About Sarah McElrath

A seeker, looking to find truth and wisdom in the world and through art, I work as a school librarian, writing and painting when I have time.

Brokenness and Joy

Joy can bloom through the cracks.

I came across this awesome Brainpickings article talking about Anne Lamott’s (one of my favorite writers!) thoughts on the relationship between brokenness and joy. Given that the world and all of us in it are broken, I think this article a super important read–because who doesn’t want to be joyful?

Against Self-Righteousness: Anne Lamott on Forgiveness, Self-Forgiveness, and the Relationship Between Brokenness and Joy

Day 40 – Poetry for Lent

Hope Soars

Hard to believe the sun still shines
with you sealed in a tomb
people go about their business
dawn comes and the world turns
sending the sun sliding down 
past the horizon
And it all seems wrong.

Hopelessness is a heavy weight
we've carried these last couple days
when little over a week ago
we followed you in
a triumphal entry
a celebration of the Messiah
Where did it go wrong?

Morning comes early
for sleepless sleepers
on this third day
the last task waits
the anointing of His body
a bittersweet final goodbye
but the stone rolled away  
signals something wrong.

Why do you look for the living
among the dead, proclaim
men who gleam like lightning
He is not here for
He has risen!
And what was wrong
becomes right

Hope soars

Day 39 – Poetry for Lent

Shepard

Gentle hands
red and rough
knuckles bent and swollen
He calls each sheep
by name, whispering
courage to skittish ones
gentling those who bite and fight
seeking sheep who wander
driving away predators
healing the wounded
feeding the hungry
Through cold, rain 
blazing sun
through storms and drought
He pursues the lost
calling each by name
not giving up
tracking them down
to bring each one safely
home.

Day 38 – Poetry for Lent

What A Poem Couldn’t Capture

I tried to write a poem  
but words couldn't capture
a friendship that runs through
my life, spills over the edges
into the cracks
day into night
work into weekend
winter into summer
day into month into years.
A poem couldn't contain
the laughter echoing from
an oil change station
it couldn't soak up the 
funeral home tears, couldn't color
disappointments and joys in job,
family, relationships, or in ourselves. 
A little thing like a poem couldn't begin
to describe the mooring strength
of a friendship that's always there--
a phone call, visit, text away.
How could a poem demonstrate
that safe harbor relief found in
a friendship where pretense isn't necessary; 
where there's no judgement for being
the leaky rowboat instead of
the sleek private yacht?
Nope, no way could a poem
display how friendship strings light and 
dark moments together into a
rich and lustrous life.

Day 36 – Poems for Lent

Hope Ravels

Unraveling 
Disintegrating
   slow but sure
                            Coming apart at the seams
We neglect
         leave it out in the rain
  and watch it dissolve        
                             a little 
                                   more
with every harsh word
sense of self
erodes
Wave over the beach
washing away our sandcastle
                             Bit  
                                   by bit  
                                        the silence tears our spirits
    Catching a strand here
                      loosening a piece there
Winds of disagreement and strife
                      crumble our
                                   edges
Widen                the cracks
   hastening the disintegration
Hope is starting to r
                           a
                                 v
                                       e
                                               l
on the edges
Do you cut it off  
or
  w i nd it in?
Is it easier 
to pick apart strands already torn?
Or are we able to see 
beyond frayed hems 
                                   enough to weave us back together?
Do we build or do we tear d
                          o
                          w
                          n?
Can I
rebraid my life with yours
to make it stronger?
Or do you prefer to
  stay       apart?
L o o s e ning 
         more       
             with every storm
                    that comes our way?

Day 35 – Poetry for Lent

A Fickle Lot

Palm branches waving
cloaks spread upon the road
they welcomed him with
loud Hosannas
blessing his name
with shouts of joy
as he rode in upon
a gentle donkey.

Accusations flying
false testimony given before the judge
they accused him with
loud shouts
cursing his name
with calls for crucifixion
as he stood in silence
on his own.

Thus it is that
we go from a party
to a funeral
all within a week.

Day 32 – Poetry for Lent

More than a number

You are not a number
no matter the gravity 
with which a test was administered
- or taken -
no matter the times
it was talked about
- or studied for

You are much more than a score
on some three lettered exam
covering math and reading
     and writing of course
but not even touching on
subjects that matter like
how a raven is like a  
     writing desk
why men go to war
what the uvula is for
   which, by the way,
     is far removed from the vulva
        in location AND use
or why, if God is good, 
     there is pain and suffering
        in the world.

Don't settle for being 
a number or grade 
for you have abilities
    and possibilities
       yet to discover.