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I’m interested in writing within the tensions of our humanity, holding space for the both and: our joy and our grief, beauty and brokenness, courage and fear, celebration and rage, and everything in between. 

My hope is that my writing has the ability to connect to what lies at the core of being human. Whether I am writing poetry, a newsletter, or an essay my writing aims to be honest, attentive, and centered around connection. May these words housed here connect and encourage you. 

Compilations

July 2, 2022

Fear/Flourish Compilation: June 2022

Fear/Flourish Compilation

June 2022


Introduction: 

In March, as spring was approaching, I was thinking a lot about both the words fear and flourish. I asked a few friends which word I should use as the next prompt. I had wanted to do a prompt on fear for a long time, but admittedly was fearful to do so. Fear is something we all experience, yet it is difficult to speak of. That’s the very reason I am quite interested in writing about it and in encouraging others to write about it. When I think of a prompt, I try to think of words or questions that are universal to the human experience that would invoke a wide range of creativity and yet a shared connection within each piece. As my friends and I talked about the word fear, we found ourselves also talking about flourishing, aware that the two are not completely separate.

In the summer of 2020 I did a prompt on Bravery. I did a second round on the word Bravery in 2021. Someone once told me how much they loved reading my prompt on fear after reading through the bravery pieces. I understood why they said this after I revisited the compilation: most pieces on bravery spoke about fear. 

In order to move through fear, we have to first acknowledge it. I love that, whether someone chose to write on fear or flourishing with this prompt, both words were a part of the pieces. 

I structured this compilation in such a way that it alternates (as much as possible) between pieces centered around fear and pieces centered around flourishing. As you read through this compilation, I hope you are reminded of the courage that lives within you that can move you through your fear into a space of flourishing. 


A Monday With Fear

Fear is my alarm clock

fear asks what it would be like if I slept in like I wanted

fear gets me to work on time, and fear made sure I packed a salad

fear asks all my friends what their plans are this week

fear drives my car

while I wonder if I’m a bad daughter

fear notices a moment of silence and asks

who uses retinol and how they use it

fear imagines that my relationship with my parents

will never be the same

my fear cries. 

fear cries deeper when that song comes on

fear tells me to go to bed, or else I’ll be tired

Exhausted by fear, I fall right to sleep

Katie Lynch


Flourish

I’m experiencing my first spring in my home

Rather, my first winter ending

When we moved in, I invested in my garden and watched winter choke my labor to what seemed like certain death

But

To my glee

There is great power in the unseen

In what will always remain unseen

Somewhere down below with the worms and the lack of fertilizer and the thick clay – life persisted

My plants aren’t growing back like I thought they would – with new leaves on the crippled branches and stems

Instead, they are reaching now from the earth, from the dust from which they came

At first i saw victory

And then so quickly, it felt like failure, starting from the ground again when we go so far last year

But I’m trusting in all the cliches

All the corny truths of pruning

The certainty of growing back stronger because roots are deeper, bigger

They look like baby plants – these little leaves breaking through the pine straw

But miraculously, they will be bigger and stronger

The resurrection brings me to tears

I’m so thrilled by what work was done during death

What that means for my garden

What that probably means for me

In the depths of the hard earth

Doing more than surviving

And even more than just waiting

Anticipating

My peony bush was dead

I know she was

Today, she is larger and brighter than last year

I’m witnessing a miracle

In my very own yard

Where my poor plants have fallen into custody of a clueless gardener

And yet

The promise of spring

Prevails yet again

Despite me

Who am I to doubt

To name finality

When I cannot see beneath the surface

The work being done without me

So at the proper time

When the sun rises warm again

Flourish

Lindsay Lowery


  1.  

Fear is a great slobbering beast, and it is right behind me. I can feel its wet hot breath on my  neck and on my tongue. Its gnarled toes are pressed into my heels, it has pasted itself to my  back. I guess to say it is behind me is a misdirection. Fear is a great slobbering beast, and it is  inside of me. Sliding its long precise fingers into my spinal cord, zipping through my nerves  with erratic electric pulsing. I flee like a fast-twitch-rabbit, my marionette body getting zapped  into movement by the big invisible slobbering beast that is inside behind me. Fear is an inky  octopus lover, who would wrap me up in her long arms and snuggle me tight to her icy breast,  that I would never leave her or know the embrace of another. Fear would have me stay at home  and paint her toenails, tend to her suckers, bask in her embrace. Fear is a great gnawing rat,  working single-mindedly with its mangled teeth to gnaw away at the palmetto footer foundation  of my home. Fear, the sliding rat, would destroy my dwelling as a collateral in its pursuit to the  roof. It would gnaw and rip, snacking upon my security until the house fell in and it felt the sun on  its unashamed face. Fear would consume me to claim me as its own.  

  1.  

I am afraid I won’t ever amount to anything. I am afraid that though I have been given much, when the collection plate comes down my pew I will have done nothing with it and will  have no loud coins to throw in with a clang. I am afraid I will just be some guy forever. I am  afraid of my own potential, I am afraid it is ego in a big coat. I am also afraid of my ego. And  big coats. For the same reason actually, I am afraid that I will overestimate my size and  prowess and will inevitably be laid bare. I am afraid my big coat will be ripped open and there I will be, scrawny and shivering. I am afraid that if I were to achieve greatness I would  turn and find myself still scrawny and shivering. I am afraid that my new muscles  won’t protect me. I am afraid that I am weak. I am afraid of my blindness, my whimpering self centeredness, my desensitized heart to the fear of others. I am afraid to look too close at my internal world; there has to be a wasp’s nest in there. I can hear the humming even now. I can imagine those wasps, having been jostled by too much courageous self-assessment, swelling  up and darting out of my mouth. Cutting my lips with their small slicing wings, making me drip blood down my nice new white tuxedo shirt.  

iii.  

When I first started on HRT, I didn’t believe that I was trans. It took 6 months of injecting  testosterone into my thighs to finally accept that, yes, I am trans and I probably always have  been and it seems to be a life condition so I always probably will be forever. Trans forever,  forever in transition. My condition (the human condition) is to change, perpetually. Day after  day, opening doors with no idea where they lead; Opening doors with no idea the size of the  beast that lives on the other side; squaring my body in front of the door, grasping the knob in  my sweaty palm, gripping and pulling with the uneven force of my uneven conviction. I have  opened the door of gender and seen the beast. He is me who was she and even then was me  too. He is me with hair chopped short and deep voice rolling, rumbling vowels around in my  chest like boulders. He is me with all my same fears, stacked away like rum barrels in the belly  of a great wooden ship. He is me, still bleeding from the lips, still with my shadow octopus  lover pasted to my back.  

  1.  

I didn’t know all of this was in me. I think my fear lives on the dark side of the moon, just out of  sight. I sat in front of the white page of my computer and like a paper towel on a spill, my fear  bled itself out. And I saw a glimpse of its face. Today, the wind is blowing warm and the trees  are so alive they look neon. I feel lifted. 

Phebe Martin


Flourish

The few dandelions peeking up

From the freshly cut grass

Whisper to me a song

Of resilience

A symbol of hope

And joy

And promise

Oh, how they flourish

In the unlikeliest of places

After being mowed down

They sprout back up again

Out of the cracks of sidewalks

They smile at me

In places most unkempt

They seem to flourish most abundantly

What would it mean for me

To learn from the words these flowers speak? 

Of learning to grow and live and flourish

Against the grain of what they are told they should be? 

They are cut down

Ripped up

Removed

Discarded

Yet they grow back

Reclaimed

Redeemed

Reminded

That the ground they were once ripped from 

Will always welcome them again

I think they may be the most courageous

Of any other flower I know

This is a beautiful mystery to me

——

This poem is dedicated to the courageous high schoolers that I have the honor of walking alongside every week. 

At my internship there is a courtyard located right in the middle of the school. The biggest dandelions I’ve ever seen are growing in that courtyard–dandelions that grow up to two feet tall out of the ground (I can only imagine how deep their roots must be). 

I think this is the most profound and significant visualization of the courage I see in the students that walk around that courtyard and through those halls.

Day in and day out I watch them choose courage in the face of fear. I watch them stand back up after being pushed down. I watch them find strength to stand against every odd. I watch them smile when they recognize the deep bravery that exists within them. I watch them find their voice after it’s been silenced. I watch them reclaim their story after it has been ripped apart. I watch them redeem their courage against the situations that desire to remove it from them. I watch them flourish in dry ground.

Their courage moves me. 

Hailey Hawkins 


Fear’s Fragile Ego Falling 

Fear lurks and lingers—

At times, 

a small whisper of what if, 

tempting.  

At other times, 

an intrusive scream, 

deafening. 

Courage that once was 

hides in the shadow lines, 

quenched by fear’s need 

to be in front, 

controlling. 

At times, 

disguised 

as a friend lending a hand, 

protecting. 

At other times,

A large beast,

degrading, 

later unmasked 

as a fragile being,

suffocating. 

Insecurely attached, 

to power, 

okay with 

debilitating 

everything within reach, 

selfishly in need 

to be seen. 

He seeks to speak 

over me 

for me 

constantly to me

without ever listening. 

Victim to fear’s 

Disbelief 

Of my capability, 

I give in. 

What if he’s right? 

Yes, but, 

What if he’s wrong? 

He’s wrong. 

He’s wrong! 

Out of the shadows, 

courage rises 

valiantly 

persistently, 

integrated with integrity,

clothed in strength 

and dignity. 

She needs not to be 

at the center, 

yet she demands 

to be seen—

respected 

not neglected

nor dismissed. 

A gentle force 

to be reckoned with,

tearing down fear’s 

power 

over me. 

What if

fear falls into the shadows

alongside his ego-shattered 

fragile frame?

What if

Courage has the final word 

today? 

Bailey Frederking


I felt it dark, descending deep

a stake within my being

anchored there, it stopped my feet

and kept me from believing

And as I sat, I faced the East

the sun reminding, calling

but stronger still, the darkness feast

it said I’m safe from falling

I recognized this old friend’s voice

a champion of my fear

and memorized the bitter work

of running paths unclear

I knew at once my slow regression

keeping me from freedom

it couldn’t be my own small work

to make myself see Eden

The author of my recognition

The gentle, patient gardner

tuned and tilled me deep within

and sent my roots to wander

Remembering the joy of sun

And comfort in the depths

Upward, downward growth begun

Pushing through relapse

And slowly, kindly I was there

A flourished little grove

The gardener always sinking deep

My name: His treasured trove

I felt it dark, descending deep

a stake within my being

anchored there, it stopped my feet

and kept me from believing

And as I sat, I faced the East

the sun reminding, calling

but stronger still, the darkness feast

it said I’m safe from falling

I recognized this old friend’s voice

a champion of my fear

and memorized the bitter work

of running paths unclear

I knew at once my slow regression

keeping me from freedom

it couldn’t be my own small work

to make myself see Eden

The author of my recognition

The gentle, patient gardner

tuned and tilled me deep within

and sent my roots to wander

Remembering the joy of sun

And comfort in the depths

Upward, downward growth begun

Pushing through relapse

And slowly, kindly I was there

A flourished little grove

The gardener always sinking deep

My name: His treasured trove

Bekah Brannon


Fear and Flourish  

  

The Blick stares back at her. They still have that pungent chemical smell even though  she took the plastic off them close to three months ago. Blick is now collecting dust on  the corner of her crowded desk along with a stack of mail and dirty coffee mugs. Blick got so excited when she bought them at the store at the beginning of summer. Blick has always dreamed of being beautiful, of telling a story, of having a purpose. Now Blick  watches as their owner glances over, with a penetrating stare.  

She stares at Blick for a few minutes. She wonders if today is the day she could use one  of her millions of painting ideas. She considers venturing to the back of her brain to that  filing cabinet labeled “painting ideas”. “Well, I could look in the abstract file, with bright colors and a complex composition.” A rush of excitement shoots through her so she  musters up the courage to venture to the cabinet. As she brings the heavy cabinet to her  forefront, she glances at the file name “critics”. She opens it, glances through some good  school critics, some compliments, and some old pieces. Instead of motivation and  inspiration, her throat starts to feel tight and Blick starts to look a lot more intimidating.  She puts the file back, but then sees the file named “requests.” She then remembers how  many people wanted paintings last time she got the brushes out. Now her mind races  with possibilities and floods with a pressure to use Blick for something important. She  glances through the request file and loses all interest of painting. She put that file back  and picks the abstract file up. All the ideas, that moments ago felt exciting, just aren’t up  to par. She puts all the files back and remembers all the laundry she should be doing. It  is almost fall so time to get all the jackets and flannels out. Becoming aware of her  surroundings, she glances at Blick. “Maybe next weekend” she tells herself as she  pushes the file cabinet further back in her mind to the blue closet.  

Blick stares at her as she collects her clothes and heads to the laundry room. They watch  her the next day and the next day and the next couple of months, as she walks by. She  continues to pile things on her desk in front of Blick until they blend in with the mess. 

One cold Tuesday morning as she picks up Thoughts while her coffee is cooling off, as  she often does in the mornings. She opens Thoughts where she left off and starts to  write, pray, and process. She pauses and decides to draw. What may you ask? She’s not  even totally sure. She draws what she was feeling; she draws pictures, shapes, and lines  with no goal. Then her timer goes off to get ready for work.  

A week later, she picks up Thoughts, as she often does in the mornings, and instead of  writing, she starts drawing whatever comes to mind. Then her timer goes off to get ready  for work.  

That Saturday night, she gets on Pinterest instead of Instagram while watching tv, and  she comes across some beautiful abstract paintings. She admires them, saves them, and  moves on without any emotion.  

This pattern continues and she begins desiring to draw and feed herself with art more  and more.  

“She won’t be going outside much now with all the snow. Maybe she will want to paint  soon,” Blick thinks as they watch from afar as she draws and scrolls through Pinterest. 

One Sunday, she picks up her sketchbook, which was also drowning in the mess of her  desk and plops herself on her bed. She proceeds to draw and color for four hours. Time  stands still as she tries to get every detail right and goes wild with color pencils. Once  she is done, she’s a little disappointed in the outcome. Her instinct was to glance at that  blue closet, get out the filing cabinet, and compare it with her previous work. But as she  starts to glance that direction, something stops her. The drawings in Thoughts are in the  way. They confront her with the feeling of the simple, unexplainable fulfilment she felt  after drawing those incomplete, illegible, sketches. Then she looks back at her art piece,  chuckles to herself, and is content.  

As days go on, ideas pop into her mind more and more frequently. Instead of taking  them to the filing cabinet, she scribbles them down. She might spend five minutes on them, she might record a voice memo of the idea, or she might spend five hours  exploring whichever ones come into her mind first. She spends more time bringing her  ideas to the external world then to that blue closet.  

Its spring now and it’s time for spring cleaning; well, cleaning that should have  happened about five times since the last time she cleaned. She knocks her laundry out,  cleans her bathroom, and heads for her desk. She works through all the mail that’s at  least a month old, those receipts she’s not sure why she kept, and old physical therapy  sheets. Then, she makes her way to Blick. Blick has some dents now and is covered in  dust. She picks them up, blows them off, and proceeds to cough because it was a lot of  dust. A smile rises to her face as she brushes them off. Then she takes Blick to sit next to  Thoughts and her sketchbook, who live on the table next to her favorite chair.  

Blick, who has felt stagnate and forgotten, feels a sense of hope. Thoughts whispers, “I’m  glad you’re here,” and eagerness rushes through Blick.  

That next weekend, her Saturday plans with family feel through. As she’s sitting,  finishing her gluten free pancakes, she looks around her living room as she pounders  how she should use her day. Her eyes fall on Blick. Maybe her coffee is finally setting in  or maybe its inspiration, but she gets a burst of energy and excitement. She remembers  some images and drawing that inspired her that week and collects them. She walks over  to Blick, sets Blick up, gets her paints, her bushes, and her references. She mixes some  fun colors, and she covers Blick with wet, cold, paint! Time becomes irrelevant as she  moves her brush in circular motions. Her mind doesn’t drift to responsibilities as she  plays with a new texture she’s never tried. She doesn’t notice her hunger as she  repetitively gets up and walks across the room to look at Blick from a distance, to only  return with new ideas.  

Blick is ecstatic. They are quite literally glowing. Blick has never seen this look in her  eyes. “The focus, the joy, the courage is a beautiful look” Blick thought. They don’t even  know what they look like, and they don’t care. They have a purpose, they say something.  They are free. They are finally art. 

In this process, the blue closet, and its contents, are not even considered. The artist has  come to identity it as fear. She realizes that it has no place in her creative journey. She  knows at one point she would like to get the filing cabinet out, and sort through the files  to identify the encouraging files and get rid of the rest. But today is not that day. Today,  the artist and Blick are transformed, knowing their purpose, their beauty, and their  freedom.  

She finishes painting Blick around eight pm and is so excited to show off her newest  piece named Flourish. 

Mandi Csuka


The Death of the Seed

Consider for a moment a tiny seed

Picture it in your hand; what does it need?

Good soil, water, full sunlight 

And a farmer for which it pleads 

Watch the seed fall to the ground

The farmer scatters without a sound

Pay close attention to our seed

What happens next is quite profound

The rich soil becomes a grave

But our seed does not cry out to be saved 

This death is not to be despised 

But consider for a moment if our seed were afraid

Truly truly I say to you

If fear gripped our seed, what would it do?

This I say with complete certainty:

Our seed would bear no fruit

But our seed does not fear death 

For that tiny seed knows what’s next 

Just a few days in that grave

Then up! comes a sprout while the farmer rests

The death of the seed has brought new life

That tiny sprout soon reaches new heights 

It was death which brought forth flourishing 

Brave was our Seed, who knew he must die

Lainey Finch


Flourish to Not Miss Out

Fear of Missing Out – what does it mean?

I’ve heard this phrase for years, but I never truly experienced what it feels like until a couple of months back.

Back in the end of March, I started to have a serious health problem that could not be avoided.

I went to the doctor to have it diagnosed, but by then I had planned to go see my friend’s boxing match.

As much as I wanted to go, I was in so much pain that I had to miss out on my best friend’s biggest event.

As weeks passed by, the pain eventually went away. Additionally, I had some relatives coming over for the weekend.

At the same time, my other friends had celebrations – one for baptism, and the other parties were for becoming new U.S. citizens.

Although I wanted to go out and celebrate my friends, I decided to stay home with my relatives since I didn’t get to see them often.

My friends were also graduating, but I had to miss their graduation ceremonies because I was preparing for my trip to Greece.

So this is where the fear of missing out comes into play as it certainly feels that I was missing out on a lot of things.

As I pondered how fear and flourish go together, it now makes sense to me.

Whenever there’s fear, flourishing comes out of fear.

As I was missing out on everything, it helped me to flourish spiritually with God.

He is the One who has changed me for the better,

to be more wise & patient by spending time with those who impacted me and time with Him,

and to help me understand that I’m not missing out on what God has in store for me when I follow Him.

Had I not traveled to Greece or miss out on what God really has in store for me, I would truly miss out on what is lovely and true.

I’ve never miss out on anything because God gives me a new season for many new opportunities to look forward to.

Perhaps, I should look at the present, leave the past behind, and change the future to further flourish in my life.

Nick Soong 


These surveys are starting to get to me

Do I have to spill my soul again? Will it really help?

 

Meg said

This program changes you

 

I wonder

Will I always feel this far away? This needy?

 

I pick up all the details

Hold them tight between my fingers

Will I let them go? Will you hold any of them?

 

I am so unaccustomed to this

This slow wondering

 

I am so in love with my body

For carrying me

After all this time

 

Oh what a relief

What a relief

Somebody notice

How

I’m trying

Alex Washburn

 

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