This morning—when worry wakes me—fog falls in droplets all over our little valley. I padfoot downstairs, press my forehead to that wooden floor, and wait for our good God’s strength to crowd out my weakness. But thoughts keep scratching it like an itch and the more the day rubs up against the window, the smaller I feel.
I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life but practice never makes this thing any easier.
I’m mad at myself and the name-calling starts and I slip shame over my head and let it fall down my shoulders, feel its hem gather at my ankles—until I can’t move—all bound up in this heavy skin.
Those words I chew on when my thoughts won’t leave me be start to shimmer—bursting through that hard brick wall of condemnation. I close my eyes and hold on to those nuggets of grace.
We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect…
Well, that’s not me, I think. I’m sure not perfect.
And I wonder how brother James must have writhed under the memory of his words—how once he did not believe.
Slowly, I wriggle out of that straightjacket of shame—shimmy it down my body and over my hips until I can step right out. My reading from Nouwen today tells me that I must risk a few more steps in this new country.
You know the ways of the old country, its joys and pains, its happy and sad moments, he says. You have spent most of your days there. Even though you know that you have not found there what your heart most desires, you remain quite attached to it. It has become part of your very bones.
I feel the sting of these words as I read them. My morning candle flickers and I still can’t move from the dining room floor. The desire to hide sits heavy in my gut. I stare out the window at the white sky dripping down—fog becomes dew before my eyes and the beauty of the morning makes me want to cry. It looks like another country and I realize that more than anything I want to step out into this other land—step forward in the new.
The grass is wet and I can feel the freedom of it wrap around my ankles. I walk slow, deliberate—measuring each step. The slow, soft stepping uncovers wispy treasures all sparkling in dew.
I feel thin, fragile--as if, untethered, I might blow away. But this slow-stepping? It anchors. My feet find sure ground here.
And I am learning that this is how one must walk in a new country.
This week's memory verse:
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