Wednesday, January 15, 2014

January 15th

These are from the next sections of my journal.

This post is much closer to chapter length than typical blog length, and I keep wondering if I should cut this in two. But in order to illustrate and develop the theme, I think I need the length. The theme being, the transition of my relationship with Jesus from a way that was without sight to a way that seemed to be with some kind of sight, in a room and eventually a landscape.

I purposely left in the parts where I struggle with doubt and where I am trying to figure out what is happening. I don't think it would be honest, otherwise. I have a lot more perspective on these experiences now, a year later- a much better way to frame them, but when they began, it was an overwhelming mystery and I doubted what was happening often. Not that it's any less of a mystery now, really.

Also yes, this is the way I write when I think no one else is reading! I am so tempted to take out my casual language and make it more poetic and "spiritual" sounding, but I'm certain that would ruin its authenticity. Because, also yes, I did use the phrases "whoa" and "holy crap" right in the mystical moment, because I am human like that; I cannot pretend otherwise.

In the first of these sections, I refer briefly to two experiences- a room and "falling" from an experience. Looking back, these were important for me to remember, as they provided a kind of frame work.

That room that I refer to, I blogged about here.

The "falling" that I mentioned was something that had happened the last spring. I described it in this way:

March 5, 2012-

I walked; I sank into Him like the warm sunlight on my face. I remembered the night before, falling into Him, into the truth that I am hidden in Him, seated beside Him in the heavenly places.

Over and over again last night, it was made real to me, so real that it swept over my soul like a flood of light- I was with Him- right then, right there! I was on His lap, in His arms. I could say everything I wanted to say, I could pour out my soul.

"I love you, I love you, I love you!" I cried, throwing my arms around His neck. And it was as though, from the corner of my eye, I saw His face, the curve of His smile and His beard.

It astonished me. I never think of Him as wearing a beard, even though I know He did have one, because it is written that they pulled it out. Even when, in my astonishment, I withdrew from Him, I felt His hand cradling the back of my head.

Even when it was so much that I could not remain with Him, I was upheld by Him. I knew that it was more true that I was upheld by Him, than by the bed I was physically lying on.

Over and over again, it hit me: I am with Jesus. Right now, right here, in this moment. It does not matter what I can see around me. The deepest truth is that I am with Him all the time, bound up with Him and able to speak with Him everything that is on my heart.


February 23rd, 2013-

I woke up in the middle of the night last night, and couldn’t sleep, and Jesus was beside me and I fell into the knowledge that I’m not so much there as I am with Him, in the way that He taught me in different ways before- the room that He showed me, and the time that He held me in His arms and then I fell from there to the bed and I could feel both at the same time, knowing that He still held me, that He always did.

I just let myself be where I am, which is on several levels at once. Then I remembered the room, so I let myself be there, and that, that was better. I just kept letting myself be- like that meditation Gerald May recommends- “Let myself be loved, let myself be loved, let myself be loved."

Sometimes what I'm seeing is choppy, especially if I am overwhelmed or ashamed. For example, sometimes I’m seeing us in the room, and sometimes not. I cannot see very well or with much detail- not even Him. This bothers me sometimes, but I try to let it be what it is- whatever it is- since I can't control the experience anyway. It doesn’t really matter, that’s not the heart of the experience.

I was with Jesus and then I became overwhelmed and found myself on the side of the room, kneeling by the wall. I saw Him walk toward me. It was very interesting, this image. I saw it for a long time, as if in slow motion. I waited for Him to come, and He held His hand down, and I saw this for a long time, before I took His hand.

Yesterday, I was thinking about my insight into using faith, hope and love as guiding principles for my choices of how to express my unique personhood in life, as Jesus had told me to do, and then I suddenly wondered if that wasn’t the absolute best way, if maybe there was an even deeper, better way.

Then I was confused, because if there’s a better, deeper way, I don’t know it yet. So then I saw in my mind like a giant curve, like a constellation of stars or a map, with points all along, and I put my finger on the point where I was, and I said firmly, this is where I am right now, and it’s okay to be where I am. Everyone must be where they are at until they learn a new way.

After all, Jesus said He would send His Spirit to guide us into the truth, not dump it all on us all at once. He didn't even do that with His disciples. So I thought, I will just trust Him where I am now, with what I understand now, and be present in that, until He guides me further along.

As I was thinking this, I felt Jesus come rushing down and pull me into His arms and pour His love onto me- it must have been because I was choosing to trust Jesus where I was, instead of being anxious about how far I had yet to go.

I felt His delight in me, and after a split second of surprise, I accepted and surrendered myself to His love. I remember this because I used to deny this, turn away from His love and delight.

I remember lying in the dark, feeling for the first time His close presence and being struck still with shock and disbelief- like, this cannot be happening, this cannot be right, what is going on with me?

But I knew Him so well! All my life I’ve felt His presence, so I knew who it was, I just had never, ever felt Him so up close and personal like that before.

In the last few days, I’ve remembered those experiences from last year, and understood, in a whole new way, how Jesus was laying down the groundwork for me to become what I already was; the way He made me from the beginning.


February 25, 2013-

I feel almost as if I have to enter some kind of sacred space before writing here, but that’s not the way it is. Last night, I felt that way too. I wanted to go to Jesus, but I felt hindered by unworthiness.

Then I remembered that I can’t earn it, so I shed those feelings. I was saying, I have nothing to barter with. This is who and what I am. At the same time that I let that fall down, He was there and opened His arms to me and I went to Him.

Sometimes I remember that I can go to Him at any time, and love Him and be with Him, so I do, I do, I do. Other times I feel shy.

I keep thinking back, how did this all happen? And it was Him. There was no outside factor. He simply stepped in with a much more clear invitation than usual. And I accepted.


March 22, 2013-

Sometimes I wish I was an artist,
and could draw instead of write.

I would shade in the language like a landscape
The line of the hills would fade down,
all those hollows sequestered by distance.

But it’s not a landscape I’m thinking of, it’s me.
It’s me that’s lifting up into the paling sky,
Easily, as if I had never been clay.

No distance to reach through,
Nothing to reach but You.

There are a hundred metaphors for this.

When I was a girl
I barely knew You.

Too shy to rest in the boat,
rocked by the sea,
under the heat of a glassy sky.

Too shy to touch You.

But that veil had worn so thin,
I had to let it loose.

Too tired to pretend there could be any distance between
Those hills and that sky, the rising line of horizon
where they touch at every point, seamlessly
sewn in together by the light but not the same.

I asked You for a bower and You gave me

loose red soil,
tilled up clean and getting everywhere
between the raised beds for vegetables.

I wanted You to take me home and You!
You took me right back here.

and here, I must let You go
for You to return again
newly mine and presently real,
however You will be,
in that moment unlike the last.

In this way I am constantly
letting go of Your hand
in order to grasp it again and

in this way, You are taking me somewhere,
probably right here,
where I live with You

in each passing moment dying to the next
and touching all along the light,
seamless, always falling into distance which
is not there, after all.

Instead, it's a kitchen garden growing fruits and vegetables.


March 28, 2013-

I’m feeling nervous and anxious, because of sharing my experience on my blog, and I'm still getting used to them, myself.

I keep pausing, right where I am, and thinking, is this for real? I walked into the bedroom, the dresser drawers left wide open in the lamp light, the bed unmade and I thought, right here and right now, He loves me and I will simply be in it.

But I felt nothing profound, just my tiredness and so I was just that in the moment, and leaned against the footboard of the bed and I felt Him drape His arm around my shoulders, comfortingly, but I thought, how can this be? Maybe I am making this up?

I let that be in the moment as well; everything in the moment at once, what I felt from Him, my resistance to it, my exhaustion, confusion, yearning, everything together with the bed unmade, leaning against the foot of the bed and I felt His love open up right into that moment.

And I felt almost like laughing from sheer disbelief- how can He be like this? How can this be true of Him? Will His love never run out?


March 29, 2013-

Here is a stage:

enter the girl.

Dim the lights;
it would not be kind
this solitary figure
too harshly to illuminate.
She herself is unaware.

Let the backdrop unroll.
Now stretched behind her is
a depth of perception not realized.

She is presented against this
flat invitation, and our imaginations
lend it life not inherent
to its nature, too closely following
the form of our experience
but it will do.

We have forgotten what we used to know.

Her story now enhanced by our expectation,
the girl paces back and forth before the backdrop,
animated, speaking, believing
her part.

When she turns to the painted canvass
she reaches out her arms as if she could
reach right through it.

Now the music should play.
Softly, I think. Hardly heard:
some violin strains
some wind and reed.

The sound should wreathe the stage
weaving audience into story
and story into girl-
whom we have momentarily forgotten.

In the absence of our attention,
her story has progressed;
she is not alone on the stage.

This figure is not the hired actor.

Flabbergasted, the director searches through the papers,
his hissing disturbing the silence that's descended
in this unexpected entrance,
but the girl isn't taking his cue.

She isn't looking at him.

We are urged to remain calm.
Our regularly scheduled program should resume shortly.

And touching the pulleys and cords
and equipment of mechanical service
this too present and captivating person lifts them into air.

Breaking apart, our stage falls away,
leaving us hanging in some place
too real to be believed.

Clutch your program close,
but it won’t translate this language for you.

There’s only one word here and it isn’t something you speak,
in this place beyond the backdrop.

But again we have forgotten the girl.
She has become real and is lost in the landscape.

To follow her now, we can no longer be an audience.


March 30th, 2013-

So, last night. I went to bed and I was drawn into love, by Him and by my longing and we were there in the room, only I was standing.

It was interesting, to see the room from that perspective. I felt a sense of freedom and ability, like I could go explore, I could move around. The floor was stone, like I remembered it being, and the couch was there, to the left of me.

I stepped out onto the grass, but I hesitated and stepped back into the room, which is really more like a pavilion now, because of there being no walls, but Jesus kept assuring me that it was safe and okay for me to be out in that space, so I said, what the heck!

I ran out into the grass in my bare feet, onto the gently sloping lawn. I threw myself down on the grass, as though I was going to make a snow angel, only there was no snow and He sat down cross legged near me, in the grass. I just lay there, soaking in the peace and freshness and quietness and the nearness of Jesus.

Then I wanted to be nearer- because Jesus was there and with me!- so I sat up and went to Jesus and curled right up in His arms and put my head against His chest. I am so free with Jesus! But the thing is, He is so welcoming, so open, so happy and pleased to have me, that I can't resist going to Him.

We lay back in the grass, resting; I was listening to His heartbeat and simply being with Him. His arm was outstretched on the grass, palm up. On impulse, I lifted my hand and slid it up to His arm to His hand, over the scar tissue and I felt this incredible sense of wonder and awe.

Jesus said softly, loving, you know who I am.

The astonishment and pleasure of hearing this dropped me out of being with Him- that is, I had to stop to try and think about that, to pause in the sheer enjoyment of being with Him, to mark that in my mind, because I never want to forget that.

Again I worried, am I making this up? If I worry about this, it's like I get hung up on it, I get stuck. It’s better just to let everything fall into Him and accept the gift, because in the end, how can I prove it to myself, one way or the other?

I don't think that I am- I know what it is like to use my imagination to make something up. I do that all the time, I am a creative writer after all, and this is not the same, but maybe I'm in some kind of denial.

When I get stuck like that, I frequently hear Him whisper, believe, or do not be unbelieving, but believing.

As if believing were the stream which allowed the experiences to run smoothly forward, belief was the thing that caught me up in it, a way in which I participate.

So then I thought, let's go down to the edge of the lawn. Down at the edge, there was a wooded slope and a little stream. I squatted down and Jesus knelt down beside me. I splashed my face with the water and the fish came to nibble my fingers when I put them in the stream.

I stepped out into the water and I seemed to be younger, much younger and though this puzzled me, I thought, okay. I held out my hand to Jesus and He took my hand and wadded into the water with me. And it was so… so good. Like, God and I were best friends, or companions, just exploring the world and enjoying it. I wonder if God enjoys sometimes to be that way.

When we came up out of the bank and onto the lawn, I could see the room in the near distance, at the top of the lawn. It was fascinating to see it from the outside, at a distance. Beyond, I could see the blurry tops of trees above the roof and possibly hills beyond that and I had this feeling that a city lay over there, somewhere in that direction.

Then I looked at Jesus and my love for Him  rose up bursting out of my chest and I threw my arms around Him and poured out my love to Him. As I was caught up in this wordless outpouring of love- like a surge of living water that we were both caught up in, like a current through and through us- I suddenly realized that I had known Jesus always- that I had always been His. I had known Him before I had been born.

Like that verse, He choose us in Him before the foundations of the world. We were in Him before the foundations of the world were laid.

This understanding, it moved me so deeply, so powerfully. I cried out to Jesus again and again- oh my God, oh my God! Oh it’s You! It's You! I know You! I cried this out to Him with all of my soul, all of my spirit.

It was as if I had found Jesus all over again, found the one thing that mattered most, my life, my breath, my heart, my everything worth having, the one aching, wonderful thing that I had lost, for a short while, and now recovered, recognized.

It moved Jesus so deeply, He kept gathering me up, assuring me, again and again, that I was His and He was mine and we had always been together.

I was literally babbling at one point, because I couldn't even find the words to speak how much I loved Him. I knew that I would know His face, His person- I would know Jesus from the marrow of my bones to the spark of divine life in the depths of my spirit. I would know Him through and through because I had come from Him- He was my Creator, my beginning and end, my all in all and everything good and the Source of my deepest and true life.

And then this passion of feeling eased away of its own accord and in its place, I felt sorrow sweep up from inside Jesus. He was sad, He was filled with sadness. He was heavy with it.

This took me by surprise and I didn't know how to understand it, but His sorrow filled me with compassion and tenderness. I hugged Jesus and asked Him, “What is wrong? What happened? What happened?”

He did not answer me in words, but I remembered, the thought drifted over me, that it was Good Friday and that so many countless people were remembering His crucifixion and not just that, but they were remembering and lamenting their own suffering, which was great and unbearable, the brokenness of this world, the violent horror and the grief and the illness and the two together were present, somehow, in that moment, in Jesus.

For one moment, I saw as He saw, or felt as He felt, to feel the yearning, stabbing pain of this life, of the people lost in this life and things they suffered. It was vast. It went sharp through me. My first and unthinking instinct was simply to let Jesus know that I had heard Him, so I said, of course, of course, I understand, I see.

Jesus only let me feel a small part of His sorrow for one moment, because it would have shattered me to pieces otherwise. Only He can bear it.

I wonder if Jesus feels that constantly, at a certain level in Himself, while at the same time, feeling joy and completion, because that is also true- but who knows how Jesus is within Himself? He is the One who is and was and is to come. But that is a profound mystery.

More than that, the thing that lingered with me was the inexpressible pleasure and satisfaction of having comforted Him. It was so moving, I felt I had to confess it.

“I love to comfort You,” I admitted.

I love to be comforted by you, He replied, immediately.

I couldn’t sleep very well that night. I was so caught up in Jesus, thinking about Him, remembering how we had been together, remembering the things He had said and most of all, remembering that He was my eternal Beloved- from my very creation and now and always.

Jesus kept reminding me of this, Himself. I would wake and feel Him take me so powerfully, so possessively into His arms and remind me, without words, that we belonged to each other, that I knew Him from before, that I would always know Him, that I had found Him again.

It was intoxicating, so moving. When I woke up in the morning, I felt that again.


April 2, 2013-

Last night, I went to bed. I was exhausted from the party. I lay there, my face pressed into the pillow, hearing the dryer tumbling and the murmur of voices through the closed door, rimmed with light. I was so exhausted and I did not feel Jesus anywhere, and I just rested in that. I knew He was there; I did not have to feel it. I could be fully in the physical world and yet completely known and held and kept by Him.

I remembered that Jesus was and is the One that had held me and known me and loved me before I’d been born and to whom I would return, after I passed. I could rest in the physical world with perfect confidence.

The feeling of loss and futility crept in, as I lay there, cradled in the bare heart of the present world. I thought, here I am on a Monday night in April, thirty five years old, growing older, infertile, childless, divorced once, having no career, unpublished, uneducated.

Then I felt His hand rest on my shoulder, He bent down, He whispered, not alone.

And I thought, holy crap! He is so invested in my knowing that He is with me.

The last few evenings had been quiet and I had rested in the sleepy quietness of our being together. I had let it be, still processing that incredible experience of remembering Him again as my eternal Beloved, and being with Jesus while His sadness filled Him.

It was a lot.

But last night, I wanted to be with Jesus again, so I said, I want to come to You… I called His name. I said, I want You, Jesus, I want You. You bright and morning Star.

And He said, come here. Just come here, then. He said it with such easy, loving confidence.

I thought, okay… and so I simply took myself there. I stepped right into the room, and Jesus was standing in front of me, and I was all, whoa. Then I went straight into His arms; I put my head against His heart and listened.

We thought about what to do. I was curious about the room, so I turned around and there seemed to be a shadowed opening behind me, where I had come through and I went to take a step there, but He put His arm around my waist and pulled me lovingly back, so I didn’t pursue that fully, but I felt that if I passed through there, I would simply be in my bed- I had a glimpse of how simply and naturally that would happen. It also seemed to be a hallway there, that the shadows were sort of hiding, and the hallway went somewhere else.

So again I thought, with freedom, what shall we do?

We were thinking of the sea and so I said is there one? Can there be one? And there was one- beyond the stream, there were some crumbling cliffs and a glimpse of a beach and shore line.

I held back. I said, am I imagining this or is this a scene from a movie or a picture I’ve seen?- again, I questioned the experience, and He said, have you seen that before?

Though it seemed familiar to me, I couldn’t say that I had ever seen that view before. It was its own view.

So I said, okay! And we went happily down the path, which was at first woodsy and then came to the cliff and we walked down it and He helped me over the hard parts and then I want running on ahead, and then I went back to Him, almost nervously, like an anxious child- should I leave You behind? Did I hurt Your feelings? Should I stay by Your side and let You help me over the rocks?

But I felt only His overarching love, His gentle, steady presence.

So I went running onto the sand. We played on the sand- we seemed to be wearing loose white robes, which was fine by me. Not exactly like the hippest fashion statement ever, but it was all I really needed.

He went out into the water and turned to face me and stretched out His hands in invitation.

I said, accusingly- this is just like my story and Jesus countered, your story is like Me.

I burst out laughing and we were laughing together, because that is too true. Those stories were the wrappings to hide Him in. He is the real thing, the one thing I wanted at the heart of all my writing.

I felt my fear of the ocean, so I hesitated and then I went running through the breakers and into His arms and we went out through the surf.

We went out into the deep places just off shore and were rocked by the waves. I looked at Jesus and His face was unexpectedly clear and His eyes were brilliant.


April 3rd, 2013-

So, again last night, I thought, I want to be with Jesus, and again He said, but without words, to simply come, to simply come to Him.

And indeed, I did and it hit me, with this kind of awe- how simple it was, as though there were no division at all between the spiritual life and the physical life and-


I was all, holy crap, that’s right, there isn’t. It’s both true at the same time.

Jesus was laughing, as though He loved me so much and He found me adorable and it pleased Him so much that I had made this connection.

For you are seated with Christ in the heavenly places, Jesus reminded me, His eyes dancing.

"Indeed! So true!" I exclaimed, looking at Jesus with wide eyes.

And yet, we don’t have to just sit there- the main part is that we’re there with Him right now. That’s the delicious part.


I am including this song in here, even though I've posted it before and it's just a country song, but it just fits in so beautifully. (Hopefully it works, I had some trouble with the links)