you will find shelter here


Thirty’s  the new twenty. Just wanted to see it in words.  Actually, I like and dislike this phrase. I like it because I can’t help but hear Jay-Z’s voice in his song “30 Something” :

“I use to wear my hoodie like that (like that)
pile deep in the hoopty like that (like that)
now I got black cards, good credit and such
bae boy, cause I’m all grown up”

I dislike it because I want to be recognized as 30, not 20. What a difference a decade makes! I like the 20-year-old Erin, with her goofy rap moves, skinny-dipping tendencies, and gator-hunting experience. She was ancy and restless, like a dog trying to drink life from a firehose, a goofy skinny-dipping hunter, sailing on the winds of her emotions. She’s still in there, but at 30 I realize the truth of  “with age comes wisdom.” I am not so anxious to “make” my life happen, I am more anxious to keep my eyes open as it unfolds, trusting more in what is happening behind the scenes, than in what I can see or feel in this moment. I’m learning. I’m learning that I’m in the middle of a painful and beautiful process of losing me, and staying quiet and still enough to be guided by the Spirit. I’m realizing just how selfish and experience-driven I can be, how I can demand of others what is not theirs to give. I am learning to, in poet Mary Oliver’s words, “Love yourself. Then forget it. Then, love the world.” Oh, so slowly. Oh, so hard.

So, I had this silly idea that I would wake up on the morning of my birthday and feel depressed. At twenty, my vistas for myself in ten years were incredible. I worried that I would wake up to: No man, no kids, no platinum records, no published books, I haven’t (yet) learned Spanish or the guitar fluently. I haven’t finished grad school, I haven’t attended classes at Oxford, etc. etc.  but instead I woke up grateful. Thank you, Jesus, for my life! I have life! 

The day continued in gratitude…I talked with friends on the phone near and far, an old friend from college I haven’t spoken to in years remembered it was my birthday, my roommate had given me a card written in beautiful words and balloons outside my door, etc. etc. and I’m not even on facebook! Heidi (my close friend) sent me a package, I recieved a birthday card from her mom and sister, and the newly married Kristian Campbell, who had her second wedding here in March, had hidden a very generous gift in my room. My friend Michelle had set me up with a facial at the very posh salon she works at. And then I got to sit on on a fiction workshop, drive down A1A, get a manicure and pedicure from Michelle herself, and then watch my worlds collide at DaDa’s, a really quirky restaurant in Delray Beach.


Friends, new and old, met me there, along with my brother and sister-in-law, who left their 3 kids with their friend Tina. (Thanks, Tina!) That was a gift in itself. My neighbors came, friends from FAU were there, girls from my Real Sex study, a old co-worker from my high school teaching days, Janny, came. The idea was to tell stories and sing songs and read poetry…an open mic night, if you will. Those things are my favorite, and I have so many talented friends. My roommate, Becca the amazing, played a song she wrote, “Grace,” and some Patty Griffin, my friend Grant also sang. Jill Bergkamp, my poet friend from FAU was there with her husband, Steve. Jill (pictured here…don’t kill me Jill, I think you look beautiful)

read a poem by Mary Oliver called “To Begin with, the Sweet Grass.” The poem made me cry (I hate crying in front of people!) but it was so beautiful I couldn’t help it. To me, this poem does to me what laughing with my neices, or singing along with Mumford & Sons, or climbing a mountain does.


Will the hungry ox stand in the field and not eat
     of the sweet grass? 
Will the owl bite off its own wings? 
Will the lark forget to lift its body into the air or
    forget to sing? 
Will the rivers run upstream?
Behold, I say–behold 
the reliability and the finery and the teachings
   of this gritty earth gift.
Eat bread and understand comfort. 
Drink water and understand delight. 
Visit the garden where the scarlet trumpets
    are opening their bodies for the hummingbirds 
who are drinking the sweetness, who are 
    thrillingly gluttonous.
For one thing leads to another. 
Soon you will notice how stones shine underfoot. 
Eventually tides will be the only calendar you believe in.
And someone’s face, whom you love, will be as a star 
both intimate and ultimate, 
and you will be both heart-shaken and respectful.
And you will hear the air itself, like a beloved, whisper: 
oh, let me, for a while longer, enter the two
beautiful bodies of your lungs.
The witchery of living 
is my whole conversation 
with you, my darlings. 
All I can tell you is what I know.
Look, and look again. 
This world is not just a little thrill for the eyes. 
It’s more than bones. 
It’s more than the delicate wrist with its personal pulse. 
It’s more than the beating of a single heart. 
It’s praising. 
It’s giving until the giving feels like receiving. 
You have a life–just imagine that! 
You have this day, and maybe another, and maybe
  still another.
Someday I am going to ask my friend Paulus, 
the dancer, the potter, 
to make me a begging bowl 
which I believe 
my soul needs.
And if I come to you, 
to the door of your comfortable house 
with unwashed clothes and unclean fingernails, 
will you put something into it?
I would like to take this chance. 
I would like to give you this chance.
We do one thing or another; we stay the same, or we
Congratulations, if
  you have changed.
Let me ask you this. 
Do you also think that beauty exists for some
  fabulous reason?
And, if you have not been enchanted by this adventure–
  your life– 
what would do for you?
What I loved in the beginning, I think, was mostly myself. 
Never mind that I had to, since somebody had to. 
That was many years ago. 
Since then I have gone out from my confinements,
  though with difficulty. 
I mean the ones that thought to rule my heart. 
I cast them out; I put them on the mush pile. 
They will be nourishment somehow (everything is nourishment
  somehow or another).
And I have become the child of the clouds, and of hope. 
I have become the friend of the enemy, whoever that is. 
I have become older and, cherishing what I have learned, 
I have become younger.
And what do I risk to tell you this, which is all I know? 
Love yourself.  Then forget it.  Then, love the world.

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