Monday, May 9, 2011

When God Paints It in Watercolors

It turns out that one of the best places to make metaphors about your life is in a certain wise mentor's living room sharing halves of cupcakes (this time, something chocolate with oreo buttercream and a raspberry filled one with raspberry buttercream) and drinking tea.

My analogy, with the help of said wise person, goes as follows: I love drama. I love hurricanes of feeling and storm clouds gathering at the outer edge of the horizon. A thrill of excitement shivers through me as I hear the rain at first from a distance, pattering on the thirsty dirt, then growing louder and stronger as the cloud passes through me.

But of course, when the storm arrives, I realize that I'm out in a dinghy in the middle of my anguish with one paddle. I get tossed by one wave and then another. I capsize occasionally. I get so stressed or sad or tired or fearful (or all those really all the same - just feelings of storm?) that I lose my paddle and then there's just me and my wooden dinghy in a hurricane of emotion. 

It sounds unwise. It sounds like that bucket of storm cloud I carry around with me. It sounds like chaos. And what is less like peace than chaos? 

So just imagine with me the second half of the analogy, and if you can, picture me looking at my wise and lovely friend and mentor like this as it all clicks into place: 

(Photo: Mandie Sodoma)
I could move through my life like an ocean liner. 

I could let my soul learn God's deep and tender lesson of peace: life in the ocean liner, unshaken by storms, unafraid of clouds on the horizon, unhurried. I could fasten my heart onto Psalm 62 and to the Selah that accompanies verse 8:

 Trust in him at all times, you people;
   pour out your hearts to him,
   for God is our refuge.

And then when a day appears on the horizon too full, wobbling with expectation, when the chaos forms a whirling hurricane veering straight for my heart, I could be like the ocean liner. I could be steady. I could see beyond the storm. I could trust. I could wait

(Photo: Mandie Sodoma)
Today I got a taste of how to make your dinghy an ocean liner. I was sitting on the landing outside my office working on a project for work, my face wearing the story of my capsized boat. I was sighing (in my head). I was not leaning on anything, but letting the waves of i-just-want-to-cry! roll over me. And then?

God painted the sunset in watercolors. 

I looked up and I saw the most beautiful splash of fiery pink and orange bleeding into the white steeple of the college chapel. I looked up and He seemed to write a bigger Peace in that sky than all the Chaos a day can conjure. I looked up and behold, the beautiful momentary world stood there, waiting for me. It takes peace of heart to see it. It takes an ocean liner heart. It takes Selah. It takes patience. 

And sometimes He helps us begin to learn by excessively beautiful things. Go look for some, and tell me about them? I'd love to know. 

Love, from my dinghy to yours, 


  1. The said wise person loves you and loves this organic reflection fresh off of cupcakes and tea. Thank God for shimmering beautiful moments to reel our little dinghy back to the mother-ship.

  2. This is a "Primary Wonder" by Denise Levertov (memorize this poem!) moment. Keep writing your words so that I can eventually ingrain them into the core of my being. Why must we learn this through trial? How do you feel if my dinghy attaches to the end of your ocean liner for a little while?

    And while we're at it, in my dreams you and I are in a writer's group together. Because your writing sharpens mine and because you (personally and in prose) challenge me. And I really like you. It's a dream, but not a lost one...


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