Thursday, May 23, 2013

God, Do Something

(I wrote this Tuesday morning, following the deadly tornado)  

I awake this morning, earlier than usual, to the heavy, still air hanging between storms.  The leaves on the dogwood stand at attention and the flowers on the patio are frozen in bloom.  Even the water in the kettle seems to be heating carefully, almost tip-toeing its way to boiling.  And it is all too calm, eerie with silence, like even the morning sun is shocked by the tornado that tore through Oklahoma. 

I skim through scriptures but cannot lock into the words because my mind is sealed with those who awake to chaos, to uncertainty and to panic.  I sip tea on the couch, and just across the country, there are mothers who are taking their very first step into a living nightmare.  There are mothers and fathers who are just beginning to survey all that is lost this morning.  I keep my fingers on the thin pages of my old Bible, but I swear, deep down, I wonder if its words are just as fragile as the pages, if it really can hold the weight of this. 

Because what do we do when we believe that God could have stopped that storm, and He didn’t?  Where do we go when we know that in a touch, or a mere whisper, that deadly tornado could have been leveled low beneath His feet? And yet, today, in Oklahoma, it seems that the only thing lying at His feet are piles and piles of trash.    

Though my home stands strong this morning, and the blue hydrangea in the yard is even fuller than yesterday, the winds of that tornado whipped me, as well.  That storm grabbed me right up with it.  And it spit me out onto familiar land, a place of questioning and wrestling.  A place where the wind howls, “why” and the sun beams, “how could it be?” 

God could have done something.  He could have touched that storm and stopped it from killing.  He could have touched my son’s heart and kept it beating.  He could have.  He could have.  Damn it.  He could have done something. 

I hear the sweet story about the woman who found her dog under a pile of rubble.  I thank God for it.  And it is good to hear good news.  But I also know that this story isn’t worth a hill of beans to the mother who took her daughter to school for the last time yesterday.  No story of rescue or reunification will matter much to her at all.  For her baby is gone, and she can’t do one blessed thing about it.  But, God?  Now, He could have done something.

Am I alone in this?  Am I the only one tired of searching through piles of rubble, scavenging through shattered scraps, searching for gold beneath it all?   In the shootings, in the bombings, in the hungry orphans, and now in this deadly storm … God could do something.  He could have done something. 

I have no answers.  I will not even attempt to make sense of it.  No, it is never my job to explain away the hurt. The truth is, I couldn’t if I tried.  But I can stand in the middle of the scraps, and I can cover my own face with the ashes. I can bloody my knuckles by tearing through the mess that lays in the wake; digging, hunting, searching for something beneath all of it, searching for Someone who lives among it. God do something. 

And maybe, just maybe, one day, I will see metal clang against metal and trash quiver from rising glory.  Maybe one day, I will feel the dust of the rubble stirring and sense the ground breaking to the trumpets blowing as a new storm brews.  Maybe I will hear a holy chorus of hallelujahs drown out the wailing and the cursing of we believers who won’t stop searching after tragedy hits.  And maybe, just maybe I will see that, in fact, God is doing something.  That actually, all along, God has been doing something.   

My tea is cold now and the children are calling me from their beds.  Today I will drive the minivan to preschool and pick up bread from the grocery.  I will meet Dad for lunch and fold laundry during nap.  The day will be cloaked in ordinary.

But hands grow stronger in the practice of searching through rubble in the ordinary.  And this searching, this pulling back layer upon layer of dead debris in hopes of finding something alive, it is the work of faith.  It is in the plowing through what we see as waste, in search for the Worthy, that our hands begin to look more and more like the calloused hands of a Jewish Carpenter.

God do something. 

I hear His voice rising from the ash. 

Settle, do something.  Keep digging.  You may just find that though it seems I have been buried, that I am alive.  It seems that I have been buried beneath the storms and the shootings, buried below the sicknesses and the injustices, hidden by the bombings and the extreme poverty.  But alive, I am.  Keep searching.  For there is no tomb from which I cannot and will not rise. 

I hear it now, metal clanging metal.  I feel it, dust stirring from the rubble.  And beneath the shrill of the ambulance siren, I can hear the low moan of the trumpet sounding.  

Monday, May 20, 2013

To Carry Hope


Isaiah says that, “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 41:30)

I have been there before, standing on top of the mountain, arms stretched to the heavens, praise pulsing through me and belief radiating out of me.  At times, I have stood on the edge of glory holding only the weight of my brittle bones while fire burns within them, and even my flesh cannot hold the holy heat.  I have seen the bush all in flames and heard my name thunder from the ash.  I have soared on the wings of eagles and touched the hope of the Lord while my toes barely graze the tips of grass.  My strength has been renewed.  At times. 

At times I have run, feet pounding hard ground, salty sweat beading above my brow, the race that grows with each step and shortens with each minute.  My breath, a steady whistle to the drum of legs churning.  These eyes of mine, focused and pin-pointed to the target of a race well run and a spirit regenerated.  Change and relationships, callings and desires splash me like a Dixie cup of cold water spurring me on.  I have run and not grown weary.  At times. 

And yet still, there are times when I am left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot.  I am all walk and no run, all crawl and no soar.  I am inch by inch, breath labored, bones heavy, burned out bush brittle inside of me.  Each friend, every hymn, a staff beneath me.  Each ray of God, every gentle prodding, a rod behind me.  Where I had once stood on the edge of glory, at times like this, I stand on the edge of collapse. But I do not faint.  Though doubled over and eyes drawn, I do not faint.  At times.  

The rest can be found at SheLoves Magazine.  Continue reading by clicking here: http://shelovesmagazine.com/2013/to-carry-hope/

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Grace to you, Mothers


Let's say Grace together on this Mother's Day

I see you, Mother in the store, with one child skipping around and the other flailing on the ground.  I see you with your list and your haste, your mind scrambled and your eyes tired. You juggle opening the unpaid-for bag of fruit snacks for one, while explaining to the other why you are not buying that Batman car. When the store employee walks down the aisle, you avert your eyes because almost every last box of snack items in your cart has been opened and several shiny vegetables now leave a trail behind you. I see you thinking, "If I can just get to the car with these children and these groceries, I will finally exhale."  Grace to you, Mother in the store. 

I see you, Mother with the swollen belly, and the brand new maternity clothes that tell me that this child you are growing will be the first to call you Mother.  I see your face of eagerness and feel your spirit of anticipation.  I sense your seeds of insecurity and touch the pulse of your growing excitement.  You are waddling in wonder right into the blessed unknown, trying to imagine the life inside of you, the life you already love.  Grace to you, Mother with the swollen belly. 

I see you, Mother of a Mother, with the grandchild at your heels.  You never knew that your love could stretch just as long and as deep as it did for your own, but here with this child, you know that it has.  Though you tire more quickly and your energy has ends, you are renewed by the presence of your little one, the one who believes that you can do no wrong.  You sit on the front row and stand on the sidelines, clapping and cheering, simply because you adore the child of your child.  Grace to you, Mother of a Mother.

I see you, Mother at ease, enjoying this blessed season of lightness.  You watch your children grow and change beneath you and it feels like witnessing the unfolding of miracles.  Contentment colors your days and thanksgiving is the wind at your back.  You know that perfection is nothing but an endless latter to climb, but right now, things are pretty darn good.  Oh, enjoy it, Mother at ease. Dig into it and savor this season.  You may need its stored up goodness for another day.  You encourage and spur along the mothers around you.  Grace to you, Mother at ease. 

I see you, Mother in waiting, whose inner longing is invisible to the world.  You memorize the calendar, take test after test, and time and time again, hope is deferred.  You watch and smile as your friends clamor on about babies, and you wonder if you have been silently slid to a lower level among them.  As the months roll on, people tip-toe around this painful subject, but your tears do not cease.  I see you, Mother in waiting, and I know that there is no force stronger than a woman’s desire to bring forth life.  Grace to you, Mother in waiting. 

I see you, Mother of the child with special needs, and I want my simple smile of absolute adoration to be a metal on your chest.  The little love of your life may not fit into the standards and charts at the pediatrician’s office but you know, you know, that he or she is immeasurable.  Year after year, you do the hard, holy work of digging deep to protect, to teach and to advocate for your child.  You have to search to find the therapists, the schools and the community that best fit your baby’s needs, and you are tired.  But Mother, you are tired because you are running a race worth running.  I see you, and I am cheering you on.  Grace to you, Mother of a child with special needs.

I see you, Mother in mourning, crying in the kitchen before laughing in the living room.  I see the way you walk with a limp, from a wound too deep to hide, and too painful to cover.  I see you carpooling and cartwheeling, licking down cowlicks and straightening up crooked shirts, while that wound changes and heals within you.  Your children see your tears, but they see also your truth, and you wonder if maybe, possibly, your family is forming a new kind of wholeness.  Joy is peering out of your grief and it is almost as scary as your pain.  But your hands keep moving to your widening heart and you step forth in hope, day after day. Grace to you, Mother in mourning.  

I see you, Mother of many who never did and never will live under your roof.  I see you walking with a friend in need and sharing coffee with a woman with a downcast spirit.  I hear you offering counsel and help to others around you.  There are days that you believe that you missed out on a woman’s rite of passage.  But Mother of many, you are blazing new trails with courage.  And a woman’s worth is never measured by the size of her quiver.  The fruits of your labor are scattered across the city, and they nourish and nurture as only a Mother of many could.  For though you bore no offspring, and your service is too often ignored, you breathe life, Mother of many.  You breathe life to the full, and I see you. Grace to you, Mother of many. 

Mothers, I see you.  I see how hard you work.  I see how much it can hurt to have vulnerability walking around outside of you.  I see you split open with so much love, and I see you carrying your load with incredible gratitude and humility.  And I see you laughing with joy as you do it.  I see you showing up, minute by minute and day by day.  I see the life that springs from you, and it is a beautiful sight to behold.  Grace to you, Mothers. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Drip, Drip, Drip

See: this post

Boys in a field of wildflowers

Wild things

Webb's dogwood in bloom