I have waited once
For the coming quickening light
I can wait again

It’s not Sabbath yet
(although the sun is swiftly setting today)
so I am making the bread
and sweeping the floor
and washing the windows
and trying to get dinner together
even though I am not hungry today
none of us are hungry today

I am doing the thing he told me
not to do: but today I want
to do everything I can
to ignore the news that came down
the road from the city
because otherwise everything will unravel
like the tears in our garments

So I keep brushing past the blood
on the doorposts
I keep not looking up at the darkening sky
because as long as I keep moving I can still believe

All the women came back to our house,

So it’s just us. And our brother, laying low after

A month of miracles, and a few hangers-on:

All of us healed in some way, recipients of

Some gift. And we are chopping up the herbs,

Baking the bread. The men came back from the

Temple with the lamb and poured its blood on our house,

And now we eat.

 

But the twelve? And the Lord? In Jerusalem, and all I want–

Though I am grateful for this company, this family stitched together

Around my tired heart to keep it warm–all I want

Is to run into town and fall at His feet again, still scented

With last week’s perfume, and listen.

I fear that tonight, after a month of miracles,

The miracles may end for good.

 

Tonight in Bethany my ears still ring
With loud shouts and the rustle of the palms;
Old men, young women, little kids would sing
Their loud hosannas like a victory psalm
To welcome in their conquering King and Lord,
The Victor over pagan rule–and then
You turned on them–You flipped the merchant’s boards
And moneychangers’ tables, and then when
The dust had settled, You cried out: “This place
Should be for prayer, you robbers!” Oh my Lord,
You set Yourself outside the priests’ good grace
Far more than prudence, wisdom would afford.
My Master, I gave up my life to go
With You–but will it bring us grief and woe?

1. Hi, gang. It’s been too long. I’m gonna try to do this more often. (How often have I said that? Oh well, we’ll try it again.)

2. I think it may be because of my weird melancholy bent, but Advent and Lent are two of my favorite church year seasons (Holy Week and Eastertide are my actual favorites, for what I hope are obvious reasons). There is something about confessing that we are weak, and that we are sinful, and that we need God’s mercy, that is also surprisingly freeing and joyful. I’m praying that God does necessary things in my heart, and in others’ hearts, this year.

3. This is kind of a weird feeling for me, but lately I have just not wanted to read. Maybe my brain is tired of downloading information, or I have too many options, or something. I don’t know. But my read count is surprisingly low so far this year. It may also be that I’ve been attempting to juggle four or five books, and they’re all really long. (Speaking of, current reads: The Jesus Way by Eugene Peterson, The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly On Prayer by C.S. Lewis, and Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder, because I’m having a weird nostalgic streak. I started Death Comes For the Archbishop by Willa Cather, but had to put it on hold because of all this other stuff.)

4. The post title comes from a song I’ve been humming a lot this Lent, “I’m Coming Back” from Sojourn Music: “But my gold has turned to dust, and all my idols rusted over/I’ve gained the whole world and lost my soul.” Sojourn’s the music department for a church in Louisville and they consistently turn out good stuff, so I highly recommend them.

Some days, everything’s cool; we are content
And health and life are well inside our grip;
But other days your light has all been spent
And darkness intervenes, your heart to strip
Of all its dressings, all its healing balms;
It lays you bare and naked to the bone
And desperate, and devoid of what could calm
Your burning heart, your desperation-groans.
Some wounds are slow to heal, infection-bound–
And some, though now scarred over, still are sore;
What healer could there be to come around
And reach into your still-too-tender core?
What drug, what surgery could ever cure
Your broken heart, the sorrow you endure?

The field, long lain fallow through the cold
And bitter winters, shot all through with weeds
And packed-down places, newly has been sold
To better farmers, better hands to bleed
With labor’s loving wounds, the nights and days
Of pulling weeds and compost and manure,
Of plowing, sowing–all the work to raise
A crop, to make the later harvest sure.
The workers work, all knowing that although
They plant the seeds and pull the heavy stones
Away, they cannot make the fields grow;
They cannot give it life. But still, with silent groans
Of waiting, expectation, pain, and joy,
They ask the Lord His mercies to deploy.

1. Right now, it’s 27 minutes until the end of my 29th birthday. It’s been a good day.

2. It’s amazing what one person can carry around simultaneously: Joy, gratitude, silliness, envy, sadness, worry, anger, peace, stillness, confusion.

3. I have a friend who doesn’t believe dinosaurs existed…

4. I downloaded this app that is based on this idea of Jerry Seinfeld’s that every day you do a habit you’re trying to build, cross off a day on your calendar and then try not to break up the chain of crossed-out days. Apparently this works. I hope it does, anyway, or why’d I get this app?

5. First book finished in 2014: J.K. Rowling’s The Cuckoo’s Calling. Tightly plotted mystery (although she does this thing like she did in Harry Potter where there are all these subtle hints and then they’re all revealed at the end in a conversation with the bad guy). Lots of epigrams from Virgil.

6. Goals for the year: Write at least 10 minutes every day, fit back into my senior prom dress, run a 5k, try to spend sunset Saturday to sunset Sunday away from social media. So far I have failed at all of these, but new habits build slowly, right?

7. Oh, also, I want to start dressing up for work (both jobs) more often. I tend to dress like a college student, which isn’t good when you’re almost 30 and not in school…

8. On the other hand, my friends got me dinosaur finger puppets for my birthday, so…

Everything I read this year, in chronological order. An asterisk means it was a re-read. Stats and favorites at the end.

January 3: Jan Karon, At Home In Mitford
*January 7: Jeffrey Yamaguchi, 52 Projects
January 9: Louise Erdrich, The Round House
*January 31: N.T. Wright, Simply Christian
February 15: Kathleen Norris, Acedia & Me: A Marriage, Monks, and A Writer’s Life
February 25: Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl
February 27: Tim Keller and Katherine Leary Alsdorf, Every Good Endeavor
*February 28: Walter Wangerin, Jr., Jesus
March 9: Jan Karon, A Light In the Window
*March 15: J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
March 16: Frances Hodgson Burnett, A Little Princess
*March 21: Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden
April 5: C.S. Lewis, Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer
April 25: C.S. Lewis, On Stories
May 1: Jan Karon, These High Green Hills
May 8: Kathleen Norris, Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith
May 12: F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
May 13: C.S. Lewis, The World’s Last Night
May 23: Steig Larsson, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
May 27: C.S. Lewis, The Discarded Image
*June 7: Molly Wizenberg, A Homemade Life
June 15: D.A. Carson et al., Worship By the Book
*June 17: Lauren Winner, Mudhouse Sabbath
*June 24: Robert Farrar Capon, The Supper of the Lamb
*July 15: Leif Enger, Peace Like a River
July 17: Neil Gaiman, The Ocean At the End of the Lane
July 24: N.T. Wright, Simply Jesus
July 27: George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four
*July 30: J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
*August 12: Daniel Coyle, The Little Book of Talent
August 18: Jen Hatmaker, 7
August 19: Leif Enger, So Brave, Young, and Handsome
*August 31: Lauren Winner, Girl Meets God
September 4: Steven Guthrie, Creator Spirit
*September 10: C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
*September 27: C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
September 28: Neil Gaiman, Anansi Boys
*October 16: Lauren Winner, Still
*October 18: C.S. Lewis, Prince Caspian
November 16: Tim Keller, Walking With God Through Pain and Suffering
November 19: Mike Cosper, Rhythms of Grace
December 4: Jan Karon, A Common Life
December 9: Shauna Niequist, Cold Tangerines
*December 13: C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
December 16: Rainbow Rowell, Eleanor & Park
December 20: Shauna Niequist, Bread & Wine
December 25: Russ Ramsey, Behold the Lamb of God
December 28: Shauna Niequist, Bittersweet

books read: 48 (not quite 50 like I wanted, but things became a little busier this year)
non-fiction: 27
fiction: 21 (still a little surprised that I don’t read as much fiction as I used to)
re-reads: 17
most-read author: C.S. Lewis, by a long shot, with 8.
top 10: In no particular order: Acedia & Me, Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer, Gone Girl, So Brave, Young, and Handsome, Bread & Wine, The Discarded Image, Rhythms of Grace, Anansi Boys, Creator Spirit, and 7.

So this December has not been great–I was out sick for a good deal of it, it kind of snuck up on me, and so I spent most of it either feeling terrible or being stressed out about holiday prep. Throw in not meeting with my community group or my prayer group and missing church one Sunday, and it has not been a good season for me. I’ve been dry spiritually; I’ve been irritable and self-pitying and unfocused. The Christmas spirit was, shall we say, lacking.

This is the nice thing about the liturgical tradition: It’s still Christmas until the 6th. We have 12 days to celebrate that God is with us in the person of Christ, by His Spirit–that He is with us despite our not being ready for Him, despite our broken state, that He is with us precisely because He loves us and He knows that’s when He needs to be with us most.

This year, against all the pulls of the culture I live in, I’m trying to steep in Christmas a little longer. Twelve days still doesn’t feel like long enough to remember that my true love gave, and He gives and keeps giving in spite of me.

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