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.

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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.

For Elaine

Dear Elaine,

My darling, the world is so big for you.  I am so excited for you, and you are not even twenty-four hours old.  But, my love – my dear cousin, you are already destined for mighty things.  The God who knit you together did so with such care.  He spent millennia fashioning your precious soul.  Your toes and your lungs and your elbows consumed His thoughts for longer than we could imagine.  He has never and will never grow tired of you.  He longs for you to come to Him with all the musings, desires, and thoughts buried deep within you.  He will always hear you, no matter whether you sing or cry or scream or whisper or laugh or talk so quickly that no one else understands.  He will never grow weary of you.

My darling, our Papa is gentle and perfect.  He is on your side.  You can never go too far out of His arms that you can’t turn back.  He will always welcome you back.

This life you’ve tumbled into is not always simple.  Your path will be twisty at times.  You will scrape your knees and get headaches from too many tears.  Sometimes nights will feel endless here.  You will get scared, and probably sometimes you won’t understand even your own heart.  People will be mean to you, and you will be mean to people – even people you really, really love.  You will lose people who you don’t want to lose: this journey has many paths, and we do not all travel the same one at all times.  Those you love sometimes go one direction, and you will go someplace else.

But listen to me, my dear: this life is so, so glorious, too.  You will learn to run someday.  You will taste freedom and know joy.  You will laugh at goofy jokes and ridiculous movies and even yourself.  You will discover that which makes your heart beat a little faster – those passions created inside you may be many, and they may not make sense, but it is your job to notice what you love and decide to do something about it.  It might take lots of time.  That’s okay.  You have time.  You will find your people – the ones who get you, who anchor you.  And you will see the Father, even before you know Him by name.

Oh, dear heart, you will learn so much.  You will learn of forgiveness, that mysterious and holy gift.  You will learn of grace, an infinite wellspring in a dry-desert life.  And you will learn of love – so many loves, but each one an ultimate and divine expression of the very Essence of our Rescuer.

My love, you will be taken care of.  You have found your way into a good home in this world.  This is a family full of strange and beautiful love, and oh my goodness we can be an odd bunch.  But we fling our arms wide here.  So run into the house – make a mess, in any sense of the term, and allow your soul to be a little wild and unpredictable.

Do not forget that you are loved, supported, believed in, and valued.  I pray the great worth you have rings true within you every day of your time on this earth.  And I pray you live in the spirit of that worth.

I have run this race for only a short distance, but I have noticed this: this life is a grand adventure.  And I have not always lived it as such.  But you, my lovely cousin, were born at a time in my life when I came to yet another agreement with God.  I want more adventure, I told Him.  And in a tempest, in His infinite grace, He answered me: Yes, My child.  Your heart is ready now.

May you ask for the adventures sooner than I did.  And may you trust Him to make your heart ready, again and again and again.

With love always,

Courtney

September 12, 2014

twenty-second summer

22nd summer

I was talking a mile a minute about myself, about my passions and my beliefs and that girl who lives deep in my heart, when the words spilled from my mouth before I even realized that I had thought them:

Big life to be had.

And for a few hours, I was really proud of those words.  My conversation partner had noticed them too, writing them down to remember, looking at me with wide eyes and a slight smile.  She asked where I’d read that, and I said I didn’t think I’d read the particular phrase anywhere; I just said the words because they made sense, because I felt them, because it was in my heart.

It sounds very beautiful: I said the words that were in my heart.  That’s what makes me special, isn’t it?  That I have this way with language.  I spin letters like the fairy tales spoke of spinning straw into gold. 

But on my short drive home tonight, I mulled the words over in my head, and my pride slipped away a bit.  I believe those words – big life to be had – but maybe I don’t always live like it.  I have an anxious heart – a big, open, hopeful, loving, joyful, trembling, giggling heart, but an anxious one, too.  I know this about myself.  Last semester’s moments of panic and sleeplessness confirmed it.  The fact that it is difficult for me to get into cars with drivers who aren’t myself.  The fact that sometimes, I hurt the people I love most because I think I need to be in control.  It is indeed a big life to be had, but often my fear gets in the way, and I hate that.  Because I know in the deepest chamber of my heart that I was not created to be afraid. 

This summer has been one of rediscovery.  Finding again that girl in that heart chamber who runs barefoot through forests and cities and deserts.  I didn’t venture far: I stayed in my college town, lived with a lovely professor, and worked on campus.  I scaled no mountains, but I did road trip to the Pennsylvanian Appalachians.  I went to four weddings, visited my boyfriend’s family, went home a few times, watched my sister graduate high school, buried my grandfather’s ashes, saw the destruction of a tornado, ate dinners on the deck, read many books, watched many movies, took a yoga class, babysat tinies, went to Florida, flew alone for the first time, wore more dresses than I did shorts, stayed up very late, held hands, saw three shooting stars, went on countless nighttime walks, and felt like it all meant something.  My best friend lived minutes away and so we could celebrate our 8- and 9- and 10- and 11-month anniversaries together.  The depth of the fear I had felt the previous semester began to dry up, and though I slipped many times back into the leftover muck, I started to find myself again. 

And my goodness – my self is complicated.  All selves are, I am convinced.  I shift so easily from joy to self-pity.  My temper flares suddenly and dies out slowly.  Sometimes I can’t stop speaking.  Other times, I can barely stutter my way through a thought. 

And yet.

This summer, I remembered time and again the love that abounds for me.  Love from the Maker, yes, He who molded and bought me, He who wins me over no matter how often I drift.  This love drenches and soothes, and I have felt it so clearly at so many moments these past few months.  But love from others, as well.  From the family that does not try to hold me back or call me home, but instead lets me grow elsewhere, and always answers the phone.  From the friends with the front door that I do not have to knock on before entering.  From the yoga teacher who looked me in the eye and told me that my strength had nothing to do with my size, but instead everything to do with the love I poured into the earth and the people around me.  From the young man who keeps walking beside me.  From the children with eyes that light up when they see me.  From the small, noisy little dog who cries and licks and runs to me when I come home for a visit.  

Love.  It is all love.  Find it, again and again and again.  

So maybe the words I spoke were truer than even I realized.  Big life – big life full of love and road trips and going to the office.  Life with the people who make it big.  Stay in the small town when all the kids go home, and find again the community that surrounds those who remain. The secret, it seems, is not to find arrogant pride in the big life, nor is it to believe the lie that the fear defines you and steals the big life away. 

The secret, if it was ever a secret at all, is to find the life you have, over and over again, and see how big it must be to hold all the love poured in. 

It is a big life to be had, dear heart.

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 let 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?