The Anticipation – Part I

mountain landscapeI was sitting on the bank of the river, beneath the willow tree. The branches cascaded gracefully around me, sweeping me into their gentle embrace as the breeze floated through them, bringing them to life. The water rushing over the rocks serenaded me with its song as I waited for her. I knew she was coming. I had been anticipating her arrival for some time. I watched the reflection of the sun beaming off the surface of the water like dancing stars twinkling about. Were they waiting for her also?

It was a warm day but not unbearably hot, just the kind of day I love. I felt drawn to walk – not my usual path. For some reason, I felt adventurous that day. I felt a calling, as if the cool breeze was delivering me an engraved invitation to linger in the midst of creation. Was it the thought of sitting at the river’s edge that made me thirst so? As I walked up the crest of the hill, I realized that it wasn’t a natural thirst. I wasn’t parched by any means, yet there was something inside me that needed to be quenched, an unnameable thirst. I could hear the sound of the water – it awakened a need in me. I knew I was close when I saw the top of the willow tree. I would sit beneath it and breathe everything in.

I could sense her approaching. She had plans. She was seeking comfort – from what – she didn’t know. Through all her senses, I was drawing her near to me. I knew she felt it. She just didn’t realize that it was me. How could she? I knew she thirsted for something that would satiate, something that would satisfy, something everlasting. The sweet smell of the irises carried her up the mount. My heart smiled within. Every beat thumped within me increasing my exhilaration. It would only be a matter of time before she’d be mine. She didn’t know I had been waiting there for her for what seemed an eternity.

As I climbed up the hill, the willow became more lifelike with every step. It beckoned me. I felt drawn. My heart called out to me in a way I’ve never experienced before, as if the summit of love was waiting to embrace my arrival. The walk was steeper than I had anticipated. I wasn’t tired from the climb – it was more like a sweet exhaustion caused by an unknown anticipation that had overtaken me. My senses were heightened, finely attuned to creation’s calling. “Come to me, you who are weary and burdened.” I wasn’t weary or burdened in a natural way, though there had been something missing – something in a place I couldn’t name. “Come to me. Come to me,” everything around me whispered – not into my ears but into every part of my being – parts I was just then becoming aware that I had.

Her fragrance delivered her before her shadow cast itself over the hilltop. She didn’t see me. She sensed me though. She began to feel mesmerized – captivated by a mysterious passion she would not be able to release without me. I was the key. Before her body crossed the peak, her spirit recognized my presence. Before she became aware, it was already responding to me, seeking me, longing for me. I had planned it that way from the beginning. Understand – my longing for her, my yearning for her, was far greater and overwhelming than hers for me. There was something about her, a combination of virtues and values that were unique to her. Her heart wasn’t the only thing I wanted. I longed for her love. I wanted to be embraced by all of her – her heart, her soul, her mind – with all the strength she possessed. I had been waiting so very long, yet – she was worth the wait.

There was something powerful calling me to hasten my last few steps. My legs were weak, but not from the climb. It felt like one of those dreams where you find yourself running toward something with everything in you, yet your legs don’t seem to be moving. The summit of the hill seemed so far away, yet merely steps separated us. My heart, soul, and mind – every part of my existence needed to see what was on the other side. It felt as if I had spent my entire life on the journey to this very place – but it was only in these minutes that I sensed an urgency to be where I was going. I yearned for something that was on the other side, suddenly that longing felt as if it had been there since before my life began. I needed something and I didn’t know what it was, but I knew I’d find it on the other side. A revelation of something I had been searching for without understanding was about to be unveiled.

A symphony of life announced her appearance. Everything in creation applauded her. The wind blew my kisses through her hair and planted my words of love into her ears. She breathed deeply and sighed, filling herself with my love. A new life began in her that very moment. Her beauty left me breathless. I knew her before she knew me. It was as if I had only heard of her loveliness, as if I had only seen an artist’s rendition, but as she began to take those next steps my spirit was taken aback – she was breathtaking. The reflection of the sun on the water danced in her eyes and mirrored my love for her. Her gaze fell upon me like the morning dew glistening at daybreak. My spirit called out to hers.

I Heard You

EdenI heard you last night. Through all those tears and all the words you choked on – I heard you – I heard your heart. My desire has been to hear your heart for as long as I can remember.

Oh, I know you’ve spoken to me many a time. I don’t discount any of what you’ve shared, not ever. I realize you’ve shared before, you’ve confessed many things to me. You’ve cried, you’ve told me your dreams and yes, you’ve even told me what frightens you. But last night was different – you know it was too.

Last night you brought tears to my eyes. Somewhere between your disappointment, your fear, and the dreams you’re afraid to dream was your heart – stripped bare and surrendered to me for the first time ever. You spoke to me and then you waited for me to answer and you listened. You really listened! Do you know how long I’ve been waiting to tell you how very much I love you?

You said that you’ve never been able to go to “that place” with me for fear that you’d experience so much emotion that you’d explode, lose control, even die a little inside.

But you went there anyway and you went there with me; you went there for me. You let me in to that place in your heart where only I could fit –  a place where the only one ever meant to fit was me. Last night you gave me your heart and I promise I will not break it. You went to the place where I’ve already been for you.

I can’t promise that life will always be fun and filled with laughs, but it sure will be different. No matter what you go through, from now on, whether good or bad – we’ll always be there together. I also can’t promise that you’ll never experience pain again, or that everything you don’t like about your life will be instantaneously changed for the better, but I can promise this: you’ll be transformed – from the inside to the outside. I’ll give you a kind of peace that surpasses any experience you may encounter. I promise that if you follow me, I will always be at your side – always and forever. I heard you.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

True Surrender

Bench in formal gardenGetting older isn’t just about a cumulative store of wisdom that you can draw on. Wisdom means nothing until you make the choice to employ it. There’s a preferred expression I use: “take my advice, I’m not using it.” Recently I’ve been feeling like a hypocrite; the words I speak to others seem to resonate deep within my soul. All this great advice I have to share and yet I cast it aside like a fool.The truth be known, it’s easy to give advice when making a choice or taking action is the choice of the person you’re speaking with. The fear of self-application can immobilize a person into a life of solitude.

I have spent the last 15 years, or so, growing in many ways. That is a fact that cannot be disputed. The areas where I have failed to grow have been due to a consuming fear that has paralyzed my growth in the area of  relationships. Some people make it into the “sphere of trust,” but there has always been an inherent dread of the possibility that pain may penetrate that sphere. What I’ve come to realize recently, however is that my fear of being hurt has caused me to build a fortress around my heart that is virtually impenetrable. The sad thing is that I have conquered nothing by building walls. I’ve barricaded myself with my fears.

Believing I had surrendered to the false power I allowed fear to have over me did allow some growth but I have realized that we cannot love or allow ourselves to be loved until we acknowledge that there will be pain in all relationships and that is life – and it isn’t life threatening. Not all future relationships will turn out the same as those of the past and not everyone from our past is responsible for the pain suffered at someone else’s hand. The pain of our past cannot kill us unless we allow it to live on inside us – and that, my friends, is a slow and treacherous way to go. Where is the wisdom in that?

Try as hard as you might, you cannot move on from the past until the fear that the past will repeat itself is conquered. What conquers fear? Surrender. True surrender conquers fear. True surrender is not just a feeling. True surrender is born from a choice to believe that even if what you fear most happens, you will not only survive it, you can thrive  because of it – if you so choose.

We were made for each other. You can’t be there for anyone if you hide away in self-imposed solitude. Your pain has a purpose – Someone else out there IS exactly where you have been. Don’t waste your past pain – use it as a healing balm and apply it to someone else with love.

The wall I once built for protection has hemmed me in; my surrender will break it down and keep it down.

Heart Strings

If you’ve ever played guitar, you know that in order to continue and be proficient, you need to accept the pain of callouses on the ends of your fingers. I recently read somewhere that Eric Clapton puts alcohol on the tips of his fingers to keep them dry in order to “maintain” his callouses. A great guitarist needs calloused fingers in order to be outstanding – not only do they push through the pain, rather than doing whatever they can to ease the pain – many will make every effort to “maintain” what, in the end, will make beautiful music.

I gave up on the guitar almost immediately after I began.My aim is to be honest on this blog: I must admit that I did much the same thing with love after it began to leave a few callouses on my heart. I found that the pain and disappointment of loving were far too painful to bear. The only remedy I knew of was to give up on it, much the same way that I gave up on playing guitar. In fact, when I made a conscious effort to ensure no one could hurt me I had to harden my heart to love. That is far worse than a callous; a callous can be softened with a little effort. A heart that has been hardened is not just a condition of the surface.

These last two years or so I have come to realize that it is far more painful to exist without love than it is to live and love and risk a few callouses here and there. The truth of the matter is, whether it is family, friend, or the love of your life, if you set your sights on being loved – you will be hurt and disappointed, time after time – because when we give love for the purpose of receiving it our hearts are already somewhat calloused to begin with. If you make a decision to love freely, without condition, you will be loving as if there is no risk of being hurt …. again. Why? Because you are loving in order to love – whatever you receive as a result is a symphony played on your heart strings.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1st Corinthians 13:13.

Play a song on someone’s heart strings and see what beautiful music it will make. If you receive nothing back, that’s alright – that song will have been recorded for the ages and it will always be playing in the back of your mind.

Make a decision to live and love as though you’ve never been, or ever will be, hurt. Callouses on the heart are a sign that it is still beating.