"If the God you believe in as an idea doesn’t start showing up in what happens to you in your own life, you have as much cause for concern as if the God you don’t believe in as an idea does start showing up. It is absolutely crucial, therefore, to keep in constant touch with what is going on in your own life’s story and to pay close attention to what is going on in the stories of others’ lives. If God is present anywhere, it is in those stories that God is present. If God is not present in those stories, then they are scarcely worth telling." ~ Frederick Buechner

06 June 2012


Trees gossip
in the ghost-light. Early stars
climb the sky
and a breeze descends,
touching my arm 
lightly, like my grandmother
at the last. I climb the hill
at the edge of town as
dust devils rise in the fields.

What is it for, any of it,
choosing to live
day in, day out,
in a parched land?

My grandmother's prayer, "Keep me friendly
to myself," has weathered badly
in the long crescendo 
of Romans 8. Her handwriting fades
on the yellowed page and I have failed to love
the river in the tree,
the stream in the grass,
the ocean of blood 
that moves in us. I am,
inexplicably, here
and now, already taking
the next breath.

Trees gossip; dark moves
like the ocean this land
once was: stubble, grass, ground,
turning in the last light
gold, green, blue.

- Kathleen Norris, "Taking the Blue"  
When I was 22 months old, my parents moved us to Africa.

I don't know how they did it. It seems like such a revolutionary step to take, especially because no one else in either of their immediate families lives outside of Korea. And with an almost-two-year-old. I am in awe of my mother's courage and strength of self, because I don't know that I would have been able to do it, had I been in her shoes.

To those who know me, I'm sure this all sounds a bit out of character, as I have now lived over a decade of my life away from my parents. When I moved out for college, I truly LEFT home. There was none of this coming-home-for-the-entire-summer or even worse, MOVING BACK HOME that so many college graduates seem to be doing nowadays. Returning to my parents' house after graduation was never brought up as an option, so it never occurred to me to consider it to be one.

Anyway, I'm off-topic here. So, because we lived in Africa, I didn't see my grandparents very much nor did I know them well. We returned to Korea once every two or three years for the summer, but because of the personalities and inter-relational dynamics, I was always closer to my mom's family.

Recently, a cousin from my dad's side of the family sent me a friend request on Facebook. It occurred to me how little we knew of each other when she commented on a three-year-old picture of me with a friend's little (blond and blue-eyed) girl, saying, "Wow, your baby sure has grown!" Other than the fact that Emma being my child would be a biological impossibility (punnett squares, anyone?), that particular photo was from 2009.

I glanced through her pictures and came across this:
Taken New Year's Eve 2011
My paternal grandmother is turning 88 this year. I am astounded that there is this person to whom I am related by blood, with whom I share family, from whom I get some of my genetic makeup ... and I know so very little about her. There are 88 years of stories in that woman; I know near to none.

I envy Norris's comparably intimate knowledge of her grandmother, that she knows her grandmother's handwriting, her touch, and especially her prayers.


  1. a grandmother's love is very special. how sad that you never got to enjoy that growing up. but how wonderful that you still appreciate who she is! i pray that little brennan would have a stronger relationship/bond with your parents than you did with your grandparents.

  2. Oh, Nisa, I did. Just not with my paternal grandmother.