Saturday, December 20, 2014

it is well

Winter comes and with it comes the weather: whether rain or snow, grateful sunshine, crisp air, darker days, awakening breaths. Both the good and the bad draw us inward, toward family or solitude, staying home, admiring window panes. The winter invites hibernation, introspection, inner-self-exploration. It also invites discovery. Think of unwrapped gifts, recipes pulled from a hot oven, shoveled walkways, novel pages. There are relationships to deepen, sort out, let go of, admire. There are tests on patience, providence, people skills. Need arises in a new way, gets highlighted, our radios are rampant with opportunities to give. As much as we spend the winter days indoors, much is pulled from within to get through it. Don't forget that. You are strong and will survive this season, and good will come, is here, has happened to get you to it.

I admit it: I keep forgetting about the hope that comes in with the cold. Rather: I've been reading the news a lot. Is this stuff always happening, or has the world been shaking with unrest in a new way, lately? Children everywhere, such injustice, such horror taking their lives. What those children, men and women must have gone through in their last moments here on earth. It draws the breath & stops the heart to think of it. My eyes close at my own feelings of helplessness; nothing can be done from here. Every day I tune in, a new (and yet, old familiar) form of brokenness takes the spotlight. Poverty of spirit, and depravity of mind & moral seem to be winning out, ending the innocent. Right and wrong have become a matter of personal benefit; no longer is Right out to help the others. Right is ownership, a stronger hand, a louder voice, a bigger gun. Right is MY RIGHT, and not necessarily right at all. Affronts to justice are committed by everyone, and admitted by few. Humility is a lost art.

It is well with my soul. These words from an old hymn, once easily spilled off my tongue, are now an echo bouncing. Is it, really? I've been turning that phrase around a lot. It is well. How do I feel about this phrase? On its surface it is confusing. Death is not well, tragedy is not well, not heartache, or discord, or unrest. But then, The waves & wind still know his name, don't they? I've heard this so much, and yet I wonder: what happens when the mountain stands firm in front of our nation, our kids, our families? What happens when the sea doesn't swallow our pain?

As it turns out, It is well is as ironic as faith itself. Faith is best displayed in hardship, perhaps peace is, too. The only way I can be well is when I stop trying to climb the mountains on my own. I can not move them, I can only sit humbly at the bottom, and look up. Peak to peak to peak, Hope rises like sunshine, twinkles like stars.

I was talking to my little darling a few weeks ago about space. We were talking about planets, clouds, weather. She wished aloud that the stars would be in the sky all the time, she loved them so much. I took great joy in telling her: sweetie, the stars are always there, even when we can't see them. The earth is surrounded, at all times, by little lights. The only reason we can't see them is because the sun is too bright.

If I admire anything about creation, it's this: light is always there. It changes form, and colors the morning, the afternoon, the evening, the night differently; but light is light regardless. Clouds may cover it, daytime heat may dwarf it (but even daytime heat is light), and nights get longer in certain seasons, but light, put simply, is. Always.

When I can not reconcile my heart to the mountain, I reconcile instead, to light. I take my heartache out, point to the sky, and ask it to believe again.

Wherever you find yourself this Christmas, whether in joy or question marks, look for the light in your world. It may be as tiny as a star, but it, most certiainly, is.

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