Monday, February 7, 2011

So {This} is the Dare - Giving {Thanks}

Today Ann Voskamp had some words for me. They were deep and harsh and clear, like geese flying high in Mary Oliver's "clean, blue air." Not easily misread or mistaken. Not words for me to twist into relativity, squirrel away in a closet with moth-eaten suit jackets. Not comforting, indulgent, or even remotely... easy.

I cracked open the cover at 7:22am because I didn't want to read the other book, that tome of moral philosophy that peers at me in an insistent, unrepentant way. I smoothed my hand over the hands holding the bird's nest and the too-blue eggs, wallowing in the sameness of here and the difference of me. My insides have been squirming ever since I got back, restless for the manna, for the good bread. I have been typing and typing in the text box of this blog, hoping that the words I put on the page make it real, this return, this being in limbo. And so this morning, I peek inside the warm pages.

There it is.


I forgot that part. That part of joy that makes it breathe inside us, that grabs our hearts, that looks us straight in the eye, and dares the incredible. That word, thanks, that says transform. Don't wallow. Don't mope. Don't sing a song of complaint to the Lord.

What have I been doing all this time? Singing a song of complaint. Yes Lord, I whisper to the corner of the seat cushion when I muffle my head in blankets and the special shirt that still smells like Mom and childhood. Yes, I know You're good and everything, but why are we here? Why do You make it so hard? Can't You just give me, just make me, just be a little more... 

Ann is stern with me, me and herself too, and she says it loud so I can hear it: "I've been living the no." The no it's not good enough no. The no I want more than this no. The no why can't things always be the way that I say they should be, why can't I get the joy I got before and the closeness with You and the feeling of Your presence and the daily manna from heaven?

That's the no I've been living these past few weeks - my heart sometimes yelling out gratitude and then sinking back into, But Lord, if You could just give me... I hear the dare loud and consistent and grating against my folded arms and determined serious line of a mouth.

{What if, today, and every day, you yelled out gratitude?}

It's the dare of thank you, the dare of thank you for here. The dare of thank you for this snow on the ground and the smell of coffee as I trudge (and yes Lord, for a word like trudge so beautifully sounding like the crunching of feet on snow) to class. The dare of thank you for babysitter art tacked above my bed and the scrawled sparkle heart that proclaims sticky fingered love. The dare of thank you for sky.  

I bought the book weeks ago and I looked at it, not in it. It sat on my makeshift nightstand table amid Grammaire Fran├žais and Come Away, My Beloved devotionals I still need to discipline myself to read. But this morning I found it and I couldn't look anywhere but inside it. And there He is, His voice in her pen, saying, it's {here}, here, here and here.

And so I sing it out in my own blue-black ink in the soft covers of Italian notebook from that last night in Rome, my hands feeling their way around those familiar DC words.

Sing it with me: Hallelujah, Grace like rain, falls down on me. Hallelujah, all my stains are washed away, they're washed away... 

(thank you, Sam and Hannah, for this picture)
Love, and you, you who sit and read this in your home, on your iPad or your phone or your computer between vacuuming or teaching or writing a brief or researching or fingerpainting? Thank you. Thank you. 


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