Evergreen

writer, artist of the soul, & infinite dreamer

Remembering Miracles

“Sometimes God’s goodness is disguised as suffering.” I talk myself through the morning, trying to bring to mind the Lord’s provision in the midst of past despair. I so soon forget. The girl who makes coffee at the front desk told me about her friend who was making it a point to periodically write down the miracles, the ways the Lord provides for her, during this especially difficult time in her life. Lately I’ve substituted other things for writing, and in the processes I think I’ve lost track of the miracles.

The hope lies not just in that God has provided in the past. What comfort is that if it does not stand as a testimony to what he will do in the future? He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. But in the instability of my week days, it seems like tomorrow could be totally different than I expected or planned for today. I fear that my physical needs will not be cared for even if I am wise with my finances. I stand here, breath held, waiting for the bottom to drop out.

Maybe it’s being there at the doctor’s office, at seven, when mom got her diagnosis. Everything changed. All my childhood memories start there. It is my reference point. Instilling in me the assurance that at any moment you could get the bad news that will completely overturn how you thought your life was supposed to be lived. Yet, I forget how that summer we stayed at our aunts’, picking strawberries and dancing in the rain. My worst memories are also overlaid with some of my best. Mom went away for treatment, but she came back. I learned the importance of family and how suffering can bring you close to people, closer than you ever thought possible.

This time my vestiges of security are falling away, but I am still not alone. I have a husband to go through this trial along side. We have a roof over our heads. We are not abandoned. I may despair in the night, when the tears come more easily and the voices of doubt shout their loudest. But in the morning, one cup of coffee in, I’m ready to fight.

I will wait so the Lord’s power may be made perfect in my weakness.

יְהֹושֻׁעַ

You have the name of the brother I would have had, seven years my younger. The same span of years that stands between me and you. You greeted me this morning by sticking out your tongue, followed by an “Oh, I didn’t see you there…”

I think that’s how we would have interacted, my little one. Maybe you would have felt too far removed from me and the brother who was ever at my right hand. Your greeting would feign a distance removed with kindness in your eyes, begging me to draw close. And I would dance that dance with you. The push and pull of relationship and expectations. Attempting to decipher and savor moments and their meanings–finding joy in unexpected places and receiving with thankfulness whatever that might be.

Missing Pieces

Maybe it’s the introvert in me, or the escapist, but my current state of being stands as one of my favorites. I sit alone within the world of my headphones in a room of people silently working away at their own tasks. Together but separate. Maybe it’s a family trait. My family has always been fairly project oriented. Either we were all in it together (clearing brush, painting the house, replacing the linoleum flooring) or we were downstairs in the kitchen silently exploring our individual interests, save for intermittent outbursts if something struck us sideways.

Presence. Nearness. People are specifically themselves and there is an emptiness that is felt from the absence of that person who is irreplaceable. Babysitting last night, we played with a toy that fits differently shaped blocks through their matching holes. No matter how hard this toddler tried, the diamond block would never fit through the triangle hole. He will master this mystery as he continues to play.

As I write, I realize I don’t take my own advice. I miss the people I love, but I don’t really believe that others love me and miss me similarly in specific ways. Yet, I sit here back on campus again after my mono-induced hiatus confronted with the contours of relationship. Those people who were a part of my everyday routine earlier this semester express gladness at seeing me again–assuring me that their prayers have been lifted up this past month on my behalf. God is good and so often I don’t see it because I have made-up limitations for how His goodness has to be exhibited to me.

Bavinck at Bedtime

I lie half-sleep on the couch while my husband reads Herman Bavinck’s Reformed Dogmatics. A candle flickers in the background. Our feet touch under a shared blanket. The apartment is silent, save for the sound of water rushing through pipes in the walls and the muffled conversations of neighbors.

I painted my nails today. The first time since, well, since my wedding manicure, but I can’t remember a time before that. Probably during summer. Probably staving off intense boredom on a Saturday when I actually had work off. Today I am positive about our little life here. The mono did its work to stifle any optimism that tried to surface in the past month. There’s a lot of good a shower and two coats of nail polish can do for a girl’s state of mind. Put that in your book of proverbs.

I’m really writing this because I looked up from my sleepy-eyed daze and saw my husband, his brow furrowed with concentration, and was awestruck at the sight of him. We haven’t been married three months yet, so I still get to be without explanation. I wanted to record this moment. This feeling. Of loving someone so deeply it’s frightening. Truly. It keeps me up at night. And I cry and he holds me. It’s the scariest, best thing I’ve ever had a privilege to be a part of. I don’t want to forget.

BLUEJAY

Bluejay, blue Jay—with mate of brown—
Both sitting adjacent to me
half-hidden in the tree
framed by these sliding doors.

The tree is in half-bloom
The ground, half-thawed.
Spring comes in fits and starts
Unsure of itself and when it’s meant to be.

Blue Jay bluejay—will you weigh me down?
that thought of your free flight
When I am tethered here
chained to these sliding doors.

Entrance to a new world
or the taunt of freedom just out of reach?

But today is green in it’s bones
And the sky is blue bright, like his wings.
So my soul will soar
breaking those bonds both real and imagined.

Bluejaybluejay—fly as if the day is won.

Mono

A strange name, I thought, for a disease that stretches on for so many weeks.

But it is solitary. Isolating. Isolated.

The fear of infecting someone else. The lack of energy to interact for more than five minutes at a time.

My days are mostly spent trying to sleep. And breathe. Tonsils and lymph nodes swollen, each swallow lingers like a deep cut on the back of my throat. Dehydrated from the pain of trying to drink, breathing through my mouth for too long leaves it sandpaper raw. But my nose is no help at all. Plugged continually. Never more than one nostril in use, I beg for oxygen with each inhale.

Maybe that’s why I’m so tired. Maybe that’s why I’ve become coarse and mean and hopeless most days. I can do nothing more than lay here and ask for help. The feeling is void, less than human, useless.

I’m told that eventually this will end. I should be on the upswing in another month, even though one has already been taken from me. I hope I can hold on.

Anxiety and Expectation

Three more days until the deep dive of the semester.

I am library-bound. Psyching myself up to face how much Hebrew I’ve forgotten over the past year (with no one but myself to blame). I feel the darkness of the wings closing in as the curtain of the semester threatens to pull back. The most satisfying classes are the ones that ask the most of me. I see that on the horizon for all of them.

My thoughts are jumbled with hope and tension. There is undeniable past Faithfulness to lean on, yet in my weakness I am as short-sighted as ever. I doubt my weakness and struggle to move not by my own strength. That daily miracle of sustaining Power is a mystery clouded to me like the February skies.