A Glimpse

This month people have been participating in NaNoWriMo. Others have been participating in NaBloPoMo. Still others have jumped on a great idea called NoBloShoeMo.

And here I am, with my very own, NoNoBloPo. No posting, no writing, no ice cream, even. I hate not writing. When I don't write I feel itchy. I feel rank and hurt and stupid. So, I write as much as I can, but occasionally there are times when it seems impossible. And there are times when it becomes essential, like tonight, when I am sitting here with my taquitos and cheesecake at ten thirty, eating forkfuls of spanish rice and typing in an attempt to get my mind into some kind of working order. I want to write about so many things, like the wonderful afternoon tea that we had the other day, or our beautiful housewarming party last night. I want to show you the pictures that we finally took of our house. I will, but tonight I'm going to muse.

Do you ever wish that you could see things for the first time? Like these giant Redwood trees that are all around my home. We drive through them on small highways all the time, and they are as imposing as mountains, and I can't see them. I want to see the trees, see their enormity, take giant breaths of their height. I crane my head and I can't see the tops, but they have become as commonplace as, I don't know, pavement. Well, not quite, but I want that first gasp, you know? The eyes of a child. I want to drive into the financial district in San Francisco and see one of these trees, rising far above the buildings, so I can finally digest its sheer size. Don't you want that? To see the ocean and feel yourself as a mite in the center of your world, wet and salty, rather than sitting on the shore staring at the horizon? I want to understand.

But large things are hard to see. Sometimes when I'm driving by a particularly large grove, I see how dark it is on the forest floor. Almost no light makes its way through, but there is gold there; pure sun illuminating one leaf here, a group of leaves there, some mossy roots, a patch of clover. These bits of sunlight break through and I see clearly, just for a moment. I see it, I really see those few leaves, and I may start to cry.

I think I've lived for a long time thinking that if I just did everything right, if I was just as nice as I could be, bad things wouldn't happen to me. If I played my cards right I would not disappoint anyone, and I definitely wouldn't make anyone angry with me.

I'm beginning to understand that this is not so. I still don't want people to be angry with me, but people are. I don't want to disappoint people, but I do. And here I am, shaking my head against the revelation that these are not the things that God is telling me to avoid. He simply hasn't asked me to make everyone happy. It doesn't make me any less crumbly inside when I do these things. It doesn't make it feel any better when I lose sleep, when I lose friends. It goes so deep, this tearing around inside over the "f" word. I mean f-a-i-l. It's the word that I dance around most, the whispered word in the dark early mornings when the baby is nursing and I can't get back to sleep and there are things racing through my head besides the phone calls I need to make, things I can't just get rid of by getting up and making a list. I only wish I could. Succeed, Work Harder, Do Better, Buck Up, I would write, and then fall into a deep sleep.

In the sadness of these past months, though, I have seen the one leaf illuminated on the forest floor, the few leaves dancing. I wrote a poem a while back, and the last line was, "This is the way He is, broken things are made new." This is the heart of my faith. This is what I have chosen to throw my life at, and this is what I will waste it all on. Broken things are made new. How many broken things have I seen being made new? The first brilliant smiles of the girl who has been trapped inside herself, the long-legged steps towards grace, lives rebuilt, families restored.

Sometimes you fail even when you mean the best. There is tearing down, and there is hurting, and then from the ash heap comes a light as brilliant and inexplicable as the sun at midnight. This is the story of the whole bible, it is the story of the true Christian faith, it is so important that God couldn't leave me following all my rules, thinking that if I did the cans would all stay on the store shelf. My rules have left me gasping for air, and the cans are all around me on the floor.

One time my Superstar Husband and I were driving with our friend Amy. "I have to show you something," she said, and she brought us through a deep and dark forest grove. The trees stretched for miles above our heads, and we followed her to a small tree that had needles that were absolutely white. It was an albino Redwood, leaning on a larger green tree, it was a magical snowy fairy tree in the midst of a dark green forest. It was forced to depend entirely on the tree that it was leaning on for its sustenance. It was beautiful and sad and unique, and I've never found it again. But I saw it there that day, and I felt its weakness like I feel my own now, when I become offended by the words behind words, or when I hash out old conversations again and again. I am weak now, I am leaning, I have no sustenance other that what I receive from God.

This is how He is, broken things are made new.