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Archive for May, 2016

Tolkien, Darkness, and Thunderstorms

It looks like a thunderstorm may come tonight and I’m pretty excited about the potential for rain.

I think my favorite thing about the rain is that it causes everything to be still mostly, except for the falling rain of course.

Sometimes there is so much to process in your mind, or even just visually throughout the day, that it is a very welcome experience for something to cause the scene to still. Rain is like the white noise of nature, other things may exist outside of it but it commands your attention subtly enough that you can withdraw without much effort.

I don’t mind the gloomy hues, either. I like the darker skies, they make me feel relaxed, almost safe and sound.

Now I’m not a fan of total darkness, but when everything is just gray enough it makes what’s illuminated that much more beautiful and apparent. A lightning strike, a vivid flower against a dreary background, a candle. These things come into focus more when muted tones surround.

I was reminded today of something Sam says in Fellowship of the Ring, when he’s decided to embark on the journey with Frodo:

“I don’t know how to say it, but after last night I feel different. I seem to see ahead, in a kind of way. I know we are going to take a very long road, into darkness; but I know I can’t turn back. It isn’t to see Elves now, nor dragons, nor mountains, that I want–I don’t rightly know what I want: but I have something to do before the end, and it lies ahead, not in the Shire. I must see it through, sir, if you understand.”

Despite the darkness ahead, Sam was able to have clarity- maybe not on the outcome of the journey, but he had a peace about moving forward in the unknown because there was a purpose ahead of him that he could no longer reach in the place he was so familiar with, the Shire.

I think we all have a ‘Shire’, the comfortable places for us, maybe not even comfortable but at least predictable – and not even physical locations. Maybe habits or social circles or opinions on things that we don’t allow space to grow, because growing is painful and our Shire’s are, even if not comfortable, familiar. And even familiar pain is better than unknown pain.

We can feel fear if we’re trying to break away from our typical ways, because: what if?

Isn’t that the question people torment themselves with most often: what if?

But we can’t let “what if?” hold us back from “what is:”

The “what is:” are the truths we have before us instead of the questions we have behind or ahead of us, and since I’m already on a Tolkien theme:

“No half-heartedness and no worldly fear must turn us aside from following the light unflinchingly.”

I was talking to someone I love earlier who is struggling in many ways I’m familiar with and they were making a comment about the contrast of their own thoughts where darkness is present but at the same time God is present there as well.

And I think that’s something a lot of us have a hard time reconciling. How can I know God and still be plagued by a certain mindset/habit/struggle?

But that’s the thing: apart from God, we are only capable of darkness, and so it should be no surprise that is what we are bent towards. That is the truth we must cling to, that is the “what is:” that we present to our “what if?”

We must know what is truth: God is the only source of light we can alleviate our darkness with, that is why we much ‘follow the Light unflinchingly’. He is the only remedy for the things that hurt us, and the fears that follow us, and the struggles that attempt to enslave us.

As you feel the nudge to leave your place of familiar, comfortable, or routine, I hope you can look beyond the darkness of the unknown. As you come across the many “what if’s?” I hope you can learn to focus on what is seen rather than what is not seen, I hope you can follow the light unflinchingly.

If you’re in a similar place and reading this, I hope this is a small reminder that there is light to be found even in the darkest of places.

 

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Mother’s Day 2016

Mother’s Day thoughts in my head but we’ve got a busy weekend ahead and I don’t want to forget to write out some things…

The longer I am a mom, the more I appreciate my Mom.

The more I have to resist raising my voice, I wonder how she kept it cool all those years. With grace and gentleness, I cannot remember a single time she raised her voice at me. But I never questioned her authority.

The more I learn who my kids are, their interests and how they are so different from me, I appreciate that my Mom never tried to force me into a box of what I was supposed to be interested in or make me a mirror image of my peers. As a little girl, when a lot of kids were at the ballfields on Saturdays, I was in a neighborhood art class. As a pre-teen when kids were asking for various ‘age-appropriate’ Christmas gifts, I got a bread maker I had wanted. When high school prom rolled around and I wasn’t interested in going to mine [not that I even got asked to mine ;)], I didn’t get some speech about how I’d miss out or needed to get dolled up, I had dinner and watched a movie with my Momma, which I doubt she even remembers because it was such an ordinary day, but I’ve never forgotten that memory.

The days I’m running on zero sleep with little energy, I think about how many days she must have been feeling depleted but still gave us her time and her love and without complaint. And still does. I think I can confidently speak for my sisters, too, she’s never made us feel like a burden.

As I learn what motherhood looks like to me, sometimes that looks different than the way we were raised, in little ways and sometimes significant ways, and I never get a condescending “well back when I was raising you this is how we did it”. Our parenting is always met with respect and an eagerness to understand why we feel such and such is best, which – I’m friends with a lot of young moms, I know this is rare.

I think about the days she prayed with me and for me, and it challenges me to pray for/with my kids more. I think about the meals she and I cooked together and it makes me pause to allow the kids to actually be a part of the process and not just micromanaged so a mess isn’t made. I think about little treasures she’s purchased for me over the years and not because it was a holiday or birthday but “just because it reminded [her] of [me]”, and it makes me take note of things that make my kids smile so that I can find treasures of their own over the years.

More vividly because it was more recent, I think about the way she cared for her mother in her final years. What that must be like to have grown up under a woman who all of these same things could be said about, and then have to say goodbye. There are some moments that could never be verbalized to anyone else, they are only known to those who exist within those moments – and many of my Maw Maw’s last days fit into that category. The magnitude of those memories can probably never be written out in a way that carries the proper weight with them, but watching the way my Mom cared so delicately for her Mom pushes me to be a more gentle human being. I hope that I can thank you for these things for many more years to come, but I just wanted to highlight them as Mother’s Day approaches.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mom’s out there, and especially so to mine. Love you Momma. ❤

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