Monday, October 4, 2010

Wilderness


It had been a time of spiritual wilderness. A long time.

He couldn’t really say when it started, or why. He knew it was about the time of that mission trip, when he unexpectedly met with a reality, a movement of spirit and force he had never before experienced.

In the aftermath of almost euphoria came a quiet, then an awareness of emptiness, a hollowness within his life.

He didn’t wander away, but he did wander in place. Years passed. The wilderness became normal, so normal that he would often forget the time before as a mere and vague memory, a fading dream he no longer recognized.

There came a time when he traveled to another, physical wilderness. Though with many others, he still sensed a separation, an aloneness, even in direct conversation. He knew himself well enough to know that the cause was spiritual. There was a distance from others, and a distance from God, he didn’t know how to bridge.

He tended to separation, even in crowds. He felt more at home there, as if standing too closely or talking too freely stripped away his defense from inclusion, or unveiling the vulnerability.

Sitting in a large room with the others, he didn’t listen to catch what was so elusive. The singing and music were good but didn’t touch the emptiness. He wasn’t really looking for something other than the emptiness that had by this time become his second, familiar, almost comfortable nature.

Then he heard the words. They weren’t some blinding flash of revelation. Instead, they were quiet intrusions puncturing into the emptiness, especially the emptiness around his heart. As the words continued, the intrusions became more pointed, more tearing, no longer quick jabs at emptiness but hard thrusts into the callus of his heart.

They were words coming from the same place as his own, and they knew him.

When the words stopped, he quietly wept. For the first time in all those years he could take the bread and wine and remember that they didn’t represent a friend or comrade but a conqueror.

He wasn’t healed. He knew that. But he was healing.


Bridget Chumbley is sponsoring a one-word blog carnival on healing. To see other posts, please visit her site.

Photograph: a view of part of the Laity Lodge property near Kerrville, Texas, courtesy of my cell phone.

27 comments:

Jennifer @ Getting Down With Jesus said...

Glynn,

I ... (swallows hard)

I know ... (wipes tears)

I know this.

I don't feel I should add too much more here, because this story is about your healing, not mine. (Then again, it IS about mine, too. Because it's ALL of our stories, isn't it???)

And I'm there again, right in the front row by the Table of Grace, just shaking and weeping in acknowledgement of this unfathomable gift.

So, so grateful for you, my friend. You speak the unspoken words of my heart.

Heather said...

This is beautiful.
My husband and I--wandering, wondering in place these days.
Thank you.

S. Etole said...

The over-populated wilderness that holds so much emptiness and isolation. There's a strange tension in that environment.

Maureen said...

There are times still when I cry taking the Host. I know them as times of great joy. That first time was when I was 50.

Red Letter Believers said...

I never want to take the bread and wine lightly -- ever

Doug Spurling said...

I love this: "He wasn’t healed. He knew that. But he was healing."

The wounded warrior limps off the battle field just taken. Dirty, tired but smiling.

Thanks Glynn for showing me Jesus the friend that makes us more than a Conqueror even in our weakness.

Deidra said...

I'm two seats down from Jennifer and just a few short rows in front of you.

Kathleen Overby said...

I love you for letting us know you, in this precious naked moment. A conquered heart is abandoned.

Brian Miller said...

smiles. lovely glynn...thanks for being real...

Jerry said...

Wandering in place. So aptly said.
I'm still there. I believe you might just have shared the heart of many...not to take away the personal punch in your callus. Thank you.

katdish said...

Now this? This is powerful, restorative writing right here. Wow, Glynn. Thank you.

Real Live Preacher said...

I think that only in hindsight can we see the value of these dry, wilderness times. I'm in one myself. Thank you for your gentle words.

g

Megan Willome said...

Laity has that effect on people. I'm glad you were there & open to receive the healing.

Billy Coffey said...

These words sing, Glynn. Right from you to me.

Jessica said...

Our God understands the wilderness.
Hebrews 4:15

j.

jasons said...

Beautiful, Glynn.

Sam Van Eman said...

Right on, Glynn. Thank you for sharing.

Monica Sharman said...

Glynn,
Just a simple thank you for this.
Monica

Kelly Langner Sauer said...

oh wow. i read this last night; i thought i'd commented.

wilderness - always in the middle, for forty years that seem eternity. you always wonder in the healing when it will be complete.

you write real, Glynn. i don't comment often enough, but i read.

thank you.

Marcus Goodyear said...

I'm in the wilderness with you, Glynn. It's a hard place to be, but I'm so glad that I'm there with people like you.

L.L. Barkat said...

Silenced by this. Sending a quiet embrace...

DenaDyer said...

Thanks, Glynn--for putting words to what so many of us feel, and doing it so well.

I once heard that Elizabeth Elliot replied to woman who gushed, "I want to write like you!" with, "Do you want to suffer as I have?"

Sometimes, it seems, the biggest gifts come from the hardest places.

Sandra Heska King said...

I know this place.

That healing. Always a process. I don't think it's ever complete lest we forget that the holes are where He lives.

I want to hug you.

H. Gillham said...

I heart you, Glynn. I heart you.

Anne Lang Bundy said...

What is more sad than an emptiness which becomes familiar and comfortable? I think even the pain of emptiness must be preferable.

AveryHome said...

What a beautiful post. I love your writing and your heart. The last line was perfect "He wasn’t healed. He knew that. But he was healing" it's true for us all.

Bridget Chumbley said...

Powerful words! Thank you, Glynn.