the good news for seminarians

In the weeks before finals, when you are wrung out, too often the litany of bad news reigns. But it seems today is my day to have faith for all of us; so let me shout for you the good news.

Isn’t it easy to believe, here in the springtime, that the world is shot through with miracle? Count your miracles, friends, as if your life depended on it, for surely it does – depends on earth, wind, water, depends on food become effort become muscle, depends, God knows, on coffee and midnight slaphappy laughter. Count the cheap microwave life that you’ll miss in fifteen years and find yourself crying, why me? How did I earn such riches?

I hope it is easy, here in the springtime, to know the world itself is good news, this most extravagant festival of beauty. That even if God were always and only a child, fashioning bright baubles in space and dropping them behind – never to return – it would be right to give God thanks and praise.

And yet we have found God with us, with all of us, murdering brothers and exiled slave women, idolaters, grumbling nomad-people and mourners of a defeated nation. Always God remains one more day, weaving the threads of ruined lives into something that looks like hope. Even if these were only marvelous stories from a far-away people in a time of magic, do they not speak beauty and mystery enough to keep us secretly searching for signs of this God? Are they not just strange and startling enough – transcending their own culture in all the oddest places – to convince us non-believers? Somewhere in our ancient child-hearts, we still know wonder.

But you will say I have meandered into glibness. What if, you will say, the great God dies? What if your country, your people, the land from which you were formed, become occupied by God’s own enemies? What if 400 years pass without a prophet?

I don’t know. For the suddenly light-drenched, here in the springtime, it is too easy to tell the still winter-laden to wait. I suppose I would say to get up again tomorrow, make your little breakfast, and say the prayers anyhow. Tell the old stories over and try, only try, to wait, for I AM will be with you. God will be with you. God loves you too much to stay out of it. God is too big not to care for all the little things; and at Christmas, God joined the project for once and for all.

Do you ever wonder why Jesus wept? If he knew he had come to fix this Lazarus-dying business, why stop and cry? Yet he arrived at Bethany, he collided with the grief of Mary and Martha, and suddenly the ice-cold truth washed over him: Lazarus is dead.

What if Jesus found himself doubting, there at Bethany? What if everything he said to Mary and Martha about faith, he was really saying to himself? I wonder if he did not discover finitude in that moment, in the really true death of the one he loved – shut up behind a rock together with his spirit, his laugh, the way he whistled in the mornings and spoke his sentences slow, brow furrowed, when he was thinking. All gone, just stolen by disease, no sense to it; I wonder if Jesus, encountering the magnitude of this thing, was not stricken with a sick fear: I am a lunatic after all.

He was perturbed. “Take me to him,” he said; and he wanted to stride confidently ahead of his disciples, but he found himself stumbling through his tears, desperate to make his way to his best friend. “Take away the stone,” he said, only because he had thought this was why he’d come so late.
“But Jesus…” Martha spoke gently, in her sensible way –
“Take away the stone!” Jesus said, driven on by Spirit’s mission and the mad fire, fighting helplessness, in his eyes. He prayed as they struggled against the rock: “Father, I know that you hear me. I know that you hear me. Hear me.”

They finished with the stone. Did the stench she had spoken of roll out over them all? Did Jesus look into that black cave, trembling, staring down the darkness that had swallowed Lazarus with such indifference? Fists clenched, desperately, Father, hear me, then, “Lazarus! Come out!” – his lurching, strangled cry of grief silenced the murmuring crowd.

And Jesus waited. He had done what Spirit had brought him to do, and now the command was out of him. He stood before the blackness; he began to feel foolish and another rising sickness battled the fast-waning hope inside him.

Until, by the grace of God, Lazarus came out.

Before the crowd could be confused, could be frightened or appalled at this prank, Jesus’ dying hope heard the footsteps first. “Unbind him!” Jesus shouted. “He is free”, Jesus wept.

I think Lazarus was freed by Jesus’ compassion. We are all freed by Jesus’ tears; there is no pain God has not felt. Creation is God’s wound – she weeps for the abused, for the sick, the hopeless, the tired. She weeps for mountains leveled by greed for coal, for people hollowed out by lust for money, for those who have lost their best friends. And dare I say that God has felt the pain of the small – that God can weep, too, for lost teddy bears, college rejection letters, homes we loved – all the things we think we should be bigger than? I think this is grace, that God has been small with us.

Seminarians, you are not so big. And that is OK. The voices that tell you you are not big enough, not good enough, not politically correct enough, not suspicious enough, not worried enough, not smart enough, not busy enough – they are not humble. They are not grace. Grace does not shame. Grace gives gifts.

It is true that God wants holiness. It is also true that God gives holiness. Holiness is grace; it is freedom – freedom from the patterns of this world. Yes, it takes courage, effort, discernment, and time. But God has lots of these, and you have only a little. Will you keep trying to muster them, or will you simply ask for them? Will you let yourself be small? Will you let others carry these burdens with you? If you cannot let yourself be small, you will never excuse others their smallness.

We hear much bad news in seminary. And it is sometimes important to know. But only God can absorb all the world’s bad news. And only God can transform it into good. For creation is God’s million wounds, and yet it is, ten times over, her delight. She holds it; she sings over it; she sings over you with joy in all that you are, for you are hers, and she is with you. Even before we finally see life rising out of the darkness and death, God is with our shrinking doubting band of faith-in-resurrection people.

The good news – the reason you are here, I hope – is that I AM made the universe, and God loves it, and God loves you. I AM is with us, healing us, and God will make all the small things new.

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a presumptuous kneeling

i carry a cross this day,
pious death-reminder,
and the novel sensational empty stomach
of one who has never not had a choice.
This year, forty days meat-free,
But I fear the old, old ways and excuse myself
from an oil-free, wine-free, butter-free cleansing-time
this year, again, i cling to these to soothe the daily hurts
this year, again,
like always.

Why, then, should i take up a cross
why play at sacrifice
why join to myself a sign of penitence,
i who have not released my grip
on anger, fear, flippancy, pride
or the corroding grotesque apathy of self-indulgence?

It is not my cross.

Not mine but
his who was for us the ash of Palm Sunday
plowed back under the dust by
anger, fear, flippancy, pride
It is him, not i, who has won the contest
in losing all I still retain.

And now, as our Savior has taught us, we are bold to say:
We are weak dust ash
and there is nothing to be done for it
Lordamercy
Christ have mercy

Christ have mercy

Christ have mercy.

Advent is no easy thing

He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

Hope extends just as far as it is needed, into tomorrow or into eternity, holding up our heads when we are bent low by all that we carry. We hold out for a rescue we’ve no cause to expect. And what if it is foolishness, to stand tall amidst destruction, to wage this daily war against despair?

We hope for what we have not seen. We hope for what we have not imagined. We hope in a God who works miracles, not in ourselves. There is a time to cease puzzling over projects and investing in prideful anxiety that we are not enough. Of course we are not enough! We are sufficient for our own tiny, holy, ordained role – but only God is enough for the world. So in Advent, we wait; we slow and prepare so that on Christmas we may cease working and building and fixing,

and sing.

 

 

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen.

who loves us

Last night at supper, a friend: “All the debates between conservative and progressive Christians are really about one thing: is our faith primarily a matter of what we believe, or of what we do?”

He’s right. In matters of life and policy, from resource distribution to personal conduct to teaching on doctrine, the battles over the Church’s priorities and positions are often a tug-of-war. Will the flag fall behind the line of adherence to the Bible and tradition, or on the side of action to improve the world we share with others?

“I have memorized the Bible,” says one, “but I have done more good,” says another. “Because my way is orthodox,” says one; “Because my way is fair and nice,” says the other. “Let us submit to an authority,” says one; “Let us strike out with boldness,” says another.

One defines a Christian by a list of inviolable beliefs and tends to personal holiness based on those unyielding beliefs, with little regard for the cries of a hurting world. The other defines a Christian by a list of actions, orthodoxy and personal choices secondary to feeding the hungry and fighting for justice.

Both of them sound to me like exhausting exercises in missing the point. Infinite hours of debate and conversation will never draw the two closer to one another; they sit on a seesaw rocking on a fulcrum of pride.

Our faith is neither a matter of “what we believe” or of “what we do.” It is a matter of whom we love.

Believing things and doing things are projects. They require work and striving and scorekeeping.  Knowing and loving God is a way of being. A way of seeing. A way of resting. It can be done by children and sinners.

Do not tell me what you believe. Do not tell me what you have done. Speak to me of events unspeakable, of the thunderous waves of God’s presence. Tell me about the whispers of God’s face where you have seen her among the stars and beneath tall trees. Read me out the words that gave you peace when all seemed lost. I have no use for your arguments and reasons, the definitions you have so carefully wrought. I want to know about the times when you felt small – the quiet certain moments when you knew that you knew nothing, but there was peace.

I will not live and die for what I believe. I will not live and die for what needs done. I will live and die for God who has captured my heart, who has taught me of my infinite worth and is leading me ever deeper into humility. The closer we get to God the better we see what he sees – the better we walk with the rhythm of his ever-giving heart. The oftener we return to the ocean, the better we remember we are not so big.

Sink into prayer, ask to find more of God, and there she will be; do not be afraid. She will be wild and terrible in the stories of Scripture; she will be dirty, raw in the depths of poverty; she will be wide, soft, and loving in the fragmented mirror of a Church reflecting her on its better days; but always she will show you more yourself, sanding down the edges of you that weren’t meant to be. It will hurt. Do not abandon those places. Do not say she wasn’t there.

Chase God; follow Jesus; seek the leadership of Holy Spirit; and you will be caught by love, and you will love. You will believe when it is hard. You will act when it seems impossible. You will know every day how strong every one of us is connected, and you will learn ever deeper how every smallest action creates or destroys, sways the world – and you will not say any matter in our lives is not important to God. You will tremble with rage in the face of injustice, and you will not be still, but you will act for the poor and brokenhearted because you can do no other.

And when you tire of personal discipline, or of wrestling with faith and doctrine, or of working always for justice, you will hear him calling you to come and be. Rest a while. You will look back and discover you had believed aright and acted with courage, but it was because God called you into those things to show you more of himself.

Then, when someone wants to argue with you, takes offense at your actions or questions your beliefs, perhaps you will not tug the rope but will pull yourself along it; and when you reach the other side perhaps you will join hands in silent prayer. And when you open your eyes perhaps you will find you each see the other anew.

 

crowds are made up of people

Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. 12 As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. 13 When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.”

I never noticed the crowd before.

I always thought Jesus just raised the widow’s son because he had nothing better to do. Because he knew he was supposed to, maybe. Because it was his job.

But this is different. Jesus had very important things to do – he was leading a crowd to a town! They must have been jostling, talking, kids running around, people asking questions – “Rabbi!’ “Rabbi!” – with the disciples there, too, blundering about in all their earnestness like always.

If I were leading a crowd somewhere, we would give a funeral a wide berth. People died all the time. People died young all the time. There was no reason for the two crowds to meet.

Jesus, though – Jesus didn’t see a funeral. He didn’t see a crowd. He saw one woman, whose last hope for a family had been stripped from her. He watched her replaying scenes from her son’s life, helpless to stop reliving a happiness she would never know again.

And he had compassion on her. And he stopped. And he gave him back to his mother. Did he even think about what chaos must have ensued?

Zacchaeus couldn’t see over the crowd, but he didn’t go home. The professional in his suit and tie climbed a tree instead; and it must have been a relief to be invisible for a while.

Why did Jesus stop? Didn’t Zacchaeus have some fairly first-world problems? The text doesn’t say what made him single out the sinner in the tall tree; but we know he was always looking, searching out people in pain, people who sought him, people whose sin was bearing down hard on them. The Spirit has a way of calling attention to the people on the edges.

Jesus and crowds have a strange relationship. He alternately has compassion on them and feeds them, alienates them with his weird teachings, confuses them on purpose with impenetrable stories, weeps for them, shows vague disdain and disinterest in them, tries to get away from them, is worshipped by them, seems wearied by them, blesses their children.

This used to confuse me. But my own life has become much more crowded in the past year as an “adult”. I have a larger network of shallower relationships than I used to. Graduation expands one’s peer group vastly. And I live and work near the middle of a city, surrounded by crowds and interacting regularly with hundreds of people experiencing various levels of poverty.

It is exhausting.

Now I get Jesus’ ministry a lot more than I used to, and I’m also more intimidated by it, because even though it’s wiser, it’s not any easier. It’s not easy to let the crowd be and say and do what they will while you minister to one person at a time.

How did he stay open to these individuals’ needs, to their pain, when the needs and follies and demands of the crowd are so blindingly overwhelming?

And how did he so often stand against the crowd… precisely because of his love for the crowd?

I don’t often know; I rarely feel that I succeed. Sometimes circumstances absolutely prevent me from spending any time on the more intimate relationships that make this work worthwhile. And sometimes I follow the crowd in the wrong direction because I just can’t fight the current anymore.

But I find myself looking harder for the lost and lonely, for the rock-bottomers and the desperate-for-a-glimpse tree-sitters. I find myself throwing away efficiency and the crowd’s demands to reinstate compassion, following my heart when it goes out from me to offer the unbusinesslike moment of rest, the hand on the shoulder, the gift of my full attention.

And when it is still all too much, when I get overwhelmed or make mistakes or need to get away, there is the friend, the phone call, the timely Scripture or the whisper of the Spirit bearing rest, and I see Jesus walking through the crowd toward me.

 

you move with them

“Do you think he will learn something from it?”

I am talking with someone a couple years older than me, about someone my age, and we both smile, one of those shared looks that communicates a thousand unspoken words of common understanding. We both know exactly what we hope “he” will learn.

Other early-twenties bloggers, too, I wonder how many older readers shake their heads at us and think we are darling. Overthinkers, every last one of us, and leaning hard into whatever identity we’ve chosen and telling everyone all about our childhood, “what it was like growing up”, like we aren’t still trying to grasp it back from whomever relegated it to the “things we’re done with” bin.

I wonder what I’m pressing onto this space with such intensity that in five or ten years I will shake my head at myself, softly smiling at all the things I needed you to know about me.

When you are older you know a few things about yourself, the essentials of who you are that won’t change, and you know that change is inevitable for all the rest; even that you cannot always see the change until it’s already happened because things just come, and you move with them, and the seasons wear us all into our different patterns like trees. But when you are young and an overthinker, the future seems like something you might fall into – one minute peering over the edge, next minute thudding onto the bottom – and you tiptoe around the chasm securing yourself to various Things You Know and Things You Want To Be. You think you will fall slower and better than everyone else with their regrets.

I don’t think I will stop trying to live my life on purpose, or trying to anticipate everything, or overthinking in my quest to live the very best life I can. Those are things I like about myself.

But I am letting go of the need to be grown, to Educate People and Fix Things, to give more than I have or to force an outcome to conform to my expectations.

Things just come, and you move with them, and the seasons wear us all into our different patterns like stones, and I know he will learn what he needs to and the gashing edge will smooth into an intriguing, beautiful bevel.

Things just come, and you move with them, and the seasons wear us all into our different patterns like riverbeds, and I know when it is finished mine will be deep and clear as the night sky in Adrian, Georgia, which is the closest place I know to God.

to wend a way

It was a wilderness I didn’t quite know I was entering, a tenuous in-between space that turned far more strange and wandering than planned. This whole year, far from home, is so incredibly different than I expected, I cannot untangle and describe all that is good and hard, frustrating and valuable. Not even to myself. Not even – especially – not to God.

Did that pillar ever disappear? Did they ever just sit a few days because the pillar had gone missing no matter how much they believed? That was most of my wilderness. Just an unfamiliar landscape to be survived without direction, without purpose; subsisting on yet more that feels foreign, yes, even the blessings. Falling in love, free time, manna? (what is it?)

But God comes back, God reminds us who we are. I may never understand these forth-and-back movements, except to name them “seasons” and seek peace in the midst. Yet we sing and pray and keep faith, because the other gods “do not dwell among men” but the God of Daniel teaches us to prophesy and follows us into the fiery furnace – a wild journey indeed it is, to go with this God who returns.

God returned last week, nodding over my shoulder as I read Daniel, and soon I fell to begging all the harder for answers – “Where are we GOING?” – and God said nothing, maybe a whispered patience and a hope that I would find the pillar in the woods.

And I went to the real wilderness – at least, I went to the New York countryside. I drove south, and I went whatever way looked promising. I took the side roads that made their ways into forest, but I found only farms and homes. My feet longed to traipse the earth, my heart to find real solitude. And I prayed, and I drove on.

And then I knew where I was going, like I remembered the way; I passed some roads, rounded a bend, and hit the brakes because I knew to turn here. A couple miles past more houses, some posted trails, and there the sign: New York State Forest.

Have you ever come home and cried? I stepped onto the trail and I cried for how much I needed the trees and the walking alone, no pavement, no sirens.

I followed the Spirit off the trail – that direction, there is something there – and found another, higher trail. I followed the Spirit to water and to stillness and to peace. I followed a deer to the morning’s rut. It was Earth Day.

The Answer was not in that forest; I may never know The Right Thing To Do In The Future with certainty. This has never been the way with me. Only sometimes I know with certainty what I am to do here, now, and the path winds up and around; it makes little sense; and there is an indescribable peace in following this inscrutable way. Then I try to discover the reasons, or look into the future, or simply get distracted, and I have stopped listening; and I have aimed myself at something in the distance; and I am following no longer.

I used to know a lot about myself, my convictions, and my desires. Now I know less; I am less ambitious; less confident. I know the wilderness is bigger than I, and God yet larger and more untamed, but Her mercy is without measure. Even as the hazy vision of a way appears in the distance, the point of this journey remains unclear; this new humility uncertain; the desert uncomfortable; and I still don’t know what I am becoming.

We usually hope someone will come along to show us the shortcut out of the wilderness, or at least assign some meaning to its twists and turns and especially its pains. But my wilderness is my own, and I know only that I am not through it yet. You will wander for your own reasons, and neither of us may ever know them.

I can say only one thing. God is with us. We can be lost without being lost, and in all our wanderings and searching anxieties still God sees us, there in the palm of his hand. When the pillar is gone, when you can’t see the way, when you’re left to walk alone on legs that will not hold, still. Know that God was with our fathers and mothers in faith, and God. Is. With. You.

We will be found. We will be led, into trust, moment by moment. Grace is near, and there will be water; may we of little faith, we of little strength, we the broken, stubborn, and confused, all find rest.

suggestion

Sarah Bessey is right, God doesn’t use us. Christ did not die that we might become useful. The phrase “God used me” has never sat well with my heart, my heart so prone to the wild gyrations of the striving but so eager to rest with Creator. But it’s a phrase I’ve used often enough, usually with a wince, just hoping I wouldn’t give the wrong impression.

Could this silly phrase be born of good intentions, of a need to describe something just a little ineffable? It’s that hands-and-feet-of-God thing, that thing about calling, that thing you sometimes don’t want to do and it would sometimes be easier not to do and you certainly don’t do it by yourself – being a servant. It’s when every once in a while God shows up where you weren’t looking and whispers, You are indeed an instrument of my peace; well done, well done.

Those times, no we aren’t “used”, but neither do we buck up and do these things ourselves, or draw some vague inspiration from God, or accidentally float on a cloud of ill-defined love to find ourselves in the uncomfortable places, the humble places, the servant’s place. God seems to have this habit of doing things with people, not really on this solo supernatural power trip but not really people all alone. God parted the sea; but Moses raised the staff. What’s the word for that?

No, I don’t want to be used, but I really must insist that I be moved. Let me serve as hands or feet or nose, let me be a doorkeeper in the house, let me not believe obedience to be a dirty word but a posture of trust in the Holy One. May I be so moved by the longings of God’s heart that I would not be still in the face of hatred, injustice and lies. May I play my part, however little I might understand it, with humility to know it is the power of Christ in me. On my own, I could not, I would not; may I bear witness, and say God moved me.

on fears of flying and the Lord

“It’s just such a flimsy mechanism to entrust your life to,” he says.
I have never thought about hang gliding this way before; I just assume that if something is supposed to work, it will work.
“But you said you’d like to go skydiving, and parachutes are just as flimsy. And you can’t test out a parachute before you have to use it.”
“Well… I think if I knew more about hang gliding, like how it works, I might not be afraid to do it.”

Now that,I get. The more you know about something, the less and less scary it becomes. This is why I research places for hours before I visit (…or move to) them. The opposite is also true: the unknown is almost always terrifying. Consider the loosely-tacked papers scraping gently against my wall last night when the radiator emitted little bursts of steam or heat or whatever it emits. Before I knew what the sound was, I was sifting through items in my room to use as weapons against the softly-breathing black squirrel I knew was waiting in my storage closet for the opportune moment to strike.

Anyway, it’s comforting to collect information about things. When you can convert an unknown quantity into a known, you are more prepared to deal with whatever situation arises (in my case, I learned that the sound posed little to no threat to my life and I could handle the situation by going back to sleep). Knowledge is power and such. The facts you know about something define, explain, and contain it; if you know the size of the elephant, you can make sure your net is big enough to catch it. This is fantastic, most of the time… Until you get to God.

There is this worship song that we sang at my church several years ago, every single week for approximately 86 weeks. The youth group got so tired of singing “indescribable, uncontainable, incomparable,” etc., that we started making up our own words to the song (incorruptible, non-recyclable, inflammable) – but I guess that is actually the point. The only way to truly describe God is to say what God is not; Eastern Orthodox theology names this “apophatic theology”. Our own words and concepts only go so far to describe God as God really is; and after that point, there is a mystery that only un-knowing can penetrate. Or, as a smarter guy says, “Christianity is not a philosophical school for speculating about abstract concepts, but is essentially a communion with the living God. That is why, despite all their philosophical learning and natural bent towards speculation, the Fathers of the eastern tradition in remaining faithful to the apophatic tradition of theology, never allowed their thoughts to cross the threshold of the mystery, or to substitute idols of God for God Himself.”*

Maybe it’s the being-out-of-school or the recently-having-read-that, but as I’ve been re-learning ways to know God, the hang gliding comment suddenly illuminated this whole string of thoughts for me. I saw the times I’ve tried to gather information about God, not so I could draw nearer to God in his infinity, but so I could order the right-size net. You don’t even know it when you’re studying thirty hours a week, don’t even see when you think you’ve got God pegged.

And at nearly the same moment, I also saw what it means for me right now to understand this verse I’ve always been puzzled about – “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”. How am I supposed to cultivate fear of the Lord?

I don’t think we have to. I think we’re so scared of God we pretend there’s no reason to be scared, but there is. God – the concept of God, an omnipotent infinite being – is inherently scary. The point isn’t that we should live in fear. The point is that it’s important, if we’re really seeking wisdom, not to skirt around the danger of letting God be who God says God is. And if we lean into the more complete trust that comes from acknowledging that that is terrifying, we will find one day that we are flying. But we won’t – we can’t – know how.

* (Vladimir Lossky, The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Orthodox Church, emphasis mine).

On the proper preposition

My friend went to therapy, and since we have all the same problems, I made her tell me about it. One week, her homework was to identify her feelings – like, if she felt an emotion, she had to stop and put a name to it. It sounded like the hardest homework she’d get all semester.

I am uncomfortable with emotions. No, I am uncomfortable with my own emotions. I can do empathy, but my own feelings (ewww)  get stuffed into a small box and shoved under the bed. If they really refuse to go in the box, I assess the situation, take notes from a distance, and then go get a bigger box to stuff them in. Problem solved.

It’s been a few years since I discovered that emotions are not problems but essential to true humanity (who knew?). Since then, I’ve taken off the HazMat suit and cut through the caution tape between me and my feelings, but I still have to coax myself to disobey the sign: Do Not Touch. I’m comfortable having emotions, staying in the same room with them, even… But I never know what to do with them. (If you, like 60% of Americans, are a “feeler”, it’s quite possible you can’t imagine what I am trying to describe with regards to emotion. Just… it’s OK.)

You know how sometimes a season of your life has a very clear theme? This experience hasn’t been so strong for me in a very long time, but now, everything seems to come down to the phrase: go through.

There’s all this crappy construction on the street where I work. For several days I, being a well-conditioned citizen, walked in the street, in the narrow lane with the cars I mean, whenever I had to go anywhere. The thing is there were orange cones. Those mean go around. I had to see someone else walking through the construction mess (blatantly striding between cones!) before I realized that it wouldn’t hurt me to go across the asphalt and gravel there. But it’s human nature. Things that are uncomfortable, bad, weird, inconvenient – I go around; we all do.

But then we miss out. We get addicted or waste a bunch of time (hello, internet) or make things worse for ourselves or get hit by cars when we try to get around something that’s not going to go away. On the other hand, our emotions and experiences are incredibly valuable even when they’re not good – even when they’re incredibly painful. They are the landscapes and the plot points for the stories of our lives.

The opposite of around, though, is in. In is why we go around in the first place; it’s what we’re afraid of. If you only go into an experience, good or bad, and then you just dwell there, you can get lost. You forget you ever knew anything else. From that skewed viewpoint, you make skewed decisions. You adapt to that landscape, and then other people have to come pull you out.

Through, I think, is as close as it gets to a balance between around” and in”You do have to walk in, but you keep going. You be where you are, but you continue forward. Through the mud without getting stuck, keeping your wits about you and plowing ahead without ignoring your senses, your self. You listen to yourself, but you keep telling yourself there will be the other side. 

I think this is my homework for the year. To go through everything (both bad and good). Not stuck in. But not around. Through: not only touching but being positively enveloped in this life. Now. All of it.

 

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