Seeing with New Eyes

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I had cataract surgery done a week and a half ago. I chickened out last year–something about a knife near the eyes bit! But I was getting desperate, so I did not read any contraindications and just went for it. I had not been able to drive at night for over 2 years, and even daily activities were becoming a strain. I probably should have asked more questions, though, because rather than a piece of cake, this “routine” surgery was more like liver and onions–more uncomfortable than I thought it would be.

I am very chemically sensitive, so having gotten through the procedure with fairly minor and endurable hiccups, the worst part became the reaction to the steroid drops which are needed for speedy healing. This is a five-week process, and I have quite some time to go, but I hope the worst is over.

That was the bad and the ugly. The good part is that somebody turned on the lights! Whites are whiter and colors are brighter, not to mention that everything has distinct edges and not fuzzy, ever-changing ones. The green in the traffic light is . . . well, green green! It is almost like a different color. It is not preferred by me to undergo any surgery, but given the positive change in my sight, I think it was worth it!

My eyes are blue blue again. Haven’t been like this since forever! You don’t think about it because the discoloration and hardening happens slowly over time.  Even my own photographic work is brighter and more colorful. And I have discovered I am a much better photographer than I thought. 🙂

We don’t become aware of the hardening process that alters so much of what we see because it happens bit by bit, year by year. And only when it cannot be ignored any longer do we even recognize it is something to be dealt with. I am thinking that is kind of like what happens with our hearts. If betrayals and loss, disappointments and disillusionment build up, then over time the hardening becomes something to radically deal with. It interferes with our ability to prosper and see life and mission clearly. But it starts small, and it builds layer upon layer. I am not sure how to prevent that from destroying my joy, but my desire is that I would become aware of the hurts that bind and settle down into my spirit.

May I hold lightly to pain and hold tightly to renewal is my prayer.

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My Book of Uncommon Prayers: Have Mercy

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A p r o n h e a d -- Lilly

Oh, Lord of the broken and heartsick,
of the world weary and tumult tossed,
have mercy.
Oh, Lord of the fractured and failing,
of the wounded and flailing,
have mercy on us.

May our beliefs align with Your truths,
and may our weakness not hinder Your kingdom work
here in this battleground
between earth and heaven,
between the cross and the crown.

Oh, Lord of the blind and beleaguered,
the willing but wanting,
have mercy on us here below.

May our hearts break for the living lost
and our hands be quick to holy tasks
here on this hallowed ground
between world and wonder,
between sacrifice and song.

Oh, Lord, have mercy on us here below we pray.

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My Book of Uncommon Prayers: Once Again

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These witchy trees, bare and lifeless, cold and leafless:
One might wonder where life has gone and if all hope is gone,
receded into the dark earth. But
in one moment, that gifted second,
a nub of green sprouts, a speck of promise appears, and the sleeper rises,
stretches to the sky. Renewal happens once again—
from death to life.
That these dormant praises in me would rise again, unchained.
That these sleeping sermons once more would reach my mouth that I may speak of Your wonder,
once again.

 

Not Home Yet

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Walking in shadows, occasional whispers of light remind me I am
indeed
in Him
inadequate, but on the path to home.
The yearning, the longing, keeps doubt in check—
somewhat,
somehow, hoping that
someday what we partly know will be known in whole—
unbroken,
unfettered,
understanding.
The here seems material, the then so far off; and this shadowed world,                               so full of souls and stains would break even the strongest, if not for the
glimmers,
the gracelets,
the glimpses of the intangible, leading us from discomfort to discovery
and home.

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My Book of Uncommon Prayers: These Frail Threads

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I don’t want to be naïve again, speech peppered with Praise the Lord’s and God Bless You’s, and other Christian slang, as if by filling in the blanks I could sanctify the moment.

I meant well.

There are elements I wish I could reclaim—the idea that God would intervene if I could muster enough faith, the idea that God would love me more if I kept more of His rules.

Always.
Simple. Kind of.

I would love to get back to the uncomplicated worship where I knew God was big, powerful, and good, and that somehow my weak words meant something in His kingdom economy, that his gifts freely given actually changed things—changed lives.

Even mine.

But things don’t always turn out as expected. The right key doesn’t always fit in the lock; and though I still believe, my belief is tangled and mangled with shaky hopes and sanctified suspicion.

The strength of will is not always armor enough when facing a cosmic battle. And inspiration and revelation once cavalierly received have slowed to a trickle in the murkiness of time, trouble,

and desperation.

Cataracts of soul have dulled even further the glass darkly explanations, and my longing for more drives me to my knees.

Can I have the wonder back? Can I feel again past the numbness of mind and heart? Oh, Lamb, Oh Lover, Oh Rescuer, save me. Let me feel again what it means to be connected to eternity with these frail threads of confidence and leave the doubt of this dirty life behind.
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Psalm 86:1-7
Bend down, O LORD, and hear my prayer;
answer me, for I need your help.
2 Protect me, for I am devoted to you.
Save me, for I serve you and trust you.
You are my God.
3 Be merciful to me, O Lord,
for I am calling on you constantly.
4 Give me happiness, O Lord,
for I give myself to you.
5 O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive,
so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help.
6 Listen closely to my prayer, O LORD;
hear my urgent cry.
7 I will call to you whenever I’m in trouble,
and you will answer me.

Surrender

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Surrender feels like failure.
It feels depressing, like giving up.
There is a darkness to it, a weight to it—the unwilling outmanned, outmaneuvered, surrounded, and pressed to defeat.
Surrender feels like exhaustion.
It feels compressing, like yielding up the last breathless bits of me.
And yet You call me to this laying down of arms jazz
in exchange for Your loving arms.
And I find that surrender to You is not as much giving up as over—not as much failing as falling into a tender pull,
deference to one more wise and able, after all my best ideas have faltered and failed,
after all my excuses have dried in my mouth,
after all my tears have washed away nothing.
It is the unclenching of a fist, the unmasking of a façade.
It is the baring of a war-torn will, the stripping of all that chokes and hinders.
And I find that surrender to You is not as much like crying “uncle,”
but more like a hallelujah.

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John 15:4-7 (ESV)
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
James 4:10
“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.”

Reel Faith

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Many things you fear come to pass, but

most don’t; and

since you never know which will or won’t, it makes more sense to fear none. But

my Pollyanna is more my Puddleglum, and

my optimism quotient is tempered by what is truly possible on this broken planet; so

how does a glass half empty gal have faith without feeling like it is more about wishful thinking and cooked up certainty?

How to live in the real world with real faith when real is often reeling with the now and the what could be? Yet will I praise Him.

***************

“Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” ~Matthew 6:34

Asking you, asking me . . .

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Does your faith-life even require Jesus?

Got the maxims memorized.

Got the rules down.

Is religion more your bulwark than relationship—

behavior and image more important than face-falling service,

open-hearted devotion to His worthiness?

Has purpose surpassed person?

Maybe it’s time to re-evaluate this substance-hoped-for idea.

Are we a scattered and lost flock, devoted to a text but without a message?

I think I would rather falter on a rough road than walk resolutely down a worn and wrong path,

stuck in a form of obedience . . . but without a desperate, clinging trust.

My will is contrary to my dedication;

my rituals supplant my connection, offering a form without reality.

Am I so right-on religious that as a Christian I can do this thing without Jesus?

*****************

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. ~Psalm 51:10

I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.

~Romans 7:19

 

The Daily Prompt: Renewal with a Hitch

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Renewal always sounds bright and shiny, like a beautifully restored vintage car or a vibrant blossom in the spring bursting from what had looked like a lifeless branch. But the problem with renewal is that something has decayed in order for it to require a new life. So restoration is a good thing. Right?

But renewal comes with a hitch. What is new is chained to what is old. When I walk in fresh ways, my past self is not dismissed like a cast-off piece of clothing. My past is the chain tied around my ankle, reminding me that whatever lies ahead, whatever bright, polished penny-of-life has brought new promise and vision, I am only separated from what has gone before by my willingness to step intentionally onto a new path.

Sure there are helps in people and programs. There is spiritual renewal that comes from the supernatural. But as long as I walk in this skin and bone, my whole story is part of me. Deaths, accidents, betrayals, and sufferings, both physical and mental, do not suddenly and totally disappear in the presence of some mysterious regeneration of self or circumstance. Glass-half-empty does not of its own accord morph into glass-half-full. Renewal is the gritty process of intentionally looking to what is ahead. It is the planting of one foot in front of the other, heading toward a brighter prospect. It is the recognition that what is really real will become actually real when faith becomes sight.

In faith, I may be a new creature and all things may become new in some spiritual sense; but in truth, renewal here requires the commitment to press on in weakness, not forgetting the other chapters of my story, but putting them in the grander perspective of the whole story.

“Now I know in part; then I shall fully know, even as I am fully known.” ~I Cor. 13:12b