Near the end of the phone call in which I was canceling plans with a dear friend, I finally worked up the courage to say what I’d wanted to say from the beginning. “I know it sounds odd, but the state of my heart is such that I can’t image sitting in a chair for any length of time. Even if we do have plans to write a song and work on others. I’m just too on-edge to be still. Is there any chance you’d want to come over here and go for a walk instead?”
Actually, all I said was “Do you want to go for a walk?” She is such a friend that I knew she’d infer the former explanation.
It was 8:00pm, long past dark and not a particularly convenient change of plans but she said yes. I’m an adventurer at heart, she told me when I nearly kissed her feet upon arrival. I appreciated her humility and her refusal to name the incredible kindness she was selflessly giving me.
So we walked. The snowy road welcomed us with little fanfare and the sky, clear and filled with pinprick stars, didn’t rejoice over us but looked on with curiosity. Why, the stars wondered, are those humans always tromping around, hashing out problems and ruminating obsessively over small matters. Why do they worry so much?
(I wish somedays that I was a star. Their only task in life is to be a light. If creation is a symphony, the stars were composed early on and having been told to shine, have done so with fortitude ever since. I too, am told to shine. But I, unlike the simple star, have the curse of free will coded into my DNA. I know I’m supposed to be a light but I am almost daily whittled down to a bare ember by the burden of over-thinking and speculation. Free will is great but oh, how it causes me to stray.)
Maybe it was the cold air on my cheeks or the way my moon-shadow, always just ahead, compelled me to follow it, but I could have walked forever. My feet could have continued on finding the next step until those obedient stars disappeared under the cloak of morning. As it were, we walked for over an hour, taking turns being honest about how flawed we are, how we foolishly grasp and pine over untrue things. She gave me her heart and I gave her mine. We allowed our hearts to cry and moan before we scrutinized them, holding them up for comparison to the model of holiness we know to be their goal. We offered them grace (abundantly because, let’s face it, my heart is light-years away from holy) as we’ve been taught to do by the giver of grace Himself. We let our hearts feel the night air for a moment, let it remind them of how alive they are and then we put them back in the protective cage of our bones. I don’t know about hers, but my heart returned to its temporary home in this marred body a little freer, a little keener to the promise of eternity.
We didn’t come to any great conclusions or devise any fail-proof plans for not falling prey to our brokenness. We just walked and received what the night had to give.
If you get the chance, walk at night. Do it soon. Walk with a friend or alone, whatever feels most necessary. Receive what that moment has to give you. The stars may chide you, too, but that’s okay. You’re not alone in that.
Before I hit publish on this post, I feel the need to apologize. I’m always waxing poetic about the heart and light and redemption and grace and joy amidst sorrow. The reader might start to think me one-dimensional, and, insult of insults, a writer stuck in a subject-matter rut. And maybe I am, both one-dimensional and stuck in a rut. But it feels like the rut I’m intended to be stuck in. When I move about my day, those words, the heart and light and grace and redemption and joy ones, feel like oxygen. Reality is suffocating and if being stuck in a rut means I am able to breath, I will gladly remain stuck there until my literal lungs cease to function.
And, as I see it, the alternative is to be stuck in the rut of reality and we all know what that entails.
So forgive me, reader. Better yet, join me. Misery may love company, but those rescued from misery, those learning (and relearning and relearning) to navigate the beautiful rut of Christ’s redeeming work on the cross, we love it even more.