End of day 2 on the road. I remember most well the colors: purples and blue-grays and speckled granite… talcum white rocks and pearly powder on my feet, dusty greens scattered on gold, plum, mauve, rose, orange and horse-track brown, chestnut, tan and dry blues. The rocks. They are pink and orange and red. I wish I could better describe to you the majesty that surrounds me, but I am at a loss for words. Words would bind beauty into boxes. The rocks are not pink and orange and red; they are touched by the fingertips of a sunset. They are… constantly changing, yet always the same. Continue reading “Journeying On”
I am so restless. I keep slipping into dreams and then waking up again. My hands feel on fire. Prayers are slipping from my mind and from my lips, and I feel haunted by my thoughts, by memories that felt so sweet. I wondered, whispered aloud, what kept me awake. Was it sin? Letters and tears litter the bed. My sister snores soundly beside me. I am so restless.
Remind me… never to drink coffee after 9 p.m.
“You get a strange feeling when you’re about to leave a place…like you’ll not only miss the people you love but you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you’ll never be this way ever again.”
—Azar Nafisi, Reading Lolita in Tehran
Yesterday I was introduced to a new game called Pokemon Go, but it wasn’t until today that I felt in actual awe of what seems to be a new phenomenon.
It’s crazy walking around and seeing various people with their eyes trained on their phone screens, not because people did not check their phones frequently before, but because people are now being led by their devices, following fake Pokemon characters into stores at the mall and outside into the streets, unaware of the rushing cars and blinking lights. It’s crazier to see people of all ages and shapes and sizes huddled near the fountain outside of a Starbucks because it is a “Pokespot.” I won’t get into the details of the game because I’ll probably misinform you. All I know is that it’s a big hit—just today I saw children in graphic tees and skater shoes next to bearded men in sweaters near women in jeans and heels who held onto their boyfriends with one hand and their phones with the other, both eyes on their gaming gadgets. Continue reading “Tech-y thoughts”
Summer, for me, has never been a season of change. It has always meant long walks at the beach, slow conversations in quaint little cafes, lots of journals and books, naps in the sunshine and under a canopy of leaves at the park… It wasn’t until the nights came faster and the air took on a delicate chill, until the dew hung heavily from spiders’ homes late into the morning, until my breaths made blurry shapes in the sky, that I sensed any change. Autumn would come and bring with it the turning of leaves, the scratching of pencils, new and old faces crinkling and wrinkling together in expressions of joy and disdain–classmates happy to see friends from school, yet unhappy to be back at school.
This summer, though, my family and I will be making a cross country trip to the east coast. All I have left of my sweet California is a box full of memories and five, possibly six, days. I will miss the thirty-minute drives down to the beach, which I attempted even in the winter months. I will miss the lazy pace of underdressed people who wander about in stores and coffee shops and quiet streets. I will miss mostly the friends I have made, the ones who have been gifted to me in this beautiful and crazy and almost magical time of my life when tears and words and feelings flowed and glances were shy but embraces, unabashed; this time when notes were slipped into hands and giggles slipped from virgin lips; this time… I will miss this time.
“To miss” means to notice the absence or loss of something. I looked it up because I felt strange in my skin; everyone around me seemed ready and eager to move on. I felt childish and afraid and overly emotional, and while there were those who appreciated the sentiment, there were those who did not understand my attachment. I began to wonder what it meant to miss something or someone. Friends and acquaintances were saying “I’ll miss you” left and right, and I was curious. And yes, I will miss this time. I will notice the loss of a time in my life that felt at times awkward and carefree and altogether new.
I have grown out of the confines of the square building I called my second home, and now new adventures await. Clothes and books have been packed and stacked away. A small box of personal items contains notes and pictures and trinkets that I can’t bear to throw away. Memorabilia. Written words make the best gifts. There are notes from when I was five, seven years old–apologies given to my younger sister. “Sorry notes,” we called them, writing our wrongs on pink stationary cards every time we got into a fight. A small lunch box memo from my mom from when I went on a field trip in the fourth grade. Thank you cards from teachers. Letters from kids who were in my small group. Post-it notes and birthday cards. These signify the epochs of my life, from the big to the small, the mountain highs and valley lows. They signify relationships that have come and gone: a worthwhile measurement of a fulfilling life. Who have you touched, and who have you been influenced by? It is not so much the year-round beach trips that I will miss, nor is it the square building I grew up in. It is the people who let me borrow their string bikini tops, the people who swam alongside me, braving the surf and the sand, those who walked with me along the shore and whispered loving words to me, soft as the water’s foamy edge.
We are off after having been at a six-year crossroads. We are off to make mistakes and make fools of ourselves, off to pursue happiness and friendships. I wish them all that and more. I wish them truth, that they would be honest with themselves and with other people because we are best when honest. When we realize our companions are not friends, we will seek after people who both sharpen and support us. When we realize there is more to this life than having a slightly better car or home or job–that an old car off of Craigslist for $1,200 takes us to places just as well as our neighbor’s BMW, which he works late nights to try and pay off, when we realize that the present day cannot be taken for granted, we will understand the Holden Caulfield of our junior year in high school and (hopefully) not wave it off as a mid-life crisis.
When we realize, and are courageous enough to, with honesty, say that we are not filled with deep joy regardless of circumstance, our neediness will create in us a desire to know the ultimate Truth. That is when the real change begins.
So as I travel across the country and into deeper valleys and onto greater heights, I am assured of one thing. I will not miss God. He is ever-present and has been. He will continue to be. Our family leaves with hope and with faith and obedience, knowing that He is able and willing to give us more than we ever could have imagined or bargained for.
because if I did, if I really contemplated the mysteries of the universe and felt the weight of my insignificance…if I realized there was a creator who’d mapped out the stars and laid out the grassy plains, sculpted the craggy rocks and from infants’ lips ordained praise…if I understood that His foolishness was greater than man’s wisdom…if I considered His temple up in the high heavens, the train of His robe trailing in the throne room, a host of angels singing holyholyholy…if I marveled at His presence, if I knew He saw all things, that He searched my heart time and time again and grieved so that I might return to Him and repent of my sins…if I felt His unfailing love as He hung from a tree in the form of lowly man…
Then I wouldn’t be so
I wouldn’t be so proud standing under His probing gaze. I wouldn’t neglect Him. I wouldn’t misunderstand His plans for me. I wouldn’t mistrust Him. I wouldn’t lust after man. I wouldn’t care for man’s thoughts of me. I wouldn’t…
I wouldn’t be the same.
I wrote this piece way earlier on this year, but came to reflect on it again today. It’s been a tough season in my life, and often I find myself unable to articulate my thoughts. There is a numbness to the way I am living. There is also so much anguish and distress. In the words of the Psalmist, “my tears have been my food day and night.” Truly, I’ve never been so at a loss for words… frankly unable to explain myself, defend myself, uplift myself… when I pray in the mornings, I feel a heavy oppression come over my spirit.
Yet I know in my heart I have not stopped reaching out to God.
Yes, I pray less often. I cry less often. I…I’ve just changed. In my own heart, I don’t know whether this change has been for the good or bad, but I am choosing to trust that He works for the good of those He loves and has called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28) I am choosing to believe that truly His love knows no bounds; I need the power to understand the depth and height and width of His love. It is unfathomable in and of itself.
When it feels I have run out and dry, He never runs dry. It is a season of humbling, of maturing, of anguish and unrest, of apathy…a season of complications and confusion. I wish it to be a season of letting go and letting God know that forever I am His. Forever and ever and ever.
“Because whom have I in heaven besides thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee.” (Ps 73:25) Come to think of it, I’m beginning to empathize with this poet quite well.
Your glory is so beautiful… oh Jesus.
When I feel ashamed because of my sins, I will look to you. I will look to the one hanging on a tree, rejected and ridiculed, scorned and shunned, spat on… oh, the wrath of God I deserved with every breath, poured out upon you so that I could live.
Now I am free to struggle, but I’m not struggling to be free.
Thank you, Jesus. Thank you for your humility. Your obedience. Your love.
When I look at myself, I see so much malice and hate…the fights I have with my brother, my reluctance in forgiving others. I am quick to anger. It is hard to apologize, hard to be meek, hard to submit. It is hard to deny myself and pick up my cross… but because He did, I will follow.
Jesus, it is so hard. You see my every burden. You see my sorry heart. And you love me still so much. You love me through and through. So I will stop looking at myself to look at you—oh glorious one, sitting at the right hand of God, inviting me to places even angels dare not tread. I was made for you.
I will look at you, oh high and mighty…beautiful one, with eyes like flames of fire and hair white as wool, a voice that sounds like waters… when I look at you, oh, Jesus, when I look at you… nothing matters. It doesn’t matter how sinful I am or how ashamed I feel.
What matters is that you loved me enough to die for me. And you love me still. Yesterday. Today. Forever.
I can’t wait to see you, Jesus. It’ll be so so so glorious… when you come on the clouds to take me home, wow. I will know that every tear was worth it. When every eye sees and every tongue confesses, when every knee bows before you, O King… I will know that it was worth it—every temporal suffering, every cross I bore, oh the narrow road… this sojourn will be worth it all when I see you face to face. I know this to be true.
O Lover of my soul, come quickly!