Lent — day eleven

Beauty and ache
fill and feel the same
when the world is taken
in with great gulps,
and the more you swallow,
the less you comprehend.
Joy tastes salty, like tears,
like blood, like popcorn.
Sky yawns blue like mountains,
like long hugs, like stillness.
Sometimes silent dreams speak
most profoundly, and the masses
shout nothing, with all that they are.
Wind is wide like the stories
that burrow deep in your bones,
and whisper to you in the night.
Fire consumes – it gives
and takes, ravages, restores.
The ocean won’t ever stop its
crashing, colliding, yet, its peace
surpasses understanding.
Tears choke most days,
and when they don’t, I miss them –
they choke for beauty, choke for ache,
fill and feel the same.

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Dust

I am tired today. Honestly, I would rather be taking a nap I don’t really need than writing right now. Naps are sometimes my escape from dealing with unknown – the same way movies and tv sometimes are. If I am asleep, I don’t have to think, or find answers, or be okay with no answers.

I am choosing to write instead – because I am tired of wasting time.

Yesterday, I swept the floor at work. It is a simple task that I’ve done oh so many times. But yesterday, the sun was setting as I swept and the broom and I wove our way in and out of pure gold. It was gold you could feel, even when you weren’t standing it. The kind of light that makes the room feel still and rich. The kind of light you could drink.

“Glory, I have known you my whole life
In the morning, you come in gentle as a golden vine
Through my window, you fill up the valleys in my sheets. Glory”
— Byran John Appleby, glory

Glory. I was a being consumed in glory as dust on the floor swirled and glistened in the gold. Dust, unwanted, dirty, burdensome to the floor, was brought up into and through the gold, and was made beautiful.

Ashes to ashes dust to dust,
This flesh is not forever,
Spirit to Spirit,
Life to Life –
All that you are,
Is all I will be;
Soon, Lord, in You forever.

— hymn from the Morning Office this week

In being swept into the glory of that gold, the dust became more than it ever dreamed of being before. I delighted in the dust, it was breath-taking.

Spirit to Spirit. Life to Life. All that you are, is all I will be.

I am dust.

When I am sitting in the glory of the Creator, that glory – his glory – defines me. And I am breath-taking.

Lent. Eden. Soil.

“Simplicity takes us back home, to the Garden of Eden. There, in our Eden-like life, everything is quiet, simple, and even. There is a little bit of pleasure, but not too much. There is a little bit of pain, but – again – not too much. We aren’t consumed by the need to have more, and we are able to be thankful for whatever comes our way, even if it’s hard. This quietness in our soul, this freedom from the loudness of fear and the boisterous noise of always watching out for ourselves, gives us a calm contentedness. … Live here. Live in Eden.” – – Winn Collier, Let God: the transforming wisdom of Francois Fenelon

That sounds like the life we were created for, don’t you think? My soul, tired as it is today, rises up in me and shouts that this is the life it was designed to have. I long for it.

And Christ tells me I can have it. Here and now. Not just when he returns to make everything new and right again. He says I’m seated now, in the heavenly realms with him (Ephesians 2:6), so seeking Eden is not in vain. Chasing this hope is not a fool’s race. I am designed for it. right now.

This is what I long for Christ to make manifest in me through Lent, this Eden-life. I am aware, however, that death comes before life. Lent is a season marked with ashes.

And I’ll embrace the ash, with my face set like flint.

“Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and shower righteousness on you.” — (Hosea 10:12 – emphasis added)

It’s hard work, preparing hard, dry dirt for a seed. I’ve tried before – breaking up the hard, dead places with a shovel until sweat poured and my back ached. And the thing died after a week. It’s such a hopeful thing, though, to consider my heart this way. It’s such a hopeful thing to anticipate – after the pain and hard work of preparing the soil – sweet rain. Rain of pure goodness and delight, to sink deep down and make fruitful the hard work of preparation.

I made a list, on Wednesday, of all of the clutter I would remove, so that simplicity could enter. A list of all the hard work I would choose, to force the plow forward. A list to make way for Eden. 

And it will be hard. I know it will. But, I’m trusting it will also be sweet.

I’m sharing it with you so that I can have some sense of accountability, and so that you can pray for me and journey with me. I plan to expound on each piece more as time goes on, but for now, a list is all you get.

Removed:

  • No media outside of what’s absolutely necessary: including, but not limited to Facebook, Spotify, texting, internet, movie and television watching (outside of family time)
  • No spending outside of bills
  • No food that is not whole
  • No food outside of meals (essentially no snacks or desserts)
  • Only one cup of coffee or tea a day

Added:

  • Writing everyday. (prepare yourselves)
  • Exercise three times a week
  • Keep to the daily office (thank you Bloom)

The end. I’m eager to see where this leads, and I’m eager to share the road with you.

Tell me about your Lenten journeys – the hopes you have, the plans you have. I want to hear about them! I want to journey with you! I want to pray with you and for you! (comment, e-mail, etc.)

… home. to the Garden of Eden.

Untitled poem the seventh.

Farewell;
it deeply resonates
as not goodbye –
not that definite thing,
not that finishing sigh.
For I’ve been told,
deep in my soul
that leaving is not forever
that the Kingdom
does not offer
things so finite.

Seasons change,
they drift – do not end.

People return.
I return.
And the King – he’s merely away
for now
and has left us with a piece of him
a promise, and a kiss of fire –
“I’m coming back,
to take you with me,
home with me  –
and ’til then,
Dearheart,
my Love is here,
right here,
so live,
and I’ll write,
to be sure you see all the beauty,
to be sure you fare wonderfully well.”

Kentucky Road and When

Banklick is a quaint, unassuming road I encounter every Friday on my way to the grocery store. It has a creek for a companion, blue-brown and glittering – it winds as quietly as the road. Gravel driveways, dirt roads, and rickety fences framing butter-cup fields, meet Banklick. They saunter comfortably to a twist, nook, or turn and greet the road as an old friend – because they are old friends.

Houses rest on hillsides – simple, homey things. These are the houses whose front porches serve the deepest purpose of community and gathering. These are the houses whose inhabitants are part of them. These are the houses that wake before the sun because there is day to be savored, devoured. These are the houses with creaking floors, uneven ceilings, distinct smelling attics. The houses that belong tucked in a hillside. The houses that are created to be full of life – be it joyous or bitter. Story-houses.

And hugging the road itself are trees. They are very alive trees, drinking daily from the lively creek into which their roots hang lazily. Trees eager to share with the world their beauty, their shade. They stand up taller as we drive past, “look at me and my splendor,” they beam with gentle pride. I smile to give to them well-deserved praise, slighting them not for their vanity for it is well-placed – they truly are glorious things. Fresh with their new swaths of green, radiant in youth and sage. Some in purple vestige – fairie-like and regal.

This is a Kentucky road – the place my heart goes when I call this state my home.

We glide in our cherry-cobbler-red bullet. Around one curve a plowed field lays naked, vulnerable, ready. My toes curl in my shoes, longing to feel that earth, longing to run wild, careless, through it. Soaking in its moist blood-warm offering. Remaining there until I am empty and full – earth in my fingers, on my face, in my hair, the dirt more alive for my being there. Both of us more hopeful for my being there, brimming with anticipation of new life, growth, new things. Leaving it with my scent on its breath – purpose now coursing through its moist, blood-warm offering.

I catch my face in the rear-view mirror. When did I get here? When did I become who I am now? When did my face become so narrow? When did I start speaking deeper? When did my writing, speaking, singing, living, become more than well-chosen words that gloss over the deep, terribly beautiful truth of who I am and what the world is and to whom I belong? When did I begin to live as who I am, really who I am – Beloved? When did it take deep root in my soul, alter my eyes, my ears, my thinking, my speaking? When did my breathing change to the breathing of one who is the object of God’s passionate longing, scandalous love, deep, deep intimacy? When did I taste the delight of the Creator and become ruined for anything less? When did I walk out of those cages? When did my eyes open wide to the chains I’ve placed on myself – to the freedom so close I can feel it? When did my heart know I am absolutely, completely, to the depths of me, always, intimately accepted by God? What morning was it that woke me up different? Was it morning? Is there truly any point I can gesture toward and say, “that’s it! that’s the moment I woke up!”?

A train track weighs down gravel adjacent to the creek – a steady contrast to the merry water. It courses just the same, is determined just the same, and yet, it holds importance and an unmovability. The creek is a joyous, carefree running – the train track a reliable, unchanging march. I’m swept away, now, to far off places – the march of the train setting my heartbeat. Adventure coursing where blood used to be – it is now my life-source. Forward, endless, on. The wail of the whistle resonates as the cry of an orphan. She is waiting to be heard, fed, cared for, loved, known – like all of us. My heart runs there, carried by its train-march-beat, and I stay, I hear, I feed, I care, I love, I know. People are persons to be loved and known. Period. She cries, my heart echoes. He calls, my heart breaks. We are created to be loved and known. Period. I soak in that offering, remain until I am empty and full. I come back panting, deliciously starved for air. When did I get here?