a talk with the trees

trees II: a poem. As of late, I make my way to class alone, lost in whatever song's in my ears laid over my fast-firing thoughts. On October 26th, I stared up at the trees as I passed Martin, Kinard, Daniel. I noticed they didn't move. I thought it odd; I know trees stay planted, roots in the earth, but it's like I realized it for the first time. So I followed my mind's unlikely trail, asking the trees questions in my head. 

today’s a day I wish the trees could talk
silent and tall, my questions unanswered.

no running, speaking, feeling.
do you wish for a different purpose?

”stay, grow, wait. trust.” he says.
do you long to wander?

your leaves for my breath.
do you wish he loved you that way?

green, bright, barren, back again.
do you ever tire of the tired cycle?

what’s on your mind?
do you have one?

i love you.
i wonder if he lets you love.


warm, lively, bright.
i am none of the three.

you didn’t make me to be.
i don’t know.

it tastes bitter, who i’m not.
who am i?,
i ask the trees.

who i really want is you,
to answer my childlike why’s.

you let them echo.
you care too much.
i don’t know how i know but i do.


it takes time.
we’re alike, you see.
for you trees and me,
it takes time.

Change - Rivvrs
Seasons - Hollow Wood

L: 10/23/16, a Sunday in Cashiers. Katie and I hiked Whiteside Mtn and stared at the fiery colors on peak weekend.
C: 1/23/16, winter dusk in Daniel Square. I was probably walking back from my car when I snapped this. The trees are so tall. I remembered there's blue sky between branches.
R: 3/4/16, Friday afternoon in the Botanical Gardens. Syd, Meg and I went to shoot film on a *dreamy secret path*. The pines accentuate our human smallness, in a good way.

sugar maple

If you've found yourself here reading these words, welcome to trees: a series! This is 1 of 3 pieces I'll be sharing over the next three weeks. These words are inspired by two things: firstly, I've been praying for a heightened sense of curiosity lately, and as a result I've found myself attentively lost in thought on most days. Secondly, my time in college is drawing near its end; as chapters close, I tend to spend time reflecting and savoring the ways I've become who I am. And, all the photos you'll see come from days I've spent as a student at Clemson University, both at home and on trips. 

This piece in particular was mostly written on May 6, 2016, brought to life by the tree photographed at the bottom, 'Blue Skies' by Noah & the Whale, and time that preceded a summer of re:demption. Sad yet hopeful, like a good Sleeping at Last song. Ok enough intro: enjoy 'trees I'!

I drove the familiar route today. Reversed from the corner spot and chugged over the two speed-bumped hill like it'd been a lifelong ritual. A right turn, and there it stood tall. I had to squint, for the sun, but it was plain as day: the tree that's taught me all year long.

My careless mind has yet to determine its genus, its species. I know it stands thick at the root, flimsy branches spreading wide, casting shade and shadow. Now leaves are green, just as when I arrived. There's no trace of the orangey red explosion from November, nor the sudden barrenness that followed.

Those branches were bare for months. Birds began chirping, green returning left and right, save this tree. It stood tall, sinewy, and empty still. "All's made beautiful in its time," I'd whisper to myself as I passed, left empty by a figurative winter of my own, coinciding with the air's cold bite.

I passed by, eyes gazing out the window, marveling at the cycle. As if nothing had ever changed, as if the leaves had been there all along, prominent and bright and abundant.

Despite what appears, the tree's aged, weathered. As have I. This year's undoubtedly taken its lot and then some for the both of us. My chest tightens at the thought. I've lost grasp on what I thought I knew and so much is shattered. All the while, rubble's salvageable, leaves grow back.

'Once more, the darkness will leave this house. I will paint my poems blue with the color of our sky.' - Simin Behbahani

It's the stark contrast of You against the black, green after the grey, that beckon me forward. Forward where? Wish I had an answer, a map dot, an anything.

Reliance, dependence, trust.

I'll echo until doubt melts: I. Trust. You.

WWLT: Harbor and Home

L: 12/22/15, a day trip to Bluffton. Katie and I walked around Old Towne. It was overcast and warm for winter. We had nitro coffee and sat on the dock as birds flew overhead. 
C: 10/23/15, my favorite tree. It catches fire in the fall, and its leaves delay in spring's return. This tree (I've since looked up its genus!) is the inspiration behind the writing above.
R: 1/2/16, Rich Mtn. Brianna and I drove up an icy mountain to celebrate a new year. I remember standing on the fire tower, cold wind biting my face, thinking of H. D. Thoreau. 

words about words. or something.

It is 11:16 pm. I wish it were raining, because Julien Baker sings through my headphones. And pelting water droplets would blend with her croony electric guitar.

I've been soaking up a lot of talk about art lately, about what makes art beautiful is how one creates within confines. It sounds like being locked in a box, and I think it is but it also is not. You are given guidelines, and there is beauty based on how you work and tweak them. There are rules, but you are free.

These days are cloudy. The clouds are web content-- social media. So many blogs. I suppose it is a beautiful thing that if people have words to say, there is a platform readily available for them to say those things. But maybe the art is no longer there. Maybe I don't know what I'm talking about. I don't know.

I know I love to write. I strive to stray from cliche by a long shot. It is not fiction and it is not self-help. It's my life and what I learn to be true and the questions I repeatedly ask. It is a great send-off, from me to the world, hoping someone's eyes will scan my words, and in turn that same someone's heart will feel less alone. It is for me and it is for them and only small handfuls of my words ever make it past my own paper.

I write about writing more often than I imagined I would. I don't know what I imagined, actually. Not this, not any of this. And I suppose I have quietly questioned for awhile now about what it is to be a "Christian writer". Is that my title? Can I be just a writer who is a Christian? Sometimes it all seems so cheesy and I feel so wrong thinking that about words some of my brothers and sisters write. It can feel preachy and teachy and I just don't want to be that. And I think maybe that's ok?

I want feelings, grand sweeping ones and inaudible unsure ones. I want to hear the songs and see the pictures, crackly like a faded memory while also vivid as if being lived brightly.

Like Betsy. She is a girl I have never met, and most likely, maybe, will never meet. She wrote an instagram caption that made my heart slow and still. Her words are living and beautiful. I want to write like that. Like me, but like that.

I write for You and for you and for me. Words are a gift and they are powerful. 'Mere words- a subtle magic, clear and vivid and terrible. They give form to the formless.' Of all I hated about The Picture of Dorian Gray, that [paraphrased] passage was not one of them. I found it real and true and felt the weight of speaking and of writing and knew all of it mattered.

I have two minutes before the page will cut off and force me to stop. I got caught up with listening closely to Julien Baker and also talking to Jess, who has become a good and fast friend. We talk about music and God and awkward moments we live in. And we laugh often. I am glad I know her.

I tell many people I am glad to know them, that I wouldn't be who I am without them. I hope with all of me that it doesn't sound rehearsed or not genuine because every single time I mean it whole heartedly. Words, mere words. They matter. I do too.

written w/ these songs in my ears or in my mind:

I'm On Fire - The Staves

Alive - Corey Kilgannon

Dark Days - Local Natives

Sprained Ankle - Julien Baker

Waste A Moment - Kings of Leon


goodbye, nashville

Sometimes goodbyes are quick, one tug and the sting ripples but for a moment. Other times (now) they linger, and I let them. I keep taking the long way home, feeling all of it a few last times. My engine whirrs, gasoline dwindles. I grin and cry and speak prayers aloud, my favorite songs as white noise. I couldn't do those things two months ago.

On May 24th my car was full of everything but a plan. I had no inkling of what this season would be like. Only when it came time to leave, I knew I wouldn't be the same. For months prior, it'd felt like hurricane season had overstayed its welcome and my life kept bumping into the line of fire. I was tired and sad and I'd decided my emotions could be turned off so I fumbled until I found and flipped the switch. Maybe this sounds confusing and vague (maybe it just is). Even so, I can assure you these words are honest. 

I showed up and rented a mattress (no, I didn't get bed bugs ok?) dove headfirst into two jobs and tried to remember what living felt like. Most of the time I didn't really know what I was doing, but as I write, I feel a new richness coursing through my veins, glad to have grown and begun again.

Front porch hangs while fireflies (my very own staccato and redundant bits of hope) lit dusky nights, party-crashing/dancing along to a live reggae band, twenty concerts and aimless neighborhood walks, making set-lists and cowriting songs, 7 Harry Potter books and The Holiday (x3), lots of self-made iced cubans and meals alone, learning to write again and feel again, sunday morning's doxology and spending time with people I've come to love and believe in. All of it played into the grand art of moving forward that has left me so alive and bursting with gratitude for the intricate way my Father chose to bind my heart. I wish I had words to do the stories I lived justice, and also enough time to tell them all here.

So I tied up my loose ends and said my goodbyes, but I got to bid summer farewell the best way I know how: a road trip! 10 cities & 4 states in 6 days with my friend Ellie. Her life sings of trust and light and she is a friend I am more than proud to know. We sprinted in rainstorms twice, felt the breeze by three different lakes, and entered into homes of our friends. I'll never forget Lake Michigan's immense blue, singing 'You Are the Best Thing' with a trolley full of strangers, or feeling the least alone I've felt ever.

And now the goodbye that lingers is actually happening. By the time you, whoever you are, read these words, Nashville will be a distant speck in my rearview mirror. I feel the pang of loss, but more so, I feel a peace that literally surpasses my understanding; it is time to go and I will be ok.

At the beginning of the summer, two people I care a whole lot about passed along a message the Lord had for me: "I have brought you out of the woods and into a clearing; do not expect the woods to be fast approaching again anytime soon." Nashville: thank you for being the clearing. I love you with every part of me, and I will surely be seeing you soon.



WWLT: Excuses - Cereus Bright


forty days

I knew it'd happen somehow. I really did. An empty house, untamed grass. Soil allowing for deep roots often overtakes the overlooked, unlikely places.

There's this cliche: "be where your feet are." It's reasonably repeated; an easily pocketed reminder to be present and attentive. It's figurative, of course. Yet when I close my eyes I see the literal. I see myself on my front porch at dusk, surrounded by people I love, and I see twining vines shoot out from beneath my bare feet, cutting through the wooden planks and the foundation, pelting into the ground with great force, thousands of feet down until they wrap tight around earth's core.

These roots are most peculiar, though. Normally, planting implies confinement. However, I feel free to roam the city's entire expanse of skyline and green, its mingling of suburb and bustle.

I fear the time to uproot, for it will come rather soon. And now as I press on the subject, words won't come. Maybe because the thought of a temporary sever is too much for my mind to grasp. Maybe also because it goes against my self-made promise to live rather than wait. All I can see is a tear-stained drive, muffled sobs drowned out by Tennessee Quick and even the prospect of it's made my heart tense. So enough for now.

I came here, to Nashville, hoping for more passion, for more boldness, for answers to my suitcase full of questions. My fists are clenched less than they were before. One, I realize, is empty. Another fills slowly (this one's for boldness). Elusive stuff, it used to be. Now I think it's more a sticky syrup, not easily shaken. Aside from what's held within them, my hands are calloused and stained- a byproduct of hard work. Pulling espresso shots and drafting emails may not sound like much. Barely dents in the earth, but dents just the same. My hands are making a difference and that's all they ever wanted to do.

As for the questions, they're clingy, still unanswered mostly. What I do know is this:

God is orchestrating his grand idea of Good. One hard year is not the end. When faced with the sting of moving forward or the ache of standing still, one must always, always choose forward.

- L