20 days ago I read this verse then prayed the most ridiculous prayer.
Since I didn't actually know if I had strayed from the Lord, or if I even needed to return to Him... I simply asked Him to break my heart and cause me to weep and mourn if He wanted me to.
Stupid, stupid woman.
Today grief came upon me like a heavy cloak. I couldn't see it, but my body felt it something awful. I ached from the peach fuzz softness of my skin to the calloused soles of my feel - then down deep into the sole of my soul. The basest lowliest places of myself - the bottom of every breath, every pore, every thought, all of it aching.
Miraculously I was all by myself at home for the day - so I grabbed my down comforter and gave in to the Great Comforter. Praising Him for these unlikely hours, I opened wide my bedroom windows and crawled back under the covers. When was the last time I'd spent a day heartsick under covers, hurting in those deep places? Before children - maybe before marriage altogether? No, I can't recall... even in the midst of all the overwhelmed seasons of motherhood, I'd not known a day like this. Slow and filled with ache.
"...fasting with weeping and with mourning."
Hour after hour, tears came then dried, again and again, always returning for another scathing journey down my cheeks, flushed. By noon there was a thin white powder caked beneath my eyes. Salt. Dry salt. I felt the granular texture of this salty faith-life between my fingers and thought of God's call that we are to live as salt in a flavorless faithless generation. And then a knock at the window shifted my thoughts.
It was a butterfly fluttering her wings against the glass, darting off to the morning glory vine, then over to the milkweed just beyond, and back again for another gentle tap-tapping. The scent of jasmine and orange blossoms wafted through opened windows and filled my room, and the melody of eucalyptus leaves rustled light and hopeful, which only made me cry again. Dear God, I wept big tired tears as I laid there like an invalid nursing a soul-sick heart.
Are you curious as to the particulars of my soul sickness? Do you want to know what broke me to the quick today? I'd tell you right now, I surely would, except there's really no story to tell. It's just life; my own brand of challenges and you've got yours, but this was the day mine caught up to me. Overwhelmed from within and weighed heavy from without. I'm guessing that's happened to you. Sometimes you get worn and weary from the journey, knees sore from praying, eyes strained from too little sleep, overwhelmed by the blessings that each carry challenges. Yes, even the blessings carry their own trials. But you already know that, don't you? How even the most grateful heart can get worn out?
Again that monarch danced up close to the window, doing her most natural dance, erratic yet graceful, tempting me out of my cocoon. Suddenly I was hungry, craving a kiwi of all things, so I pulled the covers back and walked by the window where the butterfly remained. Touching the glass she brushed her wings against the outside pane and then fluttered off.
My hair fell unkept around my shoulder as I walked to the kitchen, grabbed some fruit then continued out into the promised sunshine of my garden.
There is no word to describe it, try as I may, the absolute peace that met me there. Sandals on, skirt getting a gentle snag as I passed by branches, weighed down heavy with blooms.
And I thought of my own life... weighed heavily down with good and glorious fruit. Marriage, children, this home, these flowers. Heavy laden.
Strolling up and down the rows I picked out the blossoms that would minister to me from vases. Garden sheers in my hand, my hand showing signs of sunspots already, and a basket at my feet. Clipping carefully the biggest, boldest blooms, I piled them high. Another tear spilled down because there were so many flowers. I could take as many as I desired and still the garden wouldn't lack. So many flowers. So much beauty. So much thanksgiving on a spring day mixed with sadness.
Carrying the basket from bush to bush I hummed, "Just a closer walk with thee, grant it Jesus, is my plea. Daily walking close to thee, let it be, Dear Lord, let it be." Humming turned to lyric as I came into the kitchen and began clipping and cleaning and arranging vase after vase.
I am weak, but Thou art strong; Jesus, keep me from all wrong; I’ll be satisfied as long As I walk, let me walk close to Thee.
In the quiet of my empty home I sang it loud and needy - as I decorated the inside of my home with the miracles God's done all around on the outside.
Isn't that the way it goes? Finding God at work all around us and choosing to glory in His goodness even when we are most sad? Though it's not always a magic wand and poof we are healed and happy. Sometimes we are simply to walk with Him in the garden when we'd rather hide.
Working through my basket full of petals this afternoon, feeling the breeze minister through open windows, the leaves continued to fill my heart like a conversation. And so I responded, "Through this world of toil and snares, If I falter, Lord, who cares? Who with me my burden shares? None but Thee, dear Lord, none but Thee."
As His handiwork in nature decorates my home today - may the nearness of His Spirit decorate the hurting places in our lives. Yours and mine.
So often we stay tucked away inside our minds, our comfort zones and the literal protective girdle of our homes when we are hurting. However, closed up and detached when we are crying is dangerous! We need to eventually throw the comforter back to walk with The Comforter in the cool of the day, out into His garden, and praise Him there.
Just a closer walk with Thee, Grant it, Jesus, is my plea, Daily walking close to Thee, Let it be, dear Lord, let it be.