This soliloquy is something I wrote over a decade ago and which rings more and more true every year that passes–it is about the undoing of what I knew of faith; in order to find real faith. It seems especially prescient now– as I watch what in many ways was a scary summer for all of us– turn into a fall that holds just as many unknowns. The urge to know as much as I can and help as much as I can is tempered by old lessons from those furious cycles of my past wherein I tried to figure it all out and came up short. Every. Single. Time.
It still seems a bit crazy, selfish, and callous– to be at rest, and even to dare to laugh when the whole world seems to be burning down around us. But then I look back and I remember it’s been this way for a while. And that God already showed me what to do once before in times like this. And when He gave me those revelations– I usually put them down on paper–or into a file in my computer– for later use — if nothing else just to be able to minister again to my own self. Knowing how to be your own minister, especially when you were abused for forty years by a minister–is one of the greatest gifts–and I am thankful God gave it to me.
The Evolution of a Necklace
In bed with Montezuma’s flu,
late in the morning,
when I turned thirty-two—
twisting my head on the pillows
I thought I saw
a tiny container of woven straw.
Under the round Caribbean lid,
a bit of turquoise tissue hid—
set into a simple silver cross.
Its clean lines,
a contrast from the frilly amber
set in golden lacy designs,
had stood out in the lighted glass display
the evening we roamed the street
pretending not to be looking
for my birthday treat.
That hazy morning I found it,
tongue tasting bile—
The joy of discovering the hidden gift
made a trip turned miserable—worthwhile.
At home it matched every outfit,
from casual and messy to dressy—
the bright color of sky lit up my eyes.
Forget the jewelry in the box,
I thought that necklace the best looking
piece ever formed into a cross.
But everything changed as thirty-three
was revealed to me.
Many things were found.
Others went missing…
Perhaps it had stuck itself into a sweater,
fell through a pocket,
or slipped into the washer for a whirl.
I scoured the floor, and every drawer…
It was stolen, I halfway decided,
since so very many had admired it.
Days passed, and a few sleepless nights—
I saw that I had been wrong,
and done wrong, while doing the very things
I’d thought were good; and right.
I’d always known that the Savior had died for me—
and I had worn His symbol with pride—
rejoiced in what it did to my eyes—
held it up to the light—
like some sort of prize.
That cross was a gift given
in a different season.
And was lost, when it was,
for a good reason.
In time the sting of its loss went away.
I no longer needed
to put Him into a symbol.
He dwelt in my heart, where He belonged.
…sincerity, prosperity, generosity, and charity—
Theology, idolatry, prophecy, and eschatology…
I tried to find a balance in all the Y’s.
Back and forth I went,
As more and more things
to which I used to cling
just up and left my head—
or got kicked out of my heart.
Sometime after thirty-four,
I knew there had to be more
than living in the extreme,
seeing ‘Pagan’ in everything,
having to walk so slow,
when you’d rather skip and run…
On my knees yielding a wet rag like a sword,
head stuck deep, in the bathroom cupboard
cleaning crannies I hadn’t touched in eons—
I found it inside a bag full of tampons—
an irony which caused a smile,
and a burst of laughter too.
The joy of re-discovering the hidden gift
made a trip suddenly turned miserable—worthwhile.
Holding it gingerly in my grasp,
I opened the clasp with dirty scuffed fingers,
stood from creaking knees,
and watched in the mirror
as the cross settled down
above my heart.
Returning the bag
to its place on the shelf
I thought to myself—
He’d simply been waiting
for me to see that He doesn’t bless
in ways understood by the world.
Even if made of expensive stone—
a symbol has no worth.
Just as nothing we do, or own, or give,
realize, theorize, or give permission to plagiarize
…means all that much after all.
Yet, with Him involved; it can.
That second time around,
after finding the gift unexpectedly
under the sink—
I didn’t even pause to think.
I slipped it on without hesitation,
fully aware of my humble station—
a past partaker in the debate
over graven images; works done in vain;
and many other truths that can set us free—
or steal our joy.
The evolution of the necklace
wasn’t about finding
some deep hidden meaning,
discerning all the rights
from all the wrongs…
it was about laughter, and peace,
Him letting me know He’s
taking great care of me,
and smiling upstairs,
wanting me to smile too
while my heart is repaired.
When He put that pretty stone ’round my neck again,
the journey, quite frankly, became much more fun.