Obedience As A Clay Pot Makes You A Braveheart

To write is to be vulnerable and I am not liking it. The vulnerability part, that is.

My roots go deep into a land of stone walls and misty mountains; rugged and unyielding enclosures of self preservation.IMG_0201IMG_0601IMG_0235

This space here, this somewhere in the middle, has been an act of obedience to a still, small voice and it has been a slow, persistent chisel against my protective armor.  Armor that I  let down with a few, but recently have been asked to lay  down more often.  I have been asked if I’d be willing  to wear my heart on the page, my heart that’s been taken from the sleeves of my journals because what is written there may bless. IMG_0638

I am compelled to write, but I am not compelled to vulnerability.IMG_6037

Vulnerability invites risk.

Yet, what if in giving away words, words that may bring healing or comfort or hope or courage my vulnerability, my weakness actually brings life?

…these things we write, so that our joy may be made complete, wrote a man named John …a man who saw, who heard, whose very hands handled the Word of Life….Jesus. 

Imagine the handling of such a thing.

John was compelled to write, to bare it all, so we could have fellowship with him and in so doing we would get to have fellowship with Jesus because this is the only thing John is writing about. Jesus Jesus Jesus.IMG_0231

The vulnerability and the real-ness of the gospels is what makes them so compelling, so attractive and yet…

so terrifying.

There are others who were compelled to spill words all over everything.

David, poeting and lamenting all of his deficiencies, his shortcomings, his sinnings, all through the psalms.

Paul, the chief proclaimer, the chief sinner, chief letter writer.

For what?IMG_0304

Glory. Jesus’ glory.

I am a clay pot, used up for regular things, easily broken, vulnerable to the elements, vulnerable to the carelessness around me. It is in my nature to stiffen and hold fast to keep from shattering.IMG_7101

I have the blood of bootstrap pullers and uphill scrappers fighting their way to justice with their fists running through my veins.

These skeletons make for good stories, but I am learning there isn’t much life in invulnerability. It is a brittle existence.IMG_0648

In Jesus there is life that comes out of the walls.

For God who said, let light shine out of darkness, made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of knowlege of the glory of God in the face of Christ.IMG_7104IMG_7103

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all surpassing power is from God and not from us.

There is a scene in the movie Braveheart where the character, William Wallace, on his way to engage the English, tells his friends to “Be yourselves.”

This scene makes me cry.

In the midst of impending war and the very real threat of death, Wallace is essentially telling his friends, Don’t fake it. Just be who you are, who you were created to be and while you’re at….do the right thing.

End tyranny. Seek justice. Love mercy. Cry freedom.

To write is who I am because in the writing are all the tears, all the laughters, all the missteps, all the failures, all the learnings, all the disoverings and all of them together is grace spilling spilling spilling on the pages.

The obedience is in sharing the vulnerability.IMG_0061

Perhaps the light of God’s glory will come through the clay.

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The Bent of Marriage

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Sometimes it’s better to start over.
Scrap what you began and begin again.
Sometimes things are so heavy, so brittle, the weight of it all causes things to come crashing down.
There are too many pieces to put things back together properly.
It is a patched up denial with glue cracks showing.
Like the leg lamp in A Christmas Story, it is irreparable.

The arbor, a slight pretty little thing couldn’t bear the weight of the recent snow.IMG_7075IMG_7074
It handled the buffeting of the wind, but the weight, the pressing down of snow and ice caused it to give way at its weakest point.IMG_7077

When the words come fast and furious we give way, too, at our weakest point.
We muddle and grope, trying to understand and defend and inflict all at the same time. The weight of it all is just too much.

We need a do-over.

The arbor, sad and broken, stands with a hole open to the backyard sky and there is no remedy until spring.
I could pick up the broken pieces and try to weave them through to last a few months, but I know it will only take a breath of wind to bring them all down again.

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We end things unfinished there in the dining room,  hurting words suspend frozen in twilight.

 

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I decide to fold laundry.
The laundry room: it is my cocoon of denial and patches.

In the spring I will go into the woods to select fresh saplings to make a new arbor.
Soft, supple saplings that bend and do not break. Able to bend freely because of the life that runs through them.

He bends first. He almost always does.

I turn from the dryer and he is there.

The atmosphere changes and it all unfreezes because of the bending and the being there.
The weight of his merciful bend causes me to let go and I bend now into his arms and our words turn to prayers.

We have been done over.

In My Quiver There Is No Room For Lockdowns and Lullabyes

Rockabye baby on the tree tops
When the wind blows the cradle will rock
When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall
And down will come baby, cradle and all.

A lullalbye that tells no lies.

Of course a bough’s break leaves little in its wake.

But what is a cradle doing in a treetop anyway?

Today I practice lockdown with ten and eleven year olds.

When the words: Lock! Down! pierces sharp over the intercom we are supposed to hide.

We must become invisible.

We are hiding from the T-Rex in Jurassic Park. If we don’t move, he can’t eat us.

We explain that we will do everything we can to keep everyone safe, but eleven year olds try to poke holes in that promise and question us with every possible scenario that could happen. Many of these children have eyes already glazed over from violence attached to a remote.

The intercom words come and children jump from their chairs and make a line.
It is an organized hurry that ends in hush, an exhale of pretend panic. The unspoken, this is just a drill eases our hearts only a little.
It takes all of four seconds. We lock the doors and wait.

Stillness settles heavy and children, small to begin with, settle smaller.
They get low.

The adults stand pacing, index fingers against smile pasted lips.

We wait for the knock on the door and the A -okay.

Except I am not a-okay. Cradles do not belong in trees and, unless they are embarking on a journey to Narnia, children do not belong in closets. I am so not a-okay with lullabyes that scare children asleep and lockdowns that scare them awake.

Children are a gift from God and blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.

A quiver full of children? So they are arrows, are they?

Arrows piercing mercy. Arrow shooting hope. Arrows plunging love.
Things children do so well.

No wonder the enemy prowls.
No wonder the enemy loves lockdowns. Lock up those arrows and bind them with fear. Paralyze them with mis-use so they cannot be used for glorious things.

Children belong in quivers, not closets. They belong wrapped in quivers that are strapped safely to the backs of those who recognize they’re destined to be launched to do great things.

We, who hold quivers, whether in the home or the classroom or the daycare or the city park or the neighborhood, it is time to gather the arrows, the gifts from the Ancient of Days Himself.

Leaning Into 2013

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January 1st is Calendar Day.

I take the old calendar, stuffed with papers and correspondence and notes and receipts and scribbles and underlinings and I read it all back again. IMG_7063

Every page.

I remember all the celebrations and the Big Wedding Day and the arrival of the Sweet Grandbaby Girl.

These are carved into me and I will not forget, cannot forget such blessings.

I turn every page to go back to the things I have forgotten.

Each page a key to the regular thingsIMG_7050

I see the grocery lists and I remember I ate every single day last year.

I see the names of all the teachers I had the privilege of subbing for and I remember I have met the sweetest, funniest, bravest little people in the world. God really meant it when He said children are His gift.

I see the doctor’s appointments and I remember I live right down the street from my doctor’s office. And there is medicine in little bottles in a box store fifteen minutes from my house.

I see lunch dates and early morning breakfast dates and I remember I have friends who are willing to let the coffee go cold listening to my stories again and again.

I see the reminders to finish up the chores inside and out and I remember I am able to run up and down stairs, lift a heavy load and watch seedlings grow into something beautiful.

I love the filled pages of the old calendar because it reminds me that I really lived my life.

I love the blank pages of the new calendar because it reminds me that, Lord willing, there is more of this life to live. IMG_7052

I get to live the regular stuff, which, along with the celebrations, is the sacred stuff, too.

I never make resolutions. I am just not resolute enough to keep them.

Instead I bend. I lean into things that I sense the Lord wants me to lean into.

Some of the things I am leaning toward:

1.Eating more. IMG_7046

I know, most people want to eat less.

Not me. I want to eat more with others. Sharing food and life around the table needs to happen more this year.

2.Reading hard books.IMG_7060

I leaned into Dickens this past year and forced myself to pay attention to the language and when I did I found  mercy and hope for the human heart weaved throughout his dark tales.

This year I will attempt Victor Hugo’s  Les Miserables. The films have inspired me to go back to the original words.

3.Walking.IMG_7062

I let a fall on the ice last winter determine the course of the last twelve months and I have forgotten how I need to walk and pray at the same time.

There are only three leanings, three places I am bending toward at the moment.

I am sure there will be more as the days come into being.

I am sure I will be writing them all down soon enough.

What are you leaning toward this year?

Where is Jesus bending you?