Lost and Found.

Amazing grace

How sweet the sound

I once was lost

But now I’m found.

The thump of the bass drum interrupts my train of thought as it echoes inside my chest. I want to sing along, but at this point, I cannot help but spend this time with myself in my head. I have managed to find my place in the nosebleeds. I can’t see a damn thing, but I don’t mind. In fact, I prefer it. Back here, I am a spectator rather than a partaker; a fly on the wall, safely tucked away from the inevitable alter call. Embracing this rare opportunity, I assess my surroundings from my cozy spot in the farthest corner of the auditorium’s balcony. Below me, there is a sea of hands above heads swaying to renditions of old hymns and anthems about oceans setting people free. I am growing a sincere appreciation for my nosebleed seat as I pinpoint other outsiders with mouths closed and hands to their sides. The mix of hand wavers and non-swayers is somewhere between somber and comical from this vantage point. Before my mind can think anything of it, my heart flutters. A slight sense of anxiety begins to pulse through my nervous system. It isn’t hard for me to empathize with these outsiders quietly drowning in the ocean of believers below as they begin an odd, yet emotional chorus about losing themselves. A sharp tear threatens to pierce the space between my eyelids, but I promptly wipe it away before it can fully take form.

Amongst the throngs of seekers beneath me, one group remains unmoving as if floating in the surrounding ocean of arms reaching toward an eternity somewhere above the clouds. Compared to the others, they look like statues tossed into the stormy waters. They stand firm as the waves churn around them; it is all they can do to keep their heads above water. But these aren’t statues. They are people with functional brains and hearts and legs. They don’t have to be here. Come to think of it, I don’t have to be here either… Then why are they here?

Perhaps they- perhaps we are afraid of falling into faith without being sure that Holy arms will be ready and willing to catch us. Perhaps we are worried that any sudden change of heart might result in a futile thrashing about in the seas of our souls and will do nothing but actualize the apprehensions of our dour fates.

I often wonder… Were the worshipers once like this? Like us? This morning, they seem to be lost in the words and the music. They cannot help but thrash around in unison, as one body. In fact, they seem to enjoy it. Is it possible that they find joy in this? Does the joy seep out in heaps of tears from their souls when they are not tucked safely inside this sanctuary?

Once upon a time, did they look like me? Were their heads hanging, souls searching, bodies beaten down and tired when they first sauntered into this cross covered building? Or were they born with this faith in the invisible? Are there only some of us cursed with this heaviness, this innate awareness of the inevitable end that defines our mortality?

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I try my hardest to hold steadfast to my role as a fly on the wall, but I can no longer ignore this unique sister of fear that has taken residence in my core. Instead of observing, I have begun to project my own misgivings. Once upon a time, it was me in that sea. I was a statue, then I was a worshiper. I was empty, then I was filled. I was hurting, then I was healed. Today, I feel like I am somewhere in the middle.

Some days, I empathize with the joyful; I am one of them. With hands outstretched toward the awaiting eternity with my Savior, I sing with an immense joy in my assurance of things hoped for and my faith in what I cannot see. However, that is not always the case. Some days, like this day, I doubt. I forget how to feel. I don’t bother praying for my soul to be healed. On these days, the lump in my throat makes standing in silence much easier than singing songs about joy and faith and love. Then, the song is over. The lights turn on, chairs creak as swayers and statues alike find their seats. Someone preaches, but God’s word is what truly speaks.

As I walk back to my car, I see people. Some of them are laughing. Some of them are walking together or alone in silence. Others are wiping away tears or kneeling together with heads bowed and hands intertwined as they whisper supplications and gratitude to their Savior. Now, there is no way for me to identify the partakers from the spectators. All I see are souls. I see the lost. I see the seeking. I see the found. I was blind, but now I see.

I see that we are all the same.

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Playground Parables.

“That’s how you know,” six year old Alena said as she crossed her arms and stuck out her hip. With her heart shaped sunglasses and serious tone of voice, it did not take much for her body language to reflect the matter of  fact attitude behind her advice-giving this morning.

Sometimes it is difficult to remember that Alena is barely a first grader. Since she was about three, I started talking to her like I would talk to an old friend. She has always been one of those kids that is naturally wise beyond her years. Speaking in a childish tone of voice just does not feel right in a conversation with my six year old niece. “Alena. You are telling me that is all there is behind knowing he is the one?” I ask her with an equal amount of seriousness in my voice.

We are swinging in unison at Alena’s favorite playground in town. The playground itself is swamped with miniature adults crawling up and down slides and climbing onto spider web ladders. When it isn’t filled with other patrons, Alena and I enjoy creating our own games on the monkey bars and the funky ladders and slides on the new playground, but the swings are our little semblance of peace on these busier mornings. N126.02W20W

“That’s all,” she says, clearly done with the conversation as she leaps from the swing. “He isn’t mean, and he still loves you even when you’re grumpy. Why wouldn’t you want to keep him around?”

 

 

Cold.

          Slowly my feet grow numb. My faded, white laced, black Vans look almost grey now. They are soaked in slush and the dirty remains of last night’s snowfall. Walking home alone always seems like the perfect way to make your point without acting like a crazy person, unless it is the day after Iowa’s first blizzard of the year. The amazing men behind these everyday trucks transformed into snow destroying superheroes are excited to finally get back to work after a month or two of being laid off from their summer construction jobs. That is the second best thing about the winter’s first blizzard- the clean up is unbelievably efficient.
          Unfortunately, under the present circumstances, I would rather be in the dead of winter, when everyone has given up, locked their doors, and called in sick yet again. At least then, no one else would be awake to bare witness to my misery. But no, that is not how my luck runs. The day I decide to walk home alone to prove a point, is the day that the snow plows are still out making their finishing touches, and Midwesterners still have the gumption to get to work on time or actually accomplish something on their days off. As I was saying, with snow now caked to the bottom of my sweatpants, this is not a good day for walking. I can feel the stares on my back from bystanders driving by or looking out café windows as they sip their steaming cups of caffeine.
          As you were, ladies and gentlemen, nothing to see here. No, it is not a walk of shame on a Wednesday. This is much worse. This is my stupid self publicly displaying my relationship status. Social media made the choices pretty simple- single, taken, or in my case, “complicated.” I used to think that a complicated relationship status was for the single ones that made it to a fourth or fifth date. Stuck between fuck buddies and future soul mates. Complicated. Now I know better. Complicated is when you are in a relationship, and you both have been in this relationship for months, maybe years now. You would never think to cheat on each other. Neither of you has the heart to pull the trigger. You just love so much. Then you fight. The fights exponentially get worse over time, yet somehow, the love making and love saying is also getting better as the clock keeps ticking.
          How can this be possible? It cannot be possible for two people to love each other so much, and still manage to shit on each other almost on a daily basis. This, my friends, is what Mark Zuckerberg meant when he gave the option for a “complicated” label on your relationship status. This is not what I expected when I asked, at four months, if he thought he could ever see us fighting like that couple. Was I really once that naiive?
          “Connie. Connie, seriously. You are making us both look like crazy people. Just get in the truck.”
          I continue walking. Ignoring him, yet muttering to myself. How dare he have the audacity to interrupt my thoughts. Can he not see I am trying to prove a point here. Men… As I was saying, is this really what I signed up for? Spending my life trying to force someone to understand something while he perpetually refuses to listen?
          The fresh snow creaks under the truck tires as he tries to cut me off. I never understood what it was about men and their trucks. I keep walking across neighbor’s yards. Lucky for me, most of them are part of that group that actually chose to go to work today, so no one was home. He makes it seem like he is about to actually drive his truck onto these innocent people’s yards and cut me off again until he thinks better of it. I can’t help but smirk to myself as I realize I am going to win this one.

          I tell myself to keep walking and looking down. I notice how childish my tiny footprints look stepping into a couple feet of snow. Then, thinking I have finally made my point, I turn around, wrongfully assuming he is still slowly driving next to me, begging me to come home. All I see are tire tracks in the snow and the empty remains of another former love.

http://depositphotos.com/7303225/stock-photo-tire-tracks-in-snow.html
http://depositphotos.com/7303225/stock-photo-tire-tracks-in-snow.html

Another anniversary. 

They lay. Both of them, but not in each other’s arms. It is him laying next to her. The bed that once harbored moans of passion and nights holding and dreaming as one body, pure love, now holds two strangers. Two strangers separated by ten years of memories. Both of them, eyes closed, beg their bodies to fade into dreaming. Hoping their souls absorb the love that may still reside within the fabric of the sheets that now only catch their tears.  
Maybe if we sleep, we will wake up from this nightmare and be us, what we were when we first fell into each other. May we fall into slumber as you and me, and wake up to us, realizing it was all a horrible dream. 

Anniversary. 

In those moments. Those moments between us and only me. Before we go back to him and her. He is always spilling his soul in the sweeping curves of ink soaking through pages of heartache. She watches. Afraid to shed tears of her own because tears mean sensitivity has overtaken sensibility.