Out of Place

Everything is out of place.

The breath in my lungs,
beat of my heart.
Vision now: shapes and shadows.

Jostled, shaken, stirred
and pressed back in sideways;
nothing’s like it should be.

All I wanted was to
make sense of things;
here, there is no knowing,
no moments understood.
Just a picking apart
of what pieced me together,
a stitch undone,
a snip comes uncurled.

Is this mess or mystery?

Everything is jarred, loose,
unsettled, restrung.
A shedding of soul,
carving of bones.

Bring Me Back

O God, You are my God,
earnestly I seek You;
my soul thirsts for You,
my body longs for You,
in a dry and weary land
where there is no water.

-Psalm 63:1

 

Life continues to spin straight out of control, off its axis, upside down. I am left no room to know which way is up, what I’m seeing straight before me. Static collapses my ears, closes off communication with You. I am millions of miles away, getting farther, but my hand strains to find Yours.

I am not meant for this madness, yet this is my life. My every day, off balance, and I desperately try to regain some semblance of control. Oh Lord, it has been so long since I’ve been silent with You, since I’ve sat in Your presence and lingered, allowed You to reach into me and soothe the frazzled places. How do I get back there? I long to be with You, sit before You and listen, receive. But the way this world is working takes and twists my path, dusts the trail so I am not sure where I am and what my distance is to You. I look up and am consumed by shadows, flashes of light.

How do I get to You from the chaos? I long to breathe in Your peace, Your presence, allow You to lead me beside quiet waters. But the pace of my life is frantic, overwhelming, impractical. I want to drop everything I’m trying to juggle and ask what YOU want me to pick up and personally place in my hands.

I long for You, my soul thirsts for you in a vast, unknown universe. My body aches and tightens until it finds You. Lead me, love me, bring my heart back from the abyss. I am nothing without You, and the distance between us makes me tremble. Cast off every distraction, every person, place, and thing that takes me away from You. You long to be gracious to me, as I lay in the dark without direction, without You, thinking of the way we used to be. Bring me back, my Love and Light. Sustain me, my Lord. You satisfy me as nothing else can, and I am tired of trying to keep up with this way of life when I was never meant to in the first place. I cling to You, my Provider and Help. Reel me in, tuck me to Your side. You are my directional compass, my North Star, the One who sees and knows. The One who won’t let me go.

 

Lord, I feel so far away. The pace of life, the way I’m wired, I just can’t keep up. I’m not meant to. I can’t see where You are or feel Your presence. Will You come quickly to me? Will You wrap me in Your embrace and clear the clutter that keeps me from You? You are the One who sees me, the One who knows what I go through and how my heart aches. Be gracious to me and bring me close to You. Amen.

 

Unashamed

Do not let me be ashamed of my hope. Ashamed of my hope for more, for deeper, for richness of life. Do not let me be ashamed of wanting to climb, to reach, to unfold myself and stretch into the impossible. I am not satisfied. I am unashamed. There will always be a hunger in me to plunge into the abyss, the unexplored; the unbecoming of the old and transformed into new.

 

***

This is part of an ongoing series that will share excerpts of my book-in-progress, tentatively titled Grappling for Good: Revealing grace to light the dark. It’s my journey through a year of unexpected circumstances and soul excavation to discover the goodness of God in surprising ways.

 

Finally

I undress my soul
in the dark.
Your razor eyes
are sharp to see
and miss nothing
as I slip each layer
quietly to the floor.

I reach the end of myself;
You smile and pierce my
shallow breathing with one word
that says it all:
“Finally.”

Bottle This Life

I have been around the world, seen the beauty of cultures and places I’ve never imagined I’d step through their soil. But there is nowhere that I love more than the home water of Lake Michigan seen from different places up the shoreline.

The billow of smoke swelling into clouds from the power company across the pier. Curve of cross atop the arch of steeple jutting into break of blue sky from the overcast Monday. Dance of white caps disappearing beneath swirl of cobalt and cerulean.

My dad sits across from me in our favorite harbor cafe in a wicker chair with a view of the water. Glass of Diet Coke fizzes in the buoy of ice cubes. He shares more of himself with me than he has in years, honesty flashing behind his humor, glimpse of his inner-wiring seldom shown.

I want to bottle this moment, this life.

Heading back to work for an appointment, he brushes my cheek with a kiss and thanks me for being his daughter. I switch to his seat so I can have the view of the harbor. He waves outside the window, walks across the street with his blue jacket straining in the wind. His life is nowhere near where he thought it would be, but still he steps on, courageous. Isn’t that the truth for all of us?

A cup of three quarters drunk cocoa stands open on the table, lid face up with remnants of whipped cream, milk, and chocolate. I sip through the cooled liquid.

Here comes a boat speeding from the open water, waves of white spray spread behind like the train of a wedding gown. I miss the rhythm of the lake, cadence of community. Familiar warmth of nipping cold that bites early spring.

I am fully myself here and I don’t even have to think about it. I just breathe. I just am.

Dad snaps a picture of me on his phone through the glass. I am sitting in his chair, cup outstretched in greeting, grin etched on my lips, while behind him is a layer of parked cars and a sliver of blue from the breakwater. He eyes his phone and smiles at the image, and I keep smiling, watching him capture this blink of time.

Cadence

I do not want to be part of the world outside my window. With the people swarming like flies, chittering to one another, purses plastered to shoulders and workout clothes exposing body parts that should be kept for home. I don’t want to be part of the blur of cars pushing through, sound of exhaust and motor always moving. Or dogs barking, their throats in constant use just to alert their owners of another being existing down the street. I don’t want the high-pitched peal of laughter for an alarm clock, or waiting five minutes to cross the great divide of the street.

Instead, give me the sleeping pine trees, slowly waking in a warm bath of sun. Or the wind, trailing its fingers across the tufts of grass and wrinkle of leaves. Give me long grass, peonies with their tight fisted balls blooming when, and only when, they choose to be ready. Give me the glass top of the lake, the diamonds cast across its surface, the deep, vast, cerulean and teal waters. The slow pace, the light jacket of nature that fits perfectly around my shoulders. Give me space to breathe, to be, to let my heart rise and be gentle to itself.

Concrete jungles with their robotic inhabitants do nothing for me. I am not made to be boxed in by buildings and hurry. Throw my soul wide open and get me far away, to the edge of myself, to the edge of the world, and be hidden in the brush, the sloping dunes, the sherbet sky tumbling against the horizon, the warblers and loons to soothe me asleep. This is my cadence: the one that’s set by shooting stars.

Hard to Hold

Heartbeats are hard to hold in the palm of my hand when they are new and slippery and never stay in one place.

But here they are, just out of their plastic wrap, not a fingerprint mark on their surface, brought to life by the warmth of blood beneath my skin. Such innocence. Such amazement. Such determination to show me what it looks like to fully break open and out.

I wonder, what does it look like, to begin again? A new life, a thaw from the frozen fields of my heart battered and upturned? To step into the new world, the people and places that swirl about, unfamiliar shapes and colors, all a blur, everything foreign to my eyes.

At the crossroads of my identity, my heart’s skin is patching up the bones. It’s been such a battle to bring breath back into my lungs, to lock eyes with the landscape around me and dare to believe that I can rework the soil, clear space to cultivate something completely different than the forsaken remains of rubble that once housed my dreams.

God and I, we’ve unearthed the underside of my darkest pain, my scarred memories, smashed soul, and belief hammered down before it could climb into sunlight again. Over and over, I spoke a mantra that He is good, that He is good to me, even when I couldn’t keep tucked secure in faith.

But here I am, waking up one weekend with a wave of fresh air, on the edge of coming into my own in an environment where through and through I am completely alone. Starting over, seeking truth, beginning to understand that this continued path will not be easy. It will be messy, ensnared, rough choices every moment to decide to do work for my heart. Lessons lived, truths learned in earnest, catastrophe and incline.

Will I be taught to tie anchor to His strength and gear up for the battle? To reclaim ground, I must be grounded in the fire beneath my veins, remember how it burned so great within once before.

There are still vast wonders to find. Otherworld treasures that glow in the eternal realm, flicker in the here and now.

How to be bold in the face of the excruciating pain it will take to stand day after day in the open, heart hanging in suspension, exposed and aching. Learn what it means to lean into hope, hold onto it like a lifeline, that even when what I ask for doesn’t answer like I desire, that it is not the end. That it is good, because God deems it so. But to continue to hold out my hands in offering, accepting what instead He has to give.

To take heart, stand with a shield of courage banded in front of me, bravery a voice that had forgotten to share its tone with me for many years. Stand in the face of lions baring teeth like swords, stare them in the eye.

Keep kissing the hurt when I am pushed from my protection, of my natural response to shrink back inside myself and push away. No. This time I stay. I do not drop my gaze; I do not hide my heart. If at first it takes a lie to pretend I am someone stronger than actuality, then so be it. Soon enough, the more I speak to this persona, the more it will embed into my DNA and evolve into truth.

Here I stand, breathing out loud in the quiet. Listening to the way my lips exhale this newness, first blink of daylight in darkness long curtained in timid caverns.

I must begin to fight.

For creativity, the aching in my chest that pops like sparklers in July dusk. It’s been a black and white existence burrowed into my marrow, where once flashed multitude of magic shades. Words pierced me, brought this terrible and beautiful world bright and full when I first bloomed into being.

For love. To walk that road with head up and hands waving, smile sewn across my face. Even when it broke my bones and jaded my rose-colored glasses, dare to cast out fear in perfect love. Turn the spigot, spray me with that crimson stream that grows my desolate places. When love hurts, know the pain reminds me that this body, these organs, all particles unseen, are sparked reminders that I am alive.

Battle up for being brave. Because my heart, my hope, my faith, my soul, will take hit after hit, knockdown after disappointment. I want to know how to retain the courage to keep moving. To plow forward with confident determination that though I stumble, I will not veer.

Fight to feel. Break barriers to believe. Fresh cleanse from the musty attic of words I would not say. Refuse to fold. Trust Him alone who heals my hurt, makes all things new. To begin again is to behold the blank canvas, the color wheel, the first slide of step that lights the way.

I am the walking miracle regaled in stories whispered in awe around the world. Believe this. Begin again.

This is the Sound of Loneliness

The monotonous drone of a faucet leaking beads of water. One. Drop. At. A. Time.

Filling a smooth, opaque glass full of those water beads, discerning the raise of noise compiling in the cup.

Taking it into the living room of a small, cluttered apartment on the tenth floor. Standing at the large, open window, forehead against the glass and hearing the muffled sound of cars and stereos and shouts below.

The steady click of the turquoise clock above the bookcase, passing away the time that ushers in evening from the day.

Remembering the life outside the door, once stretching without effort, now gasping at shadows to bring a bit of color to the moment.

Running fingertips against the rough patched couch, the scratch of fabric to fingers a reminder that the ability to feel still exists.

Your Chosen One

Slow mornings.

Letting the cloud of sleep softly dissipate, bleary-eyed to the coffee pot. That first sip of deep dark roast on the patio. I could swim in this stuff if I were small enough to fit in my cup.

The water sparkles today and I find my words fall short to accurately describe the glory.

You are showing me what it is like to be free, to be Your child, Your chosen one. Sometimes it comes softly, unexpected, in a quiet or silent moment where I’m unaware it’s holy ground until long after the day is done and I find myself cocooned under the covers, remembering how You held my hand and walked with me.

What would it look like to let You lead? Chart out my course and mark my steps on the map? And then follow, with no wondering, even if it appears I wander. There is purpose in the wander. It’s deliberate, thought out.

Let Him lead, dear heart. Let His soft and sure hand guide you through.

Align My Hope

Birds are chirping out my window, somewhere in the split-wide blue sky.

Spring is coming. The light lingers, air holds hope of warmth in weeks to come.

I have learned to wait through the winter, watching for signs of more welcoming weather.

I have learned patience, and also how impatient I really am.

Life should be enough. Breath, beautiful enough.

I have learned to be content. But is it wrong to want more?

Life in full; overflowing, rich in experience.

Is it wrong to want?

He has promised life in abundance; what was given through a life lived true and perfect.

Is it wrong to hold out my hands and ask for more?

Wrong for my soul to speak and ask for revival?

Peace. All I want is peace to know there is goodness within my grasp.

People are strolling the street, ducking in and out of shops, stopping for homemade bread and chocolate.

This town has its charm, albeit reminiscent of the dark mystery of Stepford Wives.

Lord, I want to break free.

Come alive, dig deep beneath surface and find a way to align my hope with what’s in the world.

Piece together my passion, explore what makes me curious. Connect the dots.

Lord, I want to be obedient.

Follow where I am needed, walk the way woven together for me.

Spring is coming. But where are the buds that should shoot forth from my heart?

Is it wrong to ask for more? For my heart to come alive?

Come alive, heart. Please God, find a way.