37:48

 

 

run the race

The questions fly through my mind as I race,
feet that pound and heart that pounds –
Why do I see the face of God more in the runners,
panting and swaying and
feet pounding –
than in the people in the pews?
As I reach the first summit and I hear the bells and
the obnoxious clapping plastic hands
the thoughts come again.
run run run don’t stop these people won’t let you stop
running

With their bells and hands, they want me to keep going.
And they can’t do it for me.
But they can tell me to do it for myself.
The first mile approaches and there is a woman
on her front lawn,
water hose in hand,
arching the spray across the road
Some glorious rainbow of promise that the miles to come will be worthwhile.
And like the sailor and his animals I feel some burst of
energy –
I’ve found another
vow to trust as the spray kisses my already-damp
brow.
The first mile is over after the Boy Scouts
thrust cool water toward my lips,
like they knew my parched soul would come running by at any moment.
if this was how we greeted them at the gates of our temples
maybe i would find more reasons to stay and keep drinking

Theology and physiology bumping up against one another in my brain
as the first two miles end and
I let myself slow.
When I walk I do it guiltily,
like I’m betraying the treadmill that trained me up.
So I only walk until my body starts to appreciate it.
Through the patchy-sun subdivision is when I start to beg the road to wane
because surely I was supposed to be finished by now.
The people with the highlighter-orange shirts
and the clapping plastic
and the bicycle bells –
they are at every turn, pointing us in the way to go
and telling us there isn’t much more
Even when there is much more, their stretched truth is a catalyst,
reigniting the match I lit that morning at 5:30.
maybe if we wore highlighter-orange when we walked around in the world
it would be easier to see who we are –
they’ll know we are christians by our highlighter-orange,
our highlighter-orange –
like a never-ending vacation bible school staff

Then, like it always does,
the end comes out of nowhere.
And of course it’s a hill the whole way there,
because it wouldn’t be a symbolically satisfying poem without one.
The hill is where Paul starts shouting in my brain –
Paul, whose words are so often shouted at me as reasons
why I am less,
why I can’t be in charge,
why I must hush –
now intoning the truth I rarely let myself hear from him that I must run this race with endurance.
Because that’s what we all do, in the end –
we sprint uphill and we keep going back even when we are almost fully
disillusioned
Because for every which way we pull the holy words,
there is still God saying
run the race run the race run the race
and try to let people be there for you while you do it
and endure

And so crossing the finish line is a swell of tears and
shouts of love from people unknown who cheered the whole way there.
And my questions
why is this race more like church
than any church i’ve been to in five years

stagger their way into my mind and heart.
And I write
and I wonder
and I sign up for another race to taste more of that same
holiness.

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Mountain to Mountain

mountain to mountain

Leave Sinai for Zion.
Drop the law at the foot of the mountain
And burst into My banquet hall set with a feast.

No longer cover your face,
No longer glimpse the back of Me –
But instead find My eyes with yours
And let Me hold your hands once more.
Let Me wash you of your ashes,
Let Me exchange your fig leaves for a body free of shame again.

Walk with Me.

Tell Me again of your heart’s deepest desire
And let Me fulfill it.
For I will again be your Mother Hen –
in My wings you are safe.
I will again be your Shepherd –
I have never stopped searching for you.
I will again be your God,
Always Yahweh, always Emmanuel.

And you with your new name –
The name I gave you long ago,
The name you’ve been searching for,
The name that seals your wholeness.

You are complete again.

You have found Me waiting in Eden’s gardens
And I have closed the pits within you
And I have emptied your soul of demons
And I have done what I promised.

Sit next to Me and tell your Abba again all the stories of your life.
You have My ear forevermore.

Galaxy Rest

galaxy rest

 

Go before me, like a forest dweller with a machete –
Carve a way in the wild.
Make a path for me in the brush of the shadow-life,

And when we reach the flower field on the other side,
Teach me the freedom of dropping the blade
and forgetting the battle.

Teach me to rest among the dandelions,
To fall asleep easy under the blue black
dotted with the light of galaxies that never burn out.

Storytelling

sunflower crowns

Are you telling the stories I gave to you?
It is a haunting and ever-present question,
buried deep in my heart and pounding the air around my ears –

Are you telling the stories I gave to you?

Does your heart open up,
do you bleed the words and the feelings and the
emptiness,
are you sure that this life is not lived
in silence?

And the fear comes here:
I have become so much and so little of myself in the past two months.
I am ten thousand miles into a journey
that is ten billion miles long,
my life a plain stretched wide across the canvas of
some great celestial painter.

I have lived so much life in the span of two
silent
months –
new job, new house, new life, new people, new ideas, new experiences, new
depths delved deep within.

My heart, harried and tired and raw like new skin,
beating a hundred different rhythms as it once again finds its own,
is bursting with stories that have only unfurled their
delicate
story
wings
before a few.

And that same question,
filled with the guilt and the grace of every god who has offered either:
Are you telling the stories I gave to you?

Because that’s the thing you don’t know about me,
that’s the kicker,
the punch,
the twist in the plot and the slash through the canvas –

There are too many gods asking me for my stories.

They beg of me:
Tell the world the story of the girl who lives to work, who dedicates herself to the job
that she is still making sense of.
Tell the world the story of the student who graduated from the place that taught her all at once
that faith can never be simple or difficult again.
Tell the world the story of the daughter who is struggling to make
her own home.
Tell the world the story of the girlfriend who so desperately longs for
he who makes her more herself.

Tell the world of the anxieties, the fear, the hope, the peace, the racing heart, the fumbling fingers,
the mind
always ten steps ahead
and ten leagues deeper than it should be.

And those gods,
who demand all my energy and my time,
self-created and inundating
my brain and my heart –
The gods who heave
blame and shovel
shame and take back all the

grace that is offered to me –

Those are the gods I deny my stories.

And now,
I will tell the one story that reaches,
words like spindly fingers
and words like sunflower crowns –

Reaches into the sky like bravery made solid:

Give me the breath again, my God who breathes,
to tell the story
that oxygenates all of me.

I am more
than I think I am.

The reconciliation of a wolf girl.

dark wolf

Today, one of my best friends called me and told me the thing I needed to hear:

It sucks that you didn’t get that job. You should have. It is okay to be upset about it.

My boyfriend texted me the thing I needed to hear:

It sucks that you didn’t get that job. I know you really wanted it. Don’t give up.

I am glad I have people like that in my life. Because it sucks. And I want to be upset. And I don’t want to give up.

I started searching for jobs in September. I was proactive: I met with career services, I started paying attention to my LinkedIn profile, I made dozens of copies of my resume, I wrote cover letters until my eyes crossed. I was light years ahead of my classmates. And that made me proud.

So when people ask me, two weeks before graduation, what are your plans? I tell them, I’ve had countless interviews, three rejections, and no offers. And then I stare at them, waiting for the words they’ll say next, the words that come from well-intentioned hearts, the words that everyone says, the words that I know, at my core, are probably true:

Oh, don’t worry. It’ll happen. You’re so amazing. It’s all in God’s hands. Trust God’s timing. God has something great planned.

And I think, yeah. That makes sense. That’s pretty easy to say. Because you’re employed. You have a place to live. You’ve done your time trusting.

As soon as I think it, I want to cringe. Because it sounds awful. It sounds faithless, angry, and envious. It sounds like someone who doesn’t deserve a job, or a plan, or a God who gives good things. It doesn’t sound like me.

But it’s what I feel sometimes. And I’m not sure how to reconcile it all – the things I feel with the things I know.

So I tell myself stories. I remind myself of the times I fell apart, the times I felt like dust. I tell the stories of the times God found me, when I was crouched crying on the floor of my bedroom, or driving too fast away from what made me angry, or lying in a field veiled in darkness, staring at stars and praying for time to stop.

The stories remind me that I am sometimes a faction warring against myself:

Look at all those times God plucked you from the ashes. Look how much of God’s time you’ve already used up. You deserve to wait and worry.

It is hard to silence a voice you’ve allowed to shout for so long.

When I was at camp, I used to hear this old story from a Native American tribe. A boy told his wise grandfather that sometimes he feels as though there are two wolves battling within him: a light wolf and a dark wolf. He asked his grandfather which wolf would win the battle.

The one you feed, said the grandfather.

I always thought the story was too simple. Surely life was not that easy – food is just one factor in a wolf’s strength. There were genetics, training, size – maybe it was inevitable that the light wolf lost. Maybe it was just too tired to keep fighting. Maybe the dark wolf was just too strong.

I do not want to let the dark wolf win my heart and strength away.

I am still learning how to believe in the simplicity of feeding the light wolf and trusting that it will win.

Perhaps the still learning is reconciliation enough, for now. I believe we have a God who allows us to lean into the still learning. So that’s what I’ll do, if I find it hard to say that I’m trusting, I’ll say that I’m leaning.

Leaning into the still learning. The still, quiet learning. The still, outstretched hand of a girl, holding food beneath the muzzle of a wolf who hasn’t truly eaten in a long time.

That will be my reconciliation, for now.