Tag Archives: dirty soil

from the dust

I love the last day of the year.

New Year’s Eve has always been one of my favorite days. Because it feels like one last chance to breathe deep before the canvas is drenched in white again. One last chance to sit in the quiet with myself, contemplating all the remarkable possibilities that are held inside the walls of a new thing.

This year, the inhale of possibility and the exhale of a year feels more like relief than it has in many years. So much so that I’m starting my own quiet festivities early. Husband and puppy tucked into bed, I take to the kitchen to make some vegetable soup. Because chopping vegetables feels a little like liturgy, and God knows 2014 has needed more than its fair share of that. So I stand at the stove, and I chop, and I breathe in the smells of things that have risen from the ground, that have been brought up from the dust, and sometimes everything I need to know is in a pot of vegetable soup.

God’s best things are the things raised from the dust. The things that have been buried. The things that have been made into something new, the things brought low and destroyed in the process.

This year has been so very hard. Is it okay to say that? I hope so, because it has been.

Hear me when I tell you that I don’t say that for pity. I don’t say it to open up a public forum for me to air my personal grievances with life

I say it because I know, to the depths of my soul, that I’m not the only one.

I’m not the only one burying dreams.

I’m not the only one desperate for the clean oxygen of a fresh start.

I’m not the only one thinking, “Is it okay to say this year has been REALLY damn hard?”

I’m not the only one who needs a pot of vegetable soup and a reminder.

A reminder that God’s best things are the things raised from the dust.

You have not been left buried, dear one.

You’re being raised from the dust.

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my best adventures

I’m bored.

I hate saying that, because I usually think boredom is little more than a lack of imagination, and I don’t fancy myself a person who lacks imagination and natural curiosity.

But I’m bored.

I’m also a little bit intrigued by it, because when I poke at it, slide up close and tuck myself beneath its arm, I can’t help but notice that it comes from a really unexpected place.

See, I think it’s the introverted part of me. I spend 40+ hours a week, every week, playing the role of an extrovert out of necessity and some days I find myself wondering how they, the real ones, aren’t bored out of their minds.

Which is mildly hilarious, given that I was in bed by 6pm last night, happily reading a book written by a monk and drinking unsweetened hot tea. 

Still. In the same way my extroverted friends often wonder how I can be so satisfied with a night like that, I often wonder how they operate. Because people are like a treasure hunt for me. Every single person is an adventure. And when I know too many of them, when my days are filled with too many of them, it feels like I don’t get to REALLY go on any of the adventures. It feels a little bit like going to Europe and spending two hours each in a large number of cities. Two hours in Rome. Two hours in Paris. Two hours in Barcelona. Two hours in London. Two hours in Amsterdam. Two hours in Dublin. Two hours in Athens. Two hours in Edinburgh.

Two hours in, you’re just arriving. You’re barely even there.

Sometimes, teaching feels exactly like that. Like there’s all of this opportunity at my fingertips. There are all of these huge adventures. But I’m too busy trying to get from city to city to really experience any of them.

Then I get home, and I’m so absolutely exhausted from all the traveling and all the cities and all the disappointment over all the missed adventures.

So I miss out on a few more, because I’ve already given every ounce of energy I possess.

And some days, I simply don’t know if I’m built for it.

I’m built for digging deep into dirty soil. For long conversations and eye contact and noticing everything remembering small details. I’m built for holding space for people, for their messiness and madness and brilliance. I’m built for uncontrollable laughter and ugly crying and knowing that both are of equal value. Both are terrifying and both are sacred.

I was thinking earlier today about money, and how if I had enough of it, I would never stop getting on planes. I would never stop getting on planes that land at coffee shops, planes that drop me off at tables with uneven legs, across from the people who were and are and will become my favorite explorations. I would never stop showing up for anyone who needs to hear someone say, “You are one of my best adventures.”

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under the sky

Sometimes, church is pipe tobacco and a shared bottle of wine.

In moments like that, the Texas sky seems exactly as big as all the old country songs claim, freckled with stars and nearly swallowing the moon with all its navy blue.

I didn’t know that first night, months ago, how immediately they would be our people. You know the ones. The people you sit around the dinner table with, laughing and talking, and a split second later, you look up to find that hours have passed and it’s tomorrow already and you instinctively know that this conversation has only just begun.

The night ends and months go by, because life is busy and there are jobs and kids and soccer practice and piano lessons and all of the things, but eventually you’re gathered around that same dinner table and it just feels like you never left.

So you take it outside, under the sky, because all the best things should always happen under the sky, and conversation like that is the best thing. Honesty like that is the best thing. Laughter like that is the best thing. Hope like that is the best thing.

In those moments, with the voices and and the stories and the sky and the same pipe tobacco Tolkien loved and the red wine, I feel it in my chest again. Church. I believe in it. I always have, but some days it comes easier than others. Some days it’s a picture I can see clearly, and some days the picture looks like nothing, clouded as it is by my own imperfect vision.

I sat out there, stars blinking and wind blowing my hair, and I wondered if this was what it felt like in the beginning. If this was why Jesus felt so strongly about gathering with people around a table. If maybe, when Jesus talked about the church, he was talking about this. This lack of pretense, this lack of politics, this lack of a business model, this lack of programs, this lack of agendas, this lack of cultural success. This presence. This presence of real, messy, disastrous, beautiful human beings who just want to know Jesus and do things the way he did, love people the way he did. Even when that feels impossible, wrapped as we are in humanity so frail it’s been known to shatter.

I want that. I want so much more of that. All of the fibers of my being strain toward it. Toward Jesus. Toward his people. Toward church, for the first time in so very, very long.

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press in

Press in, lovely one.

When your every sensibility is urging you to turn and walk out, press in.

Press in to the hard things. The fear that you are not and will never be good enough. The insecurity that comes with being weighed and found always wanting. The worry that all your best efforts will inevitably be laid bare and disdained by some, or even all. 

The fear, the insecurity, the worry; they come with an inexhaustible number of relatives. Press in and watch them all open arms wide to envelop you. Let them wash over you, but do not breathe them into your lungs. Let them be, but do not let them in.

Hard things will always be, and you will always have two options.

You can try to outrun them. You can distract and numb. You can lose yourself in people and food and liquor and work and entertainment and accomplishments and a truly endless stream of motion. You can run, stumbling forward and losing your footing over them just when you thought they were behind you. Forever dreading the moment when their vines wrap round your ankle and bring you crashing down again.

You can try to outrun them, the hard thoughts and suffocating feelings and untameable things.

Or you can press in. You can choose to simply be, and breathe, and feel. You can reach out to your weaknesses, your destructive desires, your false narratives, your perceived identity, your wealth of unnamed gods. You can press in, you can taste, touch, see, hear, feel, and name them…and you can drag them to the Father.

But you can’t do that while you’re trying to outrun them on your own.

Hard things will always be, and you will always have two options.

You can try to outrun them, or you can press in.

Press in, lovely one.

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