Life is so colorful. I don’t mean in a bright, hippie rainbow sort of way. Rather in the contrast that life has. Vivacious green smashed up against deep, painful, angry red, and impenetrable black coursed with rosy pink. Our class prayer meetings are what make me think of this. There’s so much going on beneath the surface of every one of us. Often, here, we share it. And as it comes out, it gets softer and more redemptive. Or it gets brighter and more glorious. But then there’s still a whole world underneath that hue that’s been poured out. You catch ghosts of it in eyes.
It’s a miracle that when I look at each of these people it’s easy to see them in the light of glory. It’s so delightful just to BE with them. To be in their presence, in their laughter, in their heartache. I see the things they will be and are being and I’m well-nigh overwhelmed with the glory. I think of who they are and who Jesus is in them, and I see a future with men and women, large and strong, striding across the world, stooping and lifting people up as they continue to grow. Their footsteps full of the light of Jesus as they continue to grow. Their mouths filled with praise as they continue to grow. Their sorrow turned to seeds as they continue to grow. And they continue to grow, sprouting into the life of Christ. Tumbling headlong into the transformation of Jesus. Into new bodies, new souls, new spirits.
And then I look at the obstacles in their way. Anxiety, depression, warped leadership, abuse, fear, apathy, selfishness, disappointments, broken hearts, stubborn people, sinful people, and their own rotting hearts. I listen and see the pain, the brokenness they’re experiencing right here in the household of faith. And I’m a little mystified. But also, grateful. Because somehow, I don’t understand how or why, but somehow, it’s these things that will make them strong. It’s these things, the dark things, that will make them real and alive. It’s here that the resurrected Christ will do his work most powerfully with the most beauty and abundance. Thanks be to God.
Thank you for making us physical beings. Beings that can reach out and touch each other and sip tea and feel the icy wind down our backs. Thank you for giving us form and shape–hard elbows and velvety cheeks and also, yes, also, tummies–warm and round, soft and plump–goodness in my gut.
“My weight is my love; by it I am carried wherever I am carried.” Augustine, Confessions
People and place have so much power over person.
Vibrance can lay so well hidden beneath apathy, boredom and the sturdy feeling that I’m not needed and nobody here really cares.
Leaving the comfort of the home you sought, back into the comfortable, but anchorless washes of the home you were handed leaves one feeling groundless, alone, and a bit like a wind-up toy that has just gained consciousness and is looking around, curious to see if he is really the only one awake.
You know that this is really home, this is where you were born and made, and that’s why the drift is all the more alarming. If it can really be called alarm in your semi-opiate state.
Is it boredom? Or dullness of spirit? Or a spirit oversharpened? Or perhaps sharpened only to the point of criticism, not past criticism into that unreachably mature realm of universal appreciation?
If feels a little like time warp or parallel universes only it’s me, not time that’s being warped and the universes seem more perpendicular than parallel.
There, the tenses make sense. I know where I came from, who I am, and where I’m probably going. Then the wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff happens, and you’re back home and suddenly you don’t know who you are and what you’re supposed to be hanging on to (past), what is yours to let go (present), and what to chase after (future).
Right now the hunger is there, the fire is burning inside, even if it doesn’t display itself outwardly in vibrance. Right now the eyes don’t stay down for long. Right now the feet keep moving and the heart keeps thumping. But slowly, outside in, I feel the living, divine sourced, tender wood turning molecule by fey molecule, turning to stone.
People and place have so much power over person.
I realize more and more, that respect and kindness in our communication with those closest to us is a Christly commodity. LISTENING to each other, caring for the person THROUGH the proofs, holding tightly to love as the first thing and equally tightly to truth as the second thing, not allowing the lie of separation to chisel chasms between us and us–all these things they are part of the heart of the Gospel and truest life, real ZOE (abundant life of Christ).
Living in relationships where respect for the other’s divine significance and love-filled truth informs the greater part of our interactions feels like Eden. Especially when people can’t possibly pause to hear each other over the screaming of their infinite needs and insecurities. Especially when a twenty-something throws a tantrum over the illogicity of his mother’s refusal to let him exercise his fullest powers of unearned irresponsibility. Especially when grown men rant over and beyond each other in public Facebook forums. Especially when the empty love of universalism lulls the would-be kind and courageous into righteous indignation and “love” sanctioned war. Especially in the world where the ruins are said to be whole by merit of their ruin alone, not by any power outside of their mess. Especially in the world where tall, gentle professors of biology, with pain-laced eyes, leave their cathedrals to find love and family in the stony temples of cold post-modernism.
How can we be agents of communication? How can we be channels of transformation? How can I, Kristi, be someone who helps people listen and hear and love and speak with truth and grace and dignity for God and his children?
It starts with me, right? I need my ears unplugged, my eyes opened, my tongue loosed. I need to die. But Christ makes ends, full-stops, into beginnings, commas. Christ turns death to life. That is my plea. That is how truth can come to love.
I’ve spun and spun and the cogs are all worn down now.
Their teeth keep missing each other and they don’t catch and make progress.
The same problems ricochet from neuron to neuron and bounce back in reply with the same tired, maddening questions.
The paths between my synapses are scraped smooth and hard and cold just like the prison where their teeth rattle their chains and eyebrows knit tighter and tighter a shroud, inescapable.
Always in ceaseless, useless motion,
in the background,
wearing it all down and out to less and less progress and answer and truth,
the problems roll and scrape until they’re so smooth and flat that it’s useless to try to grasp them because they just slip and scatter
It’s like trying to juggle a thousand bowling balls in a shuddering tin. They drop everywhere and they bounce and bounce
and keep bouncing and bouncing and bouncing until it’s only cacophony and clatter and you can’t even see the question anymore.
There has to be a way out.
If not a way out, a damper pedal.
If not a damper pedal, a rhyme? A rhythm? A key?
Is there really no answer?
Did God really pose an impossibility?
Is there really no other way?
Compromise means someone goes hungry.
Compromise means someone loses.
Compromise means we can’t all come home.
Compromise means that “redemption” is just a word.
The way it looks to me
Either we, the household of faith, have the hard road,
Or they, the fatherless, get the short stick
To whom much is given
Much is required.
Even so, come Lord Jesus.
A few days after I wrote this, in great frustration. God answered me, and I tried to listen
Sometimes the cogs spin and wear down
Sometimes problems ricochet
Sometimes there’s only cacophony and clatter
But then you let the clatter out
And you share it and it gets softer
It’s not quite as clamorous
God looks at you through your brother’s eyes
Humility breaks your back
And Love returns to the center.
The ricochet transforms into something holy
Something lovely and mysterious
The fingerprints of the Spirit.
An echo, a note, of hope.
Come and see.
Come and see the goodness of God in the dewdrop and the fog.
Come and see the mercy of God in the lightning and the rain.
Come and see the love of God in your mother’s eyes and your baby brothers cries.
Come and see.
Come, open your eyes.
Behold, the Lamb of God. The sacrifice, full of grace and truth.
Messiah. Son of Joseph, Son of God, Son of Man, Creator.
Come and see your brother, the firstborn of the dead.
Come and see.
Let his Light penetrate your darkness because your darkness cannot overcome this light.
Come, see, and believe.