Snow settles soft on the earth, fresh grace
calling me to come
to fall, myself, into its welcome
and then to fall again, now part of its gentle blessing,
tenderly touching foot-roughened earth
with hope and peace and beauty.
“Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)
Today I offer you something a little different for our journey together through Lent. Over the past few months, I have been wrestling with a deeper call to be God’s alone. There have been questions I’ve had to ask all over again (Can I really trust God with my life?). There have been things I’ve had to grieve including not having my own family. And there has been joy and the richness of discovering God meeting me in my emptiness and longing.
Back in January, I decided to take that place of struggle as the starting place for a creative project. It’s easy for me to get stuck in my head, so I decided to carry my cell phone with its little camera in my pocket when I went on my morning runs and see whether there were images that spoke into the struggle. Then I sat with the images and my emotions and Scripture and allowed poetry to become, as Kathleen Norris says, a form of Lectio Divina, or Sacred Listening, an attempt to listen deeply and respond to God.
I offer you the result. Your journey—through Lent and through life—will be different than mine. But perhaps as you move slowly through the story below there will be a picture or a line that will speak into your own journey of asking the hard questions and finding yourself loved and letting go and becoming more deeply God’s. Or perhaps seeing this will encourage you to tuck your own camera in your pocket and watch for the ways that God wants to meet you in the world around you.
With my love and prayers as we continue this journey with Jesus toward the cross and resurrection.
stirring silent fog into
and unpoured rain.
hollow. Sun’s steps shimmer wet
where willows weep
on holy soil.
finger clouded heaven
or in reckless thanksgiving?
naked limbs, bends bareness
fearful void, gentling chaos.
“The two shall be. . .”
strength knowing weakness;
golden around stability;
bind flesh to bone,
glory to fragility.
mingling trickles into a joy-seeking
is drawn upward, lit,
where rain lingers
“Arise, come, my beautiful one,
come, my beloved,
Notes: (Numbers indicate picture/stanza number)
2. This stanza held a beautiful aha moment for me. In observing the sun shimmering on the wet sidewalk under the weeping willows and in writing those last lines, I all of a sudden came to see that my grief was holy ground, not something I needed to push past or rush through, but a place where God was present and wanting to meet me.
4. This is often the only choice we have — to open the emptiness to Jesus and let Him fill it.
5. Gen 1:1-3; John 1:1-14; Eph 5:31-32
6. This is the one photo that was taken prior to the start of this project, and with a different camera.
2 Cor 4:6-12; 2 Cor 12:7-10; Ex 3:2-4; Acts 2:3-4
“Abba Lot went to see Abba Joseph and said to him, “Abba as far as I can I say my little office, I fast a little, I pray and meditate, I live in peace and as far as I can, I purify my thoughts. What else can I do?” then the old man stood up and stretched his hands towards heaven. His fingers became like ten lamps of fire and he said to him, “If you will, you can become all flame.” – From the Desert Fathers
I’ve been pondering her words all week: “Jesus delights in the things that delight you because he delights in you.”
Is it true?
We were talking about something else—I can’t even remember what—but my mind went immediately to writing poetry. It can feel like a luxury, spending all that time finding exactly the right word.
But I love it.
I took a week’s break from writing my book—and found myself writing poetry.
I’m starting to realize: the news is even better than she said. It’s not so much that Jesus delights in me writing poetry because I delight in it, though that may be true; it’s that I delight in it because He is delighting to call me and meet me there.
I’d hazard a guess that that’s true of all the places we find real delight.