A Homage to the Brave
Sometimes the bravest people are the quietest, the ones who fight private wars no one sees.
Several years ago, one song became my repeat soundtrack. The original video for that song, “Where the Streets have No Name,” was filmed up on a city rooftop, with a very young U2 (say, Edge with a ponytail). Interestingly, during the band’s attempt to record that live performance, local authorities and police showed up and threatened to shut down the project. The bold open-air idea almost didn’t happen. Which, is usually true when you choose to attempt a new way, to step out on a new path.
But the guys carried on, and sang their lyric commitment to follow uncharted paths. They belted pulsing sound out over neighborhood streets. Music spilled down to the sidewalks. Frustrated law enforcement worked to stop the process. Gathering crowds danced. And the drama only made the scene more true to life. Chances are good, when your life sings loudly of freedom, the closest bystanders are either going to protest … or be inspired.
I have been inspired lately.
This is my homage to the brave, to my friends who are pursuing daunting new paths. I watch with tears, reverance, and prayer as they are delivered — out of addiction, out of bondage to past wounds, out of tangled webs of shame and lies.
This (more recent) video is my motion to dance with those of you who are choosing to step out of known bondage, into unknown ways of Holy freedom; one step at a time, in spite of resistance, on streets with no names.
With you, and for you, I dance.
Don’t give up.
Tear down the walls. Reach for the flame.
“Age to age, He stands
And time is in His hands
Beginning and the end
Beginning and the end “
This musical mash-up consists of the whirring pulsating sound of stars, the call of whales, and a surprise. My friend Heather and I sat at a concert and listened to Loius Giglio, (pastor at Passion City Church, and founder of a popluar yearly “Passion” conference for twenty-somethings ) as he created this surprising cosmic experience.
We were pretty captivated as Louis held an iPad, talked about the scope of creation from an astronomical perspective, brought sound affects, then hit play.
It takes a some time to hear how it all comes together, but two minutes in, it all starts to make sense. Turn up the volume, and see for yourself.
“… and all will see, how great is our God.”
Grown don’t mean nothing to a mother.
A child is a child. They get bigger, older, but grown? What’s that suppose to mean? In my heart it don’t mean a thing.”
~Toni Morrison, Beloved, 1987
It’s good to have the buzz of Valentines Day behind us. After 24 Valentines together, honestly, I was a bit afraid of this last one. Why? Because this year my husband and I were launched into an entirely new way of being with each other. No way around it, there’s been an miraculous act of God in our lives. In the process, we have been moving more slowly and un-learning our bad dances.
We feel like first graders who thought they’d already earned their doctoral degrees.
Starting over can be clumsy.
Below, find the words that were inside the best Valentine I have ever received. Steve included this quote from Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz inside a hand-made card with the picture of a green side-car scooter on the front. (Best. Ever.) He chose it because it exactly describes where we are. And maybe you’re there, too.
‘Taking one small step at a time …. in the midst of a great gravity.
What great gravity is this that drew my soul toward yours?
What great force, that though I went falsely, went kicking, went disguising myself to earn your love, also disguised, to earn your keeping, your resting, your staying, your will fleshed into mine, rasped by a slowly revealed truth, the barter of my soul, the soul, that I fear, the soul that I loathe, the soul that: if you will love, I will love. I will redeem you, if you will redeem me? Is this our purpose, you and I together to pacify each other, to lead each othet toward the lie that we are good, that we are noble, that we need not redemption, save the one that you and I invented of our own clay?
I’m not scared of you, my love, I am scared of me.
I went looking, I wrote a list, I drew an image, I bled a poem for you. You were pretty, and my friends believed I was worthy of you. You were clever, but I was smarter, the only one liable to be led by you. You see, love, I did not love you, I loved me. And you were only a tool I used to fix myself, to fool myself, to redeem myself. And though you’ve taught me to lay my hand in yours, I walk alone, for I cannot talk to you, lest you talk it back to me, lest I believe that I am not worthy, not deserving, not redeemed.
I want desperately for you to be my friend. But you’re not my friend; you have slipped up warmly to the person I wanted to be, the person I pretended to be, and I was your Jesus and, you were mine. Should I show you you who I am, we may crumble. I am not scared of you, my love, I am scared of me.
I want to be known and loved anyway. Can you do this? I trust by your easy breathing that you are human just like me, that you are fallen like me, that you are lonely, like me. My love, do I know you? What is this gravity that pulls us so painfully toward each other? Why do we not connect? Will we forever be fleshing this out? And how will we with words, narrow words, come into the knowing of each other? Is this God’s way of meriting grace, of teaching us of the labyrinth of His love for us, in degrees, that which He is sacrificing to join ourselves to Him? Or better yet, has He formed our being fractional so that we might conclude one great hope, plodding and sighing and breathing into one another in such a great push that we may break into the known and being loved, only to cave into a greater perdition and fall down at His throne still begging for our acceptance? Begging for our completion?
We were fools to believe that we would redeem each other.
Were I some Eve, to wake and find myself resting at your rib, to share these things that God has done, to walk with you through the garden, you counselling my timid Steps, my bewildered eye, my heart so slow to love, so careful to love, so sheepish that you stepped up your aim and became a man. Is this what God intended? That though he made me from you rib, it is I who is making you, humbling you, destroying you and in so doing revealing Him.
Will we be ashes before we are one?
What gravity is this that drew my heart toward yours? What great force collapsed my orbit, my lonesome state? What is this that wants in me the want in you? Don’t we go to each other with yielded eyes, with cumbered hands and feet, with clunky tongues? This deed is unattainable! We cannot know each other!
I am quitting this thing, but not what you think. I am not going away.
I will give you this, my love, and I will not bargain or barter any longer. I will love you, as sure as He has loved me. I will discover what I can discover and though you remain a mystery save God’s own knowledge, what I disclose of you I will keep in the warmest chamber of my heart, the very chamber where God has stowed himself in me. And I will do this to my death, and to death it may bring me.
I will love you like God, because of God, mighted by the power of God. I will stop expecting your love, demanding your love, trading for your love, gaming for your love. I will simply love. I am giving myself to you, and tomorrow I will do it again. I suppose the clock itself will wear thin its time before I am ended at this altar of dying and dying again.
God risked himself on me. I will risk myself on you. And together we will learn to love, and perhaps then, only then, understand this gravity that drew Him, unto us.
Flight and the Truest Savior
I used to be a bird holding a helium balloon.
I trusted my own ability to compensate, to live, to fly on my own.
I am learning a new form of walking, breathing, and talking, living faith.
Balloons released to the sky.
I fly differently now.
What have you trusted besides God?
Do you have any balloons to release?
Bird Image by Marc Johns
I love Scott’s smile and his powerful story.
Where do you find comfort, courage, and strength?
Scott’s story from “I am Second“. Check out the website.
Today’s dose of beauty, through a child’s eye.
“The true story of one woman’s struggles and battle with darkness–from abuse and rape, to addiction, prostitution, and death–and her soul’s awakening to light and meaning found in the One who gives life.”
Katie’s path is an important part of my life. God wove her into my journey many years ago when she was a vibrant and athletic high schooler. In order to prep our house for sale, I hired Katie to paint our tired old lath and plaster walls. One morning she was perched precariously, painting a high wall above the back stairs. In a grocery bag rush, I made a hasty entry through the back door and soundly crashed into her ladder. I nearly sent her sprawling down the stairs into the basement (it was only funny after our adrenalin levels settled down). Later, while standing on a safer ladder in my dining room, Katie handed me a small glimpse into her darkest secrets. She told me one part of her deepest pain. And at that moment, when I wasn’t looking, God sewed her into my heart.
We moved to Colorado a couple months after the ladder conversation and I lost contact with my wounded and artistic friend.
Years later, her journey curved and twisted back into mine. Next time I heard about Katie, she was in crisis. In a sense, pain had pushed through Katie’s back door and sent her into a spiraling and destructive freefall. Through a wild set of circumstances, (a long story for another time, maybe) I became a sort of long-distance advocate for Katie. Turns out, God had sewn her into my heart for a purpose. And now, even though she is miles away and we rarely speak, she has become a key part of my own story of recovery and healing.
Neither of us are afraid of the dark anymore. And that is honestly the mighty work of a saving God.
But I’m just one tiny piece of sand in this ocean of a story. Katie has impacted so many people, in far-reaching ways. And I know she’ll continue to do so … So I’m sharing her story with you.
Watch the video. It’ll be six minutes well spent.
[ Click the picture to watch Katie's story. ]