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.



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.