God

What’s Next?

The remnants of my French manicure I paid for before we left for our trip is still on two of my fingernails. The pinky and ring finger of my left hand have off-white reminders of my time abroad.

I refuse to pick off the polish because when all the gel is gone, so means our trip is also finished. Never mind we’ve been back in the States for a full three weeks.

Like the stubborn remnants of faded glamour on my fingertips, I’ve been resistant to let go and settle back in to our routine. Much of this year was focused on dreaming, planning and executing our trip.

Coming home, returning to work, accepting the quiet reminders of things now behind us have been a bit disappointing.  What will be next? – is the question nagging at me now.

Next?

Next can look like elections, applications, piles of dead things turning to detritus.

Next could look like holiday planning and juggling schedules and muddled opinions and the huge ache of missing people no longer at the table.

Next might look like playing family diplomat (h/t Anne Lamott for that phrase) and navigating intense emotion and breezes of grief.

Next feels unsure, uncharted, unmarked.

I just finished reading Anne Lamott’s newest book, Almost Everything: Notes on Hope

Her short essays on the important things in life feel like someone rubbing my back when I’m sad. A mix of there-there with a “I see you … these things you think and feel are not, in fact, crazy.” I love her writing and outlook on life.

Lamott doesn’t put her head in the sand and pretend it isn’t bad out there. Nor does she refuse to participate in the mysterious wonder this world offers. Beauty, majesty, and magic are always available when we slow down to look.

Her next? She’s getting married. And encouraging all of us, to lift up our chin as we swim in the churning uncertainty of national dread.  It’s so easy to tip into dread.

When we boarded the plane at Heathrow, settling in for the nine hour flight home, Dylan turned to me and said, “I don’t want to go home because we don’t know what’s next.”

I responded, “but what if what’s next is better than what is. We never know what’s coming round the corner.”

I’m choosing to believe what’s coming round the corner might just be beautiful too. This act of believing is much harder than anticipating disaster and doom.

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Photo by Karol Smoczynski on Unsplash

It’s risky to dream and hope – we could have our hearts broken yet again.

My friend from high school is often repeating to me, “Our biggest problem when we envision the future is we never view God in it.”  Easier to believe we are all alone in the unknown future – surely God stays behind in our past, forcing us to doggy-paddle ahead with our heads just-above water.

Hearts break. In big, shocking, crackling ways.

Lightning strikes, politicians hate, cars crash, organs fail, people hurt.

People hurt so stinkin’ much.

And yet, the bravest thing we can do, is believe something beautiful is coming next. God is here, now, with us. And God will be with us down the road too. This truth gives me hope.

While I’ve been wallowing about Europe and upcoming elections and political ads, creamy soup bubbled on the stove, water splashed in the lap pool, and my brother sat next to me at breakfast. Sheets were washed with clean water and soap. Marigolds welcomed back spirits on the Day of the Dead. Dogs gave me kisses and people did too. Folks filled out their ballots and made plans to get to the polls.

On Halloween, I answered the door at 8:45 pm. A small Batman stood at the stoop quietly saying, ‘trick or treat.’ When I offered him all of the candy left in our bowl, he politely declined.

HE DECLINED.

He turned down a bowl full of treats and kept on walking down the street.

Perhaps, he was waiting instead, to see what beautiful treats waited at the house next door.

 

 

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Stop Pulling

We took the dog on a walk this weekend. A glorious, Colorado blue sky, 70 degree weather kind of a walk. As we passed by the hidden ponds that are close to our house, I found myself paying more attention to the dog tugging on the leash than the environment we were in. Every few seconds Dylan would reprimand Olive with a strong “No!” and a tug on the leash. We are trying to teach her how to heel.

“Do you think God ever feels this way about us?” I asked Dylan as our footsteps crunched on the gravel path.

“What do you mean?” he responded. Dylan is used to me sharing my thoughts, not yet fully formulated. He is patient in waiting for my explanations.

“You know, as we walk along through life we are tugging at the end of the leash. Wanting to see, explore, smell, and arrive faster than the one who is leading us. Like we are going to miss out on something if we just chill out. Do you think God is sick of us pulling on our leashes?”

“Huh,” he responded, with a few moments of silence. “Yes, I guess. I wish he would hurry up and help us get there though.”

“Me too” I murmured in agreement.

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This year has been one of waiting, of not understanding, of redirection.

I’ve often found myself tugging, hoping, aching, running towards the destination that I’m not yet even sure of. No, I do not think God has on metaphorical leashes, but yes, I think we can pull and tug, and plan and stress ourselves out. If we walked a little slower, had a bit more slack, then the journey may be a bit more enjoyable.

I’m sticking to this metaphor this week and reminding myself not to pull so hard. We will get there when we get there.

I also have a nasty head cold and am thankful for the ability to rest. To give myself some slack and read a few books. I’ve avoided the grocery store and instead am heating up leftover chicken noodle soup. There is beauty in giving yourself permission to rest, in weekend walks, vitamin C. More beauty, perhaps, in learning, or rather being reminded of life lessons from your pup.

 

 

Float with the Wind

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Here in this valley we chose to leave my father’s ashes. Today we let him float with the wind, remembering that he no longer needs his body, that the spirit is what remains in our hearts and our memories. The concept of spreading ashes is an uncomfortable one, painful in release and a very permanent concept. And yet, through the tears, we were surrounded by beautiful community. The friends and family who have held our hands and wiped our tears and sent messages of peace and joy and comfort. Today I am thankful for the list of these beautiful people who joined us this afternoon.

The Wylie Family: John, Karen, Lauren, Leah

The Courtway Family: John, Claudia, Katy, Rob, Jenny, Heidi

Shaun Hoag & Dakota Lorenz

Pam Moore

Ron Morgan

For if you can not hold the hands of those you love as you face life’s challenges, it can be difficult to remember the beauty found in moving forward.

Too, I share these beautiful verses as a reminder that our lives are so much bigger than our own bodies can contain. That our purpose will be glorified in heaven. That beauty is to be found in releasing my dad to the wind, to remember that he is now connected in heaven, and we, too, can be free.

New Bodies – 2 Corinthians 5: 1-9