“Love…endures all things.” -1 Corinthians 13:7
In the confluence of all things, our realities and the ineffable, we stand at a crossroad, peering into the unknown looking for the way home, listening for the voice our soul knows. I know so little, but I find here in this place I know one thing: Love endures all things. We can trust Love knows the way home.
I love the story we can find in all of our love stories—it’s in everything from our jealousies, to our cold-heartedness, to the warmth that engulfs us from head to toe—I hear a meta-story playing, it tells me we are known.
In the garden, no—at the first crack of light, the presence of our Creator, Love Himself, was already lighting the way home. As a people we have often thought of the light of His presence as a place that could never co-exist where our shortcomings are. Even as early and in as perfect of a story as the garden was, we find humanity thinking we ought to hide when called to, “Where are you?”
We already thought Love wasn’t strong enough to endure…us. And so, we separated ourselves—blaming it on “sin”, making sin bigger than even Elohim did. We make it an idol, as though it has power beyond redemption, beyond being allowed to run home when we hear our Creator calling, “Where are you?”
The sacred writings teach us how we miss the aim when we sin, the way an arrow misses its mark, but it never makes it the ultimate and grand separator that we make it. This is what always happens with idols though, when, lifting them up, bowing down beneath them is the name of the game, and we forget our name. Still…
“…neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Messiah Jesus our Lord.” -Paul, a messenger of Jesus
The voice calling Adam and Eve (Chavvah in Hebrew: life-giver), “Where are you?”, revealed the essence of Love—a willingness to endure together, unafraid of imperfection. Their response revealed humanity’s propensity to hide, our tendency toward listening to fear in all the wrong ways. So, here now, today maybe we can see that our own hiding is the thing that does the separating? Maybe we can see we don’t have to hide, maybe we can go home, that place of being known, and talk all night about where we are, dream a little about where we’ll go…
When Adam and Eve sinned Adonai Eloheinu, the Lord our God, Love, came near. Love was ready to cover us from the beginning, but we chose to cover ourselves. Thank goodness, Love Endured. Thank goodness this is much less a story about us and so much more a story beyond us, for us.
Thank goodness, that at the crossroad of heaven and earth, we’re all double-minded, and looking for the way to, “Aim for heaven and get earth thrown in…” as C.S. Lewis said. It all feels and is a bit imperfect, but that’s alright, Love isn’t afraid of imperfection, that’s us.
A crossroad is meant for a pause, not an end, not stopping and staying. It just is the way we all have to pass through to find the road that endures. It’s a listening place, observing space, and eventually the perfect taste of eternity that keeps us longing for more, ready to begin again, if we listen, because this story is surely waiting for all of us.
“…he has set eternity in the hearts of men…” Ecclesiastes 3:11 (b)
My children and I are freshly returned from a 6,000 mile summer road trip and my mind and heart are all astir with thoughts of endurance and returning and home. Sometimes you need a Sunday afternoon drive, sometimes you need a month long one. I needed a month. I remember the afternoon when I woke up after nearly two days of sleep in Ohio, about half way through our trip. I woke up with a breeze coming through the screens of my tent shaking it rough and I knew it was time to rise and begin again.
Less than two weeks later I would be driving down Indiana roads past corn and soybean fields covered with fog-laden blankets. The glimpses of light streaming and filtering through the fog and the way it changed around each and every bend kept me wanting to go further and further on. It gave me time to think.
I listened to a CD that a Native American acquaintance in Washington had given me while holding my gaze telling me the story of his grandfather seeing the gift of music in him the way my massage therapist told me the story of her grandmother who saw the gift of healing in her. They remembered, and they told me so that their memory could live on too. And it does, inside of me, and even a little bit inside of you now too.
These stories make me want to see my children better and call into life what I see in them, I want to release them into their story that they’ll give away, because Love endures. And this criss-crossing of paths in life seems no less a mistake to me than that gust of wind waking me up, but now my thoughts had me so enthralled I had to come back from the winds of heaven to the dust and stuff of earth and I looked down the highway.
I could see heaven meeting earth through rain clouds falling open wide. The view is so clear in the yawning ranges of the west, you can see, like Rich Mullins sang, the next hours’ weather in the distance like it should be here already, but it’s not.
“From the place where morning gathers
You can look sometimes forever ’til you see
What time may never know…
How the Lord takes by its corners this old world
And shakes us forward and shakes us free
To run wild with the hope”
-Calling Out Your Name, Rich Mullins
In Wyoming my imagination got caught up again and thoughts about a diamond throne and a voice in the thunder were rumbling through my mind as I looked ahead to a silver white, yet ever darkening, veil that seemed to be strategically placed right across the highway I was driving—as well as the highway of my mind, with waves high as mountains.
“There is a sea, and I am a captain
Of something unknown, waves high as mountains
There is a key, and there is a light
Here’s to times that I catch it
May it last through the night”
—May It Last, The Avett Brothers
Ever onward the rolling plains turned to mountains and John Muir’s popular words about the mountains calling felt like anything but greasy, and only true. I could feel Oregon coming on the horizon again before I could ever see it. The crows kept flying straight toward us and it felt like a thought that I must catch…
Under the curving sky
I’m finally learning why
It matters for me and you
To say it and mean it too
For life and its loveliness
And all of its ugliness
Good as it’s been to me
I have no enemies
-Avett Brothers, No Hard Feelings
The crows and sage and scree, the wind changing temperature from moist and hot to mild and cool, made me want to romanticize what the matriarchs before me braving the wagon trains of this old Oregon Trail saw when I beheld the cattle roaming and the river’s rushing. In the confluence of all things, our realities and the ineffable, I stood at a crossroad, peering into the unknown looking for the way home, listening for the voice my soul knows. I know so little, but I found there in that place I knew one thing: Love endures all things, and so I trusted Love knew the way home.
And how wise Love is. The days I returned home would be exactly two years to the week that a fever and illness that accompanied me for nine months had left. That fever invited me into a whole new life, though I wanted to despise its coming, its crossroad was exactly what I needed, though I never would have chosen it on my own.
And now the thoughts were coming too fast for me to catch and I simply had to stand within them, I had to let them blow through me, and wake me. I had to let them shake what would be shaken and see what would remain and listen for what would last. And I remember the afternoon when I woke up after nearly two days of sleep in Ohio… I woke up with a breeze coming through the screens of my tent shaking it rough and I knew it was time to rise and begin again.
These stories makes me see the child that I am and that we all get to be, it makes me see the world we get to play in through new eyes and the way we are called into life, released into a story that we’re intended to give away, not because we’ll behave perfectly, not because we never stand at a crossroad where double-mindedness and doubts dance within us, rather and solely because Love endures.
And this cross-crossing of paths in life seems no less a mistake to me than that gust of wind waking me up, but now my thoughts have me so enthralled I have to come back from the winds of heaven to the dust of earth and with joy I will travel down the highway of the tradition that the womb of my faith calls The Ten Days of Awe, the space in the Biblical calendar that we are all invited to pause and I will endeavor to answer the question, “Where are you?”.
“Where are you?”
Listening with you,
P.S. I love to hear from you, in the comments, in an email. Where are you? Thank you for traveling with me!
(Bio photo this week taken by my son, River. Honestly, that smile felt way too big to share, but then the people who love me helped me understand that it and all that has brought me to this place, are way too big not to share. I hope it makes you smile too!)
Favorite words on prayer this week: Prayer is the act of listening to God listening to us. But there is also a listening beyond words, a silence that gives meaning to speech. In that silence, we know and are known by God.” -Jonathan Sacks