oh, dear

Friends, this is one of those posts on one of those days. But I probably don’t mean what you think. Nothing dreadful happened and I am not hormonal.

Beauty got weaved in among other things – into the rearranged plans and the winter traipsing and the new basil plant in our little kitchen windowsill. Beauty got weaved in and now I’m writing by a candle my roommate lit to keep me company in the rest of these night hours. Just me and my chai tea + honey + coconut almond milk, candlelit and tucked inside this Brooklyn winter night – inside the beauty that got weaved in among other threads.

I am not quite sure what makes a beautiful day seem heavy or hard. Maybe I imagine sadness into open spaces or maybe that giant glass sculpture we walked through in the meatpacking district really did have a deeper effect than I thought.

I guess I think there is a way to experience beauty in the negative. It looks like sadness over sketchbooks that stay closed and sadness over craft boxes that stay hidden under beds. It looks like doodled inspiration for home improvement projects and the keyboard leaning in the corner of the living room.

And maybe that is the sadness that makes Saturdays feel heavy, because beauty needs space.

Beauty needs to be breathed in without a city metronome. Beauty needs to hear us say “Yes” when it isn’t convenient or instantly beneficial and sometimes my voice gets garbled up in my throat. Sometimes it is hard to know what is beautiful and life feels too crowded to do anything slowly.

That’s probably why I ended up sprawled out on my neighbor’s floor, looking at photographs of America in the 1900s. Photographs were different then – few were taken an arm’s length away. I turned the black and white pages slowly, reading captions and imagining the stories that unfolded after the moments were captured.

This is some of the beauty that got weaved in, but it made me aware of the beauty that got left out. How can I get more of the discernment to know which is which? And is it okay to be sad that I’m not better at choosing?

We’re in the middle of fashion week in this fine city. I know this mostly because I’ve seen more 6+ foot beauties working the sidewalks like runways. I don’t know how the wind follows them so it always blows their manicured hair in the right direction, but it is impressive. They look the right amount of tussled and flustered, with the cold concrete city as a backdrop.

And we’re all just trying to make space for beauty.

We are all trying to choose what is beautiful even when life feels too crowded to enjoy anything slowly. There is both nothing and too much to do on our lists of lovely things. Maybe I’ve imagined this weight and we do not need to be brave about beauty. But maybe not.

Maybe it is okay to feel like days have weight.

Maybe it is okay to be sad about beauty that never gets used or loved or held. Maybe it is okay that a sculpture sunk your spirit and it is okay that the feeling followed you all day.

Maybe beauty has weight and needs space.

turning up the stones of my own discontent

Today feels like all my hidden sorrows have huddled to make aching war on my lower back. It’s just one of those days where the question, “Oh, how long?” seems to be the only appropriate thing to say, followed by a decided and desperate, “You won’t let me go.”

Isn’t it strange how you start to think the world is falling apart when your body aches / your brother will have face surgery / national politics looks to spin out of control / there might not be enough food this winter for the breadbasket / you’re still trying to figure out how to let love fly like crazy / the song in your soul sounds a little sickly?

No, I guess I don’t think that’s strange at all. Maybe the world is falling apart.

I better start singing this line, “You, You won’t let me go.” And then I better sing it again.

a studied irrelevance

I was reading this article, “The Myths of Progress and Relevance” by John Dickson (PhD, Ancient History) at the Gospel Coalition Blog last night and this statement toward the end is still marinating today.

‎”The true relevance of the gospel is found in its studied irrelevance to any particular culture, whether ancient Corinthian or modern New Yorker. We do not need another message that affirms what we already think in all our foibles and cultural particularities. We surely need one that is free to challenge, rebuke, frighten, and enlighten us, as well as comfort and affirm us when appropriate. That message is the gospel. It is precisely because the gospel was not crafted to endorse ancient Athenians or modern Americans that it is wonderfully relevant to both.”
 
“…the Gospel was not crafted…”
Let’s start there. Sometimes I think we forget that we didn’t create this Gospel – we are not the authors and therefore deserve no credit for the masterfully written story. We have no reason to collect royalties or protect the Gospel as our intellectual property. The Gospel was not crafted – period.
 
“…the Gospel was not crafted to endorse ancient Athenians or modern Americans…”
The Gospel is not a political move or the newest trend in “social justice” (whatever that means). The Gospel does not draw a line in the political sand or raise a national flag. The Gospel doesn’t endorse human ideas. The Gospel is God’s idea.
 
“It is precisely because the Gospel was not crafted to endorse ancient Athenians or modern Americans that it is wonderfully relevant to both.”
The Gospel is not about progress. We will not evolve out of the idea or into it the longer we ruminate over it’s claims. We cannot make the Gospel legitimate. Oh, friends, we don’t have that kind of power. If the Gospel is what it claims, we are all (every generation, culture, people group, and nation) unworthy recipients. We will not reach an intellectual plane where it is no longer relevant.
 
“We do not need another message that affirms what we already think in all our foibles and cultural particularities. We surely need one that is free to challenge, rebuke, frighten, and enlighten us, as well as comfort and affirm us when appropriate.”
 
The Gospel is intentionally irrelevant in all the ways we’d rather it not be. The Gospel is not a cheerleader for our causes or the biggest fan of our agendas. The Gospel is not a product of this age or an influence in an epoch that has passed.
 
The Gospel is God’s and He has intentionally made cultural differences only relevant in one way: the future joyful celebration of people from all tribes, tongues, nations joining together in grateful praise for the gift of salvation and communion with our Creator.
 
let LOVE fly like cRaZy

this & that

It’s been awhile.

There are simply too many things to read. I’m hoping (in light of yesterday’s post) that whatever knowledge we add to our heads today means adding obedience to our hearts. How can we use knowledge to result in obedient actions full of love?

In light of religious turbulence in the UK (see this recent radio interview with leading atheist Richard Dawkins that making more than airwaves), I strongly urge you to read this article, “No secularism please, we’re British.”

Oh, Martin Luther. Do you know that Luther died on February 18, 1546? Maybe you need a little refresher about what this man contributed to our religious heritage. Read, “The Forgotten Influence of Martin Luther” from the Gospel Coalition blog.

Josh Garrels is an artist who is not afraid to do things differently. His most recent album is completely free to whoever wants it, because he said he has been overwhelmed by the blessings of his musical journey. Wow. He’s not a musical mess-around, either. What he makes is beautiful. Anyway, now Garrels is partnering with Mason Jar Music to make (what appears to be) a really incredible film.

Lastly, I wanted to mention (again) the film Tree of Life. The first time I watched it, I chewed on it for days but I missed SO much because I was scribbling notes on journal pages. The second time I watched it, tucked into an attic room with several beautiful folks, I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. Put it on your list and sit through it, if nothing else then for the music and cinematography.

Challenge: Choose one thing on this list and then ask how learning can lead to obeying and  actions full of love. The whole idea of “this & that” is to keep informed, but cannot be just that. I realize there are blanks that need filling in, but this is the kind of thing we’re made for, right?

What does it mean that I now know England is wrestling with the religion of secularism, or that Martin Luther almost single-handedly changed the course of modern church history, or that Josh Garrels believes there is power when we invite others into our joy?

How can learning things in this life lead me to knowledge of God and produce acts of obedience full of love? I hope the answer is a treasure hidden in this day!

let LOVE fly like cRaZy