“How is she?” they ask, with a kind smile and genuine concern.

I pause for a moment to catch my breath…to catch myself from falling.

“About the same,” I answer, with a kind smile and genuine gratitude.

because they don’t know what they’re asking of me. and I can’t explain it…

this teetering edge where I cling between hope and despair, light and dark, the Truth and experience, the easy answer and the other one.

The reality of her pain and our pain in walking it through each day, every hour, is more than I can articulate over coffee on a Sunday afternoon or through the phone or during a nice meal out.

I can’t say what’s really going on because it would take too long, cost too much and they were probably not prepared to invest in that kind of stripped back, naked honesty. And I can’t strip for just anyone. Even the very kindest of ones.

Her life is forever altered. And even if a miracle, The Miracle, we have longed for comes today, the cost is still the cost and the loss is still the loss. That is not a lack of faith statement. But many would see it that way, preach it to me that way, give me the reasons not to say it that way.

Who can I tell these truths to? Who would understand? Someone who has walked through excruciating pain, long term. Someone who has watched a child suffer for years and is still sane and faithful and hopeful. Someone who is a carer whose every dream for their life and the life of their loved one has been stopped, re-directed, put aside, re-written again and again until the dreams go only so far as a day or two at a time. For safety’s sake. For my heart’s sake.

I pause for a moment to catch my breath…to catch their eye…

“Thank you.”

to all those who still ask the question.




Are you going to church tomorrow?

I am.

My body doesn’t agree. It would rather pull up the covers and sleep off this cold.

My mind is filled with all the swirl of life and struggle, wars and laundry, death and taxes. Where’s the time for church?

And my heart…my heart is broken. And broken things tend to leak. And leaking in public is not something I do well.

This week has been hard. rocky and pitted and valley-like.

While four of our children went off to school – new bags, old friends, changing seasons – our eldest was left behind. Caught between overwhelming sickness and impending hospital stays. No uniform, no last year in Secondary or first year in university. And my heart felt the losses all over again. for her, for us.

Are you going to church tomorrow?

I am.

My body needs to heal. And even if nothing outwardly miraculously shifts, I know from years of experience that I will feel better spending time in that Body.

My mind needs a place to rest. And somewhere between the worship and the Word, the reaching out to others as I reach for a coffee, the holding of new babies and Sunday school drawings, there is a quiet stream.

My heart…well… my broken heart is my offering. I have nothing left to give. And in that place, when I lift up the pieces as I lift my hands, my voice, my eyes…He will gather them up. I know He will.

Are you going to church tomorrow?

I am.




I reach down and pull on the hand-stitched handle,

dragging the weight out into the light of this day.

Worn locks give way to the familiar touch of my fingers,

there is no resistance to me opening up in the silence.

I glance over the contents –

precious cargo that has been tucked away through years of traveling.

I’ve kept some of these dreams since I was a child…

others have been added as my world expanded

and contracted and stretched out again as only a life can do:

breathing  dying  living

A quiet sigh escapes the layers as I draw out some of this treasure…

I echo the sound as my fingers fumble with the string and ribbon, the wrappings and the locks.

I thought I was determined. I thought I was making the right decision:

to have a clear out, a cull of the most painful ones. The unused ones.

You know, the dreams that make you heartsick to visit

because it’s been so long that they’ve worn thin in the waiting,

faded in the light that they were not meant to be seen in,

torn without a medicine to comfort them.

and yet…

They are all still beautiful, even in this dimming autumn light.

So exquisite is their structure

So intrinsic is their being to the course of my journeys

that the pain to remove them digs as deep as the pain to keep them, still.

I bend low to inhale the fragrance of my now-empty chest.

Heart notes trigger some forgotten memory –

one with no words I can find to explain or describe or paint.

Nonetheless, the scales are tipped.

I exhale reason and practicality and self-preservation.

Slowly, carefully my hands move to re-pack the chambers.

I will leave no dreams behind today.




january: then and now

I am tough. I am fragile.

More than I knew before these two years past.

I have looked at looming destruction and declared Psalm 91, Romans 8:28, Psalm 23, yet I’ve had to claw myself back from losing the plot in my dentist’s chair.

sigh. Not of this world and yet of its dirt…

In these short, long and stretched-thin months, I have found more steel in my backbone, more grit in my teeth, more steps forward in the valleys than I ever knew I had in me.

I’ve also seen how truly weak I am, where the cracks are – the places that bruise with just a whisper. Where tiredness blurred my sight and weariness my vision.

and I can’t believe what I didn’t know. but I understand some how much more there is to know. That in itself has been breathtaking.

At times I am divided, one part going higher up the mountain…the other taking another lap round. How is this possible????

Breath and dust.

He knows.

He, who put on this breakable flesh and poured out His power through the loss of very real and wet blood, sees me in all my glory and all my mess. He hears me when I say too much, or not enough, or nothing because I just can’t find any more words.

I am tough. I am fragile.

This is me. and He loves me.

This I know. these two years past.






His blood

I spilled the wine

it is all my fault


my actions


the dark stain spreads


I spilled the wine

it is all my doing


I cannot stop it now



the red river runs

down my table


that cross

the warp and the weft


I spilled the wine

it was me.




(c) Beth Sciallo 2013

February’s Lament

The loss of others…another’s loss

New grief touches on old grief

and I find the pressing finger of human frailty sore on my scars.

I am not without hope, or joy or the living

but I miss the dead.

My mind comprehends the circle of life

still my heart refuses that kind of boxed logic.

we were made for more, it whispers

something is wrong…

Yes, something is wrong.

Eternity ticks in my heart

but my eyes can’t see it.

Two fathers and a mother, a child and a grandfather slipped out of this world

these past months, piercing me in their passing as they passed by.

Only one was “mine” … as if I own a person…yet I mourn them all.

New grief touching on old,

the loss to friends and family shared but not lightened.

Only eternity can do that.

I feel my friends’ sadness


My heart pangs with remembrance on this day of love.

The loss of a child forever marked by a saint…


The family belonged to our small rural community.

Our youngest were of the same age – same blond hair, same blue eyes,

the same.

Ari and Leo, two little lions playing together at the mum & tots group.

Two young boys bundled up with red noses, breathing fresh country air.

Too young.

We were home that day. A local farmer came by with his delivery, his message.

Peter called to me, his voice full and empty. Repeat, repeat…I could not take it in. The baby was gone – overnight.


I cried. I ran.

To my car and drove the few miles to their house.


A broken man stood in the drive.

I cried. I ran.

To stand beside him and whisper small words of small comfort.


A broken mother stepped out from the doorway.

I cried. I ran.

To hug her and hold a shattered heart with my insufficient arms.


We cried. and the tears ran down through the cracks of the gravelled drive.


The family has since left our countryside, in search of a different life away from so many landmarks and landmines. I cannot fault their quest. For them, today is a hard place. I pray they will know Love and be comforted.

“Take part in the joy of those who are glad, and in the grief of those who are sorrowing.” Romans 12:15

prayer walking

With tiredness of body, mind and heart I climb into the shower. This is my secret place. A small, wet sanctuary that usually gives me a modicum of quiet. The past weeks have been so intense I’d only been showering on speed dial. This morning though, I have enough time to sigh, contemplate and condition. So I take a moment to catch my breath in the bathroom, willing the weariness to be washed away.

I almost made it out in one piece until I bent down to scrub my feet. There I saw bits of my pink glitter nail polish hanging on for dear life.

Dear life.

Dear God.

I never wear the colour pink. But then a six-year-old child was laid out by a terrible disease, one that turns pink skin black and threatens life and limb. So I joined the masses of supporters for this son and donned pink for love and for prayers. But my toes were my secret. I painted each one with a whisper, speaking all the words I knew to encourage the boy’s toes and feet and legs to remain…turn pink…live. In the week that followed, this young one lost his left arm and both those little legs. No more dancing feet, no more tickley toes.

I look down and weep for the loss. I feel the sorrow of a mother’s heart. I see what is not to be as I stare hard at the tattered bits of pink.

I guess I should just take it off now – the thought hovers.

It pains me to think it.

The shower keeps raining down, mixing with my tears…

Where can we possibly go from here?   the prayer spills.

And then I feel a different kind of cry rising up. One that comes not from hope deferred, but hope implanted.

Why are you in despair, O my soul?

And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him For the help of His presence. Ps 42:5

I will paint the pink again. And I will cover each toe with a prayer. This time, it will be for the boy’s new journey – for the many miles he will crawl and walk and run and climb. For his new gait, for his new dance.

New life.

Dear God.

For Caden…

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jer 29:11




You can read the story of Caden Beggan as it unfolds in the heartbreaking-ly beautiful posts from his father David on facebook.  www.facebook.com/CadenBeggan

I can’t have this conversation with her. It will hurt her valiant heart.

It’s already hurting mine, which at this moment is cowardly and uncertain.

I am the Momma, the one who is always able to kiss the boo-boo, bring the comfort, make it better. Now I am undefined in this place of little consolation and even smaller answers…


yes, I spoke to the doctor.

no, we need to wait 6 more weeks.

no, they cannot schedule another procedure yet.

no, baby, I don’t know if you can go back to school.  to be with your friends, to continue your excellent grades, to pursue your dreams…


I hate every word of that exchange and we’ve not even had it yet.

But I love her and she needs the truth.  More than that…even more than I,


He loves her and He is the Truth.

So in this shadow in her valley, I will grope until I find His hand. and I will again place her hand in His. and He will hold her steady as He leads us through…


holding the sun

There’s a little person lying next to me – all curled up in the side of my chair.

He is sticky with ketchup and ice cream and strawberry juice.

The blond hair smells like sunshine.

The dirty toes are full of today’s adventures –

running, flying, crying, laughing, exploring full tilt until all of who he’s becoming had to take a break and collapse with the weight of growing.

I dare not move in this moment.

The rhythm of his breathing is singing to my heart…

that life is full of goodness and wonder and small hidden treasures to be found if I will take the time to see them.



I listen. and breathe in the son while he is within my arms.