Thursday, June 30, 2011

Brave on the Rocks

Several years ago I read Brave on the Rocks by Sabrina Ward Harrison.
I like the title.
Bravery, like a good drink, on the rocks...
And as much as I like my margaritas, no salt, on the rocks, I got it all wrong.

When Sabrina was a little girl, she was following her daddy, walking barefoot in his footsteps. He got to a rocky stretch of the path and she didn't want to follow him any more. He told her that she had to be brave on the rocks.

I remember following in my daddy's footsteps more than once as a little girl. In the summer time, I often walked barefoot. It got easier as the summer went on. And the rocks became less painful. I started the summer with soft feet, and when i walked barefoot in gravel, it hurt. Or if I walked across hot pavement, it burned and I would run to get to the other side. As the bottom of my feet felt pain, the pain developed callouses. As the callouses became thicker, the rocks were less painful, and the pavement didn't feel quite so hot.

I walked gently at the beginning of the summer, but by the end of summer, when my feet had developed thick, protective callouses, I would run without looking down first. The rocks were still there, but I no longer felt the pain.

This realization changed my outlook at the beginning of the summer. When I approached the rocks, I knew they would hurt. But if I avoided them, then my callouses would never become thick and tough and able to withstand the careless freedom of running barefoot. I spent the first few weeks of summer approaching the rocks with the purpose of enduring the pain to toughen up my feet. I didn't avoid them. I welcomed them, because I knew they were a means to an end.

In today's world, the word callous is not considered a positive thing. As an adjective, it is defined as insensitive, indifferent, or unsympathetic. As a noun, people go to the salon to have their callouses removed so they will have soft, supple feet.

But to me, as a young girl, building callouses were essential to enjoying the freedom of being barefoot in summer. I think that callouses are a good thing. It takes pain to build them. It takes endurance, and persistence. They don't look pretty, but they are protective. And their protection provides a freedom that you cannot get any other way.

If you want to run barefoot, you have to build callouses. Because when you have callouses, you can be brave on the rocks.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

no apologies

my little blog is out in the world, very small and insignificant compared to many blogs that are out there these days. but that is just fine with me. most of my writing has been on paper this year.

i've neglected my blog these past several months. i have no apologies for that. no sense feeling badly about myself because i haven't written to you, whoever you may be that is reading this. because it is mine, to do with as i please. it's not for you anyway. i do this for me.

summer is here, with all of its humidity and heat and gnats and bees. with sunshine and thunderstorms and tomato plants and lima beans. with flowers and weeds and grass, always growing. with still air, and swing sets and hammocks and lounge chairs.

i enjoy looking out my kitchen window, while i am doing dishes, and seeing how our garden is growing taller and taller each day. i can see the fruit trees along the back fence, and it looks very promising that we will have a fairly large harvest of apples and pears. we have blueberry bushes, planted last year, that are giving off fruit, just a few berries ripening at a time. they will continue to grow bigger and stronger, and one year, not far away, we will have enough blueberries to make a pie. right now we just keep eating them as they ripen.

we have some little jalapeno plants that don't look sturdy enough to grow peppers, but they are still standing straight and tall and trying to grow strong. we have muskmelon and watermelon plants that have not been growing long, but are already starting to spread out as if to say, "the largest part of the garden belongs to us." we have given them plenty of room to grow big.

all of the growing in our yard happens because of sun, AND rain. both are necessary for growth. and yes, i'm going to go there. i'm going to make one more comparison to sun and rain, and good and bad, being necessary for growth.

there has been a lot of growing inside our home this year. there have been challenges that we didn't forsee. difficult things that have hit us square in the chest and took the wind out of us as they knocked us to the ground. pain, and sorrow, and loss. human-ness, in many kind and loving ways, but sometimes in fallen, hurtful ways. frustration and feelings of being overwhelmed. desires lost, and trust betrayed.

don't we all experience these things? every one of us. no matter what your home is like, these things are the dark side of life. and if you are alive, then you experience these things. sometimes they come in short punches. sometimes they come in waves. and sometimes they are a steamroller, flattening us out...leaving us wondering if we will ever be filled with life again.

and comes back into us. there is still pain as a result of the trauma, but over time, that too will fade. (or at least they have good drugs that help it not be so severe!) when i am overwhelmed, my reactions and responses are very unpredictable. sometimes i cry and for reasons i cannot explain, that often helps. sometimes i pull away - into quietness and solitude. sometimes i scream and yell and swear - LOUDLY.

i don't know how these experiences are helping me grow. sometimes it becomes clear after a few days or months. sometimes years. sometimes never. i think that often, the growth is not directly correlated to the situation. pain does not teach me to appreciate the pain-free days, but rather it teaches me to humbly depend on others and ask for help when i need it. i don't know if i am expressing it right, but i think that our growing times are meant to bring us closer to the people in our lives, not closer to understanding ourselves. we need other people. we weren't meant to do life alone.

the good sometimes seems to happen less frequently. i think it just seems that way because the hard things can be all-consuming. but the good is still there, even in the midst. sometimes it's just not as loud. and often, when we are in the midst of a good spell, when the good seems to be lasting longer than normal, we are just waiting for the bad to drop and spill itself on us. and this fear can keep us from enjoying all that the good is.

i know i have not been specific. i've been talking in generalities. so here is something specific. God promises that He is Goodness. He is Love. He is Peace. He is Refuge. He is Healing. for every bad that exists, God, in His very being, is the opposite. He is not forceful, therefore He is often overlooked. but that doesn't mean that He is not right there with us in the midst of the bad. this is Truth. it is the Truth that i hold onto when the world seems to be suffocating me. and if i turn to Him, he will continue to breathe life into me, even when i cannot breathe on my own.

He is Abba, who loves his children. and I am one of His children.


"it is good to remember that we need each other greatly, you and i, more than much of the time we dare to imagine, more than most of the time we dare to admit." - fredrick buechner

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