A very pleasant room

Confession: I can see the inside of my mind.

Do you believe me? It’s really true.

There’s a little desk where my consciousness sits at the head of the room, facing low double shelves containing rows and rows of manila folders packed with information. There are unseen helpers that manage all the folders under my guidance, bringing needed items to the desk and shelving what is finished for now.

The desk is my workspace, where I sit in a swivel chair and look over the items at hand, usually no more than six or seven, an array that is constantly changing, constantly updated as new messages come in.

Sometimes when I am drifting off to sleep and my guard is relaxing, a random file falls off the shelf, so that in the middle of drowsy nothingness I suddenly recall with perfect clarity what the ceilings in my childhood home looked like, or how the tongue of a kitten feels on my hand. I like this. It tells me sleep is coming, and a watcher puts the file back in its place.

The far wall of the room is dominated by a big picture window, from which I look out on God. The view is beautiful—a tree in the foreground and low green hills in the distance. There’s a padded window seat beneath, with a round donut cushion on the left-hand side. Flanking the window are solid wood shelves with a dark finish, containing what looks like old books, beautifully bound in various colors. These are the archives—the important things I can never remember, and never forget.

There’s a door on the right side of the room. I do not know yet where it leads, but I think it is the exit.

It is a very pleasant room.

Behind my seat the floor drops off abruptly. I do not see this unless I turn.

There is a second story below the one in which I sit. It took me a long time to realize this, but it is where my subconscious lives. I thought it was all dark down there, and I was rather frightened, because I know that when I sleep there are strange interplays between the upstairs and downstairs in ways I do not understand. But I am not afraid now.

I see that the downstairs is not blackness at all, but gray low-lit passages leading on and on into one another—who can say how far and how deep they reach? I can see much more than I thought at first, but not a fraction of the whole.

If I am not careful of proper filing, thoughts and information slip off the desk to the floor behind me, and from there into the subconscious, where I generally never find them again. I try to file carefully all that I want to remember. There is more information than I can fathom packed in those manila files, all categorized and accessible—how many folders just for the lyrics of songs?

When I am looking for a particular file and cannot find it (say, the name of that waitress last night, or the grocery item I must not forget—a factoid on the tip of my tongue yet wholly inaccessible), I’ve found it doesn’t help to break my head trying. I simply send a helper to search for it, while I think of something else for a few minutes. The next time I check, I generally find that the desired information is laid on my desk waiting for me.

There is a black trash can behind me, on the floor of the subconscious below, in which I may place very firmly a thing I do not wish to remember, usually something I read or heard, though I must do it at once. After it has been filed on the shelves it cannot be relocated to the trash. It is not a large can.

There are hairline fissures in a crackle pattern all over the upstairs floor. This is where humor goes—not shelved, but trickling down through the conscious into the subconscious. It tickles, and I laugh. The floor of every mind is cracked differently, which is why some things that I find impossibly funny mean nothing to you, and vice versa. I don’t have cracks for puns.

You may think that I am making all of this up, but I am not. It’s a chronicle of discovery, not invention; I am always learning more.

“I like this about myself, and I like myself, and I have a lot of other great qualities as well…” 🙂

“I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” Psalm 139:14

Green beans and good deeds

Did you know that I can hear what plants are saying?

This is one reason why I hate weeding (besides the fact that it is hard work): it feels cruel and unfair. I hate the sight of all those babies gasping and shriveling in the sun. When I prune I have to steel myself against the protest. Once when Ryan chopped off a big wild grapevine, the sight of that gaping, dripping stump was dreadful to me, like someone bleeding.

The other day I was out in my garden picking green beans. As I pulled the long straight pods, I was sure (quite sure) I heard the plants sighing with relief.

green beans 2013

Left alone, the beans would turn fat and woody, aging idly, sapping strength, corking the usefulness and life span of the plant. Removed, they cleared the way for fresh energy to surge into the blossoms and new beans coming on. The plant found it was still young. Productivity endured.

They were delighted to give; I was delighted to receive.

I thought to myself—this is how I should think of good deeds.

Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love… not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. (Romans 12:10-13)

Sometimes I get exhausted with my works, as though I have to produce enough of them to stretch around to the needs of all. Instead, I should be producing them because that is what I do—fueled by internal design, not external pressure. I am a bean plant. I make beans. And when someone comes along and picks them to enjoy, I can release them with a sigh of relief.

Whew. Thanks for taking that. I needed to cook a good meal for someone.

Ahh. Lovely. Thanks for giving me an opportunity to babysit. I’ve been growing that one quite a while.

Mmmmm. It feels good to stop in and visit you. I hope you are feeling better soon…

Thank you for letting me throw you a party! Now I can start cooking up the next one.

If you’re feeling useless and stuffed up, clear out some of the overripe projects, the things you’ve been meaning to do for others for a long time—or you’ll soon find you have stopped concocting the fresh.

And a little nontraditional advice, if I may–

Don’t get too bogged down examining your motives: you usually have several. If you can get them about 80% pure, just go with it, trusting to Jesus to iron out the rest. “Am I just doing it to make myself look good?” is not the end of the road you may think. For women who claim to be devoted to God should make themselves attractive by the good things they do. (I Timothy 2:10 NLT. Context here.)

For women who claim to be devoted to God should make themselves attractive by the good things they do. For women who claim to be devoted to God should make themselves attractive by the good things they do. For women who claim to be devoted to God should make themselves attractive by the good things they do.

*****

What do you think?

Doubt

Confession: It’s a good thing I joked about coming off antidepressant meds while I still could—while it was fuzzy and funny. I wasn’t laughing two weeks later. I thought I was losing my mind.

But I’d rather not think about that so much now—only say hence, six blog posts in three weeks. I can’t write when I’m very unhappy.

A brain is an odd thing.

Carefully I weave the fabric of my life—choices and plans, colors and textures. When I awake in the morning, I take up the thread. I weave.

Then I ask one question—Why? And the thread unravels.

I’ve come to a very important decision. Doubt may be a necessary path at certain times in life, but it’s not meant to spend a life on. I used to love asking philosophical questions for kicks—Who are we? Why are we here? What is this all about, anyway?

But I’ve lived there for a few months now, the last month worst of all, and I see what sickly colors bloom beneath this grow light. I thought I had lots of doubts, that they were coming from deep inside me; I see that instead, I was having them insinuated, hurled, bombarded at me–temptation disguised as philosophy: the temptation each morning to unravel all I’d woven the day before—the temptation to avoid moving forward because I simply had to keep chasing these winding rabbit trails to nowhere—the temptation to avoid trusting Him until I could figure Him out.

And then I came to a fork. I knew it was coming up, but I thought it looked this way, that I had to choose between faith and unbelief.

first fork

When I got there I found it looked like this:

second fork

that my paths of faith and unbelief had been separate long enough, and I split in two, gritting my teeth into duty.

He drew me forward into love.

Not “The world is ugly.”

Not “The world is unfair.”

But “The world is. Now, what am I going to have for breakfast?”

Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the hope of the world.

Holes reloaded

Confession: Sometimes my posts have hidden pieces I don’t share. Do you want to see?

*****

Confession: I hate controversial topics, though I tackle them. I do love truth. Multifaceted, complex, everyone’s-perspective-thrown-in-truth. I love debate. Er. Correction—I love watching debate. But I hate moderating it. This time around, we’ll keep things really simple, focus on what we can all agree on.

The earth is round.

The cycle spins.

The grass is greener than you’d expect, this time of year.

Melting snow turns to water.

Zook yard turns to mudhole.

Have you ever dug a hole in January?

I dug a lot of holes this week, some with my shovel, some with my words.

It’s enchanting.

And raw. For me and for you.

All that rich, dark earth, splendidly flecked with earthworms.

The earth is truly, deeply intoxicating. But I hint also at a lush dessert. God giveth us richly all things to enjoy. The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.

I dug a lot of holes on Saturday, and stood baby trees in most of them… gifts from the Arbor Day Foundation, received too close to snowfall and kept in water since. And the other hole I dug on Saturday (a standard of quality), I dug deeper on Sunday (a case for eating). Why? I guess because I had some seeds to throw down. I hope they will live. They stand straight, rooted in abundance, luxuriating in the unseasonably warm wind.

I am a baby tree too. I live by digging holes to put myself in. Digging holes, putting out roots. It’s the only way I know to grow. I don’t do it all right. But I learn, and I grow.

Shari, who had geared herself up for four to six more weeks of winter, has snuffed spring, and is dogging it.

I am restless and lonesome, ready for fresh topics, fresh hope, fresh air… Spring.