Heather King, writer and a favorite of Word on Fire staffers, shares with us today her dispatches from a sunny clime, where she reflects on God, purpose and the brave business of surrender.
Hey, man, I'm in Palm Springs. At my friend Christine's all-white house. I'm not even kidding, the whole place is white: outside walls, inside walls, counters, floors, chairs...my biggest fear the last few days has been that I'll explode and get coffee over everything.
Christine gave me detailed instructions before I came out--the garbage, the alarm, the butterfly chairs in the event of wind. I kept it all together, dutifully writing everything down, until the day she called to say, "You can't vacuum the (long-haired angora, dyed, one bright orange, one midnight-blue) rugs. And if you run the Swifter around them, make sure you roll them up because if they get wet, they'll bleed all over the floor." "Okay, stop right there," I said. "Back up just one minute. What on God's green earth is a Swifter?"
It turns out she was saying Swiffer which is apparently a common cleaning implement these days. I wouldn't know, being stuck back in the era of Bon Ami, elbow grease, and a rag cut from an old percale sheet, which is how me mum cleaned and how I would clean, if I cleaned all that much. I am not a slob (I think I said that last post); but I am kind of a lick-and-a-promise person and will dab ineffectively around the edges of things. I'm super conscientious around other people's things, though, so even though I'm here for another week I'm already obsessed with leaving Christine's house clean. I 'shared' and she said Don't worry about it and I forgot to say there's a pass in my name for the Indian Canyons you can use. That's Christine, who is a gem and is attending a spiritual retreat while I sit gazing out over Mt. Jacinto, her Meyer-lemon laden Meyer lemon tree, and her pool.
What interests me more and more, as I gaze (and wander around old Las Palmas, and read, and nibble, and write) is that God knew/knows from the beginning that good will triumph but whether, like us, he’s waiting and hoping to see how. He says I’ll be with you till the end of time. He’ll never give up on us. He’ll never abandon us. But I have to believe that we are literally given a chance to change the course of the whole drama, to steer it, in however an infinitesimal way, toward the light. Because time has not ended yet. The jury is still out. And if He literally…what if God Himself is in the same boat we’re in—watching, hoping, wondering? What if He made this whole insane cosmos, has been willing to let it go, and is simply praying with all his heart that we turn to Him, WITHOUT BEING SURE THAT IN THE END WE WILL? What’s way more wondrous than all of science is that we seem to be in a kind of friend relationship with Him. That he calls us friends. That he invites us to be co-creators…
My beginning-of-the-year reflections is a sense that I am being called I don’t think to anything drastic but to a way deeper level of surrender. Of depending on God for everything. Which I really don’t, or not nearly enough as I could. I try to handle things myself and then I obsess about them. I can’t be like my dear dear late father, who when he was finally in the hospital near the end hated to ask the nurses ("the poor overworked souls") for help, for fear of bothering them, for fear he would not be good or loved if he asked for help. You have to become like a child who has no choice but to ask for help, who instinctively, with a pure, innocent heart, asks for help, knowing it will be forthcoming.
|OUR LADY OF SOLITUDE CHURCH
151 W. ALEJO ROAD
7:30 A.M. DAILY MASS
And meanwhile you don’t do one thing out of guilt.
And you don’t let one person hold you hostage.
And I am crazy grateful to be in this beautiful house where it is QUIET and this sun-kissed (that is not an exaggeration) town where there's a church, tons of sober alkies, and lots of places to wander.
Here's a little piece of hand-written wisdom I discovered yesterday morning on the inside cover of my Hope for Today, which I bought used off of amazon in October and thus, it being one of those a page for each of the 365 days of the year books, I had never opened from the beginning.
"Do not--accuse, attack, berate, belittle, apologize, explain, make excuses."
She/he meant don't apologize if you haven't done anything wrong. Guaranteed.