Sunday, April 27, 2014

God's Love Reaches

Ann Voscamp once said in her book 1000 Gifts, 'Why all this running?' Of course that question got my attention. She didn't literally mean running. She meant running around. Running from. Running to. She was asking herself where is satisfaction in life- why always running for more, for better? What do you run from? Who do you run to? My mind immediately went to all the miles my legs have logged. Why do I do it?
Because I can.
But mostly because that is when I hear God speak to me.
More and more so in recent years I spend much of my time alone. Not by choice. My challenge in this season of my life is to not allow loneliness into my head. God has called me into this place of being alone, but it is the devil who invites loneliness to come along. I am learning the way to victory in this struggle is in giving thanks, all the time, for all things. One of the ways I am learning this 'eucharisteo' thanks is through the running.
The sun has warmed the air of spring. New life is coloring the world around me as winter waves goodbye. I am excited to run and become part of the landscape- to see and hear, to smell, to breathe deep- and thank God who does all this. So I run through neighborhood streets, past Tulips and Daffodils, past dogs barking from backyards, across the highway lined with fields, fences and tall grass. Geese flying home. Deer grazing by the edge of the woods. I turn at the brown sign announcing the entrance to the Civil War Battlefield. The road is narrow and peaceful, winding down and around and up again. Deeper into the woods, across the creek. Only the sound of the breeze blowing in the tops of the trees.
I am alone...but loneliness did not come with me. I pray-"God will you speak to my heart? And help me to listen so I will hear you. And help me to look so I will see you." I look for Honeysuckle. It is tangled and twisted along the side of the road. Fragrance is bottled behind the blooms that have not yet burst. White Dogwood blossoms are sprinkled along the road and far into the woods. No wonder they are named the state flower of Virginia.  A long time ago the wood of the Dogwood tree grew straight, strong and tall but as the legend goes, their trunk is now gnarled and twisted. Some say the Dogwood was used to make the cross that Jesus hung on. Who knows if that is true but it is interesting to think of the symbolism associated with the Dogwood Tree. If you look closely at the pure white flower you can't help notice it is shaped like a cross, with a crown in the center. At the ends of the cross beam, where the nails would have held Jesus' hands, are small holes in the petals, with a drop of red dripping. Almost looks like it tore, by mistake, and then you realize every single blossom is like that, torn. Dripping. Every single one. No mistake.
It's perfect. God's simple design in the flower of a tree to symbolize the beauty of the King reaching out to me. To the world. Good Friday has passed. Resurrection Day has passed. God has a story to tell.
The blossoms are high in the trees. It's difficult for me to see the detail of the flowers as they reach for the sun. My eyes follow the small branches, winding around and through oaks and maples and weeds, looking for the trunk of the tree.The branches are long, they bend and twist. The trunk of the tree is nestled in the leaves, far away from the edge of the road, among much bigger trees. The trunk is firmly planted, roots growing deep into the ground, giving life to those beautiful blossoms that have grown toward the sun. Blossoms that have grown toward the SON. God's love reaches me.
I see it clear. From the dark place, deep in the woods, into the light. His love reaches. His love IS THE LIGHT. The white blossom at the end of the long branch tells the story of the One who is the Light of the World. It tells of the vine and the branches. The one who does not remain in the vine bears no fruit. We, like the blossoms of the Dogwood have a story to tell.
God's love reaches for me. I see Him. I hear Him. His voice is the only sound. He reaches me and I am not alone. God reaches through the trees in the forest. He reaches into dark places in our life. He reaches across oceans. Across time. Across hurts and failures and cross words. He reaches into brokenness. And brings healing. Beauty. Light. New Life.
I find a branch that is hanging low. I pinch off a twig with two day old blossoms. I carry it with me as I run all the way home. I place it in the vase on the table, empty ready to fill.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Looking Through the Window

   I sat down yesterday morning to think about this naming of gifts. So simple, yet so full. So much harder than I thought it would be. It's really not hard, I just make it hard. I don't want to name the simple, I want to name the miraculous, but I don't see it. I look around the room and try to name gifts. Things? Gifts from others? People? The quiet? Nothing seems like gift until I begin to name. Then all is gift. It seems silly to write down the things right in front of me. I try to name something meaningful and significant and I end up trying to remember yesterday's gifts and God tells me, "No, learn to name the gift of right now. And do it right now." I think I shouldn't bother with the every day stuff that happens over and over. The simple. And then I know, it is in this simple naming- everyday, all day, right now, that I will find the miracle. Somehow the miracle of the unexpected is right here- in the right now. The grace-joy-thanks miracle. It is this learning eucharisteo that brings the miracle.
      I was filling with excitement as I felt His Spirit teaching me, showing me His endless stream of grace, busily scribbling in my thanks journal, naming scriptures, looking for the unexpected in the simple, in the expected. In the every day. Trying to focus on the right -now. Today, not on yesterday. I kept looking. My thanks journal fills with thoughts, some are my own, a scripture, a song, a daily grace to capture feelings, memories, phone calls from loved ones, time spent with friends. There was a scripture on my mind from the day before. I knew it was yesterday's gift but I began writing it down in my thanks journal anyway. The verse simply said, "See to it that no one misses the grace of God.....". Then I saw another, "It is good for our heart to be strengthened by grace....". And then another, "Let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise."
       The sky is still dark. I know it will begin to change soon and so I glance up from my notebook. All is black. Stillness. Inside and out. I thank Him. My author friends Sara Young and Ann Voskamp share thoughts, and I write, naming gifts. Every few minutes I look up again to see if the sky has changed. From my seat, I can look through the window and the dark sky looks back at me. Another scripture comes to mind, "The light shines in the darkness but the darkness does not overcome it." and I keep looking. Waiting, I write some more. Read some more. Just a hint of light showing through. When I watch, nothing changes, but if I look away for a minute, then I see it, growing brighter filling the sky. Breaking of day- like breaking bread. I give thanks for the filling, for my daily bread, broken for me.
        My thoughts were interrupted and, just for a minute, I left the room. When I returned to my chair I looked out the window again. Now I am moved to tears at what I see! It is the unexpected in the expected! In the everyday, in the right now! Joy filled my heart as I witnessed the miracle. The sky was on fire, spilling red across the horizon. It was magnificent! I kept looking, fixing my gaze on it, steady, hoping to spear it through with my eyes. To capture it. But it lasts only for a moment. A miracle of God's love for me. I write it down. Day break. I say thank you.
        Kristin is coming home from California today. Leaving at midnight and flying all night, arriving on the east coast in the morning. I give thanks. I continue reading where I left off. Ann is on her way to Paris to meet a friend. She is naming gifts. The man sitting next to her in the airport plays a gently melody that calms her fears. When she boards the plane the window seat is empty. She is thankful she can at least look out the window. After a long night of flying over the ocean, she rubs the sleep out of her eyes. When she looks out the window she sees it. The miracle- breathtaking breaking of day. Day break. Red sun rising. She names the gift, "sunrise bleeding love up over all the world." I am speechless!! This is crazy love! Endless stream of grace. I close my books. Sit quiet. Amazed by grace. Filled with daily bread. I say thank you.
          But not done yet. I thank Him for MY window seat. I thank Him for sunrise, bleeding love, for breaking of day. I pray for safety for Kristin, flying from west coast to east, arriving at the break of day. She sends a picture along with the message announcing her safe arrival. She is sitting in the window seat looking through the window and she captures a picture, a beautiful picture....of the sunrise. Day break. Amazing how God shows us His grace....every day.

Friday, January 3, 2014


there is disconnect
and loneliness.
that is not expressed
with words.
are our closest friend.
that haunt us
also comfort us.
Pull back
while hanging on
A child's game
of Tug of War
but so much more.
Hang on tight
while letting go.
A time for healing
....but for who?
Peel fingers
off the past
while gripping tight
to here and now.
A glimpse
across the room
and our eyes meet.
I am you.
You are me.
I feel.
I love.
I lost.
As you have too.
Our worlds collide
in that lonely place.
I am with you
and you with me.
You have been
here before.
Each time
you stand tall
with Grace.
I learn from you.
For a second
I see into
your eyes.
Your heart.
But only
for a moment.
To look longer
is too painful.
To never see
is to never understand.
To hold your gaze
brings me
into your world
and you
into mine.
To let go
of your gaze
is to let go
of the moment
let go
of the life.
Still bound
but finally free.
Released from the chains
bound by love.
Love Always.