dear hilary: the solitary inch

Dear Hilary,

I’m sorry. I say I’m sorry probably approximately 218 times per day. I say it to basically anyone about basically anything. It’s my catchall, my secret weapon. Say I’m sorry and then the conflict can end, right? But lately I’ve started to hate the word sorry. I use it when I don’t think I mean it. I use it when I’m just tired and want to not be having the conversation anymore, when the explanations for myself run dry or I don’t know how to justify being sad or being angry or being any of the emotions I’ve spent my whole life putting in the, “THIS IS DANGEROUS LOCK IT IN A BOX” category of my heart. I don’t know what to do. I am mad at myself for being mad at myself, or sorry about how often I say sorry. Help?

Love,
I’m sorry for even asking this

Dear I’m Sorry,

Hey love.

Been a little while since you’ve let all that out, eh?

Or maybe just a few days, if you’re like me, and you sit in the counselor’s office and say the same things week after week, that you don’t know how to build a person who believes in herself as herself because the habits run deep, habits of denial and apology and habits of self-deprecation and self-doubt, habits of keeping those emotions at bay so that now they loom out at you in the night and  you really didn’t feel like you had to apologize about that thing you said or worried about or over-thought, but you did and now you don’t know how to take it back and you think you’ll always be like that, always the one in the wrong, even though yes you know that it’s supposed to be shared and aren’t you just a failure for not sharing it better, eh?

Sound familiar?

It’s an agonizing discernment, when we’ve done wrong. We avoid it, all of us. All. Of. Us. You included. Yes, I bet you didn’t see that coming. I didn’t either. I assumed for the longest time that I was the only person in the world who was able to be accurate about what was her fault – everything. Every fight. Every misunderstanding. Every agony.

And in doing that, I built the safest protection of all: protection from the truth.

Because here it is, the uglier truth: by apologizing for everything when you know perfectly well not everything is actually your fault, you’ve excused yourself from really owning your wrongs. You’ve allowed yourself to think that there isn’t really anything wrong with you except the deliciously dramatic EVERYTHING IN THE UNIVERSE and so by doing that, you’re keeping the real work, the work of looking at a fight and saying, “that was ugly and fierce and mean” at bay. You try to take the whole thing into yourself and in doing so you sneakily get your fix of absolution. You get the control back. You get the safe feeling back.

Let’s be free of that, shall we?

You will have done some things very wrong in this life. You will have done some things very right. Sometimes you will fight a good fight and at the end you will both cry and rage and not be sure how you made it through but you did. And sometimes you will stay in the same place and some times you will need to gather your courage like a fur coat around you and plunge into the winter of being risky and vulnerable and not say sorry as a way to escape the fight but only say it after you’ve fought longer and harder than you want to know the truth, to live the truth.

Most days it will be only one single solitary inch of work. Most days it will seem like nothing, like you’re still doing what you’ve always done, falling back into saying “sorry” as a way to make it all better or make it all go away (or make it all belong to you). Most days being in a fight will still terrify the living crap out of you and you will think, I am going to die. But you are not. You are going to live.

You are going to live more gloriously, too. With every solitary inch of work. With every moment of saying, “Am I sorry? Is this mine?” you move. You move that inch and that inch is full of glory.

I’ve long given up the ghost on becoming “perfect” at not being a perfectionist. I am one, and it moves and lives, and the solitary inch has to be full of glory because most of the time that is just what we can do. It is glory-full, even when it isn’t done exactly right or you still apologize too much or you’re still kind of controlling.

Every solitary inch of work we do is glory-full.

Love,
hilary

for when love is desperate

I woke up in the haze of the night, that space where the sunrise is slowly bleeding into the day, where rain casts an enormous shadow, where there are things like jury duty and immediate deadlines and the last plane ride of the man back to Texas.

Sitting in the eerie, half empty room with the other wanderers with their bleary-eyed coffee, their newspapers and knitting, their snuck-in granola bars eaten quietly, it struck me that this journey is almost over – well, perhaps, almost begun. Or both.

I can’t tell you why, but when they dismissed us – justice reached between the hallways and the bank of elevators – and I was driving back in to work, to meet that deadline, it hit me: this is the man I’m marrying.

This is him.

I started to laugh, but at the same time I started to cry. I was laughing and crying along a 10 mile stretch of road that I have never seen before, with small clumps of pansies blooming in the median boxes, the rain still hesitantly pounding the windshield, and two UPS trucks turning left and right and me in between them. I was laughing at myself, at this beautiful world, at the fact that in that moment I realized it:

I’m marrying the person I always and never imagined.

I had to tell myself that I was still driving, that this is the middle of the workday, that the world is racing past me and there are places to go and deadlines to meet, because in a moment, I am a heap of tears and shaky breathing and laughter, so much laughter it seemed to rebound off the walls and windows, carrying me.

I think this must be what it is like to fall desperately in love.

Not a hurricane, no, but the steady second, third, hundredth time falling into love. This is the we’ve been engaged for a long while now, the we know who does the dishes and sets the table, the ordinary missed words and not missed eye-rolls, who loves hummus and who loves sea urchin, where she always forgets her glasses and where he always puts down the car keys. This is the falling in love again with all the familiar, with all the still-surprising, with the way that love turns out to be eating leftovers on the floor or walking to the pond when the sun finally comes out and warms the earth.

I always imagined that it would be as simple as that, the person as inevitable as breathing. I never imagined it would be so good, goodness essential as breathing.

This isn’t the post where I can say anything profound about love, other than I didn’t realize how much you keep falling into it. How you fall into it, again and again, when you realize that this person still thinks you’re the best thing that has ever happened when you oversleep and mess up plans and forget things. How the fact that he knows how much I love hummus and steak makes me cry. Or how he never lets a day go by where he says, “Hello, beautiful,” and there I am, hopelessly falling into love.

This is the post where I say that I spent that drive laughing and crying because I’m getting married to Preston. Because it’s the hundredth time I’ve fallen in love with him, and love it wild, and sometimes I could cry with how extraordinary it is. And laugh.

Love,
hilary

to the girls in my zumba class

Dear girls in my Zumba class,

Dear you who is willing to jump up and down to music we don’t really know the words to, you who is willing to do the moves with more energy after 50 minutes than I think I have in my whole body, who laughs at our blurred reflections in the mirror,

you are what makes me brave.

I’ve been up and down the mountains and hills for a little while now, with this question about food and how to eat and the fact that sometimes I don’t know how to finish a bagel in the morning, I’m so nervous that it will upend my life. I’ve been in the thicket of the thoughts about mirrors and beauty and whether the scars on my stomach from the time I had my gallbladder removed are moments of skin knit together, moments of pride that my body is always doing a healing work on itself, or if I should be embarrassed and try to hide the thin pink line that dances near my belly button.

I’ve thought about writing and not writing, I’ve written and deleted, and in the end of every day I don’t write a blog post about this journey up and down the mountains of that question – am I beautiful? -

you are the people I see at the other end.

You jumping up and down in the aerobic studio to Pitbull and Lil’ Jon. You in old T-shirts and yoga pants and running shorts and neon sneakers and bare feet. You, afraid and unafraid, because we are all a little of both if we are honest. I can’t describe how much courage you breathe into my lungs just being in that second row with you.

And yes, you know, it is courage to shake my hips and courage to swing them in something that I think might someday look like a circle. And yes, it is courage to keep dancing at minute 50.

But it is also courage to be.

You give me courage to be, without walls, without the tap tap tap of the prison guard of my mind that says I should eat less run more be more do more perfect more. In Zumba, there is no better and no best, there is just us and the courageous being of us.

If I could tell you anything it is that yesterday at the end of class I walked out and realized that I think you are all, each, singly, remarkably, beautiful. I realized that I know this in my bones, that you are beautiful, that you are courageous.

And maybe it’s time I walked out of a class and thought of me alongside you, as one of those beautiful and bright courageous beings. Maybe it’s time I walked out of class and let the lessons you are teaching me sink into my bones.

I wish I could paint this for you, write the way you have built my courage from my pink sneakers to my heart, how you have changed me beyond what I had imagined could change. You, with every routine and every sigh and laugh you are rebuilding my idea of what it could mean for me to be beautiful. To be courageous. To be whole.

Gratitude is not measured in a word count, so I will only say, again, you have done infinitely more than you know. And this girl, she is learning beautiful from you.

Love, hilary

dear hilary: the shape of your grief

This one, friends, doesn’t have a letter in front of it. This one, since Preston told me to write the hard thing, is the letter just for me.

Dear Hilary,

It is always weeks after you think it will arrive that grief finally, politely, knocks on your door. It isn’t in the moment you make the bed in the house that is emptied or bake dozens of cookies and do the dishes over, and over, worrying that there won’t be enough bowls when the rest of the mourners arrive. It isn’t when you finally lie on the bed at home after the flights, after the funeral, after the tears you knew would come when you realize your engagement ring is the exact color of the suit she was buried in, or when your brothers cry next to you, or when you spend an hour playing around the world in basketball in the concrete driveway even though you can’t move past the first place, because you don’t really know how to play basketball.

But one afternoon, a weekend, when you’ve done the errands and dropped off the dry cleaning, when you’ve had tea and coffee and not worried about the whipped cream you put in the coffee, when you’re settled adding street names and numbers to a spreadsheet for your wedding, and you suddenly realize it: everything she never saw.

You didn’t show her the binder you made, the colors of your bridesmaid dresses or the way your dress fits you, just right. You didn’t show her the ring, in person, you didn’t exclaim the way he holds your hand or how much he loves to cook for you – and you know she would tell you you are lucky and you and your mom, you don’t deserve these men who cook for you. She didn’t know that he makes you laugh, even at yourself, or the way you look in a picture together, or your plans for five children, and how your mother thinks it’ll be all boys.

And you will sit, binder in hand, on your bed and realize with a start that you are getting married and you can’t give her a corsage and you can’t hug her and you can’t take a picture with her, with all the women in all their wedding jewelry all together, those pinterest pictures everyone tags can never be yours.

The shape of grief is ever-moving, the heart is the hammer that molds it, beat by beat, the well-loved driftwood on a beach after winter, shaped by the movement of wave after wave, slowly sanded smooth, gentle, even. 

This is the shape of your grief, Hilary: an absence physical as presence, while you bake cookies and organize flights and make the world move in the right times and places, the grief waits for you. It waits for your heartto hammer it smooth again, beat by beat.

The shape of your grief: softening, still.

Love,
hilary

so i write today

I am sitting on my bed in the chaos of Preston’s departure, unwilling, unable, maybe, to really bring myself to the zumba youtube video workout or the making of dinner or the folding of laundry that’s overdue in a corner of the room. It’s a hard thing, long distance, because the stillness is lost in the miles logged, the yet-another-plane-ticket, the counting up and down the days and hours until you can be next to each other again. 

I am thinking about Momastery tonight. I’m not sure why, an article on Relevant that people have been sharing on facebook that made me think of something of hers I read once and so I go to Glennon’s blog, because Sarah Bessey links to it and I see that under the Relevant article, and I find myself paging through and reading those good words and thinking about writing and good words and spaces with nice colors and clean CSS coding. And I think about how I have so often wanted to have a big space like that, and those thoughts have a something, I don’t know if it’s a bitterness or just a wistfulness, or somewhere between them, about writing and me and the wide gap between what I think it should be and what I think it is.

Her Ted Talk link is in a corner. I click, lean against the pillows. She is only a few minutes in when I start to cry. 

I want to be someone telling the world to take off its superhero cape. I want to tell you my story of emerging, how I have learned the shape of kindness can be the word no and the shape of grace can be in an ending. I want to tell you, especially, that I never thought I’d ever be a writer because I assigned the role to someone else in my poetry class that first year and I pretended I didn’t want it so that it couldn’t hurt me if it didn’t happen, and I want to tell the world that sometimes the song about freedom has stanzas in it for whatever cage you’ve lived in. I want to be someone like Glennon, I think, and 17 minutes later I’m still on my bed in the same leggings avoiding the same zumba video with the same hole in my heart. 

There is a part of me that thinks in this moment about the fact that I don’t have my own domain name and I don’t know how to code CSS, that asks me who I think I am, writing like this, 23 years old and still not sure if she knows how to make pancakes right. 

But I am still writing today. I am still wanting to add some stanzas to that song about freedom and I still want to say to you that if you and me together in this watch these women – who write brave books and who speak brave Ted talks and who keep shouting about things like daring greatly and carrying on, warrior and being a jesus feminist and how mothers are superheroes – if you and me together watch them, 

I think we’ll start to tell each other. We’ll whisper carry on, warrior in the supermarkets and down the corridors and into all the small places of our lives. We will tell you the new mom as we hug you during the peace in church that you are a superhero. We will learn how to write cards and notes to girls who wonder about how to be brave and dare greatly. And we will tell them yes, you can. And we will tell them yes, you are brave and beautiful and good and let’s be in this together. 

And so I write today. 

Love,
hilary

when it was a year about light

I am 22 in this picture I paint of myself for you, looping the words over us like so much leftover Christmas ribbon. I am achingly frustrated and desperately unsure of myself. I am sitting, as I usually do, on my bed with the blankets still unmade from when I woke up. I am living in the in-between, in a place I know so well – so much better, really, than I wish I knew it. I wanted to be somewhere new, I say to myself as the New Year’s night lingers on. I wanted to be in DC, I wanted to be in France, I wanted to have done something or gone somewhere, and yet I feel as I type that the word of the year must be light. 

It is meant to be a year of light. 

I expect this will mean the utter brilliance of day. I expect that God will hear this prayer of a word and turn my shadows into sunlight. I expect that when I wake up in the newness of the year, I will be different. I go to bed in that messy pile of blankets and I am ready to be transformed. Perhaps I even smile a little as I sleep. 

God turns out all the lights. 

The months pass and there is less clarity than ever before. I do not know where to find God even in all the usual places I go looking for him. I am still in the same place and I walk into the same building at work and feel as though I must have prayed it wrong, said it wrong, chosen the wrong word. Because in the wintering of the year I am wandering through nothing but shadows and all that I think I know of me is gone. I sit in Tenebrae, the service of the lengthening shadows at the end of Lent, and even there, though I hear Jesus say to me “You will flee, and I will go to be offered up for you,” I cannot find a window to open for the light to come into my heart. I must be praying some angry prayers in this year, too, prayers that tell God just what I think of this silence, this darkness, this apparent failing of my hope for light. 

But it is the wonder of the world that the shadows reveal the light more brilliantly. It is the wonder of knowing God that we are given a glimpse of how God loves us through praying a word like light and walking through shadows. It is the wonder of a year where I moved from thinking there was an easy way towards the light to despairing about shadows to meeting God again and new for the first time – 

it is the wonder that to be still before God with a trembling self one year ago is to pray a wild prayer. It is the wonder that God hears such prayers, that God is close to such prayers. That God so tenderly answers them. 

Love,
hilary

when it’s finals here

It’s finals here, with reading day on Friday. There is a light snow falling now, there is a movement across campus – the hurrying of Christmas and Advent, the fear about exams and finishing it all, the longing to be able to just go out and drink peppermint mochas at Starbucks without thinking of all the responsibilities, all of the work, all of the things-you-said-you’d-do-and-didn’t.

My senior year of Gordon, I remember this time of long runs and this fear, oh, this aching fear that I was not loved, that I was not enough, that the world I was holding by the tips of my fingers had already left me behind. That what everyone thought I was, I wasn’t, and what they thought I could do, I couldn’t.

I wrote this post about “Winter Song” – still, to this day, my favorite collaboration between two artists I love – and I wanted to give the people who were reading my blog way back love, to carry them closer.

And today I remembered that our hearts might ask these questions even when we can’t ask it out loud, even when it’s busy and Christmas-y and full to overflowing.

So, if this finds you in the midst or at the beginning of your finals, if this finds you with those questions about enough and beautiful and worthy and cherished, about whether those will be words that belong to you?

This is my winter song to you.

Can I remind you that the bravest work is done when we do not believe we are brave? Can I remind you that the word “enough” is only really relevant in the story about Christ come among us, the final, full and sufficient sacrifice that becomes victory and redemption and life everlasting – that Jesus is enough. That we are longing for him, the fullness that he brings? Can I remind you that what is beautiful these days isn’t caught on camera or in the bright lights at the gym, but it’s somewhere living between the kind words you choose to say and the extra Hershey’s kiss you remember to put in someone’s mailbox, or the hug you give them when you pass the peace of Christ on a Sunday morning? Can I say that you are, and we are, somehow worthy and cherished, because the Lord longs to be compassionate towards us?

Because how the Lord longs to be compassionate towards us.

This is my winter song to you, and to me, too. Because that senior year when I wrote that blog I was running four or five miles a day to hide from myself, scared to move at all for fear that the careful holding everything in place would collapse. And even now, I wake up to the cold morning and I worry that I will lose the things I love because I am not enough.

I write in the hope that, by saying it, I will bring a beacon of light closer – that I will be your harvester of light. Maybe it will shine a little on me, too.

Love,
hilary

i write a poem

The edge of the row of the mostly-empty plane, three hours from Boston and home and all I can think is how the words have left me. Because there is nothing like holding my nephew for the first time, nothing like wondering at it, nothing like feeling his breathing slow to the steady hum of sleep, nothing like singing him “Come Away with Me” with Norah Jones on repeat in the kitchen, offering him my voice and my swaying hips, my own breathing steadied by his. 

It makes me want to be a writer again, makes me want words to take wing into your heart – and I am remembering how on the days in college when I was afraid I would read poetry in slim soft covers and savor the words, tasting the way I wanted to write. Because I could tell you the story about holding him, the steadied breathing, the sway, the Norah Jones, even the kitchen – 

but I want to give you poetry.

And I want to render thanks to God that way, in a poem written on a plane late at night coming home from a visit that was pure gift. I want to put my poor love for this world into words in slim soft covers someday, put them in your bookshelves and in your hearts, tell the story of how I have been loved, wildly loved, and how I long to live and move in this world, by writing poems.

And so, last night, thinking about poetry, thinking about the steadied breathing of my nephew and the beautiful swirling days of fall, sitting at the end of a row on a plane, I wrote.

Trainspotting

The crickets are resurrected,
singing.
The desert of the station feels the echo.
Everywhere is thirst,

Everywhere, wanting.
I wait, swing my legs along the yellow strip of warning
near the tracks:

Where are you?
The world shivers heat
and I wait, a blue
dress falling down my back.

I am a moment,
An ocean, a longing voice
in the chorus of the night.  

Somewhere, in your day, may poetry find you, and bring you something beautiful.

Love,
hilary

dear hilary: go more gently

Dear Hilary,

I am lost, here in this new place.  The person I thought I was, the Christ I believed I followed, the people I learned to trust, lie now in a hopeless heap of feeling-wholly-helpless, and I continue on, digging my grave among the ruins.  This unknown, this not being known, scares me silly.  And when I am with the one who wants to know me?  My goody two shoes and those giant red flags scream at me, telling me to guard my heart because his heart doesn’t belong to Jesus.  But right now, I just hardly seem to care.  Help?
Love,
Fearful-in-a-Philly-Place

Dear Fearful,

The scene: February (why do things always seem to happen in February?). A Starbucks table, the kind not really big enough for two people so you’re crammed together, holding your drinks, each allowed one elbow on the table. It’s early afternoon, I think, and I look harried and there are creases in my collared shirt because I don’t really want to bother ironing it (truth be told, to this day I’m not great with an iron). I hold a mostly-empty cup, toss it back and forth in my hands. I have everything and nothing to say.

Let’s be simple about it: I had no idea where God was and I wasn’t really sure where to start looking. I was scared out of my mind and I didn’t want anything to change and I wanted everything to change. And I was so tired I didn’t know if I could physically worry any more. And now, I read your words and they stay with me, I think about them and I think about you, and I imagine us in a Starbucks somewhere, October instead of February, at some cramped table tossing our cups back and forth in our hands. Thank you for your sincerity. For being brave enough to say it, that where you are is lost, that where you are is unsure. I hope you know how brave you are.

Building in this life can’t begin somewhere less than your courage.

You say you’re digging a grave among the ruins, but I think you can be a bit kinder to yourself here. Yes, the not-being-known, yes, the unknown, yes, the being lost in the forest of your faith and how it is moving and changing, yes, that is real. But I don’t think it’s ruinous and I don’t think you’re digging a grave. I think you’re in a giant heap of questions and the pinpricks of light between them don’t feel like enough to be guided by. It applies across the board, every time you come to a new question – what do I do about the feeling of being unknown? What do I do about the person I thought I was? What about Christ? What about the boy? – everywhere you look, the question looks bigger and the agony of not knowing the answer grows bigger, too.

You’re in this giant pile of questions and you’re turning around and around inside them, and with all that movement, it’s hard to see anything.

Go more gently.

In the year of February meltdown in Starbucks, I took a ballet class. I learned quickly that I was not as flexible as I thought I was.  And I would get into trouble if I tried too hard to get there faster – to get to a perfect arabesque at the barre, to get to a pique turn with the right releve. I couldn’t do any of it when I tried to do it all at once. How ordinary, the need to slow down. And how true. In ballet, like in the deepest spiritual and emotional questions, we must be gentle. We must be willing to submit to a gentler pace that leaves us longer in the uncertainty, longer in some of the fear, longer, even, in some of what is hardest.

What does this mean for you? I think it means you should stand still for five minutes and watch yourself breathe. I think it means you should go for a walk outside and yell everything you think you’re not allowed to yell at God at God, tell Him about the boy, tell Him about who you thought He was and who you thought you were. I think you then get really quiet with God and ask Him He is. Don’t ask yourself to hear or understand what He might say or not say. But ask that. Leave the question aloud in the night. Return to it, see how it changes.

And as for guarding your heart and the red flags around the boy? I have a lot of thoughts about it, but most truthfully, Fearful, I think the pinpricks of light around those questions will grow as you watch yourself breathe and talk to God and get really quiet. You care more about this than you first told me. Why else could you have put words to it? Guarding your heart is about so much more than the particulars of this person who knows you, who wants to know you, who you care about – it is about all the questions in the heap of questions. It is about being gentler with yourself. You will know more about where your heart is when it comes to this other person when you’re gentler with your heart, period. If anything, I want you to release yourself from the expectation that you can know what guarding your heart looks like perfectly now. It’s so much more important to me that you are gentler with yourself. It’s more important to me that you get those five minutes in the miracle of breathing and that walk in the woods (or in the park, or wherever it makes the most sense for you to go).

And, just as gently, I believe the light will grow.

Love,
hilary

the ache is still beautiful, a letter to preston

Do y’all remember when Preston and I were writing all those letters last year, Tuesdays and Thursdays, writing out this ramble through faith and life and coffee late at night and Gossip Girl and all the rest? And how, those letters, they were the beginning of something wondrous? We are beginning again, new and the same, our selves familiar and not. You can read his last letter to me here.

Dear Preston,

I will never, ever, ever, EVER do long-distance.

Was that what I said? Did I say that to you once, in a conversation, in passing, probably tilting my head the way I do when I’m not sure what I’m saying is true, but I want to convince you that I’m being really thoughtful? I imagine you were painting in your garage at the time, and I could hear the paint hit the canvas with some kind of fierceness that I didn’t understand. You paint forcefully, and sometimes I think maybe that’s the way of making beauty; a little forceful, the way that brightness asks for strength to bear it. Sometimes, when we’re on Skype and you can’t see me, I close my eyes, and listen to you painting, and the silence says more than my words will.

But me and that long distance. My vehemence when I said those words seems to grow in my memory, a defiance to it I’m not sure was there, but makes a story somehow wilder, so I tell it that way. I was stamping my feet against the old hardwood of my bedroom floor, or something like that, insisting that the way of love must be just something daily, something clear and easy and full of Friday nights barefoot on a beach or along a boardwalk somewhere and that attempting to build across miles and continents and time changes was the worst idea, ever.

Never mind the stories I have been told my whole life. Never mind the long walk through the woods behind campus that sunlit afternoon when my dear friend told me that our choices weren’t ever about distance, but about steadfastness in the face of it. That distance could be agonizingly hard but that the space created between those two distinct places, and those two distinct people, would be nearer and closer, a mystery closed to those who watch it. And of course that afternoon, when my mother opened the pages of her own writing to me, the binding frayed and worn by love and how she, like me, said she’d never do long distance.

But I knew the ache already, I said. I knew the work. I knew the uncertainty. I would never give it a try.

I knew so little, P. I knew so little of the ache.

Because this? This ache is beautiful.

This is the ache of remembering how we sit side by side at that kitchen table and make worlds with our words, offering each other living water for the journey. This is the ache of how I can hear how you laugh with me, almost falling off your chair, how I can feel your hand brush the small of my back as we go up for Eucharist, how I remember the way you look at me sometimes, this look of wonder that just takes my breath away.

This is the ache of how our hearts whisper loud across time zones but gentle when we’re in the same room. This is the ache of wanting to tell you when I burst in the door out of breath from running with God that I realized, just then, the radical grace that is when God and I are quiet, together, how I can feel Him running with me but how sometimes, when I complain to Him (like I did the other day) that He feels far away His words are sharp and quick about the reason He runs with me (love, and sanctification, and my feeble heart). I’m longing to tell you, not in messages or typed words, but in the look on my face and the unspoken question I know you’ll ask me, and how I will answer just by nodding and smiling. And we will have said a thousand things without saying them.

I knew nothing about the wild love of long distance. I knew nothing about how the bridges it builds withstand the longest days and heaviest hearts, how the spaces of Skype and these two blogs and how you write my name on an envelope, they are spaces that are gifts, too. And I am the first to say, to you, to whoever might read this, that the distance aches and hurts and the dip and sway of it sometimes knocks me over.

But I’d not be me if I didn’t admit to you, that more truly, I knew so little of this, how beautiful it is. How wondrous they seem now, the people I thought foolish for trying something I called impossible. How beautiful, how brave. How I now want to call each of them up and say, “I need you to know I see your courage and your strength, how you wove the threads that kept you, cocooned in love.” How I want to tell them that the ache is agonizing and how I miss you,

but how their ache, and ours, is still beautiful.

Love, always,
hilary