Normal Has Wings

Last weekend, I drove to work with two jars of muddy water in my car. The illustration was simple: the human soul is like a jar of river water. Shake it up and everything gets murky, let it settle and we can see more clearly. Of everything I said in my seminar that night, participants remember the jars of water best.

I first encountered this illustration in Ruth Haley Barton’s book, Invitation to Solitude and Silence. It was my junior year of college and the reality of future changes loomed. God used that book to name the chaos in my soul and invite me to live differently.

I wish I could say I’ve been faithful to God’s invitation to silence as a regular practice, but that just isn’t true. Much of my life is lived in a chaotic sort of normal, and times of silence are more often a treat than my bread and butter. Most days I cave to the easy but hollow forms of rest offered by my phone apps rather than reaching for practices that truly still the chaos.

Silence is way to chart a new course for my soul, and silence is a place of clarity I need right now as I navigate a world permanently altered by the pandemic. What about you?

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Pandemic Catch-Up: New Normal

(Part 3/3)

3:00AM

The clock glared red and unforgiving. Having little experience with middle of the night wakefulness, I took my spiritual director’s long-ago advice to get up and pray. As I lit a candle in the inky-black living room, I discovered just how blinding a tiny flame can be under the right circumstances!

Navigating post-quarantine life is a lot like that candle. I have some bright, burning convictions and the rest is all darkness and trying not to bump into anything while I grope my way down the hall. Sometimes even the convictions feel blinding because they are so clear and the rest is in the shadows.

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Pandemic Catch-Up: 2020 Vision

(part 2/3)

Two years ago my only context for ‘2020’ was my vision. I have worn corrective lenses most of my life to compensate for the staggering inability of my left eye to make sense of the world. The first time I put on glasses, I was dazzled by the colors of the trees, so much brighter when you consider every leaf instead of just a mass of fuzzy green.

The year 2020 was more than just a hard time, it disrupted the normal flow of the world to such a degree that the world became visible in a new way. It is appropriately numbered.

I have hesitated to post some of the pieces I wrote early in 2020 because they are raw and angry. That’s not usually my blogging vibe. But sometimes the proper response to injustice is raw anger and we figure out what to do with it later.

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Pandemic Catch-Up: Change

(part 1 of 3)

For the first time in almost 2 years I am sitting in my favorite coffee shop, discerning which of my hasty scribbles has the potential to mean something to others in the world.

Many things are different, a mixed bag of change. I have my mask dutifully strapped to my ears, although my ears are pretty used to it. The baristas who knew my name are nowhere to be found, which is a little sad. The chickens that used to frequent this parking lot have been relocated (jury’s out for me on that one but I think I miss them too). I have a daughter where before I had only sons, and now you have an explanation for the long absence!

Things are different, but here I am! I hope these somewhat belated posts will encourage and challenge as we continue to walk out this long, global pandemic story together. I also hope to return to writing more regularly, because it is good for my soul and this has been a long year for my soul.

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Tunnel Vision (August 2020)

God has a way of working in the space
Between the end of normal but before
The light at the end
That dark, misty space
Where we grope
And groan
And curse the dank walls
Where the sound of our own footfall
Startles!
And so
We stand still awhile
Before lurching ahead
No longer sure whether we’re headed for the old
Or the new

Continue reading “Tunnel Vision (August 2020)”