Tag Archive - Friends

Postcards from Atlanta…

Words, phrases, stories and songs keep playing in my mind and heart. Every time I try to describe it to a friend, I feel like English needs more words.

This weekend I was nourished, wrecked, provoked, refreshed, and inspired at Women of Faith: Imagine. I took my husband, who loved it too. I wish I had taken everyone I know.

A few reasons why I implore you to find a Women of Faith event near you, and do whatever it takes to get there:

Mary Graham Mary is the person who makes sure this operation runs like a well-oiled machine. And baby it does! Every detail is flawlessly executed: decoration, production, creative introductions, and the friendliest please take your seats/silence your cell phone messages I have ever encountered. Sessions begin and end ON TIME. Lunch is provided for your convenience. And Mary’s gentle, winsome presence holds all together.

Luci Swindoll When I grow up, I want to be Luci Swindoll. 🙂 Apparently I am not alone in this. These words from Hermann Hesse, which she shared with us, could be her own. This is the life she leads. Adventurous, creative, and fully present in the NOW. She challenged and inspired us to do the same.

Life passes like a flash of lighting
Whose blaze barely lasts long enough to see.
While the earth and the sky stand still forever
How swiftly changing time flies across man’s face.
O you who sit over your full cup and do not drink,
Tell me, for whom are you still waiting?

Sheila Walsh In her first session, she spoke to us of the relentless love of God in such evocative terms I felt I could almost taste it. This session crescendoed into the most moving rendition of Amazing Grace I have ever experienced. Because it grew out of the beautiful truths she had given us. She is a funny, transparent, and enthralling storyteller. I will never forget about the Shepherd who knows where to find us and Who invites us to come as we are.

Angie Smith Cute as a button and disarmingly self-deprecating, with a delivery so intimate I sometimes forgot there were several thousand other people in the room. This precious young woman has been called to walk on water through a devastating storm. And she knows the terror of waves slamming against you, threatening to destroy you. She also knows the ONLY way to keep from drowning.

“On those dark days when you can’t catch your breath, remember who you’re swimming towards. Kyrios: the Lord; the One to whom you belong.”

Nicole Johnson I’ve seen Nicole Johnson before. She has this way of making you laugh, and somewhere in the middle of the laughter you realize that important life-giving truths have wiggled their way into your heart. She did this again with one of my favorite of her sketches, The Invisible Woman. But, she also took the stage in a different role this time. This time she poured her heart out like water before us. Her own story of beauty from ashes. Glorious.

Lisa Harper Funny, honest, gutsy. I like this woman. She and I share a passion for mountain trails and for Thomas Merton. I loved this quote she used from him as she spoke to us about worth:

“God is asking me, the unworthy, to forget my unworthiness and that of my brothers, and dare to advance in the love which has redeemed and renewed us all in God’s likeness. And to laugh, after all, at the preposterous ideas of ‘worthiness.”

Amen.

Steve Aterburn Yes. You are right. Steve is, in fact, not a woman. And, I’ll admit, I was skeptical. But he had so many good, good things to say. He talked to us about walls that separate us from the life God has for us. Walls like stubborn resistance, arrogant entitlement (ouch!), justifiable resentment and others. And he helped us see how choices like acceptance and gratitude can help us make a door through the wall.  P.S. Steve is actually the founder of Women of Faith. For that alone, I am deeply grateful.

Mary Mary Oh, Baby!! These grammy award winning artists know how to rock the gospel. Songs filled with truth will have you on your feet and the joy of the Lord will throb from the top of your head to the souls of your feet. *Incidentally, try to position yourself to see Lisa Harper and Sheila Walsh do their white girl interpretations of the choreography. Trust me on this. 😉

Laura Story Laura was a surprise guest. A hometown girl. I predict you will be seeing more of her. You probably know her song Indescribable even if you don’t know her name. But, her song that keeps singing itself in my head is Blessings. It beautifully articulates what I have come to understand about “mercies in disguise”. And after hearing Laura’s story, I know from whence the questions come.

Natalie Grant One of the sweetest moments of the weekend was when, at the end of her Friday evening set, Natalie Grant sang the old hymn, It Is Well. The whole hall was silent, except for her powerful voice. No instruments. Clean. Uncluttered. And when it was over, no one wanted to go anywhere. We just wanted to let the notes, the words, hang over and around us for a few moments longer.

Her musical benediction sums up the truths of the weekend about as well as anything. In this world we will have trouble, they all said to us. But there is a Shepherd, a Father, our Kyrios, Mender of that which is broken, Who has created all things for our enjoyment; and He will walk those hard places with us and lead us safely home.

Stained Glass Hearts

Supernatural grandeur expands our soul and helps us throughout the day to live not in glass-breaking tension but in tiptoe perspective. It’s the place where, in our “upward leap of the heart,” we see beyond the fray to the Father who does all things well.  ~Patsy Clairmont

Diminutive dynamo. Teller of tales. Wearer of audacious designer boots, including at least one pair in red. She who can captivate a whole stadium full of women and keep them breathless, on the edge of their seats. All are apt descriptions of Patsy Clairmont.

But it’s only part of the story.

Contemplative. Poet. She who has a deep ache for beauty, transcendence, truth. Weaver of words who can turn a phrase with a delicate, fragile loveliness that pierces the heart. This too is Patsy Clairmont.

I’m known for my playful approach to life, which is fused within me; but to those who are closest to me, I’m also known for my need to pull on galoshes and wade into a thought. I guess when you’ve lived 60-plus years you collect a lot of heartache from this wind-whipped world that causes you to search the shadows of the forest. In my childhood I would have skipped through the woods oblivious to anything more than the path ahead, but today I’ve learned to check the secret places for the treasures of darkness.

Patsy’s new book, Stained Glass Hearts, is a sweet washing of the soul, with stories true and deep. With generous transparency, she takes us inside some of the more excruciating places in her life. She gives a courageous, vulnerable account of fear so paralyzing that it kept her housebound. Difficult to imagine if you have ever seen her on stage. But that is the beauty of the story. She shows us how, if we let Him, God will take the broken shards of our lives and solder them into luminous works of art.

…even though the stained glass pieces are artistically designed, they still have been broken, sanded, and soldered. They didn’t naturally fit the redemptive pattern without holy repairs. Also, stained glass art doesn’t begin to show its beauty or its inspiration or release its story until light touches the dark. The light transforms an otherwise subtle picture into a brilliant, dimensional experience.

Along with her stories, her experiences, her great loves and her great woes, Patsy introduces us to some of those who have shed light on her path. At the end of each chapter is a gallery in which she shares poems, paintings, songs, prayers, artistry of all sorts that have nourished her spirit. I implore you to google each of these as you read. A sumptuous feast for the soul.

Many of us have come to love the ones who have left lovely lines that fit inside us, that help us to see our world more grandly and ourselves more kindly.

Don’t all of us wish we had more wise voices in our lives? Those who deal with us winsomely and honestly, helping us find our true selves. Patsy is such a voice. As she walks with us through gardens and galleries, thunderstorms and snow, she gently points out things along the way. “Did you see that?” “Listen!” And our parched souls drink the liquid grace of the moment. And we are refreshed. And inspired. And emboldened.

Rescue us from small speculations. Enlarge our hearts. You alone, Lord, can attend to our desperation. Silence us with your peace. Comfort us with your tenderness. Mend us with your love. Amen.

Amen.

 

A Company of Women…

At my daughter’s baby shower, our friend Angela prayed words over her very like these,

“Lord, please help Kelsey to know that she is part of a company of women. Women who are praying for her. Women who have done what she is doing. Who are here if she ever has questions or just wants to talk. Women who want to walk life with her.”

It was the best gift she could have received.

A company of women.

I know this gift in my own life.

Grandmothers…my own and a few I have borrowed…who love generously and dispense wisdom acquired with years of living, and loving, and forgiving.

My mother who challenges and inspires me, and is still the person I call when I am sick.

My precious Tuesday ladies. What a privilege it is to share the journey of faith with them! To dig deep, to spur one another on to love and good deeds.

A group of beautiful young women with whom I have the honor of baring souls. A safe place to say the hard things. To tell ALL our stories. And to love…tenaciously, persistently.

Three sisters-in-love with whom I have lived enough life that we are bound by ties much stronger than blood. The sisters I always asked for when I was a little girl.

My lovely daughter who has taught me so much about loving extravagantly.

A host of young ladies..students, friends…who provoke me with their audacious dreams and their ability to think outside the box. To throw the box away. To trample the box and do a little dance on it. 🙂

And now, a tiny baby girl who is reminding me to breathe slowly, to see things as if for the first time, to give long, slow hugs, and to sing…early and often.

It was always God’s plan for us. This living together as women. Telling our stories. Bearing burdens. Laughing, and crying, and celebrating together. A knowing that is strictly feminine. A way of calling out the hidden things. An easy discipleship over laundry and coffee and crying babies.

In August, my company of women will expand. Explode, in fact. The Philips Arena in Atlanta will throb with estrogen. On August 12 and 13 I will be attending the Women of Faith: Imagine conference. I can hardly wait to hear these ladies:

Luci Swindoll is fast becoming one of my heroes. A most intriguing woman. World traveler, former opera singer, art aficionado, lover of all things beautiful, and profoundly generous spirit, she lives life full on. I really like that.

Sheila Walsh is a woman who has known both triumph and despair. I have enjoyed getting glimpses of her heart on twitter and look forward to knowing her better.

Nicole Johnson is one of those rare people that will have you laughing hysterically, all the while planting life giving truth in the deep places. I desperately need both. The laughter and the truth.

Mary Mary, Natalie Grant and Laura Story will be delivering truth wrapped in sweet tunes.

I will be hearing Lisa Harper, Angie Smith, and Steve Arterburn (the lone male presenter) for the first time.

I encourage you to join me. If Atlanta is not convenient for you, you have lots of other options. Go HERE to find a Women of Faith event near you. Keep up with the latest news by following @womenoffaith on twitter, or by visiting their facebook page. And if you are in Atlanta, give me a holler. I would love to connect with you.

Empty….

In each of these pots I planted……1 blue ageratum, 1 dark purple petunia, 1 variegated sweet potato vine, and 1 lavender lantana.  Tiny little things when I bought them. They have outdone themselves. Really. They are out of control. Beautiful, yes. But also needy. I am watering them EVERY day. One gallon each. If I am late in delivering their water…ie. after noon….they pout. Leaves shrivel and hang all pitiful. Blooms nod like they will drop right off. Sometimes they do. If you look closely you can see brown leaves that have not forgiven me. Their jubilant show has been costly. To both of us.

Yesterday I looked very like them. Leaves hanging all limp and lifeless. Begging for….something.

Empty

Life moves in seasons, I suppose. In some seasons we receive, and in some we give. Over a lifetime they sort themselves out and arrive at some equilibrium.

I guess.

Maybe.

I am reminded that I have a responsibility for caring for myself. I can only give that which I have. If I allow myself to be depleted…used up…I have no more to offer. The irony is that the closer I get to empty, the more I choose that which harms rather than that which satisfies.

Why is that?

I wanted to run away. To just tell my family they were on their own. To escape somewhere…anywhere….where no one would know me. Where no one would ask anything of me. It seemed like oasis. Like rest.

I avoided talking to God. Crazy, I know. I did not want His input. I did not want Him to tell me this was for my good. And, quite frankly, I was afraid He would give me another assignment. I was DONE! DONE, I tell you! Spread so thin I had become transparent. Invisible. Easy to step on. To trounce on the way to the next thing… So long as I had the laundry washed and folded, the dishes washed, everything running so smoothly no one knows where it comes from. And no one cares….

Throwing myself a pity party. With balloons. Talking out loud in my car. To NO ONE! To every one. Everyone that asked anything of me. Letting them know just how much it cost me……

Today, I begin again.

With the same people. The same expectations.

How can today be different? What will keep me on the rails?

This morning, I will begin with God. I will pray the morning prayers. I will give Him myself. I will ask Him to pray Himself in me. All day. No guarantees that anything will be easier today. Only one thing will be different. I will ask Him in. I will not hide. That’s all.

And if  He comes to pour water upon me, I will not make of my leaves spouts that deflect. I will receive. Even if the water costs me something. For I am empty.

Empty

Empty….

Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning
Lamentations 3:22-23

Sacred Honor…

It’s only a few words, really. It can be read in five minutes time. Oh, but the power they carry! The inevitable tide on which they ride. The lives given freely in a war that has raged for a year already. For a cause. A cause of shifting shape….

In the beginning, we simply implore that we, the colonies, be given fair representation…consent of the governed…a right guaranteed by the Magna Charta. But when King George arrogantly refuses our entreaties, separation becomes the only viable option. However…

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

And so they write. Words that elevate and ennoble. Words that challenge and provoke. Words that convict…for we do not always live up to them. Words that speak of hope and of glory. Of right and responsibility.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

These words will not come cheap. Each signature on this document is a death warrant. Treason. Treachery. Betrayal. What did these men see that gave them the courage to do what they did? What was the dream that was worth more than their own lives? Could I do this?

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

It is a story that is still being written. By men and women who offer their lives for the cause of freedom, here and around the world. By individuals audacious enough to believe that one person can make a difference, and that each of us has indispensable gifts to bring to the world. Today we honor their forebears. Courageous men who showed us the way.

*To read the Declaration of Independence in its entirety, click here. Painting by Brent Godfrey.

For Jonah….

Those big brown eyes!
Liquid pools of mahogany
Have stolen my heart.
I search your face…
What is it I see there?
Hope…
Promise…
Little boy longings…

I wish I could tell you how your mommy’s face glows when she talks about you. How a place for you formed in her heart when she was very young. I wish you could know how hard she is working to get to you and your brother. To bring you home. How fierce is her love for you.

I wish you could know the solidness of your dad. How he walks through life with peace and gives that peace to others. How he thinks deeply. I wish you could know the safety and easiness of being his son.

I so want you to know your big brother, Fionn. His unbridled lust for life. His mischievous grin. The way he ponders things sometimes like an old man. The seriousness and solemnity with which he serves at the altar.

I wish you could know how eager your sister, Felicity, is to meet you. I wish for you one of her delicious hugs. I wish you could know the wrinkled look on her forehead when she is perplexed, and the way a smile illumines her whole body.

Dear one, I wish you knew how many people there are who have given their hearts to you already, even though they have not met you. How they pray for you daily. I wish you could know how deep and rich and wonderful your life will be. How glorious is the family in which you will grow up. How gently and sweetly you will come to know God.

More than anything, dearest Jonah, I wish you were home…

Our friends, Joel and Meg, are very close now to bringing Moses and Jonah to their forever home. It has been an arduous and unwieldy journey. Could I ask you to pray for them, just now, as their hearts yearn so to be with their boys? As the last details must work themselves out?

Also, I wonder if you might like to be part of their wonderful story; if you would be willing to help them meet the cost of their adoption. Meg explains HERE the complications that have resulted in an increase in the required funding. Or go directly HERE to give. This is an opportunity to do something with your money that has eternal significance. Something that matters a great deal.

*Meg and Joel have done us the great honor of asking us to be godparents to Jonah. While I pray daily for both boys, it is Jonah’s little face that plays in my dreams…that dances constantly before my eyes. Our hearts are inextricably bound. Already. So I write to my little godson the words I would speak to him if I could.

Of Gods and Men

I said, “You are gods, And all of you are children of the Most High. But you shall die like men… ~Psalm 82: 6,7

It is a film made with an elegant reserve fitted to its subject. An abstract art that invites the viewer to participate in its creation. Wordless scenes. Gesture. Movement. Long, meaningful gazes. Men who have so long lived together that these are enough. A reprieve from our habitually unrestrained verbosity.

We hear the scuff of shoes against wood floors. Crunch of snow. Soft patter of rain. Bleat of sheep. Lap of lake. Earthy scrape of fork against soil. Unburdened with the din of voices. We see the slow work of filling jars with honey. Placing candles in stands. Driving sheep. Dropping seeds in earth.

Still, words have knit them together. And these words will become refuge. Psalms the brothers sing together will be peace and rest and courage when times grow excruciatingly perilous…

Eight Cistercian monks from France dwell in the mountains of Algeria. They and their Muslim neighbors live in and out of one another. Sharing bread, celebrating together, serving one another. Honor, respect, and love have grown up among them over years. When militant Muslim extremists begin a reign of terror, both are horrified. It is suggested, nearly demanded, by the authorities that the monks flee. It is not their war after all.

Or is it?

What does it mean to give your life away? Is it not enough to have given up family, position, possessions? How far is one called to go? Is it reckless to put oneself in harm’s way for another?

As each man, in community and alone, wrestles with these questions, their agony is my agony. Visible. Visceral. Violent.

They ponder the question with the village elders. “We are like birds on a branch. We don’t know if we’ll leave.” One Muslim woman answers, “We are the birds. You are the branch. If you go, we lose our footing.” And this is where, in the end, they will find their answer. They have been called to this place. To this people. You do not leave the people you love because loving them has become difficult.

It will be a costly decision.

Should it ever befall me, and it could happen today, to be a victim of the terrorism swallowing up all foreigners here, I would like my community, my church, my family, to remember that my life was given to God and to his country. That the Unique Master of all life was no stranger to this brutal departure. And that my death is the same as so many other violent ones, consigned to the apathy of oblivion. I’ve lived enough to know, I am complicit in the evil that, alas, prevails over the world and the evil that will smite me blindly. I could never desire such a death. I could never feel gladdened that these people I love be accused randomly of my murder. I know the contempt felt for the people here, indiscriminately. And I know how Islam is distorted by a certain Islamism. This country, and Islam, for me are something different. They’re a body and a soul. My death, of course, will quickly vindicate those who call me naïve or idealistic, but they must know that I will be freed of a burning curiosity and, God willing, will immerse my gaze in the Father’s and contemplate with him his children of Islam as he sees them. This thank you which encompasses my entire life includes you, of course, friends of yesterday and today, and you too, friend of last minute, who knew not what you were doing. Yes, to you as well I address this thank you and this farewell which you envisaged. May we meet again, happy thieves in Paradise, if it pleases God the Father of us both. Amen. Insha’Allah.

~Penned, in the film, by Christian, leader of the community

This is a remarkable film. I was completely undone by it. It is based on the tragic Tibhirine massacre that took place in Algeria in 1996. It is an heroic story, the sort of which we know far too few. I recommend it for all persons of faith and goodwill everywhere. If you live in Nashville, you can see it through Sunday at the Belcourt. It releases on DVD in July.

*Winner of the Grand Prix, Cannes Film Festival, 2010

And Life Reigns!

It is not the task of Christianity to provide easy answers to every question, but to make us progressively aware of the mystery. God is not so much the object of our knowledge as the cause of our wonder. ~Metropolitan Kallistos Ware

Mine was a weekend shrouded in the most delicious mystery. Mystery dread and strange. Mystery radiant and glorious. I was so undone by it that I have been thus far unwilling to attempt to write of it. Even now, I give you only the cheapest of postcards….

Friday Night, The Lament:

The funeral bier is the first thing I see. It sits in the middle of the room, lovingly bedecked with flowers. Candles burn at both ends. The room is very dark, lit mostly by candles. It is right. For the great Light has been extinguished. We stand with Joseph as he prepares the body of the Beloved. We see his tears. And together we sing songs of disbelief. Songs of lament.

Oh my sweet Lord Jesus,
My Salvation, my Light:
How art Thou now by a grave and its darkness held?
How unspeakable the mystery of Thy love.

A mother’s dirge:

Ah, my precious Springtime!
Ah, my Son beloved.
Ah, whither fades thy beauty?

Light more dear than seeing,
O my Son most precious,
How in a grave dost hide Thee?

Then, as little girls scatter rose petals all around the bier and the priest douses all of us with holy water we sing:

Myrrh, the women sprinkled,
Stores of spices bringing
To grace Thy tomb ere dawning.

We process behind the bier. Out of doors. All the way round the church. When we re-enter, we walk under the bier. Covered, as it were. His blood be on us… I take off my shoes afterwards, with some of the little girls, to feel the rose petals under my feet. Wearing the story in my body. This night we leave him in the tomb. But not asleep. Oh no, not asleep…

Saturday Morning, The Harrowing of Hell:

We read the stories of Jonah, and of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, others who were hidden but not idle. I can almost feel the earth rumble under my feet as death begins working backwards…

Today hath Hades sighed, crying, “My power hath vanished because I received a dead Man as one of the dead, but could not hold Him completely. Rather, I lost with Him those who were under my reign. From the beginning of time I have held control over the dead. But this One raised all.”

The priest moves among us tossing rose petals and bay leaves while the children beat on the backs of the seats with sticks. And we are become part of the victorious march through hell. Liberating the captives. I pick up a rose petal and a bay leaf that have fallen on the music stand in front of me. I roll them around in my fingers, inhaling their scent. The scent of freedom.

The priest begins to prepare the Eucharist directly on the funeral bier. It is one of the most devastatingly gorgeous moments of all of Holy Week for me. It is almost more than I can stand. With the sound of hammering, and of lament still ringing in my ears, I stand before the funeral bier and receive the Body and the Blood.

Finally, the priest blesses the baskets of bread and wine we have brought to share. We gather for a meal of sustenance. Our journey is almost complete. The very air vibrates with whispers of Resurrection…

Saturday Night into Sunday Morning, Great and Holy Pascha:

We gather at 11:00 and sing hymns and prayers. Just before midnight, all lights are extinguished save the flame that burns continuously on the altar. We pray for a time in the darkness. The tension is almost unbearable. Anticipation causes my heart to pound. Then the lone voice of the priest sings…

Come ye take light from the Light, that is never overtaken by night. Come, glorify Christ, risen from the dead.

The deacons take light from him. We take light from them. And the glow begins to spread across the room. We follow them out into the night. Soon a long ribbon of light wraps itself all around the building. We return to find the doors closed to us. We read of the myrrh bearing women who found an empty tomb. The priest sings prayers of praise to which we respond “Christ is risen from the dead trampling down death by death and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.” And as we sing we thrust our flames high into the air.

Then the priest pounds on the door. “Lift up your gates, O ye princes; and be lifted up, ye everlasting gates, and the King of Glory shall enter in.” A voice from inside calls back “Who is the King of Glory?” Ten year old Katy, who has come to stand with me, looks up and smiles. It is a marvelous moment. The priest answers “The Lord Strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in war.” Three times this happens before the doors are flung open and we enter a brightly lit church to begin the celebration.

The rest of the service is cacophony and blur and light and joy. At numerous intervals, the priests run up and down the aisle with the censor–the one with the delightful bells–and shout out “Christ is Risen!” to which we respond “He is risen indeed!” They do this in a host of different languages and it is fun to try to figure out how to answer them. Father Stephen delivers St. John Chrysostom’s marvelous Paschal homily. We receive the Body and Blood of the now-risen Christ. And our joy is made full.

Following the service, we feast together well into the morning hours. And the glory of the Resurrection fills our hearts and our stomachs. And Life reigns.

Just Show Up

I am not always the sharpest knife in the drawer. But when God gently sings the same idea into my life over and over…..and over…..even I can’t miss that.

In less than a week, from three different sources, on three different topics, one message:

Just show up.

First, my sweet friend Anne poured her heart onto the page on behalf of those walking through the heart-rending pain and loneliness of divorce. She said the most important thing we can do when those we love are walking though this…or any kind of pain for that matter…is to be there.

“Here’s the catch. When a relationship is ending, especially a marriage, it physically feels as if your soul has been ripped out of your body. People going through this change will likely not have the strength to reach out to you….Not only do we not want to bring people down with us, we don’t have the strength to engage with others. This is why it’s so important you reach out constantly to your friends.”

It is cowardly to allow my own inadequacies to keep me from loving others. Just because I don’t have any earth shattering wisdom to share doesn’t mean I have nothing to give to those I love who are hurting. They need me now more than ever.

Just show up.

On Sunday, the Orthodox Church honored the great theologian, Saint Gregory of Palamas. Our priest confessed to us how intense and somewhat intimidating he finds the works of this brilliant man who was so important to the Church. He then gave us what he lightheartedly titled “Orthodoxy for Dummies”. Point number one: Just show up. The Liturgical life is a gift to us. God will use it to heal us, to restore us, to make us who He always intended us to be. But we have to make ourselves available to this process.

Just show up.

I have been slowly making my way through Julia Cameron’s wonderful book, The Artist’s Way: Creativity as a Spiritual Practice.  This morning I was reading back through underlines and notes when I came to a section called “Rules for the Road”. Here is rule number one:

“In order to be an artist, I must show up at the page. Use the page to rest, to dream, to try.”

It is not necessary for me to know what I will write. I need not have everything worked out in my head. I know from my own experience that most of what goes on the page only reveals itself once words are already flowing from heart to fingers. But if I allow fear of the blank page to keep me from putting pen to paper in the first place, those words will never be released.

Just show up.

Three applications. One truth. It is not our wisdom, our effort, or our brilliance that is wanted. It is our presence. When we are available, the magic happens.

I have an idea this truth is not just for me. Where is your presence desperately wanted just now?

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