You are more inclined to change my heart
Than my circumstances.
You could move a mountain with ease,
Yet are content
To take on the tangles
Of my attitudes and
The dirty corners of my soul.
Of course you choose this way,
Assuring my dependence on you.
You keep the trials in place,
Removing all my illusions of control
Allowing me to know,
Fully and deeply,
That I do not operate well without
Currently returning from a trip to New York City visiting my friend Emily. The night before I left, I was tired and not terribly enthused about departing from home, but I had purchased bus tickets when my spirits and energy levels were high, so I was going regardless of my current feelings on the matter.
I stepped off the bus into a sea of humidity and grey rain clouds, and was greeted by Emily’s smiling face. My initial hesitations over the trip vanished as we embraced and began making plans for the rest of the day. We began by walking through the gardens of the High Line. The sun came out and a breeze whipped up, clearing out the humidity and the clouds. And then began the dominating activity of the next three days: exploring and imagining myself living an everyday life in each new spot.
I chose the bench on the High Line walk where I would take my journal to write in as I looked over the water. I made a list of the restaurants in Chelsea Market which I would systematically work through until I had tasted all the flavors it had to offer. I saw the bookstores I would frequent and the farmers market from which I would walk home with wildflowers and fresh vegetables. I picked the apartment rooftop where I would host lively dinner parties, and the fire escape where I would sit in the mornings with my coffee. I eyed Emily’s apartment and determined where I could make space for my KitchenAid mixer, and made plans for how I would store my Christmas decorations. My fantastical New York self would fit right in here; I was sure of it.
Best of all, this life had no complications. Faceless friends would populate it, but as I didn’t know who they were, there were no worries about finding them and no danger of their leaving afterward. I had all kinds of time in this picture– never a dull moment but never one too busy either. My bank account obviously would stretch to accommodate all the things I wanted to do and try. In this life I was always happy and carefree.
I’ve gone through this exercise often enough to see the escapist tendency that lies behind it. I know my ideal picture is truly a fantasy–expanded and overblown to the point where it is entirely unrealistic and unattainable.
Riding back to D.C. forces me to remember that my fantasy has no real bearing on the reality of my day-to-day. I’m attempting to avoid thinking about the slow drains in the bathroom, or the headlight out in my car, or the loneliness I felt last week. At least, I’m trying not to focus solely on them, these reminders of a less-than-perfect life. There are other glad things to return to as well: my own bed, my overflowing bookshelves, my deck with its herbs (hopefully) surviving the rain, my church with my Scottish pastor, and my very real friends who have faces and who love me in my weaknesses. The Good, Very Good, and the Less Than Ideal are all joined together into a real and concrete state of blessedness.
The things great and glorious are all a jumble
In the start-stop-go-stop-go-go-breathe
Of a busy week;
The both/and of a full life.
Yet waiting still stretches endlessly here.
I have only specks of patience to my name,
And sometimes my prayers
Are just desperate stares at the ceiling.
The good is folded in with the painful,
The beautiful with the ugly.
I’m held together with tape and glue
But at least I’m held together.
And I have eyes to see and ears to hear
The words and whispers of a Creator
Woven within a tangled and magnificent creation.
The grace of living, again.
When I was five, it was easy to give You the reigns.
I was small and weak,
And I held so little in my power,
It seemed such a simple request to satisfy.
I gained Eternity for a pittance.
But I began to grow up
And Responsibility and Privilege
Well, they grew with me.
I learned to love Independence
And Self-Sufficiency was my friend.
Suddenly control mattered more than faith
And my childhood offering became distasteful
In the face of grown-up fears and worries.
Giving You what You wanted
Now seems like too much.
This stumbling began at five years old:
I never had even the smallest thing to give,
You want Everything and yet Nothing.
You would have me let go of what was never mine,
That your Love might fill my empty hands.
“I have held many things in my hands, and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that I still possess.”
Dew-watered grass breathing into the air.
Exhaust fumes from a truck labeled Rocket Rooter.
Fruit Loops in a plastic bag,
Sneaky chocolate bar.
Wind filled with leaves and grass.
Sweat. So much sweat.
Soccer cleats in sports bags falling from lockers.
Felt-tip pen: lime green.
Crumpled homework pages.
Sigh of relief.
I drive over the same pothole in the road
Every time I come home.
Today I notice it
Like it’s something special,
Like that bump I feel
Is suddenly worth noticing.
I suppose it could be a metaphor
If that’s what I really wanted.
The way it appeared in the wake of a snowplow
Over a year ago
And is always patched yet always widening
And how I drive over it
Over, and over, and over.
I know my car can make it
But still I worry.
One day my tires will burst
Or something else will break.
So maybe my life is summed up
In driving over the same patched potholes
Over, and over, and over,
Praying I hold together
Just one more time.
And maybe you could draw
Significant Spiritual Conclusions from this
If you really wanted.
Something about Total Depravity
And/or Man’s Need For Grace.
Maybe you don’t even need to go that far
To realize that I’m human
And therefore a Natural Born Idiot
Who bets her car
On the potholes
Because she doesn’t want to change lanes
Right before turning onto her street.