Here's a song (I won't make you read the whole blog just to get to it).
I've needed these words here lately:
Keep both eyes open when things have gone dark.
Hold on to hope when you can't see the Ark.
Know that God loves us when we've missed the mark -
He'll choose us again.
Most of the time (as you know) I'm just writing things for myself. Just to pull my own self up by my own worn out boot straps. Just to help me move on toward God. Over and over. It's become a spiritual practice, much like prayer. I guess maybe it counts as prayer.
And just like the Psalmist (or Psalmists), I sometimes end up with stuff that's inward facing and sometimes end up with stuff that is outward facing - meaning: some things are probably only ever going to help me out . . . other things might help you out, too.
This isn't a new song, really. The words have been sitting in one of my notebooks for a couple of years, untouched. I was flipping through said notebook earlier this evening and stumbled on these words. When I wrote them I must not have thought much of them because none of my theoretical chicken scratch was there to give me clues about the original tune. Maybe it never had a tune. I don't remember. At any rate, I felt like I ought to take it to the piano, so I did.
I'd love to tell you that all of my music is very carefully arranged, but that would be such a giant lie. The truth is, I often sit down and start noodling at the keyboard and whatever happens goes down on the page (if it seems to fit). Sometimes I really do have a reason . . . most of my reasons are centered on musical quotations. I've loved playing the work of people like George Crumb - work that often uses musical quotations to draw the listener back to something important or create a context for whatever they are exploring. But the other stuff? Most of the black dots on the page? They're chance. They're whatever naturally occurred.
I think life is like that. We plan certain things because we care a lot about certain things. Other things . . . not so much. Other things? Chance. Whatever naturally occurs.
Things happen to us and we think, "That's not so important." Or we don't think of them at all. Then we find, years later, that they were important . . . so we feel compelled to set them to music (so to speak).
I don't know enough about the Big Plan to know if this is how God wants it or just how we operate.
But I do know God. And I know that when I overlook something, or even when I intentionally choose what I know is wrong, God will be there . . . observing . . . and God will allow me to copy Brother Lawrence yet again . . .
"By rising after my falls, and by frequently renewed acts of faith and love, I am come to a state wherein it would be as difficult for me not to think of God as it was at first to accustom myself to it."
"Frequently renewed" - folks, he messed up all the time, and he knew it. And he knew that God wasn't going to cast him out every time. He got back up. He got back to work, trying to focus the work on God rather than people (we could all use some of that focus), and he found that with this practice . . . he almost couldn't stop thinking of God.
I'm not Brother Lawrence. I'm Sarah. Whoever you are - you're you.
But all of us are human and all of us were made by God.
We have what it takes to choose again what is good, life-giving, and beautiful.
If you're like me and you've messed up ten million times over, please don't let that trouble you too long. One of my favorite hymns says: "Let not conscience make you linger, nor of fitness fondly dream / all the fitness He requireth is to feel your need of Him."
Here - you should hear it! It's great. And this is an arrangement by a person I hope I'll meet sometime in this life (if not the next): Alice Parker. I LOVE that she chose to pair this particular tune and text with other texts related to praise. Brother Lawrence would totally dig that. Penitence wasn't so far from praise in his book. A joy rather than a fear.
Listen - I know it's not easy. I understand. Just today I found myself replaying old happenings in my mind . . . things from years and years ago, thinking, "How could I have been like that? How could I have said that? How wrong. How hurtful."
God doesn't need our regret. God doesn't need anything from us, actually. God lives in perfect Triune community with God's self. God IS.
But God has asked us for relationship. We can give our honesty to God. And we can love God. Just loving God will change how we interact with our lives . . . maybe we should start there . . . and see what happens next. If you will try, I will try (well, I will even if you won't - but I definitely hope you will, too).