The ocean in my cup…

And so I got a taste of something so good that my hunger gnawed away at any satisfaction
i may have found in other things.
Such a sweet-tooth for this God-thing that I chased intense experiences,
and when they didn’t fill me up,
I went looking to the experts to see what they knew,
the ones whose faces seemed flush with this light
– wanted to scoot up close to those who seemed to carry his faraway scent
and when I found a cluster of people whose believing seemed to give them joy,
I leaned into the process, drawn in and open.

I did Christianity as I saw it,
did it so hard that I blew out my be
wanting so bad to fit in that I followed along fearful,
determined to please God big so I wouldn’t be left out again.
Made myself so useful that I’d surely be noticed and not lose again
that something that I’d felt wash over me warm like a living breeze.
I did God the only way I knew – I do for you and you don’t leave me.

But,  damn my whoopsy-daisy ways,  I could never walk that line tight enough
or check enough boxes off neat or merit the joy that seemed reserved for the naturals.
The best I could manage was the little self-righteous rush that came with a longer than usual
run of good behavior.   Or with my spastic dance with good intentions.

My heart hungered for God but I got lost in the hard trying.
Religion can be a smoky haze that way,
how it chokes and bends the music of Love
until you get to thinking that you’re the one
who keeps your whole world spinning –
that you earn this grace
by what you do or give.

It was failure and frustration and an almost frantic striving
and all my hard trying couldn’t pull off a shred of peace
until I dropped down tired from all the don’ts and driven doing
and went palms up and sweet surrender and could you love a girl like me?

And then You flickered on my frozen world like a dancing flame,
a strong shot of light that warmed the cold steel of my pain
until my breath turned to embers and this heart beat strong again
singing love and laughter and longing for me
into my honest mess you came.

Not to punish
or control
or to toy with like some cat and mouse game
but to include,
to family,
to welcome real and safe and sane.

You broke the back of try harder
and busted the lie that we’re alone,
offered my heart the friendship that I thought I had to earn.
You didn’t want performance,   didn’t have a line to tow,
just wrapped me in your muchness and gave me rest I’d never known.

And now when my world quakes,
when love goes missing or un-returned
or leaves behind a stiff body that once thumped warm affection,
and my strong legs get pulled out from beneath me
and I quiver in storm,
you’re my harbor,
my hope.
All of my air is because of this.

I think back to those long ago starry nights and the love that bathed me in those branches
and I know now that it was you.
It was always you.
You wanted me first
the way you want us all
with a reckless affection that smashes religion’s bony finger
and draws us tender into your fierce and healing kindness,
lets us breathe safe again
in the being fully known.

To the One whose knowing is only always love.
With love:)

“I could more easily contain Niagara Falls in a teacup
than I can comprehend the wild, uncontainable love of God.”
–  Brennan Manning

This is the third post in a short series I’ve been doing,
a little love story.
I didn’t mean to be gone so long between.
Rogue waves.  Sputtering.  Catching my breath.
Thanks for coming along for the ride
and a beautiful new year to you and yours.
With love.  Just so, so much:)

 

a little love story…

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I hold a warm and tender memory of a Valentine’s Day long ago,
before those awkward years when my body seemed to shoot up way too high and lanky and sooner than my schoolmates grew into theirs,
and my dark hair too stringy and my soft voice too weak
and a fog rolled in and shadowed some years in lie.

I was seven then,  and jazzed with heady delight as I scrambled down
the hill to the creek with my heart-covered shoebox hugged in close,
feeling the delicious shuffle of valentines and even some happy rattle
that I hoped would be candy tucked inside
a particularly generous envelope.

I’d worked hard containing my excitement ever since morning
when we’d been released from routine to deliver our valentines
to the pink and red boxes with names printed over the slits
we’d carved to receive the offerings dropped inside.
Then,  we’d been give an rubber band to secure the contents ,
safe and hidden,  until we got home and could finally open them.

It was the sweetest torture I’d ever known.
Even thought we’d been instructed to bring a valentine for each child on the list sent home,
and I’d spent hours at the kitchen table carefully choosing just the right one
and lovingly writing the names,
my tongue pressed between my teeth as I slowly penciled my affection
for each kid I watched with wonder each day at school,
I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d get more than a hand full.

I didn’t feel pretty,  didn’t dress like the popular girls
and was fairly terrible at catching pop flies in kickball.
I didn’t expect to get anything from any of the boys
and maybe not much more,   besides.

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But here was a whole box full of little white envelopes with my own name printed on the fronts.
I gingerly opened and studied each card,  some signed,  some a mystery,
but one from each kid in my class and even from pretty Mrs. Clark
with her smooth,  silky,  not-at-all- stringy hair.
It felt like a box full of miracle and my heart could barely
contain itself.

This feeling was an intense kind of goodness.
I was being affirmed,
noticed in a way that let me feel it slowly
and without the painful stares and glaring demand to process it all quickly
in the smooth way that I lacked.
It was one of the most powerful things I’d ever experienced,
feeling both safe and known.

It wasn’t,  of course,  a safe or loving community at all.
Because kids will be kids
and my idealism was,  well,  idealism.
But seeds were dropped deep into that tender girlheart of mine
that have grown into powerful longing for community and tribe
and loving support.
It helped stir a passion for tending the gardens in my life,
for the beauty of whispering  life-giving truth
over another being.

I’m so grateful I  get that here, with you,  dear reader and friend,
and I thank you for the honor
of getting to speak into your life from time to time.
Maybe these days the words sound trite,
but it’s honest and true and ever so worth writing down.

I love you.
I do:)

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“I don’t want something special.
I want something beautifully plain.”
-Anne Lamott