I have a confession: I think I am rooted.
I realized it this past weekend, when a dear, close friend and I had dinner and talked. We talked about this journeying with Christ, what Ash Wednesday means, how mercy is, as you said, absurd and wonderful all at once. She asked me how I knew what I knew, how I could understand and trust this Jesus.
And I told her a story. A story about being rooted in encountering Him. A story about failing my driver's permit test the first time around, five years ago and crying hysterically in the car on the way home because I heard the voice of God say, "Hilary, I am real." I told her how I weep at the stoplight of the intersection in my hometown where I heard Him pray inside me, heard His spirit moving across the waters of this small heart. I told her a story about meeting Him.
I laughed, my eyes growing wider as I talked, because I realized with such a sudden, ridiculous certainty that this is it. Have you ever had one of those moments - where you realize with a start that you're far deeper in it than you imagined? Maybe even far deeper in it than you wish sometimes.
I'll confess, too, because I think you will understand: there are days I long to uproot from all of this. I long to make my own winds, set sail away from the hard teachings and the difficult obedience, set sail away from a heart that aches with the broken world, and a hope that believes He is healing it. I imagine how free I will feel, all my life my own, all my dreams my own, all my decisions my own.
But the first confession wins over the second. Because each moment I long to uproot, I remember His voice in my ear. I remember how He prayed inside me. I remember that He has touched my life. And so I bend my head and my heart again, and I ask for grace, again. Because I'm rooted. I can't go anywhere away from Him.
What was it He told us, in the Psalm we hear so often?
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
You have helped me see this, you know. In your letters, and your words on your blog. You have helped me learn that even in the midst of anxiety and doubt, we can't really flee from Him. You sit in church with your questions and uncertainties in your pocket, and the Holy Spirit tugs at your heart. I sit in the Chapel listening to an Ash Wednesday talk, and I'm flung back against my pew with the truth. You paint your life with wild grace. You remind me - remind us all - that even when we think we wish to flee, we are rooted. Thank you.
So I think I am rooted here, in and among these voices and words, in the Word made Flesh who says, abide in me. I'm rooted here, trembling as I imagine pulling out a hymnal next to St. Teresa of Avila or Flannery O'Connor or Madeleine L'Engle, raising our voices in song to the God who has planted such tender seeds in all of us. Can you imagine it, this great chorus that resounds across time, a field of wild, spinning flowers who bend with the wind, but remain steady in the ground?
It's good to be in this field together.
Love, and grace upon grace, to water you where you are planted,