So if we’re being honest here —
after the snow melts, after the ditches begin to fill with this hardly murmur of pussy willows —
it feels like parts of who we are —- have just ebbed away, grey and muddied and gone — and I can’t find them… can’t find us.
Kara has flown from her cancer to the other side, absconded.
Elizabeth has a gravestone now; she is nowhere here now, and how, how in the world, can that be — and, sure, I could wait a few months to talk to her again, a year, even two — but how long, how long does this stretching, sore silence between us have to go on now? How can the loveliest have lives so brief?
My sister-in-law tells us that her grandfather is in Kathmandu. Calls to him aren’t getting through. He hasn’t called. You see it on the news in eery color: Mountains have crumpled and thousands howl, digging their dead and broken ones out from underneath the rubble.
I can’t stop having to heave my way out of nightmares of what I saw and heard in Iraq.
I can’t stop feeling a bit lost, disoriented. The worst grief is a hidden grief that cannot speak.
Let the world keep going on loud and sure of all the things it knows — there are some of us who need time to feel all the things we didn’t know till now.
I hadn’t known: Grief is like caged fear. And if you let enough tears come and not be afraid, the tears can wash away the walls, and you will breathe again. It will hurt. You may never fully recover.
But who wants to cover over the memories of them and all the ways their love opened us up? Wherever our hearts are broken open, their love lives on forever in us right there.
And that’s the thing: It’s the broken hearts that find the haunting loveliness of a new beat — it’s the broken hearts that make a song that echoes God’s.
Pay no mind to anything that tries to tell you different: Grief is the guaranteed price we pay for love.
If you stood on the side porch, as the light deepened and the last of the barbecued pork chops grilled on the flame, you could hear the frogs in the pond down in the fringe of woods.
He and I, and that last girl of ours, we walked down our back gravel road to hear their serenading. I had never known: If you hold the past too tightly, your arms have no room for the present — no room for the gifts of now.
It carried us to the woods, like an epiphany making an opening, making a way through: There’s a way to let the burn of your pain become a fuel for your way.
The snow’s melted in the trail up through the center of the woods. We have time to witness the change.
We have time to go to the water to pray.
Let the world race madly on: There are geese on the pond. There are two shelled islands of turtles, making a wake out across the water. The frogs are singing; there are those who make time to hear them before it’s too late.
I met a guy last week who told me that he carried around five questions that had ploughed a way through grief, through life for him. He had held up his hand and touched each of his fingers, his thumb: “These Five Questions changed me more than anything anyone ever told me.
And if you don’t make time to work out these answers, don’t be upset if your life doesn’t work.
If you want to make sense of life, you have to make time to ask yourself these.”
Grief and sadness and lostness had made me desperate for a way out — had made me desperate to lean in…
What is my greatest fear?
What is my greatest motivator?
What is Truth?
Who is God?
What is Success?
Unless you ask yourself the right questions, your life will never live into the right answers.
I sit at the water’s edge. Sit with those five questions. You could see the turtles sit in the grass, slowly blink. The arch and curve of the neck of the goose rises and retreats — a question finding its slow way. The frogs croak, like swallowing golden light.
The greatest motivator can be fear. This will kill you.
The greatest fear can be that grace and God will run out and there won’t be enough — we won’t be enough. This fear is a fraud. Let go of the lie.
All fear is executed with one line: There is enough. All fear shrivels when you serenade it with one refrain: There is abundance. There is always more — because God is always here. There is enough. God is enough — and He makes everything enough.
What is Truth?
Truth is God. That was there all across the glassy quiet of the pond: Without the lens of the Word, the world warps. The only reality is relationship. The ultimate reality is relationship with Him. Because Truth is God — if you don’t make time for intimacy with Him, the lies of everything else make you insane.
When you make islands of intimacy with God, you can survive any storm.
You can smell resurrection here across the pond. You can smell life coming up through the dead grass. You can smell the rain of grief watering growth. When he bends over her shoulder there, and she looks up, and his smile’s right there, there’s a scent of rising.
Who is God?
God is Love. And because God is Love, He gets to define Love: Love is not always agreement with someone, but it is always sacrifice for someone. Love is always for us. God is always good and we are always loved. That defines everything. Everything.
And Success is showing up and kneeling down. Success is faithfulness, success is faithfully showing up, success is faithful obedience, success is service, success is kneeling down to serve and going lower and decreasing, so He is lifted higher and He alone increases: Success is showing up and kneeling down.
Around the hem of the pond, I’ve touched something beyond.
Loss is the door to change, and change is nature’s glory. And grief and questions and lostness don’t beg us to wrestle — they beg any wisdom in us to make time to sit down with them and make them sharers of all the unspoken broken.
There are a handful of questions that are always waiting to take our hand and find a way through.
When the goose finally takes leave of the pond, when she rises, we’re standing there and we can hear it —-
the exhale, the rush of relief of her wings.
Free Resource: Take a handful of moments today… and let a handful of questions — The 5 Key Questions — take your hand & lead a way through your hard thing.
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