When summer was new and beginning here in Washington, we would walk along the river’s rocky shore and often comment to one another how we are firmly walking where so briefly ago there were waters raging so deeply and fiercely that it would be over our heads—literally.

There were times this reality was so felt my body would momentarily shiver from the remembered force that would have swept us, all, like little feathers right up into the current, woosh.

Now summer has peaked and begun its decline and I have not thought about that for awhile. Soon, however, it will be true again. Where my eyes are now level with and peering into the exposed roots of trees along the bank, it will soon be filled with rushing waters such that some here refer to it as a beast.

It’s a strange reality to know our playground, where all has been air and splashing, will soon be so densely covered that if we were to play there we would drown. There would be no air.

It strikes me over and again the way this dual reality exists everywhere but we often can’t see it. Every once in awhile it might startle us when we visit someplace a beloved has once been and we consider the raw reality that we walk now where once they had been but are no more.

Yet beyond these, and other heart-strings tugged at from time to time, it seems easiest to go about our days feeling as though time and the material, the emotional, and the spiritual are far apart. We forget the way we share space, we forget most when, by all appearances, we are drowning. We forget the rock we could firmly stand upon or the way we could ride atop the current—instead we often wash away unable to breathe.

If you’ve been around here long, you know I’ve written a book called Pray, Like a Woman in Labor based on the prayer Jesus taught his disciples. But what does a woman in labor have to do with praying the Lord’s prayer? A woman in labor can know two things:

  1. This pain has purpose, meaning, hope.
  2. The miracle that is happening in and to her body right now is beyond her. This is not her time to make something happen, this is her time to trust, rest, and release.

This week my book group and I have been meditating on forgiveness, seeking it to be our own in the same way we give it. Reaching for restoration, the wholeness of this picture, in myriad beautiful ways mirrors to us a picture of a laboring and birthing of our souls. There is no better time for knowing deeply, fervently, that pain has purpose. There is no better time to release than when the call to releasing ourselves or others presents the need to forgive. Forgiveness is a door.

Jesus, Yeshua, taught us to pray in this way, “…forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who have sinned against us.”

Through these words we are invited into a microcosm of understanding the way life is a long line of soul negotiations and trades. Will we live bitter, entrenched, entwined with deceitfulness or will we live free? Jesus showed us the way to freedom through the way he lived and here through these words we get a world of insight, at the end of a statement that takes only…a…breath.

This is the Father’s heart explaining to us the choices we get to make in the same way an earthly father would try to explain these choices to a child. Imagine the sober but pleading discussion,

“We choose dear one. We trade, consequences that are real. This is the way of life. We live and love the way we choose to live and be loved. We sow and reap because we’re all farmers, gardeners tending our own souls—but we’re not alone or without instruction.”

In the wholeness of the Bible we find that to forgive is to take on the yoke Jesus spoke of. It is to follow the way of Mercy, to know love—to trust the process and design the way a woman in Labor can. Yet, this is not because she holds the answer in her hands at present, but rather because she knows that which she is believing for. It is real to her, the current searingly felt pain has meaning, and so she can (though we do not always) choose to rest, relax, release and so become a participant in the miracle.

We can pray like this, and by that I mean, we can live like this—trusting a process and design that is beyond us, knowing the reconciliation we believe for before we can hold it. We can forgive, trade the spirit of heaviness for the garment of praise, trade bitterness for life…be born again.

That’s the story of labor that the mother is meant to learn—her own path to birth—one she will need to hear and repeat to herself again and again. Because, dear ones, this is the way of life. Everyday we are sowing in the garden of our souls. Everyday we find there struggle, disappointment, discouragement—need burning within—and those needs are our invitation.

“Deep calls out to deep”, the Scriptures give language to us in this ever-speaking string of words.

This is our design, we burn inside for purpose, meaning, and hope—not to burn up in our own flames of folly but rather to recognize the holy flame of God within us, so that we will seek His flame, His presence, more and deeper.

To be close to Him is to be like Him. To be like Him is to see Him, to see us, Him in us, Him—His image in everyone. And so, to come near Him is to love. It is to forgive. It is to born.

Breathing is one of the most significant things a wise woman with child will train herself in. It serves her through bearing, laboring, delivery, and beyond. The basis of this working is the wisdom that takes us into the real, the place where forgiveness is possible, the place where breath leads the way to release. This is the way of Mercy—breath in every location, in every time, in every string, beastly river, or gentle day. Take us in to the real, Lord. Amen.

Thank you always for journeying with me kindreds! If you are new around here please stay awhile and subscribe, I’ll send you one of my poems to say a warm welcome. To have a further companionship in prayer, you can find my book on Amazon.