In a world of words, I want just one.
Just one that jumps out and claims me.
One that tells a story within a story. One that speaks to the deepest darkest depths… of the heart of this writer’s life… the word that makes sense of the wild and crazy journey I’ve been on.
The word that has compelled me, sent me out into the world to find its meaning, because it existed inside of me before I understood it… and then went into hiding, but always… always it was there.
A word that has taunted me to seek it in the daily grind, in the excruciating pain that consumed me, and in the beauty of fleeting moments that I believed were sacred… but, discovered haunting loneliness instead.
Through ugly loves, choices of spirals that were misguided and flawed, because I believed in the lies that were not real, but acted against everything that on some level I knew was right.
Through beautiful loves too… loves that have given me hope in the seeking of a sustaining truth.
A word that sums it all up and turns it all upside down… inside out… makes it all right in the soul… in the breath… in the wings that hover and protect.
In the loving eye that has always kept me in sight… in the uttering of the word… in the qualities of holy… of the holiest of holies whispering.
In the gentlest of breath uttered by my ear and fluttering along my cheek that it makes me quiver.
A waft of it swirling up into my mind, down into the ventricles of living life pulsing with particles expanding… drawing me somewhere closer to the only known that matters.
There is a book, a second book. A memoir. It’s waiting for me to write it. It’s preparing me. I’m sifting through moments to explore it, to investigate what wants to be rescued, inviting the theme that wants to be revealed.
A word has moved ever so gently in… and onto a Post-it Note where I can gaze upon it, and give it space to shape its essence.
I was visiting my parents this week. It was a good day, a good visit. I brought out their tin of photographs and let their memories come alive. I had mum write names on the back of the old tattered black and white photos.
I listened to tales of long long ago. Eager and attentive to catch glimpses of parts of them I never saw, never knew. Maybe I would learn something that would help in the making of sense.
Then my breath caught and my eyes wettened, not quite spilling over, but close. There in the listening grew a certain amount of anxiety in me, maybe even panic.
Their recollections… their memories… their sagas would soon be lost. Where would they go? What tales would I remember, or not remember, because so often in the grasping to hold near what is dear, it slips away.
Where do all of our lives… just us ordinary folks… the memories of them… where do they go? Generation after generation?
Does it matter? I don’t know.
But, I began to comprehend that there was so much that I didn’t yet know about them. At 92 and 88 time is running out for me to find out.
Short catching breaths.
What happens if our family tree dies off? Who will remember? So many precious moments… where do they go? What meaning do they have… in their having once been… and then no more?
Maybe I should make time for more visits. Maybe I should write these recollections down… capture them somehow. So much to be grateful for that I have been blind to all my life.
Where we hurt. Our trials, our suffering, our rage, our injustices.
What if they are meant to be our gift and our strength. If only we look up and see through the eyes of God’s love. We might see something altogether different.
In a world of words, I want just one. No flashy subtitles. Just one word.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
~ John 1:1
This one sentence, it speaks to me daily. It informs me in ways I do not understand yet. Somehow, I feel it defines my life, or the life that I am in the unfolding.
The Word… the word… it gives itself to me. It chases me. It’s so good to me. It presents itself as a mountain to climb and a living water to swim in. It creates me alive.
In a world of words, I want just one. May it be so.
I wonder… if you had a word that told your story, what would it be?
In abiding love,
I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the LORD; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart.
~ Jeremiah 24:7
This. Right. There. If we but cut out the noise in the world, and tuned in to this whisper. It changes everything.
I felt it as a child. Moments of the touch of grace. In the spaces… in the pauses… in the empty. The promise of something… but what I couldn’t hear.
What I knew with certainty was that it was different than everything else. How could I live it, I couldn’t know.
But, it was there, always there… softly… quietly… like a flutter… a touch… of another living voice.
It felt like both something inside me, and somehow also in the spaces around me.
I felt it in the longing to know it, to understand it, to feel it… in the wanting for it to live me.
You, God, are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water.
~ Psalm 63:1
When the new age philosophies captured my attention, I thought God was there. I fell for the promises, the lure of transformation and transcendence. But, nothing was real or sustaining. The promises were just that… promises that kept being broken… always in the tomorrow… that never comes.
I grew tired of the false promises… of the never-ending cycles of the sun, the moon, the stars, which I gave my power to… in the name of ascension.
I longed for something real… something sustaining… something that would fill me up day after day.
After so many years, two decades of these empty promises, when Jesus began to call for me it was confusing. Head shaking confusing. Yet, I felt His urgency. He wanted me. He wouldn’t give up. He wouldn’t leave me in the empty another day.
When I finally arrived… when I finally landed in His Church, in His Body I wanted to fall to my knees. His presence so filling… so over-filling it wracked me with sobs.
The beauty so immense. It stirred memories of moments of this grace… what my whole life longing amounted to… that space inside me that wanted to be lived.
The longing that lacked a name.
Blocked by the every dayness of living… and not listening.
Many months later, studying scripture, miraculous blessings upon blessings through the power of prayer and grace, baptism… the living waters… singing worship songs still threaten to overflow in a fountain of tears.
My beautiful sister-in-law and sister-in-Christ standing beside me, takes my hand tightly and whispers, “I can feel God’s Presence… here… with… us.”
The child in me remembers. YES.
That’s IT. The sudden realization. It’s God’s Presence… that I feel in those moments.
His ever loving… ever faithful… Presence.
I vow to remember. Always remember. Forever and ever.
“O beloved, why has not Love sufficiently overwhelmed you and engulfed you in her abyss? Alas! when Love is so sweet, why do you not fall deep into her? And why do you not touch God deeply enough in the abyss of his Nature, which is so unfathomable? Sweet love, give yourself for Love’s sake fully to God in love.” ~ Hadewijch, 13th-century Belgian Beguine poet and mystic
Not my strength. But His.
Not my will. But His.
Ever deeper into this Love.
How to live with arms wide open? Can I really do this?
It’s what God really wants for us… to live… to love… to be free… it’s what I’ve committed to do.
Here I am God, with arms wide open. Pouring out my life for you.
Draw me near, Lord… draw me near… and teach me.
I lift my hands up to you and I offer to you, my heart… to keep cleansing it… to keep breaking it open… to keep bringing to light the darkness… where the hurt is still too great… the worry… and the fear.
It’s easy to say I trust in you, God. But, holy holy holy it’s sometimes not so easy to actually live.
The seasons change, life changes. I know this. From the moment we are born… the moment we take our first breath, we begin the process of dying. We don’t live this way, of course. We don’t think of dying as we grow into the toddler, the child, the youth, the teenager… the young woman or man.
Not even as we have our own children… do we see… really see the changes… the inevitability of it all.
Our parents, they always seem old… it looks only the teensy bit different from year to year. We’re busy. We’re raising our own family. And mostly, we’re just busy at keeping busy. Striving to achieve our dreams, prove our worth, and make our mark in the world.
Then one day, suddenly they’re crippled… ailing… at least it seems that way… it certainly has for me.
My heart breaks in the wondering how it happened, so fast. Where has my living been that I hardened my soft heart. That I would resent them in their time of need, just when I thought I was finally getting my life together. Oh Lord, help me!
How backwards I’ve lived. What rocky ground have I been standing on? What lies have I believed… that would make me and my life more important than… what?
“We love because he first loved us.”
~ 1 John 4:19
But, you’ve called me to the alter. You’ve been showing me what it is to be filled to the measure of all the fullness of you, God… to drop to my knees in hallelujah of your grace.
My heart wide open now… feels their pain… their suffering… their ailing… as if it were my own. Oh, the aching torment of it… so real. The inevitable is drawing nearer and nearer. And, to them you’ve called me.
But, oh Lord, it’s hard… again, you can find me praying… hard.
When my father tells me he’s lonely.
When my mother sobs in torment of her physical and spiritual pain.
When they stumble and fall. When dad’s got massive bruises on his body, blood vessels breaking so easily.
When my brother, sister-in-law and I take them to appointments, and they inch along, hunched, bent over, grayed with life ebbing out of them.
When I take my mother’s hand in mind… her crooked, weak fingers… and I caress them praying love into her, praying for comfort to flow through me. She’s afraid… she’s so afraid… of the unforgiveness she hasn’t been able to surrender.
Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of my parents! Please grant me wisdom and strength to care for them in a way that honors them, and honors You. Help me show godliness to them, returning to them a portion of all they’ve done for me. Help them see You, in me and through me, and give them a heart for you. In you comes my strength, for on my own it’s an empty well. Imprint in my heart Philippians 4:13, ‘I can do everything through him who gives me strength.’ In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen
Two Sunday’s ago, in church, in the midst of feeling full of aching sadness, and near overwhelm with my empathic heart, I reached out in fellowship and found in a sister, one who understood as she lives in a similar journey.
It felt so good to share our stories, to support and encourage each other… to hold each other’s hand when the sermon spoke to us about LEANING IN to the seasons of change. Instead of fighting it, as we are apt to do, lean into it.
Lean into it…
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak.
~ Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
Lean into it… lean into it…
Lean into loving… lean into caring… lean into the ache… lean into the unknown… lean into living all of it.
I am called into this leaning.
Resistance is futile. It is not of The Way, The Truth or The Light.
Resistance is a sign of where we are called to dive into… with hearts wide open… to experience the fullness of it… to be tested… to grow our character and strength… and our faith.
Do you know of which I speak? Are you faced with any changing seasons in your family or life that you are struggling with? Can I pray for you? Please share in a comment below, or send me an email.
What if we turn our eyes upwards together, open our hands and asked God to show us the way. He promises to listen and make our paths straight when we turn to him.
“Call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”
~ Jeremiah 29:12-13
May our prayers be heard and may we be filled to the measure,
Dear little one,
The world is going to try to tell you so many things about yourself, so many things it doesn’t know anything about. It’s going to try to mold you, to think certain things are important, and it’s going to make you feel like you must conform to belong.
I want for you to know who you are, who you really are. That something that you feel inside you… it’s God’s presence and he will never fail you if you listen to him.
He knew everything about you before you were even born, because you were first a thought in his great almighty mind and then he created you with a plan to live a life in his name, as a reflection of his glory. He knew what he had in mind when he knitted you together in the dark womb of your mother.
You know those times when you feel your precious little heart pulsing for something you can’t see, so much so, that you almost ache in the wanting to know it, in the feelings that grow so big that you think you’re going to cry in the longing beauty of it? Those… right there will tell you more about yourself and who you are and how to live in the world than anyone else can.
Because it’s such a big part of who you are, it’s going to make you feel so different from other people. But, it’s how God made you, it’s this that you must listen to. Know yourself, know your heart and your mind.
Write about it. You were born to write about it… and to share the fruits of what God communicates through your feelings and thoughts when you write. The aching yearning beauty of what you feel and what you hear when you listen. There are so many people who are suffering in the world and they too ache to be uplifted, to feel the presence of God reaching out to them… to be encouraged to find their own truth. This is a gift God has given to you, so enjoy it fully… share it fully… with all your heart… and do it boldly.
Write because you want to… write because you need to… because it’s such a big part of what makes you come alive… because writing is how you explore your thoughts and ideas in a way that gets to the real you, and don’t give up even if you experience disappointment… even if it seems like you are failing at it… or even if no one reads it… keep at it. Write, write, write because gifts need to be refined, they need practice to be developed and to get better and better with time.
Do this and you will please God and you will please yourself. The most important things that you can do are those that are pleasing to God; be the truth that he created in you, be love, be kindness, be forgiveness, be faithful and be these things with your whole heart and soul and mind, in the way that is unique to you… your own special way.
If you listen to the ways of others over what you know to be true to yourself, you’ll never feel good enough, you’ll never know who you really are and all that God had in mind for you. You’ll be pulled in different directions and you’ll lose sight of what it is to be loved. Without God as your source of strength you’ll never feel right in yourself or in the world.
But you know what, precious? Even if you falter, even if you forget… or even if you lose your way, God is always with you and he will find a way to bring you back into his loving arms. Know that you are his… know that you are loved by him… always and forever.
With abiding love,
Ah… there’s probably so many pieces of advice we could give ourselves, this is one little bit that’s been encouraging me to revive my love of writing for a couple of years now. I’m so guilty of having given it up because I felt disappointed that life didn’t hand me all that I hoped for in my first years of writing. What about you? What would you write to your younger self or your kids?
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