Crucifixion

The first time I saw Him covered in blood
it was my own, and I could silence his cries
in the warmth of my arms.
The pain then was mine alone to bear,
easily forgotten in the presence of new life,
in His presence.
.
Now all of the miracles and wonders have
come to this dark place,
this dark day,
this day of blood,
and a pain that cannot be eased
with hope of something better,
because this day will end in death.
.
My beloved!
Shamed, disfigured, disgraced–
.
There is nothing left of light but memory.
……………………………………………………………………………………….
This poem is part of a series that began with the poem “Nativity,” written a few years ago.

Thoughts on Freezing and Thawing

Today, January 26th, marks one year since I left my life and husband in Denver and moved back to the city of my birth.  I call it the day that my world fell apart, which is true, but what I didn’t know then (and would never have acknowledged) was that it was also the beginning of a new world for me–a world where God has been so near and so present that, even though I feel like I am walking through a tundra, I also feel like I am being healed and put back together as a whole human being.

For many years, I lived with a frozen soul.  Like the Narnia that was ruled by the White Witch, I lived in a spiritual place where it was “always winter but never Christmas.”  I think that being frozen is different from being numb, because when you are numb you are incapable of feeling.  I was capable of feeling, but all that I was feeling was pain: unending hurt and misery.  This constant pain caused a layer of ice to form over my soul so that even when there were moments of happiness, they were unable to penetrate and give me any relief.

Freezing was my method of surviving. By freezing, I could put on a smile, dress up, dress up my children and pretend (even to myself) that everything was just fine. The frozen layer kept all of my pain and frustration hidden. I did such a good job of this, that some people even wished they could have a life like mine. When I heard this, my stomach would turn. But I believed that if I could keep up the pretense, I could keep everything together.

But one year ago, it all fell apart.  I believed, at the time, that I had been buried under an avalanche.  The truth is, it was really the first crack in my frozen exterior.  Over the past year, under the love of my Savior (And I really know what His Name means), I have gently thawed.  More and more of the real me is being exposed.

Nowadays, I make no pretense of having it all together.  Being a single mom of four young girls six and under won’t allow for that.  My girls show up at church some days in the clothes they wore to bed and their hair only minimally combed.  They run around, out of my grasp, out of control, and gathering them in is like trying to corral wild horses.  Some days I am able to get a little make-up on; some days I don’t.  There is just no way for me to look like I have it all together.  Most days I am thankful to God that He has me in this position.

Because I can no longer focus on my appearance, I feel like I am much more focused on what truly matters.  The more I thaw, the more I am able to enjoy my girls.  In the last few months, we have had moments of deep-belly laughing that have been cathartic for all of us.  We didn’t laugh much before.  Perhaps we were all frozen.

A frozen life is not what I want for them or for myself.  I don’t believe that God wants us to live that way either.  Psalm 104 describes a Creator who made earth for our enjoyment: “He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for men to cultivate–bringing forth food from the earth: wine that gladdens the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread that sustains his heart.” (vv. 14-15)  This place where His face shines upon us only becomes real when we get real, when we allow the truth of who we are to break out and flow through and bless ourselves and the ones we love.

So this year I say, let winter do its worst.  I will still be warm, resting in the arms of the One who loves me best.

Rebuilding the Ruins

You sit among the ruins
of a past you wish would die,
a past you tried to bury
under sky-scraping idols
you thought were made of steel.
But they all toppled,
they all fell down,
until everything you knew
was reduced to rubble.
.
You wail against this devastation
of your deepest dreams,
as the ancient serpent slithers around you
and tempts you to believe
that it is God
who has abandoned you
to this wasteland,
that He was the one
who condemned you
to this darkness,
this lifeless living.
.
But He has never forgotten you.
He calls you by name…
.
And in your tortured soul
stirs a Hope, a longing to be free
from this wreckage
where the serpent reigns,
where you are bound
to your broken past.
.
You cry out
to the One
who has always loved you,
your Redeemer, Yeshua,
who died so that you might live.
He calls you into His light,
and with His steadfast love
breaks your chains,
and rebuilds your ruins
with the precious stones
of His kingdom.
 

Breaking Free, a painting by Judy Gilbert

 

Nativity

One dark night,
my life opened,
and Love came–
not in a chariot
drawn by fine, white horses,
but after agonizing pain,
He slipped,
screaming,
into my arms
and changed this world forever.
.
There were no princely robes
nor stately palace
with a soft, warm bed
to welcome this King of Kings–
just swaddling clothes,
a wooden manger,
and I–
no queen
to bear such a Prince,
nor saint,
to live such a calling.
.
But I gave
all I had:
a full breast,
embracing arms,
a kiss,
my heart.
.
For in that divine moment,
on that dark night,
my life opened
and Love came–
and I was saved.