Monday, December 23, 2013

It's a Quiet Thing {guest posting today}

I don't often talk about my dark night of the soul, my loss of faith during deep depression, but today I'm reflecting on the struggle of celebrating Christ-mas when my faith had gone out like a burned-down match.  Find me at Beth's today...

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Perpetual Voyage

"Now of all the voyagers I remember, who among them
Did not board a ship with grief among their maps?–
Till it seemed {wo}men never go somewhere, they only leave
Wherever they are, when the dying begins."
~Mary Oliver

"We are always giving birth to future versions of ourselves."
~Christina Rosalie

Dying, being born, dying, being born, dying, being born...again.

This is the spiritual life.  

Yet so many times we want to be reborn into the same skin, with the same faith, 
and pick up the same eyes with which to see.

Not me.  Not this time.  

“Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat...In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal."
John 12:24-5, MSG

Monday, December 16, 2013

Snapshots and truth

"Writing does have consequences.
Especially if you tell the truth...
However, I am quite sure that if you
tell the truth, you will feel something real."
~Marion Roach Smith

"I had to face myself and the truth of my passions:
all things wild, including words, words that 
could not be tamed, words that if cut would bleed,
not words cautiously rendered,
dressed up and disguised."
~Terry Tempest Williams

"Incongruent living is exhausting."
~Brene Brown

I stopped writing Christmas letters three years ago.

It seemed to me, as I wrote them year after year, that no one would want to know the not-so-pretty stuff of our average days.  And why would I want to write of that stuff anyway, to those family and friends who never see me, instead of the sanitized only-the-good version?  So I carefully chipped out of our year the accomplishments and ta-da's of each member of my family, painting us in pastels with fine brush strokes that had no defined edges.  

But words have consequences, even true words.  When I found out that far away people I loved (the ones that only had those yearly printed Christmas snapshots as evidence) had an air-brushed view of our life, I had the naivete to be surprised.

And yet, who writes, "my youngest has an anger issues", or "I've been struggling with depression for years", or "our house always looks like a disaster" in a Christmas letter?

So I stopped writing them.

It was just about a year ago that I made the internal promise to live authentically.  This does not mean that I will shout from the rooftops any little wrinkle in my life, or gush every feeling I have, but it does mean that in my own quiet way I will live truthfully.  I will assess myself, my faith, my relationships, my calendar with eyes that are clear and open.  I will speak truth to myself, and to those around me, instead of hiding and trying to impress.

This promise I made.  It's about the stripping away of all that clouds my intention to have a one-piece life.

So this year a Christmas photo card will go out for the first time since The Year the Christmas Letters Stopped.  It will be unaccompanied.  It will be a true snapshot without elaboration, and without the clutter of only part of the story.  

"But above all, in order to be, never try to seem."
~Albert Camus

Friday, December 13, 2013


I am told my words are needed.

I started this blog because my words need a place to live that looks pretty and clean and welcoming, because I need to document in more than just a journal.  I started it because I think much better through the tips of my fingers than through my mouth, and because I live and breathe images and need them to accompany me on this word-journey.

So.  In November I breathed deeply and skipped out across the white expanse of this space, sure that the words would just come like they had before.  "What can I share?" I thought.  "How can I express all of this newness so that someone will share with me, travel with me?"  The freshness of another beginning sat on my tongue, sweet and promising and my first steps were sure.

But across the white I suddenly realized that there were no other footsteps to follow.  That behind me were my own, and before me was nothing, and this recovering rule-follower didn't know what to do without someone to set the course.

I felt the shoulds creeping back in.

Your spiritual gifts are teaching and pastoring, but you have nothing to teach.  You should be teaching something.

You should have a formula for what you write here, and when.

You should post something pinnable, some "Ten Easy Steps" so that what you have to say is of value.

There's nothing you have to say that hasn't been said before.  You should just scrap this whole thing.

But I know.  I know.  That this life place, this wide open expanse of grace, pristine and untouched, is where I am meant to be.  It is where the Holy Spirit has led me, blindfolded and tripping over stones, because He knows I couldn't have lived much longer in the place I left behind.  And He knows that there are others out there who have been, or maybe are still, in that dark, lonely place- the intersection of rigid faith and doubt-laden depression.

I am encouraged by kindred spirits who see me and nudge me and ask the quiet question, "Where are your words?"  They know that the bubbling out of overflowing grace takes on strings of letters for clothing, and becomes an offering of the truest kind.

As I look out in front of me, the path is still obscured by a blinding white winter blanket.  My steps are still the only ones I see.  But I am coming to realize that those steps, tenuous and fully me, do not actually have to have a destination quite yet.  It is OK to simply dance through the snow and make art with my steps instead of making tracks.  The creating itself is enough.

I purpose to post here {comment free} two times a week.  I'm not really sure who will show up; art, friendship, grace, faith, rebirth, depression may all come to play.  I do know that I can only share from the places that I have been, and the experiences I have lived.

We are in the season of Mystery, of Emmanuel, of the birth of all Grace.  I am stepping out, feeling the crunch under my feet as I break new ground with words, with a new year, with color and purpose.  It is where I am meant to be.