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:)

 

To the dark and endless skies, my love

(second in a series….a little love story)

….There came a slow closing to my heart
with every prick of the lie;
each disappointment made up another story
as did the ugly stuff of life,
stories about the One who’d held me tender in the trees,
lies about his heart
that in time I started to believe
like the way a rumor slowly poisons
until you no longer see the same,
dark rumors about the price of deserving,
too high for a girl like me to pay.

A heaviness set in where I’d once known carefree light,
as if I’d sprouted something shameful,
something hard on holy eyes.
And as my limbs grew awkward and my body shot up tall,
had I become too much of something?  Too big to hold?
Outgrown it all?

There came to my soft places an edge of silent grief
where I’d once felt gently known,
seen generous by loving eyes so understanding and bright
that every drop of knowing was a kindness,
a sunbath of warmth over the very whole of me.
God,  what had I done to lose it?

I was a once-loved girl gone homesick,
feeling lost and  left behind
and I began to pick up speed,  running away reckless from the missing,
too mad to slow down and get quiet,
too lonely to stop and feel,
the lie whispered to me in that way that it does
“you are particularly alone.”

And so I closed my arms tight over my heart,
jaw hard and breath held short and quick like the runaway I became,
shutting out the One who’d brushed over my spirit and senses
like whisps of orange blossom and firelight and lightning over the sea,
with the tenderness and strength of a mother’s devotion
until my fear had melted like wax,
and now had the wax gone hard.

But somewhere down in my belly
there rumbled low like a bell on a breeze
“Come awake,  to all that is sleeping,
come awake, to all that is true,
in the lonesome of your heart
wake to the welcome, the arms still open for you.

“The first time ever I saw your face
I thought the sun rose in your eyes
And the moon and the stars were the gift you gave
To the dark and endless skies,  my love,
To the dark and endless skies.”

– Roberta Flack

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:)