Monday, November 16, 2009

grins to you.

I’m sitting here in my apartment alone at my computer finishing up two assignments with a big smile on my face, and a bigger one in my heart – the cause of which is nothing to do with the impending freedom from a few papers…
Sometimes – well all of the time likely, but sometimes you realize it… you have moments of shear happiness, at joys of your life. I am delighted. To watch the absolutely beautiful transformations that God is making in the lives of my dear ones. Bringing them together, taking them away, deepening and strengthening them. It is such a privilege to watch it, and such a deep pleasure. I am blessed overflowing with acquaintances of incredible faith and character, grace, hospitality and love.
In this moment, I am reminded that though much is and has been wrong, that beauty and peace reside in this world in a loving God working in, no- living in the hearts of His children - doing new things in the peaks and valleys, sorrows and celebrations of their journeys. Gah! So good.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

love.

Oh my God. I didn’t think I would be here again this soon – but then who am I do be predicting such things. My grandfather passed away on Thanksgiving evening. I feel wrecked -and held together, ripped raw - and comforted. I loved my grandfather dearly, and he was the type that made each person he came into contact with know that they were valued, unique and loved. I am so grateful to have had him as my grandfather. I just never anticipated the reality of losing him, the evening before as he sat beside me at dinner – perhaps it is best, not to think on such things, to allow both love and loss, closeness and separation to wash over you wholly and freely as each ebbs and flows in and out of life.
Death is such a great insult to us. I couldn't breathe when I heard - I couldn't stop a flood of tears. I didn't want to be alone in a city 7 hours away when I got the call. I didn’t want there to be a last time to see his face, to touch his hands, to listen to his voice telling stories of his life, to give him a kiss at the car and wave as he drove away. I didn’t want to leave him to be buried in the cool October ground. I didn’t want to be at my grandfather’s visitation, seeing his picture on memorial cards, singing at his funeral, seeing his last photograph from the night before he passed projected onto the back wall of the church. I didn’t want to see my mother, my grandmother, my uncles and cousins to lose him – the community to miss him – yet here we are, and he is not. I had to keep reminding myself that though the motions that we all went through seemed so surreal and foreign, that though I could see his body in the casket, that my grandfather was already gone. Gone.
It is not that I do not draw comfort in the promise of life in Christ. Oh I do believe it to the depths of myself - I cling to that hope, I trust in that hope, that promise.
Rather, it is that, in loving others here and now, the pain of loss here and now is searing, gaping, staggering. It spills over in my tears – love that no longer has this man to pour into. I don’t doubt that love is what we’re made of, is what we’re meant for, what we’re called to, what takes us through these times, is what resurrects us from this wrong and sends us soaring beyond right, is what fills us over flowing.
Love friends. Love in the embraces and words you have today - in smiles and kisses shared while you’re loving, and in the tears that seep out when you’re not done loving. Love friends. Love. Love, never fails.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

paradox - Mmm

Have you ever felt two things at once? Or experienced opposite ends of a spectrum at once?

This is the story of my life right now.

I just started my Masters a few weeks ago - and I am astounded. I love it. It's demanding. It's so good. I've never consumed so much coffee in my life.

I had to leave school for a few days to fly red-eye home for a funeral. I was so joyful in loving that person. I was so grieved.

Two days later I was back out West. I woke up to an excited friend with news of an engagement. And later, sat with proud, beaming-smile, as my dear friend watched his bride dance down the aisle toward him. I was so excited.

I am starting my first job in two weeks. I have no idea what to expect. I wonder if I have what it takes. I have to trust, them and Him.

Moving to a new city in one week, and this is a move I'd never anticipated having to make. I am excited. I am uncertain.

And then there are the three papers due in the time between now and then. I am bogged down and over-caffeinated.

Even in the midst of all this punctuation, my hopes lay ambiguous in their possibility. I am frustrated. I am impatient.

And so, I have been excited, angry, frustrated, joyful, tense, waiting and ready - simultaneously.

Last Monday, I crashed:

Oh God - I am so smushed by demands, and my own expectations. do You want even my roadkill self? and I'm having a really tough time understanding: why? how? when?


This last week with my Father has been to me, like sweet breaths of fresh air, restoring my failing spirit. It's hard to get to a place where I'll even be listening to Him, to accept this gift, because I have to give up being self-sufficient. Tough notion for a single, young professional. But it's the only way to live in this paradox, between the world now and the world restored, between us as we are now and the hope of us restored:

Blessed, rather, are the chased, the harassed who must daily stand before my enigmas and cannot solve them. My grace is unpretentious, but the poor are satisfied with little gifts.
- Hans Urs Von Balthasar

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

L word.

I was about to begin this post with, "I would not be a typical female if I did not carry on a journey of the heart". However, I stop short on making such a definitive statement in English... some days I wish I could speak another language, like Hebrew or something - with it's palate of words, rich in meaning and purpose. My statement requires some preamble, for this statement is both correct and incomplete.

To assert that the heart is known only to a woman, is to greatly discount and disvalue the valiant hearts of the men in my life, and the countless others unbeknownst to me (but perhaps, known to you). It is to discredit the bonds that exist in men's relationships that are so deep that they remain indefinite by plain language. I think this is truly beautiful, strong, and full of courage. The journey of a heart, is one edified by God who calls, woos and transforms them.

I would never have fathomed that this was possible, nor that I would ever think, write or believe such things. I would have judged Christians proclaiming such a notion as ridiculous or impious a few short years ago. But, I cannot deny the truth of my seemingly fruity proclamation. Fruity because my appetites for passion, chastity, loyalty, companionship, shared vision, service and hope have been tempted to enjoy the overabundance of less satisfying alternatives that each of us are subjected to every day; and again seemingly fruity, because it's simple; uncomplicated.

Yet, I know with every fibre in me, that in all of the forms that I have thus far been acquainted with: love is Great, Vast, Unending. God is Love. And I am in love with Him.

I didn't know, that I could love God as a lover. I don't think this is an overly popular teaching - and certainly a scary one for the religious types (not unlike myself) who are trying to live the good life and get in good with God on their own. Thus, it never occurred to me that God might desire us so much, that He craves (and created us to enjoy) the same depth of intimacy with us, that we taste in romantic relationships. Yet, He has exposed me to the deepest blushes of my female heart - knowing me better than I will ever know myself.
Staggering - I know. Odd seeming, I agree. But - gah! - thank God it's true. I would not give up knowing God in this way (or myself enlightened by His passionate love) for the sake of claims to sanity - that just doesn't matter anymore, in the light of this.

Five years ago, I purchased a ring and had it engraved with Song of Songs 2:7, which is "Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you by the does and the gazelles of the field, do not awaken love until it so desires". It was a promise to God and a constant reminder to myself to surrender that part of myself to Him. I did not understand, what I am beginning to understand about that charge and promise. That the love awakened, would be God Himself - and that I could trust Him with even this part of my heart. Furthermore, this verse initially appealed to me as clamp down on my unruly passions that I needed - for a time. However, the impression that verse now leaves upon my heart is this: the charge of one created Nature to another; a charge to my created heart for the purpose of preparing it for the love, intimacy and passion it was made for; and for igniting the heart in its due season.

The love of God has allowed me to embrace my heart as a woman, a daughter, a friend, a human; to uncover it from the mounds of defense I had heaped upon it as life ravaged it's tenderness - allowing its strength to beat and stretch in all manners of direction. It's a love that I've fought, that I fight, that I wish that I would just get over myself and give into more readily, because its never the scary thing that I think it is. Love is my daily refreshment and song of joy and delight. It is also a place in which to endure faith, longing, pain and sacrifice - even just today, I was crying to God in the agony of it. But there's a great, huge, awesome, wonderful BUT: the words of Mother Teresa were never more exacting, when she penned, "I have found the paradox is this: that if I love until it hurts, then there is no hurt and only more love." More love to love God; to love yourself; to love your family, friends, strangers, and those who have caused the deepest of hurts.

There are mysteries in those around you, that you would never guess - and that remain unbeknownst to them. There is an infinitely mysterious heart of God, teeming with a love that changes, refreshes, feeds, clothes, directs, moves everyone and everything caught up in its tide. There are mysteries in you so deep that you don't even know them - that can be both an exciting and terrifying prospect. I ask God, for you and I to understand newer and deeper and better that, love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. I does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
(1 Corinthians 13: 4-13)

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Dying to be Saved

Well, seeing that it's the 7th of June, 2009 I think that I should maybe make an effort at a post here.
I was listening through some music from this past school year in an evening of post-graduation-reflecting-on-the-seasons-of-life-and-wondering-at-what-on-earth-the-future-will-hold-because-God-sure-shocked-me-consistently-through-the-last-five-years.
I came across a song that Melodie and I wrote together. I'd like to share it. It is called, Dying to be Saved.
This song, is for hearts, for bodies, for minds that are tired, hurt, and those just totally laid to waste by circumstances that are way bigger than themselves, trying to find their bearings. It is for hearts that, like mine, ache for what they hope for. What is ultimately found, in fullness, in Jesus Christ.
Near the end of my hoping that life could ever change from how it was, I was “dying to be saved” from uncontrollable circumsances that were utterly consuming life. It is also a simple proclamation, “dying to be saved” – that we are crucified with Christ that we may be raised in His life.

video

Dying to be Saved
Heather Elliott, 2008
Verse 1
When did I end up wasted?
How did I get so low?
This life is not how I would have made it
Maybe that was always the point
Chorus:
I’m dying to be saved
I’m dying to be saved from me
I am circumstance,
This body is my world
I’m dying to be saved
I’m dying to be saved
Verse 2:
I try to trust that it will be okay
But I’ve fallen into every hole
I carry on faking that I’m brave
A smile masks the weakness I only know
Chorus repeat
Bridge:
Where’s this hope that I’d hoped for?
Is there an end to this hurt?
Is there really a reason -
Because I can’t see out of ‘me’.
Verse 3:
I thought that life would always be happy,
But now I know we live in pain.
The way down has been long and heavy
But the view from the bottom up makes me free
Chorus repeat

The circumstances that allowed this song to come have since passed - horrible things, yet starting to heal in a beautiful way that is the work of the finest Hands.
He does, if I let Him.
My consistent pattern is to hold out with stubborn grasps at controlling my circumstances (like try global climate change: that was February's big passionate struggle; or trying to act like everything is fine when you've just dislocated your shoulder the day before your final hospital practicum: that was March) until I crumple into odd defeat that takes Him weeks, months, even years to gently piece me back together from.
Yes, friend, I am a very prideful woman.
Sometimes, I hold Him at arm's-length because He is overwhelming; and then, so too seems the restoration process.
And sometimes, He tucks me in the crevice of a rock like He did with Moses, letting me only get a glimpse of the backside of His glory (which .....there aren't even words) because I'm not prepared to behold it right now.
I just graduated from university a little over a month ago. In the time that has passed since that wonderful celebration, I have been learning still that I am 'dying to be saved' from so many things that make the world around me feel stiffling with impossible demands and the future seem overwhelming in it's enormity. I'm a nurse now; and the responsibility of it nearly crushes me.
But, there is hope. Because the death of my tiny perspectives, tiny dreams, tiny imagination, and tiny courage means that the Infinite, Intimate God that I ravenously love, tells again His story of redemption. The one He always loves to tell and I've come to realize, is honestly always telling.