"It was love that set this fragile planet rolling
Tilting at our perfect twenty-three
Molecules and men infused with holy
Finding our way around the galaxy
And Paradise has up and flown away for now
But hope still breathes and truth is always true
And just when we think it's almost over
Love has the final move"
Walks over hills and valleys have taught me a bitter fear of light. Time to time, the shadows of the valleys feel comfortable and receiving. The lift of the hill hurts my aching back and feet. The transition into the light pouring in on the slope and rise of the mountain feels more overwhelming than warming. But eventually the shade of the valley becomes too cold. And the loneliness of the valley is unkind. Weak and tired, remembering the warmth of the sun, I look around for my Redeemer. Remember me, Lord. The atrocities and pain all around me seep into my own soul. It’s a familiar part of the shadows. The sorrows that belong to my neighbors are mine as well. And new sorrows seep in as the world attacks in new ways. But Your hope and encouragement are speaking and pulsing in the waves of sound and light that reverberate from your gentle voice calling into the dark, into my dark.
I’m sad, Father. I’m scared, Father. I hurt for my friends. I hurt for my lost world. I hurt for my own lost soul. It is found in You. But I see those waves rocking around me like Peter on the water’s surface, and it is want to overtake me. My loneliness wins. My desire for connection looks for immediacy and intimacy. So I concoct cheap variations of Your love. And it is not false. I know there’s a truth that runs through it. But I am not enough to force my truths to win. I cannot stand firm because I stand on my own.
God, You know me. I know You know me. Inspire me. Refresh me. Hold me. Lead me. I long for connection, God. But the one that loves You most and who can handle me best, without holding me back from all that can be, hasn’t shown his face. I am proud. But still hurting. I am fierce. But I am feeble.
But as much as I hear my own voice pumping and thumping around in my skull, I feel Your pull. Pull me into Your story, Father. Pull me out of my own head and hurt. Please continue to remind me of Your breath in creation and the pulse of Your heart in the midst of all the brokenness.
Give me strength, Father, to pull myself up again. Please do the work in me. I love my voice that You gave me. I love the strength of will and fight in me that is not just in and of myself. But rather a fighter that You bore into my makeup through gift of life and education of circumstance. I don’t sacrifice that girl in me on an altar of appropriation and common acceptance. No, I lift her up to You. Let her keep fighting, God. But not in sadness, desperation, and pain. Rather in the hope of Your light and life. Please, come before me. Prepare the way for my battle lines. Let me know which battles are mine, and which are not. Take over my weakness and wrap it up in Your strength. Let me see my road and not remove my feet from that path.
I see that light trickling down the hill. Let me not shirk away or hide my eyes. Help to adjust my pupils to the incoming waves of Your shine. Inspire me and push me up this hill. I lift my eyes to the hills. Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, Maker of Heaven and Earth.
Climbing up the Southern Rabbinical Steps in Jerusalem, I read aloud Tehillim 121 (Psalm 121) as the Israelite people had done from memory for ages and ages before me. Jerusalem, a city on a hill, reminds me where I look to for help. The Hebrews would recite their songs of ascent while climbing up the steps on their way to the temple. When I had the opportunity to climb these same steps, I wanted to say these same words aloud. It was chilling and inspiring. It gave me a somber ache and an exuberant joy to share the same rite of passage with my Jewish brothers and sisters. And these words give me new life now, as I remember all my God has done for me. I was there. And He is here.