Monthly Archives: November 2013

black friday and the season of wishing things were different

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So black Friday. That was a thing. I woke up at four to go make a run on some cheap ladders. While I was there I actually witnessed a fistfight between two middle aged men over the quantity of candles one person could take at a time. Not to mention a bunch of people talking to salespeople like they were six years old. All while the stores blasted tinny Christmas music. I kept a chart of the songs and every single one mentioned buying presents and/or Santa. None of the songs mentioned the fact that all this crap we don’t need is probably cheap because somewhere down the line someone isn’t making anything close to a living wage. To appropriately understand the day, you need to picture me standing outside a donut shop in six degree weather wearing a thin jacket and a tank top and cringing while my family made fun of the Asian accents of the people we got donuts from and referred to my neighborhood in Oklahoma City as ‘the hood’ for the 537th time since Tuesday. I wanted to write some kind of blog post about how irritated I was with everything, but then three things happened:

  1. Someone a bunch smarter and better with words than me wrote one. And there was much rejoicing. (http://samdavidsonbaylor.wordpress.com/2013/11/29/black-friday-advent/) <— read that
  2. Another person with a higher IQ than me pointed out that cynicism is my problem. Not anybody else’s.
  3. This story that I’m going to tell you

So. So I’m standing in Menard’s (it’s a northern thing. Don’t google it, because it’s a like a scarier version of Wal Mart). And they must have had some kind of killer sale on basketballs because everyone I saw was carrying one. I was standing in line behind a woman and her husband, and they had their hands full because carts were kind of scarce. Anyway. So the lady drops the basketball they had, and it goes rolling away. The guy isn’t thrilled. He cusses and goes to get it, but she stops him and says, “Don’t bother. It’s not any good to him if you’re never home to play with him anyway.”

 The point of this is not the kid’s athletic development (although he could be the next Russell Westbrook if they’d just gone and got that ball. We don’t know. Maybe I should have chased it down. Sorry Thunder). The point is that I learned a lesson sort of inadvertently just then:

*Buying that thing isn’t going to fix that other thing.*

I know. I’m eloquent. But at five in the morning that’s what my brain came up with, so I’m sticking to it. In the case of this family, buying the kid a basketball wasn’t going to fix the father son relationship that was apparently a bit strained.

That’s me, by the way. Maybe it’s you as well. And as much as I want to roast this whole ridiculous day/season…I can’t. Because actually my heart is kind of starting to break over it.

We love Christmas because it’s the season of giving. We think if we can get someone the perfect gift it might someone strengthen our relationship. We think if we can just have that one really cool thing (the battery powered socks, maybe) then our lives will fall into place (everybody wants to be pals with battery powered sock kid). There’s so much hope that the togetherness will stick, and that maybe we will wake up in March still hanging out and baking cookies together. Maybe if we just had this jar of sprinkles the size of a trash can that would happen for us.

Maybe we love Christmas because we’re empty. We’re tired and bored and depressed. We’re fighting and fuming and being passive aggressive. We’re self-medicating and overworking and slipping between the cracks. Alone. We’re doing so much of this alone. I know this is me. I am alone in this room full of family members, less than half of whom I can name. And I always think I can fix it. I think I love Christmas mostly because for a moment in the glow of the victory in the Christmas Tree War (which is a really great family tradition that I don’t have time to get into) wearing black with my face painted I can squint and pretend like this year will be the one that my family gets close. That we support each other and talk to each other and all that jazz. Maybe for you it’s a different moment, or a different thing that you’re chasing. But then the tree gets burned and the scabs fall off and you shelve the chainsaw for another year (seriously…it’s a good story). You put the good china back in the cabinet until next year and you throw away the boxes and wrapping paper (and probably at least one crucial piece to at least on electronic device). You work the extra shift and work where the people returning all the junk someone bought them treat you like an animal. And maybe you steal a kiss and a promise that things will be better on New Year’s Eve, but then by February you’re sitting in your living room eating pizza in the dark so your neighbors will think you’re at the gym.

And every year it’s the same damn thing. No matter how much holly and jolly and presents and tradition we throw into the hole, we wind up empty again.

I love you (in theory. In reality, I usually judge you). And I’m sorry (Yes, really). I know how it feels when you just *need* to hope that this is the year things will finally be different. But buying that thing won’t fix that other thing. Particularly if we never sit down and tell each other what it is we wish was better. And, side note, buying it at a quarter of the price from a sweatshop in the Philippines most certainly will not fix that other thing.

The only hope we have of fixing it is this homeless refugee baby with the audacity to claim that His homeless guy way of operating is more fulfilling than our rich young ruler MO. That’s what is actually terrifically amazing about Christmas. There was this homeless baby with a teen mom, and He never had much of anything, as far as stuff goes. But He came and talked about loving each other and serving each other. He talked about rest. And peace. He had this little family of friends, and they actually felt sorry for the people running the show. Which makes no sense, actually.

But there’s this whole backwards way of doing things where you empty yourself and are filled and stuff like that. Where you go above and beyond for a stranger for no reason (this could, hypothetically, mean that there are no more strangers. Which makes my heart warm a little bit) And the way I see it, I cannot possibly get any worse off. There is nothing left for me to break. Maybe the good news is that the dragon skin can come off and you can start to look like your real self again. The self you were made to be. (what? It’s a good metaphor and I’m not sorry). But maybe it’s going to be kind of hard. And maybe I’m not sure what to do about it.

Maybe I’m sitting outside a donut shop in the cold and wondering why I keep trying. Maybe I’m looking at all these people getting all this stuff and I’m judging them without even realizing that they’re just doing this for the same reason I am. I’m not in Nebraska for any reason other than this:

I want things to be better. Desperately. I’ve dreamed the same dream since I was four years old. And every year it falls in around my years. That’s my other thing. And I’m just like you. I’m shopping and gesturing and saying anything to try to stop the bleeding. But I’m not willing to talk about it. I’m not willing to forgive unless I get an apology first. I’m not willing to empty myself of me in hopes that something better might take over.

After all, I’m not the problem. It’s all this stupid crap and my stupid family and stupid America and the stupid media. I’m not the problem…(sarcasm. I need for that to be entirely clear)

Well…I’m definitely not the solution. But this year…I mean…look. I love you. Regardless of your stuff or your time or your looks or your shopping habits. Let’s not be strangers anymore. (I’m serious, by the way. Try me.)

the city and the soul

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None of this makes much sense, but in a real shocker there’s wifi happening in Nebraska and not a ton of other things going on. And I tried to write all week, but I was at a frustration level that couldn’t really be articulated without more swearing and hurting of feelings than I really wanted. Anyway. At some point I will probably talk about blah blah what I’m thankful for, blah. But for now there’s this.

By all laws of genetics and upbringing I should probably be a country type person. The sort who likes guns and wide open spaces and country roads. Even my dad, who was raised in Oklahoma City, loves coming out here to like…shoot stuff and walk around outside, I guess. I mean we lived on six acres in Deer Creek. I’m not that person though. I’m the person who gets lonely in a room by myself, let alone in the woods on my own.

I’m reminded of that, of course, sitting here in Hoskins, Nebraska (population 285 per census, which is actually less than the sign says. Old sign, I guess). And by ‘in’ Hoskins what I mean is ‘on a farm fifteen minutes outside of Hoskins’. These are my roots, yo.

I learned to drive on a dirt road out here when I was thirteen. I used to fish in a thousand little farm ponds, Andy Griffith style with a bobber and a worm. I’ve been snipe hunting in a cornfield and sledded down a pasture hill (which ended with a nasty rope burn all the way around my neck, but that’s a story for another day). This is where I came to build snow forts and play full tackle football with my brother and cousins, all of whom are over 6’3” and could throw me around like a football (this is also where I learned to fight dirty. If you try to throw a punch at me I will probably bite you). I learned to shoot a gun out in the woods, and later that day we herded cattle with a four wheeler. When I was six, I broke my cousin’s nose in a fight on a bridge with a one eyed turkey (I don’t remember anything else about this incident, but I imagine it was a little odd). I have also washed ducks with baby shampoo, learned to lead a calf, and entered a pie in a county fair right here in good old Hoskins, America.

There isn’t a high school anymore, but my mom actually holds a track record still up in the old building (it was the last year the event existed, but let’s not split hairs). And there’s a rock quarry where we go swimming in the summer. I came here every Thanksgiving, every summer…but the memories stand out.

And, I guess it was eight years ago, this is where I stood in the first rain of the summer at a funeral. This is where death grew teeth, for me. Where I began to realize that life was something you have to fight for.

And it sounds like some kind of idyllic Mayberry, yeah? I hear people talk about breathing. Talk about how they can’t breathe in the city. They look up at the stars, because there are more here than I have ever seen before, and they think about how this is living. They don’t call it land, they call it ground. And they spend money on seeds and put them in the ground, and every year the crops grow. I don’t know if that would ever stop being a miracle to me (but honestly. It terrifies me.)

But here’s the thing…I’m not that person. I came here three years ago a few weeks after I read Shane Claiborne for the first time. I wrote in my journal that night that the city saved my life. I still believe that. Running barefoot through downtown after an ice cream truck while the men in business suits laugh. The kids all huddled and migrating as school lets out. The buzz of energy. The way Waco looks at night from the top of the suspension bridge. I am built for this. I’m an extrovert, empty and open. And the tide of faces and sounds and needs and emotions of the city fill me in a way that nothing else can.

The title of Social World II was “The City and the Soul”. That is, of course, the class which had me read a small, unassuming essay by John Howard Yoder. It was from the Original Revolution, and it changed my life. That class, and the conversations we had, gave me an entirely new perspective on what I wanted. For the first time, I was excited about the way my life could be. Really, I cannot overstate what that class was in my life. The city and my soul just…they need each other. 

I had forgotten. I’ve been so tired. I’ve been so lonely. I sat on my steps Friday night as it sleeted and stared at the capitol dome. I sat there steeped in the frustration of not being able to help anybody. Of not knowing the right thing. Of worshipping God in a warm church while my brothers and sisters are outside in the cold. I’ve been exhausted with the rhythms of the city that seem so solid. The ones that seem to leave somebody out, no matter what we do.

There’s a hole in me, and I’m hemorrhaging tears and pain and emotion. It’s leaving me so empty. I’ve been so empty. Oddly enough it’s Augustine who reminds me of a God who fills broken vessels by containing them. I’m reminded that alone I run dry. I need the faces, the emotions, the pain, the joy…I need all of it around me, containing me. These are the things that fill me up.

I’ve been feeling futile and frustrated and achingly, impossibly lonely. I’ve been sitting outside while my hair freezes over with sleet and the stream of headlights on the street slows. I tried to fend it off with space to think. I thought I could come out to the country, here where so much life has happened to me, and stare up at the stars. I thought if I could see them again, it might start to make sense.

Instead, I remembered the small, strange melody Jesus is teaching me to sing. When you’re lonely, befriend the friendless. When you feel useless, let yourself be vulnerable, even be taken advantage of. When you’re frustrated, use the words to light up the dark places. I’m remembering that hunger isn’t some kind of punishment…it’s a reminder to eat.

Easy or not, I’m for my city. I love it even when I sort of hate it. And like Jeremiah says, I seek its welfare because if it prospers, I prosper. I’m all in on this, because when God calls you to something it’s not the kind of thing where you create a backup plan or an exit strategy. I was made for this, and I won’t be satisfied doing anything else. I guess I just needed to realize that. 

stop obsessing about God’s plan…please.

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“what is it?”

That’s what I’ve been asking myself for the last six months.

That’s what the Israelites were asking. They were hungry in the desert and suddenly there’s this stuff everywhere. Turns out it’s bread. Turns out if you don’t eat it right away it’s worthless and wormy.

Manna. “what is it?” (that’s the literal translation. I swear I can hear people confused. This is the salvation we were promised? Blech.)

I am here to tell you something. Please stop keeping it in your pockets. I think we’ve been turning it  over in our hands so long that…it’s gotten disgusting. It’s worthless. We will choke on it. (why didn’t we just eat it when it fell?)

What I mean is this:

She texted me when the scholarship letter came in. When it said paid in full. She cried, she smiled. But she’s going. Across a bunch of states because there’s so much more of God to discover.

Meanwhile I’m here, looking at all of it. Wondering what God is doing, and trying to be absolutely positive that I know what He wants me to do next. Trying to be exactly sure before I pick it up and eat it. She is the kind of person who opens her mouth and catches it on her tongue. I am the kind who tries to see if I can possibly mask the flavor with ketchup as I gulp it down with water. I am the one choking it back up in a trashcan. (but yeah. I’ve always been weird about food)

We used to share prayer requests every week, and they kept coming up the same. Something about figuring out the future, and a few stray prayers about tests or papers or something. We wanted the gift of what we would become, and we wanted it right then. We were more than willing to trade away what we were in favor of what we could become. And somewhere deep in the Bible there’s that persistent reminder that tomorrow isn’t a guarantee anyway. We missed that.

There is a gift that we might not have wanted. The gift of this breath, even if it seems monotonous. But it’s here. And it’s almost funny, the way we used to sit and fret over the future and uncertainty. When, really, anything we tried to hold onto that long would have rotted in our hands anyway. When really, it was there for us. We had someone to be right then. Not someone to become, someone to be.

I learned to be so many things. I learned to be a friend, a roommate. I learned to lead. To learn. The trail of crumbs led me here, and suddenly I see so much of it that I was missing.

How to be a daughter. How to be a sister. I really wish I’d been those things already. I wish I wasn’t walking around my house like some kind of alien. But it’s going to take time, because I wasn’t. Because I bought into this future, these plans…I assumed I knew how things would go.

I did not know. Anything. And now I am learning to be all this stuff. Now.

There’s a lot happening here that’s weird. So much of it is so good (and I’m astonished). But I also spend a lot of time asking “what is it?” Family will most certainly do that to you. But it’s deeper than that. It’s following God’s voice, and then feeling like you’re starving in the desert. It’s the food you’re trying to stockpile because you don’t really trust God anymore. It’s discovering that every time you set your eyes on tomorrow you miss the reason you’re here. Again. You pray for change, and then you behave as though it will never happen. I make fun of the Israelites, but I am ridiculous.

And she’s laughing on the side of the webcam about how the Holy Spirit is working. She tells me not to ask what it is all the time. Just to accept it. It’s food. It will nourish you. You will grow.

Some days you choke it down. Other days it’s sweet on your tongue.

But…I don’t know. Maybe instead of praying for clarity and trying to figure out what on earth God is turning us into, we could spend some time going and doing what is there. I’ve been somebody’s daughter and somebody’s sister for 22 years, but somehow I’m just realizing what that means. How to be that.

I wish I’d started sooner. I wish I’d stopped chasing some plan and just opened my eyes. I wish I would do that now. 

 

 

when i’m awful at loving my enemy

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Tonight I punched my best friend in the face. With boxing gloves on, but still. And I was a little afraid of how *angry* I was. Not at her, but just in a way that made it feel really good to hit something.

And then I came out and found my car in shambles. Bunch of my stuff gone. Everything thrown around like some kind of tornado hit it. A burning cigarette in the cupholder. It feels awful. I live in that car. To picture somebody going through my personal stuff. Taking my driver’s license. Tearing a picture Kayla drew for me in half. Sitting there and it smells like day old nicotine. You had no right to that. To see those things. To make me feel unsafe. To leave the arm of my favorite jacket swinging out of my trunk. My sleeping bag smells like a cheap bar. How dare you read the letter I had in my console? The one I never had to send. How dare you see all this, be here?

I wanted to hit something. Again and again and again.

I wanted to just park on the side of the highway and cry like a little kid who has realized that monsters may not be real, but maybe there really are scary things in the dark.

I want someone to tell me it’s going to be okay. All of it.

And I’ve spent all day talking about loving my enemies. It’s a veteran’s day spiel. I know the words so well. But I’m lying if I say that this didn’t shake me. Didn’t make me angry. Didn’t frustrate me.

And it’s so stupid.

Today a friend told me her husband is getting deployed in a few months. They weren’t expecting it. And I cried with her. I told her she was so brave, and he was so brave. I told her I would pray for her, and she looked like she almost thought it could help.

And I say that as a pacifist.

I’m so tired of trying to be right. I’m so tired of being angry.

I try to find the words to pray, but every sound I head makes me suddenly afraid, like someone could be breaking my deadbolt at any second.

“but I hope the cash you found in my console helped. I hope you spent it on food and not on drugs. But either way, I hope it helped you get through. It’s cold tonight. I hope you’re sleeping somewhere warm. If not…I wish you’d taken my sleeping bag. I wish you’d taken my favorite sweater (a crazy guy in camel hair once said that if I have two coats one is yours anyway. I’m sorry if I have been keeping it from you). I wish I could have given you more money. I wish I could have given you dinner. I wish we could have talked. I wish we could have looked each other in the eyes and understood so much more than we do. I wish I could roll my eyes and tell you not to smoke so much. I wish I could open my hands and give it to you…all of it. I had a tent in the trunk, if you needed it I wouldn’t have minded at all. I wish I could love you some other way that doesn’t leave me feeling dry, lonely, and kind of afraid. But I’m so sorry I’m afraid. I don’t know how not to be. (and I really do hope her husband is safe and not lonely and not afraid. I hate war, but I don’t hate him. Of course I don’t).”

I punched my best friend in the face tonight, and I’m still a little afraid of the anger I found. I’m not the open-hearted, enemy loving person I wish I was. I wish my hands had fallen open, instead of my fingers being wrenched apart. You can’t punch with an open hand. I wish I’d thought to ask her about her husband without climbing on to any kind of soapbox.

I really don’t want to be angry anymore. I really don’t want to be afraid, either. I just want to be like Jesus.

I’m not at all like Jesus. I don’t know how to be that.I don’t know if I even can be. I wish I did. I wish I was. 

(we were never tragedies)

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I’m at lunch with a boy. We’re both a tiny bit dressed up, and there’s a lemon in my water glass. It has occurred to me, and will occur to me again, that this is not the place I probably ought to be. He runs a hand through his hair. I chew my sandwich. My phone buzzes in my pocket, but I don’t check it. I’m weird about my phone, and I swear it gets hot in my pocket. Maybe because I’m worrying about someone right this second and…I cannot even…I get up, go into the bathroom, and stand with my shoulder blades against the door and check. Nothing catastrophic (of course). But there in my recent messages I see this quote. I came across it somewhere and thought she needed to see it “…But hearts don’t break, y’all. They bruise and get better. We were never tragedies. We were emergencies.”

There’s a differences between a break and a bruise (“and I’ve been crying over a bruise. I just need to suck it up.” And my best friend is wise in ways I can’t be). Between a tragedy and and emergency.

If we were never Hamlet. What if we were Horatio instead? The ones who heal. Not the ones who shrink back and are destroyed but the ones who believe and are saved (Hebrews y’all) (but Lord, again with the unbelief). It changes the nature of the conversation if we’re just in the middle of this emergency (you’re not hemorrhaging, Jennifer. This isn’t like that. you’re bleeding because there’s a hole. Holes heal)

Tragic heroes are doomed because they have this fatal flaw. Forever. And we’re flawed, fatally. But for *now*. Not for *ever*.  It changes everything. If the hole could heal, if we could be whole, then we hit the speed dial with hope (with urgency which falls like hope) because they rarely send hospice patients to the hospital. Nope. We’re huddled in the hospital hoping someone hears us. Hoping that when we leave the frantic voicemail or what have you, we get some sound back that isn’t an echo.

Listen guys, it doesn’t mean we’re broken. If it we didn’t have it in us to be better, we wouldn’t be so desperate. I think we’d let it sit inside of us, start to realize. I don’t think we’d lay it on each other. I don’t think we’d fight so hard to fix it. We were never tragedies. Or, to be more accurate, we were. Sure. We were tragically proud (they call it hubris) and self-centered and doomed to fail. To bring the destruction on us ourselves. To be the root of our own evil. But all that is past tense and paid for. We were tragedies but we are not tragedies. We are emergencies. We are the stark contrast between the way things *are* and the way they *should be* (oh honey. The way they will be again. Spring always comes again). We are a throbbing, aching, bleeding heart. (dead men do not bleed). We are an emergency, because we are not broken forever. We are broken for now, but not forever. So if you come, come to help, not to grieve (which is perhaps where Job’s friends went so wrong).

We need each other *now*. We need to be the hands that heal, and we need to *hurry* before we start to lose hope. We need your voice in our ears. We need you to keep fighting lest we begin to believe that we are tragic. We are not. The final act is not a battle or a funeral…it’s redemption. It’s a homecoming. It’s a wedding.

Your heart isn’t broken. It’s still beating (I know because you’re still bleeding). It’s still pounding in your chest. It’s bruised and battered, sure. It isn’t broken. It will love again, ache again, fight again, fail again…

I walk out of the bathroom looking at this boy who thinks I’m a tragedy (or possibly that he is. Maybe it’s both of us. I don’t know). And I fish some money out of my purse and press it there on the table. “Sorry. There’s been an emergency.”

Pick up my phone. Type a text. “We haven’t talked in forever. I miss you. How’s your life?” (is this all we need to keep our heads above the water? Sometimes it seems like it. But it’s an emergency, sometimes. And the last thing I need is for you to be concerned now. I am not a tragedy. Right this second, I am not an emergency. Can we just be friends?)

(sidenote. I have since googled the source of this quote that I love. It’s from a poem called “we were emergencies” by a guy named Buddy Wakefield. And I like the poem, but in the interest of full disclosure it drops an f bomb so…proceed with caution if that concerns you)

it might make you brave

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This week I’ve been keeping watch. I’ve been up at three am, four am, lots of times. Because there’s been this…I don’t know how to explain it properly. But it’s like I knew something was coming.

I cannot help but think of the shepherds, out there watching their sheep. Maybe worried about bears or wolves or whatever. Maybe tired. Maybe sick of being shepherds. Have you ever sat and thought about the fact that it would be really hard to rest as a shepherd? You’ve got to be ready like…like all the time. Because it’s night and they’re still keeping watch. Maybe it had been a really, really stressful week and they felt like they were just waiting for the other shoe to drop. Hoping it wouldn’t be insurmountable. But maybe they had an inkling.

So it’s maybe not the most surprising thing when something starts to go wrong. But suddenly there’s all this light in the sky. And we get it. They were ‘sore afraid’. We gloss over that, maybe? I bet it was terrifying. I bet they thought the end had come. Because that isn’t supposed to happen.

And in a way it’s almost a relief. When the anxiety and panic and dread have gotten to a certain point you can almost feel vindicated by the disaster. You don’t have to sit, tensed like a cat, waiting for it to come. It’s here, and you can face it. Finally. It might even make you brave.

Not that brave people always do the right thing. Sometimes brave people really make a mess of things (but maybe that’s what it takes for you to be honest). But maybe the shot in the arm when it finally comes is what you need to keep from imploding. Whether you’re a little angry or whatever…maybe you just really, really need to be brave. And in the moment between dread and reality…it might make you brave.

I wonder if they had a plan to fight it, whatever the light making thing was. I kind of bet they did. How many nights must they have stayed up, talking about the fear and the what ifs? Planning for this very moment? So when it came, I’m almost certain they had a split second of thinking about like…maybe a slingshot or something.

And then the words. Something about not being afraid. A lot of instructions about some baby, and mankind, and it had to be at least a little bit confusing. But maybe part of it sort of clicked. Like…”we’ve prayed for this. We’ve waited for this Messiah. And as scary as this is, maybe this is what we’ve been waiting for. Not dreading. Hoping for.” (I cannot think of anything better than this. The roses when you sowed thistles. The salvation that looked like destruction).

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
    and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”[c]

And it will bring God glory. You live your whole shepherd life afraid of something coming in the night. But it does, and it’s about so much more than you imagined. And it’s about peace.

I know I’m reaching. But I guess what I’m trying to say is that I really, really feel like a shepherd. Like what I thought was definitely a disaster has actually been a harbinger of something different than I might have expected. Something that can glorify God.

And bring peace. Typing those words, my eyes are tearing up again (and I’m so tired of crying today). How many times have I asked for it?

(among those with whom He is pleased. I’m…I’m taking it a bit out of context. But it feels for all the world like Aslan telling Lucy he won’t always be scolding, because she’s been faithful. Not that I have been, you know in general. But maybe I really, really needed a hug because I’ve been here at least, and it’s cost a lot).

I don’t know how much you are capable of reading into this. Maybe you know exactly what I’m referring to. Maybe you are totally confused.

But probably you are waiting for some things. Maybe it’s with dread. Afraid the other shoe will fall on you and flatten you. Tear up everything that’s left. Maybe it’s with hope and longing. Wishing for salvation, or peace. 

It’s advent (okay I know it isn’t really advent. Trust me. But it’s close, and like I said a couple days ago I need advent early this year. Roll with it).  We celebrate because Heaven came to earth, and what might have been terrifying condemnation was instead a whisper of peace and hope. The fulfillment of a favorite promise.

Maybe it will come with fire, and you will be sore afraid. I am praying that in the moment… it might make you brave.

(for those of you who know what I’m talking about: It is going to be okay. Maybe more than that. I just sort of needed to say so.)

october and advent and stuff

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It’s raining.

 The heater in my little box apartment is making the air warm and heavy while I stand at the pedestal sink. The water runs down the drain in deep red streaks as I wring out the last bits of my ratted ponytail. I pull out a comb and begin to work through the snarls one by one, sighing a little bit. I’m tired, and the rap music from my phone speakers makes the loose change on the counter buzz and vibrate. I’m tired, and the eyeliner comes off my eyelids heavy and black, streaking my face.

 It occurs to me idly that the costumes and make up mean that October has come closed behind me. It’s fall outside, and she proved it to me with one beautiful picture of one tree with leaves so red they looked photoshopped. I get an extra hour of sleep on Sunday. I’m tired.

 I stood in front of the mirror for an hour this morning, pulling my hair into hapless tangles and spraying it with foul smelling aerosol dye. I painted on eyeliner and dark red lipstick and used an evil looking knife to slice the sleeves off of a black jacket.

 But October, really, was me standing at the sink rinsing it all down the drain, wiping it off my cheeks, and combing it methodically out of my hair (it was also hundreds of miles of I35 and the grace of friendships that don’t seem to atrophy from disuse). The loaded silence between the storm and the rebuilding.

 

Audrey said it the best. I refer you to her. http://dawdlingaudrey.wordpress.com/2013/10/28/528/

It’s October. For one more day. Another month will end and I will still be here. And then it will be November, with the promise of Advent so close I could touch it (yes. First there is a season to give thanks. But I’ve never been so big into Thanksgiving. I’m a Christmas in early November kind of person) I love that season. I love the idea of God Himself coming into the world through the pain and mess of birth. I love the idea of incarnation. I love the promise that we are not left here alone. 

This year I need Advent. I need the picture of God moving in next door. Of Jesus leaving heaven and choosing, not just to come but to stay

To stay. To rinse the layers off in the sink and start unwinding all the tangled messes. 

“so give me hope in the darkness, that I will see the light. Cause oh, they gave me such a fright. But I will hold as long as you like. Just promise me we’ll be alright.”

 Jesus is coming back. And when the tinny Christmas songs start to hang on the air, I can somehow almost feel it. Everyone is waiting, expecting something. And I know it’s probably some new Apple product or whatever, but…

 The expectation is what I’ve been missing. I need to lift my eyes up. This year I need to see the glow of the angels coming up over the horizon shouting about peace and good will. Because He has come. And He has gone before us. And we are not here alone. And He will restore it all.