Sunday, January 24, 2010

I have to do something. I do not want to do it. I need strength and grace. Maybe peace will come.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Enter: Beauty

It's been a hard few months.

It’s not that I’m bad with the truth, it just comes slower for me. The abrasion of transparency is too easily avoidable, and while I’m sure it’s been apparent to my closest friends, I haven’t been on the up-and-up as of late.

Personally, and probably too honestly, the last few months have been dark for me. For a few weeks, I was sure that God had grown dim in my heart. For a few days, I knew I had wandered too far outside of his grace. And for a few terrifying hours, I wondered if there was a God at all. "Maybe" I thought, "my western paradigm needs a convenient creation tale to sate the ugly questions and my fragile consciousness needs a story to believe that explains why, for some reason, we all feel orphaned in some way." Truly, it felt dark and wholly unnatural, like breathing underwater. If I'm honest, my lungs are still sore.

The doubt came in the desert. A dry and dusty few months with as little spiritual life as the terrain suggests. I’d been working constantly and was overwhelmed with obligations. I wasn’t sure what hours He kept, but my schedule never seemed to sync with God’s. Our shoulders would brush, and surely he was ready to talk, but honestly, I didn’t have the time.

Enter: Beauty.

Oh, Beauty. A notion as sincere as the sun and probably just as old. I have been confronted lately with the almost tangible and ubiquitous truth in beauty. I would argue that everyone, at some moment (hopefully many moments) has experienced some level of unmistakable beauty. No matter how often we overlook or avoid it, It is, for must of us, a regularity. But why is anything beautiful? A rocky coast and angry waves have very little evolutionary value, but I’d dare anyone to dismiss them as unremarkable. What good is it to be reminded of our fragility, and why does it stir into us something like wonder, rather than paralyzing fear (and, truly a wonderful mixture of each?) Beauty adjusts our compasses; it drives us northward.

It is laughter and pain (in equal, liberal doses) that forges bonds into brotherhood. It is joy that unites lovers and it is love that confirms them. The heart of God seems so full with desire that to ignore ours is probably the only way to walk in the opposite direction of Him. I'm learning that it's good to feel small, to measure ourselves against the bigness of a God so good He uses beauty, not codes or commandments, to fill our sails, to drive us northward, towards Himself.

It's so easy to live in an existence that feels determined by me, but living this way, is it any wonder I feel helpless, anxious, lifeless? Like a ship sinking from stilled seas, I need wind and I need waves and I need to plunge into the blue every so often, if only to see it’s terrible and beautiful depth.

And to remind ourselves, that the pool of grace is deeper than we can dive.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

On Coasting and Climbing.

A few years ago, I launched a mission to engage myself in the most uncomfortable situations possible. I actively sought the awkward. You had a place I didn't want to be? I'd go with you. You've got a person I didn't want to meet? I'd get their number (This didn't turn out well.) Reluctance became routine. The results were as expected, a full year of goosebumps, pocket-hands and witty banter. But, more importantly I've been blessed with a few new friendships and mentors I now wouldn't trade for anything. I also became an expert at moving furniture. It's very much like tetris.

I'm taking a similar approach this season, this time focusing on finishing things. It doesn't have to be indulging in a passion or driving the final nail into some life-changing project, but I think the challenge itself will change my life. And, it will be difficult.

I've always been excellent at starting things. From reports to relationships, the best part is the beginning. The part where you're swept into inspiration and the conversation flows naturally, and you think "this is how it should be." But I'm realizing that the beginning stages of anything are supposed to feel like beginning stages, and the hard, determined middle-stages have a feeling all their own. And the final stages are even better (so I hear.) My downfall is expecting the latter stages to feel as euphoric as the beginning. But coasting downhill can only take you into valleys. I'm learning that maybe there's a beauty in climbing out of them.

If I'm honest, I'm afraid of finishing. I'm afraid that I'll have to own the results, stand next to them; speak on their behalf. What if they aren't good enough? What if no one cares? But I'm tired of that and I'm tired of justifying my failure to finish.

I guess I'm learning that there is no climax without conflict. Here's to finishing things, starting with this blog.

Monday, January 04, 2010

On Writing

Okay. I’ll do it.

I've given myself permission to write. And it's terrifying.

And here’s my promise. I'll only write from the deep part; the true part.

I remember that old myth before it was ruined by medical shows or friends in nursing school; the old yarn that told us our blood was actually blue while in our body, and only turns red when exposed to oxygen. Writing for me is proving that myth false or else watching my blue blood become red. My skin is cold and dry so I'll have to dig into the deep veins. I'm learning life is not best lived from the deep parts.

It's only lived from the deep parts. We are orphans anywhere else.

I've had some kind of affair with writing for a few years now. Some days, I'm gifted. Some days, I wonder if maybe English was my second language. Most days, though, writing feels like owing money to God. He’s a big benevolent bill collector and upon non-payment His whispers become wails, and his chasing becomes chastising. Honestly, it feels terrible to ignore God. But it's beautiful, because it's nothing like guilt.

It feels something like being shipped off to a foreign country where the language sounds familiar, but it’s not. You get by for awhile with lots of nodding and pointing, but ultimately you’re left hungry and can’t find the bathroom. Writing has felt much this way for me. It's been both catharsis and chaos. But it’s good, and it’s important and I have to believe in it.

I guess this is how I know that God is good; that we are pursued by our desires, we are hunted by passions. To me, this begs the existence of some kind of adventurous, persistent, desiring and beautiful creator who travels unreasonable distances to display something profound, leaving us surrendered and exhausted, arrested and whole.

So this year, I will write. It feels a little like dancing and fighting at the same time, but I really hope you will read it. And while I hope it's more dancing than fighting, I have to go where the blood is.