Tuesday, June 05, 2012

That Delicate Balance, Part One

The wind was gentle out on the patio,
where we waited for our lunch trays.
So she set the small container of salsa verde
on top of the napkin to keep it from blowing away.

Lunch arrived, she picked up the napkin
and the salsa went tumbling,
as if in slow motion,
spilling its brilliant green thickness 
over the concrete,
splashing up into the pocket of my purse,
dousing my cell phone with cilantro scented slime.

She couldn't see it.
She can't see very much at all.
And she didn't remember that she'd put it there.
She doesn't remember very much, either.

I made three or four trips back inside 
to the napkin dispenser, sopping up the mess,
silent, praying for grace.
"Is this what life is now?"
I prayed inside my tumbled spirit,
as green and splattered as the sauce before me.

Is this what it comes down to?
Cleaning up one mess after another,
praying for patience,
And those good things feeling just out of reach,
beyond my grasp, 
beyond me.

Because, of course, they are.
My shadow self wrestles hard within me,
struggling to teach me
how to live more fully into these moments.

And what I'm learning as I wrestle is this:
the shadow is part of me,
a friend, not an enemy.
A place for learning and stretching,
for telling the truth
and not liking it very much.
For acknowledging that this is hard.
This is really hard.
It's hard for her.
It's hard for me.
It is hard.

And I am impatient.
I do wish that she didn't have to go through this,
and that I didn't have to go through it, either.
I do not think completely selfless thoughts, you see.
I wish sometimes it were over.
Yes, I even wish that.

But here is the Truth that is slowly
sinking in and healing the holes in me.
Here is the wonder of redemption:
God loves all of who I am,
ugly thoughts, self-pity, impatience,
frustration - all of it.
God loves me before those parts are redeemed,
while they are in process,
and through the refining fire of life circumstances
that are difficult, painful and not very pretty. 

That's a hard concept for me to grasp,
one that I've pushed back against
time and time again.
Pushing back in my usual way -
with lots of private name-calling,

But today, as I look back at the last three days
with my mom - three days filled with reminders
of how much is lost, how frail she is, 
how brave and terrified she is - 
when I look back,
I see mercy in the moments.
I see glimpses of glory.
I see fleeting images of the fullness, the richness of life -
the wonder and the sweetness
the sorrow and the harshness.

It's all a part of the mix, you see,
and somehow, we're asked to live in the balance,
to stay in the center,
to focus on the One who holds it all.
The One who weeps with us when we weep,
who laughs with us when we rejoice,
who reminds us by the very life
He lived among us
that all of it is grace.
All of it.

And so,
the mess is cleared.
The fish tacos are delicious.
And my mom smiles at me across the table.
She is beautiful.
And so am I.
By the grace of God,
because of Jesus,
by the winsome will of the Holy Spirit -
so am I.

"You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly... God demonstrates his own love for us in this: 
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." 
Romans 5:6 & 8, TNIV

 Joining with several friends tonight after a rough and tumble, mixed emotion kind of journey the last few days. I will write Part 2 and post it with the same friends a bit later, 
if their links are still open:
Michelle at Graceful
Jennifer F. and the Sisterhood and Finding Heaven
Jennifer Lee and the GodBumps folks at Getting Down with Jesus
Emily at Imperfect Prose