Streaked with Grace

hands that sow
Photo by Molly Stoddard on Flickr’s creative commons.

I don’t mean to dip my fingertips into the wine along with the bread, but in that dimly lit basement, it sometimes happens. And I’m always glad when it does.

Within seconds I’ve chewed and swallowed, but my fingers are still streaked with light purple. It feels like a measure of grace, like my skin has mingled with something holy, like that holiness is moving down my hands and up my arms and into all of me.

We are speaking and listening together, standing and sitting together, breathing in and breathing out, and I look at the hands that held the bread and still carry signs of their participation in the Presence.

A week ago, I was distracted and looking around the room, I was feeling alone and desperate to change that, I was tired. And then six words planted themselves in me: I will take care of you.

This is why I keep going back.

The rest of the week may drift into monotony and shadow, relationship moving into elusiveness once again, but in these moments I can almost see.

Forever Unraveling

bricks puzzle
Photo by Magdalena Gmur on Flickr’s creative commons.

Three years ago, I told my roommate, “I don’t know who I am.” She didn’t understand how that could be. But it is a journey I am still on, to find the threads of desire and movement, of the words that leave my mouth and those that shrink back, of fear and freedom, stillness and noise, and follow them to their points of origin.

I try to solve me like a riddle, but I am Rubik’s cube that’s stuck; I am an instruction manual with half the words missing. The threads are knotted and intertwined and frayed. So it is with all of us, I think.

I sit in the library or on a plane and write pages and pages, and then exhale from the deepest part of me and think, There. I’ve figured it out. I’ve discovered what makes me come alive and what crushes my spirit.

But the unraveling doesn’t stop. There always seems to be another layer to peel back, another false skin to dig my nails into, and even when I think I have found my true, naked self, I only have to open a door, any door, to scare her away again.

I love my conclusions, and I want more of them, and I want them to stick this time, but they keep turning into contradictions and dead ends. Or I keep turning into contradictions and dead ends.

I hate people and I love them. Fear is my everyday apparel; confidence is the garment of special occasions, worn over the fear like so. I long to be around Christians, and then I long to be away from them. I thrive in solitude; I decay in solitude. And on and on it goes.

In between work and feeding myself and figuring out the contours of this Colorado life, I am trying to find out what I love simply for its own sake, simply because I’m me and this is what shatters me, this is what saves me, this is what nourishes me, this is what delights me.

Can I step away from what they might think or expect, from my own addiction to approval, from all the distractions? If so, what will I be left with? What will I see? And perhaps more importantly, will I be able to carry what I find into a world screaming with all of that without it twisting into something false and unrecognizable again?

What I know, or seem to know, today carries itself away on the back of the sun as it sinks below the horizon. What I find in solitude disappears in the noise, and what I find in the bustle and color seems to fade when my world contracts again.

If I can pin myself down, maybe I will be able to pin everything else down. That is the hope, but is it to be hoped for?