No Words for Beauty

Valley Falls

There are always things left unsaid and I learned my lesson a long time ago not to bring up the hard stuff. It just makes people uncomfortable.

It leaves little holes all over me—tiny pinpricks in my skin that burn and eventually my heart begins seeping.
I am not good at pretending.
We come to see the family—to see my first great nephew. We come to see one baby and learn about another. And I have two seconds of surprise and shock and what?? before she casually places the ultrasound pictures in my hands.
Sometimes, there are no words for beauty.
We walk under these budding trees—a blanket of new lace over our heads—and hum to the sound of the river rushing fast below us. I can see the railroad tracks and just beyond—her curvaceous whitewaters.

Valley Falls
There has been much rain of late and she is in a hurry to get to the sea and the sound of her calling to us as she rushes by fills me with terror and exhilaration.
Is this still the Tygart River? I ask the locals, who rarely name such things. They only know her by her intimate—by what nature gives to her. We don’t need to talk; this language is our native tongue.

Valley Falls
I am with my sister and my mother and the kids don’t feel the earth’s heartbeat the way I do. How to say? Remember when? Remember when the woods were our refuge? And we would crash down ravines of fern and dying leaves and snack on wild onions when we grew hungry and then pick the ticks off of each other in the fading evening sun?
We would stay out all day, remember? And not eat anything. Maybe take a drink out of the creek.

Valley Falls
She says it to me and we are lost in the smell of new leaves opening up and decaying leaves underfoot and the way our legs feel straining up the hill. I am in heaven but I want to cry.
We find a waterfall and stand underneath, let the spray cool our dirty skin. I am wearing a white blouse. I didn’t come prepared for hiking. My sister loaned me some tennis shoes and they are soaked through from wading through the mud.

Valley Falls
When Teddy falls on the slippery rock, I watch his head snap back and I feel terror grip me. He catches himself, but he hits hard and I feel it in my soul. I feel the broken bone. He cradles his arm the whole way back and cannot bend it for the pain.
Me—I am so relieved that he didn’t hit his head—that he can still move his legs—that I can’t worry too much. We have lunch and he won’t eat.
I am looking at the ultrasound pictures, feeling sad so deep I cannot name it. I want to ask so many questions, but the bridge is too wide. I swallow hard.
And what I hold in my hand only screams to me what an outsider I am to my own family and I feel so lonely. I only have words to give but when the words are not received, when the words are not wanted…there is only silence.
There are eight hands at the table that have all made mistakes. We’ve given our hearts and our bodies to the wrong men. We’ve turned away from God in agony and defeat and loathed the skin we wear. This path we chose…it brought us back to our Good God broken and on our knees.

Jordan Lee
This is what I want to say. I want to say to leave the shame. Turn your face to the Light. If we belong to Him, we are clothed in grace. Only grace. No man or woman is covered in less. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise.
That is what the Divine Love is about.
And I want to ask about love and about the pain of bearing it all and I want to embrace this one who has my same blood.
But the bridge is too wide.
So we make nice and snap more pictures by the water and I pile my boys in the car to drive the long drive home. He and I spend the evening at the ER—with the X-ray techs and the other sickly people. And I feel tired, but I know it has nothing to do with the sleepless night or that long hike I took in my white blouse, or the long drive home, or the five hours in the ER.
I know that it’s about that long bridge I keep trying to cross. I’m not even halfway there and already I’m exhausted.  Teddy wears a blue cast now, but I am the one who is broken. Is there a cast for the heart? I ponder and stumble and I keep coming back to this:
The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. (Deut. 31:8)
I know I am not alone on this long and wearisome walk. There is One who walks beside. Sometimes this One will even carry. So. I keep putting one foot in front of the other. And I try to speak love when I can. Sometimes, silence must do.
Because sometimes, there are just no words for beauty.

Sharing with Emily:

And Jen today, and all the Soli Deo Gloria sisters:


  1. says

    As someone who has many bridges with her family that she cannot seem to cross, I hear. I resonate. I feel. Wanting freedom, but unable to communicate fully with them what that means, what it entails, what encapsulates. oh. you have touched my heart this night. so glad you slipped under the door.

  2. says

    I feel the pain in the words Laura. I know what you mean. I do. We have a close family member who has separated herself from us. It is so hard when no words will do at all, but God….

  3. says

    Read this with tears, having just today run once again into the truths that I cannot tell my family, the ways I feel shut off from them because they will not hear, maybe cannot hear, and thus the bridges we cannot build. Lovely, this, and right on and painful, all at once. Bless you as you choose your family, even when they cannot give you what you need.

  4. says

    Precious Heart,
    Your spirit of Love sows seeds even when words aren’t allowed. His Love through you can melt hearts of stone. His Love in you can heal the hurt places you feel.

    I am wondering about your gift to your father and just thinking about how you are constantly sowing, faithfully sowing. He is the Faithful Gardener, you is beloved daughter.

  5. says

    Beautifully expressed, I expect no less. Bridges are meant to close an otherwise gap, but if the bridge is so long and poched with pain it almost becomes the gap. Praying for a greater infusion of grace on you.

  6. says

    I do share your pain of the distance of family…even when in the same room. We make nice, we tip toe. We depart. That cross just doesn’t always seem to stretch the gap, maybe because I hold it too close.

  7. says

    I feel the loam under your feet. I was with you as a child – wandering in wonder. I know that river, that waterfall, the buds, the scent. I feel the ticks crawling and the thirst at the end of a sweaty day outside. I heard the bone crack with your mama’s heart. I know the family estranged because ‘they are right and you are wrong.’ Pain and joy, joy and pain intermingled and woven with grace. This was the loveliest piece of writing Laura. Hugs.

  8. says

    This is so beautiful, I have no words. But I know those woods. I know those ravines and broken bridges.

    I know decay underfoot and lace above.

    And I know that you ooze grace.

    Love you, friend.

  9. says

    I echo what Sandra said. You ooze grace. You capture beauty and you speak beauty and bear witness even in the silence. And though you can’t speak words to flesh and blood, your heart cries out to your heavenly Father, the One who bridged the gap to us.

    I love the picture of the waterfall and I love that you hiked in your white blouse. Thank you for bringing us here, for opening your heart.

  10. says

    This piece makes me ache for something. I get tired of making nice, though I’m getting better at it for the sake of peace. I tend to make people uncomfortable, bringing up the issues they want to avoid.

    Lately, my extended family keeps the TV on when we’re together. It creates a buffer for us. When there is discomfort, we all turn to the glass teat…

  11. says

    I gulped my way through this. Yes, there are so many things that we never bring up — so many thoughts that never pierce any sound wave becuase they remain unspoken.

    You however, spoke loudly, clearly and lovely

  12. says

    You are such an exquisite writer, you could write about a ladybug convention and I would melt. But this isn’t a whimsical invention or light frolic. It’s the soul matter where the roots go deep and the heart gasps for breath even when the feet keep to the shallow places. I could say so much, but will leave it at this: your wordless ache does not go unanswered in secret places where hearts are heard and silent prayers etched into eternity. The river always makes it to sea.

    Love, love, love.

  13. says

    this touches a cord deep in my heart… no words to speak about my family experiences… hurt, heartache and yes distance, but God’s grace and love for me helps me when words are insufficient to fill the gap that I feel. Thank you such poetic, beautiful and heartfelt writing… what an inspiration…

  14. says

    I’m visiting for the first time–you commented on my blog the other day–and I am in awe of your words. I felt every emotion you were feeling, could picture each event as it happened. What a beautiful gift you have!

    I am blessed in that I haven’t had to walk that bridge you are walking, but I watched my mother walk it. She and her sisters have since seen reconciliation. But I do know the pain in a mother’s heart when she watches her child break a bone–my 20-month-old at the time broke her little arm, and watching her cry broke my heart.

    I hope to visit again!

  15. says

    Should you find that cast, not the blue one, you’ll let us know where to look, yes? A good many of us could use it to set the comminuted fractures of our souls.

    And as for Teddy. More of this watching boys grow up. (For all the times I’ve heard “I won’t get hurt this time, Mom,” we’ve not had more than a tooth broken. Stitches, yes. Breaks, no.) I hope he is well. And you.

  16. says

    oh laura, i feel this emptiness daily, this longing to share beauty with someone who understands… i cry about it to my husband but he’s a math teacher and can only hold me. i cannot wait for heaven, for the community of artists that i know we’ll find there, for the crossing of that bridge… love you sister.

  17. says

    So many wonderfully well done pictures. The beauty, the ache, the longing, the reminiscent — I can relate with much that is said. It was encouraging to read a comment that saw her mother in this post but not her own experience. There is hope! So many relate. May it be that way for my children and many of our children- that they do not feel this long bridge that does not end.

    But in the longing if it causes us to long for heaven and what is yet to be…well…that is good, too, even if we still ache.

  18. says

    I feel the ache and the longing, the seeping of the holes. But grace also seeps out of you, pours out of your heart, and into your words; your writing is beautiful, clothed in the grace you write of and long to share.

    I know the pain of the distances; we’ve learned how to “make nice”. Some topics have been too provoking to try again, like matters of faith (i.e., different beiefs/faiths). I go away feeling defeated by what I didn’t say or do. But, your touching post and the responses are full of such grace, I am blessed and encouraged– that if “sometimes, silence must do”, then as Nancy says, grace can “bear witness even in the silence” and that “the river always makes it to sea” as Jeanne says. Thank you– for sweet grace found here– friends I’ve never met (the word “stranger” doesn’t seem right)– but yet connected through Jesus who taught what grace means.

  19. says

    “I am in heaven but I want to cry.”

    Yep–that’s what got me.

    You did such a good job of showing, not telling. Showing all the gory details in this post would have been counterproductive. Telling the story of the day and your son’s broken arm–priceless.

    Hope his arm heals, and your heart as well.

  20. says

    Oh, Laura. I wish I could bring you some dinner. Or something. What a thing to witness—the breaking. Praying for you all, and maybe you all could have a chance to do what joy does in that beautiful first line of your following post:

    Sleep in.

    Now, to prayer…and silence.
    Much love.

  21. says

    Painfully beautiful, yeah Michelle, that really seems to capure this piece. Family, what is said what is silenced, love on two sides of a bridge unsure how to cross you just described this so well and it is achingly familiar. I don’t know how to cross the unsaid either and it can be difficult. But the love, the beauty, life, memories, glorious nature they are all present in the mess. Not a cast, but balm. And He is here.

  22. says

    So many of your pieces are my favorites! You do, indeed, show instead of tell.

    I see God’s grace for all the brokenhearted, in your words. God doesn’t stop these painful stories in their tracks, but he soothes the pain of his children with people like you–with gifts like yours. You, your work here, are his instruments of grace.

    Your family pieces echo the pain in my own heart. Somehow, it helps enormously to know that I’m not alone. Thank you for following the Holy Spirit’s lead in this.

    Love to you.

  23. says

    Oh, my. Somehow I missed these beautiful words last week (do you have an email subscription link anywhere??)

    The painful reality of ‘making nice,’ of seeing the separation even when you’re close enough to touch the other, of longing for the real in relationships – most especially family ones.

    Thank you for these lovely reflections. And thanks for your kind note on my blog today – yes, he is a special man, in more ways than I can count.

    Diana at http://drgtjustwondering.blogspot

  24. says

    Broken bones (broken hearts- secrets- pain) at least the bones can hopefully be mended. And I too am glad that your son did not injure his head or that it was any worse.
    Continue to let the LIGHT in, for where the light is, there can be no darkness. Bless you my child and all your loving family!

  25. says

    This is one of the things I said to Ann this weekend…the loneliness…the words you can’t say to others…

    yes, I hear you Laura.


  26. says

    Loved the truth of these words. Beautifully written….woods were our refuge….eight hands at the table that have all made mistakes….is there a cast for the heart?…….

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