I’m at the threshold of a thing that on the other side of which I will likely want another 10 hours of talking late into the night and the early morning sitting somewhere waiting for the sun to rise. So, it seems right that at this threshold there is a pause, a moment in time to consider the path that has come before and all that lies beyond. I have often not looked at pauses in this manner, but tonight I will.
What is a word? Do you ever just feel astonished at the power of one. word?
Drew Holcomb has a song I like with this line dancing through,
“Maybe one more kiss, a word, sing me one more song.” -The Morning Song
Sometimes it is absolutely all I need, a word.
I’m spending this series contemplating the word hope, a word that both elicits scoffing and…hope. dreams. desires. One word, two worlds.
If it were as easy as a word, as saying the word, then we’d all be walking around hope-full when we want to. But it’s not easy. To be people of hope we need to be full of grit, prepared to wander worlds, not in ignorance, nor insensitivity. To hold hope is to be idea people, to see, to say a word of thanks…because if we have even the idea of hope to contemplate it is because Hope is holding us, enabling that breath we just took, but didn’t think about it in order to make it happen…
As I write tonight, one of my dearest friends is laying in a hospital bed and I don’t like it. I don’t pray because it’s alright in my book, I pray because it isn’t alright. I pray because I hope to find hope. Earlier this evening I pulled into our driveway and saw my oldest son’s light on in his room, but he isn’t there, it hurt. Even as I know where he is, that he is well, and happy, and whole—it hurts. It hurts to hope. It hurts to love.
Somedays loving will look like recognizing that another’s happiness being my own is not an altogether broken part of me, somedays loving will look like a hard look in the mirror, somedays it’s a kind one. These are all definitions I often just have to admit I’m still learning.
Somedays love and hope and faithfulness look like hiding in our inner sanctuaries and knowing these also are not broken ways of our souls, as much as we could LET them become so. We need to know & see ourselves, not (always) wait or rely upon another to. It’s upon us to, as much as the listening, giving, and seeing others is crucial as well.
To move deeper into the space where it’s not all about us, that we more and more—with sincerity of heart—can choose another above ourselves, choose to love, choose their good, their happiness…the cost has got to be counted, named. Sometimes we need pauses, things we don’t like, and things that hurt in order to calculate those costs—to name them. It is the same with hope. It costs. The poet put his own realization like this,
“I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing.” -King David*
Then there was that one time he put it in a prayer,
“Sacrifices You did not desire… but a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise…”
And although this could be a slippery path that risks the falling into a pit of despair of broken-heart, it still remains the path that needs the taking, faced, and released because, “it is better to give than to receive”. It is better to love than to grow hardened & bitter. Hope heals.
In Qigong, this is recognized as a physical process that our humanity needs. We accomplish it through the compression and expansion of our organs. What is inside, most especially toxicity, must come out. The process of squeezing these things out like a sponge is appropriately challenging…and does not at all, at first, elicit what we have come to know as “hopeful”. What if our definitions have been wrong?
Friends, the last several weeks I’ve only wanted to write and tell you about some amazing things, a world of changes in our home. Jay has a new job! Our oldest has flown off (literally!) to college! I try not to make my blog simply a place for my personal story, but I also am grateful for the space to get to share out of it as well.
It’s not my first thought that such events in a writer’s life might be easily eclipsed by the daily wonder of life, but somehow it’s needed to be this way. Sometimes we just have to trust the process we are in, these days have definitely been of that kind for me. In some ways it’s been the process of a rainy day upon my ground, softening my edges that guard the inner world.
In other ways, the eclipse has looked like finding myself in the process of knowing I’m afraid right now. Some days grief has been catching my breath hard again. Just writing that brings up not only the grief but some anger too. I want to say, “I don’t know why,” but that would be me trying not to feel. Then I want to protest that the feelings that come…I cannot. stand.
But, it doesn’t matter in the least what I can stand or not. Loss is loss. At some points I’m mad about things I can’t control, and then I’m mad at the agency-to-act-no-matter-the-circumstances that exists…sometimes my own agency included…and sometimes I’m just mad that I’ve been mad at all! sigh.
I used to spend too much time wondering what I could have done differently, I’m glad to see that improved. Yet still, I have to let myself move through phases of this process, sometimes more anger, sometimes only tears, sometimes jealousy that stirs me to a unique kind of prayer that would not be born any other way—which causes me to realize that in the same way that I perceived blessing, when it was present, I could also choose to perceive it, as blessing, even in absence…a blessing in its own light, disguised. But then I hate it ALL all over again.
I believe it is true to say that the phases of blaming myself and carrying the grief in my gut has mostly expired. I sense all of this as a physical manifestation closer to the surface these days. I know better now these thing are nothing I can carry. So now maybe I’m just back to calling it what it is again without trying to internalize it, as though I could help it somehow if I did.
Have you ever wondered, “Why doesn’t it matter to some that you suffer for them, from them?”
It’s hard to hope when you feel invisible. futile. It costs…
One word. Two worlds.
So many tears.
What costs will we choose? Today…
Will we…be full of grit, prepared to wander worlds, not in ignorance, nor insensitivity. Will we hold hope in such a way that we will be the idea people? Will we look out to see? Will we say a word of thanks…because if we have even the idea of hope to contemplate, to get mad at, to be confused over… it is because Hope is holding us, enabling that breath we just took, but didn’t think about it in order to make it happen…
“When my spirit faints within me, You know my way!” -Psalm 142:3
Dang it, I know this could be a slippery path that risks the falling into a pit of despair of broken-heart, but it still remains the path that needs the taking, faced, and released because, “it is better to give than to receive”. It is better to love than to grow hardened & bitter. Hope heals. May we be It’s messengers, because neither perfection of person nor circumstance are required here, just all of us.
“Even before a word is on my tongue…You know it altogether.” -Psalm 139:4
Offering “the sacrifice of praise” with you today…if you wanna?
“It is a love more fierce than death…its coals burn with the fire of a divine flame. The mightiest oceans are incapable of extinguishing this love, and rivers cannot wash it away.”
-Song of Songs 8:6-7
I wish I could make it easier, but all I can say today is that you are not alone. I mean it and I know it, with my whole heart.
P.S. Words that did a thing in me: “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” -Viktor E. Frankl
P.P.S. Share this letter from my heart with a friend?
Also, remember I love to hear from you too.
My books: (learn more at www.UntoldWonder.com)