Arise, My Beloved, my lovely one, and come!
Winter is over and springtime is here.
Birds are singing, flowers blooming,
Life is flowing onto the land.
Waken, o Sleeper!
Let go of what lies behind
and fling aside anything that hinders you.
Rise up and walk!
Run with legs that never grow weary,
Drink of water that never runs dry,
Eat the bread that gives life forever,
Be loved to the fullest of the full
With the kind of love that never ends.
The kind of love that would follow you
if you woke before dawn
and flew to the far side of the sea,
the kind that knows where you’ll go before you move
and what you say before you open your mouth,
the kind that would die for a future lover
while they were still an enemy.
Look up. Lift your head. And see what’s happening!
I’m making everything new again.
Blind men see, lame men walk,
the hungry are filled, and outcasts are loved.
Even dead people are finding life.
It’s a different kind of world.
Come and explore it! Test it out!
Plumb the depths! Reach the heights!
Oh how I’ve longed to love you like this!
Be rooted! Stand up! Be strong, very strong!
Be transformed by the renewing of your mind
so that you will know how to do what I’m asking.
I’ve told you these things so you’ll be full of joy
and love. Remain in my love.
Now it’s time to go out and share this news
with people from every land.
You will have trouble. But take heart
I’ve already overcome the world.
See, this old world is passing away
and the new world is coming soon.
We’re fighting a battle not against people
but against spiritual powers of darkness.
Don’t worry. Love wins. Light wins.
And I’ll be with you always. ALWAYS.
We drew a poster of Wishes & Thanks. She picked the dandilion models. “You could breathe on them and send them up in the sky,” she said, “and then God would have our praises.”
In Nicaraguan dumps, the hungry children worked and smiled and joined in the games. I held back, not knowing the rules, exhausted from interactions.
In San Diego, there was much beauty to see. I missed some of it, too focused on what I’d lost to enjoy what was in front of me, no matter how hard I tried.
In an effort to be real, sometimes I’ve focused too much on the raw pain. There is much beauty to see, much love inside and around us, and I want to inspire people to see it with great delight.
I will not deny the existence of suffering. Hurt is real, and it deserves attention. But love is bigger. Pain is only part of the story and I dare not end with death. I am going to look beyond the pain because it’s love and beauty and hope that bring life.
I stood beneath the concrete awning of the urgent care with four days of migraine behind me and more to come. The late-night rain fell heavy all around. Giant splattering pieces of water crashed into puddles and burst into stars. The parking lot became a lake. As the wind redid my hair, I felt a rush of freedom. It was like entering a new world, where Grace like rain fell down all around, and God whispered loud his love, crashed with thunder. It was dark and I was hurting, yes, but most of all I felt overwhelmed with the beauty of that moment. Incompletely healed, yet completely focused on beauty. No holding back.
When I die, let my body be shaped
And marked by the love that I gave
Let my eyes be warm and deep and rich
And shining the joy that knows the ache
And chooses to see the beauty
Let my hands and arms be
soft to hold another’s hand
strong to embrace hard work gratefully
sensitive to know how to wait
Let my heart be big and open and soaked with such big compassion and much love
that gives life to those I meet
Let my mind
be steady in truth and brave to risk
to stand up when I am afraid and
to give grace for imperfections and
to celebrate great mysteries and
to keep exploring life
Let my soul o my soul
be forever reaching upward
looking to this beautiful God
of glory and light and wonder
Let them say of me
when I am gone
that I loved much
and saw beauty
everywhere I went
and it made a difference.
Let people say
they saw Jesus in me.
Let that be
Over the edge of that year I wrecked
And landed heavy broken
And somehow more alive
You held me close and belly laughed.
I rediscovered joy
inside the honest ache
& my heavy heart, I’ve learned,
can be bright inside
the embrace of painful endings
if I open my arms wise enough
for the light.
I didn’t say that I was married then, that he didn’t know, that I didn’t tell anyone outside when I was born again and baptized the next month.
I didn’t say that I snuck a change of clothes and a hair dryer to church, that I wasn’t good with the hair dryer so I stayed long and prayed my hair would dry enough to be unnoticeable…
Or was that just my plan? I don’t remember. I can’t remember whether I worked up the courage to tell him or invite him, whether he was there, whether he resented me entirely and felt like a fool for not knowing and avoided me completely the rest of the day. Or whether it was another Sunday of a year of Sundays of him sleeping in with the dog, me coming home from church for a wonderful brunch together, practicing quiche and breakfast potatoes and French toast from French bread, and then working together to fix up the house our home. I don’t remember if he was there or not, and I feel like I should. But I didn’t say that.
I do remember her praying for me. I remember I was surprised they played the video my story God’s story, embarrassed of the way I spoke – halting, broken, so young – and how long the video played, and then it didn’t matter because I remembered Jesus and felt his breath and I was so grateful to be Loved. I remember the feel of the water soaking my pants against my legs. And I remember my afterward dress had leaves printed on it and it was cut too low so I pinned a triangle of white cloth and wore a white sweater to make it ok for church. But I didn’t say a word about that.
I remember wanting to sing it out to the whole world but keeping it a secret. I remember the shame and the confidence side by side. I remember standing up tall clean for my new beliefs and feeling rejected unbelonging like a black sheep in a white fold. I remember knowing the service and her prayer would be my only celebration and it would be best to keep quiet about I and I did. But the angels sang. Lined the church. I knew that. Felt it. God was pleased, and I was so very much full of joy.
But I didn’t tell anyone.
I’m considering the beauty of my current life, allowing greater gratitudes to flow from my whole being, letting the worries drop away. I’m finding I don’t need to be understood nearly as much as I think I’d like. Grace and kindness are big enough to embrace me in love so vast it requires little understanding. I am much loved, and I love big, and I see beauty and aching both everywhere I go.
Therefore, dear Sir, love your solitude and try to sing out with the pain it causes you. For those who are near you are far away… and this shows that the space around you is beginning to grow vast…. be happy about your growth, in which of course you can’t take anyone with you, and be gentle with those who stay behind; be confident and calm in front of them and don’t torment them with your doubts and don’t frighten them with your faith or joy, which they wouldn’t be able to comprehend. Seek out some simple and true feeling of what you have in common with them, which doesn’t necessarily have to alter when you yourself change again and again; when you see them, love life in a form that is not your own and be indulgent toward those who are growing old, who are afraid of the aloneness that you trust…. and don’t expect any understanding; but believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it.
Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to A Young Poet