Saturday, July 23, 2011

when grace perseveres

I once stood on the edge of the Badlands. It was 118 degrees; I chugged my water to the very last drop. It's one of the places in my travel logs that I consider a post-trip experience is fitting. 

I've been to some places where I knew then, right then, that kind of wonder that makes you silent. I knew it by how short my breath got. Or how I stopped taking photos, because I knew film wouldn't do it justice. And words seemed inappropriate. 

Some wonder is instant.
Like the amphitheater in Ephesus. A starry, starry night. 
Running my fingers along the top of a cross at a death monument on a hidden Irish shore.
The moment a groom sees his bride. Standing on the edge of the ocean. 

Other kinds of wonder just grow

Like the wonder of parenting. Growing a garden.
Reaching the peak of the mountain. 
Falling in love.
Learning the Gospel.

Or in this case, for me, going to the Badlands.

I visited in 2006 during a very broken, confused season of life. In fact, it wouldn't be a stretch to say my own heart was a sprawl of barrenness. I stood on the edge of sheer cliffs and felt the empty hollow nothing that was echoing in my heart. I knew it was beautiful. I also knew I was missing it.

Here I am five years later, staring at these photos, trying to remember how that empty stale air went into my lungs, and planted a small seed of breathlessness. It's as though now, in a season of rich earth, beauty and gratitude, I can now step back and see it. 

I close my eyes and remember her. That girl who asked. Kicked stones. Looked for some writing in the sand.

I think, is this how I grow in grace? How we grow in grace? To allow room and space for wonder to grow?

In our get-it-now culture, I know I'm prone to pass quickly over things that don't fit the bill immediately. It's so easy for me to find a quick fix to trouble, and soon find that fix unsatisfactory, hollowing out my heart a bit more each time.

I don't want to hollow out my heart. I want to make room for wonder to grow, for worship to set in deep before I even realize what's happening. To allow five years to pass and one day find myself in the grip of wonder, a full heart pounding inside my chest.

the organic bird
I started this year looking for wonder. And I'm not sure that I've completely found it in the here and now yet. 2011 hasn't handed me any abundance of instant marvel. 

But 2006 gave me wonder. 2006 reminds me today of Grace. Grace I didn't know was covering me then. Grace I needed. Love that was working, and blowing clear and blue across the caverns of my heart.

And that kind of wonder? Well, that is more palpable than any quick fix I could try now.

It was then and is now, completely sufficient.


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