Monday, June 27, 2011

Living in the gaps and saying "thank you"

"The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will sense them. The least we can do is try to be there." Annie Dillard

I wasn't going to blog this summer. I have been writing privately instead which makes me even more honest and accountable, because I'm not trying to put any best foot forward (if I even have a "best foot" anymore). So many of you have written me expressing your sadness that I would just stop in the middle of our story. Please know we are forever grateful for the time, energy, prayer and resources you have invested into our lives. I am convinced we would not be here today except for God's provision through you. It's not that I wanted to quit completely or leave you hanging. I just felt the need to rest and reflect. I have been really afraid to keep saying out loud how bad things were getting in my own heart. I have been in a very dark place and begging for God to show a glimpse of Himself to me.

All last week I would ping pong between spending hours trying to find the good in our move and living in the basement at my parent's house and deep depression and discontentment and trying to make a plan out of here.

I've been reading Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. At the very end of the book is one of my favorite passages:

Thomas Merton wrote, "There is always a temptation to diddle around in the contemplative life, making itsy-bitsy statues. " There is always an enormous temptation in all of life to diddle around making itsy-bitsy friends and meals and journeys for itsy-bitsy years on end. It is so self-conscious, so apparently moral, simply to step aside from the gaps where the creeks and winds pour down, saying, I never merited this grace, quite rightly, and then to sulk along the rest of your days on the edge of rage. I won't have it. The world is wilder than that in all directions, more dangerous and bitter, more extravagant and bright. We are making hay when we should be making whoopee; we are raising tomatoes when we should be raising Cain, or Lazarus.

Ezekiel excoriates false prophets as those who have "not gone up into the gaps." The gaps are the thing. The gaps are the spirit's one home, the altitudes and latitudes so dazzlingly spare and clean that the spirit can discover itself for the first time like a once-blind man unbound. The gaps are the clifts in the rock where you cower to see the back parts of God; they are the fissures between mountains and cells the wind lances through, the icy narrowing fjords splitting the cliffs of mystery. Go up into the gaps. If you can find them; they shift and vanish too. Stalk the gaps. Squeak into a gap in the soil, turn, and unlock-more than a maple-a universe. This is how you spend this afternoon, and tomorrow morning, and tomorrow afternoon. Spend the afternoon. You can't take it with you . . .

There is not a guarantee in the world. Oh your needs are guaranteed, your needs are absolutely guaranteed by the most stringent of warranties, in the plainest, truest words: knock; seek; ask. But you must read the fine print. "Not as the world giveth, give I unto you." That's the catch. If you can catch it it will catch you up, aloft, up to any gap at all, and you'll come back, for you will come back, transformed in a way you may not have bargained for-dribbling and crazed. The waters of separation, however lightly sprinkled, leave indelible stains. Did you think, before you were caught, that you needed, say, life? Do you think you will keep your life, or anything else you love? But no. Your needs are all met. But not as the world giveth. You see the needs of your own spirit met whenever you have asked, and you have learned that the outrageous guarantee holds.

I think that the dying pray at the last not "please," but "thank you," as a guest thanks his host at the door. Falling from airplanes the people are crying thank you, thank you, all down the air; and the cold carriages draw up for them on the rocks. Divinity is not playful. The universe was not made in jest but in solemn incomprehensible earnest. By a power that is unfathomably secret, and holy, and fleet. There is nothing to be done about it, but ignore it, or see. And then you walk fearlessly, eating what you must, growing wherever you can, like the monk on the road who knows precisely how vulnerable he is, who takes no comfort among death-forgetting men, and who carries his vision of vastness and might around in his tunic like a live coal which neither burns nor warms him, but with which he will not part.

Halfway through the day yesterday I began to quit praying "please" and start praying "thank you" again. I could ignore grace or see it. My grandma Wishart who also lives here took me to an open house at a home for sale on the corner of our street. I really didn't want to go, and I'm not sure why she thought it would be a good idea. I knew it would make me sad and covetous. The wound of not having my own home is open and raw and seeing a beautiful home I couldn't have seemed to be like salt in my bleeding heart. The family who is selling the home has suffered incredible loss. Their husband and father died from cancer. Now they are moving back to West Virginia to be near her family for support. Walking through the home made me think about the wife and mother's heart and how sad she must be feeling to leave this last place she lived and loved with him. I thought about how she would live in a tent or cave to have one more day with him. I thought about how we have come through so many fires with the most important thing surviving. We have one another. We have flesh and blood to touch and love one more day.

I went home and instead of crawling back into my dark bedroom to cry I started to look for the backside of God in this gap He's brought me to. He showed me His glory in a little found toad and the sun and my beautiful grandmother's face as she enjoyed her stained glass hobby. He gave me glimpses of His ever faithful grace. He gave me a yielded heart of submission to this place which is as holy as any other if I would only keep my eyes open and keep saying "thank you" over and over again.

Dan's CT is at Mercy this afternoon and then we head to Cincinnati for a grueling day tomorrow. Please pray for safety and strength for us. Please pray for little Danica who is so much more aware each trip of the challenges she is facing. Please pray for Delaney's heart as it longs for all this to end so we might never have to leave her again. Pray we will forever cling to the hope that does not disappoint and keep believing God's outrageous guarantee that always holds.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, Monica, thank you for posting this note. My heart just cries out for all of you and the seemingly never ending-ness trial you have been going through. Ali was reading your FB page and looking at the pics of the girls over my shoulder, and I told her you were kind enough to send a note to me last week. She questioned why... And I explained just that with Cristen, and Waverly, and all that other troubles we have endured... and that someone that has or is suffering knows so much more, how to touch and heart and meet the need of a fellow sufferer. So few can truly understand these long trials. BUT JESUS our high priest, IS FAMILIAR with all our sufferings! Which is why He can cause our tears to fall, when our broken hearts feel encased in protective layers of stone. And He can comfort us, through His body, the church, and by His spirit, and no matter where we go, or how dark our hearts...or shaky our faith, or angry, or numb...He is all sufficient... for all our needs. Keep clinging, just as I am trying to do. Love you!