Friday, April 20, 2007

there i sat in belgium, not alone.

i'm under this pile of what seems to be never-ending papers, heralding the end of my masters program (and threatening to get me into some deep doo-doo with my Vixen sisters-- I'm probably going to be holed up in my house during alumnae weekend...), but i wanted to share the couple of things i've been thinking.

i found this journal when i was sorting some printmaking equipment-- don't ask me what it was doing there. the last time i wrote in it was 1996. it's this gorgeous little book that my friend Heidi picked up for me in Berlin or something, covered with an old-lady-sofa meets monet design, with thin graph paper that is so nice to write on. i dedicated it strictly to poetry. this season of my life, i was living all over the world and the Lord was doing deep things in me during long, lonely stretches of time. i wrote this while sitting on a balcony, looking over a washed out mountainside that pushed out to a palm plantation, and beyond that, to the sea, in St. Marc, Haiti:

Cut away morning glories
that i would leave,
but which you know would choke
the life out of
something meant to thrive in me.
i'd rather have fruit with no flowers
growing in my spirit
than weeds of the prettiest colors.
4/29/94

i've been talking with a young friend of mine whose heart is going through hell, and it's hard not to recall those seasons in your own life when you hear it in someone else. what she's experiencing is different, but the sense of desperation is the same. for me, i was desperate to figure out what my calling was while living in a sea of visionaries. everyone knew what they were meant to be doing with their lives, and all i knew was that i wanted to learn everything and i wanted to talk to lots of people and i wanted to go have coffee at the beanery or the governors cup with mark and manny and dana and lisas and kelly and suzy. and i wanted to have the same faith my friends seemed to have, and i wanted to understand things they seemed to already get, even though we were all hanging out in our early 20's and probably, we were all wondering the same things. sometimes i would look at the deadheads, home from following the grateful dead that season (this was in '93 in oregon), and i would think, even they know what they're meant to be doing... everybody knows but me.

meanwhile, i was homesick. i was a grown woman, or was supposed to be, and i missed my family. and i missed the south and southern voices and men who held doors open for girls. i missed summer days getting really, truly hot and sweet tea as a staple in the fridge. and if i hadn't watched out, i would have missed the beauty of salem, oregon, and days crabbing at the coast and driving out in suzanne's old suburu to independence, oregon for fireworks on the 4th and going to some town somewhere with mark to teach some youth group about intercession, and feeling that sense that youth ministry was where it might be AT for me. i might have missed mrs. buren's garden and that day the taxis drove up and spilled amish people out their doors. i might have missed spearmint fields and churches converted into houses and some of the most amazing people, making up the most precious community, i have ever known.

but every night, my heart longed for momma.

and i think that God meets us there, in these times of longing, in a way that maybe we don't sense Him at other times. it's like there's this gaping open place in our hearts when we are experiencing heartache, and if we'll only tilt our hearts his-way, He will come in like a flood.

my prayers during that time seem so sincere and the same the same the same. my journal entries were mostly prayers, and it's interesting to study them now-- i cried out for forgiveness and wisdom, for a spirit of generosity and understanding. i wanted His favor and His gentleness. i cried out to the Lord to come and fill me with grace, to soften me with His mercy, to minister peace to the anxious places, and leave a deposit of His very self in me-- to move as much of me out as was possible and to take up as my of my heart as He would or could.

it occurs to me that this old Christian needs to return to those more mystical prayers of my youth. and to return to the longing. i still long for things, but it's different now. i have the husband i wasn't sure i'd find, and he exceeds all of my hopes and expectations. i have the education i always wished for, and it too exceeded my dreams. i have friends and opportunities and all kinds of wonderful things, and it doesn't even matter that much that my car sucks like i don't know what. but i long for a baby, for that elusive sense of financial security, to be published, to make an earth-shattering piece of art, to see more friends come to know the peace of my God, to get my brother and his wife to move back to conyers, for my father to be healed of parkinson's, to live in the home of our dreams...

but at the bottom line, my longing is for the Him of my heart, and it always was and will be. i remember this moment... i was dragging a bag through an airport in belgium and i was sick of traveling alone. i was lonely, and while i knew that i was fortunate to be on my way to live in sweden for a few months (i mean, who gets to do that?), i was lonely. i wanted to be married. it was such a theme among my friends at that time, i usually just kept that longing to myself and tried not to think about it. but that day, there it was.

and as i sat there, staring at a beautiful mosaic stuck at the end of this weird, lonely concourse, i felt the Lord remind me that He was my husband in the truest sense of the word. that He was my home. and there i sat, in belgium, not alone.

he's a miracle worker.

okay, back to school work. oh, did i mention that i bought ferns and lavender the weekend it was warm (what, 3 weeks ago? 4?)? i would like to report that they are still alive.
(4/20/07)

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