet smile. Confident and glowing, and I can feel the sun rising over the land in my eyes. “But I don’t have to, because I already have. Because you have no more say or place. Because you are weak and your hold on me is lost. And because I am loved, I’ve already done the worst thing I could do to you. I’ve taken your voice.” I raise my right arm so he can see my grip is around the cords that give power to his voice box, it dangling life-less and limp. As I hold it before me, a strong wind of fresh breeze catches it, and it turns to dust. He grasps for his throat to find a hollow hole, and turns to flee, running headlong into You.

You stare down at him and he cowers. A smile tugs at your cheek as You speak, “It appears you have no more power here, old fiend. Go off to where you came, I know you won’t dare come around here anymore.” And off he slinks, limping and lurching, and I know he won’t make it much more. Demons have no more life once they have no voice.

You calmly stride toward me, face aglow, eyes alight. You put your palm up to my face and I lean into it, eyes closed, feeling the warm-roughness of your skin. I look up to you to catch Your beaming smile, which infectiously pours out of me as well.
“There you are, Kyra! There you are.”

An Act of War

I wrote this on a community blog, but I need to share it here too.

Paper Airplane Collective

I’m writing because I have to. I’m compelled to share this with you, but I don’t know how exactly. I just know I have to.

For those of you who’ve seen Arrival: You know how their communication comes in an instant. A whole sentence with its entire meeting shows up in one image. The last time we watched the movie, Mom and I processed that that’s what God does a lot of times. It’s just all of the sudden *wham* you “heard” Him fully and completely (and you’re usually crying at this point) but it’s hard to stretch that whole impression out into a sentence for anyone else to understand. I know you all know what I mean, because I don’t know if we’ve ever had a conversation where we didn’t at some point say, “I don’t know how to describe this,” or “Am I making any sense?” to which…

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The Night Creation Held its Breath

The Night Creation Held its Breath

[written Christmas Eve 2013]

On this night before Christmas, as the highway traffic hums on and the epileptic Sweet Frog sign lights up the wall with its constant blinking, I try to stop an imagine the night creation held its breath. I close my eyes, and I try to quiet the noises, but with no luck. I wonder if that’s how it was in Bethlehem too. With all those people in for the census, I doubt it was truly a “silent night”. Snores and late night spousal arguments may have filled the streets. Murmers about the Romans and the zealots, not to mention complaints about the long trip, were heard throughout the town, I’m sure. I doubt many noticed the young couple on the donkey, nor the star above. I’m sure if they did they chalked it up to some strange phenomena.. or maybe even aliens.

But nature would likely tell a different story. “All creation groans with eager anticipation for the adoption of sons..” How much more so would it stir with excitement for its Creator to finally tread its earth again — just like the good ol’ garden days. And then there were the angels! For years God had been planning redemption and restoration, and it was finally here. Oh, how they must have held their breath, stifling their joy at the Master’s joy. How long He has waited for this day! Sitting on the edge of their seats, they prepared to serenade a group of smelly sheep-herders, but first, they just have to see the birth. 

And for two souls, Mary, and our Abba, I’m sure time stood still. It couldn’t go fast enough. The Savior was almost here! Yet both of them knew; with a twinge of sadness they recognized, He would not forever be hers to hold. He would grow, He would grieve, He would ache. All of this glory for one long day of pain, and three more of silence. I wonder if Joseph noticed Mary’s face fall… But only for a moment. Yes, that may come but it is not yet here. Right now a mother holds her baby, and a Father holds His daughter. Right now she is storing these things up in her heart, and right now He’s protecting it. Right now there is a stillness and quiet beyond the ear’s ability to hear. For right now, in the city of David, a savior has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord.

The Art of Lonely Artists & Paper Airplanes

The Art of Lonely Artists & Paper Airplanes

[Back story: On Friday the 2nd I was processing life and loneliness, the draw to create and how it breaks me. God, as usual, was being a wonderful sounding board for all my confusion and hurt. Ultimately though, I have a hard time believing Him when He says He loves when I create and fling it out into the world. And all my questions boiled down to: Then why doesn’t my art catch? Why is it not good enough-why am I not good enough- for it to be caught? What good is a half-hearted, or rather, a not-quite-good-enough, creative to Him? How can it do Him, or the world, any good if the words are spoken, the art created, and left unheard, unseen? I realized creating is the only way I know how to communicate and I angrily asked Him why He made me this way, “But why? It’s so lonely. I’m so lonely over here. I want to be heard. Creating is not fun for me, it’s heart-wrenchingly painful. It’s not a hobby, it’s a lifeline.”
The picture that popped in my mind left me sobbing. I saw it all like a movie, and seeing as I can’t animate it for you, I’ll have to roughly jot it down, and hope you’ll be able to see it too:]

Art, words, pictures, poems, folded carefully into perfect little paper airplanes.
There’s a chasm and on the other side it is bustling with crowds and friends and towns.
The artist sits alone, creating then folding.
A line of pegs sit at the edge to the chasm with strings that connect to each plane. Many of the threads lead straight down into the chasm where the plane was lost. Others bridge the gap but the planes lay motionless on the other side, either trampled, neglected, or unseen. Those strings remain attached to their pegs, little feelers flung across the gap, left in silent hope. The threads hanging into the chasm with their fallen planes are eventually cut off at the peg, but only when the artist has enough heart left for a proper eulogy and grief.

She falls asleep each night on the ground facing the stakes watching with weary eyes for a twitch.

Supplies are replenished when needed; coffee brought in the morning and late into the night. Blankets are draped over her shoulders in the cold and they’re straightened as she sleeps. Shade is provided when the sun blazes or when the sky cries her tears.
And the artist creates on. Her blood compels her and her bones would snap under the weight of her heart were she to keep it all in.
So she keeps on.
Create, fold, tie, fling.
Create, fold, tie, fling.
Create, fold, tie, fling.
Grieve, cut.
Watch, wait.
Cut, cut, cut, break.
Cry, scream, straighten, breath.
Create, fold, tie, fling.
Fling.
Fling.
Fling.
Fling.

 

 

twitch-

 

twitch-

 

taut.

Caught.

In Winter’s Battlefield [Poem-a-Day: 30]

In Winter’s Battlefield [Poem-a-Day: 30]

Blue white mist rises
from the creek bed on the horizon.
It softly drifts to hush the brandy grasses,
that blow and shake in fear as Winter approaches.

The trees stand stately,
on the hill they refuse to acknowledge
the rains have left them bare and dripping still
from their postpartum, babes ripped from their arms.

Yet in all of this ache
the sky has not remembered the time of mourning.
It stretches and spreads, free of the clouds
that had confined its piercing blue.

In seeming act of rebellion,
the sky screams forth in radiant light,
letting out its purest tune in hues
that dare the cold to come and try it.

And here I find myself,
at home amidst the contradiction,
breathing courage o’er the grasses, grieving
with the trees, and spread my soul wide with the sky.

I thrive among the strife
of living in the two worlds at one time.
And although I ache and hope for this embrace made tangible,
Light fighting back darkness sets a fire in my eyes.

How the Sun Loves a Home [Poem-a-Day: 27]

How the Sun Loves a Home [Poem-a-Day: 27]

Houses I see, but they aren’t home to me.
In my mind they house another family.
Some that I visit, and in which I stay,
But to live there forever just is not my way.

I like to see them from afar,
meet them on the porch where they are,
and talk for a while, enjoy a dinner or tea,
maybe stay for the night to wake with the morn
and watch how the sun loves their home.

Oh, I love how the sun loves a home,
how it fills it with light from morning ’til night,
and how the shadows dance round in return.

But then after I see, its the road left for me;
not to stay but to wander and roam,
to be in one place and then move to another,
all the while tracking the sun.

The forest feels deep enough to let me be free,
and the sky in the desert is home.
The mossy, green knolls all laugh as they roll,
and I laugh in the joy they’ve become.

Because oh how I love,
the way the Son loves a home.