Lent, Day 29: for my Contentment

“Indeed, it may be said that God cannot be known in the mind but only experienced in the heart.” –Steven Levine

In a few months, we are moving out of this lovely little apartment and into a house about seven minutes from where we live now.

It happened so organically– a prayer answered through a relationship, all the details met in every way we could imagine.

We will have that yard to garden and space to run, for our dog to relax and grow older in the sunshine.

So my decorator-mind starts planning how we’ll set up this new home, where everything will go, what will hang on the walls, how we will host guests and practice hospitality.

But we’ve still got four months to go.

So while I’m still here in this little apartment, I’m trying to practice contentment.

I’ve planted seeds in the pots on the balcony again, and I’m reminding myself of the good and kind way God brought us here in the first place.

Lent, and all of life, really, is about the almost-but-not-yet, but while we’re in this not-yet, let’s actually live.

There are no logical explanations for the way we’ve been provided for over these years as a family but through the great Mystery.

There was no reason for a friend to offer us her home simply because she knew we were looking, no reason for things to fall into place that way, but there is a kind Spirit who knows us well.

These are heart things where the mind does not know the territory, has no control.

These are the parts of the journey that make it all worth it, the mysterious things that cannot be explained but only experienced.

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The boys and I walked at the park near our new place.

Isn’t that the perfect-shaped path?

There are baseball fields and sticks for Isaiah, a path for bike-riding and blooming trees for Eliot.

And we go there and walk and dream and remember and embrace Mystery, embrace our heart experiences, embrace contentment right here and right now,

and we find that Lent teaches us yet another lesson along the way, and we understand that the journey is not done with us yet.

 

 

Day 23: Lent for my Closet-Quiet

  

At my sister’s house, we are staying in the girls’ room, Eliot on the twin bed and Isaiah and me on the bigger one.

And a few times, either after they go to bed or before they wake, I sneak into the closet for some quiet.

It’s got what you’d expect to find– all these little hidden treasures, their favorite books, pictures they’ve drawn and painted.

There’s a dress-up bin

and beaded necklaces

and a rolling backpack covered in pink and purple hearts and stars.

But for these few days, it’s my quiet space, my solitude, my gentle escape.

The berber carpet becomes a holy ground, a soft place for me to land in quiet and mystery and truth–

We’re all longing for that, aren’t we?

For a space to be quiet,

a space to ask questions and

admit how we feel and

rest in mystery?

And I suppose we’re too afraid, too busy, a little bit of both.

But once we get there, the room to breathe is overwhelming and beautiful.

Once we get there, the openness of those moments takes us by surprise, and its lessons leave us wanting more.

More spirit.

More presence.

More mystery.

More life.

And Lent gives us that space where we grieve and ask what’s going on and admit that we’re hungry, to ask if a Savior really wants us as we are.

And Lent tells us the truth, and we walk in it.

Hallelujah for the space and the closet-quiet,

Hallelujah for the question-asking-mystery.

Day 13 of Advent: living mystery

“Living without mystery means knowing nothing of the mystery of your own life, nothing of the mystery of another person, nothing of the mystery of the world; it means passing over our own hidden qualities and those of others in the world.” –Bonhoeffer

American Christmas traditions reek of busy movement and to-do lists and discount shopping, and suddenly it’s January and the season of hopeful expectation really only made us more exhausted.

Bonhoeffer wrote letters to his loved ones at Christmas time while he sat in a prison cell.

He did not participate in the traditions or eat the Christmas cookies, exchange presents or sing carols with his dearest friends.

All of Christmas was in his mind and in his heart, the mystery held strong in his darkest hours.

All these years later, we still have something to learn from this man, don’t we?

The other night, we drove around our town and looked for Christmas lights.

We saw a tree on a little lake, lit up with twinkling white and blue lights, reflected perfectly in the water it stood on.

We saw reindeer and snowmen and a Santa or two.

We saw green wreaths hanging from front doors.

Eliot stopped talking for a minute and said,

“Merry Christmas, Mommy. Merry Christmas, Daddy.”

In that magical quiet, the Mystery came to him.

He got it.

He knew there, as only a toddler knows, his place in the story, his joy in being a part of Emmanuel, God With Us.

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May we quiet down enough to know the Mystery.

May we cherish this season enough to not miss it completely.

May we become a little less American, and a little more human this Christmas.

Hallelujah and Amen.

 

The Shape of Blessing

There was a water stain on the ceiling tile, and someone was talking about the mystery of God.

I looked at that stain and saw the process of the water, slowly seeping into the cracks and seams…seeping until some sort of shape formed.

So it seems to be with God, who slowly pours Himself into our pores until a shape takes form, until we see Him as something beautiful, yet still unknown. Mystery.

What is the shape of God? What form is found in His blessing?

A few nights ago Trav and I received an unexpected dinner date.

Eliot stayed with Suzan, and we sat there with juicy burgers on our plates, a basket of fries between us.

Isaiah slept the entire time, and I said out loud, “I’m thanking God for this, right now.”

We ate slowly and savored every bite of food and every bit of conversation.

The shape of the blessing, unique for that moment.

Yesterday I sat at ONYX and watched friends pass Isaiah around while I sipped my latte.

There was a creamed tulip on top and a Celtic book of prayers at my side.

Be at the dawning of our life, and oh! at the dark’ning of our day, amen.

At the dark’ning of the day, He is the lit candles on the table, my reminder that Lent is the season of grace flooding my heart.

He is the flame, the bright hope-light.

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And we are safe in our beds and full in our bellies, overflowing with blessing upon blessing.

It’s just hard to see the shape sometimes.

When I was pregnant with Eliot, I waited and waited for my belly to grow big, because I wanted to see the shape of my boy. I wanted to see him grow and see him make his appearance. So it grew and grew, and the mystery of who he was became clearer and clearer, the beauty of the blessing becoming brighter and brighter.

The shape of the blessing, the shape of the Mystery.

Look around you and see it. Look up at ceiling tiles and let your ears hear the voices of truth. They are all the blessing, and they are all the mystery, water of life seeping into our veins day by day, in the dawn and in the dark’ning.