December 28, 2011


People come and go-I have heard it a thousand times or more. I am not very good at the "you have to let some of them fade out of your life" part. You see, I suffer from a disease called cares-a-lot syndrome. Not a very elegant or professional term, I know, but you get the picture. It sounds like a Care Bear problem.

Certain people are just hard to let go of. Of course, being a quasi-normal functioning, social human being,  I have had quite a collection of acquaintances. It has never been easy to let go of those I have loved. Once people have entered my heart, it is hard to get them out. But a majority of lost friendships I have come to terms with and accepted as beautiful memories.

Two missing friends are on my heart tonight, however.

One has struggled with many things in her life, and I was there for her. Still, I do not think she understands the depth of comfort she gave me in a time of loneliness and insecurity: my first quarter in college.

The other was one of the first people I opened up to, that I was myself with and whether he knows it or not, was an invaluable friend. He said some of the most wise things I have ever heard, and could be so much. I just want him to know what I see in him.


We are full of holes. I believe that every person we love takes a piece of us-whether they ask for it, desire it, treasure it or not, they still have something of me. These are holes only He can fill. He may not fill them at the speed and rate that we expect or desire. Healing is never speedy. My two friends each have piece of me whether they realize it or not, and I am just going to have to let God fill me up in His time.

It is not in my nature to give up on anything, especially people. Someday they may see how dear they are to me and perhaps even feel how I have loved them all along. And maybe they won't. Nevertheless, I refuse to give up. There is always hope, though I have accepted that nothing may ever happen.

"Letting go doesn’t mean giving up, but rather accepting that there are things that cannot be."

December 27, 2011

I lift my eyes...

{Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.}
John Muir

The Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania. 

I was born in those mountains. My first cry was uttered among their valleys, my first home among them. A part of me will always be in those mountains. Though I did not live there long, I spent a good third of my childhood there visiting my grandparents. Looking upon those mountains I see the shadows of my younger years dancing and trotting around, fishing and wading in their streams, running along their valleys and up their slopes. There is nothing so comforting as those mountains. As Muir said, peace flows in me when I go there. Winds blow freshness into my spirit and cares fall away. Nothing clears my mind, corrects my perspective like gazing at this view: the rolling blue mountains, the green and gold fields and the jade streams. 

What is it about this beauty that is so calming, so comforting? It plays through my mind in times of sorrow, so much so, that I painted a humble remembrance of the sight for my room at college to console my homesick heart. Perhaps it is in this beauty that God shows us a glimpse of how beautiful He is. He painted the travelling clouds, planted each stretching tree, smoothed each hill, and cut each hole in the clouds to pour the sunbeams through. This familiar view never ceases to push the tempo of my heartbeat and shock my breath into tiny gasps. To even think that He is more beautiful than this? Unimaginable. And Heaven, his masterpiece? Greater than this? Unthinkable.

Of course Heaven is the utmost home, but we have homes on earth too. This is one of them. Its familiarity is comforting. Almost twenty years I have been loving this place. It only becomes dearer since I get to see it less now. Nothing is more dear than a familiar memory except a familiar sight. 

Perhaps to the eye it is not the most amazing sight, this picture of my grandparents' view. It is certainly not the most dramatic, amazing or unusual in the world. But I cannot help thinking it is the best. It is where I would run to if I ever was faced with a great uncertainty, a big problem. It is almost easier to be with God there, unhindered by the trappings of normal life, of industrialized cities and the society they bring. It is the best place to think and listen to Him. Nowhere can I see Him better.

It is, to me, the best view on earth.

I wish I could say it more profoundly, more beautifully, but I can't. 

December 18, 2011

Yuletide Nostalgia

{Like snowflakes, my Christmas memories gather and dance - each beautiful, unique and too soon gone.} Deborah Whipp

At this moment the snowflakes of my memories are falling heavily. It is a beautiful orchestrated dance as I wander about my house in a nostalgic haze.

I look at the tree and recall each year and the boxes of ornaments. Sorting through the broken ones, the old ones, new ones, beautiful ones, ugly ones, cherished ones has always been my favorite tradition. We always do it in the evening, the house dimly lit by our lamps, Christmas music brightly chiming out. My dad would be sitting nearby somewhere reading as my mom, my sisters and I laughed and sang our souls out. Mom would lift an ornament out of the old boxes, and cinematic memories would sweep through the room like whispers.

I gingerly lift my blown-glass ornaments and carefully, thoughtfully place them on the tree. Random associations whizz by as I recall the places they were purchased, the time spent at those places no longer visited. I recall the people who are associated with certain ones.

Soon these thoughts and memories will be carefully wrapped in tissue and stored away in my mind's attic. Crumbs and leftover tinsel thoughts will be swept into the cracks. I will not bring them out during the year-they do not belong in the rest of the year. It is odd and somehow uncomfortable to gaze on Christmas memories when the air is warm and the ground no longer white. For now I will enjoy them as they are strung about my mind like Christmas lights, pouring a warm glow upon my heart with their trifling brightness. My little snowflakes that will soon melt away until next year. And new ones will mix themselves in next year.

This will be one of them. This year I did not get to decorate the tree. It feels as if part of my Christmas had faded. As I walk about my house, something seems so out of reach. It is the tree. I do not know where the ornaments are placed on it, I do not know the laughs and smiles associated with each one. As I gaze upon the glowing tree, my joy is shadowed by a little bit of sadness.

But it is joy nonetheless. For I am home now, I am where I can go and the essence of myself is unquestioned. Not that being questioned is a bad thing, but sometimes we need rest, rejuvenation. Time to just revel in the joy of the light that Christmas sheds on our lives. For what more wondrous light than that of Christ? A King willing to abandon prosperity, the warmth and purity of heaven for the dirt, sin and temptations of this earth. There is no light so luminous as that of love, and His love is the most lustrous of all. Brighter than my memories. Brighter than every Christmas tree we've ever had put together. Brighter than the immensity of the sun.

That is what lights our hearts at Christmas. Not trees, not icicles, snowmen or candles. The snow, the tree, the ornaments, the stockings will all sit in the glow of this light as wonderful memories, treasured for all of my life. Maybe it is a little cliche, but no one ever said cliches were not the truth.

I hope you have a blessed holiday. May His light brighten the glow of your living rooms and kitchens. May you laugh and smile at the mishaps and jokes with full gusto! Merriest of Christmases!

December 12, 2011

remembrance in light of hope

{Memory is not so brilliant as hope, but it is more beautiful and a thousand times more true.}
George D. Prentice

This is one of the most beautiful sentences ever written. The images it brings to mind, the implications of the words, the sound of the words, are all part of what makes it a wonderful thought to me. I am a great collector of quotes, hence this blog, and this is one of my favorites.

Yet, this quote has puzzled me since the day I first read it, perhaps adding to its appeal. I have spent many moments of my spare time, that probably add up to hours, reflecting on this statement. I have asked myself, "why is memory more beautiful than hope? And more true?" I did not ask whether it was true-why is that? Something in me sort of knows that it is true, whatever it means.

Perhaps someday it will click completely. For now, I do my best to come up with some sort of explanation.

I think about memories, especially my most beautiful ones, and why I cherish them. Sometimes my memories are just faint colors, fuzzy images and muffled sounds. Sometimes they are more clear. Sometimes they are dark, often they are vividly colored with deep hues and very few pastels. Memories are also in the past, which might be why I see them as dark. They are like old photos, stored away in a dim attic inside dark boxes. taking them out in the bright light would be strange to me. Some things seem more real in darkness. Perhaps that is why I rarely use my overhead lights, waiting for the last ray of sunlight to slip over the horizon before daring to flip the switch. Natural light and candlelight seem real, and fluorescent and incandescent light seem fake. I sit in the dark a great deal. I get made fun of for it, but I don't mind really. I love talking to people in more dimly lit rooms. The light almost seems a barrier and when it is taken away, reality seems safer.

Perhaps that light is a barrier that keeps hopes so distant. The way I picture hopes, the future, is also blurry like memories, but usually my imaginings are very bright and hazy with light. They almost glow and use a palette of mainly pastels. The glow obscures details more than the dimness obscures memories. That is why I believe Mr. Prentice that memory is not so brilliant as hope. Hope is certainly brighter than my memories.

Then why is memory more true than hope? Memories are of what has happened, and hope is only what can be, might be. Hopes can change, but memories are relatively stable. We may bring new associations with memories, but they are still of something that happened, something that cannot be erased from history. Also, there are many different emotions attached to memories. These emotions are recognizable, though sometimes there are so many wrapped up together they are indistinguishable from each other. But they are there and they are ingrained in the records of our minds. Hope, on the other hand, is to me almost an emotion itself. This emotion shifts and morphs with the slightest breeze of thought. Our hopes change; they grow, shrink, widen, shorten, twist, stand on their heads and spin like a whirlwind.

The part, then, that I struggle with is that memory is more beautiful than hope. Something in me wants to believe that isn't true on principle. I do not know what principle, though I feel it is some sort of outside pressure. My heart, in opposition,  believes that the memories are more beautiful. I do not know why, but it does. I cannot explain it. Perhaps it is my love of twilight, the time of day when the light is not gone, but it flees. Memories look to me like twilight. Perhaps I am completely off my rocker, but I see memories in my head as dark, dim or dusky. Hopes I see like high noon, almost hidden by the light. I love my hopes, my dreams and my aspirations. Yet something in me loves my memories almost more. I thrive on remembering.

Dreaming of the future is wonderful, and yes, I keep my eyes forward, focusing on what is coming rather than what has been. But occasionally I like to shuffle through the journals of my thoughts, filed away in the memory room in my mind. I look at the pictures, the feelings, the thoughts and revel in the memories. Sometimes those memories are what keep me going forward. Remembering those good and beautiful times spurs me on to find more times like them, and maybe even better ones. And perhaps it is by the light of our hopes we can still see those memories. Perhaps it is our memories that fuel our hopes in the end. And so the cycle goes on, hope showing memories, fueling hope.

Well, at least those are some thoughts on Mr. Prentice's wisdom. Whether they are right or wrong? I may never know.

December 6, 2011

City on the Hill

City on the Hill
Casting Crowns

Did you hear of the city on the hill?
Said one old man to the other
It once shined bright and it would be shining still
But they all started turning on each other

You see, the poets thought the dancers were shallow
And the soldiers thought the poets were weak
And the elders saw the young ones as foolish
And the rich man never heard the poor man speak

And one by one, they ran away
With their made-up minds to leave it all behind
And the light began to fade in the city on the hill
The city on the hill

Each one thought that they knew better
But they were different by design
Instead of standing strong together
They let their differences divide

And the world is searching still

But it was the rhythm of the dancers
That gave the poets life
It was the spirit of the poets
That gave the soldiers strength to fight
It was the fire of the young ones
It was the wisdom of the old
It was the story of the poor man
That needed to be told.....

This song is beautiful. What a wondrous picture is painted by the words. I love the message of unity and acceptance. It makes me think of the ministries and friends in my life. Do we rely on each person to build the others up?


I hate to be blunt, but I think it is true. And I contribute to it. You see, I think that so often, when we are in a good place with God, or even when we are not, we think that our way of expressing and living for God is the one right way. We want everyone to see as we see, instead of wanting everyone to see as God sees. I know that I am guilty of this. It is hard to understand others sometimes, even if we are the most understanding person. People with very different ways of worshiping, talking about Jesus, and participating in fellowship are sometimes hard to connect to at first. The quiet people are ignored because people get tired of trying to talk to them, and the loud people are sometimes seen as unapproachable. Little do we realize how much of an impact we could have if the two could work together. And all the other kinds of people too. If our dancers could give our poets life, who could give the soldiers strength, who could protect the young and the old, poor and rich. If the spiritually mature could support the spiritually young, and if the spiritually young could motivate the spiritually mature.

As cliche as it sounds, we are like a puzzle. Each piece is different, and fits perfectly into the body of Christ. We all have a unique perspective of God to bring to the church, a unique way to serve God. Oftentimes it can seem very similar on the surface, but at the heart of it, each person's journey is different, so each person's experience of God is a different facet of who He is. And if we pull together we can get a clearer picture of God because we listen to each other, feel with each other and praise God together.

Of course we will not be perfect as the body of Christ until we are called home. But we can work hard to improve the way we are now. We can let God bring us together instead of our style of worship, our personality type and our comfortableness. It isn't easy. Who ever said it would be? But it is beautiful. And as Mark Hall said, "When we pull together and stop talking about what we are against, and a little bit more about what we're for, then we start to see God move."

I want to live in the city on a hill, where the poets and the dancers and the soldiers and all the other folks appreciate how much we rely on each other. Don't you?