Sunday, October 26, 2008

Two Stories

What happens when your life suddenly turns in a direction you never would have expected?

When a single thought acts as a rudder and you feel the body, the heart, the soul, turning around... facing a new direction, a new future?

When you explore new options, embrace new ideas, accept new truths.

There is always an issue of courage. Do you have the courage to take that step? To remain standing? To extend your arms in love? To walk away? To forgive?

We are all part of a story... a big story and a small story.

There is the small story. Of who we are, what we do, who we love, where we live, how we live, what we accomplish... how we fail.

This is the story so many of us get caught up in.

And we forget about the big story. The intertwining, woven pattern of a plan. A single plan. To bring children home. To save the lost, to heal the sick, the comfort the hurting. A divine plan to wrap divine arms around a precious world and draw them all close.

We figure out how to live the small story well, when we learn out part in the big one. How what we do connects to what our neighbor does, what the child in Cambodia does, what the missionary in Guatemala does.

Our hearts know these stories. Both the big and the small. And every once in a while, when caught up in our small story, we feel a stirring. We are reminded of a divine connection. A righteous thread that links us all. And sometimes we act on that. The stirring in our souls, the echo of eternity that has embedded itself in our hearts.

It is because of the big story that He knows what plans He has for us.

It is because of the big story that when I am alone and completely confused that I know there's a purpose... that this is just a step, connected to another and another, which will one day make sense.

And when I am wrapped up in who I think I am... who I think I should be... I feel that stirring. And I am reminded of who He created me to be. And I marvel at how it has taken me so long to meet this woman. Now I notice what causes me to cry, what causes my heart inside my ribs to swell.

There are two stories.

The small one is important.

The big one is made up of all the small ones.

Every single small one is an important part.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Time is moving by so quickly.

Most days go by in a blur and I cannot account for them. Same routine. Lack of inspiration.

Other days I am shaken awake. Reminded that there is more. That there are decisions to be made. Art to be created. My body aches for laughter and my hand wants to be held. I become aware, painfully aware, of all that rests on my next few moves.

And how little control I have over it all.

My options are laid out on the table.

I feel like I should play like the apostles and throw dice, draw straws, flip a coin. Leave any and every huge decision up to Divine Intervention. Fate. Chance. I don't want to be responsible for messing it all up... for choosing poorly, for making a bad move.

There are a few things that have been a part of my soul since my early high school years.

And the moment of truth is approaching. There are deadlines and applications and plans to make.

What I thought I was sure of, I no longer am. What I am certain of, seems to have crumbled in my hands. What was secure has loosened and weakened.

I am in a state of transition.

In Death Cab's world of Plans. Shedding skin, seeking a place where soul meets body. Where I reassure myself, some day I will be loved. But these days my heart feels like an empty room...

An empty room that is ready to be filled.

I tend to see my world in "either/ors" and "if/thens". Either I do this, or that. If I don't do it this way, then....

I give myself two options.

The red or the blue.

The black or the white.

Here or there.

New or old.

Safe or daring.

But in this world, there are rarely only two options.

And my Father has given me a creative mind. A problem-solving mind. It would be a sin not to use it until depletion...

Alan Cohen said,"It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power."

There is so much wisdom in that.

Something has to change.

The cards are out on the table... it's time to play a matching game. Who I want to be with what I want to do. How I will achieve it with the amount of energy I will need to expend. My creative sweat and tears mixed in a salty cocktail with hard work and perseverance.

And the greatest truth I have to learn is that I don't have to figure it out immediately. Or, better yet, what I figure out may not last forever.


Back a few months ago, I was listening to the radio and the DJ announced that city council was meeting one last time to debate the destruction of a historic block of buildings on Main Street. In the place of the buildings, someone would build a huge hotel. Having heard of this development for months already, I was disgusted. But a spark of hope ignited in my heart at hearing the block was receiving a second chance. One last time, the existence of the brick buildings would be contemplated, weighed, analyzed.

And my mind went racing. As it always does.

I had a vision.

Of every church in Lexington joining hands.

Buying a block of historic buildings in the heart of the city.

Renovating. Pooling money, time, and resources so that no one church knew whether they owned a nail or a doorknob.

Renovating into a coffee shop. A tutoring center. A music venue. Small efficiency apartments. A soup kitchen. A youth center. Run by volunteers. Decorated by amateur artists. Filled with the youth of the city. A safe place. A place it would be permissible and acceptable to be yourself, to express yourself, to play... without fear or reservation.

Redemption Block.

A place, a structure, taken to the very brink of destruction. Brought back to glorify the Lord. Redeemed.

Just about two months ago, the block of historic buildings was torn down.

And in a while, a prestigious hotel and shoppes and restaurants will rise up on Main Street. Overshadowing a park where, tonight, men will sleep on benches.


I haven't considered this idea since.


Last night I sat on Kat's front porch, bare feet cold in the October night air. Emily, Kat, and I were laughing and taking pictures. We all looked up when we heard voices, hollering and laughing, and then saw five little bodies racing toward us with arms outstretched.

Five little boys came barreling towards us, wanting to get in the picture.

Wanting some attention.

They sat down on the porch and didn't leave for half an hour.

Wrapping their arms around our shoulders. Arguing about who could beat up whom, whose brothers were still in Africa or in jail, which one of them were still virgins. They danced on our sidewalk. Tried to guess our ages. Told us tall tales of running from the cops and how they don't hit girls.

The youngest was twelve.

The oldest was maybe sixteen. A quiet boy with his hood pulled over his head. From Liberia.

When they started getting too rowdy, we sent them home. Home. A twenty minute walk down High Street. Past the pretty fountains and the high-end hotel, past the last Starbucks. We could hear them jumping around a yelling for a while.

Five little boys who knew far too much about the world and its harsh realities... heading towards home in the dark.

And Kat, Emily, and I just sat on the porch. Wondering, really, what had just happened.

Broken hearted.

And I heard it.

How He wants to redeem His children.

And I remembered.


I have a lot of decisions to make. A lot of problems to solve.

And I may never see such redemption in this city. But I am praying for it.

I've felt a tug.

I've been reminded.

That there are more options.

That what I do now, may not be what I spend the rest of my life doing.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Long Avenue

I am winding up day five.

Day five of one of the strangest weeks of my life.

Not strange in a bad way.

Not strange in a way that makes me want it to end.



Not familiar.

Since Sunday night I have been living and sleeping in Winchester. In the house I grew up in. With my two littlest sisters, three dogs, and my mother's car.

I have not spent more than two nights here on Long Avenue since I moved out almost two and a half years ago.

All kinds of people have all kinds of definitions of home.

It's where your heart is.

Or your bed.

Or where you send your mail.

I have never had an emotional attachment to a house. Or an address. We moved too often as children for me to become attached to any house we lived in.

It's not about the house.

It's about what changes.

Since Sunday night I have been noticing little things. Things that stay the same. Things I remember. Things that are new. I find myself asking questions. Forgetting where we keep the measuring cups, but remembering how you have to lift and push the cabinet door under the sink to get it to close. Like how to pull just right into the driveway so you're not in the street, but you don't take out the front porch.

I remember to duck my head when going down the stairs. And how tricky it is to shave your legs in our shower stall.

One thing I have yet to get over after five days is the strange dog who lives here.


A black puppy Olivia found in the library parking lot last summer. She named him promptly, definitely. He became a member of the Long Avenue household. But that was not my household anymore.

So I come in and there is Molly. Sweet, old Molly. She can't hear anymore. She has cataracts and still howls and whines like a banshee. Then there's Zoe. She's fat now. But still the same 3 and 1/2 week old puppy I held on my chest and fed around the clock years ago. My puppies. Familiar, hairy faces. Then here comes Henry. Galloping through the house, pawing at me like he wants a handshake. He wants to be my friend. And I want to be his.

But he's a stranger in my house.

Or... I'm a stranger in his. Either way. We step on each other's toes. And he hasn't learned that I'm the boss around here.

Probably because I'm not.

There used to be a huge recliner in the middle of the living room floor. It's gone now. I remember when it was moved--coming home to a room that suddenly was strange, suddenly was unfamiliar. Not in a bad way.

Much the same as how I've felt this week.

What you remember is not the same.

What you remember has changed. As will all things.

The back porch is where I used to get my hair cut, late on summer nights, and a boy... who is now gone... told me I was pretty.

The driveway where my first love kissed me for the first time.

I sit here now, listening to the piano music from the "good" room. But it is not Dad's fingers on the keys. They are hers... and she has a different sound, a different music coming from her fingertips.

Dinner is cooking. Piano music is playing. It is fall and the sky is dark outside the kitchen window. Things are the same.

And entirely different.

Staying here on Long Avenue this week made me think. A lot.

About where home is.

About how there are some things I'll never forget.

And while Long Avenue is not my home anymore, the little girls (who are not so little anymore) who sleep here are.

And no matter how old I get, I will remember how to make a chocolate chip pie.

And even when I almost burn the house down when boiling rice, I will know which doors to open to make all the smoke go away.

And whether I am in my own bed or lying on a king sized mattress on the living room floor, when I roll over and see her sleeping beside me because she doesn't want to sleep alone tonight, I will find myself at home.

Because home is not a place.

It's a state, a peace, of mind.

Sunday I will leave Winchester and home will follow me to a little apartment near the projects in Lexington. To a cat who likes to follow me to the bathroom. And a neighbor who plays their music too loud. And I will know how far to turn the sink knobs to get the water just hot enough. Or how to tilt the stereo to make it play a CD.

May you find home tonight. Wherever you are. May you feel that peace that settles in behind your ribs and the softness in your temples...

And carry it with you.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Cling and Clatter

It was quiet there.

So quiet, you could hear people approaching before you could see them.

You could hear the wind blow.

I swear I heard the sun dipping into the horizon.

This is why we go.

Because the white noise is wiped out. The volume of the urban city is turned off.

We are deafened by the silence.

I fell asleep on the front porch, feet propped up, letting the sun bathe my face and my legs.

Time didn't matter.

There wasn't a clock to be found in the cabin.

We woke with the sun and wound down as it set.

We ate when we were hungry.

No rushing.

Just skin.

And sweat.

Mud and grass.

We walked away with dirt on our hands and fresh bruises.

Lying by the fire the first night, no fluorescent lights drowning the stars, I watched as one shot across the sky.

And I was reminded of how all the stars are numbered.

I like to think they each have a name.

Time was standing still.

The hands of watches were rotating and no one noticed.

Our attention was captivated by the licking flames and falling stars, by roasting the perfect marshmallow, listening to howling coyotes.

Yesterday, my life returned to punching the clock and measuring days by hours and schedules.

And I want to return to the cabin.

Away from all the cling and clatter.

Listen to Ian's sunrise song.

Still, somewhere in this city, I believe I will find my peace.

Somewhere, is my hope.

My self. Carried on the wind.

I must whisper to be heard.

Stand perfectly still to be seen.

And when the chaotic world sends me spinning...

I will spread my arms wide.

Let my face lift towards the sky.

I know...

This too shall be made right.