Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Down the Rabbit Hole



Sometimes I wonder what the Lord was thinking when he made the mind of woman.  This is because several conversations with the Captain have involved an exchange rather like this...

Captain: "What's wrong?" 
Me:  "Everything!"  
*pause*
Captain:  "That's impossible.  You can't think of everything at once."
Me:  "Would you care to bet on that?"  

At times I have envied my husband's ability to compartmentalize, to think of nothing, and I wish I could shut my brain off and stop wading in the eddying pool of my own thinking.  Here, the same thoughts  may resurface again and again until, sinking at last, they are resolved.  I don't know if this particular problem arises in me as a writer, for I often feel things very deeply, and, like Louisa May Alcott, I like good strong words that mean something.  But perhaps this is simply a tendency of women, to allow our fearfully and wonderfully made souls to run wild, to bear concern for ten dozen things all at once, and when one thread hurts, it slowly bleeds into the rest of the tangled web, as each thought is connected and affected by another.


Today I have little to give except an offering of words.  Only an admission of my own weakness, as I often wrestle with what feels like ghosts inside my head, chasing thoughts in a merry-go-round, an alphabet soup like you might not believe.  Voices that only I seem able to hear shout and ring a mad clamor in my ears.  "Do this!  Do that!  Read this!  Read that!  You are not good enough!  You are not healthy enough!  You are not godly enough," at which point my responses vary somewhere between feeling motivated to change, being oppressed with the weight of all the "never good enough" and vowing to run away to an uninhabited island in Scotland.  

Anyhow, it takes the voice of Love and Grace speaking into my life for me to be pulled out of the knot of insular thinking.  The song that drowns out all other notes, silences all false voices, is able to assure me that I am his beloved, and that if I am found in him, then I need not endlessly worry about the well meaning voices, who always leave me empty, ashamed, discouraged, and never enough.  As Keith Green says, "You just keep doing your best, and pray that it's blessed, and Jesus takes care of the rest."     


Interlaced

Frantic fingers intertwined, the branches of this tree,
Stretching, curling, leaf upon leaf, all in the garden me. 
A breath of wind, my hurricane, to ruffle a single stem,
The ripple allows,
To sway all boughs,
And then—the whisper begins.  
So fleeting at first, barely a thought, in the garden passing by,
Yet herald to a winter storm, raining freezing-gray from my sky. 
No island branch may dance alone, all others must it brush,
The blossoms all,
The dead leaf-fall,
To prosper, to bless, or to crush. 
Shudder, sway, tremble the trunk, from tip of buds to toe of root,
To draw the blessed rain-sweet in, or to breathe the death of soot. 
Whispers of light, my tree to bless, the hiss of shadow to wither,
One for all,
Each leaf a thrall,
Blossom and branch woven together. 
One day to sing on hope-spring wind, each stem a dance above,
Another to bow beneath the load, burden of worlds bereft of love. 
Caught in the web of leaf and bough, sunlight mingled of shadow’s cold,
Stained glass leaves,
Chorus of keys,
Ballad of a broken world.   
Sinking down beneath the earth, a whisper travels, far to run,
To curse or bless the living tree, reaching ever towards the Son. 
Light and truth purify the sap, but darkness, the axe of the Foe
How to keep in sight,
The dark from the light,
How far does the rabbit hole go? 
 Deeper deeper, drowning now, within the void of soul,
‘Tis folly to think on everything, yet rooted I cannot let go.
What does the Son require of me?  Does He delight to consider me?
My heart to find,
Within my own mind,
And rescue this fragile tree?  
Ever striving, branches raised, racing the sun day upon day,
I seek my place in this dying world, to guide lost souls to The Way.
Should I move, or should I stay?  I only seek to know my Lord,
To run my race,
And see His face,
I surrender all just to know Him more. 
Yet I have heard that He dwells inside, His Holy presence in Adam’s stems,
To walk among His children loved, and guard against what troubles them.
He prunes with care the branch decayed, for if in the vine I be,
When shadows hide,
His truth inside,
He will help me to see.   
When deep in the earth, my thoughts will plunge, wandering high and low,
I refuse to sink, my anchor’s firm, no matter how far the rabbit hole goes. 
Deep calls out to deep, I know, so wayward branches I’ll strive to still. 
No Sheol’s Pit,
Nor flame-shadow lit,
Where He is not deeper still. 
A tangled web of spinning threads, silver yarns, a gossamer pen,
Who may tame this beast of thought, weaving eternal knots within?
“Worry not, oh tender tree, for I crafted your poeima’s build,
I have written you thus,
And filled your cup,
To be poured out upon this world.
Your eyes have peered past edges far, yet you cannot see all ends,
Your faith must live between the lines, when uncertainty breaks and bends,
Sink fast your roots in the soil of truth, ‘til come is the earthly time,
When no more to roam,
I welcome you home,
Your story bound by perfect rhyme.”
At once I grew on mountaintop, but oft I sojourn in valley long,
Sometimes to dwell in both at once, pain and joy intertwined in song,
 But when the branches shudder, and in fear I sway to doubt,
Down the rabbit hole,
Is far to go,
Yet voice of truth shall sing me out. 
"Trust, my dear one, trust, let love make young trees bold,
Your heart is deep, I am deeper still, more than all beyond this world,
When shadow wings on winter’s air, the wind that seeks to slay,
When in me you are found,
He cannot cast you down,
  For I am with you, my child of the Day."


"From the end of the earth I will cry to You, When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I."  (Psalm 61:2)


Images via:  lonesomeelacowboy.tumblr.com, curiositiesbydickens.com, flickr.com, tumblr, 

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Speak Friend and Enter


How many doors have you passed through this week?  Perhaps more than you think.  Garage doors, elevator doors, sliding glass doors, front doors, french doors, locked doors—these portals are everywhere.  It’s said that opportunity knocks and that love is an open door, but how many lives have you entered into this week?  Have you ever passed the gates of another’s soul, in order to come alongside them whether in joy or despair?  Oftentimes, the space of our comfort lies firmly behind the secure walls of our own little world, and it frightens us to think of venturing out from behind that safety in order to enter the life of someone else. 


It’s common for Christians to sometimes feel stagnated in their faith, as though they can no longer feel God’s presence as strongly in their lives.  There could be a variety of reasons for this, and I won’t try and address all of them here, but I’d like to submit that in some cases, perhaps it is simply because we are not where Christ is.  What I mean by this, is that when Jesus stepped down into the shadow of this world, He entered into the pain, strife, and struggle of His people.  And throughout His ministry here on earth, he walked beside those in need, tending to their wounds and placing humble feet in the footprints of the weak and the sick, the grief-torn and the dying.  In the midst of outstretched hands, hungry souls, broken bodies, and sin-seared hearts—that’s where Jesus was, and that is where He is still. 


I do not mean to say that He is nowhere else, but I’d only like to point out how in the course of Christ’s sojourn as the God-Man, Emmanuel, He constantly entered into the lives of others, passing the gates of their souls and wading into their pain bearing healing hands.  What did he do when confronted with leprosy?  Against all, he reached out and touched the diseased skinWhat did he do when he found two sisters caught in the agony of loss?  He first stood and wept with them.  As a familiar hymn writes: 


"Crown Him the Son of God, before the worlds began,
And ye who tread where He hath trod, crown Him the Son of Man;
Who every grief hath known that wrings the human breast,
And takes and bears them for His own, that all in him may rest" (Godfrey Thring).  



       Simply put, Jesus could not turn away, for He bore every sorrow that mankind has known.  It is not in His nature to turn aside, nor in the character of the Father to do so.  In the Old Testament, the Lord was never absent, for He gave wisdom and dispensed justice according to need.  As Israel rebelled, repented, and rebelled again, God would not leave them.  He neither slept nor slumbered, for He bears no blind eye. 




When Christ came, it was the same.  His own tears flowed free, as He could not turn His back upon those He loved.  Love himself came in order to save us and to help teach us what Paul later called, “the most excellent way.”  This is the way of Love, and by it we must truly be known.


As Disciples, we bear the Living God inside of us.  Our flesh may be able to turn away, but He cannot.  We must train ourselves to heed the prompting of the Holy Spirit, quietly directing us towards those in need of Jesus.  We do not have far to look.  Those around this sin-dark planet and those just down the street from us both comprise the mission field.  This is what will set us apart, the badge that distinguishes the Disciple.  Become a student of the most excellent way with daily cultivation of prayer and communion with the Father.  This is the grace that pours wine in skins made new, lights virgins lamps, pours out a living spirit upon the thirsty earth, and soothes Gilead’s balm over broken hearts.  We bear the most great and wondrous gift of all, and sharing is what it was made for.   


Enter in, because Jesus entered in.  Walk into the shadows with a light in hand, for that is where He is, and behold, He goes with you.       


"Yes, I have been there
I know what pain is all about
I have been there
And I am standing with you now
I have been there
And I came to build a bridge oh so this road could lead you home
Oh I have been there" (Mark Schultz)

Images via:  thisivyhouse.tumblr.com, bohemianwornest.tumblr.com, theberry.com, annwrittennotes.com, kewple.com, box-of-your-letters.tumblr.com, piccsy.com, desi anders, imgend.com

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