Thursday, January 24, 2013

To recall a pen . . .

I complete another list to one thousand of the never-ending gifts, and start in again at number one. I begin a new journal, an inch of perfectly blank pages waiting, aching, to be filled. No time to watercolour these days; it’s all I can do to scrawl words, most of them not my own. 

Thoughts come as impression, with colour and taste and dimension, but all in cloud and light haze . . . just beyond the reach of logic and deduction. So while I wait for words, the Words of my God comfort my soul, even when I trust feeble and doubt the power of the words I copy.

Does writing the Word make us believe it? Seldom do the flashing epiphanies release and burn and heal all in a moment. Rare that light bursts through and dispels all known darkness.  Writing does not transform; copying does not equate consciously living the Daily Bread. But it initiates absorption.

Light comes most often through the pin-prick holes, the gaping chasms, the “all that’s wrong and unfixed and embarrassing and wordless” vents of my soul, where wind sweeps through and stirs cobwebs, and brushes clean, and casts up dirt, and lets me know I need, that at my best, I am a beggar. 

So I write Word, because this is what I know to be True, even when I doubt it, even when I don’t live it, even when I can’t see or feel change as a result of its recitation. At the end of the day, this is what God has given, God Who spoke the world into being with Words, Who came as WORD made flesh, Who lives Word through my flesh, because all lives to fulfill His Word.

And I write prayer, the echoed impressions of soul, barely audible. Sometimes confident and soaring, sometimes whimpering in terrible pain, always quiet as a pen stroke. And does writing prayer, responding to the Words of God make me believe what I pray, make me confident and happy and at ease with all in life? Infrequent my recollections of morning requests for glory and grace. My concentration span wanders down other corridors instead. 

Writing Word, writing prayer . . . I do not notice the instant change, but it alters memory. I write, because I forget, because I want to remember something good. And when I look back, I remember what I felt. The soul impressions linger, but the words are what I recall.

And memory alters belief. When I look back over scribble and struggle, I see the Words He spoke in my wordless groanings. And in His Words, I trace His way, and find my path.

We have a choice in what we remember. How else could we block painful memories? Why else do we reminisce past occasions, over and over, till they are perfect and golden and untainted? 

We write, so we can remember . . .  and for all coming behind, what better gift to leave than the WORD, interlaced in life’s pain and flummox, the stabilizing thread holding us together?

“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God endures forever.”


Friday, January 18, 2013

African Grace

Five years ago, I woke to African winter, the Moroccan chill persisting heavy in the tile-floored, plaster-walled apartment building. That sour smell, tannery leather, permeating the air by the closets and doors, where pointed slippers waited for children’s feet.

The sing-song, harsh Arabic, spoken rapid and forthright. The broken English of flirting men (and aren’t we all broken, not knowing what we want, aware only of our hunger, and our pulsating wish to be happy?).

Rounded woman walk with rounded steps in flour-sack jelabas, traditional garb meant to preserve modesty and prevent lust. (And don’t we all cover up our warped-ness? The inexplicable mix of good and bad wrapped in our souls, aching to be sorted and set right . . . and we cover and compensate to protect ourselves and others from our brokenness.)

Bagged garbage plopped on corners and edges of wide cobbled sidewalks waits removal . . . sometime. This cultural mindset does not make room for proactive stewardship and preventative measures—it’s fatalism all over, and life does not stand much chance of getting better. (And don’t we pile soul garbage along the edge of our heart pathways, just so long as we have room to squeeze by and still function, we consider ourselves okay? And all the trash we don’t know what to do with, and the stuff that clutters, we hope Someone can clear away or recycle . . . before summer heat makes it stink). 

Black eyes stare wide behind ebony lashes, gawking at the fairer-skinned, blue and green and brown-eyed children walking with me. (And don’t we find the unknown, un-possessed, un-assumed beauty entrancing? How often we look so far out of our league to compare, that we miss the humbling, ordinary beauty of grace, the whisper of mercy, spoken over us every moment? And don’t we cheapen our potential for happiness by always looking at someone else, instead of looking into the eyes of the SOMEONE Who made us, and freely offers us life in His hands? And what grief we inflict when we refuse His gifts, His outstretched hand, because His hands were torn with nails and scratched deep with thorns, and to receive from Him means receiving pain AND joy as gifts. Receiving means to Trust Him more than trust the gift. And we’d rather not take the risk). 

The street bustle: not because people move fast, but because people walk everywhere. My casual gait propels me faster than the local pace . . . and I wonder if these people have purpose outside of their daily tasks and errands. And two sides of the revolving coin show themselves: how often do I spin my tires in an effort to look productive and feel like I’m going somewhere meaningful? And, how often do I sink into a routine’s confinement, letting a circumstance, instead of the Reality of a loving God, define my life?

And these pictures, cured and understood over time, continue teaching and speaking, and saying clearer that soul-film is thin, and life crust is fragile, and under each blinking eye waits a heart in pain, longing to be found, to be heard; a heart waiting to wake to beauty and joy.

And in the ordinary, the hum-drum, this is where Grace beats her rhythm . . . for the song of glory.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Inverted Glory

This gift of time, it opens the door for me to walk through. So I step outside, down the snow-crusted street, drifts and ice and shovelled remnants telling the tale of a persistent winter. 

This gift of breeze, it tickles my senses and awakens me to beauty unseen, only tasted in the soul. And why should we be given such a palette of scents? We wouldn’t be the wiser if everything smelled like vanilla, or vinegar, or rotten vegetables.

This gift of sun, it beckons me to look up, look ahead, to LOOK, and see the wonder around me, see through the wonder to the WONDERFUL One who took pains to make it just so. 

And colour plays in hues. And breezes waft in gentle shades. And time slows, turns musical, and the world plays a symphony around me. And I join in, lift a melody line of sighing gratitude, breath falling in time: exhaling thanks, inhaling grace. 

Why does it come so rarely? Why can I not live in this sphere all the time? Why don’t I see the miracle and live in the song all the time? Here, I know I am alive. Why take such pains to avoid LIFE? Why sink in apathy and procrastinated gluttony, letting heavy soul glug along, sapping life and moving slow . . . a slow without intention, a slow without attention, a slow dulled and tired.

But this . . . this gentle walk calls life, draws attention, awakens purpose. Everything looks deeper, as though it really is significant, and can sing me a story. The leaning trees with shadow and shelter, the bridge ahead, the very ice of the lake. 

Snow footprints: they began as indentations, marring the unbroken silence of White’s blanket. Now, they are all that remains of a snow blown into ditch and rock and alley. They started as an interruption on the landscape by adventurers or lovers, exploring the newly formed world of ice. Now, they echo the journey, a brief-lasting memorial, guides and trophies of a secret past. 

And sometimes, glory echoes inverted, in the things that ruin our landscapes and mar our dreams. Sometimes, glory IS inverted, the marks and scars left after the adventure and surgery and soul struggle, these marks tell more than the pristine vista, because they tell of healing, of life still living, of battle and bruise and the fight with evil. They acknowledge something is WRONG in the world, they scream to be made right . . . even while they promise that there is RIGHT, that there is GOOD. Because scars reveal healing, and in each scratch is a story of grace.
Sometimes, we just need TIME to look for the stories, LIGHT to see their beauty, and EARS to hear the song of glory threaded through each one. 

So, let our souls WALK with You, Lord, the Maker of Song, so we can hear Your music in our own souls, and detect it in others . . . so we can call it out and join the global and heavenly song of Glory.
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