Archive for the ‘Life’s Storms’ Category

Song for Someone

This poem is inspired by the song “A Song for Someone” — U2 — Songs of Innocence CD Jacket

I have a song for someone.

I hope they will hear it.

It’s a song for the broken, and sometimes the brokenhearted.

It’s a song for someone I love now.

It’s also for a song for someone I loved long ago.

You may feel forgotten. I’m telling you, I remember.

You may feel insignificant. I’m telling you, you are the light in an all too dark world.

You may have thought you were invisible when people walked right past you.

But I saw you. I know your name. I know every lie and the truest truth about you.

Strangers pass you every day unaware they are in the presence of an angel.

I saw you smile through your tears. No one is a hopeless case.

I saw you when you kept going. I know the storms and the roads that are still ahead.

I only see you as beautiful. I only see you as whole. I envision you as well.

I see you everywhere you go.

I’m closer than your shadow.

I’m the whisper in the winds of memory of all you know that is true.

I’m the blue sky of infinite possibility.

I am the song of joy that plays in your head.

I am the tear-laced prayers you whisper alone in your bed.

Oh how I cried for you. For you know not what you sometimes do.

But I do. That’s why I gave it all away for you.

If you have days left to spend, create them to be beautiful.

See. Hear. Feel. Do.

And let your light shine with all of your soul

Because you were always loved.

I’ll be your song. Because you were always my someone.

 

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:12-13

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0 MA 370Photo Credit: Romeo Ranoco/Reuters

The mystery of missing flight Malaysian Airlines 370 only intensifies with each passing day.  How can 239 souls simply vanish?  As the investigation has changed from finding a fallen aircraft to searching for evil intent that commandeered this aircraft and where did they all go, the agony of not knowing is surely some of the most unimaginable pain someone could ever know.

I can’t even fathom the pain these families are enduring as they have surely been “all over the map” emotionally, logistically, and probably spiritually.  How does one keep faith and hope alive in an ever-changing crisis?

You simply get up and go on, trusting God in every breathe, moment, and step.  Sometimes you don’t even know you have faith or hope, until you look back and you realize that’s all you had or you wouldn’t be here now.

I have never experienced the depth of unknown that these families have, but the few intensely difficult, extremely painful circumstances I have had to endure, all in relatively short order, has both tested and strengthened my faith.

These are the questions we wrestle with whenever the intensely painful unknown occurs:

Why did this happen?

Did I do something to cause this?  Did I deserve this?

Could I (or others) have prevented this?

Where is God in all this?  Is He even aware I can not deal with this for one more minute, even more so, one more day? 

And yet you do.  You will.    Though time stops in your world, the rest of the world keeps on moving forward.

And everything in life is divided into two chapters:

BEFORE and AFTER

You know the moment this occurs, from here until the end of your life, everything else will be referenced by assigning whether it happened before or after.  I don’t know why.  It’s just the way the mind works.

I’ve read the posts.  I’ve seen the news.  I’ve heard every speculation imaginable, as have you.  But this is what my heart knows:

THERE ARE 239 LOST SOULS ON BOARD

My heart hurts because we struggle when we cannot know what only God knows.

It also hurts because each of these souls are so very precious to not only their families, but to God.

My heart hurts because I’ve walked the solitary path of unfathomable grief that only the bravest wish to hear.

My heart hurts because I know what it means to have to wake up with unknowing.

My heart hurts because I know life is brief; and despite our best executed plans, our dreams of how we wish our future to be can’t be guaranteed.

My heart hurts because I’ve known through harsh experiences, what it means to cry out to God to save someone, please just SAVE THEM.  It may be their life; it may be their soul.

Sometimes God seems silent.  I’ve learned not to mistake God’s silence for God’s absence.

We are not in control; we settle for a certain comfort in thinking we are.

Certainly, our soul hungers to know that those we love are okay.  Especially when we are suddenly severed from someone we love.  Like phantom limb pain, our hearts throbs with longing and memory and beats to the rhythm of hope, no matter how slim.  Wherever we are, we feel as if we are held hostage to both yesterday and tomorrow, barely enduring today.

Every time you hear or read a story, remember that talk is cheap and media can dull our mind if we don’t hear properly: that is to say with intention, not just attention.   The investigators have a job to do.  But so do we:

Those of us who believe, have a calling to pray for the souls of each person on board MA 370 as well as their families.  These souls who disappeared in the sky over a week ago are this: BELOVED friend, coworkers, sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, beloved grandchild of many remaining souls here on earth.

Pray for wisdom.  Pray for resolution.  Pray for miracles.  Pray for the peace that passes understanding in Christ Jesus.    May you see this and appreciate your own family and life more.  Don’t leave angry.  Say I love you before you say good-bye.   Find, and then focus on what really matters.

Today I pray that God has the souls of Malaysian Air Flight 370 are in the palm of His hand, that they are in His perfect care, as the families carry on in courage and hope.    Because they too were/are loved.

Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.  Romans 10:1 

 U2’s  One Tree Hill – Auckland, NZ

Mermaid by Ruth Price.JPG u2areloved

“You can get addicted to a certain kind of sadness
Like resignation to the end, always the end”——Someone I Used to Know — Go Tye

      I watch as you set sail this morning.  So close to me; mere yards away still in my line of sight; I could swim to you so quickly, yet you’re so far away.  I’m frozen here, suspended in this sea, a suspension of salt and tears; I’m gliding  through wave after wave totally unseen by you.  I watch in horrified silence as you pull up anchor for the last time from this vast ocean. This dark mysterious element that’s taken many a strong man down, condemned for having had the will to wrestle it.  Yes, it’s swallowed the souls of brave and strong, timid and weak–all meeting, perhaps some seeking, the same fate: deep silence.

Yet you are one of the lucky ones.  You’ll leave this sea for the same reason you came to it:  Escape.  This singular concept has captivated you and countless other men over the centuries.   You will ultimately abandon this sea, and those that remain here.  Yet I know it will never completely leave you.  Its waters course your blood now.

Escape has a magnetic pull all of its own.  Combined with the pull of the moon, this sea has tempted then swallowed men from all continents for eons as it whispers:  Come set sail with me. Ride me; and I’ll give you a highway with no one on it.  And to a few who hear incorrectly:  Tame me.  I’m yours. 

And then there’s me.  Seen only by the rarest few I choose to allow, I bare my soul, my body, always with hope—this incessant, plague-ridden hope that there will be a way other than death to make you stay.  Never!  The sea denies me.  Never!

Haunting.  That’s the word you said to me when you first saw the endless deep in my eyes.  I’ve heard it in other centuries by other men, but from you it suddenly meant well–moreArrested you said as you described your heart around me.  Soft as sea glass were the words you used when you caressed my tale.  Then suddenly you’re:  Gone.   When I leave you, I’ll lie to myself: what you leave behind you don’t miss anyway. 

My tail is anchored to me as much as it is separate from me; for it is a tale as old as time itself.  The tail of a mermaid is worshiped and cherished by the fraternity of the sea as a symbol of freedom and of wanderlust–the sea’s  mysterious ways, and yet I know differently.

For it is not a tale of freedom, but a soft and gentle enslavement.   A craving to be bound to a soul that equally yearns to be anchored to no man, to no ideal, to no promise, no permanent residence.  Certainly to no woman.    My tail is my story; it is a part of me as much as it is about me.  I can’t remove it, though God knows sometimes I would if I could.

I don’t know if God purposed this tail to assist me or to curse me; perhaps it was to protect me.  Either way, it is mine and mine alone.  Never will I feel the Italian leather strap wrapped around my ankle propping me up like the land women you always return to but never give your heart to.  Even when I gave you my body, I knew it was only half of what you needed.  I would never be enough.  I have the potential to swim for miles, yet I stay anchored always to drifting in the same circles, hiding, avoiding danger, and cursed above all: waiting in silence. 

I’ll never take to the skies and fly across the continents like your land women do.  Never will I be adorned with a diamond or a ring of gold.  Yet once you placed a string of pearls around my neck.  I laughed at the irony.  Why I could get those anywhere!  But your heart was pure that day.  I cupped my auburn hair to my right shoulder and let you clasp them around me as I felt your hands wrap around me. You touched me where I was vulnerable, the parts of me that other men spend countless hours laboriously carving, sanding, smoothing, painting, while silently worshiping me more and more in the process of trying to recreate me.  It’s odd, these figureheads of  me mounted like a sacrifice to adorn their ship’s bow in order to ward off evil spirits, as if that’s where their protection lay.

When I felt your warm touch on this sacred part of me, I immediately felt electrified, like an eel.   Did you know then what you were doing to me?  What you were touching?  Were you aware of this singular moment in time?  Rareness.  One in a hundred million.  Exquisiteness. 

I forever remember the night I met you Captain.  With your steely legs and arms bursting with enormous strength, yet a conscience as fragile as fine porcelain.   You awoke, drowing in my blue sea Captain.  Do you remember how?   I watched from afar as you emptied in futility a brown bottle of spirits, tossing it afterwords carelessly into the sea. You kept looking over the starboard as if looking for the lost part of you in some magic mirror.  Did you forget who you were?

Intuition is such a curse.  You always know what’s going to happen next

I could almost hear you pleading and doubting.  Jesus. Could you take the time to throw a drowning man a line?

When you jumped into the soothing warm depths I understood.  We all want to escape that which haunts our soul and terrorizes our ability to move forward.

You were in the black.  You couldn’t see or be seen.  And so you fell, drowning man. You went down, down, down.  I waited a moment as I watched, mesmerized, momentarily paralyzed by the last trace of your beautifully illuminated face  as it quietly slipped away under the moonlight. It was then I risked discovery as I propelled towards you like lightening.  My sea sisters shook their heads as if to say, ” No!  Don’t!”

It’s a lesson my heart can’t wrap its tentacles around. “ Don’t you know,”  Father Neptune once told me, “The moment you start to save them, you begin to lose them?” 

I couldn’t believe then how this could be true.  But I understand now. It’s so hard for man to maintain belief in something he can’t see, much less prove to others.  This cognitive dissonance you possess, this incredible ability to love me the deepest and believe in me more than you do yourself, and yet in the span of a singular sunrise leave me, forgetting me, sometimes for a very long while.  This!  This is the scourge of my soul, the reason for my tears.

I dove straight down until I found you.  I didn’t have a choice, but to lift you up.  So I did; I lifted you up with my tail.  I carried you away.  I wanted to keep you, just for me,  if only for a little while.  My arms embraced you.  My hands, though small were strong enough to pull you up and out.  I pulled you towards me.  I blew the breath of life into you, until I could feel your heartbeat against mine, until we were in sync, co-existing, two hearts that beat as one.

Oh Captain, how magnificent that moment was.  The night your life came back to you, I thought I would burst with joy.  I should’ve known from that moment forward a small piece of my soul would be taken with you on each ensuing voyage.

When you came to, you were looking deep in my eyes as if standing on the edge of unbelief.   It’s not a mirage of madness I nodded.  It’s true.  I’m here.  I saved you! 

We lingered in the water for a while, neither of us daring to move.  The crescent moon sliced our water with a bright blaze of wet white light, near to us, yet just out of reach.  I let you hold me for a while hoping,  praying you could somehow divine what I most wanted.   Yet it could never be.  You, o creature of land, could never stay here.  I knew that too.  But denial is a sea where even a mermaid can drown. 

Our arms wrapped around one another, my tail gave your weary legs stability as we tread water for a spell,  entwined like vines of the sea. I saw a tear begin to fall from your eye.  I put my finger to it.  You hung your head in shame.

“My sweet angel.  My sweet angel of the abyss.  How could you save me?  For I am an unworthy man.  I’ve been dishonest.  I bartered my soul in exchange for silver and gold.  All my men! They’re sailing their last voyage.  They’ve been promised by the arrogant kings of earth treasures of glorious riches, but deep down they know.  They’re off to fight the endless wars started by these same wicked kings and rulers whose blood lust is always for more–whose wars were always the choice of the chosen who will not have to fight.  More land!  More treasure!  Above all, more power!  My protection is assured; I only have to deliver them to the carnage, pawns of their kings, to their dreadful end. I’ve always had the luxury of returning home. Yet I’ve exchanged many nights of rest for these few days of worthless riches.  The only thing more vast than this God-forsaken sea is my sorrows. And now my sorrows have learned to swim.”

I couldn’t take another minute.  Why?  Why is living on the land so complicated?  Where is the love?  Why can’t there be peace on earth?    And in return one’s soul?

At that moment I put my lips to yours.  Your strength was not without humilityYou did not know your weakness was actually a treatable disease.  You, a mere man who resisted interrogations of all sorts, who fought and won many a battle and overcame some temptations in your younger years, fought me not when I kissed you.  You kissed me back.  Then you closed your eyes.  Were you blinded by the beauty of me and my home in the sea or were you pushing back a life filled with too many lies?   Did you savor the taste of my salt-water kisses?  Did you carve a place somewhere deep in your heart at that moment reserved just for me?  In this garden of the sea, my gypsy heart simultaneously shattered and swooned.    The seas swirled; everything was spinning around us.  We were kissing, living life true by moonlight, but only for a little while.

It was time to return the Captain of the Gloria.  Back to the men who would be depending on you—your fierce courage in adversity, your decisions under pressure, your steady confidence as together you faced perilous storms and unknown futures.  You knew.  You didn’t fight me when I began leading you back to your ship.   A stroke of fate had allowed a sailor on deck to hear you as you splashed into the water.  A crew was already in the water searching for a trace of you with their search lights.  As we neared your vessel, I propelled you like a rocket, away from me. In a flash I was gone.

I dove down deep, always evading discovery.  I’m able to suspend time unlike you.  On my way down, the last thing I saw were your feet.  I froze here for a moment.  For all eternity I will replay that moment in my mind.  For the briefest of time you were with me, but I know this to be true.  You will walk on.  Yet in my dreams, I stay here, always falling– falling at your feet.

Forever my mind will see visions of you, a treasure just to look upon it.  Eternally my heart will pine for you.  And I will always wonder but one thought:  Had I remained visible, would you have returned to me? 

The morning after I saved you, the skies were clear.  You didn’t pull up anchor.  Nor the next.   Or the one after.  I could not imagine what excuses you used to avoid sailing.  And on the fourth day, I saw you then.  Your dark hair tossed with strands of silver, and strong arms escaping your white sailor’s shirt.

I saw it then.  I followed the curves and lines of your sinewy arms down to your forearms as you hoisted the sails that would eventually carry you home, and away from me.  A tattoo.   Your first one; your only one.  A man your age with virgin skin on these seas was so rare, but during this voyage,  you broke ranks with yourself and cut yourself for me, exchanging your blood for the inky green of the sea.  I knew.  Only love could leave such a mark.

I smiled when I saw this portrait of myself reflected in the mirror of your skin.  I cried too.  I knew these same arms would deliver Abraham’s sons to their death; collect a king’s reward, and ultimately wrap around the torso of another.  Your strong hands would outline the small of a back of a woman who could walk the earth, and say what she meant, though she would know you not.    Not like me.

I was overcome as I was left in the water.  Waves of regret and waves of joy washed over me.  In five years, I saw you three times after the night I saved you.  You would share more secrets with me each time.  You would kiss me as your adorned me with your pearls, electrifying me with your touch.  Each of us would be what the other wished to possess but could never have.

But the last time I saw you, I stayed far away.  I could see storm clouds gathering that your eyes couldn’t yet see.  Death would be your fate if you were to fall in love with only my humanity.  I saw you late the night before pacing from bow to stern checking with the stars and searching with your binoculars for that which you knew, but couldn’t prove.  I, the harbor in your tempest, the lighthouse of your soul, will always be here.  I know deep down you will come to know this, and yet you will continue to returning to this place until finally you simply believe it.

That is when I will see you no more.  You will make your peace with your memory of me and your life with all of its trials and storms and lies and heartaches.  You will reconcile them along with possessing the beauty of a woman who walks, a baby who smiles, and men who’ll give their life for you and a few who did, and all the fine things that treasure can buy.  Yet I know on the darkest nights, when your soul is in knots and your heart is black and blue, and you’re fleeing again all that pains you, I, the soul of your mermaid will be with you.  I’ll be your North Star; I’ll be the one that lights your way. I’ll help you and carry you as you navigate safely home.  Always!

*Mermaid Painting on Porcelain Plate:  Ruth Price – Artist — Beaufort, NC

Stepping Stones      Once upon a time, I was subject to all sorts of stress and chaos.  That’s because for many years I was under the dominion of feelings, rather than acceptance of reality.  That’s not to say that feelings aren’t real or don’t count; they do.  I’m just saying it can’t be what guides you.

Thankfully wisdom eventually comes the longer one lives. So when I saw these rocks at a gift shop recently, and knowing nothing is a coincidence, a vision of truth settled over me.  It was as if a 12 step program (okay fourteen, but who’s counting?) for our emotions was suddenly available in summary form.   I thanked God for the instant wisdom and beauty He had provided.  So when you’re down and out, start by taking baby steps towards the power generated in just a few words worthy of being carved on rocks.  Meditate on them and then implement these action-steps and you will begin to leave drama behind and move towards peace, joy, and positive decisiveness.  Love is a decision, so take the steps necessary to love your life!

BreatheBefore you lash out or make a decision based on how you feel right now, just breathe.  It sounds simple, but it can be elusive when you’re hyperventilating on anger or extreme sadness.  Stop!  Get grounded.  Take a step back.  And just breathe.

ChangeThere are only two things you can change in life:  Your situation or your response.  It’s that simple.  If you can change your situation, by all means do.  Dump that toxic relationship, go back to school, decide to get out of debt,  get rid of that which is holding you back,  apply for that job you don’t think you’re qualified for anyway, go ahead and write that book you’ve been contemplating.

But what about the boss who chewed you out?  The spouse who abandoned you?  The grown child who never calls you?  And every other situation under the sun that falls under the category “unfair”?   There is only one thing you can do.  Change your attitude or response.  Besides you have to.  Why let what you can’t control destroy your well-being and sense of peace?   Acceptance of others and their flaws sets you free.  Putting up boundaries by saying, “I can’t talk to you until you calm down” or “I won’t allow you to speak to me like that” and then leaving a heated situation, shows that you are in control of your life and that you respect yourself to not allow others to disrespect you.  Remember you don’t have to be right all the time or have to convince others.  The goal is to be at peace!

ChoiceMy favorite advice on choice is this:  Choose your suffering.  Essentially that means don’t waste your suffering.  The Bible even states that “in this world, you will have trouble.”  And that is no lie!  You don’t get to the end without experiencing tragedy, abandonment, loss, hurt, sadness, anger, and unfairness.  Kind of like change, you have to make a decision.  Are you going to let that which you can’t control destroy you, or rest as the rock foundation that you build your testimony on, and become a source of inspiration to others, and even yourself.  You are stronger than you give yourself credit for.  Tap into that strength.

CourageDare to face the horrible truths in your life that you’d rather not:  You have a problem.  Deal with it.  Get help when necessary.  Tap into your faith.  Call on your friends.  Don’t go through the hard stuff alone.   As you get rid of toxic relationships outside of yourself, you’ll find it’s time once and for all to deal with the habits and hang-ups that keep you from reaching your full potential:  Insecurities, lack of confidence, bad or destructive habits, or fear of failure.    Attack each of these self-destroyers with all the tools in your toolbox:  Faith, family, friends, and above all a willingness to change.   Each step you take in the direction of courage builds momentum making each subsequent step a little bit easier than the one before.

Dance Put on the jamz and pump up the volume.  Life is too short to purposely not do things that can bring you happiness and joy.  Why settle for ho-hum washing the dishes and vacuuming the house when you can crank up your favorite music and dance the night away as you work!  As long as your multitasking, at least do it with joy.  Throw off those shoes and dance.  Grab a partner and surprise them with the joy of dance.

Dream Never give up your dreams.  Never!  What is that thing you’ve always longed to accomplish?  Write a song?  Start a new career in a totally different field?  Lose thirty pounds?  Then be like a Nike ad and just do it!  Start today!  You have to start sometime.  Don’t let excuses or lack of time be your reason why you didn’t fulfill your dreams.  A little today is better than none tomorrow and the day after that.  Slow progression is the key towards long-term results.  The key is to act with intent on your dreams.

Heal What is it you need in order to heal?  Professional help?  Spiritual guidance?  The compassion of a friend?  Then seek it and don’t be ashamed.  Perhaps you just need time.  That’s okay too.  Time doesn’t necessarily heal all wounds, but it allows us time to get our head together and weave that which hurt us into the fabric of our being, so that we can step out in courage anyway.  You wouldn’t let an infection on your skin fester and get worse.  It’s essential  that which troubles your heart or your mind be healed as well.  Don’t let pride stop you from getting the healing you need.

LaughGo ahead; lighten up!  Laugh at your mistakes, it’s okay.  Don’t be wound so tight, you can’t allow yourself to be human.  Go to a funny movie with a friend!  It’s good therapy.   Become mindful of joy and learn to laugh.  Laugh lines are more attractive than worry lines anyway!

Organize– Get rid of excess.  Everyday pick a room, a drawer, a box to organize.  Stop buying that which you don’t need.  Put things away as you use them.  Remember that it’s more fun to do and to be in life than it is to haveExcess of things don’t make us happy; relationships do.  We don’t get to take our things with us.  The only commodity we truly have in life is time.  Time to enjoy our life, but more importantly time to make a difference in the lives of others.  When you are organized, you have more time to see friends, volunteer, and get out in God’s beautiful world and enjoy all there is to see and do.

Play You work hard.  Don’t deny yourself this essential ingredient in life.  Get a hobby.  Play a sport.   Play with your kids and your pets every day if you have them.   When you play, you’re apt to laugh and that is good medicine for the soul.  Definitely find ways to play!

RelaxSimilar to just breathe, this is the mechanism you need to calm your soul and soothe your spirit.  It sounds easy, but how many times do we deny ourselves the opportunity to just relax because everything else seems essential?   Reading a good book or watching a great movie or just taking a nap on a Saturday afternoon can totally change our perspective when we’re stressed.  If you never have time to relax, than go back to organize.  What things, commitments, or excess people do you need to purge in order to enjoy the necessary stepping stone of relaxation?

RememberRemember others who are suffering and you can be a blessing to.  Remember the good things in life that God has blessed you with and choose to save some of them.  Take pictures of the good things.  Make a family scrapbook.  Have a treasure trunk where you keep mementoes of happy events.  Remembering that which brings us joy and leaving behind that which causes us pain is a great way to have a fulfilling and joyous life.

Rest We can’t organize, relax, remember, play, work, heal, dance, laugh, make necessary changes, or even dream if we don’t first get enough rest.  We were designed to rest for a reason.  When we allow our mind and body to recharge, we are taking the first step to complete all the others.   Get on a schedule and get the rest you need.

TeachTeach others life lessons you’ve learned so far.  Mentoring others is a great way to make a difference.  Also be willing to be taughtHaving a teachable spirit is also a key to wisdom.  Try not to take all advice, even when unsolicited, as a means to control you, but perhaps as a kernel of truth worth mining.  Having a teachable attitude means accepting that we don’t necessarily know everything.  And that’s okay.

Okay, so that’s 14 stepping stones to lead you to a better life.  But there is one that was left out intentionally.  All these stones, pale in comparison to the solid rock foundation they rest upon: 

FaithThe people I’ve known in life that have it the most together mentally, physically, financially, and spiritually have a deep faith that is the bedrock upon which all else is built.  Having faith means you personally don’t have to have all the answers or be in control.  That’s because when God is in control, someone bigger than you is in charge.   You don’t have to know everything or be responsible for every outcome.  Faith steps in when people step out.  Faith is believing in someone or something bigger than yourself.  Faith is prayer.  Faith is active.  Faith is forgiving.  Faith allows us to love.  Faith is a conduit to all that is good in life Faith is more than a positive attitude, it is an assurance of things hoped for and not yet seen.   Sharpen your faith, and live the good life.

And I feel
Like I’m slowly, slowly, slowly slipping under
And I feel
Like I’m holding onto nothing…..

So goes the lyrics in U2’s Lemon.

My question to you is this:  What do you do when you are slowly slipping under?  Where do you go?  How do you cope?    It comes down to this:  What drives you?

What drives you when you’re happy and content?  More importantly what drives you when you are not?   What do you do when life goes sour?

The truth is, life really is one big fruit salad.  It’s not always topped with cherries or strawberries.  Sometimes it’s the pits.  Sometimes life gives you lemons.

Those pesky things in life you can’t control in life (namely people and situations) sure are hard to swallow sometimes aren’t they?

Do you throw back stones?  Do you make lemonade from life’s lemons?  Or do you choke on the bitterness?

We don’t always get to choose our suffering, only our response.  We don’t get to take the shortcut –that is the long way around.  No, we are called to pass through.

Sometimes the suffering of others causes us to suffer.  As if we didn’t have our own sea of sorrows we frequently wade in, sometimes we are called to go deep with a friend or loved one into their own private ocean.  It’s hell.  But it’s good.  If you remember this:

I’ve got your back.

Are you still afloat?  Then you are not alone.

You can even be the life preserver for someone else when they are sinking.  You can be the sunshine in their dark world.  You can do what you don’t think you are strong enough to do.    You can go where you don’t want to go and see what you’d rather not.  You can think clear enough to do what is called for here.

And I feel
Like I’m drifting, drifting, drifting from the shore
And I feel
Like I’m swimming out to her

     Yes, you have to leave your comfort zone if you’re going to be in the rescue business.  You have to leave all that’s familiar even if you’re going to allow yourself to be saved.

Midnight is where the day begins
Lemon
See through in the sunlight

     Chaos and confusion randomly can surround us and seat themselves comfortably in our relatively stable world.  These terrorist twins sometimes just show up unannounced and uninvited.

We’ll have to walk through the dark scary woods to reach sunrise sometimes.   We carry our fear with us as we journey far into the darkness.  Can you feel it?

You are not alone.

At the edge of the horizon of darkness, a crack of light appears.   

Lemon
She is the dreamer
She’s imagination

She had heaven
Through the light projected
He can see himself up close

She wore lemon

      Sometimes we are called to be the light in other people’s dark world.   Sunlight is such a great disinfectant.  Whose light are you called to be today?  Lemon or lemonade?    Choose well.

When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.  Isaiah 43:2

Partial Lyrics above are from U2 “Lemon”

Photo by Beautelle

    

 

 


It happened.  That thing you hoped wouldn’t.  You know, that thing you had no control of.

In writing and in life, I keep coming back to this theme:  We are not in control. 

Words are flowing out like
endless rain into a paper cup
They slither while they pass
They slip away across the universe

       First the tears fall down your cheeks.  Tiny pools of sorrow dampen the floor.

Pools of sorrow waves of joy
are drifting thorough my open mind
Possessing and caressing me

      There was nothing more you could do.  You did your part.  You did all you could.  The rest is up to God.  You still believe God, don’t you?    Yes?  Good.  Then there is no problem here.

Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world

Still, it’s not fair!  Your spirit rebels.  I’ve got this, my child.  It’s not right.  You cry out because you’re hurting.  I’ve got this.  Let it go.  Do you trust me?

So you cry.  You cry until you feel dry.  There are no more words left to say.   This was never about you and what you wanted.  It falls under the category Higher Purposes.    My ways are higher than your ways you recall.  My thoughts are higher than your thoughts.

 Truth seeps in.  Doubts sit down for a while.  Cracks of light break through your tears given sufficient time to fall.  Your heart fell into darkness momentarily, but the light is slipping in and the dark is being forced to flee.

Images of broken light which
dance before me like a million eyes
That call me on and on across the universe

I’m not sure I understand this at all God.  You don’t have to.  You just have to let go and trust me. 

Thoughts meander like a
restless wind inside a letter box
they tumble blindly as
they make their way across the universe

I can’t think this one through.  I can’t find the reason to this one question:  Why?

You don’t have to have all the answers if you trust in Me.

Fine then.  I’m trusting You!  I’m stepping out in faith.  I’m leaving the comfort of my sorrows. 

Choose to be joyful.  Be grateful.  Be a light to others.

Sounds of laughter shades of life
are ringing through my open ears
exciting and inviting me
Limitless undying love which
shines around me like a million suns
It calls me on and on across the universe

Several increments of time later:  You’re right.  I think I’m going to make it.  Even with scars, I’m going to be okay.

Indeed you will my child; indeed you will.

Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world

Something’s gonna change my world

Lyrics to “Across the Universe”  (center text) – The Beatles

 

There’s crack in everything; that’s how the light get in. – Leonard Cohen

“Maybe you have to know the darkness before you can appreciate the light.” – Madeleine L’Engle

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Posted: August 26, 2012 in Control, God, Life's Storms
Tags: , , ,

From Designzzz.com   (Could not find name of artist—my apologies)

House of secrets;
Glassed in shame.
House of lies;
Bricked in pain.
Fear of abandonment,
The Devil’s gain.
Loss of control
Drives you insane.
Crisis comes,
Not a friend around.
Outside the voices judge you,
In your head condemnation resounds.
Paralyzed by spasmodic fear,
You blindly choose.
Knowing at the end of options
You exhaustively loose.
In the crowd,
You’re frightfully alone.
Outwardly smiling,
Yearning for home.
Home of your true heart,
Built on trust.
Painted with truth,
Not hidden by dust.
If you could just rest,
This heart of rust.
To lose all fear,
And reclaim the love.
Your forgotten birth right,
From your Father above.
Inside awaits redemption
Whose love heals all these scars.
Unchains your bright light,
And ignites the stars.
 
Liz Gray

“Spiritual Surrender” by Christopher Cuseo

      It’s these same themes I keep revisiting in writing and especially in life in general:

  • We don’t really have control; it’s always been an illusion
  • Acceptance is the only way out of darkness
  • There’s no such thing as coincidence

When we know this at our core, life gets easier.  Clarity comes into focus.  You start realizing every prior moment in your life was orchestrated in such a way to bring you to this one.  What will you do with it?   What will you do now?

Most people hit a point in life where they start asking the big questions:

  • Why am I here?
  • What is it that will make me truly happy?
  • Is this all there is?
  • Will I get the rough relationships smoothed out?
  • Will I obtain the desired relationship I don’t yet have?
  • Will I accomplish my goals professionally?
  • Will I have time to make my dreams come true?
  • Will I accomplish these things before my time runs out?
  • Externally, do I present myself to others the way I view myself?

       More than ever, we now live in a world of disconnect.  We find out about new babies, weddings, funerals, and news of the world and news of those we love by way of social media.  We respond in equal measure with our affirmations of LIKE or by hammering a few words out as a reply.  If we don’t respond, we can always feign ignorance.  We can pretend we didn’t see something we don’t want to know or deal with.  No one else is the wiser.

We disconnect from others, but more so, we like to disconnect from the discomfort of having to answer hard questions about our life.   We become too busy to find the answers.

    But are we living true?  Are we at peace?

There are two possibilities we receive when attempting to answer questions where the answer isn’t yet clearly revealed:

Anxiety or Acceptance

     Anxiety usually involves stewing, ruminating, playing a situation or conversation over and over in your head.  Rewind; play, repeat!   Each time it replays, new details emerge and our anger and our fears become embellished.  Before long we are living in non-truth.    I’m convinced at my core that is where our feelings of unworthy, unlovable, undeserving, unforgiveable, and our inability forgive or move on lie.  Yes, where they LIE.    We are created to live in peace and be at peace, but sometimes we live as if we are the main characters in M. Scott Peck’s People of the Lie.

    Acceptance is freedom!  It means giving up control of others or having to know the outcome of things.   Acceptance allows good to come into your life because you are open to it.  You’ll be free to notice beauty, goodness, love, and truth in the smallest of things in life.  You will realize that there are no coincidences, and that even bad moments can be used for good, if you can have proper perspective.  Positivity, wisdom, empathy, and love first start with acceptance of the way things actually are.

      Easy to say, but how do you transition from anxiety to acceptance?

Oh, if only it were easy.  This is life’s great journey.  There are thousands of books in the self-help section.  There are motivational speakers, there’s church and the Bible and other holy books.  There are therapists, psychiatrists, musicians, artists, and friends all who are happy to give you their two cents worth.

How do you usually first respond to challenges?

  • Emotionally–You immediately feel angry, hurt, or a strong need to defend your position.
  • Logically–You need to explain and rationalize and get to the bottom of why or what now.

Well, maybe the answer is spiritual in nature.  Sometimes the big questions do involve our faith—faith in God, faith in ourselves, and above all faith that God is actively involved in our lives and situations.   If we are courageous enough to believe that, than our need to control life and find justification in our feelings and responses diminishes.

We can just live aware of each moment.  We can take a step back and WAIT.  Wait before feeling or speaking or explaining.  We can wait for wisdom to show us the right way to respond.

Bono’s right when he sings “I’m not easy on my knees” in Love and Peace or Else.  In the next line he sings, “Here’s my heart, you can break it.  I need some release, release, release.”   Indeed!  Sometimes God allows things that crack our hard hearts of stone.  Those with tender hearts of glass are even more easily shattered.    The next part is up to us.   It’s our Moment of Surrender.

I hope you will able to surrender that which is hard, or hurtful, or defies explanation.   When we finally can surrender or let go, we are able to find the rhythm of our soul; we can live in peace and live true.   I’m convinced once we are able to surrender; we lose our chains.  Then we can then let God’s love and light in our life, and then live our life as mirrors by reflecting to others all we’ve been blessed with.

   Open your heart to the rhythm of yes.  Surrender.  You too are loved.

At the moment of surrender
I’m falling to my knees
I did not notice the passersby
And they did not notice me
I’ve been in every black hole
At the altar of a Dark star
My body’s now begging
Though it’s begging to get back
Begging to get back
To my heart
To the rhythm of my soul
To the rhythm of my consciousness
To the rhythm of yes
To be released from control

“Moment of Surrender” – U2

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=blqa-3q-b38

(Also worth watching:  U2 – Moment of Surrender live at Rose Bowl on 4/06/2010)

 

 

What is it about a beach sunrise that trumps a regular sunrise?  Yesterday morning I had my feet propped up on a deck rail, a warm coffee in my hand, two sweet dogs laying by my side, and watching the ocean on the horizon.

Such sweet relief!   Our souls often feel weathered due to the storms we’re forced to endure. We learn:

Change is the only constant we navigate by

Waves continuously change and crash, but the sea and the mysterious laws that govern it are eternally constant. I sat there vaguely pondering  this, but mostly I was trance like in a state of non-thought.

Then my dear friend of twenty years came out with a plate of delicious fresh garden tomatoes grown with the help of her hands and love for gardening.  We sipped our coffee as we watched the sea.  “Look!” she said.  “Dolphins!”    A pair of dolphins were swimming just past the waves’ breaking  point parallel to the shore line.

I rarely stay at such quiet beaches, so I had yet to see dolphins at sunrise.  I’ve hoped for it on many trips, but never got to see them with my own eyes–until yesterday.

It’s real, I thought.  I never saw dolphins swim at sunrise before, not because they didn’t exist or I wasn’t looking hard enough, but because it wasn’t my time to see.  Prayers are answered in God’s time, not ours.

There is nothing like the ocean that seems to settle our faith and our doubts between the temporary and the eternal  like watching the ocean for an extended period of time.  Our soul is soothed as we watch the ocean free from life’s pressures, distractions, noise, and rampant thoughts that compete for our attention.    Ah, to just watch the ocean with a truly open mind, and without awareness of time passing.

See God has planted the seed of eternity in every man’s heart.  It’s hard not to love the sea whose every breaking wave crashes onto shore, only to return softly back to itself.    From a distance it’s so beautiful.  But if you are standing at the waves’ breaking point, all you hear is loudness and feel its fury.  You certainly feel the power if you attempt to stand there.  Fixing your feet here is impossible.  But a few yards ahead or behind the breaking point, all is calm.

Our lives are exactly like that.  The storms come.   The circumstances come in bulk and threaten to pull us under.  We are standing at the breaking point where it’s loud, and we’re unsteady on our feet.  We see the shore and we see the horizon, but in the midst of the breaking point’s fury, we can’t seem to move further out to sea or return to shore.

Yes, viewing the ocean from the distance of being across the street, I had a wider and quieter view then when lying on the sand only a few feet from where the tide comes in.  I look at the sea from this distance and feel nothing but peace from the top of my head to the tips of my toes still sugared in bits of yesterday’s sand.  All is well with the world—or at least, in this moment, in mine.

Yet I know this same sea has blanketed fury on coastal cities in time past.  It’s destroyed property and taken lives.  Untold thousands have drawn their last breath of air before succumbing to the ocean’s depths.    Boats and ships sink.  Storms come.  People drown.   My worst sea nightmare would be of being stranded in a life boat, dying of thirst, yet wondering if I’d be rescued.

Yesterday I watched dolphins swim across the ocean.  Somewhere else in the world, in this very same sea, somebody else was on a sinking boat fighting to stay alive.  At their moment of peril, did dolphins cease to exist?  While I marveled at the magnificence of dolphins, did I not care for the person struggling in the sea just because I didn’t see them or know of it?

Our circumstances, perspectives, beliefs, and geography separate us, yet we are still united in our humanity.  When one suffers, humanity suffers even when others are not aware.  Thankfully, God sees the big picture of our lives with an ultra-wide angle lens—a perspective we can’t conceive.  It is not constrained by width or depth or time.   God is able to see both these moments, and every moment and every one.

I want to have and maintain peace like I did yesterday morning.  Can we have daily peace, even though there is continual chaos in the world, even in our own lives? If so, how God?

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.  James 1:5-8

This is one of the hardest and truest bible verses to me.  We are told that it is our doubts that blow our lives all around, sometimes to bits!  Our circumstances and our emotions toss us in such a way we can’t find True North, we can’t navigate our way home.   We get pulled between other peoples’ words to us and expectations of us and our feelings towards it all.   We don’t find solutions, because we don’t believe we will.

We get tossed by each event that threatens to overtake us, simply because we’re out of control.  We already know that in many circumstances, the control was never ours to possess anyway.    Still we fight the Captain of our soul for command of the wheel.  Sometimes our own mutiny is the real cause of our undoing.

It’s been said that seeing is believing.  But the real truth is believing is seeing. 

Would I have believed in dolphins had I never seen them at sunrise yesterday?  Of course!  I’ve known dozens of people who have already seen them; I’d seen them on TV and pictures.  That’s a no-brainer.  Everyone knows dolphins exist.

But God?  That’s another matter.  It can be hard to either believe God exists or that He actually is good or cares for you or the world that you live in.  How could God care or be good when there are storms such as wars, disease, famine , poverty, injustice,  and cruelty inflicted on living beings that God breathed life into in the first place?  Are those people or creatures less valuable to God then we are?  Of course not!  Then why?

WHY is the question we don’t have the luxury of asking.  When we do, our brain is limited in the answers it provides.  We can’t find rationale for pain or unfairness; our limited explanations don’t satisfy.   That dissatisfaction breeds doubt, and the cycle of being tossed about commences.

WHY is the universal question whose answer is like the sea.  It rises up, and then rolls back out.  We think we almost know sometimes; we think we have our lives figured out.    Then the storms come.

We have to trust in our faith that assures WHO, and not the knowledge that seeks to explain WHY.  Don’t allow waves of doubt to take your truth back to sea.

Man tries to explain his life and events, and the most brilliant, pedigreed people still fail miserably.   Life is a mystery.   The question is can you be at peace and NOT have answers sometimes?

I hope so.  That’s faith—being comfortable in not knowing the outcome or why.   If we can choose to live our lives as mirrors, so that our words and deeds reflect  light and love, rather than a telescope that tries to see and explain time and circumstance—that’s visionIf we can choose to love God and believe he exists, even though life isn’t fair, that’s true freedom.  Doing these things diminishes doubts, until they eventually die.

We don’t get to choose the location, timing, or severity of our storms.  We only can decide on who is in charge of our ship that sails over every breaking wave.  Choose well so that you can navigate safely.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.  Hebrews 11:1

 

Every breaking wave
On the shore
Tells  the next one there’ll be one more

I don’t know if I’m that strong
I don’t know if I’m that strong
Don’t know if I’m that strong
To be somebody
To need someone……….

……..The waves know
We’re on the rocks
Drowning is no sin

You know
That my heart
Is the same place yours has been

(Partial Lyrics—U2 –Every Breaking Wave)

 

 

On July 4th I published my post (Out of Control) Freak.   I woke up that day, wrote, and got on with my day making plans for July 4th with friends and family.  It seemed like another day, with the added bonus of being off work in the middle of the week.   I didn’t know the world was crumbling, changing form only a few feet from my home.

In the middle of the afternoon, the hundred degree heat sat thick and heavy on the ground. The sky grew black.  An explosion of thunder crashed as if a bomb went off.  Severe lightening and a pounding rain assaulted the heat.  Though it was ominous outside, I felt safe and secure in the comfort of my little world at home, near the half of family that was here and I prayed for my half that wasn’t here.

It appeared as if all was ok in my world, save for the barrage of fire trucks, police, and ambulances that began to flood our neighborhood.  I was busy writing and didn’t know only a block away, a fellow neighbor’s home was burning to the ground.   They were on vacation as their house perished in flames and smoke.  I also didn’t know that just over my fence, my neighbor of seventeen years got the dreaded phone call we beg God to spare us from:

I’m sorry; there’s been an accident.    Your husband was killed.

       Struck was the word used.   Yet he died as he lived; he was in the middle of doing something he loved.  He went for an afternoon ride on his bike before they were to leave for the beach.  What happens in a single hour?

  • A man who’s pedaled thousands of miles is struck by a truck in the middle of his ride.
  • Gawkers flood our street and follow plumes of smoke to see what is happening.
  • Pyrotechnicians are busy fusing fireworks on a platform while preparing for possible rain.
  • A neighbor rings my doorbell.  My writing time is interrupted.
  • Why isn’t my daughter back from work yet?
  • My friend is finishing packing bags and coolers when the telephone rings.
  • I want to finish my tasks so I can enjoy fireworks in a few hours.
  • Paramedics desperately try to save a man who was hit while riding his bike.
  • Thunder explodes.  Lightening crashes.  Then the rain comes.
  • It’s just another day.  It never is. 

Control of our lives is always an illusion.  I grieve for the moments I’ve lost due to anger, resentment, or frustration where I didn’t have control.   I wish I could take back moments I made the wrong choice or said words I shouldn’t have.  I wish I could freeze time and stay in the moments that were beautiful:  The moment you hold your new baby for the first time, the moments when you intensely loved and were loved, the sweet moment your child hugs your neck and jumps up on you.   We can’t; we’re out of control.

In life, sadly we get no do-overs.  We don’t get to remake yesterday; we only create today.  I found out by watching the evening news, something I rarely do anymore.  I felt sick, but prayed for courage and walked over in the rain to see my neighbor yesterday.   We shared quite a few conversations over the years.  We watched as new babies were born, and chatted when the kids played at the pool.  For years I smiled when I would wash dishes at my sink and watch her three rambunctious boys play with their dog and their dad outside my window.

Now there’s a good family I’d think.  They lived, and they worked, and they loved.  They loved Jesus, had cook outs, threw the Frisbee to the dog, and made plans for their future.  But they didn’t make this one.

In a few hours, I’ll be sitting in a church, most likely crying with hundreds of other friends and family members I do not know.  I’m sad and stunned by the loss of a great neighbor.   I can’t even begin to comprehend their loss of a father and husband who was cherished.

I only know this:  They are not alone.   When I went to visit yesterday, the house was full.  Full of comforting friends, grieving grandmothers, crawling babies, church ladies making food, and a sad dog wondering why all the people but no papa.  I walked in, and my newly widowed neighbor was laughing.  Laughing!  She was briefly in a happy moment as she was showing pictures to relatives.  This made me cry.  I knew when she turned around, there I’d be, another face with tears that kept repeating and confirming: It’s real.  It happened.  He’s gone.  I’m so sorry.

Hugs and tears were exchanged.  My feeble words were compensated for by God’s loving grace.  I was astounded by this mom’s great faith, for these dark hours where she stands and greets people warmly, clasps their hands and repeatedly says, “thank you.”  I reel at the unfairness of life.  I want to take this from her and spare her loving sons.  I can’t.  I have zero control.  They are going to walk through this anyway.

This is the moment we live our faith.  How do we respond when we go through what we didn’t ask for and once we are made aware of what someone else is going through?   I don’t know exactly; I know I can only start with this:  I pray.  I ask for wisdom, grace, comfort, and time to give these things.  I thank God for time we share with family, friends, neighbors, even when it’s brief.   I beg God for mercy and ask for all needs to be met.  I ask for this family to be surrounded by lots and lots of love, especially the long days ahead.

Every moment is indeed a gift; it really is a present.  I pray today that you can unwrap the love and then give it away.

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.  Isaiah 43:1-2

Though our grief is devastating, God’s grace truly is amazing.