Playdates with God: Rugged Landscape

This morning our valley is laced with frost, and the hills shed into an alabaster sky. When she awakens, the sun’s touch is like Midas and the meadow shimmers with pearly gold.

How rich we are.
The hardest of things are just a wee bit easier to bear when the golden touch of love breaks through white grief. So we try to be good friends. And we open our arms and our doors and our hearts to help in the hefting. 
And on a rainy day in February we stand in the garden with he and his family and listen to the priest proclaim a life blessed, watch as he lifts his arm to heaven and commits this soul to our good God. 
I study the cluster of colorful umbrellas bundled close in front of me and I wonder how we navigate this thing. How I always say the wrong the things and despite the tangled tongue how grief is a stitch that binds us together in the hem of life. The thread is pulled tighter here in the garden. 
How do we do this? How do we journey over the rugged landscape of sorrow? 
I remember David Brooks and the story he gives about the gobiid fish. 
These tiny fish live in shallow tidal pools and they are known for navigating during low tide by jumping from pool to pool. Scientists have been amazed at the accuracy with which this little fish is able to traverse its environment. Their precision is astonishing considering they have no way of seeing where each tidal pool is. What is happening, Brooks tells us, is that during high tide the gobiid fish wander around absorbing the landscape and storing maps in their heads. Then when the tide is low, they have a mental map of the landscape, and they unconsciously know what ridges will be dry at low tide and what hollows will be full of water. 
Human beings are good at accumulating this sort of wanderer’s knowledge as well, Brooks says. 
And I think about the landscape of grief—how the touch of a hand, a cheek pressed against a cheek—how these things have traversed the long road of time. 
And plunging into grief can feel like this faith-jumping—taking flight with only a memory to guide. 
But the Lord inhabits the prayers of His people and we land in the soft water of His love. 
And as we file back into the church—me, bare-headed in the rain—I notice that the pointy finger of the daffodils are breaking through the wet soil.
How do you embrace the God-joy? Every Monday I’ll be sharing one of my Playdates with God. I would love to hear about yours. It can be anything: outside, quiet time. Maybe it’s solitary. Maybe it’s loud and crowded. Just find Him. Be with Him. Grab my button at the bottom of the page and join us:

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Sharing with L.L. Barkat today also: 

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  1. says

    I’m sorry, Laura, for the grief in your community over the death of the young man. 🙁 It’s never an easy thing, nor a quick thing.

    I pray that it will carve new direction for the young people negotiating grief for perhaps the first time. The story of the gobiid fish is very relevant. I’d not heard it but will keep it with me now.

  2. says

    Each person navigates grief in his or her own way. There is no primer. The best piece of advice about grief I ever received: Be gentle on yourself, allow your heart to feel the loss fully. In the feeling is all the love.

  3. says

    Sorrow is a difficult burden to bear.

    Somehow, I expect each new sorrow to be a bit easier for having born prior sorrows. Not so! Rather, with each new sorrow, old griefs are resurrected to be mourned anew with the fresh grief.

    I’m praying that our God of All Comfort will draw you close to His bosom during this time of sorrow.

  4. says

    During grief within family, when one leaves us to cross over the other side – I’ve always felt carried, shielded – when it happens outside the family and into the community – like you said- wanting to say so much but not get tangled up in gracelessness. I think maybe it is in the difference of action – the receiving and the giving. The givers heart so wants to love, to comfort, in such an interceding way – maybe those are the prayers, creating that carried feeling!

    Praying God brings peace to this family, peace and comfort!

  5. says

    Lovely, Laura, the way you connected this bend in the journey with the Brooks’ book. I can think of no other season that is so full of people being carried along on the invisible arms than that of the season of grief. Rich, deep, profound, deserving of witness. Abandon all time schedules. Be a safe refuge for each other.

  6. says

    Laura, so sorry to hear about the death of the young man. Thank you for pulling us in with your words and pictures and making us feel things for a community we know little about.

  7. says

    “how grief is a stitch that binds us together in the hem of life.”–yes, that’s why it’s good that you are writing about it. I also love: “The thread is pulled tighter here in the garden.” My mother is buried in a garden. The redbuds should start blooming in a month, just in time for the 2-year anniversary.

  8. says

    Ditto to megan’s comment. I also loved the line, “…grief is a stitch that binds us together in the hem of life.” I’m so sorry for your community’s grief. Thank you for sharing it with us.

    By the way, your words to me have been right and kind. May God give you gentle words, kind touches, everything needful in its proper moment. Grace to you, Laura. Grace in Jesus.

  9. says

    May the Lord give you and your family, and the community, his own peace that passes understanding. May he enfold you in his loving arms. We don’t always understand his ways — but then, we don’t have to. But we can allow ourselves to be covered by his wings.

    “He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock
    That shelters the dry thirsty land;
    He hideth my heart in the depths
    of his love,
    And covers me there with his hand.”

    Love and hugs to you, Laura. Hoping that your writing brings catharthis to yourself and family. Certainly your beautiful word expressions enrich the rest of us.

    Love and lots of hugs to you today.

  10. says

    greif is a stitch that binds us together in the hem of life . . . this is so beautful Laura. Actually the whole story is beautiful. It seems that grief dislodges deeper places in the soul and I am so glad you are writing about it. So sorry for the loss of this young man. It’s just tragic. I pray God uses it to speak to His people in profound ways.

  11. says

    It has been bittersweet to come alongside you and your family during this difficult time. I’m glad you still see daffodils. I’m glad the sun doesn’t just glare, but gently warms icy branches, (and hearts I suspect as well.)

  12. says

    These are difficult moments – trying so hard to know just the right thing to do or say. I think there really is no “just right” – just the coming along side and giving love. You do that so well Laura.

  13. says

    So beautiful here, even in the tragic and hard. I have a vision from your words of how the community is coming together and walking forward through this sad time. Praying for all your hearts freedom, hope, and peace to accept and grow as healing begins. I’m certain the Holy Spirit speaks through you in just the ways needed.
    We had frost here this morning. My hair looked like the branches in your pictures when I returned from my walk:)
    Also, my necklace was a gift–made by someone on Etsy (Bead Up). I have seen rings made with that technique, but it sure works well for a nest.
    Hope to link up tomorrow. Love a good playdate! It’s my husband’s week in CA, so my time is more occupied.

  14. says

    Ah, Laura. Such a bittersweet story. This grief stitching is a mixed bag sometimes – it often allows for real connections between people who need them. But there is also so often that hesitancy, the fear that we’ll say or do something wrong. Ben Witherington has had a magnificent series on his blog about grief – they lost their 32 yr. old daughter suddenly early in January. Part one is here: and you can click through to about 8 or 9 in the series. The editor of CT is pulling them all together plus about 35 other pages of BW’s writing for an ebook. I was deeply appreciative of these because our community has recently experienced the death of a wee one, just 3 days old. His grandfather was my former boss, our pastor of 23 years and his daddy is their youngest son, who was a junior in high school when I began my pastoral role in SB. This was their first baby and it’s been rugged for everyone. So I highly recommend Ben’s writing for anyone wrestling for answers and/or for words to offer others in grief.

  15. says

    The touch of a hand. Cheek against cheek. Sometimes better than words.

    And it’s true–the hardest of things are just a wee bit easier to bear when the golden touch of love breaks through white grief.

    I know this. You are pure gold.

  16. says

    And you, Laura…you wring beauty and wisdom from this tragedy. That’s an image-bearing thing to do, you know? Like Romans 8:28 promises?

    You are a gift.

    Loving you, from over here…

  17. says

    Hey Laura, sounds like you all are having a very tough time. Your love is so evident in this writing. Going through our own valley of the shadow of death, I would say yes, the landscape can be bleak BUT stepping stones come from love in evidence. Love that is prayerfully shown.

    Thank you for your faithfulness.


  18. says

    All so beautiful Laura. Your words would probably deeply move the family. Maybe write them a homemade card with a poem or your reflections on shared grief? Hard to do, but your words are such a gift, Laura.

    Saying a prayer for you all right now.

  19. says

    “…grief is a stitch that binds us together in the hem of life…”

    This is so beautiful and so true. Sorrow binds us, oftentimes, even more than joy. I pray your community will continue to bind together during this period of grieving.

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