Show Me

I wanted to go to the community Thanksgiving service. A friend of ours was preaching and I wanted to hear. I wanted to sit in dim light with other believers and feel the cold in my bones go away for a while. I wanted to feel a part of something bigger than me, bigger than my church, bigger than the air in this space around me. I wanted to be thankful.

But I took the dogs out and Penny saw a cat in the meadow so she ran after it and so I did too and we tromped through the mud of yesterday’s rains until I carried much of the earth on the bottom of my feet. I left my shoes on the porch and took those dogs back inside and wiped Penny’s paws. She jumped up on me in gratitude—wiping what remained of her muddy jaunt all over my sweater.

And now the boys need to go to lessons and Jeff says he’ll take them. But I feel guilty, and he says, no you go to the service if you want to. He is too tired to go. I just need to rest, he says. So they leave me alone in the house. Dark comes knocking and I sit in lamplight and feel it enter me.

Forty-five minutes to the service and I am a muddy mess. I don’t want to be alone. I don’t want to go alone. I don’t want to feel this way. And what will I do with these dogs?—One of them in heat and wearing toddler training pants?

So I grab the old flannel shirt, wrap a scarf around my head, get rid of the dog panties, and we go walking under light-washed stars.

The cold stings my cheeks and the wet leaves on the ground shine like coins in the streetlights and everything is quiet. The creek is shimmer and I listen in the dark to water whisper over stones and hush as it plunges into deep. The sky bends down low towards me and I hold it in my arms and I know that this is Thanksgiving.

What month is it? I had asked my little brain-injury patient earlier today. He stared. There is a holiday this week, I prodded. It’s a holiday where you fix a big turkey, and you eat pumpkin pie…What holiday is it?

He just shook his head.


It’s a holiday where you give thanks, I said. You say grace…and give thanks.

Is it July? He asked.

Through the windows of my neighbors’ houses I see Christmas lights winking—trees standing in corners and bows tied around stair rails. I suck the cold into my lungs. I wonder about Advent—about the hoping and preparing and waiting…

The stars move along the horizon like some midnight train and I turn my eyes upward.

How long? I ask the stars. I think of my young patient and the older ones too. I think of tired husbands and dogs that wear diapers. The world seems to droop with weariness.

And I droop too.

Just then, the moon rises—opening the sky like a big round mouth—and swallows me in beauty…spits me back out and I’m left standing there—covered in the dew of heaven.

Teach me how to die, Lord. Show me how.

I’ve died a million deaths since the day I was born. I’m not wired to look past pain—I can’t ignore the suffering. But gently, over and over, He teaches me how to die.

Standing alone on a dark night, bathed in moonlight, tangled up in dog leashes…I give myself over to death. I die to everything I know about what is good and what is right; what is fair, what is sorrow. I die to what I want—to my expectations. I die to everything except knowing Christ. And knowing He is good.

I expect I’ll have to die again before this life is over.

Thank you. Thank you dark and tattered world. Thank you grief, compassion, sorrow. Thank you weariness and heavy heart.

You show me His strength. You lead me to Him.

Thank you.


Comments

  1. says

    Laura,

    I wish I could head out into the dusk and round a corner and meet you there. We could just hold each other in the silence of the mystery .

  2. says

    The story of the brain injury patient is so startling. Makes me grateful and sad at the same time. I guess that’s the point.

    Have a Happy Thanksgiving, Laura. I’m certainly thankful for you and all the work you do for TheHighCalling.org.

  3. says

    Is it July?

    I don’t know what to do with that.

    Anyway, He meets us unexpectedly, doesn’t He? Sometimes in the mud and the rain and the not being where it was we wanted to be in the way we wanted to be there.

    I’m all over that. You bless me Laura. And this morning at my place, you made me blush.

    Thankful for you.

  4. says

    Laura, you’re such a sensitive, beautiful person…and that’s costly. Thanks for the honesty and love you pour out on your blog…you bless me! I’m thankful for you and that we’ve found each other through The High Calling!

  5. says

    For so long I fought against the pain and sorrow and dying. The great mystery is the peace that comes in embracing it. The heart still longs for all to be well, yet rests in knowing Him. There is nowhere else for us to go, and we find Him all sufficient.
    Praying the blessing of His rest and peace this Thanksgiving sweet girl.

  6. says

    Knowing sorrow, pain, it never gets easier–our own, or someone else’s. This is so beautiful on so many levels. I read your work and I feel the past and present suffering, and the truth it gives you. While I am sorry for what it costs you, I am grateful that God works this in our hearts, for you are beautifully compassionate, and how could we possibly work that in our own hearts? We wouldn’t have the courage or the selflessness.

    I am so grateful for your work here. You and Ann are my favorite Christian writers. Never mind that I have to bribe my toddler with goldfish so she’ll let me finish your posts (LOL)! They do help me uplift my eyes during the day.

    Happy Thanksgiving, Laura! I remember your husband in prayer, too, since reading he is heavy laden with music squabbles at church. That is so hard, and no easy answers.

  7. says

    “Thank you. Thank you dark and tattered world. Thank you grief, compassion, sorrow. Thank you weariness and heavy heart.

    You show me His strength. You lead me to Him.”

    We are gifts of God that he delights in! And sometimes, the gifts he sends are tiredness, alone-ness, muddy treks and muddy paws. Yet you have recognized that these are things to thank Him for.

    The incidents of life, the hurts and disappointments as well as the joys and successes, shape us to become the Lord’s gentle servants. And someday, we will see what his hand has wrought in us. And know that the struggles have been worth it all.

  8. says

    Hmmm…this makes me think and cry and pray all at the same time.

    “I’m not wired to look past pain—I can’t ignore the suffering. But gently, over and over, He teaches me how to die.”

    He’s teaching me, too, and I am a slow learner. Thanks, Laura, for putting all this in words for us to pick up and carry with us.

  9. says

    I die to what I want—to my expectations. I die to everything except knowing Christ. And knowing He is good.

    so true and so where I am today. this reminds me of a line of a song
    “everything that can be will be shaken, till only YOU remain.” Amen

  10. says

    i have chills of a sort, b/cs i never realized the grace of dying. yes, yes, i know the command to take up one’s cross, to sacrifice, to DIE…. bu ti never realized (i! who complain about pain!) how much to die to self is also to stake out the pain and surrender. wow.
    the scene, the words, the heart here… thank you for sharing.

  11. says

    Oh, my friend, you got me here. Right where the moon spit you back out. I am captivated by these words…every single one. And so glad that I could hear your voice speaking them across the miles.

    You are a gift. A true blessing to this world. There aren’t words to let you know how thankful I am to know you.

  12. says

    laura, i don’t know what to say. except there is so much, and like deb, i just want to hold you too. and hold the sky with you. and hold that dear brain injury patient’s hand and believe in good, when it’s impossible for us to ignore the bad. i’m crying and i’m dying with you tonight. thank you–thank you, for sharing this, for not keeping it inside. how it blesses. one day, friend. one day, it will all be good and beautiful again. like one big forever moon. 🙂 e.

  13. says

    I think of tired husbands and dogs that wear diapers. The world seems to droop with weariness.

    You make me laugh! How vivid. And the death…it seems that I linger there also lately (Romans 6:5).

  14. says

    “Just then, the moon rises—opening the sky like a big round mouth—and swallows me in beauty…spits me back out and I’m left standing there—covered in the dew of heaven. ” –I live for these moments. God covers us with His beauty and gives us grace for the dying. It seems like a long, slow road here too. But there are moments like these when heaven is so close, and you know that our suffering here cannot compare to the weight of eternal glory He is forming in us.

    Thank you for sharing your heart so beautifully. Love and blessings to you, friend.

  15. says

    Oh the mystery of it all. We long to do what feels right, what we think will fill us with His presence. I longed to be there in that church with you. There’s something about being in church in the evening that brings a solemn peace.

    But the Lord met you even in the dark with His solemn peace. For to Him, even the dark is light (it’s in a Psalm 139:11-13).

    May your loving heart rest in Him this Thanksgiving weekend.

    Blessings,
    Janis

  16. says

    Beautiful! I love this song, Laura. I would love to hear more of her music. This post really ministered to me.

    Your sweet comments on my blog mean a ton!

    Love you,
    Cheri

  17. says

    Yes, learning how to die. Such a question. Today, we are going to see my grandmother–97–who doesn’t know how, even though she so wants to see her daughter (my mother).
    Blessings to you as Advent begins. Maybe Jesus will come back soon, and we won’t have to die after all!

  18. says

    It’s awesome when God meets us where we are, even it it’s not where we want to be. I know the feeling of going places by myself. My husband is not a believer. I think there are people at church who assume I am single.

    You are a blessing to your patients/clients.

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