Sunday, September 22, 2013

twinkle lights

Years ago we put up some twinkle lights on our deck.  During the day it looked pretty redneck, trailer park ghetto.  But at night, you couldn't see all those crazy wires sagging and flapping in the wind.  You just saw the little lights replacing the washed out stars.  I could sit out there for hours on a summer night with some tea and a notebook.

Brene Brown speaks of cultivating vulnerability like stringing together a strand of twinkle lights, tiny shimmering lights of courage, compassion, and connection that shine in the darkness of our struggles.  But one of the ways we fail to develop healthy vulnerability is through over-sharing.  She uses the metaphor of the floodlight, which leaves the recipient of your sharing confused and blinded, and they have no choice but to turn away and disengage.  It isn't so much the audience that measures over-sharing, a speaker or blogger for example can share with people they've never met.  Rather it's the nature of the content and the needs of the sharer that determine whether something is over-sharing or not.

When I read this, I suddenly felt relieved.  Sometimes I simply cannot blog, and until I read this I had no words to understand why I couldn't just push through the fog and figure out which end is up.  Sharing something you haven't processed isn't healthy, and recently I've found new freedom in taking the space to process things.  big things.

And it takes a lot of time.  Sometimes it feels like I'm chewing spiritual cud or working on some kind of spiritual hairball.  The process isn't beautiful or pretty, and most of the time, I have no idea what is going to come from it.  I mean, after all that squawking, a chicken is going to lay an egg.  But what the heck am I going to get for all this awkwardness?

I didn't hear a word of the sermon in church this morning.  I suspect it was good, but I'm not really sure.    I did read Ecclesiastes 3:11, though, "He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end."  My mind wandered through Hebrews 11, the book Surprised by Hope by N.T. Wright (that I still haven't finished reading), back through an Indigo Girls song, and another recent sermon I listened to online.  Hence not having time to actually pay attention.  Somewhere along the way I realized that I was grieving the loss of mystery in my life.

After Emmett died living in mystery was an every day reality.  Lately, though, the lie of certainty has been creeping stealthily back into my life.  I read somewhere that certainty, not unbelief, is the opposite of faith.  So in many ways, living without mystery is living without faith.  Without faith, sharing anything is like shining a floodlight of awkward neediness to any random passer-by.

But it's the impenetrable darkness of mystery that provides the perfect canvas for those twinkle lights of faith and vulnerability.  Without mystery sharing is all awkwardness of exposed wires and dirty bulbs.  Shining a little light on the infinite landscape of darkness formed by my inability to comprehend anything about God's fulness, though, there - there- is something worth sharing.  I suppose my craving for mystery is why I've laid aside the Letters of John Newton recently and picked up the poetry of Edwin Muir.  It's why I've taken my crazy, beautiful, fragile favorite teacup into my sterile, cold lab at school.  It's why I've blocked out so many sermons trying to explain God and prayed through the Psalms.

It's why I burst into tears tonight at the recollection Romans 8:1, "For there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."  Because there should be condemnation for a sinner such as me, and yet there isn't.  That truth is a beautiful twinkle light that I can only see when I embrace the mystery of this sinful, awful world coexisting with a beautiful, loving God.

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