Monday, October 6, 2014

Back in the warmth of my room I evaluate the course of events that just transpired. A young man on this campus has my attention; my whole attention. Either that or in the words of an old friend, "he is dead to me." Every time I see him it feels as if I were facing the ultimate judge of my life. It's been this way since the beginning, on the first snowy night we met, where I sat curled up on my bed in the company of a stranger who I thought might become a very important person in my life. But what is my life? What I have I chosen to do with my life? And how can this man possibly be involved with it?

I never can explain to myself the kind of attraction I feel. He is an allegory to me. Yet all of the details of his character are the only way the allegory ever speaks. There is a perfect relationship between his words and his gestures, as if deed were commanding mind and vice versa. He indicates the beauty of stability, knowing oneself, loyalty to oneself. He is in effect, my self. He walks ahead of me on the open lawn in front of Old Kenyon. Despite the gloomy rain he screams pleasantness. Under his light I see a heart in myself that I don't like. Is it merely the memory of him seeing me at my weakest hour that scares me, or the falseness of me stooping to his level of life? When in fact, mine may be the better, the more lasting, since mine is grounded in offering up myself?

Sitting in my small white wooden chair I turn my head and stare into the steady drizzle behind me. "I do not think he can satisfy our desire for a companion." My mind does a full turn back to The Truth. My companion is the one who died for me. The basics are underneath, waiting for me to put my full trust in them. He is my Bridegroom. Do I have a love for His love? Do I want my love to be like His love? If it was, maybe I could come forth to my co-soldier without comparison. Maybe I could bear his light, and the exactness of his being, his diligence, his long labor, because His is greater, and He is my only judge, and the only one who knows me entirely.

I'm in a constant state of self-education. Soon this one struggle shall eddy and make more clear the larger one at hand. How spiritual is life to be? What is the best thing for me? Have not all relationships in my past, and the one I dream of occasionally now when I lose interest in spiritual things, only indicate my capacity to live in awe and devotion to my Maker?

I'm after a life of worship again. I'm writing only because of it. There is no other cause to write. When I write as though my writing had worth apart from my pursuit of God I never feel I am being authentic. I ran long and steady this morning;  I opened my heart to the author and protector of our faith. What is there to fear? What man, what passion, what hour, is there to bridle such a one, so pure, so honest, so willing to discover who is she is made to be?

Let go of the boy who whistles. We don't know if he is cold underneath. Trying to figure it out would take us away from freedom in the perfect knowledge of Christ. This is a road only fit for one. Oh Lord! If only there was another who could join me, in their own way! But you are working it out... you are always working on your creation. I love you best when I humbly accept, obey your commands, and hang on.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Gravel and Stars

July 9, 2014
Yesterday afternoon I took a trip to Apple Valley in my mother's small black Volkswagon. My clothes were studious and classy, rather than the loose well-worn dresses I'd been adventuring in these past weeks spend out in Knox County. I looked serious and professional. Isn't this backtracking? I thought to myself. I liked the idea of being less a student and more a person with zeal for truth. But dark wash Guess jeans and $100 leather penny loafers that looked overwhelmingly scholastic brought back reminders of Saturdays spent in Nu Pi Kappa reading room reading Ayn Rand's first novel, wondering what mission I would undertake in the modern world. Wondering, not discovering. I am no longer a wonderer.

I didn't think of today's task as one that could bring about too much discovery, however. I was only fulfilling a hope that seemed pretty straightforward. A duty. I was going to see an affiliated scholar of the college, with the intent of ripening our friendship. On my drive over, I recalled the day I met her. I was a freshman at the time, attending a lectureship on Theodicy: Lazarus. I remember scanning Brandi, its shiny wood walls echoing with verses from scripture. I was confused. Why were the professors of philosophy so distant, disinterested? I noticed one of them had a pad of yellow lined paper. He had titled the page, dated it, and held his pencil just above the wide lines. But after an hour had passed, not a single note had been jotted down! Yet... my heart was racing, trying to iron every sentence into the fabric of my brain!

My friend raised her hand. I don't remember the comment she made, but I knew instantly that I wanted to meet her. Afterwards I ran up to her and introduced myself, not forgetting my status of freshman. The questions What am I going to do, be, discover here? was written all over my face. Though it was silly, because I knew myself better than that. Kenyon had knocked me down a whole scale in self-confidence in a matter of days. She empathized, and took my eagerness for pietistic yearning. Perhaps an uneasiness for material life? A wish for heaven? She told me something I had not expected to hear. You should become a catholic. At the time I thought it sounded like a neat idea. It seemed that the more philosophical a Christian is, the closer they move to Catholicism. This was its appeal to me. A perfect way to blend faith and what I am learning at Kenyon! I thought. But I felt... what about enjoyment? Because of the latter voice, the quieter one, since it is my strongest, firmest, most loyal, prevented me from taking any sort of action. I think my soul was also saying, or rather chuckling, what about individualism. And in this spirit I lived at Kenyon. Thinking little of faith, fervently being me... until there was no me left to be. For there is no life apart from God. I made a full circuit all based on a single principle. The American one-- the individual.

 Two years elapsed. I am fully alert,  peddling at high speeds up and down hilly country roads. The sun is still rising; it has not yet reached noonday, and my legs are already dripping with sweat from the aggressive pumping up and down. I dreamed of what my last two years of Kenyon might be like, the first two now closed out and complete. I thought of the numerous exciting discoveries I had made living on my own in Gambier all summer, on my new principles. In moments of such clarity and reflection-- out alone on the road-- I feel as if all the world were on the same page. My page. Thrill, adventure, personal stories, hope, joy seemed to be the cornerstones of everyone's lives. The elements that keep us all going. Out on my bike I always feel that I am exalting us all.

I went home, changed, and set out to Apple Valley. As I drove, my mood began to change. What appeared difficult--meeting with someone I admire-- started to feel easy. Sometimes such a release from gravity is so radically fast and uncalled for that I get goosebumps.  Who, what, was saving me? I leafed through my whole life like I always did on my way to meet people. What was important for them to hear? Dreams of owning land, raising animals, building bookshelves, seemed slightly superfluous to my afternoon company. I clung to these projects, however, as if they were my lifeline connection to God. But I spoke of something else, something other than the contents of my lifeline. Philosophy, theology, history, and the moral values of Kenyon College. I thought it would be delightful to hold such discussions with her because of her faith.

But not all Christians are the kind of Christian that can read the heart. Not all can see past dense words. Many are lofty, many are devout, many imagine what is to come and supplant what is already here. As I made the turn onto Coshocton my stomach leaped a little, not from excitement, but from the knowledge of God, my Master, my authority, and how unbelievably close I feel to Him. I remembered He knows and cherishes everything about me. Especially things like me reading "The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood" for fun and lessons in optimism. That truly is something that only God can understand. I beamed, thinking these things. The sun, my gentle eye on the wide road ahead, and my imagination, collided into one single feeling-- Purpose.

I was at their house for five hours. The time seemed to be split into sections, sitting in one room and then another, holding the baby, and then taking the baby for a walk. I looked for a sign that I could offer total disclosure. In despondency I reflected that it would not be possible today. I had missions that were outside of books, I had hopes that were nailed to the cross. I had plans that meant sweat and dirt, and days of fear and prayer. I had memories that brought tears and relationships that split at the root. I had damage and salvation that mirrored the level of humanity evident on the artificial section of route 36. But she spoke of the grandeur of cathedrals, the elevation of the saints, the rituals of Adoration and the eloquence of the Pope. God was the same to us, and we both loved Him wholeheartedly. But next to her I felt covered in something I could not find in her house, her words, or her midst. Poverty, simplicity, hourly dependence on my Maker.

She explained to me how the incense, the iconography, the bread, were all supposed to ignite our senses and take us out of the mundane. Yet this seemed to me an absurdity. God is in the mundane! I then told her that to worship all I needed was the night sky. How when I see the moon I think of what it represents. One day there will be no more sun or moon, because God Himself will light the world.  She joked with me that it sounded pagan. I retorted that it was closer to the American Transcendentalists who in the spirit of Jefferson had faith in the common hard-working man.

I left the house at dusk and drove to Danville on back roads. I pulled the seat way back so that I could treat the front seat like an armchair. Silliness. The Life I love. I was in utter bliss. My rituals were numerous, but nowhere were they written down by any church as sacred. "Shall we go to the grocery store for a treat?" I asked, knowing how much grocery store's remind me of God. "Ya know, some meat, some butter, anythin' else?" I laughed heartily out-loud at the sound of my joking voice, so capable of humor after a tense few hours. "Wendy's. I want to go to Wendy's, just because I had told her that living in Gambier has caused me to eat healthily. I must vanquish anything that has a semblance of prideful piety, of distance from humanity." The simple "have a good night" from the lady by the drive through window at Wendy's made me smile more fully than my friend had all night.

When I got home, I ran up the rickety metal stairs of my apartment, careful not to slide through. There was no light anywhere, but the oval moon overhead. "I miss you, I miss you, I miss you!" I screamed out loud, talking to those fundamental lifeline elements that I seemed to have left in the apartment. In rapture I yanked open the old wood door of my apartment, as if in search for them. I stuck the Jetta key on the hook, breathed in the scent of the place, then flew like a dove into the small compartment off the main room that was my bedroom. I closed my bedroom door, and with the greatest reverence for life on Earth I have ever witnessed, landed with a soft thud on my sheets. Everything in sight delighted me. The avocado colored walls that reminded me of dark woods, the old toilet that was grossly stained, the rectangular mirror above the sink that I daily stared into as a brushed my teeth. All of these things have immense meaning! I wasn't disconnected from any of them. I wasn't greater than my appliances. They were wrapped up in me, necessary for my purpose! And I gave them value! A smile spread wide across my face. I wrote in my journal, "I like the way I live. I'll never need stained glass or tall pillars or glorious campuses to love God. And... scripture will always make most sense with my headphones on riding fast on gravel or dirt under the stars on my bike."

A June Eve

    June 24, 2014

I made hamburgers tonight on the stove and ate heartily even though I was not in the mood. I have felt a slight inanition coming over me from eating more healthily and moving about a lot. I was glad to fill myself up again and then settled down on my rug and read the concluding chapters of Jane Eyre. I was having trouble focusing because I wanted to run badly, and before the sky went dark; not because of any fear of blackness but because it is more romantic at the edge of twilight and night, when the last bit of blue sky blends with the ascension of the moon and creates an oily ocean blue. I left my book and opened the curtain, revealing a crisp and long gravel driveway. The drive addressed my want for action like the Church addresses the inner gong went off, sanctioning my plan's commencement. The rain was only a sprinkle and there was just a little bit of light left above the silhouette trees. I left and ran at an even steady pace down middle path, towards Old Kenyon.

I thought of reading; why it matters to me, how what occurs in a book is always there, and what a consolation the fidelity of an author is. I was in good spirits. I moved down the hill toward the train and was pleased to note how calm and strong I was. I felt as if a metal rod were running through me head to toe, making me look and move as upright as I felt in mind. But the wind began to pick up as I was on Zion, and the lightning grew more frequent. Out here in Knox County the farms are so expansive that visibility is comprised of unusual breadth. Though the storm was far, vision told brought it to my side. I looked North, toward Howard, and saw a pink strip cut the sky and leave a mark of color throughout the clouds. The sensation chilled me. It mixed with the flowing stream beside me, an outshooting of the Kokosing, which boiled with frogs, and the myriad of lightning bugs around me, which stirred my view of the road and grounds into one sparkling plane. No cars passed. The road was dark and vacant, the wind hollow. At the massive incline my breath was even and strong; such a healthy girl was I, I knew, in myself, as a firm truth. My body was physically prepared for the route I had intended. I had been right on that account. But my nerves were struck, chaffed and burnt as if lightning had struck not my body but my intended plan. All of a sudden I knew, "I am not absolutely safe."

Visions of Jane being guarded, of frail beautiful girls needing protection, of the rightness in them being cared for-- their innocence honored, their fears soothed, came over me. I became split in mind. My opinion of myself wavered. I kept up the steady jog away from Kenyon, a solid 7 mph trot- that was no matter. It was now the two sides of my personality clashing. One told me I must go on, and ignore the ominous foreboding of these expansive, incongruent, hilly roads where abandoned houses creaked and glowed in shattered strips of flashing light. That side spoke of the savior, and His courage, and all He weathered on Earth. She was masculine and proud. And the other side said something else. She pleaded for grace, and reminded me of the small white house in a grove of pine on the side of Killduff. In my heart, the minute my mind's eye drafted the place for me, I knew it was my destination tonight. It would be brave to make it back on my own, despite my conscience. It would be braver to ascend the road of humility and ask for help. This was also, I thought, a chance for me to put real faith in humanity. I seized it, obeying the latter childlike voice I loved and wanted to be victorious. I rounded the last lone bend where wild flowers and reeds intertwine, rising up one either side  of me like the Red Sea. By day these weeds, in their freedom, captivate me and remind me of my woods back home; by night the raw products of nature seemed uncaring and unfamiliar. Visions of the Middle Ages came over me. The Pioneer days of America. "Did you know that Mt. Vernon was the home of George Washington?" I said aloud to myself, for comfort. I chuckled; hearing myself ask questions that drew upon already existent reservoirs of knowledge.

The reeds on the bend scratched my legs and my curly bangs clung to the side of my sweat-covered face. I knew of other houses, a friend's from Kenyon nearby, but reaching him would take just as much prideful tenacity as returning home by foot. In the surrounding globe of black that seemed to circumscribe the whole country, there rose a gathering of yellow lights. I held them in my gaze, now about a half a mile North. I was truly shaken. Animal noises rose, the scurrying of feet, a huffing and puffing, which I imagined belonged to some kind of snout, the oddness of an old CRV driving past me and parking up ahead by the river, as if waiting to have a word with this small gazelle of a girl traveling on a wave of flimsy moonlight. But bear in mind, dear reader, my poetic imagination was not the source of my hesitation, of the pounding of my heart. I truly felt these roads were not yet home to me, and they had not yet earned my confidence in them, nor I their peace and protection. I had lived here in Gambier a mere week, though I was excited to marry the place & people in heart and mind in the months to come.

At such a fork, one comes to see how much they value themselves; what kind of love they have for themselves. Was I a mean, harsh, bold lover? Did I make commands, dramatic gestures, daily drills that could not be sunk without embarrassment, reproach, lament? No. I was a pliable, simple, smart girl. And if I felt it best to ask for a ride home; if I wanted to trust the people of Gambier to take care of me in the name of God on whose Providence I depend, here was my chance. I knew stopping was not selfish-- a sly plan to receive divine favors-- though it did cross my mind. I genuinely yearned to continue my route, my legs and lungs, fueled by the heavy meal, begged for flight. But the urge was broken down, it being the more prideful, and I complied. "Almost there, almost to the white house" I thought, and allowed my shy sensitive aspect to take the helm and bathe the roads in with tender faith. Even the moon, hidden behind the brooding clouds, seemed in favor of capitulation, confirming that I should seek to be comforted rather than made boastful. Though paradoxically her advice made me love her even more as the companion she is to me, and by her side I wished to remain. But she was hidden, and the environs remained the same.

I remembered old days of running in high school. How there was always a destination. Always an endpoint. But how oftentimes it went just as tonight did... the endpoint developed spontaneously. It developed because one learned along the way where one needed to stop. That is, where love calls us to fall into love's warm arms. I reached the door. I stood in the dark, preserved in my indecision. A figure in a floral blouse fluttered past the window; an archetypal wife. The screen door was fastened open, and I could view the entire interior of the house. I stood silent and reverent. The wind picked up, another bolt of lightning lit the countryside, and rain began to drill downward. I examined the singular prospective road-- dank and unlit-- and then turned to the warmth of the Killduff cottage at my feet. A dell laptop lay open on the table. A wide staircase told of quiet, furnished rooms, of lives lived. "Common, Kelly. Trust them." I whispered. I wanted to so bad. But... I could make it back. I know I would. I knew the route by rote. But how would I feel the whole time? Unnatural. Like a superhero. I wanted to be human.

I knocked on the wood door frame, the door already bolted wide open. A kind man came to greet me, with deep eyes and a friendly mouth, which quickly folded upwards into a grin. I fumbled out many words at once, expressing my decision to go on a lengthy run-- a usual for me--but the strange circumstances of the night, and my conscience counseling me to stop at the closest house. My tone betrayed such amazing integrity. I felt I had not heard this particular quivering voice since I was 18, hoping to gain admission to Kenyon at a belated interview. Dependent on passion and candor was I then, when most students gained admission by assertiveness and prestige, and so was I now, wet and pleading for a small gesture of kindness. I was unafraid to betray an honest sense of brokenness, which carried its counterpart faithfully by its side like the dualism of a Dostoevskian character. There, next to the obvious poverty, was strength, purity, and wisdom locked in my eye.

The gentlemen demanded none of the explanation I offered, and merely encouraged me to enter his home. He introduced me to his wife Nancy and showed me into their living room. It turns out Dave was just getting ready to go visit a friend at the hospital, and would be able drive me home. "Ah, he too is shaken, for his friend. The hour for me is the same for him" I thought, as I observed him enter the kitchen, and finish cleaning the dishes. It was as if he was ready to meet me. And indeed he was, in more ways than one. "You work at the Deli don't you? We saw you there." "And walking on the sidewalk with your headphones!" Nancy added, "and we kept thinking how much you resemble an old friend of ours. But she is much older now..." Her and her husband shared a kind glance, and continued conversing nostalgically, as if to give me a moment to myself. I relaxed, now recognized and reeled into more pleasant associations-- the Deli-- than stark roads and a romantic heart that roamed companionless, which, reader, I love truly to the bone! But I have many aspects, all worthy of devotion.

"Yes!" I replied, regaining my usual sense and fervor as the warmer associations flowed. "I have just begun work there. What a coincidence that I have already been present on your minds!"

It then occurred to me, standing in their living room, scratching the ears of their fluffy tarrier, that I was in their home. In their home? Part of me, the stubborn independence I had fought, couldn't believe it. But the soft side was pleased, and guided me toward Dave who was motioning to the back door. We walked down the dark gravel drive which resembled my own drive, a few miles Southwest. I climbed into his black old fashioned sedan. The leather seats felt like they were made decades ago... the ridges were long and deep. I was not wearing a shirt (I figured the rain would justify such scantiness) and the skin of my shoulders clung to the material. I forwent thought and rested. I was blended wholly with the gift. I told him where my apartment is; he knew the roads and confirmed the way. Zipping automatically down roads that by day I doted on, admiring their natural beauty, he guarded me with his stillness and focus, and like one heading toward the gallows, who pays attention not to the beauty of the lane that lines the way, I headed towards my haven, making no effort to recognize the sanctuary of Gambier's back roads which palled in comparison to my home, where a cool shower, a cup of decaf coffee, and long sleep awaited me. Dave was my sanctuary, no longer these roads; or at least he was the road to it. On the way, I managed to say only what was real and necessary. I told him of my search for a church,  my parents' military deployment, the fulfillment of my lifelong ideal of living alone, and the admiration I hold for my mother's running. "I am inspired to prayer on my runs, just like her" I said. "And it is God that has always given me the courage to take bold action." His tone changed, acquiesced to my narrative. He said, "Oh, then you are a follower of the Lord? I am so glad."

The conversation following brought us just close enough-- as though we were cupping our hands in the same well to drink from the same source-- that he offered to have me stay with them for Thanksgiving. I was not surprised. I had intended on going for a serious run, to accomplish an athletic feat, certainly on God's grace and God's strength. But God didn't just give me the strength to run. He gave me the strength to reveal my heart to someone who was prepared to listen. At such forks, when the harder, humbler path is chosen, over the intenser, the prouder, the more raucous-- self-respect and fidelity is sure to result, as it did when I saw my childish aspect prevail. Such self-respect is sure to bless the rockier road, at the first instant it appears, and for the many months to come in a new place, a new life, a new Kenyon, a returned Kel.

Healthy I am, not only in muscle and bone, but in character. I soar, I broaden, I churn and swell... there being no guide but God, no permanent voice but my youngest heart, and my elementary necessity. Reader, I do not make bold decisions because they appear bold. I do what is natural for my soul and has always been. I give it the real food it desires. And when I go far, I always find my destination. A resting stop. Where I may take a breather and again gain insight into just how far I may set my mark once more.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

No remedy

I don't know what I am doing. Many things have changed since the Fall when I started this blog. My writing style, certainly. My faith, yes, I no longer define my faith by a series of dramatic spiritual realizations. But my thinking style, which is of the most relevance, is entirely the same. I am still caught in somewhat fanciful trances for the majority of days like these, days in which there is hardly anything required of me other than to live. Now to live, you could say, is far too generous a command. Many view living to be merely inhaling and exhaling, a theory which although seemingly desirable upon first consideration, is actually quite miserable when brought to action. Because, well, it requires no action. And we naturally yearn for activity. Not necessarily in the physical sense, but certainly emotionally and intellectually. It is the end of June, which has been such an odd and unstable month, and I am again beginning to feel the gentle, reoccurring push of the Holy Spirit to do something a little more than just maintain breath.

There has been a certain kind of fidgetiness with the way I have lived this month. It is the kind of fidgetiness that thrives on the inside. I described this to a good friend on the top of a hill a few days ago, but I am not sure he caught on. Although I am almost certain the same kind of inward passion consumes him quite frequently. It's almost like there is a heat in me that will not release. I greatly regret not running through the fields of Damascus, or wherever we were, and screaming, as he suggested. But I am realizing now, that even that would not have reduced this intense activity in my heart. Instead of screaming, I've been dancing- dancing down by the water. The cold creek water always acts very independent and perfectly content sitting with it's clumps of clay and sharp rock floor. Yet it is also very receptive to my crazy dancing. I put my headphones on and give myself to the water in the form of dramatic gestures, repetitive stomps, and brilliant smiles. Yet the songs always end, and I end up sitting in the sand, hugging my knees, still at great unrest. Even the greatest of moments feel miserable without the presence of the Lord. There is no assurance, there is no rest. I feel useless and fleeting. I not only notice my inability to release myself from unrest, but a calling deep within me to rest somewhere else. Somewhere completely unseen. Saint Augustine writes,

"Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee."

If I cannot find full rest in this world, clearly I am supposed to be deriving it from elsewhere. Or maybe there is no such thing as rest. Maybe there is no God, and there is no rest. Yet clearly there must be, if we all constantly seek it through vacations, romance, sports, drugs, movies etc. Some part of us must truly believe it exists if we seek it as we do. But we cannot find him by looking at the world or ourselves, but only at who God is and who He shows Himself to be. We must have faith in Him, and experience His true rest, to be certain of its origin. Sylvia Plath, an ingenious American poet, wrote quite accurately,

"Once one has seen God, what is the remedy?"

I remember her words and understand why I am so disappointed, as I sit on the rocks down by the creek. I have already confirmed what my heart is stubbornly doubting. There is rest to be had, there is rest to be found. It lies in Him, who has called us to have faith in the unseen that we may be His in heaven, for eternity. And the result is something remarkable. Something that fits what we desire perfectly. We then not only have the thrill of biking across a field under the moon, but biking under the moon rejoicing and abiding in the knowledge that we are eternal. That we are forever. That because of our faith in the unseen, we will be upheld and glorified in the name of the Lord, and for much longer than one afternoon under the sun in our backyard creek. We will be praised and blessed by him, in his presence, far beyond the cessation of time.

Now I am dancing for a different reason.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Relentless Spirit

'She sits still. The fountain sprays outside of the gazebo and she can almost feel the water hit and slide across her skin. She's renewed. Everything that had her heart faded to dust and now she stands taller, stronger, wiser than ever before. Nothing will stop her. It is as if every person on earth is shouting but nothing is coming from their mouths. It seems to be that everything around her is moving, moving faster and faster, faster than she's ever seen. But she is somehow outside of every single piece of it. She feels the ghosts of strangers pass from all over, every corner of the earth, talking, moving, living, but they don't make any noise. All she hears is  the person she's becoming. He's got her ears and the sound is so loud, so elastic. It bends and shapes everything she sees and hears. Everything is bathed in the presence of eternity.' 

Completely out of breath and dripping with sweat I write passionately against the side of the gazebo in the park. Four weeks ago I walked past the red circular structure with the boy I love through a mist that curled my bangs and put a huge a smile on my face. Yet on that night, as well as two months full of nights on my own, something huge went unaddressed, unattended, uncared for. I look out across the water as the sun begins to attach itself to the tops of the trees enclosing the lake. I sit there and feel the ticking of time again. This is me, I think. I've been running from all that I am. A smile swims its way through me and erupts and I am glad the whole park can see. Sometimes I feel more appreciated by nature than people. Nature is what sees this, knows this, knows me. Because nature is a part of Him, and He knows. I kick off my green slip ons, the insides now torn from my late night dance-runs, and let my feet brush the smooth plank of wood beneath me. I feel like I am at every place I have ever been all at once. That is how He makes me feel. Like everything about me, all my history, accumulates and re-happens in one single moment within me, all while in His presence. I smile and the pen moves. 

'She sits rapidly. She's on the bench but her heart pounds its way all over the world she's walked on, the world she knows. The world You've given to her, offered to her in love. There is too much for her to embrace. It is so beautiful and so overwhelming that the weight of it presses her to a still. All she can do is think and feel and write rapidly, steering anxiously away from the flesh. The Spirit has won the pursuit.'

I look up and gaze straight ahead. That is what we lacked.  I whisper as I trace the curved path parallel to the gazebo with my eyes. I frequently interact very closely with the physical things around me as if my emotions are uniquely linked to their presence. I look at the path and felt that night, all over again. The way I had felt happy but not joyful. Flesh but not spirit. In my notebook this morning I wrote down a verse that correlates with worldly adhesion to the flesh in light of faith. 

Romans 8: 9-10
"You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit...If Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is alive because of righteousness." 

I look out to the water once more, the words cycling in my head. The air picks them up and carries them to relevance. For months, I realize, I have tried to revert to living fully in the world. I've tried to live for the world, within the world, in hopes that maybe the Spirit might let me go and set me back down to a purposeless life of pleasure once more. But this is what the heart protests against! This is what I have been relieved from! For months I ran away in defiance, but the Spirit remained intact inside of me as promised, persistently begging for my return, out of love. 

He has taken my life, made me his, and will not leave. The devil sits powerless, defenseless. He may win for a night, or even two months full of nights, but he can never destroy the restlessness produced by his distractions. It is there, and fighting it is the most nonsensical battle I've ever taken part in. Fighting Him is fighting the gift of salvation entrusted to His children. Fighting Him is pushing away a freedom from the world and the promise for eternal life for those who live in faith. 

You are made for more. You are designed for more. You are created for a life that is bigger and fuller than this. The Spirit of the Lord is yearning to dwell in you daily, to transform and renew you. To prepare you for a life with Him and by Him that never ends. I sit here and write and feel nothing but the weight of the irrelevance of the world around me. The world is ending, and I am living on. Today is a fraction of eternity. An eternity that splits apart, tapers off in two directions. And all I can do is choose Him and encourage you to do the same through my words. 

If we wanted to, the boy and I could dance in the street again. He could pick me up, spin me around, and love me all over again. But it wouldn't be the same. Because I cannot be merely of the flesh. I cannot return to the flesh. The Spirit lives in me, reigns in me, and cannot reside comfortably unaddressed. I have been captured and pursued by the one who made me, and made you, and it is more than I could ever ask for. I long for every person that reads this to be overwhelmed by the gift He promises to those who long to know and pursue Him- the gift of not being forever, for this we already are. But living forever, in Him. 

We'll dance again. 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Real Good

I ate a pint of ice cream and realized that it solved absolutely nothing. and then I looked around my room that literally reads "broken" and realized that cleaning it would solve absolutely nothing. the bad is unsolvable and the good is impossible to create. today was eh and tomorrow will be eh. it's been that kind of era where you sort of just stay in your own head and move on through. i don't like it very much. but I think it's important to allow it. It's all growth. i sit down at my desk and stare at the empty cardboard ice cream container. good that has ended. more good that has ended. 

you see, everything good keeps ending. at first i just accepted it. but now i really think it's a sign that we're misunderstanding our lives. it's not supposed to be like this. we aren't supposed to be washed in disappointment and pain and sin all the time. that's why we all feel so empty and lost and broken; we were created for joy and life and peace. and Christ is standing there, screaming out of love, begging us to embrace the good ending- Him. He is our good ending. He is the designer of good. He began it and continues it and personally polishes it for each one us. He has set up for those who love Him a home and life of good in heaven. 

but we're on earth, and we think the good we have is good enough. we think our purpose is to find and create good, so that we can be happy and fulfilled. i mean, we create our own destiny right? we're to blame for our brokenness, right? so we buy that ice cream, love that boy, go to that party, apply for that job. anything to set up the good. but this isn't our role! we're not suppose to fix ourselves. to find good and maintain good. and when we do, it's not meant to keep us alive. because it'll end, it'll always end. nothing on this earth is designed to be enough for us, and nothing on this earth ever will. 

I think it's time to stop accepting it. don't let it win. don't think, "yeah that's just life" and wait for the next good thing. that will end too, it's how life is. but real good doesn't end. the good we were designed to have and live for can never end. Good is Christ and He never ends. 

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Salty Rain

They said don't go. They said, it's dark and it's late, don't go.

 I sit on my parents bed fiddling with the sleeves of my red pull over hoodie trying to figure out how to get around this. "Mom, seriously, the parking lot is lit, the chances are so slim." She steps out of her closet and looks me in the eye, "Kelly, drop all the emotion and think about it objectively. Would any of your friends parents let them drive to the track at night? Just run here." I see her point, but it is still entirely irrelevant to my argument. My dad, buttoning up the American Apparel plaid shirt I recently surprised him with, puts in his two sense. "Seriously Kelly, just run in the neighborhood." At this point I'm standing up, pacing in a fury. "No but you don't understand. I just need to go to the track. I have to go, I just need,  I... sometimes I just need to do certain things and I can't explain why." My dad laughs. "Well, you are certainly one of a kind, that's for sure." 

It's 56 degrees and I am gone.  Now they're at the neighbors' and I took my bike instead. My thin tires swerve across the damp pavement. The rain is salty;  the drops land on my cheeks and fall into my mouth as I smile. Leaving the house is weird. I always forget the magic of the roads. But I wouldn't even call it magic. This kind of freedom is not in anyway supernatural or illusionary, it only appears that way because we keep ourselves so distant from it. This is our element and we don't even realize it anymore. Not intentionally, of course. That's just life. That's the modern world. 

I hit the woods. The path morphs into the grass and I duck my head low to avoid slicing the branches. The cut through is risky, but so am I. Metal bridge. Steep hill. Then boom, I'm on the main road, under the street lamps. It's almost as if the whole day builds up to this. I always feel like I'm doing one thing as a substitute for something more fitting. Like I am waiting to complete or return to a certain type of existence that fits with who I am. I pretty sure this right here is it. The salty rain and dirt on my face and warm wind make that pretty clear. I lift up my feet and take my hands off the bars. Ready to create a moment? I shout to the sky. Ohh yes. 

The thing I like the most about the road is the clarity. It's a step back, a full glance. My life is put into perspective. I think we run into problems by simply waking up, living, and going to sleep. There should be a pivotal point of reflection. A moment that is solely yours, and reserved for more expansive, retrospective thought. Because those are the moments when you find truth. Or better put, where truth finds you.

If it was three weeks ago and things were quiet, I would stay on my bike. I would keep gliding down the glossy pavement to nowhere yet somehow everywhere. But things are not quiet and I am not staying on my bike. I am in my socks on my high school track. Even though they said don't. But how could they understand why I have to be here. I barely do myself. But I do have to be here, and there is danger in not listening to yourself sometimes. Sometimes you have to not listen to others for the sake of protecting your own voice.

I leave my big classic ipod on shuffle as I finish up the last of my spontaneous run. It doesn't feel right to call it a run. Actually, in the car today I described it to my sister Allison and she said it should be called a "jiggle" because I run, dance, skip, and walk. Anyway,  my skinny jeans won't stay up and my feet are getting blisters from running shoeless. Maybe this wasn't as effective as I thought it would be. As I'm hitting the last lap, track 17 on my new mix CD titled "The Winter's Got You" comes on. It's a song called, "Let The Waters Rise" by Mikeschair. From what I recall this CD was mainly random indie stuff I had collected lately. Mikeschair? I went with it, and ran off the track onto the football field and starred up at the sky, trying to catch my breath. I stand there, owned by the moment. When the bridge hits I scream along with it. 

"God your love is enough. You will pull me through. I'm holding on to you."

Then standing on wet familiar field, I find truth again. 
I do love these nights. I crave them for a reason. I love element of escape and thrill, but somehow they aren't enough, and they aren't what I'm really after. They won't carry me through tomorrow or the next day and certainly not eternity. But God will. He is enough, his love is enough, and he will pull me through. Not the nights that I so carefully create out of desperation for some sort of inner liberation. 

The salt on my face and the dirt in my eyes makes me smile and feel alive, but God is the one who created smiling and feeling alive. That's what I forget. That's what we all forget. How much greater would it be if you were smiling and feeling alive, because of the realization that he was the one who made these things? And that he loved you,  uniquely and distinctly loved YOU? Wouldn't that be better than salt rain and mud? Even better, what about all of it combined? 

I swear I underestimate the streets. Sometimes I feel that I really belong out here, searching for things that I'm not sure are to be found. Yet if you step out into the salty rain, and really allow yourself to look and ask and wonder, you will find. Just run on your own two feet and listen to track 17 and be owned by the moment and you'll find. You'll find him. He's there.