Poetry & Words

When Rest Requires the Work of Faith

PIN IMAGE: When Rest Requires the Work of Faith

Choose rest. This phrase is everywhere right now, emblazoned on mugs and novelty socks and faux-aged farmhouse signs, slipping its way into the vernacular with very little thought given as to what it really means.

See, there’s a big difference between choosing when to rest, and choosing to have an attitude of rest. The former retains control over how and when (we’ll decide); the latter is a posture of surrender to the life God has given to us now, in this very place and time.

As an introvert and a lover of my home, I thought I had a handle on this. “I’m okay with rest,” I would have answered if asked; “I’m fine with downtime, with hobbitesque weekends burrowed away.” “Ask me anytime,” I would have said, “and I’ll gladly acquiesce to expanding margin and simpler schedules.”

But when Lochlan was born prematurely, everything changed.

Continue reading “When Rest Requires the Work of Faith”

Poetry & Words

POETRY & WORDS :: And I’ll Sing in the Land of my Sojourn

And I'll Sing in the Land of My Sojourn by Gina Munsey on Oaxacaborn, with quotes by Rich Mullins and Frederick BuechnerIt’s quiet, at least as quiet as an afternoon can be on the second floor of an apartment building, perched at the edge, where the gully dips down into rain-soaked grass and back up again to meet the ragged blacktop edge just before the toll booth.  This little corner of earth where residential and interstate meet is not a destination or a landmark, but I think Rich Mullins would have sung about it [1].

I think he’d have seen the gold in the way the sun fights for light here, like a farmer sees hope and life in the tiniest green shoot.

Maybe he’d have heard a melody in the rumble of the trucks which coast and pull their rattling brake just before the bend in the road, like he did when he sang “And the coal trucks come a-runnin’  / With their bellies full of coal  / And their big wheels a-hummin’  / Down this road that lies open like the soul of a woman…” [2]

He saw beauty, somehow, where others only saw the tired corners, where others only saw the afternoon traffic jams and the faded street signs and the plodding of sojourners down the cracked and uneven sidewalks. When you know everything around you lies in shadow, waiting for the great awakening, when you know we’re all living just on the very cusp of seeing clearly and not through a glass dimly, well, then, there’s beauty in everything broken. Because as soon as that Star shown down into the stable and as soon as He was born, well, redemption was set in motion and that was “When the old world started dying / And the new world started coming on”. [3]

There have been sojourners as long as there has been time itself, mendicants wandering [4] yet wandering with purpose, through the dredges that are made holy with that same purpose. Sojourning is different than drudgery. Drudgery is repetition without hope on a horizontal plane. But sojourning! Ah, sojourning takes the repetition in which drudgery despairs, and views it with eyes opened by the God of Wonder Himself.

“If you think you are seeing the same show all over again seven times a week,” Frederick Buechner writes [5], “you’re crazy. Every morning you wake up to something that in all eternity never was before and never will be again. And the you that wakes up was never the same before and will never be the same again.”

And so, in the midst of the traffic chorus outside my window, and the unwashed laundry and  the unanswered emails, in the midst of confronting evil and doubt, in the midst of working long into the night and consoling a child’s fever and answering unspoken fears, in between the lost moments of sleep and the sunrises awash with new mercies and endless grace, in the arms of everlasting love, “I’ll sing my song / and I’ll sing my song / in the land of my sojourn.”[6]

Poetry & Words

GABRIEL 1997-2004 :: On Grief and the Golden Thread

Oaxacaborn - Gabriel B. - On Grief and the Golden Thread
Gabriel B. - On Grief and the Golden Thread
Oaxacaborn blog - Gabriel B. - On Grief and the Golden Thread

God, who are we
to moan and weep
when it is not he
but we
who sleep?

GABRIEL B., NOVEMBER 12, 1997 – JULY 10, 2004

I remember where I was sitting when I heard it was coming, and how I got up out of my chair and ran down the hallway, blind from hot tears, not knowing where I was going, and I remember how the sun burned down when I stood there on the porch, and I looked up, and knew in an instant he was gone. It felt wrong for the sun to be so bright, it felt wrong to be breathing; and later, it felt wrong for berries to be so vividly blue, it felt wrong to taste their broken sweetness, twisted as they were into the batter of the pancakes we ate out back, under the deep-rooted oak.

But color doesn’t fade when grief comes; it is only blurred for a moment because our vision trembles. But it doesn’t fade; it doesn’t rust and it doesn’t crumble, because “we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed”.* It shines, and it is brilliant in color, and it is love, and “Love is what carries you, for it is always there, even in the dark, or most in the dark, but shining out at times like gold stitches in a piece of embroidery.”**

My vision trembles from time to time, again, even now over the years; I see the blur in a memory, in notes of a song, or in the way sun shoots down through the woolen clouds even when it’s most dark. I see the blur, and I know it is well with my soul.

Today is different than that day because I’ve learned it’s not wrong for the sun to be so bright, it’s not wrong to revel in the taste of the blueberry or the way the daffodil splits the earth in the spring.

“The living can’t quit living…They can’t because they don’t. The light that shines into darkness and never goes out calls them on into life. It calls them back again into the great room. It calls them into their bodies and into the world, into whatever the world will require. It calls them into work and pleasure, goodness and beauty, and the company of other loved ones.”**

*Hebrews 10:39
**Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter

Life in Photos, Poetry & Words

POETRY & WORDS :: Combating the Tyranny of the Urgent

Ethereal portrait at window via Oaxacaborn
Folded hands on windowsill via Oaxacaborn
Ethereal portrait at window via Oaxacaborn
Portrait at sunny window via Oaxacaborn
Aveline holding curtain near window via Oaxacaborn

It’s important to combat the tyranny of the urgent. We must not let it consume us.

It’s important to live slowly enough to see tiny moments; those transcendent moments which stand outside of time and give you a glimpse into something beyond what this world can offer.

This morning, as the curtains filtered the sun, and the light wrapped around my little girl, I couldn’t help but realize I was seeing through a glass, dimly. I couldn’t help but think we are souls, primarily; we are bodies only temporarily. (Side note: contrary to popular belief; that’s not actually a C.S. Lewis quote.)

And so in this moment of shadows and light, of heaven and earth, of beauty both tangible and intangible, there was worship.

“The purpose of theology – the purpose of any thinking about God – is to make the silences clearer and starker to us, to make the unmeaning – by which I mean those aspects of the divine that will not be reduced to human meanings – more irreducible and more terrible, and thus ultimately more wonderful. This is why art is so often better at theology than theology is.” –Christian Wiman, My Bright Abyss, 130.

Poetry & Words

WRITING & WORDS :: O Thou who art my quietness, my deep repose…

Some days, a migraine and crawling-out-of-your-skin sensation tells you that there was undisclosed corn* in that chocolate you ate the night before.

*one of my many allergies

Some days, your beloved iMac starts making rumbly sicky noises.

Some days, you cry on the phone to your best friend.

Some days, you never write even the first word of that post you already should have submitted.

Some days, your daughter is a crabby pants.

Some days, by the time you manage to get outside to soak in your fifteen minutes of vitamin D, the sun is already sinking behind the rooftops.

But —

O Thou who art my quietness, my deep repose,
My rest from strife of tongues, my holy hill,
Fair is Thy pavilion, where I hold me still.
Back let them fall from me, my clamorous foes,
Confusions multiplied;
From crowding things of sense I flee, and Thee I hide.
Until this tyranny be overpast,
Thy hand will hold me fast;
What though the tumult of the storm increase,
Grant to Thy servant strength, O Lord, and bless with peace.

-Amy Carmichael