August 11th marks the two year anniversary of this website and the very first blog I ever wrote. I still think “blogging” is a strange exercise of 21st century mankind, but it’s grown on me. A couple of years later, it’s become a routine. A writer friend of mine once said, “Writing is like mowing the lawn. You know it has to be done and you hate thinking about it, but once it’s done you say, “Wow. That’s nice!” It’s cathartic. But also dreadful.
If you want to capture thoughts on paper, you have to think about your thoughts. My thoughts tend to wind through my brain like a lazy river. I never thought about my capacity for just daydreaming until my son died. This was one thing I could no longer do because my thoughts would wander into dark and violent places that would catapult me into a gaping abyss of unbridled pain. I was terrified of hopelessness. I had to train my thoughts. I had to keep moving. The luxury of lying on the couch and letting my mind ebb and flow without concern or direction was over.
In hindsight, the discipline was only good for me, because I always daydreamed too much. When I shared a loft in New York City with my brother, he would return from work and find me lying on the couch gazing upward, and he would say,
“Have you moved at all today?” Sometimes the truth was scary.
Writing is like sitting by that stream of consciousness and catching the thoughts that matter most as they float by. I think we all lead lives that provide plenty to catch, to glean the meaningful from the meaningless. And sometimes the meaningless becomes the most meaningful. Jesus was really good at this. He could catch people in their most ordinary tasks and bring down heaven into the plain dust and grit of daily living. The woman at the well, the little man Zacharias up in a tree; the clusters of children that swarmed at his feet. He could cut through the clutter of vanity and display and say This is what matters most! and it would either make you fall to the ground in humility and worship or yell Crucify Him!. In some ways things haven’t changed much.
It’s been a good year for me and mostly for this reason: that Jesus is still meeting me in those ordinary places of my life and pointing out what matters most. Not my opinions, or even my words, but my ability to hear His voice in the midst of my own thoughts, to sense His direction against the steady current of my own will. He’s shown me much about love this year, much about grace, only because I had to stop and take inventory of the poverty in my own heart.
I watched a woman die this week. She was well into her eighties and I heard the doctor explain that this was it. Now you would think that after living eighty something years you might say, “OK, I think I ‘ve had enough!” but it always amazes me how death surprises people, even when they’ve been running from it for a while.
Her shock turned to denial then to resignation. And then she died just like he said she would.
I’ve watched a lot of people die in my nursing career and this is the thing that startles me the most: people forget that we die. It ends, or more accurately, life here ends and then flows into the ocean of eternity. And whether you are eight or 88, it’s short, “as a vapor” the Bible states. I’ve watched old men facing death frantically sift through their lives like they were looking for something lost in a messy closet. Meaning…where is the purpose? They are old, it’s over, and they can’t find the point of it all.
I told my husband that when I die, I want to be buried next to my son Spencer’s body. He’s not there, I know, but we had to buy four plots so I’ve reserved one. And I want a small plaque that says, Spencer’s mom and Jesus is Lord under that. I know I am also Miles and Jake’s mom but I think they may want their own space with their wives. It’s not that important as long as they wait til I’m gone. But what matters most to me is that I had three beautiful sons, who have already glorified God through their hearts and lives, and that they would carry that light into the next generation. That’s legacy and if I died today, I would feel my life was complete.
Spencer wrote in one of his journals,
“This life is nothing more than a pilgrimage to heaven. The road to Zion is a highway through our hearts.”
And in one of his songs (or was it a poem?) he wrote,
Please forgive me
For my apathy, please
Help me to use your talents wisely
Teach me to fear you and to delight
Myself in your name, in your will,
In your presence, just be still.
Remove my sin, heal my wounds,
The hindrances I must give to you
Help me to see with vision
Over the mountain to our final meeting,
Life is fleeting, most is meaningless,
I need to touch
Well said, Spence. As I move forward into year three of throwing my thoughts out into cyber space, help me Lord to see the things that matter most, to uncover the priceless treasure of Your truth and then to share it with my readers and friends.