I have a few posts for you today. I've had so much work this year, I'm quite behind. I have been writing though, on my notebooks, scraps of paper, and jotting stuff down pretty much anywhere letters can be found. I really want to discipline myself towards a writing rhythm.
Those Beautiful Black Notebooks
Someday, when I'm dead, my grown sons and daughters will open my journals and will be privy to the events, thoughts, the highs and lows, the dreams and nightmares, artistic expressions, and the random clippings of my life. They're going to find an imperfect account of an imperfect life, but I'm sure they'll be entertained, maybe even shocked, at what they read. I'm not worried though. As I read through my accounts bound in black notebooks, I am reminded of the many beautiful and ugly moments, and, woven over, under, around them, are my raw conversations with God.
Conversations with God...
How beautiful that thought is to me. That I, with all my faults, have been given access to the Divine One. That He intently listens to me. That He openly speaks with me. I'm starting to understand what Rabrindanath Tagore meant when he wrote:
Didst thou store my days and nights,
my deeds and dreams for the alchemy of thy art,
and string in the chain of thy music my songs of autumn and spring,
and gather the flowers from my mature moments for thy crown?
I see thine eyes gazing at the dark of my heart,
Lord of my life,
I wonder if my failure and wrongs are forgiven.
For many were my days without service
and nights of forgetfulness; futile were the flowers
that faded in the shade not offered to thee.
I know this may sound very arrogant to some of you, all this talk of speaking to "God", and I don't mean to sound like I'm someone extra special. Surely, I'm not. This access is available to everyone. I'm simply describing how grateful I am to wake up with a poem in my head, or a melody, or a story, or to be in the shower and to see pictures, to be sitting in the toilet and to hear words...
...and I'm starting to sound weird.
The point is this. My life has been incredibly beautiful, not because I did things perfectly (I haven't), not because I'm rich (I'm not at all), not because I'm wise (my journals are proof of my stupidity), and not because I'm religious (seriously, who are we fooling when we say "we're not that bad"). My life is beautiful because even as circumstances change, feelings rise and wane, and the cast of characters come and go, someone, The One, has stayed.
I wrote about my lessons on a beautiful life in my New Years blog, now let me add another one:
A beautiful life is neither a place nor a position, so it cannot be achieved or arrived at. A beautiful life is a life with the person who is most beautiful to you, thus it is achieved with an embrace. God has become most beautiful to me, so I enjoy the beauty of that embrace.
I don't want my sons and daughters to read about how life happened to me, as if my moments were one loosely connected accident after another. I want them to read about how I happened to life because God happened to me. I want them to see the pattern of God's faithfulness and know that it is their heritage to live in that pattern.
Speaking of heritage, I want to share a short realization I had recently. During one of the prayer meetings of Victory's annual fast, I was sitting beside my friend, Chip, who was beside his family. As we prayed, I looked at the stage, I saw my father, leading the prayer, and so much gratefulness entered my heart for his life and for the seeds he planted that I am now enjoying. Looking to my right, I saw Chip's parents, Tito Colby and Tita Sony, also long time volunteers and two people with hearts of gold, and it hit me, "We're enjoying the fruits of the seeds our parents planted in this community. And I haven't been planting. If I want my kids to reap fruits, I need to start planting."
I looked to my friends and told them, "This year we start planting. And we start planting here."
I'm excited for what is going to come out of this. I encourage you to start planting into a community as well. Planting isn't about throwing seeds in all sorts of directions, it's about cultivating soil, irrigating, planting the right seeds the right way, it's a whole process - but it's the way to harvest.
The Beauty of A Broken Heart
Also in my New Years post were a few thoughts on planting. There was nothing original about what I said. It's just a longer way of saying "What you sow you shall reap". As I was thinking about this earlier, I started to cringe at the thought of the bad seeds I had already planted in my heart bearing fruit one day. So I prayed, "Father, please remove the bad seeds in my heart. I don't want them to bloom to evil that will hurt others. I am so so sorry for not taking more care."
And as I read through the pages of my journals, I noticed something beautiful among the painful, frustrating, disappointing, discouraging, heart breaking moments, these were the occasions when God's hand reached into my heart and plucked out the wrong things sown. What seemed like a painful experience was a loving Gardener cultivating the garden of my heart.
Usually, when I'm hit with a heart break, and there are many ways a heart can be broken, I just want get it over with as soon as possible. Bury myself in work, start something new, basically bury myself with friends and activity. Before I know it, I'm over the pain, over the frustration, over the disappointment. I've moved on.
Or have I? Have I really moved on when I cannot forgive? When I cannot forgive others or myself? Have I really healed when the bad seeds sown still keep bearing fruit?
Of course not. Our hearts never heal with a mere bandage. We simply distracted ourselves, bought time, until we acclimatised to living broken hearted. And with every broken heart we experience, we collect the baggage of a lifetime of hurts, and slowly the beautiful soul that once existed is a shadow, and it's only a matter of time until who we are inside appears clearly for all to see.
Instead, let God's hands do His work. Don't put distractions, or worse, plant more bad seeds. What's a bad seed? We're not that dumb. We know when something is good and when something isn't. Don't try to put a tarp over the hole and pretend like nothing is broken. Humbly say, "Father, it's painful but have Your way."
And this is the beauty of the broken heart, that we know and feel, without a doubt, that we are loved even at our very worst.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
- Matthew 5:4