The trees were filled
with twittering birds
who paid no attention to the mail truck
house to house
along the street,
the way a bumblebee buzzes
flower to flower.
The sound of footsteps
jogged by on the sidewalk
and a plane rumbled somewhere
as the neighborhood dogs
exchanged warnings of boundary violations.
In spite of the flurry of vibration
and a perfectly functioning set of ear drums,
she sat in silence,
unable to move
and unwilling to
pretend she could hear
Here we are again, blank screen. I can hear your blinking cursor laughing at me.
I know how this is supposed to work. I’m supposed to be inspired to fill you. Heaven knows you can’t write yourself.
I remember the firehose of words and images that once kept my fingers moving across your keyboard. They held substance and form that couldn’t be contained. Then the flow abruptly slowed to a trickle. It’s now been over a year.
I often manage to string some words together so you don’t go naked for too long. But there was a time when I was constantly drawn, driven, compelled to dress you in one-of-a-kind designs, fashions from another world.
I miss that.
California isn’t the only one in a state of drought.
“I am the good shepherd…”
How many times have I read this passage? It is beautiful, for sure. You can read it all here if you like. It’s only 21 verses; it won’t take you long.
I love the pictures this passage creates.
He is the good shepherd…
His sheep know His voice and run from a stranger’s voice…
A hired hand will run away when the flock is in danger, but the shepherd lays down his very life for the sheep…
He knows His sheep…and His sheep know Him.
The thief comes to kill, steal, and destroy, but He comes to give us life in fullness…
For so many years I read this passage through a lens of condemnation. What I read was that Jesus is really good, but if I don’t hear His voice clearly then maybe I’m not really one of His sheep. And if I am not experiencing abundant life, then maybe I’m not really one of His sheep.
Over and over it came back to the same basic concept: Jesus is wonderful, but maybe I’m not really one of His sheep.
It’s important to note that if you use a wrong lens, you’ll get a wrong understanding.
When the bible was originally written there were no chapters and verses. The text was broken down later to simplify it for readers. But if you look at the end of chapter 9 something becomes startlingly clear:
Jesus isn’t lecturing bad sheep. He’s taking to task overbearing, self-centered, self-righteous religious leaders who are actually confusing and frightening the sheep.
He is coming to the defense of the sheep.
I’ve heard religious leaders of the current day lament that people are so deluded and given over to their self-centeredness that they can’t begin to discern God’s voice. But I wonder if that’s truly the case, or if people simply don’t hear what religion thinks they should hear.
Maybe we’re making wrong assumptions about what He’s most wanting to talk about in this day and age.
I never wonder if I’m one of His sheep anymore, even on days when I’m having a lousy time hearing His voice or on days when my life is feeling cramped and poured out. I don’t like it, but those days happen sometimes.
It’s good to know He also gives the sheep new lenses so they no longer assume the shepherd is looking for reasons to disown them.
photo courtesy of Unsplash.
In an instant I knew something was wrong.
I turned and saw her face, the uncertainty in her eyes, and I opened my mouth and frantically began calling out to alert someone, anyone…
…and then I woke up.
Try as I might, the dream was gone. I knew in the moment before I woke up I was fighting, but in the moment after I woke up I could not remember whom, or why, or even one other fact about the dream.
I laid there with my heart pounding. Something about that dream was real. I just had no idea what. I still don’t.
It feels like falling into madness sometimes, this business of straddling the realities of flesh and spirit. The flashes of seeing the invisible, hearing the inaudible, of knowing what I have no natural way of knowing. Of being fully awake when I’m asleep, and plumbing the depths of sleep while I’m awake.
I cannot explain these things to you. They exist beyond reason and the laws of physics. They are glorious and sometimes terrifying.
This is the red pill, the rabbit hole. Once you’ve seen, you cannot unsee. It will change you forever.
Let it be so.
Seven days came and went and I didn’t see my plants grow at all.
Here are the photos from a week ago, right after I planted:
This is seven days later:
Ok, so maybe they did grow.
So often we miss exciting action right under our noses because it was so slow and steady that we failed to recognize forward motion. It’s only in the snapshots that freeze time that we are able to compare what was with what is.
It’s ok for my plants to be young and small. More than ok, actually. It is good and right for them to be immature. They have to be small before they can be large and full. There’s no skipping this stage.
They will be beautiful in their time.
Not long ago I had the lenses in my eyeglasses updated.
Eyeglasses are both a blessing and an inconvenience. The Lasik procedure I had done nine years ago took me from the world of coke bottle lenses for eyes far beyond legally blind when uncorrected, to a world of just needing some occasional light help dealing with the astigmatism caused by significant scarring on my cornea. Not a typical reaction to the procedure, but it happened. Now a few years later I’m finding that I need a little help with focus for reading.
It is good that glasses can compensate for these things, even if I don’t like wearing them.
But glasses don’t heal my eyes.
Glasses can’t fix the scars on my corneas. Nor can glasses give me the close-up focus I had twenty years ago.
I hope God heals these things in my eyes. I believe He can. But truth be told, my eyes need a deeper, more fundamental healing than the correction of aging and scarred corneas.
I want Him to heal my eyes so that I see as He sees and am no longer distracted by the dysfunctional vision of an earthbound human who filters sight through distorted knowledge and flawed logic and reasoning.
I want to see people as He sees them. I want their potential to be dazzling to my eyes. I want to no longer need to see any sign of Him on the outside of people, but be completely drawn to the brilliance of His image even in those too lost to know it exists in them.
I want the images that hit my retinas to have no bearing on how I interpret His thoughts or His heart for any given situation.
I want to see beyond the see-able and the seen.
Love looks like something.
That means it’s not just a word that sounds nice and tickles our emotions.
Love has active substance.
Love is unconventional.
Love defies logic.
Love is costly.
Love does not need to be loved in return in order to fully be itself.
Love sees evil for what it is: a lack of love.
“I don’t like these nasty people,” she said to me. “I’d be just as happy if they stayed away from me.”
I knew what she was talking about. I’d overheard someone be short and snappy with her, and her insecurities had been rattled. The solution, in her mind, was to avoid the rattling.
We weren’t in a place where I could counter by gently probing about the insecurities. I heard her orphan heart loud and clear anyway.
We all want to be loved. When you know you’re loved, really loved, you’re free to love others and it doesn’t matter how they respond. You aren’t loving them because of their response or how they make you feel. You’re loving them because that’s who you are.
But if you operate with a scarcity of love, your very identity is at stake as an unspoken question hangs in the air with every relational interaction.
“Am I worthy of love?”
When God has answered your question, you are set free to answer everyone else’s.