Friday, October 26, 2012

Rainier Maria Rilke

Let this Darkness be a Bell Tower
Quiet friend who has come so far
feel how your breathing makes more space around you
Let this Darkness be a Bell Tower
And you the Bell--
What batters you becomes your strength.
Move back and forth into the change
What is it like, such intensity of Pain?
P1012326If the drink is bitter,
Turn yourself to wine.
In this uncontainable night,
Be the mystery at the crossroads of your senses,
the meaning discovered there.
And if the world has ceased to hear you; 
SAY to the silent earth; 
I FLOW to the rushing water; 
SPEAK;
I AM.

I have posted this poem before. But here looking over another year, it seems important again.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Thursday Lyric: "If This City Never Sleeps" by Rosie Thomas

Ooh, at night when I sleep 
all the dreams come to me 
Make me believe that 
my life is not my own 

And if life were like my dreams, 
oh, the things I would see 
I would be so much braver than I know 

No, I can't understand what it means to be a man 
And to lead a woman from her home 
And if love were indeed all the things I've believed 
Then I guess I'd never feel alone 

 Oh, will I ever know...  

And if this city never sleeps 
Does that mean that no one dreams 
And if that's so then I guess I'm going home

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Storms.

I took myself to Hawaii for vacation a couple of weeks ago. A college friend and I traveled together, and two other girlfriends caught up with us for part of the week.

It was a delicious week in the sun.

But then, you know, you have to come back. Back to indifference, and tiresome things like buying new tires, and paying insurance and bills and dishes and cleaning up the yard, and sternly telling yourself that if you are going to afford any christmas presents at all, that you are not allowed to shop or eat out anymore, because vacation cleaned out your bank account.

I turned 33 two weeks ago. Last week I  put in my 5th year helping to coordinate a fund-raiser for my the youth ministry that fostered me as a teenager.

If you had told me 5 years ago that things would be much the same for me this year as they were then, I'm not sure what I would have done. 

My birthday last year made me smile, made me hope. Not so this year, somehow. The thought of another year makes me steel myself somehow, brace, expectant, for the next wave that will erode a little more of time's shoreline.

P1012283
"I'm not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship."--Louisa May Alcott

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Thursday Lyric: Winter in my Heart, The Avett Brothers

It must be winter in my heart
There's nothing warm in there at all
I miss the Summer and the Spring
The floating, yellow leaves of Fall

A million colors fill my eyes
The Roman candles and the stars
Calendar says July 4th
But it's still winter in my heart

They say flowers bloom in spring
Red and golden, blue and pink
They say seasons turn in time
Theirs are changing, why won't mine?

It must be winter in my heart
There's nothing warm in there at all
I miss the Summer and Spring
The floating, yellow leaves of Fall

The air in there is frigid cold
I don't know what the reasons are
The calendar says August 1
But it's still winter in my heart

They say flowers bloom in Spring
Red and golden, blue and pink
They say seasons turn in time
Theirs are changing, why won't mine?

It must be winter in my heart
It must be winter in my heart
It must be winter in my heart
It must be winter in my heart

I don't know what the reasons are 
It must be winter in my heart
It must be winter in my heart
It must be winter in my heart

I don't know what the reasons are
It must be winter in my heart

Friday, October 12, 2012

A conversation

It happens most often in church, sometimes during live music, in an environment of conscious and corporate listening that the pain of my spirit gets so overwhelming, I am in danger of turning into a yowling mess in front of large numbers of people. Unconsciously, sometime over the past few years, the alternative has been to focus all of my attention on another source of pain...right-hand fingernails digging into the soft flesh of my left inner elbow, the least obvious way to exercise the need for a pain I can feel physically, a pain I can control. I can focus on it, break the control the wave of emotion has on me.

A few days ago, it was because of the sermon, which was about being a fisher of men. "Sometimes being a faithful witness," said the pastor, "is as simple as sharing what God is doing in your life." Tears prickled in my eyes. My arms folded, my right hand slipped a little way up the sleeve that covers my left arm. Short fingernails grip, bite into soft flesh just inside the elbow, where the needle scars from blood donation are.

What God is doing in my life? 

I imagine a conversation:

"Can I share with you what God is doing in my life? God seems to have spent past 14 years answering no to the deepest desires of my heart. Sometimes it seems like a taunt, intentional. You think you want this bread? Oh, dear! It's just a stone, painted to look like bread! Chip a tooth, did you?"

P1012289"Slowly, one by one, he seems to be taking away each of my most supportive friendships by giving them the exact gifts that I so desire, and have desired for so long. I see dear friends uplifted, encouraged, cared for, welcomed into new families, welcoming new life into the world. I see them growing into gracious, sweet, strong women, enriched and rooted, and I long for those gifts in my tumbleweed life."

"And each day that passes seems to make ridiculous my faith, such as it is. And yet God continues to say wait--which is really another no--to my heart's deepest desires for connection and family and love, for growth and encouragement, caring and being cared for, sharing a future."

I imagine the person I am 'witnessing' to about what God is doing in my life blinking blankly back at me. 

"Well, that doesn't sound like anything I'd want to be a part of. Why do you keep listening to him?"

P1012335I don't know. I don't know...except maybe because of the fact that unnecessarily beautiful places like Hawaii are on the map, and I am allowed to go there, and because of salty, turquoise ocean swims, and strong, hot coffee, and fresh pineapple, and long showers. Except because of the shiny Sunday faces and the soft, small hands of my friends' little ones, their smiles full of openness and trust. Except because of wine and worship and communion and food raves with friends. Except because of my garden and my kitchen and my studio, the holy common places He has put in my life. Except because of the sun on my skin and the feel of the brisk autumn breeze, the turning of the season, the temporary sweetness with the knowing tang of harvest bitterness in each bite of fresh fall apple. 

It's something beyond circumstances and comforts--I am subject to both beauty and bitterness, and whatever it is that I feel has been unfulfilled in my life is ever overwhelmed by the abundance of all that I have been given in life with Christ, and in his view of me, it is only the gold of gratefulness that survives the Refiner's fire.

My punishing grip of control lessens just a little as the wave of emotion breaks again on the forbidding shore of Trust.

P1012269

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Thursday's Lyric: A Labor More Restful by The Dirty Projectors


You are finally convinced that you inhabit 
The same banal world as everyone 
Everyone has found it too 
Everyone has resigned themselves to it 
And the only mystery 
Is in what you couldn't decide or remember clearly 
The only mystery is in what you couldn't decide or remember, 
Decide or remember 
Have you stopped looking 
In order to put yourself 
To some real purpose 
Or have you simply found a labor more restful 
Than big hearted yearning 
And knowing that you're incomplete 
And the only mystery is in what you couldn't decide or remember clearly 
The only mystery is in what you couldn't decide or remember, 
Decide or remember.


*shout out to Luz and Cole, who will be proud that I listened to The Dirty Projectors