Tuesday, February 18, 2014

"And the places that I long for…"


"...The past is so tangible
I know it by heart
Familiar things are never easy
To discard
I was dying for some freedom
But now I hesitate to go
I am caught between the Promise
And the things I know

I've been painting pictures of Egypt,
Leaving out what it lacks
The future feels so hard,
And I wanna go back!
But the places that used to fit me,
Cannot hold the things I've learned
Those roads were closed off to me
While my back was turned..."

- Sara Groves

A friend asked me to repost this piece. It is still relevant for me. Whether I am "looking back," in regret or relief, it's still looking back. God's name is I AM -- this is the only "place" I will find Him. And it is His Voice I listen for -- moment-by-moment -- in the music of this dance. Thank you for this reminder A. -- I am grateful. It is offered --again -- with love:

Okay, so I have become a bit obsessed with Sara Groves' lyrics and music.  But, as my husband says, "she must know you so well."  When I discovered her "
Painting Pictures of Egypt," it was like walking past a mirror, smiling at a stranger, and then suddenly realizing you are smiling at yourself.

I listened with rapt wonder.  She was able to put into words, the feeling of knowing when you just
had to leave one place -- the place where you'd lived in hunched sadness, for a horizon that seemed to hold no oasis or refuge.  It is a journey in which you cross the desert of pain -- traversing the lonely unchartered territories of your own heart, learning to eat locust and drink dew from the crevices in stones -- only to find that you are still just standing at the edge of something even more vastly new and incomprehensible. So uncertain that you begin to dream of returning to the soft comforts of the outgrown, but still familiar.

I think this is what the children of Israel may have faced at the edge of the Red Sea.  Having left behind a tortured existence of brutality and slavery, they find themselves in a place where they are free -- but free to do what, when all that stands in front of them is a roiling ocean of resistance and self-doubt.  Pharoah is pursuing them from behind and they wonder why they ever left Egypt in the first place. At least in Egypt they had the fleshpots. 

I have known this kind of questioning.  I have known the terror of "not knowing" what comes next, and the insistent pull of what once was. "At least there were those fleshpots," it hisses. "Hey, you know how to navigate the familiar, endless rhythm of pyramid building. You know how to anticipate and brace yourself for the touch -- however hurtful -- of the slavemaster's whip."

That's when I would begin "painting pictures of Egypt" in the soft golden glow of memory.  The straw and mud pits of backbreaking labor in the fields took on a soft light in the rearview mirror -- a "Little House on the Prairie" romanticism. Why, I could almost hear the swell of a James Newton Howard soundtrack if I listened hard enough.

But in those moments when my Children of Israel-self complains to my Moses-self. Whining at the edge of the Red Sea, "why did you bring us here, at least in Egypt I had fleshpots!" I remember Moses' reply, "Stand ye still and see the salvation of our God." A command which God rebukes with, "Why are you telling them that, tell them to move forward!"

And in that moment of supreme trust and obedience -- taking that first step off the edge -- what those in exile could never have even imagined - a sea splitting in two so that they could cross on dryland - happens right before their eyes.

They had outgrown the lessons of Egypt, and each step forward through the sand brought them to the place where a miracle was waiting.

Like the children of Israel at the edge of the Red Sea, I too have spent far too many days sitting in the hot shifting sands of self-doubt, painting romantic pictures of Egypt in the soft glow of memory. When right there, right before me -- within just a few steps of its shores -- a Red Sea was waiting to part and lead me to the promised land. 

Today I have my heart focused on the sea.  I am painting seascapes full of milk and honey, bees and blueberries, lemons and lavender. I am leaving the outgrown in Egypt where it belongs -- in the past. I am grateful for every thing it taught me.  But, I am moving forward, one step at a time -- looking for miracles in the sand and the sea.

"...I don't want to leave here
I don't want to stay
It feels like pinching to me
Either way
And the places I long for the most
Are the places where I've been
They are calling out to me
Like a long lost friend

It's not about losing faith
It's not about trust
It's all about comfortable
When you move so much
And the place I was wasn't perfect
But I had found a way to live
And it wasn't milk or honey
But then neither is this

I've been painting pictures of Egypt,
Leaving out what it lacks
The future feels so hard,
And I wanna go back!
But the places that used to fit me,
Cannot hold the things I've learned
Those roads were closed off to me
While my back was turned..."

If it comes too quick
I may not appreciate it
Is that the reason behind all this time and sand?
And if it comes too quick
I may not recognize it
Is that the reason behind all this time and sand?"

with Love,


Kate



No comments:

Post a Comment