The morning is pregnant with the rain to come today, and also filled with a feathery lightness that whispers to me the way the sun will be peaking through like a faithful friend. The sky is blue grey filling with a little warmth on the horizon as I walk through the hour of morning twilight. The sun has already crested on the other side of the hills and I keep thinking about how what I see here is simply a story of what is somewhere else, yet it is our story, here in this place, as much as it is another’s in a different place.
I want to tell you all a good thing that happened in our family life recently, but I also want you to know it’s not always like this. In fact, if you want to know what your marriage is made of may I recommend trying to writing a series on love! Ha! Much will be revealed. I say this humorously, but in all seriousness—I am so serious—writing this series has been the best-worst thing I have ever done for my marriage. <squirting-ridiculous-tears-laughing-emoji here>
Here’s a couple recent pics of my said marriage partner, my Jay, whom I adore and have affectionately named, “Stands With Flowers In His Hair”. He is part Cherokee after all!
This week has been full of sweet conversations between Jay and I. I don’t mean sweet as in cute, I mean sweet, like a goodness I could taste with my soul—the kind of conversations I am hungry for deep inside. It wasn’t that we particularly had loads of time to reach a place of connection, rather to the contrary, time has felt so slim and fleeting lately. Maybe that was part of the wonder and the sparks of light—what was available was precious. (And maybe the aforementioned paragraph a wee bit too.)
One evening, during golden hour on the front lawn, when the sun is so low it lays a blanket of gold across the earth, the illumination was so bright I could see the silhouettes of bugs through leaves as they crawled on the other side. The highways in the air we normally just walk through were also revealed, outlined with light and filled with radiance, so that the tiniest pieces of the forest gently flitting and fluttering down to the ground around us, on us, were all lit up like little fire seeds. I too was the ground they fell on and they planted this scene in my heart so that I could memorize it and tell it to you.
I was in awe as I stood there with my two oldest sons (17 & 16 years old). We had walked out there to have a quieter place to work towards resolving some hard feelings between them. We needed light, so we went and stood in it. We stood there a long time, until the light was gone from the sky, but it had found its way into ourselves. I was so thankful.
About halfway through Jay pulled into the driveway. It had been a long day for him already, no dinner yet, and he walked out to us and sat on the ground in the light too. We were no longer standing, I was literally on my knees at this point, I had taken the conversation as far as I could and now their dad gave his part, the part I couldn’t give. And these next lines from Paul’s dissertation on love were dancing through my mind the way I could see the fragments of the forest dancing through the air, “…love…is not irritable or resentful…”
These words are almost laughable at first glance right? I could get irritated just at reading the sentence! So, what is this about and how do we understand it as a way to walk in, to find light in? This is an area in which I know I experience nearsightedness, so I have been seeking for insight and help. My prayers are pregnant with the hope of understanding to come and also filled with a feathery lightness that whispers to me the way reality will be peaking through like a faithful friend.
And the truth did start to crest the horizon in my heart, first about resentment. The way it comes in a stagnant place, it is like bitter waters, not living and flowing, but standing still. And irritableness, oh dear, there it was—this whole list of Paul’s is less about what it isn’t and immensely more about what it is. If love is not irritable, yet as we know irritation often finds itself in many loving relationships in real time, then irritation is the invitation to teach us what love is.
Irritation is the disturber of the waters that must not stagnate. We could scold ourselves or follow Mercy here…
This surely is not what comes at first glance. This is what comes in the seeking…because the question rises, like the sun, if love is not irritable what is love? We’ve already heard it is patient, yet here it is again, a new facet to fascinate us…a new way to invite us into patience, because Lord knows, most of us need it at every turn. And the longer I spend here I realize the repetition in and of itself is here to teach us, oh the mercifulness of repetition! And oh, how well I get irritated about it!
Patience is like that warmth on the horizon, patience is a giver, it has time and space to offer, it has rhythm and grace to plod through the harder parts of life. How can we know it? By tasting of it, by going out to the lawn and standing in the evening light until highways in the air we normally just walk through are revealed, outlined with light and filled with radiance, so that when the pieces of our life are flitting and fluttering down to the ground around us, on us there on our knees, that we become the ground they fall on, like fire seeds. In the quiet place, down by the river, the fire is quenched, the ground is nourished, and the trees flourish.
The words of Scripture too often come through our lens as a standard held over us, the way my big brother used to like to hold a balloon over my head when I was a little girl—just enough out of reach that I thought if I kept jumping I could reach it, but as soon as I allllmost had it… he would lift it further up! This is great fun for an older brother, and kid sister (mostly) but this is not God. When childhood experiences, happy ones and sad ones, sneak into how we see the whole world, most especially how we see God, we are lost in the clouds.
God is not a big brother holding anything over our head, just out of reach. Nor does the Eternal One fit the filter of an imperfect parent’s words or actions. He’s too spacious for all of that, breaking all the molds. We mistake the breaking for confusion, when really within all this life, our cloudy lenses and mistaken filters, there’s an invitation in it all to come away, to find inclusion. The words above us, are intended for a banner, yet we have seen them as burden. To be told that love is not irritable is to teach us the shape of grace, its form, its song, its warmth.
We are invited to learn it through rising out of slumber, into action, out of stagnancy, and old ways of seeing and living…
The sky is blue grey filling with a little warmth on the horizon as I walk through the hour of morning twilight. The sun has already crested on the other side of the hills and I keep thinking about how what I see here is simply a story of what is somewhere else. This is our story, here in this place, today, that heralds from so far beyond us and that is the good news! God, whose ways are not our own, is near. It is easiest to call what is foreign bad, what is far from our understanding a burden—but what if these things come not to repel us but rather to compel us?
Today, and all that comes to fluster us or even undo us, what if this is a divine request of attendance to a banquet—a feast!—that is good, sweetness to our soul. What if this is a place, not to be confused or rejected, but included and accepted, teaching us the way to reflect lovingkindness, peace and patience, because we have seen and heard and experienced them for ourselves, because we have heard Mercy’s own invitation, in the slim places, where all feels fleeting. Standing with you, letting the fire seeds burn away the dross…amen.
“The ineffable inhabits the magnificent and the common, the grandiose and the tiny facets of reality alike.”
-Abraham Joshua Heschel, Man in Not Alone pg. 5
Next in this series: Cries From the Nest (Love, Part 8)
Hello! I’m Raynna, and I’m glad you’re here. Say hello in the comments or subscribe below because I’m going send a copy of my book out this week to one of you who does. Tell me what you are learning about love? Or where you are reading from! I’d enjoy that.
The bio pic is of me taking photos in the weeds and savoring every single moment of it 🙂 as well as treasuring all of my days while I get to homeschool my six children (between the ages of 17 and 7) in the staggeringly gorgeous Pacific Northwest. If you subscribe to receive my posts in your inbox, and I’ll also send you one of my poems to say hello and thank you and I’ll show up about once-a-week at most.