Quick Personal Update With Thanks!

I have so many things I want to tell you all. First, I want to say thank you so much to everyone who shared my book re-launch with others last week. I am thunderstruck.

For someone who never expected to write a book at this stage of my life, the fact that it is published and actually circulating out in the wide world at all is wild to me. Add to that the fact that, with your alls help, it made it into more hands and hearts, in five days, than it did in its entire first year—I am stunned. THANK YOU. THANK YOU.

I don’t have any news of reaching a best sellers list or top numbers. But I can tell you, I am thrumming with gratefulness for your company as a woman who is entering these waters very gently. I can also tell you out of the over-a-million Kindle books available on Amazon, Pray, Like a Woman in Labor reached number 1,110! That made me smile and I hope it makes you smile too.

Sometimes we wonder if the little pieces of our willingness or struggle in the trenches really matter, the unseen and the unlovely (to us) parts. Sometimes we get to hear tiny whispers of yes—yes, they do.

My eyes and ears were lifted with the joy of those whispers last week as I set off to speak at the Re3 Women’s Conference in Paola, KS. Instead of being on the other side of this screen sharing my heart I got to feel the embrace of, look into the eyes of, laugh with, pray with, and even cry with women like me—women hungry for life and wholeness. What it meant to me and how I treasure that experience is beyond words.

Now, here again, together, linked even though behind a screen, the gift of words sings to me. The way words knit us together, sometimes our wounds, sometimes our scattered thoughts, sometimes one heart to another. Thank God for words.


Pre-Eclipse Ponderings
This morning I dove head first onto my bed into the arms of my love. Messy hair down, heart high with the thought filling me in those nano seconds of the way I knew to dive into his embrace. Eighteen years of diving and counting. Eighteen years of his laughter filling my ear as I press it into the side of his rough cheek.

I do it on purpose. I press in so tight that all the sounds are muffled like it is when I’m underwater. I used to be scared of being under water before my friend Kelsi taught me how to swim a few years ago. Now, it’s a peace I daydream of when it’s been too long since I was last there, swimming in the deep.

That eighteen years of knowing and being known by my husband brings this satisfaction that my words fail to express, to say it’s full of more depth than I ever could have imagined even amidst the exhilaration of our first years together scratches the surface. As for swimming, I’m still a newbie, even a few years in, of knowing what it feels like to swim beneath the water, yet I can still feel the difference, the wholeness that has replaced the fear that makes the dive so much more sweet and longed for.

So, as I crash in beside him, I lift my left arm over my head so that both my ears are covered as my right arm embraces him. I listen. I breathe deep and it sounds like a storm rollin’ in but I’m really letting all the storm roll out. It’s safe and warm, and light floods me even as I close my eyes…

It’s just past the middle of August, and they say there is a total solar eclipse coming tomorrow. As I lay there in Jay’s arms I remember words I read a few years back. Annie Dillard wrote them about the year she saw her first total eclipse. I was born that year, 1979. She drove five hours over mountains to stand up on a tall hill in Yakima, Washington to wait for it. She was ready—except for the fact that she learned nothing could make her ready.

So, what we know of Annie is, unlike Emperor Louis of Bavaria in 840 who simply died of fright on the spot at seeing an eclipse, she was ready to be unready. She dove head first. Her head knowing all the facts, her adventure seeking soul on-the-ready for wonder. My favorite part of her story is when…well, actually there are two. First, it’s the way she describes the color of her surroundings when the eclipse was at totality. She said it all turned metallic. I think I’m waiting to experience this the most.

It was shadow, and for her it brought reality and history and death close to her senses. She writes about it like being alive, presently, inside an old black and white film. It’s amazing how she wields words, if you can read this one chapter of hers it’s in Teaching a Stone to Talk, chapter one, Total Eclipse. I honestly haven’t read the rest of the book yet. That chapter, at the time, was enough.

My second favorite part of her story is as she describes,

“The deepest and most terrifying…(I have…read that screaming with hysteria, is a common reaction even to expected total eclipses.) People on all the hillsides, including, I think, myself, screamed when the black body of the moon detached from the sky and rolled over the sun. But something else was happening at the same instant, and it was this, I believe, which made us scream.
The second before the sun went out we saw a wall of dark shadow come speeding at us. We no sooner saw it than it was upon us, like thunder. It roared up the valley. It slammed our hill and knocked us out. It was the monstrous swift shadow cone of the moon. I have since read that this shadow moves 1,800 miles an hour. Language can give no sense of this sort of speed—1,800 miles an hour. It was 195 miles wide. No end was in sight—you saw only the edge.
This was the universe about which we have read so much and never before felt…”

Will we see the eclipse tomorrow? Will we scream? Will I dive again into the encircling of my husband better tonight or will I forget how to float? Will I let the storm out in deep breaths safe in embrace or will I flail about in the water of forgetfulness and cause thunder instead of receive it gently into my soul—the sound a voice of peace?

Will I remember the circle, the completeness of this human family I belong to, as I learn it in embrace. As I see it written into the very heavens? Will my eyes be girded for truth or will it burn through me to loss of vision? Will I remember what this love I receive deep is for, that it’s for giving it away, rolling away like a shadow, like the wind?

These are the things stirring inside me this eve before total solar eclipse. The eve before shadow slams into my hill with the gift of reality, hint or shout of the reality of my Source I spend my days circling, live in, move in, breath in—my being.

Some say sun represents father and moon symbolizes mother. Tomorrow I will remember I need both. Some say darkness envelops us now, tomorrow I will remember and tell my children though the light is hidden it is still near. Some say the time of woman has come throwing off the constraints of man, tomorrow I will remember the unity and beauty I have experienced diving head first, unready newbie I was and am.

No head knowledge could prepare me but my adventure seeking soul created on-the-ready-for-wonder seeks life, not painlessness, make no mistake—but life. Tomorrow if the lovingkindness of my God extends to me one more day I will live alive…before the metallic shadow colors come. “The darkness is not dark to You and night’s as bright as day.” A quote from one of my favorite poet/musicians Rich Mullins. Signing off tonight with his lyrics to Nothing is Beyond You.

What are you pondering tonight?

Where could I go, where could I run
Even if I found the strength to fly
And if I rose on the wings of the dawn
And crashed through the corner of the sky
If I sailed past the edge of the sea
Even if I made my bed in Hell
Still there You would find me
‘Cause nothing is beyond You
You stand beyond the reach
Of our vain imaginations
Our misguided piety
The heavens stretch to hold You
And deep cries out to deep
Singing that nothing is beyond You
Nothing is beyond You
Time cannot contain You
You fill eternity
Sin can never stain You
Death has lost its sting
And I cannot explain the way You came to love me
Except to say that nothing is beyond You
Nothing is beyond You
If I should shrink back from the light
So I can sink into the dark
If I take cover and I close my eyes
Even then You would see my heart
And You’d cut through all my pain and rage
The darkness is not dark to You
And night’s as bright as day
Nothing is beyond You
You stand beyond the reach
Of our vain imaginations
Our misguided piety
The heavens stretch to hold You
And deep cries out to deep
Singing that nothing is beyond You
Nothing is beyond You

Love,

Raynna
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