Un -Fettered

I consider the walls I live within, the space I inhabit.

We patched and painted last year, a neutral creamy beige with the slightest hint of green. I love green. The swatch was called ‘Garden Mist.’ Made me happy.

Aren’t I blessed to be made happy by a paint swatch from Home Hardware here in our small town.

We replaced our worn sectional with a new leather sofa and love seat from Leons on the pay in two years plan. They’re paid off. I love kicking back those recliners, especially on a cold night when the wood stove is stoked and the room’s filled with friends.

How did I warrant this? Did I do something to deserve it or did the chips just fall this way?

Am I good, like Maria Von Trapp in the Sound of Music. She breathlessly sings in the garden as Georg kisses her, “I must have done something good….”.

No. Not good. My heart, God knows is prone to resentfulness, rebellion and self seeking. Not good.

I was blessed with this, all this life. Not perfect, even some injuries along the way. But I’m not just surviving. I live in a different mode than those awaiting safety or one meal or shelter from the elements.

Yet I search for something. I ache for a wider space, a borderless place with high hills and views to the east where the sun slips up the earth, painting another morning orange-bright.

Why should I have that?

Why should I have anything at all when others are just wondering if that same birthing day will bring any food or death.

The earth is hellish. Fear smashing at our doors and I want to move. But where? Is there a place where soulish and real world worries aren’t present? Maybe the move isn’t to wider fields but to a different heart space. A space of lie me down yieldedness to the One who actually knows what the day will bring. It could be death or a meal or a field or even paint, but God forbid those things come because I clamoured for them. Let each gift be a mercy, a grace to cup gratefully, not a grasping.

I’ve heard that Sodom and Gomorrah didn’t start with the place it finished. It began with greed and selfishness. People wanting more and having much and thinking it was their right. And forgetting the poor. The ones who matter specially to God. The ones that God said Pay Attention to, because if you have much it’s not to build your bigger barn, it’s actually to share that much with the one who has little and it all evens out in the end. Not Communism, but Community. God’s way. But they didn’t. They turned inward and hoarded and got bored and tried new things and bought more and titillated themselves and found new ways to fill their cups of debauchery. And eventually God said okay. And turned them over to it.

I’m afraid we’re here, again. Even those of us who call ourselves Believers. Do we even know what we would need to repent of when we quote those 2 Chronicles 7:13-14 verses? I don’t but I’m getting a feeling as I look around. The attachments to my present life are pretty strong.

But there’s this whisper of freedom as I imagine not being owned by what I own.

What ties you to this earth? What distracts you from a fundamental connection with your Creator, the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us? From the just living connected, trusting and obedient?

Are you willing to loosen your grip? To count the cost and take the hand held out to you?

I want to try. I imagine walking away and knowing this unfettered lightness.

“Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ…” Philippians 3:8 NKJV (biblegateway.com)

Cancelled

“Maybe you should have been more careful about what you said,” I looked at Him sitting across from me. He was so self assured.

He looked back and smiled, “I Am careful. I Am true to Myself. I speak because I Love.”

“But they don’t understand who you are. They think you are an intolerant, old wizard sitting on your distant throne, hating on everyone who isn’t perfect according to Your standards. They think YOU cancel people.”

“I know.” This time there wasn’t a smile and His eyes darkened, sorrowing. “They don’t understand who I Am and how I love them. They can’t comprehend that this life they live is fleeting. They would rather tear up the framework I’ve given them, reject the rescue mission I embarked on to bring them home and risk losing everything in the forever. They feast on cheap thrills rather than hold off for the rich and lavish main course I’ve prepared for those who love Me.”

“But, they feel it’s their right. Right? To have what they want now?” He nodded.

“Yes. They’re being conditioned to grasp whatever titillating idea is set before them. Anything that throws off restraint and claims to be a right must be had. Especially if it appears to right a historical wrong. But at what cost? Wrong upon wrong doesn’t correct the atrocities that have been committed in my Name. Understanding my motives, my character will bring truth to history. And many of the deeds done in my Name had nothing to do with Me.” He touched my hand, so gentle and strong. Captivated I watched His brow furrow with grief, history clouding His grey eyes momentarily. Then his olive skin crinkled into a smile creasing his careworn face. I reached forward and touched his cheek, my eyes on His. His skin was warm. His sorrow became my own.

“I’m sorry,” my voice tremulous. “We’re fickle. We don’t really know You at all, so we act on what we see, what we’re told. The story is always changing so we believe it and then we’re outraged at what we’re told. And then we have to act.”

He leaned forward. “What you don’t realize is that the narrative isn’t changing so quickly. It’s an old tale, told from the beginning. Sometimes it’s suppressed and truth comes to the forefront. Other times it pushes to the surface, but it’s old and insidious. It’s experienced and effective.” He flung his arm in the air. “Those who wield it wave it like a found wand over the world, gradually changing thought to suit the old agenda, without knowledge or understanding of what’s actually taking place. Simply, it’s a war. And its focus is Me. Am I good? And if so, how can I allow difficult things to happen? Why should I prevent humans from having what they want?”

“Right. So they cancel You.”

“That’s okay. I don’t actually need their approval. I Am who I Am. But they need Me. That’s why those of You who know Me must tell the Truth about who I Am.” He held me in His eyes, a flame flickering in the depths igniting a fire in me as I gazed back at Him.

“What will be cancelled one day,” He looked at me with such severity that I trembled inside, “is the works and lies of the dark lord. The one who has deceived, convinced many of deceptions about me and my plans for humanity. This one will be cancelled. All his plans, his being. He will be cancelled indeed.” That flame burned in His eyes again, his face grim. I was afraid. And then He looked back to me and His face softened.

“Come. Let’s tell them the good news.” He reached for my hand and we walked together into the gathering dark.

~

[The problem with cancelling God, or anyone for that matter is the lack of attention to character. It’s a blind judging based on a knee jerk reaction to something that’s been said. Something that pushes a hot button. Rather than enter into rational dialogue, to reason together, to challenge thoughtfully and intelligently, the cancel button is pushed and the dialogue is over. The person and their unwelcome thoughts are out and society can go back to the comfortable, offended status, cancel button reset to trigger for the next person who trespasses on their ideology. Once hair trigger thinking becomes an ideology we’ve descended to mob mentality and the victims are those who espouse thoughts different from the mob. And the waves of this madness change from idea to idea in our ever changing culture. Perhaps cancel culture will cancel itself some day for being intolerant.]

I, The Well You Tend

Today, though I asked You to fill me

so I could pour you out to others,

You became glue, compound, to stop up the holes in me,

so You could pour in and keep me full.

“It’s not from your continued emptiness

that I flow,” You said.

“but from your top, your fulness that I spill

over.

There is no glory in you leaking,

your holes running you dry,

but only in my fulness making you whole.

Then I fill you brimful and your cup runs over.

There is beauty and life,” You said, with your

unexpected, compassionate smile.

Gentleman, no

I don’t think God is a gentleman.

They said at church

He stands at the door and knocks,

would never force his way in.

I only agree in part.

He doesn’t seem to hammer through

the front door,

but he might break your walls down.

I don’t think a gentleman

lets the devil have at you

bringing sores, sickness, fire and death

of all your progeny,

leaving you with just the cracked mind

of a grief shattered wife for company

and the questioning of ‘friends’ to be your solace.

I don’t think that when you rage at his unfairness

in your attempts at understanding

a gentleman would say

“Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge.

Now prepare yourself like a man;

I will question you, and you shall answer Me.”

and then literates the extensive details

of His creative force producing

the raging beauty of earth.

What is a gentleman anyway?

A privileged land-owning gentry

or a chivalrous, courteous one,

or both?

Top hat in place, gloved hand held out in deference

to you going first, manners indicative of his noble birth.

Does he sip tea with the ladies

proper and right after a gentle knock at the door and a gracious welcome?

I can’t accept this image as the depth of his gentle-man-ness

Mr. Lewis got it right when Beaver said

“Of course he isn’t safe, but he’s good. He’s the king I tell you.”

His gentleness

suffers long

as the lamb is slaughtered,

compacting the unsafe, fierceness of the lion into meek, red stained fleece,

the bleat silenced as the One who spoke the stars into being

constrains His strength

and dies, a gentle man.

Quotes:

Job 38:2-3 NKJV Holy Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe C.S. Lewis

Self Care

“You just need a little more self care,” she said.

The grey of everything pushes colourless across life. Grey hair, grey lockdown zone where I live, grey atmosphere drizzling down and my fifty something face feeling grey.

Okay, so maybe some red on my lips, brown on my locks and heaven help us some revitalizing cream to help with these tired lines.

I look her in the eye and say “Let’s do it!” We dash out the door and hit the store just in time, grabbing a fairly random box of dark brown, 2 minutes before they closed.

Well you know… plans can go awry, colors can look one way in a photo and when applied to salt and pepper hair it can turn out a whole other blend, especially when it’s rubbed in thoroughly and left for extra time. We gasp a bit at the outcome, me a whole bunch. A dark, almost black-with-auburn tinged head looks back at me from the mirror. Oh dear. We laugh and take pics and I’m wondering how long it will take to wash this out.

Covid hair. Covid care. I look into these surprised eyes in the mirror. Tired eyes. Care worn and not enough sleep eyes. Not how I’m hoping to look in these mid fifty days. Thinking there’s someone in there who needs more attention than the external tending will accomplish. It’s a tenuous balance. We mind our outsides, catering to the endless badgering of the fountain of youth advocates. Wrinkle reducing creams, dyes, ever changing hair styles and stylish wear to make us remember that 50 is the new 40. Mercy! What happened to ‘act your age’? No, it’s all about not growing up, never maturing, always alluring and captivating.

Captive is what’s happening to yet another generation of gorgeous girls of all ages, sizes, cultures and colours. Buying the enticing lie that the shell we inhabit is the sum of our sumptuous being. We paint, perk and pant after the unreachable, airbrushed, baby faced images, taunting us into the unending race to immortality. But it’s all found in a bottle, a tube, a tub, and when the last dab has been scraped out, we’re still gazing into the mirror at our own face. Happy or sad. Old or youthful, we are in our fading, aging, ground bound bodies. It’s inevitable.

Self care? Absolutely! If I stop tending this tent and slouch around grimy and gritty I have to believe some depression has crept in and maybe has to do with caring for only part of my self. The lack of care to the soulish me leaves a wasteland and no amount of attention to the outside will cure the hunger in me.

There’s a yearning, just for someone to look in my eyes and say “I want you just the way you are.” Someone should write a song. Haha. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBZnGk1nAjw. Don’t we all want that? There’s a craving in us to be wildly, unconditionally accepted and loved. Is it possible that there is Someone who knows us this deeply and wants us this badly? Is it possible we also need to accept ourselves and this is part of soul care?

If my soul is part of my-self then it must need tending as much as my physical being does. And if my physical being is a housing for the spirit part of me then doesn’t that need attention as well? How are we convinced then that the physical is worthy of such a disproportionate amount of attention. Is it possible that in the developed world, we have become dull to the spirit needs as our physical cups are filled to the brim with every possible titillation. Our suffering is minimal due to the plethora of medicines, various doctors and comforts to assuage our ails. Yet the starvation of our souls and spirits, those ethereal inner parts of us withering from lack of connection and sustenance, gradually pushes through into the physical, until our bodies show the effects of the wounded, unattended inner sanctum.

We’re challenged in a world that presses us to fill each moment with frantic activity and distraction. Yet during this time of pause, can we find ways to retreat to the interior and nurture the neglected parts of us? i.e. https://www.24-7prayer.com/ancientprayerrhythms. Daniel prayed three times a day. Jesus got up while it was still dark and spent time with his Father. How do we imagine that we will get by on less? We are starving and the state of our lives and the world that’s made up of the bricks of us shows it.

My daughter who is a university student shared her thoughts with me as she compared the detailed organization of the human cell to structures of the body, earth and human society. I love the parallels she drew about this microcosm. I do my best to explain it here but it blessed like poetry when it fell from her lips:

The cell’s organelles are encased in liquid cytoplasm while the mitochondria and golgi apparatus function within the machine to produce energy and export proteins. Similarly, our bodies have rivers of blood to transport oxygen and a digestive system fuelled by food translating to energy, a heart to pump the life giving river and a brain to dispatch signals to every single part of our body through nerve cells. The earth is an organism made up of life bringing rivers, trees doing the work of lungs and a delicate ecosystem of creatures and plants that all work together within the biosphere to sustain life. Our human systems of family, friendships, church, education, work and government all function due to the unique, individual giftings each of us bring to the whole.

It expands outward and inward. If there’s a drought, the earth is parched, the human body is deprived of water, the cells themselves malfunction and life cannot be sustained. I see a parallel in the soulish world. If the human soul/spirit is deprived of living water, it also cannot survive.

Considering all of this on the grand scale of earthly ecosystems and the minutia of the cell in all its microscopic magnificence, let us examine the human in the trinity of its parts: body, soul, spirit. Each part a necessary, functioning segment of a greater whole, needing the unique sustenance its survival requires. If my body is denied the basic needs required to sustain life: air, food, water, sleep; it will die. If my soul is denied love; it will die. If my spirit is denied connection with and food from the Spirit it came from; it will die.

Maslow summed these up in his detailed “hierarchy of needs.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs#/media/File:Maslow’s_Hierarchy_of_Needs2.svg“. May I suggest that wrapping the spiritual element around his triangle as a membrane in which all the other functions are met and maximized, would bring true potential through the life giving river surrounding and feeding into all the other components.

Within this model, self care takes on a new dimension. We become complete, lacking nothing “holding fast to the Head, from Whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God.” Colossians 2:19*

Disclaimer: This is in no way meant to criticize anyone who enjoys caring for themselves through the use of make up or hair colour. We’re all different and that makes it all the more fun. These are just some thoughts on the idea of self care and the depths of it.

*Poetic licence taken with this verse as it’s actually written about people who do not do what is described, but the meaning in reverse is still the same.

A Gradual Drift

Life can seem benevolent. Dozing on my back in the sun-warmed sea, water lapping, my cares are as far removed as the beach I paddled out from. Reality succumbs to the rhythmic movement of little waves as I close my eyes and drift. But when I open them again the horizon’s changed. The familiar shoreline where my home stands isn’t the same. I’m turned on my head for a minute until I find my bearings and realize that the water transported me somewhere I didn’t expect to go, almost imperceptibly.

As we untether from the ordinary in these disconcerting times I’ve become aware that I’m drifting dangerously far from shore. Things aren’t as they should be. But it’s not the pandemic that’s distanced me, it’s the before, the ease I’ve become accustomed to.

I imagine my embellishments stripped away and find myself wanting. I come to a concerning conclusion that my comfort has become too comfortable. My security in these four walls and all the life inside is playing a role that it shouldn’t be.

Perspective is lost. I’ve built my secure castle on sand, run to the water and paddled out to play, assuming everything is stable. But the storm rolls in. Plagues threaten. Economies crumble. Life quakes and the Lord shouts in a whisper “Who do you trust? You have gone astray. Return to Me and I will restore you.”

I paddle frantically with my hands in the tumultuous water, trying to get back to my self-designed safety. The tide has changed and suddenly the waves are a steep, rolling force, continually crashing down on me, not the gentle ebb and flow I’d relied on earlier. Now no matter how hard I swim the undertow sucks me back. I’m out of my depth.

“Help!” I thrash my hands in the air. Panic surges, draining me of strength.

“Grab my hand!” It’s a male voice. And he’s standing … on the waves.

I must be delirious. I reach for him and he hauls me up, on top of the pitching water keeping my hand in his. Wind tears at us as he grins and leads me across the flailing sea to shore. I sway on the desolate beach, heart thrumming, assaulted by the scene in front of me.

Walls, shelves of broken things, smashed furniture and clothes are strewn everywhere. The construction of my life, all that I’ve trusted in, is fallen. Detritus mixes into the grains of eternity. He lets go of my hand and removes His outer garment, wrapping it ’round me, smiling into me. I feel it, a fire from His eyes sparking a lamp in me that had grown dim.

“Sit with me?” We walk to a small blaze burning on the beach where He crouches, then turns, plate in hand and offers it to me.

“Fish?”

“Yes please.” I receive His offering. Again.

“Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.”

Psalm 139:7-10 NKJV Holy Bible