About twenty years ago, when I was in the thick of trying to figure out
who am I in the strange and terrible beauty of this life,
coming on forty and wondering what of all that I believed was even true enough
to haul into the next season
– what was real
and what would hold the weight of all that I loved,
I had this powerful whisper of an experience.
It started soft like a low hum, a glance of the clock on my old stove
landing neatly on 4:44. My eyes liked the something-ness about it.
Early the next morning I woke with a start, face to the bedside clock radio.
Again with the 4:44.
I felt my curiosity rustle.
It kept happening through the remainder of that year,
so many 4:44’s that my questions began to burn.
I was church-ing hard at that time and I prayed for answers and clues
about the gift I seemed always to be unwrapping
only to find another box inside,
wrapped in 4:44s.
What did it mean?
And what was I supposed to do with it?
Eventually, instead of enjoying the experience,
it stressed me out (as did much of my inner life).
I figured I was missing something important – another deficit
in my spiritual account.
Secret fear: God was trying to warn or correct me about something and I was too dull
to decode the memo.
If only I could discern the message and comply, things wouldn’t be going so poorly for me.
Prayers would get answered. Hurtful situations would heal.
That’s where I camped fearful.
That hard season was followed by a sweeter blossom of a time
and I got free from some fears.
Every now and then the 4:44 would pop up and I’d wonder still and hold it close to heart.
It felt more, in that less constricted place, like a stone that caught my eye
that I’d pick up and put in my box of special things.
For over almost two decade my eyes would often be drawn to clocks
just when the fours all lined up
like sunflowers waving tall against the blue.
I studied numbers and dream interpretation and all the hullaballoo,
but when I’d have a pray about it, now more like an easy conversation,
the thought that would bubble up from my being
was simply this: “I’m for you. I’m for you. I’m for you.”
Like God was winking into my insecurity and hesitation
and reassuring, “hey, I’m for you.”
(maybe if you, too, come from a severe spiritual climate,
you can relate to the ingrained idea that God is mostly against).
Many years later, just as the sun began to go down on 2020,
all the fours began lining up persistent across my clock faces again.
For about four days they hummed and then trouble came sweeping
and I felt carried downriver by the blast.
I don’t need to sing you all the details, just that all my fear-buttons got pressed hard.
These numbers. Like old friends.
They felt familiar, showing up like a strong Dad on a dark lonesome road
with a spare tire and a torch and time and skill and love to spend.
I’m for you.
I’ve got you.
Hold tight my hand.
I’m right here.
I gimped into 2021 without a word for the year – didn’t even want one.
No head space for that.
I did feel inspired to start a creative challenge (a bouquet a day) and
noticed the number 4 showing up in my art in droves once we moved and I got back at it.
Then, as my little challenge started to unfold (i share it on fb),
I noticed I was beginning every share with “For you.”
Well dang. There it is. Once again I backed into my one little word for the year.
Only this year it’s also a number.
So, way late to the new year’s share but toddling in just the same
(always the late bloomer),
my one little word: the number 4.
Because it’s been a slow unfolding, this peaceful confidence,
that shitstorms in my life don’t define me.
That trouble doesn’t tell me who I am,
especially who I am to the One who is for me with warm affection,
even when I’m bent low by a cold wind passing.
I think that’s what’s growing in my garden this year;
I’ll come around to share what blooms.
“We unwittingly project onto God
our own attitudes and feelings toward ourselves…
but we cannot assume that he feels about us the way we feel about ourselves
—unless we love ourselves passionately, intensely, and freely.”
– Brennan Manning
Congrats to Judy Hartman
for winning a copy of my book in last post’s giveaway.
Another drawing this post,
a little packet of handmade cards, all originals.
Nice and textured and unique and with beautiful soft envelopes.
Leave a comment and into the hat your name goes.
(I hope to come back to you way sooner this time)