"…you move me
You get me dancing
and you make me sing
You move me
Now I'm taking delight
In every little thing…"
- Garth Brooks
Last week the River Road was closed for construction and the detour took me winding through the streets of Alton, Illinois, miles of cornfields and on a mental journey to the late 1980s.
We were on a fact-based story-gathering trip to Principia College in early October and the leaves were just beginning to turn. I'd spent the early part of the weekend meeting with parents and children who were willing to share their prayer-based healing experiences with shortwave radio listeners around the world. By Sunday we were ready to take some time out with loved ones who lived locally. Our plans included church, lunch and a drive through the countryside before our plane left for our return to Boston.
Church was lovely, lunch was delicious, and the drive started out peaceful. I was enjoying the view from the backseat of the car, gratefully acknowledging to myself that I had gotten through the entire weekend without a pang of envy for what others had…happy marriages, children, dream homes….when our host suggested to her husband that they take us to see their dream home. Thud! There went my peace.
We were renting an apartment in the city with a windowless kitchen and a bedroom that looked out on an alley lined with dumpsters. The rent was exorbitant and all I could think of was how much house and land I could get for the same monthly payment in a place I really wanted to be living. I loved my job, but I didn't love living in the city where I couldn't ever imagine raising children…and there it was, the real root of my heartache at the time. I wanted children, I wanted a house and land to raise them in…and not just any house, in my dreams it was a very specific kind of house. An old Victorian, front porch, gardens, picket fence, big trees and sidewalks that were all catawampus from tree roots pushing them this way and that.
And here we were in an old Mississippi River town full of houses that looked just like that. I didn't want to drive past their dream house. I didn't want to see how close they were to getting my dream house. I was, in an instant, depressed beyond measure. But I couldn't say that so I smiled from the backseat and braced myself for salt in the wound.
As we drove past house after house…houses with big front porches, houses with picket fences, houses with views of the river, houses with big trees and crooked sidewalks, houses painted in whimsical colors…my heart leapt. But where were we going…they didn't stop. They kept driving and soon we were beyond town lines and headed through cornfields. I had closed my eyes to the afternoon sun and finally began praying for myself. I didn't like this feeling. I wanted it to stop. I was tired of thinking that there were only so many dream houses in the world and I may not ever get one of them...my piece of the cosmic dream-house pie. I begged God for some peace of Mind on this one.
The car slowed and began turning into a new subdivision…so new in fact that you could see the lines where rolls of sod had recently been laid. As our hosts stopped their car in front of a beautiful new suburban ranch I had to hold my breath.
"Isn't it beautiful?" she said with a dreamy sigh in voice. "New sidewalks so kids can roller skate without falling because of tree roots, everything on one floor, a big picture window where light can come shining through not shaded by a porch." "And no big trees to dump leaves all over your newly mowed lawn," he sighed.
I was stunned. This was their dream house and it looked nothing like mine. Nothing. The really wanted exactly what this house had to offer. The very house that I thought would be a compromise of my dreams was the fulfillment of theirs. My dream house would be a compromise of their dreams.
I got it. I started to see that God moves us to want what he needs us to want in order to keep his universe beautiful, textured, alive with diversity and opportunity to grow spiritually. He was moving them to want what He already had planned for their life, and He had moved my heart to long for what it was that He needed me to want so that I would be moving in the direction of His plans for me, and my purpose in His plan.
They didn't want my dream house…and I didn't want theirs.
Mary Baker Eddy, on the first page of her book Science and Health says, "Desire is prayer." And then goes on to say that "Prayer is God's gracious means for accomplishing whatever has been successfully done for the Christianization and health of mankind." Well, what I began to glimpse on that beautiful autumn day in Alton, Illinois, was the connection between those two statements. Since desire was prayer, and prayer was God's gracious means, then desire was God's gracious means for accomplishing whatever has been successfully done for the Christianization and health of mankind.
The word "health" comes from the word "whoelth" or wholeness in Welsh. I could suddenly see that the world…the universe was whole…and that it was wholly in balance, organized, and beautiful and God kept it that way by moving us to desire…to love…what he needs us to love. I began to understand that when we are true to those desires in our heart…trusting that they are from Him, from Love….not a reaction to fear, or a compromise to avoid the real work of turning to Him, we discover our purpose and place in the universe in ways that make sense to us as citizens of a kingdom where Love reigns supreme.
Or, as Cinderella and her woodland friends so wisely put it in"A Dream is a Wish" from Disney's Cinderella:
"A dream is a wish your heart makes…"
And the heart is God's province...