Blessed Silver Lining

Trail of rain pulls down the sky like tufts of seagrass before a storm. A shift in water’s hues—silver to steel to aqua. Drops fall through tree branches, splattering my porch roof, the yard. I tuck my arms into my sweatshirt, huddle my body warmth as close as possible. This is the underside of autumn, shadowed spaces sprawled across the sky. The pieces no one leans in to examine closely. But these details—the sodden trails, hiccups of gray along a color-stitched lawn, bite of wind snapping at my skin—are part of the shift of seasons, necessary for the earth to evolve as it is meant to in the swing of spring to summer, summer to fall, fall inevitably into winter.

Seasons shift in my own life as well. One full year has passed since I moved from Kansas City to Wisconsin and back to my hometown, where I fought tooth and nail to stay away. It’s hard to believe I’ve been back for a year, on top of four previous turns of the earth that tightened my chest and tested my will, molded my spirit and made me wonder how in the world the struggle could make me stronger.

I’ve been sad, afraid and discouraged more times than I’d like as I fought the calling to stay in Kansas City and work for an international sports ministry. It was a beautiful place, but I was barren inside. How many months I railed against God at my discomfort, my unhappiness, the unraveling of my well-tended dreams for life that gave way to guttural growing pains tending a path I never saw as part of my story. Each time I couldn’t stand the strain, he’d bring a little consolation and larger confirmation that, yes, I was indeed meant to be smack dab in the middle of right here, right now.

 

**Read the rest of my essay in the Redbud Post!

 

 

 

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Grand Amusement

I was born for something. Born to be someone. But what? And whom? This is the question that has hounded me as I gained years, gathered lines in my life. Always, whether I was aware of it or not, my purpose, my deepest desire for approval, has followed me through seasons, through laughter, through furious tears. And always at the end of the day, draw of dark, the edge of my heart stitching itself into the hopes of others.

I’ve longed for a grand amusement set far beyond this bound of land and time. A sacred realm stretched sweetly through the fabric of my soul. Stepping lightly through this world, ears tuned for echoes of Eden.

In the balance, in between. Longing for the memories and events that pierced my heart in the purest sense.

Live Languid

Here comes September.

Can the year be beginning its last stretch already?

Trees are turning, and the mornings host cooler air. It doesn’t seem to be time for this, the shift of seasons.

And yet, there is always time for everything. Faithfully, change begins and ends and cycles through. I take my time getting ready for the day, linger longer than I should on my cool down walk after my run is finished. I watch the boats waver in the wind heading back towards the marina after an early start to find the fish. I listen to the whoosh of waves folding into themselves as they surge to shore. I watch the yellow wildflowers wave their arms on thin and nimble stalks between wild grass. In these moments, with sweat condensed from humidity and breath returning regular to my lungs, all is as it should be.

There is no need for speed.

//What’s the rush?
Slow. Such cadence in the quiet, serene. No time passes at all.

Rain pours down the pane. We haven’t seen skies like this in years. Or maybe I just don’t remember it. This is, after all, the first time I’ve been home to stay in four years. The world here knows rain; perhaps it is just I who has forgotten.

Thunder rolls, not angry or vicious. It just makes its presence known.

What’s the line in the that Elvis song? Only fools rush in…

Frantic rushing washes away thought, intention, calculation that releases best laid plans.

In the way of life, it’s best to take it slow. Unfettered, open to unlearning what has tied me up mind and spirit in unhealthy ways. Relax. Rest, embrace.

I am a caterpillar weaving my chrysalis, snug and steady in subtle transformation. I am not the same person as I was just one year ago. I look back and see the anxiety that plagued, threatened to destroy. But I held fast in release to the ways of Him who had my best in store.//

Live languid. Enjoy the longer time around the harbor. See the small things and note fine details. Detach, revel in newly given freedom of heart. Do not close your eyes. There’s so much that may be missed. Do not wish away this life on thoughts that may never come to pass.

See the mist turn color and be amazed.

 

 

 

Continuing my attempt at the Five Minute Friday weekly writing challenge. Five minutes to write on the assigned topic. Raw and unedited. (Yikes!) This week’s topic: Rush.   // symbolizes where five minutes started and/or stopped.

Tend To The Harvest

There I go again, trying to plant, plow, water and reap my own fields, only to find them trampled by my fumbling feet.
You say the work is plenty, the fruits are ripe, yet who will pluck the precious pieces from their vine? Wheat, golden in the yellow sun, waves in an autumn wind, full and soft and ready to fall apart at a touch. See how they glisten? See how they arch in the afternoon air, beckoning, helpless on their own? How they plead for perfection upon their stalks.
You are the planter. You raise the soil and set each seed in their place among the earth. You gently prod each miracle inside to shape and stir beneath Your touch, and day after week after month You watch and wait for fruit to bear. You, with Your tender care, see the sweet growth and prepare its color and taste.
I am a feeble servant, stretched on my hand and knees to collect the remnants left in Your wake. Where the dirt meets the drops of harvest, there you’ll find my soiled hands. How can I breathe Your bounty when my lungs are filled with dust?
Come, You say to me. The time is right and the fields are full for plucking. Tend to Your gardens with the grace and mercy You first planted. Much work is still to be done, and You have designed a specific purpose for my path.
My heart is eager yet my steps are slow. I fear to trod upon the handiwork of Your green thumb, afraid to till and sift and shake. But You have bundled together those that most fit my fertility, have already given me the strength to stay Your course. Under a waning sky I will take my chaff and store the best for You. I will grow and sow and toil and water, so when the time comes to pluck up Your treasures, so smoothed and shaped they will slide like raindrops off a summer flower and flow straight into eternity’s basket.

Counted The Cost

 

I gave up my dreams for You.

 

Look—see them spilling into the yard, how light their faces, easy their smiles, twinkle in their eyes! The wind chimes of their laughter rising into the air.

Aren’t they precious?

Full of life, pulsing with wonder.

Breathing in amazement and impossibility.

There is no shore that keeps them from exploring, venturing into the wide world to expand it even more.

 

I was proud to call them my own.

 

Still they walk among the earth, dew-eyed and brilliant. I watch them from afar now, smile at how they’ve grown. With twisted heart I know they’ll go to someone else, who will nurture them with care and guidance until they mature and fully embrace their calling and are released to do what they’ve been created to do.

They will belong to another who will dance joyously in their success.

No longer are they mine.

 

See what I have given for You?

 

I am like another woman, living in another time. As if those soul-birthed dreams had never existed for my life, at most, a whisper of a thought quivering on the breeze of my mind.

 

So do not say I have not counted the cost, to let You lead me as You do.

 

 

Recluse

I started out lonely, a fern among flowers. I hid deep in the shadows’ underside of woods, where the fingers of the sun never stroked my face. I craved corners, deep crevices where I huddled in the underbelly of obscurity. I was a recluse. I bathed in new moons where my face was sheltered in an enveloping ink of black velvet. I was far away from life. I was far away from you.

Repay the Barren Fields

First day of summer but it feels more like fall. Waves move rough in my harbor town, out on the open water. Sky crouches to the earth, tries to make room for sunlight but the clouds will have none of that. I dress how I feel—oversized gray hoodie and frayed jeans. I drive in to town dissatisfied with the options on the radio, change to my CD, which still does not settle me.

It’s taken months for me to catch my breath in the shedding of an old skin, old home, old job and way of life, and dip both feet into these new streams. I am unsure what this will become.

I am healing, but there is so much that still bleeds out, leaves me empty.

There is a blackboard on my wall where I scrawl reminders to myself in chalk. I kept words from a prophet of old on my last days in Kansas City, let them travel with me to Wisconsin:

“I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten.”   -Joel 2:25

What is there to repay when I have given everything and continually come up short? Sometimes it feels like all I ever do is swim upstream but never reach where I need to go.

But here’s a certainty in blinking lights if I would just open my heart and receive it. A chasm in the cosmos in such few words.

What will it take to repair my heart, so battered and bruised as it is? To restore my past, where I wandered off path and found myself surrounded by thorns and thistles? What is there to repay the barren fields?

My breath spills out a bigger exhale than anticipated. It’s been a long, arduous five years. I’ve had my share of the dark, the unexplainable, the restlessness and sharp jabs of aloneness I couldn’t kick. Dreams, delicately cultivated, only to shatter when reality struck. And I would cry my tears, brush myself off, and work on assembling another dream, only to have that one burst with even greater impact.

I wrestled with where I was, grappled with an inner emptiness that latched on and held tight. I was alone without ever quite finding my place in an unknown.

To stand on the precipice of another world, a promise of lighter chest and brighter eyes, appears as a mountain before me. What is my life that I should hope? That I should begin again to hoist my heart into my faith and attempt to try once more, look for the sweet among the sour?

He will restore to me the years that the locusts have eaten. My promise, He tells me.

//This resounds around my head, soft and sweet, like a velvet pillow when I lay down. For years, the storms of alone and dark evenings that grabbed hold of my soul made every day a struggle, and strain on energy and faith as I fought to piece those fractured fragments of a life beyond my understanding together.

Storm clouds gather, but so does sun, somewhere behind the rain.

After years of barrenness and wilderness wandering, I have come out of the clearing, without fully recognizing the new area of rest. God redirected my steps back home and to a house by the harbor, where wind and waves could wrap me in their medicinal embrace and I could hold still, and know that He is good.

Again, my heart fastens to Joel’s words, this promise from the Promise Keeper. He who was with me through the long stretch of years when I was beyond myself, did not know anything but how to suffer and serve in a life I never asked for, then reshuffled yet again into a new experience I never expected. One cannot go so long with insect bites along their past without looking to God to bring forth growth and harvest.  //

One good turn can turn everything around. What was once broken can be restored again. Believe this, my heart pleads. Will I?

What will it take for the Lord to restore the years the locusts have eaten?

Whatever He deems for it to take.

That I can trust and tuck in with my faith to keep plowing and planting.

Repay, I pray.

Repay the barren fields and bring the quenching rain.

 

 

Continuing my attempt at the Five Minute Friday weekly writing challenge. Five minutes to write on the assigned topic. Raw and unedited. (Yikes!) This week’s topic: Restore.   // symbolizes where five minutes started and/or stopped.

Insatiable

I am the long, spindly shadow of beach grass
coming alive in the wind.
I am the spread of white foam washing to shore
on the last breath of a wave.
I am the horizon that has no distant land,
always leading farther.
I am the rise and dip of sand moved
by feet and storm and age.
I am the limber limb, lush leaves of trees
spreading arms in praise.
I am the eternal pull from a pulse of beginning,
there as you formed within the womb,
expanding, always curious for an insatiable
longing you cannot name.