The Wonder – Part II

Beautiful Nature BokehI was breathless, but not out of breath. In some ways it seemed like the culmination of my adventure – something tugged at my soul – something I didn’t understand, but was about to. I knew it was just the beginning, perhaps the end of one journey but the start of a passage, an understanding, the fulfillment of a promise. I felt understood. I felt loved. Purpose was speaking to me, calling me out of the shell I had survived in. I felt like a flower, opening up for the first time. Someone was looking into me, seeing me, seeing in me what I never saw in myself. The unveiling of hope was revealing itself to me. I laid down in the grass. It was covered in dew, but I welcomed it. It made me feel alive. My spirit was alert as if it had heard something I hadn’t – a concerto playing for me, written for me and only me. It felt like a new beginning.

She wrapped herself in the grass. The dew caressed her with the tears of my love; the joy of my heart enveloped her. She lavished in it. It was refreshing. It was a moment I couldn’t interrupt. She’d come. This very moment inevitable. That’s why she had made the journey. I could wait a little longer; I sent my song of love to her, carried on the wings of the birds. My heart swelled at the fullness of love that was emergent in her. She had never dreamed of this kind of love and I wanted nothing more than give her everything I had to give. Gratitude began to fill and surround her – she would never know fully that it was I who was grateful that she embraced the gift I gave her – it was in the giving that love grew.

I felt satisfied and grateful as if the greatest gift had been bestowed upon me. It was in those moments that I realized that I had been walking in a shroud of weariness before I set out on this walk, before I came to lay myself beneath the sky. Heaven seemed to be speaking to me. I had never known this comfort. There were no words to express how touched I was. I wanted to stay there in that moment and never let go, but no – there was more to come. I felt strong, yet weak. I didn’t want to move but I felt compelled to get up. It was as if I had found a treasure map and had been relishing in the find of the map and not the treasure. I was overcome by tears. I had never known this kind of joy. Something was growing inside me.

She picked herself up and began to walk in my direction, though she hadn’t yet seen me. I knew I would surprise her. I knew she would have doubts and wonder who I was. For a brief instant she would feel unsafe, unsure of herself, unsure of me, but it wouldn’t last. It was me she had set out to encounter when she began the journey. Ah, she noticed me. I pretended not to notice her, to give her time to process what she was feeling and thinking. Her mind was cautious. Her heart was intrigued. Her spirit knew me. Her spirit recognized me. Everything inside me wanted to run to her, to pick her up in my arms and hold her, to melt away every little bit of pain and doubt, to answer every question, but I knew I had to move slowly. I had to let her come to me and she would, sooner rather than later. The course had been set; she was already out of the starting blocks. She wasn’t about to turn back now.

I saw him sitting beneath the willow tree, on the bank of the river that had been calling me. My spirit longed to approach him, but my mind was tentative. Who was he? Why was he there? Was he waiting for me? He hadn’t noticed me. I was glad. I wasn’t sure about what to do next. Should I keep walking to the river? Should I say hello? Something inside me kept telling me that he had been waiting for me all this time. My heart was intrigued. Was it a coincidence that he just happened to be sitting there? I had never seen him before yet there was something about him. Outrageous thoughts began to overtake me. I wanted him to run to me, to hold me in his arms. He had this look about him – this ‘je ne sais quoi’ – something alluring, something enticing and appealing, that radiated from inside his spirit as if it was connected directly to my own. I couldn’t turn back now.

The decision was made. She walked toward me – tentatively at first. I could hear her heartbeat. She didn’t know it yet, but it was beating for me. It had always beaten for me as mine had for her. She wanted me to turn my head toward her, to meet her gaze but at the same time she was reticent. I respected that. I could wait a few moments more, although nothing inside me wanted to wait any longer. The earth sounded her approach to me. I looked into the water, restraining myself from jumping to my feet. She would know the exact moment of truth because I would tell her – I would tell her from my spirit to hers, “Come to me. Come to me.”

Even had I wanted to turn back, my feet would not allow it. They had charge over my entire body. My heart beat so loudly; it resonated through the ground. I was sure he could hear me coming. I was glad, but I was tentative. He was looking upon the water. Our spirits spoke to each other as I made my descent. His arm reached out slowly, his hand reaching for mine as if it was waiting for me. I heard a small still voice within me whisper, “Come to me. Come to me.” He stood and began to walk in my direction. I didn’t understand why, and I didn’t care. All I knew was that everything inside me wanted to run to him.

She was more resplendent than anything I had ever seen. She was ready. There was nothing more urgent for her than to be in my arms where she belonged. She wanted to run to me. I smiled at her, inviting her to take my hand. This was the moment I had waited for yet it was just the beginning.

He was magnificent. There was nothing left inside me to hold me back – I wanted nothing more than to let go – let go of anything and everything that had ever kept us apart. This was the moment I had waited for. My purpose, the reason for my creation, was unfolding.

She ran into my arms. I held her. I held her so tightly, tightly but gently – reassuringly. I wanted her to be confident in my love. I wanted her to know that, from this point on, I would never let her go. I loved her more than I loved my own life. I would lay it down for her and her alone and I needed for her to know that. I needed for her to understand that. Yet how could she? She was mine, finally. I’ll spend the rest of my days living to show her that I am completely hers.

I wanted him. I needed him. I knew as I began to run toward him that I had found the one I had been looking for. I had found what had been missing, what had kept me from being fully alive. I had no shame. I was spiritually naked before him, hiding nothing. I sensed that he knew more about me than I knew about myself. I felt loved, so loved by him. I knew he would have sacrificed everything, his very life, to express that love. I knew I’d never fully understand. I gave him my heart. I gave him my mind and my soul with every bit of strength I had. I knew, as I stood there, wrapped inside his arms sheltered beneath his wing, that I would spend the rest of my days living to show him that I am completely his.

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

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.

Send

ImageI’ve been in a dark place recently. In truth, it seems as though I have been doing a world tour of dark places and yet, even my closest friends were not privy. I’ve hidden the worse of it from those who love me the most because I have always been rather particular about just how vulnerable I’ll allow myself to be. I don’t mind if my best friend knows about a bad day or two at the office, or that I’m feeling a little blue from time to time. But I can’t tell her that I cry myself to sleep every night. What would she think!? I don’t mind telling my children that I still mourn the recent death of my dog, but I can’t tell them that his death ripped a gaping hole in my heart that seems as though it’s destined to keep growing. This list goes on, but I think you get the picture. My pride dictated that I “suck it up”. I thought I could handle things on my own but I let things get out of hand. The worse things got, the more I withdrew into darkness. As scary as it was, it seemed familiar and safe.

Maybe you’re familiar with the place – the abyss where solitude has a strangle hold on your life? Every breath you breathe you long to reach out, but with each passing breath it becomes more and more difficult. The paralysis of analysis has set in; hope is all but snuffed out. You cling to your faith with your very life. You feel as if your already half buried; part of you wants to stay there and rest a while but the other half is struggling to get out of the grave. You need to connect with someone but you’ve been fighting it for so long that everything has piled up. Fear and shame are standing guard to make sure you don’t slip up and use a life-line. The truth is – if you reach out now – you’ll fall to pieces and they’ll know that you’re not … perfect! They’ll think that you’re one of “those” people who have problems, issues, unfulfilled desires, fears – they may even catch you in flagrante delicto perched upon the proverbial pity pot.

I can’t call now. I won’t even be able to mutter the word, “Hello”. The courtesy of asking the person on the other end of the phone how they are will, in all certainty, show itself for the requisite attempt at cordiality that it is – truth be known – it has to be all about me now. I need to keep some form of control over my quickly fading dignity so I decide an email is best to cover up the tears and blubbering. At the end of the day, I can always edit and – I don’t really have to choose “send”. Maybe just writing the email will be the cathartic experience I need to kick me off the pot. My pain splatters upon the page with every key stroke. Nothing is held back. Truth is leaking out through my fingertips. I don’t care who knows now. Who am I fooling? I don’t have the energy to continue the masquerade.

The silence is broken. The truth has set me free. I didn’t want anyone to see me naked. I just wanted to break the bonds of guilt, self loathing and condemnation that my adversary had so wittingly cast upon me – something I permitted. Ah, he didn’t count on me setting my pride aside. He didn’t think that the removal of the fig leaf would bring strength and healing. He was counting on me to use it to cover my fear and shame. He didn’t know that love casts out all fear. He didn’t know that God was able to show me His love through the one I connected with. She was His light.

Silence perpetuates darkness. Don’t let your enemy convince you that anyone thinks you’re perfect – or that you have no problems, or pain and suffering. Don’t let him think you’re alone or that no one has time for you. Don’t let him convince you that you’re a burden; this is the trickery and deceit that he uses to keep you isolated – in darkness. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it,” John 1:5.

If you are in this place right now, please – hit the send key and let me know how the light defeated your darkness.