freely given

Beginning my first blog post of this year reminds me... our Christmas tree is still up. Yes, it's bristle-brush dry, but once in a while when you pass it the whiff of the forest exudes, and you think it's not so bad to have it around just one more morning... and maybe another.

Life is very full. I wrangle structure inside my book's second chapter. Now I have read chapter one aloud to three people besides Tim, and I've fiddled a lot more with it. Last week I went with my parents to the coast (someone had to drive them; I made the sacrifice, and so did James, the heavy lifter). Ahead of time I imagined all the writing I would do there. As it was, I spent one afternoon out of three draped over a chair arm gazing at the waters of Depoe Bay and returning to my prose every so often. It did help to some degree with the wrangling.

I'm thinking I will be gone (from here, at least) a long time again soon. I might stay completely off the internet during the season of Great Lent, which begins the end of this month. There are stories ringing interiorly that I've listened to these past four years which will help impel me, if I do stay away, to embark on the journey. Monks and nuns of old withdrew during Lent into the desert. I can't even express how frightful and compelling that sort of solitude is to my heart.

It is in the heart, I have come to think, that the landscape of human life unfolds. The deepest places reveal themselves. There is a way to reach them; to do so is a gift freely given to mankind. This is, as I see it, the central message of Christianity as first delivered. The God, whom Christians believe is the only such one, desires to make a home with the Human. Adam. Me. The being God formed in his image from the soil. Such soil became dust due to a rebellion freely chosen. Such dust is renewed due to the amazing desire of God to rescue the lost sheep, the unimaginable free act of entering into dust to restore it, to heal any and all who freely desire the healing. This all is wrought in humility. Wrought in God.

Whether gazing into nature's deep beauty or practicing the mundane ordinariness of house and home, Christians seek and wrangle (during Lent and always) with a much tougher problem than sentences, memories, rewrites, and printer ink replacement. God willing, we strive at and with and in the difficult gate. Like a weathered highway, the Orthodox church's services guide me to it, to the rock of striving with myself, with my circumstance. There dwell God's faith and humble ways, as over against my relentless pride and self-interest.

For me it's a beauty the tireless motion of breakers begins to sing about, the endless sand whispers of barely commencing, daring a leap to the uncovered boulders at low tide.