Friday, September 28, 2012

Drip, Drip, Drip

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Jeff and I dressed up as wacky super heros (Captain Community and Soul Sista) for the children of our church small group.  I'm pretty sure it was the adults who got the biggest thrill.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Mine


I sat cross-legged on the wooden planks of our floor last September.  A smile crept upon my face at the sound of the toilet flushing.  Webb was learning, slowly and beautifully learning.  The door sprang open and light spilled into the dark hallway.  He bounced out of the bathroom, and looked left, then right to see me sitting, waiting, at the end of the hall.  Our eyes met and he instantly shouted, “I did it, Mama!”  I remember his feet, pounding on the floor to meet me.  I remember how he jumped into my lap without warning, without request, pride glowing from his smile.  I remember his skin, softly wrapped under my arms, his body folded, a return to fetal.  And I remember wishing, searching for a new way to say what I felt deep in my bones, “I am so proud of you.”

I didn’t know that this would later become one of my most tender memories of Webb.  I didn’t know that I would one day count it among my treasured.  It was so small, so short, and so simple at the time.  How could I have known that it was its simplicity that marked it sacredness?  A boy learning a new skill; it happens all the time, every day.  But it was never his mastery that rattled love around in my bones.  It was never what or how he accomplished that sent pride shooting through my marrow.  It was never what he did, but whose he was.  And he was mine.  In the ways that matter most to me now, it best explains my love for him.  He was mine. 

In the past months, I have wondered how God is feeling about my slow, clumsy trek to Him.  How I have sat in church perplexed at all the thanksgiving, all the adoration.  How I have listened to words of exultations spoken aloud and have instead wanted for someone to speak words of anger or doubt.  How I have longed for songs of praise to be replaced with songs of lament.  What would He say to me, who seems to be failing at mastering spiritual fervor? 

Perhaps His gentle answer is found in my sweet memory.  I feel the floor shake as Webb’s little feet run to pounce in my lap.  I feel his body, folded and hidden in these arms that shelter with love and pride, for nothing that he has done, but for whose he is.  And I think that I am a long way from looking at my God with the same beaming face of pride.  And I am a long way from shouting, “I did it, Abba!”  But I am learning, slowly and beautifully learning.  I wonder if in His grace, He too waits with love, not because I have anything mastered, certainly not because I have become accomplished in faith.  But perhaps His love flows simply and sacredly because He says, “I have called you by name; you are mine.” (Isaiah 43:1).  


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Psalm 84



The chords of the harp pluck holy honey
Into air that drips psalm into soul. 
I reach for music, but like time
Full and invisible, it slips through fingers.
So I cling to words, repeatable, readable,
Sacred words that settle into the deep.
I long, yes, I faint with longing
Sings the psalmist to a God
And a girl who floats in longing’s current.
I am swimming free through
Streams of honey and strings of harp,
Riding the wave of thick and sweet,
Swept away by its rich melody.
Floating in longing’s deep stream
My grip on the familiar, loosened
My hold onto comfort, released
While cool ripples tickle my toes.
And slowly gold turns to blue
Honey to water
Harp to hope
Awakened to peace bleeding through,
As blue water rushes healing from the inside
Where His words settled into the deep.
I am surprised by a fresh sound
That grows and builds around the song of the strings.
A sound completely new, but strangely familiar.
It is the sound of clouds rattling to the beat of clapping hands,
And the earth quaking to the pounding of dancing feet.
It is the sound of mountains moving,
And rocks crying out.
It is the sound of my own voice shouting praise
To the current of a river flowing within me.
Again I reach for music, but like time it slips away.
So I cling to joy,
Tangible, palpable, rhythmic joy,
Sacred joy that settles into the deep.  



via Lindsay Caldwell on pinterest 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Drip, Drip, Drip

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He called them "Sunshines."  Whenever we saw a sunflower in a picture or in passing, Webb squealed with delight, "Mama, I see a Sunshine!"  I now see these "Sunshines" as sweet reminders of my son in heaven, now as wild and free as the flowers he so loved.  I gave sunflower seeds to friends and family this summer to sow with tears, knowing that we will one day reap with joy.  I love seeing so many of these seeds break through darkness to find and face the sun.

"Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.  He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him."  Psalm 126:5-6








Thursday, September 6, 2012

Dear Rose


*Rose is the name I am using to refer to my girlfriends, each one of them “in their white lab coats, gorgeous shoes, and steel cases of oxygen.”  (Reluctant Pilgrim by Enuma Okoro)


Dear Rose*,

I never knew that when I met you, I was stepping onto one of God’s provisional stones that I would later need to survive.  The beginning of our friendship was colored with cartwheels, or car wheels, or college.  Or perhaps we met later, through church or neighborhood, or family.  I see now how creative He was in using people and places and time to begin forming an army.  No matter how or when we first forged our friendship, Rose, He has used you to channel His love. 

For I have read the books on grief.  I have heard the sermons on suffering.  I have memorized the verses on pain.  But it has been you, my dear friend, who has put on His skin and shown me His face.  Your friendship has been deeper than my doubt, and your selfless love has been bigger than my unbelief.  And when I have begged for just one sign that God was present, in you, He became human.  In you, I experienced a miracle. 

Rose, you know that I am not a planner.  You know that even on my best day, organization often falls forgotten deep within the wooden cracks of my home.  You knew that under such stress and such grief, you would have to step in to create a sense of order out of the chaos that had erupted.  So you planned meals and errands.  You delegated our needs among many.  You did it all with such ease and without hesitation, that at the time I didn’t even know that you were at work.  But friend, now I see that though I wanted the large flames of the burning bush, God was quietly present in the smallest of details.

You brought light into my home with your humor and your sass.  You brought me wine instead of water, and with you, my laughter returned.  You came with your stories, each antic and drop of drama, the perfect medicine. When God seemed stagnant and separate, in you Rose, He was vibrant and alive. 

I know that my son’s death cracked open your heart as well as mine. I know it caused you to witness your worst nightmare and experience its staggering pain.  You, too, have bled from the shards of the world’s brokenness. You have your own family, home and community.  You have your own struggles and sorrows.  And I have not been able to bear those.  You stepped deeply into my grief, and I have tip-toed around yours.  But you keep stepping with me.  This is the part that amazes me the most about you.  For how can I question the character of God when I have seen its goodness come alive in you?  How can I wonder if He feels any of this when I have seen your tears, Rose, and know that they are His? 

You came, Rose, when I called that morning that the earth’s crust opened up and darkness fell, that morning that I first sensed the guttural ache of hell’s deep despair.  When I think back to that morning, I still cannot see any light.  I have tried.  I looked through every window again and again, searching for some sign from God that He was there.  And I cannot find one.  But I do remember you on that morning, how you endured trauma out of love for me.  I remember my head in your lap, your fingers through my hair, and your whispers beneath my wails.  And I wonder if maybe, on the darkest morning, even then, He was holding me. 

Rose, these past months I have groped my way through the dark, but I have never wandered alone.  Your gentle hand on my back, your soft presence by my side, your selfless commitment to walk the long road have guided and shaped my steps.  And when I have not been able to feel my God on grief’s lonely road, I have seen you, my friend, and known that He is here.   

Before Webb died, I wondered if I would ever survive the loss of one of my own.  I wondered if I would still be able to believe.  And those questions enter my heart as quietly as they exit, even today.  But in you, Rose, I have sat in the dark of creation with all of earth’s longing, next to the manger.  In you, Rose, I have heard the faint cries of a God become flesh.  With you, I have slumped my way to Bethlehem.  And in you, my friend, I have witnessed the miracle of the Incarnation. 

Thank you, my dear friend.  You are loved from the depths. 

Your Friend,
Settle