Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Like unexpected spider webs.......

Ai ya!  Wei lei!  Uuff baba!  Phrases in general usage like 'Oh my goodness!' that have come second nature during parts of my life in different places.  Things you say when something completely takes you by surprise.

Once a day I go to the mail box, gather advertisement circulars, pick up rubbish that's floated into the yard and head to our rubbish and recycle bins.  As I walk through the open doorway under my front porch, pffftttt, I walk through a spider's web.

I haven't seen this spider yet, my son Aaron tells me that I don't really want to (!), but it sure is a persistent creature.  Every day I destroy part of it's web and do a frantic dance of spitting and wiping my hands through my hair, and every day it rebuilds.  And every day I keep looking down at my hands preoccupied and forget that it's there.

Last week I spent a delightful few hours with a visiting friend and former co-worker.  She caught me up on all the happenings of mutual friends around the freedom business in Kolkata where we used to share our daily lives together.  The conversation became more personal and we talked about how important it is to process the things that hurt us while living there.  Things like incredible pain that others experience through being sold into the sex trade and all that follows which, while nothing like theirs, becomes second-hand pain to us when we hear about it, live around it, and love the people in it.

We talked about what it's like to be a woman in that environment.  How we tended to try to brush off our own more minor then theirs experiences of molestation and harassment because it's 'normal' there and that's what you tend to do just to cope.  But how ignoring our own pain wasn't healthy for us in the long run.

Uuff baba.  Unexpected spider's web in the face. I was surprised how my gut still physically clenched in the present as my mind went back there.  Yet for the next couple of days I felt compelled to wear my Indian coin earrings just to have them near me because of the love that I have for the place as well. Profound love and intense pain intertwined, uncomfortable to say the least.

But to avoid the pain also means that we don't feel the love.  Numbing one also numbs the other.  We often need to go where we don't want to in our hearts so we can let healing take place.  And to let love remain.

If you're reading this you may be thinking, "Golly, I've never been sexually harassed living in a foreign red light district," and discount your own pain, whatever that may be, as well.  Don't.

What's important isn't what's caused pain, but what we do with it when, wei lei, it catches us by surprise once again.  Do we retreat?  Do we insulate?  Or do we make ourselves go where we really would like to retreat from in our hearts?  Do we allow Light and Truth to shine into our darkness to let healing begin?

I read a beautiful verse of hope the other day:

"For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart."  (Ecclesiastes 5:20)

Oh, to live like that!  So focused on him that the world around 'grows strangely dim."  Where we're 'occupied with joy.'  Where we've let His light permeate the darkness of our journey so only the love remains.  

Photo credit:  Anita van der Mespel

Here's the start, "Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have  redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God." (Ps. 31:5)  Our spirit, the very essence of who we are.  The eternal part of us, committed into His care, the One who is faithful.  "My times are in your hand." (Ps. 31:14)

It's real.  It's possible.  It's a life-long journey of learning to trust.  Of subconsciously taking the reins back over and over, but through practice leaving them ever more firmly in His hands.  

So today, "Out in the same old life you go today as ever, but down underneath you can be nourished, by the everlasting streams of God."  (L.B. Cowman)

And when, ai ya, we're surprised by that web that brings pain yet again, we can remember that He is the God that can make, "the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy." And in this Advent season we can especially remember that the Father sent His son into just such a world as this to experience pain, and loss, and despair-----so that LOVE would remain.  

Photo credit: Heidi Cook