May 5, 2013

On time and quiet growth and resurrection

I haven't been able to write for nearly a year. No more than a few words here and there. And it's felt a little like dying. And it fits really, if I'm honest. Because I'm only just now coming to realize that we did, in fact, do some dying this past year. And time has a way of marking necessary growth. We are always changing, shedding old skin ... dying a little ... becoming more and more like new.

It's been just over a year since we started turning right instead of left on Sundays. And it is possible, you know, to celebrate and to grieve. To walk away and also walk into.

When we walked through new church doors one year ago, it was the beginning of Lent. And I watched my husband stand up tall and brave among a new crowd of witnesses. I took in a deep breath of certainty, mimicking him there, and I had never seen him so sure.

And it was like a homecoming.

That was last Easter. And truly? We've declared together and apart:

this has been our finest year yet.

As if we entered a living, moving, turning organism with all its liturgy and its calendar and its rhythms. We were swept up into a current that is fluid and brilliant and deep- its riches seemingly bottomless. And like a whirlpool with Jesus at its center, we have found ourselves plunging again and again into still deeper waters, swimming around and around - and always closer in.

And I am convinced that we were made for this: this spiraling, this liturgical living, this time-keeping. The way we keep hours in a planner and mark days in boxes on our walls. Alarms in our phones. Reminders on screens. We are creatures of habit and time- made with a limited amount of it and always living in a way that just confirms: yes, we are finite. And we were created for rhythms. Seasons.

Sure, we live the daily but aren't we running in much bigger circles, all of us? Large, twelve month, orbiting circles that bring us back to the same points on the calendar time and time again. And we run ahead and fast as if we are one up on time. But really? We crave what is familiar.

And what we know best ... is time kept.

Who hasn't felt it? When we move outside of time's zones, the way our bodies can feel foggy and inside out. And even those of us who long to be globe trotters and time travelers must learn patience ... must allow for the getting there.

And then for the catching up.

I suppose I am learning this right now. We waited quiet throughout all of Lent and the waiting continues. We took a bold step, made the initial move. And I would like for the Lord to be doing visible things and directing us in outward ways. Instead, I sense the same whispers over and over again. Every day, just this:

Wait for the Lord. Create rhythms in your soul and habits in your home. Wait for the Lord. Shed some fear skin and die to control. Surrender to love. Wait for the Lord. Write quiet prayers in secret.

And it is one year later and my heart longs to tap out meaningful words in this space. I want to know that I've grown or changed and so often I can't see myself clearly until I see my own words. I want to know what He has been up to from springtime last.

Instead, this year found me stretched. Quiet. Baffled by its necessary silence. It was Lent again and my struggles were similar, my fasting equally tough, equally eye-opening to my own sin nature and frail human tendencies. And still, I'm thankful for the rhythmic reminders in a year. Lent was a time to slow and remember, go into the desert with Jesus on purpose. To believe that I, we, really do live on something other than bread alone ... whatever that bread may be. It was time again to wait.

And in our church now, we are still celebrating Easter. Six weeks later we are still talking of the resurrection and, yes, I am being resurrected too. And this church calendar reminds me to linger- not to rush necessary growth or grief or celebration. Inside those church walls, time seems to stand still and I'm swept up into something infinitely larger than myself.

I am learning not to fear time.

I am learning, in the quiet, that He is always keeping company with me- this man who is outside of the hours I keep.

I am believing now, with a new posture, that My Jesus really has marked all of my days.

I watch the calendar and pray for growth from this year to the next. It has been a year of sporadic words. And I have learned to be alright in this place. Perhaps gestating. Perhaps finishing up with a necessary grief. And my answer, when someone asks, has become semi-lame but always the truest response I can find.

"I'm really good," I say.

Because I really am. Perhaps moving into a long awaited season of security. I sense an infant, sure   knowing ... both new and strong. I'm not so afraid of breaking anymore. I'm growing into some new word skin. And I think I can see it now- how I needed to find some courage in the quiet.

Friends, time brings change and change brings growth. Growth can bring some hurting. But good, healthy hurting brings clarity and purpose. Vision. And God willing, next spring will come again. We can bet that in the midst of time turning, Jesus will not change. His words will still hold true. His call to holiness will still be clear. His love will still be abundant ... His grace still plentiful.

I've watched calendar months fall away and I've been a bit restless. What will come of all this unmarked time? I can hope this next year is not as quiet as the last. I can hope that as the seasons turn again, my heart will turn too-

always spiraling closer into the heart of the One who holds me, and time itself, in the palm of His hand.

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