To Live Well

To Live Well

As yesterday cannot dwell in today, so one man’s life never copies another’s. Commonalities are frequent, yet never pure. One facet of a person’s life may match another’s; but turn the stone and a different face will greet you. We all have many faces, many loves, many ambitions. While some match to our fellows, no combination is ever created twice. Like a man’s thumbprint, his soul is never duplicated.

Be careful not to covet your neighbor’s goods. Why does Christ warn us so often of sinning against our neighbor? Because it is the temptation of human nature to envy those we are closest to. Even more than material possessions, we seem to covet our neighbor’s life. His success, his health, his relationships, his abilities, his influence, and his seeming happiness: these are all included in his “goods”. We have yet to learn that sorrow frequently hides its face, while happiness spins in elusive circles to exaggerate its size. Often, this is no fault of our friends, but is the warped perspective of a nature prone to jealousy.

All things are living and dying save Christ. The longer we covet a thing, the more dying it has become. God makes everything beautiful in its time. The beauty of another’s life should not be compared with our own. Each journey differs in length and terrain, yet wonder and awe grace each, though perhaps at different stages. Some views are found halfway up the mountain, and others only at the top.

Live the life laid out for you. Climb your own mountain, it is the only journey you have been given the strength to complete. You will miss many things which you ought to have seen. Yet, if you are constantly seeking to pour out the love of Christ, many pitfalls will be avoided, though you never see them. Love covers a multitude of sins; not only in the way we view others, but also in the way we obey our Savior. If we sacrifice all things, even giving up our bodies to be burned, yet have not love, we have gained absolutely nothing. Love is our guarantee against comparison. First, God’s love for us. Then, that same love through us for others.

Seek always to love well. It is the only way to live well. Do not waste time looking for shortcuts. The gate of Love is narrow and the way is hard which leads to life, and those who find it are few. Ease and growth are incompatible. You cannot have both, only either. Love is rarely comfortable, because love is growth. Yet this struggle in loving is the very thing which makes Love so beautiful.

Built into God’s commands are God’s blessings. When Christ declared the first and greatest commandment “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind”, he knew what the Pharisees did not: that to obey this command from the heart would not bring bondage, but instead, perfect freedom.

When we seek to love others without reserve or condition, we have entered simultaneously a place of struggle and of peace. Struggle, because of the rebellion of the old man; and peace, because the Spirit of God which identifies us as His children belongs within the sanctuary of Love.

This is the practical life of one who would defeat comparison by keeping their eyes fixed on Christ.  For is not Christ, God? And is not God, Love?  I must say it again. To love well is to live well. Necessarily then, to love with reserve is to live with reserve. But we must run as those who would win. We must not beat the air vainly. We must train. Through the power of Christ’s resurrection, we are called to rise from the dead and do the impossible. We are called to love well.

 

 

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Story

Story

On and on the story goes

Rolling with the ages,

With the waves;

Threads the needle, sews the page

Of this moment onto yesterday’s.

 

The ebb and flow of

Nations, peoples, times;

The rising and the falling of the tide;

It moves the sand, the individual grains,

But never have I ever seen the waves

Corrode and die.

 

Some things never change;

Like the way the waves are wet

And the sun is dry.

John 11:25

John 11:25

A little girl walks into her driveway after a long day away, waving good bye to her friends. A little girl? She’s almost a woman now, but she feels small tonight. She even remembers to look up at the moon like she used to do when her mind hadn’t yet learned to be anxious for tomorrow and disappointed in today. She doesn’t want to go inside, not just yet. Besides, the trees are inviting her to sit, and how can she be rude to such old friends? The moon’s wan light filters through the shadows of trembling leaves. She traces its outline in the air with her fingers, but her hand drops to her lap with a sigh. She can only pretend to be a little girl for so long. She hugs her knees. “Where are You in this?” she whispers. But the words seem more fragile than the tear drop on her cheek, and they float away like ashes in the wind.

“Listen.”

Were the ashes embers in disguise? The girl is suddenly warmer than before.

“Listen to Me.”

The embers have drifted up and become stars, the girl stares up into them as if meeting the eyes of a friend.

“I am, Father.” She doesn’t whisper this time. She doesn’t use her voice at all. But neither had the one to whom she speaks.

“I love you.”

The girl draws in her breath, sharply, as if suddenly remembering a neglected secret.

“I couldn’t be more proud of you. I couldn’t adore you more. Don’t fear to dream. To risk. To love. My perfect love casts out all fear. Let your joy find root deep within this love. Walk forward confidently, let gratitude spill from every breath.”

The girl smiles, and it reminds one of dawn on the mountains. Her arms are stretched out – wide – as if she would dance. It almost seems that she is. Her eyes close, but only so they might see more clearly. “Bless me. Father, bless me!” It’s only a whisper, barely heard, but her longing drips from the silence and echoes off the walls of her soul.

Now words, woven from that silence, bloom like a rose made of starlight. And over and over, as the girl listens, she watches the words bloom and die and bloom again; and every time a rose dies, it drops the seeds of a hundred more. Finally, the girl begins to dance. She spins, faster and faster, through a field of living, dying roses, holding the hands of a partner only she can see. But always, the roses spread further and further as the death of each word plants new life.

“I will never give you more than you can carry, for I will always walk beside you. Your hand is in mine; I will never leave you or forsake you. I will teach your heart to listen and know my Voice, and your obedience will become its own reward. I am your Shepherd, you shall not want. Though you walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, you shall fear no evil. For the death of one thing is the life of another, as the death of a rose is the life of a hundred more. Live for Me. Live for Me. I will be your everything.”

The girl laughs. Full, strong, confident. She looks one last time at the field of roses. Then she opens her eyes.

///////////////////

The little girl stays there, looking up at the stars through the leaves of the tree. She will always be there. But the woman gets up and walks inside.

And down the road of life, people often wondered at her. For she looked at things and saw what no one else could, or would. Broken things were never ugly to her, and broken people became beautiful when she touched them. She cried over death, but the people knew that she was only watering the seed of another rose.

Her tears became her strength, as blindness had become her sight; and every broken thing that she put back together seemed to lend a little of her beauty back again. So she became more beautiful with every year that passed and the people would laugh and tell her that she would never die.

But she was the only one who ever knew that they were right.

 

 

 

 

Sisterlove

Sisterlove

Turn around and walk away

So I don’t see you cry.

The only way to be okay

Is to run away and hide.

 

Make sure you don’t come back

Or open up your door

Until you’ve found your mask

And tied it tightly as before.

 

Paint your heavy heart with laughter,

Don’t let the cracks show through;

What’s really inside couldn’t matter much

To anyone else but you.

 

Don’t let me see the things

That hurt you the most.

If you share your burden

You’ll only burden us both.

 

But wait.

 

Don’t you know that love

Ties two hearts together?

And that if one is bound,

The other, too, is fettered?

 

Don’t you see that love

Has its own price to pay?

If I am to share your joy

Then I must share your pain.

 

And if you build walls to protect me

From the brokenness of your life,

Perhaps my heart will not break,

But slowly, it will die.

Truth

Truth

As cold is the absence of heat,

And black is the absence of color,

And darkness is the absence of light,

So lies are the absence of truth.

 

Lies are nothing.

 

When a man leans on nothing

He falls.

When he steps where there is no stair

He stumbles.

When a man walks where there is no path

He becomes lost.

 

If we live not in truth,

We live in

Cold, black, darkness.

 

What then, is Truth?

Warmth, whiteness, and light.

 

In the beginning

Was the Word,

And the Word was with God

And the Word was God.

 

In Him was life,

And the life was the light of men.

The light shines in the darkness

And the darkness has not overcome it.

 

And the Word became flesh

And dwelt among us

And we have seen his glory,

Glory as of the only Son from the Father

Full of grace and Truth.

 

This Word made flesh-

His name is Jesus.

 

He is the only permanent warmth,

The only perfection.

He is light, fullness,

The opposite of all things empty.

His name is Jesus.

He is the Truth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dream Cycles

Dream Cycles

Walls, walls

Leaning in

Dreams fall

Caving in

 

Not because an axe

Was laid to the root of the tree

But because you saw the little bugs

Eat away the green

 

Dreams are seeds

Seeds that grow

Green in Summer

Dead in snow

 

Not because the tree was shaken

Did the leaves fall down

But because it seemed to someone

That their proper place

Was on the ground

 

Glory of a sunflower

BURSTS

All is brown

 

Like the seasons

So dreams drift away

Like blue flame

So dreams shift to gray

 

But like the day

 

A quickening pulse

Starts

Slowly

Rising like the lighting of the dawn

 

New rhythm, new cadence

Is glowing

It rises, infused into song

Like seasons, the passing

Is fluid

Like fire, the embers are blown

 

Now leaping, flinging in motion:

The ashes,

Dead ashes

Are gone!

 

In its place gold rises

The cycle must go on

Over and again it surprises

Those who would be fooled

 

 

Seed of a sunflower

BURSTS

All is gold

 

Nogales

Nogales

A dark, steep hillside

Covered in lights

Houses crowd

Dogs fight

 

Clouds gather

It smells like rain

It sounds like laughter

It looks like pain

 

Some hate this place

But I love it here

I’ve never been somewhere

That felt more real

 

When they know joy

They truly laugh

When they feel pain

They cry

 

Here is a place

Like no other place

Yet here still is a place

Where they live and they die