Thursday, March 6, 2008

for a time

"Often it is the dark forest that makes us speak about the open field...Not seldom are our visions of the future born out of the sufferings of the present and our hope for others out of our own despair...The paradox is indeed that new life is born out of the pains of the old."

-Henri Nouwen, Reaching Out

I visited JBU this past weekend. It was my first return since last May's graduation. Then, there were so many goodbyes, some of them the hardest I had ever made, and a quiet three hour car ride home to Missouri. While Mom drove, I thought about four years gone and wondered with just a little trepidation how the following months would unroll. I was going to California. Colorado. Kolkata. Each new stop a bit more unfamiliar than the last.

10 months later, I returned to campus.

For a brief few days, I felt like the college Lara. I remembered how much I like that Lara. She has fun. She runs five or six miles, no problem. She loves 19th century British Literature, but she doesn't have much time for reading, because she would rather have tea with a friend, sitting cross-legged on the tan couch in her apartment. She knows her place, and for the most part, she is confident.

I realized this weekend that I’m not that person anymore. I’m not. I’ve been to the other side of the world and back, and I'm hurting. It is not unusual for the landscape that once seemed familiar and understandable to now seem like a dark forest. I have questions. I have tears.

I want these pains to pass. "For goodness sake," I think. "I've been back for two and half months now. Let's return to normal." I don't want to walk the long, dusty road I know leads to the open field. Is there an instant teleport option, one of the Star Trek variety? I'll take that one. Oh restless heart, how quickly forgotten the truth that it is in the cluster of barren trees He plants new life. A seed unseen.

Last night, I opened my Bible with this earnest prayer: Lord, please speak to me in a way that I can hear and comprehend. This is what He gave, and between the close-crowding branches, I saw a light falling through.

"Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham's offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all...He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were." -Romans 4:16:17


  1. Dear Friend: Thank you for the honesty.

    "'Mid toil and tribulation,
    And tumult of her war,
    She waits the consummation
    Of peace for evermore;
    Till, with vision glorious,
    Her longing eyes are blest,
    And the great Church victorious
    Shall be the Church at rest."

    I love you much. JN

  2. wow. beautifully written. press on sister!

  3. yep...sounds familiar. I'm glad we get to walk together for this season. However long it lasts. I like the Lara you are right now. And the Lara you have been and the Lara you will be and are constantly becoming. Because Jesus loves all of those:)