a Narnia encounter (3)

along the beach[This is a continuing meditation. Part 1 is here; part 2 is here.]

I wait … and fidget … and wait some more.

Too often my mind rushes ahead of my day and I leave the real moments of my life behind. I have not learned to stay put; to live life as it comes, rather than waiting to live until my plans develop. (Which, of course, they never quite do.)

I think of the giant who brought me here as a simple soul, but he is wiser than I have realized. He seems content … or rather, he seems quite pleased … to do his part and trust that the rest will unfold as it should. That is not so easy for me.

And what is my part in this adventure? All I’ve done to this point is to ride in his pocket and sleep beside the fire. Oh, and keep the fire going in spite of fear. That, too. But what will I be asked to do from here? That is the part of the fear I have not quite vanquished.

So, I wait and I fidget.

I get up to walk along the beach, along the smooth wet edge close to the water. I watch the faint bubbles that form as my feet press the water out of the sand with each step. I breathe in deeply and smell the salt air. The smell of the salt tells me that this must be an inlet from the sea.

As I walk, I come upon a large flat rock that juts out into the water – a finger of rock that reaches out from a large rocky cliff that towers up above. I crawl out on the rocky ledge and let my feet dangle. The slap of the waves reaches to my feet with every undulation. There is a rhythm there that soothes me. I am caught and released with each pull of the waves, as if the sea, itself, might be having a wordless conversation with my soul.

Perhaps, if I can just release my urgency, I can learn to live in simple trust, like my giant friend.

My toes catch a strand of seaweed.

Suddenly the weed climbs up my leg and tugs me into the water. I try to hold on to the rock, but this all happens too fast and I am pulled down, down, into the cold. After my initial panic I notice that there is an opening under the rock I had been sitting on – an entrance to a cave that, surprisingly, is lit within. I reach down and loosen the seaweed from my leg and move forward into the cave. It isn’t long until I come out into an inner cavern, with its own beach, its own hidden cove.

I sit for just a moment on a twin rock on that shore. I look around and listen for any clues about what will happen next.

And then, beside me on the rock, there is a presence. It is a presence that I know. Not so clear, perhaps, as the voices on the wind … but very definitely there. I take in a breath, slowly, and let it out, letting my soul settle a bit into this presence.

“Hello,” I venture.

“Hello,” is the whispered reply.

“Is this the meeting I was called to?”

“It is one such meeting. There are many.”

“Ah.” I wait a bit. “It takes a lot to get my attention, doesn’t it?”

The presence smiles, though I don’t know how I know this. I have no real vision of this One. But there is a smile, and a reply, “It does take a bit, sometimes. That is the way of things. It is so easy to get lost in the rush of activity.”

“There is so much to do,” I try to explain. “There are so many people who depend upon me.”

“Ah,” again the smile. The very silence helps me see the silliness of this response.

“I don’t know quite how to do this.” I try again.

“Ah,” another silence and then the presence reaches out to my hand, which is resting upon the rock, wrapping me in a warmth that travels up my arm into my heart. “Knowing is not always necessary.”

I try to be content with this answer. I try to remember the peaceful acceptance of the giant. I try, but to no avail. I don’t know what to do with the quiet. It always seems that my mind wanders off somewhere on its own, or chatters on with anxious energy. I keep trying to pull it back to where we are.

The presence begins to sing, slowly, softly. It is as if I only hear it with my soul. Yet, its rhythms begin to smooth the wrinkles in my heart, the furrows on my brow. I lean back upon the rock and let the song sweep over me. Each measure is a pulse of steady comfort.

When I wake, later, I can tell I have been here quite a while. The presence has gone … or at least is not so palpable. I feel deeply rested – a feeling that I have not felt for a long, long time. It is as if I have put down a burden that I did not know I was carrying. I sigh. I smile. I roll over and slip back into the water and find way back to the beach of the giant’s island. I sit in the sun, feet in the sand of that beach, at peace.

Now, at last, I may be ready for the meeting the giant heard about on the wind. Ironically, I am ready, but no longer anxious, no longer feeling restless.

Because I am ready, I can wait.

[This soul story continues, here.]
[image by Susan Murtaugh per cc 2.0]

Always

circle dancingThe Holy One has need of nothing,
Not even me.
(No great surprise to anyone but me.)

Yet . . . the Holy One desires my love.

It isn’t needed.
It adds nothing to that Holy fullness.

Yet, She yearns for my gift of love.

And when I give it,
And sometimes I do,

I am more.

This dance always seems so unfamiliar
until the very end,
when I know
that I have danced it always.

1/15/01

[photo by Julie Pimentel per cc 2.0]

a Narnia encounter (2)

peaceful giant[a continued meditation … part 1 is here.]

Suddenly I wake. I have dropped off to sleep beside the giant. He is breathing softly, at least softly for him. I find that in my sleep I have moved toward him, edging toward the warmth of his bulk, though I am a bit fearful that he might roll over on me.

I look toward his face and see that he is awake. Lying on his side, with his head propped up on one hand, he waits for me to open my eyes. He sees me look at him and smiles. “So you wake up, do you? You are ready to start our day?”

I smile back and scramble to my feet. I walk over and stoke the fire, still burning, quietly, slowly. Just barely more than glowing coals, the tiniest of flames dance in the inner chambers of the fire formed in the spaces between the logs. With very little work the fire is strong and warm. I pull up a waiting log for a seat and warm my hands and stretch the soreness out of my body. Some logs were added since last night. I wonder about that briefly, but the giant’s movements catch my attention.

The giant reaches toward the oilskin bag in which he carries his provisions. He pulls a piece of manna from the bag. It is wrapped in a cloth, which he unfolds onto a stone beside him. He breaks a corner from his large loaf and hands it to me. This act, this simple gift, seems very like communion. He shares with me this gift. We break bread, together.

He has a water-skin, too. But he is not sure just how to give me something to drink. I have no cup and this water-skin is far too big for me to lift. Finally, I cup my hands and he pours some water into them. I drink and then rinse my hands with what remains.

“Shall we go?” I ask the giant.

“Go? Why go? We are here, we are.” he replies. “Where do you want to go?”

“Yesterday you said something about taking me to a meeting….” I begin.

“That’s right, a meeting. That meeting is here. Here is where we hold the meeting.”

“Oh.” I’m really a little disappointed that we won’t be moving on. I am filled with a dancing energy from the bread and water, from the fading memory of the night’s adventure. (Was that a dream or was it real?) I pace around the clearing. I reach into my pocket and touch my lighter. “What is this meeting? Who will be coming?”

“I don’t know,” the giant replies. “They sent me to get you and bring you here. They said there was to be a meeting. They sent many to look for you, but I found you, I did, and I brought you here.”

“Who are they?” I ask. “Who sent you for me?”

“The voices on the wind,” he says.

I stop, struck cold. The voices on the wind? I rode in the pocket of this giant far from where I was, because he heard voices on the wind? I’m not so sure about this. But then I remember Aslan. He was here last night, wasn’t he? Sometimes it seems like morning makes things less clear.

I turn to the giant. “How often have you heard these voices?”

“Two times before I have heard them, I have. This time makes three.” He holds up three fingers and seems to be quite proud of himself.

“And who is coming to the meeting?” I ask.

“They didn’t say,” he shrugs his shoulders, “They just said to find you and bring you here.”

I’m a little frustrated by his satisfaction with these incomplete answers. “When is the meeting to begin?”

“Tonight I think…. or tomorrow. They will know when to begin.” He looks at me, curious that I should be so insistent on all these details.

“So what do we do till then?” I ask. I can tell my voice has a bit of an edge.

“We wait.”

We have reached an impasse. The only one who can give me any hints about this meeting is quite content to let it happen on its own. He rises and strides off toward the stream to wash his hands.

I am left to wait, questions unanswered, trying to hold my impatience at bay. I don’t much like waiting. But sometimes that is what is required: to wait.

The difference between me and the giant, here, is that the giant seems, somehow, to trust the unfolding of experience. It’s not so much that he trusts the plan. Indeed, he seems unaware of any plan – or even of any need for one. Instead, he trusts … what? The voices? Perhaps it is that he trusts the one who calls.

I manage a wry smile. Can I trust a call, rather than a plan? I think I’ll plan to do just that …

[this soul story continues, here]

[image cropped and adjusted from photo by Ron Frazier per cc 2.0]

Small Wonder

Lichen itThis morning, this photo and its clever title (Lichen it) shook me with a smile. That simple smile allowed me to realize that I had, once again, been holding tight to serious duty.

Like a sudden breeze on a sultry day, it woke me to a bigger reality – one full of surprises in the tiniest places.

In a world that holds such wonder, I am continually surprised at my ability to place blinders on my own eyes, trying to avoid the very ‘distractions’ that would feed my soul.

Small wonder I am tired and dry.

Small Wonder and once again I find the whisper of life in simple beauty. It waits with lovely patience for my glance.

Thank you.

[photo used with permission from Mike Bizeau, the author of the lovely blog, nature has no boss.]

defining grace

Grace is something you can never get but can only be given. There’s no way to earn it or deserve it or bring it about any more than you can deserve the taste of raspberries and cream or earn good looks or bring about your own birth.

A good sleep is grace and so are good dreams. Most tears are grace. The smell of rain is grace. Somebody loving you is grace. Loving somebody is grace.    – Frederick Buechner

Grace enters my life quietly – gracefully. It comes on the smile of a friend and the warm embrace of my spouse. It arrives on my kitchen counter, in a basket of garden vegetables delivered by a neighbor. It comes as I watch my 2-week old granddaughter, stretching and yawning and trying to focus on this world she has just been given.

Buechner reminds me that I cannot acquire grace on my own. I cannot buy it, earn it, or demand it. Even when I’ve been my very best self, I cannot presume to deserve it.

There is, however, one volitional thing I can do with grace. I can give it. I can be the smile or give the hug or offer the gifts of friendship. I can be a neighbor. I can become the conduit of grace.

The mystery is that most often, in giving grace, I get it in return. When it is truly myself I give and not the duty-driven, obligatory gesture – it is then I find the grace of soul-to-soul relationship. That holy space of encounter is the birthplace of grace. And the birthplace of the me I truly want to be.

Even as a grandma, I feel newborn in the world of this mystery. I cannot always focus on its wonder, but somehow I know that I am held. And that is grace.

a new world

predictable grace

through the tent door

I peek out the flap of my tent door.
Is there manna again, today?

Yes, there is manna.

I am amazed every morning at the miracle of this gift.
Yet, just before the morning,
I wonder,
Can I dare to hope that it will come again?

This quiet and consistent blessing
Builds my faith one morning at a time.

Here it is, again.

Thank you.

[photo by Ishai Parasol per cc 2.0]