Thursday, February 10, 2011

When words are my enemy

I love words. If you have been reading my blog for any amount of time or know me at all, you know I love words. I usually like them best when they are carefully placed, properly punctuated and bound in leather, but I love words in all of their manifestations. Heck, I like reading the dictionary. It is fun and you never know when you are going to come across a new word you can intersperse into every day life. (The mocking can happen later, ok? Thanks.)
However, over the past year there are a few words that have become distasteful to me. I try not to use them at all, but if I must use them, I hesitate and do a lot of thinking before I do so.
The words?

"Suicide" and "dead."

(Actually, any variation on the word dead makes me go cold.)

I've had to use "dead" a lot this past week. I don't like it. I try to sanitize it by saying "lost" or "gone." But in my head, I still feel the emptiness of the word. Dead. Gone. Mostly I don't like it because of the grief it brings to the front of my mind. It has been almost a year, and I don't miss J. any less. The shock of it all still puts a lump in my throat and an empty space in my heart.
And I am reminded that life must go on. Life is, after all, meant for living. And while my heart cries for the life that was lost, I force myself to remember that death has an amazing epilogue. And though it doesn't make the pain go away, it makes it easier to bear.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

All the old familiar places

I love travel.

I love adventure.

I love pictures of the places I've visited.

I love imagining myself as an independent free spirit.

I like trying new things. (Everybody notice the shift there? Ok, moving on.)

But right now? Right now I am craving old books that I've read before many times. There are so many new books on my reading list, but all I want is the comfortable, familiar road to Bag End. I want to spend time in my parents old, not so terribly drafty house that is always warm. (Not just physically warm, though that is a perk. There is something about it that just comfortable about it that I miss.) I want to sit for hours at Panera Bread (stuffing my face with the Bacon Turkey Bravo sandwich with Broccoli Cheddar soup, of course), talking about nothing and everything with excellent friends. I want to walk the roads of Islington once again, knowing that I will hit at least 3 mini-marts on my way to St. Giles and, 15 minutes past the church find a bookstore and a shoe store. And also know that across the street from St. Giles there is a kind family with a magical table that fits all of their friends, good food, conversation and games every Sunday afternoon. I want to be able to say to my friends, "See you in 20 minutes" and actually show up, not 2 hours later or only on Saturday's and Sunday's.

I want to know that I didn't waste my life. I want to know that I didn't go to school just to go to school, but because I was meant to go to school. I want to travel more, not just to travel (because Heaven knows traveling these days is almost more stress than it is worth!), but because my future might be somewhere else then where I am now.

And the whole not being able to see into the future? Not knowing where I will end up, what failures I will make, what successes I might have? Not being 100% sure of my path in life?

It makes me long for all the old familiar places.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Glimpse of Heaven

There are two things on this earth that set my mind and heart longing for Heaven: funerals of the saints and baptisms. I don't take joy in funerals, let me be clear. I've had too many of them in the past year to think they are anything but heartbreaking. But as I reflect on the persons life and where they are now as well as the the pain they are no longer in, I find joy and am filled with an intense longing to join them.

Baptisms, however, are another thing entirely. I can't quite put my finger on it, but there is something about corporately saying, "I recognize you as family now. I see that you belong to Christ,too. And how about we walk this life together?" that just makes my heart sing. I attended a baptism this past Sunday while I was home and I had this moment of intense longing. It was for so many things wrapped up together, but mostly it was a longing for Heaven, for the saints that have gone on before, for the sweetness of resting in a place where I truly belong. Have you ever had that, a longing for something you've never known? 

I was reading "The Hobbit" this week and ran across a section that explains it perfectly: "Then something Tookish woke up inside [Bilbo], and he wished to go and see the great mountains, and hear the pine-trees and the waterfalls, and explore the caves, and wear a sword instead of a walking-stick."

See, Bilbo was perfectly content to stay home in his safe little hobbit hole, away from danger and adventure because that is what hobbits did. It was all he knew. The Tookish part of him, the side of family that had had adventures in the past, was stirred with thoughts of far off places and adventures in the unknown. I think our "Tookish"-ness is the part in us that recognizes how out of place we are in the world. We are content because it is all we know. But every now and then, we get a glimpse of what might be, what will be, what is waiting for us on the other side.

And maybe, this is just for me. Maybe something in me likes to hide under the material nature of this world and my moments of clarity is a bit of truth awakening me to the fact that my focus is off center. And maybe, I just need to be reminded that this world is not the end, that there is hope and a future for me. And it includes a huge family that loves to jam and eat together. And that is something I am looking forward to doing. Even for the rest of eternity.