The morning runs are going well. The heat requires that we go early--just as soon as the boys awaken. We run out, and then walk back. The walks are always entertaining. I think I do enjoy them most. One morning as we walked by the steep bank of the golf course, Teddy called my attention.
I turned. Almost level with my eye was…perfection. Each pert blade of grass topped with a circle of moisture, perfectly balanced. Hundreds of tiny dew drops atop choppy green spikes. The water droplets prismed the morning sun until the entire lawn was winking sunshine. I stared long, wanting to fall into that beauty.
I wish I had my camera, I whispered.
I knew you were going to say that.
He smiled. I smiled. Because he knew me. This quiet one—the one I have to remind to look at people when he is spoken to—he knows what his mamma loves. And to be known this way is the way of love.
…Something inside me feels like fire, a sure melting, a merging with Spirit I sense in beauty…(L.L. Barkat, God in the Yard).
This is how I begin week eleven. Submission, she speaks of. But all I can think is beauty. How it arrests, how it mends, how it touches deep. And I know this is God. Beauty brings me to my knees.
This is submission to me.
It’s another difficult chapter as I re-live my making.
…It’s a skill that kids of divorce pick up along the way, as they pay close attention to the different rules in their respective parent’s homes. In order to keep from seeming too much like mom (for dad) and too much like dad (for mom), kids mimic each parent closely and adjust themselves on the spot, shaping and reshaping beliefs and habits on demand. For this reason, Marquardt notes, kids of divorce often feel like different people with each of their parents. (L.L. Barkat, God in the Yard).
I woke up one morning and I was married. I was married to a man who ran six miles a day and ten on the weekend. He played rhythm guitar in a band and was the lead singer. He had his Ph.D. in clinical psychology and he was so very smart. He had a family who loved him--was kind, showed their care in being with him, talking with him, wanting his time. The day after we returned from our honeymoon he decided to become a homebrewer. He read books, took classes, experimented. He ended up taking a national exam and becoming certified as a national homebrew judge. We traveled all over so he could enter and judge homebrew competitions. He won a few medals. And made some really good beer.
I followed him.
The first year of my marriage I began to suffer crying jags and provoke my beloved into heated arguments. I was unhappy.
I didn’t know who I was. I spent my life bending to the will of others. Being what I thought they wanted me to be.
If there’s one thing I like about Jesus, it’s his cool-as-a-cucumber demeanor…He always seemed to know exactly who he was and what he wanted. He knew when to submit and when to walk away…Adele Calhoun says, “Sometimes submission means giving. Sometimes it means receiving. Sometimes submission means leading and at other times it means following. But in each case there is an element of self-giving.” (L.L. Barkat, God in the Yard).
How does one give of self when one does not know who self is?
All of the moments of my life rise like steam in the air and drift with the breeze. I can bend, I can float, I can change into rain if the circumstances require it.
I can become something else.
It doesn’t frighten me anymore.
There was a time when I became what others demanded or desired. Now, most days, I choose. Knowingly. Not always happily, but with love at the root. I choose to see the beauty.
And it brings me to my knees.
and doff these
my eyes to
I thought love
meant only giving
up self, not…
give of—such a
tiny difference, it
seems. but not. wax
and wane like
ever the mood
called for that
shed the past—
bits of me. shards
become the way I
smile and jagged
edges are smoothed
This was written in response to L.L. Barkat’s book God in the Yard: Spiritual Practice for the rest of us. Join me?
photo by Sean Hobson, Flickr creative commons.