When I Stumble in the Dark

because I can't walk in the dark

It’s when I’m walking in the dark that I stumble on them and curse. Small, brass pyramids – their triangular shapes piercing into my tender skin.

We had purchased several sets, one for each child. Stocking stuffers that had seemed a good idea at the time.

But in the middle of the night, in the dark I glare at the idea. Who cares about the details? All I know is they were where they were not supposed to be – the floor.

They hurt me and I’m angry.

And that’s what happens when I try to walk in the dark. I stumble and I hurt myself. It’s either a bed post or dresser corner, pair of shoes or pieces of Lego. It matters not what it is, the fact remains – I stumble and I hurt myself.

I can’t walk in the dark. I must have a light.

The spiritual lesson is not lost on me. I’m clear as to what this means. I can’t do this walk of life without a light. Even a pinpoint of light is enough to guide me and keep me safe from obstacles.

Because I can’t walk in the dark, I get hurt walking in the dark.

You, O Lord, Keep my lamp burning;

My God turns my darkness into light.

Psalm 18:28

 

I Love the City Until…..

Boston from Federal Reserve Bank Building

Last night someone broke into our car. I foolishly left the windows down – just one inch, forgot to lock the doors, and didn’t alarm the car. It was a, what do you call it? A sitting duck? Open game?

Whatever the idiom, there was nothing to prevent someone from trying to get in.

We keep little in our car. Some coins for parking meters – a city ‘must-have’, Kleenex, and Altoids. Altoids were strewn across the passenger seat. Quarters and dimes were gone, the thief randomly leaving nickles. My husband found the car this way well past midnight as he went to pick up one of our kids from the airport.

We live in the city, and I love the city. I love the bustle. I love being able to walk to get coffee, walk to get groceries, walk to the subway that takes me just three stops to my place of work in downtown Boston.

I used to sing with gusto the song “You’re the God of this City” by Chris Tomlin. I sang these words and I thought I meant them:

You’re the God of this city.You’re the King of these people. You’re the Lord of this nation. You’re the light in this darkness.You’re the hope to the hopeless. You’re the peace to the restless.

Greater things have yet to come, And greater things are still to be done in this city.

And then I’d repeat. And the second time I sang it was with even more emphasis, sometimes a tear catching in my eye.

I love the city – until the city turns on me. I love the city until I find out we were robbed and every cupboard and every door and every closet is open, the thief frantically searching for valuables.

I love this city until someone tries to steal my car. I love this city until my neighbors wake me at 2:30 in the morning, their dog bouncing a fake bone across the wooden floor.

I love this city – until I don’t love it.

I love this city when it’s good to me, when I feel safe and alive.

And when I don’t – I hate it. I hate everything about it.

My love for the city is completely conditional.

And in this early morning, as I work through how I feel, and I’m tired, and all I want is to move far away I realize how much my love for God resembles my love for the city.

I love God when He’s good to me, when I feel safe and alive.

I love God – until I don’t love Him. Until I question everything about Him and shake my fist in His Almighty face, forgetting that He is the maker of the universe, He is the God of this city.

So I sit, face to face with all my ugly, with all my fickle, conditional, capricious love.

And as I sit I know without doubt that, unlike the city, God hears my cry, listens to my anger, and continues to pour forth unconditional love on my soul.

Breathe

The morning starts with a sun-sparkled ocean and coffee, strong, sweet coffee.

The weight and frustrations of the week are wrapped up and thrown out with yesterday’s kitty litter. Only one place for them to go – to the garbage, the grey, mud splattered trash can.

The restlessness, mistakes, disagreements – thrown out.

Today is a new day, a new time, an empty chalkboard. I look out at the ocean and cup my hands open – open to life, to God, to Joy.

And I remember to Breathe

No one who ever said to God, “Thy will be done” and meant it with his heart, ever failed to find joy—not just in heaven, or even down the road in the future in this world, but in this world at that very moment, here and now.~ Peter Kreeft on the topic of Joy

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When You Realize Injustice Begins in Your Heart

Freedom trail
Doesn’t he look HOT in his outfit?!

It’s sweat-dripping, sidewalk-sweating hot. A “virtual sauna-bath” says one weather site.

I shuffle through downtown and the homeless population lolls complacently. No amount of me buying people cold coffee, blueberry flavor, extra cream and sugar with a croissant on the side will take away the fact that right now I hate every one of them. Hate the lethargy. Hate the laziness. Want to scream “Get a job!”

It’s so easy to judge. 

And because I’m that way, and judging is as catchy as a virus my wandering eye finds more people to judge.

That lady, so perfectly coiffed? She’s got it easy. I just know she has central air-conditioning and ‘plays’ at her job. I bet you real money that she shops at Nordstroms and Talbots (Not the outlet) and by God – look at her gold!

And that family? Happily on vacation?….Why on earth do they have to ride the subway at seven am? Sleep-in for God’s sake!

I’m so busy judging that I bump into a wall. Literally.

And that’s where I belong because only a wall and the Living Breathing Spirit of God can knock some sense into me. I easily condemn injustice and brokenness in the world without recognizing where I contribute to it. Every single day in uncountable ways.

Because injustice begins in my heart. Brokenness is birthed in my soul. 

I long to see a world transformed without realizing it needs to start in this heart. The one in my body. The one that beats a slow pulse – 62 beats per minute. The only heart I have any control over.

“Transform me inside out, upside down, right side up. Show me O Lord how I contribute to the injustice and sin-brokenness of the world and then by your mercy – change me”. This is my early morning prayer

Warehouse Epiphany.

Ugly pieces of furniture are piled up in a musty warehouse. It’s hard to distinguish a dresser from a chair, a table from a nightstand. Scratched and worn, these pieces seem to languish; cast offs from a better day.

And then my husband picks one out, his eyes alight with challenge. “This piece” he says. “It will be beautiful!”.
It’s the eyes of the artist that see past the worn. The piece has good bones; can be restored to beauty and purpose.

Me? I still think it’s ugly.

But our living room is proof that he’s right. That ugly worn can be transformed to a piece that captures the eye with its charm and style. So I smile as we wedge the piece into our car.

The difference? He sees through the eyes of a creator, an artist; through eyes of his soul.

The lesson is not lost. We — sitting in Life’s warehouse feeling often ugly, scratched and worn, are seen by our Creator-artist as useful and beautiful. We have amazing potential when the artist is given room to transform.

I’m lost in the wonder of truth; this warehouse epiphany. I hold tight to what I know is a revelation from my Creator.

The ugly- worn can be transformed to beautiful-useful.

I smile as we drive home.

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Waiting for Aslan

“WHAT an extraordinary place!” cried Lucy. “All those stone animals – and people too! It’s – it’s like a museum.”

“Hush,” said Susan, “Aslan’s doing something.”

…..Everywhere the statues were coming to life. The courtyard looked no longer like a museum; it looked more like a zoo. Creatures were running after Aslan and dancing round him till he was almost hidden in the crowd. Instead of all that deadly white the courtyard was now a blaze of colours; glossy chestnut sides of centaurs, indigo horns of unicorns, dazzling plumage of birds, reddy-brown of foxes, dogs and satyrs, yellow stockings and crimson hoods of dwarfs; and the birch-girls in silver, and the beech-girls in fresh, transparent green, and the larch-girls in green so bright that it was almost yellow. And instead of the deadly silence the whole place rang with the sound of happy roarings, brayings, yelpings, barkings, squealings, cooings, neighings, stampings, shouts, hurrahs, songs and laughter.” from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

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On our weekend walks we pass by some amazing houses. Each one is different in color, size and style. Each one with character and charm: wrap-around front porches on some, outside spiral staircases to rooftops on others, gilded turrets on still more. They are blue, white, deep orange, and green. They have gardens and window boxes full of flowers, driveways and wide porches.

It is a treat for the eyes just to look at them.

One of the houses we aren’t able to describe. It sits down a hill closer to the ocean. Large trees block the view and it’s clear by the No Trespassing sign that strangers are not welcome. A large plot of land opposite the driveway belongs to the house as well and in recent years the land was developed. Trees were removed and the land is now sculpted with bushes, plants and flowers all artistically pre-arranged so they fit in with large rocks in the area.

But that is not enough.

This year the owners have introduced stone statues of animals.

We first saw a haughty ostrich at least 10 feet tall, its neck rising above its body.

Next we saw a proud lion on a rock.

Then we saw a lioness.

And her cubs.

They stand, poised to pounce and play. But they can’t for they have no life. They are merely stone and granite statues fashioned by a talented artist.

These stone animals remind me of the castle of the White Witch, Queen of Narnia, where “Her Imperial Majesty Jadis, Queen of Narnia, Chatelaine of Cair Paravel, Empress of the Lone Islands” turns her enemies into stone and they sit in a large courtyard, seemingly forever trapped under a curse. Moments before they offended the queen these animals and people were fully alive with a purpose ordained by their creator. Then through the curse of this queen, they became stone.

They are waiting for Aslan.

I think of how like these stone statues I am at times. Hard. Immoveable. Lifeless. Paralyzed. Stationary. Like I’m waiting for Aslan

In Narnia Aslan is on the move and the stone statues are not beyond his reach. The breath of Aslan touches the statues and moves them from cold, grey stone to living, breathing reality full of color, movement and life. They become who they were created to be – the strength and glory of the Lion in their bearing.

I sit stationary, praying for the breath of the Spirit of God. Just one breath is enough to be fully alive.

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Unforced Rhythms

We have been in a weekend of “unforced rhythms”. We’ve had no set schedule. Some of us have woken early morning and used the ocean as our entry into the day, others have woken late and sipped coffee slowly on the couch.

I have no illusions that these times will last. I don’t think they are supposed to last. Reality creeps in no matter how much we push it aside. The bitter taste of unmet expectations is a part of every gathering at some level.

But this is no reason to not continue to strive for times where grace and peace are the order of the day. Where I am learning the “unforced rhythms of grace”.

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.” – Matthew 11:28,29 from The Message

How about you? Have you had moments of peace and grace? How do you keep those alive when all of life crowds in?

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