It Doesn’t Have a Name.

There was an overwhelming urge within me to write the nostalgia I felt yesterday onto a page of blank paper. Perhaps this was in part due to the lure of a brand new notebook laying casually beside my bed as I finally sank into bed. I am more inclined to believe, however, that it was mostly due to the memories coursing through my heart and mind after a day full of reminiscing. Indeed, it seems the past months have been bursting, overflowing, heavy with remembering – the beautiful and the horrible things.

First it was the seemingly endless old Facebook “notes” I wrote as a young girl (young, as in 13). Questionnaires, quotes, writing bits and bobs, etc. I shared it all. I laughed and laughed as I reread my answers to silly questions, knowing full well how I used to truly believe that other people read and cared about whether I liked Coke or Pepsi, dresses or skirts, bad boys or jocks, or what have you. I remembered the way I would pray that a certain boy would read my questionnaires and fall in love with me instead of any of the other girls who were posting the very same things. I covered my face in shame as I painstakingly read through those “flippity”, senseless, words. I used to wonder why girls were so nasty to me in the Facebook “honesty box” and now I realize that I was absolutely and utterly annoying. In their anonymous online corners, how they must have laughed at our grade 9 antics and mercilessly tried to tell us to shut-the-hell-up. I wish they had done it more.

Second, it was the sending of all those teams from my high school to the outer corners of the world as spring break broke this year. These memories have not been so humorous. I nearly lost my mind all over again as the weight of a thousand mistakes came crashing down all around me. Like a fool, I traveled back in time to those days of pride and regretted every instance that my broken heart screamed the I’m-sorry’s instead of quietly and humbly whispering them. But like a cool breeze, the memory of the laughter, of the people, and of the most wonderful version of Jesus Loves Me I’ve ever heard,  so the times of absolute elation and exhilaration brought me down to the ground again, safe and sound. I remember the way the golden and magenta sunset on the African plain looked like heaven was opening all around us. I think Jesus wanted me to know how heaven would look when I go there someday. I remember how the elephant wrinkles were close enough to touch and how the lion’s mangy mane shook as he jogged all around our jeep. I remember every cursed joke we made as our hands tightened around each others in defense of the discomfort. I remember the gleaming white smiles against creamy chocolate skin as their rich voices rose to God’s ears.

Third, I remember being sixteen. It wasn’t all too long ago, you know. I remember the first time I ever kissed a boy and when nothing but making him mine seemed important. My greatest sense of nostalgia came from speaking with the ones who made an impact whether or not they know or believe it. I can feel my eyes sparkling as wave after wave of happiness washes the bad memories away. Last night I wrote because of this ‘one’. Somebody who wasn’t THE one but is one in a million anyway. He’ll read this and I hope he feels happiness.

It doesn’t have a name but, then, the past doesn’t really have a name either.

“We long for yesterday like we used to long for today. We used to pray unceasingly for momentum to pick up and bring us further along in the great quest to grow up. Though I am not yet grown, I know now what I did not know then about the weight of my mistakes and the heaviness of a choice made wrong. I know now how it cripples and cages you – how it clutches at your fingertips even as they open in the art of letting go. I cannot go back, but oh, how I long to. I long for yesterday like I used to long for today.

I am not yet grown but this weathered self combs through the memories like they were a lifetime ago. I speak of days when teal blue eyeliner owned every inch of my eyelid like it was a possessive older boyfriend. I speak of days when I wanted to be just like her and so the words came tumbling out, unabashed and grotesque. I speak of days when we rolled the waists of our skirts to match the height of our too tight cut off shorts to show the world God-knows-what. I want to shake the girl and tell her to be a lady. I want to tell her how lovely she is and to simply stop giving them something to talk about. When I remember how that girl let her words go wild, I want to run back as fast as I can to tell her first, that nobody is listening and second, that everyone can hear. I want to tell her how nobody did end up standing up for those kids that day or how that boy didn’t matter anyway. He wasn’t worth it. I want her to know that sleep is overrated when you’re twelve.

As these memories flow unchecked, his face emerges from a sea of what-if’s and text-messaged plans and promises. This time I want to scream at that girl from the sidelines and tell her she’s doing the right thing in telling him no. I want her to know that though it hurts, even though the reasons are too weak to admit, she is making the right choice.

I am not yet grown but with age has come bashfulness and doubt. They overwhelm my passionate worship in making way for skepticism. I want turn back and look that single-minded girl in the eye and tell her to march on, unafraid, because cynicism can wait. Why is bravery the first to go? Even as I pose the question, I know such is not the case at all. All those years ago, we had not the bravery to ask questions that would no doubt beg unwanted answers. We had not the bravery to love anyone but ourselves. We had not the bravery, nor the audacity, to ask if God was real.

I am not yet grown and Lord knows I am likely not done being selfish, but I am ashamed I ever tried to be better than the rest. We were all just trying to be someone we were not and in our pretending, we forgot what it means to be free. We forgot what the sky looked like. And remembering something so important really does hurt, believe it or not. I cannot go back but if writing it now was enough to change anything, I would write an ocean. I would write a desert. I would write anything to keep her from herself. I would write her off the pages she wrote herself on to. I would write two words for her on a crumpled piece of paper and pin them to her pocket. Be Free, it’d say. Be Free. “

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This Present Loneliness.

As it stands, the world is a crazy place for me. Word document after word document go flying through my email account as the weight of a semester accumulates and descends ravenously upon us helpless university students. There seems to be no end to the madness. I scarce have time for to fulfill my personal-space-dependent needs, let alone spend even more time with eyes glued to the computer screen in the midst of a blog. My priorities presently include sleeping, eating, drinking coffee, drinking tea, being alone, and staying sane. All this to say, I have nothing to say. For once. What I have, however, is a thought of old – a memory of a time that seems a lifetime ago but really was only a few short years prior to now. I have written a few “pieces” over the years and the one I want to share is very near to my heart, more so than the others because it’s about somebody that I love dearly. I wrote it because I needed to write about hope. I needed to have it in writing that this time we faced was just the beginning of a journey that would be beautiful and worthwhile.

Now, “piece” is hardly an appropriate term because it’s inherently raw and underdeveloped. Until now. I know as I transfer the words from crumpled lined paper to this text field, I will fine tune and fiddle with them. As a side note, I don’t think I’ve ever been entirely satisfied with something I’ve written. There is always a desire to write better, to make the words better, to make them right. I’ve been afraid of writing (even to this day) and I couldn’t articulate why this was. When I read The Book Thief (which is an utterly marvelous book!) last summer, the heroine of the story brought my unspoken and unrealized notions to light.

“I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.”

Though this “piece” (Lord, how I hate that word and my usage…) is far from beautiful and right, I know it’s almost right. And that is good enough for now.

It’s called This Present Loneliness.

He waits patiently every night for that which he doesn’t understand to suddenly make itself known to him. This present loneliness for love in its truest form wears away at the foundations of what they all thought would be enough. We knew though. We all knew it would not be enough. They layered brick after brick upon a breakable foundation and hoped that an unbreakable faith would emerge. What he needed was to be broken and reassembled, time and time again, until their faith became his own. Instead, this present loneliness robs him of clarity and steals away his hope. Doubt cloaks him like a blanket until all he is is a shadow of what once was innocent. Still, he waits. This present loneliness then spreads like wildfire, until even the most simplest joys of the past are replaced by this ever-present desire to be free of it all.

He says it takes time to build understanding and I believe him. Perhaps though, such an unattainable goal raises the stakes so high that even the wisest of pharisees would have to feign knowledge. He will never understand it all and unfortunately, unknowingly, that is all he desires. He wants to be like them, like the pharisees, but he never will be. For he cannot imitate understanding like them; he will never have all the answers. And this present loneliness will destroy him until he understands that he is much too small to understand it all. He thinks he is on his way to this revelation that he does not know but at nighttime, when light is not there to hide him, his demons escape and run rampant, scouring his weaknesses for entry. Some nights, they win. He pleads and he cries for his thoughts to slow but they remain the biggest enemy. They close in on him, constant and unrelenting.

There is an ever-present help that I know who remains my present freedom. But even if I love him as they did, I will not layer bricks on the broken as they did. I simply cannot. He knows I will not. And so he waits. As he waits, hope, it rises. Step by step, day by day, slowly but surely, it rises. He believes that this great sadness will lift and he will be free. It is because he believes that I hold unwaveringly to the hope that this present loneliness of his will be stripped bare – emaciated – just as it first emaciated him. His hands shake but his voice remains firm, not yet defeated. “I want to see you God. I wanna see your face.” The cry falls short of Glory’s ears, or so his demons convince him. Yet Mercy’s tears mingle with his own as his heart falls prey once again to this present loneliness. Night after night it is the same story. The tears soon will dry. From this present desert, the voice of the one who hears rises to meet him. “You have asked to see my face and before you I have laid mountains and rolling hills, the sun warm on your face and the stars as bright as bright is. There you see my face. You strain for my voice to reach you and I have conducted a symphony of sweet melodies carried on the wings of carefree birds and dancing between the sea billows and wind-blown leaves. There you hear my voice. Most of all you have longed and begged for my touch and I have given you my precious one; her arms to hold you, her lips to caress your face, and her hands to warm your own. I have given you the embrace of those that love you as I do. There, my beloved, is my touch. You who seeks will soon find.”

This promise hangs gently in the air over his head as he lay shackled to the barrage of lies and poison. This present loneliness anchors him to this bed of sadness. But still, he waits, eyes fixed above. Waiting. He is not free today. But he who seeks will soon find. This present loneliness is nothing but now. He wills hope to rise and meet his future and together they sing and make lovely the better days to come.

Comfort in Silence

There is something so inherently peaceful about simply being quiet. This truth I have been made keenly aware of in the weeks since my last post. When you are a naturally talkative person, quiet does not make sense between two people. Alone? Yes; I am, in fact, rejuvenated by solitude. The most natural reflex in me, however, is to fill the silence with talk. I used to think it was just “the way I am” but when I find myself with people who do not feel the same need to fill the silence, I realize that they have something I do not. Comfort in silence. Comfort in quiet companionship. Comfort in listening. And then it becomes a matter not of the simple way I am but rather, the ways I have yet to grow.

Sometimes I find nothing more unsettling in being with my closest friends than the realization that over the course of an evening, I’ve done most of the talking myself. Don’t misunderstand me – when someone needs to talk, I can listen. But it always ends the same way. I give a long-winded word of advice and “talk” them through it. I love words. I love speaking. I will even admit I do occasionally even love the sound of my own voice. Whether right or wrong, it does come in handy when people genuinely want a second opinion or perspective. Whether right or wrong, I also find myself envying those that have the patience to listen. My best friend is one of them. I kept her from leaving my house recently because a few hours had gone by and she hadn’t even talked about herself yet. Not for lack of opportunities, but because she was comfortable listening to me. She didn’t feel the need to talk like I did. Granted, it’s a little different with us because our closeness has led to many a quiet evening but by her own admission, she would rather listen than talk about herself. My boyfriend can be the same way. Late at night he might just want to sit there, not saying a word, just being in the comfort of each other’s presence. My sister shows the same patience when she listens to my ranting and raving and avoids the same amount of “revelation” that I constantly have to vocalize. My thoughts in this post were none more triggered by a newer friend I’ve been spending time with. Once a week, we park our cars in the neighbourhoods near the hospital where we do our practicum. The walk is a short one. The sun is rising earlier and the earth is just beginning to show signs of life. The air is crisp and we keep up a brisk pace to make good time. Last semester this same walk was done with other friends of mine who showed a tendency to be more like me. We would fill the silence with light chatter, musing about the possibilities of the day and what the evenings plans were at shift’s end. But now, I make the walk in peaceful quiet. We exchange our good morning’s and enter the wooded path to the hospital. She is comfortable in silence. She is comfortable in the quiet reverie that a 7 AM walk lends itself to. She teaches me to be content in the simple pleasure of companionship. Our walk back to the cars are much more animated and filled with chatter about the days adventures and new experiences but even this time is touched with a special brand of peacefulness.

All of these people, but especially my newer friend, are the type that only speak when they have something to say. And usually, it’s pretty insightful, meaningful, or funny. Not always, but usually. I do take pride in my way with words. I’ve known from the beginning that I can articulate myself very clearly and consistently (in other words, I don’t stop talking). There is value in this quality just as there is value in being more of a listener. But these people are teaching me to slow down, to say things that mean something rather than to say everything, and to just listen.

I’m in such a lovely, peaceful place. Not mentally – although I am getting there – but in the physical sense. My boyfriend and I are staying with his family at their place on a ski mountain. The snow is still swirling all around but the sun is peeking through the clouds at the mountain tops. The trees are laced with snow and the rooftops are, conversely, weighed down heavily by several feet of snow. My tea is steaming beside me as I sit at the luxurious, large table, facing a panoramic expanse of mountain. This place lends itself to introspection. My heart feels ready to grow and become more like the person I should be. As our weekend getaway comes to a close, I long for a similar place where I always experience the most growth and healing. A place where the lake lays at our feet and the mountains at our backs. Where we spend the days tucked away in a rustic and exclusive world of bright skies and strong, turbulent winds. The technology I’m using at this minute to blog is a far distant thought and impossibility. We will drive past it on our way back home today and I’ll look out the window and long to walk along the rocky waterline and plunge my body into the cold water. I’ll even long for the ache in my muscles that always follows an overly ambitious hike along the dirt road and up the mountain’s edge. This spring and summer will be one of drastic change. I feel it coming and I wait expectantly for that which I do not know.