Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Lines from April, Part 2

We're halfway through April. More than. My heart.
How did I get so old?
It's actually true that 25 feels like downhill; I'm stiffer than I used to be. ha.
My knees hurt more easily after kneeling. Hands get achy. Glutes get stiff. What?
I'm waiting for more gray hair. I've often thought I'd enjoy it. Hope I actually do.

Thanks for telling me secrets, for romancing me. Giving us inside jokes and winks and pure, happy pleasures. Giving me a song about Your "Grand Love" and then making me forget it (so it's really and truly Yours, alone). Dancing with me when no one else would. Working it out so Mom could come with me to the conference today, and the money for my second ticket could bless a woman who came late, who called it a miracle, who'd had to borrow money for her ticket. You're a hoot. You are so much fun. Please don't hold back. I can't handle You at all, but I want to try. I know You know my limits better than I do. Thanks for making all the people born today.
Help me nestle into You tomorrow, not be so jumpy and insincere. Give me desire, purity of heart.

Put people in my path that need to hear the Gospel, and use me.

I don't know when I've ever been speechless like that before.
Angry. Guilty. Confused.
I'm still trying to figure this out. I need Your help, Abba. Help me see clearly, myself first. The situation. Him. Help me submit to You, not let this bug me unreasonably, "inordinately".

So, I appreciate this a lot. The fact that You know and see everything, and You're not soft on me because I'm a girl. You hold me accountable for whatever it is: pride, idolatry, judgmental attitudes, selfishness, cruelty. Be as hard on me as You need to be to bring about truth and repentance in my heart. Please make me an acute sinner, not a chronic one. Catch me fast, and kiss me quick afterward, I can't stand displeasing You. Please guard this restless tongue.

Jesus. My Holy Spirit, counselor, I'm a joke. I need You to help me get over myself so You can use me. Please speak light and love through me. Please help me clean the oil off the windowsill (thanks) and the urine off the bathroom floor (ugh). In other words, to address what I'm responsible for, and what I'm not, but can do something about.
Seriously, that stall in WalMart was so gross I didn't even want to tell someone about it and make them responsible for it... but I did nothing...
Humble me so I can be a home for You, humble King. Please forgive me.
I love You.

This isn't how I wanted to feel tonight, but I'm glad You're taking me through it.
I hate seeing my self-righteousness rear up, and seeing how easily and deeply I can hurt other people. It scares me. Take all this, reform it. Thank You for using Mom to speak truth to me tonight. To show me a mirror. Please forgive me, Lord God, for my catty, cynical, bitter attitude. It's crazy how what we least want to be, we can be.
There I was, singing about grace and mercy, and not extending it. Lord, show me, show me, I don't deserve it.
I am so bone-dry empty of mercy, shriveled. Soak me in Your fountain of it, the only explanation possible of why this earth is still spinning.

Lord, mitigate the wounds I inflict. Heal my own. Help me come to You, Your Word, more often. Help me to be transformed by the renewing of my mind. Help me stop trying to find my own pathos in everything. Make me a Magdalene.

Dear Jesus,
Thank You for this day that was actually startlingly productive, despite the ache in my heart and the knot in my stomach. Thanks for the pleasure of driving, the simple, straightforward accomplishment of repairing the backdrop. For dancing with me in the empty room. For progress with four commissions.

Thank You for a sensuous, refreshing walk. For those tasty violets, and the horses that didn't come. For mayapples spreading their leaves. For the steamy rotting potatoes, and the thorn in the side of my foot. For soup and grilled cheese, salad and hummus.
For Dad's beautiful hands. For the last chapter of "The Last Battle", and for V's unexpected letter and gift. It made me cry and laugh. Convenient timing, since Mom and Dad had just left. They didn't have to hear my strange helpless sounds.
Thank You for "Home" and "Ragamuffin" too, these reminders of kindness, kindness, kindness. Nye's poem. M's email. N's text with a song.
A new commission.
Thanks for yoga and soap and frosting. For A's invitation to the Chinese theater production.

For the blessing You spread out over my shoulders, Your gentle electric hands, willing me to understand Your love. Help me let go.
Lord, You've been bringing so many people to mind to pray for. Help me respond to all Your impulses.

"People can change. Everything can change." (M. Robinson)

Praise the LORD, O my soul.

Help me not take anything for granted.
"A man learns what he needs to know." Is that also true of women?
I'm having a hard time. I need new eyes. I'm covering everything in my own shroud of hurt and self-pity.
But thanks for all the sleep. And getting A on the phone. Good interaction with Mom and Dad. Thank You that I'm capable of washing laundry, that I have food to eat, that I can write and think and create - even though I'm afraid of my own words. What they are, what they lack.
I'll be gone soon. The world will go on without me. Everything, everyone is extraordinary, and they don't need me to tell it to them.
My failures are predictable. That's a hard one for me. I'd like to not be a sinner, or at least not to sin in predictable, common ways. See my arrogance?

Rabboni, I want Your words. Make me lose everything, even this journal (forbid) if that's what it takes for me to follow You with all my heart, nothing withheld, nothing dear but You.

Your mercy endures forever. How is that possible? And how do I begin to worship You?

Free us from captivity. "Who bore me these?"
How like the body the emotions are...the one part in pain gets all the attention. Put everything in its proper place. Don't let me realize too late how I love all these people. Help me act on it, pray according to it, now. It doesn't matter that there are too many to count. Help me start with those across the hallway.

Bring greater truth, clarity, and grace into his life. Help him forgive deeply, from the heart, and love with patience and creativity and intensity. Magnify Your Name through him.

Glad today happened. Thank You. Good to act free, even if I didn't feel it.
So in-between. It's hard not to sour. Not to fade out & crumple, or be bitterly contrary. Just keep equilibrium. Breathe. Remember the name I've been given by the One who made me. No other name matters. Things will justify themselfs sevels selves ha! in time. You'll put everything to rights, and sweeten my soul, and help me make sense. Or not, but at least You'll use the goop for something.

Thanks for so many phone calls. For G, who wants to drive me around. Whose car is fixed. Who is my friend, even though I've been so spotty with her so often.

Aw, guts. Why am I so evil? Why is Eve in me, and Jezebel, and Delilah (and Michal)? Show me what this woman thing ought to look like, for me. I'm too interested in my own charm & cleverness. It's disgusting. Show me. Weed me, sow me. Stitch in Useful Pockets and French Seams.

I love You, Lover. I'm choosing Your grace.

Give me courage. I'm so afraid. I'm rotting in here.

Make me into a poet. Help me write You a letter with my life, something You'll understand even if no one else does.
But use me, if it pleases You, for others, too.
Show me whether I'm meant to stew in this funk or shake & dance out of it.

Thanks for redeeming tonight. I was so miserable, after driving up the hill and down, scraping the car, and then not even sure what kind of party I was going to. Was almost ready to go home when S called.
I feel so out of it. Out of the in-crowd. And lonely. I shouldn't really, but it feels like everyone I've been close with in the last year is far away, or otherwise wrapped up in a relationship or obligation. It's pathetic of me, really. My job is to keep opening my arms. How long ago was it that I felt so overwhelmed by love? Not two months.
Remember that, child.
And remember tonight, nuzzling the sticky little leaves in the light of a low golden moon, and shaking with tears in the apple tree, while small creatures shuffled below in the darkness.
Remember the warmth of Elisabeth's sweater, and the firm trunk of the catalpa, and the wind, chill and wild with wanting. Remember those who have died, remember the wandering, and the true.
Remember your childhood, how perhaps this little plot mattered more to you than to anyone.
Holy, holy, holy, God who meets the lowly in a nondescript backyard.

There might be only a few things I want to say about today. But I won't know until I write.

I fell asleep shortly after 3am. Needless to say, I went to 2nd service. And Sisters' prayer before that. Lunch at J's, where I didn't do much except be... I left early to read and pray in the parking lot before L's surprise shower.
I tried to nap, but that didn't work. In part for the delightful reason that early family were on the premises, including grandma and grandpa S, walking with and serenading little great-grandson A. Their voices trilling harmony to him were achingly sweet. A song about children who love their Redeemer being jewels in His crown. A "go to sleep" refrain, improvised with commentary on the surroundings. It was a sacred moment. I tried not to disturb them, kept still and dozy, but grandma did eventually notice me in the car, and they moved to a more discreet distance to sing and walk.
The solidarity of that family is astounding.
It was also good to be part of things, a little. To be with my friends. To feel the pull of the net I'm part of - to remember that I am part of it.
Thanks also for mellow, homey planning, reading & prayer with mom and Dad. And the prospect of real sleep tonight.
Thanks for putting me behind that SUV with a Muslim family, for the opportunity to pray. Keep opening my eyes. Keep helping me pray absurdly big prayers.

Daddy. Babbo, grazie. Caring for those 15 kids with H, for just an hour and a half, was so revealing. 4-7-year-olds. Little humans. Such capacity for kindness and loyalty, compassion, justice, sacrifice, selfishness, betrayal, cruelty, mocking... all of it played out. Modesty. Vulnerability. Arrogance. Delight. Thanks for letting my life touch theirs for a brief moments. These fosters & bios & adoptees. Secure them in Your family, Lord. Build up their parents, who are doing so much, loving so well, answering Your call so faithfully.
Thanks for the time with H. For the perfect, barely inconvenient way the Honda broke down on 30. You protected us. Thanks for E loaning his car for the night. For H's easygoing personality. She's a good one to have around in an emergency.

Bring light and truth, not darkness and hurt and Satan's lies. Hound out every one. Devour them. Keep us loving.
There are a lot of things I don't know how to do. Too many to list. Please help me do one thing really well: love You. With everything.
Thanks for being there. I can't live without You.

Remind me (if it's true) that sacrifices of praise when we don't feel like it are pleasing to You.

So yesterday.
Don't let me take a single day for granted. That double rainbow was, I believe, peerless. And I was maddened and relieved that I could only catch glimpses of it while driving, no picture-taking.

THANK YOU for C's testimony. That she came early and was ready and eager to pray. Thank You for the words You gave her to speak, and the testament to Your power and salvation, and Your use of the young and imperfect.

How do I absorb the fact that that was my last study with A? Our last prayer meeting? That I might not see her again, to really visit, until she's a married woman? It feels like a story ending too abruptly, although I know it's a series and will end well.

Thank You for the real work and transformation You are doing in our lives.
Help all my battered little feelers cling to You. I'm tired of putting hopes in people only to be disappointed. I'm tired of my Gomer's heart, de facto preferring anything to You.
And Lord, I need new breadth and depth. I'm not big enough to hold all this.
The 4-year-old killed on 340, that Mrs. C saw. You held all this.

You have a way of making things OK. Better than OK. Of surprising me by taking what is tiresome and making it glow. Or, more likely, You just twirl my heart around a bit until I see things afresh.
It was so special to go to Hibernia with Dad today, even with the runs and a grey mood. You covered me in my favorite color, gave me damp scents & solitude. And company, too: a hand to hold, an arm to link with. You gave me two chapters of Anne Lamott and crackers to share in the car.

And somehow, it was a productive day. Even thought it's midnight now, and my stomach is still heavy with pie, and turning a bit from the lingering smell of fried fish, I'm light. My clock is running again, and ticking loudly to prove it. $30 of the $50 I sent for the projector is tucked up in my Travel Funds drawer, thanks to Mr. S. The Honda is back in the driveway, thanks to the shop. I have strength for today and hope for tomorrow, thanks to You. Everything, thanks to You.
Help me choose margin, as we prayed this morning for the church family. Not to push everything right up to the edge.
O Perfection. You have not forsaken me. I'm too stupid to realize You never will. Teach me patiently; it's all You.

Give me a new dream, fresh desire for You.

I don't think I meant, by a new dream, a dream about the king/president and his baby boy. That was strange. And funny.
I slept in this morning. I did no painting. I packed, and this afternoon I drove to West Chester in the rain to have a crit with C. This evening I attended the congregational meeting and voted yes to everything. At home I did yoga, showered, and changed my Amtrak ticket.
God, bless You.
"When I called upon thee, thou heardest me; and enduedst my soul with much strength." (Ps. 138:3)
I read it as "enduedest" in my head.

The West Chester trip was smooth and holy. The time with C was priceless - real and refreshing, challenging and comforting. Thank You for her honesty with me. And her story of painting ~"Hell Needs Hope". Something raw and dark and yet so beautiful emerged. Thank You for giving us Yourself, and for giving us each other.
Thank You for J's magnificent and sensitive art, her poetry. For "O Magnum Mysterium". For the "Outlanders" soundtrack N recommended, for a (yet to be read) letter from A.

Thank You for Dad's jokes and Mom's sweetness. For "the perpetual virginity of the soul"... until You appeared. Don't let me forget what a romance this is. You are loving, and kind, and merciful, and You do not despise me.
Awaken all of me to You. Give me complete trust & confidence, whole reliance on You as I enter the fog, the uncharted waters.

Domine, clamavi.
Breathe deep. It's gonna be OK. You're gonna get there. Even today was a "there", this threshed & jittery day.
Wrapping things up. PAINTING. Mailing a painting. Watching "Star Wars". Trying to sit still long enough to pray.
This is dizzying, this spinning world. Stare into my eyes, be my still point again, always. Jesus. Your sweet, honey sword Name.

30. (On the Amtrak train to Philly)
I'm really looking forward to a long ride today. Fringed with nerves, of course, but ready for time to think/write/pray/read. The gift of an earlier morning in the Psalms with You was lovely. And the timing of getting everything done was perfect: pancakes, packing, backing up my Mac, moving the studio, cleaning the bathroom. Thanks.

Pulling out from the Secaucus bus stop. The trip is going really smoothly, and I'm thankful. Nothing out of the ordinary grievances: sore bottom, stalker types*. But I'm trusting my HOPE/FORTRESS/CASTLE/DELIVERER/DEFENDER.
Obviously, this bus is even shakier than the Amtrak. I've enjoyed the height, though. The rest. Dozing, watching people in cars below, soaking in all this new green. I like to fixate on one passing leaf, and remind myself that You made it, You know it. Some trees are already fortified with wisteria. Wysteria? I like that better. Like mystery. Mystical Myst.

*lonely men I don't want to talk to.

Here at the wonderful library Spare Oom. It's been a good, good evening with G. Comfort, talking, prayer. Such a hard day for her and many others, with an accident resulting in a death. A horrific situation... and all we can do is leave it there, in Your hands, and trust that You really do heal the brokenhearted and call the stars by name.

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