Saturday, May 8, 2010

The breath of Grace

Sometimes, it's easier not to want, not to feel, not to dream. To stay insulated, numb to desire, this can be a temptation for those who have felt a deep hunger that has yet to be satisfied. Tempting, perhaps, and safe in some regards, but not fulfilling. Sometimes, the most courageous thing we can do is to allow ourselves to feel the intensity of desire, with no visible signs of fulfillment ahead, and not retreat. Perhaps this is another facet of faith, or even the very essence of faith.

For years I have lived with this underlying tension, caught between a restless desire to be part of more in life and contentment with the here and now. I remember the feelings of restlessness as a teenager, growing slowly and steadily through the years, erupting post-college. I wanted to be part of something big, something much bigger than myself. I knew I was different, not in some superior way, but just in the way I so often felt like I couldn't find where I fit. I was an oddly shaped person, it seemed, and not many places came in my particular size and shape. One might easily have tagged me as an idealist and left it at that, but I felt it was more than that. I had a vision for the way life should be, the way I hoped it could be, but couldn't figure out how to flesh it out. I tried, oh, how hard I tried. And I learned, after my Papa's death, what can happen to the best laid plans when it's not God drafting the blueprints. So I let go of my plans, and with them, desire. I didn't have a choice about the grief I was feeling with the loss of my Papa, but I did have a choice not to feel the pain of unfulfilled passions. I went numb.

In the season of numbness, I was met on the road by this beautiful, fresh wind blowing in from some distant place I'd visited before, but never lived. It washed over me like a cool summer breeze along the coast, sending a chill up my spine, invigorating my senses with light and warmth. I didn't know it then, but this breeze had a name, and it's name was Grace. Grace came as a gust exhaled from the lungs of God to my own, again and again, until it became more natural for my lungs to breath these breaths of grace. Until I realized I was utterly dependent on Grace to live, to breath, to move, to be. I didn't realize it, but Grace came and gently unlocked the door of my heart, beckoning me into a richer life of desire with the Lover of my soul. And Grace introduced me to the land of Contentment. I used to vacation there, but I didn't stay very long. Over the past few months, I've established a more permanent residence here. There is much peace and joy in this place, even while life may be teetering to and fro. Here in the land of Contentment, I find I need nothing but a steady access to the reservoir of God's presence. Yet even here, while I am content with the love of God, I find that other desires are still growing, pushing against the boxes I'd stuffed them in, asking to be felt, to be released. Asking if I trust God to fulfill them in his way, in his time.

Is it possible to have both contentment and restless desire? I may finally be moving a step forward on that tightrope, but the line is taut and I've never had the balance of a gymnast. At least I know that Grace is there, and Grace comes from the God who dances across the chasms of the impossible, and somehow, that makes me believe I can do just about anything.

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