This is a piece that confronts your dashed dream, recovery, and hope renewed enough to speak it out loud.  Be strong, but not too strong.  Be gentle, but not passive.  Actively lean into your wound with 1% more courage than fear.


There is a tale in the Old Testament about Elijah having put a curse on rain so that a drought will come.  Then he is told to “Go to the brook Cherith”.  The idea is that the birds will bring you meat and you can drink from the brook.  So, he does.  Obedience is a discipline, which means you can get better at it by exercising it.

While he is there, he is learning to trust that the birds will do their job, and then he grows accustomed to the daily acts that keep him alive.  The problem is that the brook dried up.  That is what happens without rain.  He is then told to “go to the city gate and find a woman that is out of food and ready to kill her son and die herself.”  So, he does.  The point here is to take the trust that he learned and then put it into action for the benefit of another.

This is a pattern that I am learning, to take the time to look at things that teach me the hard lessons.  To get familiar with the things that I am confronted with and lean into them directly.  To then take that familiarity with the pain and the awareness of that struggle and then to go about my life journey and find someone that is needing to understand their own in a way that will help and support them, but coming from a place of “Yeah, me too”. 

Here is an interesting bit.  The time for Elijah to learn to trust was also the time that the woman needed to get to her last bit of oil and meal.  The place of desperation is a place that you can’t imagine, you can only know.  Fear, pain, loss are all paths to this place.  Things that you cannot “un-see” or “un-smell”.  Things that concuss, and you alone know this place of yours. Desperation and dependence for life on another.  The thousand-mile stare of the soldier that has been in the field too long and seen too much.  The look on the single mom, wondering how the rent will be paid and the meal that is less than you would desire.

The stories are endless, but the singular awareness is not that which can be told.  The smell in the nostrils of a fire that consumes hope is a smell that only those that are there know. Yours is only that which is yours if you have stood by that fire. Watching hope leave in the smoke that rises.  Take the time to lament.  This is more than grief.  Grief is about sorrow, lament is more. Lament is big.  It matches the magnitude of the loss.  It is the ship that will carry you back to the land of hope restored, but not the same hope that you watched get consumed.  Lament is about the birth of wonder.  Wonder at how you will be new, after that which left is gone.  It is about living with the idea that you and your limp will see things with a new view.  That of the one that changed.  It is possible.

This is not the stuff of the dreams of your youth, but the now and the present.  The old dreams are that which were part of the old version of you, but now is the time of the adjusted and the recovered.  I think about the excitement of the High School dreams of the future and then comes the “last game of your career” and then what.  My friend was the daughter of a couple that had lost their son to a drunk driver, and then at 34 she died of cancer.  “It wasn’t supposed to be this way”, she said to me about her mom losing both children before they could grow old.  That woman has friends that carried the news, but couldn’t know the smell of that smoke.

So it is in life, that pain is that which levels the field for us all.  Some seem to get more than their share of it, of larger pieces of harder things.  That which befalls us is not ours to choose, and we would all wish for other things.  What is interesting is that the ones that lean into the pain recover better and sooner than those that ignore and push it away.  I am reminded of the Civil War wounded that had the limb amputated and stitched up.  The limp or removed arm was better than the possibility of infection and prolonged suffering.  Take the time to learn how to walk again.  Tie off the dream and begin to heal with that which remains. Learn to take the shock and the trauma and craft a stained-glass window. A window that tells the story of both the wound and the healing but also the hope that is yet to come which is the solder that holds it all together.  Each piece of that story is placed with the retelling.  Then it is held in place by the hope that rejected the option of bitterness.

We, the listeners of the tale, are the ones that are confronted with the possibility that we are just as vulnerable to these stories of life lived.  Confronted by the fragility of our walk in and among the whiles of nature and its inhabitants.  Even our own decisions can put our lives in peril with foolish choices…. it happens. 

If you have been spared the knowledge of this aroma, of the smoke of hopes consumed, then live well with the awareness that you have been afforded a great gift. If you have had this walk of hard trials know that while I don’t know your tale of the rising smoke of a hope consumed, I do know my own. With time, and a tincture of grace, it can be called a perfume of the initiated.  It helps me to know the look in your eye that yours is real, and that I can know that you know.  It is in the eyes of the ones that have been to the brook and can tell you when it dried up and when you had to leave.  You also know the lesson that you learned while you were there.  What you have remaining is the beginning of wonder at the journey that is not yet done but also is not what you had imagined.  Limp onward, knowing that companions will join you with stories, both old and fresh, of their own fires.  Listen to them.  Learn of the wonder of their telling.  Weep of their pains and despair.  Lament with them as they need.  Laugh with the gallows humor of the ones that have seen what you have seen and lived anyway. 
Limp on, oh brave one. 


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