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Posts Tagged ‘Questions’

Too

I trudge through grass that is too tall through raindrops that came on too fast and too heavy, but ended too soon, to turn off the sprinkler that I left running in the back yard.

Too many weeds and too many ideas about what to plant leave me feeling too tired to accomplish anything this afternoon.

I ignore the to do list that is too long, become too distracted by mundane things to keep my children focused, and so they go to bed too late once again.

Too many people ask questions, to which there are too many answers, and so I also stay up too late thinking and talking and explaining and dreaming.

I feel as though I’ve seen too much, but somehow also done too little. The universe feels too big, but my corner of it seems too small.

They used to tell me I was too idealistic, that I tried to cover too much ground with one poem.

But I kept on writing anyway.

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How often do I decide that my way is the only right way?
How important is it that I be right?
Does it matter if you hear exactly what I intended to say?
Were you even listening to begin with?

How often is my view of good the same as your view of bad?
What about all the space in between?
How big can God become, if we let the Spirit out of all our heart-cages?
Can such wonder ever be contained?

Tao Te Ching 2:

When people see some things as beautiful,
other things become ugly.
When people see some things as good,
other things become bad.

Being and non-being create each other.
Difficult and easy support each other.
Long and short define each other.
High and low depend on each other.
Before and after follow each other.

Therefore the Master
acts without doing anything
and teaches without saying anything.
Things arise and she lets them come;
things disappear and she lets them go.
She has but doesn’t possess,
acts but doesn’t expect.
When her work is done, she forgets it.
That is why it lasts forever.

1 Corinthians 6:19 “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself,”

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Every Day

I keep asking God to tell me what he wants.

When he tells me, I don’t believe him. It seems too simple. It seems too common. It seems naive.

He doesn’t ask me to struggle and deprive myself. He doesn’t ask me to suffer. He never demands anything from me. He simply waits for me to take what he has to offer. Here, in John 6:26-35, it is so straightforward:

26 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs. 27 But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man[f]can give you. For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval.”

28 They replied, “We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?”

29 Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”

30 They answered, “Show us a miraculous sign if you want us to believe in you. What can you do? 31 After all, our ancestors ate manna while they journeyed through the wilderness! The Scriptures say, ‘Moses gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”

32 Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, Moses didn’t give you bread from heaven. My Father did. And now he offers you the true bread from heaven. 33 The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

34 “Sir,” they said, “give us that bread every day.”

35 Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

My only work is to believe. That’s it. Anything that stops me from believing leaves me hungry, thirsty and tired. All I need, every day, is to be in the presence of God through Jesus. Spending time in communion with him is like being with my best friend on a perfect day. So why don’t I just stay in that space, communing with the Lord?

Yet, even the Israelites balked when manna rained down from heaven. Even the disciples, who literally sat with Jesus every day, didn’t really get what he meant by “bread from heaven.” Knowing this, I feel a little better when I stumble on this well-worn path.

Lord, give us this day our daily bread. Nothing more. Nothing less. We’ll be back for more tomorrow.

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Been reflecting on the direction of my life, as one does at the dawning of a new year.

I am so so so glad that 2010 is over. It was a year of getting knocked down, getting up, falling down, getting up, wondering how I wound up back down again…in the end I can say it was worth it, and I could keep it up if I had to, but I don’t want to ever do that again.

Part of me says that each day is no more significant than any other day. But that is the realist, humanist, skeptic part of me. In actuality, I have discovered over the course of the past year that I’m somewhat of a mystic, and that rituals, traditions, signs and symbols continue to hold meaning for me even as I experience them through this new filter of Christian faith.

And I’m living more in unknown territory than well-worn terrain. We gave Ida and Kellan The Chronicles of Narnia for Christmas, and we read a chapter or two at bedtime every night. Brendan and I enjoy this at least as much, if not more, than they do. I feel rather like Digory and Polly, like the Cabby and his wife, who so wholeheartedly accept their circumstances and just go with it when they realize they are witnessing the creation of a whole new world.

But some days I’m more like Uncle Andrew, who misses out on the magic and wonder simply because he does not want to believe it could be happening. I find myself planted knee-deep in the mud, surrounded by terrifying creatures and wondering how I got there.

I’m learning to linger in between questions and answers. Finding that answers like to move around and change form, and then different questions need to be asked, or maybe the same ones asked and different answers will be told. Realizing that difficult does not mean impossible. Shocked by how easily I can become distracted from God’s will.

In these early days, it seems 2011 could be a year of paradox. Everything must change; yet everything is as it should be. I will continue to fall, but only to the glory of God. I find this thought comforting, yet it is still a battle not to yield to the part of me that simply wants to retreat from the inner struggle.

The last time I felt this certain and steady even while being knocked on my ass was the year that Brendan and I were married, seven years ago in April. They say that every seven years every cell in your body has regenerated and you’ve literally, physically become a whole new person. I know I am the same person in those wedding pictures, radiant and happy. But everything is different now. Except when nothing’s changed…

At our wedding, our friend Michael McIntire sang the song All the World is Green by Tom Waits. Here’s an excerpt of the lyrics that pretty much sums up last year’s struggles and my hopes for the year to come.

The face forgives the mirror
The worm forgives the plow
The questions begs the answer
Can you forgive me somehow
Maybe when our story’s over
We’ll go where it’s always spring
The band is playing our song again
And all the world is green
Pretend that you owe me nothing
And all the world is green

And the song itself:

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I would like to beg you dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.

–Rainer Maria Rilke

I want answers. I want them now. I want to know that others are getting what they need, that my word is effective, that my actions are noticed and appreciated. In short, I want security.

But here’s the rub: God doesn’t call us to discipleship based on earthly security. A spirit-filled life hardly ever makes sense from a rational, logical point of view. When Brendan and I decided to move to Georgia to try out this community thing, we were not necessarily behaving as responsible young adults with a small child might generally be expected to behave. We had almost no money, we were getting rid of most of our possessions, and we didn’t have any guarantee that the community would accept us as members beyond a three-month internship. Yet we knew that it was exactly what we needed at the time.

I’ll keep this brief. If you’re looking for the earthly, human version of security, don’t ask God to take charge of your life. Because even if God decides to give you the gifts of plenty of money, a nice house, and a loving family, he’ll find other ways to rattle you out of your dream-state. When you ask God to take over, you’ll be awakened. And after that nothing will ever be the same.

I’m learning to linger in the mystery. Learning what it means to truly step forward in faith. To raise my hand when God is looking for a messenger, and to say, “Here I am, Lord, send me.” It gives me great peace. And it is anything but easy. But when I stop searching for answers, for logic and rational explanations, when I focus in on living here and now…well, all things work together for good either along with me or in spite of me. As the season of Pentecost gets underway, I think I’ll quit seeking security and start behaving more like a true disciple: live now, trust that the answers will come later.

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