Madame Manec: “Then help us.”
Etienne: “I don’t want to make trouble, Madame.”
Madame Manec: “Isn’t doing nothing a kind of troublemaking?”
Etienne: “Doing nothing is doing nothing.”
Madame Manec: “Doing nothing is as good as collaborating.”
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, Ch. 10
1) Go to Greece with Katie
- still in process. still a dream. still before 30??
2) Eating a whole heart shaped pizza each with Katie on Valentines Day.
- turns out my body doesn’t want me to do this every year before i’m 30. so i will edit it to say that we will celebrate galentine’s day every year in some fanstastic way.
3) Have an official, hopefully longterm, hopefully on our way to being engaged boyfriend. Let’s be honest, I’d rather get married by 30. But I’m shooting low on this one, since it seems to take me about 8x as long as everyone else to get to different stages. (jk…kind of)
- ok i mean….still a goal, OBVI, but i basically have no control over this.
Finish my Masters.
5) Get licensed
- 20% done! can’t believe this is a reality in my life now.
Get a real counseling job
- not as glamorous as i’d thought it would be when i wrote this, but i DO have one, and i AM glad i did it.
Kick my student loans asses. One by one.
- Ok I did this once. I have to do it again, but I think it’s worth crossing off….
Get a new car
- i mean i didn’t get a brand new car, which is what i probably meant, but i now have a car that won’t probably just stop working in the middle of the interstate, and that’s all i really want. dependability.
Develop some sort of a more permanent living situation with less than 6 people involved.
- hellooooooo, post-school life. 😍
10) Work on Spanish again
- it’s time for this. with a trip to spain in my future, i’d like to be able to at least get around a conversation.
11) Lose 80 lbs. I am currently really trying for 65, as of today.
- the everlasting goal? we shall see. still would like to do it.
Go to Israel
- BEEN THERE. DONE THAT. LITERALLY BOUGHT THE POSTCARD.
13) Write a song
- hm. nope. do i still want this?
14) Start and keep a prayer journal/list thing to be in continual prayer for others.
- half hearted commitment to this, which has been a growing desire again as of late. i will try again.
15) Cut up my credit card
- almost there…..
Kevin and your mom were talking to the doctors, and Deb was there on your bed telling you things about the day so you could have someone to listen to and be less scared. She noticed that you had started to mimic her. A phrase like “Lillie is flying in from Texas” was repeated back as soon as she uttered it. She would say “Ralph pissed off a dog in the park” and you’d repeat it verbatim. You were parroting everything she said, and she was ragged and scared, and wondered why, why would you be sarcastic and torment her when there was clearly so little time left. She was fighting tears but tried to be calm and said why are you imitating me, is my talking upsetting you? And you said, softly, No. I’m trying to catch your rhythm. I want to catch your breath.
It occurred to you to take someone’s tempo with you, since you’d be forced to let go of all hands at some point. You took the spaces with you. No way to take the voices you loved, they would have to stay behind, so you took the ellipses.
Parker, Mary -Louise (2015-11-10). Dear Mr. You (Kindle Locations 972-977). Scribner. Kindle Edition.
according to the language of flowers, the meaning of the hyacinth flower is constancy. constancy is defined as the quality of being faithful and dependable, the steadfastness of mind under duress, the quality of being enduring and unchanging. these words carry so much weight for my heart, and when i first read through the index of flowers and came upon the hyacinth it took my breath away. the word constancy touches on so many of the deepest longings of my heart over the past two decades: the longing for community, intimacy, fidelity, devotion, permanence, mutuality…i am a person committed and have often found that loyalty falling in non-reciprocal places. whether that is due to a lack of desire or the temporal or eternal lack of ability on the part of the other, i am not sure. however, i have always longed to throw myself into relationships with people who were ready to throw themselves in too. i have wanted commitment. i have longed for dependability. i have desired common purpose.
the last 10-15 years have had many good points, but have also had much relational turmoil and pain. friends that i thought were “in it for the long haul” turned out to be flaky or going through some kind of emotional or relational pain that led them to withdraw from friendship. people i have committed to have been in a place of transition, needing someone to come alongside them and be a steadfast and stable friend, to help them heal and to be gracious to them in the midst of change, but had nothing to give in return. i am so willing to be a person that can go through the fire with others, but i was finding myself in a place of relational depletion. i desperately wanted to experience the type of relational fierceness and sacrifice that says “i am committed to this. i am in this for the long haul. lets make plans together and grow together and push each other and care well for each other, even through the hard times, the slow times, the happy times, the painful times. even when it costs us something.” i wanted friendships who could continue to show me Jesus.
over the past few months i have found myself experiencing this in a new and highly unique way for the first time ever. what started as my roommate and i committing to care well for a friend in a time of pain became a mutual commitment of friendship. what started out as random experiences together soon became a weekly occurrence, and then twice weekly. when other people came along who were in the midst of pain, there was an open door for them. some others began to commit themselves to one of the weekly gatherings. soon we had a small community of people who were highly committed to each other. people were willing to sacrifice. people were entering into important conversations, talking about our community, being willing to process how to strengthen and grow what we were building. eventually, we even began to talk about what that might look like in more of an intentional living community. safety was present. we were flourishing.
somewhere along the way, katie and i introduced the concept of wine advent, fully expecting resistance from some if not all. we had tried (but failed) the year before to get a small group of people together every evening to open a different bottle of wine and share our time and our lives together. however, when we brought this up in our weekly gathering, immediately there was an intrigued acceptance, an ownership that was claimed by each participant. people were jumping in with ideas. before we knew it, we had committed to a nightly gathering for the 24 nights of advent, reading advent prayers together and meditating on different aspects of the Lord, enjoying new wines and being in community with one another. what i expected to be 30 minutes a night of introverts getting together and then heading home for alone time turned into a nightly 4 hours of laughing, conversing, discussing, and loving each other. night after night as each person showed up, no matter how hard their day was or how bad of a mood they might feel like they were in, how tired they were of being in the constant company of others, i found myself beginning to notice the rhythm, the pattern, the dependability, the constancy of it all. i was learning what true healthy community and care looked like from these people, my people. i was understanding the true meaning of belonging and permanence.
when i read the index of the language of flowers and came upon the hyacinth, i knew. i knew that what i wanted to focus on this year was continuing to learn and experience what these last few months of friendship with these people has taught me…i want to be committed and i want to be committed to. i do not want a great and collective purpose to scare me or to be scary to others. i want us to be able to expect things from each other, need each other, and depend on each other in ways that are not societally normal.
last night we shared our words for the year. when i said mine, one of my friends mentioned that he knew two meanings of constancy: that of steadfastness and dependability, unmoving, like a rock; the other consistent, regular, enduring and unending, like a waterfall. he asked which one i meant. both are what i mean. because i want to look back on the eve of 2017 and see that this year found me dependable, steadfast, enduring, faithful, loyal, consistent, and having integrity, permanence, and purpose. i want these things personally and in community. my last few years have taught me how to have courage, how to honor myself, how to be sassy and fabulous (might have to revisit that one…), how to be balanced, and how to plant my feet back on the ground. This year I want to be rooted. To grow deeper in all these things. To be fiercely loyal and determined in relationship. I want to have constancy.
There is something about my soul that feels filled to the brim when it recognizes poetry in motion. Any wide range of things can be poetry, like expressions flickering across a friend’s face, worn and leathered hands of a grandparent, breeze whispering through the trees at twilight, the first sounds of crickets chirping on a summer’s day…
But perhaps one of the most deeply felt stanzas of poetry in my world is the poetry of being known. I think, for many, this is not a stanza that is necessarily memorized and well worn. It probably feels like a refrain that is sung on occasions that are somewhat few and far between. However, being known is as comfortable as a patch of sun on a hardwood floor at four in the afternoon. My soul ignites with these feelings of comfort when I hear the words “known” and “home.” It’s that settled, relaxed, take-my-mask-off, you-will-still-love-me-in-my-good-mood-and-bad-mood feeling. For as long as I can remember, these are the feelings that stir in my soul when I read the Anne of Green Gables series. I remember feeling resistant when my mom first introduced them to me as a reading option, but I am so thankful that I got around to opening the cover. These stories are home to me, and it’s not about the storyline anymore…it’s about the poetry.
Among all the beautiful phrases of whimsy, bravery, and truth that we are entrusted with between the covers of these eight volumes rests a phrase depicting a type of friendship that we can only hope we are allowed to experience in this lifetime. Anne is blessed to have a few friends throughout her days who she considers bosom friends or kindred spirits. These are people whom she loves and who love her back, who have a commitment to friendship in a way that we often lack in modern times. Many current articles point out the fact that we have ceremonies to be married to our partners, but there is no long-term-friendship ceremony or certificate. I have so much brewing in my mind on that topic to write later, because I think that level of commitment to friendship is one of the most special things on earth.
However, though kindred spirits in and of themselves are few and far between, there is a bond that runs even more deeply. It doesn’t necessarily require the same kind of commitment as a kindred spirit, a bosom friend, or even a close friend would. It is not something you can work toward or strive for. It is just something you are. The race that knows Joseph. Anne is talking to an elderly friend, Captain Jim, in the 5th book of the series, discussing their connection:
“You’re young, and I’m old, but our souls are about the same age, I reckon. We both belong to the race that known Joseph, as Cornelia Bryant would say.”
“The race that knows Joseph?” puzzled Anne.
“Yes. Cornelia divides all the folks in the world into two kinds – the race that knows Joseph and the race that don’t. If a person sorter see eye to eye with you, and has pretty much the same ideas about things, and the same taste in jokes – why, then he belong to the race that knows Joseph.”
“Oh, I understand,” exclaimed Anne, light breaking in upon her. “It’s what I used to call – still call in quotation marks – ‘kindred spirits.'”
“Jest so – jest so,” agreed Captain Jim. “We’re it, whatever it is. When you come in tonight, Mistress Blythe, I says to myself, says I, ‘Yes, she’s of the race that knows Joseph,’ And mighty glad I was, for if it wasn’t so we couldn’t have had any real satisfaction in each other’s company. The race that knows Joseph is the salt of the airth, I reckon.”
Even in the phrasing of the designation there resonates a significance. If you are of the race that knows Joseph, each word settles into the soul in a familiar way, though you may not have heard it explained before. It is a posture of living, a way of interacting with the world and experiences going on around you. It is a grace-filled resiliency. It is knowing. It is understanding. It is feeling the significance of creation in each and every day and loving it for both it’s beauty amidst it’s brokenness. It is carrying the weight of the big picture while still noticing the details. Someone who is the race that knows Joseph has an intuition that speaks the same language as your intuition.
My friend Jen said it this way today (loosely quoted conversation): Someone who is the race that knows Joseph is someone that lives out the grace of the gospel in real and tangible ways every day. They are someone that fully knows what grace is, on an emotional and relational level. They have experienced it. They don’t know any other way than to experience others through it and invite them into it. This person will always have an ability to be long-suffering in relationship, and through the bumps and creaks of showing grace in a long-suffering way will open up a space of safety for those who can’t seem to pull themselves together on a timeline that is acceptable to their wider friend group.
I hope she knows that she was describing herself as she said these words.
More than anything, the race the knows Joseph is indescribable. I’ve tried to put some words to it, some descriptions, but the intuitive nature of it keeps the corners of it hidden a little bit in the shadows. You can feel the shape of the room, but you can’t quite see it all. If you are the race that knows Joseph, you will run into these people in all kinds of circumstances. Sometimes it will be a person that you have one conversation with in an airport. Other times it will be someone you can spend a few months or years in relationship with. Others are lifetime friends. But they are very few and far between.
I am so thankful for those I’ve met who are the race that know Joseph. To me they are restorative and healing individuals, and answers to years of prayer. Those I know are God’s grace and kindness to me in a human presence, and they image him in a very distinct way. Lucy Maude Montgomery knew what she was doing when she coined this phrase, and I’m thankful that has given at least a few words to describe such a rare and intuitive experience.
Brokenness has many idiosyncrasies, but it can often be boiled down to the underlying question of “Am I enough?” For the last year and a half, without really realizing what was going on, I think my heart firmly settled on an answer to that question: no.
It’s so interesting moving to and living in a new city, attempting to establish a life there, because when you inevitably continue to ask that question, there is no one around you who has the longevity or authority to speak a direct answer to that question. Though people have come and gone throughout my seminary career that have begun to be those people, these past few years have felt like a relational wasteland. Add to that about 18 months of beginning a counseling practice, transitioning from a school environment of challenge and grace to a harsh new world of self-employment on top of a full time job, disrupted relationships, and you really start to question your capability, your “enough-ness.”
This past weekend I attended a conference (perhaps provokingly entitled Porn: Gateway to the Gospel) that smacked me across the head with a realization that was both immediately applicable to clients and to my own heart: God is fully delighted in me (us) even in my brokenness. It’s not like I don’t “know” this…I just spent 3 years at a seminary hearing time and time again of God’s love and grace. For some reason, this past weekend, it landed in a way it had never landed before. Michael John Cusick, the speaker, specializes in sexual brokenness in his counseling practice and his initial point was in relation to our sin…even if we left this conference and made the worst decision we could make, whether that was most hurtful thing we could do for ourselves, the most defiant way we could act against God, etc., God could look at us in the process of that and still he would be 100% delighted in us. His delight is not at all contingent on our actions.
There are many, many levels to this truth for me right now, but they are not all discernible. However, I wanted to put this in writing to help my very poor memory hold on to this truth just a little bit longer. I am enough. God uses me and my presence, in it’s current state to help change clients’ lives. I am already bought and paid for. Nothing else has to be done for me to be significant. God has done it.
for the last year, i have been lost.
though my physical location was never in question, the location of the spark of my personality and the tenacity of my spirit seemed to disappear just as i felt i was approaching them, like a mirage of an oasis in the desert. just when i’d think i caught hold of who i once knew myself to be, it would slip through my fingers.
when you feel lost to yourself, it can feel like you are a fish out of water. not quite sure why you can’t breathe, but knowing there is something fundamentally wrong with your ability to take a breath the way you always have known how to. it’s a feeling that is hard to name, hard to explain, hard to have any language for at all. i’d venture to say, it’s a feeling that is pretty common, though.
tonight in counseling, we began to connect the dots. there are so many small, seemingly inane, dots that you never think to connect because that would just be crazy until……suddenly they connect. and things start to take shape and pictures and patterns show up in the dots that you never thought to look at…until now. tonight was a good reminder of why i believe in counseling, and why i think everyone should go to counseling. because details matter, and details affect life. it is only through the processing of these details (sometimes alone, sometimes with friends, sometimes in counseling) that we can truly grow.
socrates said that the unexamined life is not worth living.
what do you think about that?