from an article originally posted November 10, 2014…
I have a short list of friends, these are the friends I feel I never for one second deserved. Friends that are so utterly given to grace and love I cannot feel anything but blessed by their love and friendship. If I’m honest my list isn’t actually all that short. It’s this long, endless list of people that choose grace, meet and extend love to others, and live from a place of tenderness. I am humbled to know so many. God must know my weak faith and constant need of reminding. God is gathering more and more of these people to my heart daily. These lovers of truth point me towards hope, remind me of goodness, and remember we all need to laugh. Yesterday I received two poems. One was written by my friend John, and another came from Emily Dickinson. Both, well, you’ll see. Both reminded me of goodness.
His sole brother will be another year older this week.
So my father will drive headlong into the north Texas
wind to sit across from him and honor his face.
No doubt they will speak of pickups and children
until those topics grow quiet. Then their talk will seep
into the porous ground of memory both recent and past.
Two older men talking fondly of older things,
the essence of why they want to be together.
Before my father leaves that booming town he’ll
wind beyond its frantic highway to the still cemetery where
his parents sleep. He will go there as all mourners do,
repeating Easter’s mistake, seeking the living among the dead.
My father knows this but still he’ll go. To kneel and
to place fresh flowers, an assertion in favor
of the rising and against the fallenness of time.
The Jubilee: Poems by John D. Blase
I read this and was undone. Easter’s mistake—seeking the living among the dead. Oh, my soul. It was a reminder to my heart that this, this today is not my only living. It may be the only living I have any imagination for, but it will not be the only living I experience. And yet, like John’s daddy, we fight the fallenness of time. We brace ourselves for that next life, and have such a scratch of imagination for it.
I sent this poem to my dear Amy who is braving broken after her husband died. I don’t know how to say that properly. I don’t like to say she lost him. Because, frankly, he’s not lost—he’s kept. Passed away? I’m not comfortable with that either. It’s like when people say, make love, instead of have sex. Some phrases just don’t sit well with me. Not that they are a bit wrong. But I have never found the right words for death or sex, for that matter. Both are sacred, and words fail in meeting and describing both well. Amy is someone I can share my rumblings for the right words with honestly. She is not afraid of my awkward advances in love towards her. She sees the advance is the love more than the stumbling. We show up for one another, and in the showing up we meet grace new. So Amy…her husband recently died and is with Jesus. It’s awful. It’s painful, but Amy is clinging, fighting, struggling for truth. We send each other impertinent jokes that only a widow and one dying can send, in the safety that we will never quit each other. It’s such grace. She sent me this from Emily. Amy is much like my Blythe in the meeting of such brokenness together, there is such safety in friendship and grace.
Who has not found the heaven below
Will fail of it above.
God’s residence is next to mine,
His furniture is Love.
Oh, my soul: His furniture is love. Oh this place, this temporal fading place. It’s hard to imagine anything else, but when we think on the greater story, the Resurrection, we will stop looking for the living among the dead. Or maybe we won’t, and that’s okay too. We will together rest more deeply into the peace present to walk, stumble, ache in today. And the furniture—it will be love.
Some days I’m content to know the answers in the hereafter; some days I am not. But praise be, I have a long list of heart lovers and livers that help me not forget. Love; today, there’s love. Today there’s visiting Whole Foods and filling our fridge for the coming cold and the never-ending fire. Today there is a new game to enjoy with the kids when they come home and a birthday of one special boy to plan—we are thinking laser tag mixed with boys and food. Today we will dream of a ball for the girls that’s coming, and a party for my boy. Today, with my Mickey next to me and the dear mamas that came to clean, I will be able to do more than I ever imagined. Chemo is coming shortly to take me out, but not today. Today, we cook. Today, we dance. Today, we rest. Because tomorrow we will forget. But beauty will meet us. We need just to look.
How is beauty meeting you today, dear heart? How are you, like me, struggling to see it? Who reminds you of grace and points you to beauty? Who is unafraid to show up for you when you forger? How are you showing up for another to be a blessed reminder? And grace, do you see it? It’s there; I’m praying you will see it through the fog of this place—this temporal, fading place.