Friday, October 19, 2007

lonely but not alone

I remember like yesterday what it was like to be alone. The feeling of being in the midst of a hurricane called life, with the winds of chaos and meaningless swirling all around me. I took a lot of autumn walks in those days before I met Jesus, and the slow fading death of autumn would fill me with a sense of mystery at the dissipating nature of life. In Octobers and Novembers I would walk in dark winds, down lonely grey streets, with the frozen rain sleeting against my face. Somehow it made me feel alive. And I would come home and sleep in front of an open window spending most of my nights questioning the stars...which never seemed to hear me.

I had been down south for nearly 20 years. A seasonless sauna of humidity and heat, without the relief of seasons. I am glad to be gone, glad to be back in the place where the seasons allow me to recalibrate my spirit with the turnings of time. Autumn winds again, and leaves that dance and die in them. Their death is done with so much celebration, a bright flame of yellow or red bursting within their veins, and then that last slow dance into the wind.

The season makes me melancholy in a wonderful way. The writer of Ecclesiastes said there is a season for all things. For me it is a season of thanksgiving and reflection. I find my true-center in the autumn, it raises up the painter-poet-prophet part of helps me to see things, past and present, in new ways...with a new lens and perspective, and thus the chance to redeem even the tragedies that have happened and seem them as perhaps not so tragic after all. Perhaps they were epic moments where things happened around me, through me, and in me that were deeper than the initial scars which is all I could feel for a time.

And autumn makes me lonely for heaven like no other time of the year. A great longing to be the leaf who finally falls and goes home to He who made and remade me. But this loneliness and longing is so different than the feeling of being alone that I had when I didn't know my maker. Because now he saturates me with his presence. Now every atom and electron spins under his watchful eye; now liberty and free will and even evil itself He has mastered and can pull back with a brushstroke back into the great canvas of existence that he is painting; now His Spirit is my ever near companion whispering comfort and convictions. I cannot always find his hand, but there is always his light, and I know his eyes are upon me.

And when I think of those who don't know him, there is a great sadness and burden that rises in me. For I know His wisdom is shouting at them on the streets; his subtle spirit surrounds them day after day calling them home; and the gaping hole in their lives is being filled by so many things that will never satisfy. This is what pastors struggle with, in tears, those long hours of the night. This is why at times you will see me driving wide circles around the edges of ashland...praying for her. I feel such a sense of urgency, and yet God is also teaching me patience in allowing for God to orchestrate his fullness of time.

The fullness of time is a bible phrase. I means that some pieces of time are pregnant with more meaning and impact than others. Time when God crashes through the barricades and invades us with his hope and love. I have felt the fullness of time so many different times, and each moment is a precious memory I hide deep inside to remind me of his goodness and love. They are the kindling woods of hope on those days which are so very cold, and confusing; when I can't find him and feel lost again in the hurricane.

I embrace this lonely day...the cool winds and darkening skies. This fullness of time is lonely, but I am not alone. His rod and staff comfort me. And we sit here in silence and feel the great weight of those who don't know him. And deep patience is there as well, for even as the people of Israel cried out in misery and into the silence of I did...there will be a day for each of them to see a burning bush [or red and gold leaf on a tree] and they will have to choose as I did to go and look deeper or turn their back and walk away. I pray for them every day. I pray for their aloneness to end and for the longing of desire in loneliness to begin.

For what I have has far surpassed the vagueness of faith...I am my beloveds and he is mine.



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