I wasn't going to blog today. I wasn't going to put tired fingers to keyboard and bombard you all, dear readers, with more words. Because, quite honestly, my words sound a bit hollow, echo chambers of the things unsaid, and I thought I'd keep quiet today.
But can we ever keep quiet when the words arrive? They choose us for some inscrutable reason we can't possibly understand, and He chooses us, too, to be the vessels of His love. They choose us when we yearn for silence, so that we can sit and look at the sadness in our hands... we don't really want to write about it but we sense that we are supposed to. So here I am, on this blog, this grey misty morning, hoping against hope that the words written are spoken in my heart and yours, that somehow they help.
I was driving to work this morning, talking my way through a prayer, my voice choked up because yesterday was the day of departure, the goodbye clattering to the floor, looking at me. The countdown of days and hours, mugs of tea and cupcakes, sighs and questions - it's brought us here to today, when your car rounds the corner and I sit in my office, my usual perch, and wonder at the fact that you are gone. And as I rounded corners and listened to the hum of lawnmowers and the thud of newspapers on front porches, I knew He was praying through me, this rambling prayer and realization:
I spend too much time in the glamour of doubt.
I linger in the corridors of questions I know the answers to: I know how He loves me, how He has whispered and waited and rejoiced over me. I know His existence like I know why the surface tension of water molecules makes raindrops circular; mysterious certainty. This is how I know that we will remain close - with the same mysterious certainty. But I lurk, tracing my fingers over the doorknobs and windowsills, peering in to see what it might be like to be uncertain and curious, to wonder, to search for ultimate meaning with the real possibility of finding a new answer, or a different Person. I draw through the dust on the windows the idea that maybe it won't work, and we will unravel, the years of mentoring and boys and questions and silence and growing will unweave as we put distance between us. I lean against the walls and imagine that doubt is a glamourous occupation (even as Melville spins it in Moby Dick).
But what I need is the dirt of obedience. I need to kneel next to rows of newly planted corn stalks and bean sprouts and the creeping branches of strawberry plants, hands in the dirt, packing soil around each tender new seedling. The Gardener looks at me, shaking His head. I can hear Him say, "How long, little one? How long will I need to come fetch you out of your whirlwind, out of your anxious spinning? Can't you see how much there is to do here? Get in the dirt and plant with Me. Don't you see how I long for you to help Me?"
For the first time, I see it: how trusting Him with my heart is like trusting the gardener with his saplings. How I could still, even though doubting seems smarter, more prudent... I could still give my heart over to the dirt of obedience. I could dig my hands into the soil and plant trust and hope and love in rows like lettuces. I could trust Him when He tells me that you love this web of time and trust we are building, just as I love it, and that He is guardian and protector of us both.
Do you ever realize that God's talking to you, only to then realize it's the same conversation the two of You have always been having? You've tuned in and out, wandered through corridors where you can't hear Him, but He's always been talking to you? And today I hear that same refrain: "How long, little one, will you hold your heart away from Me? How long, little one, will you wait before you come running back to Me?"
Mary Oliver and Pablo Neruda keep asking and sounding their questions and answers in my heart, and somehow they are reminding me that even our wildest dreams are planted in the dirt of obedience. Mary Oliver asks:
"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"
And Pablo Neruda makes my answer: "So, through me, freedom and the sea will make their answer to the shuttered heart." Or, in his Spanish... Y así, por mí, la libertad y el mar responderán al corazón oscuro. This is what I long to do (and you understood it, didn't you? All those years ago?) and to begin, I have to start gardening.
I kneel in the dirt today, dig my hands in between the roots of what we've planted, and watch in amazement as He and I plant beautiful things.
Love, always, in the grey days of homesickness and the gentle rain on the roof,