In the last few days have you noticed a change in the air? A season has turned. In the lunisolar calendar, the year 5781 has begun. What will we do with this year? Wanna take a dirt path, together?
Yesterday, I shared a favorite quote:
“Of all the paths in life you take, make sure a few of them are dirt.” -John Muir
In Part 1, I wrote about how it’s easiest to feel compelled by these words when we’re out adventuring…
“Dusty dirt seems just right when summiting a mountain peak on a misty morning or even meandering on a sandy shoreline in the dark of night waiting for the excitement of a new moon to appear. Our souls sigh contentedly in those moments. Yet, when the dirt of the earth seems to have invaded our innermost parts, when our bodies ache from the wear of the paths of this life, our souls ache too. We begin to remember how we came from dirt, and how we’ll return.” Dirt Paths (Part 1)
Our first and natural instinct is to avoid what is not the easiest. This goes hand in hand with believing that balance is only possible in peace. We need wisdom beyond ourselves to navigate the liminal space of paradox. It takes time, frustration, and even some failure to learn how to take on a yoke in order to find freedom.
These same things cause us to reach the limits of our own logic and understanding. They press us either to retreat or to advance, but stagnation evaporates in the intensity of heat that paradox brings to our souls. For this, we can give thanks. We always get to choose thanks, or not.
I know first-hand how easy it is to get distracted and lost in the feelings of shame, fear, loss, a sense of weakness, or failure here—but those things aren’t the truth. The expansive wonder we have been invited to dwell within, even while in our human frame, tells a different story. And, though it is hard to *hear* at first, it is not impossible.
If we choose to persevere onward we will learn how to use two hands, how to be skilled warriors using both our left and our right, treading into the unknown and the unclear, the misty, the dusty, the night. It is here that we can learn to perceive the call to faithfulness, not perfection, because it is here that we experience our Creator’s faithfulness to us. And by that I do not necessarily mean smooth sailing.
For all that paradox is, it is not a place we are alone, but rather the place of the Beloved and the Lover uniting as one.
“Paradox is the loom of the three-stranded cord.”
In our wildernesses He calls us to reconciliation and transformation, a new life, a whole story. This could never exist in only one part of our being, truth in both of these areas requires a wholeness of response: body, soul, spirit. And so we will experience this invitation most often through suffering, not in only one part of us but rather in all parts of us. There is no pretty way to say it, transformation hurts.
No dichotomy in our understanding of who God is could ever bring us to receiving or even exploring the wholeness of ourselves, as also no estrangement of the Father from His son could ever bring delight. This is why I talk about the foundations of the Bible so much—the language, the history, the people and land. Divorcing ourselves from it has injured generations, we witness this daily in the news and in our bodies.
It might seem odd that the healing of our cultures as well as our mind and spirit could occur in the wilds of suffering body and soul, but it is true nonetheless. And it might seem odd that who or how God is has anything to do with who or how we are, but this is also true. It’s always the invitation before us to know these things more deeply, whether in joy or in grief. And it’s always okay to be a beginner, that’s what we all are!
The good news when this all feels too paradoxical to contain however, is this: though we are unfaithful, often tossed about by many winds, having faith is less about a perfect state of mind and much more about knowing the One we trust is trustworthy to love us and teach us and raise us above the fray and confusion. We will be unclear—it is vital that we do not think something is wrong with us or the world we wander within for that.
In fact, though at first, it may be a sacrifice of our lips, we can even give thanks for it. We always get to choose thanks, or not. But, if you will receive it from me, I want to give you something; though we will be unclear, we can always alway always trust His Presence to know the way. Mercy is a valid teacher.
“Unlike a dichotomy, where one is split into two, a paradox allows two to become one yet remain two.”
-Keren Hannah Pryor
Wholeness is the invitation to known-ness—personhood as we’ve never known it before.
Despite circumstances, failures, or uncertainties, our whole entireties—body, spirit, soul—are invited to taste and see, disrobe our feet, unveil our eyes, and know the Oneness, echad, of our Creator. He Who brings harmony to all things through the ground of paradox—a holy place, where a whole lot of awful will happen, but where we are never alone— is faithful and true. It’s okay if lament or love is our way of knowing this by heart. The ground of paradox has room for us all to grow gently.
“…Pour out your heart like water before the presence of the Lord!” -Lamentations 2:19
In this shifting in time we find ourselves in, whether we sense it or realize it or not, a special occasion is happening all over the world, the biblical year is renewing, wherein the shofar (ram’s horn) is being blown each day and night*. Many of us will see it on our calendars as “Rosh Hashanah” and “Yom Kippur” but not know what it means. The new year and the shofar blowing symbolize many things, but I especially appreciate this following explanation:
“The effect of the cry of the shofar is compounded by the distress of the soul which feels limited by the narrow straights and inhibited depths of life and its hardships. But, precisely because it comes from ‘narrowness’ the cry is so profound it reaches the widest expanses of heaven. In the words of one of the verses we recite before the sounding of the shofar, “From my narrow place, from my depths and constraints, I call to You, and You respond to me from Your expansive place.” (Psalm 118:5) -Simon Jacobson
I feel these words so very deeply, and I believe many of you do as well. As I send them to you I am thanking heaven for you and I am praying for you. In all the paths we take this year—may we remember together—our Creator once brought life from dirt, and He wills to do so again.
P.S. Dirt Paths (Part 1) here.
I always love to hear from you in the comments, I welcome your reflections or questions. Thank you for reading from me and for all the times you share my work. It means so much!
I like to say I’m just a woman healing in our slice of wilds, out in the Pacific Northwest of the US, this is very real to me and the company of those who travel with me, both near and far, are treasured. I am an author/photographer, homeschooling mama, doula-girl, and Chinese Medicine student turned almost Qigong instructor. I am learning and sharing the journey and I’m glad you are here. If you are new and this feels like a good place to grow together I invite you to stay awhile and subscribe here.
This summer I published two books:
Grow Gently: A Companion as You Learn to Express Your Soul is a small but concise booklet, at a total of 33 written pages, it offers an invitation as well as inspiration alongside practical tools wherever you find yourself growing in the wilds of learning to express our souls.
And most recently:
Beloved Prayers: A Martyrs’ Cross Prayer Book for the Persecuted, a book of prayers to pray for the persecuted body of Jesus and also a prayer book intended for all who hear the call to “Come Away,” to seek the presence and communion of the King of the Universe.
The above link (in title of book) will take you to a ministry, Spirit of Martyrdom (SoM), who has come alongside me in writing Beloved Prayers, believing in the work deeply. I am so thankful for them. The book is available NOW through SoM for a donation of any size and the proceeds will bless persecuted followers of Jesus in India, Africa, Columbia, and Venezuela. Beloved Prayers is also available through our indie press for pre-order right now, set to arrive late October 2020.
Thank you for all of your support and love!