Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Speaking Silently Screaming

“Hey! Come out of there! You’re being ridiculous!” I jam my fingers in my ears and squeeze my eyes tight. With each bang on the wall, I slide further to the ground.

Then it stops. I open my eyes. The frosted walls surround me, paling the light from without to a soft dimness. I exhale slowly. I can see my smoky breath. I shiver and hug my knees to my chest. The sounds from without are muffled. My heart beats thunderously against my chest.

Another voice approaches; this one is calmer. It is the voice of reason. “Let me come in and help you. We can fix this.” I watch the shadowy figure through the wall. He taps gently.

But the thunder in my chest does not cease. I hug myself tighter, willing him to go away. He won’t understand.

"Use your words."

I slam my head back against the wall. I can’t! I scream inside. I don’t have any words—they are gone!

The man on the other side of the wall stops tapping and walks away. I close my eyes in the silence.

I have only emptiness where words have abandoned me.

“I’m sorry I’m in such a negative mood,” I said, avoiding his eyes.
“Alcohol usually helps with that,” he replied, a smile dancing on his words.

No alcohol—not now.  It will only crack the dam holding back the flood of tears.

“Do you have any suggestions for helping one get out of a bad mood?” I asked.
“Well, drugs seem to be the path of choice for most young Americans these days,” he replied, a twinkle in his eye—reminding me of the smile on another man’s words.  

I have already thought of that; already rummaged my memory in search of those pills. I am sure I did not throw them out. It’s been years since I’ve taken them, but it’s been years since I’ve felt so silent.

 In the silence I hear a soft voice slowly whisper, “Thankfulness.” I open my eyes. There is a misty wisp gliding in front of my eyes. I reach out to grasp it, but my hand hits the wall and the wisp vanishes.

I continue to look through the frosted wall. I see distant figures moving to and fro. A shiver runs through my body. I sit back and pull myself as closely as possible. I look around my small enclosure. The silence is overwhelming, but the emptiness is worse.

I know what I want to happen. I want someone to come into my silence and join me there. I want someone to come into my emptiness and join me there.

I stare at the bareness beside me, willing such a figure to appear. “Hold me,” I whisper. But only silence and emptiness reply. I drop my head to my knees and let the dam break.

Friday, December 20, 2013

A Winsome Web of Tangles

Everything is black. I rest there in the stillness, focusing on my breath—each inhale, each exhale.

But then there is something else. Not all is stillness. Though my world is engulfed in black, it is far from silent. I pause my breath and listen.

I hear the crashing of the waves, steady as a heartbeat. It is accompanied by the call of not-so-distant gulls. The wind picks up strands of hair to whisper in my ear.

As the wind tickles with straying hairs, I sense the warmth of the sun on my legs, my back, my arms. I wiggle my fingers and find them stroking grains of heated sand.

I gently open my eyes. Through wind-swept wisps, my eyes find and rest upon the ocean’s frolicking surface.

I prop myself on one arm, throwing waves of hair upon my bare shoulders. I twist my body to glance away from the shoreline. Behind me is a pale blue house. A beam of warmth bursts deep within my abdomen. I pick myself up, absent-mindedly brushing the sand from my dress. As I take a step toward the house, I glance at my sand-scrubbed toes—and halt.

There, below me, is a woman. There, below me, is me. Before the terror has a chance to rise to my throat, I clench my eyes shut.

Everything is black.

“I don’t really know much about you,” he said. “Other than what you write. And there is not very much ‘happy’ in there.”
“Well, it’s just where I am right now,” I replied.
“Don’t you have some happy memories that you can tap into?”

I open my eyes. This time I am behind the house. This is how I am used to entering the scene. The blue house is perhaps fifty yards before me. I must walk up a slight hill, as the grass shifts to soft sand. As I crest the hill, I glance out to the ocean. The figure in the white dress is still lying in the sand. It is odd. I have been to this place many times, and yet this is the first time I have been able to see myself.

“Few of my memories are happy,” I explained.

As I mount the back steps and reach for the door, I pause to reflect upon the house. The pale blue building is only one story tall. I glance around the corner and catch a glimpse of the front porch. I notice that all of the windows are thrown open to the breeze, allowing the white curtains to billow freely. I smile, acknowledging its warm invitation.

This place is far from Memory; I have never been here. It is not even a picture. Though I am quite sure I have seen each and every isolated element of this scene at some point in my life, it is my creativity that has placed them together. This is my Safe Place.

I pull open the back door and step inside. The air is light.

“Try to write about something different—write about desire,” he urged.

I am in the bedroom. There used to be a Man here. He was supposed to be waiting in the bed for me. But I have never slept with him. I have never even seen him, truthfully—only felt his presence. Regardless, he is not here now. Perhaps he was killed by the Man-in-Black.

I developed Safe Place years ago. It was my first assignment as part of EMDR therapy. I began and ended every session in Safe Place. It is, therefore, still perplexing to me how the Man-in-Black ended up in my house.

I glance hesitantly at the bedroom chair. He is gone. The Man-in-Black is gone. I am blissfully—and safely—alone.

The last time I had tried to come to this house I was scared. I was being taunted by witches, and werewolves, and demons. It was always the eyes. Red eyes gleaming at me in the darkness. And so I ran. I ran to this house. I yanked open the door; dashed into this room. And then I saw him. Or, rather, I saw a black-cloaked arm and a leather-gloved hand. So I ran back out. I thought I would never be able to come back. But for some reason I awoke on the sand today.

I walk from the living room to the kitchen. There is a pot of coffee still setting. I pick up a half-emptied mug and smile. I learned to drink coffee in Safe Place long before I tried it in real life. I glance through the window over the sink and spot the woman once more. She is lying still bathed in the afternoon sun. Her hair is a winsome web of tangles falling around her face, shoulders, and back. Her head is resting on an arm. Her white sun dress is wrapped around her hips and upper legs. I glance down at myself to see the same white dress. Yes, it is exceedingly odd to encounter myself here. This has never happened before.

I step through the open front door and onto the wooden porch. I rest my arm on a similarly wooden swing, and close my eyes.

“Just try to write something giddily insane. No purpose to it—just happiness.”
“I don’t think I can do that,” I stutter. “It’s—it feels like free-falling.”

I open my eyes, and, for the first time ever, they focus on a cliff in the distance.  I can see it drop off into the ocean. I smile. It’s funny how things appear purely through imagination.

I step off the porch and onto the sandy ground. I begin the trek to the cliff—the voices inside my head propelling me.

“Don’t say you can’t do it. You haven’t even tried. Think of it this way: I want to fly, but I have never jumped off anything tall in order to try. Who knows?—If I jump I might just fly. And to fly is my greatest desire. Just try for me, okay?”

Then there is another voice.

“What IS it that you desire?”
I closed my eyes—searching my heart for an answer. When I finally found it, the answer surprised me. I opened my eyes and stared at the man before me. I wondered if he would understand. “To fly,” I said.

It is intriguing, the webs of desire that tangle us together. 

I am nearly to the edge of the cliff. The wind is whipping my hair around my face and causing my dress to billow as the white billowing curtains. I step to the edge of the cliff and look down.

“It’s like free falling,” I say to myself. I step off. The girl on the beach continues to bask in the sunshine. Our hair is a winsome web of tangles falling around our face.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Unfreezing Hope

“Say something,” I whisper. The mist from my breath rises in the chilly night air. I can barely make out the form before me in the darkness. I reach out my hand and touch something. It is hard and cold.

I feel the caress on my cheek. I close my eyes, as it lingers at my chin.

“Say something,” I whisper, again. The cold has lodged in my bones. I begin to shake. I draw closer.

Arms wrap around me, holding me close, enveloping me in warmth. My muscles loosen, releasing their pent up tension. Fingers gently entwine my hair.

“I was beginning to give up on you,” I whisper.

The arms loosen.

“Wait,” I whisper, urgently. “I want you to stay.” I twist; snow falls from my head and arms. I place my frozen hands on dense shoulders. They are not soft as I remember; there is no movement—no suppleness. My heart constricts; ready to relinquish the task of propelling viscous blood.

“Say something!” I scream. I attempt to shake the solid figure before me. I look up, frantically searching for eyes to tell me something—anything.

The sight freezes my wailing body. Morning has begun to dawn. The eerie light intrudes with revelation. Eyes are clouded, lacking iris and pupil. Hand is forever stilled in an outward reach. Arms and shoulders are cloaked with rusting metal instead of soft fabric.

I push myself from him and back away. As I stand still, watching him, the sunrise breaks upon my back. I can feel the rays defrosting my hands, my bones, and my heart.

As I turn to go, I finally hear him whisper to my back: “What was is gone; discover newness.” I do not turn around, and my pace never slows.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

I Smiled at You

I smiled
at you
today; I couldn’t help
it. That means it’s genuine,
you know. And I can still feel
it in my heart:

I felt my heart
and my mind
I looked
at you—
noticed your body.
Your face;
your eyes;
your cheeks;
your smile.
It was all so familiar.

I listened
to you. I heard
the bitterness
that you passed off as a joke.
I heard
the bitterness
that you passed off as a story.
I got defensive
toward the first.
Toward the second
I merely looked through
the façade
and sadly
noted your own miscalculation.

But my heart
stayed still.
the familiar
The sense of knowing
and being known.
My heart
wanted to stay—
wanted to bask forever
in what is only momentary
and fragile

My mind
is ever watching—
ever guarding
my broken,
My mind
the news:
“You cannot
stay here. You are not
truly connected. This moment
will not
last. The façade will drop.
The smile will fade.
And the warmth will turn cold.
It is time to leave.”

My heart
obeyed. She walked away. “But
I can still feel
the warmth,”
she whispers. “It is genuine.”
My mind
must sternly
reply: “It was genuine once,
but what you feel are only remnants—
of the genuine, and remnants
of my façade.”

“I will always believe,”
my heart
whispers, “Always feel the warmth;
always hope;
always love.”

My mind
gives its final
report: “She is hopeless.”

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Beyond the Shadows

I feel it before I can see it.

The pulsations begin at the tips of my fingers. They slowly travel to my palms. Sweat breaks out. The tiny spiders broach my arms. Each hair follicle prickles in turn.

Ringing in my ears. Steel clashes against steel. The hairs on my nape rise in alarm.

I clench my fists. And open my eyes.

Breath gets caught in my throat. My vision is blurred in the flood. Flashes of silver. Hounds and horses. Shadows. Shadows everywhere. With each shout, yell, blood-curdling scream, the spiders jump upwards upon my arm.

I am cold and hot at once. The shadows—the men—are getting closer. They ring me, and they are closing in.

Steel against steel. Grunts. Shouts. Screams. The screams do not discriminate. Men. Women. Children.

Bodies lunge against one another.

My heart is beating faster—faster—faster. The spiders release their webs. They spread, interweave, covering my upper body. Constriction. Squeezing the air out of my lungs. My heart. Faster—faster—faster.

The bodies threaten to brush against me. I know if I reach out I will penetrate the shadows—piercing flesh and blood.

A face materializes in front of me. A woman. The smear of muddied blood does not hide her ferocity. Her teeth are bared. Her eyes wild. A flash of silver in her hand. She lunges toward me. My heart. Faster—faster—faster.


Everything freezes. The screams. The shadows. The thrusting arm. The webs. The spiders. The throbs. My heart.

“Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.”

My breath returned. I raised my eyes to the hill. The cross stood tall.

Weeping filled my ears. I lowered my eyes.

The blood-stained field was littered with bodies. There was no discrimination. Men.  Women. Children. Broken. Bloodied. Weeping.

I took a step forward, and something brushed my ankle. I looked down to see a woman. Her face smeared with muddied blood. Her eyes shed tears of weariness and hopelessness. Her lips parted once and closed. I bent down to her. Placing my ears to her charred lips.

“What?” I asked.

The hoarse breathe finally took form: “Help.”   

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Give Me Wings

I haven’t been nicely put together since June 29, 2008. You know what that day was? High School graduation. I was on top of the world. I had been with my first boyfriend for 9 months; had my first genuine best friend; had been in a musical; ran track for the first time, and had made it to post-season; been accepted to the Honor’s College at Stony Brook University; and on that very day—June 29, 2008—I graduated valedictorian, breaking the school’s record for highest average. I was a damn fine pot.

But then June 30 hit. You’ve heard the cliché, “Once you hit rock bottom, there is nowhere else to go but up.” Well, the formula works in the opposite direction as well. Once you hit mountain top there is nowhere to go but down. The cracks began. And then the cracks began to spread.

I was away from my best friend. I broke up with my boyfriend a month into college. I was no longer the smartest student. I gained weight. I held it together for about a year. But a pot can only sustain so many cracks. Mid-August 2009 I crumbled—my first experience of potsherds.

I was admitted.





Finally, momentum.

After a year of potsherds, I thought I was well enough to rebuild.

Vanity of vanities!

All I did was fall

And so I quite.

I gave up.

God hid me away at Davis.
I didn’t push.
I sat quietly for three years.
Letting God slowly put little tiny pieces back together.

But now it’s time. Now there needs to be more. Now I need to be a full pot again. God isn’t moving fast enough.

And so others are trying to put me together.

Ask me if I’m mad. Go for it. Ask me.


I’m mad at me. I’m mad at you. I’m mad at him. I’m mad at her.

Am I mad at God?


But not really.

What I want most is for everyone to be quiet—including myself—so I can hear. I want the world to stop turning.

But see, that is impractical. The world doesn’t stop. People don’t go away. And my mind doesn’t shut off.

Am I bound to be potsherds forever?

How long, O God??

“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
lest my enemy say, ‘I have prevailed over him.’
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.”

David finished it. I cannot.

“Sometimes we heal by living life.”

I remember what it took for me to let go of my anorexia. I threw everything to the wind. And I ate. I ate with abandon.

Can I live like that? Live with reckless abandon?

I want to.

Forget the pot that I formerly was.

I want to spread my wings. And fly.
(Will God be the wind that carries me?)

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Glue Dries Clear

He touched me. Not in an inappropriate way. I’m old enough to know the difference. He probably thought it was harmless, friendly, carefree touching. No. He touched me. I didn’t ask him to touch me. I didn’t want him to touch me. I don’t feel safe. He touched me. And then he was gone.

But me—I was still there. Fractured pieces, crumbling to the floor. Fragmented. Disintegrated. Potsherds.

I shared my broken self once. I revealed myself. I exposed myself. And I got a slap in the face. “That’s dangerous,” was the only consolation I received. And up went a wall.

I felt the wall when she talked with me. I want to connect. I want to love. I want the exchange of warmth. But it’s that wall—it stands in the way. Isn’t this supposed to be safe?

“All I saw was a black hole.” He could have stolen the words from my mouth. Didn’t I say that a few days before? Perhaps— “This is my family,” he said. No. It’s not possible. The walls are still too high.


Such a foreign word. Supposedly, God has given me that ministry. But how can I minister to others when all I am is potsherds?

See I know it in my head. I know I need to reconcile myself to God. But then I can hear the repercussions: “Perhaps you haven’t given your life to Christ!” Well, in a way you would be right. But it’s not that simple!!

Remember who you were.
I’m drowning!
Remember what it was like.
I can’t breathe!
You are not there now.
I can’t reach you!
I am here.
I am going to die!
Trust me.
Why are you not pulling me out?!
I am here.
I can’t stand!
No! The water is too—
I can stand!
I can breathe!
You didn’t pull me out.
You didn’t need to be.
You could stand the entire time.
I can breathe!
Remember how it was.
I can stand!
Remember who you were.
I’m alive!
You are no longer she.


Such a foreign concept when I feel I am falling apart.
It overwhelms me; these potsherds that I am.

Look to me, says God.

Look where? I can’t see you.

I’m drowning.

Monday, October 28, 2013

These Worlds In Which We Live

It makes me sad
To think about the loss,
To think about what used to be us.
I miss the drive to make it work,
To fight for something that was greater than I.
But I have to remind myself:
What I yearn for is more than you.
I desire the relationship;
That which we had only a glimpse of.
I have to remember
That it will never be possible
Because there was always something
Chucked into the system:
Lack of respect.
I wanted to fight,
But I didn't want to fight for you.
I didn't feel you fighting for me,
So I only fought against you.
So, really,
I miss something I never had.
It was all just an illusion;
A figment of my own imagination;
A fantasy world based on potential;
Ignorance of reality.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

In the Eyes of the Beholder

I wanted to be someone
But how can you be
when surrounded by so many others?

You are a puzzle piece,
he told me.
But I looked at all the others.
We were are all the same;
splashes of disorganized color
and curvaceous edges.
Amoebic entities vying
for attention,
for definition,
for importance.

That means nothing,
I scowled.

You are mistaken,
he replied.
Your color scheme:
Your shape:
Come and look,
he said.
He picked me up
and placed me
on his shoulder.
From there, I watched.

The puzzle pieces
were a cacophony
yet he handled them each
with the care
and precision
of a masterful
I watched
as each
was put in its place.
the picture began to form;
the harmony to ring.
And then he stopped.

It’s beautiful,
I said.
But, what?
he asked.
There is a spot missing,
over on the side.
He stroked his beard in deep thought.
You are right,
he replied.
The picture is missing something.
Do you know what it is?
he asked.

I stared at the picture,
disheartened by its
I replied.
I do,
he said.
It’s you.
He picked me up
once more.
And placed me in a spot
my spot
the only spot
in which my colors
would blend
and my shape
would fit.
I could not see the whole
picture from this point of view.
But I could feel,
and I could hear
that it was beautiful

and it was complete.

Saturday, October 19, 2013


“Do you even love me?” I knew the question was coming. It always came. A last ditch effort to back me into a corner and reel me in. But I was tired of lying. “I don’t think I even know what love is,” I replied. Thus ended the year-long relationship.

“Love makes the world go round.” The phrase was inscribed on a merry-go-round sharpener I owned as a child. Every time I sharpened my pencil, the mini horses would take their short trek around the perimeter.

My experience of merry-go-rounds as a child was rare, despite living in our carousel-saturated county. Most of my memories of this rarity are of the Highland Park merry-go-round. My father often used to bring me and my sisters there—an escape from the confines of his one-room apartment a few blocks away. Even at a young age, I was a people-watcher. I would watch the fractured movements of people, as the carousel raced me toward and then whisked me away. I would listen as their voices grew louder, more pronounced and then, just as quickly, dissipate, engulfed by the constant music. It seems like music is what makes the merry-go-round.

A little girl is twirling to the music. Her father is delicately holding her hand above her head, providing an anchor for her spin. “Am I beautiful, Daddy?” She has been playing hard. Her dress is covered in mud, and her hair is matted to her face in sweat. But she is a little girl; she is infinitely cute. The external mire cannot mar her beauty. The carousel whisks me away.

I am brought back around. The girl has transformed. She is a young woman; no longer spinning. Now, she is clinging to a young man.

“You obviously love her very much.” I wanted him to contradict the words, but I knew he wouldn’t. “What makes you say that?” he asked. “Because she is intertwined into your very being. She has been in your heart since the moment I met you. And she seeps out of you here and there.” “That sounds like some kind of infection,” he replied.

The young man looks very pale. His face is turned away from the woman. But his fingers are wrapped tightly through her long flowing hair, clutching the strands as if he might fall away when he lets go. Then they disappear from my sight.

“Love is an infection,” I conceded. Before I can see the young man again, I can hear him retching. “There has to be a way to be wise about it,” he retorted. “I’m not sure exactly what that is, though. Most people just act cynical.” The young man comes into view. He is no longer clutching the woman; she is not even in sight. Green discoloration distorts his face.

Cynical: bitterly or sneeringly distrustful, contemptuous, or pessimistic. I felt the burn of his accusation. “I think the people who are cynical are those who have never loved or have been burnt by love. The former are jealous; the latter have an excuse.”

I want off the carousel. It is no merry-go-round. I clench my eyes shut. But I cannot drown out the music. “Loved people love people.” The accusation burns again. I hear my own voice: “I don’t think I even know what love is.” I want the young man’s fingers to be intertwined into my hair. The burn grows hotter. “Love is an infection.” I feel blood rushing to my ears as the carousel moves faster and faster. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” I move my hands to cover my ears. The speed of the carousel is too much; I begin to slide off. My stomach sours, as the heat sears my eyes and ears. I tumble off my horse, and the carousel spits me to the side.

I hit the gravel hard. As I try to lift myself, I retch uncontrollably. Am I beautiful, Daddy? “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.”

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Depths of Desire

Alone. Empty. Bare. The sheets don’t provide enough covering. She clutches her knees to her chest. The pillow obediently catches the salty water—promising to absorb only until saturation.

She looks at herself in the mirror. Her raw cheeks are now covered by thick foundation and blush; her puffy eyes glossed with mascara and heavy liner. The black dress clings to each curve of her body.

She finds a crowded street.  The darkness is saturated with people and blinking window lights. She keeps her eyes lowered. But she is aware of the elongated gazes. She finally glances up and catches an eye. She holds it long enough to ensure a momentary connection; then breaks it just in time to brush shoulders.

She chooses a window light and pursues the bar table. She sits alone and waits; conscious again of the eyes upon her.

Her skin bristles as he settles beside her. She doesn’t look up. His gaze is powerful enough to strip her. He signals the bartender, brushing her hand as he does so. She flinches imperceptibly. “Two,” he says. “One for the little lady.” She smiles delicately and slowly raises her eyelashes. His eyes are locking onto her. He is not bad looking. He hands her a drink. She takes it, knowing this will help with what is to come.

He drinks faster than she does. For the next round, he brushes her arm; for the third, her leg.

Instead of ordering a fourth, his hand clenches her own. He stands up and pulls her toward the dance floor. She allows herself to be drawn out.

The dance floor is crowded. Sweating bodies threaten to suffocate her. He brings her close to himself; one hand on her stomach, the other on her leg. Her stomach sours and she resists the urge to cringe. She wills her body to swing to the music; melting her into his being—swinging to the beat of his heart.

The hand on her leg tightens, pinching her skin. The hand on her stomach begins to inch upward. His lips brush her ear. “What’s your name?” he asks. She rips herself from his grip, and dashes toward the door. Out into the darkness she runs. Past the blinking window lights. Past all of the eyes that pay her no attention.

She rushes past the mirror, glancing only long enough to see the mascara staining her cheeks.

The pillow resumes its role—warning that salt mixed with ink will saturate deeper. She clutches her knees to her chest, willing herself to disappear beneath the sheets. Bare. Empty. Alone.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Here on the Ground

I felt it this morning. The weight of it upon my shoulders. The coating so thick that my fingers got lost
when I pressed upon its sleeve.
Your words this morning. Why did I even look? Maybe I'm a shame addict. I've been accused of being addicted to suffering. I suppose shame isn't far removed.
Your words this morning. "Sometimes it is hard to forgive." That may be so, but it's not forgiveness that you want to give. You want reconciliation. Is it possible to forgive without reconciliation? Sure it is. It's possible. But not for you. For you, it is either perfect harmony or pure hatred.

How I wish it were this simple. But it is far from it. And it isn't pizza I have given you. I give you access to me. My guilt demands it to be so. 
I thought I could manipulate love itself. I said "yes" with my lips before I said "yes" with my heart. Layer one. In determination, I manipulated myself in order to love you. Layer two. When I cracked, I manipulated the demise of "us." Leah let you in. Anna stabbed you. And the guilt thickens.
Call me a Pharisee. Rejecting the forgiveness of Christ. Determined to earn it from you. I even gave you the trophy, "I left her."
The dance is cyclic. The maypole is guilt. In guilt, I approach you for forgiveness. At first you resist. I drop to my knees. You begin to budge. I grovel on the ground. You take the opportunity to insert yourself back into my life.
But that is where the allergic reaction begins. Think of the tick that you must force to leave on its own.
I even gave you the trophy, "I left her."
Perhaps I am Elizabeth: "What if he took all the assets and I took all the blame? But not even that offer would bring settlement. Now I was at a loss. How do you negotiate once you've offered everything?"
The guilt remains. I've told you to let go--and you claim you have, and yet you still dig in.

On the ground, I can be convinced that you're all I need--that you're my savior from guilt. So I let you dig in. It is the cost I must pay.
To be the perpetual "good girl."
Leah let you in.
But then the allergic reaction begins again. Anna stabbed you. And the guilt thickens. So we dance.
"Christians are dedicated to maturity and unity." But it's more than unity you want. You want harmony--perfect harmony. The punishment of failure to obtain such is pure hatred. 
"Loved people love people." That's the thing of it. Leah let you in. Anna stabbed you. They both manipulated you. I manipulated you. I am unlovable.
And then you say those words. "Did I mean nothing to you?" You force me to my knees.
Gravity. "Something always brings me back to you. . . ."
I just want to be free. I want to be free from guilt more than I want you.
"Loved people love people." Give me the hatred. If that's what it takes. Being the good girl keeps me on the ground.
I exploited you. I manipulated you. Every sugar-coated statement, a sugar-coated lie. I let you in. I stabbed you.
Here on the ground I beg you. Take it all. Everything I thought I could be. Take it and give me hatred. Set me free.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Remembering: The act that brings thanksgiving, praise, faith, and trust

I have been in a highly reflective mood lately.

My assumption is that this is due primarily to the fact that I am writing again. Although I have not been posting regularly to my blog, I am taking a creative writing class, as well as leading a writer's small group. These two groups require me to dig into my life for material, and as a result I have been regularly experiencing flashbacks.

Compounding these flashbacks, is my physical body. Normally, paying attention to my body is a negative force. Today, however, it led to thankfulness. I realized today that my weight is equal to what it was prior to running track my senior year of high school. Now, by no means, am I implying that running track led to my anorexia. But I do believe that losing weight in track (combined with dating my first boyfriend) brought an awareness of my physical body that had been shut down. This realization of my stabilized weight has brought a wave of thankfulness upon me. For the first time in five years, I am neither losing nor gaining ridiculous amounts of weight. Sure, my anorexic-trained mind will probably always want to be skinnier than I am now, but I am finally treating my body well--refusing to push it in either direction. I am not restricting; I am not binging; I am not compulsively exercising. I feel at peace.

It is this peace that allows me to tip-toe through the memories brought up by my flashbacks.

The act of remembering occurs often in the Bible. The Passover, which is arguably the most important holy observance for both Jews and Christians, is rooted in the act of remembering. The book of Deuteronomy is Moses's repetition of the Israelite history and the laws that have been given to them. Many songs of the Bible (especially the Psalms--see Psalm 105) are purposefully reminding the singers and listeners of past works and deliverances of God. Even the New Testament exercises remembering (think of Stephen's speech before he was martyred).

Not only does remembering bring Thanksgiving and Praise to God, but it also renews Faith and Trust in the God who has proven Himself trustworthy.

My flashbacks are doing this for me.

I am surprised to be where I am today. I shouldn't be alive. I shouldn't be alive physically. I shouldn't be alive emotionally. I shouldn't be alive physically. (Heck, I even almost killed my intellectual self, as well.)

I have mentioned the following quote by Bonhoeffer before, but it seems especially pertinent today: "He is a prisoner and he has to follow. His path is prescribed. It is the path of the man whom God will not let go, who will never be rid of God." Bonhoeffer described the prophet Jeremiah, thus. But it became a description of himself, as well. And now, it has become a description I (cautiously) apply to myself.

I tried to rid myself of God. I think back to everything I went through and put myself through. I tried to push God out. There is no reasonable explanation as to why I am still walking with Him. The only explanation I have is that it was God who refused to let go of me. He refused to let anything stand between me and Himself. "For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38-9 ESV). God has kept His grip on me. And He did this by placing perfectly, hand-picked people into my life at the times that I needed them the most.

So, today, I want to recognize a few individuals. There are many who have walked along side of me during this journey, but the individuals I am about to list rose to challenges far beyond what is required of a normal relationship. So if you see your name (I will only give first names, since I don't have anyone's permission to give more), I just want to say, "Thank you for being available. God used you. Thank you for loving me. You were God's arms embracing me. Thank you for sacrificing your time and energy. Without you, I would not be alive today."

My thanks go out to:
Janet, Sue, Mike, Ashley, Courtney, Bruce, Amy, Ericka, Anna, Barry, Lindsay, Natalie, Kaitlin, Kristin, Kristina, Sue, Joseph.

Thank YOU. And thanks be to God for placing you in my life and for never letting me go.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

A Paradox of Yearnings: the search for community

I am starting a writing group that meets for the first time this Friday. The first assignment is to write a brief introduction of yourself. However, this simple assignment is causing complex unrest within me. You see, I also want to create genuine community in this group. According to M. Scott Peck, in his book, The Different Drum: Community-Making and Peace, "if we are going to use the word [community] meaningfully we must restrict it to a group of individuals who have learned how to communicate honestly with each other, whose relationships go deeper than their masks of composure, and who have developed some significant commitment to 'rejoice together, mourn together,' and to 'delight in each other, make others' condition our own'" (39). Dietrich Bonhoeffer talks of community, in his book, Life Together, thus:

By sheer grace, God will not permit us to live even for a brief period in a dream world. He does not abandon us to those rapturous experiences and lofty moods that come over us like a dream. God is not a God of the emotions but the God of truth. Only a fellowship which faces such disillusionment, with all its unhappy and ugly aspects, begins to be what it should be in God's sight, begins to grasp in faith the promise that is given to it. The sooner this shock of disillusionment comes to an individual and to a community the better for both. A community which cannot bear and cannot survive such a crisis, which insists upon keeping its illusion when it should be shattered, permanently loses in that moment the promise of Christian community. Sooner or later it will collapse. Every human wish dream that is injected into the Christian community is a hindrance to genuine community and must be banished if genuine community is to survive. He who loves his dream of a community more than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial. (27)

I read the words of these two men, and I feel at a loss. I am ever aware of my conflicting desires to reveal myself and to hide myself. And then I think of all the other group members; they must be going through the same struggle. Community is so foreign to us. My goal with this group is to use writing to encourage openness and community. But I know that I can also hide behind my words and use them to distance myself from others (one such tactic is to call them "my audience;" instead of thinking of them as people who might actually dialogue with me over what I am saying). My writings may appear real, but I can use them as a mask to hide the even-more-real.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Reconciliation to Myself: thoughts on fictionalizing the self

The first major creative piece that I wrote was an attempt to recount and then understand my own decent into anorexia. The piece, entitled “Hope,” was written as my final project for a class on autobiographies. To add to the mayhem, I was concurrently going through my most vicious relapse. As part of the assignment, I was required to attach a more specific genre to “Hope”—for “autobiography” includes a wide variety of subgenres. My chosen subgenre was that of scriptotherapy. In their book, Reading Autobiography: A Guide for Interpreting Life Narratives, Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson include the following description of a scriptotherapy:

A term proposed by Suzette Henke to signal the ways in which autobiographical writing functions as a mode of self-healing, scriptotherapy includes the process of both “writing out and writing through traumatic experience in the mode of therapeutic reenactment” (xii). Henke attends to several twentieth-century women’s life narratives that focus on such childhood trauma as incest and abuse, which adult narrators—for example, Anaїs Nin and Sylvia Fraser—record in order to both heal themselves and reconfigure selves deformed by earlier abuse. Some theorists, however, dispute that writing is always a form of healing from abuse or loss. (279)

Although “Hope” was initially an attempt to heal from anorexia, it also opened the door to addressing the sexual abuse that was deeply hidden in my past.

I have written much since (and even before) “Hope,” and, although not all of my writings are attempts to self-heal, the motivations of self-awareness and healing are never far-removed from any outflow of my pencil or keyboard.

I am finding this to be painfully true in my most recent writing attempt. For this piece—which I have not even begun to formally write—I am fictionalizing four different parts of myself. More specifically, I am fictionalizing myself at four different stages of my life. This task is proving to be extremely difficult—mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

While working on my characters, I have discovered an extreme revulsion to one of the girls. This, naturally, means that I have a revulsion toward that part of myself—which, although a “past me,” is still very much a part of who I am today.

The theme of this past week—as per a sermon series by the pastor at Union Center Christian Church—has been “I am reconciled.” It was easy for me to assume that the end of this phrase is “. . . to Christ;” however, while discovering this aversion to part of myself, the following end can also be added: “. . . to myself.” This is difficult for me to swallow.

As a writer, I must make this unwanted character come alive to my reader. However, this cannot be done until I can see through her eyes. And seeing through her eyes is the last thing I want to do. (This isn’t helped by the fact that my third character hates her—I am much better at seeing through this third character’s eyes.)
A further realization was made a few days ago: reconciliation is not possible without forgiveness; and forgiveness is not possible without grace. Can I have grace for this girl that I am so angry with? Can I forgive her? Can I reconcile myself to her?

Today, in church, was the closing of the series (as well as the focus on reconciliation). As part of the closing, we were to take communion and then receive a name tag that says, “Hello, I am ____”. The blank had a few predetermined options: more, special, important, loved, reconciled, and free. I thought about which one I wanted. I wanted “Hello, I am loved” because of a previous writing encounter I had had with God (see my post “The Song”). I was consumed with the moral dilemma of whether or not to specifically choose this one—the other option being: close my eyes and reach in blindly. When it came my time to receive my tag, I was surprised to find that they were being handed out—I would not have a choice in which one I received. I received communion and then put out my hand to the smiling woman. When I looked down, I was pleasantly surprised to see the words, “Hello, I am loved.” I walked back to my seat thinking about what God had taught me a few weeks ago. But as I was remembering this, God shoved my unlovable character into my thoughts—I had not been writing this new piece at the time of the love theme. Suddenly, I was forced to apply this love to her, as well. If God loves me—all of me; past and present me—then He must also love this fictionalized me that I was struggling to love.

Can I love this girl? I ask myself. I admit that I certainly cannot feel love for her in this moment. But perhaps, I can allow God to show me His love for her. And then there is the one thing that I can and must do for her: give her grace.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Useless Escape

I am required to do two internships in order to graduate from college. Amazingly, one of the internships I am doing this semester is to start a writer's small group. In the gap between consummation and hatching, I am attempting to put into practice on my own what would be done during the small group. This implies reading and meditating upon specific scripture, allowing God to speak to me through it, and then enter the writing process as I encounter God. This is a wonderful thing to be doing; however, it is also extremely demanding. Mainly, because it requires all parts of my being: physical, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual. When one of these components is off, this glorious process can become quite laborious. This is exactly what I experienced yesterday.

First, you have to realize that I was a week behind. I had just finished talking with God about being loved--a conversation through which He completely swept me off my feet. And yet, my goal was to repeat the whole process (this time discussing importance) with only two days before my self-imposed deadline. This is not a wise thing to do. I highly doubt God is a fan of deadlines. God is not even bound by time. How can I expect Him to abide by my deadline? Yeah--I didn't really think that part though well.

But I tried anyway.

The passages given were Psalm 139 and Luke 15. Now, I am well acquainted with  Psalm 139; but not in the this-psalm-breathes-life-into-my-soul-every-time-I-read-it-which-is-very-often way. Rather, I am acquainted with it in the I-know-what-is-in-this-psalm-because-people-always-direct-me-to-it-when-I-am-a-mess-but-I-can't-relate-to-or-believe-any-of-it way. So, needless to say, after reading through the psalm once, I moved immediately on to Luke 15.

The majority of Luke 15 is dedicated to the parable of the prodigal son. It is a parable I am very familiar with, especially when "You Are the Older Son" hit the top sermon charts a few years ago. Furthermore, the theme of the younger versus the older son had recently resurfaced in my life. So I decided to jump into Luke 15.

However, the process was not as easy as I was hoping it would be. I felt like I was forcing the process--which I was. I will include what little progress I made:

“What did he say again?” God asked, He was stroking His beard.
Stereotypical, I thought, biting my finger nail. I glanced at Him over my hand. “He said, ‘Perhaps you are the older brother.’”
“Ahhh,” God replied, nodding His head with understanding. “And what do you think he meant by that?”
I turned my head away and rolled my eyes. “Probably that I have had access to You all this time, and yet I never ask You for anything.”
“Why not?”
“Geez!” I exploded. “You sound just like him! And her!”
“Well, what do you expect?” God shot back.
“Maybe to actually have a decent conversation with You. To not be treated like a child who knows nothing!”
The contrasting decibel of God’s response magnified my preceding outburst: “Well, you’re not exactly acting as an adult.”
I took my finger out of my mouth and gaped at Him. “What do You mean?” I asked. The genuine nervousness in my voice startled me. I don’t think I want to know His answer.
“Jaime, you are sitting there complaining and whining; thinking about Me stroking My beard; accusing Me of being your counselor—which, by the way, is one of the sacred roles of My Spirit. And this is not even to mention that you had your finger in your mouth.”
“I was biting my nails,” I mumbled.
God didn’t hesitate: “Why are you avoiding what you really want to talk about? Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. You desire and do not have, so you murder—”
               “I haven’t killed anyone recently,” I murmured under my breath.
“Jaime!” God snapped.
I opened my mouth to say some pithy remark, but any thoughts dissolved when I saw God’s face. I let Him continue: “You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.”
My passions?! I challenged in my head.
              “Don’t bother, Jaime. I can hear your thoughts anyway.”
               I gave God my best glare. He didn’t appreciate it. “Jaime, you are not even listening to Me!”
               “Yes, I am. That is exactly why I think I am the older brother. I have access to everything that you have, and yet I don’t even ask. I don’t ask because I don’t trust You!”
              I lifted my head to look at God. He was resting His chin on a closed fist, watching me. “Yes, we are back to that aren’t we?”
             I nodded solemnly. “Yes. But I don’t understand why. Because I’ve done the prodigal son path, too. That was what my whole struggle with anorexia was.”
            “I am not so sure of that,” God cut in.
            “What do you mean?”
            “The prodigal son asked for his inheritance and then left Me. But you were never near enough to Me to even ask for your inheritance. Therefore, you simply could not have been the younger son.”
            I let my jaw give way to gravity. "I've never thought about it that way."

As you can see, God still got though to me, but I fought against Him and my responsiveness was mud. I was quite agitated while writing this. So much so, that after I reached this point I stopped working on everything. My mind and my emotions were shot. I tried talking with a confidante. I tried walking. I tried sleeping. I tried chatting with friends. I tried eating. When I finally tried praying--God broke through.

God: Jaime, you're not letting Me in.
Me: Why would I when I am in this state?

I don't know whether it was me or God; but one of us finally identified the state I was in. I feel alone. The realization caught me off guard. I had been fine all summer, and nothing had changed from the week before (which was still technically "summer"). So I didn't understand where this was coming from. And yet this feeling of loneliness was undeniably true--its intensity pulsed through me. Being back at school had to have some role to play in this. I just wasn't sure what it was yet. I didn't have the answer, so I simply packed my bags and went home--shoving the feeling away.

Fast-forward to this morning. This was today's entry in Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence
"I am all around you, hovering over you even as you seek My Face. I am nearer than you dare believe, closer than the air you breathe. If My children could only recognize My Presence, they would never feel lonely again. I know every thought before you think it, every word before you speak it. My Presence impinges on your innermost being. Can you see the absurdity of trying to hide anything from Me? You can easily deceive other people, and even yourself; but I read you like an open, large-print book. 
Deep within themselves, most people have some awareness of My imminent Presence. Many people run from Me and vehemently deny My existence, because My closeness terrifies them. But My own children have nothing to fear, for I have cleansed them by My blood and clothed them in My righteousness. Be blessed by My intimate nearness. Since I live in you, let Me also live through you, shining My Light into the darkness."

All I could think: Psalm 139. And of course, the suggested reading was that same psalm. 

God is telling me something here. He is telling me something about my loneliness. And He is telling me not to avoid Psalm 139--there is something in there He wants to show me. 

Psalm 139

"O LORD, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue, 
behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.

Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, 'Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,'
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.

For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you.

Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!
O men of blood, depart from me!
They speak against you with malicious intent;
your enemies take your name in vain!
Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
I hate them with complete hatred;
I count them my enemies.

Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!"

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Song

            I leaped up from the couch and darted across the room. But a hand clasped my arm, halting me.
“Jaime, no! Wait!”
My body spun around, naturally torqued by my pinned arm. I met His eyes and—gasped. This was not the God I had just been speaking to. No—this man was much younger. His skin smooth. His body tight and agile. His eyes no longer guarded by lenses; yet still just as penetrating.
Cut it out, Jaime, I scolded myself. This is only a manifestation for your visually-bound benefit. Get past the physical appearances.
But the effects of the transformation were not lost on me. I could not help but refer to the man before me as “Jesus” instead of, simply, “God.” And—worse—He was undeniably handsome. I noticed my eyes resting upon Him—captivated—and I quickly diverted my gaze. His beauty was such that it made me ashamed and uncomfortable in my own skin.
Jesus’s grip loosened. His soft voice uttered my name again. “Please stay,” I heard Him plead. He took His hand from my arm and pushed back the hair I had been hiding behind. Goosebumps prickled my skin as He slowly smoothed the renegade strands behind my ear. Every sensory nerve focused its attention on this powerful presence before it—each undulation of His voice and graze of His touch.
“Jaime, will you listen to Me?” I looked away again.
“I can’t,” I replied, as I slowly began to turn from Him.
The firm hand returned to my arm. “Just trust Me,” He urged.
His words churned my stomach; my whole body wanted to close in on itself. I allowed my free arm to wrap protectively across my body, placing another barrier between myself and Jesus.
My response was barely a whisper: “I can’t.”
Jesus placed both hands upon my shoulders and turned me toward Himself. In its freedom, my other arm crossed over me, enclosing me into a cocoon—my head lowered, eyes nearly closed.
I felt Jesus’ eyes on me. I knew He wanted me to open up. But I can’t.

            I heard her inner words, and my heart nearly rent in two. I pulled her into My arms, adding My cocoon around her own. I felt her body shaking; it was nearly imperceptible. Perhaps she could not even feel it herself. But I felt it.
            The sensation of her pain sent shocks through Me. I felt blood and water trickle down My side. There was nothing more that I wanted to do than to simply hold her. So I did.

            I don’t know why I let Him hold me. There was a part of me that screamed out against this man. He was dangerous. If I let myself be this vulnerable with Him, he would have every opportunity to destroy my fragile strength. And yet, there was something else in me that couldn’t resist—perhaps did not want to resist—the peacefulness emanating from Him. His peacefulness was palpable, and it radiated from Him in warm cords, drawing me near.
So I let Him pull me in. And I let Him hold me. For as long as it took.

            After several minutes, her body released its tension. The shaking stopped and her heart slowed.
            I pulled her from My arms and held her steadily in front of Me. She allowed her gaze to meet my own.
            I was startled by the sharp intake of My own breath. Her eyes. It was always her eyes. The pale blue inviting Me in—asking for Me to get lost on their endless shores. If only I could make her understand . . .
            “Jaime, I need you to know.” I felt her body tighten, but the shivers were still held at bay. “Please,” I pushed ahead—aware of the difficulties before Me—“Stay with Me and listen.”
            She slowly nodded her assent.
            And so, I began.
            “Behold, you are beautiful, My love, behold, you are beautiful! Your eyes are doves behind your veil.” At the mention of her eyes, Jaime hid them from my sight. But her long, dark lashes only encouraged Me further. My gaze slid to her tumbling brown hair, caressing her face and shoulders.
            “Your hair is like a flock of goats.”

            Flock of goats?!
            I had been about to pull away—the compliments becoming too much to bear—but the flock of goats stopped me in my (as of yet, unmade) tracks.
            He’s a little old-fashioned, Jaime, I reminded myself, only barely stifling a much-needed laugh.

            I felt her laugh. Not physically, but spiritually. I smiled to Myself. The rouse had worked. I needed her to let Me in.
I continued: “Your hair is like a flock of goats leaping down the slopes of Gilead. Your teeth are like a flock of shorn ewes.”
Jaime snorted.
“That have come up from the washing.”
I watched her run her tongue across her teeth.
“All of which bear twins, and not one among them has lost its young. Your lips are like a scarlet thread.”
The smile disappeared from Jaime’s mouth. I knew I was pushing her, but I needed her to hear the truth. And not just hear it; but believe it.
“And your mouth is lovely.”

            The blood began to drain from my face and fingers. My stomach soured. He’s getting too close, a voice hissed in my mind. The words—though still distinguishable—became hazy and distanced.
            “Your cheeks are like halves of a pomegranate behind your veil. Your neck is like the tower of David, built in rows of stone; on it hang a thousand shields, all of them shields of warriors. Your two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle, that graze among the lilies.”
            Darkness began to swell through my consciousness. The whirlwind of black lashed out at my mind, and icicles stabbed at my heart.
Jesus’ words were being swallowed up: “Until the day breathes and the shadows flee.”
It’s not possible! the voice screamed. I am gross! My cheeks are puffy. My breasts are puny. My belly is a muffin top. My butt too big. And my thighs too jiggley.
“I will go away to the mountain of myrrh and the hill of frankincense.”
            My face gets spotted with pimples. Callouses cover my hands and feet. My hair is always tangled and in disarray.
            Suddenly, Jesus’ words were crisp and clear: “You are altogether beautiful, My love; there is no flaw in you.”
            My eyes flew open. “LIAR!” I screamed.

            Red anger flashed over the regal blue of Jaime’s eyes. Although I was expecting this moment to come, the explosion still caused My hands, feet, and side to burn. The pain lodged My succedent words in My gaping mouth. Silence descended as I allowed My breathing to sync with Jaime’s.

            I stared in horror at Jesus. He had stopped talking.
            What have I done?
            I felt the anger recede as my breathing synced with His, but it did nothing to still the fear that was spreading over me.
            “I’m so sorry.” The words rushed from my mouth. I tried to pull myself away from Jesus. Every time I pulled my hands free, He would entangle them with His own. “I’m sorry. I—I—I don’t know—”
            “Shhhhh,” Jesus tightened His grip, crossing my arms across each other to pin me against Himself. He lowered His head, positioning His mouth beside my ear. “Come with Me from Lebanon, my bride,” He whispered. My body yielded to the sound of His voice. I felt resistance slip from my power as He continued to speak.
            “Come with Me from Lebanon. Depart from the peak of Amana, from the peak of Senir and Hermon.” As He spoke, He loosed His grip on me. He was now holding my hand, leading me forward, beckoning me to follow Him. My eyes focused on Him alone. “From the dens of lions, from the mountains of leopards.”
            Suddenly, my eyes perceived what had materialized around us. We had somehow been transported to a lush garden. Voluptuous flowers surrounded us; a rainbow of exotic beauty that was foreign to me in both sight and smell. The garden was far from silent; it was filled with the trickle of water, the hum of bees, and the song of birds. An emerald green butterfly floated over my shoulder, and an iridescent blue dragonfly darted amongst the flowers nearby.
            I returned my gaze to Jesus. He was staring at me; a smile dancing on his lips.
            “You have captivated My heart, My sister, My bride; you have captivated My heart with one glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace.”

            I watched her blush as I mentioned her eyes a second time. She seemed to be glowing. I felt the vitality pulsing from her hand into My own. She is listening!
            I continued: “How beautiful is your love, My sister, My bride!”
            Jaime’s hand twitched. I knew her objection before she even spoke it.
            “But my love is so broken—”
I placed my finger to her lips. “Trust Me,” I reminded her. She must not only hear, but believe.

            I didn’t understand what Jesus was saying. I knew my love to be broken and prideful and—human. It is inadequate, I thought. It is not worthy of beauty.
            But Jesus continued: “How much better is your love than wine, and the fragrance of your oils than any spice! Your lips drip nectar, My bride; honey and milk are under your tongue; the fragrance of your garments is like the fragrance of Lebanon.”
            I don’t understand, I thought, running my tongue over my lips. Jesus squeezed my hand, pulling my attention back to Himself.
            “A garden locked is My sister, My bride, a spring locked, a fountain sealed.” I allowed Jesus’s hand to direct my gaze around the garden, noticing the wall that surrounded it—enclosing its beauty within. My skin prickled. Is this garden actually—but my thoughts were cut off as Jesus continued speaking.
            “Your shoots are an orchard of pomegranates with all choicest fruits.”
            My focus shifted to spot a pomegranate hanging from a small tree behind Jesus’s right shoulder.
            “Henna with nard, nard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense, myrrh and aloes, with all choice spices.”
            Once again, my senses whiffed the exotic scents around me. Then a twinkling beyond the pomegranate tree caught my eye, and, behold—the spring.
            “A garden fountain, a well of living water, and flowing streams from Lebanon.”
            Suddenly, Jesus removed His hands from my body. As He raised them above His head, I felt my spirit rush up with them. Jesus angled His face toward the sky. “Awake, O north wind, and come, O south wind! Blow upon My garden, let its spices flow.” The wind obeyed His command and rushed toward and around us. The branches swayed, causing the rainbows of color to blend in their beauty. The hums of the insects and the songs of the birds and the trickle of the stream rose in their symphony with the wind. My spirit rose higher and higher. It was filled with fear—trembling and awe—and realization. I knew whose garden this was. I knew who this garden was. And I knew to whom the ending words of this song belonged. Jesus lowered His head to look at me. My breath caught. His eyes penetrated deep into my soul. In His gaze I saw my spirit—wanting to harmonize with the wind, the stream, the bees, the birds—but momentarily frozen, awaiting its liberation.
            I closed my eyes and took a deep breath.
            What are you waiting for? This time the voice in my head belonged to Jesus.
            I opened my eyes. He was still staring intently at me.
            I stared intently back. “Let My beloved come to His garden, and eat its choicest fruits.”
            Jesus smiled, as my spirit danced toward the heavens.