Tuesday, January 20, 2015

"i never made promises lightly…"

"I never made promises lightly,
there have been some that I've broken,
but I swear in the days still left,
we'll walk in fields of gold…"

If you want to see me weep at the first strains of a vocal performance, just play Eva Cassidy's recording of "Fields of Gold." It gets me every time.

It's full of heartbreak, pathos, and promise. There are times when I've felt these emotions so viscerally that my knees buckle.

It happened a year ago last autumn. I was driving through the lush evening light of our mountain valley. I had Eva's recording playing while the sun dipped below the ragged crest of Mt. Princeton. The meadow to the south of the Link road was cast in gold and I felt a sob explode from somewhere deep in my heart.

The golden light, the song, the setting -- a perfect emotional storm. Joy, sorrow, memories, regret. I couldn't sort one out from another.

I was headed up the mountain to sit in on one of our daughters' classes, Explorations in Spiritual Literature, at the expeditionary school they attend here in the valley. I knew I had to put my emotional breakdown on hold and pull it together or the girls would notice.

I arrived just in time for the start of the class. I was still wrestling with my emotions when the teacher opened a discussion on  the spiritual message in Jesus' parable of the tares and the wheat (Matthew 13: 24 - 30):

"Another parable put he forth unto them,
saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened
unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:
But while men slept, his enemy came
and sowed tares among the wheat,
and went his way.

But when the blade was sprung up,
and brought forth fruit,
then appeared the tares also.

So the servants of the householder
came and said unto him,
Sir, didst not thou sow good seed
in thy field? from whence then
hath it tares? He said unto them,
An enemy hath done this.

The servants said unto him,
Wilt thou then that we go
and gather them up? But he said,
Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares,
ye root up also the wheat with them.
Let both grow together until the harvest:
and in the time of harvest
I will say to the reapers,
Gather ye together first the tares,
and bind them in bundles to burn them:
but gather the wheat into my barn."

I love this parable, so he had my full attention. I've spent many hours over the years exploring its spiritual relevance in my life.

I have to admit that I was tempted to just jump in and share my insights -- but I was a guest. Thank goodness! It made me listen more attentively.  But I sat there wondering if someone would share that the kingdom of heaven is likened unto the man -- not the field, or the seed? Was anyone going to have seen that the man doesn't accuse his servants or anyone in his household -- but immediately knows that an enemy that must have done this?

Wasn't someone going to share that the roots of the tares would have helped to stabilize the roots of the wheat, so that there was less crop loss from erosion during a heavy rainfall?

But because I couldn't share -- I listened. And I was blessed. The teacher shared an insight that took my breath away. He said that perhaps the householder knew that when fully grown, the tares would be more easily discernible from the wheat. And that once separated and gathered into bundles, the dry, brittle tares would be very useful as kindling for starting fires.


They weren't being burned just to destroy them because they were of no value.  They were beomg gathered into bundles so that they could be used to start fires. Fires that would keep them warm on cool desert nights. Fires for cooking meals. Fires for light, and protection from animals that might come too close to their sleeping circles at night during the harvest.

Everything had usefulness. And wasn't this the exact message I needed at that moment. I'd been so confused on the drive up the mountain. All my wonderful, holy, beautiful memories -- of a relationship set in that golden valley -- seemed intertwined with the sorrow of it not being the forever relationship in my life. Regret was mixed with joy, inspiration twisted up with the surrender of a long-cherished dream.

But this insight about the tares and the wheat gave me a sense of wholeness about my life's path -- one that I'd deeply longed for.

Nothing had been lost. It had all been purposeful. I'd learned lessons that I may not have sought out any other way. I'd discovered things about my relationship with God that will endure far beyond any particular chapter in my life. Those years were vital to strengthening the roots of my spiritual trust in the unseen power of Love.

And those promises that were never lightly made -- and yet, had been broken -- brought me to my knees.  I'd humbly discovered that personal self-certainty is not the same thing as spiritual self-surrender.  My self-certainty had had very little to do with "Thy will be done," and more to do with "well, I can tell you that I will never…"

Out of those experiences came a sweeter heart, less judgment of others, and a deeper trust in God's ability to override a prideful sense of right for growth in humility. In truth, I didn't really need a sense of myself as someone who always got it right. What I really needed was to harvest in myself a greater compassion for others, less self-righteousness, and more grace.

I left that class a different person.  I'd been ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven -- by myself.  I was walking in fields of gold, where even my tares were useful, valued, and served a holy purpose. Those golden days had never included something useless and thoroughly regrettable, but had given me something warm, nourishing, and enlightening to share -- a kinder heart.

A new light was shed on a much loved paragraph from page 521 of Mary Baker Eddy's Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures:

"All that is made is the work of God,
and all is good. We leave this brief,
glorious history of spiritual creation
(as stated in the first chapter of Genesis)
in the hands of God, not of man,
in the keeping of Spirit, not matter,
joyfully acknowledging now and forever
God’s supremacy, omnipotence, and omnipresence.

"The harmony and immortality of man
are intact. We should look away
from the opposite supposition
that man is created materially,
and turn our gaze
to the spiritual record of creation,
to that which should be engraved
on the understanding and heart
“with the point of a diamond”
and the pen of an angel."

It wasn't about sorting my life -- but redeeming every moment by seeing God's presence, power, and purpose in it.

I am so grateful I was led to listen that night. I was given the gift of redemption. My trip back down the Link road was beneath a bowl of stars set in midnight velvet and yet, in my heart I was still seeing fields of gold (here is "Sting's version.)

thanks Bobby --

shared with Love,


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