I don’t know if it is the onslaught of birthdays and
holidays, so much preparation and too many details.I don’t know if it’s all the planning and parties, calendars
filling up and lists becoming long.Maybe it’s all the conversations about school and church, our vocations
and the years ahead.It’s all
unique and universal.The thoughts
and talks are both new and old.
I am not sure.But
I feel the knotting and the twisting taking place in my belly.And sometimes, when I am all knotted
up, I need a place to find the loose thread.I need to stop and work out the tangles.
I have been reading about Ruth in the Bible, how she got out
of bed each day with the loss of her husband heavy in her pocket.She walked out into the field to work without
a clue as to how her story would unfold.I have been learning about how she put one foot in front of the other,
each step her daily bread, never knowing how her God would weave all the fabric
scraps that life handed her into a tapestry of gold.
When I survey the landscape of what is on the horizon, the
big picture, the whole story, I know that Love bats last.I know that the final chapter will wave
a banner of grace and that the story will be magical, permeating truth and all
together good.But it’s in the details,
the plans and the lists of today that I get lost, overwhelmed and tired.
But then I remember Ruth.I remember how God redeemed her tragedy, how He wrote a love
story out of her grief.And it all
started because she simply got about her business with grace and humility.So what to do with all of these lists and plans?How to handle the decisions and the to-dos?Maybe it is more about stepping than
seeing.And maybe there is a God
who is watching over the fields where we have been placed, working through the
smallest details and ordinary tasks.Maybe He is weaving redemption through it all.And yes, the daily walk can feel less like a love story and
more like a long list.But in the
end, it will all shine of glory.
The last weeks have been swirled with thoughts of what was.The month has been filled with wonders of what could have been.
This past weekend the four of us piled in the car headed west
to climb the snake roads to the mountains.We passed by orange carpets of fallen leaves and weaved
through naked trees freshly exposed until we arrived at a little cabin held
between slopes like cupped hands.
We pulled the last apple remnants from the orchards during
the day and gathered skinny sticks to top off with white puffs to hold over the
fire at night.We hiked the woods
with roots popping up on the trails like arthritic fingers and the boys laughed
from their bellies as they jumped over each gnarly knuckle.“He stuck the landing,” Jeff shouted while throwing both arms up in the air.I marveled at how a little boy jumping and landing could swell such pride
and how a man encouraging his son could heat such love.
There is something about the mountains.I find them both mystical arrows
pointing upwards and weighty anchors grounding me down. I cannot leave them
unchanged.And maybe it was the
black sheet of sky pulled taut between the clouds, and the million needle
pricks of lights poking through.Maybe it was the afternoon sun blasting through the smudged cabin
windows, catching the rising dust like the dome of a shaken snow globe.It could have been how the stream
waters splashed up against the rocks like the quick snap of hand bells or the
way the tree trunks swayed like a secret waltz to a silent beat.Perhaps it was simply that each of us
seemed so ourselves, individually and together, comfortably sinking into the
furniture of God’s first house.
I’m not sure, but I think that it was all of creation
framing the picture of a family becoming and a family renewed.A family learning to kiss the ground
and touch the sky.
Thoughts of what was
and wonders of what could have been
will likely always stand in our shadows.But their chill is ever so slowly beginning to melt.And I feel the thawing from the light
of the beauty of all that is.
It’s been raining for days.The ground, cold and wet, ushers autumn in with its slippery
welcome mat.Fallen reds and
browns slouch beneath my feet and stick to the bottom of my tall, green boots.The back seat of our car piles
high with fleecy layers peeled off, and the beans and tomatoes swirl hot on the
stove to the lead of a wooden spoon.October silently elbows its way between summer and winter, and before I
know it, before I have had time to brace myself, I am wedged in the middle of
all that it holds.
I always loved October.It felt safe and sandwiched, unhurried and set apart, like I
could hunker down and peer over the edge at the coming train of holidays and
birthdays without yet feeling the wind from its speed.But now October is grounded and thick
in new ways.As the day that marks
two years since Webb last plopped into my lap crawls closer, treasured and
tragic memories and images resurface with sharper colors and vivid
realness.And I feel myself rolling up the
sleeves, widening my stance for stability, and preparing for the waves that will
So much of life is lived in the anticipation of what’s on
the horizon, the baited breath and the drawn inhale.There is such fear of how the unfolding may knock things upside
down that were finally settling, and the hurried business of making sure that all
the pieces are quickly gathered and arranged.And I wonder what all is missed, what haggard and
imperfect pieces are discarded.I
wonder what October gifts I might miss if I keep my fists clinched on ten and
two, eyes fixed on simply making it through.Yes, October has snuck itself into being and it takes just
about all I’ve got to loosen my stance and let down my sleeves, to sit
criss-crossed right in the middle of the bathing and the beating that marks two
I guess we can choose whether to grin and bear or to release
and lean.I guess we can close our
eyes and grit our teeth, just waiting for the time to pass and the wave to
roll.But this October, with all
its slippery colors and sharp memories, I want to feel the wave, to open my
eyes beneath its cloudy waters, to float with fingers spread as I ride through
it.Because I know that there is a
time for bearing down and for getting through.But then comes a time for embracing, for feeling and
remembering all of it, the painful and the beautiful, and for falling freely
into all that is awakened by the gentle stirring that October brings.
Sometimes I like to give a year or even just a season of
life a name or a word, to mark and claim it. The naming helps me find an anchor and an inspiration,
something to which I can return and for which I can strive.My word for this season is “Rise”.
I have a writing teacher and friend who encourages the use
of acrostics to serve as a base and guide for scraping beneath the surface to
find meaning in words.
I knew it as it
was unfolding that I was living a memory that would sear. I knew it as we grabbed hands and the
old man pitched the first note that these moments would settle into some safe
corner. I looked to the left and
saw the short, sassy hair of my dad’s only sister and looked to the right and
saw the tall, thin silhouette of my aging grandfather. And linked to each of them was another
family member, distant or immediate.
Together we sang unabashedly or hummed lowly, as the words to the old
gospel hymn, “Will the Circle be Unbroken” climbed the tips of the pines
braided through the southern sky.
What I didn’t
know was how often I would reach my hand into the deep corner to rake my
fingers over that memory.What I
didn’t know was how often I would pull out the snapshot, smooth out the
wrinkles, and take another look.
Because it isn’t
often that we hold hands with so many of our kin.It’s rare that we form a circle deep and wide, and holler
through the woods for everyone to come out of their cabins and join in.And it doesn’t happen every day that we
lace fingers and raise voices, unaware that roots are burrowing deep and
spreading below, grounding us for the ages.But when it does happen, and voices are raised and hands are
helped while kinship weaves together a circle, I’ve just got to believe that
the saints are singing too.
We hear so much about God’s kingdom these days, who is in and who is
out. Who belongs and who still has
some changes to make, some work to do... The rest can be found at SheLoves Magazine. Continue reading by clicking here: http://shelovesmagazine.com/2013/one-big-circle/
I never mention it to anyone. It has always been my own little secret. But I have a silent plea that I beg up from the dirty floor of my doubting. It is a prayer or a wish born from need to know that all is well and that all will be well with my son living in glory. It often crawls out of the sadness and the aching of missing him. “Would you give me a sign, God? Would you do something, anything, to show me that I can trust you?” I stand on the bow of an ark, watching the bottom break in the sky, and I want a rainbow. I want a promise to light the air with color.
Sometimes I walk through weeks or even months in the silence that follows my prayer. I see the sun slice through lanky pines on an afternoon walk and wonder, Could this be it? Could this be God breaking through? I witness my sons’ hearts slowly knitting together and healing. I see the stitching in healthy questions and new feelings expressed, knowing that it could never have been my own hands that held the needles. They have been far too shaky. And I think, God, are you really binding up the wounded, as you promised? This has to come from you, right? Or I find myself howling in laughter with friends and family. I catch myself loose in joy, freshly untethered to sadness. I never thought I’d feel this again. Is it your gift to me? I am always searching for the rainbow.
I am so prone to wonder. My heart is swirled with all kinds of hues of unbelief. So I often whitewash these gifts as mere coincidences or natural effects of time and growth, independent from a divine hand.
We didn’t plant a summer garden this year. We weren’t sure about our housing situation. Too much was up in the air. So we tilled the soil of our plot and haven’t touched it in months. Weeds and grass pushed up through the dirt and now our garden plot looks mostly like a wild wasteland.
But last week I noticed a bright, green stalk stretching high above the weeds and grass. This week that stalk opened up into flower. But not just any flower … a sunflower. Webb called them sunshines. He squealed with joy every time he spotted one. They will always be my reminder that a little boy is running wild and free, face forever pointed to the sun.
Last year I planted sunflower seeds in pots around our back patio. Some of the seeds from those sunflowers must have been carried by the wind and scattered into the soil of our garden. This year, one of those seeds bloomed. Just one seed. ****************************************************************************
I am always searching for the rainbow.I never stop asking God to show me in secret, little ways that my son is safe in His arms and that the rest of us are in His care as well. And much of the time, the silence that follows my plea is simply due to ears covered with hurry or busyness and eyes locked in to what is seen.
But every now and then, the clouds roll back and promise breaks through the silence. A gift is dropped right in the middle of a storm, a gift so clearly given just to me, whispering that all is well. Sitting on the edge of my garden where nothing was planted but a sunflower grew, I know that I have received the rainbow. And I am standing on the bow of an ark as color lights up the sky.