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?

Truth. Human truth.

I’ve quit Facebook. Just for now, though the serious withdraws I’m having as a result tell me that it’s super unhealthy and I should probably just quit for good. It has been a single day since I hit that fateful “deactivate” button, and in that day (and night) I’ve learned a lot about myself that I would rather bury deep down and not touch or think about or speak of, ever. Burying things brings no good – taking things out of the light and putting them deep into the dark so as to hide them causes harm, and accomplishes little anyway since “even the darkness is light to him, the night as bright as the day.” So, here before you are these things about myself which I would rather not say.

You may remember (or not – humor me) my first post on this non-blog (or, as my brilliant friend so deemed it, “nog”) I wrote, as honestly as I possibly could, that I wanted to be heard. That is a very true statement. Here is what I did not know when I wrote that: being heard by only two people is not enough, being heard and not acknowledged is not enough either. When I quit Facebook the other day, my mom asserted that blogging should be more enjoyable for me now that I can just write to write and not have to worry about how many people saw my posts, or what they thought. No. Not so. As much as I’d like to say that when I write, it is truly to write and to push back the darkness, and not to be heard for my own selfish reasons, and not to be praised and thought of more highly, I’m afraid that, for the most part, the opposite is true.

My life and heart are spilled over all kinds of pages all over the place – who I am is spilled over all kinds of pages all over the place. I want desperately for people to know who I am. That’s Facebook, isn’t it; miniature pieces of ourselves two or so times daily for the perusal of 300 or so people whom we’ve met at some point or another – to show them who we are? It’s comical to me how many times a day I’ve caught myself creating statuses in my head that no one will ever know about. There is a great deal that I will do for the sake of a story. I have this tendency to narrate my whole life; I’ve done it for as long as I can remember. Long before Facebook, I have been keeping track of my every move and thought with embellishing adverbs and adjectives, all of this in my head, none of it ever recorded, though every word has been composed as seriously and thoughtfully as can be.

This little quirk of mine has altered and shaped the way that I look at life. I can find a book-like, dramatic, or lovely quality in most situations, and where I cannot find them, I look to create them so as to enrich the non-existent book ever kept in my head. I remember being seven or so in Middletown, Ohio. I remember that my dad, for whatever reason, was gone for the day – brilliant opportunity. Mom was folding laundry in the hallway just outside of my room. I played out the scene in my mind multiple times to be sure that every last detail had been attended to, then I stood, ran to her, and threw my arms around her. The plan had been to sob and say something about how I missed my father, but no words or sob came. So, after allowing my momma to give me a rather confused hug, I scurried back to my room and sat for moment before trying again. I believe I this happened four or five times before the desired effect took place and satisfaction came. Of course, in the book inside of my head it happened only once, and this one time was seen to me with an over-head shot like in the movies where a dramatic scene is going on and all we hear is the building soundtrack as the frame widens and fades to black, daughter’s dress splayed around she and her mother as the two cling to one another and weep. I highly doubt anyone else remembers this. It is, however a prime example of how far I will go to create or invoke something that will sound picturesque in the book that is my mind.

Enter Facebook, a hideous catalyst to all of this. That little status box all but begs for picturesque happenings framed by eloquently chosen words. I find them all over the place and submit them hopefully to my panel of critics, waiting eagerly to see if any of them approve. I’m generally disappointed in how few people actually do care. And yet, I continue producing opportunities for said disappointment, hoping perhaps that this time it will be different. This Nog is for the same reasons, I find myself clever, you see (which I do realize sounds rather vain, and it may be, but I don’t really care) and I thought that surely if my cleverness were seen by a wider, non-facebookish audience I would receive praise for my cleverness and depth. Ha. The things that I am certain will fill me. For a while, people came to see my Nog (mostly because I was posting things all over Facebook in hopes that they would do just that.) I would return every hour or so to my tiny “stats” bar and squeal with delight over the climbing numbers, wondering just who was represented by each line and what they thought and if they’d read it multiple times. I stopped posting, they stopped coming, and I realized that I had never really been satisfied with climbing number of viewers at all.

“Post more,” mom says. So, I post. Two. Two views. “I can’t get no satisfaction.” “Why do you write?” God asks. … why do I write? …. To be known. To be glorious. “Oh, but you are,” God replies. I’m denying myself glory and beauty by seeking approval anywhere other than God. We are created to tell stories. Why do you think Facebook does so well? They stumbled upon this deep truth – the truth that we, as humans created in the image of God, desire, in the image of God, to create, to make ourselves known, to be glorious – they harnessed this truth and created a platform allowing humans to live out this longing. Facebook leaves us ever-hungry. It’s a drug. The more we take, the more we want. Look! Listen! Pay attention! That longing to be known, it’s not filled by Facebook – if it were we’d stop coming back, we’d stop being disappointed every time a status goes unnoticed, stop being elated every time 20 some odd people acknowledge our existence, our cleverness, our depth. It’s not all bad, Facebook – Facebook isn’t really the point. God is the point. I’ve discovered God is the point most of the time, whether we know it or not. He’s the point here – the fact that I walk around trying to be full and lovely as I was created to be by filling myself endlessly with lesser things, that’s the point too.

I see us, Fellow Beloved, Fellow Glorious. I see us wandering around clothed in beauty and light and looking only in lying mirrors; looking into every mirror, but the one that speaks the truth and gives us grace to live as we were created to live. We are a reflection of God. Holy, freakin’ cow. A reflection of God – Lord of Heaven’s Armies, Creator, Beauty, Love itself, Glorious, Lovely, Life, Eternal, Friend, and on and on through eternity. How are we supposed to know who we are if we keep walking around looking into any mirror other than our Creator, our Lover, himself. When you love someone, aren’t you shaped by that person. Don’t children do everything they possibly can to be like their parents and older brothers and sisters, smiling innocently, beautifully, even stupidly as they walk into a room dressed in their mother’s heels, their father’s tie, make-up smeared foolishly on their faces, tripping over the too-big, because they are the image of the one they love. When you love a boy, a girl, a man, a woman, do you not begin to shape your visions, your dreams, your hopes, your fears, your likes, your dislikes, your longings, desires after theirs because you want, more than anything, to show them that they are your ultimate – suddenly unaware of what the world thinks because loving that person is all that matters anymore? This is how we are created – to walk, beaming, into the presence of God, messy and foolish in our attempt to be like him and watch in enchantment as he returns the smile, laughing even, in purest delight at his children, his beloved – free and wholly themselves.

For the record: it’s a Cat Steven’s kind of day today – whimsical, earthy, deep, child-like, new yet familiar.