Tag Archives: Eucharisteo

26 to 26: God is in the tremors

Ann Voskamp has been speaking Truth into my life, through her book One Thousand Gifts, for the last three years. I’ve read it and reread it and reread it again. Each time I work through it, whether with my small group or on my own, I am struck by different parts of the text, different principles.

This felt close last I read. I need this Truth in my heart and my flesh and my bones.

‘When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand util I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back’ — (Exodus 33:22-23)

“Is that it? When it gets dark, it’s only because God has tucked me in a cleft of the rock and covered me, protected, with His hand? In the pitch, I feel like I’m falling, sense the bridge giving way, God long absent. In the dark, the bridge and my world shakes, cracking dreams. But maybe this is true reality: It is in the dark that God is passing by. The bridge and our lives shake not because God has abandoned, but the exact opposite: God is passing by. God is in the tremors. Dark is the holiest round, the glory passing by. In the blackest, God is closest, at work, forging His perfect and right will Though it is black and w can’t see and our world seems to be free-falling and we feel utterly alone, Christ is most present to us, I-beam supporting in earthquake. Then He will remove His hand. Then we will look. Then we will look back and see His back.” –Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts, p 156

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No One & Naan

It’s only been 4 months since I posted last & 3 weeks since I started writing this. I wish so whole-heartedly that I was better at all of this that I am. Regardless. I finished something.

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bread dough

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I came home tonight and I felt alone.

For the first time in the two weeks that I’ve been roommateless, I felt really alone. Maybe it was because I had no to-do list to keep me company. Maybe it was because I knew that I was exiting a car with two people whom I love dearly and entering an empty house.

My co-worker’s father died this week. Tonight was his wake. Tomorrow they will put him in the ground, whisper long goodbyes.

Death stirs up so many questions, and still for me, illuminates so many fears about family, friends, and self. And this haunting thought—it is coming for those I love.

It’s on nights like these- lonely, quiet, fearful- when you need something warm and hopeful and home.

So I mixed the flour and the sugar and the yeast and the water. I formed thin, round circles. I covered with a cloth. I waited.

There’s something about yeasted bread that gives so much comfort. The perfume of dough rising smells nothing less than home.  The feel of a loaf proofing puts magic at your finger tips.

Yeast is a magical thing. It lies dormant in our refrigerators and pantries, awakening to life with a little warmth, a little sugar. It’s comforting. It shows evidence of life—springing up, bubbling over— where there seemed to be nothing by dry, desert death.

And I heated oil over flame to transform the dough into bread, the nothing into naan. Four misshapen rounds of dough becoming bread.

I took a round from the plate where it lay cooling. I broke it, still so warm—almost too warm for my skin to take— and remembered a body broken. Remembered a death. Remembered a sacrifice—a remembrance so unexpected.

I took it and ate. I remembered and gave thanks for a life-given for my life-rescued.

I chewed and thought only of communion, thought only of doing this in remembrance of Me. Thought only of the dry, dead yeast springing up dough like my dry, dead heart springing up with new Life, new Hope. I thought only of the death which gave and which gives life.

And I was filled—with warmth, with home, with Hope. I was filled with remembrance & thanksgiving that from death springs forth life; from old springs forth new; from pain springs forth joy; from Christ springs forth communion.

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Spring Breaks and Breaks and Breaks Me

 

creative commons; d. sharon pruitt

creative commons; d. sharon pruitt

 

It’s spring after a long winter. Too long. Too much.

Farmers tilling up dirt, making soil ready for bounty. God is tilling my heart. I am learning, feeling this as I put hands to the dirt in worship this morning, preparing spring ground for summer flowers.

The frost has heaved up rocks, pushed them to the surface. I pull them from beneath the soil and wonder where they come from, how far they’ve traveled only to be tossed aside.

The weeds—they’re so alive. They come up first, pushing through as a glimmer of hope. Toxin disguised as hope. They kill, they choke. I’m pulling up them up and out of this ground but each tug is filled with uncertainty—is this ugly thing only weeks away from radiant bloom? Or is this the poison that strangles out beauty not yet born?

The invaders, the unwelcome, I find their roots so shallow. So weak. A slight tug and they give way.

The flowers, they’re deep rooted, strong. Clinging to dirt deep. Awaking from winter’s long slumber. They don’t go gentle.

Oh, how I wish to be a flower. An iris. A lily. A tulip. A daisy. Dug in so deep. Bursting with beauty and light and newness. A beacon of hope, a pennant of promise.

Oh, how I have longed for spring, for the winter to roll back on my soul, for the Vinedresser to pull out heaved rocks and poison-plants.

This winter of my soul has lasted much longer than New England snow and ice, stuffed turkeys and heart-shaped candy boxes. I found that no jacket or mittens or boots could keep me warm and safe and dry from my own wretchedness.

I’ve waited long for this season—this time of new and fresh and beautiful; this time bursting with life and potential; this time of tearing up dead to make way for life. I’ve waited to feel the Farmer’s hands at work, to feel the plow meet the field of my wintered heart.

And it’s here. Tearing and sprouting and blossoming.

Spring breaks and breaks and breaks me and it feels like life.

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Prayers & Promises

I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know what to do but the words formed at my lips, pressed from my mouth before I could grab hold of them:

Can I pray for you?

But…I don’t…I can’t…I…

I am empty of jargon and oft-quoted phrases and trite expressions.

I am silenced. I’ve offered prayers that I cannot utter.

This moment of collision—my empty faith, my thankless heart, this broken world, His hurting people.

My mouth is dry, my throat is tight. I choke out His name.

Father.

One who spoke stars and filled seas and sculpted Adam and fashioned Eve and forsook True Son. Maker of worlds and heaven and these clammy hands and this brain knocking about for words. One who cradles close and promises peace.

Abba.

My voice is quiet and slow. Each word drags heavy and pulls tight.

I’m clawing at Your goodness and struggling to pull it close, to make it real, find it tangible. I’m drawing near, this time not just to Your promises, but because of them.

Come closer.

I’m asking and seeking and knocking. I’m drawing near. I’m offering up these bumbling words and broken heart as an invitation, as a desperate plea.

And another collision— the Giver of good and perfect gifts, my restless heart, His peace.

“The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.” –Psalm 51:17

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Thanksgiving Tuesday

Apples to Apples with members of the Board; making dinner as a staff; doing dishes at 10 pm as a staff & the madness that ensued; playing the role of a second Hun Bun while watching The Walking Dead with Ian & Emilia; snuggling Jack & House; remembering and giving thanks for 10 cute years with my puppy dog, Molly; the healing that comes with tears; friends that still like you even after they’ve seen your cry face; the small, yet wonderful, group at the Ladies’ Retreat; Janet’s testimony; Melanie Krumrey; new blood at camp; reading One Thousand Gifts again and again and again; the power in the practice of thanksgiving; making frozen yogurt; dreaming of and planning for summer; the opportunity to do what I love; deals on seltzer at Big Y; marking up books with notes; making an appointment for allergy testing; every song that Josh Garrels has ever written; my mother’s nurturing nature; my dad’s hugs & incessant I love you’s; realizing that my brother is not a robot; re-reading old blogs; memories- that our brains contain them and replay them and immortalize moments.

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Senses in the Morning

Breathe.

Slow down. Sip your coffee. Give thanks.

Breathe deeper.

Listen to the quiet. Hear the house creak. Hear the heater roar. Hear the refrigerator hum. Hear the coffee pot click. Hear your heart beat.

Be still just a while longer.

Do not hurry into life. This is a moment that you can never have back, as simple as it may be.

The simplest moments are often the sweetest.

Drink it in. Taste the coffee. Taste the cinnamon and ginger and nutmeg. Taste the cream. Taste the warmth.

Feel the mug between your hands. Feel the comfort in this home. Feel the fullness of this life.

Pour another cup.

Close your eyes. Breathe.

Be content. Be satisfied. Smile.

This. This is a day that the Lord has made, has gifted. To you. To me.

Rejoice and be glad in it.

© Alyssa Bell; February 5, 2013.

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Twenty Five.

November,

What do you think you’re doing here? Go away.

I’ve spent the last six months thinking about my birthday, about how on the twenty-ninth day of the not-fall-but-not-winter month of November, I will turn twenty five.

I’ve let this number terrify me. I’ve let it bully me into a corner of unfulfillment. A corner where I’ve etched all of my ‘I want to’s and By the time I am’s.’ I’ve never actually made a list like that on paper but I’ve thought them- all the things I want or wanted or needed.

I’ve lived so long peeping into the windows of other people’s lives and saying, “I want that.” Coveting. Stealing with my mind. Robbing my friends and magazines and movies and my past of things that I want for myself. Now. I’ve imposed timelines on my own life and that timeline is always now.

But I tell you this, as I approach the beginning of my assent to age thirty, not one of those things is crossed off. My future is the murky and obscure that my lists tried to prevent.

I could let that be a discouragement. I could hold onto it and cry into it and rock back and forth like a child. I could stuff it into a jar with pitiful pleas of ‘why me?’ and ‘why not?’ and carry it in the breast pocket of my soul. I could. I want to. Envy and bitterness- these come easily to me. Almost natural, a conditioned response.

Or I could recognize my undisturbed, uncrossed-out lists as grace. Each item unchecked as an ounce of God’s compassion. I could begin to count the unexpected blessings that I’ve received or the strange places I’ve been as gifts. Undeserved gifts. That God knew and planned for me a life marked by fullness, one that does not necessarily echo the lives of many around me. I could let them serve as a reminder that my story is individually Authored, inexplicably person. That the things I want are not always the things I need and the things I really need are actually the things that I would have thought to want.

So, here’s to twenty five. To another year of surprises and musings, of unexpected twists and challenges. To standing up and growing up. To traveling and learning and loving and growing and baking and changing. To another of breathing and falling on my face and discovering God’s mercies in beautifully new ways.

To another year living in the obscure, chasing the Light.

[“I’ve learned that God sometimes allows us to find ourselves in a place where we want something so bad that we can’t see past it. Sometimes we can’t even see God because of it. When we want something that bad, it’s easy to mistake what we truly need for the thing that we really want. When this sort of thing happens, and it seems to happen to everyone, I’ve found it’s because what God has for us is obscured from view, just around another bend in the road.” – Bob Goff, Love Does p.35-36]

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