What makes a heart open? What light begs its delicate petals to unfurl?
Lately, when I think of my husband, I think of the peony bush by the back door. One day there were small, tightly closed buds and then it was in bloom. It all felt so sudden though I know it didn’t really happen over night -I just didn’t notice until all that beauty was right before me.
So when he said he would like to read that book, the one about God’s relentless love for us, I was shocked. I wanted to ask why and why now but really, it doesn’t matter. Still, I began to reflect on how he’s changed: it’s like there’s more of him give these days. Not just time and money, but himself. That goodness and generosity was always there but like the peony, it seemed smaller, a bit more closed than now.
The book -we’re reading it together. Him, for the first time. Me, for the first time with him. And the conversations are slow, some days we say nothing about the pages read. We talk, instead, about our days and lives together. But this is a start.
It was New Year’s Day and we and a friend were out driving. He prompts me suddenly to tell the man sitting behind me about the book and the author and the message of his words, the Word itself. I did not expect to find myself evangelizing but there I was and there we were. Talking about God on the first day of the new year.
Like before, the conversation came in fits. There was utter shock in the voice behind me but also disagreement. Me, a cradle Catholic, now somewhere in the middle. Him, born and raised conservatively, evangelically, and thoroughly Protestant. So it drifted from one thing to another. The book. Scripture. Jesus. And both our pasts and present circumstances affected how we came to it all.
It wasn’t the kind of dialogue you’d hear in a stadium full of people or even on a street corner. But that conversation, like the one before it, was a place to start out from.
Sure, you can ask others if they’ve heard or where they’re going after that last breath, the last beat of their fragile hearts. And I can worry that I should be out there, in dusty lands, digging wells and helping the Living Water to flow. But to what end?
I find it almost as unexpectedly, a passage underlined the week before and I remember marking it, not really knowing why.
There, in Mark 7, is a deaf man. “Be opened,” says Jesus and so he was. Ears to hear and a tongue to speak with, plainly. And it didn’t happen in front of a multitude. No stage or lights. No microphone to project. Rather, he took him aside in private, away from the crowd.
This has me considering other ways, quiet ways.
Listening as well as speaking.
Words and silences alike.
Maybe it’s not always about what we say. The conversation in the car was as much about God as when my husband and I discuss our day. Because God’s story is our story. What we talk about when we talk about God is really the story of us wrapped up in Him.
The conversation in the car wasn’t a success any more than our daily conversations are a failure because God isn’t explicitly mentioned.
And all those seemingly mundane things in our lives are important, too. Indeed, our lives may be the greatest testament we ever give.
So this is what I’m meditating on and praying over.
That we are opened to God not only through burning bushes and thunderous voices but quiet breezes and wings on air.
That this opening is both private and public because our lives need both witnesses and lonely places in which to grow.
And that we find peace in however, wherever it happens.