Angels in the Trash

October 27, 2004

I took the cherub decorations off my wall to paint the living room. The celestial decor–not cheesy–but traditional had been the motif, the theme in my interior design plan for years. With new color affixed to the wall, I decided the angels had outlived their usefulness. In my home at least.

As I put them out in the garbage, I wondered if I had thrown away the real angels they represented. I’d gotten tired of how my heart looked and felt and was trying new things. Maybe I’d disposed of the angels standing guard over me as surely as I’d dumped their plaster counterparts.

I’ve repainted and redecorated my living room, but how will I fix up my soul? If the angels no longer belong, what does? My actual wall displays an eclectic array–paintings of muses, primitive style art, a replica of a priest’s robe.

Maybe the parallel is too obvious–eschewing the divine for the material. My soul looks that way too, seeking fulfillment in the very things Solomon said would give us nothing. But each one of us wants our story to have a different ending. I don’t know if I really believe that, I just can’t see the ending anymore.

I have a newly decorated living room, but my soul is still under construction. The old song reminds me “All day, all night, angels watching over me, my Lord.” I wonder though, if I threw them away, are the angels still watching?

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Please Take From Me My Life

October 25, 2004

When I don’t have the strength to give it away to you, Jesus. It’s the anecdote of the keys in my hand. I can’t hand them to you, but I’m willing to let you take them from me. I’m of two minds–not wanting the life I have, yet unwilling to let go of it. From this hilltop I look back at the life lived, the ground covered on my journey. Am I like Much Afraid, making progress toward the high places, even when it seems not? I hope today I am. One step at a time, I’ll call you Shepherd. Take my life; I don’t have the strength to give it away. I can’t understand why you’d want it, but you are a better artisan than I. You know how to remove the dross from the silver. Shall the clay tell the potter what to do? Seems I try. Remembering I am dust. Glad you do. Dust in the wind, all I am is dust in the wind.

Killing Me Softly

October 23, 2004

So who keeps giving out my number?

Why does every thing I read or watch or hear seem to apply to my life? Am I that narcissistic? Why is Desperate Housewives about my life again? Could it be that my story, at its essence, is everyone’s story?

Is it a listening heart or a solipsistic episode? Every life tells a story, but every story also touches a life–mine it seems. Am I on The Truman Show? Sometimes my life could pass for a reality show (or, God forbid, Jerry Springer)–no script, people with bad manners and an agenda, and contrived conflict.

On the other hand, though, there are too many coincidences. I ask God for a sign, and I drive by the blue Nova–ours? Accompanied on the radio by just the right song. I follow a truck bearing the motto “life beckons.” I see a program about people who stop living in fear and their friends who won’t even admit they’re afraid.

I can hear the words; I know they are meant for me. I half expect the characters to look out at the audience and talk directly to me. Or I’ll read an ad that says ‘just do it, lorinda.’ Maybe there’ll even be a song telling lorinda to stop fearing, but will I be around to hear it? I’m not sure, all these signs are killing me.

It’s the Precious

October 22, 2004

Hope dangles on a string
Like slow spinning redemption
There is a Precious in my life. That which I hold dearest. I love the Precious; I worship the Precious. I want the Precious, even as it destroys me.

I am not Frodo, willing to give my life for the cause; I wish I were. No, I am Gollum. I want the Precious all to myself, and the nasty little Hobbitses stand in my way. Like him, I must be thrown into the fires of Mount Doom, to be consumed.

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

October 21, 2004

I am a born-again Red Sox fan. Let me explain. I remember loving them with all the passion of a junior high girl. Seeking a sense of belonging in a strange country (Canada), being part of the Red Sox nation connected me to the New England I so desperately missed. Somehow they faded into the background as I made connections and put down roots in the strangely familiar foreign soil of our northern neighbors. Baseball and all its trappings became an object of scorn to me, the nonsports fan.

As I grew older, I mocked those who loved sports–just kill me was my usual response. My sister married a sports fan, and I laughed–at him first for loving baseball, and at her for loving him. I married a man who, like I, despised TV as a vehicle for anything other than drama and comedy, seeing none of that in sports.

Then I had a son, who for reasons unknown to me, awoke into full-blown baseball fanaticism in the summer of his eighth year. He embraced the home team with the ardor of a boy–pure, unsullied love. He spends hours pouring over the stats of any major leaguer. He knows their names, what teams they’ve played on, what years, RBIs, and all the acronyms that make no sense to me–sports illiterate. You’ve heard the old saying, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” That’s what I did. How else could I speak to a boy whose world is ‘earned run averages’ and standings in the National League Central Division?

All that to say this. Last night, I came back to the Boston Red Sox–born again into the Red Sox nation. My son was rooting for the Yankees to beat the Red Sox in the American League post-season. I despise the Yankees. They are good because they have the money to be good. It has nothing to do with heart or grit or character. It’s about greenbacks.

Ok, I’ll admit I like the look of A-Rod and Derek in their stripes, but that’s as far as it goes. I digress, men in baseball uniforms do that to me–except for all the chewing and spitting–what’s up with that? Sorry, digressing again.

The Red Sox, down three games in the playoffs. They came back and won game four, then game five, then game six. Didn’t watch any of them. Didn’t care except in some theoretical way. Game seven, I happened to tune in to the ninth inning as I channel surfed. I found myself transfixed. I watched the Red Sox defy the odds and beat the Yankees 10-3 (or whatever the final score was). I celebrated with them as they and the city of Boston rejoiced.

Why? I asked myself, and all I could figure out was that baseball really is a metaphor for life. I feel like I am down three games against my adversaries. I am weary, feeling hopeless, and almost 100% sure that I won’t be making it to the World Series. But I can take a page from the Red Sox players, who said they won their way back one pitch, one hit, one catch at a time. What could be more perfect or more encouraging? That’s not only how games are won and lost, but how life is, too. One at bat, one pitch, one sublime catch against all odds–out of the park; three up, three down, and picking one out of the air at the last second.

Boston rejoices, and so do I. The very sport that I laughed at for its uselessness is the medium that may well save my life. God does have a sense of humor. Maybe the curse will be broken after all.

Prisoner

October 20, 2004

I am locked in a prison cell. The other inmate is dead. Though I pound on the door and the wall and the floor, scream until my throat bleeds, no one comes. I’m like the Count of Monte Cristo, only he escaped. Someone has thrown away the key; am I the one who did?

At some point the putrefaction will cease and only skeleton remain, but how long will that take? Will I grow so used to the stench I no longer care? Will this death kill me too? I can hear the rats approaching. I think I shall lose my mind with their gnawing.

Let me out. I yearn for fresh air and the light of day. I want to be free–of the cell, of the darkness, of the dead one in chains next to mine. Shall I continue to call, longing for someone to hear and rescue me?

I am a prisoner of hope.

Heart alive

October 19, 2004

Here is a heart alive with the music of another sphere.
Do you march to a different drummer?
It’s a beat most can’t hear.
A world of fairies, trolls and neverending sky,
Giving rise to endless searching,
Always asking why.
You’ve ridden past waters cool
Stumbled death’s shadow valley
Alone

Friend

October 19, 2004

A woman of Christ
Mentor, seer, fellow traveller,
Brother, companion in labor, comrade,
Soldier-roommate in this battle,
Star counter, heart soother,
Prayer warrior, servant, iron that sharpens,
Christ-one, quieter, listener,
Weeper with one that weeps,
Rejoicer,
Sister, Mother, open heart,
Colearner, faithful wounder,
Counselor, reverent one, devout,
Pattern, model, truthsayer,
Beautiful, hidden, charming,
Gentle, peaceful,
Precious to God,
Apron of humility, servant’s garb
Subject, beloved.

And other times He calms His child. So the song says. I picture myself sometimes in the eye of the storm. All is calm at the heart. The wind whips wildly around, but I am safe. God is with me, and I am with Him. It is here I should rest, but like a moth drawn to the flame, I seem to thrive on chaos. I veer too close to the edge and am whipped back into the hurricane, the debris, and the destruction. Tossed to and fro, battered by flying bits of wreckage, I realize (again) my mistake.

How is it that the whirling dervishes of my life look so attractive from a distance? I have to attribute it to the foolishness rife within me. I am prone to sin as the sparks fly upward. Fortunately, God remembers this, knows that I am fashioned from dust. His patience with me is great; He is longsuffering. Once again, He drags me from the devastation. I have new scars to add to the ones from previous ventures into annihilation.

Why does He continue with me? I’m broken, warped, bent beyond repair as I see it. He, however, sees me as I could be, as I am in Christ. He finds in me more than I find in myself, thus He rescues me again and again from hopelessness, despair and death. He tells me, as He told the church in Smyrna “I know your pain and poverty–constant pain and dire poverty–but you are rich.” If I look through His eyes, I will see the wealth. If I quiet my heart, I will hear His voice in the midst of the storm. He doesn’t promise to take the storm away; in all likelihood it will get worse. He does, however, promise to rescue me from it and hold me safe in the midst. Will I believe it, or will I wander again into harm’s way? I cannot speak for every day, but just for today, I will sit in the eye of the storm, embracing the quiet, praying it will imbue my soul and change me. May I long for the shelter and not the squall.

I admit it. I’m a control freak–somedays I’m in recovery, and somedays I’m full-blown off the wagon. I grew up in charge–the oldest. Not my way or the highway, just my way. That’s a hard habit to break. The need to be in charge may go undercover as an adult, getting sneaky and manupulative, but it never altogether disappears. I like getting my own way, even when it brings disastrous results. Irrational, I know; but who ever said the heart and its workings are rational?

I have met some people who refuse to let me win all the time. I love them and hate them. They set boundaries around the wild horses that are my spirit. I buck and kick and ram the fences of the “no.” Sometimes I break free, sometimes I don’t.

Those who have loved me enough to put the fences in place, first and foremost being God, have withstood many years of my resistance and refusal to be tamed. Some of the fence builders have even given up, thinking I’m not worth the struggle. Sometimes I agree with them. But a few have remained, first and foremost God, seeing something in me that the others (and I) cannot see. They saw past the rebellion, anger, and bluster to the me within–aching and crying out to be loved unconditionally–rebellion and all. Control at its heart is just fear. Fear of being found out, rejected, and left alone. Past the control is the me that is longing to be set free–to create, to love, to succeed. And to those who remained and believed, I give my heartfelt thanks, first and foremost to God.