Hello my friends.
I'm staring at a bright yellow note card on my desk, which reads "Lord, I am willing to receive what you give, release what you take, lack what you withhold, do what you require, and be who you desire" (Adele Calhoun). I rehearse it in my mind, with my lips on many a day, willing my heart to embrace its prayer fully. It's those first ones that are the hardest in this season - to receive what He gives, release what He takes, lack what He withholds, standing in the faithful hope which declares that whatever this looks like, whatever is or is not in my hands is His goodness to me. That is the exercise of faith.
I read a great piece by Ann Voskamp this week I wanted to share with you. In her post "Dear You Who Feels Wounded," she gives a good reminder to all of us in the church, and all of us who are hurting, that staring down the face of our - and others' - pain, refusing to sweep it under the rug, is a declaration of faith in our Wounded Healer. She reminds us the community of walking wounded keeps the Body of Christ sensitive and continually puts before us the raw story of redemption. She says, "We act like we forget: That God can raise up phoenixes from ashes — that this. is. what. He. does." Amen. When we remember this, we welcome the scars and the hurts unafraid of the raw, aching, bleeding bits, and sit with them, watching for how Christ can redeem even this mess.
I'm currently in the midst of Henri Nouwen's book Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life. Admittedly I haven't gotten very far yet, but, as always, Nouwen is proving to be insightful...and quotable, which is helpful for my new Twitter endeavors.
In a bit I was reading this week, he was asking how we can handle the "burden of reality" when we simply read the news headlines. With all of the pain, how can we bear it, without breaking or becoming numb? He concludes this:
Maybe, for the time being, we have to accept the many fluctuations between knowing and not knowing, seeing and not seeing, feeling and not feeling, between days in which the whole world seems like a rose garden and days in which our hearts seem tied to a millstone, between moments of ecstatic joy and moments of gloomy depression, between the humble confession that the newspaper holds more than our souls can bear and the realization that it is only through facing up to the reality of our world that we can grow into our own responsibility.
Maybe we have to be tolerant toward our own avoidances and denials in the conviction that we cannot force ourselves to face what we are not ready to respond to and in the hope that one future day we will have the courage and strength to open our eyes fully and see without being destroyed. All this might be the case as long as we remember that there is not hope in denial or avoidance, neither for ourselves nor for anyone else, and that new life can only be born out of the seed planted in crushed soil.
And ultimately, he says, we need to accept our powerlessness to fix everything as we cling to the One who is powerful, healer, and Lord. Now, that's some truth to live by.
May you have a restful weekend. And may we all know deep within our hearts Who gently holds the broken beauty of our world.
What are you thinking about this Friday?