Monday, March 10, 2014

Dredging The Bottom

So I've been thinking (queue the Jaws song) because I had to process some emotions...and what a better way to process heart-emotions than with your head. So I pulled my heart up by the boot straps and forced my mind to sift through the conflict that had taken residence there. 

After a particularly moving church experience yesterday, I learned this: prayer at the altar stirs up your heart...and sometimes it takes a while to settle back down. I think of it like a small tide pool on a sandy beach. You can walk by, look, and even place a hand in the water and it will ripple, but still remain clear. Once you dredge the sand up from the bottom, the water becomes clouded over and the disruption causes settled things to be unsettled with things swirling about in no particular design other than chaos. Prayer at the altar is like that. Just like in that tide pool, things need time to settle back down again. As long as nothing else disturbs the mix, a little time and patience will get things back to normal. 

I've given myself permission to feel conflicting emotions since I've gone ahead and dredged up muck that was stagnant and stuck to the bottom of my heart. I have allowed myself to feel flooded with peace one minute, and then shrouded with angst in the next. My hope is that this time, I will be able to keep the negative on the top SO THAT my Jesus can come and skim them away. What I want to settle into the depth of my heart are all the things that make me more like Him...all the things that help me shine His light. 

While there is much more work to be done, I feel that this shake up has happened now for a particular reason. I will not allow myself to get caught up in WHY, but I will allow myself to get caught up in HOW I can have patience in the waiting for the revelation that is sure to soon come. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

In The Garden

Sometimes… well for me, many times.. a lyric will grip my heart for days and days. Sometimes I know why immediately, other times it takes a while for me to figure out why, other times the reason doesn’t matter as the comfort it brings is enough. It depends on my state of heart. In any event, I’ve been slain by a lyric that digs deeply into the season I am in right now. This morning, with the help of a Facebook prayer post and a YouTube video, I think I'm finally able to put things together.

Misty Edwards in all her melodious grace sings to me the current song of my heart:

I want to be Your companion,
Just like in the Garden
If You’re searching for Eden,
Find it in me, God,… find it in me.

And I swear she’s in my heart. Being human, I sometimes feel really close to God… other times, I feel as if there is a distance between us. This is a completely normal thing – I know I’m not the only one who experiences this and I’ve learned to accept it. My God is bigger than the gap that exists between my perception of God’s closeness and how close He really is. I stand firm in this and know that my reunion with the closeness of God that I desire is just ahead. I really just want to be His companion – the kind where conversation is happening despite the audible silence. “I want to be Your companion.”

I have two distinct images in my mind’s eye about a garden. The first  garden I conjure up that is synonymous with ALL gardens is my grandmother’s garden. As a kid, it was a maze of beans and corn as tall as the sky according to my little girl eyes. The sound of the breeze would catch them, and when that happened my grandmother would be hidden from sight and sound.  This garden was dusty in drought and muddy in rain. The fig tree stood alone as a solid symbol of strength and vitality. It was a beautiful garden, indeed. “Just like in the garden.”

The second is how I envision the Garden of Eden – which I’m sure pales in comparison to what it really looks like. I picture exotic flowers, a beautiful tree of life with deep roots and expansive branches covered in glorious leaves of shades of green. I picture a worn path walked by God Himself and left for everyone who would come. I picture darting bunnies and the resounding chatter of hidden animals. This Eden was a place of peace and luxurious rest; a place of satisfaction and joy.  To be defined and have a steadfast soul in those words would be mind bending. “If You’re searching for Eden, find it in me…find it in me…”

This morning I read a prayer about being ‘dusty.’ My mind dreamt up a picture of a woman working in a garden, her feet and hands covered in dust. Her face covered too, but also marked with lines caused by sweat or perhaps a tear or two. I imagined that the covered parts of her body – her arms and legs were also ‘dusty’ just not as obvious as the exposed parts were. I pictured this woman walking into church today – Ash Wednesday – to receive her ashes and having the priest use the holy water to carve out a cross on her forehead as that would have been more noticeable than using the anointed ash from last year’s palms.

………..Maybe I was that woman working in the  garden. Working hard, laborious days… toiling away at tasks that seem mundane yet are necessary. Perhaps I’ve let the covered parts of me get dusty and I’ve decided not to care all that much since no one else could see……

My catechism has taught me that the Lenten season prepares us for Easter by way of prayer, repentance, penance and fasting. These sacrificial acts are necessary for preparing the heart for the Easter season. After all, it is the season that means that spring will emancipate us from a cold, long winter just as my Savior redeemed me from the same.

If I am the woman in the garden, this season has the possibility to redeem me from a self that is dusty and worn. If I am the woman in the garden, this season requires me to tend to my garden and view the mundane as striking and the necessary as an occasion of joy. If I am the woman in the garden, this season requires me to tend to planted seed and use as much care in the first seed as in the last for they ALL could bear fruit in season. If I am the woman in the garden, this season requires me to know that I cannot do any of this on my own nor am I doing any of it on my own as there is someone greater than I causing rain and drought and sunshine and cloud cover.

As the cry of my heart is to cultivate a heart of Eden, I also know that without God and without this Easter season, I cannot do that.  The answer to the above lyrical prayer is sung in the next stanza where God says “I’m right here, I’m right where you left me all this time.”  You see, He is ALWAYS here, always by my side and yours. Sometimes He is loud, other times He is silent. Sometimes you know which way to go, other times you don’t. But our God will  NEVER leave nor forsake us and He is always on our side. We think we’ve been abandoned. We think God is too busy and He doesn’t have time for us.. but the beauty of our God is that He is as near to me as He is to you – a whisper of His name can change everything, just as a wet wash cloth can wipe away hidden dust.

During this Lenten season, I encourage you to find those dusty places. Don’t look away from them and think that since company isn’t coming over, you can skip it this week. Go out to your garden and tend to the seeds planted – and if you haven’t planted in a while consider turning over the soil. Connect with the God of all nations who loves you more than we have the human capacity to love back…and most of all turn your hearts to Him who is worthy so that the harvest that is soon to come will produce a bounty.