It’s been a tender past couple of weeks. I kinda don’t know where to begin tonight. I want to read you a poem, as in I want to actually record myself reading it and upload it here because it’s the closest thing to sitting by the fire together and me reading it to you there. This desire is happening more and more, I want to send you my voice. I also want to tell you about all the connections and sparks of life that have felt alive and brought the relief of clarity into this past week but I feel that old fear of uncertainty…of whether I can string it all together well enough that it makes as much sense in words as it does in my heart all ablaze.
Alright, there’s only one thing to do: begin.
The new moon has come and gone twelve days past now. It is the biblical month of Iyar. I am eager for the focus of healing that this month opens the door to. Want to journey deeper into this intention with me?
What do I mean by a tender past couple of weeks? I’ll begin by telling you some of the events… how we prayed for a bird—a sweet Robin that flew right into one of our large northeast facing windows. It recovered in the most astonishing way. Yet then, a few days later a couple of my children found an injured Stellar Jay and this time we needed to take it to receive care at an animal hospital.
A few days after that and we were watching and learning from a most conscious and kindhearted farmer how to utilize nature’s pure essences to minister to a tiny goat when we observed birds of prey gathering not far away. Upon inspection my son found yet another injured bird, this time a Varied Thrush whose shy but bold burnt-orange breast pounded gently in his hands. This one convalesced differently than the others and we still wait to see the full restoration of the baby goat.
In the mean time we walked with and held new born sheep, and one of my children came to hold me and told me he loved me, just because. Does it get more tender than that? Except for when it does, those moments, glimpses of eternity born and breathing in our own injured hearts when the love we’ve experienced for another seems somehow returned—moments when we know we ourselves are loved, safe, remembered, known, seen.
It’s as much as to say we too get found after crashing into our own northeastern facing windows, found by the brook surrounded by birds of prey circling about, ministered to with pure Essence, held gently when our hearts are beating wildly within us no matter how unharmed we appear. It’s amazing what can happen in a moment.
Injury or healing can happen in that time, yet often our story’s breadth and depth is quite a bit more far-reaching than that isn’t it? The in’s and out’s, up’s and down’s, circumstances of a life can hardly be recounted in how it has healed or harmed us—even when we try.
And we do try, consciously and unconsciously I think we’re just about always trying, in our own ways. Healing or harmed, wondering or wishing, there is a desire in our hearts for wholeness and we seek it most vigorously through the storyline we tell ourselves and others.
Sometimes our pursuit is educated and purposeful and other times we are confused and lax. Sometimes the results are marvelously miraculous and other times the path is arduous and long. But usually, it seems it’s not one or the other yet rather a mixture of both kinds of stories, and we have trouble seeing it or explaining it but something continues to arise no matter all that, a story asking something of us: eyes to see the wonder in it all.
This is a painful ask. When the injury is like a shard of glass entering our flesh and the healing is like that piece of glass having to be pulled back out, who has time or energy or attentiveness for a story? And wonder? Well, that feels super-cute and entirely impractical, until we discover it’s our very life.
I kinda don’t know where to begin tonight. I want to send you my voice, tell you about all the connections and sparks of life that have felt alive and brought the relief of clarity into these past weeks but I feel that old fear of uncertainty…of whether I can string it all together well enough that it makes as much sense in words as it does in my heart all ablaze.
So. There’s only one thing to do. Begin…begin because fear has its place, its rousing affect. It causes us to stop and pray with wide-eyed desperate hope, to ask questions, take actions, find answers, watch and wait when otherwise we might be entirely distracted. Distraught hardly feels better than distracted but the point isn’t what it is but rather what it is not yet because that tells us it can be. New, different, renewed, like the moon, like the earth, like you and me.
Surely, this has always been a challenge to see. This story, as old as time, has played out on the stage of the world since the womb of the world. In the ancient narrative all the way to present the children of God were born in His image, bearing the likeness of the Eternal One but still we wanted a distraction from the excruciating beauty of this form. Idolatry has always meant and looked like an exchange of this image, a loss of our Creator being our Master and choosing a different master instead.
As we let fear inform us rather than rouse us to a better teacher, we have chosen Baalim (owners/masters) that are cruel and tell us a story about our shards of glass, broken wings, and traumatized places that seems like they are the end of the story. We have our own Ashteroth, gods we look to for fertility, multiplication — a way out beyond ourselves. Of course we do. We are meant to live and thrive and yes, multiply. These are good things. Life, whole, hoped for, realized, pursued, enjoyed even in sorrow.
On Joy and Sorrow, by Kahlil Gibran
Then a woman said, Speak to us of Joy and Sorrow.
And he answered:
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.
Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.
Our generation is confused when the Eternal One is spoken of as angry, but we do not pursue the meaning of how He is jealous for what we can have, what we were born for, our inheritance untapped, unseen. We don’t understand our own idolatry or that He would be angered over it because He wants good for us not because He is angry. No, He is the most tender.
We do not understand the old ways and so we hand over our power in the name of “new ways” not realizing we have forfeited our very rights of honor and dignity. We fear, not in awe of wonder, so great a King Who would give us such freedom as to have no other earthly king and so we fear in terror of loss and like Israel we give up our rights, our generations, our sons, daughters, fields, and harvests. (see 1 Samuel 7-8) I fear.
When watching and deriving meaning from and for only what is and isn’t now we miss out on what has been before us and what can be more, again, and made new. Fears that would startle us to these realities would be a fear well-borne, listened to and released, dismissed. Yet often we have not been taught to do so, to understand it so, to see.
We look to our own devises for mastery (Baal) and our wisdom for multiplication (Ashteroth) and we do not know the character of our Creator who would speak such words as…
“He will love you and bless you and increase your numbers. He will bless the fruit of your womb, the crops of your land—your grain, new wine and olive oil—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks in the land he swore to your ancestors to give you.” Deuteronomy 7:13
I am listening with you…
“In a futile attempt to erase our past, we deprive the community of our healing gift. If we conceal our wounds out of fear and shame, our inner darkness can neither be illuminated nor become a light for others.”
Brennan Manning, Abba’s Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging
Though it feels like glass…
“What makes a genius? The ability to see. To see what? The butterfly in a caterpillar, the eagle in an egg, the saint in a selfish person, life in death, unity in separation, God in the human and human in God and suffering as the form in which the incomprehensibility of God himself appears.”
Brennan Manning, The Wisdom of Tenderness: What Happens When God’s Fierce Mercy Transforms Our Lives
“Only reckless confidence in a Source greater than ourselves can empower us to forgive the wounds inflicted by others.”
Brennan Manning, Abba’s Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging
Do you ever wake in the middle of the night, afraid? Anxious? If you’re human it’s pretty much a redundant question, I know. But more to my point, when you wake do you ever think of it as a meaningful message?
According to many ancient medicinal traditions when we wake in the night dealing with fears, stresses, and anxieties—there is a very physical cause, a source organ in our body that houses these emotions: our kidneys among others. But these organs do not only give a seat to these important signals and tools in our lives, they also hold the power to help transform them, let them become more, whole, fluid not stuck.
When fears come and become stuck this is when the perversions and untruths begin to make their home in us and bring dis-ease…
So, as I mentioned last week let’s listen to what 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.
As a western believer in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob I have often not understood faithfulness in a physical sense, as is more common in an eastern mindset. I have not understood spirituality as physicality made whole, but rather as something other than. I’ve been in error there and suffered loss for it.
Learning how to wake in the night with ears ready to hear past the pain of sorrows, griefs, and fears has been (and is still) a long lesson but essential to our well-being. This is not to belittle or ignore our pain but rather to understand, attribute, and affirm appropriate meaning to these very real ways we experience injury in this life, our traumatized, broken-winged lives. If we are not intentional in this we leave ourselves vulnerable to many untruths.
We feel at sea at these times but there are very real spiritual, physical, significant ways for us to respond. Here are a few for your consideration:
- Upon waking to fear (in the middle of the night or middle of the day) stop and breathe in deeply through your nostrils and out your mouth as though you are blowing out a straw three times: release the fear, this is within our capacity and design.
- Give thanks for this ability and ask the Eternal One for wisdom to understand the true purpose for which this signal came, not the lies and distortions that would steal our life. Knowing Love in this place allows the signal to come…and go…not stay and get stuck.
- In our bed at night is the perfect time for this, but if you’re not there, find a quiet place and speak to God like you would a best friend; tell Him everything that is burdening you (even if unintelligible) release grief and sorrow and fear on your out breath, breathe in courage, joy, and a will to believe there is a purpose in this pain coming.
- Cry as prayer, groan as prayer, sleep as prayer—whatever is needed to find your way to letting go.
- Upon rising, drink a tall glass of water with a teaspoon of (fresh when possible) lemon juice. Our kidneys represent the element of water in our body. A big deal? very.
About water: Our bodies are roughly made up of about 75% water. Some experts agree that up to 60% of our health ailments could be prevented and relieved by proper hydration. Take high blood pressure for example: a common problem for those who are persistently dehydrated. When the body needs water, the brain sends a signal to the pituitary gland to release a chemical that causes constriction of the blood vessels. I could go on and on about our need for proper hydration.About lemon: In terms of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) lemon is a powerful tool known for its ability to cleanse and promote and regulate our very life, our blood, clearing heat, and eliminating toxins, aiding in cooling inflammation and congestion. Lemons are high in vitamin C, a healing nutrient, and also contain citrate, which helps prevent calcium from building up and forming stones in your kidneys among many other benefits—making this remedy good in times of trouble and every morning a ritual-worthy activity—a living prayer.
- Stay aware of being more consistently hydrated for 30 days, write down some observations of how you feel during this time, once a week?
May you know help in your times of need, in your times of sensing fear whether on your bed at night or at the drive-thru in broad day-light. May Wisdom teach you the way to understanding how to transform your fear, to release it and thereby receive much better things waiting to enter your life, be your life, bless your life. I’m with you in the journey, like water falling down the falls—we were made for this.
I’m a sojourning author, photographer, speaker, student, and teacher, healing in our wilds, practicing qigong—sharing as I go, because we need each other. I currently live in the majestic Pacific Northwest wonderland with my husband and six children.
A song for you…
There’s a wideness in God’s mercy
I cannot find in my own
And He keeps His fire burning
To melt this heart of stone
Keeps me aching with a yearning
Keeps me glad to have been caught
In the reckless raging fury
That they call the love of GodNow I’ve seen no band of angels
But I’ve heard the soldiers’ songs
Love hangs over them like a banner
Love within them leads them on
To the battle on the journey
And it’s never gonna stop
Ever widening their mercies
And the fury of His loveOh the love of God
And oh, the love of God
The love of GodJoy and sorrow are this ocean
And in their every ebb and flow
Now the Lord a door has opened
That all Hell could never close
Here I’m tested and made worthy
Tossed about but lifted up
In the reckless raging fury
That they call the love of God
– The Love of God, by Rich Mullins (posting YouTube video of this song below)