"As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame; / [ . . . ] Each mortal thing does one thing and the same: / Deals out that being indoors each one dwells; / Selves -- goes itself; 'myself' it speaks and spells, / Crying 'What I do is me; for that I came'." --Gerard Manley Hopkins

23 March 2015

Journeying: In memory of Kara Tippetts

For Kara, in thanks for her inspiring faithfulness, even unto death

White fog blanketed the world this morning, blurring the edges of brokenness and reminding me of beauty.  It seemed a good setting for the bittersweet taste of loss -- sorrow, such deep sorrow, for what the world has lost and the evil of death that forces such loss upon us; and yet, and yet . . . sweetness of hope to know that Kara is fully healed and filled with delight in the presence of her Savior, that her loved ones will meet her again one day, that His grace will blanket them in their now journey through the sorrow.

I never met her, never corresponded with her.  Yet she touched my life in ways I will never forget, and I taste the loss.  How much more the sorrow of her family and her friends!  And yet -- there is her witness to grace, her witness to love, her witness to selflessness for us to carry with us always, the beauty of one who put others before herself even in intense suffering, who strove to live in love in daily faithfulness to the One who suffered and died for us. 

God is real, and He is faithful.  May we all learn to live like Kara, bringing a bit more hope and grace and beauty into the world through our own faithfulness in the mundane tasks of each day -- and thus preparing ourselves to face death like Kara, knowing His grace.

From one of Kara's last posts:  

[. . .T]here is so much about this we cannot understand. [. . .] I hurt that I understand what this greater pain I’m experiencing means. I feel too young to be in this battle, but maybe I’m not in a battle at all. Maybe I’m on a journey, and the journey is more beautiful than any of us can comprehend. And if we did understand, we would hold very loosely to one another because I’m going to be with Jesus. There is grace that will seep into all the cracks and pained places when we don’t understand. In the places we don’t understand we get to seek. And how lovely is one seeking truth. Stunning.

16 March 2015

Saving Grace

The only saving grace of my early hour drive to work this morning after a week of lovely break was the fiery coral above the mountain announcing the sun’s journey and the crescent moon glowing in the dark above. 

This is a day of discouragement, for many reasons from work to personal, and the ever-vigilant depression stirs in wait to rise and encloud me any moment.  These are the days I lose sight of joy, though it too stirs below the surface.  These are the days I hate even more than usual the clich├ęs and perky songs and proverbs, no matter how actually profound they may be.  And those that are mere glibness, that ignore the brokenness of this world . . . those I hope not to encounter in any public forum. 

The worst is “count your blessings.”  I know full well I have innumerable blessings, and even on a day like this I am grateful for them all.  I also know that any and all of them can be taken from me in a split second.  On days like this, counting the blessings I have only makes me aware of their fragility, and more acutely aware of what brokenness has stolen.  But in any case, and on any day, while gratefulness is always in order, it is not the blessings I can count that count.

There is no counting the love and grace and mercy of my God.  There is no counting the mystery of the Incarnation, nor the Cross, nor the Resurrection.  There is no counting the knowledge that the God of the universe deigns to know us at all, much less love us so much that He gave His only Son to die for us, that the Son willed to be separated from the Father by our sin taken on Him.  There is no counting the gift of the Holy Spirit to indwell us, giving us light and life.  There is no counting the fact that He uses us – me! – to accomplish His will, even on days like this.

Because it’s all about Him, not about me.  The announcement of the rising sun reminds me of the fierce beauty of the Father’s love; the moon reminds me I am His reflected light.  And even just a crescent, even barely visible – as she was when I arrived at the college under the sun-lightened sky – it is His work, not mine; His light, not mine; His joy, not my happiness, that counts.  Perhaps this day my light will reflect His less clearly and brilliantly.  Still it is His light only, never mine; I have none.  May it shine as He gives grace.