Saturday, January 19, 2013

By faith

"Do we really have to go through?" groaned the hobbit.   "Yes, you do!" said the wizard, "if  you want to get to the other side.  You must either go through or give up your quest."
-J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

Jeff is still reading The Hobbit with Luke at night.  Moving through it slowly chapter by chapter.  I listen in the hallway, folding laundry, getting the others ready for bed.  I have started it too, not satisfied with just parts overheard. The Mirkwood forest is what Bilbo is afraid of going through.  The picture in my mind matches the photo above, deep forests laden with fog.
The photo was taken of a forest in Basque.  And the Basque Country is truly one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.  Large amounts of rainfall leave everything saturated in lush green foliage.  Nestled between the Pyrenees Mountains and the Bay of Biscay, the land is sculpted by its surroundings and often seen through  fog or mist.  And fog and mist is beautiful in a picture or story.  It exudes symbolism.  But to be in the middle of it is quiet another thing all together.  It is what sailors fear more than high winds or waves.  

This past week Culpeper was pushed through a fog thicker than I can remember.  As the warm front collided with a cooler one.  It was as if clouds had gotten sick of being so high and came down to settle closer.  Driving was disorientating.  The familiar land marks hidden in the folds of the fog.  We had to move slower, look closer, and sometimes turn around after passing our own house.  For three days it hovered and then slowly gave way to rain.  

And so I feel we are in the fog laden forest right now in this process.  The entire process, timeline, and details come into focus and then blur again.  The unknowns still far out weigh the known.  And just like navigating in the fog, looking at a map doesn't seem to help because it all looks so simple, so different on the map.  I am reading through the Bible in a year and have just read through the stories of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  I have read how each made mistakes following God, mistakes made in the name of fear.  Fear after God promises provision and protection.  I was surprised to read how similar their failings were.  As if the father could not guard the son from his own missteps.  When I read about them in Hebrews they are men of faith, they are commended for that  faith.  And it doesn't seem to match up.  Fearful mistakes being made right by faith.  I take a deep breath.  I start at the beginning of Hebrews again.  "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."  This is what they were commended for.  Father to son, stumbling, fearful, and ultimately trusting.  And so my fear and stumbling does not negate my faith that He is bigger.  That this place of waiting is not a passive act but one of obedience, being certain that He who leads us in the light can also lead us through the fog.

I pray that you will walk by faith when sight is hindered.  That you trust a God that leads us as a good Father.  One that will provide and protect and not leave us even when we are fearful and stumble.

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for,
the evidence of things not seen.  
This is what the ancients were commended for."  
Hebrews 11:1

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Not alone

"An enormous technology seems to have set itself the task of making it unnecessary for one human being to ever ask anything of another in the course of going about his daily business.  We seek more and more privacy, and feel more and more alienated and lonely when we get it."
                                                                                                                  - Philip Slater
     "You need to teach him to ask for help."  I don't know how.  He won't let me.  "He is three and a half you have to stretch him, teach him it is better to ask for help than to struggle alone."  Charla would remind me of this every visit.  Six months earlier we had discovered Luke had fluid on his ears for the previous two years.  He never had an ear infection and because he was bright the doctors chalked up his silence to being an introvert and a boy.  When I persisted and his hearing was checked we both stood amazed as the machine sputtered out straight lines instead of jagged ones.  The lines showed the silence, the world he understood so far.  After the fluid was drained and tubes put in we were given Charla as his speech therapist.  Teaching Luke how to come out of his head and use words, to ask for help. And me to slow down enough to listen.  She had several games she would use to motivate him to speak and ones to help him follow directions.  Luke was not cooperative and liked it best when we would fall into conversation, me worried and her reassuring.  He would use that time to do the task given alone, without direction.  When he would become frustrated I would rush to help, that is when she would repeat the importance of him being able to articulate his need.   Charla made me promise to put him preschool.  I agreed and cried the whole way home.  She said that other kids, other relationships would teach Luke to see his need more than I could.  We met with Charla for a year and a half.  She saw Luke go from being almost non-verbal to discussing at length why trains are amazing machines.

 I changed also in that time.  I learned to step back, to wait until he asked for my help.  To let him become a part of a community bigger than me.  Knowing he would be misunderstood and hurt but that the rewards of being heard and understood by some would be worth it.  His first day of preschool I pulled out of the parking lot as the four year old class emptied into the playground. Heart heavy as I watched him stand on the edge of kids playing. 

Luke is still a lover of silence and solitude.  His boundaries are drawn close and expressed clearly if overstepped.  But that is the beauty of those that God has brought around us.  Who we are called into relationship with.  The ones that are free to nudge the boundaries, knock on doors and asked to be let in.  Luke has cousins that sleep over in his room, play with his meticulously designed Lego city, and wrestle and hug their way into his space.  He has two brothers that see his boundaries as thin lines to be pounced on.  And friends to run and sweat and explore woods with.  And together we are figuring out that life lived alone is not better.  That an undisturbed life is and empty one.

Worn couches and scuffed floors are evidence of a life lived together with others.  Sitting with Lisa early mornings gleaning grace and wisdom.  Crossing under the thick line of trees and brush to take Ms. Shirley a meal and staying to talk a while.  Letting Kelly bring prescriptions we are too sick to pick up, Manda and Liz coloring swirls with Ian as we chat, and watching Will be tackled the minute the front door creeks open.  And some faces change with the seasons but each gives and receives.  Allowing all those little interruptions made by us onto others and others unto us keep us human.  Boundaries bent in and privacy forsaken to know and be known.  And how sweet it is to be known.  To sit and talk without cleaning the mess up first. I pray that you will look and see who God has called into your life today.  That your carefully drawn boundaries will be nudged in and your door knocked upon.  And that you will not be afraid to ask for help or show your need because that is when we see clearest that we are not in this alone. 

"For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body...  As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.  The eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you," nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you."  1 Corinthians 12:13,21