Walking Seven Miles

I wrote this piece for SheLoves Magazine in May and completely forgot to share it here. I think that’s pretty indicative of the state of our lives right now… Even though the words were written during the Easter season, I still think about walking those seven miles away from Jerusalem. We’re still grieving small and big losses, still living in the tension of the unknown. I thought I’d post it now, at the height of summer, as a reminder that the Easter spirit can be yearlong. Here’s an excerpt; head over to SheLoves to read the full article!

First came our stay-at-home orders. They went into effect in mid-March, right at the part of Lent when my forty-day practice felt less Draw-closer-to-Jesus and more Oh-no-I-forgot-to-practice-Lent! Our entire state was asked to give up friendships, gatherings, church and school, as well as all markers of normalcy. Lent was put into real-life practice and felt so very appropriate.

Then Easter came. We practiced communion on the couch with the week’s school activities still strewn about all available surfaces. It was an Easter where we leaned into the hope of resurrection, dreaming of our own societal resurrection at the end of quarantine life.

Now, we’re still here. Some places around the world are slowly opening up, trying to put new systems in place to establish new norms. The newness has worn off our shelter-in-place. Our house is no longer as clean or as sanitized as it was in the early days. Now that we have a decent school routine established, the days blend together in a kind of fogginess. Our highs are higher and our lows are lower. And even though there are projected dates to start easing up on restrictions, the end isn’t really in sight.

In the church calendar, we’re in Eastertide right now. These are the fifty days between the resurrection of Jesus and his ascension back into Heaven. In these days, Jesus appeared to groups of his disciples and news spread of his return. But not everyone got the news right away.

One of my favorite stories is about two disciples walking away from Jerusalem on the road to Emmaus, a town about seven miles away.

As they were walking and talking about Jesus’ death, Jesus himself appeared beside them and asked them what they were talking about. I love how the New Living Translation tells it, “They stopped short, sadness written across their faces.” (v17)

Luke felt the need to describe how these two looked in the midst of a great crisis. Sadness was written on their faces. When I read those words again recently, I stopped there. Normally, I love this story because it reminds me that God is often found when we are walking away from the center of religion. Today I love it, because I am reminded that God acknowledges the sadness written on our faces.

God showed such tenderness toward these two grief-stricken disciples. Head over to SheLoves to read the rest!

How are you experiencing God walking alongside you these days?

The World is Good

The days are running into each other. I’m not reminded of Groundhog Day, at least not yet, but my general motivation waxes and wanes by the moment. Some days seem doable and I’m ready to do all the things. Other days, I wonder why it really matters whether or not I get up with my alarm. Spring is blossoming in our yard and I’m thankful for the reminders of growth, new life, and beginnings. But with the warmer weather, I’m achingly reminded that we can’t hang out with our neighbors; that our kids are incapable of riding bikes without getting too close.

It’s an odd season of blessings and loses. All the things I’m so grateful for are simultaneously stark reminders of things we are missing.

Early in our social distancing turned stay at home journey, I watched a sermon from our old church. The opening song was All Things New by Andrew Peterson. The refrain has stuck with me the past few weeks as we have sweet moments and hard moments:

The world was good
The world is fallen
The world is being redeemed

All Things New by Andrew Peterson

I don’t think I’m alone when I say that these days are filled with higher highs and lower lows than usual. Our family is connecting and the girls are playing together in the sweetest ways. But there’s also tender emotions and underlying anxieties that are simmering just below the surface. These weeks – and the weeks to come – are truly a lesson in living in the tension of liminality.

When I first listened to this song, I started to cry. Rachael, the co-pastor of Highlands Church in charge of worship, had slightly changed the lyrics from past tense to present: The world is good. When life feels hard and overwhelming; when I just want an end date; when I want clear directions and guidance from people who know more than me; when my heart aches for those whose homes aren’t safe and who can’t use this time in productive ways, I remember that what gives me hope is that the world is good right now and that the world is being redeemed right now.

But in the middle of the good and the redeemed, we remember the world is also fallen. I don’t think fallen means bad but it is a reminder of how very broken we are. Our systems are broken and are failing so many vulnerable people; our earth is broken and overextended from our constant use; our bodies are broken and unable to fight this disease.

In many ways, I’m thankful that this is happening in the midst of Lent, Holy Week, and Easter. This is the whole point, right? That our hope is in the redemption. We don’t live in the brokenness, though that is certainly part of reality – both now and in normal times. We remember the goodness of our world now and the world that is to be.

How are you experiencing the goodness in the midst of the fallen? Where are you finding your hope during this particular moment?