the wild love

growing wings

Category: growing wings

what breaks does not shatter

I write the words slow, the way that I used to in pages, pink pen pressed hard against the fake parchment paper of the Harry Potter journal. I am trying to learn that sometimes just because the words can come quickly doesn’t mean they’re the right ones, so I type slower than normal into the blank screen.

I’m sitting cross-legged on my bed while I do this. I’m sitting with journals scattered around me, the old stories of my young self, the evidence of a thousand nights of anguish softened now by time and the half-finished tea by my bed. I’m rereading, because when you move away from home, when you get married, there is this exquisite sadness of leaving your room. There is this old self who you think will slink away, a shadow you couldn’t sew on tightly enough, and she’ll keep pace through the house, while you sleep and wake in a strange, new home.

It hits me this way, when I am looking for my self among the things I am choosing to leave behind, that I have been preaching a story with my life that I do not believe enough. Isn’t that funny? This young self – stirrup pants and crooked front teeth in sixth grade in the hallway when the boy didn’t like her back, or the self in the ill-fitting American Eagle jeans at the mailbox with three crisp rejection letters, or the self in college who lay on her back one winter night after falling on the ice and spilling hot chocolate down her coat not once, but twice -

this is the self who has been preaching the truth to me, and I have not been listening.

And this is the truth she is speaking: even what breaks does not shatter.

I can revive at a moment’s notice the stories, the humid June air or the night that I pressed my address written in sharpie on an index card and said “write to me”, thinking it was the beginning of something. I can sit on that bed and I can relive the bar and the dress and the anger I wore so badly, draped over me like the sheets I pretended were wedding gowns years before. I can tell you the song that was playing in my head the days after I didn’t get in or the day I realized the friendship had changed, I can have the conversation over and over again in the safe aftermath of my car, crumple my fist against the steering wheel and make my heart swell again with everything that went wrong, everything that hurt, everything I remember about being broken.

But this is the living proof – for the me that can remember the breaking is not, herself, broken.

No, she is alive, and gloriously alive, and she is sitting typing deliberately on her bed, pressing these words into her heart. Not everything that breaks shatters. And even just the breathing, in, and out, of those words, those pressed deliberate words, starts  to build up this wearied heart. And the worry, that I can’t do this, can’t leave this home this room these old journals, that I can’t go off and be brave -

the worry quiets.

It is all too easy for me to hold on to the memories of being broken, the familiar pieces of hurt, the way that he said or she looked. It’s too easy for me to see myself as not complete, or still recovering, to imagine myself frail or small or unable, incapable. It’s easy to say that to myself when I am weary-hearted and the mountains keep rising up before me, and I think, I’m still broken, that still hurts me.

But my younger self has been the living reply.

I am widened by the months and years of work running my fingers along the frayed edges of her couch cushions, trying to put words to the counseling questions, to make a space where I hear my own self.

I am widened by the quietest moment in the morning when he only kisses me hello, no words, catches me up in his arms and in that gesture promises forever, promises us, in this, promises that he is the kind of man who will keep his promises.

I am widened and changed and made bolder and braver by writing out into the spaces where you see me, pink penning these words over us both: we are not shattered. we are alive.

Maybe it’s the beginning of brave – a belief that you have, all along, been braver than you know.

Love,
hilary

 

when you say yes

Maybe you’ve heard a time or two from this blog post or that Facebook status update or a tweet or two, that I’m getting married and moving to Texas. Maybe you’ve heard something about graduate school, about me and philosophy and these three little letters that will (Lord willing) go after my name in about five years, letters that symbolize the working and wondering and the mind-boggling amounts of reading I’m going to try and do in those years.

But here is the thing, the thing I never knew I would be writing: before I said yes to Baylor, before I said yes to learning how to properly say, “Sic ‘Em, Bears” (it’s more complicated than you think) – I said a different yes.

I said yes in a library of love letters.

I said yes in the haze of an August afternoon, in the haze of falling into love, realizing ourselves already in it, maybe some of you who read all those letters were wondering about it, yourselves.

I said yes to this, the ache and ark of marriage (that’s Denise Levertov, in a poem called, “The Ache of Marriage”).

It was the best yes: that day, moment after moment of driving along a highway and to the grocery store, of kissing him in the parking lot, thinking, you’re it, you’re my fiancé now, you’re the person while we looked around helplessly, chose strawberries, I think, feeling our way through the rest of the day the way that the blind trace the edges and shapes of the world and so see it better.

Saying yes to Preston, now almost seven months ago – that was my best yes.

It was the best yes, and no, I don’t mean that in the way of comparing one person’s choosing, moment, realization of God’s calling loud and bright in their life versus another. Because God calls as God calls, and for me, in this season, the lesson is that the calling is presented only to you. Others may confirm it, see it, strengthen it, slow it down -

but God is calling you. You are the hearer, you are the listener. You are the called.

We are so quick to worry and to wonder if God is speaking, but I keep thinking these days, He must be speaking all the time but I have no ears, or no time, or no patience enough to sit still and hear. I run up to God’s door this Lent, over and over, begging for a word and God looks at me:

Hilary Joan, have I not been singing over your life? Have I not been calling you, August haze to March frost?

Am I so quick to forget how loudly God is singing, whether or not there are big moments of yes or no, big choices, big afternoons with big promises?

God is still singing after I say yes to Baylor, God is still singing after I said yes to Preston, after the big moments and the big decisions and the feeling of momentum and moving forward with things.

God has always been singing out over us, over these waters we walk on, calling out to us to come a little closer.

Love,
hilary

when I learn something about valor

Eshet chayil – woman of valor.

I turn the question over this morning on my way through the frosted trees. The sun is slow to rise this morning, unruly, as if it, too, is tired after the snowfall last night. I sip the gingerbread latte – my nod to the season, to the red Starbucks cups, to the closeness of Christmas. I don’t know why I’m wondering about this phrase in particular – woman of valor – but I know about it from the women that start to come to mind – Nish, and Sarah, Lisa-Jo, and Rachel, Ann, Antonia, Elora - and then I realize I know them from across my life, not just across the threads of connection, electricity firing across miles to bring our words to each other.

I know them in my mother, wisdom spilling out as she leans back across the end of my bed and reminds me of the way that we are meant to trust God. I know them in my sister, who texts me to remind me she is here and loves me, who raises her son with such patience and grace that I am sometimes speechless at it. I know it in the women who have colored and changed my life by their knowing me – from breakfasts sophomore year to Thanksgiving Black Friday shopping at the Pentagon City Mall to a walk in the woods and tea on her couch to hours of talk about racial reconciliation and education and what it must mean to love God and to believe that we are to know Jesus by what we do with our hands.

And I could not stop thinking about it, the words sounding over and over again in my head. Eshet chayil – woman of valor.

How do you become a woman of valor? How do you become the fiercer truth-teller, the wiser grace-giver, the woman who spills out light wherever you walk because you cannot help but do that?

Because she is brave, this woman of valor. She will wear red lipstick on a too-early morning and put on a blue puffer coat to shovel the walk. She will stand in front of the room and teach. She will preach the truth over coffee or wine, across the sale racks at the consignment shop or in her office with mugs of tea in front of you and rain outside. She will strike out on her own to chase down a dream in New York, in California. She will sing Sara Bareilles in the car and pull up next to a man in a large truck, who will stare at her and laugh, and she will be unashamed. She is brave. She takes the time with you, again and again, to work out the trembling bits, to ask every question or none at all, and she reminds you that there is nothing for it but to live deep and wide and full, wherever you are. She is unafraid of the truth and unafraid to chase it down, across the mountains and rivers, in the hardest moments, in the lightest ones.

I know so many women of valor, I realize. I wonder if they know that they are. I wonder if they know, sitting at the table in Panera or drinking tea in my office or driving in my car on our way back from coffee. I wonder if they know, who have taught me the way grace feels and moves in a life, have taught me that being brave is worth it, in their questions and their laughter and the way they love.

I pull my car into the parking space, cut the engine, let the song finish playing from the speakers. I wonder if becoming a woman of valor has something to do with hope, with singing along with Sara and reading the good words of the women who have taught me what valor looks like.

Maybe I can begin in the hope to be more like them. To learn the shape of their kindness, their graciousness, their fierce love of the truth. Their courage.

I  begin in the smaller prayer, just as I walk up the steps to begin my day. Lord, might you make me a woman of valor?

Love,
hilary

would I catch flame (a synchroblog with addie zierman)

It wasn’t that long ago that I came to college with my bags packed and my mind full of theology I didn’t understand. I’d grown up in old rhythms: liturgy on Sundays and Eucharist like manna, a provision from heaven I didn’t know how to need. I grew up so desperately hungry for understanding of God that I read more than I could stomach: Catholic books and Eastern Orthodox theology, books with complicated titles. I talked big about ideas with all the confidence of a teenager who learned the word “eschatological” three days ago and wants to use it, wants to fill the world over with what she thinks she knows about God.

I grew up Christian but thought I could grow up as the next C.S. Lewis, write the apology for my generation, tell the world why it was logical and reasonable and rational and right to be what I was. I grew up Christian, learned the habits of prayer and the way that the seasons change in the church – preparation to celebration to growing to Pentecost and again and again how I tried to understand too much about too much, cram heaven into my head while I still didn’t know how to French braid my hair.

That summer of going to college I thought I’d figured out what it meant to be Christian, to live out a life of faithfulness: it meant knowing the answers and complicating them, tracing the shapes of ideas into journals and class discussions and making my heart so safe in the right theology that it might never need to wonder about the presence of the love of God.

I drove up to the dorm and I unloaded my laundry basket of things – a few picture frames, books, notebooks and pens in neat piles, and waited.

I waited that whole year to feel right. I waited to hear God the way the people around me kept hearing Him, the way they closed their eyes in worship and put their hands above their heads to the songs by the bands I didn’t know existed (but I could sing a hymn, and I was proud of that, thinking I’d escape God into the warm and safe arms of the old ornate words and the incense and the icons). I waited for the moments where I would finally understand what falling in love with God felt like, finally make myself read my Bible and have quiet time in the mornings the way, it turned out, youth group taught you. And I hadn’t gone to youth group and I hadn’t played the Chris Tomlin CDs and maybe I hadn’t done much falling in love with God, I thought, as I walked to and from class trying to fit my theology around the worry that I might never catch fire.

But the fire of Pentecost can descend at a moment, like ice, like clear water, like dust that spins you and settles you and unsettles you again. Like Eucharist manna – the provision of mystery, in mystery.

I was in a parking lot, on a Sunday morning, tears tracing the indents my dimples make in my face whenever I move.

Then I was in a still Chapel late at night, the kind of stillness that bends towards a heavenly silence.

Then I was in a blue TV room in Washington DC learning that the very word Jesus was power.

Then, and again and again now – I take what is unto me the very Body and Blood, the mystery provision, and I fall in love with God who teaches my heart how to make room for Him, not the words about Him.

And the fire is small and flickers daily. And the Spirit descends. And I catch flame.

Love,
hilary

I’m linking up with Addie’s synchroblog to celebrate her book release of When We Were on Fire. I can’t wait to read it (because her words are good words, food-to-the-soul words).synchroblog-photohome_uk

i run again

The woods turn golden this year, a fierceness in their leaves. The wind has changed its rhythm along the familiar path. I set out over the stream, across the roots of the ancient trees, weathering the season with them.

I often wish I was more than I am.

I pound down the first path around the smaller pond. It is always muddied by couples trying to find the gravity to keep them  together in a midnight walk or the cross-country team training for the weekend. I pass no one in the afternoon, and my feet are angry against the earth. I feel them praying resistance to God even though I pray out loud for a heart that can hear, a listening heart. Our whole bodies pray, don’t they. Mine prays at war, angry and confused, patient and devoted. It is an out of rhythm prayer. The sweat clings to the back of my neck and I dart among the corners of the path, chasing myself, or God, or running from both.

I often wish I was more than I am. The old lie, that there is an other we might be, better than what was first made and called good, cuts the air from my lungs. 

The path widens and I hear behind me another runner and his dog. The dog bounds up beside me – a beautiful lab, her fur the color of wheat in summer, deep-set eyes and a lightness to her running. She touches my leg with her wet nose. I look down, smile, but ignore her as I run ahead. The dog hangs back, but only for a moment, and then she races forward to tag me again, a bark to get my attention. We go on in the game, running ahead only to be caught. We stop together at the opening to the pond, where the wind is, and the dog dashes into the water and begins to play.

“She likes to run with the head of the pack,” the runner explains as he catches up to us. I smile slightly. “She’s beautiful,” I say. Another moment, watching her chase down a shimmer of sunlight, and I keep running. I wonder about the dog playing tag with me on such an ordinary day.

We  often choose to wish we were more than we are.

“Thank you, for the dog,” I hesitate – could God be pleased with that? Was that even prayer, to be thankful for a dog while out running in the woods alone?

There was a poem that a friend gave me, about geese that turn into light. About how we were not leaving, but arriving. About an indescribable wedge of freedom in the heart. You know this poem, I pray – David Whyte, The Journey, a poem that changes you,  clings to you like the leaves piled high in the silent woods.

“Sometimes everything
has to be
inscribed across
the heavens

so you can find
the one line
already written
inside you.”

The one line, the one about freedom, the one about the golden fall and the leaves that cling like fire to the trees, the one that captures, just for a moment, the certainty of the presence of God?

“Thank you,” I whisper, over and over, tears falling, as I turn left up the steep hill to go home. “Thank you, for the dog.”

I wish for nothing but to draw nearer.

Love,
hilary

I pray with the animals

I’m at a loss for the words this early in the morning, sitting as I am at the gate waiting for a plane to bring me home and away. Those lines have blurred, God, I think half-heartedly, and I am impatient for the days when it is no longer the slow waltz of leaving and arriving, the dance outside terminals and in airport parking lots and along the back roads of Newburyport and The Woodlands. I am impatient for the hands clasped, for the dishes drying in my hands and the soft hum as we waltz through the night laced in each other’s arms. Impatient, I grip the pen tighter, ask for the right words, ask for the prayer. 

But I don’t know how to put this in words flung up to God this morning as August begins, and my words flee from me the moment I lower my eyelids in the ordinary, obedient way. The fear of leaving, the joy of arriving, they crowd in and I hesitate.

I remember that I brought the book with me at just this moment – a ghost of a whisper to remember that Carmen Bernos de Gasztold offered prayers, those of the lark and the bee and the old, tired camel. I crack the spine slightly in my haste, smooth the pages with my fingertips. The flight attendants call those who need to board with small children - but aren’t I just such a child? - and I read. 

The Prayer of the Foal

O God! the grass is so young!
My hooves are full of capers.
Then
why does this terror start up in me?
I race
and my mane catches the wind.
I race
and Your scents beat on my heart.
I race,
falling over my own feet in my joy,
because my eyes are too big
and I am their prisoner:
eyes too quick to seize
on the uneasiness that runs through the whole world.
Dear God,
when the strange night
prowls round the edge of day,
let Yourself be moved by my plaintive whinny;
set a star to watch over me
and hush my fear.

Amen.

I was only seven or eight when I first wanted a horse. My grandfather in England gave me The Very Best Book of Horses and I read it so much my fingers smudged the ink of the headings, wore the pictures to almost nothing with my fingers tracing the outline of the girls in their riding outfits and English saddles. I met a pony once in a field in England, an old white one with grey spots scattered on her body, more from age than a dappled beginning. I fed her sweet grass slowly from the palm of my hand, and just once, Dad let me touch her nose. I startled as I felt her breathe, my hand calmed by her slowness, my heart hushed by her deep eyes.

When I was trying to explain my fear to her in the dark of the upstairs in the student center, on the chairs we always sat in when it was that kind of conversation, I told her I was like a horse. Steady and skittish, born at once with gravity and with wild movement. I was afraid, and eager. I felt God ripple through my heart like the zephyrs in late spring here, which trace the edge of the water, but I was scared, running for the hills, afraid of such closeness. I was always eager and afraid.

And then, that winter night I wandered through the bookcases in the attic, searching for the old story, for “If it’s a colt you want, I’ll give you Starlight” - for Almanzo and Eliza Jane and Royal, for the Christmas and the schoolyard and the year that Dad first read me the story out loud. I found our hardcopy sitting in between other old and musty books, remembering how I, like Almanzo, had always wanted a colt, how I had wanted a farm like his and to build a sled and train two cows, Star and Bright, and plow my way through waist-deep snow into school. I remember being lost in the story, in the somehow realness of it, just because I knew how much Almanzo had wanted a horse, for I wanted one too.

I read the prayer on the plane again and again, closing my eyes only to open them again. I remember how God cherishes the creation of the animals, how He teaches us to love them in Adam’s naming. I remember how it is good to imagine the conversations they must have with God, for this whole earth is bursting with songs back to the Creator. Right before we land, I write:

Dear Lord, may I ever remember how Your creatures, wild and tamed, young and old, yield their life as praise of their being, of Your creating. May I give the same praise lark-like and with the canter of the horse, for all that You give. For Yours is the world. And Yours the glory. Amen. 

Love,
hilary

when i am twenty-three

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? – Mary Oliver

I end my work day fifteen minutes early so that I can go for a run in the woods. I’m so angry I think I can’t quite see straight – angry at myself first, because I fell for a story that wasn’t coming true, angry at how when I preached him as a wild gift to my closest friend in the car one afternoon at a red light, God was whispering the truth and I didn’t believe it. But my feet move my heart. The prayer, anger to desperate to confused, finally makes it way to the still waters. “God,” I pace before, palms opened skyward, “I promised You that this life was Yours. Here. So take it back from me, this life for You, take it back into the mystery of Your will.

Tell me - 

It is the first time any reader I didn’t know from my college days ever emailed me a question for dear hilary. I am sitting on my bed thinking about how I need to probably try to write something again, because it has been weeks and didn’t I say I would be better, and not get so discouraged, and not let the poems fall through my fingers because of my fear? They tap out the email with a gentleness, a trust, and in the blackened night blanketed with stars I hear a glimmer that maybe I shouldn’t forsake writing – maybe I should just wait.

What is it 

She and I find five hours on her couch with tea not enough time, because the things that pass between us are so widely varied, journeying among us, our stories keeping us company as afternoons fade to evening, as I look at her in surprise, again and again, because her wisdom is gentler than most. We talked once about the space in conflict, how mediators must create the conversation’s parameters but not participate, and we wonder together about what kind of heart you must have to do such work, and I tell her then, that a part of me is so hungry to do just that, but how could I begin? How could be a builder of spaces and homes for conversations? She smiles, shakes her head, reaches for her teacup. “But of course you already do this.”

you plan to do 

And somewhere, in April, in a bar where I stole a reserved seat at the bar from a couple who apparently decided to wait, or at least, I hope that’s what they did, over the rim of my martini glass, I told her in hushed laughter and surprise that this man, I was falling for him, had been for a lot longer than I had admitted, and now what was I to do, feeling the way I did, him so far away and me here, drinking this, in this bar? And she laughed bright in the crowded space, her hand briefly closing over mine. “You tell the truth.” We laughed and laughed that night, about the way that I brought Lizzy Bennet to life, about how love is always out ahead of us, beckoning us forward. In the car that night on my way home, I whispered, “I see a little better who you might want me to be, I think.” And God said, “Hilary, you are Mine.”

with your one 

There aren’t words enough for the way this year has unfolded. Perhaps there will never be, and I cling to the older, better question because it is a kind of promise, on its own, that I don’t ever stop asking or need to stop asking about this life, all tangled by belonging and wandering and returning. And I cannot stop wondering, not now a year later, about what we inherit from our former selves and what we give them in return, about how we love, and where, and untamed spaces we go running into all for the sake of love.

wild and precious life? 

Oh, it is a wild and precious life, Mary Oliver, and I’m grateful alongside you.

Love,
hilary

myself, twenty two

I wake up earlier than I wanted to – it’s humid here, and there is a humming in the air itself, weightier. I think about coffee, about putting on the Nashville Cast soundtrack (yes, I think about that), about lying there for a while longer. With a groan only the Holy Spirit and I know about, I pull my sneakers out from the box in my closet and a pile of other shoes tumble to the ground. I groan again.

By this time, I thought to myself last year, I’d be one of those people who are more faithful with running. I said to someone in January I would run a marathon this year – and now the prospect of the 4.5 mile loop almost sends me back to bed. I meet my not-met expectations on these runs some mornings. They lope along next to me, commenting, “Gee, I thought by 22 you’d know more about what you believe.” “You’d know how to do a lot more than boil water and not catch yourself on fire while standing next to the grill.” “You’d write more letters.” “You’d have something published.” “You’d figure out what the HECK to do with lipstick.” “You’d do one of those spring cleanings with your closet.”

22 sounded like all those things to me last year.

But this morning, I just start to talk.

I talk and talk as I run, a stream of words as busy as the streams by my house. I talk to drown out the silence of the morning, and I talk because talking is reintroduction to the pattern of being with God, the pattern of knowing Him. I talk until I can’t talk anymore, and sweat drips down my back.

I tell God that the ducks swimming in the pond are beautiful and that the morning is beautiful and there is one thing more I must do, according to the Miss Rumphius book, and that is make the world more beautiful, and boy do I hope, Father, that you have some ideas for me. Because I’ll sow lupine seeds like Miss Rumphius or I’ll write papers about Lonergan’s philosophy of education or I’ll listen for hours to the stories – such good stories – of the people You allow me to know. I’ll do anything, I tell Him, only let me stay near to the beauty of You?

And I talk and spread my hands, all the way down the long hill, until, abruptly, the words stop. God enters.

Quiet your heart. I am speaking. 

I bite my lip – there is always one more question and before I can stop it, it trips off my tongue, and God, I think He laughs.

Quiet your heart. I am speaking. 

To stay in the beautiful a little longer. To linger, gently, in the morning, heart quieted against the fast-fading ideas of what I thought I would be. To hear the silence, again, that stillness that shouts His presence, to be steadfast to it above the noise.

I want to scatter lupine seeds across the plains of this widening world.

Love,
hilary

this is where I learn something

A day is not a long time. 24 hours, minutes ticked by in neat regular fashion, so many of them already dressed in the colors of what we must do – emails that need writing, conferences that need planning, phone calls and food and sleep and sweating to Zumba routines in your brother’s bedroom so you don’t break the 200 year old floorboards of your upstairs hideaway. Not every minute is extraordinary. But sometimes a stretch of unextraordinary ones, sleek and swift, upend you.

I am driving back to Berlin to fly home. I start thinking about my blog. The rows of trees along the autobahn are neater than the ones at home; the fields are bright yellow with an unidentified crop. The cars blur past our windows, a sky still swollen with rain that hasn’t started falling. I’ve been in another country; it feels like going home is to travel somewhere unfamiliar again.

I’m thinking some unpretty thoughts about my blog along the German highway. I’m defensive against this nagging worry about me and writing, and something someone who really matters said to me before I left, “Are you their Holy Spirit?” And he was right – that’s the question to stop me short.

But the defensive thoughts have lingered across the ocean and some days of separation from the online world, my lungs full of self-righteous air, so justified in what I think I do when I write about perfectionism and being “enough” and grace.

And in the way of it, as it always is when you travel, you catch the eye of the land spread out before you and something looks back at you. Maybe it is just the gentleness of the horses in their pasture, but the one who makes eye contact with me has a fierceness about her that makes me momentarily afraid. She isyoung, stamping her foot impatiently at the green earth, and she tosses her mane just as we flyby. We stare at each other a while after.

God tells me often that I ought not to imagine myself so wise and knowing. But I’m 22, and I assume that I can learn it on my own and teach it twice before my time.  I place my words around me like fenceposts and bricks, laying my comfort and security in them, but the true things I say, o dear foolish heart of mine?

God gives them because I need saving.

Maybe the mare who looked at me could see that I confuse the two, the why I write and the who I want to be and the real way of grace.

Maybe she shook her mane at me because of that.

Or maybe God has been speaking to me about this for weeks and it was only her look that stopped me in my brick piling fence laying defensiveness. God has been speaking.

I don’t have wisdom about being a perfectionist. I write about it, here and here and all over my heart, but I don’t have it. What I bring is just this: that God sometimes lets us write out what we do not really know in order for us to learn it. What I bring is me, bricks and fence posts abandoned as I walk curious toward the truth that God saves me, and the most surprising thing is that is forever a one-way street. We set tables, that person with the right questions tells me.

And we bring our words not as bricks but as bread, here for the breaking open and sharing, here because we are all hungry.

Back on the road in Berlin, I am now thinking about the mare in the field. About the sleek and swift moments that upend us. About how traveling, however long and far, brings us home again.

Love,
hilary

if we were having coffee

I sometimes think about the girls I don’t know. I think about their upturned faces against a May sky, their heavy backpacks and sense of responsibility. I think about everything that’s hidden in their hearts (treasures and dangers alike). I think about the way we begin to become ourselves.

I want to take you all out to coffee. I want to buy you something with a lot of sugar in it, take the table by the window with the sunlight streaming through it something fierce. I want to ask you some advice about boys, about being a true friend, about how to swim in the water of who you are when everyone else seems like they have a better idea. (I know, by the way, that you know a lot about all these things.) I want to lean in close, smile at you with a little hint of rebellion and tell you that there is more to you than meets the eye.

Maybe you would ask me how I know this. Maybe you would lean back in your chair and drain your cup, look out the window at the striped tee shirts and cutoff jean shorts passing by, at the busy cars and the haggard shopkeeper sweeping outside her polished blue door. Maybe you would lock eyes with me, and tell me in your most honest voice that you’re not so sure, some days.

Me too. Because I’ve heard a lot lately about the question of “enough.” Are we, how could we be, what if my blog isn’t, or is, what if my leadership isn’t, my co-curricular extra-curricular, award-seeking-or-receiving or my friendships… I’d get serious right about here, push my glasses on top of my head, bend my whole posture forward, across the table, across the divide of what we believe about ourselves and this world – and say:

Enough of the word enough.

I don’t know how to tell this any other way. I don’t know how to bullet point it for you in logical argument, how to write you a story that carries this message like a pearl inside its oyster shell. I don’t know how to cajole you or argue with you or do much of anything, but sound the same old few lines as often as possible here, and where you are, at coffee and at lunch and always, always, when I get on my knees for you: hearts are too beautiful to spend on a word like enough, on a measurement, on a tangled illusion.

I spent high school and college being enough which wasn’t enough which was never good or beautiful or sexy or gracious or holy or poised or funny… enough. I did the ache in my closet among my mismatched shoes. I did the late nights skipping dinner, the later night disappointments. I did the look of dismay at myself over a less than perfect grade or comment or conversation.

And I say, enough of that.

If we were having coffee, you and I, I’d want to tell you that. I want to shore it up in us. I want to wedge it so firmly our ribcages that we walk around singing a freedom-song so loud we can’t catch our breath. Free of the worry that comes with enough. Free of the fear. So gloriously free.

I come back here and I write to you and I write to us and I write to all the people who never hear me, and all the ones who do, that hearts are too extraordinary to be measured. Yours is beyond enough. It is bigger than enough. It is so much more than enough.

Maybe at the end of the coffee, when we’ve each had a brownie or three and it’s time to go, I will hang on just one second longer, and catch your eye one more time. And I would lean in (because I always do) and I would smile. Your heart is far too extraordinary to live trapped in a word like enough.

I’m right here. I’m singing next to you. Together, we’ll have done with enough.

Love,
hilary

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