My Awefull Life » A Pilgrimage of Wonder

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Recently, on the fringes of this latest holiday season, I received an internal invitation of sorts. It arrived as I stood quiet and still for several moments one morning- forcing myself to ignore the whistling locomotive in the distance of my mind- the all too familiar Anxiety Express barreling down the tracks.

There in the brief absence of my own thoughts, I heard that inside-my-soul- voice simply say, “an invitation to buoyancy.” The call to weightlessness was being extended even as I watched the engine steam from the train heavy-laden with burden and stress, break the horizon. It was an invitation I wanted to accept, and yet wasn’t sure I would. Or could. How can I, how can we, be buoyant here at the height of the fall season, where everything from the colors of the trees to the numbers on the scale appear heavy and dense? 

Watching the autumn leaves release from their once firm grasp on the limbs overhead, I can almost feel myself being buried under their volume. As if each fallen leaf is an obligation or thought filling my mind. Something at once so lovely, slowly smothering me until that invitation to lightness feels completely out of reach. 

I love words and their imagery. God knows this, so just as the leaves gently float down from branch to ground, he begins to talk to me about his invitation. Yes, the season feels heavy, and if I choose to look down at the weight surrounding us all, it may immobilize me indefinitely. But Jesus said His burden is light. Easy, weightless, restful even. And as another leaf breaks free above, the sunlight shines through its vacancy and I see more clearly than just a moment before. Jesus, the Light of the world- the light of this dark world, weighed down in brokenness- came to be and bring light. Jesus brings buoyancy. I am simply invited to the party he has already prepared. He has been offering the same invitation to all of us all along. In Matthew’s gospel we read of Jesus doing just that, ‘Come, all who are heavy. Come close to the Light. Be light.’ Come close, stay close- for it’s in the staying near that burden turns to buoyant. It requires of me though- the coming near, the laying down of my cares, thoughts, expectations. Things I have accumulated must fall to the ground to make space for more light in my life. As a practical point of transparency and accountability, a few of the things I am currently feeling prompted to let fall away from my shoulders include perfectionism, un-forgiveness in relationships, and time logged on social media. 

Isaiah 60 says, Arise- look up! For your light has come. It is only in the looking up that I can look back down on my circumstances with any sort of clarity. The invitation has been given and I accept. Here at the heavy end of another year- I am learning again how to look up, how to lighten my load, how to be buoyant. 

It struck me anew this week how the Gregorian calendar places our season of Thanksgiving immediately prior to our season of Advent. Thanksgiving- a time of offering gratitude- eucharisteo, a word tracing back to a root of kharis- Grace. It is only by grace we enter into the Eucharist- communion with Jesus- and from which we are filled to an overflow of gratitude. A circle of grace, a cycle of thanksgiving, rolling into a time of stillness and waiting- the days of Advent.

If we work from a place of rest, isn’t it also true we wait from a place of grace-full thanksgiving? Gratitude our tool of survival through the dark night of Advent’s waiting.

So what does that look like today, as we gather in joyful abundance? As we sit around tables of full plates, of full hearts, may we take stock of the grace as well as the aching wait seated on either side of us. May we toast to God’s goodness each one gathered has tasted of this year- the new marriage, the beloved baby, the provisions covering each home. May we celebrate the gifts of laughter and friendship- remembering fondly the days spent sowing into one another’s lives. May we look into the eyes of those around our table and recall the beauty of their days, giving a glimpse of God’s perspective over each of his kids.

And in the midst of offering our thanksgiving, may we also recognize with reverence the pain of the wait within every soul. The one waiting on love, the one aching for a child to hold, the ones awaiting healing, the ones desperately holding on for the forgiveness of another. May we recognize the strength of our kindred as they show up every day in hope for their own personal miracle. May we call it out and toast also to the desert’s journey- the waiting for our Savior’s rescue.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends. I am humbled and grateful for the opportunity to walk this paradoxical road Home with you. Thank you for your kindness to me, your generosity of words and time- your forgiveness and mercy when I have offended or hurt you, thank you for teaching me, inspiring me and showing me the tangible kharis of Jesus. In gratitude and in the wondrous wait, my cup overflows.

  • Brooke Lackey - This is beautiful. I’m thankful for you, my friend with a deeper connection to the heart and soul. You have the words to make me think about what I might not otherwise have ever considered. I love you!ReplyCancel

We are entering what historically has proven to be an intense time of year in our family. Kids born into difficult circumstances can tend to struggle with holidays and celebrations- the disruption of routines internalized as an attack to security, the abundance of foods and gifts, triggering entitlement and sneakiness little deprived brains are convinced they still need to survive…I could go on.

In our specific story, we add into the holiday mix the anniversaries of our meeting, legally adopting, and then being separated for months awaiting proper documents. Stated simply- it is a heavy load for a little girl to carry. And I feel my own grown-up shoulders tensing as the November days pass, as if I am saying, ‘let me carry your cares for while,’ as if this year I will suddenly figure out a way to take the burden off our girl- off the rest of the family.

Humbled I admit, tension in my body often leads to tension in my thoughts, tension gripping my words. Until the very burdens I arrogantly intended to relieve, are made heavier still by my own hand and tongue.

Something I heard on a podcast last week has been looping around the mounting tension of my mind. Essentially, when the storm comes, am I choosing a narrative of trauma or one of joy?

Again, humbled. Trauma and all it’s fear, unknowns, unpredictable disruptions, has won out around here for quite some time. Joy has been surrendered, rendered too weak to stand against the force of this particular foe. But, it is not my own joy, but the Joy of my Creator, where strength is sourced. A swapping out of weapons is in order- lay down the arrogance, pick up the surrender. Lay down the weariness, pick up the Eucharisteo.

And so this season I am making a choice for Joy. Divine Joy doesn’t pretend the trauma isn’t real or avoid acknowledging its tendrils. Divine Joy may, in fact, shine light straight at the point of pain. But only to in turn say, “Yes, but…”

So many days can appear as if we are absolutely nowhere. Nowhere nearer to healing, nowhere closer to authentic attachment….Yes, but.

Look at the layers and layers of mountains behind her- all the ground she has journeyed with a family by her side.

Yes, but. Look at the slight smile, residing more in her eyes than even a year ago.

Yes, trauma. But, Joy.

Friend, what in your own life could you see straight on for the mess it is, but even for just today look back at it and say, ‘Yes, but,’?

When on a Monday morning, I start to write about the manic messiness of the mundane- the one missing sneaker when it’s time to leave, the forgotten lunch on the counter, how it’s possible I’ve made 37 trips to the grocery in the past week and yet we’re somehow out of milk at breakfast. When I have all the beginnings of a sunrise tantrum, and then I see the headlines. In an instant Monday’s misfires shrink back, blushing at their insignificance as the deep sorrow of reality blankets another city. The mushroom cloud of pain spreading through the night, engulfing the world as sun rises across timezones. When I thought I awoke to empty milk cartons and some sass from a grumpy kid, I arose to more death, more fear. And I can’t help but wonder aloud how, God?! How do we find our joy that cometh in the morning when the new day light shows bloodied concrete and echoes of gunfire? Our weeping seems to carry on from one devastation to another and yet You tell us these troubles are momentary, light even- but a breath.

Our joy needs breath today, Lord.

We have fallen and turn our desperate faces upward- exhale Your gladness over the hurting so they may wear it as bandages, sutures binding up wounds of trauma and grief. Heal souls- minds, emotions and physical bodies- so we, as David, might watch you bring dancing from of our deep mourning. We all need Heaven’s breath today, all of us here together on this crumbling, beautiful, tragic earth.

We crave a joy louder and deeper than our tears and brokenness. But in all the wreckage where do we start? Again, out loud I hear myself, “Show me how.” And once again I need the reminder of what it is you require of me God:

Do justice, love mercy, walk humbly.

It doesn’t feel like enough. But He says it is good, so I choose to believe and add a prayer for more belief.

 

 

When on a Monday afternoon, I confess to the kids my morning injustice over the lost shoe and spoiled attitudes- a smallish wrong righted, an easy forgiveness sought and given, but still justice is served up right there in the school pick-up lane.

Later I’ll gather with a few friends, bow our heads in prayer and taste of the sweet mercy extended to me within the boundaries of community. I will choose to love the opportunity to offer them the same. Earned or not we can each give away kindness, favor, goodness and faithfulness….Mercy.

I write these simple words, strung together from complex places, yet alarmingly inadequate all the same. Humbly, I invite the world into my known lack and offer what I can by way of prose, photos and prayers. It’s not enough, but it doesn’t need to be.

Humility, Mercy, Justice is the charge; Joy is the quest, and I know morning will rise again.

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“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!” –Psalm 30 ESV

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” – 2 Corinthians 4:17 ESV

He has told you, O man, what is good;
  and what does the Lord require of you
 but to do justice, and to love kindness,
 and to walk humbly with your God?” – Micah 6:8 ESV

  • Andrea Wolloff - Stopping by from Hopewriters. Beautiful words. Thank you for capturing what many of us have been feeling. And encouraging us all to seek joy.ReplyCancel

    • sarahrichmond - Hi Andrea – Thank you for stopping by and connecting!ReplyCancel