A Soul Cracked Open


We tend to think that religion is sitting stiff and antiseptic and a little bored and that joy is laughter and freedom and reaching out our arms to embrace the whole wide and preposterous earth which is so beautiful that sometimes it nearly breaks our hearts. We need to be reminded that Christianity is joy and that laughter and freedom and the reaching out of arms are the essence of it. Frederick Buechner, The Hungering Dark, Listening to Your Life, October 28

I came away from the news with a blackness threatening to cloud my mind as it usually does when I watch it at all now. Inasmuch as I think we all have a responsibility to know what’s going on in the world, here lately a little snippet goes a long way. It confirms what the Bible says: that human nature still hasn’t found a way of redeeming itself. There is a comfort for me in that, for the darker things seem in the world, the more I am finding true comfort from my Redeemer.  The brighter His light shines.

How can I adequately describe the wild joy in prayer when I least expect it? Or how can I describe faith? It’s like blowing on an ember you didn’t think had any life in it, and watching it as it brilliantly flares from within. Writing these thoughts is almost painful because I want everyone to understand and know the hope that lays beyond all the beauty that is still out there. All the things we see and feel and touch……all of this, even if we can appreciate it, means nothing without God’s Spirit to illuminate it.

Beauty is one of the things God cracks our souls with so the Light of Heaven can get in. 

When I think of all the places I have been and the beauty I have seen it almost breaks my heart for those who can’t see who is truly behind it all. Whose Spirit resides as the backdrop for it all, whose unapproachable Light gleams behind every flame colored leaf fluttering against the sky. One whose breath moved along the waters even before the world began. My soul is cracked open at the wonder of it all. That I am here at all.

Without God, and without His Spirit moving through it, all this beauty is dead even while it lives. And that is the weight, the heaviness we carry in this life, the burden we feel to keep it all going. God invites us to step off the carousel, just for a while, so that we can remember that He has kept it going all along. We feel the tiredness of this world because it echoes our own, but even as we share the burden of it, glimmering at its edges we see the brilliance of that other world. The Promise and the Joy of Heaven in the here and the now.

Joy is where the whole being is pointed in one direction, and it is something that by its nature a man never hoards but always wants to share. The second thing is that joy is a mystery because it can happen anywhere, anytime, even under the most unpromising circumstances, even in the midst of suffering, with tears in its eyes. Even nailed to a tree.

Frederick Buechner, The Hungering Dark, Listening to Your Life, October 28

I walked in the rain

 in Just-spring

Last night I did what I always say I’m gonna do when it rains, I went out and took a walk in it. And it was marvelous. It was almost Holy, a Baptism from the skies. I walked once around the park, the silvery cold drops hitting my skin like mercy. That is what rain in the desert feels like you know. Those who have rain all the time just don’t understand what heaven it is.

I walked past all the dark and shuttered houses, and I heard the drops like music on all the metal carports, God’s percussion.

I kept walking as the rivulets of water started to collect en mass and pour down the middle of the streets. Amidst the stream there was a bubble parade and each one caught the streetlights, otherwise I never would have seen them. They were marching onward and I watched as they gathered, pooled and ran down the middle of the street like they were all-stars in a Mr. Bubble commercial.

My glasses covered in drops, I was looking out on a world transformed as though I were looking through prisms……I was the girl with kaleidoscope eyes. It was like when I was very small and would press my face to the glass when it rained, imagining another world in which everything and everyone were made of diamonds.

I wondered at all the quiet houses. Walking in the rain sounds crazy when you are inside looking out, but when you are actually in it, it seems like the most rational thing to do. Ask any kid. Watch them laugh as they turn their face to the heavens, catching drops. We tell them, come inside you’ll catch your death. When they are really trying to catch life.

I came inside. E was on the couch with the iPad and didn’t look up. She is used to my weird notions. She just smiles and nods when I say I’m gonna go around again. And I did.

On the way home I passed by Mama dove who was snug on top of her nest, where she has been for the past month. She peeked out from between the thorns, totally dry, totally safe……

I was soaked and it was wonderful. It was the perfect way to wash off the workweek.

 “But if I were you, I would appeal to God;
    I would lay my cause before him.
He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed,
    miracles that cannot be counted.
He provides rain for the earth;
    he sends water on the countryside.
The lowly he sets on high,
    and those who mourn are lifted to safety.
He thwarts the plans of the crafty,
    so that their hands achieve no success.

Job 5:8-12

photo credit: google images

Fearfully and wonderfully made


As I sit in prayer I listen to birds sing the day in and not for the first time I think, they have it right. I pour my coffee and I wonder how many in the world are doing the same thing right now, but they never taste it. They sip but don’t savor and then on to the next thing. 

I suppose I am one of the lucky ones. When you have lost suddenly in your life it tends to change your perspective. You know just how fast it can all be gone so  you grab each day with both hands, you grab grace because you know it’s because of grace we’re all here at all.

And you also learn how to see and embrace the wonder in each new day. The fact that God is in it is all the reason you need. Just take one aspect of your body, or one aspect of creation. Just think what a symphony of coordination has to happen between your brain and your legs to get up and cross the room. Or for your eye to work properly. How can this not be enough to agree along with the Psalmist that we are FEARFULLY and WONDERFULLY made?

As Margaret Feinberg says so succinctly in her wonder-filled book, Wonderstruck:

God extends endless invitations to encounter him, yet too often we sleep straight through. Unconscious of the life God wants for us, we slumber in the presence of the sacred and snore in the company of the divine. We remain asleep while God roosts in our midst.

Just Saturday, I attended a memorial service for a dear friend’s husband. He was only 6 years older than me. As the pictures flashed on the screen, snippets of his life, it was obvious that he was one of those for whom the world held much wonder, his was a life not wasted.  Sad as it was for the ones left behind, they have the comfort of knowing that. And knowing that now, He sits in the presence of wonder we can scarely imagine, at the feet of Jesus. That is the most precious thing we can leave our loved ones.

I want to give others that gift. I want to give God that gift. I want Him to know how grateful I am for every moment He gives me. I think that’s one of the best ways we can honor God and be a blessing to those around us. When we open each other’s eyes to that wonder all around us, we are doing the work of the Kingdom.

Each and every day, God is telling us to look up, look out. Nature is one of the biggests ways He waves His hands to get our attention.

Just now, almost to prove my point, a hummingbird hovers in mid-air, and I see the way he catches the light. That little heart beating at an improbable 1,260 beats per minute I wonder how such a small little creature can teach such a big lesson.

If just we open our eyes long enough to see it.

You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.

Psalm 139:1-6