If you've returned, faithful reader, all I have is thank you.
Sitting by the Willamette on a Springy Morning
I've always been an ocean girl. The rhythm, the pulse of roaring-rough or quietly lapping waves has had a stilling, restful, spiritual effect on me since my earliest memories. From a girl playing pretend to a teenager's broken heart to the constant mess of "adulting," the sea has been more faithful than fathers, more healing than chemo. That pulse gently reminds me that there is no rush, that things will come in a time that is out of my control but exactly as it should be. A lullaby of rest, a practice of patience.
But this morning I sit in this diner, eavesdropping on the men near me discussing King Kongs they've known in their lengthy lifetimes, their histories and love interests--those of the ape, not themselves--and a few dozen feet away the Willamette (don't be an outsider: "will-AM-it") surges past us with shameless enthusiasm, hunks of ice from the mountains churning through it in an ancient calligraphy.
And I realize that this might have spun me very differently, had I been raised by mighty rivers. There is no gentleness--what seems still is only skin over tumult and currents--and nothing comes to you, in any frame of time. It passes. It approaches and then flees and does not pause for you to wonder. I have a glimpse of Lewis and Clark, Huckleberry and Jim, of those who could not keep watching things lost but had to see where it went--not how it ended, but where it took them.
I wonder if it's possible to change--not to leave the sea (impossible!) but to let my salty soul get a little brackish as the constancy and rest is sometimes traded for the unknown, the passage, a new world around this next bend. Because no one is called to stay. Not always. Shifts--physical or something larger--may be infrequent but no less necessary. Not running away, not fear of commitment, but knowing that sometimes a churning is good for the soul. Remembering what's passed, what was good and what was lacking, but taking the risk of the new and unknown.
Like the Kongs, I think, and bring my attention from the surging script of the river, but the conversation has moved past Kongs old and new, traded for self-driving cars. I drain my cold coffee and gather my things--time to move on, even in little ways.
"Tell me," asks one of them, leaning over and looking into his mug, "how does it know what 'home' means."
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Can I Be a Witness
I don't know where Cain's wife came from.
I just thought I'd open on that note, because it comes up a lot--that, or some other quiz question aimed to stymie Christ-followers who call the Bible a holy text. I've discussed and debated and studied that book over college classroom tables and youth group meetings and in conversation with friends and with my own self. And some things I know and some I don't, but when it comes down to it I can't prove a single one. I won't win this argument--in fact, I'll try not to enter it at all.
I can't prove God created the world, and knit me together while my mother thought she'd just have a son. I can't prove that Jesus, Son of God, gave Himself to pay my sin debt. I'd drown in the details of why God cared enough for broken people to sacrifice the perfect to save them. Thankfully, I don't have to. I can't make it all make fit together--maybe because it doesn't, and mostly because I don't need to.
All I am is a witness.
I've witnessed God step into my life in the wake of brokenness and redirect us to new family and community found in a church.
I've witnessed Him close my ears to opportunities of wreckage and addiction as a teenager, piecing something else, something less polluted together.
I've witnessed Him save my life--keep me from acting on my considerations of suicide--by weaving people and books and song lyrics into something that resembled this faith everyone else had talked about and I'd never known.
I've witnessed Him send me into a foreign country to find how unfathomably big He is, how blessed I am, how to worship Him outside of words I knew.
I've witnessed Him steer me from place to place, job to job, calling to calling.
I've witnessed Him heal me of deep wounds, bring me out of habits and thought patterns that owned me, and lead me from puddles that vaguely met needs to springs that overwhelmed and restored.
And I've witnessed Him take a simple prayer--"come and do whatever you want to"--and weave a seizure and a brain tumor and a biopsy and radiation and chemo and MRIs and bald spots into the best story I've ever had.
And that's just the highlight reel.
I can't prove to you that my God, this particular God of mine, did all this.
All I have is my story... and the fact that my story lines up in crazy ways with those of friends of mine... and echoes back to those stories that fill up the pages of that holy book that never sits on a shelf because it is too actively harmonizing with my life to put it away.
Like sitting in a box where the lawyers will argue and accuse and the judge will decide, all I can do is tell what I know. Not because someone told me to or I read it somewhere. Just because this is my story.