I have a form sitting on my old wooden desk. The desk was part of my childhood furniture set. I remember coming back from the annual “Father Daughter Weekend” when I was about 8 or 9 and my mom had set it all up for me. Replacing the white washed drawers with their crayon stains and drink spills, were dark deep chests. Instead of my four post children’s bed whose fake bronze bed knobs could be twisted off the iron bedposts (I remember taking them to school sometimes, inspired greatly by Bedknobs and Broomsticks) there was a gorgeous canopy bed. Fit for a princess, it seemed (and I experienced likewise). My dream bed, dream room, growing-up-room. And on that dark wood desk I did homework and became a “big girl”. Recently I screwed on new knobs found at Anthropology or some equally trendy store and I am thinking about re-finishing all the old wood pieces. Because they are truly beautiful. And let’s be honest I don’t have the money even for some IKEA put-it-together-yourself new furniture.
Anyways, I have a form sitting on that little-girl/big-girl desk that sits in my house in Denver. The form is a US POSTAL claim that I need to fill out and send to their headquarters that are somewhere in Georgia. Because about a month ago I was in Phoenix with my beautiful room mate for her bridal shower, and I left my bible and journal at her parents house. Her mom sent it back the next day, but the package arrived torn with only my bible in it. The last 3 months of my life floating somewhere in postal-land. One of the many lovely postal ladies I have talked on the phone with in my search to get it back, sent me that form, but quietly disclosed that honestly, I probably am never going to see that little book again. I keep trying to hope that someone somewhere needed the words inside, that they have the lined pages covered with a map that reminded me my traveling days aren’t over even though for now I am “grounded”; and whoever has it has read it and maybe there was a line of truth in it. (That’s a nicer thought than the probable-reality that it is simply in a pile in a wear-house stacked with seven hundred and fifty three other word-bound-dream-catchers that will sometime next month be thrown away or burned or something equally depressing).
For any avid-journaler slash memory keeper slash story teller, this is a tragic loss. I replaced the journal pretty quickly but have noticed that I haven’t been writing in it. And then I remembered that I haven’t written here in… a long long time. I am always curious as to the root of these fluctuations. Why some season I will need hours of reflection and processing, and for some months I need to simply “be” with out all the analysis. Maybe it seems like sometimes we over-analyze and under realize. I am all about the “process” (I am one semester into a masters in counseling, after all). But sometimes we have to just exist. Allow ourselves to breathe and laugh and cry and eat and sleep and love without necessarially knowing why, or all the implications, or all the riples of the implications and the motives of the actions, and am I being authentic and: “but why am I really feeling that”. Sometimes we have to just do it. Just be it. Figure it out later (or sometimes not at all). SO here we go:
To seek real empathy, and to release micro-managing:
(or; I’ve only taken three real counseling classes so far but these truths are constantly shaking my hand and whispering in my ears and looking into my eyes) :
I am not the doctor. I am not the curer. I am not the magician. I am not the savior. I am not the end-all, save-all, rescue-all. I cannot fix people. I cannot choose life for them. I cannot make people believe, or hope, or trust. I cannot convince them of their worth. I cannot convince people of love. I cannot give them something to live for. I cannot be the peace wager if they are covering their ears and closing their eyes. I cannot be the advocate, or the translator, or the representative, or the diplomat, if there is no dedication to ceace-fire. No one is asking me to be the martyr, so I will not make it my identity. (And even if you are, I still won’t do it). I will not build my identity out of all the twisty dark brokenness of this world. I will not build my identity of of their, or your, or my own brokenness. That is not the truth.
He wrote a song once that I thought I agreed with, but then, I realized.. it’s like you get new colors. Or at least different hues. Deeper, thicker, vibrancies. Striking color. Texture. Like blood. Or Oil. Or fire, if fire could be in a paintable-substance. Because I realized: living the bitter just simply isn’t the same as knowing winter. And the canvas as result, will never be as captivating (no pun intended). It will never be as life changing, startling, provacing (not a real word, but it is now), entrancing, tragically enthralling, inspiring. Those of us have known it, we have these colors that they can’t even see. Like sounds only dolphins and dogs can hear. “They” say things like ‘wow’ as they nod their head, sometimes tears brim their eyes. Unfortunately, it usually doesn’t make any difference. Because they can neither paint, nor see, the colors others live in.
However, Hope is this: if diciplined and rescued (or vise versa, rather) the canvas will be, the most beautiful.
I’m learning about capacity for intimacy. How easily there can be love, how quickly encounters come. Like a tin mug filled instantly with boiling water. Hands hold tightly, burn, and dump out the water. Experiential to the full, but just as swiftly gone leaving no trace. Except maybe warm fingers, but not even that, really. It is easy for me to experience intensely and immediately. And then to walk away. So in my grown-up world I am trying to learn how to live slower and fuller. To recognize that we have these gifts that we can slowly give away. To remember that the lasting ones are the ones who walked, miles and miles, side by side. To realize that more than exchanging and memorizing information the desire of my heart is to share enough space and moments and adventures that things are just known and don’t have to be told-stories or back-and-forth-paragraph-response-questions.
I also realized through a mixture of the new Taylor Swift album (epiphany and brilliance) and my busycrazy schedule along with my understanding of independence: I’ll know when the non-existance is more of a loss than the sacrifice of existence. (however that might sound doesn’t change it).
Winter (a different winter) has been really graceful when dealing with fall. And Fall was a good man who gently pursued the wild and passionate deep well of The Summer Season. Winter gave Fall who gave summer the occasional cooler days so our cheeks could transition from sun kisses pink to rosy chilled. Winter took it’s time with Fall, who took his time with Summer, and now we are ready. It’sokaynow. For the snow to fall in blankets. For layers of scarves and socks and sweaters. To stow away sandals and sundresses for someday next year. I can now without anxiousness anticipate walking out the door when it’s barely light and my breath is all around me and I have to sit in the car for thirty seconds with my hands under my thighs to warm them up as the engine slowly ignites the hot air. It seems like a good, fun, idea to layer on a tank top, then a shirt, then a sweater, then a jacket, then a puff-vest, with a scarf and a hat and mittens. We all have in fact, been doing “snow dances” asking the sky to open up open up open up and let everything be covered in the glory of a billion different white crystals (are they really all different, like they say? Cause that still blows my mind.)
And in this winter season I realize:
“Because if we are anything, we’re mulch. If we are anything, we are light as the moon is light.” (At least on our own).
As the seasons change. As our relationships change. As nothing happens the way it “was supposed to” or how we thought it might or had anticipated. As we are encountered with new truths or split decisions or the “you-can-have-anything-but-not-everything” situations. I often curl into a ball and my heart says: “NO”.
So instead, we raise our eyes and we say: “You were right”.
We release our grasped calloused dry hands, we release our tight fists and we try to repeat, even if it’s a whisper, even if our voice is horse and tired:
“You were right”.
And it’s hard. Hard to say. Harder to believe.
So I try to say it again, I know I must claim it again. I lift my eyes, again. And this time it’s audible:
“You were right”.
The sky, I am staring at it. Vastness to the caliber that my eye’s don’t know enough freedom to engage. This time I really LOOK up to the place I look up to when I think of the One I am speaking to. Because I don’t want to say something I don’t mean. And I don’t want to mean something if I can’t say it. So I target my vision and I try to yell this time:
“YOU ARE RIGHT”.
Each time I say this, a deep entangled layer loosens. Shame mixed with anxiety, or maybe it’s fear (I would never admit to that) tied into false expectation. It’s control and power who suffocate small hope. Each time I confess “you are right”, I can FEEL it loosen. There is no coincidence. There is no mistake. And I can either live in surrender, in hopeful joyful aware pure present surrender. Or I can continue to pretend that I can breathe under water when everyone else knows I’m drowning. That were all drowning. (That we all need to be saved). I will keep looking to the sky with open hands. There is no wrong step that He cannot forge a new path. Nothing given that we cannot handle.
I tell you, I told you, I’ve been learning. How to grow up in this world that is too fast and speaks too loudly. Who asks too much too quickly. And I think to myself: ”You know, I could do it.” Run away to some small little mountain town and get a job at the local breakfast joint. A place that even “can you hear me now” Verizon can’t touch. Cancel my facebook and shut down instagram and twitter (not that I understand twitter) and put an away message on my email. Hide away. Disappear into forests of quiet people with long stories that don’t tell easily. Thick trees who don’t ask more of you than to rest between them and speak kindly. I could bring a very large box of books, some to read and some to write. And I could learn what it sounds like to fall asleep in silence and wake up in stillness. It is not my natural inclination to engage. To show. To perform. It’s my propensity to find a hidden still place and hide. When I was younger and I would hide (you remember), I could never figure out if I actually wanted someone to find me or not. All I knew is that I needed to go.
(but, because of that, I think the end of the story is not the former).
Instead: the reconciliation will come, and our stories will be told with triumph, and the canvas will be beautiful because of love. And that there is no love lost. And there will be a love that doesn’t leave, that forces me, that gives me no choice, but to stay.
And of course I love too much and too deeply to stay away. But it’s always holding one desire in one hand, and the polarizing wish in the other.
The harvest season was rich. Nonstop. To capacity. Abundant. (But every time I say that, he widens the boundary markers). Fall parties and pumpkin patches. Laughing noisy breakfasts with room mates that smelled of brewing coffee and teabags and tasted like fresh eggs and bacon. Leaves of all colors on the running paths and on your windshield. Now, ice skating and hot apple cider. I spent a few 15+ hour days at Denver Seminary typing out term-papers and studying (still wishing I had a treadmill desk but hush hush Christmas might change that). We took 50+ high schoolers to Winter Camp for Young Life, and we did a “duct tape” theme club and a “mustache” themed club and we had our last one of the year this past Wednesday where we sang Christmas songs and ate Christmas cookies and had a competition where the kids decorated up one of their friends as a Christmas tree. My room mates and I have been “gluten free” as a way of trying to be disciplined in our eating and more creative and communal in our cooking. I have really missed pizza, cookies, mac and cheese, and the occasional beer. (I have never cheated this whole time. Just kidding I have a few times. But it’s still been an awesome sacrifice.) There has been crazy provision over my life, as I continue to raise support for Young Life and receive gifts at exactly their needed time! So humbling. I was in a beautiful wedding of our room mate (that had to change the venue the day of because of forest fires: WHAT??). We are still anticipating what will be the glorious celebration of our other room mate’s wedding on New Years Eve. So it’s been lots of weddings and showers and experiencing (by watching) what it looks like as these women I love prepare to enter into covenant. Woah! Crazy! It’s been remembering how much I actually do love to run in the winter, where it takes a mile for your muscles to really warm up and you have to wear gloves and your cheeks are warm against the cold air. It’s been lots of sweet potatoes, chai (always), the new Taylor Swift album, the first ski days.. Our Young Life area decided to run a half marathon together in May so, the training journey will begin again after New Years! On a side note: I have recently started watching Friday Night Lights. And I am obsessed.
From Thanksgiving, into Christmas, into New Years I have tried to reflect. Really recognize the story of this past year. 2012 was crazy. It was redemptive. More on this later. I sit in a posture of thankfulness. Really full and complete thankfulness for the complexity and the beauty of it all. I am thankful to be a dreamer. I refuse to believe that reconciliation and redemption are EVER outside of the possible. Not naive, but a believer. That crazy things happen to us and we can’t control them but WE GET TO DECIDE what we do with it. Every second we get to choose to continue to hate, or to love. To foster reconciliation, or to hold onto walls and resentment and control and fear. I am thankful, and I choose redemption.
And I am thankful for you. Whoever you are. May you live out this winter season fully. With winter drinks and winter activities and winter stories and winter songs.
To act boldly, with grace. To speak truth, with kindness. To bundle up closely and hold hands tightly, beside a roaring fire.