This is the story of the journey of my life. Travel can be hard work. So much to see. So little time. So many missed connections. So much lost luggage. But every stop, every detour, every challenge along the way provides a lesson to be learned. Traveling mercies to us all.
Two weekends ago, when I was away in the North Carolina mountains, the speaker said something that I jotted into my notebook.
"If God is with us, then nothing else matters.
If God is not with us, then nothing else matters."
The same is true of the story of Christ's death and resurrection and powerful presence in my life.
If the story is true, then nothing else matters.
But if the story is not true, then nothing else matters.
Considering the enormous difference that faith in God has made in my life,
the mountains I've been able to climb because of the power of faith,
the dark valleys I've been able to traverse because of the power of faith,
the stories and laughter I have shared with others on this journey,
the tears I have cried and the horrors I have survived with other travelers,
the prayers answered with a resounding "yes" and the ones denied with a spirit-crushing "no,"
the colossal mistakes I have made and have recovered from and been forgiven for,
the even more colossal mistakes I am planning to make -
and believe I will be forgiven for (did I just write that in a public space???) -
looking back at all that has happened and looking ahead to all that is yet to come
gazing upon all of it through the eyes of my oftentimes weak, questioning, doubt-riddled faith,
I tell myself over and over -
if the story of death and burial,
resurrection and renewal of life,
forgiveness and reconciliation,
if all of that is true -
and for God's sake, I sure hope it is -
then, in fact, nothing else matters.
Last weekend, I snuck away, up into the North Carolina mountains.
One fantastic old friend that I would go to the ends of the earth with -
and I hope to do just that someday...
Seventy-one brightly smiling women making me feel welcome.
But still alone with The Alone.
A retreat from Charlotte.
A retreat into my soul.
Gazing into the light.
over the mountains and valleys.
Reminder after reminder of one of my favorite movie lines -
An old Italian lived alone in New Jersey. He wanted to plant his annual tomato garden, but it was very difficult work, as the ground was hard.
His only son, Vincent, who used to help him, was in prison. The old man wrote a letter to his son and described his predicament:
I am feeling pretty sad, because it looks like I won't be able to plant my tomato garden this year. I'm just getting too old to be digging up a garden plot. I know if you were here my troubles would be over. I know you would be happy to dig the plot for me, like in the old days.
A few days later he received a letter from his son.
Don't dig up that garden. That's where the bodies are buried..
Vinnie At 4 a.m. the next morning, FBI agents and local police arrived and dug up the entire area without finding any bodies. They apologized to the old man and left.
That same day the old man received another letter from his son.
Dear Pop, Go ahead and plant the tomatoes now. That's the best I could do under the circumstances. Love you,Vinnie
What I've done so far today - in no particular order:
1. washed dishes
2. folded one load of laundry
3. put another load in the washing machine
4. taken a bike ride with my children
5. driven my son to a friend's house
6. talked to my daughter about plans for her high school graduation
7. done some organizing in my study
8. written several pages for a talk I'm going to give to breast cancer survivors
9. downloaded several cds to my itunes library
10. answered phone calls
11. made phone calls
12. a devotional and discussion on spiritual mentoring with my children before they started their homeschool lessons
13. made my bed
14. worked in my dream journal
15. took my daughter to a local lab for bloodwork
16. cleaned the kitchen
17. took out the recycling and cleaned the two recycling bins
18. begun packing a few things for a women's retreat this coming weekend
19. prayed for a dear friend who is in Haiti this week
20. read a few articles of interest in the newspaper
21. checked out a few of my favorite blogs
22. listened to several chapters of the book of John on cd
23. read a few emails and responded to them
* 24. I've been reprimanding myself for "not getting enough done around here."
I've berated myself for not being efficient enough.
For not being a good enough mother.
For not being a good enough wife.
For not being a good enough daughter or daughter-in-law.
For not being a good enough friend or neighbor.
For not being a good enough speaker or listener.
For not being a good enough Christian.
Whatever any of that means.
Because, of course, I have no idea what "good enough" means or looks like.
Of course, now that I have taken the time to enumerate the things I have done already today, I'm proving that I'm not humble enough. So I can add that to my list of things I'm not good enough at... (If this weren't so true of my state of mind most of the time, I would think it was humorous. As I write this, though, I'm not laughing. Not even a little bit.)
Sitting still now, I am intentionally slowing down my heartbeat and taking a few deeper breaths. I am looking out the window that is behind my computer and gazing in amazement at the beauty of this day. I am listening to the silence of my house as my daughter and the dog take naps. As Daniel hangs out with a tennis buddy a few miles away. As Steve keeps his shoulder firmly pressed to the grindstone at a locally-based international bank that shall remain nameless.
Sitting still now, I am reminding myself that
I've heard all the promises.
I've read all the promises.
I've even taught these promises to other people - many times.
Sitting still now, I once again choose to let them in so I can live them out.
~ peace that passes all understanding
~ joy that is complete
~ grace that is abundant and amazing
~ companions for the journey
~ love that never fails
~ nothing I do will make God love me less
~ nothing I do will make God love me more
You have enough already.
You have done enough already.