Category: Freedom

N is for Nightmare’s At An End

Comes a moment when light shines and the nightmare’s at an end
When shadows fail and wounded hearts rejoice to see the dawn
Comes a moment of laughter and our spirits sing with joy
When Love shows Love is stronger than our fears

Beloved,

n is for nightmare's endDawn has come but I’ve only got the beginning. I’d like to have the whole song. But the nightmare’s at an end, isn’t it? And doesn’t that deserve a glorious song?

I get whole days when my heart doesn’t hurt. Everything is richer, clearer, brighter. Colour is more colourful — the blue in the sky flirts with me, asks to be touched. Trees and grass smell green — the way it did when I met the cow. That was a dream or so I imagined. It seemed so far away. Now, it’s all around me.

A Grief Observed comes to mind.

The terrible thing is that a perfectly good God is in this matter hardly less formidable than a Cosmic Sadist. The more we believe that God hurts only to heal, the less we can believe that there is any use in begging for tenderness. A cruel man might be bribed—might grow tired of his vile sport—might have a temporary fit of mercy, as alcoholics have fits of sobriety. But suppose that what you are up against is a surgeon whose intentions are wholly good. The kinder and more conscientious he is, the more inexorably he will go on cutting. If he yielded to your entreaties, if he stopped before the operation was complete, all the pain up to that point would have been useless. But is it credible that such extremities of torture should be necessary for us? Well, take your choice. The tortures occur. If they are unnecessary, then there is no God or a bad one. If there is a good God, then these tortures are necessary. For no even moderately good Being could possibly inflict or permit them if they weren’t.

Either way, we’re for it.
What do people mean when they say, ‘I am not afraid of God because I know He is good’? Have they never even been to a dentist?
Maybe the nightmare’s at an end but I’m still for it. Maybe the song won’t be finished for a while: dawn isn’t noon. But I know the sun has risen. I know laughter and joy. Just keep me close to You, Beloved. Just keep me close. We both know me, how impatient I am, how I hate suffering and think I’ve payed my dues in that area. If You must continue to cut, keep me close else I create a new nightmare.

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L is for Learning to Live With Myself

“You’re almost an adult now,” Caroline was admonishing Farrah as I walked into the kitchen to get yoghurt. “You’ve got to make time for your studies as well as your job. I know you want money but your studies come first. Ask your father for money.”

l is for learning to live with myselfThirteen year-old Farrah exhaled a long, huffing breath and then responded, “My job doesn’t interfere. I just forget and then there’s not time to do everything.”

“Then ask Mel for help,” Caroline said glancing over at me. “Mel, you’re good at math.”

“W-e-ell,” I stuttered. “Yes. But Farrah’s good too. She’ll figure it out.”

“You’d better get it figured out soon,” Caroline told her. “I don’t have time to deal with these letters. Why doesn’t they just give you detention? That’s what they did when I was in school.”

Farrah and I shared a quick glance.

“They don’t give detention when someone hasn’t finished their homework,” Farrah told her mother.

“They should,” Caroline replied. “Why do I pay taxes if they don’t do their jobs?”

My eye brows lifted. I pulled them down before Caroline saw them.

“You have to fix this,” Caroline told Farrah, “or you’ll have to give up your job.”

Farrah emitted a little squeal, “That’s so not fair,” she said. “I get straight A’s in nearly every subject and I’m getting a B+ in math.”

“I mean it,” Caroline said. “I don’t want letters from your school. I have enough to do.”

Farrah and I traded another glance.

“I have to do things I don’t want,” Caroline continued. “I want to go out for a drink after work or to a gallery but I come home to make dinner.” She turned to me, “I’m sure Mel makes herself do things she doesn’t want to do.”

Does she know what she’s saying to her daughter? I mutely inquired of my Friend. She’s keeps telling her that she doesn’t want to care for them.

“Mel, you have to do things you don’t want to, don’t you?” Caroline prodded.

My eyebrows raised again; I pulled them back into place. “There’s not much I do that I don’t want to do,” I replied. “And I don’t know what that has to do with anything.” I looked into Farrah’s eyes, “You want to do your math, true?”

“Yes,” Farrah nodded. “I just forget.”

“I suffer from that disease,” I said. “I’ve been learning to live with myself.”

Farrah’s forehead ruffled.

“I don’t use direct deposit anymore because I realized I’m better if I hold the cash in my hands,” I said. “Direct deposit gives me a number and it’s not real. With cash I see the amount I have for bills and expenses and the amount I can use for whatever I like.”

Farrah’s head was still ruffled.

“The cash tells me I have fifty dollars to spend on books,” I explained. “Otherwise, I’d spend two hundred dollars and have to eat ramen until I got paid again.”

“That won’t help Farrah,” Caroline said. “She should just give up her job and get money from her father.”

“I don’t want to ask him for money,” Farrah told her. “I can earn my own money.”

“What if you do your math first?” I suggested. “Then it’ll be out of the way.” My head tilted on one side, I perused Farrah for a moment. “You’ll read no matter what,” I said.

“Maybe” she nodded.

“That’ll just make some other subject a problem,” Caroline interjected.

I shrugged. “All I know is by learning to live with myself rather than remake myself, life is a lot easier. I get the things done I need to do and, thus far, haven’t stopped doing the things I was already doing.”

“Adults don’t do it that way,” Caroline insisted. “Adults make themselves what do adult things.”

My face felt hot. I took a deep breath and shrugged one shoulder, “Then I’m not an adult.” The heat in my face lessened. “Forcing myself never worked. I’d still forget. Learning to live with myself just works better. It works. It’s practical.”

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Surprise – Five Minute Friday

Death is always a surprise even though it’s always the toy prize at the end of life. It’s nearly unbearable. Only the perfect love that casts out fear makes it to go on living with such so much loss. Of course we neither love nor accept love perfectly, but love is perfect and makes it possible to live in the shadow of death.

surprised by joyMy life is evidence of what perfect love does for us, of how God cares for us in the particulars of our lives even when those particulars are horrid. But it’s hard to express. When I feared I’d mourn forever, God surprised me again and again. He has more surprises than I ever imagined. Eventually, I even encountered the surprise of discovering that I don’t want to go back to the far off halcyon days for which I longed. I’m happy and so, so grateful to live without rancour because of all that I lost.

So please pray for me as I struggle to complete my rewrite, as I struggle to give voice to joy.

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On Friday (and occasionally Saturday if Friday is filled with an excess of other activities),100s of bloggers set a timer, write for 5 minutes, and then post the results over at Kate Motaung’s blog, Heading Home. She provides the prompt on Thursday evening. We don’t edit or concern ourselves with whether our writing is flawless or worthy to be seen. We expose our incomplete, unpolished thoughts and words to each other and our readers and tweet them with the hashtag #FMFParty. Join us.

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G is for God Meant It For Good

Beloved,

Lent has been brutal. I cried every single day. It’s a liquid Lent. Sharon was so concerned but she laughed every time I said it was just dross removal; I have so much dross to be removed. The tears seem to be abating; the sun shines sometimes.

The soldiers, the man who raped me, the ministers, the cruel children in that house, even the minister’s wife, all those who did horrible things to me, though some of them would say they were helping me, they all meant to hurt me. Some of them weren’t even singling me out. I just happened to be easy prey.

But I was right when I told that therapist that people hurt me, You didn’t. But You didn’t protect me from people and that hurt so much; I’ve been so angry. But the liquid Lent showed me a different perspective.

I’ve begged You to pull a Deus ex machina, to undo my suffering and loss, to exempt me from the consequences of the sins committed against me. You don’t. To do so would have been to give me my fantasy world. That would be truly cruel. My fantasies aren’t real even if they’re prettier than reality. Reality has real people and real consequences. The bullets that killed Grandpère and the rest of my family did have to be real. If not, life would not be real.

God meant it for goodBut the liquid Lent has been showing me that Grandpère’s body slamming against the wall, his blood smeared on the white paint and pouring out over his immaculate, pale blue shirt need not be the end. While You won’t exempt me from what it means to live in a world we broke but don’t know how to fix, You will let me be like Joseph telling his brothers, “You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good.”

You will use our suffering for good, if we choose. You do that with for me.

You know how much I can talk, mostly to fill the space. But when I visit Andrew, I become silent. I wait. I watch intently and let him communicate in his own time. It takes all my energy and more. But I believe we can communicate and we do.

I know that’s You. People terrify me. But somehow, Andrew, and AIDS patients, the sick and hurting, and little children call from me the ability to listen and love. I no longer stand on the sidelines waiting to be invited. Their pain calls to me and I find myself just loving them. From my suffering, You’ve created the ability for me to do for others what wasn’t done for me. I never asked for it. I thought I was content just to hang out with You; You’ve got other plans.

Today, I’m like Joseph. Today, I can say, ‘God meant it for good.” Today, I know that You intend to use evil others have committed against me to do very good things in and for me. But on some tomorrow, I will forget. I’m not as smart as I think. Something will hurt or frighten me and I will forget. Please remind me. Please help me continue to see the truth: God meant it for good. Yes! You did.

Leviathan Flees

For six weeks, Spring had been bringing fresh, mild days to New York but my body was hunched in the chair, my arms wrapped tightly around me as if to ward off a winter that refused to relinquish it’s hold; the warm sun had not penetrated the thick, chill fog that hung about me. My eyes had been red and swollen for several days… Ever since I’d written the letter to God… Ever since the words had spilled from my pen: ‘They lied to me.’

best woman crying sad sketchThe letter ended there. Its preamble had merely been an ineffective delaying tactic. And before the ink seeped into the paper, misery unleashed its power, left me with little except wet, salt-stung cheeks and eyes gritty with sand. Warmth fled. Laughter was unthinkable. Only fog remained. It penetrated to my depths, filled every empty space; I was a heavy blob of tears.

“How are you?” my therapist inquired after my hand reached for a wad of tissues to dab at dripping eyes and nose.

My lower lip trembled. The tissues made a quick swipe at my nose. My head shook. My nose sniffed damply and loudly. “I know what it is,” I whimpered. My face screwed itself up. The stream of tears burst its banks. Two more damp quick sniffs and then, “I know what I’m so afraid of.” My throat swallowed, my chest heaved up and down. “They lied to me,” my voice was a hoarse whisper.

My therapist leaned forward, “What do you mean?”

“When they sent me away,” more swallowing, more damp sniffs. Pained composure descended for a moment. “Papa sat me on his desk. I’d drawn some maraschino cherries for him. He took the drawing, told me it was beautiful, tacked it to the cork board above his desk,” the sniffing came again in short, sharp, moist bursts. My chest heaved out clicking breaths: huhnh, huhnh, huhnh, huhnh, huhnh!. The wet, shredded tissues scrubbed at my eyes and nose.

“He told me they were sending me away.” My face scrunched up as the words left my mouth. “He said they wanted me to be safe while they found the bad man, the man who hurt me.” My hand raised itself up to wipe at the liquid running from my nose. “I told him, ‘But I will never see you again.’ Papa pulled me against him and said, ‘Of course you will. You will be home before you know it.’ I shook my head against his chest and cried. My tears soaked through his sweater. I can feel the wool against my cheek. The warm, wet, woolly scent is in my nose,” my hand stroked my cheek where it had pressed against Papa’s chest.

After another loud sniff, I continued, “I told him I needed him. That I really would never see him again. He said, ‘You must be my brave little girl. And I will be right here if you need me.’ He held me away and looked into my face, ‘If you need me, draw maraschino cherries for me and ask Siobhan to send them. I’ll come right away.’ He held me close again, ‘We must make sure you’re safe. And as soon as the bad man is found, you will come right home.'”

My body shook. My hand reached for a wad of dry tissues. My chest tried to pull air into my blocked nose. My arms hugged my body tighter as it rocked to and fro.

“But what do you mean that they lied?”

My forehead scrunched. Why didn’t he understand? I took a deep breath, “He sent me away from the danger but they stayed and the danger killed them. He knew he was staying with the danger. He knew they would be killed. But he lied and said I’d be home before I knew it. He told me to send the maraschino cherries but he was dead and there wasn’t anybody to receive them. He’d never be able to come,” my voice tried to scream through the dampening tears.

When my breath eased “And Marmar knew too. She cried when I left. I can see her there. She cried so hard, Papa was supporting her. I had told her that I would never see her again just like I told Papa. But she said, ‘Don’t worry, my Lyssa. God will take good care of you. You’ll be home soon.’ But when I left, her heart was being ripped away and she knew it.”

My chest shook out breaths in short clicks: huhnh, huhnh, huhnh, huhnh, huhnh! Except for the wet, clicking noise, the room remained silent.

Finally, my therapist asked, “Did Professor Cumberlan learn when they died?”

The tears, though suspended, waited just within my eyes to burst forth again. With a loud sniff, my nose attempted to pull a breath past the congestion, “About three weeks after they sent me away. Probably a little less. They were walking in the park near our home. Someone shot them.” My forehead scrunched itself, “It’s as if I can feel what happened to them. Papa was shot in the neck. My head wants to snap to the side the way his must have. Marmar was shot in the abdomen. I can feel a big wound in my body.” Leaking tears quickly reverted to a torrent that weighed my head down and pulled me into a deeper slump.

“Small children often have a close connection with their parents,” he told the top of my head. “It’s not unusual that you would feel your parent’s deaths. But I think you’re wrong. I don’t think they lied to you.”

My head raised itself. My eyes examined his face. Another loud, wet sniff brought in enough air to whisper, “What do you mean?” Tears spilled over leaving salt tracks on my dark cotton skirt.

“You’re looking at it from a child’s perspective. You were afraid you’d never see them again. Somehow, you may have had a strong sense that you would never see them again. But they didn’t know. Three weeks isn’t a very long time. If your father knew they were in danger, he would have left just as he left South America.” My therapist took a breath and shaped each word clearly and precisely, “Your father loved you. He wanted you to be safe.” My mouth shaped itself into a small O as my head nodded slightly in agreement; the tears had subsided once again. “He didn’t set you up to be disappointed. He did what I would have done. He made sure you were safe and that you had a way to contact him.” My mouth widened itself to a pained pout. “He didn’t know. Neither did your mother. They believed you were in danger. But there was no reason for them to believe that they were also in danger.”

A hoarse squeak left my mouth, “Really?”

He leaned forward and looked directly in my eyes, “Do you believe your father deliberately set you up?”

Several moist sniffs pulled in air and pushed back tears. “No,” it came out in an almost voiceless whisper. My eyes widened. A pout pulled my lips out. Another sniff came. A few tears tumbled down. My voice sounded high and breathy, “But… I thought… I thought they lied.”

“You were wrong,” my therapist told me.

My mouth twisted itself into a confusion. Tears brimmed my lower lids.

“You were wrong,” he repeated.

My eyes narrowed, my neck twisted my head to one side as if my ears had caught a sound that was nearly, but not quite, audible. The almost sound coursed into my heart. “I was wrong,” I whispered. My barely audible voice released more tears, different tears, tears that washed long-caked debris from my heart.

After repairing my skirt and rinsing my face in the bathroom, I stepped out into the warmth of the Spring afternoon. There was a delicious, green scent in the air. The growing leaves seemed newly cut — laser cut — sharp, clear, in shades of green richer than I had seen before. The late afternoon sky had been washed with clear, soft blueness. Puffy white clouds, tinged with pinks lounged about. My body wanted to float alongside them. My legs, longing to dance, rejoiced in the swishing fabric of my long cotton skirt. My feet raise my ballet black flats in little sweeping kicks. “Is it always this beautiful?” I softly asked my Friend. “Why have I never seen it before?” I breathed in another draught of the sweet air. Hailing a taxi, I settled myself in the back and pressed my forehead against the cracked the window. The taxi’s wheels against the asphalt sang to me with each revolution, They didn’t lie.

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Five Minute Friday: Dear

Beloved,

I didn’t realize, not until You showed me. It’s mind-boggling that You hold me so dear. I’ve focused so much on what I lost. But then I spent 10 days with people who were adult versions of the children I spent a good portion of my childhood avoiding.  You’ve given me a eyeful of what You preserved in me, what You saved me from, what You gave me.

You preserved my heart so that I know what cruelty is and hate it. You gave me distaste for the endless anger at a world that doesn’t do as I demand, doesn’t recognize my worth as I think it ought. You kept me innocent enough to be interested in everyone and everything around me. You held my desire to help in place until it became my default. And You made me hunger for healing. That’s where I invested my life because I knew being whole was a worthy goal. I knew I couldn’t do anything else well, no matter how smart and capable I am, unless first the gaping wounds were healed.

Thank You. And thank You for those who were welcoming and caring during those ten days. The contrast made the lesson that much clearer. And may I ask for one favour? Please convert the hearts of adults who believe that it is normal to be cruel, filled with anger, petty, and full of small, hatefulness. Please restore their innocence and joy and wonder. I know, they too are dear to You.

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Every Friday,100s of bloggers set a timer, write for 5 minutes, and then publish the results. We don’t edit or engulf ourselves in concerns about whether our writing is worthy to be seen. We expose our incomplete, unpolished thoughts and words to each other and our readers. Kate Motaung’s, at  Heading Home, provides the prompt on Thursday evening. We all link our posts there and tweet them with the hashtag #FMFParty. Join us.

More Tell

I’ve learned not to chase after suffering even though my sins are many. Chasing suffering is masochism. It’s the same discordant thinking and belief I had when as a child, and as an adult, I was convinced I deserved to be abused. It’s the confusion so many of us who have been severely traumatized experience. We demand, “Why did I survive?! Why did I escape?!” We know we are no better than those who died, those whose lives were torn apart by crushing waves of evil. Too often, we engage in self-destructive actions unless and until we learn that surviving is good and, at the same time, excruciating. Survival is often suffering. It brings us face-to-face with accepting that “God made us all, and [H]e can do just as [H]e likes.” (1)

That’s an icy pail of water dashed into the face. I belong to God in a way I can’t fully understand. I own things. I possessed a family. I have friends. But nothing and no one is mine the way I am God’s. I create nothing. I can transform a piece of fabric and some notions into a really cool garment. I can transform many things. But I bring nothing into existence. I only use that which already exists, that which He made. I call nothing into being. Nor do I exist outside of creation. Neither is creation dependent on me. I’m just another created being.

God is different. He made everything, including me, from nothing. He made the plan, established the order. He decided to raise dust to divinity, to make us like Him. And suffering and sacrifice are the means God uses to accomplish His plan. But to see that, we must look at the cross and what Christ’s suffering and sacrifice have done. And we must keep looking until He permeates us with the wisdom and grace to accept the world He created and relinquish the world as we think it ought to be.

[N]o one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I wept much that no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to into into it. Then one of the elders said to me, “Weep not; lo, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders, I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain… (2)

The great, worthy warrior, “the Lion of the tribe of Judah” is “a Lamb” that was slain. “Huh?”

Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems; and he has a name inscribed which no one knows but himself. He is clad in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, followed him on white horses. (3)

In warfare, the enemy’s blood splashes on a warrior’s garments during battle. But the “King of kings and Lord of lords” rides into battle in a robe already dipped in blood, His own blood. He is the Lamb that was slain. Warfare is inverted. And the inversion continues:

Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and whence have they come?” I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (4)

The fine linen of the “armies of heaven” are washed “white in the blood of the Lamb.” Again, “Huh?” Blood stains. Yet martyrdom is the way we are purified and robed for battle. Witnessing to Christ in the midst of suffering and sacrifice prepares us to be part of the great army following the Lamb that was slain. This is how God makes war. Not by destroying the wicked. Just as the man planted the seeds of his own destruction when he beat the bare thighs of his seventeen month-old son, evil destroys itself. But God makes war with the suffering and sacrifice of His Son, with an army comprised of those who have died witnessing to the Lamb, those who pick up their cross and follow Christ.

This too is the banquet, the wedding banquet of the Lamb. To be sure, it’s an unpleasant part. But it’s part, like the creepy guy and unappetizing course. The pure hue of suffering and sacrifice are intricately embroidered throughout our wedding garments. Heaven is where the tears are wiped from our eyes, where mourning ends, where we have no more questions but only the joy of, “So that’s what was really happening!” and “Wow! Just wow!” Now, we train for that reality which we can only glimpse in the many parables Christ gives us. (And He continues to provide parables. Our personal stories are bursting with them.) The training is hard. It’s real. And, sometimes it’s excruciatingly painful. Sometimes, it’s suffering and sacrifice. Here, those who mourn are truly blessed because just as as I knew, even at thirteen, the hard work that was necessary if I wanted to perform the starring solo in the water show, I know it is true that if I want to follow Christ, I must “deny [my]self and take up [my] cross daily and follow [Him].” (5)

And I know my cross is already here, customized just for me. I decide whether I will pick it up and carry it. But I think that thing must be tethered to my ankle. I drag it along, try to affix wheels, try to find some way to make decorate it so that it seems less cross-like. Sometimes I realize how much easier it is just to lift and carry the thing; my back and shoulders are stronger than my ankle. But I can’t escape it. No one can. We get the cross whether we like it or not. It’s heavy and horrid and absolutely real. As real as the bullets that killed Grandpère and Ti and Marmar and Papa. Jesus didn’t die to save me from suffering but to give me real life.

“When you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” (6) Not if, when. “Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s foes will be those of his own household.” (7) He promised a sword and discord. And I, quite understandably, don’t want either. Christ knew that when He prayed, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.” (8)

Certainly, I’ve spent much of my life pleading for the cup to pass, for the suffering to end. But I also know I have the capacity to accept the gift of suffering and the gift of sacrifice. That’s coded in the Imago Dei, Adamah, “image of God” software package. When suffering and sacrifice present themselves, as the repentant thief did, I can fight on Christ’s side while, at the same time, asking Him to remember me. I can also mock Jesus and rant and rave against my cross. But whichever I do, there will be real consequences. My choices are like the bullets that killed Grandpère and Ti and Marmar and Papa. They bring real results, make real things happen. If I mock and rant and rage, I will obtain the real consequences of that choice. If I wash my robe in the blood of the Lamb, if, in the midst of suffering and sacrifice, I witness to God’s overwhelming love and goodness, I will also obtain real consequences. I will obtain the consequences I want.

Good triumphs over evil through sacrifice and suffering. Martyrdom is the happy ending of my story. And I want the happy ending, the “and they lived happily ever after’ ending, the ending that is a glorious beginning. I want it because my Friend has always been faithful to me. This book is only a sketch of His faithfulness. There’s so much I simply can’t capture. He has stopped me walking down so many self-destructive roads. He has rescued me when I’ve been lost. He has sustained me in the midst of cruelty and evil. Gently and lovingly, even though it must also be painful, He purges me of behaviour and attitudes that are destroying others and destroying me. He’s given me the opportunity to share in His sufferings and sacrifice, the undeserved honor of suffering with Him. He trusts me even though I’m not trustworthy. God has extravagantly invested an enormous amount in me. He’s invested His life. And He has always left me free to rebel against Him, to refuse Him, to reject Him just as I rejected the angels singing to me the first Christmas I spent alone. No matter the cost, no matter the suffering and sacrifice, when He is so gracious and loving, when He has changed my mourning to gladness, how can I refuse?

“It should be joyous!” I insisted, my voice a bit shrill. “This is a Sanctus. It’s what the angels and saints do. It’s the way the citizens of heaven praise God. That’s reason to be happy.” “Yes,” Robert agreed. “But it sounds like a dirge,” I huffed. “I’ve written a lot of dirges. Practically everything I’ve ever written has been a dirge.” I sniffed in a loud breath through my nose, “I’ll have to wait until God gives me the right music. This can’t be another dirge.”

“Please?” I begged softly as I remained in the quiet of the chapel several days later. “Please send me joyous music? Music that praises You. Music that gladdens the heart.” I sat back in my seat and listened with my heart, my eyes on the gold tabernacle. My stomach growled. I smiled. “I’m hungry,” I softly told my Friend, then gathered my things and walked into the street. The air was bright and crisp. At the restaurant, I ordered a cheddar burger, without the bun, and french fries. The light inside my heart was as bright as ever but no music played in that light. Once again, I gathered my things and trekked out into the bright day to find the elusive downtown post office. After locating it, and posting my COBRA payment, my tasks were done for the day. I had never walked this far in Houston.The bright, crispness stirred my feet. I found myself pointing my toe and gently making ronde jambes so that my feet fell, toe first, then heel, one in front of the other, and caused me to take a little skip in-between steps. From time to time, my arms lifted to second position and kept me balanced.

Daah dah, da daah da, da daah daaaah, trilled through my heart. “Horns!” I spoke aloud softly to my Friend. Again, Daah dah, da daah da, da daah daaaah. “That’s it!” I cried out, then realized someone might hear me. But I spoke aloud again, “That’s it!” I began to sing, “Pleni sunt coeli et terra! Pleni sunt coeli et terra! Pleni sunt coeli et terra!” (9) And then my voice continued singing though I’d not yet heard the music in my heart, “Gloria tua!” And I could hear the horns crescendo up, “Hosanna in excelsis!” (9) My ronde jambes moved to the Bossa Nova beat. “Wow! It’s joyous!” I told my Friend, my eyes smarting with tears. As tears flowed down my cheeks, I softly exclaimed, “It’s not a dirge. It’s just joy.”

(1) Margaret Sydney, Five Little Peppers Grown Up, Chapter 7 (http://www.readprint.com/work-5664/Five-Little-Peppers-Grown-Up-Margaret-Sidney/contents)

(2) Revelation 5:3-6a (RSV)

(3) Revelation 19:11-14 (RSV)

(4) Revelation 7:13-14 (RSV)

(5) Mark 8:34 (RSV)

(6) Isaiah 43:2 (RSV)

(7) Matthew 10:34-36 (RSV)

(8) Matthew 26:39 (RSV)

(9) Heaven and earth are full of Your glory. Hosanna in the highest.

Five Minute Friday: Exhale

Push. Push. Inhale. Exhale. Push. Push.

Now, I can’t even write!

Inhale. Exhale.

A sentence. A thought. That’s all in an entire day.

Inhale. Exhale.

I sit before the computer and nothing comes. I know what to write. It’s not writer’s block. It’s like a wall, a tough, rubbery membrane and I can’t get through.

Inhale. Exhale.

Thank You for this. Working out helps. Doing my bar again helps. Riding this bike (it’s really boring, thanks for the Ipod) helps.

Inhale. Exhale.

“How would you know you’ve been healed if you were never tested?” my Friend’s Voice asked.

Huh?

Inhale. Exhale.

How would I?

Inhale. Exhale.

I didn’t think of that.

Inhale. Exhale.

It would be like always rehearsing a dance and never performing.

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Every Friday,100s of bloggers set a timer, write for 5 minutes, and then publish the results. We don’t edit or engulf ourselves in concerns about whether our writing is worthy to be seen. We expose our incomplete, unpolished words to each other and our readers. Lisa Jo Baker provides a prompt on her blog and we all link our posts there and tweet them with the hashtag #FMFParty. Join us.

Five Minute Friday: Lost

Beloved,

I forget to thank You for many things but this morning, something arose and I must stop, and thank You, and probably continue thanking You off and on for some time. I called the pharmacy to refill my prescriptions, worried about the cost, (Could I afford them?) only to be put on hold for a long time while they checked. After a few minutes, someone asked if I had been helped. To my great surprise, I said, “I believe I have been. Thank you.” My voice remained calm, even toned, normal. No defensiveness. No anger because the wait was so long (but really because I was worried).

You first showed me when my thyroid was removed that I could be in great pain, dealing with an unresponsive doctor, and remain calm. It’s taken several years, but that seems to be happening more and more. I’ve lost the automatic “flinch” I learned when the man used to shout at me and hit me and beat me because I was hurting or upset or sick. Please, don’t let me find it again. I don’t want it. Let it remain lost forever. Thank You.

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Every Friday,100s of bloggers set a timer, write for 5 minutes, and then publish the results. We don’t edit or engulf ourselves in concerns about whether our writing is worthy to be seen. We expose our incomplete, unpolished words to each other and our readers. Lisa Jo Baker provides a prompt on her blog and we all link our posts there and tweet them with the hashtag #FMFParty. Join us.

Five Minute Friday: Release

Beloved,

You’ve changed me. Really, really changed me.

You know things are tight right now. I’m beginning to feel desperate. I’ve felt that way in the past. Last night, I was tempted to hurt myself. An old memory of hitting myself with a hard, leather belt, the way the man used to hit me, came into my mind. I’ve done it in the past. I’ve been tempted and cried to You for help only to find myself hurting myself in rage and desperation. But last night, I cried out to You for help. I said, “No! I don’t want this. I don’t need it anymore.” I prayed and the temptation left.

How long was I in bondage to obsessive actions? To replaying what was done to me because that’s what I deserved? Because there was no hope for anything more? How often did I tell myself, “Hang on. God have more in store for you?” Last night, I didn’t need to convince myself. All I needed was to cry out to You, to pray, to reject self-destructiveness. You have set me free. You have released me.

Oh, my Lord, I’m free. I’m free.

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Every Friday,100s of bloggers set a timer and write for 5 minutes and then publish the results. We don’t edit or engulf ourselves in concerns about whether our writing is worthy to be seen. We expose our incomplete, unpolished words to each other and our readers. Lisa Jo Baker provides a prompt on her blog and we all link our posts there and tweet them with the hashtag #FMFParty. Join us.

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