I cannot… I absolutely cannot… even after months… get through this song without His Grace and Glory coming up in me from the depths of my soul.
And all the earth will shout Your praise
Our hearts will cry, these bones will sing
Great are You, Lord
In Part One I announce that something life changing was happening to me this year. In Part Two I plunged forward and revealed that I answered the call from God and was given new life in Christ through baptism.
There was so much more than I can comprehend taking place in between. But, these massive in-between bits led this former new-ager who struggled with guilt, shame, indecision and insecurities, into becoming a Christian woman of substance, deep conviction and fully ready to commit to the Lord and my beloved.
Always I found faults and looked for cracks… anything to excuse why I could not commit… to my heart, my passions, my relationships. Always keeping doors open in case I needed an exit, which I usually did.
Studying the Bible changed everything. It made me get real with myself and it made me get right with God.
The Word came alive in me. How is it possible for a book to come alive and know me so personally? Know my every thought and deed? Know where I’ve struggled, where I’ve fallen, how I’ve been broken, and the emptiness… the aching emptiness longing to be filled?
As I opened the pages to my first study assignment:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
~ John 1:1-5 NIV
I took slow deep breaths reading again… ‘In the beginning was the Word’…
My eyes drifted closed… my hands touched the pages… smoothing across… feeling something happening in the paper… ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God’…
My fingers caressed the Word… the silky, smooth skin of paper… my eyes sparkling grabbed hold and this book… it began to feel so very Holy… ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.’
I watched my hands bring this Holy Book up to my heart to rest there.
How did it know that Words were one of my most favourite thing, my most prized, delighted and coveted thing to behold?
And the poetic nature of it? What did it mean? What was it really saying?
So much more than what I was interpreting in those moments, I would discover over the months of continuing studies.
But still… the words… the Word…
How was it possible that I had been so critical and skeptical of this Holy Book that could reach down into the depths of my life and turn it into something new, without even having read it?
It quickened me.
It gave me hope.
It made me see.
It made me feel.
It provided me with a refuge to pour out my heart and take a good honest look at my life. I know that’s not an easy thing for many, because it’s so much easier to blame everything and everyone else for our circumstances, rather than take responsibility.
But the truth came a knocking and something deep deep deep inside told me that this was the Way… The Truth… The Light.
I prayed… hard… every day… to get right with God… to get right with my life and to get right with the people in my life.
Tangled difficult relationships with my beloved’s daughters, “Lord help me! Please help me create peace and harmony!”
And… I knew when the moments came… Holy Holy Holy answered my prayers, ‘I’m so sorry for all the pain I’ve caused’ was what it took to soften, broken hardened hearts. Letting go of all my grievances brought me closer to Love and to God.
“Why, oh why Lord can I not be the daughter my parents need me to be towards the end of their lives? The daughter your Word tells me I must be in your house?”
Hmmm… Ah… I see anger… I see fear… I see… resentment. They are going to leave me one day… soon. I might as well put up walls and live behind them instead of love them well in the here and now.
The things that started becoming clear, one-by-one… a roadmap for living beautifully alive in the Word.
Looking into my heart, no stones unturned, but one. The scariest one. It shook me, rattled me, ravaged me.
In one breath… one realization… my heart revealed the depth of my feelings of unworthiness of love.
Love Broke Me Open… it spit me out and demanded that I know the truth… that God loved me and He will not forsake me… but I had a choice to make.
Could I commit… Would I commit… to LOVE… to Love… to love?
And so, the love story goes…
The music cued, and Josh Groban’s ‘When You Say You Love Me’ floated out on the breeze. As my son walked me to the alter, every emotion… every shade of love heaved in my chest, and threatened to spill over.
Then I saw him.
Standing there looking so handsome.
Waiting for me.
I witnessed us taking each other in, then our eyes locked, and the only thing I heard from that moment on was the song that was written in our hearts.
I saw nothing else but him… and the love and adoration in his eyes.
As God is my witness, the joy on this day is without question, without hesitation the result of His Word, His compelling, alive words, at work breaking me open to know love… all kinds of love.
Honestly, there’s no way prior to a few short weeks ago that I could possibly dream… or imagine… that this joy would be possible.
Yes, I feel deeply, as my favourite minister says. I wear my heart and my truth inside out… for all to see.
God has instilled me with a yen… a yearning… for the written word… how to describe?? Ah… here it is;
“Gracious words are a honeycomb,
sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”
~ Proverbs 16:24
And, they seem to want to come pouring out now more than ever. More willfully than ever. That’s why my work and this website is undergoing changes. To make room for the Words, for the works that are waiting to come to this refuge to fill the empty aching place inside… for all those who need inspiration, encouragement, hope… for those hearts who are seeking and ready to be quickened.
May you be blessed by Love,
“LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup;
You make my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
Without the LOVE I wrote about in Love Broken Open: Part One, what are we… really? Where are we? What kind of life is that? Is it living? Really living fully?
The Beautiful World Project came about last year because I was looking for ways to create deeper meaning to my life. I also began asking bigger questions seeking to understand why I was holding back; why I couldn’t seem to give freely to those I loved most in my life, and what prevented me from fully showing up to my life’s work. I wanted to matter in the world, and obviously I was feeling like I was falling short in that department. Way short.
I wasn’t who I wanted to be and maybe part of that was because I couldn’t seem to find my community… you know… the ones who get you, who see you, who embrace you, who make you feel appreciated just as you are. The ones who lift you up and shine a light on all your goodness, enough that you begin to take notice, and live as you were meant to, as you really are and even more. The ones who gather together and will move mountains in their hearts and hands to see you through whatever storms come.
So many paths and beliefs I explored and even adopted for periods of time. Trying to make them fit, when they didn’t. Believing they lifted me up and made me more, but in reality, left me drained… oh so drained and unfulfilled.
Is this mine? No. Is this mine? No. Is this mine? No… again and again.
Where was mine? This call went out from my heart again and again.
Where are we without our people? Who are we without our people?
I was the lone wolf seeking its pack, wandering the desolate mountains for so long that I nearly gave up HOPE. But, where would this leave me… in this giving up HOPE?
Under the crushing weight of this, something glimmered. It was like my heart was picking up signals of some kind, leading me somewhere I knew not. I began to take notice of something so close to home, it was in my back yard and front yard. It was before me and it was behind me.
Something I watched from afar, but never considered for myself as I had relegated it to my NOT FOR ME part of my brain, because it was so contrary to the beliefs I had adopted for over 20 years. But I began to ask myself, “Where have these beliefs got me?”
All the self-help books in the world, workshops, studies… all temporary fixes. None of them could make me feel REAL… or fill me with any sustaining strength or confidence. If anything, they weakened me and they betrayed real LOVE.
Because somewhere inside I knew that nothing I had explored so far brought me closer to knowing, breathing, living and being that THING, that LOVE that was marked in me before I was born. I was closest to it in the unlikeliest (in my mind) of places. As a young girl I felt it, but could not comprehend it… could not see it… until recently.
As the dear man who put me under said in recounting the night my life changed… forever, “It was a snowy night, on Christmas Eve…and Kiernan came… and never left.”
Family together for dinner. I knew what they had planned later, and I waited. Having spent much time contemplating their lives and our lives, I wondered if there was something to it. Something that explained why they were happier, shined brightly, and were living lives of deep meaning, purpose and fulfillment.
So, I HOPED for a moment, an opening.
Never give up HOPE. Please never give up HOPE. For miracles do happen for those who SEEK.
The moment did come; “We have to leave soon for Christmas Eve Service…”
Something in my eyes must have traveled into her heart and mind, and she asked tentatively, “Do you guys want to come?”
GOD bless her. GOD bless her. GOD blessed me.
Smiling shyly, I said looking at my beloved, “Well, I’d kind of like to go.”
To my utter amazement he replied, “Sure, let’s go.”
My heart jumped in delight. I didn’t know that night would change everything… or did I?
A service they had never done before… a lovely woman spoke, an angel with a message, with conviction of her prayers answered years and years ago. It was her story that I understood, because somehow, she was speaking about THAT place inside of me, and I knew that this was where I could be, would be understood. If she felt this way, then others must too… for I had seen it in all of them that night.
The gleem in their eyes. The genuine caring and warmth. The light that radiated out from within… and the strength… oh my word the strength I felt… and I thought, ‘That’s what I’ve been seeking!’ I was being shown IT was possible, this THING that had been calling to me, it was real and it grew bigger… wider… deeper… it took up more space inside of me that night.
Person after person, pulled me in for an embrace… a genuine real embrace. Who are these crazy people who seem to be really alive, really living, really lit up from something indestructible and eternal?
It and they were like no other church I had ever been to, not that there were many as I was raised to figure it out on my own. I danced to the glory of the music and though I tried to sing, my voice could not rise above the swell of emotions in my chest.
It was the same feeling that I had when I was a little girl, on rare occasions in a church. SOMETHING inside me would make me FEEL that LOVE…and now I’ve come to believe it was the Cross, for what else could it be? I knew nothing of any of it, but it was already inside of me…. Waiting patiently for the day I would come to seek it out… To seek Him out.
Despite all this pull, it took two more months of daily, and I mean daily because this would not leave my heart and my mind alone for a moment; contemplation… consideration… pondering… before I would reach out to voice my interest in learning more about the Toronto Church of Christ.
This community who I had been hearing about for years with stories of people uniting in fellowship as a family, caring, supporting, encouraging and uplifting each other in hours of need. Missions… outreach… LOVE in action.
This year everything I think and believe has radically changed… because God has taken my life; my mind, my heart, my lungs, my blood, my bones and my relationships… all of me and made it new.
He has blessed me in countless extraordinary ways because I have devoted myself to living his teachings, his Word… His roadmap for living well and fully. Okay, perhaps not because of this, but rather maybe because he put His mark in me, to answer his call when the time was right. For I tell you, it was nothing short of a call my heart and soul absolutely could not turn away from and ignore.
The time came… and I am answering His call with all of me… how can I not? What He has done in my life in seven short months is nothing short of miraculous and I am in awe and gratitude with every breath I take, with every morning my eyes open and every day I get to live so alive because of His grace.
Right now… in mid-sentence here when the phone rang and it was my Aunt; one of my relationships healed and restored by his Grace. She was calling to find out how my baptism went… LOVE in all things and tears flow.
Nothing in this world has restored, filled and completed me like the power of the Holy Spirit. I feel like a different person in so many ways, and not a day goes by when I feel anything less than I’m living more fully alive than I thought myself possible.
I know what it’s like to live wondering… is this it? Is this what life’s about?
I know what it’s like to want to believe there’s more to life than just going through the motions every day. To battle depression, pretending that’s not what it is, with a fake smile that doesn’t reach the eyes… the windows to our soul.
I’ve tried, oh how I’ve tried to live with love as the focus. I’ve tasted it… I’ve seen it… I’ve experienced it. But, oh so fleetingly it touched upon me, just as a butterfly swirls around tantalizingly, barely landing before it takes off again.
And gratitude. All the talk about having gratitude. Have you been like me… plying for it? Trying to tease it out, stretch it out, will it out, beckon it out? Why, oh why is it so hard to live with gratitude, to find it… to see it everywhere, and to live it every day? It shouldn’t be so hard, should it?
Fleeting moments of happiness, love, and meaning. Only to witness them slinking off into the distance as I wave longingly, ‘see you again’ (hopefully). Replaced with trying to will them back, and plagued by doubts and insecurities.
Is this it? This life of mine… it this it?
The Sufi way. The Buddhist way. The mystical way. The New Age way. The Goddess way.
Something was in me, maybe from before birth, maybe as I was being stitched together in the womb… to want to seek and be found… a LOVE that endures…
A LOVE that builds up and strengthens…
A LOVE that heals everything… absolutely everything that ever splintered, fractured, tainted, betrayed, or even broke this little heart of mine.
A LOVE that fills me up and overflows, without grasping for it in desperation, but that shines within and outward, as if powered by a creator, a generator of epic proportions that never dies. That endures the ages and tests of time, distance, and even resistance.
Wait. Is it even… ETERNAL?
A LOVE that is JOY at its simplest, pared down, most bare element.
A LOVE that is JOY that moves me to tears in humble GRATITUDE with every breath, in every day that is given to me. Do you feel them now… these tears that come up from somewhere deep inside and spill up and over, and down my cheeks?
Over the past number of years, I had thought that painting was saving me… was my healing grace. And, in many ways it was, yet it could not touch THAT place inside that I needed. THAT place that would forever transform me. That would turn me inside and out and radiate strength. I knew this because there were things in my outward life that no matter how hard I tried, I could not fix. I could not heal. I could not repair. It tormented me. It tortured me. It caused others pain.
After a time, I began to find myself wondering again… Is this it? Then the Beautiful World Project was being borne… it gave me a new sense of purpose… and it began to work in me… nudging, guiding, calling… the intention behind it was beckoning… wanting to be the story, live the story… I knew could be told… I wanted to be told… even though I couldn’t imagine what it was or what would happen next.
I’m a writer, poet, editor and artist. I’m here, in this space, as a scribe; sharing stories, dreams, storms, waves and windows. If poetic leanings, the creative calling, and all things writing interest you, please join me.