34: Blessing on the Frontier

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All at once, the sun rises on year 34.  I fall out of bed early and consume coffee, cereal, and scrambled eggs as quickly as I can so that an early morning run is still possible.  I read David Whyte.  I scribble words in my journal – scratching out a few, leaving a few sentences unfinished, starting and stopping, letting it be.  Our old dog snores close by.  She always insists on being close to me – a gift that I know I will miss when her days come to an end.

The youngest begins making some moaning sounds, and I wonder if my quiet time is coming to an end.  Frustration comes as I have no clarity on this morning.  No idea or image or inspiration insists on being born this morning.  But I show up anyway.  I re-read my birthday posts from previous years, and I remember the places where I stood, the people that surrounded me, and the state of my heart in those years.

 

“Maturity is the ability to live fully and equally in multiple contexts; most especially, the ability, despite our grief and losses, to courageously inhabit the past the present and the future all at once.  The wisdom that comes from maturity is recognized through a disciplined refusal to choose between or isolate three powerful dynamics that form human identity: what has happened, what is happening now and what is about to occur.

Maturity is not a static arrived platform, where life is viewed from a calm, untouched oasis of wisdom, but a living elemental frontier between what has happened, what is happening now and the consequences of that past and present; first imagined and then lived into the waiting future…

Immaturity always beckons, offering a false haven, an ersatz safety, in one state or the other: a hiding place and disappearance in the past, a false isolation of the present, or an unobtainable sure prediction of the future. But maturity beckons also, asking us to be larger, more fluid, more elemental, less cornered, less unilateral, a living conversational intuition between the inherited story, the one we are privileged to inhabit and the one, if we are large enough and broad enough, moveable enough and even, here enough, just, astonishingly, about to occur.” ~ David Whyte

Frontier: The extreme limit of settled land beyond which lies wilderness
Intuition: The ability to understand something immediately and instinctually

Each year’s birthday post is a sort of blessing that I offer to myself.  A blessing names where you stand, what you long for, and the hope to which you cling.  This year, my blessing is taking its time to emerge.  It does not come with ease, but I trust it in its unfolding.  It cannot be rushed. It does not work on a timetable.

For now, there is water to drink, running shoes to lace, and miles to run.  There are supplies to gather, sunscreen to lather, and boys to prepare for the pool.  There are smiles to offer in passing, small moments to enjoy, and texts to send.

Perhaps this year’s blessing will come in the living.

This birthday, I bless the settled land and the wilderness.
I give thanks for the inner understanding which guides my feet.
I notice those who walk it with me.
I claim the living, and I pray for more – more stubborn gladness, more tender courage, more gentle grace, and more hours with which to know it all.

For all the ways that the “more” will transform me for the living of these days, I pause and give thanks.

 

EASTER #7: Enough Time

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IMG_8427To practice patience as a mother of three young children felt like either a much-needed focus or an exercise in futility and frustration.  John O’Donohue told Krista Tippett in his 2105 interview, “Stress is a perverted relationship with time.”  I love that interview, but its truth can feel ironic on all the mornings when boys must be dressed, fed, and teeth brushed in order to leave by a specific time.  How would John O’Donohue have phrased it differently if had to repeatedly tell his children to get their shoes on and not get toothpaste all over the walls?  No matter how much time I spend in prayer in the mornings, living in a time-obsessed society can dismantle all the patience I have.

But my Easter practices invited me to live into this virtue as I prayed all week, “God, can you dissolve my anger when delay and difficulty disrupt the journey?”

To practice patience is to remember hope.  “If we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience” (Romans 8:25).   If.  There are some days when hope feels like a choice, a privilege, a gift.  Hope invites me to live into the alternative narrative: all is well as we wait, even as all is not yet well.  Hope is a daily invitation which I must acknowledge and accept.

To practice patience is remind myself of the promise where rest is found.
To practice patience is to change my relationship with time.

When the journey holds delay and difficulty, it is tempting to throw up on my hands in defeat.  When mornings are most difficult, it is tempting to lean into my anger and my seemingly-well-earned frustration. Anger over injustice breeds repentance.  But anger over the imperfections of myself and others breeds pride, hatred, and isolation.

This Easter reality grounds me as an abiding branch on the life-giving vine, tended to by the Good Gardener.  When I can abide in who I am and whose I am, then delay and difficulty are not the whole narrative.  Delay and difficulty are not the faults of another.  Delay and difficulty can never take away the good news of resurrection.

It is the promise that frees me.

The promise allows me to extend my hands in resilient kindness.  I can lower my voice, letting the angry yell dissipate into a gentle whisper.  I can practice stubborn gentleness, for I know that the journey’s delay and difficulty cannot overwhelm the joy that lies ahead of us.  I can live with persevering devotion and a patient heart.

Even with all of the beauty of God’s creation in full bloom, there is no greater beauty than human beings practicing patience with one another.   There is no more abundant glory than when we, as branches, reflect God’s steadfast devotion and become people of resilient kindness, stubborn gentleness, and persevering devotion who love one another.

Love.  May there always be enough time to love.

EASTER #6: Pausing for the More

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Compassion: sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings/misfortunes of others
Kindness: quality of being friendly, generous (showing a readiness to give more of something than is strictly necessary or expected), and considerate.

IMG_8999-2After a week where time was scarce and there was not enough of me to meet all the surrounding expectations, I breathe in this morning and remember the completeness of Easter – that which can never be achieved through human effort nor can it be lost despite of it.  So for this sixth week of Easter, I pause in my reflections to be close to the vine, trusting that the “more” to give can only be born from the vine and tended by the Good Gardener. Continue reading

EASTER #5: Drop the Case

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“I’m sorry. Are you ok? Do you want a hug?” Mumbled under their breath with a scowl on their face, these lines eek out of our boys’ lips as they stand before us with the requirement to apologize to one another. They race through the lines before quickly trying to point out the other’s wrong-doing to ensure that I know where the blame rightfully belongs.

We seek to teach our boys forgiveness to prepare them for the Easter Forgiveness that they will come to need as they get older and the way becomes more difficult.  This fifth week of Easter, I am reminded that Easter Forgiveness cannot happen in the courtroom.  Any attempts to argue one’s way to forgiveness or justify its need will only nullify God’s grace.  While we must take injustice seriously, we also must be careful as the courtroom’s attempt at justice produced crucifixion. Resurrection emerged far from the halls of human justice. Continue reading

EASTER #4: Courage from the Vine

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This fourth week of Easter has been a week to remember relentlessly the process by which fruit grows on the branches. Fruit comes not from the branches’ plans or designs.  It is not in its own pruning or tending towards itself.  It is neither in the grit of its teeth nor the grunt of its considerable efforts.  The branches produce fruit because of the vine on which they grow.  For the branches to produce fruit, they must hold fast to the vine.

The world’s courage is mustered from inner strength.  It is measured by one’s comfort with risk.  Easter Courage has nothing to do with natural inclinations or personality traits.  Easter Courage cannot be produced merely by our thought or by our effort. Continue reading

EASTER #3: In the Valley, Peace Be

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To practice Easter Peace, I had to reconcile this week with all the imaginations of what I assume peace to be, too often.  Forever still waters, by which I permanently abide.  A helicopter that comes to lift us out of the valley and deliver us safely to the other side.  A table with no enemies, but only friends.

Yet, this week I have wrestled with this Easter practice: In the valley, to let peace be.   Continue reading