I live in a state of paradox. On the outside, I present as one who is organized, capable, warm and giving. People tell me this. Inside, where none witnesses save God alone, I am alone, afraid, and cut off from the love that I want to both give and receive. I am a spectator- watching and delighting in the joy that I see around me, a joy that seems to escape my cup even as it splashes and foams with abandon in other vessels. I try to act with love and grace, hoping that in the action the emotion will come to birth. Yet it seems like a part of me is buried so deeply that I have forgotten how to find it. Why is this so? Where does this deep sorrow come from, and why can’t I unload it so that I may dance in the freedom of unconditional acceptance? I am tempted to echo the words of Paul “O wretched [man] that I am, who will deliver me…?”. I know his answer, but I cannot reconcile his answer with all that I have seen in my life. It seems too simple.
Perhaps it is because I think too much. Perhaps it has nothing to do with me at all. Maybe it is biochemistry, or perhaps the sequelae of having to face so many losses in the past week. I don’t like to look at broken dreams, to face them wondering how much of my misery has been self-generated and how much of it has been truly beyond my control. “Hope is so exhausting” sighes a friend as she describes her most recent disappointing encounters with her son. I am struck by how much strength is required to sustain hope and how easy it is to ‘fall into’ despair. The downcast are exhorted to ‘look up for your redemption draws nigh’. Sometimes looking up is too hard- one has to try to find something beautiful on the floor, in the dirt, in the gutter, in the ocean of tears. “The joy of the Lord is your strength”- another paradox. To find the strength to look up, one has to know divine joy (round the circle we go). “Weeping endures for a night, but joy comes in the morning”- so perhaps an end is in sight. It won’t last forever, but while it lasts it is agony to sit with it so alone, so isolated, invisible and silent.
The wilderness has to have a purpose. Perhaps it is so that I can hear Your voice as I am emptied of all the distractions that entice me away from You. Perhaps it is learning how to be still, and to enjoy the company of my own soul rather than trying to escape it. Balance is the key.
I still need love with skin on it- the intangibles are too big.
Relationships involve risk. To love is to risk being touched in such an irrevocable way that ootprints, signatures, and seals are scattered like confetti over the landscape that is our life. Such evidences of human encounter are messy- not like the carefully thought out paintings of a grand master, but more like primitive stick men added as afterthoughts onto a rustic still-life. Relationships are forged in the furnace of difficult times- when the thought of abandonment is flung to the farthest regions of the mind, and commitment is the hinge upon which all else revolves. Trust is as essential to love as blood is to bone.
Enough ramblings. I must resurface to join the real world of responding to the needs and wounds of others. Perhaps I will learn to be as kind to the wounded one that I see in the mirror as I strive to be to the ones that I see through the windows.

One thought on “Wilderness

  1. Wow, Josie, wow. This is amazing, thank you for writing this. It seems that you and I have the same story running in our lives. You say it all so well. I look forward to seeing you today, Forgiveness Sunday. Love Mira

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