Root systems

I started this one a few nights ago, and I didn’t intend on finishing it tonight, because I already posted something and the words just weren’t there with this one.  Then I started typing crap, and it worked out.  So, sorry about two notifications in less than six hours.  :)

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I am almost out of toothpaste.  My walls look like the bare walls of an asylum.  I packed the back of my car with half my stuff (books and notebooks, basically).  The trees are pink, the fountains are back on, and my heart is doing weird things in my chest as I grapple with the goodbyes and with God.  I don’t want this to end.  I want to be done with school, but I don’t want this year to end quite yet.

It feels like too much.  My roommate is heading home soon, and all her stuff is gone.  I’ve got experience with endings.  I’m good at endings.  I hate them, but I can do them with relatively little fanfare or complication.  I don’t cry as easily as I once did.  Generally, that’s a good thing.

I have a friend who is studying in Spain next semester, so I’ve been spending as much time with her as our finals schedules will allow.  She is my closest friend here at school; our hearts are so similar.  We were talking tonight about how much we dislike this week – the moving-out portion, at least.  She said it didn’t feel right, boxing away our things, re-bunking our beds, taking our posters off the walls.  Everything is empty, as if nothing ever happened here.  My friend said that now, when she thinks of the concept of empty, of loneliness, these once-full dorms are what comes to mind.

Because so much happens in these rooms.  For two years, I’ve watched girls laugh and cry and pray and talk in this unit.  Lives have been changed, people have been renewed and blessed and strengthened and encouraged while sitting on beds and floors together.  I have lived in the same room for my freshman and sophomore year: I can tell you exactly how I felt the first night I ever slept in here, but I can also tell you I am so far from being that girl tonight.  I am so different.  The walls should prove that; they should be blood red and bright yellow and glittering, shining blue, changed as much as I am.  This emptiness could never do it justice.

And yet we go.  People have to go, always, and that is okay.  That’s good.  Our Christian places mean nothing unless we leave them.  I am beyond thrilled for this summer.  I don’t have a job, and I’m not going anywhere, but I just know God will continue this new work in me.  This remaking.  I want it, badly.  I need Him, desperately.  I know these friendships won’t die because the Lord is good and He binds His people together, even when we’re apart.  So that’s the peace I’m going on.  The assurance of this place, this home to return to, this makeshift family to fall back into in a few months’ time.  God is good, not only as a character trait we list in Sunday School, but on a personal, intimate level.  He is doing good works around me and through me and in me.  He is so alive and so blindingly, awesomely real.

The other day, I was sitting outside under a tree, and everyone was outside because it was perfect, and I was writing and thinking and the little pink petals were raining down on me and everything just hit me – God is so real, and that is all the explanation I need.  I crave explanations, all the time.  I want to know, to understand and be understood.  I don’t think that is a bad thing – I thank God for giving me that craving.  But there is so much peace in just knowing the reality of God and believing that He is good, and alive, and right.  I want that peace.  I think it’s been something I’ve been trying to grasp for a while.  God is real; I’ve always known that.  I can’t remember not knowing it.  But I have to abide in that truth.  I have to drink it and swim in it and breathe it in and out.

He’s been showing me how, this semester.  School has been… odd.  Not particularly hard, academically.  Challenging in the good way.  Busy in the good way.  I feel planted here, finally.  There’s a cool story we tell kids at camp: that the biggest trees don’t actually have the deepest roots.  Instead, they have long, stretching, shallow roots that intertwine with the roots of other trees nearby, holding one another up.  That’s how I feel.  My roots have stretched far, braiding themselves with others’, strengthening me and assuring me that I belong in this forest.  I am so grateful and undeserving of the love I’ve been shown by so many.  It’s like I’ve finally found my people.  A bunch of really broken people, charred and twisted but willing to be known and used by a relentless Father.  I can’t imagine I’m this blessed, to have friends like this – this makeshift family.

If the dull ache in my chest means I’m leaving people I love, who love me back, who choose me even though I’m so silly and sarcastic and difficult – then I am grateful for the pain.  I welcome it, because it means I’m worth something to someone.  So many people could walk away from me in an instant, and I probably wouldn’t blame most of them, even as I cling to their heels.  But they stay.  I pray I can love them like they love me.

Go in peace.

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A Note Written in a Moment of Horrific Human Inadequacy

To my friend,

I give you permission.  Is that what you need? 
Because I freely give it to you.
Ask me who I am.  Ask me for coffee.
I don’t even like coffee.  But I’ll pretend to.

Tell me the story of how you came to be the person you are.
Tell me about the first night the thought of existence kept you awake.
Tell me what you think about when you sit on your porch on dark summer nights.
When no one is watching you except the spinning stars and the God who hung them there.

I have noticed much about you.  But I don’t think I understand.
So why don’t you tell me your tales?
I swear I’ll listen.  Haven’t I already proven that my ears need music?

Sometimes I think I should take my own advice.
Permission.  I give myself permission to not be so afraid.
Tell my own tales.  Not worry about being forgotten.
I could ask you to coffee.
Right?

I’m not sure what it is, and I ask those spinning stars every night what it is they’re seeing from their vantage point.
What can they perceive that I am blind to?
I am so short-sighted and so are you, my friend.
We whisper our secrets to the faint stars at night,
All the while forgetting that they already see us.

I wish you were a star,
So that you would be able to understand the miniscule breadth of life.
Perhaps then you would not need permission.
Perhaps then, you would simply do the thing that scared you.

Maybe you’re not afraid.
You might be the wise one yet. 
The one who sees things clearer than I,
Already certain of the way of things, like the stars in your understanding.
I don’t really know you at all.

If you would allow me, I would spin my stories with brilliance,
Magnifying the verbs and exaggerating the heroics until my worn-out life seemed worthy of the wait that’s been imposed.

And you – I would tell you why you make me confused.
If I were a star, I still think I would not comprehend the head-tilting, eye-narrowing story that is you.
I am too good at seeing through people to be bested by one so aggravatingly complex.
But that’s just it, isn’t it?

We are all aggravatingly complex.

That might be what the stars would tell us, if we gave them permission.

 

Courtney.