Saturday, February 20, 2016

Have a little faith....

"Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark." —Rabindranath Tagore

These days, I find myself growing tired (even more quickly than usual) of things that don't feel significant enough to warrant my emotional energy or time. People are getting up in arms about their kid not cleaning his or her room or running 10 minutes late for a meeting or temporarily misplacing their phone. And all I'm thinking is that a little girl has died and two parents are shell-shocked and grief-stricken and what else even matters now? 

I don't really have an answer for that question, because, to them, nothing else really does. Their lives have been irrevocably changed and there is nothing I—or anyone else—can do to change reality. It is beyond heartbreaking, beyond unimaginable, beyond any words that do any shred of justice to the magnitude of this situation. And I know it happens every day to countless people, but these are people I care about, so yeah, it's hitting home to me in a way that it hasn't before. Tragedy is all around, but right now, it's sitting with me in my bed and at my dining room table, and it's on my friends' front doorstep, behind every cabinet door, around every corner inside every room. It has flooded their lives and there is no Red Cross effort that can sweep in and save them from this pain. 

In moments like these, many turn to God, either to seek comfort or to vent their anger—or both. For me, it isn't so much a turning toward as a redirection of prayer and conversation. He is ever present and very much close to me in times of brokenness (and joy), but not everyone feels this way. 

If I'm being honest, I have known despair the likes of which I cannot describe. I have walked through that shadowy valley and was convinced for many years that I would never emerge. I'm not trying to be dramatic. This shit is real. Depression and the crushing pain of grief and trauma can surround your every movement and suck the life and very breath out of you (even in a metaphorical sense). And even in my darkest hour, even when I felt I had no hope and no reason for existing, I still felt a nudge, a gentle urge to try one more day, one more minute. In the face of hopelessness, with little to no evidence that things would ever get better, some part of my soul knew that the sun would, indeed, rise again. 

God is a million things, all at once, every day. He is the reminder that we are never truly alone, the quiet voice in your head telling you to trust your gut, the provider of peace when all around is strife, the warmth and squeeze in a friend's hug, the faithfulness and kindness of strangers, the beauty of trees in a forest, the majesty of the ocean, the joy in a baby's laugh. I have him to thank for everything I am and all that I've been able to do. Yes, I put in the work, but he gave me the assurance that, even when I couldn't see a way forward, I would be protected and provided for along my journey. 

In this time of darkness and deep sadness, I pray that my friends would find His light inside themselves...that they would know the peace that transcends every earthly hurt and find some relief for their suffering. I pray that the wave of holy, divine love that is rushing to meet them at every turn (through the kindness of so many friends, known and unknown) would overwhelm their pain and bring sweetness and comfort to allow them to rest and gain strength for the long road ahead. 

And in my own grief, I, too, am like that bird singing in anticipation of the light. I don't know how it will come—or when—but my heart believes that the dawn will indeed break again. Even a tiny bit of faith right now is enough.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Love is.

To quote John Mayer, "Love ain't a thing. Love is a verb." I think about that often, especially on Valentine's Day when sentimentality runs high and there is this notion of 'the loving feeling.' No disrespect to those who are giving cards, chocolates, and flowers or writing sonnets or limericks on construction paper hearts. I'm all in favor of love, but it's the feeling part that always falls flat to me. Besides, in the midst of all of Cupid's arrows being slung hither and yon, I think about people I love who are out there in the muck of life enduring the hardest moments you can comprehend. In the midst of tragedy that hits close to home, your mind starts shedding dead weight and getting down to the heart of the matter. And in between the tears, you begin to formulate a plan for how you can make a difference...how you can take what little you have and try to bring some measure of hope or happiness to your loved one. Flowers wilt in a matter of days and cards get packed into boxes, but real love? It has a chance to flourish in the midst of what feels like emotional ruins. 

In my mind, love is palpable. It is proactive. It is the choice to put in work. It is presence, support, and hugs. It is grief and sorrow for another's pain - and for your own. It is generosity and patience. It is remembering important moments and the random, mundane ones as well. It is swallowing pride and selfish ambition to see another happy and successful. It is protection. It is safety. It is knowing and being known. It is laughter over drinks and dinner. It is giving advice and lending a listening ear. It is choosing kindness over anger when you're in a bad mood. It is organization projects and peanut butter sandwiches and picking up band-aids at the drugstore on the way home. It is acceptance. It is telling the truth, even when the words are hard. It is nicknames and birthday presents and inside jokes. It is the tears running down your face and onto someone else's lapel. It is sacrifice and joy. It is filling up and pouring out. It is admitting when you're wrong and being gracious when you're right. It is the song that sticks in your brain for weeks on end. It is prayers breathed into the wind. It is beach vacations and long drives with the windows down. It is trips to Target and heart-to-heart conversations in a quiet office at work. It is the promise that, even when things are messy, you'll stick close by. It is also moving on and letting go if/when the time comes. It is wishing someone the absolute best and extending true forgiveness after years of anger and frustration. It is celebrating every miracle, big and small. It is light for the path when all around feels like darkness. It is the quiet whisper of birds taking flight in a field. It is the gentle touch and the tight squeeze. It is the strength to keep trying. It is the signs that follow you everywhere you go. It is the push of labor that brings you into this world. And it is the grace that, in your last breath, leads you home. 

'So you gotta show, show, show me.
Show, show, show me
Show, show, show me
That love is a verb.'