Archive - July, 2011

Window (3): Movies

It is no secret that I love finding lessons from movies; thenumber of times I have quoted Proof, TheMatrix, Donnie Darko, etc. is ridiculous.  So, I found it easy to concur with Ken Gire’ssentiment that films can serve as windows to the soul. 
Most recently, during a bout of insomnia, I watched LizGilbert’s journey portrayed by Julia Roberts in Eat, Pray, Love.  It seemedlike a fitting late night film for a single, female living abroad on her ownfor the summer who dreams of traveling the world. My choice of movie is alreadya glimpse into my personality I suppose and I gleaned much from Liz’sadventure. 
But for the sake of being concise, I want to devote thispost to a quote from the end of the film. After having traveled through Italy, India and Indonesia (by the way,why do all the countries start with the letter “I”?), Liz reflects on how thejourney impacted her.  As we are each on our own journeys in life,I find Liz’s revelation extremely relevant regardless of an individual’slocation or circumstances.

Inthe end, I’ve come to believe in something I call “The Physics of theQuest.” A force in nature governed by laws as real as the laws of gravity.The rule of Quest Physics goes something like this: If you’re brave enough to leave behind everything familiar andcomforting, which can be anything from your house to bitter, old resentments,and set out on a truth-seeking journey, either externally or internally, and ifyou are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journeyas a clue and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher and ifyou are prepared, most of all, to face and forgive some very difficultrealities about yourself, then the truth will not be withheld from you.

If you are willing to embrace the journey and to learn fromit, the truth will not be withheld from you. While I know that movie nevermentions a Judeo-Christian God, I find that Liz Gilbert’s truth-seekingexcursion is a great metaphor for a spiritual journey where the end result isthe joy of knowing a God that does not withhold Himself from those who seekHim.
But to find Him, to allow Him to find you…. You must be willingto begin the journey. You must be brave enough to take a risk. You must bewilling to give up all that you know to be true to discover the truth-accepting that you can be and will be wrong about things along the way.  You must look for the windows to the soul andlearn from your surroundings and the people God has placed in your path. You mustbe willing to examine yourself and to be honest about who you are – and what ittakes to continually grow and mature into the person you are destined to be. Ifyou are willing to journey, the truth will not be withheld.
I am definitely on that journey. I am a young, single womanlooking to live a life devoted to following Jesus. I do not know what thatlooks like or where I will live or what I will do for work. I know that I amfar from perfect, and I am on path of spiritual formation. And, I know that inthe process of journeying I will be wrong and I have been wrong. And, I knowthat at times I will be hurt, and at times I will hurt others. Still,  the journey is worth it. The truth is worthit. In the end, if we are willing to journey, we will never be disappointedwith the outcome. There is always something to learn and always some way togrow and always blessings along the way. If we are willing to continue tojourney, the truth will never be withheld.

Window (2) – Tears

I started with tears, not because I am sad or because of the frequency of them in my life… but because this window is the most relevant at the moment. It provides a glimpse of why I am still sitting in a coffee shop in Ibiza instead of sitting at home in my apartment in Washington, D.C.

Whenever you find tears in your eyes, especially unexpected tears, it is well to pay the closest attention. They are not only telling you something about the secret of who you are, but more often than not God is speaking to you through them of the mystery of where you have come from and is summoning you where, if your soul is to be saved, you should go next”- Fredruck Buechner as quoted in Windows to the Soul by Ken Gire (191).

My departure was scheduled for July 23rd, 11:25 p.m. In the week leading up to my flight, I kept discovering droplets of water falling from my face. Tears- a little uncommon, a little unexpected.

Flashback: leaving Ibiza last year. As my plane ascended, the water droplets started pouring from my eyes. Several hours of dripping facets under the eyelids. No real distress or sadness, just a feeling that I needed to return. And, so I did.

Several days ago, I sat on my balcony. Staring at the clouds, speaking to God through flows of spoken word and prayer, marveling at the tears falling down my cheek. It didn’t want to think about leaving this place; it seemed like my pending departure was too soon and the unexpected tears- a week early, and a few too many- agreed with my sentiments. “Lord, why am I crying? I have a week left- that’s a lot of time. Why am I crying already?? “

As I watched the cloud pass quickly overhead, I heard a voice in my head say this “like that cloud you will pass through quickly, but your presence still has an impact while you here and eventually you will return and pass through again.Fair enough, but why am I crying? What does that even mean?

Searching for answers, I looked toward the sky. The cloud seemed to slow. It lingered. And, suddenly I realized that my tears were indicative of a longing for a little more time, I wanted to linger here a little longer too.  But, was God leading me to stay a little longer? Were the tears and the imagery and the prayers really from Him? Or was it just wishful thinking? I asked God to have someone invite me to stay if He wanted me to stay.

The next day, I was invited to stay longer if I wanted to do so. My flights were able to be changed, the space for me here was confirmed, and God clearly made a way for me to linger here for just a little longer: three weeks longer.  Because I paid attention to my tears and asked for God to reveal their meaning, I have a little more time and a lot more joy and excitement in knowing that God has purpose for the next three weeks.

Those tears were not the only ones I have shed since being here. I have cried for lives that seem engulfed by hopelessness, for the abuse of alcohol and drugs, for the vulnerable who have been deserted by their friends, for the loss of innocence, for those imprisoned by injustice, for the deceptive sting of insecurity, for my brothers and sisters who have yet to find their way home to the Father… I’ve shed many tears for many people here in Ibiza and I find that each one is an indication of something deeper.

So much is distilled in our tears, not the least of which is wisdom in living life. From my own tears I have learned that if you follow your tears, you will find your heart. If you find your heart, you will find what is dear to God. And if you find what is dear to God, you will find the answer to how you should live your life“- Windows to the Soul, Ken Gire- 195.

Windows to the Soul (part 1)

Sadly, I have been neglecting my blog. As I was discussing how I kept putting off uploading blog posts (they are half written saved in Word docs on my computer, I’m just lazy), someone asked me what I blog about.

Good question. Why do I blog? What exactly is this blog about? Why does it matter if I update it?

As I was pondering these questions, I was reading Windows to the Soul by Ken Gire. [Which is excellent and thought provoking, you should read it!] In his introduction to the book, Gire explains that windows are moments where we experience an intimacy with God.

At some of these windows, what we see offers simply a moment of insight, making us slower to judge and quicker to show understanding. At a few of them, what we see offers a word spoken to the very depths of who we are. It may be a word to rouse us from sleep and ready us for our journey. It may be a word to warn us of a precipice or guide us to a place of rest. It may be a word telling us who we are and why we are here and what is required of us at this particular juncture of the journey…. windows to the soul is where we hear those words  and where the journey begins.” (11-12).

Well said. Gire continues to share some of the categories of windows in his own life: vocation, stories, art, wilderness, poetry, movies, memory, dreams, writing, scripture, humanity, tears, depression, nature….

While I could not seem to articulate why I blog when inquired, Gire seems to give an explanation that I feel comfortable borrowing and adopting as my own. I blog to share glimpses of those windows in my own life, to share where I see God and how those moments of revelation impact my own journey.

It has been a month since I have updated, and there have been many windows. I have some entries saved and stored, and others unwritten… but first, I want to pause and share a few insights from the windows mentioned in the book. Hopefully, they will provide some insight into my life at the moment and inspire whoever reads these to pause and look through their own windows.