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.

Mumford and God

I said yesterday – and have said on many occasions – that eternity is set within our chests. It’s Scriptural, I can’t remember if I’ve said that before, but it is. It’s in Ecclesiastes – a book in which Solomon, the author, looks through the wise, discerning lens God has given him and makes observations about life “under the sun” – that is, life here, on this finite earth, where it is broken.

It is in this book, speaking all about the finite and the truth of what goes on in the earth – be it right and good, or not – that Solomon says,

“he has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he puts eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work of God from beginning to end… and whatever God does it shall be forever. Nothing can be added to it, or taken from it.” (3:11 & 14)

In taking note of life here, Solomon cannot ignore that we are hungry for things that are not here – the mystery we cannot have, because it doesn’t fit in finite, because it is that good. And it’s good that it’s a mystery, and it’s good that we cannot have it yet, and it’s good – though it aches at times, it’s good.

I expounded on that terrible, beautiful ache already – no need to do so again.
What I’m seeing plainly today – as the sky shifts uncomfortably and the wind comes through my window with such gentle strength that I know it’s God’s caress and as Mumford and Sons’ new album plays for the fifth time today as a soundtrack to it all – is that eternity is set in not only my heart. “He put eternity in their hearts” and it cannot be undone -ever.

I do not know what the members of Mumford and Sons believe – what truth they hold fast to, what they chase to satisfy (for we all hold truth, we all chase something – the difference is whether or not it truly quenches.) I do know that I cannot stop listening to their words and melody.

I know that I could give you the lyrics to every song of theirs I’ve listened to over and over again and you would see the intimate, hard, and glorious conversations between two lovers – God and his children Marcus Mumford and Ben Lovett and Winston Marshall and Ted Dwane.

And I know that it resonates.

Because the same eternity that is in me is in them – and we share the same longing for home. And we know, because of the eternity in us that can never be changed, that home is coming.

“Hold me fast, hold me fast,
’cause I’m a hopeless wanderer,
But I will learn to love the skies I’m under.”

The skies I’m under.

Simon and Garfunkel

Music sometimes makes me feel lost. It most times makes me feel found, but there are times where it comes into me and makes me feel like I never actually knew where I was and makes everything around me feel foreign. It is then that I feel small and incapable and want found music again.

Simon and Garfunkel is my current found music – it rescued me. It rescued me with its fluency and its perfect encapsulation of the weather. That was the problem – the reason music made me feel lost, instead of the usual deeply found and understood it brings – I was trying to make a playlist of songs that were perfect for today – a nearly snowy day – and it was fun and easy for the first three songs, then I got so caught up in the idea I had in my head about how it was supposed to look that it became dreadful. I could hear the airy and warm notes and combinations of instruments and voices that I knew should be on the playlist, I could hear the words about birds and cold air and fire places and wool sweaters and the good longing for sunshine and millions of other things, and I was raking my brain, flipping fervently through every song I knew and thinking surely I was forgetting millions that would be perfect and wondering why my song catalogue was as short as it was and I lost my bearings and slid to the imaginary floor of the imaginary room I’d been ravaging through, my hair wild, my face flushed, papers carpeting the floor and falling from the ceiling onto my distraught head. “Who am I?” I wondered aimlessly – as if the filing room for all music being in such utter disarray had made me forget.

I Googled ‘winter songs’ and browsed through the playlists provided, finding most of them to be entirely the opposite of what I was looking for, it was here, however, that I was brought to Simon and Garfunkel and their travelling, jovial, whimsical music filled me up and found me. It brought warm memories of elementary school and my third and fourth grade teacher who would play their music to us, her students, as we did social studies projects or journaled for the week. She is possibly my favorite teacher ever because she knew that young minds needed to be forced to journal and to be exposed to things as wonderful and pondering as Simon and Garfunkel.

I felt as I let the familiar notes wash over and through me and bring me back to found, that somehow Miss C. must’ve known that Simon and Garfunkel was found music – music that would seep into our wondering, wandering minds and stick somewhere and in the future in some lost kind of day, resurface at their call and speak of home.

It sounds ridiculous, I know, to put such high regards on Simon and Garfunkel, but it’s true. It’s true of lots of “ridiculous” things, but today was Mrs. Robinson and the wondering at what exactly “coo coo ca choo” means, and I am a Rock, which now, and forever will, bring on thoughts of Winnie Cooper because its first 26 notes are her theme on The Wonder Years, and The Dangling Conversation, which makes me smile because it’s so entirely me. It was as if each song, well-known or not, brought back the peace that was so flippantly lost and reminded me that “who I am” is not defined by music – though that may be part of it – who I am is not unraveled because I can’t find the songs I know exist that perfectly capture winter in their few minutes. Who I am is Maggie, daughter of the Father, who I am is the very desire of God’s heart, who I am is Beloved. In light of that, my identity crisis over the music looks more than stupid – it wasn’t though. It was me being so very consumed with Spotify and the fact that everyone can now see what I listen to 24/7 and worrying about what everyone’s opinion of everything that I lost the point of everything. It was me being unable to fill a mold I had created for myself – one that I wasn’t really meant to fill. It was me putting far too much thought and effort and worth into something that was supposed to be enjoyable – because somehow if I couldn’t complete the task exactly as I had planned to, I was a loser. It was me allowing the very powerful, deep-speaking thing that is music to wash over me in confusion and inadequacy. It was me forgetting. It was me forgetting what defines me. It was me forgetting what really fills me. It amazes me, really, how far my mind can stray. It leaves me awestruck, however, the ways in which I am called home – called to found. It leaves me dumbfounded how deeply music speaks – how the thing that had wrecked me, reminded me that I hadn’t strayed that far and there wasn’t really anything wrong and I just had to turn around and walk back to the house with the lighted windows waiting for me in the midst of the snow and the dark and open the door and be home.

It is stupefying to me that I am thanking God for Simon and Garfunkel, but I am, honestly and deeply, because he used their notes, their words, their rhythm to rectify my silly, wandering mind, and he smiled as he did so. Thank you God for Simon and Garfunkel – and for smiling as you did so.

An Amos Lee Kind of Day

Does anyone else do this? Does anyone else categorize and define their days according to music? Allow me to elaborate. Amos Lee days are not simply days during which I listen to Amos Lee. No, I’ve had Amos Lee days during which I didn’t listen to him at all. It’s not really Amos himself that defines the day – it’s his sound, the feeling that comes when his songs drift through the room; that waking, sentimental, eerie, warm, thoughtful air that comes with his music. Amos Lee days come mostly in the winter I find (of course this could be due to the fact that he was introduced to me as summer ended – and so autumn and winter are the only seasons he’s had for the claiming) something about his music plays off the cold air and grey skies in a way that adds to it and yet contrasts it in beautiful, intriguing fashion. There are other kinds of days – though, I find that most of them are hard to put into words unless you are in the midst of them. It’s just the kind of thing that you know is there – the kind of thing where you wake up, and are walking around whatever house you find yourself in, and it hits you suddenly and gently that today is whatever kind of day it is. It’s not really something I can explain, as is so plainly seen by the poor attempt above. You’ll see though, you’ll wake up one day and find yourself in smack dab in the middle of a Paul Simon, or Carly Simon, or Andrew Peterson, or Peter Gabriel, or Ray Lamontagne, or Ray Charles, or Nickel Creek, or Beatles, or Coldplay, or Glenn Miller, or Montgomery Gentry, or James Taylor, or Rich Mullins, or Bach, or John Williams, or even, dare I say it, Justin Beiber, kind of day and you’ll just know and you won’t have any words to describe it other than just that – it’s an Amos Lee day, a Sara Groves day, a Chubby Checkers day.

All of this to say that this is today, Amos Lee – thoughtful, eerie, warm, sentimental, waking. That’s the second day of the year – thoughtful, eerie, warm, sentimental, waking. It’s an appropriate kind of day, I think. Something about the fact that today is a day early in a new year makes this day full. It’s a day brimming with newness and possibility – a blank page. Not a cliche blank page. It’s more like a friend of mine once said that a journal is “an unwritten book” – today is an unwritten story, a page free of any scarring, marring lines, gashes, or scratches. Amos Lee the soundtrack, every step, every breath, every word, every thought, the moving pen “and nothing is more powerful than beauty in a wicked world.”