I tried not to expect too much. In this way I could guard against disappointment. So many promises were made that never came to fruition. Trust was a slippery slope.
Do I dare open my heart-temple to the sky?
…The sky, vast and changeable, sometimes beautiful, is not seen as trustworthy. Any sparrow with its wits about it might consider staying grounded.
It occurred to me one day that I was like an earth-bound sparrow. I did not trust the sky. Growing up in an alcoholic household will do that to a person. The sky, or in other words, the social setting which is larger than us and that we look to for direction, the way we eventually learn to look to the Divine, does not invite exchange. (L.L. Barkat, God in the Yard).
This morning as I run along my dusty trail, I think about these words. The light blue of chicory cheers the roadside and the swallows perch above my head. If I get too close to their hidden nests they swoop and dive at me, warning me of my trespass. The world opens up before me and as I crest the hill, the sun appears–pink around the edges from a warm night’s sleep. I am running into the sun, ascending rays of light.
Sometimes I think God hates me, my young patient told me yesterday. His pastor had just left and the words took me aback. Do you have bad luck, I had asked him, or do you make bad choices?
But I had said nothing of God. And here it was.
As I run, I wonder. When things don’t go my way, do I think like my young patient? Do I think God hates me?
I shake it off.
Do you believe in God? I asked another man…an elderly stroke victim.
I go to church and stuff, he said, but I think the only thing that will get me through this is a bottle of whiskey.
We both laughed because we knew he didn’t drink. And then he cried.
I cried a little too.
Life is hard. If I close my heart…if I let fear of the sky win…I will never fly. I learned a long time ago that trust in man and trust in God are two different things.
But here is what my heart hears this morning as I put one foot in front of the other: Laura, you have let your mistrust of man shape you more than your trust in Me.
And I know it is true. I kept Him out of it. I have taken His trustworthiness and set it on a shelf. This knowledge hits me full in the chest and I gasp for air, clutch at my heart.
My heart-temple has been boarded up, the sky a memory. Oh, God, how does this happen, when I love you so much?
If my heart is closed to others, how can it open up to Him? I thought I was warm and approachable and open. But, at VBS last week when the water balloon burst in my face no one told me I had a big black smear of mascara under my eye.
You are so pretty, a male friend once told me, that guys are intimidated by you. And by the time they get to know you, you become their best friend and it’s too late to ask you out.
I was in grad school. Reeling from a broken heart. And lonely. Why doesn’t anyone want me? I wondered, over a beer and dinner. I trusted him…he was going to seminary. His answer surprised me. Intimidating? Pretty? Cute, maybe. But I was never the prettiest, or the smartest, or the best at anything.
I was always trying to prove I was good enough. I never expected anything. But, oh, how I longed for more.
Too many years of pretending I didn’t care…stifling the hurt. You always want too much, was the message given. I was easily wounded and my mother would sigh heavily as she turned her back on me and let me cry myself to sleep.
It’s all buzzing around in my head as my heart quickens and then settles into a new rhythm. I don’t want this. I don’t want my substance to be determined by other people. This is not who I am.
Grace says otherwise. I feel my resolve strengthen. I open my heart up to the sky. I hear a faint rumble and the rain comes. I close my eyes and lift my cheeks.
I am baptized again this morning—in rain and sweat and tears and road dust. The sky never was so sweet. Hope lives inside of me.
This was written in response to chapter five of L.L. Barkat’s God in the Yard. Guess what? If you are game and are the first to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org), I’ll send you a copy of this wonderful book. All you have to do is agree to send it on in the same way when you finish. We are sponsoring a book journey. Read about it here.