Going On

A new year always has us thinking about the future.

About the next step.

About what is ahead.

I’m spending the first five weeks of 2021 at faith builders. Spending time learning, and thinking, and growing closer to God.

But one thing about going forward is that we leave things behind. But we must also carry them along.

The things behind us always shape what is before and every year I realize this more fully.

Sometimes there are things we wish we could truly leave there.

That they would never follow us.

Others we are thankful to carry along.

I grew up in a christian home with parents who taught us about God and e Bible.

I went to a christian school with teachers who modeled what it looks like to be a Christian.

But choosing a faith is different than being in a culture and while we can be both we are not neccesarily.

I lived in fear as a teenager.

Also quite a bit of bitterness towards a God who required so much and gave seemingly so little in return.

I didn’t realize that it was I who had not received what he was trying to give.

I remember making the decision. It was a choice I made deliberately.

I would give God a chance.

I started to read the Bible seriously. I prayed sincerely. And I started to believe.

I remember finding the story of Jarius and how he said to Jesus, “Lord I believe, help thou my unbelief!”

And I prayed that prayer many times.

Sometimes I still pray it.

It is something I am happy to carry along.

.

Mishmash

It’s been so long since I’ve written anything that it seems difficult now. The thoughts I think do not readily transform into smooth sentences or even coherent thoughts.

Many times over the past months I’ve thought “I should write about that” but then I don’t.

For no good reason.

I had time, I had things to write about.

But I didn’t.

Recently one of my friends said, “Next year we should both write a book!”

And we should.

Not because we are so good at writing but because writing would make us better writers.

It’s so easy to let life go by while we are working and never stop to wonder if this is what we want to spend our lives doing.

The end of a year, and especially a year like 2020 is a good time to reflect. Maybe a simpler life with less would actually be more.

Maybe we’re so focused on the trees we can’t see the forest.

Or Maybe,

Maybe we should just focus on the tree in front of us and step by step we’ll make our way through forest, always enjoying the spot we’re in.

Maybe we’ve been so focused on getting to the other side that we forgot how welcoming the shade is right here.

Maybe what we really need to learn is contentment.

And maybe what we really want is right in front of us.

If only we could see it.

Missing

I didn’t know I’d miss you so much. The day would be so ordinary if it weren’t for the droplets spilling.

The heart has scars still.

Barely healed.

I brush against roughness and the pain is sudden and sharp.

You went willingly.

It is my heart that bleeds.

The beauty of the night compounds the ache.

The moon shines down.

The same moon above her.

But do you see?

Knowing

I’ve climbed this hill a hundred times

There is no hesitation in my steps

Although

The stars are hidden in expansive darkness.

My toes stretch out to feel the hidden line

Dividing grass and gravel.

I walk around the unseen tree

Because

I’ve walked this hill a hundred times

Before.

Madmen Never Doubt

I’ve been reading Chesterton. I haven’t enjoyed anything this much in a long time. So many things I’ve been thinking about put into words that I can understand and process and than I came to this:

“The Christian admits that the universe is manifold and even miscellaneous, just as a sane man knows that he is complex. The sane man knows that he has a touch of the beast, a touch of the devil, a touch of the saint, a touch of the citizen. Nay, the really sane man knows that he has a touch of the madman. But the materialist’s world is quite simple and solid, just as the madman is quite sure he is sane. The materialist is sure that history has been simply and solely a chain of causation, just as the interesting person before mentioned is quite sure that he is simply and solely a chicken. Materialists and madmen never have doubts.” ~ Orthadoxy

And the last line caught me. “Madmen never have doubts”.

And I thought of another quote I heard recently

“Doubt is the fading light behind the mountains of faith, accenting their strength.”

I read through one of my old journals recently and I realized as I read that I miss fourteen year old me. I miss the over-confidence, the idealism, the rawness. And oddly enough I miss the doubting.

That’s not arrogant. Confidence is a direct path to complacency. Perhaps I’ve become Laodicea. Perhaps I’ve lost my first love.

Poets don’t go mad, Chesterton says, Mathematicians do.

“But poets do go mad,” I said to my brother. “Most of them do.”

“But perhaps they only go mad because they try to be logical instead of being poets,” he answered.

Chesterton also said :

The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have my head in the heavens.

The Great Expectation

I was so excited about actually going on a trip again, I almost couldn’t wait to start packing. Usually my packing consists of throwing a few things into a backpack last minute but not this time. I treasured the packing experience. I enjoyed the journey and I was ready for a weekend at literature camp.

We gathered again, in the beautiful castle in Pennsylvania. Things changed and shifted due to Covid but there was an added thankfulness that we could be together at all.

And then Kenneth Godoy starts out by telling us that the anticipation of a thing is always greater than the thing itself.

A strange way to begin a highly anticipated event.

Perhaps he is right but than again, perhaps he isn’t and perhaps we cannot separate the anticipation of a thing from the thing itself. Perhaps we create our own reality in that we live out our own anticipations.

I don’t have the answers for my questions and quite possibly this weekend has given me more questions than it has answers but that’s ok.

Sometimes what we really need is room to explore and people to understand that sometimes an idea is simply something to discuss and not necessarily something to believe.

Matt and I talked for several hours straight on the way home discussing the things we learned, the people we met, and the things we disagreed on. Finding a delight in the abundance of ideas we had gathered.

I am most amazed by the complexity of the people we met. Different backgrounds and cultures and personalities bonding over a shared love of ideas, creating a beautifully open place to say the things you normally would only think.

In the silence of the chapel between the soaring hymns and chanted prayers I knew hope once more, catching glimpses of a way forward.

Some things are not meant to be understood, some things are simply meant to be felt.

“I dont agree with Kenny,” Lynn Martin said at the end of the weekend. “But than, I dont agree with most of my friends.”

And while I think that’s funny I also find it strangely comforting in this, our increasingly polarized world.

You can visit the curator blog to find poetic words of life and inspiration.

The Little Green House

I bought a house.

I know, I’m surprised too.

Actually it’s more of a cottage. It has a certain vibe that I really want to keep. The flowers spill out across rock edges and various herbs grow in patches. The floors are all hardwood and the kitchen has the loveliest old-fashioned metal sink.

It needs a bit of work. A new bathroom floor, some cupboards in the kitchen and lots of painting and weeding.

But I’m so excited! I have for a long time been watching for a piece of land. I thought I would buy bare land because mainly I wanted a small piece of earth to claim as mine.

Instead I have 720 square feet of house that I can do whatever I wish with.

So many possibilities!

Dad likes to make jokes along the line of “David and Susan at the Little Green House” (a book title from my childhood) My brothers all freely give advice on house repairs and mom and my sister have offered me all the things they don’t want for their houses (🤣) so I’m well on my way to having a livable house.

My cousin said it looks like all it needs is a bunch of cousins.

Another cousin said it looks like it should be filled with books, and tea, and cats.

Merging the two ideas, I think I would settle for books and tea and cousins.

The cats might have to find a different home.

Of Masks and Mankind

I spent my evening sewing a mask. Six months ago, this is not how I planned to be spending my time. By now I should just be finishing school cleanup and making sure everything is ready for next year. Right now I should be experiencing the euphoria of the end of school freedom.

Instead I’m feeling sad. Also a bit cheated out of those last days of school. It’s worse because I’m not teaching next year. I miss the kids already.

Instead of taking my kids on a springtime hike, roasting marshmallows with them over a fire, and doing science outside surrounded by spring I’ve spent the last 2 months checking homework, working at my brother’s madhouse of a bulk food store and sorting pallets of canned goods at our family cannery.

While thousands of Americans are out of a job, I have three.

I’m thankful for my jobs. Although my summer isn’t turning out remotely how I’d planned, I have nothing to complain about.

Ok, I might complain about the mask. How do I wear a mask and glasses at the same time? It doesn’t work! My glasses fog up with every breath and so I end up alternating between not wearing glasses, which makes me feel weird and half dressed, and wearing my mask under my nose which completely misses the point of wearing a mask in the first place.

I don’t know how to do it.

But that’s really not anything to complain about. We’re having church again. Sitting 6 feet apart and not having Sunday school. It feels oddly normal. Like somehow this is how it should be and I am amazed at how quickly humans adapt to new behaviors and how quickly something can be normalized. Already it feels like it would be strange to go back to before. Strange to interact with another person without any restrictions.

It’s a strange world we live in.

And of all the things that are wrong, here I am, complaining about that mask.

What is Love

“I love you,” he said, gathering his lunchbox and stumbling out of the van. “I think so anyhow. I mean, no one really knows what love is, but I think I love you.

“Well we at least know it’s a chemical reaction in our brains,” I answered lightly ” I love you too.”

“I’m pretty sure I love you,” he says, and walks away with his feet halfway into his boots and his head down. He climbs the stairs to the apartment and doesn’t look back.

I blink back tears as I drive home. Thinking of the little boy alone in his bedroom. He plays video games for hours or watches “Ben Shu-Pie-ro”

“How many people died from the coronavirus now?” He asks. Or “what year did they first make Nickels? Or “Is there any proof that God exists?.

So many, many questions.

“Do you ever think about it that you were actually created?” He asks one afternoon. “I mean people really shouldn’t commit suicide because if God created them that must mean that God actually wants them here.”

“You’re a good thinker,” I say, hoping he’ll remember his own words five years from now because some days I feel sure he will be the one committing suicide.

“I hate you!” He yells the next day. “I hate God! I hate everything!” And he yells until he cries and when he is finally done crying he can finally talk.

He doesn’t mean the words he shouts at me. He doesn’t have words to say the things he feels or he doesn’t say them for other reasons. I am not sure which. I do know it isn’t me he’s angry at. Nor is he angry at God, really.

He holds so much inside himself.

So much potential.

So much love.

What is love? I don’t know if I can tell you.

But I can tell you this:

I love this child so much.

Already Written

He’d told them the end of the story. They could have known that death was temporary, that Christ couldn’t stay dead. That he would be back.

He’d told them three days. They had talked about this.

But they didn’t know. Somehow the message hadn’t penetrated. Death is final and finished. There is no second chance.

But this was not an ordinary man. This man who could raise others to life would also rise by his own power.

He cannot stay in the grave.

Resurrection is not a surprise.

He must rise again.

The ending if your story is written as well. He’s told us the ending. Although once more it is an ending that we cannot understand.

Death is never permanent. Life will always triumph.