Dried Grapevine

vine-tendril

Solitary dried vine tendril,
plucked of its fruit, rests
at the bottom of the bowl
where orbs of stains show
where grapes used to be.
Just outside the bowl—
a mango.

vine-tendril-with-mango

This week’s topic at The High Calling: Burnout. Visit The High Calling throughout the week for articles on burnout. Here’s an excerpt from today’s article by Kimberly Coyle: “Seek rest if you must. Regroup and realign your measurement of success with that of a God who wrote its true definition.”

Also linking with Laura Boggess:

Lock and Hasp

Hasp and Lock

In the room with south-facing windows
there is a worn wooden box—closed
but not secure. A padlock slips

tenuously through the hasp
attached to the box. The lock has not
a key, only a shiny dial whose combination

is left to this number, two revolutions right
to that number, then left again.
But you have to know the numbers.

The lock fits loosely
in the hole of the hasp and rattles
at any disturbance—

like nearby thunder
or a hasty hand spinning
the dial.

Leave off the lock. Lift up
the hasp. Swing open
that treasure chest

and let light
from the windows
into the quiet darkness.

For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.
(Luke 9:24, NASB)

… for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.
(1 Peter 2:9, NLT)

Linking with Sandra Heska King and Laura Boggess:

Sandra Heska King - Still Saturday

Photo credit: John D., via Flickr Creative Commons

Community Post at The High Calling: When Your “Yes” Holds You Back in Your Work

Today I have an essay at The High Calling, where this week’s topic is:

What holds you back in your work?

I invite you to read my thoughts and then share your own in the comments. We’d love to have you join the conversation!

See you there.

TheHighCalling.org Christian Blog Network

For Wile E. Coyote (and me)

(Someone recently asked if I relate to Wile E. Coyote’s antics. My response…)

In his own name, sarcasm and irony
were embedded the way his own head stuck
right through the edge of the cliff he tried crossing
with all those light-bulb ideas—
skis on wheels,
bow with himself as the arrow,
hot-air balloons stocked with sticks
of dynamite. Road runner always
took off with a beep-beep and a puff
of dust like the one he left at the bottom
after falling off the edge. Fade out,
fade in, and he’s still alive
to dream up another over-complicated contraption
only to get blown up by his own
dynamite again. And he could’ve made it
so much simpler if he realized
road-runner meat
won’t satisfy
after all.

Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.

(Isaiah 55:2)

Train of Thought

Steaming locomotive painted
black like the smoke it was blowin’,

that train of thought gathered too much
momentum. Unable to stop, it ran

over another bound with her own
chain of thought.

Finally, brothers and sisters,
whatever is true,
whatever is noble,
whatever is right,
whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely,
whatever is admirable—
if anything is excellent
or praiseworthy—
think about such things.
(Philippians 4:8)

(This poem was inspired by this one here.)

Sometimes Only God

There are, sometimes,
certain bitternesses
and joys
that no one
else
can understand.

In certain
states of the heart,
no communion can be
found except
in God
who understands
all.

The heart knows its own bitterness
And a stranger does not share its joy.
(Proverbs 14:10, NASB)

Each heart knows its own bitterness,
and no one else can fully share its joy.
(Proverbs 14:10, NLT)

***

Linking with two dear ones:

Like a Cello in the Hands of a Violinist

Nancy, a professional cellist, actually started out with violin when she was a girl. The violin teacher told Nancy’s parents, “She’s so intense. Why don’t you try her on a cello?”

I can be too intense, too “me,” too I-don’t-know-what. Just too much—like a cello in the hands of a violinist.

In my intensity, zeal, and even joy, I forget sensitivity. I forget others. Instead of selfish intensity, I want sensitive intensity. Life as one in the Body of Christ means I cannot, should not, be “all me.” I must be me with others in mind…yet somehow remain who I am.

It’s tricky, finding the right voice when I’m so intense. I think the trick is in two parts. I need to be:

  1. selfless in intense suffering, and
  2. sensitive in intense joy.

Selfless in Intense Suffering

While I try to untangle fears, while I weep in throat-tightening sorrow, while I linger in the trough of the wave, I still need to think of others. To be selfless.

I’d say it’s impossible, but David somehow pulled it off:

So David departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam; and when his brothers and all his father’s household heard of it, they went down there to him. And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented, gathered to him; and he became captain over them. Now there were about four hundred men with him. (1 Samuel 22:1-2)

David in Distress, Captain of the Downcast! In his own turmoil, he did not forget that others, too, were in distress, in debt, discontent. He was even able to lead and encourage them. Though David himself was in deep trouble, others were drawn to him—four hundred men!

When I suffer, I want and expect my friends to come to the rescue, to console, to minister to me, me, me. Selfish!

David’s tears did not blind him to others. In suffering, I can still be an encourager.

Father, help me to respond well to intense suffering—with selflessness and awareness of others.

Sensitive in Intense Joy

I’m trying to figure out how to be as intense as I am, yet not to the point of harming others. (Yes, I’ve done it before.) A good thing that becomes too strong, too intense, can be a burden or can damage. Several examples come to mind:

  • A comforting campfire out of control wipes out the forest.
  • A dash of salt is tasty, but a handful burns.
  • A quick-fun tickle draws glee, but a pinned-down, prolonged tickle is disguised torture.
  • A good cup of coffee, when too strong—um, strong coffee is…er… (Okay, so coffee’s a bad example.)

But I don’t want my joy to turn into someone else’s burden. Just as it’s easy to be so sad that I forget others, I can also be so joyful that my eyes, seeing only my own blessings, are blind to others whose cup does not (for the moment) overflow. I think of this:

A loud and cheerful greeting early in the morning will be taken as a curse!
(Proverbs 27:14 NLT)

An intensely joyful “morning person” celebrates the DAWN, yes, SIR! Let me share my explosive joy in this glorious 5:00 Saturday morning hour, woo-hoo!! Then, the neighbor who was up past midnight (visiting blogs) will count it a curse.

Of course, the matter could be more serious than wanting to sleep in. Others could be mourning, or in deep suffering. I rejoice with those who rejoice, but I also mourn with those who mourn.

The Proverbs 27:14 principle extends to other matters. I need sensitivity not only in intense joy, but in my charging zeal for good things—for things of God, for ministries, for the advancement of the Kingdom, for the building up of His church. For even in these things, I can be too pushy, too hasty, too impatient. Too intense. I should not lose my gentle touch on the need of the moment.

And then, there is a kind of rejoicing that can be intense in stillness:

There will be silence before Thee, and praise in Zion, O God (Psalm 65:1)

Father, let me have not the intensity that tramples, but the good zeal that remembers love.

This week Bonnie Gray encourages the community to share about the topic: Finding Your Voice. Click on the Faith Barista badge below to read more community posts on Finding Your Voice!

FaithBarista_FreshJamBadgeG

Pacing

I consistently experience a slowing when I am in nature’s midst. Two and a half years ago I was, like a toddler, squatting knees-on-hands in the Napili tidepools, Maui. Still as the black rock under me, I needed no urging to slow down. I waited and looked for a tiny lattice butterflyfish or three-spot damselfish to emerge and then re-emerge. After a long while my sons, done with the tidepools, began to say things like, “Can we go now?” But I wasn’t ready to go. For hours more I could have stayed there, peering into this rock crevice and that one to see if another new island treasure would come swimming out to surprise me. I could have remained there all day.

But this is outdoor wilderness—bubbled lava rock frozen in a wave…

lava rock wave

…or a maripose lily seen for the first time, or frosted autumn grass. You say I should slow down in the wild, where there is the wonder of things created? Easy. I respond, I receive, I readily welcome nature’s slowing with the warmest hospitality.

The tricky part is slowing in the other realm, that inner landscape. In the wild wilderness of me, there is no responsive hospitality to slowing but rather the opposite. Untamed, I do not easily slow; I want to maximize my energy output. I want the high of unreined zeal, operating at 110% with adrenaline coming out my ears.

Besides, it’s all ministry, right? All my frenetic schedule-filling is for good, helpful stuff. God’s work for me. Isn’t it?

But my mind and body can only handle so much. After the crest of the wave must come the trough. After the exhilarating Mount Carmel Showdown comes the Post-Mount-Carmel Nosedive. It’s not pretty.

How often have I felt—known—that God wanted me to slow down. Most of the time, I have ignored Him.

But God in His care of me has strategically placed slowing influences in my inner wilderness. These influences usually come in the form of people. But, unlike nature’s slowing to which I easily respond, I put up an iron resistance to the people who lovingly encourage me to slow, to operate at below 100% capacity. (So far, they have not had to pin me down with a five-point harness.)

But I am learning. Really, I am. For my journal I made a bookmark. I printed in big, filled-in letters, PACE. Then I wrote a quote by a man with The Navigators (sadly, I do not know his name):

“Increase your focus; slow your pace.”

It has become a kind of mantra for me. Little by little, I am (slowly) learning to slow my pace—even when I am not swimming with a green sea turtle or hiking by an aspen grove—but it will be a (life)long journey. It is my journey toward rest.


Related: Ready, Set . . . Rest!

(Join Bonnie who, for this month, is hosting a community of those who share about Rest!)

FaithBarista_Rest2JamBadge