The Pregnant Pause

It was our early marriage season “B.C” (before children) and we were young, wild and more or less “free”. Thanks to the USAF, we were enjoying a period of relative stability. For the first time in our recent history the pay was steady,  we had a solid place to live and felt the freedom to enjoy and explore our surroundings.   Life was good.

We lived in a small Illinois suburb just outside of St. Louis, no more than 40-minutes from a great zoo, a public museum, and a large city park with miles of trails for biking. Escaping as often as we could, time was spent taking in all the city had to offer.

This also included public performances from the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. One of the lesser-known secrets of my soul is the love of good, classical music— Mozart in particular— and up until then, I had never seen a live orchestral performance. Having this kind of access was a treat for my senses and beauty-hungry soul.

To watch so many highly-skilled individual artists come together as a whole and fill a room with centuries-old music was a feast.  More modern pieces were presented as well and it was the first-time experience of one in particular that I’ll never forget: Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings”.

The Pregnant Pause

To write this moment requires a loosening of my vocabulary— there’s simply no other fitting approach. Imagine: the sensation of being surrounded— nearly drowning in the sound of stringed instruments, spinning out and unraveling in an almost unbroken flow of sound. Swaying and swirling, ribbons of music unfurl, build and fill up every bit of available space within the possible range of hearing and come in so steady, without hastening or quickening the pace. You know you’re being taken someplace but you’re not quite sure where.

Note upon note is drawn between bow and string, as a pool of instruments measures out and pours upon the audience in a slow, steady stream…the sound now drawing us upward, drawing our ear and eye-gaze higher and higher still— narrowing, focusing….suspending over us as far to the peak of purity as it can go until you know— there’s nowhere left to go…       not one.   step.   more.

Then silence.
Absolute          silence.

As full as it had been only moments before, the room now echoes with spacious silence as the last few vaporous notes trail away and become memory.

And it lasts for quite a long time. The silence.  Almost to the point you may wonder if the piece is over and yet the Conductor doesn’t move— his hands are still in the air. The instrumentalists remain stock still with bows suspended against their strings, frozen in that silence.           Waiting.

It’s nerve-wracking, the ominous wait, the absence of sound and the fantastical fullness of the silence. The contrast is mesmerizing. Then…right about the time you’re certain you can take it no more— surely something must be wrong, the Conductor moves ever so slightly and the notes ease back into place falling in a much quieter decrescendo, working their way towards the finish line, backing away from the silence that was wholly necessary to the piece.

The silence that was planned all along. The silence that makes the sound more beautiful.

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This is my soul on this and most every Good Friday.

As the events of Holy week have once again unfolded before me, I’ve done my best to walk as a Pilgrim with others alongside our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ all the way to the cross.      All the way to today.

All the way from the clash with the religious leaders in the temple, to Mary’s alabaster offering and on through the cacophonous cries of Hosanna! lining the Jerusalem roadside.

I stood outside the door of the Upper Room and saw the kneeling and the washing, the bread and cup lifted up, and the hand against His on the table. I heard Him sing a song.  I stumbled along to Gethsemane and tried to keep my soul keen and awake for this one hour as the tension built and the blood-sweat trailed down his cheeks, soon to be kissed and called, “Rabbi”.

I stood in the shadows with Peter, saw the spitting mockery, the lashes and then heard the rooster crow in the distance and those same Hosanna voices turning inward on themselves, dipping into their own souls… my soul… and twisting back out into an ugly…CRUCIFY! 

The crown, the cross, the crowd.
The forgiveness, the forsaking, the cry… it is finished!

Then silence.

Sundown, the tomb and nightfall leading into the long    silence     of Saturday.

These are the moments that get me the most. As I try to imagine the grief of Peter and the dazed fear and disappointment of the disciples—maybe mixed with disgust— who had to be reliving every one of these moments over and over in their minds. Remembering just a week ago and now THIS? Wondering, “How did we get here?   Now what”?

That soul-stifling silence that you never expect to end. Death and the grave. Shattered dreams and expectations lay crushed beneath the weight of the enormous silence of Saturday.

Yes…Sunday is coming but Saturday doesn’t know it… yet.

Somewhere in the early morning hours on that 3rd day, God moved ever so slightly and the song continued. The stone was rolled away and the body wasn’t there. Because He lives!

Here we are:  with the possibility of being the people of Sunday and the risen Savior who can find measured joy in this Holy week, remembering our forgiveness purchased in these unfolding events and all the prophesy foretold of them since the Dawn of Time— we can anchor ourselves in these moments because–HALLELUJAH!– the story…the song— didn’t end in the silence of Saturday.   Not at all. 

The Witness

It’s something we must remember. It’s stated in one of the earliest creeds we know today how He suffered, he died and was buried. On the 3rd day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures. He is seated at the right hand of the Father and….. He will come again to judge the living and the dead and His kingdom will have no end. 

He’s coming back.

Lorretta signature

 

The Gaping Mouth of More

Crazy as it sounds, once upon a time, a meal at one of our more “common” fast food restaurants was a pretty big deal; a luxury. If you came from a big family, eating out was an expense reserved for high, family- feast days and a trip to the local burger joint was sometimes as close as you’d get.

So I remember this moment clearly.  A brand-new “Golden Arches” was big news for our little mountain town and all anyone could talk about. If you got to eat there you were certainly going to brag about it.  Seriously, it was a ridiculously big deal when we loaded up to go that evening.The Gaping Mouth

Excitement mounted as the six of us kids sat waited as patiently as possible for the parents to serve up our burger, drink and fries. Unwrapping that crinkly paper, I stared down at what seemed like the most perfect little burger on the face of the planet…all glossy and slick and warm. I felt all kinds of happy looking at that meal. I wanted it to last forever. I’m pretty sure I inhaled.

With the green light to eat, my little brother suddenly slid from his seat to use the bathroom, leaving his sweet little burger and fries untouched— and unattended— right there in front of me. I can’t tell you why, so please don’t ask. In the moments it took for him to step away and slip out of sight, the deed was done: I took a B-I-T-E out of his burger. Yep. With my own still untouched, steamy and glossy in front of me, I stole a bite of his first.

Shame on me.

And shame there was. Caught red-handed with a cheek full of burger and hot tears stinging my eyes, I faced the embarrassment of the loud and exasperated “WHY?!?! What is WRONG with you?!?”   Heck if I knew…..     I just wanted….     more.

More.

As you can imagine, the craving for “More” got me into trouble that day and, in one form or another,  it’s gotten me into quite a bit of trouble since.  God + Maturity + Time has revealed to me how it’s not been so much an issue of unmet needs or expectations. Instead, it’s about learning what it means to be satisfied and how ultimately, it’s God alone who can satisfy. That’s not as easy or as cut-n-dried-Christian-cliche as one might expect.

I am a Christian. I’ve taken the studies and I’ve read the verses teaching the truths and how to apply them. I am a Christian, so of course I’m expected to espouse and emulate always how God is the ultimate source of my ultimate satisfaction. Make no mistake: I know in my gut He is.  But allow me to confess that while I’m much further along than I was back in my “Burger Biting” days, at times it’s difficult to remember and recognize I’ve been drawn off course until I’m a little ways out there.

Search me God

Through my personal Lenten journey this year, God has been gradually revealing another level of “tweaking” He wants to do in this area. I thought I’d been doing pretty good— or at least better. But God wants to do what God always wants to do: Go Deeper. Further. Higher.

It’s this “call to missions” I keep going on about.  I’m justifiably terrified of getting settled into a place of self-satisfaction and somehow missing it.  Factor in how 1000+ personnel from the agency we’d been speaking with were brought back home due to budget adjustments. Now we’re not sure what to do. Continuing to pray and seek the answer,  I fear losing momentum or, as I was telling my dear friend Jane the other day— afraid of unwittingly tripping over the line between contentment into complacency. As if God couldn’t shield, protect and guide my willing and obedient heart. 

Now, you’d think… “Oh, well missions is a “God thing” so it must be OK to be discontent and crave more.”  Yes and no. Maybe…it’s complicated.

Yes to pressing in and on towards that upward calling in Christ Jesus.
Yes to flexibility and teachability.
Yes to all the “yes’s and Amen’s” of now.

That’s  also where the “No” comes in:

No if I can’t wait well.
No, if I can’t learn and be humbled during the waiting.
No, if the “thing” from God starts to take the shape of a God-replacing idol.
No… if I can’t joyfully do whatever where I am as if the mission field is always “someplace else”.

And especially NO if I give in to discouragement, unable to appreciate the good and beautiful gifts he’s placed right in front of me because I’m constantly looking towards something “More-better”.

Here, the craving for “more” gets me in trouble and it’s where God is gently, but firmly convicting me sin in my life— how I keep looking past the good gifts right in front of me, afraid to enjoy them for fear of missing the MORE I, for some reason, sense is out theresomewhere, waiting for me.  I’ve been convicted of impatience and lack of trust…and even, in my spirit, of “despising” His pleasure in small beginnings.

Small Beginnings

Soul-wearied,  I’ve asked the girl in the mirror, “WHY?!? What’s WRONG with you?!?” Heck if I know… I simply crave more.  More God-glorifying unity and diversity. More God-centered teamwork and working hard for Him together.  More of seeing Him move mightily in the lives of others and using me up to do it. I wanna be there, wherever and when it happens….and I forget, painfully forget… it’s happening right here…right now…

  • In paper cups filled with seeds and dirt and harvest promise with plenty to share.
  • Working with a community of women to open God’s grace to 91 of our young ladies.
  • In relationship with neighbors who know about Jesus but nothing yet of His saving grace.

(Sigh)… see what I mean?

So, this is where I am today— humbled, repentant and somewhat embarrassed to make these confessions. But I’m willing to put it all out here because I believe, on some level I’m not alone here. Maybe you’re struggling too? Maybe you’re having a hard time in the waiting place or in knowing how to remain satisfied with what IS even in the light of what MAY (or may not) BE. Maybe it’s a reminder to live the “someday” NOW.

Less than Living

These words shake me. I don’t wanna be “That Girl”… preoccupied with the once was or might be only to find that spent my life doing “something less” instead of the more I’ve always craved.

For the record, although I can’t tell him myself, if my brother was alive today I’d want him to know…”Hey, I’m really sorry about that whole burger thing”.

Trust me, he’d laugh.Lorretta signature

Linking with Jennifer@ Tell His Story

Wax and Wane

Wax and Wane

Filling the tree beyond the kitchen window
The waxwings came to call this evening.

Resting and roosting,
Preening…feasting and

In no particular hurry to move on.

Having no need to plant nor sow
Only to keep their annual appointment
With the obnoxiously ugly berry tree
Leaning next to the still uglier shed out back.

Bulk of Waxwings

Ticking off their layover with the instinctual reverence
One might recognize in visiting each year the same roadside diner
On the way to their vacation villa by the sea.

It’s part of the journey.

A startling reminder to myself, who just yesterday
Was sorely tempted by fits of Spring tidiness and the need to dominate the land
(Or at least that corner of the yard), quite nearly razed that tree
Seeing only an eyesore where a waxwing sees food.

Waxwings Share a Meal

We would have missed each other
By only a day
If I’d had my way.

Had God not distracted my gaze to instead
Consider taming a rough bed of His lilies
In some other far corner of the yard.

Feasting Waxwings

Leaving me to forget until today,
when a tree beyond the kitchen window
Branches bent by the weight of waxwings

Resting and roosting,
Preening…feasting and trusting,
Reminded me once again

Waxwings Spread

In all seasons and at all times, 

Our Father always knows best.

Matthew 6-25-25

Resting in Him,Lorretta signature

(thank you to my dear husband and photographer, David Stembridge for these lovely Cedar Waxwing pictures)