And so it goes

We leave what we love to go where we know nothing. The world turns around and time falls away while each human life goes up and down, at once too full of good and love to comprehend; at another, too empty to feel— always trying to learn what it means to live, always forgetting what we learned, always learning again, and always getting closer. We try new things and overcome fears. We love and lose and love again. We hope and are disappointed and receive something we didn’t want, but find it is far more beautiful. Our hearts break and repair. We give up things we thought we couldn’t do without and do things we never thought we’d do. We react and say things we regret and are surprised by people who forgive. We hold onto things that are not ours and are hurt when they are taken away. People we never met before enter our lives and become part of us. People we’ve taken for granted pass out of our lives and into the distance. We go places we’ve never been before and can’t get them out of our heads afterwards. Other places are beaten paths but hold little appeal. We are born and we die and the small space between we call a lifetime. We run to God when we have no one else and wander off when we have enough without Him and His love chases us down again and again. It is tireless, like the sea. We dizzy ourselves with questions and strategies and still it pursues us till it has overcome us and undone us. We look for one thing and are surprised to find another. We are amazed by things that are too good to be true and devastated by things too horrible to be true. We are startled when pain comes back to back with joy. We plan out our days and weeks and months and years, and are surprised and disoriented when things go differently. (Really, I don’t know why we are not more surprised when things go like expected. There are so many possibilities it is more miraculous when they do.) And so it goes, and so do we—so many of us so preoccupied, so lonely—like islands. We all exist, but we don’t all live. It is a choice we make again and again, all our lives.

Heavily drugged with memories
To ease the pain of leaving
Too ill to sleep
Too sick to stay awake
The chill of the present
Seeps through the thick blanket
Of the past

-SM

Between

We are always between.

Between hope and despair.

Between longing and satisfaction.

Between questions and answers.

Between earth and sky.

Between yesterday and tomorrow.

Between one world and another.

Home has become a between place for me.

I have become a between person, going here and there, filling in gaps.

I don’t even keep people up to date on my life anymore. If they want to know they can ask. I won’t tell them I sometimes get tired of answering. I will only joke about how I am uncommitted and shiftless and know they are wondering what is up with me, living such a transient life. One person actually asked the question—did you choose this life because you like traveling or is this just how it happened? It’s just how it happened. I’m glad you asked. But yes, I love traveling. Sometimes I am surprised at where I am. Surprised at how much change and short term and unknown there is in my life. Surprised at how ok I am with it. How much I can love it despite. Because this is not how I planned my life at all. But I think it is better. I was going to find a job I loved and stick to it for a while. I was going to find “my world” and live in it and grow in it. I was going to grow myself some roots in a place. I thought that would be best.

Instead.

I am doing what I was so afraid of and never wanted to do. I’m going to new places. I’m staying only a few months or a week. I don’t know what I’m doing next sometimes until last minute ( well, last week). At every place I am new and know nothing or very little, whether it’s people or skills.

And it’s good. Really good.

I am in my between place for a week. Then I go to Ireland for six weeks to learn how to work in a store there and to live with people there. And best of all, to be with my sister there.

But I am not like you

I need quiet times

And winter nights.

I need the pain of

Unmet desire

To keep me alive.

I need hard things

And disappointment

To make me see truth.

I need to be alone

With myself at its worst

To teach me peace

And gentleness.

Stopping to think

I’m beginning to write. I don’t know where or how to start. I don’t even necessarily know why I am. 

Just one month ago I was wandering about wondering things like What and Where and Why and How?

But a small shift in the air may cause a whirlwind. 

There are wildly exciting wirlwinds that fill you full and light your eyes and flood your veins and take you into new worlds.

And there are jarring wirlwinds that jerk you here and there in a most uncomely manner and force you into uncomfortable situations that make you feel stupid and then drop you down right back where you started.

That’s how I would describe the last month, if a bit dramatically. 

But just now I am on my home doorstep, halfway between cool shade and hot sun. That’s Arizona for you. I am home for bit but in a few days I’ll be back in NC, continuing the process of becoming less new and in-the-way and more comfortable and helpful in the daycare where my sister works.

But it’s temporary, like everything. And I keep telling myself that’s ok. Because it is. I suppose I could just stay at home and go nowhere. But I am called beyond. So if that means going here and there, never finding home, I will go. I will go back to NC and know that it is only for two months. And then it will change again.

But right now I am tired of change, even though I know it’s not for nothing. I see small reasons even now. I have small piercing realizations that I feel if I could get a hold of would change the way we think; would heal the world. But they slip from me and I reenter the cycle that humans are drug into — work, disappointment, stress, longing, pain, dissatisfaction, hope. Why can we never break it once and for all? Why can’t I? I fight and for a moment think I am free, I have found it. But the whole world runs by it. To be free is to struggle and question and think and still I am not free because as soon as I rest I have lost the battle. And I have been asking myself, how do I win?

But in the quiet dark of a roomful of blanketed heaps of unconscious humans completely at rest; while I sit on the floor listening to soft snores and the steady gentle thump of hands patting babies to sleep, I can almost believe there is a thread of real life left. All is calm. Even these yelling screaming spoiled babies are overcome at last with peace and rest. Maybe this is the answer. It is only a bright piercing realization and I am not able to capture it before, like a shooting star, it is extinguished by the dark. But I have seen it just for a moment. And for the rest of naptime I wonder if that is rest. To love God and others with as much as is in me, to live in peace, to seek God in all things, to know that everything here is temporary, and to ask myself often, what really matters?

Restless

The desert dries in the wind and sun. But there is light and warmth beneath the cold and wind and sky. I am tossing, trying not to die.

The fog around my thoughts settles close and clings. I blink. I brush the dusts that gather on my eyes and hold back the heap of questions leaning over me. I am a shadow one time, then a rock. I tiptoe about in moments, squares of time all about me, empty. And I am to fill them. But how? My thoughts grind deep and weary me. The limp afternoon wilts slowly away and I am left wondering, to where? And what was it for? I chase down restless thoughts and hold them fast. I stir my heart and wake my soul and pray. I hold to hope, hold to what I know is true. 

A mountain lies out ahead, and who knows if I will ever climb to sit upon it’s knee. Who knows if I will brave it’s roughened heights to gaze below and understand. Will I be forever left to pace the desert floors and look in longing fear at what I’ll never reach? Is all water a mirage to parched lips? Does all ground fall lower under hungry feet? 

A day a thousand years ago visited today as I walked. The loneliness and strangeness of this place broke my complacity to bits. The air was heavy about my shoulders. Today grows less and less and it is only sleep that waits for me. And thoughts. They never end. But deep inside, sending roots through the maze of my being, there is one whose name is Hope. And to Him I reach my empty hands, and am found. 

Paper thin

Paper thin

It wasn’t sense that let you in,
thou Lover of my Soul.
It isn’t chains that hold you there —
my soul is paper thin.
I’ve fallen hard, I can’t turn back —
there’s none to whom I’d go.
And yet my soul is paper thin
and gathers dust and wind,
But I have found in Him my Life
and must return again —
For on my soul (it’s paper thin)
He’s written I am His

Who

Excerpts from a dialogue between God, the Almighty, and Job, a man.

God: “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundations? Who watched over the birth of the sea, when it burst in flood from the womb? When I wrapped it in a blanket of cloud and cradled it in fog, when I established its bounds, fixing its doors and bars in place and said, ‘Thus far shall you come and no further, and here your surging waves shall halt.’

In all your life have you ever called up the dawn or shown the morning its place? Have you taught it to grasp the fringes of the earth and shake the Dog-star from its place; to bring up the horizon in relief as clay under a seal, until all things stand out like the folds on a garment. . ?

Have you descended to the springs of the sea or walked in the unfathomable deep? Have the gates of death been revealed to you? Have you ever seen the door-keepers of the place of darkness?

Has the rain a father? Who sired the drops of dew? Whose womb gave birth to the ice, and who was the mother of the frost from heaven, which lays a stony cover over the waters and freezes the expanse of ocean?

Can you command the dense clouds to cover you with their weight of waters? If you bid lightning speed on its way, will it say to you, ‘I am ready’? Who put wisdom in depths of darkness and veiled understanding in secrecy?

Should he that argues with God answer back?”

Man: “What reply can I give thee, I who carry no weight? I put my finger to my lips. I have spoken once and now will not answer again. . . I know that thou canst do all things and that no purpose is beyond thee. But I have spoken of great things which I have not understood, things too wonderful for me to know. I knew of thee then only by report, but now I see thee with my own eyes. Therefore I melt away; I repent in dust and ashes.”

Watching light

I watch light all the time. Half the time I don’t even know I am doing it. I watch it as I wake up in the morning; watch it filter thin and white through my curtains.

I watch it during family devotions; taste the sweetness of the thick light with the sound of singing and Bible reading. It falls in little places; scatters irregularly around the room — on just one shelf of books while the rest lie in shadow, resting here and there on the couch, dimpling the upholstery, or dribbling onto the floor in rivulates. It climbs the walls, breaking windows of light into them and making plant shadows.

“Wherever you turn your eyes the world can shine like transfiguration.”

-Marilynne Robinson, Gilead

I watch it out the window where I sit with my old lady, her Cuban accent breaking consanents into the valley of yellow light and blue shadow below. I watch it light her red hair on fire as we sit in the sun on the porch. Warm light comes cascading down the grassy mountainside to wash over us.

I watch the light while I take a walk; watch it lower, watch it tilt, watch it thicken and hunker down for the night. The shadows stretch out sleepily. I see them every evening and every evening I see them again for the first time. Even the smallest stones stand higher than the light and throw long shadows ahead of them. And even in deep shadow a branch or a weed might reach beyond and fill its hair with gold. And I watch the light from the back porch where I write; watch it slide burning behind the blue-black wall of earth, the light still all around, filling the sky though the sun is gone. And the heads of the mountains on the other side still glowing soft and pink as the night slowly climbs up from the ground.

Findings

Hammocking

I never before knew the gentle hush of waking up with the forest, rocked by the trees. Darkness is long and morning so slow I hardly knew when dawn began its ascent. Above me a tent of trees, not much darker than the sky, hung thick with stars blinking down at me, looking like an overstuffed burrito in my hammock. Maybe they were laughing. And such a short time later, yet so slowly, the tent cracked. Embracing trees drew apart from each other, preparing for the long march of day. Weathered  bark held fragile light against its whitewashed breast till the light grew strong enough to be gently passed deeper into the woods, from tree to tree, till they all held armfulls of light. The silhouetted scribbles against the canvas of sky gradually took on volume and color as the blackness was brushed away. A sleeping world was being lead like a child into the new light of morning.

I couldn’t mind being the only one who couldn’t sleep; the only one awake, as I alone shared this secret birth of dawn with the trees.

Thunderstorm

The sun
throwing itself hard
against the steel of sky
cracks it with hammers
of fire
and shakes the earth
until the steel falls wet and weary
in rivers of relief.

Turtle

There’s a funny little friend in our backyard who eagerly waddles over to any visitor, secretly hoping they brought food. But he seems to appreciate the food better with company and likes to make sure you’re going to stay awhile before he begins robotically chomping down his lunch, his head nodding in and out, instead of up and down, in approval. Sometimes when I haven’t stopped by in a few days he comes to meet me looking slightly hurt and reproving. It’s almost intimidating.

Shadows

I don’t need to tell you that I love shadows and look for them everywhere. I often think about them. How they are nothing, yet tell you so much about the object that is casting them. How they drag behind like a burden when the sun is before but go on ahead like a messenger when the sun is behind. How they turn light to darkness. How small the beings are that cast such long shadows. And how ironic it is that we are often the door that slams against the light. Unwittingly, thinking we are the light.

Hike

It’s a good and tired and somewhat proud feeling to finally stand on the top of a peak you thought you might not reach.

Fall

The winter’s chill
is nipping my soul
warning its winter
approaching.
The spring was so short
the winter so long
But neither can foil
a soul’s waking.

Wonder

And there’s small things I like to notice just because a lot of people don’t. There are so many things to find if we want to know.

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