She’s Breathing

Eternal One: Now look here!
I am creating new heavens and a new earth.
The weary and painful past will be as if it never happened.
No one will talk or even think about it anymore.
18     So take joy and celebrate with unending gladness
on account of what I am creating.
Look carefully! I am making this place I’ve chosen, this Jerusalem, a city of joy..
Isaiah 65:17

Another world is not only possible, she is on her way.
On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.
Arundhati Roy

In 2005, I went to the Holy Land with some good friends. My view of the world expanded in that time. Walking the streets, smelling the trees, stepping into the Jordan River, I was in the land that Jesus Christ and so many followers since then have been. Something started to deepen in me that moved my heart, perspective, and understanding of God. While the entire trip was riveting in its overall sensory, emotional, and spiritual experience, a significant moment changed my trajectory.

Some strangers stepped into the Garden Tomb with my friend, Shari, and me. In the quiet, we all recognized the sacredness of the place. A place of loss and of life – the resurrection that continues to bring hope to an entire world. The strangers began a worship song, familiar to us, that filled the tomb. Shari and I joined in. As the voices subsided, we all stepped outside. It was in this moment that my heart opened up to something new. The strangers broke into pairs, approaching Shari and I individually. They asked if we wanted prayer. One to never refrain from an offered prayer, I said “yes.”

I don’t remember the prayer exactly, but I remember the verse the woman gave me: Isaiah 65:17
Eternal One: Now look here!
I am creating new heavens and a new earth.
The weary and painful past will be as if it never happened.
No one will talk or even think about it anymore.
18     So take joy and celebrate with unending gladness
on account of what I am creating.
Look carefully! I am making this place I’ve chosen, this Jerusalem, a city of joy.”
Through the words of Isaiah, she helped me hear God in order to see beyond my present circumstances to a new place. One that I could not imagine, but could hope for.

Not long thereafter, I became a part of a contemplative community, a new start-up finding its place in listening to God’s invitation. Selah began. My own journey of learning to listen, hope, and live into the “way” of Jesus emerged with a freshness and depth that I had not experienced before. I attribute that moment in the Garden Tomb as the turning that brought me to this present place in life.

These verses, that trajectory, and listening, they are not only for my own personal life. These words serve as a reminder that a new world is here-but-not-yet. God is in the business of helping us living into that thin space where it often feels overwhelming, lacking in civility, and distressing. Yet, always a “yet” that brings us before the God who holds us all in this place – it’s a place that is “breathing,” whispering that we can have hope. May you find that hope in this day in the listening space of God’s abiding presence.

Thoughts on a Fall Morning

Sojourners sends a regular email with a “Verse and Voice” that usually speaks to my heart and soul as an encouragement and reminder of where God is at work in our world. Today, the quote was this: “Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.” Maya Angelou

In our world that is filled with the opposite of love on so many fronts, it’s easy to forget that love asks us to move towards one another, again and again and again. If God is love, then it is God who provides us with the love we need to love one another. As well, if God is love, then this love is not only an action and response to another, it is God who is present. We are not alone in this endeavor to love and be filled with love. God is with us.

Courage, by definition, is an act of the heart that doesn’t require bravery in its usual sense. But rather requires a willingness to live into wholeheartedness. To move towards wholeness requires risk. That’s where courage and love come together – risking that loving another, especially the one(s) who frustrate, anger, lash out at us, is part of the journey of loving again, and again and again.

May you find God who is love providing you with courage to love again.