Friday, October 28, 2016

it is still early

it is still early
the lights
have only had time
to grow brighter

we should not be inured, cannot
wonder without
stepping into untested

taste, and see
spread wide and crash
your craving on this
cold, hard, weathered stone

between breath this
tree where life
is punctuated, pierced

by sounds of zinging angels
violin, and cello
behind, around
the highway drone

this embrace
that smells of evening, wood
and safety

past the slow walk home
the slender chill
the pleiades
dissolved like salt on the tongue

baptism and eucharist daily appear
dew and flakes of flesh
left frost-like in the darkness, in the grass
every morning.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Lines from September, Part 1

Still the 1st, by minutes.
This was a triumph day for You. Gloria in excelsis Deo.

Such a long day, even more complicated with the rental car, but so good.
I do enjoy teaching. These kids are great. So is R. So are the families.
Please replenish us tonight.

Lord, teach me to fear You. I want You to be my first thought.
Grazie, You carried us all through today. So good to see both E and A. So hard to grasp what's happened.
Thanks for helping me drive my 5th car ever. Thanks for the time with Dad, and the butter pecan ice cream we got at High's Dairy tonight, on the way home.
There was a woman at High's, an employee, sloppy drunk. The gentleman who served us was trying to make the best of it, care for her and contain her in the back. Noting Dad, he said to me jocularly,
"A real gentleman who opens doors! You don't see that every day."
I replied,
"Actually I do...but I know I'm one of the privileged few."
He scooped us very generous servings.

Oh Lord. I want tomorrow to be fruitful. Here and in NY. I want You to make Your Name glorious.

Lord, show me the truth. Reveal the lies, within and without. Help me to love and desire You more than anything or anyone else. And help me love others.

Sometimes I think I must not love other people very much at all. And right now I feel so stretched still, it's like I make a habit of being too busy for everyone.
A habit of looking to the next thing, the next person - never being wholly there. It's a cowardly and despicable habit. There is no real pleasure in it, though there is a cheap and hollow safety.
Show me where to invest. I know I can't be everywhere at once, be everyone's best friend. But I had better watch myself, or I'll have no close friendships, no fully-invested commitments. Like Dad said today, "What you put into it is what you'll get out of it."
We did have a lovely day.
Being out in Your world is so good. Thank You for cooler, still-bright weather and a breeze.
Thank You for K's hard words. For the truth You spoke through him. Thank You for the Holy Spirit. For helping me pray a little.

O God,
Show me Who You Are. I have been half-worshipping a tired image. I must have You, as You really are. Help me find You. Chase me, catch me up out of this irritation and doubt. Depression. You are tried & true. I am tired. Help me fall onto You.

Lord, save me. I'm so antsy. Maybe it's the coffee, but it's not just the coffee. And I feel like I could do something very wrong, or forget something very important.
Help me worship You in the midst of this fever, in Spirit and Truth.
Help me spit out this irritable abhorrence. This abhorrent irritation.
My prayers themselves are wimpy. Fight for me, King. Prince of Peace, Lord of the Universe, Lover of my soul.

I feel like saying, "forgive me, forgive me, I don't know what got into me..."
For now I feel so different. In between a meeting (sitting among the clover with M while we waited for C), 90 minutes under the sky as it turned pearl to dusk, a lyrical ride there and back, tasty pork baking while I biked and showered, words from Marilynne Robinson, H's photos and flattering benediction, feeling tidy and ready for tomorrow... somewhere in between, the beast slipped off my back.

That is, annoyingly, how it feels. Like the cloud simply lifted, the demon fleeted away. And I'm left relieved, and confused at the memory of my own emotion, and wary of the damage I may have done under its influence. Am I a creature of circumstance? Is my will so brittle? Are You proving a point, and what is it?
I am perhaps too complicated to understand Your staring simplicity. Your constant love. Like a hand held so long that the pressure feels imaginary. Squeeze me a little.

Please help me trust You for tomorrow. Glorify Your Name. Help each one of us taste and see that You are good. Use me.

"For need can blossom into all the compensation it requires. To crave and to have are as like as a thing and its shadow..."
-Marilynne Robinsoon, Housekeeping p. 152

15 years have passed. I still remember how it felt, and Mom gasping, "All those people!" as the towers fell. I'd never seen a death before, but I was watching it live, people jumping. Terry Moran's expression.
Today, as I paced the deck reading "A Theology as Big as the City" under a bifurcated sky (gibbous moon in blue, sun behind trees striping the sky with pink above), I realized what a deep hold this place has on me. All the familiar things. And even though life often seems the same, the same and always the same, it has changed, and it will change. Perhaps dramatically.

Perhaps in a year I'll be riding across dirt roads, breathing hot air and feeling the dust hit my face, and perhaps I'll think wryly how simple I was the year before, and how I took everything for granted and wasted so much.
Don't let me waste it. Don't let me be distracted.

I feel fake, and like a hypocrite, because I know she needs a friend, but I'm keeping myself at arm's length. I don't think I can be the friend she needs, but I don't think evasive, half-hearted friendship is right, either. And that's how I feel I'm behaving, with most people. With almost everyone. Even Mom and Dad, sometimes.
Jesus. I need Your help to focus. To be present and secure enough to love others "deeply, from the heart". Right now my heart wants to shove people away, even while it aches to be known. I'm tired of making excuses. Of being constantly full, stretched. I need stillness and silence and safety, and I need people. I need Your help to love and be loved, to know and be known.

Please do use my words. But keep me independent of them, as well. Or maybe not. Just put me in right relationship to words, including my own.

And Lord, I want Your clarity. I need Your truth. Prove Your words. Give me faith. I am such a doubter, and I'm not used to feeling this way. Not used to remembering what it was like to see, rather than seeing.
Prevail for us, for me.

Thank You. I say this a lot, but I mean it. You showed me, tonight, through Your people. Earlier I felt like screaming, facing darkness that looked like despair and didn't seem to budge. But it did.
Thank You for those who came early to pray. For an encouraging and convicting lesson. Refreshing group time. And a swift return home.
It's good to be home.

"But let all who take refuge in you be glad;
let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them,
that those who love you may rejoice in you.
For surely, O LORD, you bless the righteous;
you surround them with your favor as with a shield."

-Ps. 5:11-12 NIV

Help me believe what You told the sisters in John 11.
Help me to understand hell. I still don't. It makes me feel betrayed and angry. Forever? Conscious? I am sure I do not understand Your holiness. Help me understand both Your mercy and Your justice.
Please go before me today. You'll have to help me. Guide me. Fix my thoughts on You and what is good and noble. Fructify me.

Thank You for making today so sweet. Classes were the best yet.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Lines from August, Part 2

I wish there was a way to hug You. Tight.
As it is You're just going to have to take all that's in me, all this overflow, and hold it in You and let it rise up warm and fertile between us, setting down a million tiny roots to hold us strong for the next storm or drought.
I do, and I don't, know how this came about. I know it has to be processed through You, protected by You, or else I'll minimize or expand it far beyond what's justified.

What it was is this: a number of small steps of vulnerability and affirmation.

Like You tend to do, You set up something far more perfect than I could have schemed. And on a night when I felt so weak, sticky and faint and nauseous, You gave me the gift of being seen and heard, and of being able to receive and respond to what was entrusted to me.
It was small and holy. And I won't beat it into the dust, and I won't idealize it, if You help me, but it was You and it helped and I'm thankful.
Thank You.

Heart of my heart, remind me what it means. Shepherd me.

Camp is so eerie right now. No, not bad - I kind of like it - but it's an adjustment. Lurch Cabin isn't such a haven now, it's just a landing place. Anywhere can be quiet. In fact, people are a boon. F has visited me. B. The MJ Earl deliveryman, who saw my sketches and told me about an architect he knew who died at 100 and whose countless meticulous drawings were trashed.

I felt so much better today. I ate meals. I sat with B for lunch, had a funny pseudo-alone dinner, talked again with B. Later I strolled around, and then a knot of us played Rummikub and Yahtzee.

I feel sort of adrift. Trying to root myself... it can only be in You. You make me secure, You hold my heart, You form my character.
Help me be content with that.
And Father, be my never-shifting star. Nothing else is sound or stable. Not me, or my favorite things, or the people I idolize, or the people whose consistency I take for granted.
Let this not make me bitter, but free. The hunger I'm feeling for You right now is like that of the Prodigal - I'm doubting Your welcome. But I am like Saul, "still honor me before the people!" No, Lord God, Father, what I want is Your arms enfolding me. Your voice must be the one in my inner ear. Be my still point on which to pivot, secure me so my thread can be spun out in the many, many directions I'm going to be pulled in the next days, weeks, and months.
Make me strong and supple so I don't snap.

Yesterday an old song re-emerged (from Freshman year I believe):

I am not a toy, I'm a woman
and I'm following You wherever You lead

Tell me what to do, and I'll do it
'cause I'm following You wherever You lead

Let me not be someone's plaything
let me not be someone's game
'cause I'm bound to be Your servant
and I want to be Your slave...

Thanks for whisking me sweetly, freshly through today. The store is mostly clean. B took A and I out to lunch, E, B, F and I played Settlers up at Traber.
You made it work. Thank You.
We swung. I heard the loud rap of preaching from the chapel, and when I went back down to main camp the transformation was complete - I felt out of place! But here at Lurch it's been lovely to tidy and clean and gather, industriously but quietly, without rushing.
I can sleep soon, and soon begin the last day. Oh, guide me. I don't need to know everything, I don't even need to know what I feel, but I need to know You.
Put my heart at ease with You.
Speak to me intimately.

"...The mountains and hills will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.
Instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree,
and instead of the briars the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the LORD's renown,
for an everlasting sign,
which will not be destroyed."

-Isaiah 55:12b-13 NIV

This is it, this is the day I said I was coming home. And I am home.
And it's good.
Not everything is finished - not sketches, not the reports or the inventory list, but I think the lion's share is finished.
Lurch is clean and mostly empty. I didn't return the Parker things yet, and there's a row of Lost and Found items in the closet. But it's ready now, for new purposes. It's a little like watching a video in reverse,
                  zhooop - !
everything that tumbled out of the box is tucked back in place, in perfect order.
Only not really.
There's been depreciation, and value added, and growth, and entropy. Much as things may feel cyclical, or never-ending, we ARE going somewhere. We will get there. There will be enough of whatever we need. How I need to remember this and trust You tonight! If I were to allow it, the pressure of everything would worry me to death. The air would vibrate with it.

I wonder why I assume worry is something I can handle on my own - a choice within my power. Maybe because You said, "Do not worry" so many times, it sounds like You take for granted that we can choose not to worry. Maybe, like all things, it's simply a matter of our assent to Your work and power. Not about us ever, at all.
Hurrah! We get to be everything and nothing. Get to shake with the splendor of it all, of Your story, of You, and even the sounds we make as we choke on our wonder will be real and beautiful, and more than half laughter.
Please show him You are kind. Please, please show him how kind You are, and how much You love him. Help him know that the crucifixion is not meant to reproach us. Help him feel the gush of Your bottomless grace ceaselessly pouring out, because You came for life, full life, and You love to give. And You love to love. We are drinking thimblefulls of You, when You would give us 6 stone jars with 20-30 gallons each.
And more, if we could handle it.
I have not been outside enough. I've forgotten the blatant proclamation:
                                   God is Extravagance.
I can trust You with everything. My goodbyes, my family, my songs, my projects, my heart's pilgrimage. My friends, and my fears. My inner longings.

Even today, I was aware how You showed up when I didn't expect grace, with grace. A few quiet beginning minutes before the alarm. An adorable tiny dog in the office that relished my hand and licked my toes fervently. A swallow diving toward my face. Just enough lunch. A cool, delicious breeze as I drew Pinesite cabins. Friendly conference-goers who greeted me and watched me draw, or just treated me like a sister. Mom and Dad... championing the final sweep & mop, buying us all ice cream, taking me home to our peerless BLTs.
The skull is still on the wall.
Steady me. Hold me and steady me.

I feel so much better, having danced.

Let us recount small victories:
I got X-Rays today at the dentist's, and the dentist was pleased. Apparently teeth like mine are his bright spots (for their cleanliness, not their alignment).
The studio has officially migrated, and I am in position to paint again.
The weather was balmy today.
More conference food for lunch, mmmmm.
C & Dad tag-teamed my Advisor Meeting transportation, and it went smoothly.
I ate bread and cheese and whole cloves of roasted garlic at the pub.
J can be my ride tomorrow!
MM slept better the other night.
E called to coordinate our GA trip, and we caught up.

Lord, I want to see Your hand in everything. How You work out work. How You provide a car. How You weave me into close and transformative relationships. How You teach me love and patience. How You bring healing, and bring people (back) to Yourself.
The urgency, the immediate need for You, is pressing up inside me.
"Not to us, O LORD, not to us
but to Your name be the glory
because of Your love and faithfulness."
-Ps. 115:1 NIV

A few times today, I was a little depressed that I didn't have permission to revert to middle-school mode and curl myself up and cry. Life feels like a leech with two daughters sometimes: Give! Give!
But as desiccated as I've felt, I've felt You flowing through my emptiness.
Thank You for J's sacrificial kindness and flexibility for me today.
Thanks for Psalm 116, which was perfect.
"Be at rest once more, O my soul,
for the LORD has been good to you."
(v. 7)

There will be enough. There will be abundance beyond my ability to reckon - my most generous acts will appear stingy when I see with clear eyes everything You have done.
Help me give. Fill me. Empty me.

Today was very lovely, and I wish I could end that with a period, but... but God, therefore, I will be OK. I know this is more than half in my mind, and that's part of the problem. I'm so overwhelmed. And I'm trying to handle it too much on my own (organizing, method, yoga, tea, evasion) rather than planting myself down with You. We need another full day. Please help me choose this. You before everything, You in everything, Your leading and power and love. It will all be empty otherwise, anyway. Help me not put You off or abuse Your faithfulness.
I want You to feel trusted and wholly depended on and worshipped and needed, but not used.
Help me handle all these family things, friend things, heart things, work things. Help me lay my hands on Your hands and let You play the keys.
Help me keep trusting You and running to You, whatever I feel.

Thank You for my dear Mama.

What do You really want?
My heart.
Where is my heart being pulled right now?
Despair. Worry. Pursuing belonging/love from men. Impressing others with my art/music. Trying to be a faithful friend. Attempts at control.

My goal: to become more like Jesus -

Bold in the Truth
Compassionate to all
Secure and peaceful

Areas in which to grow:

Words - speak the Gospel
Speak edifying, gracious words
Avoid pointless chatter & flippancy

Joy - practice presence & gratitude
Simplify schedule, stuff
Prioritize praise & worship
Celebrate whole-heartedly
Practice hospitality
Feast on the WORD

Reflection: what do my actions, attitude, appearance say about Who I serve?

Secondary goals:
To facilitate and nourish community, growth
To mirror God's character (beauty, truth, goodness, etc.)
To be a wife and mother

_Trust God_

What do I want from You?

The confidence that You are pleased with me, delight in me, love me.

I feel so vulnerable - physically (driving, travel, city, illness) emotionally (losing loved ones, relationally w/ guys) spiritually (people I love struggling/oppressed).

How do I go forward with life? Where, and in whom, do I invest? How do I relate to people who seem to want too much from me?

I seem to need a car. And a way to afford health insurance come spring. And I should probably start saving for the future. Will I have food and clothing? You always care for me in that. Every time. What about friends? Will You bring me to new friendships, or teach me to be more vulnerable and committed to the friends and community I already have? What about romance? Will there be someone whose character doesn't need my excuses, who can love and lead me like You do? Someone I can delight to team up with for the rest of my life?

I want You. I want everything You are, even if it destroys and obliterates me. I long for the truth and holiness and power and wisdom and beauty and joy You possess, You embody, You originated, You Are. I want LOVE and Justice and Mercy.
Love, Love, Love. If nothing else, only You, if not Your hands, Your Face and Your Heart my continual eternal

This has been a lovely day with You. But I realize it has still been largely selfish, and I am ending the day hungrier than I began it. Find me and free me, Lord Jesus.

Sometimes settling seems to take far too long, and then, overnight, suddenly you are settled. Or healed. Or you've truly forgiven someone and not just decided to forgive.
Teach me that there are very, very few things over which I have control. I'm beginning to wonder about this control concept itself - it seems that life is more like a series of choices, permissions and denials, and they are all that constitute any semblance of "control".

Who will I obey? Whose voice will I believe? Who is my master?

Saturday I drove to Bryn Mawr for the parent orientation dinner. I wanted to crumple a few times, or hide in the bathroom, but You were a friend and the group was very warm and kind. It ended up being a redeemed evening.

Yesterday I stuck with L after church, and we had a picnic lunch under an ugly beautiful tree with the gang. We explored the old farmhouse, empty 20 years, charming and light-filled but embroidered with mold.

Please give me some music? And go before me tomorrow. I'm Your lady. Season my words.

Lord Jesus, I am so unready for this day. We haven't even had breakfast yet.
Please work the kinks out of my spirit, my attitude. Help me accept whatever comes. If this doesn't get easier, please make me stronger. I love You.

Grace is evident all around.
And now I want You again. Man-God, Holy Perfection, culmination.
"...You take and take from me; You must be all I need." (Sarah Sparks)
So fun to make that discovery today, that she was the artist J shared with me way back in ... 2012?
I want to write You something new and sharp. But You will have to give me the words.
Today was such a scattering of small things.

"What are all these fragments for, if not to be knit up finally?"
-Marilynne Robinson

Help me truly rely on You, lean hard into You. Please protect me, and others from me, and bring me home rejoicing at the wonders You have shown me. Show Yourself mighty and faithful. Establish Your kingdom, march forth victoriously over the Enemy.
Christ King Jesus.