Goodness,  the Word

awkward nearness and the kindness of light

I’m a morning person

so I needed to root myself right away in our new place by finding where the sun was rising.  Not where was East, but through what windows.  It was a bit harder than you’d think in the bleak winter-hangover that was Spring 2018 in New England.

This period of negotiations has been interesting.

We have kept decor rather Spartan.  Almost everything we have is a replacement for something.  There is a lot of white as we decide where to hang stuff, or if to hang stuff, and sunbeams bounce around this house on both ends of the day.

I realize that I keep calling it “this house”;  I’m not forcing anything.  Including what I call this house.  Neither is my cat.

Dolores, who always chooses the best chair because life is short, especially for Dolores.

Every house has light patterns, ways the sun scatters through its gaps.  It offers me fresh liberty, just knowing that I can look at something familiar and see it as brand new.  Light has a source, where the light is coming from, and it has an object, where it comes to rest.

The light has been a kind teacher in these early days of reassigning home.  God uses it to ease my tension the way a shoulder rub extracts a full sigh.   And I have needed that – because I did not get this grand saturating sense of relief out of listening to perfectly beautiful words from our friends or from having prayers answered.  You’re not shocked, are you?  I mean, when does peace arrive on schedule?

One morning in March, I saw a snatch of sunlight that bent off a mirror, splashed through a doorway, and crossed a hallway to nest beside me.  I was undone, nearly misunderstanding what I was seeing, when I took the shot below — sitting that day on the other side of the house from the sunrise, against the odds, it came to find me.

What’s clear as day, now, finally, is that God has wanted to administer relief to us his way – a way that is  whimsical,  personal, and precisely on time.

There are things that you just can’t picture until you have thresholded past them.

Because of that, we need to all give each other a wide berth, just not so wide that we leave the periphery.  

We all tend toward a few different loving responses to in-your-face pain :

  • need-meeting (casserole-making, taking collections)
  • awkward nearness (hit-or-miss story-vomit followed by strained smiles and tears)
  • self-reflected comfort (which is the type we prefer for ourselves)
  • thoughts and prayers (legit prayer is far-reaching, and thoughts are fine but they don’t make contact)
  • going AWOL (all non-initiation)

I’ve tried them all, and scary awkward nearness never gets old.  Take it from someone who had a freaky life-loss you can’t relate to.  Don’t even try.  Just stay in it with them, AND pray.  Stop fixing.  Check in for no reason.  Tell them all about your crazy; they get tired of their own.  The people who loved me in that Jesussy way found a crack and reached through it.  They endured how imperfect their act of love was, because it was not a contest to them.

When you can’t, do what you can.  B- level help will feel slightly miserable, but zero help has no chance whatsoever of lifting the load. (see Note*)

<steps off soapbox>

Light, my hair, and Sourdough by Robin Sloan.

The other day at my annual review

my gracious boss reflected with me on what this year has been like so far — in view of our goals and unexpected events.  Thank God I didn’t cry when she remarked, “No one on our team could imagine what it must have been like for you to go through all of that.”  What I loved best was that she did not rescue that statement with a platitude.  Her truth came without pity, her professional words stretched and leaned closer, daring kindness.

sunrise in the kitchen

It has been four months since we moved to our new home, about six since the fire.  I stopped counting Thursdays after 11.  It took that long for wins to overtake losses.

The light mercifully helped.  Imagine.

I am still noticing where the light comes from and where it comes to rest around here.  The sun rises outside my bathroom window.  Every morning, as Dolores meows me across the floor, advancing her feline agenda, I brush past her to see what the sun is wearing — a thing I never try to predict or control.  The light has become a place for trust to breed.

I can’t even tell you where the sun will fall in this house, my house, tomorrow – across what bed, and through which chair slats.  It keeps romancing me.  And I will not cast my pattern over your process.  God delights in the things we name struggle, and throws light on them, and suddenly there’s more there there.  Something we had not seen appears and changes everything.  Isn’t he brilliant?  Surprising?  Playful, even.  And doesn’t that count as good?

James 1:17

Note* : Credit for this illustration goes to Brooke Castillo, whose interview on Amy Porterfield’s podcast was really illuminating on the subject of why we don’t act when we know that we want to.  Brooke says: “B-minus work can change people’s lives. Work that you don’t produce at all, does nothing in the world.”

Thanks for reading – let me know if this strikes a chord of truth in you.  This is month, July 2018, marks 3 years of writing here – a blogaversary of sorts.  Things will stay put over on this site, so peek around, enjoy. But just like light, there is a change coming, and it will be fresh – I hope!  If you are a subscriber, you’ll get the news on my new project first!  It’s easy to follow along, just drop your email in the top bar, or follow me on Instagram @lynnelor .


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