Some days they eat you alive, don’t they? You are sure you are just dry bones…do you hear me creak? I wait for the breath…warm wind over me..I know all it will take is a soft breeze.
Some weeks you feast. I received three hand written notes in my mailbox…a bag full of notes on the stage. I feel like a glutton for all the ways I was loved this week. I feel bloated on it, puffed up, I will be saving that for days when I am starving. Some weeks we won’t forget. Thanks for all of you who were a part of it. You cannot know the ways it protected me. We are are responsible for each other…you know this? The way we encourage. Lets not forget about that.
My boy he said at bedtime last week that a kid from school had no dad. Another had a mean dad. He said, this boy of mine, with all his energy and attitude “I think it is just cause he has no hope”. I think thats it. Please God…let my theology boil down to this. Next time I am starving and my bones rattle and all I hear is my own voice of failure…remind me? How did I forget my hope?
We are in a hotel this weekend. The man is out at a conference. The kids
and I…we hit the water slide till we could no longer walk. We bought fedoras and smoothies and we ate popcorn in bed and watched cartoons and all the things…are just too good.
When people start burning bridges in your wake, your brain starts to play tricks on you. When you find yourself trying to claw back up the burning planks, splinters under your finger nails, you can’t help but feel weak and awkward, like the weight is too much to keep fighting for. That arsonist turned on you, jumped into the icy blue, fleeing away from you.
You look down. There it is, that swirling cesspool, licking at your toes. You think people want you to fall, to jump, to join them there in the sea of bitter, of burned out, of broken. You know your reputation is tarnished already, what with the way you can’t even fix a friendship, help another to see your heart. You are a joke. You feel chopped down, diminished, small. You feel helpless and betrayed and worst of all your very sense of self corrupts, you’ve let too much of your identity exist in the mind of another.
You feel it, don’t you? The waterfalls forming in your eyes, old wounds made new, healing weaknesses exposed, insecurities rebirthed.
And you want to join you in the bitter torrents. You want to wish the worst for them. To wish bad luck on them, to make them a cartoon or a secondary storyline in your own story. You want to succumb to the dark water beneath, let all your wounds fester and grow, to breed and spread to other relationships, to build up higher fences, stronger boundaries. But you can’t. I won’t.
Because the truth is, when we reach that distant shore, and the sea of our lives has tossed us and we are again reduced to fine dust. When we crawl back up into that sand and we lay there panting, I actually hope you will still indict me for my foolish hope, my senseless joy, the idiocy of my unconditional love, my irrational peace. The way I laugh at the days to come, how insane is that?
I’m not just living for some far off kingdom, some far-and-away from now. No. Today I am choosing the heights, depths and breadth of my life…To always choose joy over bitterness, hope over dispair, peace over war. May every day be the best day for you too.
There is a doe and two fawns I watch too closely. I see her most days, just past Huckleberry road, and before I pass Jackpine. We saw them first last spring when the littles were all wobble legged and spotted. They are yearlings now, almost her size but not quite. I count them out, “1, 2 oh where is the third?! Oh…there she is” and I sigh deep. I am somehow all tangled up with that doe and her fawns wandering around the Rich. If there is anything you can say about me, it is that I am a reckless romantic, finding meaning where there might be none.
That bush is on fire is it not? Burning up with the things of God. What, you can’t see it? Are you blind?
I watched “Big Fish” for the 1 millionth time this week and wept like a child again. Us storytellers do that. You can tell me about that time you went shopping for shoes and I will wonder what it taught you. How were you tossing light while you walked? What of the kingdom upside down did you bring along for the ride? What great character did you meet? Did they challenge your capacity for the peace or did you just come along side, see the gift of the co-created moment.
It freaks me out when people talk about calling as a far off thing. As something they are working towards becoming. A job they will someday get and then they will “BE IT”. You know that is all fading right? That none of it will stand? You can be a preacher but unless you are preaching all the time regardless of your vocation you ain’t no preacher. And I, well you know I love the words, as reckless as I am with them, as ill-equipped as I am to write, still I do. There is no book contract on my horizon, this will never make me an income and yet still I write, because it is the only place the whole world comes together in my head. I am in graduate school and I am having fun. Imagine if it was my job to sit and speak of ideas and healing and all the good things? It will put food on the table and adventure in my lap, but my calling will not be to teach. I am to mother these children well, to lay down my life, put it aside for the little people. Still that is not the whole of my call. A calling is not the thing you do, it is the way we move.
My calling, and yours too, is to be the salt and the light wherever we walk. We walk in the way of the freedom fighters, and we are to speak the language of the prophets. I want my kids to see the big story that lies just beneath the surface of all the things we do. The way I want them to tell the stories of our strange adventures and the way I want them to question if they really experienced that…Did I imagine that fantastical evening? The way the skies burned bright with stars? I want them to sit around, moments before I die someday with all the people who brushed up against our life. The way I want them to celebrate a life lived to the edges, to the depths. I hope they will say something about the way I loved people, the light of God that leaked out of the edges of my life. The way we sought the glory laden in the mundane of these dailies and perhaps someday, when we return to the dust and the funeral procession is coming, there will be people there shouting about our freedom songs how it rang from our rafters.
There is a place, just there between sound asleep and wide awake. It is a heavy place, dampened by all my anxious thoughts, heavy with all the weight of the world, the incomplete masses. It is burdened with the dreamland, of not quite real, but not entirely fiction either. The hybrid of my most terrifying truths and the deepest lies in Hell. It is filled with the thank yous unsaid, the moments I should have showed up, the tasks undone, and the people I’ve disappointed all of them here pointing in the dark shadows of an empty room. Here is the liminality when I am not yet sure if that nightmare is truth or if horrible real was just a dream, here where flesh rules with all its translucent skin, its collapsing and failing cells.
This is the place just before I can see my way to casting all my anxiety on Him. It is the place just shy of remembering my redemption, the just-before-a future glory. It is the place where I all I know is my flesh, how extraordinarily broken it is. How it reminds me of all things I want to do, but do not do.
Here is this place, more than any other, I see my way back to Hope. Don’t you see it? Whereever it is you find yourself most extraordinarily other than the “WHO” you want to be, there is where HE meets you, changes you, shows you your truest fears and most authentic broken. There. There where you know there is more to you than THIS, there on the other side of the end of yourself where HE begins.
Find Him there. Your most broken is also the first place healed.