Thursday, January 15, 2015

Giving It Words

it's this: the way it falls within a different gravity
and creates a world that isn't ours but should be
      --or shouldn't be ours but is?
I'm not sure, maybe both

the way it makes everything a new thing

how it accumulates
without notice but changes landscapes

when it lands imperceptibly,
sitting in miniature drifts on shoulders,
melts with me as I stamp into safety inside

it tumbles and piles and
falls and fails--
one more way to nearly but not quite
put words to truth
like scaffolds to a cathedral,
one more failing metaphor for you

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A Thousand Resolutions

I've purposefully waited a few extra days to write this, as we all know how I usually rant about resolutions. I've been on the fence this year, as a fairly major life change is shifting through the works and that takes precedence over the numbers on the calendar anyway. But what began accidentally--a few days before the New Year, in fact--has now sifted into a purposeful idea I keep in my head.

It's not about setting rules. I much prefer sticking with the idea of "resolve," because there is, to me, an allowance of flexibility and life in that word. I resolve to do some things more, some things less. No numbers, no never, no always. It's about that space for allowance, that wide acreage between "I wish that this was more true of me," and, "&!@%*# YOU'RE DOING IT AGAIN!!!"

It's about interrelating ideas, not over-complicating. It's hard to distinguish my specific resolutions because they blend and dovetail together. As I cut down on this, I use that time to increase that. I can't only empty out--I have to fill back in. I can't pile on without organizing and cementing the base.

It's about layers of grace, grace piled thick like layers of a cake, like the cottons and wools I wrap and bind to safeguard myself from sub-zero winds. "From His fullness," my phone's lock screen reminds me, "we have all received grace upon grace" (John 1:16--lock screen courtesy to the lovely people at She Reads Truth). Layers of grace means that if I slip too far from my resolvedness, there are more layers to catch me. (If my scarf comes undone, my coat remains. I don't catch too cold, but I'm also reminded to secure the layers.)

Now, "a thousand" is hyperbole. Maybe, once we've settled into this year, there would be eight or a dozen or seventeen. But I like the word thousand--I like that it's a necessarily imaginable number (none of us can grasp a million, but a hundred could be held in your hands). I like how it rolls out of my mouth. I like that it's promise and poetry more than a set plan.

Most of my resolutions float around simplifying my life, about culling down to what is core and important, and then giving those things adequate space and breath. I am a terrible gardener, but the metaphor is solid: pruning and weeding and replanting; watering and nurturing; enjoying and harvesting. And most of my little resolutions have settled themselves under one (or three) banners:

Spend time well (and kill it less).
     NOT "don't do _____ anymore," "you must _____ for X minutes a day," etc.
My days are numbered out, even if I don't know the details. Time is a gift, a precious commodity, and how can I complain of a lack of it when I misspend it so well? That said, there's a place for relaxing, for staring at the ceiling, for having a Dennis Quaid movie marathon with a friend. But to treat time as though it has worth--because it does--is how most every other resolution began.
Resolutions: I took Facebook off my phone and iPad--no more scrolling through the newsfeed for lack of anything else to do. I've set rough bedtimes for myself, even on the weekends--this 31-year-old body needs more rest than she used to, if she's going to use her waking hours well.

Live like I love the things I love.
   NOT "Thou shalt blog everyday," "You can't go to bed until you ______," etc.
I call myself a writer, I call myself a lover of stories, I call myself a lover of friends and food (all the more when served together). Now, of course, regular boring non-passionate life demands have their place, but what about the rest of those spaces--the moments of telling myself to push back the covers? the few minutes while waiting for the bus? that spare weekend with no plans? Of course I could watch another episode of that show I don't really care about... or I could read another 2% of this novel, or invite that abandoned friend over for dinner, or actually put all those words roaming around my brain to paper and see if they mean something.
Resolutions: I've set fun little challenges for myself--staying away from hard rules, but more like games between myself and I: how many checks can I put to this reading checklist this year? how many notes can I send to people I love? what new thing can I learn to prepare in my kitchen?

Treat Jesus like someone I like.
   NOT "Read the Bible in a year," "Figure out your five-year spiritual plan," etc.
(That first "not" is a little friendly jab at myself, as that was a goal not so long ago. I read it once in five years, and again in 18 months, and as last year wrapped up I prepared to read it in a year, for real this time. "To prove what?" asked something deep in me.)
After a VERY long desert season, I am digging my toes through thick grass and splashing in clear pools, in a manner of speaking. When you seek Him, you find Him, and that is a fact. As I set aside the goals that were about my abilities and smarts and fake religion, the reality and simplicity of Just Spending Time with This Savior I Love but Also Like settled in on me like a quilt. I'm in the Word everyday, but differently--sometimes just soaking in one phrase of one verse, sometimes swallowing passages whole like pudding. But more than that, I'm enjoying it. It's become about hanging out with Jesus, not racing through to be done and move on to something else.
Resolutions: This will shift as we go, I think, but right now I'm doing two sets of devotion-y things: one that suits my head-knowledge self, digging in and understanding new things; one that is simple and short, but nearly daily snags me with life-shifting Truth. I'm praying--on paper, audibly, with people--more, and more specifically, and more purposefully, and with more confidence in its use.

All of these, at the end of the day, are about gradual shift instead of break-neck change. I'm massively cutting down on the time I spend on Facebook, but I'm not avoiding it like the plague. I'm reading more, but Parks & Rec's last season will not be back-burnered. I'm writing more, but I don't know if that will translate to more bloggery or not. Grace upon grace means that if I'm just feeling like flopping down with Addie for a while, that's okay. If I was busy riding around with my dear friend while we dropped her teenagers in their various locations, that's okay. Grace upon grace, because life can't be rules. Grace upon grace, because I am a promise-breaker, unfaithful as Gomer*. Grace upon grace, because "even if we are faithless, He remains faithful" (2 Timothy 2:13). Grace upon grace.

* One of my favorite Bible passages is an unconventional one at best. Meant as a metaphor of God's relentless faithfulness and our ridiculous ability to walk away, a prophet, Hosea, marries and has children with an active prostitute, Gomer. It's, at times, not a pleasant read--but neither is the book of my history. And, like my own story, it is laced with gorgeous, poetic truth about a Lover-God who fights for us, who will use anything to bring our attention to where it belongs and to bring us back home to Him. " 'I will betroth you to me forever,'" he promises in Hosea's second chapter. " 'I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the Lord" (vv. 19-20).