waiting in the dark {guest post}

Today I'm guest posting at There Is A River, where Christie has been writing every day through Advent just like I have (some of my favorites from her series are here and here.)

This is something straight from my heart, and I hope you'll click over and read the whole thing. It starts like this:

Advent is a season of darkness, of waiting for the light; but I’m warier of darkness than I used to be.

When I was a teenager, I revelled in darkness.  I don’t mean that I loved bad things.  I loved complicated things, facing the realities of our broken world,  anything that seemed deeper and truer than the sparkly cliches I found on tv and in commercial christian products.  My teens were when I read Thomas Hardy and Pascal and Kierkegaard, when intellectual doubts were hitting me for the first time, when I first traveled to a third world country and recognized the excess of my own lifestyle. I was in my teens when Dad took me to see Good Will Hunting - despite the language - because of the redemptive themes, and I too wanted to recognize truth like a troubled genius or a holy rebel. I needed a faith that was honest about darkness.

Becoming a mother was what changed me.

Read the rest here.

psalms for children and the heavy hearted

I didn’t really have a problem with God until I hit my 20s. Up to then, he had been — like my human father — good, kind, and sometimes inscrutable, but always loving, always approachable, always there.

It wasn’t that I had never questioned him — to be fair, in my teens I had battled doubts about God, but they had been cerebral, intellectual doubts. I read the existentialists, and I studied world religions, and I wondered if all that I understood from the Bible could possibly be true.

But emotional doubts — those I had never encountered. I had never railed against God for his absence and silence; in my sweet, safe, sheltered life I had never had cause to question his goodness. As far as I knew, no one else had either.

So when my world flipped upside down at the age of 23, when God absconded, I lacked the emotional vocabulary I needed to pray through it.

{Read the rest at The Living Church.}

{I promise, I do write things other than book reviews, sometimes.}

our sixth anniversary, and divorce

Just after our one year anniversary, Jack and I flew from Hanoi, where we had spent a month leading an English language camp, to Seattle, where we had decided to make our new home.

My memories of that first jet-lagged week in Seattle are both clear and cloudy. We stayed at Jack's sister's place, in the spare room, and took dim evening walks around Greenlake. Everything was grey, cool, clean, and silent, compared to the sensory overload of Hanoi; we lay in the double bed on top of a white down comforter and watched The Office on DVD, long hours of the night when we couldn't sleep. In the mid-morning we ate yogurt and granola at a sun-dappled table and wondered precisely what kind of new land we had discovered.

Jack's sister and her husband shared their house with Anna and Luke, all of them Taylor grads who had married just after graduation and found their ways to Seattle. The four of them welcomed us into their little community in the seconds before it began disintegrating.

I always think of Anna and Luke around my wedding anniversary, because that week they were making a mix cd to celebrate their third year of marriage. They had compiled a playlist of their favorite songs from the year, and were burning it to CDs, hand decorating covers, to share with all their friends.

They had made something lovely together that otherwise would never have existed.

We adopted that idea, and every year around our anniversary I post our song list, Jack draws some cover art, and we pass CDs out. Every year I think about how I don't listen to as much music as I used to, and every year I think about the first mix cd Jack made for me, that softened my angry heart in Chiangmai, and every year I think about Anna and Luke.

Anna and Luke divorced two years ago. I don't think they ever got to a year six playlist. I never knew them as well as I wanted to, and I can't really say if life is better for them each now, apart, than it was then, together, but whenever I think of them (which is whenever I think of my own anniversary) I'm sad; because whenever there is love, and then there isn't love anymore, something beautiful is lost, broken. It sounds cliched, but: they were so young for it to end.

I wish we could go back to that cool late summer in Seattle, before so many things were broken (though some are stronger now), and just share a house again, and watch tv late into the night, and eat breakfast across the table from each other. A little more openhearted this time, a little more wise, we'd listen together to the music they made.