After the Storm: an essay

April 25, 2016 § Leave a comment

I shared this essay on all of the usual social media sites when it was published several weeks ago, but in case you missed it (and if you’re interested!), my essay After the Storm appeared in the fifth issue of the lovely Cordella Magazine, an online literary magazine that features the work of women artists and writers across the world.

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The piece is a somber reflection on the aftermath of the tornadoes that hit North Texas over Christmas.

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It started with some meditations I jotted down after helping some friends who’d survived the tornadoes clean up their house, and through the editorial advice of a friend, became the essay it is.

We say a prayer of thanksgiving for safety, and I am glad to whisper it. I have known safety in moments of danger, and it is something to be thankful for.

For any interested readers, you can find the essay here.

The car that saved my life

April 7, 2016 § Leave a comment

A year ago today, I posted an essay about a car accident that I should not have walked away from. I try not to talk about the accident too much because I don’t want to be that girl who’s always talking about her near-death experience. But the truth is, I think about it fairly often.

I think about what one of my wise friends told me afterwards: that I can think of every day since the accident as extended time, time that, really, I should not have.

And so, I’m reposting this essay today as a reminder of the wonderful gift that life is, the wonderful grace of existence. It was also adapted as a Sunday essay in The Dallas Morning News, and you can read it there as well.

*

Once, I had a car named John Russell.

An odd name for a car, you might say, and many people did. But if you’re going to name a car, you might as well name him something special, and John Russell deserved a special name.

He was a college graduation gift from my parents, a dusty gold Ford Escape, used, but complete with everything a 20-something-year-old could want: sunroof, CD player, and cargo trunk, ready for road trips, ready for adventures.

And we had some adventures.

We drove halfway across the country and back. We drove up and down the West coast. We drove in the mountains. We drove in the desert. We drove in the snow. And we drove in the rain.

I gave John Russell his name on our inaugural adventure.

I’d just graduated from college and was driving from Texas to California for my first job as a post-graduate. And because it was my first job, and because it was my first time driving halfway across the country, and because they love me, my parents came along.

Which meant: I got to spend a good deal of the trip reading in the backseat (a reason to let the parents tag along, in my opinion).

Before we left, I visited the local used bookstore to find the perfect novel to accompany me on my adventure West. The great Elmore Leonard had died that summer, so I sauntered over to the Westerns in search of his name. A thin yellow paperback caught my eye.

Hombre.

Within seconds, I knew this was the book.

In Hombre, Leonard tells the story of John Russell, a white man raised by Apaches. John Russell is taking a stagecoach ride with a bunch of other white folk who, because of his association with the Apaches, don’t like him much. In fact, they dislike him so much they force him to sit up top with the driver rather than inside with them.

Of course, their attitude changes when outlaws attack.

Suddenly, John Russell, with his wily Apache ways, is the only one who can save them.

And he does.

But in the process (spoiler alert), he dies.

I read Hombre while driving west. While the dry Texas plains and the hot New Mexico desert and the rain-streaked Arizona rocks zipped past, I read how John Russell gave his life for some people he didn’t know, some people who thought he was less than the clotted mud on the bottom of his moccasins.

And because Hombre was the first novel I read in my car, and because I loved the character so much, I named my car after him – a Christ-like figure in a cowboy hat.

Now, as you can imagine, explaining the origin of John Russell’s name was always a bit of an ordeal. In fact, the explanation was so tedious it usually left me wishing I’d chosen something simpler or, better yet, nothing at all.

And so, only a handful of people knew his name, but those who did used it affectionately.

When his transmission broke, they said, “John Russell has a stomach ache.”

When I took him to the car wash, they said, “John Russell’s taking a bath.”

But in the days after the crash, we never once called him John Russell. Instead, we referred to him only as “the car.”

I was driving on the highway from Dallas to Austin, and it was raining. John Russell and I had been in the rain before, and though I doubt he liked it much, I certainly did. I’ve always loved the rain, especially the rain in Texas.

I was listening to the radio. At first, NPR. Then later, Johann Pachelbel’s Magnificat in D, Mary’s song of praise when she finds out she’s pregnant. And still later, some obnoxious new country song.

I hit a patch of water, which caused me to hydroplane and lose control. I slid right and John Russell’s nose went left. The steering wheel jumped away. I was drifting fast, trying to brake, not sure if I should brake, headed toward a semi truck on my right, sure my tires would hit a strip of dry road and the car would flip and the semi would barrel through me.

I thought I was going to die. I cried out to God.

When we hit the concrete median, John Russell crumpled like an empty soda can, the hood buckled, the glass shattered. I bit my tongue hard and my head snapped side to side.

I should have died. I should have cracked my skull or fissured my spine or broken my arm, but I didn’t. All the energy that should have shattered my bones, John Russell absorbed instead.

Afterward, I rode in an ambulance to the emergency room and never saw him again.

The way I see it, there are two ways to interpret our lives: either the things that happen are meaningless, or they’re not. And if they’re not, then we can look at our lives and read them like a story to discover the purpose underneath.

Reading my life like a story sounds nice when it’s day-to-day, but when it’s something as profound as a near-death experience, every interpretation sounds hollow in comparison to the real thing, as though it’s too extraordinary to understand through human eyes.

What’s more, I will forget details of the event and botch the story.

I will forget that earlier that day I was filled with a surge of hope for the future, but that I was frustrated when I left Dallas.

I will forget that in the ambulance I repeated over and over to myself the Jesus prayer, Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner, because even though I was safe, I was still afraid that my luck would run out and God would let me die right there on the gurney from some unknown internal wound.

I will forget that on the drive home from the hospital, my body wracking with sobs, my father calmed me by telling stories of his own near-death experiences.

I will forget all these details and pull together others to make a story that makes sense to me in the hope that it is the right story, or at least one true story out of many possible ones.

But what else can I do? Meaninglessness isn’t an option.

My interpretation goes like this:

Before the accident, I was scared, mostly about the kinds of things I imagine most 20-something-year-olds are scared about: the scant number of dollars in our bank accounts, the pressure to find a job that both pays extremely well and fulfills our unattainable desire to absolutely love our work, the unfounded belief that with each friend’s wedding we move closer to spinsterhood, and other things as well.

After the accident, I was no longer scared.

Though my whole body ached, though bruises began to appear in black splotches on my arms and legs, though a red mark emerged where the seat belt had dug into my collar, I’d never felt better. I was keenly aware of having survived something I should not have survived, that my very existence was a gift, that I was a living testament of grace.

Survival brought with it a kind of freedom. I was grateful to be alive. What else mattered?

God had been there, a hand of protection when I swerved all over the watery road and slammed into the concrete, so near to me in that moment when my heart was a hand that reached out and grabbed him, when I yelled “Help!”

And yet, where was he, really? I didn’t see him. Not on the road or in the ambulance or in the hot shower that night when I scrubbed the sticky tape leftover from where the medic had stuck an IV in my arm, or when I curled, shaking, under the comforter and tried to sleep.

And why me? I know others have not been as fortunate. Nor am I now untouchable by evil, by pain, by death, though I’m as likely as anyone to naively believe in her own immortality.

To have an encounter with death like that, to know God’s protection in a moment of complete lack of control, and then to find afterward that God is still too huge to comprehend, too different to even find to approach, too vast to experience fully – it is disquieting.

This is what moments of closeness to the other world do to a person. They awaken in us acknowledgement of God, acknowledgement of grace.

What am I saying?

I’m merely saying that this life is grace, that both the accident and surviving the accident were gifts. I’m merely saying that this moment of survival, along with the thousands of breaths we take per day, are given to us and could just as easily be taken away. I’m merely saying that I experienced a holy being who loves me, who undergirds my existence, who in doing so is nearer to me than I am to myself, and in being able to do so is farther from me than the farthest star from the Earth, a being who would crumple and bleed to keep me safe, just like John Russell.

I miss John Russell, of course.

I miss the memories we made with my bare feet sticking out his back window. I miss reading on his sunlit seat. I miss finding sand scattered on his floor after a day at the beach. I even miss checking his oil and filling his tank with gasoline – or, as I used to say, “taking him out for a drink.”

As I write this, my old friend’s in an impound lot in West, Texas, a blip on the map just north of Waco, sides scraped, bumper hanging loose, frame twisted, and windows smashed. Meanwhile, I’m sitting on my front porch in Dallas on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, sunlight dappling the grass and a light breeze rustling the leafy branches of an old oak tree.

John Russell saved me.

But in the process, he died.

A tall calling for a used car, but John Russell had a tall name. I’d say he lived up to it.

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Springs and streams

February 25, 2016 § 3 Comments

“It was you who opened up springs and streams; you dried up the ever flowing rivers. The day is yours, and yours also the night; you established the sun and moon. It was you who set all the boundaries of the earth; you made both summer and winter.”


For the first time in a long time, I’m participating in Lent. Really participating. Not like that one time in high school when I gave up sweets because one of my friends thought it would be fun to do it together. Or last year, when I attended Maundy Thursday but missed every other Lenten service, including its pinnacle: Easter. Or all the other years when I halfheartedly thought about giving something up but in the end knew I just wasn’t into it. No, this year, I’m really pressing into the images and meanings of Lent, and it has already been sweet beyond imagine.

I borrowed this lovely book from the library, which couples a reading from Scripture with an exegesis, a prayer, and a complementary work of art. I’ve refrained from checking any social media (except for Facebook messages; such is the difficulty of disconnecting in the Reign of the Internet). And I’ve begun to consider the image of life in a desert and the possibility that the god whom I’ve lately felt distant from, whom I’ve recently felt embarrassed to talk about, is there; I’m beginning to look for manna actualizing itself in my small sphere of existence.

This last bit is what I’m loving most about the Lenten season. Lent is a time when we’re allowed to pause and say, you know, sometimes this life feels quite barren. Sometimes, I’m tired or lonely or mournful or anxious or fill-in-the-blank-with-whatever’s-hounding-you-today. It’s a time when we don’t have to pull ourselves up by the bootstraps, but instead, can recognize that sometimes, this life is kind of hard. Maybe it’s really hard, depending on your situation. And then, we can remember that the springs and the dry beds, the sun and the moon, the summer and the winter, in every season, lush or barren, there is the hand of God.

*

When I lived in Southern California, it was easy for me to see God everywhere. Not only was the sunset over the Pacific Ocean sublime every evening, literally declaring the glory of God, so was the purple sunlight on the mountains, the palm trees in the breeze, the painted tiles ornately decorating city buildings downtown. One of my dearest friends and I often talk about how the aesthetics of a place affects our mood, and in that lovely place, how could I not feel close to the beautiful one himself, the form of the form, Jesus, son of God?

But I live in Dallas now, and this city is a different beast. It is angry highways cutting through downtown, bill boards ten feet tall, sprawling suburbs, construction zones, a flat horizon for miles. Growing up, I used to want to live in a big city – I even talked about living in Dallas one day. Now, Dallas is my very own desert, a desert I’m always trying to escape by planning trips to the West Coast, the East Coast, the Midwest, and basically anywhere else I can afford. I need God more than anything in this place, and yet everywhere my eyes fall I feel as if he’s forsaken me.

*

Which is why I’m loving this Lenten season so much. I didn’t expect to love it, but I do. I love it because in Lent we acknowledge our desert-ness, and then we look for God in the midst of it. We acknowledge the ways we’ve fallen short. We acknowledge the ways our lives our broken. We acknowledge the ways we feel lost, tired, anxious, depressed, angry, unsatisfied, anxious for no reason, anxious for a lot of obvious reasons, bitter, envious, prideful, crushed. We acknowledge that we’re buried by sin and circumstance, and then we reach out of that pit of trash to find God there, ready to grab our hand. He pulls us up, wipes us off, and gives us a cracker of manna.

For me, that manna is the answered prayer for provision. It’s the completion of a writing project I’ve held in my heart for so long. It’s a community of new friends. It’s the continual deepening of old friendships and familial ties. It’s reading in coffee shops and walking the dog. It’s signing up for a library card and devouring short story after short story.

These are mercies from a loving God. This is manna in the desert. This is the Lenten season.

*

A friend recently introduced me to the music of Audrey Assad. I’ve been wrapping myself in her words all day, and I think discovering her music may be another Lenten mercy. Perhaps you already know about her; I am often late to discovering musicians. Even so, here is one of her songs I’ve particularly enjoyed:

 

Vignettes on love {3}

February 1, 2016 § Leave a comment

“See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.”


You promise to build us a highway over and through the mountains. You promise to feed us, to quench our thirst, to let us see. You promise that you are near, that our names are inked in dark blue and black scrawls on your wide hands, that the love of a mother for a baby might, improbably, fail, but yours will never for you are love itself and cannot not be what you are. When it appears you are far, let us know you are close so we do not grow bitter. Show us a sign so the mountains of our hearts and the earth of our bodies might shout, might sing. Remind us: our walls are your walls, and like a ghost you walk through them, carrying us along.

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Vignettes on love {2}

January 28, 2016 § 2 Comments

Several weeks ago, I had an idea, an idea to document through writing some of the instances of love in my life.

The idea was born after I experienced a sense of love during a strangely mystical yoga class. I liked the idea a lot because I knew that writing about love would force me to be more aware of the love that already exists in my life, and I’ve found that when I acknowledge love, I become more grateful for it, and when I become more grateful, I am also filled with joy.

And, let’s face it, we could all use a little more joy.

*

For better or for worse, I have a tendency to plan what I want to write in my head long before I sit down to actually write it. So, last week, when I was visiting my parents on the East Coast, I began outlining this blog post in my mind.

I wanted to write about how I’ve experienced love through provision.

Like many adults, one of the things that scares me more than anything else is a lack of financial security. More than once this year (and it’s only January y’all…), the scant number of dollars in my bank account has scared me witless. But just as I began to fear I’d end up homeless or, worse, working behind a cash register at Walmart, that’s when a check I forgot was coming to me would suddenly appear in the mail.

Call me crazy, call me full of spiritual mumbo jumbo, but each time I received one of those checks, income for some freelance writing service rendered, I saw it as a sign of provision and provision as a sign of God’s love.

I thought about Matthew 6:26, Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? and I believed that while, of course, each check that appeared was really just the result of a job well done, it was also used by God as a sign to me saying, “I love you. I will provide for you.”

I guess I think the things that happen in our lives can have multiple meanings.

*

That’s what I wanted to write about when I outlined this blog post last week.

Of course, that was before I returned from my trip to find, yes, two checks in the mail, but also a bill, a bill I thought was sorted out by my insurance company long ago, a bill that far outnumbered any money earned.

Provision indeed.

For a while, I thought, well, I guess I’ll have to come up with some other instance of love to write about because clearly this isn’t it.

But then I changed my mind.

Because the truth is, I do still feel provided for, I do still feel loved. I do still feel like I’d rather move forward with trust in the promise of provision, in hope that the things that happen to me and the people I love are for our good. I do still feel like whenever I reach the end of my wits, that’s when I receive a tiny little sign, sometimes in the form of a slip of paper, a sign that if a bird is a beloved creature of God, so are we — and so, so, so much more.

*

A few photos from the trip:

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National Archives, Washington, D.C.

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Pentagon Memorial, Arlington, VA

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Bristol, Rhode Island

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Bristol, Rhode Island

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Nothing like Mom’s kitchen flowers <3

Vignettes on love {1}

January 21, 2016 § Leave a comment

Last week, I decided to splurge on an evening yoga class.

I was feeling restless and anxious, restless because, well, I’m always on the lookout for that Next Big Thing, be it a trip or an experience or a person to befriend, and wanted that Next Big Thing to happen now dammit, and anxious because, as much as I believe in providence, the future often seems like a huge question mark looming over me, threatening to disrupt my otherwise pleasant life, and on that day, in my life, the future was all but completely blocking out the sun.

Yoga is one of the best ways I know to calm my nerves and pull me out of my own fruitless thoughts. So, I donned my workout clothes, filled up a bottle of water, and headed to the studio for a grueling hour-long class of downward dogs and upward dogs and warrior ones (and twos and threes) and tree poses and eagle poses and other poses whose names I don’t remember but man, were they hard.

At the end of class, our teacher dimmed the lights and turned on some classical music. She instructed us to move into our final pose, the pose which concludes every yoga class: shavasana (a.k.a. corpse pose).

In shavasana, you lie on your back with your arms and legs slightly spread apart. You close your eyes and breath deeply, relaxing your body into the floor and relieving any tension in the muscles. Traditionally, this position lasts around thirty minutes, though we Westerners shorten it to around five (I guess we have to rush everything, even our yoga classes).

As I lay on my back, my muscles loose, my skin shining with perspiration, the air I breathed hot and smelling of fresh eucalyptus incense, I began to relax. I felt the floor envelope my body, holding me against it like the palm of a hand might cradle something small and fragile. And as my body slackened and my mind quieted, something else appeared: an overwhelming sense of love.

A sense that, in the middle of my restlessness and anxiety, I was loved, not just by my friends and family, whose love is good, but imperfect, as is my love for them, but by something bigger, by God. And in being loved by God, by being enfolded in God’s wings, by being cupped in His large hand, I was protected, I was okay. Maybe not in the way I always want to be, with complete surety about everything and complete protection from every physical and emotional and even spiritual harm, but in a deeper way, an abiding way that would lead me from here through life to eternity.

Now, I am the first to admit that this kind of phenomena is easily dismissed by those who consider themselves rational (of which I am one). A rational person could easily say that I experienced this deep sense of abiding love because I was overheated. Or dehydrated. Or perhaps daydreaming in my listless shavasana pose.

Yes. Perhaps. I won’t say any of those explanations are impossible.

But I also won’t deny my own experience, and my experience tells me that I felt, for one brief moment, what it’s like to be wholly loved, and the freedom that comes from it, the freedom to open my eyes in that dark room, to roll up my mat, to move effortlessly across the creaking wooden floor to the air-conditioned lobby of that yoga studio with lightness and purpose and assurance in my existence as one who is loved.

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from my recent trip to Washington, D.C.

A Poem

January 12, 2016 § 6 Comments

Lately, I’ve been enjoying reading and, on occasion, writing a bit of poetry. Right now, I’m smitten with the poems written by contemporary poets in Image Journal and Ruminate Magazine, two lovely quarterlies that explore the relationship between art and faith. I’m also flipping through Caroline Kennedy’s She Walks in Beauty: A Woman’s Journey through Poems, which is a wonderful anthology of poems about the joys and sorrows of being a woman.

Here’s a poem I wrote as a writing exercise several months ago. I discovered it on a crinkled piece of notebook paper while clearing out my closet, and thought I would share:

Something Sensuous

Sour, the taste of lemons,
Sweet, the taste of chocolate white,
Sacramental bread and wine is
something, but nothing you taste like.

Sorrowful, holy voices rising,
Sonorous, organ boom,
Saint-like, I kneel to listen, hearing only
silence from an empty tomb.

Soft, a child’s bare arm in summer,
Squishy, the wet sponge in my sink,
Sheep’s skin, dew-covered, a
sign nowhere near the brink.

Sunset, a golden-hued death.
Sunrise, a purple-streaked birth.
Son of God, haloed and holy-hands
standing, but a photo before the broken curse.

Steaming, bitter coffee in a cracked mug,
Scented, the candle on my porcelain tub,
Smell of blood and water flowing,
salient story, though crass.

Advent: week four

December 24, 2015 § 2 Comments

I’ve been putting off writing a blog post for this final week of Advent because lately, my mind has felt rather like a dry bed of ideas. Any beginning sprig of a thought withers and dies. Then, this morning I cut my thumb on a broken light bulb and found myself barely able to type this meager paragraph, let alone a whole blog post. I decided to see that as a sign and let myself off the hook, but so I won’t have to say I failed in my resolution to blog every week, I’ll share an Advent reflection from last year. Wishing you the merriest of Christmases!

*

“For nothing is impossible with God.”

The words leap from the page and lodge in my mind. They are the words spoken by the angel Gabriel to Mary in Nazareth.

The angel tells her she will have a son, not by her betrothed Joseph, but by the Holy Spirit. Her son is the not only the son of Mary, but the Son of God.

Well. How many forms of impossibility can I name here? The impossibility of the existence of God; the impossibility of an angel; the impossibility of an angel speaking to a woman; the impossibility of a virgin having a baby; the impossibility of a baby being the Son of God.

Mary sees the impossibility.

“How will this be?” she asks.

“Nothing is impossible with God,” says the angel.

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary says. “May it be to me as you have said.”

I am struck. Here is Mary, accepting the impossible possibility. How? How?

Because she knows nothing is impossible with God.

I believe a lot of things are impossible with God. I fear God Himself is an impossibility. How many days per week, times per day, minutes per hour, do I doubt God’s presence, doubt God’s power, doubt God’s love? Don’t answer; I don’t want to know.

But the angel says, “nothing is impossible with God,” and Mary nods, opens herself to impossibility, and the Son of God is born.

Mary is receptive. She listens for God, she hears, she receives, and the impossible is made possible within her.

It’s Advent, and I’m thinking a lot about impossible things. I think I see the limits of possibility, a thin line at the border of my life, fencing me in.

But the angel’s words are there in my memory, saying, “nothing is impossible with God,” and something in me stirs. The line begins to blur. Beyond the fence I see a field that stretches on and on, full of green grass gently swaying.

If Advent is about waiting, it’s also about being receptive to what we’re waiting for, and the beginning of being receptive is believing the words of the angel who says, “For nothing is impossible with God.”

Advent: week three

December 14, 2015 § 3 Comments

It hardly feels like Christmastime here in Dallas. I’m sitting outside under the leafy oak tree, sunlight dappling the green lawn, birds chirping in the limbs overhead. Earlier, I jogged around the block, enjoying the 70 degree weather in my T-shirt and running shorts.

Though it’s hardly Christmas-like, I am glad for the warmth. There is something sweet in weather like this, something that makes me rather nostalgic for summers in high school, for the excitement of driving down a rarely trodden dirt road, for the pleasure of climbing a hefty low-limbed tree.

This weather is making me feel good, making me feel something rather like joy, something rather like hope.

*

And of course, hope is at the heart of Advent.

But hope isn’t always so easy to come by, and the thing we have hope in during Advent (namely, that the eternal and everlasting being we call God tucked Himself into the tiny and temporal being of a baby) often seems silly at best and downright mad at worst.

This weather, though, it’s making me look at hope through new eyes. It’s making me pause and wonder, what if?

*

What if the eternal and everlasting being we call God tucked Himself into the tiny and temporal being of a baby?

And what if He did that so that He could grow up and die?

And what if, in dying, He turned back the clocks, unfolded the sheets of time, threw back the stars in their galaxies?

What if He’s doing that in us now, clawing away our crusty exteriors, breathing fresh air into the dark holes of our being, filling us up with honey and wine?

What if we stepped back from our expectations of what the world is and will be and always has been, and thought, maybe God came to Earth as a little baby?

What if we dared to hope, dared to look around for God, dared to see Him, if just for one brief instant, here in the sunshine of a balmy winter’s day, here, on Earth?

Advent: week two

December 5, 2015 § 4 Comments

“It seems to me we can never give up longing and wishing while we are still alive. There are certain things we feel to be beautiful and good, and we must hunger for them.” ~ George Eliot


I have a confession to make: sometimes, I twist my prayers during Advent, which should concern the coming of the Lord, into my own personal appeal for the things I want which I don’t have yet.

Advent is supposed to be about anticipating God’s coming, His birth long ago, His return in the future, and His presence with us now. But because Advent is all about waiting for something desired, I tend to confuse waiting for God with waiting for all of those other things I want.

Some of those things are good, some of those things are bad, and some of those things can be good or bad, depending on the situation. Nevertheless, instead of praying, “come, Lord, come,” I find myself praying, “come, would you just give me at least a few of these things I want already?”

I know this isn’t what Advent is supposed to be about, but it has me thinking: when is it okay to say, “all right, God, I want You, I really do, but I’d rather like this other thing, too?”

Because that’s really what I want to pray, and am already praying, but I worry that’s rather like saying, “God, sorry to break it to You, but You’re just not enough.”

And that can’t be right, can it?

*

I hear Christians say all of the time (and say it myself, on occasion), “God is enough.”

But what, exactly, does that mean?

Some days, I find it doesn’t mean anything. Those are the days when I’m not praying or listening or sitting in silence with God, when I’m distracted by my to-do list, by my worries, by my fears. Because after all, how can God be enough for me when I never think about Him, when I don’t invite Him into my sorrow, when I don’t ask Him for discernment navigating my life?

But even when I am in communion with God, there are still times when He feels distant, even nonexistent. And there are other times when the struggle I face isn’t eased or removed by His presence.

In other words, times when God doesn’t seem like enough.

*

But then I remember something important. I remember that God is an infinite love, a love greater than anything I could ever imagine. And I remember that I am like an ever-emptying cup, longing to be filled.

My never-ending desire wants something that is infinitely satisfying. Anything less would prove disappointing in the end.

And though I don’t receive understanding and fulfillment all at once, through spiritual discipline, through prayer and longing and searching and listening, I draw near to Him, and He slowly, wonderfully fills me up.

Maybe our cups will never be full until the Kingdom of God appears. Maybe that’s why all of these other desires seem so appealing to us now. Maybe that’s why waiting for Him to come again during Advent is so important, because then, only then, God, revealed in His fullness, will finally be enough.

*

But what about all of those other things I want? What about that fiery word, desire?

There are so many good and beautiful things in this world, and I would very much like to experience them all, or at least as many as I can.

And I think I should. I think you should too.

I think there are many desires laid in our hearts by God, and sometimes those desires become twisted with sin, and sometimes those desires drive us mad, and sometimes, when those desires are filled, we find they weren’t exactly what we wanted after all, and sometimes, when those desires are filled, we find they fill us up with more than we ever thought we could hold.

None of these desires need detract from our love of God. Many of them can even bring us closer to Him.

After all, He is not only infinite love, but infinite beauty and infinite goodness too, and we see glimpses of Him in the loving, beautiful, and good things of this world.

Perhaps, then, God is a lot more intwined in what we want than we might think. Perhaps, then, God is revealing Himself to us all of the time, even through the unfurling of our desires.

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