Tag Archives: hope

today: a Wednesday not so long ago

Some days are about stopping, forced pauses and seeing. Life abounds. God, here.

On A Wednesday not so long ago, I felt walls closing in on questions I could not answer. I lacked sleep and perspective. Blinded to goodness, I staggered through the day, wallowing and grumpy. The sun shone, though, beckoning me outdoors. I leashed the dog and packed my camera. I walked. And I saw. It was a return to gratitude and perspective. Life abounds, God, here.


today: valentine

He races his bicycle on the weekend, and he rides fast. He doesn’t always win, but sometimes he does well. And his pleasure in it is evident. He tells stories of racing weekends, face expressive and bright, relishing the fact that he gets to do this and that he does it well enough to be competitive. He knows that not everyone who has the desire to excel in a sport has the opportunity or ability to do what he does. He is passionate, and he is thankful. Collin was made, among other things, to ride a bike. It’s a window for him through which he sees how to live fully. I love this about him.

Getting to be with someone who has a grasp on what it is to live out of who he is moves me. Collin provokes me to want to live life alive in the way that he knows how to be alive. We aren’t perfect in our relationship by any stretch. In recent months, we’ve needed to learn how to disagree, fight and let go, and at times, we’ve both been exasperated and frustrated. I’ve needed to stare my selfishness in the face. It’s not always pretty. In the midst of growing a relationship, we find ourselves aware of our fragility and vulnerability, especially on the days that have been hard. And yet, that hunger to live so alive and so full, it drives us, both of us. These past months for me have been a process of learning to love and be loved right in the midst of life happening, good and bad, ugly and beautiful, allowing hope to trump fear.

Last night, we prepared dinner together and worked on our various tasks, chatting. He walked the dog to the mailbox. I made him a smoothie. The eve of Valentine’s Day was quiet and restorative. We are busy, separate and together. We wanted some quiet and normal before this week gives way to company and races and photo shoots and too lengthly to-do lists. We prayed before he went home, thankful for a great day and asking for good sleep and an awareness of God’s presence. I know that not everyone who wants someone to do life with has someone, and sometimes relationships break, fail, abuse, hurt or die. I looked at Collin last night, and I found my heart passionate and thankful that he is here and that he is mine. Collin is one reminder of God’s kindness in my life. He gives of his heart with confidence and grace, and he speaks words that welcome me into his story. He cultivates beauty in my life. He expects goodness.

I love that we are friends.
I love that we are taking our time.
I love that this is the page my life is on.
I love that he is my Valentine.

I was made, among other things, for this, here and now.

Thanks for indulging my need to record a little Valentine’s Day verbiage.

today: Potager

“The shared meal elevates eating from a mechanical process of fueling the body to a ritual of family and community, from the mere animal biology to an act of culture.”
-Michael Pollan

The year’s end arrives with unseasonably warm weather resulting in a respite of outdoor activity under a canopy of blue. Did Christmas really pass last week? The rush leading up to the holiday literally ended Christmas Eve, and I stood in church with a lit candle singing “Silent Night” trying to remember silence. My family gathered, we celebrated sans one brother and one sister, and by Boxing Day, all I wanted was my own heavenly peace to sleep in. I love the end of the year and the way it makes me want to reflect and daydream. I become a child awake to the wonder of possibility, infinite. It seems we are wired to ponder life on a grandiose scale when the first day of a new year stares us down.

I’ve never been the type to make resolutions, but tonight I sat around a dinner table with Collin, his sister and her beau, and I hoped for some things for 2012. We ate at a little place in Arlington that we love, Potager Cafe, an outside-the-box, hole-in-the-wall with real food and genuine community. You can eat as much as you like from the menu comprised of local fare. It changes based on what is available. You pay what you want to pay for your meal. Tonight a diner at another table offered Collin a glass of wine from the bottle on his table when Collin asked if it was good. Cynthia owns the place, and she hugged me when I left, wishing us a happy new year and promising to email me about an idea we’ve discussed the last few times I’ve eaten there. These things happen at Potager. We love it.

After dinner, we ran errands before Collin headed home so he could get to bed early, as a long ride owns the entirety of his Saturday morning. I kept thinking about Potager. The food is always good there (outstanding, really), but I’m not sure that’s all that keeps me going back. When I eat at Potager, I find myself invited to dinner at a place where conversation flows easy, and no one is a stranger. I don’t know how to explain the dynamic, but the uniqueness strikes me. And I hope to be the kind of person in 2012 who forgets the boxes that social norms create and who remembers that people matter and so does the way we interact with the world.

I think that’s the appeal of Potager. The business model isn’t the type to attract investors: no set prices and an environment that beckons patrons to want to stay long after they’ve finished eating. But I don’t think Cynthia measures the success of her business in profits (though I think she’s paying her bills). I suspect she understands something about the nature of community and the importance of stewarding the earth. She’s created a unique space in the middle of Arlington that resembles a hodge podge family dining room. When you’re at Potager, you’re in the midst of a better story than the typical American eatery.

Real food grown in a garden out back or procured from local farmers prepared simply with real ingredients? Do people eat like that any more? And while eating like that we slow down and learn the names of the people around us and rub shoulders with their stories, if only for a few minutes. We leave full and refreshed- every single time we eat there. Did I mention we love it?

“It feels like church,” I told Collin when we left tonight. He countered that it is better than church, because you don’t have to keep up an appearance to experience a good meal at Potager. Though that’s a post for another day, I say that to say this: in 2012, I hope to be the kind of person who imagines and creates unique spaces that allow genuine community to exist and thrive. I hope to take the kind of photographs that invoke emotion and start conversation. I hope to write the kind of words that provoke the telling of a better story. I hope to live in such a way that heavenly peace is never far off, because the reality of the presence of God holds my attention day in and day out, leaving me full and refreshed and able to fill and refresh others.

I am a child awake to possibility, infinite. Yes.

today: the wonder of it all

“Wonder is the basis of worship”
-Thomas Carlyle

No matter where, no matter where, no matter where my story- or your story- takes me or you, the deep breath yielded by a few minutes outside really looking at creation provokes wonder. It steadies me to see flowers and trees, sun and sky, and the cycle of life. Seasons shift and change. Transformation occurs. The world retains so much of the good God saw when he made it. In the midst of war and failing economies and broken relationships and sickness, even in the midst of death, a walk outside reveals new life. Some days that’s the grace to regroup and calm the heart and slow the pace.

God is here, everywhere. And we are his, loved and capable of loving. I’m captivated.

It’s outside that I most often find myself beckoned into his kingdom and story. I know I am small in the midst of a great grand scheme that is the world. That humbling reality- that very revelation- invites participation into the story of God’s great plan of redemption. I’m certain that truth ought to be taken literally and metaphorically.

tonight: joy, alive

“Find ecstasy in life; the mere sense of living is joy enough.”
-Emily Dickinson

I’m a slow blogger of late. Hoping to remedy that soon.

wide-eyed with revelation, this
oh but life is joy, and here
we are alive, very
the wonder burrows deep, these
oh and roots cling deep, and here
we cling to life, desperate
oh taste and see the goodness, the goodness
oh hear and speak the fullness, the fullness
oh but life is joy, and here
we are alive, very
bright and bold, the beauty rectifies and redeems
the broken
life is joy, and here
we are alive, very

tonight: sunday morning and coffee…

“Each morning when I awake, I experience again a supreme pleasure-that of being Salvador Dali”
-Salvador Dali

Sunday morning and coffee and prayers
a walk with the dog canopied under cool and blue
quiet is the early
grateful is the heart
awakening, awakening, awakening
this: grace
Sunday morning and hope and wonder
a recognition of new mercies this morning
steady is the faithfulness
grateful is the heart
awakened, awakened, awakened
life: gift

This I know: God is near.

today: rainy run musing

Instructions for living a life.
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.

-Mary Oliver

Saturday morning and hours before the alarm wakes me flashes of white and rumblings of sky. Months of drought mean that I wake fully at 4 am before recognizing this: it rains. Return to sleep then the alarm rings at 7; there are photos to create. But with the rain, the sky greyed. A text to client to reschedule, but in the early I am wide awake.

Breakfast with coffee and prayers. I lace up my runners then I drag the dog on a drizzly walk. All summer long we survive our morning routine: I sweat; she pants. The rain, so wanted and so needed, she hates it. We return home. The dog runs crazy through the apartment then slumbers beside my desk. I grab a water bottle, blast Pandora through my i-Phone as I strap it to my arm and head out the door.

It drizzles still, and it is August, and in a summer that we’ve had many days over a hundred and severe drought, 75 degrees feels like grace massaging weariness out of my bones. I run hard, muddying shoes and drenching shirt- with rain and sweat cooling skin. I’m smiling, and it’s been months since a run produced a smile during my efforts. I double the length of typical pre-photo session Saturday run, and I feel I am in the presence of God alone.

My mind wanders to the words the writer of Hebrews penned in the New Testament: she urges that we seek level paths for our feet so that what is lame might not be put out of joint. I ponder those words. I have been busy and short-tempered, and my dad has been sick, and I have lacked patience, perspective, grace. I am broken. And yet mornings like this are healing: I rediscover a level path for my feet, literally, yes but in the work of my run and the cool of the air, my heart craves the God whose kindness leads to repentance.

A long few weeks, and I consider something Hebrews alludes to. Healing is often participatory. “Use it or lose it,” my boyfriend tells people when urging them towards a healthier lifestyle and better fitness. A lame foot unused will never regain strength. And sometimes there are moments of big dramatic miracles and wholeness comes instantaneously. Oftentimes, though, healing and the return to wholeness is a process. And that’s beautiful, because trust is required and that trust transforms not just what is broken but also the character of the one being healed.

This morning I return from my run, feeling muscles and reminded that they work. The rain slows by the time I finish, but the air remains cool. I settle into the rest of my day wide-eyed and hopeful, aware of a good God who ran with me this morning and awakened, once again, to faith. And to think I was just excited about the possibility of a long run in the rain…

God’s intention? To return me to patience, to perspective, to grace.