Monday, March 31, 2014

Ornaments of hope: Inside the sacred pause

photo credit

I brush my teeth Saturday night to the rhythmic lullaby of rain on the sidewalk outside our apartment. I almost miss it, drowned out and swept downstream in the background noise of the sink’s running water, bristles scrubbing teeth and the static of my ever-running thoughts. But somewhere in that heartbeat between noise and silence, it squeezes into my consciousness, and I breathe it in, nice and deep.

* * * *

In the mornings this season of Lent, I intention to rise with the birds and sing my way into the day, but after only a week, the song of bed calls just a little bit stronger. Stay here, don’t leave me, it sings. And I cave, Of course, dear bed, I croon, Why would I leave you now? And I rise groggy, straining heavy-lidded eyes over sacred words that blur, and the only songs I can manage are in the shower. “Bless the Lord, o my soul,” I sing, and I feel the words falling flat from my lips.

“The sun comes up, it’s a new day dawning,” so the line goes, but the sun still isn’t up and neither am I, and yet here I am singing again in the shower.

* * * *

I open the front door and step outside to pick up our newspaper. The dark coats the sky, a charcoal blanket draping the shoulders of trees and rooftops of houses, and I pause in midair as I dip down. I hear their voices, their songs in surround sound, more like a hundred simultaneous duets than a uniform choir. Their melodies fill my soul as breath in my lungs. I straighten and close my eyes, open my ears, for sometimes the light streams in this way and I need to shut my eyes in order to see it.

Light comes, not in words, but in pitch and tone, from other-wordly creatures that speak of life and home in language I know not, beyond my limited human experience. These birds are my wardrobe and they usher me into Narnia.

And so does the rain.

In that sacred pause.

That space between noise and silence.

That door opening in the dark that invites the songs in.

* * * *

We’re three weeks into Lent, but it’s not too late. It’s never too late to open the door and close our eyes to let the light in, to stand still in the off-beat, the space between, and listen to the rain make music.

Every day, a fresh song awaits, just outside the door, in the tree tops, in the shower, tapping the sidewalk and the windows, grace, grace, grace. It’s all grace.

* * * *

This is my unofficial blog series for Lent, "Ornaments of hope," where I want to learn to sing like the birds and hang these songs as 'ornaments' on the trees.  I don't know how often I will write, but I'm committed to writing out this forty day journey in some way.  And you? I know you're on your own journey, and I'd love to hear about that. But if you resonate with any of this, I hope to see you around here this Lenten season. Singing with the birds and hanging our ornaments of hope as we journey from darkness to light. Maybe we'll even form a choir.

Ornament 1
Ornament 2

Ornament 3
Ornament 4

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Ornaments of hope: Why Audrey Assad is one of my songbirds

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Audrey Assad.

I first heard her songs mere days before my wedding. That four-day stretch between rupturing my achilles tendon and hobbling down the aisle - yeah, then.

I remember waking up the morning of the wedding to excruciating pain.  To not enough meds to get me through the day, to cancelled honeymoon and surgery instead, to the memory of Papa. I laid in bed, thinking, Of all the times I imagined what my wedding day would be like, it did not start remotely like this. I hopped out of bed on one foot and made my way to the bathroom, where I soaked in the tub, shaved my legs and sobbed through one of Audrey’s songs on repeat.

. . . . . . . . . .

New Song
Far off hymns and funeral marches sound the same again
My ears are worn and weary strangers in a strange land
And I need a new song, I need a new song

All I am is breath and vapor and shadow
All I have is what I need and this I know
I need a new song, I need a new song

I’m waiting in the night for you, burning in the sky for you

There’s an aching in my body, within my lungs
This web of bone around my heart is coming undone
I need a new song, I need a new song

I’m waiting in the night for you, burning in the sky for you
I’m waiting in the night for you, burning in the sky for you

Words are failing, my melodies falter
My voice is breaking, my heart is burning
Because blessing and honor, glory and power, praise and worship
They belong to you

I need a new song, I need a new song, I need a new song

. . . . . . . . . .

And I felt this aching, this waiting, this burning, this gulping for words and coming up filled with sobs of blessing and honor, glory and power, praise and worship.

I may have felt I was riding out an endless wave of disappointment and pain and grief, but her words spoke so deep to this wave: I need a new song.

. . . . . . . . . .

I don’t think, if one were to categorize my blog, it would fall into “positive” and “uplifting,” at least in the way those words are used, say, on our local Christian radio station. I’m all for “real” and “hopeful”, but “positive” and “uplifting” generally trigger my inner gag reflex. They tend to weigh heavily on the upbeat side, the let’s-make-you-feel-better side, the wrap-things-in-a-pretty-bow side. And friends, that’s just not the way I believe in looking at life. I take the joy and the suffering together, for they are often dance partners, and depending on who is leading of the two at any given note in the song, there may be smiling or tears - or both. Lately I’ve realized, this may cost me as a writer. It may cost me in friendships. People don’t flock to this, unless they’re hungry for it.

And this is one of the reasons I love Audrey Assad and her songs the way I do. This, I see now, is why they move me deep, deep in my soul. Because she speaks my language. Because she’s not afraid to be real in a culture where the ‘successful’ are often anything but real.  [It also doesn’t hurt that she’s a beautiful example of the Catholic faith to me.  And she’s endearingly confessed, her initial response to hearing of her parents considering divorce, immediately followed by a church worship practice, was that she "wanted
to throw the microphone down and shout the f word" instead of being "perky", "bright eyed" and "happy."]

She’s an artist who wants to be the same in her songwriting and singing as she is in her living and breathing daily life, and she’s not willing to compromise who she is for popularity, fame, approval or success.

I wonder if success isn't seamlessness between art and living, between speaking and acting, between the outside and the inside of a person. She’s on her way there. I hope I am, too.

I desperately desire to be the same person in my writing as I am with my husband, my family, my friends, my coworkers, my customers, my church community, my neighbors. I confess, it’s infinitely harder to translate the kind of vulnerable writing I do with the varying levels of intimacy among all these face-to-face relationships or encounters - but I’m determined not to give up. I keep wrestling with the scripts I’m handed everyday in conversations with people, and some days I read from the script, often out of lack of knowing what else to do. And other glorious days or moments, I tear it up and write my own and risk falling flat on my face.

It’s worth it, whatever the cost may be.

. . . . . . . . . .

There have been enough nights these past two years, I haven’t been able to fall asleep. My heart has been disturbed. I have been anxious, afraid, lonely, hungry, hurting. And I’ve found her voice and let it play until my tears dry, breathing slows, and my heart is quieted. I’m so grateful for the voice of another singing over me songs of hope that have not minimized my pain, yet still help me see through it.

Audrey is a little songbird in my tree, hanging ornaments of hope. And maybe, just maybe, there is someone out there for whom my writing does the same.

I can only pray, friends. Because there is not much more I would love than to be a songbird in your tree, in someone else’s tree, reminding you of hope and life even as I can’t dispel the dark - I can’t.  And so we let it be what it is, together, until the light gradually overcomes, softening the edges of night sky.

I fell asleep to this song not too long ago, and it’s been a song replaying on my lips in the shower and on my walks and in the living room with my guitar, when I’m bowed low and when I’m standing tall, through tears of pain and tears of gratitude. Each time I sing it, the words wash over me and they leave behind the scent of truth.

. . . . . . . . . .
Good to me

I put all my hope on the truth of your promise
And I steady my heart on the ground of your goodness
When I’m bowed down with sorrow I will lift up your name
And the foxes in the vineyard will not steal my joy

Because you are good to me, good to me
You are good to me, good to me
You are good to me

I lift up my eyes to the hills where my help is found
Your voice fills the night, raise my head up and hear the sound
Though fires burn all around me, I will praise you, my God
And the foxes in the vineyard will not steal my joy

Your goodness and mercy will follow me, all my life
I will trust in your promise

. . . . . . . . .

This is my unofficial blog series for Lent, "Ornaments of hope," where I want to learn to sing like the birds and hang these songs as 'ornaments' on the trees.  I don't know how often I will write, but I'm committed to writing out this forty day journey in some way.  And you? I know you're on your own journey, and I'd love to hear about that. But if you resonate with any of this, I hope to see you around here this Lenten season. Singing with the birds and hanging our ornaments of hope as we journey from darkness to light. Maybe we'll even form a choir.

Ornament 1
Ornament 2

Ornament 3

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The woman in the crowd

photo credit

I find her as I usually do, the tv turned to the home shopping network, images of big sparkly rings on display. I clear a space in her only chair and scoot as close to her bed as I can. She flashes me her bottom row of front teeth, her only teeth at this time, and I know she still hasn't received her dentures. 

"How are you?" I ask, and she shrugs, turns her face back to the tv.  Into the silence, she hacks a gargled, raspy cough, her mouth opening like a baby bird.  "I've got a cough," she says, finally, and I can barely understand her without her teeth. 

She had this same cough two weeks ago, and I ask her if it's possibly turned into something worse? But no, she says she has emphysema, too. I didn't know.

She asks what I've been up to, and I struggle, as always, to know what to say. I'm horrible at small talk when it's about myself and I don't feel comfortable telling her what's going on in my life. I tell her about the trees turning toward spring, about the sunshine of the past several days, about beginning the season of Lent leading up to Easter.

"I can't hear you," she barks. I try to project my voice and feel more self-conscious doing so. 

I've been coming to visit her for a year and a half now, and it's as if I'm no more than three inches closer to knowing her than I was when I started. I can't seem to reach her, though there are moments when I see her smile and I know she's happy I came, even with the halted conversation. 

I'm not accustomed to connection being this difficult. I have sometimes prided myself on my ability to draw nearly anyone out, eventually, but this one feels like a failure. No matter how much interest I show in knowing about her life, how much encouragement I offer or questions I ask, she seems as reticent to talk about herself as I. Even I would be willing to talk more about my life if I sensed she wanted to hear it.

I try to find common ground as I maneuver generational and personal differences. I hide my inward cringing each time she refers to gay people as The Gays, with a wrinkled nose, or black people as Coloreds, as if she were speaking of another species. She's said no less than twenty times how much she hates long hair on women and I feel a twinge of anxiety when I visit her with my short hair growing longer.  She tells me the woman who lived next door to her here in the nursing home, the one she didn't like who would wander into her room and pick up her things, died recently. She sounds relieved, and I don't know what to say to her. I remember that woman with the long white hair, so sweet and confused, and how her daughter visited her and as I watched them shuffle along the hallways, I thought of my own mom - how that could be her years down the road - and it made me want to weep.

I'm trying not to watch the clock, but it's just above the tv, and sure enough the time is passing slowly. My heart is quickly sinking, the longer we sit in this heavy silence.

And finally, a piece of her reaches me through the noise of this crowd of negativity: "I just feel yucky."

I turn to her and lay my hand carefully on her soft, bruised arm. This woman, who has no one to visit her except a niece and myself; who lays in bed all day, every day, uncomfortable and in pain; who cannot see the light of day from where her bed lies in this gloomy hospital style room; the only real thing I know about her is that she is unhappy and alone. That the past, for her, is quite possibly no more than a painful reminder of what life is no longer, the future is hazy, and the present is not worth speaking of.

I'm here, my hand on her arm whispers through the crowd. I see you. You're not alone. 

Maybe this is all the conversation that is really needed, and I am learning to see through the crowd to the woman here, in the bed beside me.

. . . . . . . . . . 

Joining up with Lisa Jo for another Five-minute Friday post that is not five minutes, per usual. The prompt today is "Crowd."

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Ornaments of hope: The self-sacrificing love of Christ

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I've been undone inside this past day, since I read the news that thirty-three North Korean Christians have been ordered to be executed. It's possible they have already faced the firing squad, or perhaps they still sit in prison awaiting death. As I go about my daily life, all the little gifts and luxuries I take for granted - preparing meals at home, a cup of coffee, phone conversations with family, playing guitar, reading my bible, seeing the rain outside and the light of day - I am overwhelmed by the realization that others are facing death for their love of Christ.

It's lit a fire in my bones, a song burning in my soul.

And what has my love for Christ ever cost me? Readers on my blog? A friendship or acquaintance? An uncomfortable conversation, being misunderstood, disliked or dismissed?

It will cost them their lives.

I'm struck by the chasm between their faith and ours here in the U.S. Here we use our well-educated minds to slice and dice theology and faith, even Christ himself, into portions we deem palatable. We are often easily offended by the thought of a God who acts in ways we don't understand or agree with, that offend our human sensibilities, and so we accept and reject based on what we can make sense of. In doing so, we reduce Jesus to less, we take him down to our level and place him in the history books next to other Greats, like Ghandi and Buddha and Martin Luther King, Jr. He becomes no more than an incredible revolutionary, a rebel, a champion of the poor and oppressed, an inspiration for our 'spirituality.' Some accept the hope of his resurrection and reject his death on the cross as the means through which we can be saved. He is just one household name for a generic, universal god. And this is a choice I know we are all free to make and many do not make it lightly, but with conviction - and hear me, please - I respect that in you. 

But it is not what I choose.

And all the while, others sit in prison waiting to take a bullet for their love of him. He is more than a figure who shows them how to live a better life. He is their life. And in their case, he comes to show them, also, how to die.

What a disservice we do to Christ, to those who are losing everything - everything! - to gain him. I am grieved, friends, by my petty faith, my cheap self-comforts and lazy love. He is worth infinitely more than this, as my sisters and brothers around the world seem to know much more clearly than I. 

I have no desire to judge others, attack beliefs or speak ungraciously. Neither do I want to tire myself out with an endless effort not to offend anyone. We can agree to disagree. We can show each other respect, love and honor. But I cannot reduce Jesus to less.

I read today in my daily Lenten prayers something that continues to echo in the halls of my heart:

"Our desire is clear.
We want the 'self-sacrificing love of Christ' -

which brings us mercy and healing - to be 'reproduced in our lives.'

In our journey, we seek to savor the meaning of Jesus' self-less love,

that we might reflect that love to others.

At the end of our journey, we will renew our baptismal promises.

Dying with Jesus in baptism, we have a new life in him.

Today, we desire nothing less than God's re-creating us -

breathing new life into us.

Let this song saturate every aspect of my life.

. . . . . . . . . .

This is my unofficial blog series for Lent, "Ornaments of hope," where I want to learn to sing like the birds and hang these songs as 'ornaments' on the trees.  I don't know how often I will write, but I'm committed to writing out this forty day journey in some way.  And you? I know you're on your own journey, and I'd love to hear about that. But if you resonate with any of this, I hope to see you around here this Lenten season. Singing with the birds and hanging our ornaments of hope as we journey from darkness to light. Maybe we'll even form a choir.

Ornament 1
Ornament 2

Friday, March 7, 2014

Willing: Painting on each other's easels

It's an undercurrent we know well as writers, whether acknowledged openly or implied, addressed with honest confession, wrestled with, accepted or denied.  This world of stats, readers, following, popularity, platform. I can't say I know it well, as I have little more than a handful of official 'followers' of my blog, but I've dipped my cupped hands in the waters and drunk enough to wet my tongue. It's enticing, that's for sure, an easy cup to drink and drink until you don't notice how you crave it, until you require more and more for your thirst for affirmation to be quenched. 

And I won't lie, sometimes I get my worth crisscrossed with my writing and responses to it, or lack thereof. I don't look at stats very often, but I check often enough for comments, like I'm waiting for a check in the mail. Many days, the checks don't come, and I don't say that with self-pity. I need to be real, beginning with myself: I'm not much in the writing world. And I have to remind myself that's ok. It's where I'm at, and this lack of greatness is the breeding ground for character to grow. The place where weeds and intentions are worked out in my heart and I learn if I can be great enough to be small. 

I'm not there yet, but I long for this.

And you know what I've been realizing lately? I need to love well the ones I've got. The friends of all sorts who grace me with their presence and words in my blogging home. I want to be a better friend, encourager, cheerleader and hope-giver of others' dreams and journeys. I've got a lot to learn in this small place I've been entrusted with, and I want to confess to you, here and now, I've not loved as I would like. I've been more wrapped up in my own home than I've been invested in the homes of others, and I'm so sorry

The other day, I wrote a post that sparked inspiration in a dear friend of mine who faithfully comes to visit here and loves me with her presence and encouragement. She painted this gorgeous picture of a bird singing, a picture of hope, adding layers of color and beauty and life to the words I'd written. It nearly brought me to tears. In my heart, I felt myself fall to my knees and wonder at the glory of such a gift, that this call to write is so much bigger than me. The power of grace that spills over when our lives intersect and we allow each other in. Because we'd let each other in our homes already, shared our hearts deeply with each other, she felt free to walk in and set up an easel in my living room and and painted - oh, how she painted. 

Painting by Karmen Madan
This is the true payoff, if we can call it that, in writing. To see our easels splashed with paint from each others' brushes, our lives altered in some big or small or yet-to-be-seen way, simply by being seen and known and loved and believed in.  To have others come in and set up their own easels and paint their lives across the canvas.

It puts numbers in perspective. In a moment, the 'one' is infinitely dear, invaluable. For who can put a price or stat on one life that is willing to enter into yours and be touched, and you by theirs?

So I want to thank you for your graciousness to me, friends. I'm learning where true value lies, and I've a ways to go on this road, but I want you to know my door is open. I need your paint on my easel, and I thank you each time I am allowed to splash my colors on yours.

This is glory.

. . . . . . . . .

Joining Lisa Jo and the wonderful writers of Five-Minute Friday. Let me be clear, this was NOT a five-minute post, but I do love being part of this community, regardless.  :-)

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Ornaments of hope: Ash Wednesday

photo credit

Ash Wednesday morning.

And so Lent begins, though I still wait for the ashes to cross my forehead tonight. The day began in darkness, tired, with quiver of anticipation, and it will end, too, in darkness of ash.

We're embarking on a journey today, you and I, God.  Us and him. All who hunger for more.

Ever since I noticed those glorious, ordinary birds singing in the trees outside our bedroom window, my heart has held an ache within its walls. I haven't know what to give 'up' for Lent this year, but the birds awakened me to what I want to give.

Just fifteen minutes more in the early morning, fifteen less minutes of sleep, to pray through daily Lenten prayers, but more than this - to sing

Singing helps reset my vision, for truly the birds do not sing only when the sun is shining and the clouds do not pour rain. They sing from a place of seeing and knowing and being just who they were meant to be that has little, perhaps nothing, to do with what they see or how they feel.

Oh, that I would become more like these songbirds.

Let it begin here. Quiet, froggy, sleep-encrusted here.

This season, that moves through darkness to darkest night to light of hope, I don't know what it holds for me this year - for every year is like reading the same book through slightly different eyes - but whatever it will be, I need it.

I need to be renewed.
I need to de-clutter.
I need to see outside myself.
I need to become smaller.
I need to know Christ's wounds.
I need to love the wounded.
I need to taste the hope of resurrection.
I need to venture from darkness to light.
I need to sing.

I need God.
. . . . . . . . . . . 

Ash Wednesday evening.

I felt my dust disintegrating, those few hours between work and Mass. All the stress, the things gone awry, the rain pelting cars in the stampede of traffic inching along, the quiet tension in the car screaming at me: "All is not right!"

Yes, remember that we are dust and unto dust we shall return.  How life brings me to the brink of disintegration, to the end of myself, and after my (often inner) kicking and screaming, I see clear through the haze of it all - how weak I am and frail. A child worn out.

How utterly dependent on God and yet, so often fighting this. A child worn out from crying and fighting, gathered in her Papa's arms.

I wanted us to arrive at this Mass peaceful, prepared, focused.

I wanted a meaningful conversation ahead of time about our intentions for this season.

I wanted to put aside all the stress and noise of our lives - our life that so often feels on the verge of unraveling at the seams - and enter in with ready hearts.

Instead, we arrived having barely spoken a word to each other in the forty-five minute (maybe four mile) trek in the car. We arrived hungry, not from fasting but from not having time or money to stop for dinner. We arrived with faces somber, not from the weight of what we were entering in, but from the weight of life. All the noise and stress followed us inside, right at our heels, and settled annoyingly beside us in the pew.

I could barely focus on what was being read or sung, my mind caught in a ping pong match.

But - and I thank God for a "But"-  I sat there in this grace to be human, of acknowledging this is, in fact, how I always come to God. Helpless. How fitting, too, for this day of ashes. That I enter this season of fasting, prayer and charity just as I am: worn out, burdened, needy, dependent, hungry. That I enter aware of this, drawing near to Christ.

That I enter in expectant of change, renewal, deep deep down in my soul.

The choir closed us in a song of ashes and dust, how we begin here and to here we will return. The last line of the song carried me back outside into the rain, beside my still-quiet husband:

"And the Lord will bear his children home..."


This is the first ornament of hope hung on my tree. 

photo credit
. . . . . . . . . .

This is my unofficial blog series for Lent, "Ornaments of hope," where I want to learn to sing like the birds and hang these songs as 'ornaments' on the trees.  I don't know how often I will write, but I'm committed to writing out this forty day journey in some way.  And you? I know you're on your own journey, and I'd love to hear about that. But if you resonate with any of this, I hope to see you around here this Lenten season. Singing with the birds and hanging our ornaments of hope as we journey from darkness to light. Maybe we'll even form a choir.

Linking up with Jennifer for Tell His Story.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

On the sanctuary of coffee shops

 "The miracle is that we are here, 
that no matter how undone we've been the night before, 
we wake up every morning and are still here. 
It is phenomenal just to be." 
~ Anne Lamott

Yesterday I spent in solitude, from early morning until early morning the next day.  It wasn't what I wanted, but I've been sick and my husband needed to work much later than we had planned, and so the day slipped away and I waited out the hours until he came home. 

I nearly came undone in the waiting.  Then morning eventually came, as it always has, and I said goodbye to him again.

He was off again, and I dreaded another stretch of hours alone. This, from an introvert who generally has no qualms about alone time. But there are different types of alone time, ones that add to the fullness of an already full life, and ones that stretch long and slow before, accentuating the emptiness of the hours. So, after spending some time sitting on the couch with my breakfast and bible this morning, talking with God, I decided to take church to the cafe in our neighborhood.

I found my spot in a nook beside the espresso machine, the large windows before me like eyes wide open, taking in the rain dripping from green striped awning and canopy of tangled tree branches.  Cars driving to and fro with windshield wipers swishing away rivulets of water, neighbors in rain slickers walking dogs, the dance of fireplace flames reflected in the glass. I sat and listened to the grind and hum of the espresso machine, the music of ceramic and silverware clanking, the din of voices, the rhythmic spray of water on dishes, a broken "Hallelujah" crooning from speakers in the corners above. 

And I soaked in the comfort of it, a little sponge dipping in a basin of water and filling.

Coffee shops are every bit as much sanctuaries for me as church buildings, though each offers a different kind of sanctuary. What I needed today is not to feel alone.  I didn't come to have conversation that would help me feel less emotionally alone, but I came here to be in a room with other living bodies. To physically feel less alone. To surround myself with voices other than the one inside my head, with the reminders of lives going on around me other than my own. The ritual of people coming to the same place for their morning cup of coffee or their Sunday brunch, reading the newspaper, sharing their lives.  

God met me here, too, as he did on the couch this morning in the empty apartment, and I walked back home full in my heart, the scent of espresso on my skin.


Saturday, March 1, 2014

Choose: On bird songs, beginning Lent and waiting to see

Bustling around in our bedroom just after five am, I gather my gym bag and things for work, and I hear them for the first time this winter. Birds in the trees, singing. Their songs hover in the darkness outside the window, each one an ornament of hope hung upon bare tree branches, waiting to catch the glint of the sun.  

They sing into the dark and their voices are not overcome.

They sing in the womb of the morning, awaiting the birth of a new day.  

They sing, because that is what they were made to do.

I pause in my scurrying around in the dark and my mouth curves upward, a small offering of thanks for this gift.  Perhaps, they've been singing all winter, and I simply haven't been paying attention.

. . . . . . . . . 

Time barrels along, and having just brought us through the season of Advent, I stand looking only days ahead into the season of Lent. I think back to last Lenten season, and I honestly can't remember much. It was dark and I was broken, that is what I remember. It was similar to what Anne Lamott describes in her latest book on meaning and hope in suffering: "My understanding of incarnation is that we are not served by getting away from the grubbiness of suffering. Sometimes we feel that we are barely pulling ourselves forward through a tight tunnel on badly scraped-up elbows. But we do come out the other side, exhausted and changed." 

I remember the co-mingling of ache and relief, death and life, that resurrection morning of Easter. I'd come out the other side, exhausted, and not yet sure that I'd been changed.

On the cusp of this Lenten season, it's not so dark, though there are still the days of pulling forward through a tight tunnel on those raw elbows. I've been pondering, what can I give this next forty days? I still don't know.

But I know I am drawn toward those birds, that something in me knows I, too, was made to sing into the darkness, inside the womb, bathing the world around me in hope and beauty.

And I know this, too, preparing to enter this beautiful, somber season: Lent is about seeing myself smaller and seeing Jesus more clearly. I know I don't often pay enough attention, in my scurrying about in the darkness, and I miss the songs.  I miss seeing Jesus.

. . . . . . . . . 

On select days when my sight is crisp and clear, I catch sight of God in the customer that appears to be stiff or demanding or a grouch, but with a little attention and gentle prompting, lets slip a moment of human vulnerability. I catch sight of God in the imperfections of my spouse, with flecks of future glory seeping through cracks. In the eleven-day boy cradled in the crook of his daddy's arm, wrinkled and sleeping and beautiful. In the cushion of cotton candy pink and orange between mountain crags and charcoal clouds in the early winter morning.

But most of the time, the sightings of God are like glimpses in a broken mirror, shards of real in a distorted vision field. I see Jesus cloaked in people and experiences of the past, in my unconscious projections of these upon him. I long to strip those away, until I only see him, as he is.

And maybe that is the hope I bring into this Lenten season. There will be no full seeing on this side of eternity, but less dimly? Less distorted? Like the birds in the trees awaiting the morning light, one can only hope and sing for this.

Yes, maybe this Lenten season I will choose to join the birds and daily waken the dawn and my eyes with songs of prayer, and wait to see Jesus.

Joining Lisa Jo to the prompt of "Choose." In case you're tempted to be in awe of the amount of words I churned out in this FMF post, this was NOT written in five minutes.

Joining Holley, too, for the first time, for Coffee for Your Heart.  The prompt is "Who inspires you," and my answer, today, is more a "what" - bird songs and sightings of Jesus.