New Tenth Avenue North
A good day. I am thankful.
Volunteered at a shelter, then a long, good workout, now home, eating peaches, contemplating making some almond milk hot chocolate, and beginning a Ngaio Marsh mystery book, while the fan whirs in the background with the last promise of summer.
Life is heavy, sometimes, in its wholistic measure, so let it be light in the small things.
Dear Father of Lights
Well it’s just you and me again here Lord.
And the hail swept in suddenly at the end of summer and brought fall with it.
Are we better alone or are we better with the with-it?
Is it always together/alone?
Everything can change in a blink and in a cold rush of air we’re standing on the edge of the world and it’s raining. And beautiful. Everything is crisp and every molecule in our bodies coming slowly awake, stirring, shaking off the grey and the mind-numbing screens and the automation of existence. Suddenly we’re just here and now and nothing has ever felt so real. Vivid.
the sudden magic of the world can come at you like a rush and an echo. A twinge, a twist, and suddenly the ground has shifted beneath your feet and like the Narnia children magic is suddenly rushing under your feet and you are aware of other universes, other worlds, just right there, at a touch….brimming with possibility and promise.
And then the wave recedes and you feel the sand beneath your feet again and the abrupt utter wonder fades but you remember the echo. How it struck up a corresponding echo, an ache in your soul down to your bones. Elemental and pure, a feeling haflway between crying and laughing.
This is a letter I wrote a few months back to a missionary friend.
When you said before that you’re afraid, I understood it. You’re afraid that you will be forgotten. That even though those you love will continue to love you, there won’t be a place for you in their lives, that you will be passively missed instead of actively, and that as time goes by, you will be missed less and less. That as they go on in their busy, little western lives, the flow of that will pass you by and your life, half a world away, will diverge more and more from theirs. It’s not quite so much their affection you doubt as your importance to them, and their need of you. And their memory. Their knowledge of you as you are now and as you will become and not the A they knew a year, two years, several years ago.
It’s being known that makes us feel alive. That is why the Westminster Catechism says that the purpose of life is to know God and glorify Him forever. Because we reflect our creator in that our deepest impulse is to be known and loved. Most people aren’t given a terminology or frame of reference to understand it in those terms so they look for acknowledgement, appreciation, deference, sex, subservience from other people – all the little spidery branches of love rather than love itself. We can bear anything – be alone for long periods of time – as long as we know that somewhere in the world is someone – preferably several people – who know us completely and hold that knowledge as a living and present thing. You don’t need your friends or even family with you. You know that. You just need to know that you are remembered by them. And you are, and always will be, even if only by a handful – frankly, there might be only one, at most two, outside your family who will really hold onto you. That is missionary life and human nature, and that’s okay. That’s reality.
You will be sustained. I could write a whole letter just about this topic. How you will be sustained all the days of your life. How the ways you will be sustained will change and shift all the time in response to who you are, to your needs and your circumstance. How God’s unutterable, strange grace always manifests itself. When it rains for days, weeks, months, and you can barely stand it because the weather is a constant itch at the back of your mind and you miss California sun. When you fall terribly, utterly sick and every mental and physical defense is overcome and you wonder why God would afflict his own servant so much. When you pour out over and over heart and soul into a community or congregation and they are hard and cold or deceitful and unfaithful. These three are common.
He doesn’t choose you.
When he betrays you.
When he never -
comes back for you.
When you fight as hard as you can -
when you throw every scrap of all that you are and have ever been -
at him, and into this -
and it all crumbles, futile.
When he doesn’t choose you.
When he respects you
But he will never choose you.
And he will never come back.