Land of the Living

This winter won’t go away.

Mountains of snow stacked along street edges, ice wind blowing from fresh and fierce air off the lake. Nets of gray trap the sky tight so no sunlight is allowed access. Again, the breath-stealing bitter cold, collects the joy right out of the day. Works to make you forget there was ever such a thing as spring.

Except. There is always the memory of what has come before, recollections of bud-dappled trees and smooth birdsong. Spring has happened before, and it will arrive again.

These last two months have been a mountain of endurance. Of plowing through an unreal reality of medical upheavals and hospital stays, loss of bearings?

This is a harsh winter, alright.

Except. I remember.

How my life has been spared and saved more than once in my life. Playback the moments of survival, seal of His heart in mine, watch as He pulls me from the mire and places me on steady rock. How in the storm of heartbreak, His presence through the dead of night assurance that He is still loving. All He does is kind, even when it can feel like fire through my veins.

Remember. Look back on what God has already done. Choose to believe in who He has shown Himself to be.

I am walking through the sludge of this unclear season with a sharp eye out for His good.

// I have come to the edge of this world, sniffed around at the other side, learned how little there lies between this world and what’s next.

And at the base of it all, I have had to ask myself the question: What is it I believe?

Do I believe in a God who is over all, who runs all eternity, and is He where I place my faith, my life?

Where, in the earth-splitting shake up of a stroke and heart procedure, do I stand on firm soil rather than shifting sand? What is solid?

It is not what, but WHO.

He who slung the stars in the sky and gathered grains of sand and offered up a picture of a chosen people. Who has tumbled down towers and met a wounded women in the desert, El Roi, the One who sees.

Confident that He who created a good work within me will carry it out to completion.

To fall full weight in confidence of His character His promises. His goodness and kindness, and that forever faithfulness.

My heart clings to the hope that He is who He says He is, and who He promises to be is faithful. Stake my soul on this. Walk with shuffling feet as I relearn the place I’m planted in this season.

I look out my window and see ice and water roll about the winter lake. The churn of blue and gray clouds hunched low. //

As sure as the lighthouse stands strong against the heaving waves propelled by an angry tide, I anchor to God’s goodness. Confident how He will never leave or forsake, even when the world before me swallows me down into an unexpected abyss.

His faithfulness is a blaze of light that carefully carries me back into wide-open space, land of the living.

I stand certain of His goodness.

I have smelled, touched, tasted it. And it has imprinted deep within my wondering mind, my seeking soul.

All is miraculous; He is mercy. For me, spring is already here; tender shoots of grace unfurl the newly hinged hooks of my heart.

I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of God in the land of the living.   -Psalm 27:14

 

 

**

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: Confident.   // symbolizes where five minutes started and/or stopped.

Advertisements

A Million Atoms

Monday. Like any other. I wake, brew coffee, sit and pour over my Bible, the words in Philippians chapter one roaring in me, the battle within for what is coming. Tomorrow, I go back to the hospital, check in on the cardiology floor, and settle into my new room for the next few days. Then, they’ll send me to sleep with a chemical cocktail and weave through my veins to clamp closed my heart and create the needed chambers. I am amazed at modern medicine, but my hope does not rest in this, but in the One who first gave us healing ability.

Tomorrow is tomorrow, and I will have my game face on, smile ready, on alert to let Him work in me through all things.

But today is also today. The only minutes that are a guarantee as each second pulls its way through time. I lock my front door, take one step, then another, down the stairs and down the hill. Savor the day. Walk slow. Drink in the air. Light chill on my cheek, puddles pool at my feet from the melting snow. I sludge down the harbor, watch the teals churn in the stormy water. Ice caps frozen from the shore bear the brunt of waves slapping their edges. Deep in the distance, a thin shawl of fog rolls across the bluff. Everything is iced over. Even the wrinkles of the sky.

What will be here at the end of it all? What will be in this new beginning?

This is my harbor town, my treasured place where each day is a miracle, with old brick buildings and bay of seagulls. Where fishermen meet to talk shop, set their poles into the half-frozen water. Where I wander, amble, stroll aimless, but straight to where I’m meant to be.

Such gift. Such grace. Every day. Breath, a million atoms bursting to life.

What I want to say is this: I am thankful. I have already been given much, impossible goodness, from God alone allowing me a glimpse of His glory. Such glory, in the mundane and miniscule. In the small fistfuls of rhythmic existence that is miraculous. To be alive, the molecules of my skin kissed awake under a folding cotton sky. To be certain that faith is hinged on what I cannot see, invisible anchor hooked to the navel of my soul. And all of this, God’s breathing in the mist washing my face, drizzle of His presence pulling back the veil of worlds for a preview of what’s coming.

His goodness, ripe for the taking. Richness rolled in simple acceptance. Fasten eyes on Jesus and dare the world to try and break the gaze.

Such simple things in such a simple day. The sun will fall down the western face of earth and in its place, the moon quietly beaming. Another day done. Another day, rife with countless occurrences of beauty we didn’t even see.

What is around us? What is there to come?

I am here. This is enough. I am given my daily bread and clothed like the lily. I am finite in the breakable balance of the world. I am infinite. I see the shapes of heaven mirrored in the clear pulse of Lake Michigan, the swelling pool of water from my shoe. And the beat of my warm heart, blood sweet and spilling, delicate, cautious, strong.

Here Is Another Day

The wind’s coming straight off the lake, eastern gusts.
In the distance, the chime of a bell.
Crow cawing, calling out to the world.
Ice weaves its way up the pane, engraves detailed designs in the glass.
Geese honk and chatter, fly overhead.
The lighthouse wears a shawl of misted air; collision of heat and frigid, sky and water.
I count the beats of my heart, trace the cadence.
Breathe.
Marvel, “Here is another day, another glimpse of mercy.”

 

Wide-Open Waters

For years, I was always curious why I felt so much,
why I broke with the news of lives lost,
desperate situations and the heartache confessed
by friends and strangers alike.
Why I bled with the sorrow of the world.
Why, when I loved, I was a typhoon.
There was never halfway with me,
my heart coursed and spilled until almost empty,
then found a way to refill.

They say I have an opening in my heart
that lets extra blood into its chambers.
From birth, a closure left undone
when I came into this life.

That’s why my heart lets in every shard,
every dagger, an ocean of hurt that hounds me
with the howls of humanity.
Why when I am cut, blood pools and falls
over the crumbled wall that was meant
to divide my chambers in order and,
if I choose to believe, emotion and reasoning.
To me, they always run together.

I have lived with a hole in my heart from day one—
it’s filtered every torrent of feeling swept right in
without proper search of self-preservation.
I’ve been drowning in my own heart,
always open, cycling through one hurt to the next—
there’s nothing left to break, I suppose,
as boundary lines shattered when I pulled in
my first breath.

It’s a wonder I’ve made it this far,
that I could take in the aching, magnified pain,
add it to the wide-open waters and grow
this expanding chamber of irregular beats.
Each stutter whispers another name,
another promise to endure.
Endure and never tire, take this blessed burden
burned into my DNA and let my love
spill upon the parched, caked crevices
of every heart that’s cries echo this earth.

Grace of Again

Here we go, life.
Another turn around the galaxy.
What will this world spin into?
Are we ready?
Are we watching?
We get another chance
to learn, to love, to leave
an imprint on the soft earth of hearts.
Here we go, life.
Blessed with
the grace of again.

Wanting More

Is it worth it? Wanting more from this life? Daring to hope, suspended breath, afraid the smallest exhale will scatter all you’ve longed for?

Keep breathing out your prayers. Keep walking into the days, daring to hold hope in your heart after all this time.

Reminders

Cardinal flits across the road, flash of red sticks out among muted brown and gray. Cardinals stay through the winter, through the cold, the barren, the unyielding hard.

I am to do the same.

Water. It calls to me after being cooped up for weeks. I make the short drive to my old college campus, wave to the young girl at the welcome desk kiosk, wind the narrow road that wraps around the lake.

Today, a tired sun is making its way through milky clouds. It lights the world nonetheless. There are shadows cast along the damp grass, my body outlined on the row of rock arched around the bluff. Clamor of metal hitting together of the new business building construction echoes behind me—this campus sure is growing.

Water and sky blur together from the haze, gray foam of cloud barely atop a steel teal of lake—everything seems washed. From somewhere at the bottom of shoreline, soft waves roll to land. Dead prairie grass leans along the sloped bluff, tan and brittle. Long, spindly arms of empty ash trees hold their perch along the ledge.

It’s quiet, and I am alone the day after Christmas. A few hours ago, I unstrapped the four lead electrodes from my chest and abdomen, shut off the phone monitor, packed up the Holter unit and dropped the box at the UPS store in the Pavilions shopping center two minutes from my parents’ house. It will be on its way to Illinois to be processed, results calculated. I don’t know when I’ll learn if they noticed an arrythmia, maybe at my cardiologist appointment in January. I’m again in full trust mode as I acknowledge God as my monitor, His watchful gaze on my heart, on my head.

Another phase down, another step towards healing, or answers, or living in the unknown.

We all live in the unknown, really. Every day. Who ever knows what comes?

Curled leaves lie at my feet, half covered by the overgrown grass. Hints of previous seasons making themselves known well into winter.

There are always reminders of where we’ve been, who we were. They trail behind us quietly, catching hold of the wind to make no sound. Sometimes they pull ahead, catch on our sneakers so we stop to see what’s changed our stride, peel them off and examine all that has transpired, how we have transformed.

Keep watch for the good. Count each detail as a keepsake. Always remember. Taupe, pointed leaves nestled in the grass. Calm of Lake Michigan floating in its own movement. Break of spindled sun, light cutting through days of clouds.

Heart free from its surveillance, no more metal monitor heavy on my breastbone. Every day a miracle. Every miracle, great grace.

Rebuild The Jagged Edges

Too early to rise, yet I am lulled out of bed, wide awake and aware stars still gleam in the sky.

Coffee quickly brewing in the kitchen, my lifeline. This is how I arrive today—heavy eyelids, leaking heart.

This is a lonely season of my life. I am weary from holding back this truth.

Tell me that the night will end. Tell me that the light will come.

Teach my heart to wait in You, to be still and trust.

 

All that is within me wants to see the other side right now, to know the goodness comes my way, that what I sow in rows of tears will reap an abundance of joy.

You are always good, but this does not feel good to my heart right now. How do I hope when days stretch to weeks, to months, and then I somehow notice it’s been years?

You alone know the ways I am to walk, where each step leads, the trails, the turns, the unmarked maps.

How do I listen through the din of despair, when I stare it straight in the eye, stand at its edge, rock my toes over the ledge? How do I be still to see You go before me to make a way where there is a wall?

 

 

It’s been awhile, but I’m back over at ALTARWORK! Head over to read the rest of the post.

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.