Dancing in the dark…..

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Before my skin grew tight around the noise and clutter of life,
before I felt sharp the heavy of shoulds and musts and deadlines and bills,
when I was young enough still for time to stretch long and spacious like the hallway
where I rolled pretty glass marbles to hear them clatter and ping on wood,
I fell in love.
It was this time of year and there were candles.  And deeply moving music.
And a tree brought indoors and decorated with brightly colored glass bulbs
and shiny strings of foil my mother called icicles,
although they weren’t frozen or even cold.
I lay for hours beneath that sweet-smelling tree
and  gazed up into the twinkling branches.

I also spent hours outside after dark,  even though it was barely evening.
The stars came out early to shine,  and the moon,
and it seemed the heavens drew near as I climbed my favorite tree
wrapped thick in the mystery of night.
I’d look up at the stars and wonder aloud who are you,
the One to inspire such beauty as this,
moonlight on bare branches and the songs and stories been humming in my heart.
I wondered at the love I felt poured out safe and warm like fireside
high up in that tree,
wondered would it follow me down and inside when I finally had to leave.

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I lay in my bed at night and felt it still,  when I would lean the turn of my heart
into this unseen light that still lingered like moonglow in the dark
and how my heart would dance.
Here I’d never felt so alright.  As if everything could only ever be okay.
These times of soaking in what I know only as God-love
lasted for a short season.  My first window.
A place where I could go, if I would,  and remember thick the presence I felt those winter nights
and somehow re-join the relish
in a room inside myself.

The rest of the world could feel harsh and cold.  And lonely.
We did church,  my family,  and I’d walk into that organ-smooth and dimly lit grandeur
and look up at the large wooden cross stretched sterile against the tall of the ceiling
and wonder if he,  too,  preferred the crisp air high in the tree.
Here I felt sting more than sanctuary.
An undercurrent of you better watch out.
A Santa sort of God who saw me,  yes,  but withheld when I was bad.
Or worse – withdrew.
And I was born a hungry sort who didn’t do well with rules.  Too fumbly and footloose.
When it came to things straight and narrow, I could pull off a piss-poor performance,  at best.
I knew I wasn’t that girl – couldn’t be good for goodness sake.

But oh my God I longed for more of this generous presence that lit my heart under those bright winter stars.
Had the air really been charged with such a kindness? What kind of love was that?
As I grew older and fell into step with demand for appearances and favors doled out,
I wondered had I only imagined?
No,  said the voices of my fears –
I’d simply stopped deserving,
the river just gone dry.

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“We are suspicious of grace.
We are afraid of the very lavishness of the gift.”

“Holiness is nothing we can do.  It is gift,  sheer gift,
waiting there to be recognized and received.
We do not have to be qualified.”

– Madeline L’Engle

This begins a little series I’m doing as it’s coming on Christmas.
A love story.
My gift.
With hope that you’ll enjoy:)

Comments

  1. Enjoy is an inadequate word for the swelling of recognition my heart did. And does.
    Megathanks.
    And the air is indeed purer, sweeter, more alive away outside. And at night – or the very early morning.

  2. I drink your enchanted and enchanting words – they make me swell with joy!

  3. I am intrigued by your story, Jennifer. Beautiful writing, so richly expressed, and I too had that awe and spiritual yearning in my youth. I can’t help but wonder how your story will develop – I know where my own has led. I look forward to reading more!

    • Thanks for coming by and sharing your beautiful heart, Judy;
      looking forward to discovering more of my own heart as I ride this wave
      and see what I find:)
      Much love and light to you,
      Jennifer
      jennifer recently posted…Dancing in the dark…..My Profile

  4. I love this post Jennifer. In my youth, I saw God as a punishing God, that big eye in the sky who watched my every move and I was good because to be bad was looking for punishment and I was way to scared to even dare. I used to hang upside down from trees too. That moonlight and stars always gave me so much to ponder.

    I still remember the little Advent prayers I would recite by the hundred everyday, “Sweet child Jesus of Bethlehem that I love and adore, come be born in my heart.

    I would keep track of how many I recited and it was important to me to recite it at least 100 times. I would use a little piece of paper and make the 4 little mark and I would put a bar across to make 5 until I got my quota. Only then did I feel I was worthy of Jesus.

    Wishing you season’s greetings.
    Hugs,
    Julia

    • Wow, Julia, thank you for sharing your journey here.
      I so get that; I think he is of all beings most misunderstood.
      I, too, felt the pressure of the lie. Our tender hearts driven to
      fear. I’m so grateful for this undemanding One:)
      Much love and light to you, friend,
      Jennifer
      jennifer recently posted…Dancing in the dark…..My Profile

  5. I love your description of that feeling when you first realize the immensity of God’s love. I felt it when I was only about 10 – I was actually in our church at the time. But I, too, went in and out of it, at times wondering if I had imagined it or was just naive. I’m grateful he’s so patient with us! And I’m so grateful for his free gift of grace!

    • Yes, such a long journey and such generous patience from his never-weary heart:)
      Grace….is there anything quite so beautiful:) Thanks so much for sharing
      your life-giving words.
      Much love and light,
      Jennifer
      jennifer recently posted…Dancing in the dark…..My Profile

  6. Oh Jennifer, that’s how I see God. In the dark sky with its stars and moon. In the changing colors of trees and the first snow. In glorious sunsets and quiet walks. In birds and animals and sweet Lizzie curled in slumber. I don’t need the big building that seemed cold with hard seats and big words I didn’t understand. Some I still don’t. But out there — in the world he created — I knew I was home.

    Your words say so much, so eloquently. I take a big deep breath, smile and sigh.

  7. Overwhelming feelings wash over me as I read this and follow my whirlwind emotions. Beautiful Jenn.

  8. Intriguing and beautiful. Did my heart good on a Monday morning. ❤️

  9. Enjoy? Lavish!! Your story resonates in my heart of my childhood memories. Poor, but happy. Simple joy filled our home. And oh how I loved my bed. To dream. To ask. To wonder. Like you, my dear friend.

  10. I so love other girls who climbed trees and didn’t do well with rules … we would have been great young pals.

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