The journey was over 24 hours to get here but I managed to steal a few hours of sleep from a couple flights. I was positive I would sleep soundly tonight, yet 4 hours later I’m wide awake and I don’t need to rise until seven. Perhaps some journaling and a sunrise with God is in order (and maybe some coffee too).
I heard children using “Abba” with their fathers today and it brought a whole new context to the word for me. This term, which Jesus used to refer to our Father, is similar to “Daddy.” But today I heard it used by small children, often accompanied by reaching arms and grasping hands. “Abba, Abba!!” they cry, unabashedly asking to be held, or comforted, or protected. Striking out fearlessly, one little one became startled and ran with arms open back to her Abba. It makes me reflect on Jesus’ choice of words and the posture of children with their Abba. Is that how I would describe my relationship with God?
So we’ve got this group of singles, of which I am part, heading over to Israel for a couple weeks. There’s been a lot of excitement and anticipation around it, and for good reason. This is the longest and most consistently I’ve ever prayed for anything, and I’ve now had several people who have spoken over this trip that maybe “relationships” will come out of it. Please don’t misunderstand me in what I say (I would be so happy for whoever it is), but I worry that these words will seep into hearts and distract rather than encourage.
I know that we are going on an awesome adventure. We will walk where our God walked; we will pray where our God prayed. We will learn from a man whose walk in faith resembles that of Jesus’ far more than the modern Christian does. And herein lies my point: this is an once in a lifetime chance to know God in a unique and intimate way. If it is His will to bless people on this trip, by all means, may the Lord move hearts. But I pray that the idea of a potential relationship would not be so distracting that it comes at the cost of intimacy with God.
So my prayer is this: “Abba, should it be your will to bring new relationships to life in Israel, I pray that they would be relationships that honor you. I petition you, Lord, that the blossoming of that relationship would increase the intimacy they know with you, Adonai, and that it would serve as a testimony to you. I pray that you would guard hearts that need guarded, that you would bring them life and comfort in discovering your character. Above all, I pray that we would all love you, the Lord our God, with all our hearts, souls, minds and bodies; and that we would also remember to love each other. Your will, Elohim, and not ours be done. Amen.”
From July 21st
I look down and there’s a cow carcass. As my view expands and I see more and more animal carcasses: elephants, goats, pigs, all sorts of lifeless creatures reaching to the horizon. The view is gray, foreboding, desolate. There is no “nature,” not a tree or a flower in sight. There is no sun or moon.
Then a man (impression of Josef or Francis?) is standing near me and I sense he is a saint (but I don’t even know what that means). I can’t tell if it’s his voice or Gods that speaks: “You’re missing so much of me.” A great and heavy sadness settles on my heart. “Are my creations not facets of me?”
I feel confused and start to wonder if I was somehow responsible for so much death; this innumerable loss. Yet even in my confusion and sadness I feel a compassion surround me, like warm sunlight. I feel how finite I am; I sense how little I know but it is reassuring. I get the sense that if I were to understand, it would be too much for me. I would be unraveled by the burden.
Overall though, the feeling of mourning and loss dominates this world.
I want to be Kara to someone. Not Rachel’s sister, or Katie’s roommate, or that person at my job or in my church who knows that other person or knows how to do that one thing… although I am all of this. But first and foremost, I want to be Kara first to someone.
I want people to see me: a woman in love with God and passionate about his people, who thrives in community and loves getting away to nature (as long as it includes a campfire with friends). A person who sees the good in others (possibly to a fault). Someone who loves to laugh as much as she loves the serious conversations. Terrible with names but great with stories. Awful with directions but a heart for adventure. Loves kids but feels like newborns are a little too fragile for their own good. A knack for getting into just enough trouble that it usually makes for a good story… eventually. Someone you sometimes have to have patience with, but will almost always have patience with you. A curious mind who loves learning from others and sharing what she knows. Generous and thoughtful but sometimes distracted. A person who loves music and dancing but doesn’t know how to dance with someone else. A good heart with a spark of mischief in her eyes, fighting for authenticity in a world that seems to want only her conformity.
When it comes to dating, I sit in a sort of peace. My life is better than it has ever been before, and I have a satisfaction in my singleness (although I certainly desire relationship). I am confident in the love God has for me, the joy God feels in my obedience and the mercy God shows me in my spiritual adolescence. But I sometimes wonder if I’m getting something wrong; in moments of frustration or confusion I ask God, “Is it only you who can love me? Am I so unlovable?” Most of the time I know this is a lie, and I recognize the attack that comes against me in these moments and think, something good must be coming if the enemy would throw so much of his weight against me. And so I trust. And I wait. And I focus on becoming the person God asks me to be.
There is an unusual intimacy
when my eyes meet yours;
the sense of being alone swelling
as the party grows full of noises and movement.
There are no words between us.
No place where your skin presses against mine.
But eyes meeting across any distance
leave no space for anyone else.
In those moments we are alone, together.
I am vulnerable as my soul peeks out at you.
What were seconds felt like minutes.
What were minutes felt like hours.
I turn and my soul settles back in
and you’re left watching me leave.
In the dark of the cool evening
I find a different kind of Loneliness
Whose familiarity comforts me
As I disappear into the welcoming shadows.
Charlottesville. I wish this outrage wasn’t part of a pattern interwoven into the fiber of our country. That this was some tragic, one off event. But it isn’t. I don’t know how to express my sadness, anger, mourning and disappointment. Posting online can feel trite in such circumstances. The inclination of man to use names and stereotypes to remove humanity and ultimately justify oppression, violence and murder of those “others” so they can stand a little higher is no new thing, but that does not mean we do not push back against the storm that rolls relentlessly against us. Isaiah 1:17 says, “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.” The best representation of any society, I believe, is when we we look at the margins of that society and see how those who stand there are treated. Are we correcting oppression and bringing justice? Proverbs 17:15 says, “He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous, Both of them alike are an abomination to the LORD.”
But don’t listen to just me. Tina Fey has some thoughts as well.
I was at an alt grunge EDM concert, but they were also performing the third part of The Pelleas Trilogy. I was there with my sister and a few friends I’ve made at church (I remember thinking it was not my usual concert going crowd).
I wandered around, immersing myself in the show as I drank from my flask. I’m talking to new people and I start smoking again (and in the dream, I got the sense that this wasn’t unusual for me because it was a concert).
I spot my friends and head towards them. They scrunch to make room for me on this hill and next to them is a guy I haven’t seen since high school. We talk real life, the nitty and gritty, about our struggle and how different things looked from how we imagined. Towards the end he said, “You’ve changed a lot too. You really believe all that holy crap?” I smile at him and lean against a wall. “I went through some dark times, Cass. I found Someone who brought me out. So that’s where I put my faith. Can you blame me?” And he mumbled no, that he wished he had that.
Apparently the concert ended and the sun is starting to rise. My flask is empty and all my friends are gone. We walk to his car and he starts driving me around looking for mine. I keep reassuring him, comforting him because he seems distressed. We finally make it to my car and he said “You’re unbelievable, you know that? You never realize the effect you have on people.” And he’s upset with me, about how oblivious I am. I want to calm him down so I tell him I had really liked him in high school. I asked him if he remembered the art trip and he laughed. All the tension left his body and he replied softly, “Yeah, I remember. And I liked you too.”
Somehow we seemed a bit entangled, so I carefully extracted myself from him and exited the car. I waved as I got to mine but he was already driving off.