On Writing

You ask me to tell you about my writing. Wherever we end up – after church in the chairs, or on that picnic blanket, or over text – you always ask. You’re always in my corner, cheering me on and reading my words, and I hope you’ll always be in that corner with me.

I don’t know much about writing but I can tell you the way it makes me feel: it makes me feel as if puzzle pieces are slipping into place. I have this feeling, and maybe one day I’ll find out I’m wrong about this, but when ink meets the page you are standing on holy ground. You need to break open; it’s not an option. Unless there are pieces of you in between your words, they will be shallow and empty. No one likes a wading pool. We always want the silky, navy water that disappears into the horizon, and that’s what you must be. You must be the water that holds both the mystery and familiarity: the sound of the waves you hear in the shells and the depth of the ocean you feel in your bones.

You must be willing to lay bare the broken pieces to see Redemption in them. To write requires a vulnerability, a willingness to invite others into the brokenness with you.

An invitation which (and this is the part that often stings)

may or may not be accepted.

But we must write and extend the invitation anyways.

To write is the solace you slip into when chaos bounces around you. To write is to learn what you know and what you long to know, and the places where you feel lost. It is to feel the humanity of grief and joy and discover that we all break. We all heal. And we all just don’t want to do it alone.

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Because isn’t that what we are all really searching for, seeking Someone to meet us in our loneliness?

And maybe that is what writing is: putting pen to page and discovering our loneliness is just a masked invitation, a hand held out, a whisper in our darkness. We don’t have to be alone. We aren’t alone. We are all just puzzle pieces waiting to click into place, and words help us do that. Words help us see the things we missed … or maybe the things we just didn’t want to see.

And that’s the beauty in it. So can I tell you how to write? No. But I can tell you that when you do, and you feel those puzzle pieces clicking into place,

you’ll feel like you’re coming home.

 

Dancing Along the Way

I watch the dandelions dance across the air, little white tufts floating lazily above me. I’ve never seen them like this before. I can’t stop staring, mesmerized by the way the air lifts them up, twirls them around and spins them out to dance.

Everywhere you look they are dancing. Atop the trees above the ravine; in between the leafy branches that lead down to darkness. They dance against the peach of the summer horizon, and gently graze my skin. They rest a moment until they are off again.

I can’t help but wish that I was as open to dancing through this life as the dandelions are, letting the wind take them where they may. Without a care in the world, trusting the journey instead of the destination.

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She told me today, with her thick brown curls spiralling in a myriad of directions, the sound of a dozen classmates around us –

that she’s learned to trust the journey.

I leaned in closer, watching her brown eyes behind her glasses, but getting distracted by the way her hands moved with her words. They’d echoed around me, taken residence up in my heart, and I couldn’t shake her eyes and her words all day.

Learning to trust the journey.

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And so I watch the dandelions dance across the air, little white tufts floating lazily above me. Dancing across my balcony and my sky and I can’t help but hear her words again. With each swirl of a dandelion, each delicate dance into the unknown,

I’m mesmerized.

And I want to be her, and I want to be the dandelions –

trusting the journey.

Unaware of just where I might end up.

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But sure that somehow, someway,

I’ll get there –

and maybe the point isn’t so much landing

but dancing along the way.

 

Hands Filled

Screen Shot 2017-01-12 at 12.54.27 PMI’ve been staring at this blank space for awhile. Words haven’t come easily lately.

Today it’s raining, and it’s the middle of January. The snow has almost all but melted. I’m drinking chocolate flavoured coffee, breakfast dishes are still on the counter, and I’m still waking up … even though I climbed out of bed a long time ago.

And the blank space is still here. Still waiting … still staring at me.

What do I have to say that has not been said before? What do I have to share that has not been shared before? What words can fill this space that bring Holy Ground closer to our feet?

I say a prayer over this space – this emptiness – knowing that God voices words in my soul that are far greater than my own.

And maybe the one thing I’ve learned these past few days, and one maybe we’re all learning –

is that so often in the mess I just want to seek answers. 

I do not hold uncertainty well. It does not bode well for this soul that clings to things that bring consistency and knowing and firm ground to stand on.

I do not stand in the mess very well. To be quite honest: I’d rather wash the mess off my clothes, and move on as quickly as my feet can move.

I meet God in the mess. I know He’s here. I know He’s in the trenches with me. And I write out my prayers to Him – I lay out the questions I am seeking answers to. I invite Him into the mess. Into my unknown.

And I hold out my hands for the answers. Hopeful for Him to return the requests with a nice little bow on top of the gift I am longing for, and I’ll smile, and thank Him, and move on.

But He places His hands in my own instead. No bow. No answer. But Him.

And I think in the uncertainty, in the seasons (or life?) of not knowing we just want to know. But … “faith is a place of mystery, where we find the courage to believe in what we cannot see and to let go of our fear of uncertainty.”

And I am not sure if I can let go of my fear of uncertainty –

unless my hands are filled with His, instead.

Needles


He puts the needles in, one by one down my leg. There’s a tap, a pinch, and then release. I see him out of the corner of my eye pick up an old machine and attach wires, and in a moment the pulsing of my muscles distracts me from the fact that there’s needles in my skin.

He tells me to rest. And I try – but I get distracted by the pink walls and the paper covered pillow. And when that loses my interest, thoughts slip in.

In this old room in the middle of Chinatown, all I can think about is how letting go feels a lot like those needles.

I was scared to walk in those doors. Not because of the small Chinese woman who greeted me. But because of the thought of putting needles down my body. Willingly. Was I crazy?

Maybe.

But I was also hopeful too. That on the other side of those needles – that pinch of skin – there’d be healing. Release.

So I laid on the bed and put trust into a stranger that he knew what he was doing.

And I can’t help but think about letting go.

Because I hate it. Because it hurts and I dread it. And there’s a pinch when you do it.

But people were never meant to be things we hold onto.

I’ve got to believe that past that hurt – there’s sweet release, too. With each heartache there’s a healing. There’s hope laced within the releasing. Within letting people be who they were meant to be; not things I hold onto.

And he comes back into the pink room and the lights come on. He moves towards the bed and each needle comes out, and there’s the massaging of tender muscles until there’s pain. And he stops. And the next visit is scheduled.

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And I walk out of there, still hobbling but hopeful. And maybe, in the end, that’s what I really came for.

Do you love me?

I’m not ready to be back. As the cell phone is turned back on, the luggage arrives in the carousel and my own bed finally rests beneath me, there is one thought jumbled amidst the jetlag:

I’m not ready to be back.

There’s a new bracelet that graces my arm today. Across the old, weathered key is engraved love. It was hanging on the hook all by itself, a myriad of others hanging tangled amongst themselves. But the bronzed bracelet slipped onto my arm and I was reminded of the question Jesus keeps asking me. Kept asking me all week.

Do you love me?

Not – have you got it all figured out? Have you figured out your next steps, your theology, your unanswered questions?

Just four words. Do you love me?

Because it will change the way you live your life. It will shatter your own dreams and your own hopes and let them be replaced with Bigger ones. It will let you take Promises made and engrave them across your heart. The answer will change the way you spend your money, the way you speak to others, the way you pray and hope and dream.

That one answer will change everything.

How will you answer it today?

I am writing yes in whispered cursive across my journal. But to speak it is one thing. To live it is another. To let my yes seep into each breath, each touch, each word.

I am not ready to be back because it’s too easy to leave my yes nestled in a journal and whispered into the hazy heat of the Mexico afternoon. But I don’t want it to.

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So I am wearing the question, the word, wrapped around my wrist to keep reminding me that my answer is yes. Yes. I won’t just love You in the hammering of nails as walls are lifted to create a home. I won’t just love You when it’s easy, when it’s comfortable, when someone wakes me each day and fills the room with silence so I spend time alone with You.

No. I’m whispering yes into the every day, into my hopes and dreams, into the calendar, into the brokenness. Keep changing me. Keep shattering me. Keep asking me as long as I live,

“Do you love me?”

It Started with a Letter

When I wrote myself the letter almost three months ago, I was in a delirious, post-birthday scourge of boldness. Words are a lovely way of telling yourself what you should be doing. Life is another story in and of itself. Sometimes courage remains on the page instead of nestling around your heart, but thankfully, this moment was not one of them. 

So I booked the plane ticket and packed my bags and boarded the long flight across the ocean. 

I had visions in my head of what almost three weeks in Europe would do. Everyone talks of the life changing power of time abroad, and this writer’s heart was leaping in excitement for the words this trip might create. My journal, brand new and soft along the leather seam, was packed in my carry on, ready. Waiting. 

It wasn’t opened again past the first stop in Paris for a few days. My heart had words, my mind was full, but the journal sat unopened. I sketched in it instead. 

And that was okay, I came to realize. Because just like a camera, my pen and journal couldn’t really capture what was happening in front of me. The towering old buildings, the ruins, the sound of accents and other languages melting in the pavement around me – that was meant to shape my heart in ways words and photographs never could quite capture. 

   

And I did write a few days later. And I did take many pictures to capture the beauty and life surrounding me. They aren’t as powerful as I would like, because I would rather paint a picture for you in words and in photos that bring you to that place. Words can only do so much. 

Maybe like most moments in life the days I spent abroad shaped and shifted my heart in ways I can’t quite convey in words, yet. But someday. Maybe you’ll see it in the way I drink my coffee: even stronger than I drank it before, just as the Greeks made it. Maybe you’ll see it in the way I create, now, understanding that maybe our cultures’ way of creating for functionality should shift more towards creating for beauty. 

 

Or maybe it will be in the way I realize that boxes were never made for a God who spoke the world into existence. He is big. And loving. And beautiful. And those towering steeples were just meant to point us towards that truth. 

Words are beautiful and I will always love the way they look and tell stories and breath life into a darkened world. But sometimes they are not enough. These moments, captured in my heart, won’t be explained well across the pages. But you’ll see them elsewhere. If you look. Life is so much about what we choose to see. 

  

I don’t have any eloquent words to end this with other than to treasure moments that change you in your heart. Remind yourself of them on days when darkness settles in for a visit. Be like Mary, who held a life in her womb that would bring light to this world: treasure up all these things in your heart. Hold them close. 

Let them shine brightly in your life as only a treasure can.