Expectant Mother

Winter’s coming
I try, and fail, to outrun
His cold fingers
As they grab at my ankles

Like a rat, he nibbles
At the edges of the day
So slowly that, at first, I hardly notice
The dark encroaching

Until the dimming of the skies
Reaches the space behind my eyes
And I can feel my mind
Sundowning

Winter’s coming
Drifting through the garden
Settling scores, he moans
An elegy in minor key

I drift, too, among the naked branches
Their fallen raiment, now dull
And stained with mold,
Crunch beneath my boots

For a moment, this feels like drowning
So I breathe deep the icy
Mildewed tang of November
Close my eyes, open them again

Then – there, just there
On the sleepy rhododendron: a bud
Wrapped tight, all bundled up
Against the coming snows

There are dozens, maybe hundreds
More, I pause
And study the one
Or perhaps she studies me

Suspended, the silence expands
In my chest
Rich, glowing, like a hot air balloon
In a dusky sky

Packed away, inside this
Tiny idle embryo
There lies a flower
Purple, fragrant, larger than my hand

I see her, Oh I see her,
Or does she see me?
All I know is Winter’s coming
But Spring’s already here

©Nichole Q. Perreault, January 2020

Sacrifice of Thanksgiving

thank you
words that burn
an offering
bound in rope
pulled tight
laid upon the fire
like a lamb
or Isaac
costs me something
as if my flesh
were on the flame

a lonely leaf
scrapes down an empty street
where all the doors are
locked for winter
behind them
faces that I long to see
hands I cannot touch
clouds that shroud the stars
make a lousy blanket
I pull my scarf over my ears
and hurry home

home
glows like a box lantern
on the little hill
the door
this door
opens for me
air warm as
wind over hot sand
rushes out onto the stoop
throws its arms around my shoulders
pulls me inside

unwrap the scarf
take off the boots
set my bitter feet before the hearth
between chattering teeth
I breathe
words that burn
and turn my hardened heart
to weeping like wax
beneath a flame
I offer
thanks

© Nichole Q Perreault

Photo by Timon Wanner on Unsplash

Inseparable, Free

(a paraphrase of Psalms 23, 73, 91, 139 and Zephaniah 3)

Where can I go to get away from You?
Where can I run, that You are not already there?
If I go up to the heavens, You are there
And if I descend to the depths of despair
Even to the grave, there You are

You are with me when I am flying high, soaring through life
But if I land in an unfamiliar place where no one knows my name or speaks my language, still You are holding on to me

If I grieve and weep and wail with bitterness in my heart
If I stand before You like a brute beast, acting without understanding
If I throw a tantrum like a spoiled child
Or hide under the table trembling in fear
If I shut You out like an angry teenager
If my body fails me
Or my mind becomes weak and I cannot even remember You
Nevertheless, You are with me
Your right hand will hold me fast

You have shattered glass to rescue me
Shaken mountains
Torn down walls
To get to me
To set me free

As the song goes, “You don’t give Yourself in pieces”*
So I won’t give myself in pieces either
and “You don’t hide Yourself to tease us”*
So I won’t hide myself from You

Actually, not even darkness can hide me from You
You see through every darkness
Even the darkness of my heart
Even the darkness that hides in darkness
You see the real me

The spark of my soul rests in Your heart
Untouched by human hands, my being hides in You

I will rest in You like a baby bird beneath the shadow of her mama’s wings
Even in the presence of my enemies
You will feed and nourish my soul
You will sing to me with joy

We are one
You and me
Inseparable, free
Your love will never let me go

©️ Nichole Q. Perreault

*Song lyrics from “Pieces” by Amanda Cook

Thanks to Andy Willis for making this photo available freely on @unsplash 🎁

The Dream

You are the dream He dreamed
He dreams
the song He sings
when the whole world sleeps

You are the whisper in the wind
wonder hushed
on angels’ lips
a secret He keeps

You are the gift He gave
He gives
the life He lives
in the depths of the deep

You
are the dream
the act, the scene

You
are the masterpiece
penned without ink

You
are the ballad
sung by the trees

You
are the mystery

You
are the dream

©️Nichole Q Perreault

https://unsplash.com/photos/2q6C5zDJOsg

Into the Unknown

The contemplative spiritual journey is a journey into the unknown. The more I know God the more I realize how much I don’t know about God. This can be frightening and frustrating, or we can allow it to fill us with wonder and awe. The mystics refer to this as The Cloud of Unknowing. We are all called, like Abraham, into this unknown and it is there in this cloud of unknowing that we experience God in pure spiritual faith.

Kure Beach Pier by Nichole Perreault

Yet few of us want to step into the unknown. In fact, in my experience, “knowing” is one of the pillars of the western evangelical Christian tradition. We are taught that we can know God, know our destiny, know the Bible, know how to pray, know right from wrong, know God’s will in everything. We know so much there’s no room to wonder, doubt, question or debate.

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A GIRL AND HER BASKET OF BROKEN THINGS

There I was, a little girl standing before Jesus, with a basket in my arms. My basket of loaves and fishes. Everything I had to offer was in that basket.

As Jesus stretched out his hands for my basket, I hesitated. Dipping my chin, I took one last look at my offering. Suddenly, shame covered my small frame like a wool coat five sizes too big.

I had worked hard to fill that basket. And while I felt the weight of all my attempts to get it right, to do something good, to bring something special, my basket was filled with nothing but moldy crumbs and eyes and scales and bones. It might as well have been empty.

Photo by Annie Spratt

I wanted to run, to disappear, to make excuses – but there’s none of that nonsense when you’re face to face with Jesus. Shaking and uncertain, I looked up at him through tears. What would he say? What would he do? Would he be disappointed? Or angry? Would he yell? Or shake his head and pass me by?

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You Are Enough (God Says So)

I’ve seen this quote popping up in my feed a lot lately and I’m not feeling it.

A few years ago, I probably would have adored this quote. But now….not so much.

Here’s why: Much about the way this is worded implies that “she” (a symbolic “she” with which all Christian women are invited to identify) “she” is not lovable, is not worthy of forgiveness, and is not good enough to be a child of God. And people…especially women…often accept that as truth.

There was a time when I would have agreed with this quote and not without good reason. God created us, loves us, and forgives us because of who He is. There is nothing we can do to secure our right to exist, earn His love, or deserve His forgiveness. We are a people who found ourselves separated from God by our sin and without any means to close that distance between us, except for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Everything we are and have is because of Him. That is true.

Along the way, however, that truth often becomes twisted:
‘I can’t earn God’s love’  becomes  ‘I’m unlovable.’
‘I am a sinner saved by grace’  turns into  ‘I’m not good enough.’
‘I can’t earn love or forgiveness’  becomes  ‘I am not worthy of love or forgiveness.’

See how that works? Take the truth, twist it just a little, and you’ve got yourself a powerful lie. Typical, and oh so very destructive. That’s how the enemy rolls.

Over the last several months, God’s been speaking to me a lot on this subject. Here’s what I believe He has to say:
You are enough.
You are good.
You are worthy.
You belong here.

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Repentance

There is more to say than sorry
More to do than turn around
There is you and me
Face to face
Where the light leaves shadows
Across our cheekbones
A deceptive mirror
My right eye in the darkness
Your left
We see
We see so differently
Blinded both by darkness
And by light
We stumble
We stumble all the same
Oh there is more to say than sorry
More to do than turn around

While We Were Yet Monsters (Lessons from Moana)

BECAUSE MOANA CHANGED MY LIFE

One night, our family was watching the quirky, teen sit-com, iCarly, when my oldest daughter snapped her head toward me, eyes wide, smile flirting with laughter, and exclaimed, “Mom, are you crying?!” Yes. Yes, I was. I cried while watching iCarly. And not because of the juvenile writing and mediocre acting. Nope. I cried because of some cheesy dialogue about the importance of family or friendship or belonging or whatever.

I can find tear-worthy meaning in a shoebox. OK, well, what woman can’t find tear-worthy meaning in a shoebox? Bad analogy. Basically, I can find tear-worthy meaning just about anywhere – rock music, picture books, presidential speeches, Facebook posts, and of course, kids television. So it shouldn’t surprise you that I could dedicate an entire blog post to a two-minute scene from the Walt Disney Studios’ movie, Moana.

WAIT!!! Even if Disney movies aren’t your thing, stick with me. I think you’ll be glad you did. It’s not every day that an animated Disney movie surprises me and while I’ve also cried at Toy Story and Brother Bear, the plot twist at the end of Moana did more than make me cry. It kind of changed my life. 

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Shattered Illusions | Throwing Dishes at God, Part 2

Photo by Nichole Q Perreault

Read Throwing Dishes at God Part 1here. 

How long can one throw dishes at God?

Well, longer than you might think. Just ask Job. Or Peter. (FYI: This post is going to make a lot more sense if you read Part 1.) I guess the simplest answer would be: as long as it takes. Because He isn’t going anywhere.

To be honest, though, I didn’t know that at the time. Whenever I was in a full-blooded rage, I kept one eye on the sky for incoming bolts of lightning and the other on the earth lest it swallow this foul-mouthed, ungrateful child whole.

Yet, because of His great mercy and love, none of that happened.

He never swallowed me up or struck me down. He never shut me up or shut me down. Rather, He let me stay in the fight. And He stayed in the fight with me. The brokenness and depravity of the human heart does not and cannot shock God. He’s seen it all. And He loves us anyway.

Flickers of Light

Often times, during this season, opening my Bible felt like trying to lift Thor’s hammer. When I did muster the strength, the verses, once as refreshing as a cool drink of water, became like dry sand in my mouth. But by God’s grace, I would occasionally stumble on scriptures that glowed like a balefire of hope. Continue reading