Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Repining restlessness

I'm in dry clothes now, but my hair is still frizzy from the downpour. Friends and I rushed outside to put my garden bench and birdbath inside my van. My strawberry cake was almost all eaten, and several extra jars of yard bouquets were rushed out as well in the rain. It feels good to be home from this Wednesday night women's ministry, home where my husband has cleaned my kitchen mess of the day. It feels good to be out of the spotlight where I squirmed tonight uncomfortably, not feeling like a porous vessel, but like a stone.
Ah, Lord, what is going on with me in your service? I'm not seeking you like I should be.
But, nevertheless, in class, I felt the click that He was working despite me (of course!). A woman shared her stiffness, her inability to feel anything, and she looked toward me for guidance, and I was able to help her. Then, afterwards, someone in the group experiencing similar travails was able to further help her. It was good. It felt like God took us to that upper room.
And, I heard myself review the chapter in which Brennan Manning encourages us to live in the awareness of the risen Christ. I heard myself talking about the distractions that trap us from going forth to that more abundant life; into that life which invites His relational presence. And, I owned and knew that I'm in the same boat as many others: blocked and choosing that which is a poor substitute. Then, I fall into self-loathing. Okay, I'm in good company -- Henri Nouwen, Thomas Merton, John Donne, Paul Smith -- have all written about that feeling, that narcissism. And, I stay there for a while, making it my idolatry, refusing to exchange it for the reality of grace and salvation and truth and okay-ness.
George Herbert in the poem "The Pulley" gives me hope that perhaps it's reason to collapse into Him. That I desperately wish to do without incapacitation. I pray that happens for me and for the women in the class.

The Pulley

George Herbert (1593–1633)


WHEN God at first made Man,

Having a glass of blessings standing by—

Let us (said He) pour on him all we can;

Let the world’s riches, which dispers├Ęd lie,

Contract into a span.


So strength first made a way,

Then beauty flow’d, then wisdom, honour, pleasure;

When almost all was out, God made a stay,

Perceiving that, alone of all His treasure,

Rest in the bottom lay.


For if I should (said He)

Bestow this jewel also on My creature,

He would adore My gifts instead of Me,

And rest in Nature, not the God of Nature:

So both should losers be.


Yet let him keep the rest,

But keep them with repining restlessness;

Let him be rich and weary, that at least,

If goodness lead him not, yet weariness

May toss him to My breast.

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