I am encouraged when I wake up to the wonder of my world. On the edge of the morning light, I know too well the things that are worrisome but somehow, in this quiet, I sense something more. Perhaps in those moments, I am more open to the mystery of what is alongside what I have experienced in the dark.
I am comforted by what I can’t explain. I am still drawn to the Garry Oak at Camosun College, where my old dog Hunter and I used to walk every day. I would sit under that tree, stand still beside it, and simply place my hand on that huge branch that seems precariously low and heavy with life.
Other people seemed to glimpse the mystery, too. We would watch children swing from that low branch on a sweatshirt they’d flung over it to hang onto as they lifted themselves from the solid ground. We watched bigger people hoist themselves up and hang their feet or hammock over that branch and rest in the grandeur. My secret and not-so-secret fears were met there with awe, to experience that life force and the presence of grace that surrounded that tree.
In Psalm 40, hidden between the Psalmist’s woe and God’s goodness, the text says that God has “given me an open ear.” Between remembered miracles, what God has done in the past, and anticipated miracles, my hope that God will address my new fear, is an open ear. The Psalmist writes, “Sacrifice and offering you do not desire, but you have given me an open ear.” That opened ear meets my fears and what if’s if I am in a position to listen.
I’ve been particularly aware these past weeks of being between all the miraculous ways I’ve gotten through some painful times. I have remembered what it is like to be on the other side of that woe. I am aware of the loving relationships that both are the cause and result of such love.
How do I create a life where my doubts and fears exist alongside grace and wonder? Often, especially in the dark, my mind goes to the what-ifs, the conversations I might have, and the conversations I did have that I would like to rewrite. It is as if I continue to doubt that I won’t fall into the cold ocean of my fears and will not be able to get out.
Maybe, I can at least hang on to the scraps of wishful listening that may not square up with my made-up story of how things could turn out. I will keep an ear open for those bits of hope and let the others go. Keep an open ear for where God is instead of listening to the doubts and fears that seem louder.
Hang on to that life force.
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