The Lord’s extravagant Love will always continue to move us along in the greatest adventure of all…LIFE, even when our list of odysseys begins with merely getting out of bed!
I recently urged a good friend, who was, in her words, “in a funk and going to bed,” not to spend too much time with her head under the covers because indeed, God could not use her there. Guilty myself, I had to ask myself, "How often have I buried my head under the pillow?" (Sometimes I still want to crawl under my quilt and stay there until the Rapture!)
That "being in a funky place" lesson returned home to me just last night when I shared a poem I had written a few years ago with my teacher. He responded with how much he liked the earlier work… “It was much more pleasant and hopeful.” Yes, my writing has been a cathartic purging of sorts that few people would enjoy. It’s true of depressed, oppressed, repressed and suppressed people who live in dark places where “Pleasantville” and the “City of Hope” seem illusive and life seems to have dealt us another dead end. I am learning a truth for myself these days, “Life has no dead ends.”
I cannot deny the search for ways out of my darkness has kept me plodding uphill, and I must admit, I am so ready to traipse through a lush meadow!
When I think of such a golden place, I am reminded of a relaxation technique I once used to help me fall asleep when insomnia was a frequent bedfellow. I don’t need those prompts anymore since art, “the writing life” and my faith occupy my late nights now. Here is one exercise that I fondly remember and helped me greatly.
“I closed my eyes and imagined being at a small cottage in the middle of a wide open meadow….a rolling prairie kind of place with a meandering brook and woods whose trees towered alongside the water’s edge to shade an occasional picnic and a quick nap.
Once inside the cottage, I walked down a hallway to find my room with windows all around the east and southern exposure, ready to welcome the morning glints of sunlight. Bright white, loosely-woven curtains billowed from a fresh breeze that was softly blowing from the open windows. During these meditations, the prompter’s voice suggested that I get up to look out the window and describe what I saw. There were tall, swirling grasses, or corn stalks lush with pods ready for shucking, or fields of drenched sunflowers dripping from sunshine as far as my eyes could see. It became a game as I anticipated the view at the window sill, coppery, bronzed maize heads "topping out" across the horizon or rows of “high cotton” towering over my head! It seemed I could even smell fresh rain from storm clouds if I saw them approaching!
My bed was a wrought iron bedstead that seemed oversized for the room, but then again, maybe it was the freshly fluffed mattress, the matching white chenille spread and the brightly colored pieces of an antique wedding ring quilt lying over the foot that consumed the space. The prompter’s voice instructed me to turn back the covers, tuck myself in and lay quietly until Rest arrived, and I did this many times when I practiced the sleeping exercise.
My eyes made a quick inventory of the room that included a large armoire staring back from the far corner, a small reading lamp on an end table beside an empty easy chair directly at my feet. I turned my head to the right and I saw it…holding up the wall was a beautiful upright piano with its manuscript propped in place and waiting to be played.
Over time, a photo gallery of family and numerous friends decorated the top of the piano. I traced the faces of my mother and other loved ones pictured there and fingered the piano keys to pantomime a memorable recital or play my father’s favorites. In my dreams, he relaxed in the chair as I played “Clair de Lune” until he drifted into his Rest. Finally, the prompter’s voice guided me over to a beautiful, very ornate frame placed on the table beside the chair. Before picking it up, I sensed this was a picture of the most important person in my life, the person I could trust above all others, my beloved, the one who loved me most. I can still remember the shock and profound sadness when I saw that the exquisite frame held no one’s face…not even my own!”
While this was merely a relaxation technique, I learned some valuable lessons when I analyzed this for myself. This dream-like experience described a life that was filled with GOOD things: a love of nature and God’s beauty, a safe and secure refuge, cherished, sentimental possessions, talents and meaningful relationships that created fond memories. My soul had painted a picture of an inner life that placed greater value on people, places and things. Later I came to understand these attachments as a form of worship, "idolatry," or a form of "spiritual adultery" that I had committed against the True Lover of my soul.
I have wondered about the Face of God as He might appear in the picture frame or what the CITY OF HOPE will look like. There have been many artist’s interpretations of Christ and renderings of the throne of God, but someday, as Revelation 22:4 declares, “They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads.” God WILL have a face and I will most assuredly, fully know the most important person in my life, Jesus Christ.
What I have perceived as “dead-ends” have been God’s way to prove and test the genuineness of my faith in Him. These seemingly dead-ends challenge me, “shake me awake,” and help me realize the relationships I truly cherish. One of the most important lessons I am realizing is that there are countless others in dark places searching for a life in PLEASANTVILLE. I have been there. It is only a vacation destination and truly, a dead end. Listen, trust and heed the guidance of the Prompter’s Voice and you will find the CITY OF HOPE….
and hopefully, a lush meadow or two along the way.
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