Saturday, February 18, 2012

getting words on the white blank page

It's been a long time since I sat at the keyboard in front of a blank white page, hoping to fill it with words that mean something to me.  And maybe to you, too.

It's been a hard six months.  And that was following a hard two and a half years.  And it's not that I didn't have moments of crashing during this time.  I had plenty.  Sometimes I shared some of them here.  Sometimes I didn't.

In the last couple of weeks I think I faced some of the hardest moments yet in this season of hoping, dying to hoping, and hoping again.  And I ran out of words to say.  

Probably no coincidence that before I ran out of words, I ran out of time for quiet, prayer, contemplation and rest.  Some of that was my own fear of sitting with myself, alone.  A lot of it was not my fault at all, but a surrender to the demands of this abundant season of family need.  We have said yes to adventure and we have said yes to risk and we have said okay to vulnerability and unknown variables and exposed nerves.

Somehow, in a turn of events that I think has surprised each one of us in this family, I was given grace and stamina to rise to the almost-overwhelming need in our home and family with energy, faith, grace and an uncanny ability to put dinner on the table almost every night.  I was given that energy for the first six months of our time here.  And then, almost over night, the energy was gone.  On several different occasions the past few weeks I've felt the old near-crippling panic that has not visited me for probably more than a decade.  The temptation to run to the nearest exit to escape this old discomfort has taken up way more of my thinking than I want to admit to anyone.  And I know that it's true that resisting that temptation is a noble fight, but somehow the tangible benefits of groceries in the pantry and clean, folded underwear in the dresser drawer feels better, you know?

Mixed among these moments of almost-debilitating stress, I've experienced the grace and feasting of community, love and care from my husband, gentleness from my children and intercession of the saints.  We've entered more deeply into the story of our new community in Austin while remaining open to sharing the stories of our distant community in New York.  I've begun to offer my own shoulder to the weight of need surrounding us in the people we've come to love fiercely in almost no time here at Christ Church.  And I know again the astonishing paradox of Christ's strength in my weakness.  

Still I thrash against the reality of my weakness.  And it 'most nearly wears me out.

I have not been faithful to Jesus walking with Him through this season of Epiphany.  Not in the way I'd like to see myself, anyway.  One of the faithful standing beside him as he heals the leper, carrying the baskets of bread and fish to the hungry crowd,  skimming the surface of the water, flat-foot, eyes fixed on His face.  Instead I've been the leper, the famished and the drowning one.  Perhaps, this is epiphany still?  In the revelation of myself as the weak, I am forced to see Him as the strong or faint dead away.

In a last minute hail-mary pass to actually see Jesus again, I tried the innovative approach of opening my prayerbook this morning.  Started walking with Him in the Gospels again.  Today I witnessed the miraculous healing of the woman crawling on the ground in pain and shame from twelve years of bleeding.  I read the words of her suffering, especially the ones about the doctors who'd attempted to help her but had only made things worse, and the words about all her money spent. I recognized in her the desperation that took the form of fingers clutching on Jesus' hem, the shame that caused her to hide in the crowd rather than ask for help to his face.  This was epiphany, the revelation of desperation that leads us to Jesus in the weakest of all possible attempts for help.

I sit in that posture this Epiphany.  And I hear the words of Jesus to the bereaved Jairus: 
Don't be afraid. Just have faith.
I believe and am saved once again.

epilogue:  Would you believe me if I told you that this song came on my Pandora station within minutes of reading the passage of the healed woman in Mark 5:24-34?  It's true and I receive it as a gift of small wonders from my good Father this morning.

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