Monday, March 22, 2010

Moments On the Road

We cannot kindle when we will
The fire which in the heart resides,
The spirit bloweth and is still,
In mystery our soul abides:
But tasks, in hours of insight willed,
May be through hours of gloom fulfilled.
-Matthew Arnold
It's been so good to be back in Nashville for these last few weeks. I'm reminded of all the people and things I love about this place. Returning has raised a deepened affection and longing, and the slim possibility of a new life here. But as I ask those questions of myself and God, I'm only affirmed in my current path to keep moving until He says "stop." This is not my town any more - I'm assured of that - and there's grief in this acceptance. And as I sit in quiet and give that grief away, I'm moment by moment flooded by the blessings the last year have held and the promise of those down the road.

I feel a sense of purpose in moving on, even yet without a concrete plan. This has been the rule of my new life. Circumstances change on the daily, and the Spirit moves without warning. This is not a stagnant life. Untaken steps cannot be guided. So I'll fill up my identity from the wellspring of life each morning and walk boldly in the direction I hear the music. The words of someone wise are ringing in my head, saying you have to put out to sea before the wind can fill your sails. Sorry to whomever said this; I'd give credit if I recalled. I just know too many too wise people, I suppose.

It's interesting interacting with people from my life before this journey, trying to catch each other up on the broad strokes of how we've become who we are, just a year later. I'm more and more convinced it's not the broad strokes that change us, but the moments. The major events in life often happen by themselves, but we're formed from the seconds and minutes between, and by the things we put in our minds and hearts as time rolls along. By our moment-by-moment responses to the life that lays before us, however inconsequential it may, in the moment, seem.

I've regaled any number of people with stories from my travels, surely leaving them with an impression far more grand than the reality of a life as it is lived in another place, not so different from here. All across the world, every person I've met breathes, laughs, longs, bleeds, struggles, loves, and wonders. It's a blessing to share a bit of life with each of them and to digest how differently one organizes his or her life depending on where it's lived. It's perhaps a greater blessing to begin to grasp what a thin layer of difference actually rests on the surface of human life. I could scratch straight through it with a hair from my weird little moustache.

I've been thinking a lot about the moments that have shaped this journey for me. There are so many epic moments, so many highs, so many pictures I'll keep in my mind forever. But when I get down to the times that have shaped me and transformed me as a person, I'm drawn to the moments that were really, really hard, when nothing was working right and, with every ounce of strength and skill I could muster, I couldn't even come close to making things right. I can't comprehend the fruit that has grown from those precious few moments where I was nothing if not broken and alone. I wrote to my friend Jaclyn during this time,
I've had so many days on this freaking journey where I wake up in the morning and the only thing I have to give is a shitty attitude, frustration about relationships and 'programming' (whatever that is) and a desire to just quit and drink myself into a stupor. It seems like it's the hardest thing to wake up and take fifteen minutes to say, "Homeboy, this is what I have to offer - bones and dust. Do your thing." Some days, by the end of that fifteen minutes He's shown that bedrock you spoke about - that foundation of goodness that lies just beneath every bit of selfishness and hardship, and I'm brought to freaking tears at new revelations of the things He took to the cross for me.

Some days, there is no such revelation, and I spend the entire morning of labour commanding my muscles to move for a promise that's greater than the resistance they give.

I'm getting the sense that these are the hours that purify the saints and condition the martyrs. It's the moments when everything in your world and your head screams you're working your tail off for a lie, and you can only inhale in prayer, and the Spirit exhales the truth on your behalf in whispers the devil cannot hush.
Any story of this journey would be incomplete without these moments. Of course it's always been about loving God and loving people, and I wouldn't go if He didn't say so and wasn't reaching others through my walk. But He's at work in me all the while. These moments gave me a new depth to understand Grace and to believe in supernatural healing and power. They broke through unmeasurable old layers of guilt, selfishness, loathing, shame, and unbelief, not burying them or pushing them off, but sinking straight to their base and letting them dissolve and crumble in the presence of pure, true love and mercy. I wouldn't trade these moments for anything.

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  1. This is beautiful, really beautiful. I don't know any other word that would do it justice. It reminded me of two things I read recently that I think you'd like:

    Eppur si Muove, what Galileo said when questioned about the earth, 'and yet it moves'

    'Where I am, I don’t know, I’ll never know, in the silence you don’t know, you must go on, I can’t go on, I’ll go on.' which my department's eponym Samuel Beckett wrote and which sounds very like the one-sided bratty conversation I have with God most mornings.

    I'm inspired by the beauty you find in those moments and I can't wait till the day that I see something by Beau Micah Davidson on Amazon.

  2. Thanks, Haze. Always with a good word.

    For some reason I've been replaying in my head that scene from that old film adaptation of that play you turned me on to several months ago. Do you know what I'm talking about? What is it called?

  3. Just came across your blog. Beautifully written. You seem very honest in your pursuit of God, and that refreshes me. I think God is shown best through the brokeness of our stories, and the way He comes in and sits with us through it all.

    I look forward to reading more of your stuff!