thankful

…for friends, family, and the easy laughter that nourishes my thirsty soul.

…for beauty, and the joy of finding daybreak and nightfall equally inspiring.

…for food, and the miracle of gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free snickerdoodle cupcakes.

…for books of poetry, inspired ink married to parchment, and the mysterious way words can simultaneously arrest and excite the imagination.

…for abundance and privilege, and the opportunity to sacrifice both for the sake of the outcast and suffering.

…for the Church in all its myriad forms, and the beacon of hope it can be to a weary and cynical world.

…for the endlessly humbling command to serve, and the million little examples others have shown me of how to be like Christ.

…for love, and the ability to give and receive it.

…for Calvin and Hobbes.

…for levity, and the presence of peace that, even two years ago, seemed unattainably distant.

…for sanctification, and the fact that I am not now who I once was, by the grace of God.

…and for my infinitely loving, gracious, forgiving, holy, just, life-giving Savior who didn’t leave me to my own hell-bent devices, but bore the full weight of sin so that I might come alive in him.

For all this and more I am deeply thankful today and always.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Jordan

“suspended”

“I had grasped God’s garment in the void
but my hand slipped
on the rich silk of it.
The ‘everlasting arms’ my sister loved to remember
must have upheld my leaden weight
from falling, even so,
for though I claw at empty air and feel
nothing, no embrace,
I have not plummetted.”

This masterful poem was penned by Denise Levertov, a late-in-life Catholic convert. I only recently discovered her creative and compelling works and have become quite enamored with many of them.

It reminds me, vaguely, of the delightful hagiography The Life of St. Anthony by Athanasius. During my senior year, as I experienced the rash of brutal and persistent nightmares that lasted for about five months, there were moments in which I could feel a dark vitriol building inside me that urged me to cry out that the nightmares were stronger than God, that Satan was, apparently, too powerful to be stopped.

In St. Anthony, the eponymous character is tormented in a cave by a demonic cabal – his body broken and his God disdained. The attack leads to great insight, however, and the next time he comes under fire he has quite the rejoinder for the forces of darkness. Even as he is tortured he declares to them that if they had any real power, why not just strip him of his salvation and drag him to hell?

You see, he knew they couldn’t. All they could do was sling blows and insults at him to tempt him toward despair, and he could overcome that. He never says that he wasn’t in excruciating pain, never says he wasn’t afflicted, but he was able to, somehow, see through the agony to the power he had in Christ. He never looked back. He goes on to become a total boss – a veritable anti-demon Jedi Master – and never ceases to wage war on all that would declare God weak.

Although my latent Jedi genes have not yet awakened (they’re my last hope now that I’ve given up on ever getting a letter from Hogwarts), I am still encouraged by his perspective. I can unashamedly acknowledge the pain that sometimes courses through my psyche, but I must even more boldly proclaim the power of Christ who is my shelter and strength.

I can admit that I feel as if I am held by nothing but absence, while praising the God who I know has kept me from plummetting. And trusting, always trusting, that some day I will see the truth of things clearly, even if it means waiting until I finally behold the face of Jesus as the songs of the saints fill the glorified air.

Jordan

P.S. I have friends from Wheaton visiting me this week, and am thus taking a break from the situation at church. I talked with an elder on Monday, and it was a very encouraging conversation in which I found much to be thankful for. However, there is still a lot of work to do. It’s been quite a growing experience, so praise God for that.

hear me

Sorry for the slight lull in posts. It’s been a rather busy week for both of us. Tony’s job kicked into overdrive and he’s been selling his soul to the capitalist endeavor for the greater portion of each day. I’ve been a little emotionally drained after a week of “family talks,” and whenever I sit down to write something it becomes immediately apparent to me that it is more important to try and read the entire internet than to blog. The Onion isn’t going to read itself, you know?

So here’s a poem by the Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz, a perennially doubting catholic with a sacred gift of expressing the true nature of things with a beautifully incisive imagination. His collection of poems titled “Second Space” has arrested my attention in the midst of some very dark moments, cajoling my tired, aching heart into a quickened state of awe at the majesty of God. For that I will always be grateful. I hope you are all doing well.

“Hear me, Lord, for I am a sinner, which means I have nothing except prayer.

Protect me from the day of dryness and impotence.

When neither a swallow’s flight nor peonies, daffodils and irises in the flower market are a sign of Your glory.

When I will be surrounded by scoffers and unable, against their arguments, to remember any miracle of Yours.

When I will seem to myself an impostor and swindler because I take part in religious rites.

When I will accuse you of establishing the universal law of death.

When I am ready at last to bow down to nothingness and call life on earth a devil’s vaudeville.”

Peace, friends.

Jordan