I miss running through cool grass with summer hardened bare feet. Light blue sky fading as we run yelling into the night air in total elation.
Boundaries between my house and their house evaporate. Everything is ordered only to unproductive, silly, loud, glorious play.
“Ghost in the graveyard!” She yells, my best friend. I love her.
Running, running with nothing in mind but the visceral present tearing open every moment to show me what I was born from and for. Now, racing with my skinny, speedy legs through metal gates, over fences, around play sets, through bushes, under trees. Pure. And, under that dark blue dusk sky meant for this moment and nothing else.
I knew freedom then. But now, like my Van Gogh inspired painting from 4th grade where I discovered that I could make something beautiful, I’ve lost it. In the room with my bed I lie on crying because when people tell me to just “be myself” I don’t know how.
My freedom piled over by inevitable relentless snickering jousts at school. More of myself slipping away trying to protect the little space of dignity I had left after bullies stole me from myself. I didn’t know that could happen. Cruel, innocent children as channels of oppressive evil in an old gym playing basketball.
“Where have you hidden Yourself,
And abandoned me in my groaning, O my Beloved?
…I ran after You, crying; but You were gone.” 1
Later, a friend saved me. She wrapped her heart around me just because she wanted to. She was that innocent child too, but she brought me back home. She taught me again that I was someone to be loved. She was the same as the cool summer grass.
Can’t you still see the stars on another summer night, your chest breathing up and down into that same sky conspiring to make you overwhelmed with it all.
Can’t you feel the warm tears streaming down your face when you hug your mom because you can’t hold in your own sadness anymore? Or the first time a friend knew everything and chose to love you because of it.
You know it — those moments that rip open life to reveal depths which transcend whatever you thought you knew, or could do, or could receive. 2
Can you remember it now, kneeling on the hardwood floor as you pray? Can you remember it when your soul is dry and tired for so long that you don’t know if it’s real anymore? When all you can see is the cracked floor in front of you, and all you can feel is your feet slowly falling asleep as you kneel.
Remember love: cliche, unapproachable. Groped at by words as in-eloquent as the word “love.” Forgotten by hardened hearts determined to let nothing in but something worth their critical mind’s attention. 3 Their “educated” and functional mind unwilling to listen to the voice of the ragged person on the street praising God to everyone for — literally — “God knows why”.
Love everything mundane, pointless, boring, ugly, unworthy. Here is love drawn in to its purest expression on faces stripped of anything but what pure eyes can love.
Isaiah knew, telling us, “He had no majestic bearing to catch our eye, no beauty to draw us to him. He was spurned and avoided by men, a man of suffering, knowing pain, like the one from whom you turn your face, spurned, and we held him in no esteem.” He — capital “H” — He saves us.
Is this enough for me? Do I dare demand more? Slay your prideful heart and feel the grass under your feet again. It is Holy, you are Holy. Let go. Or…Be true to this, no matter what comes.
- St. John of the Cross. ↩
- “I know by my own experience how, from a stranger met by chance, there may come an irresistible appeal which overturns the habitual perspectives just as a gust of wind might tumble down the panels of a stage set – what had seemed near becomes infinitely remote and what had seemed distant seems to be close.” -Gabriel Marcel, Philosophy of Existentialism. ↩
- “I thank you, Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants…” (Luke 10:21). ↩