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.

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Our dusty selves

 

dusty selves

 

Today is Ash Wednesday.

And I have no idea what is going on in my life.

And I wonder, sometimes, if maybe that is the point. I read a lenten devotional today, since today marks the first day of Lent. The author said that Lent was about stopping where we are. It’s about stopping, in the middle of where we were and where we think we need to be and being here. It’s about stopping and remembering our dusty selves – from dust, and to dust we shall return – remembering the two things we so desperately try to forget at every other buzzing, busy time: our sin and our humanity.

I read those words and they stopped me; they made me pause and stare and think – and I didn’t like it. Because it is exactly where I’m at right now. I might be here, but in my head, I am in a thousand different places. I have this personality that sometimes seems allergic to the present, forever lingering in what was and, lately, setting up camp in all the places I think I need to be running toward.

Believe me when I say it – there are so many places that I think I need to be right now. And if I am being honest with you, dear reader (which I am), then you must know this: I am so weary of all the places I think I need to be going to.

I am in this weird paradox: so intimately aware of my humanity and all the ways I fall short because of it, but so insistent on ignoring my humanity and just plowing through like I can do everything. It’s like I’m in an action film, and I’m the stubborn heroine who just got shot in the leg but insists it’s just a graze as I fling myself into battle once more. There. That makes it sound heroic. That makes it sound epic. Special. Like I care more about the people I’m battling for than my own single, solitary, bloody leg.

But I don’t think that’s how it goes. I’m not convinced that when Jesus stops us, when he slides in before us, as we run into the fray or shuffle into work or open up a new job application – that he only does it to cheer us on, to egg us forward, to commend our heroic and courageous deed.

I think maybe he’s trying to get us to stop.

Stop. Enough charging into this battle of your life. Enough seeing this life as your battle. You are dust, and to dust you will return. But in the meantime, you may rest.

And there, in the midst of it, his ashy thumb caresses my forehead and there is the cross.

Oh, it is so hard to stop. It is so hard even to pause, for the moments of daily communion, for the knowledge of the truth to sink into my bones: I do not have to win today. I don’t have to make a thousand decisions about my life, I don’t have to know what is happening and where I’m headed.

I’m weary of going places. I’m tired of battling. I’m tired of anxiety. I am tired of heroics.

Stop. Enough going places. Enough believing that you must always be going places and doing things and justifying your life for everyone around you. You are dust, and to dust you will return. But in the meantime, you may rest.

And there, in the midst of it, another ashy thumbprint swipes across my forehead and I am staring at my humanity and my failings and my fear and my worry and my spinning head and unknowable life.

It is here that I remember those Garden promises – the goodness of it all. The Way Things are Supposed to Be. I see the humanity – all the guilt and shame and baggage that comes along with it – and I remember that it was once Good. And this ashy cross, this paused Wednesday, everything it signifies is the way it’s all becoming Good Again.

Stop. Enough remembering the cross as the end. Enough wondering if this night will last forever. You are Good. You are becoming Good again. You are running toward the Garden – not a job or a marriage or a new city or an apartment or the fulfillment of some ideal life you’ve created. You are running through the ash and through the palms and through the open tomb and

You are running toward the Garden.

So breathe.

And there, in the midst of it, because that is where Jesus finds us, because that is where he is, because that is where our lives take us, because that is where it hurts, because that is where we’ve been shot, because that is where the battle rages, because that is where the sea is rising, because that is where your resume gets forgotten, because that is where your breath becomes erratic, because that is where you sink to the ground, because that is where we need him – one more ashy thumbprint cross to smooth out our furrowed brow.

Today is Ash Wednesday.

 

Where I am now.

where i am now

I am in that place between waiting and doing.
I am in love and choosing to love.
I am learning and teaching.
I am in the stars and in the ocean,
both floating and feeling
seeing and searching.
I am in that place of trusting.
I am inspirited.
I am in the Spirit.
I am full of heart and light and that
fervor –
for life-as-we-knew-it
to become life-as-it-is.

I am in that place of jumping and falling and finding
that place I’ll land.

And it will be beautiful.
I am in that place where I trust
that it will be beautiful.

Hope Fully

hopehere

There is hope here,
she said
eyes expectant
heart beating
heart waiting.

There is something coming,
and the truth of it sped through
her veins.

Perhaps,
she said,
perhaps you will make something of yourself
yet.

And what’s more,
said a deeper voice
a voice living further down in her soul,
and what’s more,
perhaps it has already begun in you –
the making of yourself.

Would you listen to
the voice
telling you that you are
already something,
that you are becoming more and more
the something
that you have always
been.

There is hope
here.

hol(e)y quilts

hol(e)y quilts

The topic of all our conversations seems to be the future.
When we all come together,
we laugh and pray and talk about any number of things
but we are not fooled.
Whether we say the words or not,
we are talking about tomorrow.
We are talking about all the days we will have together
and all the days we will not.
With our specific loves for one another,
we secretly grieve a parting,
one we cannot predict
but are sure will happen.
And maybe we are not sad;
maybe we can grieve without tears.
Maybe we are ready for whatever life our tomorrows hold.
Our strange family,
meshed together out of mutual friends
and shared interests
and some desperate need for people to call our own –
maybe this strange family has prepared us for unknown worlds.
If we found each other once,
we can find each other again.
Maybe next time,
we’ll be different people.
Or maybe we’ll be the same.
Who can say?

Some night,
we will┬álet our conversation twist and turn it’s way to next year
and ten years
later.
With my feet on his knees and her back on his shins and his hand curled over her’s and all the others –
maybe, without words, we will understand the meaning of tomorrow.
We will wonder on love.
We will wonder how many small ones the years will bring.
We will wonder if our us will remain even if some of our pieces melt away.
Time may bring new people to our shores,
haggard and in need of a door to walk through.
Perhaps another will take our place at the table.
Perhaps we will find another table,
and take the place of someone else.

We are not stagnant people.
In our laughter and our conversations,
we have always known that.
We have only found ourselves woven into a swatch of fabric that was already part of a quilt.
So when the proverbial seam ripper tears us away,
we must understand that the future does not mean to harm us,
but to carry us.
These nights,
these days,
will always remain stitched together at the edges,
though holes dot the middle.
Let us take heart –
some of us can sew patches.

In the quiet spaces between dinner and a movie,
in the ruckus of people and the energy of youth-on-the-cusp,
we will hear the faint beating of the one heart within our one chest.
(And as it’s been said)
Come hell or high water,
the one faint whisper that remains:
Who will I be?
The one faint whisper that knits us into this patchwork of people who found ourselves remaining:
Who will I be? Who will I be?

Who will we be?