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Sometimes, we journey to the dark so we can be moved by the Light. We trace the furthest boundary lines behind our eyes. We get deep next to demons, weighed down from evil within and without. And when warmth first touches cheek or shoulder or the back of our knees, the weight may not lift but there is relief. . . . And it is the same magic— to feel Light's warmth after a cold night or a long stretch of summer, it is the same glory— to be reading the lectionary in a Home Depot parking lot with sleeping car seats or having a morning cup of coffee on the front stoop with my co-laborers. . . . Somehow, God has anchored the pale blue ombre sky above me like an endless umbrella. He covers and cloaks with Light and sometimes I have to go deep in dark to feel it's warmth. . . . Morning Call:  Lamentations 1:12 Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Look and see if  there is any sorrow like my sorrow which was brought upon  me, whom the Lord hath afflicted. . . . Opening Prayer:  Loving Father, as we journey with your Son in this week of remembrance and hope, help us to experience and receive you and your love for the world more clearly. Transform us by the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. In the name of your Son, our Lord, we pray. Amen. #holyweek #notredame #outofthedarkness #intothelight
Naked morning comfort and I'm just basking in the humble light of it. They wear all their affections like clothes and this one makes me melt because they aren't so attached to their wholeness. They are ready to be broken to make peace with one another -- more ready than me, so I take notes. . . . The making of our Peace broke Him, completely. His humble persistence was full of glory because He was God, not because it looked good. Making peace means breaking pride, breaking selfish gain, breaking the sin inside that so easily entangles us, and breaking the power of the sin outside that so deceives us. . . . #newblog #momswhowrite #writersofinstagram #motherhood #siblings #siblingsasfriends #braveryofsmalllife #Godseconomy #kitchen #atlanta #family #teamkolts #teampixel #teampixelnofilter #nofilter #morningglow #morning #liveauthentic #kids #georgia #southernsummer
"Look, Mom! Edelweisses!!!!" And she passed the peace to me with flower weed stems and smooshed petals. The brisk tickle of Spring wind swept my elbows as I reached out to receive. . . . And it got made again, Peace. Established with delicate weed offerings and vulnerable outstretched hands, peace mended for a moment the breaks of the morning. The Great Deceiver's attempts to put us at odds— to wound one other with war words thrown in defense and pride— got smooshed underfoot in the backyard. . . . And I thought of Jesus making literal Peace, because the world doesn't allow it to come and be kept. Peace must be forged with active rebellion against the forces within and without that would rather war. We are a peace breaking people made in the image of One who carries Peace in his character, One who made Peace for us forever with God so that we can make peace today exactly where we are. . . . "For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility." Ephesians 2:14 . . . And the little child shall lead us.
I studied Job's friends pretending comfort, while withholding kindness and refusing to revive a weary spirit. I taught about the people in Jerusalem spreading their coats out like a royal carpet for the King of glory to ride in on a borrowed mule. I learned about the invisible God we try to force fit our image but our invisible spirit is made in His. I chased my littles in circles in the newly cut backyard and followed Foster's gaze to find birds high on budding branches. I heard Zella yell to our neighbor two houses down to move her apple trees far away because our juniper tree has a bad disease that could infect it. I wrestled through pride and failure and defending ideas. I made a very late afternoon cup of coffee and cooked with my baby strapped on my back. I snuggled my girl and gave her choices while praying she would choose right. On the first day of Spring. . . . We rode to Bible study, the kids and me, in an Uber because I ran the battery down on the van. I caught the sun glory streaming in to hit all our faces in the backseat as Zella chatted with the driver about music, imaginary children, and her preference to not wear socks and shoes. Our Wednesdays have so much Bible in them — sometimes nothing connects and I arrive at the end with mush brain and then sleep in my day clothes. But yesterday, I fell into bed so thankful that there are constellations in all these bits of Light. He is holding all things together and sometimes He connects dots and reveals a special glimpse of the glory of it all. #writersofinstagram #momswhowrite
My brows converge over my nose and my face squints against the dark. I pray, "O, God. O, God." I lay flat on my bed between two littles and take a deep breath that reaches my shoulders and sides and ankles "O, God." . . . It feels like Spring shouldn't come, that it is so *wrong* here that Lent should last forever. That, though our hope for Spring is strong, it is mostly about escape and not about salvation. We have made ourselves at home in winter, comfortable with the frosted ground under our hibernation. Our evil isn't seasonal. It isn't an epoch, a phase, a time period. It is in us— bones, marrow and evil. And we don't even want out. A Stockholm syndrome sickness that's eating us up from the inside but we refuse rescue. . . . The mercy of the Lord comes anyway, budding trees and blooms for the just and unjust. He woos us— relentlessly— out of our captivity with kindness. He calls us to repent of our soul's winter so we can finally see and taste His Spring. He calls us out of shadow and into marvelous light where our winter is exposed and we can squint to see our salvation. And we can know even a little bit more the extent of His glory and the depth of His grace. . . . Spring is coming and we are Easter people, but today there is lament. #light #shadow
Why is it that when we talk about the beginning of the United States it's always "when we founded this great nation" but when we talk about slavery it skips to the Civil War and it's always, "they were fighting to keep slavery in the south." The same humans who founded this nation bought humans and made them slaves in it. And today, for that, I mourn. . . . Every human made in the image of God is the same amount of invaluable. The same amount of mysterious wonder is knit up in our bones, from those first moments curled up in the womb. Lord, have mercy on us for acting like it is not so. . . . . . #americanlent #lentenrose #whiteprivilege #slavery #lent #lament #foundingfathers #letstalkaboutit #repentanceproject #didyouknow #spring #teamkolts #liturgy #reflection #monday #teampixel #atlanta #blackandwhite #slavetrade

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tragic beauty

It wasn’t the best decision I’ve ever made – running so soon after the rain on the river path toward the lake – but it felt like a good decision when I started out.

The first few blocks confirmed it, like my feet had been waiting to pound pavement all day long. When I got to the bridge, the sky was speaking of the storm that had just rumbled through.

The river rushed by just underneath the bridge, the sun streaked through the gray overhead, and the path stretched empty in front of me. I got emotional, there by the river that was breaking its boundaries and threatening flood.

What is it about the stillness after the storm?

Storms feel destructive and powerful and foreboding… at least in tornado season, or hurricane season, or after a tsunami. Storms can be a cold violence, but then those bright rays peek through the gray and the air is quiet. The settled stillness is peaceful – like two rowdy men in a back alley brawl called a truce and the alley is full of empty again. All the punches have already been thrown and resolution stretches to fill the silence with peace.

I saw the mountain of debris in between my strides – tree limbs, plastic bags, and bits of unidentified things trapped between a bridge and a bank. Debris is one of those words that sounds more beautiful than what it defines (maybe that is many words in French?). “The remains of something broken down or destroyed,” doesn’t sound beautiful. It sounds like ruin. The debris that gathered under the bridge didn’t make sense together – the massive pile of natural and unnatural odds and ends were not supposed to be blocking the river the way they were.

I realized I had slowed my pace and was taking a mental picture of the floating mass. I was thinking about Oklahoma and trying to imagine what a town would look like after being leveled in an instant.

Isn’t there a mysterious sort of beauty after a storm has passed? When the stillness swallows up the storm’s screeching and the gray clouds let the light back in.

Maybe I’m making little sense. But we often use the phrases “tragic beauty” and “beautiful scandal” in a way that assumes they make sense. In literature and movies and conversation and news stories, we all recognize there is beauty within and around and in between the debris of tragedy.

I kept running while my brain ran to find reasons debris could be beautiful. The path was deserted – just a solitary man on a bike crossed in front of my running feet. When I got to Gray’s Lake and had run halfway around it, I realized the reason the paths were empty: it was closed due to flooding. The ducks could not figure out whether to swim in the streets or the river. They didn’t even move when I passed. And then in the middle of the bridge (that runs across the lake), I found myself running inside a storm.

That’s when I thought it was a stupid idea to be on a run, but you can’t do much but run when you are halfway across the bridge in a downpour and a couple miles from home. I laughed a little bit, prayed a little bit that I wouldn’t get struck by lightning, and thought a little bit about how peaceful it had seemed moments before.

The rain died down and I navigated the flooded paths while wondering if I could get arrested for going around wood barricades. The lake returned to its placid state and the stillness swallowed up the last of the storm’s brawl. The park looked like a photoshop creation, with all the green hues and perfect dew drops on perfect blooms.

I ran back past the mass of debris trapped underneath the bridge by 5th Street and thought about all the natural disasters with all their masses of debris that sometimes stretch the length of a city. How can we call that beautiful? That stillness after the storm?

I was in middle school when a very powerful windstorm hit our rural area. Everyone was in a productive panic (I think rural areas are especially good at this) and the children were all sent home from school early. We arrived at home and my oldest brother looked out on our property (with several less roofs on buildings, as they had been flung into the fields) and said, “Wow. God is awesome!”

The post-storm calmness had claimed the horizon and what my brother saw when he looked out from our front porch was God’s awesomeness.

It doesn’t make any sense. How can something destructive uncover something beautiful?

Sometimes things just don’t make sense. Sometimes they are swallowed up into the greater mystery of a world beyond us, a reality beyond this, and an eternity that is beyond the reach of disaster.

Sometimes what is unsteady and unpredictable in the world is at its brightest contrast to what is forever and true.

Is that how beauty peeks through with rays of sunlight when the storm settles down? Does tragedy in this world somehow shake us from temporary sight to see something eternal?

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