My three little boy’s sweaty, salty, sandy heads tucked beneath my chin and arms holding me tight in sheer happiness over an adventure we were on together. They would run ahead of me in the sand dunes and then run back just to give me another hug and kiss. How do I contain these gifts? How can I be sure I’ll remember that sweaty, sandy scent of joy?
I wonder about these things in positive and negative ways. I have both wanted to hold all the beauty this life offers closely and I also have aimed to release old and painful stories that no longer belong in my daily purview. I want to be a woman of resilience, able to transform as life and life’s Creator calls me to transition from strength to strength and from bitter to sweet.
To have resilience and strength in life is a lofty ideal perhaps, but I believe in it. I believe in enduring hardship as a way to find the sweetest sweet. I remember the Hebrew Scripture’s stories of unloved Rachel learning—experiencing—true love, and righteous Noach (Noah) rebuilding—recreating—a destroyed world. I think of abused, unseen, and forgotten Yosef (Joseph)…
Surely, one of the most deeply sad lines of the Bible: “The chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph; he forgot him.” ~Genesis 40:23
I think of him persevering and metamorphosing though, I hear Yosef declaring truth with strong love, when he said to his brothers,
“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” ~Genesis 50:20
From bitter to sweet, I remember it took some time for him to know this truth and strength of love—something to the tune of 13-22 years? Rabbi Jonathan Sacks (of blessed memory) once wrote,
“We live life looking forward but we understand it only looking back…We live life forward but we see the role of Providence in our lives only looking back. That is the meaning of God’s words to Moses: ‘You will see My back’ (Ex. 33:23), meaning, ‘You will see Me only when you look back.'”
To be intentional about considering where we’ve been in order to better understand where we are going takes time and effort, it costs. Yet the result of not doing so is also a cost. As for me, I’m trying awfully hard to remember the scent of my boy’s childhood sandy-sweaty-loves…so hard that I stand in this (and in many other areas) to miss out on what is now.
I understand myself in this, it is precious beyond gold. Yet, the truth is, the more I store with the ache of potential loss and fears instead of trust and hope in the goodness of where we are today, I could miss the scent of Spring wafting up from the grassy fields and hearing their laughter there. I am afraid I do not know how to top an oceanic wilderness journey, but I am invited to trust that ordinary Spring does…of course she does.
We, as humans, hold well. That we can hold memories is a gift, and so why not open our hands and release those gifts and let them live alive in the world? We are blessed in order to bless. Why not hold people now, today, in this moment, not only our memories…good ones or bad ones?
I believe the answer to this is because it is counter-intuitive to us, counter-cultural, counter-“freedom” in our mind’s eye. It is more comfortable to hold what we have already known, way less scary than letting go. Yet Spring does invite and teach us the strength of Winter’s lesson in releasing, letting go, letting “die” or “sleep.” The grassy fields are singing to us about resurrection, relearning love anew—which occurs to me is no less than recreating the world.
Yet, for all of those things to be true, old loves died, and the cost of following the Voice of the Beloved gets calculated. Sandy, sweaty heads are no less whispering secrets and the preciousness of time does not become less by releasing it and trusting Heaven, it actually becomes more.
“Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die.”
― G.K. Chesterton,
This is where fear and culture often mislead. This is where trust reaches beyond a mental ascent, it becomes our life. This is where prison doors open and death loses its sting. Letting go ushers in freedom the way Winter makes way for Spring.
“One always begins to forgive a place as soon as it’s left behind.”
― Charles Dickens
The disciple of Yeshua, Paul, spoke (to the Philippians) of releasing all things because he counted the worth of grasping Messiah—His sufferings, His death, and His resurrection—of being with Him, the highest worth.
“…forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of Adonai in Yeshua the Messiah.” (Philippians 3)
So. How do we “look back to understand” while living forward “forgetting what lies behind”?
Do these things oppose one another or work together? They are two hands for sure, but not opposing one another; they support.
As the night sky becomes darker when the moon becomes a slimmer strand of light in the sky in preparation for the renewed moon to appear we are invited to grow darker too. We are invited to breathe deep and get cozy, hide away for a minute, and think, pray, reflect inwardly…
We look back, we name the “places” we have been—emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually—we give thanks, or perhaps we grieve. This seeing and naming is the doorway to the vast spaciousness, the graciousness of finding we are safe, we can trust, we can let go.
The new moon appears “smaller” but it is ready to become full again, and so are we.
Paul considered this way of freedom the most important thing to grasp with both hands, “making it my own, because Yeshua the Messiah has made me His own” (Philippians 3)
What did he mean by being His own? Paul knew the generosity of the Father’s love, He trusted this love:
“For I am sure that 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.” —Romans 8:38-39
But where is Messiah, for us? What is this upward call?
He has gone ahead of us. He is called the firstborn of all creation. He says the way to where He is comes by following Him, being born new. There is another whisper there I think. Most of us come here and leave here with open hands, and I’m thinking it’s another invitation to us to live that way too, but now I remember Ya’akov (Jacob/Israel) of the Hebrew Scriptures, and he is an exception to that rule, he actually was born holding.
It’s in Genesis 26,
“And Isaac prayed to the Lord for his wife, because she was barren. And the Lord granted his prayer, and Rebekah his wife conceived. The children struggled together within her, and she said, “If it is thus, why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the Lord. And the Lord said to her,
“Two nations are in your womb,
and two peoples from within you shall be divided;
the one shall be stronger than the other,
the older shall serve the younger.”
When her days to give birth were completed, behold, there were twins in her womb. The first came out red, all his body like a hairy cloak, so they called his name Esau. Afterward his brother came out with his hand holding Esau’s heel, so his name was called Jacob. (Genesis 26:21-26)
Jacob (Ya’akov) means heel. And he also is an example of one who was able to move from the bitter to the sweet, and first he fought with “an angel”. He begged and grasped what was revealed to him from Heaven and he fought. And he won. And, he was given a new name. An example of resilience and transformation in transition, an example of rebirth, through loss, grief, wrestling, tenacious trust, and resurrection.
He spoke one of my favorite lines in the Bible,
Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.” Genesis 28:16
He said this. He realized this. Yet, it would be once again years before the seed of this transformation came to birth and he would hear said to him,
“Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.”
Strength, strong love, and how it leads towards freedom is more multifaceted, more beautifully generative than I’ll ever be able to write enough about. I have barely scratched the surface of the surface this month, I am sky-mining beneath an open and vast sky but it has and will continue to be a worthy pilgrimage on this, “highway in our hearts.” (<—That’s been one of my favorite and most meaningful poetic phrases as of late, I’ll post the Psalm below that it originates from.)
Basically, I’m learning the freedom of learning the process of letting go. These are my ponderings as of late. I hope and pray they are a blessing to you even as they are not “answers” in and of themselves, but rather what I hope will be launch pads to new thoughts and insights, for all of us. I began this particular focus (on freedom) a month ago now, at the new moon of the first biblical month of Nissan. Today the new moon of the second month appeared, one whole cycle.
I am looking back for a moment, considering where I’ve been, what I’ve learned, as my way of going forward. I’m sharing it here because it has been deeply valuable to me, so I want to give it to you as well. This also reaches beyond the keyboard and is a very physical activity. One of the greatest joys of my life has been learning how to pray with my body. The psalmist said,
“I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my kidneys instructs me.” —Psalm 16:7
Yeah, most of our versions translate this as heart, not kidneys, but guess what it is in the Hebrew? Yep, kidneys. My intention is to unfold that more here next time. Subscribe to stay in touch if you haven’t already! Thank you for all your companionship and sharing, I love writing to you here.
So much love,
If you are new around here, hello! I’m Raynna; learning love while I’m homeschooling, writing, photographing, etc. sharing the adventuring from the breathtaking PNW though I’m most often in the kitchen in our kinda small cottage in the woods. I’d love to hear from you in the comments, where are you from? Where are you learning love and freedom currently?
This series has included four parts, you can read more here: one, two, three, and today’s installment. Thank you for reading, please share the love with anyone else you think may be encouraged. We need each other.
“We men and women are all in the same boat, upon a stormy sea.
We owe to each other a terrible and tragic loyalty.”
― G.K. Chesterton
To the choirmaster: according to The Gittith. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah.
How lovely is your dwelling place,
O LORD of hosts!
My soul longs, yes, faints
for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and flesh sing for joy
to the living God.
Even the sparrow finds a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may lay her young,
at your altars, O LORD of hosts,
my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house,
ever singing your praise! Selah
Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
in whose heart are the highways to Zion
As they go through the Valley of Baca
they make it a place of springs;
the early rain also covers it with pools.
They go from strength to strength;
each one appears before God in Zion.
O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer;
give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah
Behold our shield, O God;
look on the face of your anointed!
For a day in your courts is better
than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
the LORD bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does he withhold
from those who walk uprightly.
O LORD of hosts,
blessed is the one who trusts in you!