Petrified.

I am petrified to write.  I am petrified that I will sit down, my fingers will move, and the same words I’ve spoken a thousand times will roll forth again.  I’m petrified that I have nothing of worth to say.  I’m petrified that I have nothing at all to say.
A friend of mine was over the other day – she said she was embracing time with God as it came.  That she was taking the quiet moments in her day and giving them to him, consecrating them for communion.
That petrifies me too.
Because I ache for a life that moves in rhythms of abiding grace.  And abiding comes in the quiet moments of the day.  It comes when sacred bleeds into every breath and every green and brown encountered is holy.  And yet, I am petrified to spend time with God.  I’m petrified that I won’t have anything to say.  That the words I do say will be weightless and empty. I am petrified that he will not have anything to say to me.  That I’m done. That he’s not actually teaching me anything at all – and what, then, will I answer when people ask what I’ve been learning.  Heaven forbid I shouldn’t have an answer.
Fear is a lie allowed to enter when love is not the voice you hear in the stillness.
Love, please do not give up on me. Please do not heed my screaming  – over my own fingers jammed tightly and trembling in my tired ears – screaming that I cannot hear you. Forgive my trembling fingers, forgive my weary eyes. Forgive that I blamed you for my sick heart.  Heart, forgive me for running from the arms you cried for day and night. Forgive me for the lies I let seep in and choke you. Love, please do not give up on me.
I will be still. I will be still and know you. I will be still and let you know me.

 

 

 

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Fiction – because I don’t write it enough

Her sure fingers wove their way in and out of her hair, expertly untangling the knot that had spun itself in the wild of the wind and the day. She bit her lip. His question lingered in the settling air – romped about her, tempted.

Will you come with me?”

The knot came loose and her fingers found her pocket, slipped in and out of the loose threads there as if she could untangle that as well, as if the answer was hidden in unweaving.

Sun cast bronze about the room as a last cry of “I am resplendent!” before it journeyed beyond her eyes – his eyes. And it was running fast to keep away from the moon, yellow and wise, coming after that bold sun with steady determination – coming so. very. close. to catching it. Through the cracked window that brash light of a being that knows it is glorious, burst forth – a joyous laugh in the midst of the chase.

Her eyes found the golden caught in a jar of honey on the shelf and she could nearly taste it. Her fingers found an end to their restless search and her eyes found his. The question rang again,

Will you? Will you come with me?”

His eyes were a laugh in the midst of the chase. And she wanted it – to know that joy, that risk.

“Yes.”

And they laughed. He opened the door, waited for her to follow. And she walked to him. Stepped outside with him. Put her hand on the creaking knob, and looked back. The egg-shell-white walls, chipping, tired, certain, greeted her – the dishes from dinner rested on the stove and table beckoned – and the comfort of known tore at her. Her fingers relaxed on the door knob. And in her other hand, another call enticed; he pulled gently, strongly, purely – victoriously. The door shut and they ran, joining the moon in its pursuit of the sun.

On and on. Down the mountainside and along the rocky shores of the ocean until the sky was ink and the moon paused to rest. They stopped – breathless, tired, alive. Their faces ruddy, their lungs aching, full of crisp, unquenching air. The moon kept going – determined to capture the sun – but she and he sat on the rocks and took in the sea.

They didn’t talk – too busy breathing, too busy watching – but they communed. They shared the deep knowledge that both of them were present there, fully present there. And breathing, and watching, and alive.

The ocean spoke though – sighed over and over, “I am constant, unpredictable, mighty, and sweet – fear me, take me, behold me – I am good. I am good. I am good.”

She heard. And turned to him, wondering if he heard too. He was searching the stars – clear and cold above.

“Do you hear it?” she asked.

“The stars?”

“No, the ocean. What of the stars?”

“They speak of other worlds. Of simple light. They sing almost. Like flutes and violins and voice. They long for us to know there’s more. What of the ocean?”

“It’s strong. And good. Very good.”

They fell to silence again. And in the dark, and in the unknown, she rested. Until she thought of the dark, the unknown – and how far she was from home. Then the ocean’s call was altered. Water lapped at her feet and fear lapped with it – crawling, consuming, stifling. She looked over to him again, her mind racing, her heart claiming.

He searched the ocean now, and she wondered if he heard its true cry – the one she heard now, “I am mighty, unpredictable, fear me. I’ll take you. Fear me. Fear me. Fear me.” She drew in her feet and the calls resounded further, deeper – until she could not think, could not move and she longed for the home she knew – even with its patched-up roof.  Why did she leave? How could she leave?

Him.

He brought her here to ruin her. And the night encroached and whispered. The stars wailed and moaned. The ocean roared, always roared. She hated him. But he was the only thing she knew, the only refuge in the distance and the night. So she cried out – no words. His hand was on her instantly, his eyes found hers and she saw again that laugh in the midst of the chase. And she was warm again. The ocean stilled bawled.

“It’s okay. It’s me – you know me. I wouldn’t ever take you to a place that would harm you. I know you. I love you.”

And the roaring again refrained, “fear me. I am good. I am good. I am good.”

“We can go… back that is.”

“No.”

And they laughed.

The moon disappeared around the bend and the sun ran faster away, and she drifted to sleep and she dreamed of the stars – and the kingdoms they longed to show the earth. And she and he ran to them. On and on. Higher up and further in – until she tasted the sunlight, and looking at herself in a mirror, she saw that her eyes were a laugh in the midst of the chase.

Pushing Back the Darkness

Andrew Peterson – musician, author, artist, and general extraordinaire – has this Christmas concert. It’s a culmination of a great many things of wonderment and beauty and it comes annually to a mediumish church in Milford, Ohio (amongst many other places.) The Christmas season officially begins when, and only when, we have attended said concert in Milford, Ohio and taken part in the wonderment and beauty. I hold Andrew Peterson in a slightly exalted place where he resides with a soft halo around his head, music ever playing around him and pen ever moving gracefully across the Moleskin I personally and hypothetically placed in his hands. And yes, I realize that’s slightly unhealthy – he’s simply the kind of person you really just want to be. So, when, two years ago my family and I loitered in the building until he came out from “backstage” (which, being in a church, was probably just some small room behind the “stage” – an elevated area with mics and a piano) to talk with us, his emphatic, ever-so-slightly-worshipping fans, I had a small conniption fit of glee and jumped on the chance to speak with him, half-dragging my family along behind me. We had a lovely conversation, he and my family and I , about writing – because that’s something, much to my pleasure, we all have in common. I informed him that’s had written him a letter, which he said he remembered reading and would respond to as soon as he found time, this brought on a slightly more contained conniption fit of glee. He also suggested two books for our benefit and pleasure, etc.

The War of Art – Steven Pressfield
Bird by Bird – Anne Lammot

My mom, being the wonderful woman she is, bought the books for my dad for Christmas, breaking “don’t buy the spouse anything” rule that is in place for no apparent reason other than to be broken. She justified this rule breaking by signing the tag “Andrew Peterson,” claiming that the gift was essentially from him. We relished those books – still relish those books. They were like some strange connection to the story-telling, music-making man – he had read those words, been impacted by them, and they were in my house. They are brilliance.

Admittedly, I’ve never read either of the books. My mom and dad have both read The War of Art and at least half of Bird by Bird and I have done no more than peer lovingly at the covers of either of them. My mom has, however, passed on to me two invaluable concepts from these two books. One is a charming anecdote about Anne Lammot’s three year old and some toy keys and some choice words. I will leave you to ponder at that or read the book for yourself (or buy the book and let it sit in your house and hope that it will seep into your brain while you sleep like I so often do – that’s why there is a constant stack of books beside my bed – it has yet to prove itself as an actual method of learning things.) The second is from The War of Art and it finds its way into most of what I do most of the time. It is more a concept than a said quote or story – it may sound familiar due to the fact that I reference it from time to time on here, or it may sound familiar due to the fact that it’s a desire and a truth placed deep down inside all of us.
Pushing back the darkness.

It even sounds hopeful and brave and inviting. The idea is this: Steven Pressfield has identified this “force” in the universe. He refers to it throughout his book (of which I have now read a few pages in order to find the quote I’m looking for and be sure that I actually know what I’m talking about before I proclaim it to you, my rather smallish blogging audience who deserves the truth in spite of your unimpressive size) as The Resistance. He says this about it

Resistance is the most toxic force on the planet. It is the root of more unhappiness than poverty, disease… To yield to Resistance deforms our spirit. It stunts us and makes us less than we are and we’re born to be. If you believe in God (and I do) you must declares Resistance evil, for it prevents us from achieving the life God intended when He endowed us with our own unique genius.

I really would like to insert the entirety of the book above because after reading several pages past what I actually needed, I came to the realization that I should’ve read this book long ago. Though, please know before you buy it and gather up all of your children or friends or family around your feet and read to them “this fantastic book this random, rather goodish blogger suggested,” that it is not exactly G, or even really PG rated as to language and such… It may actually be close to R – but it’s a great book nonetheless. That aside. The point is that we are created to fight against this Resistance. We are created to be brilliant and glorious and to, by our words and our actions and our dancing and singing and music writing and instrument playing and whatever else, “push back the darkness” – fight against the Resistance by being what we are. It creates this beautiful image of warfare with what we love, with finding and creating beauty in the everyday places, with realizing we hold powerful, powerful weapons in our hands and realizing that God is bigger and deeper than only revivals and church meetings and giving statements and mission trips and youth groups. He is in paintings and poems and movies and songs and books, even books with questionable wording – he is not to be boxed in and he is calling us to let him infiltrate all of ourselves, and through that to join him in the war against The Resistance – that thing that keeps us from being who we are. It’s beautiful. Truly beautiful.

Yes, this is a reoccurring theme. It’s kind of my passion – get over it. Redundancy is not at all bad.