Liberation (of motherhood and otherwise)

  
Sometimes I think I could stay here
All quiet and thoughtful up on this mountaintop
If only I could remain undisturbed

And left alone

THEN what a difference I’d make

And then I remember that I have you to thank

For all my best and worst rising to the surface

You help catalyze all my grandness and terribleness

And all this facing’s what makes a person whole

Without your love

Without you to love

I’d just be all face

And no facing

Void of depths

Too heavy on shallow heights

Thank you for all your yous

Meeting all my me.

And please, God, may my me (with You) liberate their mes as much as they’ve saved mine.

Expenditures of loving these all that fills right up:

Love’s liberation

Return

Leading a study on the book Devotional Classics for a number of weeks now, and we’ve reached Thomas Kelly. In the practice of returning more consistently to what he calls “the Divine Center,” everything changes. I knew this, I guess: knew that every single remembrance of God redeems, restores, affects everything it touches. But when it happens in my own life, it surprises me every time.

And this seems to me the very most important thing a person could possibly talk about… yet I worry that in communicating this experience that either I or the beautiful, life-changing reality of what I speak will be chalked up to what my husband would refer to as “flaky.” (Defined as “crazy or eccentric.”)

The thing is, remembering God in moments – more consistently, more wholly – is not only closer to the reality that I believed in as a kid (only to wake up as an adult a little bewildered and blinking in my present reality wondering where all the magic went), but on a practical level, really does change everything. Not to go all Brother Lawrence on you, but this morning the ironing and matching of socks had a very different feel. It wasn’t drudgery all of the sudden with God in the mix. It was sacred, peaceful, joyful, big and small and beautiful and simple all at once. Y’know, life without the ugly.

It didn’t take long for me to get prideful. To start taking credit for remembering Him in like two! consecutive! moments! So repentance is definitely a huge part of this practice. Not morbid self awareness, but more like a willingess to be honest. I’ve heard it said that confession of sin is really just being honest about ourselves.

So here’s to being honest today. Here’s to a God who knows my wretchedness and miraculously condescends to come down here and be with me, guide, comfort, and love me anyway. Jesus as the Divine Center isn’t flaky at all. He’s the best thing to get to happen to a person. (I know. I’ve been without Him.)

Praying for you today, dear one, and hoping that He will draw near to you and you to Him in increasing measure.

Time

Pendulum swings

Talk of time as a precious commodity

Then fritter it away

With all this worry

Like I’ve an endless supply

Some people fill their spaces with everything, nothing

My only option (to stay sane)

S’to forsake all I see

(At least for a little: such violence is blessedly seasonal… in part)

Empty out,

-Heck, not  fill up on anything –

Save Him.

Wait.

Ask.

Praise God 

He doesn’t leave me to myself

And all this time.

fear, Light, and hope

‘Hallowed be Thy name.’ When all your strength ought to be focused into one pencil of light pointing up through the darkness, you allow it to be dissipated in a moss fire where nothing is consumed, but all life is suffocated.

Dag Hammarskjold Markings p. 15

A single speck of light –

I can afford that.

This day when sanctification looks like

Getting out of bed.

But for all the blackness

A tiny tendril of light

From Him to me

Is blessedly enough.

No, Doubt,

I won’t succumb.

That pencil of light

Will hold

After all.

He’s promised it

I believe it

Hallowed be His Name!

Good News

  

Worry over not giving Him enough airtime 

Write-time, credit-time

And He reminds me that most things already have His look.

He doesn’t need my positive press:

He is already present 

In all His glorious, perfect sufficiency.

With or without my attention.

With or without my drawing attention.

He reminds me

That I don’t need to worry about forgiven failings.

That noticing all this 

And remembering the Him all round and herein

Is worship.

And true worship is naturally contagious.

Real, live, savoring gratitude and 

Overflowing goodness

From a heart that knows Him, loves Him,

Believes Him, gives Him notice even a little 

Is transformative

Because He’s transformed it.

He’s in it

And no tiny conjuring on my part enlarges or diminishes Him.

The Gospel – the Good News –

Can’t be manufactured,

Forced, faked.

Real, true, good news

Really, truly transforms everything.

He doesn’t need my help.

But between you and me,

I’m so glad He wants it…

Move

  

When? When’ll it get written ‘cept now?

When? When’ll it get planted and how?

‘Less someone like me cares a whole awful lot

Nothing is going to get done, it’s just not.

‘Cept what happens when caring’s not in the equation

When my mind is so full but so dull

What happens when I’m paralyzed with my self

And I just can’t distinguish my call?

What happens when my brain’s so full of turmoil?

(I’ve been stewing, despondent and down)

Feeling a victim all over the place

Smiles are scarce ’round this face: s’mostly frowns.

See nothing gets done – I just stop and I stare –

Then obsess more with all that’s not done

I am weak, Lord, You know it, wish I had more of a scapegoat

But my self is at fault – I’m the one

That is faulty and sinful and wretched and dumb

Full of Amy and all of her woes

I forget – least don’t act like – all Your goodness is here

That I could myself on Jesus throw

I’m sorry, I am, I’m so sorry ’bout these:

These leanings towards over and whelm 

I don’t know what the cause is, the source or the problem

That threatens my place at the helm

‘Cause it’s that: it’s that feeling that I’m not in control 

Of my destiny, life, or e’en hope

And it leaves me despondent (yes I know it’s redundant)

And I wonder how better to cope

I can’t figure it out (it’s only been 40 years)

So maybe the answer’s not there

Maybe the answer’s in just looking up

To the One Who assures me He’s here

See “what would Jesus do” is slightly off base

It’s “what’s Jesus doing” that’s now

It’s a matter of aligning myself with His Self

(And relaxing these lines on my brow)

I can trust Him (we can!) we can trust Him always

And forever to do what is best

I can trust that my angst, and my self, and these pains

Can be completely shored up in His rest

It’s not a naive sort of trust that I mean

Rather it’s hard and a battle for sure

But it’s all not for naught – there is good purpose here

Makes us loving, gentle, right, and pure

In order to separate the good from the dross

Some fire’s required: heat and light

The yuck must be skimmed from this soul that is His

That His presence is all that’s in sight

See there’s too much of me too much world and distraction

That it muddles one’s right view of Him

So these troubles I feel – though they seem very real –

Must be brought more to Him so to dim

So now on to remember – Lord, help me do better –

Remember Your presence always

Remember what You’ve done, are doing, begun

Fixed-on-Jesus-eyes are what must stay

Thank You, Father, for even now I realize

That You’re helping me this very minute

To remember Your goodness, faithful, gentle leading

Redeeming all that is amiss

That’s the God that You Are, the One who rights all the wrongs

Who brings healing and light to dark places

Turns all things inside out, turns all things upside down

Transforms shame into beautiful spaces

Thank You for help, and thank You for love

And thank You for helping to love

And thanks for redemption, freedom, and reminding

Me blessedly towards You to move.

Good Morning

  

Ah, morning.

Before uncertainty, wit’s end, torn places

Before confusing, unfamiliar, troubling spaces

Before unkind, frowning, scowling faces.

Ah, morning.

All wide open and new

All quiet, serene, with no people in view

Stretched out and ahead

Before sapped strength,

Deferred hope, and fresh reasons for dread.

Fresh start. Hopeful. Still tackle-able.

Before unsure, full-on, and neurotically unstable.

Before all this wretchedness

Crowds out all this goodness

When the day’s potential’s

All fair and endless.

Ah, morning.

After coffee, before crashes

Before misunderstanding, disappointment, or miscommunication’s backlashes.

Ah, morning.

After prayer, before talking.

Before progress or insight or bad news that is shocking.

Just Him 

And just me

And just peace therein,

Good morning.

Brain Conversation

  

 I must insist, brain,

 That you quiet down.

 Yes, I am the boss of you.

 Even if, at this minute, 

 That seems untrue. 

 Even if taking you captive

 Seems an impossible feat,

 I am.

 I can no longer afford your company 

 In its current way of being.

 You have taunted and shamed 

 And convinced me that

 All my best parts are buried and forgotten.

 Encouraged me to blame.

 Riddled me with confusion.

 And though “I listen to my words but they fall far below”* *Cat Stevens

 As an honest admission 

 Sounds terribly weak and puny,

 There is truth to it.

 In spite of all your efforts to confound me,

 (And with so much life feeling to be swallowing me up)

 Maybe I ought to be relieved.

 In healthier moments

 Such “sensitivity” coins as “virtuous.”

 I don’t know what makes the difference:

 Why and when moments posing as majestic or terrible

 As savor-able or unbearable

 As breathtaking mountaintop or suffocating pit

 Pose thus.

 That song 

 Before today too light, too cheesy

 In light of today’s darkness 

 Held just about too much poignancy to bear.

 I want to put words to this

 more-than-anxiety more-than-depression more-than-difficult

 overwhelming-not-severe-enough

 terrifying-may-be-a-start

 Experience.

 Suffice it to say

 I want to figure it out,

 Only it’s you who needs do the figuring

 (you and your ridiculously murky waters).

 Come to think of it,

 Such navigation requires a sounder captain.

 I think I’ll ask your Maker.

 He’ll know.

 Brace yourself.

 ‘Cause for all your best efforts,

 He’ll undo you

 In all and truly best ways…  

New

  

 Even though I’ve not been here before

 Going through the motions

 As though I have.

 Where nary an original thought

 Feeding reaction

 S’to be found.

 Ideas

 Expectations

 Roles

 Ways of responding

 All seem irritatingly preconceived.

 Decided upon.

 Not deciding’s deciding too.

 I must decide to remind myself

 That I’ve not passed this way before.

 This is a new day

  A new thing 

 (Full of promise and opportunity)

 Why does this remembrance seem the exception, the extra?

 A pleasant surprise? A life-changing epiphany?

 Why does succumbing to lesser quality modes of responding seem to be the most common rule?

 Going through the motions will reign

 If I don’t fight for lusher, more vital grounds.

 Fight to remember this new day

 The thrill of new ways.

 Will I fight?

 Will I perceive it?

 Will I see the new thing

 And refuse to be swallowed 

 In the old?

 Be remade, live fully alive,

 In the new?

Worth

  

I’ve borrowed from others’ beauty 

And I’ve resented not having my own.

And I’ve fished and I’ve watched and I’ve wondered,

What is it like to really be known?

Then I hear it real quiet – a whisper –

A suggestion to play over in mind;

“When you look to ME instead of to them,

MY worth in you you will find.”

Then I’ll think that I’m then on to something

And I wait and I think and I ask

Of the One from Whom these whispers come,

“Is this really a possible task:

To quit wasting the time in wondering

If I’ll ever quit wasting the time?

CAN I be known and live fully contented? 

Could I be (I whisper) sublime? “          [sublime – beautiful, morally worthy, complete, excellent]

Now He waits and watches and asks me

With such tenderness it puddles my core,          [core – essential part]

 “Will you believe it is I Who can love you,

Show you all that I’ve made you for?”

And I nod, though it’s tentative, quiet.

And I slowly sink down to my knees.

And I open my hands, with a smile I look up,

And I give Him my heart… 

          And receive.