“There are times when our hope despairs; these are the times our despair must learn to hope.” – Martin Luther

The following is an attempt to work out my thoughts and feelings through poetry. I’m not exactly sure what qualifies something as poetry, but I had poetry in mind so I say it counts. My boys are reading a book called “Dream Something Big: the Story of the Watts Towers.” These nearly 100-foot-tall towers were crafted by a man out of seashells, discarded tiles, mirrors, and rocks – trash made triumphant.

Nothing I’m about to share qualifies as trash, but they’re the elements that went into writing my poem. Because Caedmon’s getting bigger and Jeni’s getting more pregnant, loading him in and out of the car, getting him bathed, and lifting the new, heavier wheelchair are about to become impossibilities for her. I’m in a longstanding conversation with a friend asking, “where is God in all this?” Did He cause it? Did He allow it? Was He taken by surprise? Was it an act of war from Satan’s camp? Some days I know, others I don’t. I’m considering accepting a new job that will have me out of the house three days a week. I need to provide, but what about Jeni and growing Caedmon?

Real circumstances.
More questions.

After a canceled meeting, I sat alone with my wine & cheese sandwich, Schuyler’s Monster, root beer, and notebook and I began building my own little, emotionally cluttered Watts Towers. I call it, “Complicated.”

I’ve grown convinced of how little I know.
I don’t know how: physics, mathematics, chemistry, genetics…

Worse still, I don’t know why: brilliant minds and damaged brains, refreshing breezes and destructive hurricanes…

None of them are Normal, but one of my sons has Cerebral Palsy. The wheels light up and it glows in the dark, but it’s still a wheelchair. The iPad is cool and a dog will be fun, but they’re poor replacements for voice and strength.

Cerebral Palsy is a Jane Austen novel, and I struggle with my alphabet.
How did his brain get damaged? Lack of Oxygen, simple as A-B-C.
Why did his brain get damaged? Um… Because he, uh… Well…, Austen.

Some say there is no why. They believe everything’s causeless, purposeless, wonderless. It is what it is; deal with it.

I hate that idea.
Because that idea leads to hate.
Hate them. Hate me. Who cares?

Others say there is a why. Things do have a cause, a purpose, a reason for wonder. It is what it is; look for it.

I like this idea.
Because this idea leads to hope.
Hope for a reason. Hope for tomorrow. Someone cares.

The Bible says, “faith is being sure of that we hope for.” I believe God is there, but I don’t know what to hope for. I want Caedmon to run, play, feed himself, chase his friends, dance, speak his stories, dress himself, and bake brownies if he wants. Can I hope for these things? I’m sure I’m not sure they’ll ever happen.

Faith as small as a mustard seed can move a mountain,
but a mustard seed is a mountain next to my faith.

Yet every trip to the physical therapist is motivated by hope.
Each time we practice making a P sound we’re prompted by hope.
Hope for improvement. Hope for one more step, one more sound,
one more reason to… hope.

Caedmon is the springtime.
Cerebral Palsy is the pollen.
Every time my hope is smothered in a yellow cloud of despair, Caedmon’s relentless, transcendent joy washes it away and teaches my despair to hope.

I don’t know exactly how, but I pray.
I’m not sure if it’s foolish, but I hope.
Perhaps, on days when they meet, my faith will be strong.

Maybe a mountain will move.
But where did that mountain come from?
It’s complicated.


  1. Thank you for sharing these transparent thoughts. I have no answers. We know what God can do, but we don’t always know what He will do. I esp. loved this part, “Caedmon is springtime”- how absolutely true. And when we sit in the dark confines of a situation that we don’t quite understand, we ask, like John the Baptist, “Um, should I expect someone else?” sigh. And His answer in that case, “Blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.” Sometimes, that hardest kind of faith is believing in His goodness and love in a situation that seems devoid of it. There is an answer, but you may never be ready for it until you hear it from Him, face to face.
    Isaiah 51:11
    “So the ransomed of the LORD will return And come with joyful shouting to Zion, And everlasting joy will be on their heads. They will obtain gladness and joy, And sorrow and sighing will flee away.”
    Psalm 27:13
    “I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD
    In the land of the living.”

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