North

Sometimes the beauty of the everyday graces make me cry grateful tears more so than the griefs and the disappointments that attune my vision and attach the desperate tips of my fingers to those very lifeline graces. Only because of the Good Shepherd can I spill over with thanksgiving after a whole glass of lament.

My environment is filled with beautiful lyrics, sweet-tempered boys, and kind friends. These things, and so much more, feed hope. They are the nourishing pauses that remind me to breathe, reminds me that somewhere, the heavens are touching the earth, and that, though I may be wired to feel things very deeply, grief is often a means to truth. Someday, somehow, I will feel less engulfed and more upright. Then again, I do tend to rush to conclusions and want to tidy up prematurely.

The last fourth of our twelve hour drive to Oregon last week was spent in the night. Climbing through the wooded areas that encroach upon I-5 in northern California, it was amazingly dark. During dusk, we saw more trees in one quarter mile stretch than we may see in a week or two of our daily lives in California. Once the sun had moved on, the presence of the woods and mountains was silent but strong.

I couldn’t believe the stars. Maybe I had forgotten but son-of-a-gun, there are still a lot of those things. For many stretches of car-lit freeway, the big dipper was straight ahead, on the horizon, as if a promise. It seemed bigger than ever, looming over puny I-5 and our sleepy trip. I looked awkwardly up through my window at one point and was in awe of the mist of heavenly envoys, as Emerson wrote, filling the space. So much radiance. So far away.

The darkness was so dramatic that we could not tell where Mt. Shasta was until we were right upon it. I peered and peered and could not discern where the sky started and the land ended. I felt that was appropriate. The mystery. My limits. The dark. 

I have sought to write in-process here. I have tried to keep up with the calling of openness and the middle of emotions. I have shared things part-way and aimed to insist and wonder that Immanuel, God is with us, here. It is hard, though, when you don’t know where you are part-way to. While I know that from here to there is unpredictable, I do at least know that we are headed towards adoption. But in other areas of waiting and feeling, I do not know where we are headed. I cannot see the big dipper. And all the terrible ugliness of the here is not very helpful to another’s journey. So then, I am just left saying over and over again, in broad context strokes, that still, again, yes, I am struggling, and at the same time yes, there is Hope. That I am in a muddy place and I am uncomfortable and He hasn’t much showed me what to do with that yet. I am fully feeling this life. And thank God, He accepts that and remains. Hope is not denying the present of its shadows; it is looking for how Love might move them. 

Going through the mountains of darkness, unable to trace the line of the horizon, was perhaps a truthful experience. At first my cynical mind found meaning in the ambiguity and confusion of the black; that like with everything else, I was not seeing what I was looking for and even the horizon was not clear. But now I wonder if that is what is most true. If the intermixing of the world with the sky, this old dwelling with the heavens, is best without the line of meeting. If they overlap and join and enfold the traveler’s way so that the dirtiest place is connected to, holding hands with, the stars. Maybe clarity would be a loss. Maybe I was looking for the wrong thing.  

At one point, when I was searching for an outline of Mt. Shasta, there was a great interruption. A huge shooting star strong across our bug-splattered point of view, and we were like kids, amazed and surprised. Those interruptions in the daily take my breath away and fill my at-times sore heart. Those spurts of grace–a child’s laugh, a touching song, a hot meal–those are the shooting stars  that help us catch our breath and keep driving north. In hope. 

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