There is No Boundary

Yesterday, I tried to put into words what I have been feeling. I thought of it, was utterly distracted by it, and still just couldn’t get it together. Still, there is something happening.

It came together a bit more today as I sat in the empty house, books piled in front of me, pen waiting. There was a sharp flash as I read over the words about grace and faith and the lie we tell ourselves, that we are unloveable. I know this lie well and for so long I have watched it spread, like cracks up a wall, into all areas of my life -into my very being.

Only now can I see that something is very wrong with my foundation, the whole house threatening to shake and collapse.

Today, as I tried to imagine what this love looks like, I realized there’s no need to imagine. That eternal love shows up in gritty everyday living. Our relationships with others may very well be the most accurate reflection of God’s love and grace. But when you feel undeserving of God’s love, you feel undeserving of all love. Even when it is freely given, day after day.

It’s misguided to think that the love of God and the love we experience here, person to person, are somehow different from each other. There is no boundary, all love is sacred.

But fear, that soul threat, too often makes me think there is nothing but boundaries. It tells me this unloveable self will be all that I am left with in the end.

So there it is, the fear that love will someday end.

It’s why when I look at my husband, who seems to live with his heart wide open to me, I turn away.
God lives like that, is that, all the time. Wide open. I close myself off and act as though it were all somehow separate.

And I see now that when I turn away from this earthy, human love I am really turning away from the eternal love of God. We are called to love each other but the lie that love is somehow conditional and will be snatched away from us -us, so undeserving anyway- renders us deaf.

These thoughts, they’re all a part of that larger something that is happening. What matters now is how I respond as I wait. With grace and love, I hope.

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To Give Thanks

Here, somewhere just north of the 49th parallel, Thanksgiving approaches. One day set apart from many to give thanks and it seems not quite enough. Shouldn’t thanksgiving be the posture we ought to live in our lives in?

In the letter I read this, “… grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving to the glory of God.” (2 Cor 4:15)

So this is how I will glorify Him.

 

I receive what you give, Lord, and in turn I give thanks.
I give thanks for a God who denies us nothing, for a God who permits all, even our falling and failing.
I give thanks for a God of grace, a God of peace, a God of love.
I give thank for a God who creates bridges so that we are always coming out the other side, always being renewed, bridges that inevitably draw us closer to Him.
I give thanks for a God who fills the empty broken spaces with His whole being.
I give thanks for a God who is always present.
I give thanks for a God who can be experienced through the Christ.

 

If there is but one thing to be thankful for then joy is always possible, or so I’ve heard. And indeed there is much to be thankful for, perennially thankful.

 

A One-Fabric Life

So maybe some lives are like patchwork quilts, a mix of patterns and colours coming together to create something solid and warm and real. The pieces laid down one at a time, edges pinned and sewed into a whole.

Others are woven from myriad threads, so fine and slight as to be nearly imperceptible.

Which life am I making?

 

And wasn’t it Charles de Foucauld who said that our lives should be so closely united God that we cannot but proclaim His life through our actions and thoughts and words?

I turn again to Paul, to the letter I have been reading over all week long. The death of Jesus is reflected in the passing away of our outer nature, “so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies” (2 Cor 4:10). But does this come through in our living?

I ask myself this and am brought low.

 

Because the life I long for is a one-fabric life. Each thread, divinely given, waiting to be woven. Or a stack of patches needing to be bound together. The result either way is a single whole.

 

This is where I have been brought and my fingers find the edges of all these mismatched pieces; I worry them to fray.

How to unite all the parts so they reflect the one in whom we live and move and have our being.

 

So it stands like this, with no answer, though I know I want to envelop myself in a life that draws me closer to Him.

New Growth

Weeks can go by, sometimes even months, with nothing but ease and calm breezes.

And then, like the changing of a season, you suddenly notice how cold and dark it has become. The days are shorter and the nights are longer and it’s all happening so quickly. This is the season I am in right now. Trying to find my footing, not sure where the ground is exactly.

But isn’t that it, the living by faith? You trust in what you cannot see because it is eternal.

 

It’s not just the walking that can be all trepidation and unease. The pain, the tearing away, is unsettling too.

What will come next or be left after all this? I wonder.

Sitting in the emergency room, watching the woman with her arm cradled close in a sling and the bloom of a bruise around her eye. Police, just down the hall, standing outside someone’s room. My stomach tightens.She walks out beyond the sliding doors and onto the street.

I look away, down at my own hand, all bloodied and swollen and turning darker shades. What will come next for us after all this? What comes from such pain? Where is grace?

 

I wasn’t looking for it but things have a way of coming to you when you need to hear it most.

On the screen and the page, such simple words:
So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!

The resurrection didn’t just happen once, it is always happening, God is always working in us. Our outer nature, as Paul called it, wastes away but inside there is new life. Our whole being is a testament to resurrection, to the life of Jesus.

So death is at work in us, but life in you.

 

Maybe this is where we are to see grace. Seemingly endless opportunities to die and be reborn, transformed, into something new. Endless, radical grace. 

 

I don’t know when this season will end or what it will bring. But the work of faith is the living itself, so I get down to laying new seeds and pulling up old growth. Deep in the holes, I know, something new and delicious will grow.

 

 

 

A New Old Book

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What happened to that black pew bible given to me, years ago, for my confirmation -well, I just don’t know.

The translucent pages, the carelessly scrawled “Keep the faith” on the dedication page, its imposing heft. Gone. Lost.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter. There were no sentiments attached or notes in margins. No history to be inherited by calling it “mine.”

 

The hot pink, paperback New Testament -also gone. All dogeared and underlined. A French translation, too, I should add. Nothing much to think about except the feeling of reading the parable of the mustard seed, which remains vivid even today. Although I couldn’t tell you what it meant to me then, oh, how I cling to it now. How with every reading something deep inside stirs and I find myself nodding “yes, yes.”

 

But this. This simple bible, no frills, not even a ribbon to mark a page, this is mine. It took a year of searching for what was lost, a year of comparing translations, a year of covertly hefting the weight in my palm in bookstores, a year of measuring for size and then measuring again. And here it is and here we are.

 

Another beginning.

Under the City

Down the steps and into the hot, fetid air of the subway station. Since we arrived in the city, all I could smell was garbage and all I felt was low, low, low. My eyes felt hot and wet and I swallowed hard, trying not to cry the leftover tears from last week.

So we went lower under the city until I wasn’t sure anymore how to get back up.

Standing on the platform, as quiet as a subway station can get, watching the faces. Across the tracks I could see in big block letters the name of the station. And as I shifted from foot to the other, I saw what was all around.

 

One step to the right and the pillar shifts so the letters read CHRIST.
On the wall behind me and down the platform and everywhere, if you looked with right eyes, there He was.

 

In every passing body, every in-drawn breath. In the fields I’ve not yet walked, someday, and in the city where I am, now.

CHRIST. Bold and simple and true.

 

The hand and eye longed to take a picture but no. And so I replayed that moment again and again for days. As we walked around the city, I kept it in mind. That moment. Do not forget.

 

Nothing separates us from God’s love and when we shift our perspective, He comes into sight. Awareness is everything.

Sure, that hound of heaven is always on our trail but you have to allow yourself to be caught. You have to take that step. Change your perspective and reorient yourself to Christ. Do what you have to, whatever it is, to get back to that essential spot.

 

But I wonder now, as I saw the face of Christ in all those strangers, God’s presence everywhere, whether anyone saw that face in me.