Dwell in Those Moments

8.15

After days on end of realizing that if I don’t make a change soon, feeling agitated, unsettled, and stuck are going to become the pedestrian emotions of my days.

Don’t get me wrong.

I’m extremely grateful for a job, for God’s provision, for a roof on my head, food to eat, crickets to listen to, my new road bike that I never want to hop off of… love and life itself…

But something is desperately missing.

I am not the passionate girl I was once used to be.

Oh I’m coming alive, trying new things.

But some of the dreams I have on my heart are layered in feelings of impossibility, doubt, fear, and one more triple-thick layer of self-defeating thoughts, desperately trying to remind myself that like A.A. Milne once wrote, “you’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

Those are moments of doubt… they are wasted moments. Those are the most wasted moments we can spend on life, EVER.

No, we don’t have to put up with those wasted moments any longer.

You see, there’s these other moments you get; moments that feel like drops of honey being fed to your mouth by the Hands of God. These sweet, sweet, intoxicating moments of life where you grit your teeth, dig in deeper, love that much harder, push that much further, and simply refuse to let the obstacles speak louder than the dream…

You… you decide to do hard things.

You simply do hard things.

Those are the only things in life that hold any real value; the things you earn only through sweat, sticky fingers, tireless devotion, unconditional love. You might as well do them so when you reach some ripe old age and can’t turn back the clock, you’ll have a fist-full of dreams to release into the sky like peace doves and red balloons- those you pursued, that is, not those you avoided.

And those moments- those moments where you kick yourself in the… rear and realize that enough is enough, enough time has been wasted, enough energy compromised on people pleasing and doubting yourself, and doubting the person God made out for you to be, heart full of unique passions and convictions… those moments where you look your dream in the face and say “yes” it’s possible and you whisper “yes” as you inch one step closer to the dream, even if you’re shaking… Those moments…

Those moments where you are absurdly fearless of the place between reality and your dreams.

Those moments where you truly fathom that life is precious but ever slipping through your fingers, with time that you can never re-live and edit and you know, deep down in your heart, that you can and will live your best life now.

Those moments…

 Dwell in those moments.

In those moments where God meets you half way, like half way up the hill you’re climbing on your bike, or half way up the hallway to a job you really hate but are too scared to leave to pursue what you actually care about for fear of its ambiguity or enormity.

And you hear His voice.

You know it’s Him.

And He reminds you to go back over the story, the one He’s been telling time and time again through people like Moses or Rosa Parks or your very self. The story that says trust… have faith… dig deep. The stories that have movement from complacency to action, that take you on some weird, unable-to-be-explained-in-the-present-time wilderness journey that makes you wonder if this is all some sick joke…  and you make it to the other side. You make it so that you are able to take the risk. Able to take the test. Apply for the job. Sign up for the race. Make your life count. See the fruit of your journey in the desert.

Dwell in those moments.

In those moments where you decide that being nice is well… nice. But you are DONE with living the innocuous life.

Dwell in those moments.

Where you decide to risk failure, point to your horizon and run straight after it, letting doubt, fear, and the opinions of others simply vanish and evaporate to try and trap someone else in a spiderweb. You, you, my friend, have been set free from that web. You are untangled, you are unraveled, you are unfettered, you are free. It may not look like it now, but oh yes, you are indeed free.

 Dwell in those moments.

Those moments where you’re an unstoppable lion.. or lioness with a fervor that cannot be tamed.

Dwell in those moments where doubt and fear have been kicked out of the building and all that’s left is open doors, open palms, green grass, room to breathe…

Dwell in those moments where you KNOW, deep within your core that anything is possible, but that you have to go through some… stuff to get there. And you don’t care anymore about what the “stuff” is because you’re committed to making it past the “stuff.”

Dwell in those moments, child, because you’re worth it… and if each of us operated out of the voice inside of us that actually pursues what is meaningful to us, that says the words we truly want to say, no matter how scared you are of someone’s reaction or being labeled as “too emotional…” if each of us sang our songs, wrote those letters, spoke up so that others can actually hear you, pursue the ideas that just popped in your head and refuse to let reason and logic engulf it…. If each of us actually said a hearty, “hello!” to the homeless person on the street holding a sign instead of sitting there squiggling around in the seat of our car, trying to avoid eye contact and the urgency of “what am I supposed to do!!?” If each of us vowed to take off our masks and dulled-down beliefs or feelings… If each of us rose up each day with this fire, this fervor, this passion, we would literally astound the world, ourselves, and each other.

Dwell in those moments.

Come back to them when they feel far away.

And may we always remember to pay attention to those nudgings on our hearts… for the world will be better for you having pursued them.

Which is Yes…

Image“I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees,
and for the blue dream of sky and for everything
which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.” -E. E. Cummings

Aug 12: Sunlight all around, making the green fields glisten like the first coat of untrampled upon snow. The wind is lightly blowing in my face, a warm late summer breeze that feels more like spring. My legs move up, down, up, down, up, down, faster now, exhilarated by the velocity of a good bike ride, breathing heavier now. There’s sunflowers waving in the grass, some wildflowers hugging the edge of the road. There’s so much beauty to see. Orioles fly gracefully through a field, orange belly lighting up the sky. I have no roadmap, no predetermined route. I am an explorer now. And oh, by bike, there’s so much to see. So much to see…

I take a turn down a hill off to my right and cycle around a CSA farm. I can see spinach and lettuce and other greens growing off in the distance as a woman approaches the garden, presumably to help share in the farming responsibilities. It’s the aura, the ethos of Community Supported Agriculture that gets me. People coming together to grow and harvest food that will nourish brothers and sisters, neighbors, families gathered ‘round the table, and those who pine with a deep hunger to have just one meal with a family like that, ready to say grace before the passing of baskets, dishes, and salt. There’s something about this that’s heavenly and holy, divine, like that’s the way food is supposed to be- you’re supposed to get your hands dirty and know the faces of the hands that plucked your berries from the vine or the tomatoes now garnishing your salad. It’s as if you’re supposed to celebrate that the produce you’re eating was once just some tiny seed that made its way through heatwaves and deluges of rain, sunny days, cloudy days, and days in between, just growing, growing, growing…

I head back to the main road, going down streets I’ve never been on, neighborhoods and schools and hills I never knew existed. A father goes on a walk with his two daughters, one in the back of a wagon, the other blithely by his side. We smile and wave.

I take in a deep breath, filling my lungs until they say “no more,” and prepare for a steep hill, fantasizing about the view from the top. Changing gears, slowly but persistently, inching but persevering, legs getting stronger and leaner with every turn of the pedal, I make it up to the top and discover a new place that I will watch sunsets from.

It’s beautiful now, this moment, this evening sunset just doing the same thing it does night after night, only I don’t stop often enough to give it the glory it deserves.

It’s stunning, really, the sun ablaze, hovering over tree tops, trying to avoid sinking down beneath the nighttime covers of the horizon, a firery ruby orange, a sapphire in the sky.

Oh it’s so beautiful.

The whole wide world.

It’s fricken beautiful, and I have everything I need.

It’s beautiful and God, it feels good to be alive.

It’s beautiful and this Sabbath bike ride pulls me in deeper, deeper into you God. I’m pedaling downhill, I’m flying fast now; exhilarated, like a child on their first rollercoaster getting brave enough to wave her hands in the air.

Oh yes I’m pedaling harder now, making my way around the bends in the road, biking past a tall damn with geese at the top, looking over the edge. I bet they’re daring each other to jump or fly off the edge- “you go,” “no, you go…”

I bike over the bridge where I went bridge jumping with friends, wearing my cap and gown one jubilant night in May 2009 with friends. This spot always causes a smile to traverse my face, usually from the right to the left as I ruminate the rush of that plunge over and over again.

I peer over my shoulder one more time and there’s that sunset again, this time emanating from water.

It’s beautiful.

My eyes can capture each hue, every tint, every highlight of sky refracting off the water.

It’s beautiful, God, and I get to see it… get to see it, taste it, feel it, experience it.

And it was one of those amazing days composed of everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes…

In Which I Find God in the Grace and Patience of More Experienced Cyclists

I finally got my hands on a road bike, complete with bike shoes, clips and, even matching waterbottles. It’s quite a change going from a hybrid bike in sneakers to trying to bike in a shoe attached to your pedals, but hey, there was a triathlon practice tonight and sometimes the only way to learn is to just go out there and try.

Arriving slightly disheveled, I felt like I was wearing a giant sign on my forehead that said, “newbie.” My chain came undone because I shoved my bike too hard into my backseat in a cursory effort to not be late. I had no idea how to “clip in” and “clip out.” So for ten minutes in the parking lot of Meadowood Park, I was surrounded by three patient, gracious teachers, dependent upon some mercy and grace.
“Let’s make sure you’ve got the hang of using your clips before we leave.”
“But I don’t want to hold you guys back from biking!” I retorted.
“Just practice. And it’s ok if you fall.”
The next painstaking ten minutes were filled with feelings of inadequacy, after all, I must be a complete idiot if I couldn’t even do their most basic instructions: “Just go like this. Press hard. Harder. You’ll hear it click in.” Press, press, turn of the pedal. Still not clipped in. Repeat. Finally, my right foot is in! And, like a kid riding a bike without training wheels, I weebled and wobbled trying to get my left foot clipped in. “You want to start with the right pedal up and give yourself some leverage,” one of them called out as I watched a couple of them demonstrate. I’m moving and inching and pressing my left foot for what feels like an eternity, until finally I hear a coveted “click,” signaling that I was now successfully clipped in on both my left and right sides. I did a small lap around the parking lot and slowed down when I reached my bike-teacher comrades. “No, no keep moving!!” One guy calls out as I attempt to stop without unclipping. Nearly crashing into one of the other cyclists, she moved out of my way and I did another lap, this time focusing on unclipping. After successfully managing that, we were ready to be on our way. This couple who had just finished their evening ride smiled at me. “You’ll love it!” they exclaimed. “You’ll get used to it in no time.” Yeah right… I thought to myself as we took off. I was dreading the two stops we’d have to make at stop signs along our route. Fortunately I was able to clip out in time to stop, but trying to clip in uphill for the first time didn’t go so smooth. After almost taking a fall to my left side, I somehow managed to clip out my left foot, as if a “fight or flight” instinct kicked in. I re-clipped and took a deep breath, soaking in the backdrop of farmland and woods on a summer evening. We finished our ride a short 11 miles later and gathered at the parking lot, where I thanked this group profusely for their patience and their grace.

It was a “God moment” for me. Every moment can be a “God moment” if you choose to see it that way, but there are times when I find God in the most unconventional ways, like through three strangers who give you, the newbie, some patience and grace, which had probably been extended to them when they first started cycling competitively years ago. My pride was a bit shaken, as I humbly found myself really needing to ask questions. Being a fairly decent athlete, it was hard to realize that I possessed a pride that I needed to let go of in order to accept that right now, biking isn’t my strong suit and I don’t have it all together… never have, never will. I felt like God used those fellow bikers that day to show me a tangible example of what it feels like to receive patience and grace and to also remind me that this is exactly what I need to be doing for others too. Perhaps God puts us in situations in which we feel dumb and inadequate so that S/He can teach us to depend on one another, extend patience and grace, and realize we’re all in this together. What’s that saying? No man is an island? Yeah, well, turns out no woman is either. It’s like we all need each other anyways, so we might as well get along and love hard while we’re at it… Elite biker, novice biker, those who never had bikes, and yes even the guy who stole my hybrid bike back in April. A heaping pile of patience and grace? Yes, I’ll take some of that and let’s pass it ‘round, like mashed potatoes circling the table at Thanksgiving. Come on, dig in, find your seat at this table. Because everyone’s invited and everyone receives grace and patience… mashed potatoes optional.

Oh, Because You are Called to be Free…

You, Oh Child, are called to be free…

I know you’ve seen the yelling, the pointed fingers, the uproar over fealty to chicken sandwiches and embroidered flag instead of cross and love for thy neighbor. Maybe your ears cannot listen to one more spew of theological pedantry. You might be afraid to come any closer to the light because there are shadows busy making faces at you, saying come in, but only if you change…Perhaps their asperity over this issue or that issue has got you wondering what this is even all about, anyway, and maybe it’s just some show to help small people feel big, important, as though God is patting them on the back with every Bible verse they retort.

Oh.

But you… you have been called to freedom.

Can you feel it? See it, sense it, taste it, inhale it?

Can you see beggars finding bread? Can you see the orphan being held? Can you see forgiveness and grace? Can you find that voice ushering you in, oh that voice that longs to sit with you beside still waters?

Oh Child, you’ve been called into something different. Much different. You’ve been called into freedom. Lay down the weight of others’ reactions. Lay down the teachings that constrain you, sucking joy and precious energy out of you. Lay down the opinions of others, especially those that are unsolicited. Lay down your hurt, your ammo, your doubts.

Oh because you have been freed from all of that.

That pressure of being someone else’s definition of perfect, someone else’s portrayal of what it means to be a Godly woman or man, someone else’s expectations of you, the voices that tell you to just be quiet and play nice and downplay your passions and convictions. That voice that tells you that you “shouldn’t” feel this way or that way, ask questions, or have another point of view.

Oh that your thought life would be filled with BIGGER things. Dreams. Aspirations. Social Change.

Oh because you have been freed.

You have been freed from the worrying, the straining of trying to please God, Oh Child, because you already are. You already are… Sometimes we need a good kick in the… butt. But unless God specifically reveals that to you (and he will), TRUST that you’re doing enough, being enough, are enough. On to the being, not the doing…

Stop your fretful prayers laboring over making sure that every decision is God’s will for you, lest you go out on your own and discover that God’s hand is capable of showing the way and that he will uphold you in every situation and circumstance, and even use a wrong turn for good…

Something beautiful. Something insanely simple and mellifluous will enter into those hands frought with sweaty palms, and those tired eyes, straining over verses cached in Leviticus or Isaiah that cause a lump in your throat, afraid to voice that no, no something in here is terribly, terribly wrong about inciting war and infanticide and sacrifices.

No. You haven’t been called to that.

You’ve been called by Jesus So Loving, flowing rivulets of faith, hope, and love into your heart.

This is Jesus.

Who teaches us to “learn from the birds and wildflowers.”

This is Jesus.

Who challenged social norms, speaking and teaching women during a time in which they were forbidden and discouraged from learning the Torah, coming over to a woman’s house for dinner… oh yes causing holy ruckus for sure!

This is Jesus.

Who thought it was worth his time, not his pity, to spend with the poor, the prostitutes, the pushed aside, the left behind, “all who are weary…”

This is Jesus.

Who says his life for you is unfettered, your burden easy, yoke light.

This is Jesus.

Where would you be if He was right there in His presence?

Wrapped up in a loving embrace? Finding yourself in the company of someone who wants to eat dinner with you, to remind you that you’re worth something, loved, unconditionally, that something way bigger is going on here and he longs for you to be a part of it?

He’s still gathering women together at wells, at his feet, still teaching, still discipling… Still encouraging us to go forth and set the world on fire with love, love, the whole wide world, the Kingdom come, On Earth as In Heaven, all colors bleeding into one, forever and ever and ever, amen, yes.

Do you feel it?

Oh, do you feel Him?

Oh do you sense there is so much more?

Oh do you see that we can simply move forward and love God and love people and be a part of healing others’ hurts and pains and feeding each other when we’re hungry, be it for food, for touch, for love, for companionship?

Have you found open, burgeoning springs free of foolish discourse?

Have you tasted a simple life that is abundant and disencumbered from debates and arguments? Do you notice that Jesus didn’t care what other people thought of him and he wishes the same for you?

Oh.

Do you feel the ability to cartwheel, to dance, to swing, to make merry, to pick berries from bushes, sweetness filling your mouth as you sing, splash, run, verdant grasses tickling your barefoot feet?

Oh have you found a place where the quarrels have dissipated, where your quietness, passiveness, subservience are not necessary?

Oh it’s so bright and resplendent. Oh we hold hands here. We love each other here as Children of God; we threw away the labels a long time ago, no longer flagrantly viewed by our sexual identities, our political affinities, our skin color, our bank account, our gender…

Oh swimmingly this wave of freedom is swelling, pining for you to ride atop its waves, not to be crushed down by it. It’s beautiful, really, when you can just ride it and lay on top of it, stomach facing skyward as the water bobs up and down and around you.

I know, I know that for far too long people have tried to use this wave to knock you off your feet, to tell you that there’s no room in their ocean for people like you. People have tried to use this wave to divide, to make less than, but child, waves have the amazing ability to carry you to shore for shell-picking, making sandcastles, making footprints in the sand…

I know for far too long, they’ve told you how far out you can swim, where you can and cannot use your boogie boards…oh they’ve used that wave to crush, pointed fingers spouting out this verse, then that verse, then that verse in the Old AND New Testament…

But we are in an ocean of freedom here. Come, come on in, the water’s warm, yet slightly cool that you may decide to stick your toes in first to adjust before you are overwhelmed with refreshment.

Oh yes.
Because Child,
You are called to freedom.