"Love is the flower you've got to let grow." John Lennon
Like beads of sweat, my heart beat faster. Fear - suffocates and restricts. How much is imagined and how much is real? Constant motion toward inevitable change, stretch marks in new skin.
It was prettier than I had anticipated. Lush green landscapes with crisp red barns. My imagination had dreamt of red and modern but also of kid-sized conversations of red-wooden horses, Christmas candles and hope-sized dreams. The girl-friend is gone now but somehow stepping onto the soil she once loved brought me to a door where fear was turned into appreciation and subtlety into substance.
First the passport stamp, then the re-examination of luggage and then something new and decidedly different: it was a soulful change beginning to take root deep within me. I had been going back in order to go forward. Forgiveness had finally landed on fertile soil; it was up to me whether I chose to water and put it into sunlight.
Then Peter came up and said to him, "Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times? Jesus said to him, I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times. Matthew 18:21-22
I had lost touch with a childhood friend from Junior High School but only a handful of years ago, I found her through the use of computer research. Forty years had passed but I called to ask for her forgiveness. That random conversation rekindled a friendship through the phone that lasted until her sudden death last year.
As kids, she loved everything "Swedish" so this random and brief layover in Sweden allowed me to experience God's forgiveness found in the scriptures.
Cirrus (latin word for curl or fringe) - "thin and wispy" type clouds. The fears I use for this are the ones that are not deeply rooted but rather present nuances throughout the day. I kept quiet: what is the exchange rate for Kroner? Had I forgotten to notify my bank that I would be out of country? Without internet, would my phone work? Would I be lost since maps do not come to me easily?
Days before departure, my son called me at work which is unusual. He began with "before i post on social media, I thought I should tell you...... which already sets up a mental pause. He began, I am home safely; I went to Bagdad, Iraq. Three grown children in their twenties, each as independent as they are unique. I say this to only illustrate my slow and natural progression toward saying less and being willing to go more often. Go - in thought and action.
A full day of respite meant I could follow. Maneuvering the city on bicycle on what locals would call an unusually beautiful October day was weaving through bikes, cars and pedestrians. It meant being alert and decisive. It was to keep quiet and keep up, being open for the experience. Marketplaces, a ferry to flow toward the other parts of the city, to enter a room-sized storage unit to exit into a bar with lots of young people enjoying a beer under blue skies. It was to "get out of the way" of control in order to be molded into the experience - taffy folded and formed with specs of color churning and stretching under the artisan's hands.
Cumulus (latin word for heap or pile) - fluffy (cotton-like). These type of fears surround me like a blanket. They are ever-present in my thoughts and judgements. A self-imposed 30 day fast from social media meant less community but more prayer. I have two more days but in the process of stepping back, I have pressed into the loneliness to feel it's sting. The cloud has been pervasive - it surrounds me. I didn't think people noticed. I was wrong. There are a small handful of friends where the veil is lifted.
My heart is toward a ministry of young people but in order to reach out, I must reach in. Social media is a hook on a line. It is thrown into a vast water: with bait, some take hold (through likes or comments), some troll and stand as outside observers. Some stand in perpetual turmoil casting judgements on the ill-effect of social media while appeasing endless appetites. Stepping away from it has caused me to press the pause button.
It is a pause from the distraction of becoming immersed in my own selfish world of fear and activity in order to embrace clarity and distinction. In order to hear God's soft voice in the crowd of noise, it is a slowing down in order to confront fear and confusion to hear only a few words: you are enough.
So much work to hear so few words:
Nothing more, nothing less.
You are enough.
We miss the cross, otherwise.
The clutter constricts and suffocates. The story is different but the humanity is the same.
Nimbus (latin word for rain) - precipitation. These types of fears are life-changing ones. it is the place where change begins. It is precisely the place where doubt is churned to hope and loneliness into faith.
I fumbled through the carefully written map until I arrived at my destination. I fumbled through the hand-held audio equipment toward English and began the trail into a room with collages of pictures and drawings. I grappled for a button on the wall for direction until I spoke up softly asking for directions from the docent who positioned me toward the downstairs, then immediately up the escalator and to end up where I began.
I took the hook and turned around. To my surprise, the beginning held historical, artistic greats such as Van Gogh, Cezanne, Anna Boch (the only female in Avant-garde), Chagall, Matisse, Diego Rivera, Picasso and Pollock, all within a corridor of each other. It brought back those kid-sized cards as a parent-volunteer in school or my involvement in fundraisers, specifically raising money for arts and music in elementary school. Yes- it was going back but it was also going forward to something decidedly different.
Absorbing great works, I now ascended the escalator into a sensory assault into Post-modernism. Much like social media, it was an overload of everything. It was inclusion, exclusion, visceral stimulation of heart and intellect. It was an expression of the impact of cultural division, environmental raping, war; it was the emersion of voices in feminism, equality, expression. It was a loud crying out toward change. It was a jarring out of the comforts of warm blankets toward the isolation of jagged rocks; it was a pounding from the inside out. It was a moment where my participation in all that is wrong was thrown against the cliff of judgement and I wasn't sure where I would land.
Nimbus clouds are the ones where fear is cast upon the shores, breaking firmly held beliefs into a shattered pinata of candied pieces of goodness. It is the precipitation found in the tears. Tears filled with quiet lulls and loud roars within the ventricles of flesh. It is the realization that sin is everywhere. It is the tasting, yes, of putting toes into the water but also the unintentional oozing of simply being. It is the inexplicable separation of the vertical and horizontal beams of a cross.
Where would I go from here?
Stratus (latin word for layer) . - horizontal layering . My fears would need to be ordered. Yes, they were there but layered too with the goodness of His grace.
Goodness and evil exist beside one another. In the garden of eden, Adam and Eve were surrounded with the goodness of fruit too glorious for words. It was an expression of clarity and being seen fully in the light of grace. It was there for the tasting, albeit one tree. It was the one tree, however, that tantalized the senses beyond restraint. Both partook in the bite which forever ushered them beyond the borders of safety into the storms of doubt and fear.
Two more days of exclusion from social media. One more floor to discover. The journey ends where I began - into the present. Has anything changed?
That is the point of this month's blog: And, that is the challenge for you and for me. What are you willing to do in order to change? What drives you outside the comforts of the noise and distraction in order to hear the quiet and soft footsteps of His voice calling you into the eternity of his love?
Maybe you need to go backwards in order to go forward to live fully in the present ... and in His love.
Blessings my fellow sojourner.
Pictures purchased in Adobe, Cloud quotes found in Wikipedia and stories uniquely my own. Copywritten 2018
A fellow point guard for the faith; a writer, deep thinker, music loving, jeep blazing ... follower of Jesus.