Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Hill Country

That old bypassed pit - despair, has held me now these past days. The weight of physical pain without a promised departure, unanswered prayers, and a general lack of a sense of connectedness to the world around me has left me suspended and drooping around that dreadful chasm of unrealized and unseen hopes. Hope swells and swings about the trees, and beckons down to me through the slivered sunlight and the slipping sounds on unspoken lips -- it is everywhere, and nowhere at the same time.

I am amazed at how quickly the mind forgets what it knows, and the heart forgets what it loves. Days slip and sulk in their folly until something triggers reality back to the spirit and a prodigious cascade of lost time spills out onto a sloppy canvas of celebration.

I shed tears at strange times. I am struck straight by the sad beauty of humanity, and a few days back as I walked the block, I encountered a lone woman retrieving the mail with her cat. Her hair was managed, and her clothing appropriate, but all over her countenance was silence speaking of spilled life, and confused loss in passing years. So much pain, so much loss, and now -- with a few houseplants, a rusty gate, preoccupied children and surly grand's, the woman holds in her heart those last morsels of what was, and trades the current reality for a daily spin through her memories, fearful of death and disgusted with life.

Joan Baez's song rolls again through my mind as I think of this life, and how wearying it is. There's simply no way around it. Squealing babies are born on the grief of pallbearers shirttails, as no time seems to elapse in the season switches, and the mourner's cries. Greatest joy is embroidered in the threadbare cloth of seaping sorrow, and it is only by grace that we might see the glory in any of it at all.

I got a little turned around on my walk after I saw the lone woman, and by the time I returned, my back was completely aflame. I laid down and cried. I wretched about for comfort and began to sputter and spit my needs to God. With a gracious response, the words of that mornings reading came: "casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you." Smeared requests lifted from my lips, and all those crowding cares were dismantled and seperately sent up to my Maker. The thought that the one who made me, and who upholds this wild world cares for me was almost too much.

I laid down that night to realize that the stacking cares had again surrounded me. I'd forgotten what had earlier soothed me, and I took to rooting through my memory for what had seemed so right. I remembered feeling like I had backed myself into a shelter, as if on my side -- lying down. The Presence enveloped me with a great yellow soothing, and I was drawn under a canopy, functioning as the world's umbrella. The fullness of the earlier verse appeared in my mind: "Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God that He may exalt you at the proper time. . . Casting all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you." 1 Peter 5:6-7.

The sweetest injection of joy and peace came to me as I slipped into night. That mighty hand of God, which provides grace to know, love, enjoy, perceive, understand, live, move and have my being -- that Mighty hand provides my place of rest. Granted, it is the most obvious place for the creature to be, but how oft are we otherwise, and inviting of His opposition? Dear ones, recall with me those sweet times at His feet, when you saw Him as He is, and you as you are, and that just, righteous, mighty, omnipotent hand led you into His presence, and thus into worship. Please, lay aside any encumbrance, and all the sins that so easily ensnare, and run with me this race marked for us. Only He can pull us down, and only He can raise us up.

I cannot speak of the benefits wrought to my soul, for they are the ineffable glories known to a dead heart made alive, but I will spend my days trying, and hope that some souls might furthered in this process as well. It really is a wonder that a Holy God could not only have, and execute a plan of Redemption, but also, as He exacts every detail in this restorative process, He takes the praise of a little sinful creature and transmits their sullied conscience with His Son's final cry, creating a raining crescendo, that falls unstoppably upon His Majesty. Oh to grace, how great a debtor, daily I'm constrained to thee...

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