Sunday, February 26, 2012

In-Between


Sundays always remind me of how grateful I am for my church family.  Without fail, it’s a community where believers are seeking God and finding Him, experiencing His presence in ways that are remarkable, amazing, inspiring, worthy of celebrating. 

I know the faith-stories I encounter there are meant to bolster my belief.  But every once in awhile, they have the opposite effect. 

Sometimes they make me wonder why I don’t have a similar story to tell.

Today is one of those days.  And so I find myself longing to hear from those who haven’t quite made it to the other side yet. 

From believers who are on the leg of the journey that happens after the prayer, but before its answer.

The Land of In—Between. 

The part that’s between the vexing question and the reassuring response;
             
between the sigh of fatigue and the comfort of renewal;
             
between the diagnosis and the cure;
             
between the seeking and the finding.

Because this Land of In-Between is where I live much of my spiritual life. 

And knowing others are nearby provides a solace that is strange but substantial. 

It reminds me that I’m not the only one who hasn’t arrived. 

It reassures me that my ability to see only part of the whole is how things are supposed to be . . . at least for the moment.

It encourages me that I—that we—are indeed traveling in a bright direction.

So if you find yourself between a cry for help and the relief of rescue, maybe it helps to know that another is at the same spot on her journey.

Maybe we can pray all of us a little further down this road that travels from the beginnings of a longing to the realization of our Hope.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Seeds


It’s taken awhile, but I managed to do one of my favorite February activities today.

I picked up a mini-greenhouse kit and some seed packets, got my kids around the table, and helped them do some pre-season gardening. 

We poured water over little packed dirt pellets, watched them swell, and pushed those seeds into the soil.  After a few days sitting on top of my (very dusty) refrigerator, we’ll see tiny stalks pushing up to find the light.  Then, the greenhouse will live beneath a fluorescent light I’ve tied to the bottom side of a bookshelf, where they’ll stay until a season we can scarcely wait to see.

I’m certainly no gardener, so I’m not sure what prompted me to start this little ritual.  I’ll never forget the unexpected comfort it brought.  That it brings today.  

Tonight, as we open the packets of colorful zinnias, stately sunflowers, tangy peppers, and crisp cucumbers, I’m struck by the look of the seeds.   Some pale and anemic-looking, others brown and sharp-edged (nearly indistinguishable from the dirt itself), each kernel bears almost no resemblance to the beauty it is capable of producing. 

Adding insult to injury, we take them from their pretty, decorated packets.  We separate them from one another and plunge each seed, lonely, into dark, wet, smelly soil.

When we’re done, it looks as if we’ve dug 70 little graves for these 70 little seeds.  

It’s almost a burial, this planting time. 

This time of year, I often feel well-wrapped—or, more truthfully, trapped—in a malaise that mirrors this damp, dreary season.   There are some days when I find it near-impossible to taste joy or to savor beauty.

But today, just when I’m beginning to wonder whether I’ll ever make it to the end of winter’s clouds, my hands in the dirt are a declaration of sorts.

These little tombs are the beginning of a transformation.  A painful prerequisite to beauty that is to come.   

That will come. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Hope Proof

[A little note of introduction:  In January, I spent some time contemplating and writing about the reference to generosity in Proverbs 31 (31.20).  My mind continues to linger on a question:  So often, my own generosity leans all too heavily on the levels of abundance I'm experiencing in my own life--material, emotional, spiritual, or otherwise.  Yet this tendency doesn't seem quite right.  Perhaps it's a misguided goal, but I wish to remain open-handed, regardless of my own state-of-heart.  The fact, though, is that I often find myself falling short.  Hence, this meditation.]


These HANDS betray my HOPE (or lack) 
as they
give or take away
cherish or discard
deliver comfortor inflict pain
offer or withhold
receive or reject
make available or snatch away

They can be clenched tightly or relaxed
extended


OPEN

Open hands are ready hands
willing to lend
eager to embrace
POISED to  provide

My own hands open most readily when they are
PRAYING

grateful for blessings
grieving shortcomings
needing strength
mourning disappointment
voicing questions
pleading for others
relinquishing self


Willing to acknowledge lack
yet
unafraid to anticipate Response


Hands that pray and also

EXPECT
watch for grace
anticipate provision
imagine redemption
look for strength
wait for joy
trust mercy
believe truth

HOPE

Hands          
                Open            
                            Praying 
                                             Expectantly                                                           

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Where's My Mojo?


It was just here, but I can’t seem to find my giddy-up these past few days.  And this makes me nervous. 

Maybe it’s the clouds, the temperature, the time of year.  Something logical.

Right about now, the good girl in me should come up with a pep talk and give my bootstraps a good yank.  Pick myself up and push through.  But it’s not happening.

And how quickly my HOPE shifts to fear.

Maybe the lazy streak I hide so well is finally taking over. 
Maybe I’m letting myself drift away from something (or Someone) vital. 
Maybe I’ve made a turn onto that wide road I’m so afraid of inadvertently ending up on.

Quick.
Someone light a fire under me.
Please.

Then:

Maybe I’m tired because . . . . I’m tired.
Maybe I've come to a stop because that’s what is needed.

Maybe this malaise isn’t a symptom of something sinister in me,
but a gentle invitation.

After all, I can’t receive rest until I’m willing to admit that I’m weary.

You, oh Lord, keep my lamp burning.”