Every person a world

“How many who love never come nearer than to behold each other as in a mirror; seem to know and yet never know the inward life; never enter the other soul; and part at last, with but the vaguest notion of the universe on the borders of which they have been hovering for years?” -George MacDonald, Phantastes

Do we love in that way? It seems that we know the other person. But we haven’t even glimpsed the inner life, the soul, the universe that is the other person.

As the Spanish saying goes, “each person is a world.” Better yet, a universe with their own depths, story, and constellations.

Each person is an unrepeatable miracle and mystery – never again to be repeated in the history of the humanity. And we unknowingly walk on the edge of that human universe, loving (or leaving) without the slightest idea of the depths and beauty of the body-soul we have in front of us.


“Love that reaches the unrepeatable mystery of the other person is a love that’s truly that: unrepeatable, stable, sure. It’s an inexhaustible treasure that can’t possibly be found elsewhere. In this case, love’s inherent adventurousness finds its delight not in wandering from person to person, but from wandering ever more deeply into the heart of the one and only beloved.” – Christopher West, Fill These Hearts

Advertisement

The forever i

The forever I.

Okay, forever is a long time. Let’s say “the long-lasting I.” The I that has felt like quite a while.

It’s always just I.

“I’ll be there.”

“I’m moving.”

“I can’t wait!”

“I’m having a hard year.”

It’s “I” and there are days that the “I” aches for “we.” The world worships the individuality and freedom of I, yet we have hearts that yearn for togetherness and belonging.

To be part of someone else.

To be accounted for.

To be counted on.

To be a team.

To be a “we” that doesn’t swallow up the “I” but protects it, makes it flourish, nourishes it, and makes it shine.

“We’ll be there.”

“We’re moving.”

“We can’t wait!”

“We’re having a hard year.”

The “we” isn’t always a piece of cake. In fact, we is objectively and practically harder than “I” because it means becoming one with another imperfect human, taking them into account always.

But that’s not the point right now.

The point is that sometimes “I” can get lonely, that there’s loneliness intertwined with the joy of life and that’s okay.

the fringes of His ways

It’s a faint whisper and the fringe of Creation.

“He stretches out the north over empty space and hangs the earth on nothing. He wraps up the waters in His clouds, And the cloud does not burst under them. He has inscribed a circle on the surface of the waters at the boundary of light and darkness.

Behold, these are the fringes of His ways; And how faint a word we hear of Him! But His mighty thunder, who can understand?”
‭‭(Job‬ ‭26)

These are only the edges of Creation, yet we still stand amazed. We hear only a whisper of the Lord’s greatness, yet we still marvel. What’s the rest of it like?

It is good to realize how much we don’t know. It is good to be amazed by the 1% of things that we see and even more amazed by the 99% of things that we don’t know about.

Run

I’m not sure about other runners, but I’ve thought about her when I head out. I imagine that the whole thing was a frightening reminder for those who wake up at 4:30am to run. Unsettling to all of us.

What happened is horrifying.

It should never have happened. It is unacceptable.

We go on strike in our hearts, refusing to let this be the reality, refusing to live in fear or inhabit a society in which we have reason to fear for our lives when we run. We fight for something better.

We desire a world where we run freely without fear, there are no tears, and the lamb rests with the lion. No fear. No abuse. No violence. No heartache. This is the kind of world we want and we know is right. We feel it in our bones. The dream is a world in which no harm is intended and no harm is carried out.

This longing hits the mark. It is not unfounded. It is correct.

We know that evil must be cast out. We want it gone — forever. We work towards that world diligently and unceasingly, because we know it is right.

But at the same time we are not deceived. We acknowledge that the sad, current reality cannot be changed by wishing on a star. We are fully aware that we hurt one another and are hurt by one another.

The effort for change is worthwhile and we simultaneously acknowledge that what we long for and work for will not be found in its fullness right now.

We long for and wait eagerly for the day that it is.

The Lord hates “hands that shed innocent blood” and “hearts that create evil schemes” (Proverbs 16). Good. I want a God who hates these things.

As Scott Sauls says, “ if there is no judgment, then there’s no hope for a slave, rape, victim, a child, who has been abused, or bullied, or people who have been slandered or robbed, or had their dignity stolen. We need a God who gets angry. We need a God who will protect his kids, who will once and for all remove bullies and perpetrators of evil from his playground.”

I don’t perfectly embody the striking combination of love, patience, and justice but I’m glad that He does.

He also hates haughty eyes and lies (Proverbs 16). We fight the bad in big and small ways, are careful to do away with hate which is, after all, embryonic murder in our hearts. We do everything in our power to give Love to those we cross paths with, and live wisely in a world that’s not as it should be.

The perfect world is the correct target — and we have glimpses of it. Glorious, peaceful, beautiful tastes of perfect harmony, complete joy, and unbridled freedom. The glimpses awaken our longing for it. We use that longing to propel ourselves toward what we know should be and the One who desires it more than us and will make it come to be.

“Eden’s voice rises from a whisper to a song, and it’s easier to see what we were meant for: to love the world as God does, shaping it to reflect what was in the beginning, and, and even greater glory, what will be in the end.” -Andrew Peterson

Hopeful yet realistic. Wise but not bitter.

We are not resigned to or beaten by the current reality because we have hope for long-term justice and change.

Furious indignation

Today is our Gran’s birthday.

And a month and a half ago we walked among tombs of familiar south Louisiana last names. We located our own family names carved into stone.

We went to bury her — their mother, my grandmother — and to cry together. We remembered something that I think she knew well: her life was not ending but instead changing. The change left us sad for us, but rejoicing for her.

Death.

I hate it and rage against it. As Nancy Pearcey says, “Death rips apart what God intended to be unified.” Namely body and soul, which were meant to be one.

At the death of Lazarus, Jesus felt some sort of furious indignation (according to the Greek) at the tragedy. What tragedy? I would imagine not only the passing of his friend but also seeing the reality of his creation broken by death.

This was not part of the design. And we feel the pain of it deeply. Death is not to be celebrated.

Yet at the same time, I feel a familiar acceptance of death. It is our lot for this time on earth and we are headed for it, wrinkles and all.

Death is a door, a seed, and — most importantly — death is conquered by Jesus. Literally no match for Jesus Christ. And he is not far removed from our suffering.

He brought his own body back from the dead and he’s bringing us and our bodies and creation along with him.

“The creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.” (Romans 8:21)

Death. I hate this thing that we were not designed for. But with Christ, it is not my greatest enemy and somehow it’s okay to embrace our mortality for the time being.

So we grieve, we hug, we cry, we lament the ripping apart. Yet with hope and freedom in Christ who went ahead of us. And, of course, we LIVE joyfully in the here and now!

Covenantal Skies

Who is it that has made a covenantal promise with the sky, marking the faithful rhythms of night and day?

Who pulls and pushes the tide of the sea and sets in motion the waxing and waning of the moon?

Who decreed the orderly laws of nature that govern the coming and going of seasons with unbreakable consistency?

Who has designed the function of organs and written meaning into the smallest cell?

“The Lord Almighty is his name.” (Jeremiah 31:35)

It is he “who appoints the sun to shine by day, who decrees the moon and stars to shine by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar.” (Jer. 31:35)

He says, “If I have not established my covenant with day and night and the fixed laws of heaven and earth…” (Jer. 33)

He has. We live by the rising and setting of the sun and his covenant with it.

He says, “If you can break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night so that day and night no longer come at their appointed time…” (Jer. 33)

We cannot. We lean our heads back to look at the sky, awed yet powerless.

And so we say, “Draw praises from us here in this cathedral of creation. Beneath this starry dome awaken our adoration. In this place where we are so very small — and yet so greatly loved.” (Doug McKelvey)

We are loved. The covenant-making one has come for us as well.

Farewell

Yesterday we bid farewell to the body of my grandmother, almost five years to the day that we buried my grandfather. We will miss her so!

South Louisiana makes me think of stringy Spanish moss, sucking on sugar cane in the fields, miserably muggy weather, and, most of all, Gran and Gramps house and all the family memories.

I remember the creak of their front door, the funny brick linoleum floor, the sweet and distinctive smell of their home, and running my fingers along the wooden bars that led into their kitchen. There are countless memories stored up in my brain but also moments that have, over time and without my knowing, created and shaped the person I am today.

Gran spoke kindly, listened well, cooked the best food (but made us Velveeta macaroni and cheese for us cousins), gave thoughtful gifts, let us eat ice cream for breakfast, taught me math, spurred me on to cook and read, played hours of Mancala with me, watched our swim meets, wrangled and loved her kids and grandkids (then great-grandkids!), and loved Jesus Christ.

She aged with grace and was so patient in her suffering, whether it was her declining health, being wheelchair-bound, or having to stay in her room during lockdown.

After moving away to Spain, my contact with her became sparse, but we reconnected during lockdown last year when I found out I could videocall her. We spoke everyday and read a book aloud together. I’m thanking technology and corona for those special, daily phone calls!

At the end of one of my last conversations with her a couple of weeks ago, I said “I love you.” It’s the one thing you want someone to be sure of in those final days. And she said “I know.” ❤️

This week there has been sorrow mixed with rejoicing — sorrow for the hole that her departure leaves in our hearts but rejoicing over the gift that she was to this family and the new life she now has.

Assume the best

What does it look like to assume the best of someone?

A couple of years ago I ended up at a conference on marriage. 🤷🏻‍♀️ I didn’t mind because you can always learn something. And there was one thing that was said that has stood out to me ever since: Assume the best of them.

Assume the best of people who love you whenever there is a misunderstanding, a miscommunication, hurt feelings, or hurtful words.

This is hard. But it can spare so much bitterness and resentment.

Assuming the best means not automatically assuming that someone does things the way I do them.

It means verbally asking questions instead of making silent judgments.

It means thinking of every possible viewpoint.

It means trusting that the other person had kind intentions.

It means believing that they tried their best and didn’t mean to hurt me.

It means saying to myself, “What that person did was hurtful to me. But I know that they love me, so I will assume that they had good intentions. I will communicate with them about this rather than make assumptions and judge their intentions.”

(If you wanted a little glimpse of how my brain works, there it was.)

What else? How are we different when we assume the best of someone? How are our relationships different?

Thankfulness in 2020

On Sunday I challenged myself to write a post every day this week about things I am thankful for. It is now almost midnight on Tuesday, so you can see how that’s going.

But, I want to express my gratitude anyway. No… more than express it. I want to call gratitude up from within my heart; stoke the fires of thankfulness. I want it to be more than a cursory “Wow, I am so privileged.”

I want there to be genuine, joyful, amazed gratitude at beauty that I know, behold, have, see.

And this practice of beckoning grateful hearts is even more necessary this year. There is so much to be grateful for and our beings are thirsty for the soul-anchoring, heart-stilling, joy-inducing effect of giving thanks.

This year we need to be more thankful than ever!

We need to mine the hardships for the beauty that comes from ashes.

We need to give extra thanks for the people we love so much.

We need to acknowledge the incredible gifts we’ve been given and trace every single one back to the Giver.

Nothing to be thankful for this year? Quite the contrary!

Everything to be thankful for.

We have a different perspective to know a bit more about how to rightly value and treasure what we have.

We have everything that was taken, which has taught us, grown us, emptied us, refined us.

We have the One who daily fills us and sustains us with life, gifts, and grace that we hardly even have eyes to see.

May we receive eagerly and willingly with empty hands and grateful hearts.

I’m stressed, you’re stressed, everybody’s stressed

I’m stressed, you’re stressed, EVERYBODY’S STRESSED!

The problem, I propose, is that we don’t feel like we’re stressed so we aren’t taking care of ourselves (or each other) as if we’re stressed.

I sat with friends several weeks ago. “I’m think I’m doing fine!” one friend commented. “You’re stressed,” I said.

There’s no way we aren’t stressed! We’ve adapted quite well over the past few months, but there’s no way it hasn’t all taken a toll in sneaky, subconscious, underlying ways.

We are UNDER stress even if we don’t FEEL stressed.

We’ve adapted and we are doing life but whether or not we realize it or acknowledge it, we’re running thin. We are tired.

I don’t feel stressed every day. I go about my days, work, do fun things, run errands, and have lots of joy. But when I step back and look at what we’ve experienced, how we have adapted, and what we have still in front of us, I have no doubt that we are all fine and not-fine at the same time.

So, knowing that I’m stressed even if I don’t always recognize it, I’ve started taking care of myself in ways that I would if I felt the stress and weight of life.

I asked the same thing to a friend a couple of weeks ago: “Knowing that you’re living under the weight of a lot of things right now, what are you doing differently to manage that and take care of yourself?”

I’ve also tried to keep this forefront in my mind when interacting with people. “They’re stressed,” I remind myself. I can operate under that assumption and stoke compassion and understanding in my heart.

So… What are YOU doing to seek deep soul rest and rejuvenation during this time?