Guardianship

Water wheel
Jon Uriah

I woke this morning to my heart bursting.

With ideas, dreams, desires.

Within half an hour, a little too much caffeine was added to the mix, making my insides reminisce about the peaceful days of early July, when fireworks exploded outside the body.

I’m not sure what happened.

Just that, when I went to sleep, I didn’t have the same capacity I experienced when I woke up.

Which is good, because there’s a wide selection to choose from on the To-Do list: three jobs notwithstanding, the lawn needs mowing, the garden weeding, the tomato plant (which is fruiting!!) needs support if I’m going to taste any of that fruit….

My heart feels a little like that tomato plant. Like desire has grown too quickly for the strength of my spine, and its weight is just…sort of pulling me over sideways.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about placemaking and sustainability.

I did the obvious things in response to the cultural hype of zero-waste living: ditch-and-switch all things plastic for bamboo, single-use for reusable.

I must’ve spent close to a thousand dollars, renovating the externals of my lifestyle for long-term goals, and I’m happy I did that.

But now the Lord is taking sustainability into deeper regions of my soul, with a word over this season: guardianship.

Similar to stewardship, to investment. Guarding the good he continually brings to my life.

It also means, “leave no thing orphaned.”

All the parts of my soul should be mothered and fathered. And all the things I put my hand to I must claim responsibility for. It’s incomplete to jump on a gardening trend because growing your own vegetables is sustainable, but leave behind the parts of your own heart that need tending.

Here’s what I’m realizing: it’s not enough to participate in a lifestyle switch just to participate in a lifestyle switch.

You have to cultivate desire for it. You have to answer the why first, and then the how.

I want to stop buying bread because it comes in plastic packaging, which never biodegrades but pollutes our oceans, but how will I get bread, then? Am I ready to undertake making my own gluten-free loaves? Do I have the capacity and the desire to make this a sustainable switch? (Presently, all things cooking- and food-related are burdensome to me.)

Or will I burn out, because I’m also abandoning clothes shopping since I have a sewing machine (that I barely know how to use)?

The truth is, abandoning a convenient, consumerist lifestyle for intentional, sustainable living is more work, not less (whatever the minimalists propone!). It’s a lot of work to mix your own mayo and DIY your own lotion. Apply that same intentionally to your work, to your relationships, your dreams, and your future, and you could burn out quickly if you launch prematurely.

But if you walk with God, you might also wake to an exploding heart because maturity is coming quickly.

See, the best part about receiving a word from the Lord is that it always comes with the equipping intact. He didn’t say guardianship to me as the next thing to learn. He said it to me as the next thing to practice. 

He’s already equipped me with the ability to guard, cultivate, and steward through his Spirit.

Now, to the furthest reach of my desire, I get to participate with the sustainability of his heart. It’s less about making a list of all the switches I want to make and more about cultivating an unmanageable desire.

Because then he has to give me a capacity to match.

And, really, what’s more intimidating to our faint hearts? The stress over biting off more than we can chew?

Or the untameable growth of a desire that’s heaven-sized?

In the face of a God who will always outdo us in dreaming, we choose to belittle our desire until it’s more manageable. Which sidles up a little too closely to soul-killing duty.

I don’t want to cook meals because it’s my duty to sustainable living. I don’t even want to cook meals because it’s my duty to the earth, to my own convictions, or to the Lord who entrusts me.

I want to cook meals because it’s my joy. And if I don’t have joy there, something orphaned in my heart needs a guardian.

Good thing I have the best keeper–one who has promised never to leave me or forsake me. With him, everything is to my advantage, and every advantage is sustainable.

 

 

 

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Four Quarts

 

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I am
crushed
in the depths
of the winepress,
skin-split and oozing,
the best of the season’s fruit.
I am
much
trodden into
little,
four quarts.

Pour me out
as a free-will offering,
a sacrifice of faith.

I am
a wild olive vine,
sprung from flinty soil,
grafted into growth
I had nothing to do with.
Seven years
to firstfruits,
then:
bough-beaten, berry-gleaned,
the mill is a stone rolled,
both to crush
and to resurrect.
This oil press,
my gethsemane.

Pour me out
unendingly
like the jar of the widow.

I am
an alabastron
of spikenard–
your covenant of peace poured
on me,
poured back on you.
Broken seal, beheaded spout,
the anointing
of a husband,
the preparation
for burial
of all the loves I have kept
in my Samaria.

Pour me out
in consecration
of your desire,
in consummation
of your broken-rib-
and-poured-out-blood,
a free-will offering of love.

 

The Life I Think I Want to Live

the_bridge_of_aspiration_by_kharashov-d33599b

Photo Credit: Stewart Hardy

There’s a construct in my heart.

It’s a spiral staircase, with pristine hardwood and gleaming banisters.

Nailed into the floor of Reality, it coils through Dreams, beyond Aspirations, into tendrils of Glory like tufts of burnt-edge cloud.

It has a name: The Life I Think I Want to Live.

In my heart, it looks like driving through Wyoming as dawn breaks, the sun an egg yolk broken all over a horizon of tabletops mountains.

This is the glory, God says, this is the Golden Shore, referring to the place of rest and satisfaction he promised me last April.

In my head, it looks like living on the road, blowing with the Spirit to ordained places and people who need rescue. It looks like heroism, like rescue, like broken hearts bound and shackled feet set free.

It looks like living in a house with perpetually-open doors–a haven of rest for young women in transit–an anointed hub in the middle of a city, with a brother house for young men growing into leadership. Between the two, a growing community of Jesus-lovers with faces set toward the four winds.

It looks like writing only the things I love to write, and making enough of an income to stay on mission and fuel my caffeine addiction.

It looks like intimacy with the man I love that is deeper and more fiery than the core of the earth, a rich soil for planting seeds with roots stronger than weeds, a wide open space with recyclable potential for an Eden.

In my head, it looks like perfection.

Which is why it is a construct. Everything in reality is a little more lopsided than that, and there is nothing man-made that isn’t structurally unsound.

Daily, little things occur that trigger frustration because life reveals a smudge on the banister, a crack in the wood, a dissimilarity in the grain.

In reality, I am back to work scraping hardened soup from a pan with a butterknife.

In reality, the dream house has a clogged sink and I don’t know how to use the drain snake.

In reality, freelancing looks like writing what is available at a rate that someone else decides, on a deadline.

In reality, intimacy is the painful process of locating my constructs and yielding to Jesus deconstructing them–generally in a backward, measureless, structureless way–so I can love the man he has given me with the purity of self-sacrifice.

In reality, I am walking the length of the Stone Arch bridge after dark–smoking, because I can’t seem to approach my own father without some kind of guard–and wrestling with his Spirit because I told him what I want when he asked, and now he’s telling me I only want the version in my head.

Which, apparently, is not his reality. And his reality is the only one that offers life.

I am confronted with this reality: I can’t have both the life I think I want to live and the life God offers.

But I don’t know how to abandon my staircase.