We’ve had the blessing of healthy children this year. Agents and publishers interested in multiple of my works. I’ve stepped away from my nonprofit and ministry work to homeschool our children. We’re reveling in the delight of longer snuggled mornings, less rigid schedules, and discovering how all elements of life and education are interwoven.
Autumn is kissing the Blue Ridge with a kaleidoscope of oranges, reds, yellows, and browns. We’re loving sweater weather, s’mores, spiced coffee, hot cocoa, cousin sleepovers, fire pits, and friends. Joys and highs and blessings untold.
This year has also come with death, five significant people in my life since May, spanning from aged to young. Two vernal loved ones are being treated for ugly heartrending diagnoses and another young-to-me is being tested for words I can’t make myself utter. Beyond my immediate circle of family and friends, there’s even more suffering, parents scream-praying for children to live, children reeling without parents. End of treatment. No more clinical trials. Hopelessness that prompts unthinkable actions. Familial, social, political, and spiritual unrest.
My anxiety resurfaced, forcing recognition in the form of physical symptoms, more medical tests, and eventually, treatment for the root cause. Grief, sorrows, and depths of despair.
Driving home from church the other night, I turned on my Rich Mullins playlist, hoping his folksy voice and thought-provoking lyrics would quicken my heart for things eternal. First to play was, “Here in America,” where Mullins describes God’s creativity in natural beauty around the world. Tucked in the chorus are the words, “there’s so much beauty around us for just two eyes to see, But everywhere I go I’m looking…”
That’s what I need, I thought, more eyes to see more beauty.
But if I had extra eyes to see more beauty, wouldn’t I also witness that much more suffering?
Living with our hearts and eyes wide open means truly seeing the beautiful and the ugly, indescribable joy and unimaginable sorrow.
I can’t carry it all, I cried. I never intended you to, I heard.
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 NASB.
I settle into the truth of these words and pray for grace to release my grasp on all I cannot hold. I wrestle with the paradox of being a believer in Absolute Truth who lives with questions. One who hopes against hope to avoid suffering, while knowing the presence and peace of God in the midst of it.
God uses the words of Ann Voskamp to remind me that “Those who long to see miracles, see everyday miracles everywhere.”
“Live like God is a genie in a bottle, and we become like angry drunks.
Live like God is king on a throne, and we become intoxicated with awe,” Voskamp writes.
Again, Rich Mullins sings prayers I cannot speak. “…hold me Jesus cause I’m shaking like a leaf. You have been King of my glory. Won’t You be my Prince of Peace.”
Whether beholding beauty I cannot describe or suffering I cannot utter, a warm blanket of Grace is there to envelop. Abiding Peace that IN all things, God never leaves, never forsakes, never abandons. And if my arms are raised, praising or questioning, my head bowed in reverence or sorrow, my body shaking in joy or rage, I’m held in His Everlasting Arms.
Be THOU my vision, oh Lord of my heart.