Wednesday, May 30, 2012

the new space (a welcome)

Hello, wonderful readers!

Before I forget - I wanted to let you know I'm blogging over in a new space now, to go with the newly graduated self and the new adventures that follow.

My new blog is called the wild love: you can visit it here.

A few of my recent posts over there (just in case you're curious):

It's not just a song

dear hilary: miscellaneous treasures

He is more than glorious: a letter to preston

I'd love for you to come spend time over there with me!


Saturday, May 19, 2012

on graduation day (an ending, and a beginning)

I pray quick with you, while Cat Stevens sings and my roommates brush their teeth and apply one last coat of mascara, while we smile and laugh and shake our heads at the strange new reality that settles in today. Today, we begin again the journey. Today, we let the soft winds of the past capture our college experience, and we step out into the new present. 

I pray that God would give us all the grace to see His hand moving over the waters, even when it's tempest and storm, raging hurricane or eerily calm sea. I pray that His presence would be profound, and immediate, as we trip our way across the stage, across the future. Because oh how He loves us, coltish and eager, always trying and tripping and new. How He delights in us, in the very being of us.

I pray that we would remember the past with fondness, seeing the selves we had to have been. I pray that this poem would resound strong in our hearts:

Thanks, Robert Frost (by David Ray)

Do you have hope for the future?
someone asked Robert Frost, toward the end.
Yes, and even for the past, he replied,
that it will turn out to have been all right
for what it was, something we can accept,
mistakes made by the selves we had to be,
not able to be, perhaps, what we wished,
or what looking back half the time it seems
we could so easily have been, or ought...
The future, yes, and even for the past,
that it will become something we can bear.
And I too, and my children, so I hope,
will recall as not too heavy the tug
of those albatrosses I sadly placed
upon their tender necks. Hope for the past,
yes, old Frost, your words provide that courage,
and it brings strange peace that itself passes
into past, easier to bear because
you said it, rather casually, as snow
went on falling in Vermont years ago.

I pray that the love of Christ would dwell in us. I pray that these four years of learning would be caught up in the work of the Kingdom, used to bring healing and restoration, used to build up the brokenhearted and love wildly. 

And oh, dear ones, who might walk across a stage today or who walked across one years ago? You who journeyed with me through all of these 300 posts and unsure words and brave, difficult living? I pray that you would be reminded of the deep, deep love of Jesus in all places today. I pray that you would sing of the Truth. That you would know all that is beautiful, and rest in all that is good. 

Thank you, thank you, a thousand times. Thank you for the love of Christ poured out here. Thank you for the challenge. Thank you for you. The great, inconceivable gift of you.

hilary (today, a graduate)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

know Him and make Him known, letter thirty-five, hilary to preston

On Tuesdays and Thursdays around these parts, Preston and I write letters back and forth. We share the wonder of mystery, grace and our encounters with mercy. We hope to hear from you in the comments and imagine with you about this walking out in faith. Read the letter I'm responding to here.

Dear Preston,

By now you know that I'm ending my time on this blog. I don't know if we got to talk about that, somewhere between theology of the arts and teaching, between moleskines and meditations on Blair and Chuck and Serena (she needs some serious character development, that one), but it's true. I'm leaving this space on Sunday and I'm starting to write out the wild love. It's so strange to think about, leaving a blogging space I feel so comfortable with, leaving behind the 320 posts, the five minutes of last spring, the first post that got a serious number of hits or someone retweeted or commented on...

But somehow in all of this leaving I felt the tug in my heart towards this new wild love space. The title even came to me as I was sitting, thinking about whether or not I would really like blogging somewhere else. And I thought to myself, what would I even call it? And then the name. The wild love. Because that is what we are called to live. 

That's what these last four weeks of living have taught me, Preston. That love should be wild and free and given away. That we should share ourselves. That we should not waste time pretending to be self-sufficient, but smile as we offer our neediness and recognize it in each other, laugh that we are helpless and small and dependent, and then hold each other's hearts.

So I'm going to make a new space over there, and journey along in the new, post-grad world, and I really hope that you come along, too. I'm so excited about the new space, but also so nervous and unsure of what it will be and how it will be different. So much change, and so much the same. I think that balance is where the beauty is revealed.

In a devotional that the whole student body received this week, they offered the prayer of general thanksgiving from the BCP. I love those old words. And I read it with eyes towards next year and wild love. The prayer begins,

"Accept, O Lord, our thanks and praise for all that you have done for us.
We thank you for the splendor of the whole creation, for the beauty of this world,
for the wonder of life, and for the mystery of love."

Give thanks for the mystery of love. Can you imagine? Giving thanks for all that we don't understand about love, for all that defies reason and expectation, for everything it demands in the dark and without explanation? The beauty, and the wonder, and the mystery. 

And then it ends, 

"Grant us the gift of your Spirit, that we may know him and
make him known; and through him, at all times and in all places, may give thanks to you in all things.

That we might know him and make him known. The prayer of thanksgiving becomes the prayer of transformation. Because we give thanks for the mystery and beauty, we can pray also that He would live in us, and we in Him, that we would know Him and make Him known. We give thanks that we might know Him. 

As it all ends here, it all seems more beautiful and more fleeting. As I walk across the Quad, around the pond, pack sheets and towels and clothes into duffel bags, as I type out the last few posts into this blogger window - I want to give thanks for the beauty, the wonder and the mystery. 

I want to know him and make him known. 

Perhaps that's the wild love of next year. And all our years beyond it. Perhaps that's the command and the hope. Perhaps, after all, that's the real work. 

(wild) love, and grace and peace to wonder, and rejoice, 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Dear Hilary, Love, Hilary: Only a Glimpse

Dear Hilary,

I hit a wall in a friendship with someone not long ago. I wanted to connect, to reach out beyond myself and towards them. I wanted to make them feel at home in my heart, and I wanted to know the real answer, the messy and uncertain answer, that lies beyond what they say to just anyone. But they didn't let me in. They held me at arm's length, kept me at a distance. They were quiet. And now I'm at a loss - I want to know them, really know them. I want to be a part of their beautiful story. But I don't know how to enter that space. Can you help me, Hilary? How do you coax someone out from behind their walls?

Eager to be friends

Dear Eager to be friends,

The short answer to your question is: you wait. The long answer to your question is: you wait. The middle sized answer is, yes, you know this - wait. 

It's that simple, and that difficult. Since we've done the simple, maybe we should talk for a brief, fleeting moment about the difficult. What's difficult about this waiting, this sitting outside someone's heart and wondering if they're going to emerge, or if the doors and windows are locked tight? What makes the "no" they gave you sting so much?

I think there are probably a thousand answers to this dilemma of yours, and I can't pretend that mine are the wisest or the most beautiful, the most elegant or the gentlest. But I empathize with you, with our hearts and minds colliding with other people's locked doors and windows, with an eagerness to be near to someone meeting a hesitation on the other side. It's difficult because you're eager, sweetheart. It's difficult because what you're impatient for is a good thing.

You've recognized something in them, something beautiful, something true. You've been compelled by their mind or their heart or both, you went on a walk around Coy Pond and imagined being friends - really, truly friends - with them and holding their stories in your suitcase heart. You caught a glimpse of their glow and you want to be close to them. 

That's a good thing, love. It means you're paying attention to what is miraculous about people. Your eager heart is anxious to invite everyone inside. It's wild love. It's good. But at the same time it is good, it might not be time. And in love, timing is everything.

I don't mean timing as in - can you stay friends long distance, or you just met three seconds ago and you're leaving so it's all over, or you're moving to Antarctica or something. No, I mean the timing of our hearts. When we're ready to be vulnerable, to draw near to each other. When we feel the tug together. When we are willing and able to unlock doors and windows, to let our glow, well... glow.

You can't rush people into being ready to share their glow with you. You can't demand that they reveal the hidden treasures of their heart. You can't force someone you care deeply about to care at the same time, in the same way, in the same place... The "no" and the distance is difficult because your heart is hanging on the end of the line. The "no" is difficult because you see what it lovely in them and you want to rejoice in it. The "no" is difficult because you worry that it means you're not worthy enough or deep enough to contain the glow they carry inside them.

But can I tell you something, Eager? It is not a question of whether you could carry their heart. It is a question of whether or not you are meant to carry their heart right now. And you can't force or rush the answer to that question. 

The answer is "wait." Let the glow emerge in its own time, in the time that is right for who you are and who you want to become. Don't try to persuade or sweet talk them into letting those walls down - let time and wind and rain and laughter bring them down all on their own. Concentrate on loving what you do know about them, enjoying the wild gift of them... and make your heart warmer.

Wait, love. And while you're waiting to discover what you're going to be, whether you are going to be friends or lovers or simply two strangers who smile at each other? Give thanks for the glimpses of the glow.

Always, give thanks for the glimpses.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

the secret i have to tell you, dear hearts.

... I'm ending this here blog.

Well, maybe changing is a better word.

You see, I graduate from college in just a few days. A few days and I'm off into a new beautiful terrifying real world of jobs and questions and love and laughter and summer nights on the beach and long winters.

And to enter the new season, I want to make a new space, a space to share my heart with you. A space to share all the crazy thoughts that tumble out of my head. I want to share what I see, and how I dream, and journey with you {if you'll come along}.

The new space is going to be over here: I'll start blogging there full time on May 20, 2012.

Why the wild love?

Because it's how we live. Or how I imagine and dream we could live. With hearts opened wide to receive the world. With selves who love fiercely, and passionately, and truly.

I'm so excited to start sharing and writing in a new space. I hope you come along for the ride - I promise to still be me, still be messy and unsure and to wonder out loud about all the same things.

He calls us to live out wild love. I'm praying that this new space, so very much at the beginning, will help me live that love.

And to say thank you for this blog, and for the person you've helped me become, here are ten of my favorite posts in no particular order (I'll still do a letter to hilary and a letter to preston this week, though):

1. One Step at a Time (It's Like Learning to Fly)
2. and you arise (a five minute post)
3. the ache is His, too, letter twenty-nine, hilary to preston
4. why I babysit (a letter to my charges)
5. the unexpected gifts
6. You are not invisible (I come back inside)
7. Dear Hilary, Love Hilary: Praise for the Water
8. on an unexpected feeling (a five minute post)
9. be brave enough to be empty, letter nine, hilary to preston
10. Dear Hilary, Love, Hilary: The Beautiful Brave Things

I love you all, dear hearts. I love that I've gotten to share a little bit of my heart with you. Thank you for carrying me.

I hope I get to see you over at the wild love soon.

love, always.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

we will hear what we are, letter thirty-three, hilary to preston

On Tuesdays and Thursdays around these parts, Preston and I write letters back and forth. We share the wonder of mystery, grace and our encounters with mercy. We hope to hear from you in the comments and imagine with you about this walking out in faith. Read the letter I'm responding to here.

Dear Preston,

Isn't it strange, this ache we feel for the departure we must have known was coming? I graduate in nine days - you in just two - and I'm sitting on my bed angry at the idea of leaving, as if it was a surprise tucked into my acceptance letter, a clause I didn't read. You're going to have to go from this place, it says, and I want to rebel, insist that no, we can always be here where it is safe and familiar, where it is challenging and messy, where hearts have emptied and overflowed.

But then the thunderclap, as you put it, and the sweeping in of departure. And we'll never come back here, will we? Never as we are now, and the place which seems so familiar will bend with the seasons and look different when we happen upon it in ten years. Among the great and varied changes of this life, it's places changing we forget about most. Baylor and Gordon will change; the green of the quad and the presence of the coffee shop on campus and the feel of the chapel pews and the long sidewalks leading past the baseball field to the track - they will weather new conversations and new feet, new adventures and heartbreaks. These places we love most will not stand still just to watch us move. They, too, will journey on towards their fullness. The places, too, will become more fully His.

I'm deep in Rilke, deep in the goodness of those words. After all this, it is Rilke who reminds me, in his gentle way, to trust and behold and marvel. Can I share just one small thing with you, because it's too beautiful to leave on a page in a book?

"Orchard and Road" (Collected French Poems)

In the traffic of our days
may we attend to each thing
so that patterns are revealed
amidst the offerings of chance.

All things want to be heard,
so let us listen to what they say.
In the end we will hear what we are:
the orchard or the road leading past.

All things want to be heard. I wish I had learned this four years ago, when the stars clamored from the night sky, when the trees whispered, when the people I passed on the sidewalk looked longingly at me, waiting to be recognized. I wish I had learned to listen to what they were saying. I missed them. There are a thousand images I might have captured, rendered permanent in words or in the silence between words; a thousand people I might have loved, a thousand books I might have read, a thousand cool rainy nights I might have walked and prayed and thought.

But in the end we will hear what we are. What does he mean by this? By listening to the world, we will hear what we are. We who are so in-between, who yearn beyond the world but root ourselves in the world - how can we know what we are?

We are leaving, Preston, and the departure aches in places I didn't know existed. In the traffic of my days I attend to that ache. I listen to what it says: it says I have loved. It says I have given my heart away. It says what I am is human, and to be human is to ache and love.

Today and tomorrow, I'm praying that you would hear what you are in the traffic of your day: that you would hear about how you loved, and rejoiced, and ached. That you would hear how you belong to Him. That you would hear the orchard, and the road leading past.

Love, and every grace,

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Dear Hilary, Love, Hilary: The Front Porch of Your Heart

Dear Hilary,

I'm graduating. There, I said it. I hate saying it. I'm leaving people that I love. I'm leaving relationships that are new and fragile, that have had life for so little time. What if they fall apart? What if when I leave, I can't keep all these people in my heart, or in my life? What do I do when I have to say goodbye and I know it's the end, and the chances of seeing them again are so small, barely even real? They're going. I'm staying. We're all leaving.


Dear Leaving,

For a long time now, I have described my heart as a house. I talked about the rooms I build for people, according to what I know about them. Some rooms are living rooms with soft white couches and lots of blankets, rooms for the people I love to curl up and be safe. Other rooms are decorated like jungles and are filled with unexpected treasures, because those people love to adventure and imagine. And still other rooms are kitchens where we sit at old wooden tables and drink tea and tell stories. I want my heart to be like coming home to people. I want to carry hearts in my heart. I want to love by building a place for you, with your name on it.

The beautiful thing about this metaphor is that it helps describe the agony of departure, and the hope. Sometimes people move out of my heart. I come back to their room and discover that they've packed boxes, erased their name from the door. I walk through the empty space and I remember, and it breaks my heart. And I know there are people I've hurt in the same way, packed my own boxes and moved out without telling them, without a word of goodbye. This is heartbreak: to discover that sometimes, we cannot live in the hearts of those we love. Sometimes, we must say goodbye. 

So here you are, in the house of your heart. And there are boxes everywhere, people shuffling, unpacking, repacking, sitting on the floor and laughing or crying or drinking red wine straight from the bottle. There is no certainty who is going where. There is no certainty whether the people you love now will be there forever, and I urge you to accept this as a part of it all. A part of living, even a part of loving.

So I come to my words to you today: let people linger on the front porch of your heart. 

Leave your lights on. Make sweet tea and lemonade and let the people you love, who are so new to your life, pull up chairs or a bit of dusty floor and stay for a while. Don't rush them out because you're afraid they'll break your heart with their leaving. Don't hide from people. Don't overplan how each conversation will go and what you will say and do.

Instead, spend these next ten days on the front porch of your heart, and love fully the people who are there. Maybe they will move into the house in the next six months. Maybe you just get ten days with them. Maybe it's something in between. But let them sit with you on that front porch and love them.

None of you yet know whose heart you will carry for how long. None of you yet know who you will become to each other. It's terrifying to think that you could care for someone who won't be in your life later. That will always be true. But it's also always true that they are worth knowing for those ten days. People are worth sitting with on the front porch of your heart, always.

So let them linger there, and love them fully. I promise the home of your heart is richer and more beautiful for it.

Love, always,

Thursday, May 3, 2012

i pray for peace of heart, letter thirty-one, hilary to preston

On Tuesdays and Thursdays around these parts, Preston and I write letters back and forth. We share the wonder of mystery, grace and our encounters with mercy. We hope to hear from you in the comments and imagine with you about this walking out in faith. Read the letter I'm responding to here.

Dear Preston,

When I woke up late this morning, only fifteen short minutes to race through clothes and shoes and coats, water splashed across my eyelids and books hastily gathered, I remembered this prayer. I found it years ago when I was convinced God meant me to be Catholic, and I wanted to verify that there was beauty in the Catholic Church - the beauty of prayer life, of meditation, of slowness.

Almighty and Eternal God,
Give me, I beseech You,
the great gift of inward peace.
Command the winds and storms
of my unruly passions.
Subdue, by Your grace, 
my proneness to love 
created things too much.
Give me a love of suffering for Your sake.
make me forbearing and kind to others,
that I may avoid quarrels and contentions.
And teach me constantly to seek after
and to acquire that perfect resignation
to Your Holy Will
which alone brings interior peace.

The prayer is for "peace of heart." Isn't that beautiful? How rarely do we think of peace as the great gift? How rarely do we beg God for it?

I have to confess to you, these last few weeks of school feel anything but peaceful. They are swelling with urgency and with ending, with the harsh tick of the clock, with the insistent reminders of countdowns and "senior formal" dress shopping and plans for reading day. I'm swimming through the hours wondering how there could ever be peace amid these last few weeks.

And to confess even more, I don't know how to want to pray for peace. My whole life I've loved the hurricane. I love the passionate, intense, everything-is-caught-up-in-everything feeling. I love the rush of feeling you get when you start to consider, and wonder about, everything that's going on inside your heart and head.

But it's not by harshness that our God subdues my proneness to choose His creation over Him. It's not be strict, unloving commandments, or by anger or wrath. He subdues what is unhealthy in us by grace. He offers us Himself and His love as the answer to our winds and storms.

I don't know if there is anything more beautiful than this kind of grace. The grace that teaches and leads. The grace that walks onto the water and rebukes it. This, this is the One who teaches us peace. 

And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water, and were in jeopardy. And they came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!”

Then He arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water. And they ceased, and there was a calm. But He said to them, “Where is your faith?”

And they were afraid, and marveled, saying to one another, “Who can this be? For He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him!”

I know His name, Preston. I'm only at the very beginning of knowing who this is who commands the winds and storms of my unruly passions, but I can hear Him command them. I can hear His grace rebuke the wind and the raging water. 

And today, I pray for you. I pray that God would give you the great gift of inward peace. I pray that His grace would command your winds and storms. I pray that the love of Christ Jesus would astound you with its depth and breadth and height. I pray for peace of heart. 


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Dear Hilary, Love, Hilary: Trust The Poets

Dear Hilary,

How do you trust your gut? Is our intuition right about things? What if it deceives us, what if my heart deceives me, says one thing and means another, promises I'll be okay when I'm not? What if I ache in one moment and laugh in another? And all the while I can't tell whether what I'm doing is good for my heart or terrible for it? Have you ever been afraid of breaking your own heart?

Heart Thumping

Dear Heart,

You are a dear heart. So bold and blunt. So unsure. So full of life that you can't help but let these questions tumble out of you and onto the page. You sound so much at the beginning of learning lessons about your heart, and what it can bear, and how to know that.

I've always been a little afraid of breaking my own heart. I've done it enough times now to know the feelings - a slow, steady ache that works its way up through my hip bones and my lungs and rests there, inside my ribcage. I know how my head starts to remind me of how stupid I was, how the decisions I made were my fault, how this awful twisting inside my body is the result of my own foolishness. I know how the stories start to spin around like small hurricanes and suddenly everything looks wrong, looks like it hurts, looks like it is broken.

So, dear heart. You who are bold and blunt and afraid of breaking. My only advice to you is to go slow. Do not be quick to tell yourself you know the ending to the story. Do not be quick to blame yourself for the ache. If the ache arrives, welcome it - it has something to teach you. It can soften you and make you tender. It can give you courage. You write in such dichotomies - good versus terrible, saying versus meaning, ache versus laughter.

I don't think those are ever as separate as we wish them.

Our hearts are built to hold inside them all the uncertain and the certain, the good and the terrible, the ache and the laughter. We need not tell ourselves to feel only one thing, or to banish difficult emotions when we see them coming. They, too, belong to us. I don't think we're meant to be governed by these feelings, whether easy to bear or difficult. I don't think necessarily our hearts should be dictators. If anything, they are gentle leaders, leading us out towards love and towards compassion.

I trust my gut because ultimately? Even the most agonizing experiences soften and shape us. Even the things we do not believe we can bear become a part of who we are. And we cannot know what those will be, we cannot know what will happen tomorrow or the next year or the next decade. So we must hold the future lightly, and love the present fiercely. Trust that if you are yearning for the truth and living out love, then you have nothing to fear.

I titled this column to you, "Trust the Poets" because they're the ones who teach me this lesson. They teach me how to peer inside my own heart and love what is there, whether it is easy or difficult, whether it is joy or ache or both together. I think the poets, the real ones, have always called us towards more courage when it comes to this. Courage to love fully. Courage to trust the unseen. Courage to let our hearts break and bend and expand.

Can I leave you with this poem, one that I fell in love with not too long ago? I think it will help you.

Love, all of it,

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell's
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I dó is me: for that I came.

I say móre: the just man justices;
Keeps grace: thát keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God's eye what in God's eye he is —
Chríst — for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men's faces.


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