For grace to be grace, it must give us things we didn’t know we needed and take us places where we didn’t know we didn’t want to go.As we stumble through the crazily altered landscape of our lives, we find that God is enjoying our attention as never before. ~Kathleen Norris from Acedia & Me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer’s Life
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12: 9-10
Inundated moment by moment by overwhelmingly bad news of a pandemic world, highlighted in rapidly changing headlines, blasted from cable news 24/7, tweeted real time from every nook and cranny, I stumble in my frailty to find something, anything, to hold me up.
I cling to the mystery of His magnetism for my weakness.
God now has my full attention: He willingly pulls despair out of me onto Himself and replaces it with strength I didn’t know I would need nor would have ever wanted.
Two months ago, not one of us knew we were to go where we never expected to go: by His grace, we have always had God’s full attention.
This year’s Lenten theme for Barnstorming:
God sees us as we are, loves us as we are, and accepts us as we are. But by His grace, He does not leave us where we are. ~Tim Keller
Sometimes the mountain is hidden from me in veils of cloud, sometimes I am hidden from the mountain in veils of inattention, apathy, fatigue, when I forget or refuse to go down to the shore or a few yards up the road, on a clear day, to reconfirm that witnessing presence. ~Denise Levertov “Witness”
Even on the days like today when the mountain is hidden behind a veil of clouds, I have every confidence it is there. It has not moved in the night, gone to another county, blown up or melted down. My vision isn’t penetrating enough to see it through cloud cover today, but it will return to my line of sight, if not tomorrow, perhaps the next day. I know this and have faith it is true.
On the days when I am not bothering to look for it, too preoccupied so walk right past its obvious grandeur and presence, then it is reaching out to me and calling me back. There are times when I turn a corner on the farm and glance up, and there it is, a silent and overwhelming witness to beauty and steadfastness. I literally gasp at not noticing before, at not remembering how I’m blessed by it being there even at the times I can’t be bothered.
It witnesses my lack of witness and still stays put to hold me fast yet another day. And so I keep coming back to gaze, sometimes just at clouds, yearning to lift the veil, and lift my veil, just one more time.
Light splashed this morning on the shell-pink anemones swaying on their tall stems; down blue-spiked veronica light flowed in rivulets over the humps of the honeybees; this morning I saw light kiss the silk of the roses in their second flowering, my late bloomers flushed with their brandy. A curious gladness shook me. So I have shut the doors of my house, so I have trudged downstairs to my cell, so I am sitting in semi-dark hunched over my desk with nothing for a view to tempt me but a bloated compost heap, steamy old stinkpile, under my window; and I pick my notebook up and I start to read aloud and still-wet words I scribbled on the blotted page: “Light splashed…”
I can scarcely wait till tomorrow when a new life begins for me, as it does each day, as it does each day. ~Stanley Kunitz “The Round”
It is too easy to be ground to a pulp by the little things, those worries that never seem to wane, sucking the gladness out of the day. They become four dimensional and soon we’re enveloped within, losing all perspective on what got us out of bed to begin the day.
God is in these intricate details, whether the splash of light on a petal or the smell of rotting refuse and it is our job to notice. It is tempting to look past His ubiquitous presence in all things, to seek out only the elegant grandeur of creation. Yet even what lacks elegance from our limited perspective, is still worthy of His divine attention.
The time has come to be refreshed and renewed
even when surrounded by decay.
His care is revealed in the tiniest way.
He is worthy of my attention.
A new life begins for me, as it does each day, as it does each day.
It doesn’t have to be the blue iris, it could be weeds in a vacant lot, or a few small stones; just pay attention, then patch a few words together and don’t try to make them elaborate. This isn’t a contest but the doorway into thanks, and a silence in which another voice may speak. ~Mary Oliver
The past few years I notice things
I walked by before.
The fleeting moments become more precious,
time pours through my fingers.
It doesn’t have to be the blue iris,
but today it is.
I fall headlong into their depths,
Oh so grateful.
“We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God.”
So I’m sauntering through life, enjoying the view, appreciating each mundane moment, doing what I think I was meant to do and whammo!~clobbered by a cold wave that knocks me off my feet, chills me to the bone and stops me in my tracks wondering what just hit me and why. It feels like I’m drowning.
I feel rudely interrupted because I was ill prepared to change course, alter expectations, or be transformed by life’s sudden cold shower.
I can’t think of any situation where interruption initially feels good. It shocks because it seems unexpected but I have chosen to be someone who must be rudely interrupted in order to change direction.
God doesn’t just soak me to the bone–He made my bones and heals my fractures. He doesn’t just knock me to my feet–He offers His hand to pull me up again. He doesn’t let me drown–He throws me a life preserver that I must choose to grab and hold on to. Then He wraps me in His warm embrace like a huge towel to remind me where I come from and where I’m heading.
We interrupt this life for a message from our sponsor.