I haven’t written a blog entry in a long time. It’s not that my fingers have been still or away from the keyboard. No. It’s more that the dance of life and work tires them and though I compose many beginnings, middles, and even endings, in my head I often cannot face the thought of sitting at the computer one more moment to get them out.
Last night I read the thoughts of someone who encouraged me to keep trying and today I have the space to try anyway to give shape to my bubbling thoughts.
Thoughts from Brian McLaren’s book, We Make the Road by Walking have stayed with me this week, as he asks in chapter 3 about the patterns we see in life and how we might make sense of them. Or where we might find God in them. When we see suffering and natural disaster and war and hunger and we try to make sense of a God who somehow is involved with a world where that kind of thing happens, McLaren puts words to questions people have asked me and I have wondered about myself: “Do violence and chaos rule? Is the Creator capricious, heartless, and evil? If we had only our worst experiences in life to guide us, that might be our conclusion” (12).
So my own spiritual practice of “seeing Jesus at work” in everyday things ends up being a search for the patterns of God’s goodness. I want to inform my heart and my mind of the Truth about God.
Last Friday I had about an hour to wait between medical appointments. I heard an invitation from God to visit the local Goodwill store. While I like bargains, I don’t have much patience for looking through the volume of things I don’t want, to find the one thing I do. This definitely was the voice of God, not my own desire.
I headed there and got distracted in the book aisles. I thought I was going for clothing—a new skirt for work perhaps. Several books caught me and I walked away with four of them. After 25 minutes, I forced myself to look at the clothes—the real reason I entered the store in the first place, I thought. I found three things that I loved. Then suddenly or finally overwhelmed by the garish, ghoulish plastic skulls and the loud, bad music, I was forced to leave. Quickly. With my treasures.
I’ve worn two of the three items and gotten compliments. Last night I opened one of the books and found the sentence that sent me, with willing, longing fingers, to my computer to begin again to write.
“Long distance runners prepare for marathons with a lot of shorter runs, increasing their length and speed as they become stronger. In order to hear your calling and answer it, you must generously give yourself the gift of time. Certainly, no one else in the world will do it….The bottom line is not how fast you make your dream come true, but how steadily you pursue it.”
Sarah Ban Breathnach, Simple Abundance (New York: Time Warner Books, 1995) September 10 entry.
Yesterday I visited with a woman I know who was just diagnosed with pancreatic and colon cancers and has elected to do some chemo to hopefully slow the growth of the cancers. She has to take public transport to the doctor at times and this past week she was riding home the bus home. The driver took a back roads route and the woman was confused about where she was. She asked the driver what road they were on.
The driver named the road. The woman exclaimed, “For years, I’ve asked my husband to drive on that road because I just wanted to see it. He always refused because it was too windy and he didn’t feel comfortable driving it.” This past week, after many years, this woman got to see this particular road. Without even asking.
Also yesterday, I was in the home of a dear friend who is also been walking a cancer journey. The past three months have been riddled with questions and aching and waiting and surgery and healing and praying. Everything has seemed different and she and those around her have longed for at least bits of normalcy. They have been few and far between.
But yesterday as I looked in the refrigerator for something else, I saw a cantaloupe waiting, still in its plastic grocery bag. Waiting to be cut and put in the glass bowl where the cantaloupe usually goes. I started to cry. It was a moment of normal—in the middle of the journey of Unsettledness and Uncertainty. Usually the table is never without cantaloupe in the summer and this is only the first or second one this summer.
These little things work deep into my life to inform the questions Brian McLaren voices, that others have asked, that I have wondered and spoken. Does God really know what’s going on when I hurt? When hard or bad or scary things seem to be happening and He doesn’t appear to be doing anything to help?
But then these beautiful, simple love post-its find me at every turn and my understanding of God grows and, yes, the mystery deepens.
A invitation to Goodwill, where I don’t usually shop, to find two books that brought encouragement for my calling as a writer (and three new pieces of clothing as a bonus—I love that about God).
A celebration of a simple desire to travel a new road—orchestrated by God for someone He loves very much.
A small round cantaloupe, still in the rustling grocery sack, sitting expectantly in the fridge—a moment of normal that brought deep hope for the coming tomorrows.
Those are only three of the too-many-to-count ways I’ve seen God love. We can’t comprehend all of what goes on in the world, but we certainly have evidence of love in the midst of it all.
The Lord is kind and merciful…full of unfailing love…the Lord is close to all who call upon Him…He hears the cries of those calling for help and He rescues them. Psalm 145