I thought I was staving off death. Little did I know that I was cooperating with life.
Many months ago, I decided to buy a few jasmine vines and place them in flower beds on the small patio where I live. Not knowing much at all about gardening, I was hesitant to believe that they would even grow beyond their original few-feet height when I bought them. I told myself that they looked fine with their dark green vines, lack of flowers notwithstanding. I kept watering them every now and then... every now and then for months, and months, and months, with no signs of new life. I thought I was staving off death; little did I know that I was cooperating with life. It's only been within the past few weeks that something started to happen that took me by complete surprise: they've started to multiply by growing bright green branches.
What has been my new fascination throughout this process? Seasons.
Where do you find refuge? Who or what finds refuge in you?
I had been thinking a few weeks ago about my dog. He humors me in so many ways, but one of those is the way he acts according to his "denning" instinct (the instinct dogs have inherited to seek caves or other places of shelter). My dog seems to find and make shelter anywhere, including acting as though a desk, a big pillow, or a wheelchair is his den home.
Yes, that's right, a wheelchair. He will crawl under a wheelchair and fall asleep beneath it for a nap. If the person in the wheelchair begins to move or rotate, he continues to lie there as though the wheelchair is his very own mobile cave. That's exactly the thought that went through my mind as I watched him engaged in this a few weeks ago: "How funny. He's made a mobile cave."
Prepare for lift-off.
On the topic of seasons we walk through in life--winter, spring, summer, fall, etc.--we sometimes experience a season of acceleration. All of a sudden, the speed of life quickens. Growth seems to bud and blossom in time-lapse footage before your very eyes.
Sometimes this comes in the literal form of welcoming a newborn child into the world (obviously, this is much more of an outwardly overt process); at other times, however, this comes in the metaphorical form of welcoming newborn opportunities, ideas, relationships, ventures, transitions, and so on. You experience the excitement of new prospects, as though you've turned a corner you didn't even realize was ahead of you. There is an acceleration in life, as though you have shifted gears and now the world is spinning faster on its axis.
Go fly a kite.
When I decided on the title of this blog post - A Head Full of Dreams - I googled the phrase and discovered that I had accidentally chosen the title of Coldplay's upcoming album, unbeknownst to me. Well... I have no idea what their album is about, but now I look forward to hearing it even more.
This blog post is about grounding your ideas and dreams. It was partially inspired by the book The Artisan Soul, where Erwin McManus points out that people who experience true healing, restoration, and transformation will be people who dream (based on Psalm 126:1-6). What ideas and dreams have been inspiring you lately, hmm?
We have our say.
Question is, will we let our lives speak and what will they say?
Leave It Better Than You Found It
Growing up, I participated in Girl Scouts for a few years. Somewhere along the line, I remember learning this Girl Scouts mantra: "Leave it better than you found it." That meant that, if we were doing an activity at a picnic table, we cleaned up our own mess that we made but we also cleaned up any other messes in the surrounding area and improved or beautified that space to the extent that we could.
When you lose your voice, you think a lot about voices. The voices that echo within you and the voices that used to. The voices that form a sound cave around you and the voices that make a home within you. The voices that become you and the voices you become.
I didn't think it would go so completely. It had shaken and wavered and gone in and out while I taught yesterday. Then I woke up this morning and found myself reduced to a whisper. I wasn't too reflective about it, at first. I had been sick for the past few days, and this was the natural outgrowth of that, just a temporary hoarseness, right? I could shrug and laugh about it, drink some tea, and go through the motions of my morning. That is, of course, until something screeched me to an inner halt on my drive to work. I was listening to a podcast while I drove, and a line from the talk struck me like unwelcome lightning: "Have you lost your voice and simply become a part of the noise?" In an instant, I was all ears.
Have you heard? The dividing walls of hostility have been broken down.
People are people before they are any identifier, category, or box I try to put them in. Many of my boxes for people have come crashing down because of my international work and my relationships with people. It's been one of the best, most beneficial things that's ever happened to me, and it's also blown the lid off of how I experience God and His love for people.
There are some very socially acceptable boxes for people. Have you noticed? Here are some popular ones: Christian, Muslim, Jewish, male, female, LGBTQ, straight, disabled, Asian, client, therapist, student, professor, etc. Our blinders may make life more cut-and-dry, but they prevent us from seeing people as first and foremost essentially human. Human beings, at their essence, are humans. We have so many socially acceptable ways of dehumanizing each other.
Sometimes, silence is golden.
"For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven... a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak..." (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7)
Over the past few years, I've become very passionate about how silence can be complicity. It depends on the situation, but silence can be complicity in the face of injustice that we could speak out against or act against. This is definitely a time to speak. It's surprising, then, that I find myself writing about the flip side of the coin today: there is a time to keep silence.