I met Zena Neds-Fox through the Imperfect Prose link-up and have been smitten with her words and her love for Christ. So delighted to have her here while we take a much needed week off, camping in Banff and Jasper and enjoying the smell of each other’s skin. Love you all.
I stole moments to see you. Walking down stone paths to find you, to be alone with you. When your words breathed close to my ear and the whole world turned upside down. Water came from the rock. I saw through your eyes and loved the world. I forgave myself. When I saw through your eyes and everything was new.
That was twenty years ago.
I walk to the same places and sit in the exact same spot. It is dry. There is no water spilling down. There is no small pool to take off my shoes like a holy place and walk away refreshed. I hear your words and they are twenty years old. I know how you see like the back of my hand. Your words are the same. They speak the same things. It’s always the same with you.
Sometimes faithfulness is mind numbing.
Sometimes you can take faithfulness for granted.
There are verses in the bible that talk about cutting off your hand and gouging out your eyes in order not to sin. I understand that now, but in the reverse. I feel like I’d do anything to get away from you. You’re in my blood. I’ve been formed with you and by you. I can’t think a thought without knowing what you think about it.
So I pick up the knife and cut off my own hand. I take the other one and rip my eyes from their sockets.
There’s a life I imagine that is separate from you. A life apart from all you’ve done and what you’ve given. I believe if I reduce myself, I’ll still be whole. If I leave you behind, if I cut you off – I’ll still be exactly who I was with you.
But poor bandages soak through red. I’m less than I was before.
In the Song of Songs it says this, “My brothers sons were angry with me and made me take care of the vineyards; but my own vineyard I’ve neglected.”
I’ve taken care of everything and everyone. But what of my own heart? So my eyes are blind? So my wounded arm bleeds? So what. What about my own vineyard. Mine. Neglected is an understatement. I will no longer see to the vineyards of others. Even those of my own children. Everyone else is a flowering branch while I am dying on the vine.
I’m falling now. I’m running into this world, not accustomed to blindness. I can’t tell who is standing before me. I reach out to the people I believed would comfort me in this pain and they back away repulsed.
And then I can see again. I see plain with the eyes of my heart. It was you. You gave me the understanding to see that I was neglected. I can see now that in the midst of my leaving, that it was you who put that desire for change within me.
Just like you’ve given me everything these past twenty years. You were trying to lead me up and out and into more while remaining. The water flows from the rock again.
I’ve believed the lie. I thought I could reduce myself, cut myself off from the vine in order to tend my own vineyard. You are telling me both things can be true. That I could stay and be new. I don’t have to lose everything in order to find myself. You are the most beautiful thing about me.
I need to remain.
I need to stay.
You are ever offering freedom. You are ever expanding the boundaries of this life, while I’m busy making them smaller and smaller.
Left to my own devices, left to my own interpretations of who you are, I would chop off what is vital. I would leave behind what is most valuable about me and believe I’d be as attractive – as witty and as wise.
So I’m stopping my running heart, my running feet and I’m walking back to where I started. A wounded, blind and bleeding person before Jesus. He spits in the dirt and makes a paste of mud. He smooths it over my empty eyes and I blink, seeing his form. He tells me to stretch out my hand, the one I know isn’t there and I watch it reach, five fingers and all, back to my lover God.
(Zena blogs at Considerate Neighbor)